Childrearing

Kids Aren’t For Everyone, So Stop Telling Your Childfree Friends They’ll ‘Change Their Minds’

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childfree-by-choice

I have several friends in their late thirties and forties who never had children and never wanted them. If I had the collective dollars for every time each one of them heard ‘you’ll change your mind,’ ย I could take a few months off and finish my book. If you find yourself saying that phrase to a person without kids – shut your mouth immediately. Not having kids does not equal unhappiness. Not everyone has the same burning desire to reproduce that you may. And thank the Gods for that.

I’m honestly not sure where this sentiment comes from. I’m someone who knew from an early age that I wanted children eventually – so it’s not that I don’t understand the complete desire to have them. I just don’t understand the refusal to accept that not everyone does. Frankly, I understand not wanting kids more than I understand wanting them. Does that sound bad coming from a mother? It’s the truth.

My sister is in her forties and doesn’t have children. She’s happily married, she has a fantastic job – there’s no gaping hole in her life because children are missing. She lives right across the street from me and often helps me with the bedtime routine when my husband is gone for work. Last week I walked in on her trying to get pajamas on my three-year-old. The look on her face was familiar. It’s the one that’s on mine every time I perform that god-forsaken task.

Sister: Jesus. I was ready to just walk right out of this bedroom and out the front door. And I realized – I could totally walk out of this bedroom and out the front door right now. You can’t. How the hell do you do this?

Me: Not sure. You’re so fucking lucky.

Look – I love my kids, I love being a mom, blah, blah, blah. But it is a total pain in the ass. I’ll never understand people who think everyone secretly has a burning desire to parent. No. They don’t. And if you are going to be logical about it – it should really be the other way around. Childfree people should be constantly asking parents, Do you regret it? Have you changed your mind? Hurling that question at someone covered in breast milk inadvertently singing the theme song to Dora the Explorer makes way more sense.

Sometimes I honestly think people just want validation that they’ve made the right decision. So I will offer some validation; parenting is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done. It’s also the most annoying and at times I mourn for my freedom. That doesn’t mean I think I’ve made the wrong decision. That also doesn’t mean that everyone I know has to take on this endeavor to prove that my choices are sound.

The next time you hear yourself thinking or starting to say, You’ll change your mind – try to stop yourself. Making assumptions about people’s intentions is never a good thing. Your kids are great – just not great enough to make the entire world want one of their own.

(photo: iko/ Shutterstock)

104 Comments

  1. Mystik Spiral

    June 4, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    THANK you. I have never, ever, ever wanted to have kids. I got enough crap from my mom that I started to believe that my biological clock was faulty. But now, at 41 years old, I see my siblings with their kids and I can’t picture it for myself. I don’t desire it. I also don’t begrudge anyone else their choices – but I do think you hit the nail on the head when you say that people who tend to ask this question are trying to get validation for their own choices.

    Parents – it’s OK to wish you didn’t have kids every once in a while. It doesn’t make you a bad parent.

    • Momma425

      June 4, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      I never ever wanted kids either. I don’t like other people’s kids (okay, I like my friend’s kids, in very small doses), I down fawn and swoon over babies…it is just not who I am as a person.
      The only reason I have a child is because I mixed birth control pills with antibiotics. I love my child very much, but yeah. I definitely could have had a happy life without ever having a child.

    • whiteroses

      June 5, 2014 at 11:26 am

      I’ll be honest here- my life would be a lot easier if I didn’t have a child. It takes me three times as long to preform basic tasks. For the love of Zeus, I just want to pee alone.

      I have several childfree friends, and I can’t ever imagine them changing their minds. Which is cool. I’m glad they know themselves well enough to know that they don’t want kids, because I have dealt with children whose parents not only actively didn’t want kids but also rejected them outright. It’s a sad life for a kid to lead. If you want kids, then you have to REALLY want them- it’s not like you can give the kid back, you know?

    • KayeStar

      June 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      My parents were like that. Neither wanted kids, and it did not turn out well for me. My dad was only there for the good times. My mom had no idea what to do with me when I became able to do more than eat, cry, sleep, and soil myself. I was little more than an accessory or a dress-up doll. To this day, my mom is still mad that I was never her “mini-me” (my sister ended up being that for her).

    • whiteroses

      June 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      This is going to sound awful, and that’s not how it’s meant- but that is why I advocate birth control. It’s incredibly sad. Not just for you, but for your sister as well.

  2. Valerie

    June 4, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    I’ve never been able to understand parents who say those things to non-parents. It’s rude and condescending, not to mention, potentially cruel. Maybe in a bid to keep things private some couples say they don’t want children but are secretly having trouble getting pregnant? Regardless, I think it’s always best to not question other peoples major life decisions. Does having kids make you happy? Great, have them. You don’t need to convince anyone else in your wake.

    • Victoria

      June 4, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      “Maybe in a bid to keep things private some couples say they don’t want children but are secretly having trouble getting pregnant?”

      I know a woman who wanted children with all her heart but to say she physically couldn’t would cause her to break down. She could not deal with it, so she said she didn’t want any. People giving her crap made it so much worse. The sad thing is they probably wouldn’t if they knew what she’d been through, but she wasn’t in a place to talk about it and, quite frankly, didn’t owe anyone an explanation.

    • Rachel Sea

      June 4, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      I say “maybe” a LOT, because I’d rather hear about how I’m not getting any younger than hear any of the responses people have to infertility.

    • Spongeworthy

      June 4, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      My cousin used to give people the same response and just grin and bear it when people went on and on about how she wasn’t getting any younger(and this was when she was in her twenties). What pretty much all those people didn’t know was that she had had several miscarriages and very much wanted to be a mom. I would always get so angry on her behalf.

    • Spongeworthy

      June 4, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      This is my feeling too. You want kids? Great! You don’t want kids? Great!
      I just had this discussion with a friend. Mutual friends of ours are happily child free. The friend I was talking to is the type who uses the phrase “if you don’t have kids then you wouldn’t understand” a lot. So anyway, we were talking and she mentioned that one of our child free friends was so “defensive” of her choice. I told her that she’s be defensive too if everyone and their mother told you that you didn’t know your own mind and that they knew better than you what you wanted. I got a blank state in return.

    • AE Vorro

      June 4, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      “I told her that she’s be defensive too if everyone and their mother told you that you didn’t know your own mind and that they knew better than you what you wanted.”

      You nailed it! This is the root of the problem. Yes, people change their minds about all sorts of things. It’s the “no, you couldn’t possibly be trusted to know yourself and make an informed decision” implication behind telling someone that they’ll change their minds that makes it so galling. It should be galling to all women.

      Sure, you may say something to hurtful to someone struggling with infertility, but that’s a different issue. Just being pregnant around someone who can’t conceive can be personally very hurtful for them and that’s understandable.

      But the devaluation of a woman’s opinion is culturally troubling; it’s troubling for women now and concerns all those growing daughters out there and the challenges they’ll face in their decisions. Having a child is never questioned, despite the fact that a human life is involved, but a mindful choice that upsets gender norms is seen as suspect. Men who state a child free preference are sometimes challenged about it, but not to the extent that women are — choosing not to have a child is still a relatively radical act and women who make a personal decision can be labeled, ostracized, devalued, and seen as “less than” by their own friends, families, communities, and colleagues.

    • Spongeworthy

      June 4, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      I totally agree. I have a hard time believing the majority of women who decide to be child free haven’t put a LOT of thought into their decision, simply becaus they know they will be questioned constantly. They are very much bucking the system. The whole attitude of “you’ll change your mind” reeks of the mindset that the silly women don’t really know what they want, not really, and they just need to be set straight. And it bugs the hell out of me that anyone and everyone feels entitled to have an opinion about the state of a woman’s uterus.

    • OnionButt

      June 4, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      As a childfree woman I do feel that sometimes the childfree (by choice) have put more thought into NOT having kids than many parents put into having them. For some having kids is just a given and something that is done – but they don’t stop to really think if that’s what THEY want.

      PS – I love your username. I was JUST talking about that being one of my favorite lines from Seinfeld.

    • Spongeworthy

      June 4, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      LOL thank you! Elaine Benes 4ever ๐Ÿ™‚
      And yes, I agree. You hear women all the time saying they accidentally got pregnant, but you rarely hear one say they accidentally avoided all pregnancy. I didn’t have my kid until I was in my 30s, and my husband and I talked a LOT about what we would do if we do couldnt get pregnant. And that was just a hypothetical. I do think it still takes a lot of guts for people-and women especially-to be open about the fact that they are choosing to not have kids. Because it is so opposite of what is the norm and what is “expected”. I think anyone who puts that much thought into their decision definitely knows their own mind well enough to make the decision that’s right for them.

    • OnionButt

      June 4, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      (Doing the Elaine dance over here.)

      Yup, I know what I’d do if I were to accidentally get pregnant. Also because I do not want kids I’m very careful about contraception when “teh sex” is to happen, therefore accidental pregnancy is a much lower risk for me. (Well, it’s no risk right now as I’m not currently having “teh sex”. Still on the pill though for period regulatory reasons.)

    • AE Vorro

      June 5, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Well said!!!!

    • SunnyD847

      June 5, 2014 at 2:12 am

  3. Kelly

    June 4, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    This is just my experience and might be unusual but I find the worst offenders are those who described themselves as childfree and then had kids and decided that since they changed their minds, EVERYONE WILL!

    But, like I said, it’s just my experience. I only know a few of these assholes and that’s the logic they all use. “I thought I didn’t want kids too, then I realized I was wrong.” *smug face*

    It’s like damn, way to be a giant hypocrite about it.

    • itpainsme2say

      June 4, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      To that all i want to say is “Do you want a metal for wishy-washiness?”

    • Emil

      June 4, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      I hate that argument. I thought one way but then I changed my mind. It’s the implication that you ultimately came to the correct decision after initially being misguided.

    • Andrea

      June 4, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      I’ve never encountered the smugness, but for sure know at least 5 people who changed their minds. One of them couldn’t have kids when she changed her mind because she was already 40 and IVF did not work. My heart broke for her.

    • Emil

      June 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      True but people change their minds in the other direction as well. Both my sisters grew up thinking they wanted children but later changed their minds and are happily child free.

    • Andrea

      June 4, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      It happens too, I get it. The thing is once you DO have the kids, there is no changing your mind and I think that’s where the parent smugness comes from. Cuz, what are we gonna do? Admit we made a mistake? Your mind won’t let you do that.

    • Kelly

      June 4, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      But they aren’t being smug about their own decisions. They’re being smug because they’re saying, “Oh stupid childfree person, I was once stupid like you but then I saw the light. You will someday too.”

      That’s really not an ok way to treat other people.

    • Andrea

      June 4, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      Oh no, I agree. It’s a douche thing to say..

    • OnionButt

      June 4, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      Yes! I met someone somewhat recently who has 2 young kids (one was just a few months old at the time). Somehow the topic came up about me and children and I said I don’t have them and won’t ever have them. This twit kept going on and on about how SHE was the EXACT same way and now look at her. Uh, no, if she were EXACTLY like me she would not have kids.

      I asked the friend we had in common later and sure enough she got pregnant on accident (ie not planned). So she didn’t really change her mind and decide she wanted kids – she let circumstance dictate her having kids. Even more proof how not alike we were – the guy she had these kids with was cheating on her and being a complete asshole – yet she put up with it. It seemed the only thing this woman and I had in common was that we both said we didn’t want kids out loud.

      It just annoyed me so much that she kept insisting that since she changed her mind that I would too. I wanted to say but didn’t – that it seems she just didn’t know herself as well as I know myself.

    • Lilly

      June 5, 2014 at 11:19 am

      My sister’s response is the best — what if I realize I was right, then what?

  4. AE Vorro

    June 4, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    My husband’s uncle tried to convince my husband that he could “totally reverse” his vasectomy. Um… he wouldn’t have undergone that procedure if either of us had any scrap of doubt about our decision, never mind the fact that the surgery didn’t go well (although it was ultimately successful). *Facepalm*

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      June 4, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      Yeah, I watched my husband’s. There’s no way I would ever ask a man to reverse that.

  5. Kay_Sue

    June 4, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    This really infuriates me. I have a childfree aunt. She’s awesome. She doesn’t want kids. She’s not going to change her mind. Fuck off. That pretty much sums it up for me.

    • pixie

      June 4, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      I have two aunts who are childfree. One of them (my dad’s sister)…yeah she wouldn’t make the greatest mother, she’s just not the “motherly type” (she wouldn’t be the worst mother, either, but she’s way more career focused and I couldn’t imagine her ever changing a dirty diaper). My other aunt (mom’s sister) is one of the coolest women I know and her and her common-law husband (she didn’t even get married *gasp*!) would make fantastic parents. However, they never wanted to be parents and as much as they love kids, they also enjoy being able to give the kids back to the parents at the end of the day.

    • Kay_Sue

      June 4, 2014 at 9:07 pm

      That’s the best part about handling kids that aren’t yours even as a parent. I don’t begrudge anyone the enjoyment of passing a baby back because it is dirty, stinky, or just plain boring. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • falcongirl

      June 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      My mom has a cousin who never had children. All us kids call her Aunt C. She probably would have made a great mother, but she spent her youth being a little wild in Europe and Australia and never settled down until she was in her forties when she married her husband and she finished a library sciences degree. Honestly, my mother and her siblings and cousins should be grateful that Aunt C was around when we were kids because she did them a huge service. She was totally the person that the kids could go to to talk about…well, whatever. Boyfriend pressuring you to have sex? Aunt C was a great non-judgmental listener. Need someone to discuss a little teenaged drug use with? Aunt C was well experienced with a variety of drugs and, while she would never advocate that anyone take illegal drugs, she would talk honestly about them. Thinking that maybe you don’t want to go to college? Run it by Aunt C–she’ll tell you whether she thinks you’re making an enormous mistake. Overall, whether our parents know it or not, by being a trusted adult who would keep the confidences of the young people who came to her, by giving responsible and accurate advice and information, and by just listening with an open mind she probably prevented a number of teenage pregnancies, kept a few kids on a responsible path, and I know it was her advice that got one of my cousins to seek help for an alcohol problem. Honestly, I don’t think that someone who was a parent would be able to be that person, not only because they would be less available but because there would be the thought in the back of their minds, “What would I want someone to say to my kid in this situation?” But your kid might not be the same as the kid sitting in front of you. Personally, I think the world needs more Aunt C’s, childless people who like children and love their friends’ and family members’ kids.

    • Kay_Sue

      June 4, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      That’s weird. The aunt I’m referring to is Aunt CK. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I completely agree with your last point too. Our parent brain tends to kick in in these situations, but one thing I loved about talking to my aunt as a teen especially was that she never had that problem. She was always open and supportive.

  6. Katherine Handcock

    June 4, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    The only thing I ever say to people who intend to be childfree is “You might change your mind at some point.” Of course, I also say the same thing to people who decide they want to live in a big city, or the country, or go to Harvard, or to school around the block. ANY major life decision could seem different in the future. I wanted to be an orchestral clarinetist; after my Master’s degree, I realized that just wasn’t a life I wanted.

    I’m sure there are some people who, when they’re younger or haven’t met the right partner, can’t ever picture being parents. But there are also people who dream of being parents until they become adults, and then say, “You know what? No, that’s not right for me.” Or people who know the whole time, one way or the other. I don’t know why that’s so hard for people to believe.

    • Kelly

      June 4, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      What’s the point of saying that to someone though? Just to piss on their news or dreams? Just to make them doubt themselves?

      It’s a shitty thing to say to people about anything. It accomplishes nothing.

    • Katherine Handcock

      June 4, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Oh, I don’t mean it to sound negative! The downside to the lack of tone on the internet… And no, I wouldn’t say that as a response to “Yay, I got into Harvard!” ๐Ÿ™‚

      I simply mean it in the sense that we should always be open for the fact that our dreams can change. And if they do, we shouldn’t feel like we can’t or shouldn’t accept that our dreams change as we do. But people seem more accepting of that in, say, a career path than they do with parenthood, which is strange to me. If we don’t get startled when a would-be power executive says, “You know what? I hate 100+ hour weeks,” or when a low-level employee declares, “Maybe I would like to take the management training course,” I don’t know why we should be so surprised when ideas about whether parenthood is right for us can change too – as I said, in either direction.

    • OnionButt

      June 4, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      I absolutely KNEW from around 20 or 21 that I did not want kids and I would never ever change my mind. Maybe I’m in the minority about being so deadset against having them. Sure, some people who say that don’t want kids ever really mean they don’t want them any time in the near future and will change their mind. But saying that they “might” change their mind someday doesn’t do anything positive.

      I think the thing about the “you might change your mind” about kids thing is that it is so one or the other. Once you do it – you can’t undo it (having kids). but while you might decide to go to Harvard, then change your mind – you could still potentially change your mind again and still go to Harvard.

      Like said I just KNEW without a shadow of a doubt that I would never have kids. It’s like it is just an intrinsic part of who I am. Even if I got pregnant accidentally I still would not have kids. I’m 37 now and don’t have them. If anything the desire to NOT have them has grown stronger and stronger over the years.

    • Katherine Handcock

      June 4, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      I don’t think you are in the minority, actually! There ARE lots of people who know, either that they do or don’t want kids. Similarly, I always knew I wanted kids – if I didn’t have biological children, I think I would have adopted or fostered kids, whether I was married or single. Also, I should say that this is not something I pull out to a casual acquaintance, or as a flat “sure you don’t want kids” response to a single comment.

      But basically I just know how many dramatic changes there were in very fundamental things I wanted in my own life, and I never want people to box themselves in. There’s no box more powerful than the one we put ourselves in, and nothing more freeing than recognizing that you CAN change your mind if you want.

      It took a lot of guts for me to admit, after 6 university years, thousands of practice hours, and a whole truckload of money on some expensive professional instruments, that orchestral playing was not for me – and that was with supportive people around me! So if someone has declared themselves childfree, but later decides they might change their mind, I never want them feel like they can’t even explore the idea, just as I’d never want someone who has been ooh-ing over babies for years to feel like they can’t say, “You know what? Forget that. I can enjoy babies from afar.”

    • OnionButt

      June 4, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      I think a better way of saying it (which I think is the gist of what you’re saying) is that it is OK to change your mind – about ANYTHING.

      I had a recent AHA moment about something that had nothing to do with kids – but realized that I have a thing about potentially changing my mind BECAUSE I’ve gotten the “you’ll change your mind” so much about not wanting kids. thus I’ve been feeling like I’m not allowed to change my mind on anything because I’m so vehement about not changing my mind on having kids.

      You’re right – so many people get so much shit for deciding something and then having a change of heart. And people should recognize that life could take them to places they didn’t expect and thus they change their minds about stuff. And it’s ok.

      How you’re coming at it is different from the people who say “you’ll change your mind” because they think you’re wrong for doing things differently than they are. Ironically, the people who were most adamant about telling me I’d change my mind are people who just met me/hardly know me. That’s just so rude.

    • Katherine Handcock

      June 5, 2014 at 6:35 am

      Your phrasing is a much better way of saying what I mean! I would never want people to think I was telling them they were wrong for wanting to be childfree…heck, there are days I look around and think, “Maybe that wouldn’t have been so bad…” ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And I totally can’t imagine telling that to a stranger or casual acquaintance! To me, that’s like meeting someone for the first time and saying, “Are you a lawyer? You should totally be a lawyer.” Or, maybe, to capture the offensiveness level, “Are you a Christian? Well, you’ll change your mind!”

      Actually, wait, people do that too. Stupid people…

  7. MomofTwo

    June 4, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Yeah, like the article says, I’m still really not sure why it’s perfectly OK for people to say to the childfree “Oh, you’ll change your mind” but yet if the tables were turned and someone said to a parent “Man, don’t you regret birthing those little rugrats? Oh well, too bad can’t change your mind now.”
    I don’t touch the whole child/chldfree thing unless the person in question brings it up first. Surely, there are people who are childfree by choice, but there are just as many others who may want children and cannot have them for whatever reasons or circumstances. While it’s a rude and prying subject for the childfree by choice, I can’t begin to imagine the pain and sadness it must bring to those who would love to have a child but cannot.

    • OnionButt

      June 4, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      I’ve been sorely tempted to ask people who have yet to have kids but say they want them, “Oh, you might change your mind!” if they’ve said that to me about not having kids. It is definitely rude to assume someone knows less about themselves than some random acquaintance/stranger.

    • whiteroses

      June 5, 2014 at 11:29 am

      I have a few childfree friends who, in my mind at least, would make great parents. But I have never said that to them, because I don’t know the secret inner workings of their mind, you know?

  8. MomofTwo

    June 4, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Yeah, like the article says, I’m still really not sure why it’s perfectly OK for people to say to the childfree “Oh, you’ll change your mind” but yet if the tables were turned and someone said to a parent “Man, don’t you regret birthing those little rugrats? Oh well, too bad can’t change your mind now.”
    I don’t touch the whole child/chldfree thing unless the person in question brings it up first. Surely, there are people who are childfree by choice, but there are just as many others who may want children and cannot have them for whatever reasons or circumstances. While it’s a rude and prying subject for the childfree by choice, I can’t begin to imagine the pain and sadness it must bring to those who would love to have a child but cannot.

  9. Rachel Sea

    June 4, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    You cannot tell the difference between someone who is childfree, and someone who is childless, just by looking at them. Some people would rather say they don’t want kids than explain that they can’t have them. Some people are afraid of perpetuating the violence they were raised with. Some people have a disorder that makes having kids a bad idea.

    No one who presumes to try to talk anyone else into having children is going to say anything original, and they are almost guaranteed to say something rude or hurtful.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      June 5, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      My stepmom had to put up with strangers asking when she was going to give my little sis a little sibling.
      She’d raise an eyebrow and say “As soon as you can fix my ovaries”

      People don’t seem to realise that SOME people have DIFFICULTIES getting pregnant, and saying they don’t want any makes it easier.

      My SM told people she didn’t want kids for the entire 5 years it took them to try IVF.
      It was less upsetting than admitting she was having fertility difficulties.

  10. jane

    June 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I have an idea – keep your ideas in your own head! All of my friends who were “forever childfree” in their twenties have changed their minds and have either had kids or want them soon. You know what had exactly zero bearing on that change of heart? Someone saying “you’ll change your mind.” As someone who always wanted kids, I did kind of think that at least some of them would change their minds, but I KEPT MY TRAP SHUT ABOUT IT. Why would you feel the need to comment anyway?

    Not gonna lie, I did push back against a friend who wanted to get her tubes tied at 25, and I don’t regret that. That’s a big effing decision to make at 25. But never once did I say “you’ll change your mind.” I just talked up the benefits of the IUD. And now that she’s decided at 35 that she does want kids, not once have I said “I told you so.” Because what good is that going to do anyway?

    • itpainsme2say

      June 4, 2014 at 6:21 pm

      I really hope you are as good as you say because those people chose a good friend

    • Harriet Meadow

      June 4, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      THIS. I have lots of friends who are self-professed DINKs, and though I have a sneaking suspicion that at least a couple of them might change their minds, I never say anything, because I don’t know what’s going on inside their heads! Besides, while I love being a parent, I always wanted to be one, which is not necessarily the case for them!

    • Alexandra

      June 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm

      I was a SINK and had NO desire for kids until I was about 33. Now I want a million (lol) but will probably stop at 3. I would NOT have thought this of myself before into my 30s. Does this mean everyone will change their minds? HELL NO! But some people do, and that doesn’t make me wishy washy it makes me an adult woman who has a different viewpoint than I did when I was an (admittedly) super fucking selfish 20 year old (actually for ALL of my 20s!)

    • Alexandra

      June 5, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      Oh, and before ppl get upset, not all ppl who don’t want kids are selfish – but I WAS!

    • Ursi

      June 5, 2014 at 2:08 pm

      I understand that other women feel this way but I think one of the worst stigmas we childfree folks are up against is the idea that we’re just selfish and will grow out of it.

      I’ve known I didn’t want kids since I was in my teens. I’m in my 30s. It’s never going to be a thing I want. I can tell you that with confidence because my confidence increases as each year passes. There are a lot of people like me that do lack the natural biological imperative to pro-create.

      Women should be encouraged towards self-reflection and not pressured into thinking they’ll change their minds.

    • Alexandra

      June 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Agree – this was just my personal journey – NOT speaking for all women. And as I qualified in another comment, I was definitely selfish, but not saying that’s why people don’t have kids. It just was something that was not possible for me with my issues in my 20s.

    • AE Vorro

      June 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Yes! The selfish accusation is really terrible. For starters, having children can also be seen as selfish. And then there’s the word selfish! Selfishness can be good (self-care, cutting stress people out of your life, etc.) and it can be bad (screwing other people for personal gain, not living up to responsibilities), so it’s not a very useful word in regard to the decision whether or not to have kids in the first place.

    • meteor_echo

      June 5, 2014 at 6:05 am

      Wow. I’d definitely have stopped being your friend. Someone can decide that they can birth a child (which is just as irreversible as getting one’s tubes tied) at 18 or 19, and it’s socially cool and acceptable, but someone wans to get a tubal at the age of 25 and you’re up in arms over that?

    • jane

      June 5, 2014 at 6:47 am

      Thankfully, she didn’t stop being my friend and she didn’t have the tubal. I understand your position, though. However, did you notice that she now wants to have kids? I’m not saying that everyone who has declared themselves child free changes their minds at all, and I really do respect the choice to be child free. That said, enough people do change their minds that most doctors won’t do permanent birth control at that age either.

    • meteor_echo

      June 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      As someone said above in the thread, they get a medal for wishy-washiness.
      Also, no, not *many* people change their minds (you’re mixing up the childfree and fencesitters). It’s just that the precedents where the newly-babythirsty women sued the docs were so outrageous that now the surgeons are simply protecting their asses from possibly being wallet-gutted by someone who decided that she really, really needs that baby, after all.

    • Alexandra

      June 5, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      IDK to me, it seems that friend would now regret her decision to have her tubes tied. That’s a HUGE decision to make at 25! Especially since it’s unnecessary to prevent an unwanted pregnancy – she could literally have an IUD and still use condoms and foam and have virtually no chance of having an unwanted child. And now, at 35, she can actually make the decision to have a child if she wants to!

    • Alexandra

      June 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Ugh, just noticed my gratuitous use of the word literally. I hate ppl who do that! LOL sorry ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Greta Young

    June 4, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Maria, I think you hit the nail on the head with the point about parents simply seeking validation about their own lives. Isn’t that what everybody wants, to some degree or another?

    I have a friend who outwardly is always saying how much she loooooves babies, how being a mom is the BEST THING EVER, how her husband/daughter/stepdaughters are the most amaing thing in her life, etc etc etc — because internally, she’s having a really rough time adjusting to life as parent. It’s as though she desparately needs the positive affirmations and validation she gets when people resopnd in agreement. I had a moment alone with her not long ago where she expressed a lot of regret and disappointment about her own life such as not finishing her degree, leaving her career, feeling isolated/trapped in her role as wife & mother, and wishing she could just roll back the clock and hit the open road… but she’d never share that with any childless person. She’d probably tell them how great of a mom they’d be someday, ask them when they’re going to be starting a family, and talk about how wonderful it all is.

  12. mediocrity511

    June 4, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    It used to annoy me when people told me that. And the annoying thing is, I did change my mind. Not because I was overcome by my biology, not because having children is the purpose of womanhood, or any of the crap given or implied reasons. I just did, my life changed a lot and so did my priorities and aspirations.
    Some people will change their minds, others never will.
    It’s also a hell of a lot easier to go from child free to besprogged than the other way round!

  13. Oz

    June 4, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    What I can’t stand is when my friends hand me their baby (I hate holding babies… give me a puppy or kitten any day) and stand back, eyes shining, saying “now, wouldn’t you just love one of your own!” Every. Single. One of them think it’s going to be their amazing, unique, precious little gift that is going to change my mind. That I will look at this astonishing miracle and my heart will melt – how could it not? Their incredible child will inspire the childfree!

    Nope, nope, nope.

    My favourite part is when the kid shits itself or throws up while I’m holding it, so I can raise an eyebrow and pointedly hand it back to them.

    • Ursi

      June 4, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      My family does this to me. I’m great with older kids and I find toddlers appealing but I can’t stand babies. I don’t even want to hold them. I wish they would get the message.

    • Guest

      June 5, 2014 at 10:33 am

      I would just say “no” and hand them back.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      June 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      This is why I’m perpetually “just getting over the flu” at large family gatherings where I know there will be babies present…works like a charm. Although I read an article where the writer was admiring her (male) childfree friend for his ballsiness in saying flat-out, “I’m not a baby person,” which makes me think that I should start doing the same.

    • Ursi

      June 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      I think being honest works in most situations. With family, though it’s very hard to explain to them that although I’m happy to welcome a new family member and look forward to getting to know them, I just don’t have anything to say to them yet. People take it very personally. I don’t get it. Maybe if I had a kid I would get it. So to keep peace I hold the baby a little and then hand the baby back. When the child is older I can enjoy their company.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      June 5, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      I can see how keeping the peace would be an issue. I’m lucky in that no one in my immediate circle of friends and family has reproduced or is considering doing so yet, so I’ve only had to contend with distant relatives whom I see less than once a year who are therefore unlikely to notice or comment on the fact that I’ve got a permanent case of the flu. :p I’m still not sure what I’ll do in the event that someone closer to me has a kid, though, as something about the near-gelatinous quality of babies’ flesh irrationally grosses me out, so I fear I’d create a bigger scene by holding the kid for even a few seconds than I would by politely refusing.

    • janey

      June 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      I am so uncomfortable when someone wants me to hold their baby. Not because I don’t like them, but because I have no idea how to hold them, what to do with them, and when I’m supposed to give them back.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      June 5, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      I love you forever

  14. Justme

    June 4, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    I get the same thing because we are choosing to have one child due to my difficult pregnancy and subsequent PPD. I live in the south and I teach middle school, so I know that some of the comments are just people trying to make conversation and not really having a frame of reference as to why people might not have more than one child (or children at all). I also take it as a compliment – apparently I’m doing something right as a mother that people think I should keep procreating. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I know that we all want to police the world and make everyone think before they speak, but the truth is that people are going to say both intentionally and unintentionally rude things to you at every stage in your life. Ive just realized that I can’t control what they say, but I can control how I let their comments affect me.

  15. Jenny

    June 4, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    I feel exactly the same way about people who say that about parents who decide to stop at one child. The same reasoning– “you’ll change your mind, it would be cruel not to give her a sibling,” or, “you’ll change your mind, you don’t want her growing up selfish lonely or maladjusted”– really makes me want to punch them in the face.

    • Williwaw

      June 4, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      The one about having a second child really pisses me off. I didn’t meet my husband till I was 39, and we had a child when I was 41. It was a rough pregnancy, but we were happy and grateful when we had our healthy child, and we felt that we were very lucky, because I have known several friends with infertility or pregnancy problems or miscarriages. Had things been different, I would have chosen to have a second child, but given my age and medical history, we decided not to push our luck, and I had a salpingectomy (they don’t just tie your tubes, but remove them). I don’t tell everyone all these details because (a) I am a private person, and (b) they probably aren’t interested anyway. Still, I cannot count how many times I have been told to have a second child because I’m not getting any younger, or so that my first child doesn’t become a spoiled brat. I just want to tell these people to piss off, because (a) their is nothing wrong with being a one-child family, and (b) I made a difficult, highly personal choice that is none of their goddamn business.

    • falcongirl

      June 4, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Also, the idea that only children become horrible narcissists has been pretty thoroughly debunked. The vast majority of only children grow up as well adjusted as people with siblings. There are benefits to having siblings (when your parents are gone, you still have immediate family members left; someone exists who shares some history with you; someone to help with end of life decisions and care for your parents) but there are also advantages to being an only child (way more resources available to you). I think it all kind of evens out in the end.

    • OnionButt

      June 5, 2014 at 1:18 am

      I’m an only child and I LOVED it. Even as an adult I don’t really miss having siblings. Of course, it might have been nice to have had backup and such when my dad died (we were incredibly close – so don’t know if we would have been as close if I had siblings) and the evil step-monster was making things worse for me. But there’s no guarantee that even if I had siblings we’d be close.

      I actually had someone who met me, after finding out I was an only child, exclaim, “But you’re not a bitch!” I guess she’d met some asshole only children. I will grant you I was pretty spoiled, but I don’t think I was ever a brat about it. I generally got what I wanted (material possessions-wise) but I was extremely well behaved (the vast majority of the time) and did really well in school.

    • Jenny

      June 4, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      In my case, I’ee always known since my teens that I wanted just one child. Kids are scary and I felt that just raising one was already the capacity of my competency as a parent. I’m an awesome mom and I enjoy my daughter immensely, and I feel that this is because I’ve chosen to funnel all my parenting powers into just one, and I’m sure that I’ve spaced my life so there’s room for me and my husband to enjoy our resources, as well.

      Of course, try saying this out loud, and you bet people are gonna be all up in my business about how “selfish” I am for not thinking that devoting large chunks of my life to active mothering is the ultimate happiness. How dare I trust my own choices!

    • Williwaw

      June 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      Why aren’t you being channeling your parenting powers into 19 children, like the Duggars? How generous that would be!

    • Kelly

      June 4, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      People tell us we’ll change our mind and my husband had a vasectomy ten years ago. Um, he’s not going under the knife again and I’m not going to go out and get knocked up by somebody else so no, it isn’t going to happen. I wish people would stop saying it will.

    • Guest

      June 5, 2014 at 10:43 am

      My cousin (who is one of 6) just got married. At the wedding shower his wife to be said she wanted only one kid. Knowing her I think she will not be changing her mind. His Mom said she would get her to change her mind. Not that she would change her mind but that her MIL would get her to change her mind. Poor girl.

    • Ursi

      June 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      This is code for, “I will harass you about it constantly until you consider getting knocked up again just to get me to shut up”

      My mother is extremely skilled in this technique

  16. Gangle

    June 4, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    I don’t really see why anyone is that concerned anyway! And even if someone who is childfree *DOES* change their mind, so what? I have some friends who were childfree and then changed their minds, I have some who are still childfree and never changed their minds. Either way, it really isn’t my business to go questioning or commenting on their life decisions.

  17. RK

    June 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Once in a while you actually meet an honest person, like my friend. She’s not afraid to admit that, of course she loves her son but given the opportunity to go back in time she would have not had a child.

    • Pzonks

      June 4, 2014 at 10:27 pm

      i actually know a number of women like this, one of them I babysit for. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older (36) and childfree and many of my friends are “older” moms or what, but plenty would admit if they could do it again they wouldn’t.

  18. Ursi

    June 4, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    See I know a lot of people who have bought into the lie that it is impossible to regret having a child.

    I don’t think a lot of people regret their children but enough do to make me wary of that whole argument because it does happen and we like to pretend it doesn’t and parents like to tell childfree folk that it is biologically impossible.

    We’re not stupid. Children are difficult, time-consuming, and life-changing. If I don’t want a child I’m the last person who is fit to have one. Maybe I’ll change my mind but that’s a person’s life I’m gambling with if I’m not 100% certain. Do I want to find out I’m the one in a million mom who looks at that child and wishes they never were? There are worse things in life but not many.

    • whiteroses

      June 5, 2014 at 11:32 am

      I don’t regret having my kid- but he’s made my life a lot more difficult.
      I feel that, in this day and age, there’s absolutely no reason at all to have a child if you don’t want one.

  19. suzane carter

    June 4, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    This kind of definitely infuriates me personally. I’ve a child-free grandmother. She’s awesome. She isn’t going to want little ones. She’s certainly not going to alter the woman brain. Fuck off. That basically chunks that up in my opinion. Kids are not for everyone!!!

    • EmmaFromร‰ire

      June 4, 2014 at 9:02 pm

      Oh bot, you were doing well until you started mentioning a child free grandmother.

    • Maria Guido

      June 4, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      Thank you. I’ve had a long day. I was baffled by this. Bots swear now?

    • canaduck

      June 5, 2014 at 3:38 am

      Hahaha

    • Alexandra

      June 5, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      maybe she meant “godmother”?????

  20. Leia

    June 5, 2014 at 2:40 am

    This! I’m also someone who is not interested in having kids and I understand that I’ll get a lot of crap because of it so I’m prepared. That being said, I’m only 22 anyway so marriage and kids are the last thing on my mind right now (gotta finish uni first!) so maybe I MIGHT change my mind someday. But that’ll be my decision to make, not anybody else’s.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      June 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      FWIW, the crap increases the farther you get into your twenties, but the amount of fucks you have to give about it decreases proportionally. At least that’s been my experience.

    • meteor_echo

      June 5, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Yup. I just look at ’em, snorfle into my palm, and walk away.

  21. Johnstone

    June 5, 2014 at 2:55 am

    I was childfree then changed my mind post-30. When discussing it with my best friend, who is mostly determined to be childfree, I’m careful not to shove it down her throat. When pushed, I tell her she MIGHT change her mind, but not everyone has the desire for kids and that’s ok.

  22. KSo

    June 5, 2014 at 8:31 am

    I don’t regret my decision to have kids, but I know my husband does. I thought he would be the best dad, but he seems to have very little interest in spending time with our kids. I’m hoping that changes as they get older. Fortunately, their grandfather (my dad) is very involved with them, and has been a great male influence in their lives.

    • Ursi

      June 5, 2014 at 8:37 am

      if your kids are quite young there is plenty of time for that to change. Some people are just better with older kids. I’m one of those people. Keep hope.

  23. Guest

    June 5, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I know several women who don’t want to, want their lady bits removed, the whole bit. I would never question them (like their Doctors do) about changing their mind later. It won’t happen. I totally understand that they DON’T want children as much as I DO. Its the folks in between who are like meh, I hate kids, but I could have maybe one (if it was a boy) or we don’t think we want any but I guess maybe we’ll change our minds later… like what?
    Either way, shut yer faces about it. This is one of those things that isn’t open for comments.

  24. Nicole

    June 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Maria, you are amazing. Thank you.

  25. Anne

    June 5, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    On the flip side it’s annoying when child free call parents ‘breeders’ and tell them they have ruined their lives and to please keep their children out of cafes, parks, shops, and anywhere else they might make noise and or be seen.

  26. Alice

    June 6, 2014 at 7:31 am

    I wish I’d stop getting hints and questions and all that about this. I always say, ‘not yet,’ and then I get, ‘so when will it be?’ like I owe people a schedule because they really require 18 months’ notice to gift me a new-born sized onesie.

  27. NYCNanny

    June 16, 2014 at 2:06 am

    I’m 24. I absolutely adore kids (hence my profession)…but I don’t want my own biological kids for a various of personal reasons…mainly being the fact that my family has shitty health genes and I think it’s selfish to have your own offspring when here are millions of orphaned kids.
    I’ve been to 3 doctors, inquiring about permanent birth control (tubes tied and the like…) and have been met with the “are you sure?” “You’re too young to decide” and “you’ll change your mind”… No I won’t!!
    It’s actually beyond irresponsible for these doctors NOT to give me the procedure I request. I don’t believe in (for myself) hormonal birth control, and that leaves me with few realistic birth control options. I’ve had 1 abortion due to a condom malfunctioning (it slipped off and we didn’t know until later)…and honestly, I’d get another if I became pregnant again.
    It also sucks that any man, from age 18, can walk into a clinic and get snipped within a few hours, being coveted by insurance. (Insurance doesn’t cover female perm birth control.)

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