to be p'd off at being told I'm selfish for not having kids?

(63 Posts)
Anna1976 Fri 08-Jul-11 07:51:59

I commented to MIL that after working nights all week, with the flu, that I was looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. It produced the usual "your sister/ sister in law never get lie-ins, they work hard and don't get paid your salary, but the world only respects people with money, not the ones who do all the work".

This is symptomatic of my family's attitude. According to all the mothers in the family, they are all martyrs who are not appreciated for working themselves to the bone. Anyone who has not had children is not a real person, and deeply selfish.

If they feel like that, why did they have the kids in the first place?
I did ask my mother that once, but she took it as evidence of my deep-seated selfishness and insolence.

Yes I get it Mum, sister, SIL, MIL etc... you love your kids and you work hard for them because that's what being a parent is about, but why do you have to hate people who haven't made that life choice?

ruthieCohen Fri 08-Jul-11 07:56:19

you do sound rather self-involved and tiresome, to be honest.

lukewarmmama Fri 08-Jul-11 07:57:26

Because you don't know and can't appreciate how much of your self you have to give up when you have children, until you have them and there's no going back. Read any of the millions of threads on here from mothers who regret their choice (whilst also loving their children dearly ).

Maybe if you made an effort to appreciate the challenges in their lives, they might reciprocate?

QueenofDreams Fri 08-Jul-11 07:58:07

Interesting first post.

Anyway. It sounds like your ILs have issues. It is your choice whether you have children or not, and none of anyone else's business (apart from your husband obviously). But we're all damned one way or the other, because there's a hell of a lot of judgement out there aimed at women who have children as well.

Sounds like you have a bit of a martyr complex too with the 'working nights all week with the flu' business.

BelleDameSansMerci Fri 08-Jul-11 08:00:07

YANBU... I didn't have a child until I was in my 40s and encountered a lot of this before she came along (from friends, not family). I wonder if some of it is resentment that you don't have the responsibility of children. I know my life was certainly a lot easier before I had DD.

It's your choice whethery you have children or not - not your family's. It sounds as if they believe the only valid role for women is to have children. Not something I'd ever find it possible to agree with.

There is also the perspective that being accused of "being selfish" just means that you're doing what you want to do and not what someone else wants you to do...

Having a child is wonderful but it is bloody hard work.

I think people who don't have children probably are more selfish actually. They have the space and time to be.
Not relly sure why you felt the need to come to mumsnet to say this when you aren't a mum or caring for dcs or have any ambition to do so?

Anna1976 Fri 08-Jul-11 08:06:01

I do make an effort to appreciate the challenges in their lives. I babysit my nephews - for free before anyone asks - for at least a day, most weekends, and smilingly fail to respond to all the criticism that comes freely every weekend.

I don't have a martyr complex, I realise that working nights with the flu is not particularly bad in comparison to some of what they've been through with multiple kids. I just made one comment today because I feel awful, and I am sicker than half the people I've been seeing in A&E. It just feels like I can't do anything right in their eyes - I thought i was being helpful, giving them notice that i wouldn't be able to babysit this weekend because i am sick and don't want to vomit on their kids.

i got on MN a while ago while giving kids serious thought. I decided not to go ahead with it. I didn't post because I expected that i would have nothing to say that people here would find useful. Now i know i'm right. Sorry.

porpoisefull Fri 08-Jul-11 08:08:56

Well I don't agree with many of the other posts. Unless you put your family down constantly for their life choices they have no right to judge yours. I think if you say "I'm knackered, ill, have been working really hard and am looking forward to a lie-in" that's fair enough. What your MIL said was really rude. I don't think your post was slagging off parents, just wanting your family not to judge you as being selfish.

QueenofDreams Fri 08-Jul-11 08:09:24

Well, OP - sounds like your family really do have issues then. And it's lovely that you babysit for them. I reiterate what I said earlier - it's none of their business whether you decide to reproduce or not. And don't just put up with the abuse - stick up for yourself. What does your husband/partner say? Does he stand up for you when they criticise?

Have to ask why you're working in A&E if you're ill though! Go home and rest!

roulade Fri 08-Jul-11 08:10:59

If you had flu you would not be able to work. Admit it, you have a cold grin

Morloth Fri 08-Jul-11 08:11:42

Shrug, have kids/don't have kids I don't give a fuck - both are equally selfish for completely different reasons.

Try to think of a reason for having kids that doesn't start with I/We Want...there isn't one. Most of the ones against start with I/We Didn't Want.

Just for the love of God don't have them if you don't really really want them, that isn't selfish, just bloody stupid.

KSal Fri 08-Jul-11 08:12:25

I can see where you're coming from OP, and I speak as someone with kids. It seems to me that they are people who just cannot understand someone who makes a different life choice to them. Also I think there is jealousy in there at your ability to have lie-ins smile

people with kids can get inordinately wound up by the freedoms that people without kids have. These are small freedoms like not needing to be at home to look after your kids, not needing to get up in the morning when you are not working. But at the end of the day, having kids is a choice. While I defend my right to moan about things every now and again, it is out of order to berate someone who has chosesn not to do it.

As for selfish - seems to me that having kids is pretty selfish too.

porpoisefull Fri 08-Jul-11 08:13:04

Oh, and I don't think I'm any less selfish since before having children - I'm still the same person, just with a bit less sleep. What Morloth said, basically. Pensions and social care wise, having children benefits society, environment-wise it's screwing up the planet further. Anna1976, stick around, not everyone on here is going to slag you off for daring to post when you don't have children.

You didn't have flu. I am 47 and have had flu properly twice. Once ordinary flu when I was about 7 the other was swine flu.
Both of them knocked me out so much I was virtually bed bound.

Dozer Fri 08-Jul-11 08:15:16

Yanbu on the kids thing, and your in-laws are being v rude to you. They presumaboy resent your salary, freedom etc, their problem not yours.

Yabu for going to work in A&E when ill.

Anna1976 Fri 08-Jul-11 08:16:18

thanks for the kind words - and the points about choice, which I value.

(I know the difference between colds and flu; and have just been sent home). Next time you go to a hospital, look at the junior doctors and work out whether they are healthier or less healthy than most of their patients.

Dozer Fri 08-Jul-11 08:17:08

Ksal, I agree that having kids is essentially a selfish thing to do (I have 2). Also, all the selflessness gets poured into the kids, so parents aren't less selfish per se. I feel I have less to give to others since had kids, so am selfless with the kids and more selfish with the rest of the world!

Yeesh, you got some harsh replies here. I don't think you sound a martyr at all, working all week with the flu wouldn't be fun for anyone.

I think your family members are quite rude for saying such things, and I imagine it's more jealousy or resentment that you are able to do what you want that is fuelling that. Or, perhaps they are taking your not wanting to have kids as a personal slight against their choices -- what have you told them about it?

There's loads of people on MN that don't have kids, don't feel you can't post on here smile

tryingtoleave Fri 08-Jul-11 08:17:49

It probably mostly resentment. I feel fairly bitter towards childless people who tell me they are having a nap. In fact I just told my cousin that I was waiting for her to have kids so I could come and nap in front of her ( she comes and visits for a morning then excuses herself to the bedroom for a nap). Anyhow, no point getting fussed, no one should be pressured to have kids if they don't want them.

cjbartlett Fri 08-Jul-11 08:18:30

FFs if you've got a bad cold don't struggle into your a&e line of work
Surely as a health care professional you'd know not to spread germs?

I think working all week with ill people whilst being yourself contagious with a virus is fairly substantial evidence of selfishness tbh. What were you thinking?

Callisto Fri 08-Jul-11 08:21:35

I'd tell your family to feck off with their holier-than-thou attitudes. I think that people who have children are far more selfish as they are putting yet more strain on a planet that is already vastly over-populated. And if you're not hurting anyone else why on earth shouldn't you be selfish? Some people are so chippy it is unbelievable.

cjbartlett Fri 08-Jul-11 08:22:16

I suppose in that line if work you've probably always got a cold like working with kids so can't take time off all the time < tries to be sympathetic >

echt Fri 08-Jul-11 08:22:25

what kreecher and northernlurker said.

StuckInTheMiddleWithYou Fri 08-Jul-11 08:22:34

I'm TTC so no kids yet.

The real selfish people, are those who have children with no thought as to whether or not they will make decent parents.

Deciding not to have children and taking control of your own fertility is anything but selfish so much as responsible. It is as responsible as having a child and doing every thing you can to give them a good start in life.

Excuse me, but if you had the flu, what the FUCK were you doing working in an A&E department?? You should have gone sick straight off, regardless of "work ethic", rotas or dedication - how many people have you put at risk thanks to your selfishness there?

Re. children. Your choice, they're probably just envious that you CAN get a lie- in, ignore. If you don't want DC, that's your thing - not everyone does.

BUT - FFS get a grip on your work situation!

Morloth Fri 08-Jul-11 08:23:54

I have two kids and sneak in a nap most days. Now that is selfish. wink

BlooferLady Fri 08-Jul-11 08:24:40

Pah. I HATE it when people say it's selfish not to have children. Both not having children and having children are the satisfaction of desires. People want kids, they have 'em (if they are lucky). People don't, so they don't. 'Tis a lifestyle choice (obviously some, including possibly me, don't have a choice in the matter).

I confess to prickling somewhat when people with school age children who do not work imply I am less busy then them, when they have (for instance) long lunches and professional manicures and I have gone through stages of being so frantic I have worn the same pair of pants 3 days in a row (what? WHAT?! It was that or nothing!).

Finally however, if you have flu, you can't stand up or turn over in bed, never mind work...<irrelevant but true>

tryingtoleave Fri 08-Jul-11 08:27:12

Surely there are degrees of flu?

sweetness86 Fri 08-Jul-11 08:27:21

Why are you on mumsnet if you dont have kids genuine question?

ZillionChocolate Fri 08-Jul-11 08:27:57

Your MIL sounds horrid. Maybe tell her you have chosen not to have children because she's made you realise how terribly difficult it all is and you wouldn't be able to dedicate nearly enough time to them. wink

Cartoonjane Fri 08-Jul-11 08:29:36

We are all selfish. People have kids for their own reasons- which are about them and their desires. Taking a big picture view it's less selfish to have no kids as it's better for the future of the planet. In fact the least selfish thing would be if we in the west all had no children or one child.

It's true that once you do have kids on an immediate level one has to live a less selfish life. But most parents would agree that the rewards ( selfish) are huge and that overall it's a fulfilling (selfish) experience.

I feel sorry for your in- laws. They must have some unresolved issues to make these selfish comments to you.

Hullygully Fri 08-Jul-11 08:30:57

Pore ol Anna. FFs everyone's allowed to feel ill and want a bit of sympathy now and then whether they have kids or not.

Next time they bang on about their ruined martyred lives, tell them how lucky they are compared to the 85 million billion starving diseased war damaged people all over the world watching their childrne die in their arms as they walk 500 duty miles to a tent city with no food or medicine.

It's all relative.

BlooferLady Fri 08-Jul-11 08:33:14

Oi! What's with this 'Don't have kids? well piss off then' motif?! Fortunately for everyone the contributors to MN have a lot more to offer than how to wash wee out of bedsheets or where to buy school shoes!

Also, what Hully said.

StuckInTheMiddleWithYou Fri 08-Jul-11 08:34:26

Oh just tell them they shoud've used a condom then.

They're being very rude to you afterall.

That or tell them you're infertile and cry a bit - make them feel guilty. I probably am infertile and get this same treatment from my family. They don't know we've been TTC for 18 months. Grr.

sweetness86 Fri 08-Jul-11 08:38:57

I do think your MIL sounds like a cow I dont know why people cant mind their own in regards to why people have/haven't had kids.
Tell her to butt out I think its quite brave as a woman to not have children as there is a peer pressure there to have children so not having any is going against the grain and people don't understand that.

You made your choice they should accept that!

ifancyashandy Fri 08-Jul-11 10:27:29

People without kids are here as (mostly) it's a place to chat and exchange (mostly) hilarious opinions with (mostly) intelligent men and women.

motherinferior Fri 08-Jul-11 10:30:53

People with kids can be incredibly self-righteous, combining their martyred 'oh you don't know what it's like to be tired' stance with 'oh you do not know the meaning of the word happiness'. I suggest you tell them about your wild nights out shagging and drinking, beaming sweetly at them. They will feel madly jealous but unable to express this.

oohjarWhatsit Fri 08-Jul-11 10:39:59

loads of people still have lie ins/dont give a toss about what their kids are up to/never put their kids first - doesnt automatically make them better or nicer people just because they have kids.

twooter Fri 08-Jul-11 10:41:17

I sympathise op. When my sister had children, I suddenly became a non- person to my parents as all they could see/ talk about were their grandkids. i' sure it wasn't intentional, but it was hurtful.

suzikettles Fri 08-Jul-11 10:41:51


Actually, it's not harder for everyone who has children. I've just got the one (waits for the chorus of "ooh you don't know you're booooooorn" and it's not that different to pre-dc.

Skinter [check], involving more lego [check], less sleep [check], more pointless worrying at 2am about the future [check], but not noticeably harder than my child-free friends.

And anyway, I have ds who is amazing and I think it would be pretty damn churlish to moan about my life to someone who didn't have that - even if they didn't want it.

We've all got it easier than someone.

yellabelly Fri 08-Jul-11 10:46:30 your own thing.

Morloth Fri 08-Jul-11 10:54:39

suzikettles 'and it's not that different to pre-dc.'

Shhhhhhh you are not allowed to say that!

I sometimes make shit up when hanging out with other Mums just to seem a bit more put upon than I really am...

Compared to my previous working life, this stuff is a piece of piss.

oohjarWhatsit Fri 08-Jul-11 10:57:17

Compared to my previous working life, this stuff is a piece of piss.

exactly grin

HSMM Fri 08-Jul-11 11:02:40

My DH and I spent the first 10 yrs of our marriage being selfish, not having children, earning lots of money, going on holiday whenever and wherever we wanted, having lie ins etc.

Now we're being selfish having only one DD, not letting her have siblings, etc.

We all make decisions which are best for ourselves (until the children are born), so we are all selfish to a certain extent.

My siblings and parents have always supported my decisions. I work from home now and my life is not easier, or harder, it's just different.

BlueFergie Fri 08-Jul-11 11:02:54

God I hate the elitist attitude some people have on MN that it is just for mums or parents. Nobody should have to justlfy being on MN if they want to be its a free f**king country.
Parents have experiences and opinions to offer not directly linked to children which some childless peole might enjoy sharing. Mumsnet is full of interesting intelligent people with different insights. Should you only be able to avail of this resource if you have produced ofspring. Some childless people may want some insight into conception/ preganancy/ relationships or kids in general.
As far as I am concerned they are as welcome on here as a person with a houseful of kids.

Anna - I would find your MIL comments annoying too. You do not owe your sister/ SIL free babysititng just because you are childfree.

PenguinPatter Fri 08-Jul-11 11:04:35

If you every do have DC - you'll just get another set or even the same set of people telling you your are selfish for having them or wanting to have time away from them , or because you brought yourself something and not the DC something they do not need, or not letting them have the DCs when it inconvenient to you, or not being able to drop everything to do something for them because you have the DC, or because you become a WOM and leave the DC or because you become a SAHP and are not earning ect.

You need to find an appropriate response so their comment get to you less.

aliceliddell Fri 08-Jul-11 11:10:15

Had all that pre dd - particularly annoying. Was and still am more than happy to support in any way people with lots of kids, they will grow up and we'll depend on them in a few years

BumWiper Fri 08-Jul-11 11:18:35

I think you are selfish and irresponsible to go spreading germs around A&E.People could die from catching your illness.
With regard to flu,I caught swine flu last year,and no word of a lie I was sofa bound for at least a week and it took months to fully recover from.

MorticiaAddams Fri 08-Jul-11 11:28:12

I'm mostly pretty sympathetic towards you but having had flu, you would have struggled to get out of bed let alone work, you had a cold. Colds still make you feel ill and you are entitled to want a lie in at the weekend.

I always think it's more selfish to have children. You don't exactly bring them into the world because you know they're going to have to a wonderful, happy life, you do it because you want a child.

IronOrchid Fri 08-Jul-11 11:29:54

Going into A&E with flu? confused

Having kids is fulfilling the urge to pass on genetic material, so that's no less selfish than someone who doesn't want kids because they'll take away their freedom.


motherinferior Fri 08-Jul-11 11:32:59

And oh god parents can be selfish. Madly selfish. We are selfish not so much on our own behalf but on behalf our 'family unit'. We make decisions, frequently, that are in our own best interests - educationally, medically, you name it - saying quite explicitly 'our children come first'. That kind of selfishness is openly sanctioned.

philadelphiacheesecake Fri 08-Jul-11 11:56:29

I believe it is never appropriate to judge a persons choice of whether to have children or not. This is invasive and in some circumstances could be hurtful. It is amazing how inconsiderate some people can be sometimes. I have a friend who has had multiple miscarriages who has been subjected to this type of comment.

AliGrylls Fri 08-Jul-11 12:13:47

I have a family who take the opposite stance to OP. It irks me. I try to ignore it but it does get to me because I like being SAH.

Of course they are being unreasonable. Not having children is a sensible thing to do if you don't want them. Better than having them and then not giving a s**t.

jeckadeck Fri 08-Jul-11 12:32:31

that's a new one on me, most people I encounter at the moment seem to be arguing that mothers are destroying the planet by having even one child. Seriously, the way people are politicizing the decision whether or not to have children seems to most selfish thing of all. Its an incredibly personal decision. It sounds like your family have rather old-fashioned ideas about the role of women but who cares what they think?

berylmuspratt Fri 08-Jul-11 12:35:20

It's an individual's choice to have children (providing they are abe to), YANBU.

Andrewofgg Fri 08-Jul-11 13:30:27

YANBU, OP. It's the choice of those concerned. And nobody else's damned business.

You may like to know that men without children or before children (as I remember) are sometimes reminded - when for example they refuse extra Saturday or evening hours - that "My children will pay your pension" to which I remember answering "Yes, and somebody else will pay theirs, and if I never have a child I won't be leaving a future pensioner, will I?" - to which there is no possible answer.

Rhinestone Fri 08-Jul-11 13:59:23

OP, I have no DC but am TTC. I completely agree with you that just because you don't have children it doesn't mean you're selfish. Equally, having children doesn't automatically make you unselfish. Plus it's no-one's business but yours whether or not you have children, PLUS I don't like the martyr-like attitude of your in-laws.

BUT I do have to ask, why did you come on to Mumsnet to post your dilemma? confused You almost seem to be deliberately picking a fight. Maybe live your life the way you want and don't worry so much about getting the approval of people you have no desire to emulate.

Or are you just attention-seeking?

garlicnutter Fri 08-Jul-11 14:06:06

Being childless means I can live a more selfish life, for sure!

But that doesn't mean "I'm selfish". Every choice brings its own penalties & rewards. Life's a trade-off. Your DM, MIL, SIL, etc are all BU.

Can't say people go on at me for being selfish, though, so perhaps something in your attitude winds them up??

Onemorning Fri 08-Jul-11 15:31:21


It seems to me that woman are told we're selfish if we have kids, we're selfish if we don't have kids. Your MIL was out of order.

As someone going through fertility issues, I've been told I'm selfish for considering IVF, for not considering adoption, for considering not having kids at all, for not having had the foresight to start TTC earlier (during my first abusive marriage perhaps?), for not just 'sucking up' not being able to conceive naturally... judgeypants everywhere.

Ormirian Fri 08-Jul-11 15:34:08


Having children is an entirely selfish act. Once you have them selfishness has to take a back seat to a large extent but that doesn't alter the fact that chooisng to perpetuate your genes, is as selfish as you can get.

RevoltingPeasant Fri 08-Jul-11 16:11:02

Rhinestone she might've come on here because she wanted the opinions of mums, and to see if they are all as crazy as her in-laws.

OP I am DCless right now - I would like to start TTC in the future - like you, I came on MN to see the realities of parenting. Unlike you, it's made me think I want to go ahead in the near future. But that's a personal thing <shrug>

I don't remotely get the posters giving you a pasting for being 'tiresome', 'self-involved' etc. Surely all of us have had a little moan at some point about 'Gah I'm so tired I just worked ten straight days' or 'God, I haven't been able to sleep properly for days' or whatever.

It is just normal, like complaining about the weather or your car insurance or whatever. To retort by saying you don't know what tiredness is really says to me that they have an agenda - they sound like those tiresome people who always need to shoe-horn some particular hobby-horse into a conversation, be it immigration, taxes, the Tories, or how friggin' martyred they are because they have children.

Disengage - they have more to lose than you because they'll be alienating a free babysitter!!

flicktheswitch Fri 08-Jul-11 16:33:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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