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... to ask whether you would find four adult siblings, all childless, unusual?

(101 Posts)
Peevish Tue 14-May-13 10:08:29

Would you find it worthy of remark to come across a family of four siblings, aged between 33 and 40, who are all childless by choice?

This is a moot point now, as I have a one year old these days, born just before I turned 40, but I had several people remark on our collective childlessness as strange before I had him. Not that individuals choose not to have children, but that an entire sibling group would choose not to, despite being financially stable, fertile, in relationships etc. It had never occurred to me as odd, but various remarks from people who did not know my siblings, and so were thinking about the situation in the abstract, got me thinking about whether there was something about our growing up that turned us all off the idea of being parents.

Anyway, my question is whether you would (a) find it unusual enough to remark on it and (b) assume there was a common cause, conscious or unconscious, for the decision? Also, those of you who don't have children (I know there are some on here), do your siblings have children?

LemonBreeland Tue 14-May-13 10:09:51

I would think it was unusual, but wouldn't be rude enough to comment on it.

HeathRobinson Tue 14-May-13 10:11:26

I might think it interesting but would choose not to remark on it.

stepawayfromthescreen Tue 14-May-13 10:13:06

I wouldn't say a thing, but would privately assume that there was something in your upbringing which had put you all off having children.

Numberlock Tue 14-May-13 10:14:04

I would think it was unusual in the sense of uncommon based on the 'average' situation (ie not unusual as in strange/odd).

I also wouldn't comment on it unless one of the 4 siblings pointed it out to me in which case I would just "Oh right".

I presume it bothers your siblings and they have encountered rude comments over the years?

I would assume there was a known genetic issue and you'd all decided not to risk it as is the case in several extended families I know.

I wouldn't comment though.

MsVestibule Tue 14-May-13 10:16:15

Yes, I would find it surprising enough to remark on it if I knew it was out of choice rather than infertility (and probably would be rude enough to comment on it wink), but in more of an interested "statistically, it's unusual for all 4 siblings to choose not to have children", rather than "good grief, how awful was your childhood that you've all chosen to not reproduce?".

I wouldn't assume it was a collective decision, conscious or otherwise. Just out of interest, what level of academic achievement did you all achieve?

OhLori Tue 14-May-13 10:17:04

Possibly you were just intelligent, happy people, with your own good reasons for not wanting to bring children into this world, be they conscious or unconscious.

melika Tue 14-May-13 10:18:19

No I know a few families whose kids did not produce. I think coming from a catholic upbringing, where in the 60s and 70s they were all massive families, maybe that experience put them off. I've noticed no one I know has had 8 kids!! Can you blame them.

Also being childless myself at that age, I wouldn't even have noticed! DB didn't have children either until he was 35. (He's younger than me.)

Are/were you all deliberately not being parents as in planning never to have children, or just getting on and doing your own thing (travelling and holidays etc), and so children just never crossed you mind either way?

For me it was the latter.

mrsbabookaloo Tue 14-May-13 10:20:44

I am the third of 4 siblings aged 33-44 and I am the only one to have children. It is unusual, definitely, so rather than other people commenting on it, I have usually pre-empted them by commenting on it myself!

It's unusual, but not freakishly so, and not so much now people leave it longer before settling down. They all have their own reasons/situations for not having children; it's not some sinister thing that afflicts the family as a whole.

I think the thing that we possibly all have in common is that we are too cautious to get pg by accident, and there would probably be a lot more people without children if people only had planned babies! I don't mean that in a judgy way - of course people are usually thrilled with their children even if not planned - I just mean statistically iykwim.

DIYapprentice Tue 14-May-13 10:20:45

I would think it was due to something from childhood, but would only comment if I knew you very well.

I come from a large family, as does my DH. The though of having lots of DC fills me with horror. Still don't talk to half my siblings - who have all, incidentally, only had 2 or 3 DC as well.

Peevish Tue 14-May-13 10:20:50

I don't know whether it bothers them, tbh, though I know my younger sister is enormously irritated by attitudes she encounters as a 35 year old not planning to reproduce - but that is individual irritation, if you see what I mean. Not anything involving at the four of us, before I had DS.

I do wonder myself, but while I know my own reasons for not planning to have children for so long, it's hard to say about the others, as we are not particularly close, and widely separated by geography. Our upbringing was not wildly happy, but neither was it abusive or awful.

I'd think it was unusual enough for me to consider privately what a common cause might be. It's not the sort of thing I'd actually remark on though.

IfNotNowThenWhen Tue 14-May-13 10:21:48

I have thought about this. I know 3 seperate sibling groups (of 2 's) who have not had children.
Not all of them through choice exactly, more through not finding stable relationships.
I think there are a LOT of people in their 30's who, for some reason, sort of disconnected with the whole idea though.
I know so many people that age who family lives were a bit chaotic. Maybe having baby boomer parents put them off!
(The whole finding yourself thing in the 70's was pretty hard on the kids).
I do notice that 20 somethings seem a lot more conservative in general, and want to get married, take their husbands name, have kids etc.
We are a bit of a lost generation I think.
-JUST my musings btw!

emsyj Tue 14-May-13 10:22:22

I have 2 children but my DSis (43) and DBro (45) are both childless. My DSis has been in a long-distance relationship for 11 years (both happy with the situation) and DBro was single for a long time following a long relationship with a woman he met at university, but is now coupled up again (although not living together).

I think my family is quite unusual that my 2 siblings have never married, cohabited or had children...

notsoyoniface Tue 14-May-13 10:25:59

I have three siblings we are aged between 27 and 38 and none of us have children. I would not think of it as odd until I read this thread. Three of us are in relationships/married. There are no genetic reasons, it just hasn't happened yet...

Bosgrove Tue 14-May-13 10:26:15

I know a family of 4 adult children, the youngest being 40. Until a couple of years ago they were all childless, but not all through choice. One of them has now adopted a baby but it has been a long journey for them. I wouldn't judge (at least I would say anything to them), no one knows what is going on in other people lives and I wouldn't want to put my foot in it.

Peevish Tue 14-May-13 10:30:04

Sorry, cross-posted with lots of interesting responses!

To answer questions, yes, we are all fairly academic. I have a doctorate and all the others have MAs. And melika, that is an interesting point. We are Irish and from a relatively devout Catholic background, though none of us practises as an adult. The point about cautiousness is also food for thought...

Baroness, my DP and I were definitely planning not to have children, and very much focused on career, travel, living in a tiny central London flat and having fun. My two sisters are quite militantly child-free. My brother am not so sure about.

OhLori, I hear you, that was my own thought, tbh. It was other people hinting at there being some sad or sinister collective cause that set me thinking.

oohaveabanana Tue 14-May-13 10:32:31

Interesting.
I'm one of four children and the only one with kids (although I'm the eldest, so it's less surprising ... yet).

Both my mum, and dh's parents are one of 4. In those 12 siblings, only 3 have children (ie my parents, and two others).

In one family, that's been circumstance. In one, health issues, and in one, lack on desire for children from the sibs.

Imo, if you're one of four, you have a clearer idea of what having children can mean (ito level of hard work, amount of sacrifice, for want of a better word) - it certainly meant I wanted to wait, and be really ready for children, & I know at least one of my sibs feels the same.

Family friends, 4 kids aged 43 - 55.
-Oldest to my knowledge never wanted kids (but found out she had miscarriages years ago so who knows?)
- Second adopted 3 children
- third (only son) married in his late 40's to a woman who already has DC and Grandchildren
- Youngest has tried for years but has had cervical cancer, cysts etc.Shame really - she used to baby sit me when I was a kid and I know its hard for her to see me with my DC.

Hullygully Tue 14-May-13 10:44:33

No, but then I know a family of seven siblings, none of whom have reproduced.

NoelHeadbands Tue 14-May-13 10:50:26

I know of three siblings (late 50's and 60's) none of whom had any children. I mused on it privately but didn't comment on it.

One of them is now a very wonderful step father and step grandfather

fluffyraggies England Tue 14-May-13 10:54:38

I would find it unusual but wouldn't comment unless one of you was a good friend smile

My oldest friend (from primary school) is youngest of 3. None of them have had children. Different circs. for each one.

Sad for their mum, i always think, as she is perfect 'granny' material. Always a traditional SAHM who's life always revolved around her kids.

TwinTum Tue 14-May-13 10:54:39

I would be quite curious to know what your parents make of it (although would not ask them if i knew them), both from the no grandchildren perspective and from the perspective of wondering what they had done "wrong" (not that I think it is wrong). Have you ever discussed it with them?

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