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How did you decide you want children or don't?

(54 Posts)
KiKiKiKi Thu 27-Mar-14 12:22:32

I am 27. Until I was about 23 I was certain I didn't want children. After then I started thinking that I probably would have children if I were to marry a man who wanted them, mostly because it seemed like the 'done thing,' only with a man who would be happy to take on at least half the childcare. My mother and friends have always said I would one day feel the biological urge to have children - I haven't yet, and feel far too young to consider it. I have plans which don't involve children, but a stable and well-paid job, so could support them if necessary.

I've never been around children, am an only child with a small older family, and have always been very focussed on my career and hobbies, learning, and travelling. I don't really like babies though I am ok with my friends', and I like children from the age of about seven upwards.

I'm now dating someone who seems pretty much perfect. He has made it clear he doesn't want children. I haven't said anything either way to him but I think he will ask outright soon.

I don't think I do but I can't be certain I won't regret that decision. Did you always know, 100%, that you wanted children?

heyho1985 Thu 27-Mar-14 12:27:48

I am in a similar situation so will watch this thread with interest. Except I'm trying to walk away from an 8 year relationship as OH is pressuring me into having kids.

You still have a lot of time if you do decide to change your mind?

From what I've read I'd be surprised if anyone is ever 100%

KiKiKiKi Thu 27-Mar-14 12:27:56

Apologies for the non-sensical grammar in the title! I think that sums up my confusion on the matter...

BigPawsBrown Thu 27-Mar-14 12:28:00

No I don't know and I'm in pretty much the exact opposite situation from you in that I am in a serious relationship with somebody who does want them and I don't. To be honest, although lots of people will advise you differently, I am of the opinion that until you know 100% either way you actually can't have these dealbreaker conversations and you should just continue to enjoy your lovely new man smile

KiKiKiKi Thu 27-Mar-14 12:32:10

heyho and BigPaws you both say you don't - do you know you don't? I just think I don't.

Every thread I read on here says you need to be honest about these kind of conversations but I don't even know what I want, fully.

heyho1985 Thu 27-Mar-14 12:34:50

I don't feel that urge yet which people speak of. I have just become an Aunty and I love her to bits but it still hasn't made me feel like I have to have one right now.

I'm the same as you don't know what I want really. If I could see into the future would help a lot!

Lottapianos Thu 27-Mar-14 12:35:29

'I don't think I do but I can't be certain I won't regret that decision'

No-one can be certain that they won't regret the decision, whether to have children or not have children. That's why it's such a bugger! It can be a really confusing and upsetting issue. It sounds like you have some complex feelings about the issue and that's totally understandable.

What would you like to be doing on a Saturday afternoon in 10 years time? Shopping? Playing tennis? Planning a dinner party? Having no plans so you can suit yourself? Or do you see a child in there somewhere? How would you feel about getting to 40 and not being a parent?

I have some similar thoughts to you - I'm 34 and my deep down gut feeling is that children are not for me. And yet..... hormones or whatever have kicked in and I do have periods of feeling extremely broody. However, what clears it up for me is my reaction to hearing someone say that women's fertility 'falls off a cliff' after 35. This information did not bother me in the slightest!

It's a hugely personal issue and a question only you can answer. As others have said, you still have time. Do not, whatever you do, continue with this relationship thinking that you will change his mind if you do decide you want them. That way madness lies!

maleview70 Thu 27-Mar-14 12:49:33

It's not compulsory.....

Kids cost a lot of money, stop you doing what you want, when you want and leave you feeling shattered for the first few years.

On the plus side, they do leave home eventually :-)

scooterland Thu 27-Mar-14 12:56:39

I didn't want children. I felt really sure about that. I didn't really like babies or the tiny baby stage. I didn't know anything about babies and had never been around one for a long time. My DH did want a child and at one point I thought that would be the break of our relationship. We'd got married without having this conversation - foolish some would say but we didn't. I knew he wanted kids, and I didn't but I think he thought I'd change my mind. My first DC was an accident - the best thing that ever happened to me. I love DC more than anything and took to motherhood without a hitch. I was utterly shocked and slightly horrified when I realised I was expecting. DH was over the moon but supportive of my initial horror if that makes sense. Then I just got on with things. I was at the right time in my life to embrace it and did. However, I'm still not a small baby person. I love toddlers, young children but yes if I'm honest, babies are not really my thing. And yes the initial few months of motherhood are all-consuming and exhausting. But there are lots of other lovely positive things that far outweigh all this.

Just to say there's not always a rule book in relationships - just depends on individuals and time of our life etc. I would just possibly wonder why your DP says he doesn't want children. Has he told you why?

heyho1985 Thu 27-Mar-14 12:58:39

How old were you scooterland? Just curios as you say you were at the right time of life.

BigPawsBrown Thu 27-Mar-14 13:26:02

No, I don't know. It sometimes feels like I am the only person in the world who just doesn't know! I couldn't even give you a percentage split - I have many, many days where I think "I will NEVER do that, I couldn't/wouldn't want to, it looks awful" and almost as many where I think "meh, I probably will, everyone does."

Lottapianos Thu 27-Mar-14 13:30:48

'It sometimes feels like I am the only person in the world who just doesn't know!'

I promise you you're not the only person who feels this way <offers hand to hold> But I do share your feelings of isolation. We're in such a parent-obsessed, baby-obsessed society that it feels like something everyone else is doing, althought that's not the case at all! Numbers of women not having children (for all sorts of reasons) are on the rise.

I have heard parents say that it's so relentless and all-consuming that you shouldn't become a parent unless you absolutely, desperately want to do it.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 27-Mar-14 13:34:30

I was not keen on having kids with my exH because he was a knob. I've never been the type that coos over other people's babies. Then I was single and thought I'd missed the boat until I found myself unexpectedly pregnant at 35. So it was never really a conscious decision or some big urge to reproduce (although a psychologist might argue that there's no such thing as an accident!) Happy enough with the outcome.

lemonbabe Thu 27-Mar-14 13:42:45

I was literally dying to have children from a young age. Was always maternel, even as a girl. Even after having my children I still have that urge to procreate.

I guess if you don't really want children then you shouldn't force it. I do believe we're not all cut out for it. Everyone's different.

As for changing your mind, you are young - you may reach your mid-thirties and decide you do want kids - who knows. You should just be honest, no harm in being open.

KiKiKiKi Thu 27-Mar-14 13:44:55

BigPaws that's EXACTLY as I feel! I know I never have days where I think "I really, really want a baby" though and as that's the case I expect I probably won't. But still don't know!

scooterland Thu 27-Mar-14 14:10:39

By right time of life I meant I'd done what I thought I wanted work-wise. Got a job I was (reasonably) happy with, had done lots of training I wanted to do and had also done other stuff like travelling, holidays etc so it wasn't like I missed out on anything to have kids. I was late 30s then.
I think you also need to think that having kids doesn't mean the end of everything as you know it. It's just a continuation. By the same token I was also pretty clear I wanted to return to work quickly so was back at work PT when DC was 4 months old. Financially it was possible and my DH was very happy for me to do that. I have now given up work for other reasons but really think it was good I went back to work as it helped me not see myself just as a mum.
Work out what else you want to do apart from (not) having babies and somehow the baby-thing will find its place. Enjoy the relationship you have too.

struggling100 Thu 27-Mar-14 15:11:25

I think there are a LOT of women with similar feelings, OP - me included. Sometimes I feel like it would be a lot easier if there were more cultural acknowledgement of the fact now we have reliable contraception and can make a choice, many women find that they don't actually know which way they want to go. It's complicated by the fact that due to financial constraints, many mothers are postponing children these days - if we decide we do want kids in our late 30s we may struggle with fertility issues, but the decision is also made more difficult by the fact that there's more to lose, in terms of a settled, independent lifestyle, a career, etc. etc.

I also think that some people remain uncertain whether it was the right thing to do after the event. My parents always tell me 'you have to REALLY want children'. But I can remember being told time and time again by my mother growing up that she wished she'd never had kids. And some of the women I know who have been surprised, even dismayed, to find out that they were pregnant are the best mothers.

Like so many other decisions in life, we never know what it would have been like had we taken another path. But I also think we are resilient and adaptable, and we have a way of making lots of different paths work - there's not necessarily a 'right answer'.

blackeyedsally Thu 27-Mar-14 15:34:33

Take your time. You have time! I imagine we could all agree though that "it's what everyone else is doing/it's what you're supposed to do" is not a good reason to have children.

I have never, ever wanted to be a mother - the idea fills me with nothing but horror. And at the age of 33 I have just broken up with a wonderful man because of it.

Dahlen Thu 27-Mar-14 15:46:21

TBH I think loads of people have children because it's the "done thing" rather than because they really, really want to. Or possibly what happens in a lot of cases, bearing in mind that apparently some 60% of pregnancies are unplanned, is that people get carried away in the heat of the moment and then the woman finds herself pregnant and in many cases will opt to keep the baby.

I also think, if you look at stats on child abuse and child poverty, that in a horrifying number of cases having children turned out to be the wrong decision. And that's not including the ones who are desperately unhappy and/or dysfunctional but not necessarily abusive.

I think it would be hugely beneficial to society if more people thought about it long and hard like you.

All that said, having children can be one of the most wonderful experiences you ever go through. It just helps the odds enormously if you a) really want children, b) have an excellent support network of family and friends, including a partner who sees childcare as equally his/her responsibility (assuming you are in a relationship), and c) have a decent income. None of those things in themselves are essential and the absence of them does not mean parenthood will be a disaster, but generally speaking they help enormously.

27 is still young in today's society in terms of settling down with responsibility. Fertility for women is supposed to decline after 35 so it's not as though you need to decide right here right now, although if you decide you do if your biological clock kicks in (it doesn't always) and you're in a committed relationship with your Mr Perfect who is adamant he doesn't want children, that may be a problem. The trouble with life is that people change their minds depending on circumstances and changes of heart, and that's ok; you're allowed to do that without having to apologise, even though you need to accept that it can mess up plans and hurt feelings.

If I were you, I'd carry on dating Mr PErfect for a while and just see how you go. Some people can adopt a take it or leave it approach to children, and you may find that while you would like children with one partner, you may be happy to forego them with another. There is more than one route to happiness.

AdoraBell Thu 27-Mar-14 16:01:58

I didn't Get any kind of "bilogical urge", for me it was an emotional thing. Having grown up not especialy keen on the idea of mother hood or even marriage I married at 30 and at 33 I just felt ready. After DDs were born I realised that I had been waiting for my toxic mother To shuffle off her mortal coil.

I think you should carry on with your relationship as it currently is and see How things progress, if the decisión is not an issue right now then relax and deal with it if and when it be comes an issue. As other's have said, you might decide you want children later, or he might decide that he can live without being a parent.

SophieElmer Thu 27-Mar-14 16:08:12

I never 'decided' just always knew I wanted to be a mum. Since I was a child I knew it was what I wanted, no soul searching involved. If it had happened at any point with any partner I would have been happy, even as a teen. V glad now that it didn't work out that way.

HesterShaw Thu 27-Mar-14 16:16:43

Everyone on here says you should have "that" conversation before the relationship goes anywhere much or before you actually commit.

We never did, just kind of trundled along together enjoying ourselves and getting on with our lives. We even got married without having it. I was fairly certain we were a pair and wanted to be a pair with or without children so it didn't matter. And how can you decide in your early 20s how you'll feel in ten years?

I think you should just enjoy your new relationship for the time being.

HesterShaw Thu 27-Mar-14 16:17:12

By "on here" I meant MN in general rather than this thread.

BadLad Thu 27-Mar-14 16:46:40

I am 40 and have never, ever been the slightest bit interested in being a parent. I don't want the responsibility. I don't want the expense. I don't want to give up my free time in soft play centers, helping out with homework, changing nappies etc. I don't want to plan my holidays, career moves, housing arrangements around them.

Some call it selfish, but that's just not the life I want

Exactly what BadLad said. Except I'm ten years younger grin

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