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How did you decide you want children or don't?(54 Posts)
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?
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%
Apologies for the non-sensical grammar in the title! I think that sums up my confusion on the matter...
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
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.
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!
'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!
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 :-)
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?
How old were you scooterland? Just curios as you say you were at the right time of life.
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."
'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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By "on here" I meant MN in general rather than this thread.
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
I had a series of unsuitable partners before I met my DH, and I didn't want children with any of them and that was fine, because they didn't want them either. I knew I'd just be a single mum in the case of that happening. But especially as I got past 30, I knew I would be grateful to have the experience of motherhood if I could love and raise a child in a happy, stable family. Fortunately, DH felt the same and that's what we are doing together. It was the right decision for me. Hard work, but worth it beyond words.
You don't need to decide yet, keep dating your lovely man and see where it goes. However, I do think its best to come to decision by around age 30 if you can, especially if you would like more than one child. If you'd like to stay child free and are happy with a partner who wants the same, then lovely. But if you feel you'd like to have a family, and are with a person who doesn't, or is perpetually on the fence, then it is best to not waste fertile years on them.
Fwiw, I met DH at age 31, married at age 34 - would have married sooner but there were immigration issues involved. Started ttc right after the wedding. Had 2 mc, then DD at age 37. 39 now and can't have any more due to medical reasons. Would like to if I could but happy with one and DH.
I spent quite a few years in childhood as an only child with a difficult single mum, lots of boring childminders and being looked after by people who had no time for me. Then after she remarried and quickly had two children I really enjoyed living with the chaos you get with children (instead of hearing the clock ticking), coming up with ideas to entertain them, reading them fun stories and kind of extending my own childhood that way, but with a lot more fun, games and laughter than I had enjoyed until they were born. So in my mind children brought life into your life. I could have settled into a life without them, but felt very lucky and happy when we then did have two children. The sleepless nights and bum-wiping were a pain but as soon as they started to react and show their characters it made up for that. I was happy to go back to work afterwards, but I did feel that my role as a SAHM for the first few years was important and something I benefited from enormously. I think it is largely down to my initial feeling that my half-sisters were a great addition to my life. That clinched it for me.
I've never had the slightest urge to have a child and in my 30s, when I might have changed my mind, the sight of my exhausted, half-mad friends attached to a sling just finished me off forever.
I love my DNs and DNeices more than life itself. And my pet, fat tabby Mr Cory, is very spoilt.
When I discovered I was pregnant. Dh was always adament he wanted kids. But I wanted a bit of married life first. Dh asked if he could be a dad by 33 which gave me 4 years or if I took it to 34 it would be 5. I agreed because that sounded plenty. I then got a positive pregnancy test the following month. Cried for days but knew I wouldn't terminate.
I have always known I didn't want them. I have always been able to imagine my life childless and happy but when I imagine my life with children it is the opposite so it was never in doubt for me. Even if my husband begged me I still would not have children so it's a good job that he doesn't want any either.
I think all you can be is honest with the other person in any relationship.
I'm having similar(ish) thoughts - Has anyone had a child not because they ever felt like they wanted one, but because they thought time was running out?
I'm 32, not married and whilst I'm seeing someone, I don't know whether it will be a long term thing. I'm lucky enough to be in the position that I could pay for full time care as I feel (although I appreciate noone knows for sure) that I would want to go back to work very quickly and continue my career.
I have never felt broody... nor have I ever thought there were more pros than cons about children - however, at 32, I appreciated that I have limited time to make that decision and therefore am wondering whether to just 'have kids' as that way, it's done as opposed to not having kids and then regretting it 15 years down the line.
That's literally the ONLY reason at the moment - the worry that I will regret not having them.
I never wanted kids. Didn't like babies or children, didn't want to go through pregnancy and the thought of giving birth was horrific to me. However I was then diagnosed with a serious long term health problem. When I thought I would be unable to have children, my outlook suddenly changed. I decided I wanted one! I now have a lovely 2 year old and can't imagine life without her. I loved being pregnant and loved giving birth and really enjoy being a mum. Definitely the best decision I ever made. In a way I'm glad for my horrible health condition as otherwise I probably would have just carried on and never made a decision. I still don't like other peoples kids though lol
Oh and I thought I'd miss work and want to go back ASAP, but actually ended up having a year off on maternity leave which I loved every minute of! Didn't want to go back to work but went back part time as I needed the money. Would happily be a stay at home mum if I could (and if you knew me you would know that there is no way in the world I would ever, ever have said this before). Think my friends find it quite amusing!
You're still so young though. I am 29 and over the last 6 months or so I have had a few "it'd be so nice if there was a baby in the room" thoughts...
"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 find this unlikely. If he has MADE IT CLEAR he doesn't want kids, why would he keep 'checking in' with you? For as long as you don't say anything, I imagine he'll (logically) assume that you are happy with the position.
I feel similarly. Never had children, never felt broody, but can't imagine NOT having children if you see what I mean. If I have a child I should do it soon. I feel like my partner would be a great father to the child but I'm not so sure about being the perfect partner to raise a child WITH. It's never occurred to me I would be tied to someone else forever through flesh, or at least I thought it would feel inevitable and entirely natural if it did happen. but it makes me feel a little….tied down and frightened.
I didn't want children, never felt broody, had no biological clock niggling away. People have always told me I was wrong to feel like that as I was missing out and it's "the best experience ever!" But these were also the people that whinged about how "you have no idea how it changes your life", like they hadn't been listening to what other parents had been telling them before they took the plunge and seemed to have gone into it with rose tinted specs on. I felt I had been listening, that it did sound blooming hard work and a huge life change and I wasn't up for that.
Met my wonderful DH late 20's, married early 30's and partied until turning 38. DH was of the same mindset as me, although once a year he would mention drunkenly how he always wondered whether we should try for a child, mainly out of curiosity of what our baby would look like! And because we weren't getting any younger, which made me start to wonder whether I would regret not having a child. Then we also realised one by one, all our younger friends were having babies, and we could no longer avoid them!
So as I approached the end of my 30's we talked about it whilst sober. & decided that we still couldn't decide! But what we did know is that were we to be blessed with a baby (we fully accepted it also may not be possible by this point) we were finally ready for the all encompassing change to our lives if it happened which I believe was the key. 4/5 months later I found out I was pregnant, with many mixed emotions, but fate had decided.
And here we are a year later with our gorgeous DS! We have been blessed with a very healthy and laid back baby so far, which has made the transition into parenthood far easier than expected. We both admit 3 months in that it's still like living in a parallel universe as we still can't believe WE have a BABY! But I am very aware that our reaction to DS coming along could have been so very different, and I hope to goodness that I in turn never chastise someone else who says they don't want kids as I know it is not a decision to be taken lightly yet all too often is. It is not the best thing for everyone, and no one can guarantee you'll love it. I have been so lucky and am enjoying motherhood enough that I almost wish I had wanted this earlier, but I wouldn't be the parent I am otherwise, so no regrets.
There has been some really good advice so far on this post OP and we'll only ever be able to tell you how it happened or not for us. Just please don't put yourself under pressure whatever you do, or hurry into any decisions when there's no need. Good luck x
Then we also realised one by one, all our younger friends were having babies, and we could no longer avoid them!
I thought that was an excellent post, apart from this sentence.
Why can you no longer avoid babies just because your friends are having them?
I always wanted to be a mum, it was never a case of 'will I?' But 'when I have kids'.
I think youighy regret not having them, I'm not sure you would regret having a child though.
What I would say though is even with the most responsible, 'weigh-pulling father it is the mothers life which is more affected every time. It's you that carries the baby, gives birth and it is you that has the career affected etc etc. I have a friend who says she 'll have a baby only because her partner wants one- I think this is where somebody could resent becoming a mummy.
I hadn't really thought about it until I met DH. Just kind of knew I wanted to experience many things with him, and the biggest and most exciting thing seemed to be parenthood. Then I got pregnant a year after we met, unexpectedly (I was 28 and thought my life had ended!) Now I am 33 and expecting no. 3 in a few months But I do wonder whether I'd have gone down the road if that hadn't happened (both in terms of meeting DH/having more time to think about the reality of it all).
I went from being a VERY intolerant person in regards to babies/children (used to wish they were banned from planes ) I was a bit of an idiot. I now genuinely love all babies and children. I love watching them discover things, learn and grow - the whole growing process absolutely fascinates me - I am amazed by my children every day. They drive me up the wall at times as well, but I really am happier than before I had them. A bear hug from my 2 year old or being told I'm my four year old's best friend makes me happy for the rest of the day.
The euphoria and joy of being alive when I was handed my baby after each labour...the intensity of the love I felt at that moment - I am glad I had children for that alone.
I just always knew that I wanted them from a very young age.
I can quite see why people don't.
They change your life and there is no going back, so it is not something to 'do' just in case you regret not later.
Badlad - I meant that with our friends now having babies, one way or another, children were becoming a part of both our lives. Neither of us grew up with babies or younger children around, so I guess that made us less drawn to them if they were about as they were a bit of an unknown entity. I think I also didn't want to spend time with other peoples children as even though not broody, it got me asking the question why wasnt I? Why didn't I want children when so many others did? I felt fairly alone in my decision like many of the other posters here say they are now, so yes, I think I actively avoided kids! It was easier than dealing with a niggling question that no one could give me an answer to.
I'm a man. Now 40. Don't want kids. Have always known I don't want them. The downside is that makes me like a leper in the dating pool!
I have a female friend who is about to turn 37. Her boyfriend of 5 years dumped her just before she turned 30 as they were discussing buying a house together. She said at the time "I won't ever have kids now".
Three years later she said she probably didn't want children. Four years later she said she wouldn't MIND children - if she met a man who wanted kids, fine, if they didn't, that would be fine too. Then it was back to probably not wanting. Then her sister-in-law had a baby through IVF and my friend decided she probably did want kids and got broody.
Now she's back on the fence and is genuinely happy with either outcome depending on the man. Unfortunately she's been single 7 years - a few dates here and there so the decision is looking like it'll be out of her hands anyway before too much longer.
I am in 40s and a women and I am amazed at how many people had said I will regret not having children but I know I won't. I like my life and get great pleasure from doing the things I like and the people I see. I guess the difference is I 100% know for me having a child would change my life for the worst.
If you are sitting on the fence it must be awful because once you have a child you can't take that decision back. Unfortunately society still assumes the women will take care of the children in any split so I also think that if your undecided think about how you would feel as a single parent with little or no help. And yes a lot of men would step up and want 50\50 care of the kids in a split but there are am awful lot that walk away.
When you are doing the things you like think about how having a child in the mix would change it. Can you imagine finding joy in that, would it enhance you as a person. Do you want to share your life and experiences with a child? Not an easy decision so wish you all the best.
I always, always wanted children. So when DH and I became a couple, it was one of the first things we discussed. Fortunately we were on the same page as it would have been a deal breaker for me.
My Dsis never, never wanted children. Neither did her DP when they discussed it.
We are both happy with the way our lives have turned out.
It must be very hard not to be sure, can't imagine how that must feel. As long as you are always honest with yourself and any partners you have though you will come to the right decision.
I would love to be so adamant in my decision as some people are. My friend in his late 20's is so sure he never wants them and I believe he knows 100%. Must be brilliant to know your own mind!
I think it is useful to preface any decision with "In these circumstances, right now I think..." because people do change their minds. If you were to stay in a relationship with this chap, OP, how would you feel if he changed his mind? How would he react if you decided in a decade that you did want a child?
If you don't change your mind, what would happen if you were to become pregnant unexpectedly? Would you be prepared to terminate? Would your partner demand or expect that you terminate? It's a good idea to chat through these scenarios and often very illuminating!
There's no right answer so no one else can tell you what to do or what will leave you with the most / least regret. Everyone comes at this from their own perspective.
Hubby and I discussed children before trying: we both agreed that not having children was perfectly lovely and gave us freedom (and, if you want to be materialistic, more spare money!). However, we do like children and felt that we'd be good parents should children come along, which is when we started trying for a baby. I never had any sort of a 'I must have children or I'll die!' feeling, but I did go a bit squishy over friend's and relative's new borns when I had a cuddle. I guess I made the decision based on how much love I thought I'd feel for a baby, and I always thought I'd love them a lot.
I was never a baby person, didn't know what to do with them and got irritated with people bringing them into work and everybody cooing.
I met DP late in life, and we had a drunken conversation about babies. I realised my negative feelings were a fear I'd never have children, as my love life had always been a bit sad, and it was easier to say 'I don't want them' rather than 'I'm worried I won't have them'.
So we decided to leave it to fate - ok to have one, ok to not, given our ages, 40+.
A year later, I wasn't pregnant and I looked at a life without babies. I decided it wasn't what I wanted so we tried properly and a month later, DD1 was conceived. Three years later, DD2.
I am now one of those women peering into prams and cooing, and happily so.
Quite a few of my friends are undecided or taking steps not to have kids. It's becoming quite normal as a lifestyle choice. Kids are hard work and there's no shortage of people. I planned for my DS (I knew I wanted a family since early 20s) and it still feels as though a bomb has gone off in my life. I love him to bits, but if you are only after the cute factor, or societal pressures, get a pet.
I only started thinking that actually I did rather want kids when I came off the pill when I was 27.
Having never wanted, and never regretted not having, kids, I would like to point out that it's incredibly difficult voicing that opinion to parents - because it seems so tactless.
You feel that by listing even one of the numerous joys of being childfree, you might be seen as rubbing it in. The last thing you want is them agreeing with you or catching your eye a bit too long. 'Just don't go there' is the strong and silent message the childfree learn pretty fast.
I always knew in theory that I wanted to have children, but I didnt give it any real thought until a few years into my relationship with DH, when I just suddenly, absolutely knew I needed to have children with HIM. I was 27. I hadnt imagined having children until some vague point in my thirties - was very career and social life driven, not at all a 'maternal' person etc.
No regrets, adore my children. But it is hard. Motherhood didnt turn me in to someone who enjoys softplay. I still much prefer the pub and
You're very young. How old is your DP? You have plenty of time to make this decision either way, but honest conversations need to be had...
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