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Childfree in your 40s, 50s and beyond

(14 Posts)
CalicoTheCat Sat 22-Aug-20 17:41:56

I'm in my mid 30s and unlikely to have children, and I feel a bit...unsettled and out of place. Being childfree and my age - almost everyone else I know already has one or two young children, or are planning to. Conversations revolve around pregnancies and babies, friends drift away...

For childfree (or childless) women in their 40s, 50s and beyond - does it get easier? Do life start to revolve less around children as people get older?

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thedevilinablackdress Sat 22-Aug-20 17:52:52

A bit, yes. But you might also want to try and find some other childfree friends. Or older friends who's children are grown up. I'm fortunate to have quite a few friends who are also childfree. But equally I'm quite happy spending time alone.

Ardnassa Sat 22-Aug-20 18:36:00

I am bumping smile I too am mid 30s, childfree and intend to stay that way! DH has grown up kids from a previous marriage.

There have certainly been a few friendships which have drifted a little once people have kids. I am keeping my oar in gently on these ones: they have a lot on when kids are young and maybe they will have more spare time in future.

A couple of my very closest friends have young kids, and it hasn't affected our friendship at all except to add a few extra annual cards and presents grin

I have built a few more good friendships with others who are childfree/are single. I would recommend doing this if you can - what I did was think of the acquaintances who I clicked with and then did the usual friendship-building stuff.

Waxonwaxoff0 Sat 22-Aug-20 19:00:36

I'm not childfree but I had DS young so by the time I'm in my 40s he'll be an adult with his own life. My life definitely won't revolve around children then! Do you know anyone your age with older children?

CalicoTheCat Sat 22-Aug-20 19:38:01

Thanks for all your replies. Everyone my age is having babies or already has young children. It can feel quite lonely - not just because of a lack of friends, but just feeling like you're not going through this big life change with (what feels like!) everyone else.

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CalicoTheCat Mon 24-Aug-20 18:02:21

I don't think I articulated myself very well before. I don't think it's just that I'm losing touch with friends as they become mothers. It's much more all encompassing than that. It's almost like, if I'm 36 and not planning kids or don't already have them, what am I doing? I have a career, but I'm also not exactly a high flier and quite comfortable at the level I am without moving further up the ladder.

Parenting and motherhood feels all encompassing at my stage in life and it's hard to not be in that place. Does it get easier as you get older?

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alltoomuchrightnow Mon 24-Aug-20 18:09:22

I'm 49 and infertile and it's been tough
Lots of nasty comments over the years
However..I'm now not seeing friends with little kids/ babies (as in, they are not having them as too old!)
I find teenagers easier also makes me see what I'm not missing haha much as I love my friends kids!
However, some friends have been grannies for years (some since their 30s) so that's a whole other thing...I do feel very lonely at times and left out

janetmendoza Mon 24-Aug-20 18:12:08

My child free friends have been able to do way more for the community that those with children. Just during the virus they have cooked and delivered dinners to the formerly homeless, befriended the shielders, delivered religious sacraments, organised virtual quiz nights, virtual runs for the running group, raised enough money for a defribulator, that's just off the top of my head. Feels like their lives have a lot more purpose than some of the rest of us just buzzing about after (adult in my case) children!

shinynewapple2020 Mon 24-Aug-20 18:37:14

I'm speaking as someone in my 50's rather than someone who is child free and I would definitely say that friendships and topics of conversation become less around children as you get older

I have child free friends that I've known for many years, pre DC and thinking about it we have always talked about a wider range of topics than I would have done with the friends I met through DC, or those I bonded with because we were in a similar lifestyle stage . I also have friends who are a different age to me, or who had their children at a different age to me and so again we have never had a friendship solely around our children .

In fact , as our children have grown up, the friends that I have lost touch with have been those where our common bond was simply having DC the same age.

It must be difficult for you though if most of your friends are going through the pregnancy / toddler / primary school DC stage and are either less interested in socialising or have a one track topic of conversation. Do you have any interests / hobbies where you might meet new people you have something in common with ?

Rubytoosday Mon 24-Aug-20 18:57:50

It’s really tough, I am 44 and childless and struggled to accept it for years. We’re trying now (we met late and dh is ambivalent) but nothing Is happening and I’m not sure it’s a good idea at my age anyway. My sister is 40 and expecting her second.
I have lost loads of friends and felt lonely and left out over the years, however hard friends with kids try (the few that have) motherhood is all encompassing. I badly wanted kids when younger and it’s been heart breaking to see what can feel like everyone go through it except me. Society and the media don’t help. It’s easy to feel second rate. And also like you need to be doing something else amazing with your life to “compensate”.
Over the years I have gained perspective and seen that there are other valid ways to live and love in this world. I still sometimes struggle and put pressure on myself to have a better life in other ways to make up for a lack when I really don’t need to, I am enough as I am. I also know I am judged but I judge myself less, which helps.

There are some fantastic groups on the internet for women who can’t have children for myriad reasons. Gateway Women is one. There are loads of women out there who have stood (and still stand) in your shoes and you are not alone. We just don’t have much of a voice in traditional society.

Reedwarbler Mon 24-Aug-20 19:21:13

It must be awful to not have children if that is your hearts desire. I can't really speak for 'not childless by choice' people, as I never wanted children, don't particularly like babies and small children, and, having seen the terrible problems some people have with their offspring, am jolly glad I haven't got any. It didn't stop me having firm friendships with adults with children (who are now adults themselves, and remain friends).
My life has been/is full. Working, running my own business when I was younger, lots of absorbing hobbies, travelling etc, in fact spending a life doing what I want, not living it through children. I was also determined not to be like my mother who was endlessly frustrated by being a wife and mother and virtually chained to the kitchen sink, her only identity being 'the wife of v and the mother of w, x, y and z' (times were different in the 50s and 60s). She did eventually escape thanks to the OU.

Crustacean7 Mon 24-Aug-20 19:57:08

I'm mid 30s and in the same boat, OP. It's really tough. I don't have anything else to add unfortunately, but I'm following with interest and sending you flowers

plantlife Mon 24-Aug-20 19:58:45

I'm older than you. I've not completely given up but have had to accept it probably won't happen. How hard you find it probably partly depends on whether you wanted children or not. I had a friend in her 50s who never wanted children and she was happy. She had a good job though and friends of all ages through a hobby.

If you wanted/want children it's very very tough at times. You can become hyper aware of how some of society (and government) view you. I try to cope with any nastyness by thinking about well known childless women. We're in good company. Nicola Sturgeon, Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Aniston. There are also very prominent men without children, like Emmanuel Macron.

I think the most important thing absolutely is doing everything you can to ensure a financial safety net. Without children there' isn't one anymore. If you get sick or suffer an unexpected situation where you can't work, there's no support or help or safe housing. I'm not trying to scare you. Most people are fine but it's important to prepare for the worse case. If I could go back in time I'd have taken out income protection insurance. Also prioritise secure housing. If you're still private renting, look into moving to a more affordable area to hopefully buy.

Once you have a sort of safety net sorted, you can turn your focus to what you'd like to do. Travelling, volunteering, maybe a career change or part-time study or classes/groups for whatever hobbies you're into. Online forums for people with shared interests can be good. It is definitely hard but once the financial issues are sorted, the rest of it can be overcome to a large extent. Apparently childless people are a growing group. It's becoming more common.

CalicoTheCat Mon 24-Aug-20 20:24:27

Thank you everyone for your replies and flowers to everyone in the same boat also struggling. I am hoping to get back to meeting other people through hobbies when things start up a bit more. Even this can be hard though. I joined a local group for a few months last year and 95% of the time the conversation revolved around children in some way!

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