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...to think that the childless by choice are judged harshly?

(280 Posts)
SadlyNotNormal Wed 08-Jun-16 13:48:45

I have a step son with Asperger's, hence being on here in the first place (in case you wondered).

My question is, even if you don't think you want kids, does that change when you actually have them? Do you magically want to become a parent even if you had doubts before? I ask this most sincerely, as this is the impression my friends with children are currently giving me and I'm curious. When I say that I understand those who don't want children (because of the work involved) I usually get the stock "oh but they're worth it" response which drives me nuts, because the implication is that everyone should have children, because they're so wonderful. Now don't get me wrong, I'm strongly in favour of people having kids if they really want them and always have been. If you really want kids and you are able to, then of course have them. I don't feel as though it goes both ways though. The childless-by-choice are judged harshly (I think) by 'society' / the media as being selfish and I hate that. Surely having children is the same as anything else in life - a choice, a 'project' to pursue or not depending on your desires (if you are fortunate enough to be able to have them)?

I've known since I was 12 that I didn't want them. It's not the idea of childbirth or the sleepless nights or the dirty nappies that bothers me (I was an au pair for a while so have dealt with some pretty intense baby / toddler stuff). It's the thought of having more freedom / money / time to pursue my creative projects in my life that makes my heart soar.

Do you think that more people regret having children than is talked about?

Thanks (in advance) for letting me rant on here. It means that I won't bring it up with friends. I'm tired of hearing how wonderful it is to have children when people know full well I don't want any more (my step son is great and I'm glad to have him; he is also Enough). Would love to hear your thoughts. I hope I haven't caused any offence with my questions.

SadlyNotNormal Wed 08-Jun-16 13:50:33

Also, one last question: why are people who have their own children (biologically) not considered selfish when there are so many children who need adoption?

ExasperatedAlmostAlways Wed 08-Jun-16 13:52:14

Personally I think they are very wise! If you don't have children don't have them. I don't regret having my children at all but I do look at my friends without children's lives and think they look like a great option too. Everyone's different people should do what makes them happy.

ExasperatedAlmostAlways Wed 08-Jun-16 13:53:08

Also are you a journalist? Reads a bit like questions you'd need for an article.

Discobabe Wed 08-Jun-16 13:53:56

Having children is THE most selfish thing you can do I think. People hardly give birth for the sake of humanity. They do it because THEY want children. I'm not sure if those who are childless through choice are harshly judged, I have kids so im fairly oblivious to that side of things. I don't understand why you would be judged though.

ExasperatedAlmostAlways Wed 08-Jun-16 13:54:02

That was meant to say if you don't want children, don't have them.

Arfarfanarf Wed 08-Jun-16 13:55:46

I think if someone isnt 100% sure they want a child they are wise to nothave one

There will always be people who stick their beak in.

When you have kids there are people queuing up to judge you! You cant do right no matter what you do.

Its about the judger. Some people are like that and they arent worth bothering about.

Tbh with so many people in the world we could probably do with more folks saying nah, parenthood is not for me!

SadlyNotNormal Wed 08-Jun-16 13:56:08

Oh God no not a journalist! Although am a wannabe writer (fiction) so perhaps that came across? These questions have been playing on my mind for ages tbh, with more and more of my friends having kids (I'm in my 30s).

ReginaTheVelociraptor Wed 08-Jun-16 13:58:00

YANBU.

My best friend and her partner have no children and whenever anyone asks if they're going to they respond with just wanting to raise a dog together.

If you don't want children, don't have them.

bibbitybobbityyhat Wed 08-Jun-16 13:58:20

I can't say I have noticed this harsh judgement you talk about, either within my own social circle or in the media. Can you link to any examples?

hownottofuckup Wed 08-Jun-16 13:59:05

I think once you've had children all you can do is say how glad you are you have them. Having children and then saying actually you wish you hadn't is viewed much more harshly then choosing not to have them in the first place.
I think you're imagining people are commenting about your situation when they are very much talking about their own. I think you're being over sensitive. I don't know anyone who actually cares as to whether someone else chooses not to have children. With the exception of potential grandparents of course wink

TortoiseSmile Wed 08-Jun-16 14:00:58

The fact is the human race has survived through "the family". So from that point of view you can see why people are so pro-family - or pro-natalist - without really thinking. I also genuinely believe the maternal instinct can really kick in during pregnancy and after - to a surprising extent - for me anyway. "The family" can bring lots of joy and pleasure and fun, - and I speak as one who comes from a small, dysfunctional one. But it is a long, often tiring and demanding labour-of-love, and unless you have unlimited funds and have lots of support, a major restriction on many freedoms.

I had my son very late and had no interest in having children. I was interested in other things, and I think some women just are. Be it art, work, spirituality, travel, study, etc etc etc. Now we have contraception such women are able to choose not to have children. Personally, I think the choice to be childless is a very positive one smile

WannaBe Wed 08-Jun-16 14:01:02

Your question about adoption is ignorant in the extreme.

You do know what adoption involves yes? Years and years of scrutiny of your personal life in order to be approved to adopt a child which has likely been so damaged by their start in life that they may have behavioural/emotional issues.

Many people choose to go down the route of adoption, but adoption isn't for everyone, and it's ignorant and dare I say it, somewhat goady to suggest that those who want children should just adopt rather than have more.

If you don't want children don't have any. But piss off with the judgement of parents who choose to have children rather than adopt.

Yours sincerely, daily fail hater extraordinaire.

BertPuttocks Wed 08-Jun-16 14:08:45

I have family members who decided from an early age that they didn't want any children. They are now in their 50s and I can't remember anyone ever commenting on it, whether negatively or positively.

Most people are too busy getting on with their own lives to pay too much attention to other people's fertility or contraceptive choices.

SadlyNotNormal Wed 08-Jun-16 16:39:37

bibbitybobbityyhat I think the examples that spring to mind are the (admittedly small) handful of people who've said "Oh you'll change your mind!" and "Why wouldn't you want kids?" My family are understanding but friends / old school friends less so. Perhaps I am being oversensitive though. I feel a sense of guilt for the choice I've made, which I can't rationalise. I feel I have to be overly positive about having kids for someone who doesn't want them, so my friends don't think I'm judging them for having their own, or a child-hater.

The Pope has been reported to be rude about the childless by choice... www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/11/pope-francis-the-choice-to-not-have-children-is-selfish

TortoiseSmile I can well believe the maternal instinct kicking in when you get pregnant (that actually scares me rather!) I've seen how much my friends change when they become pregnant (notably, not afraid of childbirth if they were before, and more assertive). I totally agree with your pro-family / pro-natalist view too, I'm sure that's why it's always been assumed that having kids is generally a good thing, because as a race we need people to reproduce to survive. Obviously less of an issue now than it once was, with our population growth.

WannaBe, I accept that probably came across as judge-y, I'm sorry. As it happens I do know of a couple that adopted three kids. It makes me sad to think that couples would avoid adoption for fear of ending up with a 'damaged' child.

SadlyNotNormal Wed 08-Jun-16 16:42:00

hownottofuckup you make an excellent point about being judged more harshly for saying you regret having them. For some reason that hadn't even occurred to me.

I really appreciate the positive responses, thank you smile

KinkyAfro Wed 08-Jun-16 16:44:59

I've had all sorts of insults thrown at me for not wanting kids, am I abnormal, I'm a disgrace to womankind, there must be something wrong with me, it's a woman's duty blah blah fucking blah. I don't have a maternal bone in my body and I'm 42 now so it's unlikely to change but I do get sick of the comments

JellyBellyKelly Wed 08-Jun-16 16:47:41

one last question: why are people who have their own children (biologically) not considered selfish when there are so many children who need adoption?

Because parenting birth children and parenting adopted children is - often - completely different and the two shouldn't be compared?

It makes you sad to think couples would avoid adoption for fear of ending up with a damaged child? It doesn't make me sad, it makes me grateful that they know their limitations. And quite often those children are 'damaged'

I don't think they're selfish at all.. And I'm an adoptive mother of two who, to the best of my knowledge, is able to have birth children (dunno; never tried).

specialsubject Wed 08-Jun-16 16:51:01

google will point you at older threads on here of people saying the unsayable; that they DO wish they'd never had their kids.

Lottapianos Wed 08-Jun-16 16:54:37

I don't have children, mostly by choice. In my experience, most people couldn't give a fig about whether others choose to have children or not. The few negative comments have been either idiotic ('how do you know unless you have one?') hmm or so rude that the person clearly had issues of their own. The very worst were from my own parents - this might not be unconnected to my decision to not have children!

But yes OP, I do agree that the media love to stereotype childfree people as champagne swilling, jet setting, fast car driving types who only ever think of them selves. Actually, we're adults with responsibilities like everyone else. And parents get huge validation and are portrayed as hugely devoted, living and unselfish. A huge HAH to that from me!

I do think it's possible that many more people regret their children than admit so. It's virtually impossible to admit that you regret becoming a parent, it's still such a taboo. The 'its all worth it' simply cannot be true for everyone

emilybrontescorset Wed 08-Jun-16 16:55:17

I admire people who choose not to have children. It's far better than having them and not treating them kindly.

So many children get put up for adoption, so many parents unable or unwilling to care for their children, it's wrong.

I think there is still pressure to have a family. Although a good friend of mine is childless through choice and everyone is envious of her lifestyle. Interstingly, her marriage is probably one of the strongest I know. I do think having children alters the dynamics of a relationship and not always for the better.

I haven't come across anyone judging her but I can't comment as I'm not childless.

handslikecowstits Wed 08-Jun-16 16:55:28

YANBU. We are. I've been sneeringly called, 'a career woman' by family and former colleagues; meaning that I'm not a proper woman for not having any. That said, according to some of these cretins, I'm not a real woman because my hair is short, my husband's dinner isn't on the table when he comes in and I expect him to share the housework. Go figure.

OrianaBanana Wed 08-Jun-16 16:57:03

From a personal perspective I had my first child quite late. No one except my MIL (not even my own DM) had ever asked me if I was going to have kids or judged me about it (as far as I know).

On the other hand, since having DS I definitely feel the weight of judginess from all sides (including now, why didn't I adopt instead of creating another mouth for the world to feed hmm)

JellyBellyKelly Wed 08-Jun-16 16:58:35

So many children get put up for adoption, so many parents unable or unwilling to care for their children, it's wrong.

In the UK there are very few children relinquished for adoption. They are almost always removed due to abuse or neglect... Therefore in the majority of cases have suffered developmental trauma - or 'be damaged' as the OP phrased it. Hence a lot of people's reluctance to become parents via that route.

WannaBe Wed 08-Jun-16 17:00:09

"It makes me sad to think that couples would avoid adoption for fear of ending up with a 'damaged' child." tthen problem with that statement though is that adoption is romanticised by so many people as giving love to an unwanted child. But you don't have to learn about attachment disorders and behavioural problems etc for no reason. Children are damaged by their early experiences. It's far better that people be able to admit that they don't have what it takes to deal with the problems which arise than to rush in with an "all you need is love" attitude and discover a year down the track that they can't cope and have the adoption break down.

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