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To want to know whether children are on the cards for us?

(102 Posts)
shouldknowbynow Mon 23-Oct-17 20:22:43

I don't know whether I'll ever want children and am struggling to visualise my future because of it. The select handful of people I share my feelings with often tell me there's no need to make my mind up yet or that I'll probably change my mind in a few years. I understand, but the uncertainty around children causes me some anxiety. DH and I have both always been "on the fence" about having children of our own. I feel very confident that if I told DH I didn't wish to have children he would be quite content with it being "just us" for the rest of our lives. The ball is firmly in my court, so to speak. For context we are 33, have been married for several years, in good health and have a generally rich and fulfilling life together.

Our indifference towards children makes me want to make the categorical decision not to have any and to plan my life accordingly. Yet again and again I am told by others that one day I will change my mind and that tiny element of uncertainty makes it impossible for me to know how to move forwards. If kids are not on our cards I want to start investing in our future in other ways. I would throw myself into my career, save so we could travel the world, perhaps live in another country and do many of the things that are much easier to do when you don't have DC's dependant on you. I would make a concerted effort to invest more in our relationships with DH's nephews beyond "friendly aunt and uncle" level, as I know they would be the only ones able to visit us when we grow old if we have no DCs of our own.

If kids ARE on our cards, then of course the way I plan ahead would be different. Saving for schools and trust funds instead, living closer to family so that we have a support network, perhaps looking to start a family soon so that my own parents are still alive to meet their grandchildren and can play an active role in their childhood, choosing property in a good catchment area with bedrooms for any children we might have etc.

I can list our reasons for and against it below, but I suppose my AIBU isn't whether or not our reasons for not wanting children at the moment are valid, but whether it's OK for a 33 year old couple to make the decision not to have children when there are still a few years left where we might change our minds?

Reasons for:-

1. Purely selfish. Presuming DH pops his clogs before me it's very likely I won't have anyone to look out for me in my old age. No one to visit me, no one to vet potential residential homes for me or kick up a fuss if I'm mistreated by carers. No familiar faces for company or to share stories and memories with. The last decade or so of my life could be a very lonely one.

2. I would miss out on what other people describe as the "joy" of having children. This is speculative as I can't actually imagine what that joy must feel like, but I do of course accept that if I had children I would love them and take great pride in them (but can you miss something if you've never had it?) DH has two nephews and I love them dearly but am quite ready to hand them back to DSIL at the end of the day.

3. I'd probably make an OK mother. I'm a loving, compassionate and caring person when it comes to DH and my family. I work hard, am active and outdoorsy, relatively financially secure, have a strong family network, am very conscientious and I'm sure if we had children I would throw myself into it 100% and be able to offer them a happy childhood.

Reasons against:-

1. I currently have no maternal instincts.

2. In becoming a good mother I think I would become a worse wife. I have a tendency towards perfectionism and like things done a certain way. I can easily envisage myself getting frustrated and angry with poor DH and undermining him if I feel he isn't parenting "properly". I am aware of what a terrible wife that makes me sound and I so desperately don't want to be that person.

3. Although we are financially secure, to have a child would make things very tight and put pressure on DH to support us if I take a break from work. We could not afford to support any DC's in the same way that our own parents (baby boomers) have supported us. We may not be able to help them buy their first car, pay for expensive extra curricular activities or provide much of a deposit for their first home.

4. Again, selfish. The thought of the parameters of my life becoming so small while the DCs are dependant on me is terrifying.

5. I'm the first person to admit I'm very particular about the state of our house. I like things to be clean and everything in it's place and disruption and mess can really stresses me out. That is NOT the kind of mother I would want to be. I would want to be a relaxed mother who doesn't mind a bit of mess and chaos or a raucaus game, but the mere thought of it sets me on edge, which is very sad.

I would be interested to hear some thoughts, particularly from anyone who made the decision not to have a family and have either regretted it or have gone on to have happy, childless lives.

MaidOfStars Mon 23-Oct-17 20:33:29

You have thought about this way more than my husband and I ever did!

We are childless by choice. We enjoy disposable income, great holidays, free and carefree time. It was never a thing we weighed up because it wasn't important enough to us to have them.

I suppose, had we accidentally fallen pregnant, we might have subsequently fallen into parenthood. But apathy doesn't make for good parenting.

I do deliberately fister good relationships with younger family members and friends' children. Otherwise there'll be no one to come to my funeral.

BreakfastAtStephanies Mon 23-Oct-17 20:37:33

I think that by the age of 33, if your maternal instinct has not kicked in then it isn't going to. Have you been around/held friend's or relative's babies and not wanted one yourself ?

My longest term friend is from primary school age 7. She dated her DH from age 15 and married him at age 25. They made the decision not to have children. She has been career - orientated, including some work abroad etc. Her DH has retired this year at age 60, she is planning to retire soon at age 55. They have a shared sport interest that they do a lot, and life is good. I don't think she is worried about old age because she has some good friends who she has kept up with ( including me ! )

If you are not feeling it, OP, don't do it. It is not compulsory to breed. Have the recreational-only sex !

shouldknowbynow Mon 23-Oct-17 20:40:22

Maidofstars did you always know that you both felt the same? For example did you have that conversation before you married and was there ever a time when one of you was more inclined to start a family than the other? It's reassuring to hear that you notice the positives like disposable income, freedom etc.

I agree with your comment about apathy. I'm determined not to have a family if it's purely because "that's what people do". I'd want it to be because we really wanted a child.

Ragwort Mon 23-Oct-17 20:40:57

Of course it is OK for 33 year olds to decide they do not want to have children and plan their life accordingly, so many people seem to drift into having children 'because it is the normal thing to do' without giving it very, very careful thought. I think you are being very wise to give it such careful consideration.

Hardly anyone will ever dare admit that they made a mistake having children and wished they hadn't as that is such a taboo subject - although there have been a few threads about this on Mumsnet in recent years.

And seriously, do not have children in the hope that they will care for you in your old age -there is absolutely no guarantee.

PhyllisWig Mon 23-Oct-17 20:43:13

To me it reads like you have more passion in the no column tbh. I do think that when planning pregnancy you need to have something heartfelt about the choice, a compulsion if you like.

Having children to look after you in old age is not a great idea btw. Both my parents and pils have kids who they are either non contact with or who have died before them as did my grandparents. There is 100% no saying in what could happen here.

PeanutButterIsEverything Mon 23-Oct-17 20:45:20

I was very much like this, no desperate desire to have children and I think DH would have been happy not to have any (but he's a bit younger than me and the biological clock isn't such a thing for men). In the end what swayed it for me was the realisation that I didn't want to have not had children. I am currently cuddling my nearly 2 year old on the sofa as he wouldn't go to sleep. It's been by far the hardest thing I've ever done, my relationship with DH has suffered massively but I don't regret it at all. Well sometimes I am wistful for my old life. Often in fact. But DS brings both of us so much joy that I know it was the right thing for us. Now we are facing similar decisions about a second. Having to think of long term benefits rather than the short term stress of two young children.

minipie Mon 23-Oct-17 20:50:35

Don't have children because of a pros and cons list.

Have children if you have a real and big desire to have children.

Doesn't sound like you do have that desire. So don't.

However - I can't tell you that the desire will never kick in. It might, it might not. Appreciate that makes planning difficult (I'm an uber planner myself so get where you're coming from).

I think it's better to live your life assuming the desire won't kick in, and therefore you won't have children. Since that's how you currently feel.
So do travel, live in another country, throw yourself into career.

If it turns out that 34 or 35 hits and you suddenly have a burning desire for a baby - none of those things are irreversible, you can have a baby in another country or move back, etc. Sure it might be that you haven't made the 100% optimum pre baby moves but so what.

EmmaGrundyForPM Mon 23-Oct-17 20:53:19

Society makes you feel guilty for not wanting to gave kids but it's becoming more socially acceptable.

Dh and I were ambivalent about having kids. In the end we decided to try, but if it didn't happen within a year, then we'd concentrate on having a very good child free life. As it happened, I became pregnant very quickly. We now have two dc whom we love very much. However, there are times when I long for the life we could have had without them. If we hadn't had them, I think we would have been very happy in a different way.

Do what you feel is right for you.

PeanutButterIsEverything Mon 23-Oct-17 20:54:24

And like you OP I needed to know whether it was on the cards for us or not, so I could mentally prepare for the life ahead as it were. Obviously you don't know if it will happen for you anyway but I just needed to know that we were going to try.

Maybe a question to ask yourself is how you and your DP might feel if you found yourself pregnant by accident?

TonicAndTonic Mon 23-Oct-17 20:55:00

Have you been around/held friend's or relative's babies and not wanted one yourself ?

For me this wasn't actually all that relevant in the end. I've always been pretty ambivalent around other people's babies and children, and still am, but a powerful urge to have my own kids kicked in for me starting around age 31/32. For my entire twenties I was convinced I didn't want any! I'm not convinced that if you're not sure you want them by 33, that it's definitely time to be able to decide one way or the other.

shouldknowbynow Mon 23-Oct-17 20:56:35

breakfastatstephanies I am regularly around young relatives and my friends' children. I love to hold them, cuddle them and kiss their podgy little cheeks. I can gaze at them and truly, sincerely think they are the sweetest little angels ever to grace the earth, but I don't ever wish that they were mine or imagine taking them home with me and raising one of my own. That's what's so confusing. Perhaps I was born to be a good aunty-in-law or godparent, but not a mother myself.

phylliswig and "ragwort* yes I do occasionally tell myself there's no guarantee that any children we had wouldn't emigrate or lose touch with us in adulthood. It's a valid point.

Flowerbot Mon 23-Oct-17 20:58:09

From what you’ve written, and you’ve obviously given it a lot of thought, I would say don’t have any. The disruption and all the rest of it is only worth it if you REALLY want them and I don’t think you do, enough.

Dozer Mon 23-Oct-17 20:59:56

On one of your pro-DC points, you can't assume adult DC would be around to keep you company or even look out for you if you were elderly and/or unwell: eg they may have their own issues or live on the other side of the world!

In deciding suggest taking into account the possibility of breaking up with your DH: should that happen, even in 10 or 15 years, he could potentially have biological DC whereas you couldn't. Depressing, if by then you felt differently, but happens.

Flowerbot Mon 23-Oct-17 21:00:15

Also, I really wanted a child and I’m glad I had her, but I don’t look at friends or relatives in couples that aren’t planning on having any and think that they’re missing out. I think you can have a perfectly full life without children.

BreakfastAtStephanies Mon 23-Oct-17 21:00:30

Also : my DH was on the fence about having DC. The first discussion we had about whether we wanted them was on honeymoon which could have been too late. He went along with what I wanted, we have two DC and he has been and is a wonderful father but he would not have minded if we didn't have any.

Henrysmycat Mon 23-Oct-17 21:04:26

Are you scared to have children? Did something happened that caused you to be so anxious?
I was similar but I had my own reasons. My DD is the happiest of accidents. She's 10 and absolutely perfect.

Dozer Mon 23-Oct-17 21:05:00

This can only be guessed at, but is it likely your H would be a good parent, and partner to you as a parent, including the vastly increased domestic work and "mental load"?

You mention taking time out, but might not wish to do so when it comes to it. Would he wish to be sole breadwinner? (My DH would not). Would he share the work compromises, negatively affecting his working life?

shouldknowbynow Mon 23-Oct-17 21:07:50

Henrysmycar no not at all. I had a wonderful childhood of my own and have never suffered anything to make me afraid to have my own children. I suppose I have been in the position to see a number of my friends have their own children first and have seen firsthand how challenging it can be for them. Perhaps if I hadn't seen other people make the leap and start their own families I would be going into it with more blind optimism and less understanding of how difficult it can be.

BobbinThreadbare123 Mon 23-Oct-17 21:09:27

I'm mid 30s, never wanted children, don't have any. My life is lovely. I have a great DH, also a childfree advocate. We have nice holidays, we do fun trips, we please ourselves. I put similar thought into it, like the OP. Being ASD adds to the mix. I think if the yearn isn't there, don't do it. Too many people have children because society thinks they ought. There's another, similar thread on which I have posted on.

Lottapianos Mon 23-Oct-17 21:11:05

I feel your pain OP. It's a huge decision, and one of the very few decisions in life that are irreversible. It can be a difficult decision to own and to live with, especially when you're being bombarded by messages that you will change your mind and will get overtaken by baby fever!

Some will scoff at your lists but I admire how much thought you have put in so far and I wish everyone thought so long and hard about whether parenthood is right for them.

The good news about baby fever, if it hits, is that you can survive! I came down with it hard in my early 30s and it lasted for several years. I really had to grieve for the loss of a family of my own. And yet I always knew in my bones that the reality of parenthood was not for me. I would have been horrified to find out I was pregnant. So I hung in there and am almost out the other side. I am incredibly grateful that we don't have children - it was absolutely the right decision for us.

Don't force yourself to fit the 'normal' mould by following the herd. I know it can feel like it, but you're not alone in your ambivalence

BobbinThreadbare123 Mon 23-Oct-17 21:11:52

Lottapianos hi from the other thread!

shouldknowbynow Mon 23-Oct-17 21:12:18

Dozer I don't think he would be particularly hands on and the bulk of child raising would probably fall to me. I think he would be a good father but perhaps not as much of a equal team-mate when it comes to parenting as some men are. He would be very happy to be the sole breadwinner though and would not resent me not earning.

Lottapianos Mon 23-Oct-17 21:13:14

Hi Bobbin! I love your description of yourself and your DH as a 'childfree advocate' grin

ginger1976 Mon 23-Oct-17 21:15:07

I was very certain that l didn't want children but found myself pregnant at the age of 34. Had a girl who is now 6 and never looked back. If there is even the slightest chance you will regret not having them, then have one. After she was born l wanted more but went into early menopause so decision was taken away from me.

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