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Did anyone else feel they wanted to be childfree from an early(ish) age?

(54 Posts)
Inventra Tue 02-Jun-20 20:40:54

Hi everyone, first time poster here smile but have read threads on here (often concerning this subject) with interest.

Just that really, I'm 20 and at university. Having thought about this often, I'm pretty sure I'm leaning more towards the side of not having kids. Disclaimer - I fully appreciate that there have been many cases of people swearing blind when they were my age that they'd never want kids, only to have gone down the procreative path in their 30s, so never say never! However, I have thought pretty deeply about this. I also get that for many people it's an uncontrollable, illogical urge - after all, the meaning of life once we strip everything back is just to procreate! Obviously I have a sex drive but no burning desire to reproduce - glad we're in an age of overwhelmingly effective contraception.

To an extent, I think this could partly be linked to me being an only child, and a fairly introverted one at that. Throughout my childhood, I often had long periods of solitude/having to entertain myself, and feel perfectly content with and revel in my own company. (I do have friends, but don't need to be around someone else all the time IYSWIM). Further to me not having siblings, all of my cousins are now in their early 30s (and at the stage I'm at now - uni, gap years etc - when I was a kid) so I've never really had much experience of living with people my own age in a domestic setting while I was growing up.

I suppose up until around I was 15-16 or so, I'd sort of assumed I'd go down the conventional "marriage and kids" route as I hadn't really questioned it/considered the alternative, but having read around online and thought more deeply about it, I'm veering much more towards going the childfree lifestyle. I guess in a way, having had something of a sheltered childhood and never having endured the rough-and-tumble of competition with siblings, I hadn't really considered - from what it now seems to me at least - the seemingly relentless drudgery involved in many facets of parenting, especially in the early years! I fully respect those that chose to take on the responsibility of having DC, but I don't think I'd really like having that 24/7 "always on" IYSWIM. When I've finished my day's public side (being at my occupation etc) I like to unwind in peace.

Occasionally I think of some of the priceless "Instagram moments" - the idyllic family Christmas scene, one of the "nuclear family" cultural tropes I guess as well, being the one that comes to mind - and then I remember that for every one fleeting moment like that, there are 99 messier and unglamorous ones - tantrums to name but one. I suppose for many that makes it all worthwhile, in the kind of "nothing worth having comes easy" ilk - which is fair enough of course. However, I don't personally think it'd be worth it enough for me. Sometimes, I occasionally think in passing "oh that'd be nice if I had a family", then quickly remind myself of the reality and am firmly back to my childfree outlook!

Another thing that is a major factor in it for me is cost - the c. £250k figure of raising a child from birth to 18 is often bandied about. Again, fair enough if you do want to be a parent - but it does seem an awful lot. I was staggered at how much childcare costs, for example, and how in many cases, many parents (most often women) have to work for often what amounts to nothing, once childcare costs have been deducted, for a few years.

I should add I'm in a fairly fortunate position, especially in the current climate - which I fully acknowledge and appreciate how lucky I am. My family are kindly funding my studies, so I will graduate debt-free, and I have a comfortable portfolio of savings and GP inheritance - and my DPs have said they have some for a house deposit for me, should I need it. I also have a part time job which I'm saving my wages from and adding to my overall pot. So in a way, if my inclination was the opposite (i.e. wanting to have kids in the future) I'd have a head start on many that will be potentially paying off student debt/not have any savings or family support.

Plus, although I'm at university, reading how full-on and draining a lot of the "corporate" jobs are really puts me off in a way. Yet, it seems, to give your kids a reasonable standard of living, at least one in a couple needs to have a well-paid job. To be honest, although I've done rather well academically, I'm a bit lazy deep down, and don't think I'd necessarily want a big, all-encroaching corporate "career" that would require me to live and breathe it. Thinking about it, I don't think I'd be too perturbed with just a reasonably paid job to support myself, and a modest flat for the foreseeable future at least. Whereas you read on here about the skyrocketing house prices up until recently/cost of living etc if you have mortgage on a family home and all the other outgoings associated with having a family.

I'm not really asking whether I'm being U to want to be childfree necessarily, as I fully believe either choice is equally valid and that it's an individual decision for everyone (and it's good if people think carefully as well!) I suppose I'm more so curious as to whether anyone felt pretty ardent that they wanted to be childfree at an early age?

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Tue 02-Jun-20 20:48:54

This is all a bit text book and not remotely hormonal! Life, your feelings and your views can change. Mine did but I was never desperate for DC. I thought it would be ok. DH seemed keen. So I left it until my mid 39s. Busy with a career and none of your advantages. We worked for everything. I wanted to wait until I had a decent house etc. I also really disliked the idea of pain around giving birth. Definitely couldn’t see the attraction of DC for years and I wasn’t interested in friends’ DC either. Your own are different though. You can change!

choosesoap Tue 02-Jun-20 20:54:09

me and the 8 girls i lived with had this discussion in our 20s..all 100% convinced we didnt want them and never would. however by 34 I'm now the only one who still hasnt had one.. in fact they've all had at least 2.

Pursefirst Tue 02-Jun-20 20:56:16

I knew from a young age (early teens) that I never wanted DC. I was a high achiever in school/university and have a great job that (pre COVID) let me travel the world. It's also completely incompatible with having DC though. DH never wanted DC either thankfully, so it was never a discussion we had to have.

I'm still happy that I never wanted DC because I had cancer in my mid 20s, which left me infertile and I had a hysterectomy less than 10 years later. That is a long, roundabout way of saying that sometimes you do know at an early age that you want to live a childfree life and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Artartart Tue 02-Jun-20 20:57:16

I'm 34 I've been with my partner for 15 years. I never felt I wanted children. When I was a teenager I never really thought about it much but when I did it wasn't appealing. I cerainly knew I didn't want children by the time I was about 17. I guess it didn't really feel like a decision at any point in particular. We just didn't prioritise the security we would have if we'd wanted them. My partner felt the same way. But he's said he would have had them if I'd wanted them. But from what I read on here I feel it's possible a lot of men feel like this.

ScarfLadysBag Tue 02-Jun-20 20:58:00

I did, very strongly. But then I hit my 30s and changed my mind. Not to say that will happen for you, of course, but it's possible. I'd say just don't really worry about it for now. You might change your mind, you might not, just see where life takes you!

leftovercoffeecake Tue 02-Jun-20 21:02:54

Yes, it’s been a lifelong thing for me and my mum can vouch for that grin

Growing up, I hated dolls. I got bought a baby anabelle for my birthday and I wanted nothing to do with it. I never wanted those baby doll pushchairs either. I loved teddies and then as I got older it became things like Bratz, but that was just for the fashion lol.

I also remember being in primary school and being worried that I would get cast as Mary in the Christmas play. I didn’t want to have to pretend to be pregnant or hold the baby Jesus.

Even as a child, I was never interested in babies or small children. At family gatherings I wanted to hang with the adults. I do have a younger brother, but we’re extremely close in age, so he’s always felt like my peer. I would’ve hated any other siblings though.

I’ve also never found babies or small children cute or adorable. To me I see them in a matter of fact way, like oh there’s a baby over there, but I don’t feel any kind of emotion like I do when seeing a kitten. Whenever I say this, people try and show me ‘cute’ baby videos to prove me wrong, but it doesn’t work and in my entire life time I’ve never looked at a baby and thought it was cute.

In my early teens, I remember how uncomfortable I’d feel when someone would say ‘when you have kids one day...’.

As I’ve gotten older, my childfree feelings have only grown stronger. Especially having watched people around me go through pregnancy and having kids.

AlCalavicci Tue 02-Jun-20 21:04:47

Your out look seems a little clinical to me , but I dont think it is necessarily wrong to look at it that way.
I knew from a very young age ( about 8 or 9 ) that I did not want kids and I still feel that way now 30 + years later .

My DPs understood that from me been young but my grandparents made a point of asking me every time I went to their house (most weekends) when I was going to have children from me been about 16 ! It got to the stage that they made me feel like there was something wrong with me because I did not want kids , my DD stood up for me every time he heard them ask but they would just say things like I am been selfish , you will do one day , your not complete without a child.
They NEVER asked my DB if he was going to have kids

AlCalavicci Tue 02-Jun-20 21:11:39

@leftovercoffeecake
I was the same when it came to dolls , someone bought me a tinytears doll , I never even took it out of the box but I was bought a teddy as a christening present and would apparently scream the house down if i couldn't find it .
I still have her on my bed side table smile

ItsJustTheOneSwanActually Tue 02-Jun-20 21:14:35

I always assumed one day I would start wanting them. Am now mid 40s and couldn’t be less interested in being a mother. None of it looks remotely appealing.

Babyboomtastic Tue 02-Jun-20 21:15:54

I was very very sure from a young age that I didn't want children. Even from being a young child. I'm now in my mid 30s with two planned children and very happy with my decision.

Who knows if you'll change your mind, that's not something you need to worry about, just see where live legs your and if that urge to have kids does hit them you can choose whether to follow it

ScarfLadysBag Tue 02-Jun-20 21:18:12

Oh and despite having my own DC now, I still am not really interested in random babies or children. DD is special because she's mine, but I've never been interested in kids generally.

bridgetreilly Tue 02-Jun-20 21:21:46

Certainly by the age of 16 I knew I didn't want children (it may have been earlier but it's so long ago I don't remember). Had one brief spell in my early twenties of thinking maybe I might, but otherwise nope, never wanted them and now way too old for it to be an option, which is a big relief.

Daisydoesnt Tue 02-Jun-20 21:25:06

I’ve never wanted children, and have never really given it much thought. Im quite a thoughtful person I would say generally but I’ve never had any angst over the question or really even dwelt on it. I knew it wasn’t for me, so I didn’t waste my time thinking about it. So I must admit OP I really don’t get your navel gazing, and very very long post!

I do remember having a bet with my dad as he said I’d have children by the time i was 30. I didn’t but the sod never paid up! I’m 50 now by the way and have been married (very happily) for 20 years.

crosser62 Tue 02-Jun-20 21:33:06

Yes me.
Had no urge, no interest and could not see myself having kids.
I was horrified by the thought, genuinely thought that people having children were throwing their life and freedom away.
Added to the fact that I actually disliked children.

Met my dh, decided to get married at 30.
We were doing the food shop and I heard a child crying, absolutely irritated thinking “will someone shut that thing up”.
Then like someone flicked a switch, a few months later hearing a child crying and I thought “ ahh poor thing, probably needs a cuddle”.
The thought didn’t disgust me for some reason.

Then having come round to the idea, we couldn’t conceive. Decision made for me really.

x2boys Tue 02-Jun-20 21:33:47

At 20I knew I wanted kids at some point in the future but certainly not at that point I had my two at 33 and 36 my friend was,nt really bothered about children but she did have her children l at 38 and 40 and obviously loves them more than anything I had another friend saying at 23 she never wanted children and and she's early 40s now and doesn't have children,whatever you choose is a valid life choice and nobody,s else,s business

MadameMinimes Tue 02-Jun-20 21:36:52

As a teenager I was always adamant that I didn’t want children. Then in my 20s still didn’t want children but thought perhaps I might change my mind one day. I’m now mid 30s and still have no interest in having children and don’t think I will.

WeirdAndPissedOff Tue 02-Jun-20 21:37:41

I'm not sure if I'm what you're looking for, as I don't actually know if I want kids or not - I'm pretty sure I don't.
I've known since my youngest sibling was born that I probably didn't want children. I was age 15, and going through the "awww, babies" stage before she was born, but when the reality sank in ...
I played quite a large part in looking after her, childcare etc, and she wasn't a great sleeper - it was extremely bloody hard! And since then, every interaction with children I've had had reinforced that "out of my depth" feeling. I love children - I find them adorable, funny, and watching them grow and learn is fascinating. Internally I know the reasons behind their behaviour and can rationalise tantrums, crying etc and I don't judge them or their parents when they're noisy or playing up. But I can't cope with them. Teens are arrogant self-centred dipshits who throw years of hard work back in your face, listening to small children cry or throw a tantrum physically hurts, and even a well behaved child grates when they just won't let you regain your headspace for 5 minutes.

I look at the good moments often, and remember the good moments and happy memories I've had with my smaller siblings over the years, and sometimes I almost think I could want that, and achieve it. But I know the reality would be a stressy mess of a mummy who just wants the kids to fuck off for 5 minutes so I can breathe - constantly!
Plus I'm also a massive introvert - I like my peace and quiet, I need my headspace to thrive, and I like being able to arrange my schedule to suit me and no-one else. I can't even be arsed to date as I think having to plan my life around a partner would be too much effort!

I did take my feelings with a pinch of salt, though, and thought that maybe they would change over time. But I'm now 30 and still feel the same - at best I occasionally think about time limits, and how I would feel looking back and realising the decision to have children has been taken out of my hands. But I certainly have no desire to have children in the near future at all.

I do sometimes wonder though what "point" my life would have without having children. Don't get me wrong, I know having children isn't the be all and end all, and there's so many things you can do with your life without them - I just don't think I'm likely to do them.
Like you, I'm a bit too laid back to really chase a high powered career. I'm chronically skint so not likely to travel the world or set up my own business etc, etc. And I don't have a burning social life. Which leaves ... 50 years of the 9-5 grind and then a lonely retirement?

Though tbh, sitting under a pile of cats watching Netflix and playing the playstation could keep me occupied for 10 years or so, I reckon. grin

ladybee28 Tue 02-Jun-20 21:41:15

Didn't know I wanted to be childfree, but never wanted children.

That was enough for me.

33 now, and now I know I want to be childfree.

Gets tougher as all my friends start having kids, but only because it cements my feeling even further and I know what that means for our friendships.

HotSince82 Tue 02-Jun-20 21:43:51

I was certain that I didn't want any children.
I too was an only child and I am still extremely comfortable in my own company.
I hated being an only child and couldn't wait to reach adulthood as adult company outside of the sphere of school, extra curriculars etc was all I had ever known and was comfortable with.
Very long and protracted story short; I now have five children aged almost fifteen to three at the grand old age of thirty seven.
Contraception isn't as infallible as it is lauded to be so my advice is to get sterilised if you don't want any children.

I'm actually glad that I have my five but a friend from uni who incidentally had four siblings says that she would have hated to end up in my situation of failed contraception and subsequent motherhood so she has remained both single and childfree. Another friend and close colleague who is almost forty had an accidental pregnancy after stating her intention to remain childless up to the age of thirty five and says her DD is the best thing to have happened to her.

You are twenty OP. Who knows what will happen?
Have children or not. It is not for everybody but lots of us believe at twenty that we will stay child free but meet our partners and well, everything changes. Will that be your experience? Who knows?

Thisisnotwhatiwant Tue 02-Jun-20 21:47:31

Always knew I didn’t want children. Mid 50s now and my view in that never changed. I did wonder if I met the right guy I might change my mind, but that situation didn’t arise. Always made it quite clear early on in relationships that I didn’t plan on having a family. Long term relationship (20 years) and it was never an issue. Did go through early menopause (mid 30s) don’t know if that had any bearing on the situation. Very happy and never doubted myself.

PetitTorteois Tue 02-Jun-20 21:48:41

@leftovercoffeecake
I could have written this myself word by word. Are you me? 😁

Sulla Tue 02-Jun-20 22:07:06

I knew from the age of 4 and never wavered. I am now 50. Most of my friends are childfree and knew they didn't want kids before they were 20.

Catra Tue 02-Jun-20 22:46:48

I think this could partly be linked to me being an only child, and a fairly introverted one at that. Throughout my childhood, I often had long periods of solitude/having to entertain myself, and feel perfectly content with and revel in my own company. - As a fellow only child, I can relate to every word of this.

At 20 (and indeed well into my 30s) my priorities were sleep, my own space, the peace to be introspective, the energy to party and the time to pursue my creative interests.

Each time a friend announced their pregnancy, I privately pitied them and the curtailment of their freedom. Even thinking about the mess, monotony and tantrums made me feel exhausted.

Like you I'd always done well academically but opted for a work-life balance in a creative field over persuing the corporate route. I bought my first house at 26, returned to university to do my Masters at 31, married at 36. I was too busy enjoying myself to feel like anything was 'missing' and I believed that so-called hormonal impulse had evaded me, but then one day, at 39, it hit me like a tidal wave. I physically sank to my knees on my bathroom floor I was so overwhelmed by the revelation that I NEEDED to be a mother!

The yearning grew stronger and I started TTC straight away. My daughter was born just 6 months later! (at 26 weeks' gestation) and it's been a rough ride, but for none of the reasons that had initially deterred me from motherhood. It's not all 'Instagram moments' – we spent 4 months in the NICU and have been dealing with the aftershocks of her prematurity ever since. But the joyful moments are plentiful – she is the most beautiful, sweet-natured, affectionate, easy-going child I could ever have wished for.

I'm fortunate that she has always been a good sleeper and my husband and I are a team, meaning we share responsibilities equally so we both still get time and headspace to relax and pursue our passions. Yes, my house is messier and it's harder to be spontaneous but it's a small price to pay and bothers me far less than I had expected it would. I still don't feel particularly maternal towards other children, but it's so different when it's your own child.

Personally I'm glad the primal urge I experienced overrode logic. I feel so privileged to be raising my daughter and motherhood is more rewarding than I could ever have imagined.

FMLFML Tue 02-Jun-20 23:19:56

Never wanted them. Never interested in marriage or kids. Much prefer animals. Worked as a teacher for many years. That put me off even more. In my teens people always said "when you're older you'll change your mind", in my 20s that became "when you meet the right person you'll want to have kids".
Now 30, met the right person 5 years ago, neither of us wants children.
Don't like babies, don't like toddlers, don't like teenagers. Screaming babies put my teeth on edge. I don't cope well with little sleep, I can't stand incessant questions, screaming tantrums, drippy noses, sticky fingers or the endless mess that children create.
Got told a year ago I'm probably infertile due to endometriosis. Felt nothing but relief.
To everyone who says my life is incomplete; I have 4 cats and they give me more happiness than children ever would. They clean themselves and don't answer back.
Women can find fulfillment in more than reproducing.

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