Trying to decide whether to have children or not-thoughts please(29 Posts)
Hi all, I�ve been reading these pages over the last few days for some insight on motherhood and I thought I�d join to ask for views from all you experienced, clever, loving and thoughtful mums out there.
I�m a 32 year old in a reasonably happy marriage with a loving, supportive and understanding husband and a good, well paid job in London. I�m now obviously at an age where I need to think about having children and I can�t say I�m thrilled about the prospect at all. I just never felt a particular emotional need for children or a special bond with them. I don�t hate kids, I get on well with my nieces and nephews when I see them, my god-daughter loves me, I enjoy buying them gifts etc., I just don�t have desire for one myself and my life seems perfectly good without right now.
My husband, my family and even his family think I am selfish and aren�t afraid to say it whether directly or indirectly. I feel this is unfair as it asks that one should conform to other�s idea of what happiness is and what life should be about. I hate being (or feeling) pressured and bullied into something so life-changing and important for a woman and her sense of self. After all, it�s not all about the �selfish me� but also about another life who would be affected if I�m not enjoying the situation or I�m not able to give it the time, attention and most of all, love it needs to thrive.
Additionally, I�ve been feeling quite depressed, angry and even a bit suicidal lately. I went to see a psychiatrist thinking it�s the general stresses of life and work that have gone unchecked for some time or even a specific condition which I thought runs in the family. One of the things he�s pointed out after only an hour of conversation is my �conflict with husband� which I �gloss over�. The main disagreement we have is precisely the one over children though this is, I realise, very important in the medium and long term.
A lot of the posts I read here on MN are filled with pain and suffering caused by pregnancy and child-rearing. In real life I also see that many of my friends and family, even the very strong ones, had or are having a hard time with childbirth and babies. When I visit them, I can see that kids are beautiful and can bring joy & love, but those mums don�t look very happy to me-whether the reason is stress of looking after the clingy babies all the time, their self-image, lack of fun (incl sex), sometimes lack of support from their partners, the cost of bringing up kids etc. etc. There are a few that seem happy/content and able to cope with it in a positive way but they are in a minority. Overall, and please don�t take this personally if in a similar situation, there isn�t much that I envy about their life.
Please can you offer some honest advice-is it the curse of modern times where we (over)think, or we have or we know too much & therefore I should just take a leap of faith given the good circumstances I am in and not �be selfish or I will regret it later�?
Should I give it a few more years as it shouldn�t be too late for me then? I�m just worried if I don�t truly have a change of heart, my husband would have spent all this time, in the end to be denied the family he so wants� although for men it�s never too late, right?
Or should I just follow my feelings & instincts in which case the answer is all too clear to me and will require some very difficult conversations and decisions.
Thank you in advance
Having children changes everything. If you are completely happy with your life and determined this you don't want it to change them I wouldn't.
I love my children and don't for a second regret having them and I also have a nice quality of life, little stress, good relationship and no money worries etc and make the best of things. But my lifestyle now compared to before having children is completely different and I have very little freedom in comparison.
The trade off is that I am more grounded, organised and have more of a direction than I did before children. Very corny but I live in a house full of love as part of a family unit. I'm somebody's Mummy. And that is what makes it worth it to me. Only you can decide if it's for you.
Having children can not by definition be easy. They are bringing a lot of issues in your life, most of which you have no control on. They also need you and you have a huge responsibility towards them to give them the best start in life they can get.
But because of that, they can and will make you grow. They will teach you lots of things about life and what is important. They will bring you joy.
In the same way that starting to live with someone brings up a lot of joy and done struggles too. If things don't work out with your partner, you just stop it all. You can't with your dc. On the other side, you will end up loving your dc in a way that you probably don't live your DH, which makes it all so so much easier.
You will need to remember that on this forum people will come to talk about their struggles. Rarely people will come and say 'everything is fine, all going smoothly' because they don't need the support this site can give. Same in RL in some ways.
The one thing that IS a recipe for disaster is to have a child just to please others!! Too much and responsibilities. You would end up resenting the child. NOT a good combination.
Btw, I found the first years hard. I know others who find the primary age years hard. For others it's the teenage years.
But they have given me so much in personal growth and I hope I have been able to give them as much as they have given me. Now I wouldn't say I have some major issues. I worry about dc2, I want to do the best to support him just as I do for dc1. I want the best for them which means I'm always on the lookout for a better way to do things. But I wouldn't call that a hardship if that make sense?
honest advice from someone who's been through depression- if I had my time over I wouldn't have kids.
I think in some ways you are right about the curse of modern times.
Reading something like MN it is very easy to only see the bad sides of parenting. People rarely come on and start a thread that says "you know what? My toddler sleeps and eats well, I'm still getting 8 hours sleep a night myself, we don't have any major tantrums to deal with, and I'm quite happy with my work-life balance at the moment." What you do hear about are clingy babies, no sleep, no sex, no time to yourself, all the stuff you talk about in your post.
However, having said that your post to me reads that those are just 'excuses'. You do sound as if you don't particularly want to have children, but you feel you need to justify it by saying all the things you think are bad about becoming a parent.
It's fine not to want to have children. It really, really is. If you don't want them and are perfectly content with loving your nieces, nephews and godchildren that is fine.
I can say as a parent that yes, sometimes life is tough. Sometimes you don't have enough sex. Sometimes you are very tired. Sometimes you are upset or frustrated with your child. Sometimes you are guilty. Sometimes you are suffering physically because of pregnancy or childbirth. But for 99.9% of parents, I would confidently say that the happiness and the joy that children bring you more than make up for it. Again, I suspect it is something you don't hear about in RL because most parents are afraid that if they say everything is wonderful they sound smug.
If you make a leap of faith the likelihood is that you too will find the love and rewards of being a parent outweigh the negatives. But there is no reason for you to make that leap if you don't want to.
I think you need to talk to your husband more. No one can force you to have children if you don't want them, but it does need to be seriously discussed. Unfortunately, if he definitely wants children and you definitely don't, then that is something that only you as a couple can work through.
OP I think your observations are accurate.
I had my first child at the age of 38 so i have lived a lot of adult life to make a comparison between living as a mother and a childless woman.
We do paint a very rosy picture of parenthood but of course in reality much of it is drudgery. It can test your patience and resilience to the limit. But through this can come a transformation- we can find a great strength and voice through becoming a mother. I feel I have changed for the better in many ways through motherhood.
However I also think I could have had a happy life without becoming a parent.
Many women don't give it much thought and go ahead anyway, and ride the consequences- and many of these types are brilliant Mums.
I would say don't be pushed. Your Ohs family have nothing to do with it, and although your OH is keen the reality is that it's the woman who bears the brunt of raising a child, while men's lives carry on without a blip.
I ended a very happy marriage of 10 years because my OH didn't want kids and in the end I had to make that decision.
You still have time, even in a year or two you may see things more clearly.
Well I have to say anyone on MN comes over saying that their 2 yo sleeps through the night, eats lots if different foods ect is seen as smug.
That's true in RL too. My dcs do have a well balanced lunch full if stuff that is for 'grown ups' (I mean just good as oppose to stuff designed for children). I regularly get from other parents (along the lines of 'how do you find the time?', 'my dcs just wouldn't touch that. There is no point. ')
The reality is that for women it is seen as the norm and the right thing to do to have children. If you don't you obviously must be weird as if course all mothers are designed to want to nurture a baby
Not so much in reality.
Maybe you should post that in the feminist section and see what they are saying about it?
the other thing to bear in mind is that the woman bears the brunt of physical changes and career damage.
your h wants a family, but who is going to take the career hit? who will be the main carer?
Thank you everyone for your replies! Its so refreshing to read balanced, realistic yet positive views-most of what I found so far is either of the "coo-coo/bundle of joy" type (which I can't identify with) or the tales of horror which are definitely not going to make me like the idea...
Its true that people mostly write or speak of their woes, its a little like news channels. A title such as "sunny day, flowers in bloom, everything peaceful and kids running around happily" is not news... It makes for a very anxious and fearful (if well informed) society.
Yes I agree having a child should be my decision only and I shouldn't need excuses to justify it but you know how it is, you've seen it before & commented-even in this day and age a woman is made to feel like a monster for not instinctively wanting to have children... My mother from a different country wont visit "until there is news" i.e. grandchildren (she says this jokingly and lovingly but the message is clear). My husband even with his very loving and gentle disposition calls me selfish and "what will I do next 30 years of my life". My school friends with kids although sometimes unhappy & struggling themselves ask if my health is ok since I don't yet have offspring. My grandmother who due to dementia can't remember much still does remember to ask "what are you doing, just visiting other people's kids" etc etc. It makes me quite depressed and angry, I guess I have to be clear and firm will all of them and see where life takes me...
I suppose I am also quite confused & doubting myself-I've been coping quite well with life so far including living in a warzone as a child, moving countries, jobs etc. So it is unlike me to feel so distressed over this decision, it certainly makes me question my ability to deal with the real situation if it happens in the future...
I really like this website-I thought it might be corny but there is so much great thought & emotion as well as practical advice for those who need it... I will keep reading even if I don't go down the baby route and what do you know-I might even be back in a few years with questions on stretch marks, teething, first smiles etc
Thanks again, love to everyone and their beautiful kids! xx
PS apologies for the funny signs in my original post, I copied over from word and didn't realise it would come out that way. I guess it was readable enough
It's such a difficult decision and you have my sympathies. Before I had DS I thought the same as you that women with children don't look happy. They always have that furrowed brow look and dark circles, snapping at partners etc. Now that I am one of them, I realise I was both wrong and right - there are bits where you are knackered and stressed, yes, but (in my experience - and everyone's different) so much joy. I have a history of anxiety and was very worried about MH but I feel more balanced and content than before, no doubt. That existential angst isn't there anymore. I realise now that a lot of the real happiness happens in private, at home - and that when you don't have a kid mothers aren't likely to bang on about the great bits (because that would be insensitive, patronising and smug! And also for Brits it's just not done to say your life is actually quite nice). Are there other issues in your relationship, or is it just this? Is does sound like with your current MH situation that you need to tread very carefully with making this decision
I cross-posted with your reply - so nice that you've found talking here helpful
I never really wanted to have kids but in the end decided to get pregnant. DH and I have a lovely DS. The best thing I've ever done.
To be very honest children take away all the freedom a mother has and even they are very exhausting and tiring sometimes .if you are satisfied with your life and you know in which direction you have to go don't have kids until you really feel the need.a mans life never changes it's the women who has to do all the parenting etc and to be honest you need a lot of patience etc if you are happy childless bingo
If you have misgivings,don't have a baby.thats not selfish thats prudent
Its unhelpful that dh and family say your selfish for being childless,your not selfish
Im afraid you and dh aren't that compatible if he's openly calling you selfish.
if you had a deep connection,and got each other he'd not deride your choice
Maybe he need to go be a father with someone else
Maybe you need to be loved by man who doesn't regard a childless woman selfish
OP, I could have written your post two years ago. My one year old son is currently chasing the cat around the living room (he just won't sleep!) He has been both the best and toughest thing I have done. Unlike anything else in your life, you are a mum 24/7 - even when you are ill, knackered or ready to curl up in a ball and cry. What I wish I could go back and tell my 30 year old self is that it all balances out - every trade off is matched by something worthwhile. For example;
-I now have stretch marks and a cesarean scar. But I have dropped two dress sizes compared to my pre-pregnancy figure, thanks to breastfeeding and walking.
-I have not been abroad in two years (could not face it whilst pregnant and did not want to inflict my baby on other innocent passengers). But I have climbed giant wooden spiders in Norfolk, visited slate mines in Wales and got drunk under the stars in the Lake District. The Med can wait.
-My career has taken a step back as I chose to go part time. But this has made way for writing, wine making and my fledgling business
-I nearly went insane with the lack of sleep in the first few months. But the quality of my hallucinations were amazing...
There is never a good rational reason to have kids. But as long as you are ready emotionally, it will be fine. However, it's got to be your decision; you will be setting aside a large portion of your life for it. If you did not feel the pressure from your family/DH, would you still be open to having children? There's your answer - and there is no shame in saying "no, this is not for me". Good luck, with whatever you decide.
Having a history of depression since my teens, I didn't think I'd ever cope with children and in my late twenties was fairly happily resigned to this.
I now have 2 (aged 3 and nearly 1) and I can honestly say that since their arrival, my mental health has been better than it has been in years.
It sounds a bit cliched but they have given me a purpose and I think having less time to think about me and my feelings has helped.
I'm still not a 'natural mother' I'm not terribly patient and I need my space . I could never be a SAHM for this reason.
I hate other peoples kids, they drive me mad, they do my head in & they generally irate me, something I struggle to hide....
My friends would never describe as maternal, in fact they probs say I'm selfish.... What they don't know is just how much I love my children. It's a love I never knew I'd feel for them & although I make sure they know their loved I don't ram it down other people's throats
like some parents feel they have to
Being a mum is so stressful but I have found it so rewarding. Money & time both have an impact on life but then it does when you don't have kids.
I still have fun, a good sex life, an identity, a social life....
I wouldn't be without my children now but I was young & stupid when I had my first, if I knew then what I knew now would I still have them.....YES definatly
I echo all the points above about excellent and hard bits when having children.
I would add though that most people I know including myself have found that having a baby has put a massive strain on their relationship. The sense of inequity, the resentment that your DH keeps his life pretty much the same while yours is altered so much, the tiredness and stress. It takes its toll so much. If you don't want children, don't have them to please DH because if you find it as hard as most of us do, there is a real risk your anger etc and issues with your husband will get worse. If you can live with that then fine but it's definitely worth serious thought.
What did you decide in the end? I literally could have written your post myself, except I'm a few years down the line (36) and still utterly confused. My partner doesn't say I'm selfish but he does wonder how he will find something meaningful to do for the rest of his life.
Just wanted to bump this thread a little bit as I also could have written the OP.
I experienced a pretty violent childhood, have no contact with my family except for my brother, suffer badly from anxiety and depression (not something I sing about; I've only recently admitted it to myself as it seems to be getting worse as I get older and I worry for my mental health in the future due to my past) and feel generally completely useless/listless in life. I have some good friends. Have been with DH for 10 years, he is wonderful and we have a great relationship but he's always desperately wanted children and there has been a lot of pressure from his parents, since we met, to have them.
I'm almost 30 and find myself utterly conflicted about what to do with my life. Some days I do not want kids in the slightest for the reasons you mentioned and I can't imagine myself as a mum, I am also (undiagnosed) tokophobic which plays a huge part in my reasons for not wanting them, but other days I think it would be quite nice and that maybe it's something - as others have mentioned happened with them - that might give me purpose, I like the thought of spending more time at home as my job just helps to pay the bills and I hate it; I don't have a career (although I would eventually take time to work towards doing something I wanted to do, DH supports this) and I know there are so many joys to parenthood.
I don't know though if I am coming to this thought naturally or if it's through pressure (although in-laws have laid off over the last couple years as DH had a word with them) and I know it's starting to get to 'the time(/age!)' where I need to decide soon if I want to go ahead with having them or not. We've all heard the lines 'oh you don't want to regret it when it's too late' etc.
My friends are now starting to get pregnant and I am torn about how I feel about this - I am excited for them but I am resentful/angry at myself for still not feeling a strong urge to have them and I know my DH is struggling with the announcements, and fretting 24 hours a day over this issue of whether to just go for it or not.
I'm waffling, I don't know what my point is really, no-one can make this decision for me and it's hard to take yourself out of your own head with this IYSWIM but I just wanted to say you're not alone in feeling this way and also thanks for those who have commented to say they felt this way and went ahead with having kids and it's been the right decision for them - it's given me some hope. Just wish I could decide.
Having a kid is a major life change, and if it not something you are entirely sure you want, don't. This is especially the case if your husband is pressuring you. You might end up with a lot of resentment against your husband and a child, and that will create a lot of issues worse than what you are dealing with.
If you cannot agree with your husband on this, chances are that it will spell the end of your marriage.
But it is your body, and your life, and if you don't feel sure you want a baby, don't.
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