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What do you think about those women who are 'Childless by Choice'?

(227 Posts)
happycornishbird Fri 05-Jan-18 14:34:23

I am hoping that you guys can help me. I am a 40 year childless woman but it's ok, I am ok with that. I am also trying to write a dissertation about the representations of women who choose not to have children.
I would love to hear some of your thoughts on this subject.

Do you feel sorry for women who choose not to have children? Do you think they will regret? Do you think it is a selfish decision?

The UK press seems to like to represent childless one in one of a few ways: as the lonely bitter perhaps crazy old lady, as the selfish career woman etc do you think this is fair?

Be honest! I would love to hear your thoughts!

AuntLydia Fri 05-Jan-18 14:37:03

I'm actually just surprised it's still an issue these days. The friends I have who are childless by choice seem to live full and very happy lives. I have no idea if they will regret it - it's possible of course. It's definitely not selfish though, why would it be?!

GrockleBocs Fri 05-Jan-18 14:38:08

It's their choice and nothing to do with me.
My childless by choice friend enjoys a nice life. I have a nice life. We're all happy.

Twofishfingers Fri 05-Jan-18 14:38:13

Honestly, nothing at all. I am secretly jealous of them sometimes, but apart from that, absolutely no judgement.

I didn't want children, and my first one was an 'accident' (although I am not sure that at 36, it really counts as an accident...). So I am not one to judge. Your life your choice.

Cheerybigbottom Fri 05-Jan-18 14:40:57

I feel nothing at all. I don’t feel jealous, I don’t think they are selfish, I don’t think they are secretly wishing they had 6 kids. I think nothing of it.

Happy for everyone to be happy. I have only one. Some people think this is worse than having none at all grin

hollowtree Fri 05-Jan-18 14:43:33

My auntie chose not to be a mum, she has an amazing life and is an amazing person!

I grew up with her as my 'childless by choice' example and as a result think it is totally normal and fine. She is great and really successful and fulfilled

Bellamuerte Fri 05-Jan-18 14:44:34

I'm secretly jealous of them because I never wanted children but didn't have that option. It's their life and their choice - none of my business. Good for them that they're in a position to be able to make that choice to not have children if they don't want them!

BenLui Fri 05-Jan-18 14:44:54

I know several couples who are deliberately childless.

I don’t think anything about them at all.

Their bodies, their choice. <shrug>.

Much better for the planet .

Christmascardqueen Fri 05-Jan-18 14:45:04

I don’t think about it at all...their body their choice.

NotAPuffin Fri 05-Jan-18 14:47:06

Aside from very occasional jealousy, I think nothing of it.

Abra1d Fri 05-Jan-18 14:47:28

Many of my female friends are childless and the only thing that worries me is their not having offspring to help them in old age. But if they have nieces and nephews or younger relatives and friends, it’s not such a problem. They are all highly intelligent and will have worked out their own solutions anyway.

GrumpyOldBlonde Fri 05-Jan-18 14:48:26

I've plenty of friends who are childfree by choice and I rarely give it a second thought. Very occasionally I may wonder what lead to their decision but it would just be a brief thought and one I don't ponder too much.

I guess what I mean is if I met a 45 year old for the first time and she didn't have children I might wonder if she had wanted them and couldn't for example but again would't think too hard about it. Might occasionally wonder if someone regrets the decision I suppose but nevertheless fully respect the choice.

I would of course feel great sympathy if a friend had wanted children and wasn't able to have them.

I was ambiguous about having them myself, coasted along until the clock started ticking and I felt I would regret not having them more than I actually wanted to have them (if you see what I mean) but there was no big surge of broodiness (I experienced that strongly in my late teens funnily enough - hormones?) it was a pragmatic decision and one I by no means regret.

If it's a choice I respect the choice.

GameOldBirdz Fri 05-Jan-18 14:50:06

this is a very good paper to have a look at.

It's interesting that you've used to term "child-less" rather than "child-free". The former seems to suggest that women without children are lacking something whereas the latter acknowledges women's reproductive autonomy and choice.

I am a child-free woman by choice. I think we have a very limited number of tropes through which to narrate our experiences:
- I am a career woman, too busy smashing glass ceilings and enjoying my enormous salary to have children.
- I am young and haven't properly made up my mind yet. Although I am leaning towards not having children now, I might (probably) change my mind.
- I am a selfish, materialistic bitch who can't bear the thought of sharing my time, attention and money. I enjoy five star holidays, BMWs and weekly manicures too much to think about a child. Plus, it will do terrible things to my body.
- I hate children.

These are the narratives we're given, we have to choose one to align ourselves with to be "acceptable" or at least "understandable" in society. Most child-free women don't fit neatly into one of these categories though so we end up having to bend our self-presentation (have you read Erving Goffman's work on "face work"?) to fit these narrow narratives which is hard work and demoralising.

Because I feel incredibly judged (or perhaps scrutinised would be a better word), I find myself becoming quite militant. This can be (has been on here) read a anti-mother or anti-children rhetoric which then sets up a "them" and "us" situation where mothers/non-mothers feel they have to defend their decisions/situations/lifestyle. It'll bollocks and it's horrible.

I doubt very much that I will regret not having children. It's a pretty big risk to take to bring a whole new person into the world just in case you might regret not doing it.

Your dissertation sounds really interesting.

BlackBetha Fri 05-Jan-18 14:53:00

In reality you often don't know whether someone is 'childfree by choice' or was unable for whatever reason to have children. Lots of people know I don't have children, but not many know the exact reasons, which are complicated and personal. It's not always as simple as a straightforward choice either way.

So when it comes to other people's situations, I try not to assume or judge.

GameOldBirdz Fri 05-Jan-18 14:53:02

Many of my female friends are childless and the only thing that worries me is their not having offspring to help them in old age

Abra Sorry but I really hate this rhetoric. There is no obligation (and absolutely shouldn't be) on adult children to help elderly parents. What if adult children move abroad? What if adult children go NC? What if adult children just don't want to look after their elderly parents? They (we) shouldn't be expected to. And looking after you in old age shouldn't even be a consideration when thinking about having children, it's incredibly selfish.

Beamur Fri 05-Jan-18 14:53:26

I don't ask why. It's none of my business and it could be painful to explain.
Several of my friends are childless by choice. I did wonder with one if it was more her husbands choice than hers, but she's perfectly happy and doesn't seem to like kids much!
I think, having had some difficulties myself conceiving, that some couples are not childless by choice, so there is even less reason for me to have any opinion about this.

InfiniteSheldon Fri 05-Jan-18 14:54:22

Total non issue

GameOldBirdz Fri 05-Jan-18 14:56:49

I guess what I mean is if I met a 45 year old for the first time and she didn't have children I might wonder if she had wanted them and couldn't for example but again would't think too hard about it. Might occasionally wonder if someone regrets the decision I suppose but nevertheless fully respect the choice

This is a perfect example of the standards that women are held to. There's an implicit assumption here that motherhood is inevitable for women, our "natural" state if you like. While Grumpy I'm not suggesting you're being misogynistic, it's symptomatic of misogynistic culture which constructs this expectation of women. Do you think the same thing about 45 year old that you meet? Would you even get talking to a 45-year old man about children as quickly as you would a woman?

Moreover, you (rightly) assume that the reverse isn't going on. You assume the 45-year old child-free woman you've just met doesn't wonder about your decisions, whether you didn't want children but ended up having them or whether you regret them. This is what I mean about child-free women being subject to scrutiny.

BertrandRussell Fri 05-Jan-18 14:56:59

I never nderstan th “selfish” thing. Surely having children is the selfish choice.?

Chchchchangeabout Fri 05-Jan-18 14:58:04

I think they should be left alone to do what they like just like the rest of us.

GameOldBirdz Fri 05-Jan-18 14:58:14

45 year old men that you meet?

Sorry!

RandomUsernameHere Fri 05-Jan-18 15:03:02

I definitely wouldn't think they were selfish. I might wonder if deep down they had actually wanted children but couldn't have them.

HappyLollipop Fri 05-Jan-18 15:03:04

Having children should always be a choice, we don't scold people for not having pets so why do the same when it comes to having children? I hate that argument about who's going to help in your old age, There are plenty of elderly people who's children and grandchildren never visit them they just seemed to waiting for them to die and claim their inheritance. My aunt chose not to have children and she has the most amazing life, she's extremely successful in her profession, has a beautiful 3 bed house in an affluent area with one of those rooms being her 'dressing room' she gives me and her other nieces her old designer clothes she no longer wears, travels across the world and just seems like the happiest person ever, as you can probably tell I'm a tad jealous grin

LuxuryWoman2017 Fri 05-Jan-18 15:03:53

*This is a perfect example of the standards that women are held to. There's an implicit assumption here that motherhood is inevitable for women, our "natural" state if you like. While Grumpy I'm not suggesting you're being misogynistic, it's symptomatic of misogynistic culture which constructs this expectation of women. Do you think the same thing about 45 year old that you meet? Would you even get talking to a 45-year old man about children as quickly as you would a woman?

Moreover, you (rightly) assume that the reverse isn't going on. You assume the 45-year old child-free woman you've just met doesn't wonder about your decisions, whether you didn't want children but ended up having them or whether you regret them. This is what I mean about child-free women being subject to scrutiny.*

I would or might briefly wonder the same about a 45 year old man for sure. I tend to meet more women through work tbh and I think I was clear that it might be something I briefly wonder, I sometimes wonder why people have 5 kids or but it really isn't something i give much headspace to.
And yes, If I do get talking to men I haven't met before I really would ask them if they had children just as one of the first questions I might ask a new woman is what she does for a living. They are just conversation openers and how we get to know people, small talk

As I said it might briefly cross my mind.

LuxuryWoman2017 Fri 05-Jan-18 15:04:37

Oops name change fail! (I swap between 2!)

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