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Not sure about having kids... (again)... any advice welcome

(55 Posts)
jakesmith Tue 30-Sep-14 09:52:59

I know this is a board for parents and I know this has been done before but I'm in a real conundrum about this and was hoping for some opinions please

I've just turned 35 and DW is about to turn 34. We have never wanted children and don't really like babies or toddlers or find them cute at all, now my sister & many of our friends are on their second ones. I'm always so relieved when they leave after visiting as I find the noise and mess really upsets me. I always thought my mind would change as I got older but I realise now we are at the point where we need to decide one way or the other.

I am worried that we'd be missing out on something amazing and missing the chance for family life, I don't know anyone who regrets having kids but all I see is downside. We're not into partying any more but we've both got to a point in our careers where we are finally comfortable financially and able to buy nice things, eat out, do stuff impulsively, have a nice car (which I love), go on holidays. If we had a child and DW wasn't working, our financial situation would take us right back to having only enough money to stay at home & just about survive. It's hard to put the genie back in the bottle once we've enjoyed such a comfortable lifestyle.

DW is not the main earner and has a job in the NHS which she loves. Her wages would only cover childcare if she was working as it is very expensive where we live. Our parents are too far away to help.

I really don't know what to do - my parents gave me so much unconditional love and I love my DW so much, she's an amazing lovely kind person and I would like to think that we'd be able to pass that on but it feels like such a massive step and neither of us feel that confident that we want to do it. If one of us was really up for it though we would do it however I am the most up for it out of the two of us and I've set my feelings out above, any thoughts appreciated

Brices Tue 30-Sep-14 09:58:56

If you won the lottery would you do it?

jakesmith Tue 30-Sep-14 10:06:23

Yes 100%, I actually play the lottery by direct debit every sat & weds, £18 a month, and have done for several years, ironically that would be the first thing to get cancelled if we had a child

Twitterqueen Tue 30-Sep-14 10:10:32

Oh good question Brices.

OP picture yourself in 10 years time - both with and without children.
Think about a family holiday, or Christmas with and without.
Which is the most appealing?
Would you prefer to help your child learn to ride a bike on a Saturday morning, or go for a ride in your lovely car?

I can't be neutral on this - my children have given me so much pleasure and joy through the years I can't imagine life without them.

joanofarchitrave Tue 30-Sep-14 10:13:51

That's really hard.

I don't regret having a child because I nearly went crazy when I thought I would not even be able to try to have one. But I do really struggle with parenthood a lot of the time. I think most people would regard me as a good mum and it is the most amazing thing I have ever done, in total; the trouble is that it's like a Seurat painting, this amazing creation of parenthood is made up of millions of tiny dots of boredom, exhaustion, giggles, obligation, duty, exhaustion, interest, love, worry, worry, exhaustion, worry and it all looks a lot better from a distance.

I can say that having your own child is a lot better than having nieces/nephews because you don't have to give in to other people's ideas on anything, you call the shots. But it's also a lot worse because it's 24/7.

I can't tell you what to do. I can say that my life is utterly different because of having a child, in every single way, there is nothing that has not altered because of it. That's OK because my life was all right but not brilliant. You sound quite passionate about your current life. That's a pretty good thing.

joanofarchitrave Tue 30-Sep-14 10:19:22

OK I've just thought again. Actually not everything has changed. One of the sad realisations on having a kid was that I thought I would magically become unselfish.... I didn't. I work in the same industry (though have retrained) and am with the same person, living in the same area. I also like the same things, which unfortunately are solitude, reading, long baths and sleep. Thank goodness as children get older some things are recoverable.

ShadowStar Tue 30-Sep-14 10:19:41

Seconding Twitterqueen's suggestion.

Imagine yourself when you're old and retired.

Do you think you'd regret not having had kids?

Rusticated Tue 30-Sep-14 10:48:02

I come at this as part of a very career-focused couple who'd been together for years with no interest in having children, but who then realised it was now or never, decided to do it, and had a baby (now a toddler) when we were both about to turn 40. We lived in a tiny Central London flat, travelled a lot, and did a lot of things to do with the arts.

Now, with a child, life is different in every way. We live in the country, I earn a lot less, and life is more solitary and familial. Our son is astonishing. We liked our old lives a lot, but this is differently good. But I agree with everything Joan has said up the thread - read her posts carefully. Parenthood changes you, but you remain essentially the same person.

Thinking about whether you will want to have done x on your deathbed can be helpful. You sound awfully involved in your 'nice things' - I'm interested that you say you would definitely have a child if money were no object - will they continue to bring you equal satisfaction in the future? Is your current lifestyle even secure as things are? If you were suddenly robbed of it because of redundancy or illness, would that change whether you wanted a child? If you were told now that you were infertile, would you be saddened or relieved?

Obviously, having a child is not compulsory. When we decided to try, we also decided (given that I was 39 when we started ttc) that we would not explore IVF or adoption if we couldn't have a child unassisted. We were aware that we could have been differently happy without a child.

Good luck with the decision.

PunkyBubba Tue 30-Sep-14 10:48:46

Wow, a really hard question to answer, when everyone's experiences of parenthood are so individual depending on personality and circumstance.

My life with my DH sounds similar to yours (pre kids). We both enjoy our jobs, had wonderful holidays and money to spend on nice clothes/things.

I love my son with every fibre of me, and couldn't do without him now, but parenthood is HARD, and if it wasn't for the fact that I desperately wanted children I might have really regretted it. My DH and I still miss our lovely hols abroad (this years holiday was a 1 week staycation in a holiday cottage with my in laws to help with babysitting :-/ )

More seriously than the general changes that come with a baby though are the questions around what could happen if things aren't straightforward, such as problems conceiving in the first place, a difficult pregnancy (am coming to the end of one now on enforced hospital bed rest, when my first was so easy in comparison). Also my DS1 has special needs, would you be able to cope with things like that?

I know that's an unfair question in a way as the vast majority of people would have no clue, I certainly wouldn't have, but if you both aren't sure you even want children I would seriously think of all of the possibilities of outcomes.


DesperatelySeekingSanity Tue 30-Sep-14 10:53:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

minipie Tue 30-Sep-14 11:24:42

I agree about "picture yourself in 10/20 years' time".

Would you regret not having had children at that point? Might the eating out and comfortable couple lifestyle have begun to get a bit repetitive and boring by then?

DH and I weren't into babies and small children either. The benefits seemed far, far outweighed by the downsides from what we saw. But we knew we did want older children and a family life long term, and would regret not having that. We had already had 10 years of couple life and felt it was enough and could start to become a little dull. So we decided to grin and bear the baby/toddler stage. As it turned out, the baby stage was pretty awful for 6 months, but the toddler stage is turning out quite fun so far - it is still far less comfortable than pre child life but there are also so many great moments and experiences we'd never have had without our daughter. I hope that future years will bring just as much fun and we'll get more of the sleep comfort back.

For us, it was a decision between a comfortable but somewhat repetitive/unchanging life, versus an ever changing life, with both more downs and more ups.

So it kind of depends on whether you like the idea of your life changing from year to year, decade to decade, or if you like the idea of it staying much the same. (That said, of course people without DC can make massive life changes eg moving country, but I still think it's not as big a change as having DC...)

I think the fact that if you won the lottery you would 100% have a child is very telling. To me that suggests it is something you both actually want, you're just frightened of what you'd be giving up. I have to say, the main things you give up are not really financial - it's your freedom to be selfish which really goes! So to me, if you're willing to give that up, then you can certainly manage to give up a car...

confusedandemployed Tue 30-Sep-14 14:33:01

What good posts so far. My situation is much like that of rusticated; I was 6 weeks shy of my 40th when I had my daughter.

I agree that financial sacrifices pale into insignificance when compared to the personal sacrifices you make when having a child. I too miss the spontenaity and freedom of pre-baby life far more than I miss the extra cash.

And babies are bloody hard. The first six months are RELENTLESS. But we're over that now and it's been more fun than slog recently. My daughter is 19 months old now and she is so much fun to be with. It's an extraordinary experience, watching your child develop a personality, likes and dislikes, talents and a sense of humour.

In my opinion, this is something where if you're not sure, it's quite likely to mean that you probably do want children.

I know plenty of people who don't have children - but most of them have never wanted children, and have gone out of their way to ensure that they don't have them. Reading your post, I'm not sure that you fall into this category.

Lottapianos Tue 30-Sep-14 14:45:05

OP, my partner and I are in a similar position - mid 30s, financially secure. We have had loads of conversations about having a baby and have both had insanely broody periods. I work with parents and children and I am under no illusions about how relentless it would be to become a parent.

The questions about where you see yourself in 10 years time are very useful and have helped to clarify my own thoughts. I also highly recommend spending time around babies and children if you can - what seems cute from a distance can seem irritating and exhausting if you have to spend much time around it!

And by the way, there is nothing wrong with enjoying nice things and a certain standard of living. Being a parent does not make you a more worthy person. And there are certainly no medals for martyrdom. Its a very tough decision. Good luck.

voituredepompier Tue 30-Sep-14 15:02:21

OP, I can relate to what you are saying entirely, we didn't make the decision to have kids til I had past 40. What swung it was projecting our lovely life that we had forward and whilst it was lovely, we felt it would also become a bit boring - how many fancy holidays/meals out and time spent doing what we loved to do did we need? DS is now 5 and I adore him to his bones. Yes we don't get nearly as much time to ourselves but he is now at the age where he can do stuff with us that we used to do pre child. The relentless is, well relentless, bit does not last forever and I don't regret having a child for one minute.

minipie Tue 30-Sep-14 15:35:58

And by the way, there is nothing wrong with enjoying nice things and a certain standard of living. Being a parent does not make you a more worthy person.

Totally agree. Nobody has children for the good of mankind (indeed not having kids is probably better for the planet). They do it because, for them, the perceived benefits outweigh the downsides. Just as selfish as any other decision grin

violator Tue 30-Sep-14 16:54:45

I'm going to go against the majority here and say forget about what you'll think when you're 50. You can't know what you'll think and feel because all we have is the here and now (spot the lady who's into mindfulness)

Truth is, when we're all 50 we will all sit in our perfectly clean and tidy homes and think 'hmm I should have had 4 kids, or 6 kids, or 9 kids) because at that point in time we are not stressed, harried, rushing from a job to childcare collections, bored out of our face at home all day, tired of constant battles, being pulled in all directions by demanding children.

Yet I know that while at some point in the future, I may think I should have had a gang of kids, right now, in the here and now, with our current financial, emotional and mental situation, more children would be a Very Bad Idea.

I do not regret having mine but every fibre of our lives has changed. Unfortunately those changes cannot be felt until you're a parent. There is no trial-run!

Weigh it up carefully. Remember that there is a LOT of 'pressure' to produce more than one child. Are you OK with that?

Nobody ever says "I want to have a child" or "I don't know if I want a child" - it's always children (plural).

Rusticated Tue 30-Sep-14 17:09:25

I know what you mean, Violator, but sometimes what people want in the here and now doesn't necessarily match what they want the general shape of their lives to be, and I think having a child (!) is a case in point, because it forces you to think about what you want longterm. If the OP thinks he and his wife want there to be a child, but also want their lives to continue exactly as they are, then they need to figure out which desire is greater.

(And it is perfectly possible to resist social pressure to have more than one child, though it agree that's very prevalent. I won't have another, and it sounds as if several previous posters have one child it probably helps to be older when you have your first.)

I'd also respectfully disagree with Lottapianos - I've been around children all my life, and exposure to other people's is nothing like having one of your own, ime.

m0therofdragons Tue 30-Sep-14 17:15:18

Not much to add other than other people's dc can very annoying. Your own is different (they can still be annoying but in a different way).

TortoiseUpATreeAgain Tue 30-Sep-14 17:15:49

Reading your OP I'd say that you REALLY don't want to make the lifestyle compromises involved in having children (that isn't a value judgement). It sounds more as though you feel vaguely guilty that you OUGHT to want to?

If your wife feels even more negatively about it than you do, I don't see any reason for you to both go against your instincts and have children for the sake of it.

Shesaysso Tue 30-Sep-14 17:18:29

Just want to say I am not really very keen on kids I generally find them quite annoying (i know that sounds awful!)however I absolutely adore my own and love them so much. Your experience/ views of other peoples children is not like how you feel about your own.

ShakeYourTailFeathers Tue 30-Sep-14 17:20:42

Dh and I are very similar to you and your wife with one exception - if we won the lottery there would be NO WAY we'd have kids. They'd spoil our fun.

We are very happy just as we are, and i'd hate something to get in the way of that. Don't have kids because you think you 'should'. Some people just aren't cut out to be parents, IMO.

I am sad I won't have the lovely adult relationship that I have enjoyed with my parents. But the plain fact is we just don't want to live with a child.

bakingaddict Tue 30-Sep-14 17:21:41

I would never judge anybody for deciding not to have kids but to me my life feels more 'right' for having kids in it, if that makes sense.

Pre-kids I used to do a lot of socializing and eating out but after a while it felt that most nights out with friends where spent talking about the same old angst just in a different guise and like voiture says it got a bit well repetitive. I do more of a range of things now that I have the kids, so for me life is much more varied

minipie Tue 30-Sep-14 17:23:09

I am not sure I agree Violator. After all, so many of our life choices are dictated by what we think will be best for us longer term rather than the here and now.

If life was just about the here and now I'd resign from my job today - but I'd quite like to have an income, a house and a pension (and, overall, I mostly enjoy my job, I'm just having a shitty few months) so I keep working.

So I think it's only sensible for each person to decide whether - for you - the overall benefits of having children, across your lifetime, will outweigh the overall downsides.

anothercrackatit Tue 30-Sep-14 17:42:39

I think people do sometimes regret having children, I know one, but they don't often tell many people. If you're ambivalent I'd recommend against. It's really hard work and unrelenting, I can't imagine what it'd be like if I'd never fully committed to the concept. Having said that, other people's children are many, many times more annoying than your own, especially when they're younger than yours or you don't have any.

Lottapianos Tue 30-Sep-14 18:04:21

Rusticated, I'm sure you're right in that you can't really understand the whole package of parenthood until you're in it. However I would still suggest to anyone considering parenthood that they spend a bit of time (and learn a few things about) around children. I have met many parents who don't seem to know one end of a child from the other and it doesn't look like a happy situation for anyone.

And yes, without question, some people do regret having children. Again, a miserable situation for all involved.

Good for you OP for giving this decision the time and thought it deserves, although I know it can feel overwhelming when you're trying to make a choice!

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