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Don't think I want children, but how do you know?

(144 Posts)
unsureaboutkids Tue 28-Mar-17 08:42:17

Hello all - NC for this (together with my other posts, it could be out-ing).

This is partly to get it off my chest but also to ask of those both who decided not to have children and those who have children - how did you know you did or didn't want them? Did you ever change your mind? What happens if I turn 45 and suddenly decide I want children just when it's going to be hard to conceive?

I'm in my early thirties, in a LTR (for me) with a man I adore. All my friends are having babies now. I've always assumed that once I'd found a lovely, reliable, sexy man who I was in love with that I would want them. But it hasn't happened yet.

My entire family and all my friends keep saying things like "ah, you'll change your mind when you have them" or "you're a loving, caring person, I'm sure you'll want some one day" but... I'm just not that into kids. Then they say "it's different with your own". But I never saw my life with children in it. All my life, whenever I pictured my ideal life in my 50s, it always had the exciting job, lovely man, lots of travel, a dog, a nice place, close friends, my existing family (all of which I'm aware I can have with children too!) but no children.

My nephews and nieces are sweet, but I don't go all gooey when I see them. I'm happy to give them back at the end of the day. I'm inclined to say that I don't want kids (DP happy with whatever I decide and I think genuinely so).

I don't know anyone who doesn't want children in my family or circles of friends. I'd love to hear any thoughts or experiences you may have.

ShatnersWig Tue 28-Mar-17 08:50:23

Childfree man here. Always known I never wanted children from a very early age. I have a stepdaughter and kids love me, but literally after two hours the shutters come down and I've had enough. It just isn't "in" me. I used to get all the "you'll change your mind when you meet the right woman" to which I replied "if she wants or has kids, then she wouldn't be the right woman" and I found the only way to stop all those sorts of continual comments was to be quite blunt.

I've only ever known one woman who was "I'm never having kids" who changed her mind. The rest have stayed that way.

I do know plenty of women who didn't particularly like children but had them because their husbands wanted them. Of course they love their children and are great mothers - but they still dislike everyone else's children, so not going gooey over other people's is no real indicator for you.

I do tend to find, in my experience, that women who are unsure or undecided very often suddenly get broody and decide they really really want kids once all their friends are having babies. If that hasn't happened for you, this may tend to say you probably don't want one.

But not really for anyone else to say! Good luck

jeaux90 Tue 28-Mar-17 08:51:44

I was a bit neutral about it too. Didn't really want one, didn't really not want one.

I accidentally got pregnant at 37

Really had a hard time deciding what to do as I knew I would end up a single mum.

I even booked an appointment at the clinic.

But something compelled me to have the baby.

She is now almost 8 and the absolute love of my life. I fell in love with her the moment she was born.

jeaux90 Tue 28-Mar-17 08:52:39

Oh and I still have an amazing career (live in nanny grin)

HeadDreamer Tue 28-Mar-17 08:59:08

I couldn't see myself ready for children until I have my own. However my key difference from you is that I always imagined a future with children. But it's always in the future not now. When I get to 35, I know it's now or too late. Even though I didn't feel ready I knew I have to do it. I still isn't maternal in that I don't coo over other people's babies. I just like my own Ines.

I don't think your friends understand. They are looking from the point of view of those who want children. I think, for you, it is important to think if you are against or indifferent about having children. If your DH wants them, would you be able to love and nurture your own?

elQuintoConyo Tue 28-Mar-17 09:01:27

I was the second person i knew to have kids, so it wasn't 'peer pressure' to have any. And I was 36.

I wasn't hugely pushed have a child, i'm not maternal, no huge gooey instincts to hold babies or coo over others. My son is 5yo and I am still not interested in others' children. Obviously I don't say it or show it shock but that's how I feel.

DH and I had been together 12 years and married 1 when ds came along. We'd always said 'oh yes, kids one day....' but never planned anything, 'kids by 32' type thing. We got married, then after about a year our circumstances changed and we decided to try for a baby. Pregmant in the first month ttc.

I haven't told anyone (other than countless anonymous MNers!) this. I have 3 very close friends who would dearly love children but cannot (2 x cancer and 1 infertility). And it does make me very sad that DH and i seemed to decide so flippantly and conceive so very easily.

We have one son and absolutely zero desire for another. We have adopted a dog!

elQuintoConyo Tue 28-Mar-17 09:06:17

Oh and I had a shockingly awful mother, so I was always worried i'd be completely crap.

Turns out i'm doing pretty well. DS is sticky and very loving. Although yesterday on the bus home he did say 'when i'm older, and my hands are as big as yours, will you be dead?' hmm

SwearyGodmother Tue 28-Mar-17 09:12:56

I'm 38 and I've not wanted children for pretty much my entire life, aside from a terrifying biological clock glitch that lasted for 6 months when I was 30.

When I met DH I was clear about wanting to remain childfree and he was the same, so the biological clock incident was as terrifying for him as it was for me. We decided, as we were newly married, that we would wait a while before trying and then the urge disappeared as quickly as it started. I literally woke up one morning no longer wanting a baby and thanking the stars that DH had made me wait.

I get told by people that I'll change my mind, to which we normally respond a cheery "maybe, but surely better to change my mind from childfree to having children than the other way around"; or get told we'd be great parents, but I'd make a great serial killer (seriously I'd be epic) and so that argument doesn't really work with me - I'd rather not become the next infamous murderer as much as I'd rather not become a parent.

I have been told over the years that I'm not a proper wife, I'm not a proper woman and that I'm letting my husband's family down by not having children. These are people I tell to fuck off. In fact, on another thread about those of us without children someone came up with the best response to "why don't you want children?" with "fuck off, that's why."

I am bloody sick of it being questioned when DH doesn't get it, aside from his mother, yet people seem to want to point out my abnormality in not wanting to be a parent.

Anyway, it's a done deal now. I had a hysterectomy for gynae issues two weeks ago. Now when people ask I can actually say I can't have them, which tends to shut up the bigots.

Sodomeyes Tue 28-Mar-17 09:14:53

Child free woman, mid-30s here.

I've just always known I didn't want children. I've known from the age of about 7. I've always found them boring and irritating, even when I was a child myself. Like you, any future I pictured has always been without children.

I can't imagine a single way in which a child would possibly enrich my life.

I've had a lot of the "you'll change your mind" as I've been saying I never want children from the age of 7. Most people are coming around to the idea that I actually know my own mind. Any horribly patronizing comments about changing my mind I now meet with very very rude responses.

You find that a lot of people will also try to create their own narrative for you to make your child-free existence fit their frames of reference. My mum loves to tell people I'm 'career-minded'. I'm not but it sounds better than "Sodom doesn't have children because she can't stand them"

Shoxfordian Tue 28-Mar-17 09:21:35

I'm in a similar situation to you OP; I'm 31, have a lovely boyfriend who I do see being someone I'll be with for a while but I don't really feel broody. I feel like I haven't got that biological clock other people talk about. I also see a lot of stress around having children and having to give up a lot of freedom; don't know if I really want to do that.
I'm definitely on the fence; edging towards no at the moment but I could change my mind I suppose.

Lottapianos Tue 28-Mar-17 09:24:56

37 and childfree here. In my early 30s, i found myself absolutely longing for a baby and to create a family with DP. I was really depressed about it all for a while. However, deep down I knew that the reality of parenthood would have driven me crazy. I have worked with parents and children for nearly 20 years so had absolutely no romantic fluffy ideas about how life with children would be, which helped.

There is still enormous pressure on women to become mothers. I think parents sometimes want everyone else to become parents too because it validates their own position, when in fact it's no one else's business what you choose to do with your uterus. Being childfree has so much to recommend it. Listen to your gut. If you feel like you don't want children, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. More women than ever are reaching menopause without becoming mothers. It's not for everyone, nor should it be.

KinkyAfro Tue 28-Mar-17 09:29:39

Ive always known I didn't want children, I'm 43 now so it's unlikely to change. I'm a bit meh about my friends kids, I don't particularly want to hold them and I have no idea how to talk to young kids. I like my many holidays and doing stuff spontaneously so kids wouldn't fit in with that

Joysmum Tue 28-Mar-17 09:40:27

3 of my best friends don't have kids and we're in our mid 40's.

2 never wanted them and never changed their minds but the third did but never found the right person.

I think you can only go on what you feel now. It's ok to change your mind, or to never change your mind.

For many of us, having children was a decision based on feelings rather than a logical decision without feelings. For others falling pregnant was an accident that turned out well or needed to be terminated.

There's no right or wrong so just go with what you feel now.

DistanceCall Tue 28-Mar-17 10:32:29

I really don't think that someone who didn't want children in particular for many years suddenly gets a "biological clock" urge and is desperate to have children at 39. I think it's rather the opposite - if you want children, you know quite clearly. (People who are neutral and are happy when they have a child sort of haphazardly are a different case).

People can get terrible anxiety and urges at a certain age and express it as their biological clock ticking. But I think there's other issues at work in those cases.

SwearyGodmother Tue 28-Mar-17 10:37:19

Gosh Distance that's an interesting viewpoint about the biological clock thing and actually makes perfect sense in my case. It was when my (now shattered) mental health really started to wobble.

Sodomeyes Tue 28-Mar-17 10:42:18

I'm also very sceptical about the 'biological clock' bullshit. I think it's women internalising the expectations that they should have children. Even if they've never wanted them before, I think it reaches a point where both the explicit and implicit pressure builds so much that women think "I want children now".

I also think the rhetoric does a great disservice to women's rationality and, instead, reinforces the idea we're ruled by our emotions and biology.

Bookaholic Tue 28-Mar-17 10:42:56

Childfree and early 50s here. I've never wanted children, I never 'saw' a future with me as a parent in it. My partner is more adamantly childfree than I am and neither of us would have got together if the other had already had children.

I did spend most of my 30s waiting (with some dread) for the biological clock to kick in but it didn't. I just don't think I have the wiring to be a parent. Babies and toddlers just don't appeal to me at all. I've never changed a nappy and can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've held a 'babe in arms' sized child.

corythatwas Tue 28-Mar-17 10:52:18

I knew I wanted them the way I knew I wanted to go to Crete on holiday or have Thai rather than Indian when we last went out for a meal. As in, actually wanted them.

Not as in "Oh, but I'll probably like Crete when I get there" or "but I'm sure I'm just the kind of person who ought to like Thai food".

Similar line of thinking to how I once turned down a very tempting-sounding job offer in exactly the right field because I realised that once I had gone through all the reasons I ought to want this job, I ... didn't.

unsureaboutkids Tue 28-Mar-17 11:00:25

Thank you all so much! I will read them through properly later but just wanted to say now that this is v.helpful and much appreciated.

unsureaboutkids Tue 28-Mar-17 11:04:19

(and respond properly later too).

SadlyNotNormal Tue 28-Mar-17 11:08:16

Known since I was 12 I didn't want my own children. Babysat lots when I was younger and enjoy having a step son, nieces and nephews very much. I'm mid-thirties so friends are starting to have babies now and I'm more certain than ever, watching them go through it all, that I don't want my own. It's a choice, same as any other, I wish that was talked about more actually. I do think there is a pressure on women to have kids, an expectation. I think it's really unfair. Children, especially initially, are very time-intensive which is fine if you really really want them. I would rather spend my time on other things is all.

I think you can make a list of pros and cons, but ultimately the only reason for having kids is if you really, really want them (and imo you have to really want them because they are such hard work at times, as I'm sure anyone on here will attest to).

Liz Gilbert got it right when she said that you're either a Mum, an Aunty or someone who shouldn't be within 10 feet of a child ;-) I consider myself very much to be in the Aunty category. I find young children especially very demanding and, if I'm honest, irritating. My nieces and nephews are a bit older (as is my step son) and I love spending time with them. They are hilarious.

In answer to your question - do you imagine doing other things with your time? Are there things you want to do with your time more than having kids? It sounds as though that is the case from your original post. I get terribly 'broody' when it comes to cats / dogs / animals and so I'd rather rescue animals than produce offspring of my own. I certainly do not get broody around babies. I hope that helps!

shineon Tue 28-Mar-17 11:08:55

Sounds like you know your own mind & definitely dont want kids. The life you have planned sounds lovely! As long as your partner is on the same page. I always wanted kids it was just a longing. But I absolutely can see the benefits of not having them.

purplecollar Tue 28-Mar-17 11:10:28

I was unsure but dh was sure so we went ahead with it.

Dc massively enrich my life. They are loves of my life. Like part of me. The laughter they bring is phenomenal. But they are a huge amount of work. My life has taken a real back seat for a decade now. My career is gone. My body was quite damaged. My financial future much less secure. But strangely I don't regret it at all.

I think you just go forward with whatever you choose. Key is having a decent dp I think. It can be very hard if you don't have good support. I wouldn't be considering it with one who didn't do basic household tasks (cooking, cleaning, washing) or put their hobbies first. Someone you can work as a team with easily and makes similar decisions to you. Someone who will financially support the family when you can't. More by luck than judgement, dh was all that which made it a lot easier for a non-natural like myself.

I have 5 lifelong type friends. None of them had dc. For varying reasons. I'm the odd one out. I sometimes feel their lives are more exciting than mine. But really it's only those first ten years where you're a bit tied to it. It's temporary really that bit.

ladyratterley Tue 28-Mar-17 11:14:57

I'm mid 30's and don't actively want kids, but I've always thought "never say never" as I've been open to changing my mind and my biological clock kicking in (although I think it's highly unlikely by now!). As another poster put it, I've always found children quite irritating and boring, even when I was one.

I've never had a burning desire for a child and I don't really understand why people have that. I fully acknowledge that the way I feel is unusual. I seem to be missing the biological need to reproduce that most people seem to have.

I don't want to hold other people's babies and I don't enjoy spending lots of time with kids. I sometimes coo over a cute baby, and I enjoy seeing my nieces and nephew or friend's children occasionally but I would find dealing with them all the time very tedious.

I enjoy my lifestyle with my partner and I don't see how a child would fit in with that. I simply don't want to have to run my life around someone else. I also think the world is a pretty fucked up place, even compared to when I was born and I'm not sure I want to bring a child into it. The only positive reason I can think of in favour of having children is that they would be around to visit and potentially look after me when I'm old! That isn't a good enough reason for me to have a kid.

I'm mid 30's now so time is starting to run out. Unless I change my mind pretty quick then I'm going to be childfree forever! I can't say I'm that upset about it grin

purplecollar Tue 28-Mar-17 11:23:54

Oh forgot to say, I'm not a natural liker of other people's dc. I try hard to conceal that with dc's friends and my family though. I think they can tell. It doesn't really matter. And my feelings towards my own dc are completely different. It's fascinating watching your own develop/grow. And really rewarding. It amazes me when they do well at something, particularly if I'm no good at it. It feels like a success of your own.

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