I’ve had this post sitting in drafts for ages but never felt comfortable hitting publish. Today’s topic is an incredibly personal one but something I think it’s important to talk about and normalize.
My friend Jenn inspired me: she was talking about this in her stories. It always jumps out at me when another influencer talks about this – it’s rare. She mentioned having a post about this in her drafts for three years and I DM’d her and was like, “SAME!!!!!” We decided we’d both post today. Solidarity? I highly encourage you to check out her essay: she (a married person) has a different perspective so I really enjoyed reading her thoughts.
Her essay actually made me feel a little guilty and sad – as a single person, I deal with all sorts of criticism but I think it’s even harder when you’re married. People feel sorry for the “sad single girl” who “can’t find a man and settle down…” but when it’s a couple, intentionally choosing not to have a baby, it can inspire anger and people can be truly awful. Her piece (particularly the pregnancy speculation and rude comments) made me really upset.
I would also recommend listening to Kate’s Childless Millennial podcast episode which is the other thing giving me courage to post this!
I don’t want TO HAVE kids.
If you follow me on Instagram or listen to the podcast you probably already know this.
My PANK (Professional Aunt, No Kids – I learned about it from Erica Cerulo but the term was actually coined by Melanie Notkin) lifestyle and DINK (Dual Income, No Kids) aspirations aren’t exactly a secret, but this is something I haven’t written about in depth, probably because (as important as I think it is to talk about), writing a post like this has a permanence to it and also has a lot of risks: offending someone, inviting others in to my life to give advice I’m not asking for, scaring potential dates who google me away, I could go on.
What if I change my mind and do somehow wind up having a child and then this post exists on the Internet!? While I don’t see that happening, you never know: people do change their minds.
I also want to make sure you all know that this is not by any means a critique of anyone else’s life decisions. I love my mom friends! Being a parent is awesome. I like kids. Scratch that, I love kids. Half of my favorite instagram follows involve children. Some of my mom friends apologize to me about all the kid pics and I reassure them: I AM HERE for your cute kid pics. Lastly: I know so many people who have struggled with infertility. I can’t imagine what that feels like and if that is you, please know: I am sending you the biggest hug ever.
I am writing this post more to normalize my own feelings as I know that many people feel the same as I do, but nobody really talks about. Any time I touch on it (even lightly) on Instagram, it leads to really thoughtful and interesting exchanges in the DMs.
So let’s talk about it!
If you don’t want to have kids you are not a heartless, child-hating troll.
I’m not a cold, heartless troll. (Unless I’m really hungry, but even then I still have a heart.) I swear. My niece and nephews are the lights of my life. I love my friends’ kids. You can be warm and kind and loving, you can be a great babysitter, you can truly love kids but also not want your own.
Maybe I’d feel differently if I were an only child and didn’t have my niece and nephews. Or if I only had one sister, and I were the only chance at my niece or nephew having a cousin. I’m not really sure. This is something I think about a lot. But at the end of the day I choose to focus on living the life that I want, a life I love… and being the best aunt I possibly can be. If I am living the life that makes me happiest, I am a better person and better equipped to be a good friend/sister/daughter/partner/auntie.
People often ask me when I knew I didn’t want to have kids.
I think I always knew.
As a child, I never cared about baby dolls. As a twenty something, I never fantasized about a dream wedding or baby names. I always said, “oh when I have kids… etc etc” as it seemed like an inevitability, but the actual prospect of having kids felt so far away that it was never scary. The one guy I dated for a long time wanted an army of kids; I remember being really overwhelmed by that idea but thinking, “oh, that’s so far away, we’ll worry about that later.”
I think I always just sort of figured a biological clock would turn on and I’d be walking down the street and see a cute mom pushing a cute baby in a cute stroller and feel some primal yearning. It never happened. I’ve grilled my girlfriends who do have kids. They each described an incredible longing that I admire and think sounds amazing but have never personally experienced.
So, suddenly here I am, a year away from 40. No biological clock, no primal yearning. I still don’t want kids, and my conviction on this has only gotten stronger. It’s taken me a really long time to get here and say that with confidence, and to be honest I only feel so OKAY saying it out loud with conviction because of the DM’s I’ve gotten from so many of you and people like Erica (she came on our podcast a while back and talked about it) and Jenn who have made feel not just okay, but actually confident and hopeful and really good about living my life the way that I want to.
You can LOVE kids and not want them for yourself.
I said this above and I will say it again: my niece and nephews are the true lights of my life. I can’t tell you how much I love them. My heart hurts when I think about them and the best part of last week was choosing Zoe’s birthday gift (I got her a beautiful stroller for her dolls, several rainbow balls (she’s going through a big ball phase), three outfits and a gold crown with pom poms. Overboard? Maybe a little. She only turns two once!
Not wanting children doesn’t make you selfish or a bad person.
Although being open and honest about this has led to a lot of great conversations I have also been called so many awful things in the DMs when I talk about not wanting children.
Cold. Child hating. My favorite line is “But you were a child once!” (What does that even mean??? Um yeah – that’s how biology works? Just because I was a child doesn’t mean I need to be a mother!) My least favorite thing EVER is when strangers tell me I just haven’t been in love enough to want to make a baby with someone. I have been madly in love, it just didn’t work out. And what a rude thing to say to a stranger on the Internet!
This account has become one of my favorites, and this BINGO card is oh too real.
Not wanting kids doesn’t make you selfish, it’s also okay to want to be selfish.
I love my life. So much. I really value my sleep and my alone time and quiet. I value my career. And I love my friends and my social life… and yes, being able to sleep in on weekends if I want to. Maybe if I were a man and didn’t have to deal with the physical parts of growing and birthing a human (or all the societal pressure moms get), I would feel differently, who knows!
I personally think it would be even more selfish to bring a child into the world just because you feel like you have to do it, or worse because you want someone to take care of you when you’re old. A couple years ago I broke up with someone I was dating and his desire for kids was a big part of it, and I remember him arguing me that I was just scared, and me arguing back and him looking really defeated and finally saying “well who will take care of you when you get old!?” And I was like DUDE THAT IS NOT A REASON TO HAVE KIDS!!!!!
Dating when you don’t want kids is hard – really hard.
I think because I am a kind and warm person men automatically assume I want kids. I am a magnet to men who want a big family, men who will be great dads. They are always drawn to how close I am with my parents and my sisters. When I feel ready to date again I think I am going to need to put something about not wanting kids in my bio. I’m still optimistic and know my person is out there, but it’s definitely made things a lot more difficult. Especially at this age when we know what we want… we’re pretty fully formed and less likely to waver on these things.
All I want in the world is to live close to my sisters and their kids… and find a partner who wants to live the DINK lifestyle. I absolutely wouldn’t mind dating a divorced dad who has his own kids, and helping him/being the kids’ fun friend or step mom. I just don’t personally aspire to motherhood.
“But you’d be such a great mom!”
I get this one a lot. It’s very nice of people to say. But it doesn’t sway me. (Real talk, though: should you need to be swayed on such a massive life decision? Why do we try to enforce our beliefs on others? I’m not out here telling people with kids that they’re making a mistake!)
At the end of the day, there are a lot of reasons to do something. But I firmly believe that just because you’d be good at something, just because everyone else is doing it, just because there’s societal pressure and it’s something you think you have to do… those things aren’t good enough reasons for me. I am very happy marching to the beat of my own drum. I love my life. Pandemics aside, every year gets better and I’m really happy with the life I’ve built for myself. I hope I am able to find a partner who wants the same things I want, but if I don’t I also know I will be just fine. There are worse things to be than alone, and when you have amazing family and friends you’re never actually alone.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this. DM’s may take me a bit to get to but please comment below. Or, let’s discuss in the private Facebook group.
photography by Allie Provost.
Ahh, I love this post!!! Except, I am the total opposite. I totally want my own kids, but when it comes to being an aunt, I’m a little stuck. My boyfriend (long term 6 year’s) has a twin niece and nephew. He is obsessed and I’m quite frank not. Is there something wrong with me?? I genuinely love kids, but if I wanted my own kids to run around after well, I would just have my own.
Haha that’s so funny! I think maybe because I have consciously made the decision in my head that I don’t want my own, I am ALL IN on being an auntie. I don’t think anything is wrong with you at all!!!! Also, I didn’t care about any of my ex’s nephews and nieces much… but my sisters’ kids… that’s different for me!
TBH I just don’t think your boyfriends are the same as your own for lots of people. I do love my boyfriends nice, we’ve been together 6 years and I’m close with his family, but it’s just different. My niece makes all the same silly facial expressions as my brother. I see her all the time. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it!
Yes! Thank you . I felt like a monster for my post, I do love them but they aren’t my kids. He tries to make me engage and revolve our life around them. At some point you need boundaries.
I have several nieces and nephews through my husband’s family, and I am way more interested in my friends’ kids than in my nieces and nephews – the lack of biological connection can have a real impact!
I feel the same way about my husbands nieces and nephews!!! I was wondering if I was a monster too lol I’m glad I’m not alone. I love my friends kids way more
I am not crazy about my husband’s niece and nephew, but I am obsessed with my sisters kids! I am a crazy over indulgent aunt to them!
Yes, to this thread! I’m obsessed with my sister’s daughter, but have a much less intense interest and relationship with my husband’s sister’s kids. I think it really comes down to the fact that my family has a much closer relationship than his, so I just don’t feel the same tie.
I’m here for this thread. In my case, my sister in law pushes and pushes for me to be involved in her kids lives. I love my nieces and nephews but I’m just not interested in listening to them play crummy violin, or watch their soccer games. I love taking to them and have THEM tell me about their day, but not the 10000 messages on how they are great in school, and sports, and piano, and singing.
There’s something about seeing your own family’s resemblance in your own nieces and nephews! I look at them and see my sister’s smile, my mom’s eyes, my brother’s expressions, etc. And seeing my mom as a grandmother to them, brings up some happy childhood memories of how she used to interact with us.
I don’t have a partner or non-related nieces and nephews, but I have two best girlfriends who have kids. I love those kids, who were born before my own nieces and nephews, and have been an honorary auntie to them. But now I have such feelings for my own, that I can see the distinction. There’s almost a familial protective instinct, wanting my little babies to survive and thrive!
I always thought I would be a mom and always had a strong desire for kids. Now that I am almost 40, single, and an aunt, I am happy with life and no longer have the desire for my own. It’s not selfish; it’s knowing what brings you joy and where you want to spend your precious energy. Being a great parent is one of the biggest impacts you can have in the world and the greatest joy, but those of us without them make an impact in other ways, and find joys in so many other things. I think it is parents’ myopic views of the importance of their own family that they project on those without. They can’t imagine a life without their offspring and so they can’t imagine how the childless find value and enjoy a life. But we do just fine!
Hey Grace! I think it’s great you’re writing about this. I definitely think it’s becoming more common not to have kids now!
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This is lovely, Grace. I’m 26, have been married for a year, and always always said that I wanted to be married for a nice long time before having kids – to have that special time to ourselves. But I’ve never actually taken the time to even consider that that ‘special time’ could just as well mean the rest of our lives together. Thank you for vocalising and normalising that choice, the concept of not automatically wanting kids. I have very strong maternal instincts for… my cat. Not for kids. So who knows! ❤️
Hahahahaha, I relate. My maternal instincts for Tyrion are STRONG.
Great post! I think this is something that is important to talk about and normalize. While I definitely have that longing you mention, it has nothing to do with finding the right guy (I would feel this way whether I was single or not), whether or not I’ll be good at it (I generally don’t know what to do around kids lol), or any of those other comments you get. I’m sorry you have to put up with that, but I’m glad you are willing to talk about it!
Thank you!!! I so agree.
Thank you for this post. I relate to so much of what you said. The worst part is friends assuming I hate children. It has been one of the more hurtful aspects of my choice not to have them…and being excluded from events because I don’t have a child to bring. Thank you for making me feel less alone.
oh my God! I cannot even count the many many times I was excluded from events when I didn’t have kids! It is so so hurtful!
I honestly love hearing this and these different, nonjudgmental perspectives because it validates for me I really don’t want kids (and it’s fine!). I don’t think I would be a great mom in many ways, I’m very anxious and need to have a lot of control in my life, and it scares me that maybe deep down I want to be a mom and everyone feels this way. But nope, I have no longing. I have the perfect partner who would be a fantastic dad, but I just don’t have the urge. But your own emotions sound so sweet, they make me happy to read, and I’m sure you’ll be a great mom!
Thank you for this post. Every word of it reads true to me. I have felt the same for a number of years now, and so appreciate you putting this out there. There is so much support and praise for women who choose to become moms, and so little for those of us who are DINKs and PANKs. Thank you for being a brave voice for those of us who are scared to voice this and are feeling alone.
YES!!! That’s exactly what I wanted to talk about!
Came here from Jenn’s post. 100% agree and support this choice. Getting old is not a reason to have kids. I’ve heard that from our family. It never makes sense to me.
I also have NEVER had that yearning that women talk about. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone in that either.
Sending you a big hug, it’s so important to talk about this stuff so that we all feel less alone!
I’m here for this. I feel the same way you do, but with the added conviction that not having children is one of the most environmentally mindful decisions one can make. Unfortunately, I think this makes people think I judge them of they do. Also, of my siblings, I’m the most viable parent. So my decision probably means no grandkids. It hurts my parents, but that’s no reason to have kids either.
I probably said it out loud when I was about 25. It was amazing. It normalized it for my own ears and I’ve only talked about it more since (with lots of BINGO).
One last thought… without kids as a defining feature in one’s life, I’ve found it helpful to think of my life in “chapters.” Instead of pre-kids, kids, grown kids, grandkids, I get to define those chapters. They could be career shifts, travel, cause-related, whatever. Its a mental trick that I’ve found VERY freeing. I get to write my own book!
I love that idea (of looking at life in chapters). Thank you!
Thank you for tackling this important topic with vulnerability, humor, and straightforwardness, Grace! I’ve loved your perspective on children through the blog and BOP in the past and this post is perfect.
As someone who has chosen to have children, I have never understood why this should be anything other than a totally personal choice. Having children can be wonderful–if you wholeheartedly want them (they are a lot of work!) and not having children can also be great if you fulfilled by what you have going on. I hate the notion that just because you’re a woman means you’re baby crazy. (I remember my husband being surprised when I told him I wanted to wait a few years after getting married before starting to think about kids. He just assumed all women wanted them ASAP, like he did). In fact, as we well know, women often have to carry the majority of the child-rearing burden and so if you’re not 100% into that, then it’s not worth it. Having a family is a wonderful thing (I think…I’m pretty new into this adventure) but life also has a lot of other amazing things to offer that are just harder with kids, like travel, sleep, throwing yourself into your career, etc.. Choosing not to have children is a legitimate choice and it’s time we stop guilting people, women especially, who want to make that choice for themselves. It’s not a referendum on parents, it’s just someone’s personal decision. It’s a shame that Grace even has to write this post. Bravo, Grace for putting yourself out there and being honest (as always).
YES – I didn’t even want to get into this: “as we well know, women often have to carry the majority of the child-rearing burden and so if you’re not 100% into that, then it’s not worth it,” as it could be it’s own separate post… but YES, and thank you for the support.
I wish I could frame this, Sarah! So perfectly said –
Thank you 🙂
I love this post and relate to it so deeply. I’m 34, married, and both my husband and I have never really wanted to have kids and yet, in the four years that we’ve been married, all of our friends, family, coworkers, and many strangers have projected the idea that we would/should have children any day now. What were we waiting for? They were all doing it. This came, despite the fact that I have continuously expressed that having children isn’t for us, the assumption is always that we’ll change our minds (and that we’re being selfish because our parents want grandchildren, our grandparents want great grandchildren, etc.- as if this isn’t an unbelievably personal and nuanced choice). Anyway, thank you so much for this post. I have loved hearing your story and while I’m sure this was a difficult post, it is such an incredibly helpful piece for people like me to be able to read.
I am so glad it was helpful and that you could relate!!!
Grace! Thanks so much for sharing and being vulnerable. I’ve been married to my husband for 2.5 years now, so the question is asked when we will have kids. Honestly we are not sure we want them! It is obviously engrained in us that is the logical next step, but we keep putting off when we think we will start discussing or trying. It’s so interesting that you made the comment that you never played with dolls growing up.. I didn’t either. I never played with dolls, Barbies, anything like that. I loved playing with animals. I can’t tell you how many beanie babies I had, stuffed animals, or calico critters (tiny animals that I played with). And to this day I am obsessed with dogs. My dog is my baby!
Oh my gosh I am laughing so hard right now because I was the exact same. Also if we went over someone’s house would be indifferent to the baby but would stalk the house to find the cat… so… not much has changed!
Oh yes! Totally agree on the cat stalker! I still do it when I meet my friends who have a cat, and luckily it seems like my son is turning in to a cat stalker as well. Hurrah!
Thank you for sharing! I have a few friends who are childfree by choice, and they are happy with lives and their decisions. They are also great aunts/older cousins/trusted adults in many of their friends childrens lives.
I actually thought this was my path too. I’ve never felt the urge or burning desire to have children and I’m 37. I assumed that since there was no ticking biological clock that it meant I didn’t want to have kids – my friends all wanted to be mothers SO badly. I have never felt that!
My personal road has brought me to marriage and someone I love so deeply, and he has always wanted a big family. We aren’t doing that, because time (and some of my health issues), but I am open to having a family with him. It is appealing now because I can picture it, but still not that crazy overwhelming feeling. However I have told him over and over again that not having kids is also fine with me. If it doesn’t happen, I will be very happy with our life together.
Anyway, I think our choices as women should be respected. We can have fulfilling lives children or no children.
Thank you for sharing!!!!
Thank you for posting this, Grace! And for linking your friend’s essay. I popped over to hers and she and I share a very specific set of circumstances (married, faith, Chicago) so hers was very therapeutic. All the best to you and I love reading about your fabulous life…as is!!
Oh wow, I am so glad to hear that!!! Yay, Jenn is great, you’ll love her blog!
I know it’s not a new issue that society is SO hard on women, no matter what choice they make, but thank you for writing this and for normalizing the choice you and so many others should be able to make without anyone else’s input, however “well-meaning” it is. Aunt life is the best!
I could not agree more. The mom shaming is also out of control!
As a very happily married, stay at home mom of 2, I fully applaud your choice! It is awesome that you know yourself well enough to know what you want! It saddens me that society makes you feel that you need to defend your decision and even worse that strangers feel the need to be insulting and hateful. I wonder if you were a 39 year old man who stated the same, would you get the same reactions?
Right? 39 year old man? No one even bats an eye!
Yes! I’m married, 40, and live in the South. I would need extra appendages to count the times and ways I’ve been told how selfish I am not to choose to have children. My husband has NEVER been told he’s selfish; it’s not even a topic of conversation.
I love Amy Poehler’s advice for women in her book, “Yes Please,” where she encourages women to say “Good for her, not for me.” Women in our society are held to impossible standards and so many times we spread that same judgmental energy around. But if we harnessed that to become more supporting and accepting . . . Well, we’d all be better off.
I totally feel this! My husband is 39 and remarked that he had never even been asked if he wanted kids! We were at one of my friends wedding and he stuck with me all night and he was shocked how the first thing anyone asked me was when we were having kids (not if).
Oh Grace- thank you so much for sharing this post! I have been married for 5 years, didn’t really want kids when we got married, and still am leaning towards the “no” camp and so much of what you said resonated with me. I hate that we have to justify all the reasons why we don’t want kids! I also plan on reading Jenn’s post that you linked here. All to say- I really appreciate you sharing this and I admire you for it! I hope this leads to some interesting discussion, positive vibes only!!
Thank you so much Zoe!
Thanks so much for sharing! So many things you say resonate with me. I LOVE kids! I’m an ER nurse and pediatric patients are my absolute favorite – I love explaining things to them, caring for them when they’re really sick (they are so tough!) and reassuring parents. And I adore my nieces and nephew but have just never needed or wanted my own. I’m so grateful for my family who has always understood and has never pressured me.
I also get a little annoyed when people say things like, “oh just wait, you’ll change your mind.” Who, by the way, are almost always acquaintances who don’t know me all that well. Maybe I will but I’m 36 and haven’t yet, even when I was married to a man who wanted children. I’m perfectly content enjoying my life as someone who is good with kids but gets to go home at the end of the day (or weekend) and live that PANK life!
Haha everyone has been telling me I’ll change my mind for years. I kept waiting. Finally realized this year that I’m probably not going to change my mind!!!!
Long time reader – first time commenting. This post. It’s everything! I’m in my early forties and I’ve been with my partner for over 15 years. And the one we get is: “but your kids would be so beautiful!” (They would be mixed). BUT HOW IS THIS A REASON TO HAVE KIDS? Anyway, thank you for a wonderful post.
Thank you so much, Tina!!!
Made me laugh yes that is definitely not a reason!!!!
Same, same, same. I’m lucky in that my husband had zero interest in having kids. He is introverted and we both enjoy the quiet calmness an adult only home brings.
Prior to being married, I dated lots of guys that “wanted kids” though I’m convinced many of them had zero intention of raising them. More of a check the box idea.
I imagine dating in your late 30s/early 40s, it will start to be a non issue. I do feel the older we all get, the more realistic everyone is. You cannot have it ALL. Which is okay, because you can take the time to enjoy the things you do choose.
Could not agree more. Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂
This comment resonates with me. I have dated so many men who wanted kids, but also seemed entirely uninterested in raising them. That attitude is confusing to me!
That is such a good point about men who say they want children, but don’t actually plan to help out with raising them. And unfortunately, you often don’t find that out until it’s too late and you’ve already had them. Ugh!
Oh, also divorced dads of daughters are where it’s at! In my experience at least, they’re such good feminists and are kinder!
Hahahha, if only that were a filter on Hinge 😉
As I shared with you via DM, THANK YOU for publishing this! I know it’s a really scary topic to broach so publicly, and I give you so much credit for your honesty. I wrote a post recently about how I’m not sure if I want kids, and for a long time I felt like a terrible person for having any doubt. The truth is, a lot of people go through this and not enough people talk about it, so I’m grateful to both you and Jenn for adding your perspectives to the conversation.
Thanks so much Sam!!!
Grace, thank you for sharing this. I too, do not want kids. I loved reading your perspective from a single woman’s point of view. I have been with my significant other for a very long time and we constantly get hounded with questions and comments because we don’t have kids and (until very recently!) had not been married due to our own choice. It amazes me that people find it appropriate (friends, family, strangers) to comment on something so personal.
It’s so crazy to me!!! Thanks for sharing!
THANK YOU (and Jenn and Kate) for this! I’m also childfree by choice and really loving these posts. I’m sure it’s hard to open up like this, but it makes a difference to those of us on your side who don’t feel as alone!
Thank you for addressing this on the blog. I wholeheartedly agree it’s time to normalize choosing not to have kids. When I was younger the non-stop barrage of people telling me I would change my mind was exhausting. Now that I’m 40 the comments have stopped, but it can still feel isolating, living a life most of your friends and family can’t relate to. It’s refreshing to hear more people coming out and saying it’s an intentional choice.
YES – it needs to be said more!!! I choose this life 🙂 Sending you a hug and a fistbump in solidarity!
Grace, this is a wonderful and heartfelt post. I am a millennial who aspires to have children but currently have a couple very close friends who are starting to share their honesty in not aspiring to have children. Your words will help me support them.
Thank you. 🙂 xx
I’m glad you posted this and feel comfortable doing so. We all need to do what’s true to ourselves, not what society tells us to do. I’m a mom and can’t imagine thinking that everyone needs to be, it’s a huge commitment and if you don’t want to do it then I can’t imagine how bad it would be for everyone involved!
THANK YOU FOR THIS!
you’re so welcome!!!
I’ve been married for seven years and we both have decided long before that we were not kid people. It all sounds great in theory but it’s just not something we are interested in doing for ourselves. You can imagine after being married for seven years how many questions, comments and insults we get about this topic and it’s hurtful. I hate having to explain why which is many factors, I don’t feel motherly, I don’t have a yearning to have kids of my own, I am nervous about being stuck in a bad financial situation when things like child care come into play and especially now COVID has sealed the deal for us. I am 30 and still paying my student loans, I can’t afford another mouth to feed and to pay my mortgage and be expected to leave my job for a child. Not to mention we love to travel and I can’t see myself doing that with an infant or toddler. I wish people would normalize this and understand that it is my life and I want to live it the way I want. It doesn’t make me less of a woman if I don’t decide to have kids. I’m so sick of the societal pressure.
Oh my gosh I cannot even imagine. I hope you’ll read Jenn’s post, it sounds like you two have very similar experiences! Sending you so much love!
I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing! I listened to Kate’s episode on the topic this weekend too and I’m soooo grateful! It can be so hard to articulate why I might not want to have children and hearing all these honest, warm, thoughtful accounts of women who feel the same way is so validating! <3
I am so glad! That’s exactly why I wrote this!!
I love this post! It’s so interesting how other people can get defensive over you not wanting a child. My response is usually “If do have this baby you want so badly, you can feed, clothe, and keep it at your house! I’ll come visit.” I have been with my partner for 10 years and we always get comments about when we will get married and don’t we want to get started on our family? My reality right now is that I also take care of my two aging/disabled parents. I don’t have kids, but taking care of them and their needs feels like it might be similar. I just want to live my life and not be responsible for even MORE humans. But I still want two dogs one day!! Haha
Oh my gosh this cracks me up so much, thank you for sharing. Yes, exactly! My sister has gotten some pressure to have a second and I feel like saying this on her behalf!!! And I definitely want two cats, someday!
You and I have chatted over DMs on this subject before but I appreciate you posting this and, as you said, normalizing the decision. Particularly for those who are sorting out their feelings. I’m 45 and in a 20 year relationship with a man who never wanted children either. We are just not kid people. I think I always knew and my younger years were filled with sometimes well meaning, sometimes condescending or smug comments about how I’d change my mind. While those comments have died down, I still have to assert myself at work so that I don’t get stuck working the overtime hours because I “don’t have a family” (ps, I do, it just looks different). I love and respect my family and friends who are raising amazing little humans but I’ve never regretted my choice. It’s a hard thing to talk about but there’s a whole group of women who feel the same way!
Ugh, I feel you on the imbalance at work. People get to leave early or don’t have to work late because they have kids, and even if I have something going on in my life, it doesn’t feel like anything I have is equal to the kids, and I feel pressure to do the work.
So true. It’s on me too…I have to remind myself that my time has value too. I think it is more about being equitable, than equal. I’m more than happy to not take time off during spring break so that parents can as long as I can do so later!
It’s so true. I know it’s hard for parents ( I do have more compassion for single parents, who didn’t plane it that way)but, when you are childless people assume you don’t have a life. One of my colleagues just expects everyone to accommodate him, because he has kids. I love his wife and his kids, but still it doesn’t feel right. Just to make you laugh, one mother at my work was complaining about being tired. I said “ sleep or kids, Karen you made a choice” Of course we were laughing, but it’s also true
Gosh this is one of those times where I am so grateful to work for myself (not all the time, as my health insurance premiums just got jacked up 30%) and don’t have to deal with this but I remember this being a big thing when I worked for P&G. All the moms would scurry out at 5pm to get the train to make it home to see their kids but the child-free folks were expected to work til 7!
You are so brave to say this out loud! I have a child and love her loads but being a mom makes it incredibly clear, KIDS ARENT FOR EVERYONE! I have followed you for 10 years, sometimes it feels like we grew up together and I find it so beautiful to see you living your happiest life and your best truth. I wish you all the happiness and joy
Thank you so much, and wow I am so grateful to you for reading here for so long – wow!!!! Wishing the same for you!
Thank you so much for posting this! I think there are so many of us professional women who feel like there is something wrong with us because we don’t want kids or feel like we have to justify our existence because *gasp* you are a woman who doesn’t want to be a mom?!? I love the conversation that you can be a good, caring individual who can live a fulfilling life and contribute to society in other ways than procreating!
Absolutely!!!! Thank you!!!!
Wow! I feel like you took the words right from my brain! I am very open about not wanting kids yet people still think some day I will change my mind. My parents do not understand it and for my mom all she wanted was to have kids, where as I am the complete opposite. Thankfully my husband is on my side and backs me up in all this. It is tough being 30 and being married and seeing your friends have kids and getting the question “so when will you be having kids?” Beyond that being such an intrusive question, people are always stunned when I say I don’t want kids. Like my stance has offended them. It is very strange but I am glad more and more people are talking about it and normalizing it. You can have a full wonderful life without having children and I plan to do so!
Gosh the questions are so intrusive. I’m happy your husband can help back you up!!!!
This was so well read! Thank you for putting into words the feelings you have. I share them as a married person and I look forward to reading the suggested post by your friend.
I thought children would be a part of my life prior to getting married mostly because *everyone* said I would make a great mom. Now, being married a year, I am fulfilled and I really love my lifestyle with my husband. I make a great aunt to all the kids in my life. I’m often met with shock when I tell friends and family that we don’t want kids. Between my husband and I, we have shared that we are allowed to change our minds but are firm for the present and future outlook.
Thanks again for posting this. Honestly.
Thank YOU for sharing your experience! Appreciate the support 🙂
This is amazing. As someone who is not sure about this topic, it has helped me in so many ways. I’m in a relationship (but not married) and I get a lot of pressure from my family and passive aggressive comments from my mom about not having grandkids yet. I’m happy / why doesn’t that count for something? Just because my life is different then what you had/have or what you imagined for me, doesn’t mean I’m not happy. I especially loved the last paragraph. Thank you for sharing ♥️
I am so happy it was helpful! Hugs! xo
Great post. The point about other people pushing their briefs really resonated. My husband and I have one son and the pressure and comments we’ve had about how sorry people feel for my son being an only child is ridiculous. I think it’s great to talk about the topic and I really like your perspective on being an aunt as well. Nieces and nephews are amazing.
Oh my gosh seriously. The only child pressure is so real, my sister gets a lot of it and I can’t even imagine, especially given that she had a really difficult pregnancy and a tough time after giving birth. We all just need to support each other and let each other do what is right for them!
Thank you so much for posting this! My husband and I are both 23 and just married and love the DINK lifestyle. Both of us always knew that’s what we wanted. This is so comforting to hear and it was such a great post!
Good for you!!!!
Yasssss live that Ina Garten life!! Cup of Jo had a post on this. https://cupofjo.com/2012/11/motherhood-mondays-would-you-ever-decide-to-not-have-kids/
I have a cool aunt who’s single with no kids and I would always spend the night at her house growing up, she would take me out to eat, and when I graduated high school we went on a trip to NYC which was so fun. And we always get the most Christmas money from her (and my brothers and I are her favorite, lol).
Hahahahha I aspire to be that aunt! Also, thank you for linking that CoJ article. I read her religiously and definitely missed this one!
Ahh I love this post, thank you for publishing it!! I honestly don’t know if I want children and when I turned 35 this past summer, I felt an immense amount of pressure to decide if I wanted them. I’m in a loving, long-term relationship and we don’t really know if we want kids or not. I think given the anxiety surrounding politics and the state of the world (not to mention the expense that comes with having children, the lack of maternity leave in most industries, the issues with healthcare and childcare, etc.), makes it even more imperative for us to normalize these conversations and allow everyone to make their own choices.
I am so glad it resonated!!!! It’s okay to not be sure!!!!
Amen, sister. I’m 44, no kids and no marriage – and fairly certain I don’t want either. Like you, playing house and babies was not. my. thing. I played office non-stop at my dining room table, dressed in my moms old maternity dresses, belted and in heels. Never imagined my wedding or a family. I imagined working in a giant office building with a marbled lobby in NYC. Serious life goal from age 6 on. And I am an executive assistant for a global company in DC (with an office in NYC that I frequent often (pre-COVID). I’m 100% happy and proud that my life is exactly how I designed it to be! And good for you too!!
Hahahaha, isn’t it so funny that what we did as kids really can show who we are as adults? I was always playing dress up, covered in glitter glue, and making jewelry. Never playing with baby dolls, etc! Build a life you are proud of – good for you!!! XO
Grace, I am so glad you, Jenn and Kate have begun talking openly about this. For me, I never wanted kids. I vocalized that early too- my mom babysat my cousins and I did not like having babies and toddlers around. I remember my aunts kind of patting me on the head and saying I would change my mind. At 12, I was really strong-willed and already resented that attitude. As time passed, the desire for children never came. Like you, I would hear friends talking about this existential longing for children, and I just couldn’t relate. Every time one of them got pregnant, I was ecstatic for them- I bought all the time clothes and couldn’t wait to meet the baby…and then give it back after holding it for awhile. I also supported friends through infertility and saw their pain- though I couldn’t understand it on a personal level, I saw what wanting a baby and being unable to have one did to them.
Due to some health issues over the past few years, I now no longer simply don’t want kids, but I also can’t have them. I am very much at peace with this, and in some ways it has made life easier because I can explain that I simply can’t have kids and I don’t have to face the judgment of not wanting them. However, it hasn’t stopped men from bluntly telling me that they must have children to carry on their family name and preserve their genetics (wut). And that’s fine- that’s their journey, even if I don’t relate to it in the least. I hope that eventually I find my person.
Anyway, thank you again. It is so important, in my opinion, to have people to relate to in this way and legitimize the choices that many of us make.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! And oh my gosh the men who must preserve their genetic line… I just… don’t… relate!!!! Thank you so much for weighing in on this discussion!
Thanks so much for writing this Grace. I am 35 in a committed, long-term relationship and we go back and forth whether or not we want kids. Like you, my nieces and nephews are the lights and loves of my life and they fulfill me so much. I do believe that I could be happy with or without my own kids. Sometimes I do worry whether I will regret it someday, but I don’t want a potential regret to be the only reason I do choose to have kids. I also don’t want the fact that I am getting older to expedite a decision I am not ready to make yet. I think most of my guilt and second guessing comes from our parents and wanting to fulfill THEM with a grandchild and knowing we’re one of their only chances for that. They’re also getting older and if we were going to have kids, we’d want them to be involved as much as able – but again, don’t want to make that decision JUST for their sake – despite how much we love them. I love kids, but I also love the flexibility of our lives and SLEEP (!). SO many things to talk about and basically wanting to say thank you for bringing the conversation to light. I love following you and appreciate all of your insight!
That is really hard!!! I feel a lot of relief that my sisters both chose to have kids so my parents can be grandparents. It’s such a difficult, personal decision. Sending you hugs, thank you for the note!
Loved this post – I think it’s so important to normalize the choice not to have children as just that – one choice of many!
The idea that women in their 30s must want children is harmful to both women who want kids but don’t have them for whatever reason and women who don’t want kids. We’re living in 2020 (even though at times I wonder how far we are from all being handmaids … half kidding): I think we’ve moved past the idea that a woman’s purpose is to bear children.
Thanks for writing this and deciding to hit publish. And I have to put a plug in for Kate’s podcast episode, it was wonderful!!!
Thank you for commenting! Couldn’t agree more with everything you said.
I love this post, Grace. You shouldn’t feel anything other than assured in your own choice to not have kids, it is ridiculous that you even have to worry about anything else. I am a new mom and let me tell you, it is HARD and I don’t think anyone who is ambivalent about having kids should feel forced to do so. I was the person who loved baby dolls, obsessed over the nursery set ups in the JCPenney catalog, loved playing house, and I miss my old life now that I have a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter and she is such a good baby, but she blew up my life. I’m sure it is also due to having a baby during a pandemic, but I never thought I would look back on my single days in NYC so fondly. I am someone who needs a lot of alone time and I feel like I may never be alone, ever again. All this to say, if you feel like this is the right choice for you, great! Enjoy your life as you want to live it, unapologetically. I give you all the credit in the world. Mom life is no joke, as wonderful as it is, I look at my dog sometimes and miss the days when it was just us. I can’t imagine being pressured into having a baby if it wasn’t what I really wanted and having to navigate motherhood half-heartedly.
Thank you so much for sharing your POV. It is definitely no joke!!!
OMG thank you for sharing this. I have always felt this way (and aspire to DINK life too :). Everyone has ALWAYS told me that I will change my mind, even though I think I always knew too. I can relate to trying to date too… I currently live in the midwest (where I’m originally from) and everyone assumes even more than the east coast that you must want kids and all the men on the apps claim to want kids… I am unsure how many truly do. so fingers crossed.
Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing this.
It’s so hard! Sending you a hug! xo
I can’t believe there are people who shame others for not wanting kids! Why on earth would it matter to anyone? I have 2 kids and I’m a stay at home mom (which I’d have NEVER expected I’d want to be) but that’s my own choice and it makes me happy. I love following you, Grace, and have never once looked at your life and thought it was any less fulfilling than my own. And you’re the BEST aunt! I’m so, so sorry you’ve had to deal with this insane judgment. You have a fabulous life!!!
Thank you so much for the note 🙂
I’ve had this on my blog to do list for years too as I think this conversation needs to be much more normalized. Thankful for you writing this. I’m similar in that I’m single, love my life, and NEVER dreamed of being a mom. Ever. I can’t even remember a time I ever thought of children’s names. I didn’t grow up in a big family and never lived close to family either so I never had any interactions with children. I think I babysat twice, hated it. I think I am that person who dislikes children. It’s not that I hate them as who they are, I just personally don’t want them in my space usually because I’m probably uncomfortable around them since I never had those experiences. Which also IS NOT A BAD THING (this is what my post would be about ha!).
Dating is IMPOSSIBLE especially in the south. I’m actually surprised to hear you have this issue still in NYC. I always dream of moving to NYC to meet the fellow childless wannabe people. So this actually makes me feel better that the grass is not greener in NYC. But being in the south is SO FUCKING HARD. So many people I’ve dated actually HAD KIDS. Which was impossible to get past and those relationships never worked.
I will say my BFF had a baby and it’s the first close person in my life to have a child. I was terrified of our friendship just based on past experiences with other friends. But no one was obviously as close to our friendship as hers. And thankfully, I love her child, feel comfortable around him and it’s been a great learning experience. But it also confirmed, I do not want my own. It’s SO much work and as an introvert who needs quiet A LOT, it’s just not something I want to do.
Woof this was long. Great post Grace!
Hey Jessica! I can totally relate to the South…my husband and I have been married for 8 years and have both lived in the South since birth. We are childfree by choice and many people (family included) look at us like we are selfish and plagued by something! It’s so strange…but our goal is to move out Alabama in the next couple of years. I’m ready to live in a less narrow-minded state!
Best of luck to you! Those guys are out there…just a little harder to find. Being a DINK or PANT is where it’s at!
Thank you sooooo much for weighing in, Jess!!!! PLEASE write your own post! More people need to talk about it!
Thank you for sharing this! I have always said that I don’t want kids, and since I am in my twenties people always tell me I will change my mind! I know that I won’t, but it’s never worth the argument with someone that I, a 27 year old woman, in fact know what I want for my life – this post really validated that for me!
I am so glad. xo
SO much of this resonates with me. THANK YOU for posting & putting words to the feelings.
You are so welcome! XO
Hello! When I read this I saw so much of myself in it. I don’t think I ever wanted kids. And since my teens people (practically everyone in my life) said to me … just wait. You will. Your biological clock will kick in. Except, it didn’t. Not in my 20s. Not in my early and mid 30s. And then people started telling me to get a move on because I was running out of time. And still, no. Having children has never been something I wanted. I, too, thought I was being selfish. My mother would love to have some grandkids. But my father told me that was not a good reason, or a reason at all to have kids. And that support enabled me to be bolder about it. Now when people tell me that I HAVE TO HAVE CHILDREN NOW. I say, no. It’s not for me. I know who I am. I know that I thrive on being alone from time to time. I know that I’m terrible at making dinner and it’s a miracle I remember to feed myself some days. (But I always feed my cats. Because. Well. Cats don’t let you forget). It’s hard sometimes when everything you see and read equate a woman’s worth to their motherhood. We’ve made that tie so strong that society feels they can pass judgement on someone’s parenting. We’ve made that tie so strong that some women struggle to find an identity if they don’t choose motherhood. I love this post. I love knowing that I’m not alone in this. And I hope that we are getting closer to the day when other young women won’t have to hear JUST WAIT or DO IT NOW about having kids.
The “time is running out” always kills me!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!!!
I cannot thank you enough for this — my boyfriend of 8+ years and I broke up for this reason. He was insanely understanding even if we wanted different things… but other people? Not so much.
There is definitely this stigma that as a woman we are supposed to want children and if we don’t we are downright selfish or cold hearted.
For me when I started questioning if I really wanted kids or if it’s what I just thought I was supposed to do, hearing other people I looked up to and considered to be warm, amazing people, openly talk about it really helped me. I hope this blog posts offers that to others who are unsure, too.
I am so glad it was helpful – and I’m so sorry that you were judged so harshly for staying true to what you want!
Great post! My husband and I were married almost 10 years before we had our child and now that she is 4 we get told we are selfish for not having a second or “we planned on you having 2”. Ummm really you did? People are never satisfied and will always find something to comment on, so you do you! 🙂 my friend has been with her partner ~15 years and they are very open that they will not have children but say they love OPK’s (other people’s kids) so you can throw in that acronym too! LOL!
I love the acronym OPKs. Definitely stealing that one. I also love OPKs.
The second child pressure is so wild to me. Also love the OPK acronym!!!! Hadn’t heard that before.
As a single 40 something who has never wanted kids, thank you for this! I’m actually an only child, and my parents are totally fine with never having grandkids and even they weren’t, it’s my body and my life. I cannot stand when people say you will change your mind, or that people think married (hetero) couples need to have kids. As you pointed out, it is more selfish to have children bc that what adults are “supposed to do”. I love my friends’ kids, mostly, but I love my life more. I have dated some divorced dads, and that has been a mostly good experience.
YES!!!! Thanks for sharing your experiences!
I’m totally with you. Never had the desire, and the feeling is even stronger now that having kids is not for me. I always dog sat when I was younger because babysitting seemed awful to me. I’m slightly different than you, while I think kids are fine, I don’t enjoy them very much and can only manage limited amounts of time with them. And ya know what, that’s ok!
It is more than OK! And a lot of people weighed in to say the same!!!
This is something I wish I had been able to normalize. I’ve never liked babies, never felt the pull to become a mother. I’m saying all of this with a one year old at home – whom I love, do not get me wrong. I always told my husband I’d probably want a kid but not to bank on it, and I think he was ok with that, but it was never normalized in my family that having children was a choice. My husband and I made the decision to try and have a baby when I realized one day that having an accidental pregnancy wouldn’t be the end of the world for me. I’m still very conflicted about more kids, and the sacrifices that I made to have the child I have (WHOM I LOVE). I know so many people who say “oh but now that I have a child I wouldn’t change anything” and I think that is also a false narrative. If someone said I could go back and have the same child without going through pregnancy, birth, newborn phase, etc., I would totally do it. It truly is a complex topic and I love everything you’ve shared. I applaud you for your strength and clarity!
Thank you so much for sharing this, I’d imagine it probably isn’t easy to write and brings up complex emotions. I often feel the same. Like if someone could give me my child, already formed, birthed, past pregnancy and the newborn stage, it would be way more compelling!!!
I am so glad you and Jenn are posting these today! My fiance and I also have decided that we don’t want to have kids, and people seem genuinely offended, which why?! There’s a lot of what you said and also the feeling of with everything happening in the world with the societal situation, climate change, etc. we don’t feel like this is where we would want to bring kids.
It’s also crazy to me how people push having children because if someone doesn’t want kids, why would you push them to have kids? I think that people can grow to be a good parent in that situation, but why take that chance where there would be a situation where the person would resent a child? I know this is taking it in a deeper place, but it’s something that really bothers me.
It’s so strange to me, the idea of pushing your beliefs/life choices on others!!!!
Grace, thank you for writing this post and normalizing women choosing not to have children. I have also made the same decision and feel very lucky to live in a society where I have that option. Living life on your own terms and remaining childless is is every bit as fulfilling as having children of your own. Hoping this article will bring about more acceptance and less judgement.
Thank you so much for posting and helping to normalize this, Grace!!! My husband and I are DINKs in our mid-30s and we struggle with reactions from our friends and family.
We have gotten a wide range of reactions when we explain that we have chosen not to have kids. Our parents ignore it, and actively plan and talk about grandkids. Some of our friends get really insulted and fight us on it. Do you (or The Stripe community) ever experience that from anyone?
We also suffer from a want of community. We are working professionals in Brooklyn and as our friends move to the suburbs to have kids, there is less time to talk and hang like we used to. Since many people make friends through parent groups, how do you find friends in non-kid situations?
Hi Jacquie, Oh man – I’m sorry! I have one friend who just kept insisting over and over again that I really do want kids and it can be hard to shut her down, so I am usually just very firm and try to steer the conversation along. It probably helps that I am single.
As far as friend-making goes, it’s so hard, especially in a pandemic! I definitely recommend The Stripe facebook group… and making a post saying where you are and that you’re looking to network/make friends! I’ve heard from a few readers that they’ve made a new best friend from the group!
Thank you for posting this Grace!
I also find that pre-pandemic , the friends I do have with children were slipping away because I did not share this with them. I find it an odd situation at times .
My brother who’s 40 always wanted kids – a baseball team ideally – and ended up marrying someone who had trouble conceiving and then didn’t want to try again after their first – totally her prerogative, disappointing to him but he was just happy to be a dad also. He’s miserable every time I see him however and they’re raising a nightmare child due to how controlling and critical his wife is and how she’s the focus of everything in their life. Even if people get what they always dream of it doesn’t end up being what they thought it would be. People still can’t create perfect childhoods they wish they had or what that picture perfect life they thought parenthood would be if you marry the wrong person and don’t take care of yourself. He loves his daughter but I know he doesn’t love his life. It just reinforces for me why I’m glad I haven’t settled with finding a partner and that kids are a lot more work than I’d want to do alone or maybe even with a partner as I like my life and freedoms that come with it.
Thank you for sharing that!!!
I’m a recent follower on the Gram. I, too, am a doting aunt (youngest of 4 and have been an aunt since the age of 4-wide age gaps amongst my sibs) and it truly is the best. I’m an over 30 single woman who has career goals/small business aspirations (building my blog as we speak). I’m constantly asked about dating/marriage/kids/home ownership, etc.
My parents never pressured any of us to feel like we have to get married/have kids. It was always about getting an education and being financial sound, first. I took their advice well into my thirties. I only now have the desire for marriage and children, but I don’t look at every encounter with the opposite as a possible suitor or father to my children. I’m still pretty easy, breezy with the idea of dating and continue to put my focus on my career/family/friends. When it happens (speaking it into existence lol), I’ll be here for it, but until then, I’ve told myself to live life and seriously “do me always.”
I appreciate this conversation and honesty and look forward to future posts.
I love your attitude. My parents were exactly the same!
Love this post. Not wanting children does not make you selfish! I worried about the “who will take care of you when you get old” aspect, but my husband does NOT get along with his mother and will not be taking care of her so that concept goes out the window because it’s never a guarantee. I’m 31. I thought I’d have that yearning want for children and when I was younger, I just assumed I’d have kids because that’s what you do. And as time goes on, I just cannot fathom it and do not want it. People will tell me “well there’s no love as strong as your love for your children.” Yes I bet that’s the case but I don’t feel like I’m missing out.
Thank you for echoing so much of what I have been feeling!
Thank you for normalizing this topic! I have one kid, and everyone is like “when’s the next one coming!?” And they are surprised when I tell them we are done with kids and my husband had a vasectomy (finally I’m birth control free! ). Most of us were raised with these certain expectations: get married, have a few kids, buy a home in the suburbs, then travel when you retire. There are so many other paths that are fulfilling because we all have different needs and goals we want to accomplish ❤️
I could not agree more! And with you – my sister gets so much grief for only wanting one!!!!
I think this is amazing!!! I cannot believe how many people offer their unsolicited advice Also, the “who will take care of you when you’re old” argument…like you can’t be loved enough by other people who would want to help you. I’m a nurse and I have so many childless patients that have amazing siblings, nieces and nephews, friends, etc who are there for them when they need it. Thank you for writing this ❤️
Completely agree. Thank you so much for sharing.
Thank you so much for having the courage to post this! I am 25 and have just now started questioning all those typical life “milestones” that we all as women have been taught since we were young. I am still undecided, but just knowing that there is still a place for me in the world/society if I am to choose to be childless is encouraging and freeing. Can’t thank you enough for sharing your thoughts and heart about this!
Thank you so much for the note! I think it’s more than okay to be undecided!!!! I was probably undecided til about age 36 or 37!!
Grace, I really appreciate how authentic you are and how you have been open about this decision. Although I have a son, I also value how helpful it is to normalize not wanting kids too! To be connected to yourself, your values and how you want to live your life is empowering. I really believe by being grounded and present within yourself you are able to live your most meaningful life. I admire how intentional you are in yours. Thank you for sharing!
Exactly! Thank you so much for the note and the support.
Incredible post! Thank you Grace for being a voice normalizing the childfree by choice lifestyle. My Instagram obsession is Rich Auntie Supreme! I love how she defines ‘rich’ in so many ways. Pronatalism is alive and well when you see apparel that says MAMA, Tired as a Mother, Mama Bear, Boy Mom, a Halloween-themed ‘Momster’ sweatshirt, etc. Where is the apparel equally honoring the rest of us? Rich Auntie Supreme has some new merch on their site and it’s great! If you are a ‘Lady no kids’ PANK , DINK you are no less worthy than a woman who has a child or kids. My husband and I love our DINK lifestyle and our friends/family who have children.
I love her so much too!!!!!! And you are so right on all the mama merch… lol!!! I should check out her merch.
I’ve listened to Kate’s podcast, read Jenn’s post and now yours in the hopes of getting some insight as to how your parents have supported or made you comfortable with your decision. I am a mother of four (ages 16-24) and am close with my three siblings. I am not expecting my kids to recreate the childhood they had as an affirmation of an ideal lifestyle but if one of my kids chooses to remain childfree how do I ensure they feel like they aren’t disappointing me? Jenn’s comments on how hard it was to tell her family really hit hard and I know she lost her mom a while ago. What were the wise words your mom had for you?
I think it’s just really important to listen, and let them know you will support them in anything they choose so long as they are happy. That’s how my own mom has been and she is just the greatest. 🙂
DEEPLY relate to so much of this! Yes, I love kids, no, I don’t want my own. My first real heartbreak was largely because of differing desires for children-when I learned how deeply he wanted kids I realized how deeply I didn’t-previously I thought I didn’t but wasn’t sure. He tried so hard to convince me, and so many people have said “but you’d be a great mom!” My response is always, “well, yes, except I don’t want to be one so I’d actually be pretty terrible.” I’m a social worker, working with kids, and I have witnessed parents’ resentment of their own children and it is one of the worst things I can imagine. People are baffled by those who enjoy kids not wanting their own!
Thank you so much for sharing that. I relate SO much to it. I get told it so often and you sum it up so perfectly… I’m stealing “well, yes, except I don’t want to be one so I’d actually be pretty terrible.”
THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED TO SEE.
I am in the exact same position and recently broke up with my boyfriend (who I truly believe is my person). We wanted to build a future together. He 100% wants a child and I do not wish to have my own. I’ve always known I didn’t but I thought about it long and hard out of respect for our relationship and my future. He too said “I KNOW you would be a great mother” and I too made it clear it would be impossible for me to be a great mother when I would be unhappy” I ultimately decided I have to prioritize my mental health and my happiness. I just can’t help but feel like a terrible person for not giving into what society and people expect from women. “My life is mine” is what I choose to live by. I appreciate this read more than you know.
I think these people who try to convince you you’re wrong are actually afraid THEY were wrong and trying to justify their own decision to have kids. I am currently in the DINK lifestyle, with a dog, cat, and new puppy. My parents had the audacity to call me when they saw we had acquired a new furchild, and say that we “needed to be having them some grandbabies instead.” WTF.
My friend legit had this at her wedding. I mean she wanted kids but at her wedding her in- laws got up to make the speech and said “and hopefully they’ll give us grandchildren very soon.” She was not amused
Oh geeeeeeeeeez. But yes, I think you are absolutely right!!!!!
Grace, if you were a man we didn’t have to have this talk but alas here we are!
My husband and I waited 10 years to have a kid and I was perfectly okay with not having any, I married him out of love not because I needed sperm. I fully agree with your decision and applaud that you shared something so personal with us. I for one think you’re an awesome aunt and a great cat mom. I love seeing you thrive as a content creator and business woman ♥️
HAHA right??? Men have it so much easier! Thank you for the note and the support, I appreciate you!!! xoxo
I loved this post, thanks for writing it. I don’t understand why people are so concerned about women’s bodies and personal decisions. I think that people project a lot of their own feelings onto others when it comes to having or not having kids. I want kids but don’t think anything differently of a friend who doesn’t. It feels so 1950s to think that you aren’t achieving your purpose in the world as a woman if you don’t have children or that you’re missing out on a life experience. While having kids opens your life up to new experiences, it also closes the door to others.
Could not agree more with your comment, especially with the part about people projecting their own feelings onto others!
Hi Grace! I’m a longtime follower of yours. You have no idea how happy it makes me to see this being discussed! I constantly scour the internet for other DINKs and childfree people. Like you, I strive to be the best aunt I can be and thoroughly enjoy it! I like kids, but enjoy returning them to their parents! 🙂 I do not have a strong desire for motherhood, but I don’t look down on those who do either. I’m so proud of you for putting yourself out there! It takes a lot of “guts” these days!
My husband and I made the decision several years ago to be childfree by choice. I turned 30 this year and my husband 32. We are from the south, so we receive a lot of criticism for our decision. (Most people here think after you get married you should have babies immediately.) Our families had a hard time coming to terms with our decision, but I think they understand it now (maybe.) Everyone automatically assumes we have fertility issues, which is another reason some people choose to live childfree. My heart goes out to these people! We are constantly asked “do you have kids?” or “what age are your children?” While we are used to this now, a few years ago I would get angry when people would pry into our personal lives. I now smile and say “Yes, we have one fur baby who’s eight years old! Would you like to see a picture of him?” This sounds strange, but it immediately shows the inquiring person that my personal life is none of their business. You occasionally get the people who pry even further, to which I smile and say “no, it’s just not for me.” Some people just don’t understand it, and I’m beginning to learn to not let these comments bother me! We are career oriented, enjoy traveling, and are truly happy being each other’s best friend.
I don’t have Facebook, so I wanted to leave a comment for you here. I write all of this to say, thank you Grace, from the bottom of my heart! Take care and keep being you! 🙂 I’m headed over to read Jenn’s post now!
Hahahaha, I love your fur baby response! Thank you so much for sharing your experience here with me!!!
I love so much about this post! Following you and seeing you live your best life is so encouraging. Thank you so much for sharing!!
Thank you SO much. xx
Thank you for sharing! This is me to a tee. I’m 39 and very single and the only one of my friends who is single. Be thankful you never had my past ob/gyn who used to shame me every year at my annual about why i wasn’t having kids, how even she didn’t like kids but she had them anyways, and “career women like me always came back in their 30s crying about how they couldn’t get pregnant.” I’m embarrassed I stayed as long as I did with her as my doctor. I almost changed my mind when my mom was dying – but thankfully, I realized I was only going to have kids to make her happy which is a TERRIBLE reason.
Oh my god that is TERRRIBLE. I’m so sorry. Glad you found a different doctor.
You go girl!! While I do feel the yearning to have kiddos I respect your choice! It just seems like a given to let people do what they want with their family and their future and I am so sorry that so many people don’t just let you live.
Agreed! Thank you 🙂
Amen. Thanks for sharing. I’m a 37 year old married woman without kids. I, too, have never felt that desire. I also believe in purpose: if the universe wanted me to have children, I’d have them. But instead, the universe wants me to have a bad-ass career and have impact in other meaningful ways.
I could not agree more! Thank you for sharing this!!!
Hi Grace! This is such an important post to be shared! Thank you for writing it. As a mom of 2 kids – I really appreciate this conversation because even though I wanted kids and now raising them I would never want them to have this pressure of having kids of their own like our generation did.
Thank YOU for this response!
Thank you Grace for writing this. I know it’s hard to talk about, but I don’t want it to be. I’m child free as well. I’m married and we decided a long time ago we didn’t want children. I knew right before we started dating and I am glad I found someone who shared my feelings. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the public discussion and for putting yourself out there. My sister and I are both child free and I have several child free friends, but we don’t talk about it that much. I wish it was more acceptable to talk about. I don’t like suppressing this aspect of my life. I’ve learned how to be very blunt to rude questions and not be polite. It’s really no one’s business. At the same time I am so grateful the more not having children is discussed because, we deserve to be part of a community as well. We shouldn’t have to shut down who we are to make others comfortable. So, thank you again.
I could not agree more. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much for sharing all of this. It’s SO important to normalize this decision. As someone who felt this way for a long time and then accidentally got pregnant I feel particularly passionate about this, and protecting women who are childless by choice because I never want my personal circumstances to be used as a way to say “oh but look you ended up having a baby.” I now know firsthand how freaking hard it is, and it’s something I would never push on anyone (and for years was on the receiving end of the endless kid questions, of course now it’s the “so you’re not getting married questions,” lol). I hate that anyone would make you feel as though you are anything less than incredible because of a personal choice about having children (I personally always look up to you). It’s so important women see that a happy and fulfilled life can look so many different ways. Thanks for always being such a great role model and example. xx
Thank you friend! I think of you and your story here often!!!! (And you make me often think… well maaaayyyyyybe, given how aligned we were before.. ha!!!!) Big hugs… xoxoxoxoxxo
Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences about this. I’m 33 and just had a baby (first, maybe only) but for many years I wasn’t sure where I stood on having children. There are so few women willing to talk publicly like this about their decision not to (understandably because the judgement is out of control) that I know this post will be helpful and reassuring to lots of others. I thought long and hard about the decision to have a baby, ultimately I feel like it’s the right one for me, but would never think that applies to all women. To be honest, I’ve often believed many people don’t actually think through if they want to have kids or not, they do it because it’s what you’re “supposed” to do. I think those people can be triggered by others who do think it through and make a different choice because looking back they don’t feel like they had a choice. Our culture makes women who don’t want have kids feel like they’re doing something wrong – bravo to you and all the other women who have commented for knowing yourselves and having the confidence to share (and stick with) what’s right for you. I support you all!
I completely agree! Thank you for sharing this!!!!
I’m the exact same. I always thought I’d have kids because it’s just what you do! But then I met someone that wasn’t crazy about the idea of having kids. We live in Chicago and I like being in the city and I travel for work and my boyfriend is so busy with work our lifestyle would change completely and I don’t think I want that. Now my boyfriends parents are saying that we’re “selfish” for not wanting kids. I always thought that having kids would mean my life is basically over, then I realized that you don’t have to have them… this helped, I guess justify that I’m not a heartless person for not wanting the same things that everyone else does.
YES! It does not make you selfish or heartless AT ALL!!! xoxo
thank you SO MUCH for publishing this post! I planned on listening to Kate’s episode today and am now excited to go read Jenn’s essay as well. I have actually always wanted tons of kids and it wasn’t really until the past year that I realized I do not want any and would much rather live out the PANK and DINK (If I ever find a man, lol) lifestyles. It has been irritating to have friends and family tell me I will change my mind (no I most likely won’t, and if I do unexpectedly have a kid, I would of course love and welcome it. I think of Jess Kirby a lot on this with Marin!!), that I am selfish (who cares if I am- I value what I value and why should anyone bring a child into life if they aren’t 1000% committed to the time and energy and money), that I hate kids (ummm anyone who truly knows me knows I love my nieces, that I have worked in intense child facing jobs for the majority of my life- helloooo running a summer camp- and love nothing more than snuggling a newborn), that I won’t be fulfilled (um since when did having a kid = life fulfillment?!), that I need to give my parents grandkids (thankfully they have 3 grandkids from my brother who they ADORE!. Yes, my parents have wished to see me have kids but they understand and respect my reasoning), among so many other just plain rude comments!!
Thank you for contributing to this conversation! As someone said below, this decision of being childfree needs to be normalized.
Agree with you wholeheartedly!! Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment.
I was going to say, you and Jenn are on the same wavelength today! 🙂 I have been married for ten years and I just turned 40 yesterday. Eeek. I adore my four nieces and I love other peoples kids, but I honestly just don’t want that life. People used to say things that really hurt my feelings or they would make me feel so guility about it. I just think that people need to do what is right for them and their life. Thank you so much for sharing this and I am definitely using that PANK term haha. 🙂
Happy Birthday!!! And thanks for chiming in to share your experience! And isn’t PANK just the best term ever!!?
Every woman knows what’s best for them. I’m a happily married Gen-xer and really examined why I didn’t want kids while I was still in my prime reproductive years. I read the books, asked friends, went to therapy, checked in regularly with my husband on the subject, but at the end of the day I felt motherhood was not my calling. I love being an aunt, a friend, a wife, and just a person who is ENOUGH on her own. I am so proud of my friends who have happily taken on motherhood and I know they are proud of me too–for choosing my own path under considerable societal pressure. Now that I am entering my late 40s, I feel profoundly relieved that the pressure is off. It’s already hard being a woman. We need to make the choices that make us happy and I have no regrets. Thank you for writing on the subject.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I feel so similarly!!!
I LOVE this post. I’m a mom and I’m so f-ing confused by why people judge others (women especially) about not wanting to have kids. As a culture we equate womanhood with motherhood and its dangerous and unfortunate. Thanks for writing this, its important and I’m glad that folks are normalizing not having kids. I love my kid, but I totally understand why people would choose not to have them (and still be loving, kind, warm and child loving people).
THANK YOU for the support! xx
I am 38 and feel the same way. I’m a fantastic step-mom and the best aunt but having kids of my own has never been appealing. I’ve heard all the same, hurtful comments and then some. Thank you for sharing your story to help normalize this topic!
Thank you for sharing!!!! xoxoxox
Adding to the chorus of gratitude and overwhelming support on this post! I’m 34 and my partner and I have made the decision not to have kids for a variety of reasons. I’m sure we’d be great parents, I LOVE babies (we joke now that in the early days of dating my partner was a little uneasy with how much I dote over strangers’ babies before we talked about kids of our own) but we don’t want to take on the responsibility and expense.
In case this resonates with any of your readers, I do want to share that existential anxiety about the future/climate change/general pessimism play a role for me. I know that throughout history the human race has persevered (and I love that for us!) but I don’t have the beautiful, near delusional hope for the future that I think you have to have in order to procreate. That doesn’t mean that I don’t dread the years to come when all my friends will begin to have kids and share a bond that I can’t relate to, but I have to trust that my decision made with my partner feels right in my gut.
Leeza – I totally agree that climate change is playing a big role in my decision to not have kids! I think I would feel GUILTY bringing children into this world knowing the fate that our planet is headed towards. How could I possibly subject my child to a world without polar bears or coral reefs? Or a world with massive forest fires and unbearable heatwaves and deadly hurricanes and disastrous flooding? I absolutely do NOT judge anyone who chooses to have children even with the effects of climate change coming our way, but I just know that I could not emotionally handle it.
Totally agree with that! Thanks for sharing your experience!
THANK YOU for this amazing perspective. I feel exactly the same way and often feel like I just don’t know how to write or verbalize it. You and Jenn really did an amazing job.
Aw I am so glad you enjoyed our posts. Thanks for the note. Hugs!
I didn’t want kids when I was younger, however in recent years I’ve changed my mind. My partner and I have been trying for a really long time and had an unsuccessful IVF attempt which went wrong and I now have a stoma bag (also due to endometriosis). It’s put me off going for IVF again but I know it may be the only way I can have children, that or adoption. We shall see what happens in the future, but I can relate to you, I’ve never thought of myself as that motherly figure and I have nephews that I love. I mean who knows what will happen in the next few years, I’m staying hopeful but it’s not the end of the world if I can’t have children. Just focusing on my health right now and maybe when the time is right I’ll try for IVF again.
My heart goes out to you – hope it all goes well!!!!!
Thanks for sharing this truth. I am a college friend of Jenn’s, which is how I found your post. While I love her story, yours rings a little more true for me personally since I’m 37 and only recently got married. We don’t want kids, and dating into my 30s was really hard sometimes since I worried a lot about finding someone I loved who wanted kids and ending up doing something I really didn’t want to do. Overall, I think the trope of childless women in their 30s as just wandering around looking for an insta-family so they can check all the boxes is really insidious. I don’t know you, but reading this made me feel proud of you. It shouldn’t be “brave” to say you don’t want kids, but somehow it’s still considered that. I say “Bravo” to you for being brave enough to pursue a life that works for you. So, so many—childfree and not—struggle with just being true to themselves. Keep doing you. That’s real bravery in my book. ❤️
Aw hi! I love Jenn! Thanks so much for coming over and saying hello. I’m really glad the post resonated for you!
Brava, Grace. You are truly brave to write this and I’m so thankful for you sharing with us. I’ve always known I’ve wanted kids, but I’m okay with not having them yet. I thought I would by this point in my life, but the older I get, the more I’m okay with being selfish and enjoying my childless time. People suck honestly and the pressure is real. I don’t understand why a decision in my personal life seems to affect others so much, but they love to comment on it! Anyway, I’m glad you are continuing the conversation because I think it’s an important one to be had.
Could not agree more! Thank you!
Thank you so, so much for writing this!! I completely, totally relate and I’ve really appreciated when you’ve shared your thoughts on this in the FB group and on the podcast. More nuanced thoughts to come in the FB group, but I wanted to share my support publicly too because you’re absolutely right — not enough people are talking about this!
Thank you so much, Bri. xx
Thank you for deciding to publish this. I’m 29 and have been dating my boyfriend for 8 months. We’ve already been asked if we want children, though we haven’t even discussed marriage or moving in together yet. However, they don’t really ask him, it’s more directed towards me and when I say ‘I don’t know or maybe not, there are other things I want in life’, I get even more questions. I just wish people knew that just as it’s heart breaking to not be able to have children if you want them, it’s also just as heart breaking to feel like you need to have kids when you don’t want them.
YES!!! I so agree. Thanks for sharing this.
Grace I’m so glad you posted this! I’ve also never thought I wanted kids – never played “house” but always played “boss” – and I’ve actually always been very vocal about it with my family, friends, and boyfriends. I always say that I’ve never wanted them and probably won’t have them but that I am open to the idea that biology might hit and I may be interested later? I hate the idea of changing my mind and all my friends and family giving me so much shit for it! But it’s also interesting that we – it sounds like you, too – feel like we have to leave this door open , at least the perception of the open door. I am legit OBSESSED with my nieces and my friends kids and used to work with pediatric oncology patients for a living, so I truly love kids! I also just love my life and my freedom. It’s been hard in recent years as my friends have kids to see some of them pulling away, seeming to think I can’t relate to them because they “have kids” or “are in a different life stage”. I could say so much more about pushing back against society’s expectations for women – I think I sometimes get caught up and confused about whether things I want are actually things I want or whether they’re just things I’m supposed to want? Anyway, thanks again so much for sharing – so grateful this conversation is happening and I hope this helps normalize our choices!
I so relate to playing boss!! Thanks for sharing this.
Absolutely agree with your response to the “who will take care of you when you’re old?” comment(s). My MIL “takes care” of her aunt (now in her 90s). She was married (her husband passed) but never had kids. She has an incredibly full life and is so sharp and witty. I aspire to be like her someday!! My MIL has to schedule with her far in advance bc she has such a large community and so many activities. She helps her and visits with her bc she WANTS to. Not because she has to. Family and relationships are what you make it. There are plenty of old people that have children and have no visitors or help. Having kids in part bc you expect them to return the favor later is a ridiculous notion.
I absolutely love this; thanks for sharing!
So much respect for you for writing this post. I guess I never understood why so many people even question your desire to not have children. Your life, your choice is how I truly see it. I totally see you being the best aunt ever…and that shouldn’t mean you *should* want to be a mom. Thanks for writing this, Grace! I’m sure it helped put so much in perspective for a lot of people, no matter what side of the topic they’re on!
Dana | It’s Casual Blog
This is a great article and the number of comments just shows how much it has resonated with a lot of women! I do want a child (which is lucky as I am pregnant!) but equally I think I could have been happy without and like a few posters above I fully expect to get negative comments when people find out we are planning to only have the one. I do think that a lot of the time people for some reason seem to think that they have to justify their own baby-making choices by criticising yours, which is just madness. And anyway, the last thing the world needs right now is any more humans (and to be honest I do feel a little guilty for choosing to have a baby) so why people choose to belittle you for making what is not only the right decision for you personally but also actually a very responsible one, I just can’t understand!
Aw do not feel guilty for choosing to have a baby! Congratulations, that is so exciting!!!! (And thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here!)
Thank you so much, Dana!!!
A beautiful post, beautifully put. Honestly, the only reason I am ever sad when my friends don’t want children of their own is because *I’m* selfish and I want more of them in the world! Does that sound crazy? Like, I so enjoy you, the idea of more yous is exciting. I acknowledge this is inaccurate insanity, but it’s true. I try very hard to be supportive and not let my selfishness slip. 🙂
I think judgements about other people’s choices are coming from insecurity regarding their own, and that’s so sad for everyone involved.
Sending you lots of love and internet troll fences to protect you from mean people who trample on your honesty.
Hahahaaha “and internet troll fences.” Not one bad comment yet… thank you!
Thank you so much for sharing this! I am 34 and have felt for years that I don’t want children (happy aunt here!) but it feels scary making that choice because it goes against the norm and there isn’t loads of support for it and we don’t really have good pop culture examples of people at all ages living with that decision and being happy with it.
I am estranged from my father and always think of this when people cite having children to give your life meaning and look after you when you’re older. There is no guarantee you will have a great relationship with your child, and even if you do they may move away and you could never see them because they will be their own person!
It seems a far greater risk to me to have children when I don’t want them than to regret NOT having them later.
I’m lucky that my partner feels the same way as I do, but he is younger than me and I have had people say he’s too young to make a decision like that which is frustrating.
Anyway, thank you for adding to the conversation around this and helping to normalize a valid choice!
I came back here to say as well – I find it interesting that all the recent posts I’ve seen around this make a big point about adoring children even if you don’t want them yourself. Not giving anyone a hard time for saying what is true for them, but shouldn’t it also be ok if you don’t like children? I love my niece and nephew but it ends there 😀 I am happy for my friends and like their kids but honestly prefer to hang out without them. Sorry?! 😀 They’re just not for everyone!
Agreed, Becky. Childfree over here and don’t feel the need to make the “but I do really love kids” declaration because honestly I don’t! And that’s ok.
It does feel scary to say it! But comments like this enforce the importance of talking about and normalizing these things. Really appreciate you sharing your experience with me!
Thank you so much for writing this post!!! I am 34 and realized I didn’t want kids after I turned 30. This post means a lot to me because I am purposefully childless and while I’d like to find a partner, my life is in no way worse for being single. Unfortunately, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers don’t believe me that I am happy and have built a life with purpose and their comments continue to make me feel like there is something wrong with me. I so very rarely see anyone talk about the things in your post and it makes me feel less alone and hopefully I can start talking about this part of my life with confidence.
Some additional thoughts:
-I don’t currently have an online dating profile, but in the past have always specifically put “I don’t want children” and I can’t believe how many men whose profiles say “I want children” try to match with me. I always wonder if it’s because they aren’t reading my profile or they don’t believe me, but we’ll never know because I always swipe them away 🙂
-I recently had dinner with a guy friend who is the same age as me and this subject came up. He said the only people in his life who had asked him about having kids were his parents. I was blown away as this comes up for me ALL THE TIME. It really made me reflect on how it’s not really people who don’t want kids that riles people up, it’s WOMEN who don’t want kids that is upsetting.
-I only recently found your blog and have greatly enjoyed it. Over the past few years I’ve desperately tried to google “non-mom blogs” LOL. While I enjoy many blogs written by mothers, there is just something special about following a person who is living a life similar to your own. It’s not like a blogger would ever advertise this information so I am happy to have stumbled onto yours. If you know of any other bloggers living the child-free lifestyle, I’d love to know!
Again, thank you so much for writing this post!
Michele this sounds so much like me. I related so much to your post. I’m 35 single and childfree and I also realized a few years ago I probably don’t want kids. I get asked constantly by family mostly “but don’t you want to find someone?” Yes i do but I also know how to live by myself. I want a partner I Don’t need one and I arhaus try to get that point across.
As for dating sites I’m not in them either and the main reason is I know for a fact that no one who contacted me had read my profile. So frustrating
I really enjoyed this comment, thank you so much!!!
Grace – thank you so much for sharing this! I listened to Kate’s podcast episode over the weekend at your suggestion and so much of what she talked about hit really close to home. I’m almost 31 and I feel like I’m just starting to really know myself and come into my own. I have no idea if I want a child! My best friend had her first child this summer and I literally told her “this is the first baby I have ever actually cared about” lol. I am so happy for her and her husband, but I just don’t know if that’s the life I want for myself.
Also something that is not talked about a lot is how freaking EXPENSIVE it is to have children. We have this societal expectation that women should have kids, but our society provides very little support in order to help women do that. The US is the only industrialized nation to not have guaranteed maternity leave. We do not have universal healthcare. We do not have universal pre-K. Childcare is crazy expensive. I am finishing up my last year of law school and I have a massive amount of student debt, I have blown through my savings, and with this economy right now, I have no idea if I’ll be able to secure a job after I graduate in May. The idea that I should desire to bring life into this world that would be my responsibility to provide for when I have NO IDEA if I’ll even be able to provide for myself is kinda insane in my mind.
I am so glad you are bringing this conversation out in to the open. I feel so much less alone reading this post and all the comments.
Oh my gosh I know. SO expensive. It’s wild. My friends and siblings with kids all do so incredibly well for themselves but feel poor, paying for childcare, saving for school, etc etc! It’s so wild to me how expensive it is.
Bravo, well said! I have two little kids and it is A LOT, especially in a pandemic. Of course I love them, but I also think it’s much more responsible to consciously decide not to have kids, rather than default to having them. I read once that, as such a huge transformative change to your family, social circle and the world population, wouldn’t it make more sense to ask why someone has decided to have children? I thought that was an interesting and eye-opening way to view the topic.
WOW you are right, that is such an eye-opening way to view it! I feel like people would be horrified if you ask them why they’re deciding to have children!!!!
Love this post! I hope that people can be understanding of what another person wants in their own life. To each their own!
Could not agree more! Thank you!
Proud of you girl!! To know yourself so well and to know what you want in life is a blessing and a maturity you gain through life and experience. I am married, have a 2 yr old and one on the way. I am happy with my life but I can honestly say that if I was single or living the DINK lifestyle I know I would also be happy. I am right under you age wise and I can honestly say every year has gotten better and that my husband is a FANTASTIC father and I LOVE LOVE LOVE my son but I totally relate to never fulling longing for kids and I didn’t need them to feel complete in life. I do not believe it all goes hand in hand. We can all be happy with where we are at in life and we all can reserve the right to change our minds and do not have to make decisions like “I have to have kids to be happy” or “I am never having kids to stay happy”. I am proud of you for stating your truth and how you feel. We all have our own path to walk and it all comes with pros and cons. Live your best life and thanks for including us in the journey. It’s a little highlight to my day everyday.
Thank you so much! I also think it’s really important to make the most of whatever cards you are dealt!!!
Thank you for sharing! I am about to turn 37, and keep waiting for my biological clock to start ticking too! I always thought I’d have kids (raised in the south, so I think it’s just ingrained), but have never really felt that yearning that others seem to have. To complicate matters, I had cancer at 34. My doctors more or less forced me to freeze a few eggs before chemo (which I know makes me lucky as some doctors don’t tell cancer patients that chemo can take your fertility and advise advance precautions), but I’m not even sure if I can have kids naturally, or if any of those eggs are viable . All that said, I still feel like I’m trying to get over the trauma of cancer and kids just seem hard. Plus, I have a busy and stressful career and pretty much live (pre-COVID UGH) to travel. However, I worry when I see my age number ticking up (which, frankly, is a blessing to get more birthdays post-cancer anyway) and start to get panicky about being too old to have kids. But then, REALLY thinking about whether I want that, I just kind of return to… “ehhh”. I actually envy you that you have made an actual decision (though you’re of course allowed to change your mind!). I have a mix of friends with kinds and friends that definitely will not have them, but really think there should be more dialogue so thank you again for sharing.
Gosh, that is a LOT. My heart goes out to you, I cannot imagine going through all of that at such a young age! I don’t think I really felt comfortable making this decision til I was about 38… saying it out loud before that felt scary!
I love this post so much. I feel so SEEN. I’m headed to your friend Jenn’s page to read her story, too. Married for almost 8 years, loving the DINK lifestyle, love seeing my friends become moms and love their kids…but nary a maternal longing. Anyway, thank you for sharing. It really does mean so much.
Aw I am so glad!! Thank you for the note!
I really enjoyed this post, Grace. I’m 29, single, and still totally on the fence about kids. I was engaged previously to a long term partner, and at the time I thought I wanted kids, but I can’t tell if that was just being on auto-pilot or a true desire. I’ve always been of the mindset that it is 100% a personal decision – let’s not forget that its not just “having kids”, its bringing a HUMAN LIFE into the world and caring for them. I picture my life with and without kids and don’t really feel pulled in one direction or another. The thing is, I’m still young, and have plenty of time to decide. I’m prioritizing my life and finding a partner, and I can figure it out later.
I love that!!! Thank you!
THANK YOU for writing this and sharing with the world. This point resonated with me deeply: “should you need to be swayed on such a massive life decision? Why do we try to enforce our beliefs on others? I’m not out here telling people with kids that they’re making a mistake!”
It really means a lot to know that there are others who feel similarly as I do–especially since I sometimes find myself thinking, “am I crazy? did I miss something?”
YES! I’m so glad that this has resonated for you, comments like this make me feel less crazy and less alone.
I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH. Thank you for being open and vulnerable enough to share. I am 30, married one year, and still have zero desire/interest in children. For all the reasons you mentioned above and then some. It is a HUGE, LIFE CHANGING decision that in my opinion, people should think more about. It drives me insane when I hear people say they want kids for: the legacy, someone to take of you when you get old, to teach them things, to have half of you in the world – what the fuck? You want to talk about selfish – I think those are the most selfish reasons to have kids. If anything, me going to therapy, doing the work on being the best version of myself, and taking the time to truly understand how this will forever change my life, is what people should be doing. Once you have a kid, you can’t take it back. Oh man I have so much to say about this. I wish people would accept that if other people don’t want to have kids, it’s ok!!! It doesn’t effect them! They don’t need to get to the bottom of why they don’t want to have them. Let’s just support each other. God, it’s so frustrating. I feel you, support you and am right there with you.
Yes! Huge and MASSIVELY life changing! I don’t understand how some people can be so breezy about it… haah! Thank you so much for the comment, I really appreciate it!
Thank you for your thoughtful post. My husband and I do not have children, nor will we. We also adore our nieces and nephews, traveling and spending time with our cat. Don’t underestimate your bravery, though. Any time we choose to live outside of a cultural norm, no matter how big or small, we are making a brave choice. I commend you for living your authentic life. Thank you for being so open with your readers about it.
Thank you so much for the encouragement!!!
Thank you for sharing this! My husband and I are DINKs and navigating that with friends and family has been challenging at times. I knew in college that I didn’t want to have kids and it was a tough conversation to have when we started dating seriously because I knew he loved kids. I have nephews and work with kids in my career, and I love them! I just don’t want children of my own. I get the “but you’d make such a great mom” comment, and, while I mostly take it as a complement, sometimes I feel annoyed and misunderstood because I’m not choosing this life because I’m afraid, I’m choosing it because it’s what I want. I appreciate you putting this out there—thank you!
Yes!!! My ex and I went back and forth on this and I felt so frustrated and like he wasn’t seeing me. It’s not that I’m afraid, I just don’t want them! Thank you for articulating that so thoughtfully and succinctly.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and feelings about this tough subject!! I think I want kids but I also like to think about all the things I could do if I had extra time/money/energy etc. Plus I am an aunt as well which is the best job ever and gives me my fill of kiddos. Not enough women talk about their views on this subject and it’s frustrating that no matter what you do someone is always going to have an unwanted opinion about it *sigh*. Thanks for being so transparent and vulnerable!
Thank you so much for your comment and support! xx
Same here! ♀️ Thanks for the post. I am an only child and have no nieces/ nephews and it doesn’t change my lack of desire to have my own kids. I like kids but it never really occurred to me to have my own. Everyone said “you’ll change your mind!” but it’s funny, I’m in my mid-40s and still haven’t??! Why do people always say that? Meanwhile I ALWAYS knew I wanted to have a dog and couldn’t wait to get one, which I did once I got my first “real” job and a house!
YES! That’s how I felt when I got Tyrion… ha!
Can totally relate! For me, always wanted kids my whole life. Interestingly, very much wanted kids when I was in a previous relationship with a guy who honestly wasn’t the best fit (great guy but on some subconscious level I think I wanted kids so I’d feel less alone?).
Now I’m engaged to the absolute love of my life! If we can have kids – great! If kids don’t work out, my fiancé and I love our life together – we don’t need kids to feel complete though if it happens that’s great, too.
Unexpectedly, once I became an aunt I realized I LOVE being an aunt but don’t necessarily need to have my own kids. I love being an aunt and babysitting frequently (including giving the parents a night off and feeding/changing the baby) but also want to keep my independent lifestyle.
Thank you for writing about this, Grace. So many of us grew up with the expectation to have kids and honestly a lot of people want to tick off that box without examining whether or not they truly want to be parents. I love my life – I don’t need kids to feel fulfilled.
I love this. I feel so lucky to be an aunt as I get to have these amazing kids in my life… but also keep my independence and more quiet life!
Thank you for this post! I can relate so much, as a 40 year old who feels the same way. Like you said, I never really had that desire that a lot of my girlfriends had growing up. I’m glad to know that there are others like me out there!
ME TOO. Reading the comments on this post have been so cathartic. It’s incredible to see that so many people feel the same as me!
Grace, I have 2 sisters and neither one had children. I wanted kids and have 3 who are now in their 20’s. My brother didn’t want kids either (he’s 13 years younger). He now has a 3 year old he adores and another on the way. (People can change their minds, lol) I have several friends who for one reason or another did not have children. It’s your life so you can decide how to live it. Some people are just so rude. I thinks it’s cool that you love your life and know what you want. As I was reading this I had a question which you ended up answering – “Would you want a relationship with a divorced dad?”. You do you! Pat S
Haha, thanks so much Pat! Always appreciate your comments here! XO
Love this post. I cannot for the life of me figure out why not having kids is a problem for some people.
Also, I think having “child free” in your dating profile would be an obvious choice. The amount of dates I wasted my time on with childfree men is exhausting and frustrating to think about.
Thank you for writing this. I’m 41 and like you I always knew I didn’t want kids. Only child, didn’t play with dolls or babysit. I babysat once and called my mom to come in as reinforcements.Never did it again and honestly word spread in a small town and no one wanted me to babysit either.
I went through a phase where I didn’t even know how to interact with kids. What do these little humans want from you?! Again, only child and my cousins lived in another country. I grew up with adults.
As I got older and my friends started having kids I started to embrace the Aunt role even if they weren’t my blood. It’s my favorite thing when my best friends step kid asks me when I’m coming over and gives me the biggest hugs when I do.
My boyfriend doesn’t want kids either but he’s great with them. We are great dog parents and I’m okay with that. I wish people would stop asking me if I will regret it because no one asks the same thing to women who want kids. Hey Sara won’t you regret having little Joe and Mary? No one would dare to ask that and they shouldn’t ask that question to women who choose the opposite. More posts like this will normalize women who choose a different path.
Thanks so much for sharing… I identify so much with everything you said! XO
SO glad to see you talk about this in depth! I’m only 25 so I am still trying to leave room for changing my mind, but I’ve never prioritized having a future that involves children. I was also very anti-baby doll as a child and everyone thought that was so weird but I’ve just never felt “called” to motherhood. Thankfully I’m in a serious relationship and we’re on the same page, but I’m quite interested to see how we evolve over the next 5-10 years and if we ever do decide to change our minds. Everyone always says “it’s different when it’s yours,” but that seems like such a huge gamble to take on a literal new human life! I honestly think I’d be more open to adopting than having a biological child, if we do every choose to expand our family past cats.
Couldnt’ agree more… I feel like adopting actually sounds much more manageable!
Thanks for embracing this topic! I was the same as you, thought the day would just arrive when I was suddenly ready to be a mother. Not only did that not happen, I realized with more clarity that I did NOT want to be a mother. Like you I have plenty of mom friends that I still love but I am really loving this new community of childfree women that seems to be growing online. I relate so much to so many of them and its such a thrill to find so many new likeminded friends. I love this DINK life!
YES! SO happy to connect with others who feel similarly to me.
One of the first questions my now husband asked me within our first three conversations, not even dates, was “before we get down this rabbit hole, do you want kids?” As a single girl really wanting to date this hunk-a-hunk could I tell him my darkest feelings that I didn’t want kids? I replied with “I don’t know yet” – the standard response I thought you give to be polite – where he said “well, I had a vasectomy at 25 (he was 33 at the time) so just letting you know.” I had never met anyone as sure of anything in my life and it was inspiring. A few dates in and I told him I had nieces and nephews and I was perfectly content not having kids and the nerd that he is spit out how rare I am and the statistics of women in their 20-40s who didn’t want kids and in a 50 mile radius, etc. When the subject came up with family my mom interjected “you don’t even like babies! You’re good with them and you’d be a good mom but you only like kids once they can do things. I could see you not wanting kids.” I’ve been very fortunate that I haven’t gotten the pressure from people after seven years of being together, but I love being a DINK and waking up on Saturday mornings with a cup of coffee and having deep conversations and the silence in the air. I hope everyone finds their Rabbit Hole partner like I have- they’re out there and please don’t feel alone. Sure I’d like to be pampered on with a shower and gifts but let’s be honest, that’s just a lot of smiling for a few gifts I could afford on my own while I save my money they’ve spent on daycare and private school. I’m not heartless; everyone finds me sweet and southern and surprised when they find out I don’t have or want kids, but it’s a choice I’m glad those around me are comfortable with because I won’t be changing my mind anytime soon. Thank you for being so open, honest and relatable without being judgmental. It’s why I keep coming back to your blog everyday.
Gosh I love your story. Does your husband have a single brother who feels the same? LOL! ANd your mom sounds like she would get along with mine as well. We are so lucky to have moms like that… it’s rare!
Thank you for talking about this and attempting to normalize it. I’ve known since I was about 20 and I’m approaching 40, also. There are SO many reasons. I can’t stand it when people try to convince me that I don’t know what I’m missing – well, that’s true! And I’m okay with that, since I don’t know it!
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that more and more of my friends also don’t want kids and I wondered why/how we’ve all found each other and one of them had a theory: While we were sunbathing on a weekday morning, she pointed out that it is a self-selection thing. For example, we were able to hang out and become friends BECAUSE we were available to go sunbathing on a weekday morning!
P.s. I love kids, too. I’m a preschool teacher and it’s the most fun. And I’m happy to go home to my quiet, tidy home at the end of the day.
Follow up: We do have jobs during the week. This conversation must have been during spring break or something.
Haha this made me laugh. THank you so much for sharing!!!
I had to respond. I am 20 years your senior and I have no regrets that I chose not to have kids. I also happen to love kids! When I was younger and married, my husband I would talk about it. We chose not to bring children into what became an unsteady marriage and ultimately divorce. I always believed for me that It could be an extension of a loving, committed relationship. I have never had the overwhelming urge to have a child for the sake of it. I too received all the same comments. I could never understand why people would call me selfish for actively choosing to not children. It could be argued that having children is a completely selfish act. Women, whatever choice they make should be shown respect. It’s a personal choice we need to decide for ourselves. I get the dating thing, as you get older you will “age out it”. Because of looking younger than my years, I had to navigate this issue for a long time. It’s often a deal breaker, but again no regrets here. It’s probably not a bad idea to put in in your profile. Maybe fewer disappointments? Anyway, I have a great life with with wonderful friends, family ,singletons and smug marrieds ” and some lovely kids who I adore. Family and chosen family. Thank you for posting bravely about this topic!
Hi Cy! I always appreciate your comments + contributions to the community SO much. Thanks for sharing your experience (and also dealing with aging out of it; something I look forward to). Thanks for the ecouragement!
I love this post. This is such a great example of a topic where one person’s choices are NOT judgments of another person’s choices! I wish people didn’t take it so personally. I got married at 40, did actually try to have kids and couldn’t, and now I’m newly 50 and cannot imagine my life any other way. I love kids, I love being an auntie to 12 nieces and nephews, and I spend much of my spare time advocating for shelter dogs, things I wouldn’t do if I had my own kids.
I know people who love kids and don’t have them, people who don’t really like kids and after having their own, like their own kids but still freely admit they still don’t really like kids (I love that kind of honesty). We’re all different and that’s a good thing.
I saw something yesterday about wishing women congratulated each other on career and other successes the way we celebrate engagements and pregnancies, and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s so important to celebrate each other for who we are and stop viewing life decisions through a single lens. This post is a great addition to that!
I think about that ALL THE TIME. I try to really heavily celebrate my friends’ professional accomplishments. It’s frustrating; we put so much emphasis on engagements and pregnancies!
Thank you Grace for this post! I’m a mom of two and omg yes why do we assume every woman must have kids? I happen to have two daughters and i have ZERO expectations of them having children, it is their life and they can choose the path that suits them. I’ve journaled this and I am constantly telling everyone around me to please remind me of this in like 20 years because there’s an age when moms get grandma crazy, like just desperately wanting for theirs kids to have kids just so they can be grandparents. My own mom was like that and though I did want to have them the pressure was not helpful. And now that I have two she still pushes me for one more, like WTF? lol anyway I digress, I applaud you for being so open with your decision and i will always stand up for the woman’s right to choose the life that is meant for her. Bravo again!
You sound like an amazing mom!!!! That’s how my mom has always been and I appreciate her so much for that. Thanks for the encouragement and kind words!
Thank you for starting such an important conversation for women. Two of my best friends do not have children and are the most thoughtful, loving, supportive aunties to my daughter and I’m grateful she has these women to look to as role models. I’m tired of women being placed into such small boxes and the assumptions that come along with an incredibly personal decision. I hope that the conversations that you, Kate, and Jenn are so bravely having will pave the way for my daughter to make decisions based on how she feels rather than societal pressures.
Could not agree more… thanks so much for contributing to this conversation! XO
Ok, first, a big thank you to you and Jenn for sharing these.I am only 26 but have felt like I have always known that having kids would not be the thing for me. There is too much societal pressure on women to conform to this ideal, and I think it is fantastic that we can start a dialogue about being able to break the stereotypes, and let all women just do what makes them happy- have kids, not have kids, or be a crazy dog mom (my personal aspiration haha). I agree that it feels uneasy to put that into the universe while trying to find a partner, but I believe that you (and everyone!) will find partners who have the same thoughts on kids. My life goal is to be a physician, and ultimately work in academic medicine teaching and training new docs, so I just do not see children in my future, and if that is ok with me, then it needs to be ok with society! I really appreciate this post, Grace. I do not think I can say that enough 🙂
Good for YOU! Thanks for chiming in!!! Really appreciate it.
I do not have kids by choice, and I am 100% content with my decision. Like you, I used to say things like, “when I have kids someday…”, but never felt like the time was right. I was married in my “best” childbearing years – when nearly all of my close friends were having kids – but then my husband had an affair and decided to leave. I was in my early 30s at that time, rebuilding my life, dating, and embarking on a brand new career. Having kids was the LAST thing on my mind. At some point I began to realize that I didn’t really WANT to have kids. Also like you, I value my alone time, my freedom and flexibility, my sleep (early riser/early to bed here), and so many other aspects of NOT having kids. But I, too, enjoy kids, I love babies, and I grew up with a strong babysitting game. I just don’t think I was made to be an actual mom. But I did become a mom of sorts. I remarried a man who has two kids from his prior marriage. I love them, but I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. Being a stepmom is HARD. I know that is not the case for everyone – I have friends who absolutely love being a stepmom, but it has been 8 challenging years for me and it’s just recently started to be pleasant and even fun. If anything, being a stepmom has reinforced that I do not want to be a biological mom. I’m happy being a fur-mama to my sweet pup, which is an amazing and fulfilling experience for me filled with unconditional love (you don’t get THAT from your kids!!! ha!). And I’m also an aunt – that filled my cup so much when my nephew was little.
So I applaud you for your post and I hope you continue to feel nothing but confidence in your decision. And if you do change your mind someday, that’s SO ok! It’s YOUR life and you are the only one who gets to live it! <3
Haha, my babysitting game was also quite strong! All I wanted was to be a member of the Babysitter’s Club. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and talking about this!
Great post Grace, thanks so much for sharing. I’m about your age…my husband is *quite a bit* older than me, divorced and with kids. It’s perfect because they are grown and out on their own (and awesome people) so I still get that DINK lifestyle. I honestly don’t think I knew this was the life I wanted until falling in love with someone where kids really weren’t an option. And thank goodness I did. It’s the best. I’m 100% with you on everything you said.
Especially interesting to read what you said about being a kind/warm person so people assume you want kids. I’ve found that too.
Thanks again for sharing.
I love that! Thanks for sharing!!
YES to all of this (loved Jenn’s post as well)! I’m 39 now and have been married for 15 years so naturally the questions are starting to get less and less but the comments still keep coming that’s for sure. I will never get over the fact that our marriage/family is treated as less than because it doesn’t include children (by choice). Our marriage being the way it is and loving it just the way it is is one of the many factors why we chose not to have children. It may be selfish of me but already not wanting children anyway and then really not wanting my relationship to change was a driving factor, if i’m being honest. But doesn’t it also seem selfish to bring children into this world just so they can take care of me in my old age (one of my personal favorite comments )? I just amen’d my way through your post, Grace. Thank you for articulating so much of what I feel! Aunt life (to family and framily) is the best!
Thank YOU so much for sharing! Cheers to aunt life! xo
Thank you so much for the post Grace. I’m 35 and still single so I often get the “when you find someone you’ll change your mind” trope. Which granted maybe I will, but for now I don’t think so. I enjoy my life and the freedoms that come with it. I always assumed when I was younger I would have kids but I realize that’s because what’s expected. It’s taken me a long time to realize not everyone has to follow the same path in life and that I’m one of those people. I have great nieces and nephews of family and friends whom I live and gladly babysit and spend time with but I also very much enjoy coming home to quiet and “detoxing” in a way from that. I know people who don’t have kids and are desperately trying and I know people who’ve also decided to not have kids. In the end I think wanting your own life and space is not selfish. It would be more selfish to have kids when you know you can’t/ wont take care of them the way they need to be. It’s so important to know that you’re not alone and others feel the same or even if they don’t, validate your feelings. I’m so thankful I have friends who understand my feelings and respect them.
Hahahaha I so relate to “detoxing!” I love my niece and nephews but sometimes am just so exhausted afterward!
Thank you so much for sharing, Grace! As I move into my mid-30’s, I think more and more if motherhood is really something I want. I lean towards no. I, like you, can’t wait to be the best aunt ever! Going overboard at every birthday and cheering loudly at the pee wee games. But the idea of going home to a quiet home sounds equally amazing:)
Aunt life is really the best ever! XO
Thank you so much!! As a 46 year old who has never experienced a burning desire to have kids, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. You will find the right guy for you! I’ve been happily married for 19 years. My husband had one child from a previous marriage who was a teenager when we met. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed her tremendously but still never wanted kids of my own. I too have faced criticism over the years both for not desiring children and for marrying someone older, but I’ve been deeply happy with my decisions and have no regrets.
It’s really nice to read comments like this and feel less alone! Thank you so much for sharing.
I am 42 and I do not want kids.
As a child I wanted 2 boys and 1 girl and picked out their names.
By 21 I KNEW 100% I was never having a biological child.
Would I be open to adopting? YES! Am I open to being a Step mom? Yes!
My reasoning: The mother I want to be and the lifestyle i want to live do not gel/vibe. I choose lifestyle.
Dating in my 40’s without wanting kids is SUPER hard. I make it clear from date #1, I am not birthing a child.
Kudos to you for posting about this. Posts like these help normalize this choice, which many women make.
I love this. Thank you so much for sharing!
As a 40 year old with 2 kids, I am so utterly grateful for all my friends and family members who made the same choice as you. With my mom friends, it sometimes feels hard to “escape” my kids, if that makes any sense. Lots of conversations revolve around the kids. With my friends who don’t have kids, it’s easier for me to slip out of mom-mode. I had a REALLY hard time with the baby stages, and I lived for the lunches and happy hours with my two besties who didn’t have kids. They knew me before I had kids and helped me feel more like a functioning human rather than a mom who barely had my sh-t together. I’m sorry you have to deal with completely rude comments about your life choices.
My girlfriends with kids say the exact same thing!!!!
I honestly have never commented on a blog post in my life (even though I am a loyal reader) but I felt so compelled to thank you for posting this. I decided a few years ago that I did not want to be a mother, which ultimately really impacted my partnership, my friendships and my relationship with my parents. Reading this made me feel so seen, and so validated in my decision that I can have the life I want. I teared up through your entire post!
A few other thoughts:
– In my late 20’s, I asked a girlfriend when she knew she wanted to be a mom. I was SHOCKED to learn that she had always had such a strong desire to be a mom and that getting pregnant wasn’t a terrifying idea to her. I just assumed a switch would go off when women were ready, and I would know I wanted a baby then!
– I told my (single, very cool aunt) that I was scared I would be alone when I was older if I didn’t have kids and grandkids. She DID choose to have children who married other people, moved around world, or chose not to have relationships with your family. You could have children and STILL be alone in life when you are older. She told me that she doesn’t want to be alone which is why she creates a different community around her of friends she wants to share her life with as they age.
YES to all of this, thank you so much for sharing. I had the same exact experience talking to girlfriends who felt that way, thinking getting pregnant wouldn’t be a bad thing, etc!
My husband and I have been married for 22 years. We got married very young. I was just shy of my 20th birthday and he’s 2.5 years older than I am. When we first married, we both intended on having children but life happened and it didn’t work out. My husband was very ill for the better part of a decade during our first years of marriage. We decided to not bring children into the mix while he was sick. He was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma in the end; a slow growing malignant tumor was found in his femur which the doctors removed. Afterward, he still had some health issues but began to improve exponentially.
At that time, I was having issues of my own. My periods were very irregular and I found out that I didn’t ovulate regularly, if at all. There was a history of uterine cancer in my family so because of my irregular periods, my OBGYN recommended that I do a uterine oblation and a tubal ligation to prevent me from having periods at all. It worked for two years, but then I spontaneously started bleeding again and having other issues. Only other option was a hysterectomy.
So, here were are 22 years later, post cancer, post hysterectomy, and childless. But, you know what? I was so upset that we didn’t just go again and have children before my husband’s diagnosis at first. I wanted a baby so bad. Now, looking back, I am so happy we didn’t have children. I don’t think my husband and I would still be married if children would’ve been added to the mix of things we’ve had to deal with. I’m also glad I don’t have kids now because I’m dealing with mental health issues and having kids would complicate that so much.
I know our reasons are not the same as your reasons, but that’s okay. It’s no one’s business but yours if you have kids or not. You do what’s right for you. You’re not selfish and you’re not a bad person. I hope you find someone who understands and feels the same way.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. Hugs!!
I’m so grateful you shared this. I have such strong feelings about parenting and have been through the ringer by others for my choices and views. Honestly, the only reason I have kids is because I want to be a grandparent and I want an adult relationship with my kids. I have a terrible relationship with my mother, my dad died when I was 17 and I want to make up for the missing relationships I long to have by being the parent now. Another factor about what I want is I never want to be pregnant. It’s something I’ve known my entire life. Everyone told me I’d change my mind, but I never have. I knew IF I ever had kids, I’d adopt and that’s exactly what I did! I adopted a 2 year old and a 3 year old (siblings) from foster care!
I do not care for babies at all. I really don’t even like small kids very much. I wanted to adopt older children and my husband wanted younger children so we compromised in the 2-7 age range and ended up with our two kids. The first few years with them were hard for me. I am a very independent person and do not like the constant need for my attention/help/etc. Its smothering for me. I have noticed I’m doing much better with my kids as they have grown more independent, especially when my son started elementary school. He’s learning how to read, starting to gather hobbies and I’m happy to see him grow up into his own person.
Motherhood is a very personal choice and it’s made into such a societal standard where you can’t vocalize, safely, that you don’t like/want/whatever kids. Or that you don’t enjoy time all of your time with them, especially your own. Or you don’t want to cuddle them non stop or play dolls or whatever it is. I love my children, I really do, but I know our relationship will be strong the older they get because I’m so committed to it. I made the decisions I made around parenting because I chose them, found a partner who chose them too, and we weren’t forced intro anything we didn’t want.
Thank you so much for sharing!
very honest post. thanks for sharing.
when I was in my 20s, I never liked kids, found them annoying and what’s the point. I am also very selfish in the sense that I prioritise my well being and my plans for life. But one day, pang, I want to have family so I went for it.
now 2 kids letter, I still don’t like kids but I love mine. It’s the best thing ever!
so, just saying, be open minded and follow your heart.
Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for this post!! I also listened to Kate Kennedy’s podcast and LOVED it. Do you and oh by the way you can be free to change your mind at any point and that’s ok too. I have one kid and while I never had felt this URGE to have a child I knew I wanted a family so we want ahead and did it because it seemed like the right time. For others reading, don’t necessarily expect to have this crazy urge to be a mother because that also didn’t happen to me and it worked out great. I am now getting a lot of this similar pressure about having a 2nd kid because you know, one isn’t enough and we are weighing whether or not thats something we want to do. Basically the family/society judgement never ends no matter what you do 🙂
Never ever!!!! The second child pressure sounds horrible. Hugs!
I can definitely relate to this post. I turn 38 in December and I’m single. I don’t want kids. I’ve said that since I was 8 years old and I’ve never changed my mind. I’m also an only child, but I have a large family of aunts/ uncles/ cousins. I do sometimes wonder if I will feel differently once I’m past child bearing age, but I just don’t know. Working in the child welfare field, I definitely have seen how things can go wrong for parents; this exposure has certainly influenced my choice as well. I do like children- as long as they belong to someone else! And I think that’s ok too.
Thank you for broaching a sensitive topic, Grace. I definitely agree this should be something we all talk more about as a society, and it should be less stigmatized as a whole.
Thank you so much for sharing this 🙂 xoxo
I love this so much. I’m in a different boat in that I have known my WHOLE life I want to be a mom, and have always been great with kids but am only now in a position to start trying, which at 40 is proving to be a bit of a challenge. And I feel like there’s a bit of judgement in my situation too, it’s like well why did you wait so long?? But I couldn’t help it if I didn’t find my person til I was 38!! It’s not like I wasn’t looking high and low…trust me, haha! So I actually envy you, to not have this ticking clock over my head would be amazing. But different strokes for different folks! I think it’s fantastic that you know what you want/don’t want, plus everyone has a favourite aunt/uncle/other grown up that’s not their parent….what a great person to be for the kiddos in your life!
I’m so happy you found your person and can start trying!!!!! Thinking of you! Thanks for sharing.
I love this, thank you for posting! Being in my late 30’s and living in the middle of the country in a very conservative state, it’s difficult to not feel as if I am always being judged harshly and/or pitied for choosing to not have children. In my heart and mind I feel confident and at peace with this decision, but not with the thoughts or judgement from others, and it can be tough sometimes trying to defend that position as I never want to offend or hurt those who may want children but cant, or make it seem like I am overcompensating and having people pity me because I am 38 and not a mom.
And even though I am steadfast and confident in my choice I still have those moments thinking maybe I am not wired right and there’s something wrong with me so it’s nice hearing from other like-minded women making that choice. I really enjoyed this post, and reading all of the comments including from the moms. All very uplifting and positive, this is a great community!
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience. The pity thing is something I always have a hard time with. I chose this life!!!
Thank you for this post, Grace. I imagine it can be hard to put yourself out there like this, but it means so much to those of us who share your feelings. I always assumed I’d have kids someday (whether married or on my own!) but I never felt the longing to be a mother. As I got older, I realized that my assumption was based on society’s standards, not my own wishes. I’ve been with my husband for 9 years, and I’m absolutely crazy about him, and yet still, I don’t really want children. If anything, I want them less than I did in other relationships because I don’t want to sacrifice our lifestyle and our alone time by having a kid! Anyway, just wanted to say thanks. I have always loved your blog and posts like this are why I will be a loyal reader for as long as you choose to write for us! 🙂
Yes! I love that so much. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for being a loyal reader -means the world!
I love this and totally agree! I always called myself a FANK – Fun Aunt No Kids. I LOVE kids! But I would have been totally fine without them. They are a lot of work and very expensive! I’ve seen so many people who are miserable because their life doesn’t match what they think it should look like and lots of people think life “should” have kids in it. There is no one correct way to do things! Find your bliss, do what you love, face the obstacles, keep going.
I got married at 38 and had two unexpected pregnancies in my 40s. Great! But if my kids hadn’t happened I would also have been great. And if I hadn’t met my husband and married him, I would also have been great. People are so appalled when I say I would be happy in a different life but I think that a lot of people lack the imagination to let people be different than they are.
Cheers to you for putting this out there! I celebrate your choice!
Hahahahah YES… love FANK! Thanks for sharing 🙂
I read Jenn’s post and had to read yours too! I have an “aunt” (my mom’s best friend) who never had kids, she was there when I was born, she was there growing up, she married me and she was there when my first daughter was born. I feel so lucky to have her in my life and she still got to experience so many things without having her own kids, she did not miss out on anything. You do you girl and continue to love on those nieces and nephews!
Thanks for stopping by! I love that… thank you for telling me about your aunt 🙂
Beautifully said Grace! You write so well and you share your thoughts and being in the best of ways! Love you so much! (Not that I wouldn’t want a little you running around but I think that might be your niece’s role, haha!)
Hahahahaha love you so much.
I so appreciate this post and have a lot of the same feelings! I wrote and published a similar post on my blog last year, and I had to warn my mom and tell her not to get upset or leave a million comments. I’m feeling pressure from my parents to have kids, but I really like living life on my own terms! I have two cats and love them to death; I appreciate how independent they are because they’re like friends but they also like their space so it’s a nice mutual relationship. I worry sometimes that I won’t be able/am unable to grow my blog BECAUSE I don’t have kids – the pressure to get married and have kids to show on social media is huge. Thank you for normalizing a childfree by choice life. 🙂
Oh that’s such an interesting take! I feel like it’s actually helpful TO grow, since there are so many mom bloggers out there doing the same thing!
Thanks for posting this! I’m 32 and been with the same guy for over 10 years now (married for 3), and never felt the desire to have kids as an adult. For a while I wondered whether it was because I have a large age gap between my brother, who is 9 years younger, and I spent my entire teenage years watching him – I was even mistaken for his mom a number of times growing up. My brother is an adult now and we have a more normal sibling relationship, but I knew at a pretty young age how much work kids can be – even when they’re out of diapers, 9 year olds need constant care!
Babies just don’t make me get warm and fuzzy, although puppies do! It does feel weird to admit that publicly to friends who have kids or are expecting. I am happy for them but I personally never longed for a child. I always feel very defensive (and frustrated) at myself trying to explain this because I had “checked the box” on all the other major “life achievements” for someone in their early 30s and did everything my immigrant parents wanted otherwise. I have 2 Ivy league degrees, I met my husband at one of those schools over 10 years ago, we both have resumes that sound impressive, and my parents (and his) naturally think a kid is the next step. My grandmother likes to remind me how attractive she thinks the child will be, and even at my wedding, my make up artist couldn’t stop gushing at how she thought we’d make pretty kids. I can’t actually get excited about the idea and I know it’s wrong to want a child just to say that I “did it”. I’m otherwise pretty content with my life but my family likes to remind me that they think something is missing.
I also thought about the part about having someone to take care of me when I get older, but I don’t buy that argument. For one thing, when you think about, living in Manhattan, the amount you save on childcare, education and college is pretty much more than enough money needed for an early retirement. Another thing, why assume your kid will be successful and is going to take care of you? I really believe in being financially independent and being able to take care of myself (and loved ones – like my parents) but I wouldn’t count on popping out a kid in the hopes of being taken care of in 30 years!
Love this; thanks so much for sharing!!!
Thank you for sharing this! I feel like having children is a huge decision, but so many people seem to think of it as a default. Folks keep telling me I’ll want kids someday, but I’m married and in my mid-thirties. Either I’m a really late bloomer, or I’m just not going to feel that pull. It drives me crazy that people presume they know me better than I know myself.
I’m so grateful to you, Erica and Jenn for sharing. A woman can be or NOT be whatever she wants – including a mother!
Could not agree more! Thanks for sharing!
I absolutely love this , it’s like you invaded my brain when you wrote this! Thanks for sharing and for helping normalize being childless by choice
Aw good, so happy it resonated! XO
Thank you so much for sharing this! My husband and I are DINKs and we love our lives too! I can’t tell you how many people have said I’m selfish or that I’m not in touch with my femininity (lol what) for not wanting children. I’m just so grateful to see an influencer I’ve followed for years say the same thing when all the rest seem to be having kids and doing round ups of baby toys. Thank you thank you thank you for being honest and open about this, it really brightened my day to feel like we aren’t alone out there 🙂
(Also, my father is an estate planning attorney, and I can’t tell you how many clients he has had over the years that were flat out estranged from their kids, questioning whether to include them in wills, etc. It was sad and everything, but it’s sadder to me that people don’t consider this a possibility. You ARE NOT guaranteed a good relationship with your children or adult children and they are not obligated to take care of you when you’re old!! Do not have kids thinking that’s a for sure thing, because you just don’t know what will happen in life!)
Thank you so much for sharing all of this! Agree wholeheartedly.
Amen! I had a work colleague a few years older than me (also a DINK) that once said to never refer to your life as childless. It is childFREE by choice because your life is not worth or enjoyed any less without your own children. I am 36, married for 8 years and have two nieces with another niece/nephew on the way. My husband and I both never wanted children. Everyone thought I would change my mind once I held my niece for the first time, but NOPE. Still a hard no. I started taking a different approach each time I got the question or a comment that I would be a great mom, and explained that I had siblings who would fill my life with lots of nieces and nephews to enjoy and I am happy being a cool aunt. In fact, my Great Great Aunt Helen did not have children of her own either and growing up I never knew. She outlived two husbands, both of her sisters, and lived to be 96 years old. She touched so many lives and helped put my mom through nursing school. And to the men that want an army of children…well I hope you put more effort to raise those kids than you did to create them.
Love this all so much. Thank you for sharing! Your Great Aunt Helen sounds like an amazing woman 🙂
I absolutely loveeeeee this post. Kudos to you sticking to yourself and staying strong. There is nothing wrong with not wanting kids. The world would be a better place too also if ppl who didn’t truly want kids didn’t have or get guilted into this. There is sooooo much more to life than someone calling you Mommy. Thank you for sharing this 🙂
Thank you so much! xx
Grace- thank you so much for sharing this! I am approaching 30 and have often felt like something is “wrong” with me because I am not super motivated to date, settle down, get married and have kids. I feel so fulfilled with my career, my friends, my dog and my hobbies. I have friends that often talk about their biological clock and NEEDING to get out there to date so that they can start a family. I never know what to say to these people. While I completely respect them and their priorities, I just could not relate less. It is so refreshing to hear your perspective. I’ve always known I wasn’t alone in this thought (nor have I really cared), but it is comforting to hear your perspective. Thank you again!!
There is nothing wrong with you AT ALL. It sounds like you’ve built a really fulfilling life for yourself!
Yesssss! Let’s normalize not wanting kids! I’m a proud aunt and lucky to be in a DINK marriage. Thank you for writing this.
I had 3 kids. They are aged 40 – 32. None of them seem to be having kids. You are just perfect with your choices. Xo
Thanks, Gayle 🙂 xoxo
Thank you for this! I’m 35, single, and am ambivalent about having kids. I love my friends’ kids and am not anti-kid, but I don’t have that longing to have my own biological kids. I finally explained it to my parents (I’m an only child!) and they seem to accept it now (not that they were pushy or anything, but I’m the only hope for grandkids and they’d make awesome grandparents). Maybe if I was in a relationship I’d feel differently, but I’m not sure I would. I like my job and my life and sleeping in or binging whatever I want on TV. My friends’pregnancy stories weird me out, so if I ever do get the urge to have a kid, I’m leaning more and more towards adoption. But to be honest, I don’t really see myself as a single parent either, so no kids seems most likely and I totally accept that. I felt kid of guilty about it for a long time, but finally realized the same things you pointed out: I shouldn’t have a kid just because I’m “supposed” to or to have someone to take care of me when I’m old. Those are stupid reasons to procreate! Anyway, I appreciate your post and thank you for opening up and speaking your truth. ❤️
I feel the same way. My sister had a really difficult pregnancy and bad stuff after, and we are so similar… I don’t know if I would be able to take it! Thanks for sharing. xx
I really enjoyed this post. I am a mom of one and I am done. I have learned to keep that to myself because people have been vicious with their reactions. “How can you do that to your child” “if you die she will be literally alone” and other very ridiculous notions. I have had several people wish an accidental pregnancy on me. Could you imagine?!? I shouldn’t have to specify that I love my daughter, but the moment I say I don’t want more kids that seems to be under scrutiny. I love my daughter enough to know she deserves a fully present and peaceful mother and I know I would not be those things if we had more children. Family planning is a deeply personal thing, somehow it is generally considered to be a matter of public opinion.
I think people may be even worse to people who only have one child vs. those who don’t want them at all. My sister gets so much grief!
Grace, I appreciate your post and it resonates with me so much. It is so hard to go through life in your 30s and feel like you did not check off all the “women can only be successful this way” milestones as marriage, kids, etc. It could be my insecurity but when the first question I am always asked when people are catching up with me is “are you dating anyone?”, I cringe. Our lives as women should not be defined by our relationship status, kids, and the white picket fence.
Couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing. xo
Thank you Grace for posting this! It’s important to normalize that it’s ok to not want kids. My fiancé and I are still very much on the fence about kids (that DINK life is pretty sweet). Since we’re now both in our 30’s, we are making an effort to discuss it every couple of months to make sure we’re on the same page but right now (and for most of our 8 years together) we’re both pretty meh about having kids. My desire to have kids has gone down significantly as I’ve gotten older. As a teen and early 20 something, I thought I might have kids someday. But now that someday is right around the corner I’m not so sure. Also my general anxiety about the state of the world makes me question my desire to bring a life into it.
I couldn’t agree more. It sounds like you guys are being really smart about communicating about this every few months!
I admire you for putting this out there, you are right a lot of people feel this way (including myself). I have never felt drawn to having kids when I think of names instead of for babies I think of them for future kittens along the way lol. By no means am I the crazy cat lady, I am happily in a relationship for four years and we have two cats and they are enough for us. We like having the freedom to take a spontaneous trip on a weekend to getaway and not having anything or anyone tie us down. Plus just gonna put this out there but kids are A LOT of money and maybe I am selfish in this regard but our dreams and hopes for our future are different and we want to be able to get there someday. Thanks for sharing!
Hahahaha that is so funny as I never think about kid names but have a million potential pet names in my head! Thank you so much for sharing.
So I like you wanted to find my partner in life. I found him at 35. Most (really all) of my friends were already married with at least 1 kid. At the time, I thought kids would be nice, but really Not top on a list of mine. Though by 35 I threw out the list and ended up with what i really wanted. Anyway, we got married at 37, and people were like, so when are the kids coming, which ummm, hi, none of your dang business. Anyway… I did end up having kids, 2 years after we got married (hello, advanced maternal age over here which is such a fun name they give pregnant ladies over the age of 35…). My husband and I were like, let’s try and see if it happens for us. It did, and it did again abt two months ago. That being said, that was our choice. And whatever you want in life I hope you get. Everyone should! This was a great read, thanks for being honest about what you want in life.
I love that! Thanks so much for sharing your experience!
I found myself nodding along to most of this and saying “yes!” over and over. While I would love to have kids, I am in my mid-thirties and single and accepting that it might not happen for me. That peace is thanks to women like you sharing your stories. I am SO over the sad looks or “you’ll find someone when you least expect it” or “well look at Hoda Kotb!” references if it comes up. My life is full and I am truly happy the way it is. I will savor the spontaneous weekend away, sleep in whenever I want, and will spoil the heck out of the kids in my life. Motherhood should not validate me as a woman. Thank you for hitting publish and creating this space to talk!
YES!!! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂
Thank you so much for being vulnerable and finally pulling the trigger on a topic like this! It is truly a refreshing insight and helps normalize my feelings on motherhood. I’m truly grappling with the struggling of feeling obligated to have kids. I think I’d be a great mom and I know my husband would be an amazing dad but I agree that it isn’t enough to bring a human into the world. I’m not totally sure it’s out of the question but I don’t even know. Unlike you, I don’t even like other people’s kids… (though I do have to admit Zoe sounds like an adorable mini-bestie). I’m grateful for the conversations and opportunity to self-reflect on what I (and my family) truly want in life that are spurred on by these posts/podcasts. I appreciate your content as always but I cannot express my appreciation enough for this.
Thank you so much for sharing, and for your support!!! xx
As someone who always wanted kids and never had them I think it is very self aware of you to have this knowledge. I think the worst thing would be to regret having children or to feel like you gave something up to have children especially for someone else, like a husband. I let my life move forward without consciously getting what I wanted but in the end I am okay without my own children. I totally understand wanting your life the way you want it and for you that does not include your own children. Funny enough, you will reach an age where divorced men will be all over you because you don’t want children. They will have been there and don’t want to go back. What is great about you is that you actually love kids and support your friends who have kids. You are loving and kind. Your post today was honest and personal. I appreciate you for that.
I am looking forward to that day… HA!!!
Ah, the “who will take care of you” reason. I get that from my mother, which is awkward if I think about it too much. Is that the reason for my existence, senior care?
Issues surrounding ageing and care is valid. It is a topic a friend and I think about with concern – we are both only children, and either single or partnered with someone with minimal family ties. But children are no guarantee of caring senior care, again if that should even be a legitimate reason for having kids. My cousin has mental health issues requiring 24 hour care. Several years ago, she was orphaned and lacking any siblings became my mother’s ward, and will likely become mine in the future. Unusual yes, but fear of ageing shouldn’t be the main reason for children.
There needs to be some social infrastructure to address the growing, and eventually ageing, population of people choosing not to have children. There are some really horror stories surrounding institutional senior care. I don’t know what the solution is, all I can do now is try to be as healthy as possible.
You are right, it is very scary! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for sharing this! It’s so refreshingly honest and encouraging.
I am so happy it resonated!
This post spoke to me in so many ways , I’m 35 single and I have always said I don’t want kids (I’m not even an aunt hahaha I’m a only child) and the 2 most common things ppl says to me is : you’ll want kids when you find the one and who’s gonna take care of you when your old.
When I was in my mid 20’s I used to get mad with this comments now I just respond back hahaha . Thanks for writing this post and let’s normalize not wanting kids.
Hahahaha, I just laugh too. Thank you for sharing.
This is so refreshing to read! Thank you. I am a 43 year old who does not have kids and doesn’t want kids. Fortunately I met someone who doesn’t want kids either. We’ve been married for 13 years and we love our dink lifestyle. I have heard all of the arguments that you have heard. Very frustrating. Motherhood isn’t for everyone and it isn’t the only way to live a fulfilling life. We should all stop making women feel like they are less of a woman if they decide to not have kids. Or to not get married. It is all a personal choice.
I’m so glad you found your person!!! And agree, these choices are personal, there is no need to project our own feelings or experiences onto others!
I love this! It resonates so much with me! Thank you for posting this and putting to words what many are feeling!
You’re so welcome – thanks for commenting!
I think this post is phenomenal and normalizing something that should be!
I’m actually in the exact opposite boat. I know I want kids and always have. I’m not married and 34 yo, have frozen my eggs twice (I’m a fertility doctor, actually!), and have a plan to be a single mother by choice should I never find the “right” guy (in time to have biologically related kids that is).
BUT, as a long time babysitter/nanny, I know kids are NOT easy (or cheap!). I truly think its refreshing when someone says they don’t want kids. What is wrong with that? Why press someone into something that is physically/emotionally/financially draining if it isn’t want THEY want? Would we say the same thing to a single man?
As an aunt and former babysitter/nanny (in my college/med school days), I think there are so many wonderful ways to be a part of a child’s life outside of parenthood. And knowing you don’t want the parenthood gig yourself doesn’t make you any less of a woman/human/someone who positively influences a child’s life.
I think we should normalize not having children, having children without a partner, fostering children, and so on and so forth. I hope we can open up conversations of “what makes a family” beyond the traditional nuclear family.
Anyways, just wanted to drop a line saying thanks for opening this conversation.
Wow that is amazing, and how cool that you are a fertility doctor. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience!!!
Thank you! Thank you! I feel the same and as someone who is from a big family (4 kids and 9 nieces/nephews) I’m told the same thing- you’d be a great mom, you’ll change your mind, who’ll take care of you, etc. I appreciate you summing up what I’ve been feeling. I don’t want to be made to feel like a bad person over a personal decision. Thanks again for your courage to vocalize this!
Thank you so much for sharing – being in my mid 20s I really don’t know what I want, but it’s so freeing to hear from women who are happy and fulfilled without children and confident/self-assured in their decisions. It has expanded my view of potential paths in my life and has given me freedom from the idea that happiness is only a accessible through the traditional family path. Very inspiring – thank you
I think you’re absolutely right! I have two girls and after being a mom this makes more sense to me than ever because it isn’t easy and it’s not for everyone. So good for you for knowing exactly who you are and not wavering.
I have never wanted kids, and get all of the same feedback (mostly negative) when people find out.
I am a teacher for 20 years. I can’t tell you how many times people at work say “oh you would be such a great mom, look how you are with your students”. Haha that doesn’t mean I want to be a mom.
I actually asked my mom recently if I ever talked about it growing up, and she said I always told her it wasn’t for me. I am super close with my family, and my younger sister just had a baby so I’m officially living that auntie life! Can’t wait to spoil him! Most of my friends have kids, and I’m the fun aunt that comes by and causes trouble then leaves to go to my quiet apartment with my boyfriend haha. That’s good for me. I like that role.
Everything you said rang true for me, thank you for making me feel more normal and to know there are others out there dealing with the same issues.
I am nearing 41 and have known since I was 29 or 30 that I don’t want kids. I’ve been told I’ll change my mind by everyone from coworkers to doctors. In my case, I don’t even “love kids but just don’t want my own!” I don’t love kids. I find most of them messy and loud and whether it be family or some kid whining at their parent in Whole Foods—the patience to deal with a child of really any age is just not in me. I embrace my limitations. I also love beach vacations and nice hotels that are only affordable b/c I am not sending anyone to college. Selfish? Maybe. I think the more we can all respect that what’s great for you might not be great for everyone and stop judging people for living their truth, the better off we’ll all be.
Thank you, Grace!!! I’m 36 and my husband and I don’t have children. I’m not sure if we ever will and I know that is OK. It’s nice to know I’m not alone on that decision if we never do have kids.
Resonates a lot for me. I never got “the urge” and figured if I don’t have it, why push for something I’m not sure I want? I’m also concerned about bringing innocent children into the world when there is a strong possibility we won’t figure out climate change and I would feel horrible dumping a giant mess on my kids when I knew it was a problem. “Sorry kid, I knew the world would soon be uninhabitable but I wanted you anyway”.
I’m conflicted because I worry I’m missing out on some fundamentally human/female experience and I also feel bad that I’m not making my mom a grandma. She is the best and deserves it! But it doesn’t seem like a good enough reason. I adore my nephews and my friends kids but there seems like enough reasons not to do it that I just haven’t. It really sucks that this pressure and judgment are put on women who choose alternative paths for their lives than what is viewed as traditional.
I DO want someone to take care of me when I’m old though, lol. I made my nephews promise
As a single woman who’s not sure if she’ll ever get married or have kids (I think I want both but not sure if it’ll happen for me!), this resonated and was really encouraging to read. I really appreciate your honesty, and it’s refreshing to see that you so very obviously love the life you’ve made for yourself!! It makes me hopeful that whatever way my own life turns out, it’s going to be great – thanks for sharing!
Love this. 40 here. Never wanted kids. Like ever. Married a divorced dad and have stepkids I adore but so happy I didn’t push them out/bear responsibility for how they turn out. I’m just a fun bonus to them! And I love it!!! Have had my own sister with kids tell me I’m “depriving her of nieces and nephews”, have had multiple people (including an ob-gyn!!!!) tell me I should rethink my decision because my husband and I “would have such adorable children”, have been told for 20 years i would “change my mind”. My husband’s aunt even asked why I was marrying him if I didn’t want kids? Just non-stop propaganda and reinforcement that child-bearing is the only thing women are meant to do. So thank you thank you for this post! There are more of us than we realize!!
I love this! I have kids but I was never the type who said, oh I can’t wait to have babies. I was frankly more on the side of not having kids. But I met my husband, fell in love, and was lucky to find a true partner – someone who takes on at least 50% of the load, if not more. My brother and his fiancé don’t want kids and my mom is terrible about it. But they love my kids and they have a fabulous life. And I just love that they are a big part of my kids life because my kids and I love them. Thank you for talking about this and normalizing it, it’s never easy to go against the flow.
This resonates deeply with me and I am so grateful you hit “publish” on this post. I also am a married millennial and don’t have kids… I don’t have strong feelings about being a mom at all, don’t have the “pull” or loud, obvious desire to be one, and all I really feel is a sort of pressure to make a decision. I’m one of the only ones in my friend group to feel this way (most want or already have kids), and I also recently lost my mom this summer, so it’s made thoughts of becoming a mother myself even more confusing.
And I’m so glad you mentioned the “But who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?” argument…. I hate it (it feels to me like a scare tactic, sort of….. and you’re right – that is so not the reason to have a child!). Anyways, sorry for the novel comment but long-time follower/blog reader and always so appreciate when you start conversations about this topic!
THIS! Amen to everything in this post! I turn 41 on Friday. I am single. I have 9 nieces and nephews who I pour my heart and soul into…I adore and spoil those children with everything I have. I would love to find Mr. Right and get married, and I’m still optimistic that I will find him. But DINK and PANK are the life for me! It is so refreshing to hear that I’m not alone, and I can be happy with my life as it is, even if it isn’t what would make others happy. And to read such an eloquent depiction of all the thoughts I haven’t been able to convey just gave me such a feeling of relief and normalcy. THANK you!!
While reading this, I felt like I was reading something that I had written because SAME. When I talk about loving my freedom with my friends who have kids, I always feel guilty because I don’t want them to think I’m rubbing it in their faces. I never had the desire to have children and I too have DINK aspirations. I may fall madly in love with someone who does want a child and I may change my mind, but hoping to find someone who just wants to travel the world with me and sleep in on weekends.
Takes guts to share this, thank you!! I do not want and have never wanted to be a parent. Difference for me though is that on top of not wanting to be a mom I just don’t particularly care for kids. Queue people saying I’m a monster! Sorry y’all I like talking to adults and hanging with my dog.
Not wanting to be a parent has got be normalized. Some parents will say such rude things to us child free folks but we would never say “you’ll regret it” if people tell us they WANT a kid!
This! all of this! Thank you for putting in writing so many conversations I’ve had to have and so many thoughts I’ve had during those conversations but haven’t verbalized – bc let’s be honest sometimes it’s easier to smile and say bless your heart. I work with kids everyday which I LOVE and wouldn’t trade for anything, so people are shocked that I wouldn’t want to have kids of my own.
Thank you for this, Grace. I’ve never understood why not having/wanting children is considered selfish. To me, it demonstrates an incredibly thoughtful, personal choice that isn’t always clear cut. I also find it difficult to relate to the yearning for children desire that many women express as I think I could be happy child free or with a child. It feels somewhat isolating. At this point in time, I’m 31 and my husband and I do plan to have a child (just one – which also spurs many comments/questions).
Loved this. We decided not to have children either and approaching 50 it’s have no regrets. We are so happy with our lives!
For people interested in this topic, I really highly recommend “Selfish Shallow and Self-Absorbed” – a book of essays on this very topic! I think it is so nice to read through other people’s thoughts and the things they considered or evaluated! The essays are really good. Thank you for posting this!!!!!
Grace, thank you for this post! I’m 33 and have never had a huge desire or longing to have kids. I thought maybe after I turned 30 my biological clock would start ticking and I would suddenly want to have them but that hasn’t happened. I also asked one of my friends recently who had a baby when she knew she wanted kids and she said she always knew. I just couldn’t relate. I’ve been perfectly happy just being a cat mom (and I’m very dedicated to that, I might add!). Your post and the comments it has generated have made me feel much less alone. Thank you again!
Couldn’t relate to this more. I’ve known forever that I don’t want kids. I’m also obsessed with my nieces but never had any desire of my own. I am ok with saying that I’m selfish in that I like spending my time on my terms. I also think I’m incredibly self-less when it comes to being there for my friends and family. Both can exist! I had the same challenge with dating in my mid 30’s. The number of people who said “you’ll change your mind when you find the right guy.” NOPE. On my third date with my now husband he casually asked if I wanted kids. I remember thinking “oh god, if he says he really does we need to end this now.” I was honest and said no and he said “cool, me either” and now we are DINKs! So you do you and thanks for helping to normalize this thing that shouldn’t need as much normalizing as it does!
Thanks so much for writing this! I’m the same way – realized I don’t want kids. But I only realized that after an insane few years of really wanting kids and contemplating freezing my eggs. I think the fact that women still has to justify why they don’t have kids is sad. We need to ask people: “Why do you think everybody will make the same choice?” I want to be a super successful entrepreneur, one who builds an incredible empire and help others with the resources she has. I want to travel the world nonstop. I want to be an innovator and make a mark in history. My main life goal has no place for a kid – and when I hear a screaming child, my first thought is: I’m glad that is not mine. When I see a cute kid being adorable, my thoughts are usually: “aww that’s nice. But it’s even nicer I won’t have to take care of you when you cry.” Children should have parents who really want them and are prepared to deal with the challenges. Not parents who never really want them in the first place. I have a friend who has kids because her parents wanted her to. Now she said she regrets having kids every single day. Guess what -you cant return it! So it’s a really big life decision and it’s not to be forced upon someone who has no desire to. Anyway, I rambled! Thanks for your insight!
Hi from France ! I could have written this perfect post, except my sister has no kids for the moment but she will. Thank you for your honesty. Dating is complicated, you perfectly describe it. I only attract men who wants to become fathers ! I wouldn’t mind to date a divorced father too. Last but not least, sometimes I have a nightmare that wakes me up in sweat : being pregnant
Thank you, take care
Gosh, this was so needed. Something that has been on my mind as 33 approaches and I wonder what the next 10 years may bring, in terms of career and love and family and location. People are asking me, and I just can’t believe how entitled they feel to the question (um, and in asking me if I’m already pregnant…!! WTF). What happens if you never feel a clear answer though, one way or the other?! I suppose that’s where I’m feeling stuck.
My niece has always known she doesn’t want kids. She’s in her mid 20s. What is sad is that I’m the only person in the family that supports her. Everyone tells her she’ll regret it. No one should become a parent if they don’t want to, just to please someone else. It’s such a demanding role even when you want to be a parent. Good on you for writing this, I’m sure it will resonate with many people
Thank you for sharing this, Grace. I am a proponent of every woman loudly living their own life choices! My dream was to be a parent via adoption – and I am! I adopted solo and it’s the been the most empowering act (so far) of my life. Thank you for sharing and helping other women see that they too can make up their own rules.
Hi Grace, thank you for your vulnerability in sharing this post. It resonates so deeply, and you’re so right – there shouldn’t be a stigma associated with choosing not to have kids, but somehow that always seems to happen. Your post is such a big step in normalizing this topic. Thank you thank you!!
Couldn’t relate more. And everyone is missing the point: I don’t WANT kids. Like, I don’t feel a longing for one the same way I don’t want to do something else major and life changing that many people find appealing. I do not find an iota of desire in me for that. I used to wrack my brains thinking, why, why, there must be a reason! Pro kid people think you maybe had a bad childhood yourself or you didn’t meet the guy or there is an external understandable barrier and they can talk you round in that basis. It was such a relief when I realised not wanting (like, same way I do not want to move to Timbuktu and teach Braille, do not want to study quantum physics, do not have a remote desire to join a cult etc.) was in itself enough of a reason not to. I don’t feel any wanting in me for that. Nobody can talk you round from an absence of longing. And life is awesome without children. The reading. The long baths. The spontaneity. It’s fun for me now that I’m certain and over the years of personal inquisition to respond to questions from strangers. Come at me!! 🙂
You are right! That IS ok. I have followed you for years even though I am probably more of you parents generation than yours. My husband and I thoughtfully made the choice not to have kids when we married almost 33 years ago. We were instantly on the same page have really never had a moment of regret. I never once in my life felt the longing for a baby, and I accepted that. I love kids and enjoy their wonder, sweetness, and personalities.
I have several friends that are child free for various reasons. Mostly because they too made the choice to not have babies. You are not an anomaly in a vast sea of women.
Thanks for your thoughts.
My husband and I are childless by choice…we made this decision in 2000 when it was fairly uncommon. When we talked about why we would have a child the first reason was “because that’s what people do”. I come from a huge family and have 23 nieces, nephews, and even great nieces/nephews (and another one on the way). We both love kids but when we talked about it we realized we did not feel like anything was missing in our lives and we wanted to be there to help all these kids-we have always been the house the parents drop the kids off at when they need a break and one of my older nieces even lived with us one summer while she and her parents worked out their issues. The summer after we made our decision I had 5 friends who were pregnant and I hosted most of the baby showers-I loved every minute of it and realized at the end of that season that we had made the right choice-hosting the parties and celebrating with friends did not make us want to reverse our decision. I have been called selfish, had one friend tell me when she was pregnant that she always thought we’d be in the same boat, another friend said in a loud voice for all to hear “she needs to get her own kids”, and finally one of my sisters asked “who will take care of you when you get old”.
That one really was a head scratcher as it never occurred to us that elder care was a driver for having a child! I would never want my kid to have to take care of me.
We have worked to make sure our lives matter in other ways (being positive forces at work (mentoring and coaching people) and being a steady, calming force for our families. We have focused on saving for early retirement (and paying for care when we are old and need it), and all of our nieces and nephews have said they will always visit and look in on us. Our decision is not right for everyone but it has been the right decision for us.
Good for you for being a voice to what I assume are a lot of women that feel this way. I can relate in that after I had my one son, I didn’t feel any pull or “want” to have another. It took me a long time to come to terms with having an only child, but it is so freeing once you get there!
I’m so glad people like you are voicing this- I have a child and have 2 friends who are openly “child free”. I would never want to push them to have kids but I’m glad that people are talking about this because maybe I would have tried to sway them if I didn’t know better. However, my moms best friend doesn’t have kids and she is like our aunt- she is wonderful, generous and caring. We have been grocery shopping for her during the pandemic, she offers to help watch my daughter if we’re in a pinch. She doesn’t need her own kids to “take care of her” (and she’s not that old) but I wouldn’t hesitate to pick her up from the airport or continue to help her as she ages. She also has several siblings and a lot of nieces and nephews she adores. You can build your own “family” without having kids.
I relate to all the above and you wrote it all so eloquently, as always. I am almost afraid to write this, because of what I do for a living and have kids. That maternal bond never happened genuinely for me. I love my girls and enjoyed them growing up, but never felt that longing or desire. I always felt like not a good enough mom etc. I so admire women that know what they want and claim it. Shit, after writing this maybe I need to do some self exploring. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing.
I can’t say I ever yearned for kids or played with dolls or any of that, but we did have a baby and share the load equally (in fact my husband maybe does more than me). It’s hard and tiring and childcare is expensive but it’s a lot of fun. The biology of it all continues to blow my mind. That doesn’t mean it’s for everyone though – you do you, there are no rules! Sorry that you have to explain it… sometimes I wish I still had the freedom (and lived in NYC – envious!!).
I’m only about 10 years older than you, but somehow I feel proud of you for saying this out loud. I have 2 daughters, one is 18 and a freshman in college, one is 15 and a sophomore in high school (and a son, but we’re talking about my daughters). One daughter has always said she wants to have children, the other always has always been adamant that she does not. It is my privilege to support each of them now and forever, whether they change their minds or not. I have always tried to teach them that there are sooooooo many ways to be happy. No one told me that. They told me the opposite. What a manipulative lie that was! I’m grateful for you that no one important to you tried to impose it on you.
For the past few days (idk if it’s the universe or what) but I’ve been coming across a lot more posts like these about women (married and single) who are okay with not having children! Now that I think about it as I’m writing, I think I am being drawn to these conversations because I recently got married Saturday and at the dinner table, literally 2 1/2 hours after getting married, me and my new husband were being verbally attacked by our family about having children!! We just got married!! And to top it off, idk if my cousin my being dead serious or not, but she proudly stated that she’d purchased me prenatal pills! First off, what?!! Second, I currently suffer from enlarged fibroids that need to be removed in order for me to even get pregnant, third the way the world is today I doubt the thought of children will cross my mind for a while! Also, me and my husband have other plans in our lives that doesn’t involve children at the moment. His mind is even changing about having children lol I say all of that to say, thank you for writing this piece and I apologize for those people who’ve shamed you and other women over their decision to be child-free ❤️
Bravo! I think this is such an important topic. I had no idea of the shaming that goes along with it (ugh!). It’s funny because I grew up as the one that never felt comfortable around kids or dreamed of mom life. My sister on the other hand would always take our much-younger half siblings on big adventures to the amusements parks or spend the day baking with them and I was “no thanks, I’ll read my book.” But then I got married and had two kids that are totally my life. My sister on the other hand has no desire at all and never will. She is a great aunt but knows it is not the right choice for everyone. And that is such an important thing. She loves her life and knows kids only fit in on her terms. I love that you know this too. We need to all be much less judgey and support our parent and non-parent friends. The world needs more totally devoted aunts (and uncles!). xo
I relate to this post 100% ! I could not have expressed my own feelings as good as you did !
Now next time someone asks, why I don’t want kids, I’ll just send them a link.
Thank you !!
Thank you grace for sharing about this important topic. It made me proud to read so many comments from mamas, married women, single ladies all celebrating and supporting one another. As woman we all feel the enormous pressure of varying and sometimes contradictory expectations. I’m a mom of two and lucky to be in a marriage where the domestic responsibilities are shared. However, SO often I’ve been told that I’m fortune to be with such a “hands on dad” and no one has ever told my husband he’s fortune to be with a hands on mom or a wife that makes a good income. To me feminism is about supporting all women’s choices, not having expectations and not judging. I hope we can continue to celebrate each other to way the amazing women in these comments have. Xo
Thanks so much for posting this, it’s such an important conversation. I was one of the last of my friend group to get married and all six have had a baby in the last year. I know I don’t want kids right now/soon/maybe ever, but I feel so left out and on the outside. All of our conversations turn to kids and it’s so isolating or I just frankly don’t care… I know that kids take over your life and that is natural (I’m not mad at anyone here), but I feel like I’ve lost all of my best friends to a terminal case of #momlife. This is something I haven’t really seen/heard discussed much… but still appreciate you bringing up the topic of being childless in a child-obsessed world. I just think there is joy and fulfillment outside of children that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Thanks again for the post!
I love this post! I hope it becomes more accepted and not a big deal. Also just want to say – not particularly liking kids doesn’t make you a monster either! Some people just don’t like kids and that’s ok.
Thank you for writing this post. I’m 42 and my husband and I have been married for over 15 years and neither of us wants children. We too love our nieces and nephews and I admittedly love spoiling them and spending time with them, especially when I get an “I love you” or a big hug at the end. However, when we get home to our house, we’re both estatic with the sounds of nothing. The peace and quiet. I’ve never thought I was missing out on something by not having kids. I’ve never been maternal, it’s just not me. I respect those who have children so much. My heart breaks for those who want children but struggle and/or are unable.
I had a relative tell me once that I wasn’t a woman until I had children and my immediate response was way too snarky but I was pissed that my being a woman would be equated with child rearing and that they didn’t know if there was a medical (or other) reason I couldn’t have children, so I responded, “There was nothing FEMININE about the way you were just screaming at your two kids.” Just respect the choice and keep your mouth shut.
Good for you! Becoming a Mom myself actually cemented my feeling that only people who want kids should have them. My BFF is a single woman in her 40s who doesn’t want kids, but is the most amazing “aunt” to my 9 year old, and while it does make dating hard, it also doesn’t make her feel a sense of urgency to settle. It is also such bullshit that childless by choice people hate kids. My SIL and BIL are childless by choice. My SIL is the most amazing elementary school teacher who care so much for her students, and they are both the most amazing aunt and uncle. They have a savings account set aside for each of the their nieces and nephews that they start when they are born, and then the year between their sophomore and junior year, they take the kid on a trip anywhere in the world they want. Obviously this is easier because they live in an area with lower cost of living and only have a small number of nieces and nephews, but how could anyone argue they are child haters when they put this much thought in things for them.
All of this to say, I think it’s awesome that you are so upfront about not wanting kids, and I admire that you know yourself and your life so well!
I am so proud of you for writing this post!
I never wanted kids either…and I’ve never changed my mind about this (I’m 48). I was married, divorced, and remarried to someone who thankfully also doesn’t want kids (and that was a primary reason for divorcing his first wife). I’m definitely a PANK, and DINK life is THE BEST, Grace! Hold out for it.
I love my niece and nephew and spoil them rotten. I don’t hate kids (only the nasty ones!)…and I love babies so much. We’ve had many sleepovers over the years with my niece and nephew, and I loved babysitting them. I know I’d be great mom too, because I’m a great aunt! But as you wrote, being good at something doesn’t mean it has to be your life calling. Being anything more than a mom to a fur baby has just never been a goal for me. I also relish and appreciate the freedom being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want, and having a calm, serene, very adult home. With zero qualms or worries when I decided to buy white sofas!
When I married in my twenties the first time, family members kept telling me I will regret not having them, yada, yada, yada. I knew I didn’t really ever feel that pang for them, and I also knew there was no way I wanted to have them with that person, because I’d never have any help from him. My gut was right on that one, hence the divorce. And it was also right in that I didn’t need to have children because that’s what everyone does; I’d be in such a complicated situation now if I hadn’t chosen to listen to ME instead of everyone else.
Last year due to years of painful gynecological issues, I had a hysterectomy, so I have definitely eliminated the chance of ever having them. Best decision ever. Didn’t think twice about doing it and it’s only been fantastic since I did, especially knowing now there will never be an accidental pregnancy.
Good for you for listening to your inner voice. One can always adopt if the urge hits later in life. But once they’re out, you can’t put them back in! 😉
Thank you for sharing. I feel the same about kids and marriage. I’m in a relationship and everyone acts like marriage should be the ultimate goal. But, it’s not. My ultimate goal as a woman is not to get married or have kids. And that’s ok!
It’s good to question society’s rules and do what’s right for you.
I think it is very mature of you to know yourself well enough to make that decision. I have a little girl who is my whole world, but I know now how overwhelmingly your life changes with kids. It is SUCH a big deal, and I think it’s not fair to either the child or parent if the parent hasn’t entered wholeheartedly into the experience.
I cannot understand people who would criticize another for making a decision either for or against that truly is life-changing and so personal to you (and your partner, although even an involved partner isn’t really necessary in a medical sense). I truly respect your wisdom in this and will continue to enjoy – and occasionally envy, I won’t lie – your PANK life vicariously through this blog! 🙂
First and foremost…these types of posts (personal and open) always inspire m. The strength I can only imagine it takes to post something like this for everyone to comment on is amazing. So Grace thank you for that. These types of posts also make me start to think. Which coming from an almost 33 year old single female, who was born and raised in the south, I need to do a lot of thinking. I spent by teens and very early 20s imagining meeting my boyfriend turned husband, with our house, dog and kids. All before 25 of course…I laugh at myself now about this. Now don’t get me wrong (NOTHING wrong with that, but man have my tastes changed). I am in the in between, where I think I want a kid…know I love them and enjoy being around all my friends’ kids, but I also struggle with is that I really want. I go between thinking its my parents very unsubtle hints they want grandchildren (I am my father’s only child, so only hope). There is also the growing up in the south and you just grow up thinking you will have a husband, kids, house, dogs, etc but is that what I actually want….the million dollar questions. Its a lot to unpack and I will get there, but seeing posts like this and knowing that I am not alone if I decide I don’t want them….well it gives me peace. So thank you for that.
Thank you so much for being so vulnerable and posting this Grace! I think I do want children (at least one), but I’m 27 and single so maybe it won’t be in the cards for me and I will accept that. I babysat a ton growing up and love kids, and always imagined having them but as I got older I started to think about if I want kids because I want them or if its because its expected. As women we feel this pressure that we need to have kids or what is our life purpose? I so enjoy the comments on here because I feel like it is a group of supportive women (which we so need in life) that just want everyone to live their best selves – whether that’s by having children or being childfree by choice.
This really resonated with me. I felt every emotion while reading this piece. I’m 6 months out from turning 30 and thought something was wrong with me for not wanting children…..ever. If the desire for motherhood ever does come, I’ve already told myself adoption would be the only way. I absolutely love children, but don’t yearn for motherhood. Thank you for sharing your experience. All the love for you Grace!
One thing that surprised me early on in my marriage (married now 13 years) is how men reacted to my statement that I didn’t want kids. In two cases, male disbelief went so far as to place BETS that I would change my mind, to the tune of $1,000 in one instance and an expensive steak dinner in the second. Why would you place a bet with someone who had 100% control over the outcome?
These days I don’t get asked if/when I’m having kids. If I wanted them, I’d have them.
I really, truly appreciate this post. I’m a stay at home mom of 2 toddler boys who are 13 months apart. I always knew I wanted kids but WOW nothing has prepared me for the journey motherhood is! Children are a blessing but that doesn’t mean they are for everyone. We all have different journeys, ideals and aspirations. In many ways you are mothering and nurturing children and just because you didn’t birth them or don’t want to birth any children, doesn’t make you any less. I j really appreciate your honesty. Sleep in for me! I miss those days, haha!
This is so so perfect. This is how I have felt for as long as I can remember. #Normalizeit
I’m 33, and while in a loving relationship, every now and then I do think about it. My boyfriend whom I live with, couldn’t have kids with his ex-wife, so we starting dating and got serious under the pretense that he couldn’t have children. A few months down the line I learned that she has PCOS, so theoretically it could have just been her, despite his slightly low sperm count. The first time that he said to me, “But what if we made a child that changed the world…” was super sweet and endearing (I knew he truly meant/believed that statement in that moment) and no one had ever said that to me before! I thought, well, maybe my opinion can change, who knows what the future holds, kind of also like what you said. However, I do think, when you know don’t what something, you know. I had baby dolls, but preferred Barbie for sure!
I think your point about your family was fantastic, genuine, and heartfelt, and hey, sometimes friends are the family we get to chose.
We all have the freedom in this country to make our own beautiful decisions, and no one path is ever the same. We need to all start honoring ourselves, each other, and stop judging. I hope your article helps this happen! 🙂
I really really appreciate this post! I’ve gone back and forth on wanting to have a kid (just the one, please!) and very much enjoy my married child-free lifestyle right now. I think it can also be hard in this “could go either way” mentality because you don’t just fall into either camp and relate: I can see good things, I can see bad things, I’m just not sure! It’s a big decision that I don’t take lightly, and I think we should be celebrating people who intentionally choose NOT to have kids (our planet thanks you!!!) just as much as we celebrate those who do!
I love so much that you have shared this. The internet has its nasty downsides, but the upside of women being able to share their stories and range of experiences is also so wonderful – it can be such a great boost to be reminded that there’s not any one path that we need to follow. You have clearly come to your decision through thought and through really knowing yourself, which is amazing. (Side note: sometimes I wonder if some people’s reactions are actually an unconscious jealousy, because maybe they didn’t get the chance to realize, before having kids, that there is actually more than one path to take here, and they could have had a different option – just a thought.) Though I appreciate your sharing your perspective, it also reminds me that people just need to MIND THEIR BUSINESS sometimes when it comes to kids. Because even if you have a kid, you can’t avoid these questions and expectations – after having one, I have dealt with years of people asking when the next one is, clearly assuming that I must have more than one. While the choice was somewhat made for me by secondary infertility, having one kid also eventually came to be a choice out of knowing myself in many of the similar ways – I love my child, and I also love my work and hobbies and personal time and sense of self. I know I would struggle to balance those if I were to have a whole passel of children. It took a long time, partly because of all of this “when’s baby number two?” prodding, to realize that it’s not selfish to want only one. I’m allowed to choose a life!
Good for you knowing what you want! There is absolutely nothing wrong not wanting children. When I hear people harp about having children, sometimes I think they want you to be as miserable as they are when they are so insistent. It is your choice and no one should question it or try to talk you into it.
Love it. I want to point out that it’s totally okay to NOT like kids too. I don’t have to be palatable and make others feel comfortable by saying I enjoy the company/presence of children.
YES – completely agree!
I’ve been a kindergarten teacher for 20 years. I always knew I didn’t want kids, although obviously a like them and spend most of my time with them. Having a child to fill a void is selfish. Choosing not to have a child is not. I have observed a lot of poor parenting over the years, people who had children because it was what everyone else was doing and then ended up way over their heads. Although I think I know a lot about raising children, I also know it is a huge responsibility. Watching children grow is really rewarding but they don’t have to be your own to experience that. It’s really ok to not want kids! Thanks for pointing out in such articulate way.
Thank you for such a thoughtful post on this subject, Grace. 🙂 I feel like it’s ridiculous to even say “how brave” this is, given that your personal choice to have or not have kids should just be a choice and not something you have to be brave about sharing. I find it sad our society makes us feel like we must be brave in sharing something like this. I just turned 40 and my husband and I have been married for 14 years. We don’t have kids and don’t want them. When we were younger, I was constantly asked when and why we weren’t procreating yet. I absolutely hate baby showers because as one of the childless attendees, I experienced them as torture sessions held by grown-up mean girls. The comments and endless questions – “Well, you’ll change your mind,” or “Do you just not want kids or can you not have them?” (how inappropriate, first of all). I also was told to my face by another woman – “How can your life have any meaning without having a child?” Seriously? Funny enough, my husband has never been questioned about this. But it’s always other women who feel the need to say something to me. And prefacing rude comments with, “I mean well when I say this…” does not excuse the rudeness. Anyway, thank you so much again for this post. It resonates 100% on point with me.
I love kids, so much. My friend’s kids are amazing. And my niece and nephew that became a part of my life when I married their uncle are still a HUGE part of my life, even though I’m now divorced. You put into words in such a positive way all of the feelings and thoughts I’ve had on this over the years. I’m almost 33, and so many people in my life keep telling me that “you’ll change your mind, you’d make such a great mom”. Maybe I will, and maybe I would. But I don’t want to. So thank you for this post!
I loved this post and I just have to comment on a specific area of it. As wY of background, I too do not have children and yes, by choice. I have been married for 34 years so the questions and comments have finally died down. But the one area that always bothered me was the “but who will take care of you?” questions/comments. I have worked in healthcare for over 42 years. I have seen so many people who have children, never visited while a patient in a hospital, or worse, discharged to a nursing home because those children of theirs will not get involved to assist in creating an improved care environment. BTW, I am not saying there isn’t a need for nursing homes at some level. But if people think having children is a surefire way of being cared for later in life, they need to take off their rose-colored glasses and face the cold hard truth.
TOTALLY. Thanks for sharing!
I had to comment on this as this is so critical. I’m 33, newly married, and being hounded by the ‘when are you going to have a baby’ comments. At this point, I can honestly say having a child is not in the cards for me. Maybe this will change, but for now, I am quite content in life and being the best aunt ever to my nephew.
A few years ago, my parents had some major health issues. I was there, as the dutiful daughter, to take care of them but my younger sister (now a mom) never came back and was not involved in their care. I recognize we are different people, but I also know that having children does not necessarily equate to having a ‘carer’ later in life.
Grace, thank you so much for this. I know I’m coming to this post late, but I had to join the many commenters who appreciate you for your honesty!
I grew up and was very religious through my late-20s, and I ached for children. So much so that I figured if I was still unmarried by the time I turned 40, I’d adopt as a single mom (I’m 36 now and that idea gives me the sweats just thinking about it). As I slowly disentangled myself from church and religion, I didn’t know what I wanted anymore. So much of what I thought was important (being a good wife and mom) for a Christian woman no longer mattered to me. I realized that a lot of the reasons I had for wanting children were selfish… my home life as a child was hard, I’d “make it right” by providing a magical childhood for my kids (hello, projection), and so on.
Similarly, I’m an only child, and deeply wish I had siblings. But, there’s nothing I can do about that, and even if I did have siblings who’s to say they wouldn’t be total assholes? Same thing with kids. The idea that having kids means someone will be there to take care of you when you’re old is like the biggest shot in the dark. What if they’re assholes? What if (God forbid) they die before I do? What if they go off to live their own lives and have their own adventures and I still find myself alone when I’m old?
Also a word of encouragement–when I met my boyfriend 4.5 years ago, I was still ambivalent about children and thought, “If my person really wants children, we can see, but I no longer want them badly enough to have them on my own.” Lo and behold, my person does NOT want children, and the first time we talked about it my main feeling was RELIEF. That told me everything I needed to know. It’s not completely off the table, but we both agree that if we find ourselves wanting kids after it gets too hard biologically, we’ll adopt and be very happy to be able to give our kiddo the best childhood we can. Until then, our dog is the love of our lives and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Grace (and community! –
It wasn’t until recently – I’d say my late 20s-early 30s that I began to realize that this was even a choice! I just ‘assumed’ I’d have kids, because that’s what you ‘do.’ Following women like you and reading posts like this make me feel so much more confident in reflecting on this assumption and allowing myself to examine it … understanding that no, honestly, I don’t believe I want to have children. My boyfriend and I have talked about the possibility of adopting later in life – but I’m not someone who ‘yearns’ to experience pregnancy. As others have said, yes, it’s a beautiful experience of life – AND there are also SO many other experiences as well! It’s so liberating to think that we can choose our paths – isn’t that what generations of women before us have fought for?! The right to CHOOSE?? Life doesn’t ‘culminate’ with kids and there are multitudes of ways to enjoy our journey –
Someone else here mentioned thinking about life in chapters, and I really like that… for everyone, honestly. Kids are not the end goal, and those of us with and without kids can continue to live life fully, make shifts, discover new loves, explore, etc. as long as we want to.
I particularly love seeing the women on this post – ones with kids, ones who are married and want kids, ones who want partners, those that don’t want partners and want kids, ones who want partners and no kids ALL celebrating each other’s choices, without defensiveness – knowing that someone’s decision about their OWN life says NOTHING about anyone else.
Seriously love this.
Thank you, Grace!
I love this. I never had dreams of being married or having kids (though I did get married). The worst is the convincing – ‘but your kids would be SO CUTE.’ My parents and grandparents all had at least one kid by 20. My mom and grandmothers have said they wish they would’ve waited or even not felt like they had to reproduce because you’re not just a parent until 18, you’re a parent during every mistake and season of their adult life as well. It’s completely possible to have a fulfilling life without being a parent and I’m excited to do so!
Oh my goodness – this was so refreshing. I’m 37 and leaning towards the child-free life. There are times when I feel totally confident in my decision and then there are times when I’m on social media, or even talking with my friends who have kids and unintentionally feel like a freak of nature. My ex-husband would say “who is going to take care of us when we’re old” also. He has a whole slew of issues outside of being a man-child but I thought the same thing – that’s actually a terrible reason to have a child!!! Thanks for being honest and transparent! This post really hits home!!
I feel like I’m reading my own words! Thank you so much for writing this. My nieces are the world to me, I stress and worry about them enough! And I love my friend’s kids and even babysit often. But I have never wanted or desired having kids of my own, my mom says I was even that way when I was young, I always talked about what job I would have or where I would live. Never getting married or having kids. I love being able to teach my nieces that you can be a woman that makes her own money, buy a house, have a dog independently and that’s ok! Thank you again!
Thanks for this honest post. Full disclosure, I am married and have one kid who I’m obsessed with. But, I never ever felt that longing that all my friends describe. I truly don’t get what they mean when they say “I just always knew I wanted (usually 2 or 3) kids.” For me, my husband wanted a kid and I decided it was a life experience I wanted to have. And it’s way better than I thought (she’s 2.5). But now that we get all the questions about another kid, it’s pissing me off so much, and i I’m to use some of your “I like my life now and there’s nothing wrong with that” energy. Anyway, all this to say, any choice around kids should be fine and people need to take their judgment and shove it.
I’m a new follower and I love this! I’m 34, married for 7 years, and have no desire to have kids. My husband and I agree that we love our DINK lifestyle and having our fur babies. I also never had a desire or longing to be a mother, but I LOVE my niece. I’m appalled at how many people are so hateful about people who choose not to have children, so thank you for sharing this so openly!
I read your post about kids. I’m older now and I just think I never really thoughtvthatboneviutvwhen I got married at 20. My friends were having kids and my duster in law had 4 a year apart. I never thought it out. I should have understood I wasn’t married to a mature guy who wanted kids at all or probably me . I was pregnant 2 months later . He was not happy and he cheated all through my marriage. I was basically a single mom for years before he left. It was so hard . Now I’ve lost a child, suffered miscarriages too and preemies padding away and I too wonder if I would have done it again . I love kids and animals so much. It’s really hard work and if they are not okay , it changes your life. You do you. I understand and it perfectly fine. xoxo
I don’t want kids either. When I used to admit this shyly, I would get negative reactions from people. I’m guessing most of these people were miserable in their lives which is why they were judging me for something so dumb but it was also because I said it meekly as if there was something wrong with my choice. Now that I confidently say that I don’t have kids nor ever want kids and don’t use the caveat “but I love kids” (some kids are okay, but just like there are horrible people, there are also horrible kids), no one gives me a hard time. I’ve never regretted my choice. There has never been a time when I wished I’ve had kids, but there have been hundreds of examples of instances when I’ve been so grateful I didn’t have them. My advice is to own your choice so that the miserable people don’t have a chance to attack.
Is it anyone’s business whether I have or want children? It’s presumptuous and intrusive to bring the subject up with anyone else. Similarly, its no one’s concern as to whether I even like children and seems preposterous to me that that’s a basis for judgement.
No, I do not understand why people want children. I’ve heard many times the reason “all our friends have children.” Or even “I wanted to see what it was like.” Well, knock yourself out but I don’t want to hear about how you can’t get any “me time” or how you haven’t slept in years, or how you just need to get away from them for a while.
If the human population decreases, it would not be a bad thing considering how we are destroying the very environment that sustains us.
So odd that child free is equivalent to selfish — IMO, having children is the selfish choice.
Thank you for writing this! I am so tired of being shamed for not wanting kids and it makes me happy to hear your voice and know I am not alone.I had to fight to get my tubes tied at 25 and the gynecologist told me I was making the biggest mistake of my life. Well I just turned 31 and I still feel it was the best decision I have ever made.
Thank you thank you thank you! Thank you for posting this! I have never, not even once, had the desire to have children. My family and friends always say “you’ll change your mind one day” Maybe I will, but so what if I don’t?! Is that statement more offensive to say to a woman to does want children or already has her own?
You just shared this post on your Instagram stories, and I feel like the universe is speaking to me–I JUST had a fight with my mom about this this week. I am 31 and single, and I’m my mother’s only child aka her only hope for grandchildren. It’s a phrase she’s used a lot, especially now that my cousin (her sister’s daughter) has given birth to twins, in addition to having a 1 1/2 year old son (3 children under the age of 2! wishing her the best of luck).
I think I always assumed I would have children. When I was a kid, I was very good with babies. I think that’s just the nurturer in me. Around the age of 12 I already had a baby name–Emmeline (Emmy for short), a name I ended up using for my first car at age 16. When I was in a relationship in college, I thought I’d have a girl (Kyrie) and maybe a boy (Avan James)….and then at age 20, my half sister on my father’s side was born. Don’t get me wrong, I love the kid, but my GOD did she make me realize I didn’t want children. She was hard work, and still is, 11 years later! I’ll never forget the time we took a trip to Norway when she was 2 and she threw a tantrum in the middle of a crowded street. And by threw, I mean literally THREW herself on the ground. I was so thankful I had the privilege of walking away and letting my dad and stepmom deal with that. I realized at her birth that wanting children wasn’t something I necessarily wanted for myself, it was just something that was expected of me not only as a woman, but also as a Latina. In our culture, especially in the older generations, womanhood is very much defined as motherhood (not to say it’s not the same in other cultures as well). My family cannot fathom why I would ever choose to be childless, since they “give so much meaning to your life,” and I do get the “who will take care of you when you’re old” comment a LOT. One comment that especially makes my blood boil is “you’ll change your mind once you find the right man.” I am a strongwilled, independent woman, and I do not need nor want a partner who expects me to cave to his wishes. I like babies, but I like them best when I get to go home to my peace and quiet at the end of the day. (I frankly don’t like them as much once they start talking and once it becomes harder to keep them entertained). There’s many reasons I don’t want them though, one main one being that I still feel like I’m a kid myself. I’m still working on getting to know myself and what I want. And one thing I want in life is to be the cool auntie to my friends’s kids, the one who travels the world and brings back cool gifts, the one who knows when it’s time to head home to her peace and quiet to recharge (classic introvert). But I do feel a lot of guilt. My mother wants so badly to be a grandmother, and it hurts that I can’t/won’t give her that. And I would be lying if I didn’t say I was terrified of dating endlessly and never finding a partner; I have a lot of work to do on my “I don’t want to die alone” thoughts (something you’ve spoken to before!). But ultimately, I know I can’t please everyone so I have to just focus on pleasing myself. I wish it wasn’t so hard to do just that!
Anyway, all this to say thank you so much for sharing this. And it’s been helpful to see so many comments from people going through the same!
I found this post through Jess Keys’ Instagram stories (super excited for her pregnancy!), and you perfectly put into words exactly how I feel about this subject. I’ve personally never understood why wanting kids is treated as the default assumption or a necessary life milestone (especially for women), and if you don’t want them you feel like you have to constantly justify your decision – if anything, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Being a parent is a HUGE responsibility and a lifetime commitment, and people shouldn’t be shamed, judged, or questioned for not wanting to do it.
I also completely agree with your points about not having kids because you feel obligated to do so. Unlike you, I am an only child, so I’ll never have the experience of having nieces/nephews (at least not biologically), and sometimes I worry that I’ll be missing out, that I’ll be left behind if all my friends eventually have kids and I don’t, or that I’ll never be able to find a partner who feels the same way. It can definitely be harder and lonelier to go against the norm. But at the end of the day, it’s much better to NOT have kids than to have them for the wrong reasons.
This post spoke to my heart! I love my life (pre and hopefully post covid) and I love being able to travel and see new places. I love going kayaking and hiking in the summer and relaxing with my kitty on rainy days. In the winter I love going to see new movies and trying different restaurants with friends. I enjoy volunteering with different organizations to try and make this world a little better. Whenever I hear my friends talk about their kids all I hear is how tired and stressed their lives have become. And these people are amazing parents and their kids are great! I know I am being selfish but this is my life. I don’t want to be unhappy listening to what other people want from me and instead I’m going to do what makes me happy. I am so thankful you wrote this post as it sheds light on amazing women who don’t want to follow the “normal path” that society has decided for us.
Also, what if when you’re old your kids hate you and don’t want to take care of you? I hate when people say that as a reason for having kids. There’s plenty of nice care facilities. I’ll prob be healthier and live longer anyways bc i won’t be mentally and physically wrecked from raising kids
This is great post and you are brave to say this as people are so critical. I completely resonate with waiting for that maternal feeling to kick in and it just never has! I was with my ex-husband for 17 years (married 10) and people say oh it just wasn’t right – I mean if I wanted a baby I could have made it happen right? I’m 38 turning 39 and it’s just not a burning desire. The worst part is people just assume – oh how many kids do you have how? You have to meet someone cause your want kids. When you say none or no I don’t want kids – they have got nothing…children aren’t the only thing to make your life. I have no doubt I would be a good mum, that’s evident in how I love my dogs. They are smothered with love and affection. But just because you would be good at it, doesn’t mean you should do it for the sake of doing it!
Appreciate your candor! I do want kids but also know it may not be in the cards for me (fertility issues). At the end of the day, whether someone has kids is personal and not something other people should ask about or comment on. As a society, we’re too quick to question and/or judge. Appreciate you and Jenn for helping to normalize the fact that some women don’t want kids and that’s OK.
I am a little late to this post () but wanted to thank you for sharing and being vulnerable with such a personal choice. Our country is so crazy: on the one hand, women are expected to become mothers but finance almost everything themselves: maternal care, delivery, child medical care/dentistry/etc., childcare, summer care, after school activities, tutoring, college, etc., etc. Yet when women choose to not become mothers they are judged and chastised (or in some states now criminalized for deciding to end pregnancy .). Which is not to say, of course, that women choose to not become mothers because they don’t want to pay for stuff. What I’m saying is that we need to support women in every way: to treat us as adults who are capable of making adult decisions, and help with that decision when it could help society as a whole!
When others judge a woman for not having kids, they are treating her as if she is a child, unable to know her own mind or live with the results of her decisions.
So I support you, and furthermore applaud you, for living as all adults should: knowing what you want and don’t want and making that decision honestly.
I’ve followed you for a long time and never posted a comment. However, I wanted to let you know that I’ve come back to this post multiple times over the last two years. It brings me such comfort to know I’m not alone.
I never had the maternal urge to have kids. I declared to my mom when I was 4 or 5 that I didn’t want children… and my feelings never really have wavered. She is obsessed with children… but made her peace with only being a grandmother to cats. She even told me today that she’d be more surprised if I had a kid than if I didn’t at this point.
I’m almost 38 and I’ve been married for 4 years. My husband and I love the DINK life. We’re both driven, like to work, and want to keep building our careers. We consider ourselves equals.
When my employer started offering unlimited rounds of IVF thorough insurance at a ridiculously low cost last year, I thought it would be a good idea to try to freeze embryos… just in case I changed my mind. I went into the process with an open mind. Sadly, none of my eggs turned into embryos. Suddenly, I was faced with this existential crisis that I would have never put myself through in the first place if I didn’t have amazing fertility benefits.
My husband and I are now at a crossroads. We decided to keep trying IVF — even though we are both pretty certain we don’t want kids. After daily fistfuls of pills & vitamins, doctors appointments, and therapy sessions for months on end, I was cleared to do another round of IVF. The thing is? I’m petrified. I don’t want to do it. And maybe, that is okay!!
So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this post. It made me realize that I don’t have to start the hormone injections this week and put my body through hell for something I didn’t want in the first place. I can be okay with my decision to not have kids without regret.
Wow, thank you so much for sharing this!!!!