“I realise that I do not actually want to have kids of my own. I just don’t feel the need to have children of my own.

Sharing an email.
Subject: Childless or childfree?
Hello IHM,
For many years, I have been a keen follower of your posts and the comments which follow. Many of the women who  write to you and the followers of your blog probably look for many things – validation, affirmation, consolation, strength, support or just maybe different opinions on the topic being discussed. And I too come to the IHM family looking for perspectives on a question that has started troubling me these days.
At the very beginning, I must say, I come from a privileged background. Liberal parents, a very good higher education, married the man of my choice (albeit with a bit of struggle convincing his parents!) and turns out he is a feminist, my in laws are fairly conservative but we live abroad so haven’t had any issues yet, I work full time doing the thing I love most, have ample financial independence too. My husband and I treat each other as the equals that we are and he is every bit the person I had always wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Having said that, now that it has been two years since we were married and are now both 30, we are dreading the inevitable turn the conversation takes at this stage in every Indian couple’s lives – “when will you share the good news?”
I want to clear something first – I absolutely love and adore children. Now that I am in a position where we have to decide if this is what we want to go ahead with, I realise that I do not actually want to have kids of my own. My husband, as of now, feels the same way. But he is still vacillating between “not now” or “not ever”. Our reasons are different, I just don’t feel the need to have children of my own. My husband, on the other hand, feels we are not financially ready since we are both still paying off education loans.
The issue is, I do not know how to broach this topic with either set of parents. My dad, no matter how liberal in other things, believes there is a circle of life and everything happens one after another, education -> marriage -> children. My mother, quietly, has told me it is our choice. I’m not really sure if she is ok with it or not but for the moment, she seems to be on my side. My in laws, I haven’t spoken to yet, will probably be apoplectic when they hear that I do not want children. I will keep that aside for now.
With this, I hope I have explained my background well. I love kids, have not been abused as a child (no trust issues, etc), am financially quite stable (not that we cannot afford to have children). I just do not feel the inherent need that some women do to have a child of my own. I have a couple of questions:
1. Have any of your readers experienced the same feelings as mine? How did they handle it personally? I know now that I do not want to have kids but at the same time, I am full of doubts and questions – what if I regret this decision when I am no longer able to have children naturally (I can always adopt of course), will I be missing out on something wonderful in life? Will this affect my relationship with my husband? What if we split up?
2. How did they deal with pressure, questions and rumours from family and friends? (For example – Maybe they are infertile, how selfish of them not to have children, maybe he/she is having an affair or is gay or is unable to “do it”, how are you going to live in your old age? what if one of you dies?  you will be bored of each other within a few years, what is the use of earning so much, this is what happens when you give your kids too much freedom)
3. How is having or not having children selfish? If you have children because you want them, is that not selfish since you are doing it for your own happiness? Are we being “selfish” and depriving our parents of grandchildren (a couple of friends actually told me this)? How is this relevant, especially since we are going to be primary caregivers for the children and not the grandparents who will barely see the kids once in a while.
4. Why should we consider children as a security deposit to be encashed later in life? My husband and I should be managing our finances properly and planning for our old age, irrespective of having children or not. We should be keeping ourselves busy with friends and hobbies, not having children to keep yourself occupied!
5. Are couple who are childfree (implying choice) or childless (could not have children for various reasons) any less men or women or not contributing to society solely because they do not have children? How much do couples actually think before they embark upon being parents? Most couples I know went ahead because it had been X years since they got married and it was the right thing to do next.
We have not yet made the final decision since my husband is still thinking of it but it would be good to know what other people think. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Regards,
CF
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64 thoughts on ““I realise that I do not actually want to have kids of my own. I just don’t feel the need to have children of my own.

  1. I feel the exact same thing when it comes to having children. Your story is almost exactly similar to mine. Liberal family, married for two years, almost 30.I feel whats the point in bringing a life to this world ,making him or her go through the same rigmorale ,asking him/ her to study do well etc etc then take care of us later in life, all this when we are still figuring our place in the world and leading busy lives. Surprisingly I haven’t seen anyone who taken the no kids path.

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    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ridhima. In my experience, amongst the people that I spoke to about my current state of mind, ALL of them looked at me as if there was something wrong with me and said “don’t worry, you will change your mind soon!” I hope we both can make the right decisions for ourselves without bending to the pressures of society or emotional blackmail from parents.

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      • I am also married and don’t feel the need/urge to have kids. Neither does my husband. The decision itself is relatively straightforward- we are both don’t feel the need to parent just yet.
        At the same time, I think it’s good to have a ‘take each day as it comes’ approach to any major life decision-so I honestly am not bothered by any possibilities of hypothetical regret in the future, precisely because I have left the possibility of revisiting our decision somewhat open.

        I sense a tension in your letter- please know that 30 is not some magical deadline by which you need to have your first child.
        No advice on societal pressure, as I haven’t been subjected to much/any so far. My parents and in-laws have been surprising silent (aside from a few wistful ‘jokes’ now and then). Most negative reactions I receive are from women my own age (27-28 years) who don’t know me very well.🙂

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  2. Having children or not having them is a very personal decision. It is not a function of what you are “supposed” to do. In fact having them because you should is probably the worst reason to have them. It really should not matter what people expect you to do. In the end, they will be your responsibility- the good and the bad.
    As for it being “selfish”- isn’t the act of reproduction the most selfish of them all? Biologically we reproduce so our genes may propagate. I would argue that thinking you are less selfish for having had children is wrong. We have children because we want to. Not because we are saving the world or them. In fact those attitudes are what leads to children being seen as old age insurance. And that in itself is very mean and selfish ( what would you do if you outlive your children, or if they are not able to take care of you?….)
    Children are a relationship, not a hobby or occupation. They are distinct human beings with their own personalities, dreams and aspirations. And should be thought of as such, not as projects to invest time in, nor indeed as “jobs”.
    Having children does not make you better nor does not having any diminish you.
    I say all this as someone who has been childfree (I refuse to say childless, that term is diminishing) for eight years of my married life- and am now in the process of having a child on the way. It has been a very deliberate decision- based on when we were ready rather than anything else. Speaking for myself, had things not worked out, I don’t think I would have felt less of a person, nor indeed been driven to search for ways to have a child. I don’t think it is very possible to miss something I could not have. It is going to be a new relationship- one that I am ready to take responsibility for – but I am having this child because I want to, not because this child wants to be born. As for everyone else- honestly I stopped caring for the world and their opinions about how my life and relationships should be a while back.

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    • There are so many children in this world in need of love and care. Of what great merit is the act of bringing yet another child here? If you ever feel like having a child of your own, you can adopt one, or adopt an orphanage eyc. That is possible if you have lots of disposable income, for which you will have to work now, in this age when you have health and time. You can also simultaneously work with some NGO or any organization for children.
      I do not think having children gives you security in old age. Children are not bedside tables. They will have their own lives and might be distant from you physically, or worse, emotionally. Or they might die.
      My grandmother lives alone despite having 5 sons because she couldn’t stand the lifestyle choices of any of them. The other grandmother lives lives with my uncle. When she was sick we had to rush to their home and found they hadn’t even done basic things like rubbing her feet etc that were needed in her condition. These are just examples of my family. I have realised that having children is not a guarantee against bad treatment or loneliness. Many aged people complain they have everything but company, despite living with their families.
      When and if I’m your age and in the same stage in life, I will evaluate my own relationship with my parents before taking this decision. If I myself can’t be their ‘budhape ka sahara’ then I won’t bring children into this world.

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      • Absolutely agree with you, optical! I have seen both ends of the spectrum. On one side, my mother’s mom suffered for most of her adult life with a serious condition and the only ones around to help were my grandfather and my mother. Both of my mother’s siblings (more educated and financially well off too barely visited her once a year). And on the other hand, my dad’s mother has both sons and their families living together, taking care of her since her husband died more than 30 years ago and she still has no respect for my mother because she had two girls! Having children is no guarantee (and should not be too) for your old age, but being parents is also not a sign of some selfless sacrifice for the greater good!

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    • Very well said, allytude. You’ve very clearly worded my perspective. It concerns me how easily people label those who wish to be childfree as selfish, like having children was a selfless decision made for the good of this entire planet! I wonder if most of these people even THOUGHT once about children and the responsibility involved before they had one! A child being brought into this world needs to have a set of parents (whether hetero or homosexual) who love it dearly and not treat it as an insurance policy for old age or someone to dump their life’s desires onto! Good luck with the little one! She/he is very lucky to have a well sorted mum🙂

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      • I heard in a podcast that it should be done early in life to be really effective, like before you turn 20. I guess most women don’t think about this option until much later in life and by that time there might not be any point to freeze eggs anymore..

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        • not true, in fact freezing is not recommended until after 25, and its not until 35+ that quality starts deteriorating..

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        • Ya, freezing can be done much earlier than 20 years. I am personally opined to having babies early in life. We have the strength and the motivation to rear children when we are young. Even medically, too many women are suffering from endometriosis and fibroids whose only cure is timely pregnancy, and the natural stopping of hormones for 9 months. Endometriosis was never such a common surgical procedure ever.

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  3. I love kids, especially little babies. I am a total sucker when it comes to them. I don’t know if anyone would understand when I say I love them so much, I don’t want to bring them into this world and make them suffer. I don’t suppose bringing up kids in other countries would be so hard, but certainly bringing up kids or growing up in this country is no romp in the park.

    I don’t want to launch off onto a litany about life in this country, but the kind of pressure on kids to study, excel, then compete based on considerations such as caste for seats or jobs with individuals who may not necessarily be anywhere near them in their performance, the corruption they have to face as well as the general quality of day to day life were sufficient to put me off having kids. i did not want them to suffer just because I wanted kids. I did not want a son who could potentially cause someone else’s daughter grief nor did I want a daughter who could potentially be miserable because of her gender. Sounds very negative? Maybe but not too far from the truth. I don’t know if I would have felt the same way if I were living in some other country.

    That being the case, I remained unmarried for a long time, until I saw a matrimonial ad for a man who would not be able to have kids. He is well qualified, comes from a fairly compatible background and all else was fine. Maybe I was meant to live life according to my own beliefs.

    No one really pestered me much. Some friends/acquaintances certainly asked why I did not go for adoption. Since my husband and I were never on the same page about this – I wanted to adopt and give a child a home as well as ourselves a kid without bringing one more additional life to add to the already exploded population, but he did not want to – we never went for this. So I just answered that my husband was not interested in adopting. That was it. After that there was no further talk.

    It broke my heart at that time that I could not even adopt, but in retrospect, everything happened for the best. Do I miss having kids? To be brutally honest, yes, I do sometimes. Do I regret my decision? No, when I think over my reasons why I did what I did, I have absolutely no regrets.

    You are not obliged to have kids ‘for society’s sake’ or to answer any prying questions. You might choose to answer directly or just say that it is a personal matter. Don’t fall for the blackmailing tactics such as duty to provide parents with grandchildren etc. If they are really so fond of kids, every kid can be loved and treated as their own.

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    • I agree with you wholeheartedly, anonymous! I too, feel that the Earth already has a population of 7 billion people (and rising) which is unsustainable at current rates. Also, the state of things in India is at a point where I myself may not want to come back and live there now. Forget about bringing up a child there. For the record, while eve teasing is not much of an issue here, domestic violence has reached epic proportions amongst the population, so even abroad, women are not as safe as it is made out to be. Only, the perpetrators are slightly different. I love children too but am oddly pessimistic about the way things are going. When we don’t have empathy and compassion for the billions who are already on this planet, where is there any hope for a little one?

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  4. Your situation is very similar to mine. Except I have been married for 8 years and my husband and I are sure about not having children. Initially, we were not so clear about the decision; as in we were in the “not now” zone. But as years went by and both of us found ourselves in very satisfying jobs and found that our companionship seemed quite enough to be happy, we became sure that we don’t want to have children at all. We are both 33 now and are fully aware that we have just a few more years, if we want to have our own child. We have always been clear that if we begin to feel differently in a few years, we are open to adoption. But we also know that that kind of change might only come around 40 or so when we both feel more “settled”. Right now there is so much to do and we love our life the way it is that there doesn’t seem to be a need to change or add anything to it.

    We have been called selfish A LOT for this decision. In fact, both sets of parents are really liberal and supportive about everything else, but when it comes to this, it has been a sour point. We have had multiple sit downs and long conversations, debates, etc and the final decision has always been to agree to disagree. I guess the main thing to keep in mind is that you can’t go around justifying every choice you make in life. All you can do is take responsibility for that choice. But we do take the time out to speak things out with parents because we feel that we owe it to them for all the love and support they continue to show us even though they really disagree with our choice. We have not felt the need to explain ourselves to anyone else. Though we get numerous nosy and obnoxious comments and questions. Over time you learnt to brush them off.

    Having a child is a huge decision. And I feel unless you are ready to dedicate your life to giving your child the best life s/he can have, you need to think twice about your decision. Anything else – customs, what people will say, fear of old age, etc doesn’t seem like a good reason to bring a new life to this world. For us it is a really thought out decision and we know exactly why we do not want children. But expecting other people to understand is asking for too much.

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  5. CF,

    I have the exact same thoughts. We are childfree by choice. The husband and I didn’t want to have kids from the time we started dating. That was 10 years ago, we have been married for two. I love kids too, but just told feel I want to take that responsibility. Same with the husband.

    I have told my parents, they have always known actually. He has told his parents. My mother tries to convince me every few months with statements like, ” But you’ll be a wonderful mother,” “You two should create something together”, “it makes the love between a husband and wife stronger”, “You’re letting go of a wonderful experience”.

    My answer to all of this is, I don’t see why I should want something unless I want it myself. There are a lot more things we can do together, which we actually WANT to do together. I’m sure it’s a life changing experience, but very simply put it’s a matter of personal choice. I have gotten a lot of the “you’re being selfish” argument. Wherever possible, I have aggressively brought it down my asking how they have made a difference to the world by giving birth, or the same argument you had, how is not having children because you don’t want to any more selfish than having them because you want to.

    More than my parents, I have received a lot of unsolicited advice from totally random people, mostly colleagues. I have blogged about it, or rather ranted about it here:

    https://madetomisfit.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/of-logic-gone-bonkers/

    https://madetomisfit.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/you-dont-want-kids-but-why-ill-help-you-take-care-of-them/

    Good luck with whatever decision you make.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi, I have a thought on this. It came to me few years ago, when pondering over the issue, why some people do not want to have kids or why it was given that a couple would naturally want to have kids after marriage.
    I have a 2 year old daughter, and she is the person I love the MOST in my life. After having her, I have realized, what selfless love is. Yes, I had her for my happiness, because becoming a mother would give me pleasure, but now, after bringing her to this world, her happiness and well being is most important to me. Further, more important is the fact, that this is a relationship where I do not expect anything. I want her to live well, grow well and lead a happy life. I have no expectations of her being my old age insurance, or becoming something to make me/ us happy. I just want the best of this world for her. Also, I have realized that even if she loves me less, or starts hating me for some reason in future, I would still want only and only good for her. Honestly, I do not think, that I can, or have have felt the same way for anyone else. Yes, very close for my parents and siblings…but still I think my daughter wins here.

    I have seen my parents feeling the same way for me. (ok, they did have certain expectations from us- that we will do well in studies, become doctor/ engg etc, and look after them in old age, but overall, it was always our happiness above anything else)

    So my conclusion is- that each of us, human beings, have this place for this selfless love inside us- and that needs to manifest itself, for each one of us to live a fulfilling life. Kids are one such avenue, where we can and are capable of loving unconditionally. (again, it may be parents or siblings..but more often that not, its kids). Therefore, I believe that over centuries, people have been having babies as a natural outcome of adulthood. Now, I also believe, that there can be other such avenues….like working for a cause, where you just need to contribute and not expect anything else in return. Like working for an orphanage, or old people, or any other cause, where you work just for the love of the cause and not any material benefits, like recognition, security or money. I have a friend who has just hit her 30s and is dealing with the same question. She does not want to have kids. I discussed the above thing with her, and she said that she plans to work for some cause she has identified, and does not think that having kids would help her do that.

    The gist is that, almost all our relationships in this world are give and take, or such that we place our happiness above them in most cases. However, you do need that one relationship where it is mainly give all, And each one of us needs to find that one relationship- it may be with kids, or with a cause, thats a choice.

    PS: the above is entirely my point of view on this. It may be wrong, or may prove to be wrong in coming years as I grow old, I am not sure.

    Also, I completely respect the individual choice of having/ not having kids, as this is a personal decision, so pls do not take the above rant as from someone saying that having kids is mandatory etc. I have never even asked my best friend, why she was not planning to have kids- even after 8 years of marriage. So you get the point…right..:)

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    • I absolutely see your point, D. I have heaps of friends who made the choice to have children and have never regretted a minute of it. The issue I have is with a) seeing not wanting to have children as a selfish thing to do b) considering having children as the very next step in life after getting married. Why is finding that selfless love or compassion in something else like working with abused children or refugees or domestic abuse victims not accepted in India? There is no respect for your thoughts! There needs to be debate where both sides can talk about their opinions without being judged or labelled.

      P.S: no judgement on my part for your comment🙂 Thanks for taking the time to write about your experience!

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    • Hi D,

      I don’t want to sound judgemental or rude to you.

      But the way you have said “I want to best for her.” is the reason that many parents suffocate their children like hell. Do engineering, marry this, study here, don’t go there, where only this etc as I want best for you.

      I understand your child is small and doesn’t have understanding. But focus should not be on wanting best for her but to groom her with thoughts so that she can start realizing what is best for her and has a confidence to convey same to you. No one else can understand that what a child can be upto except the child.

      It may seem off the topic but I will tell one of my experience. A small eg my sister was admitted in LKG but still she was not able to cope with studies and that came out within an year but still my father continued her study to UKG and so on as he wanted best for her. It destroyed her entire education as she started hating studies as she was not able to handle the stress of studies..

      So dont want best for her, realise what best she can do and groom her so that she can understand what is best for her.

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      • Hi. When I said that I want best for her- did in no terms meant that I have decided what is best for her, and hence I/ we will plan things for her our way and push her in to a particular stream of education, profession..and later marriage etc etc. I meant- I want her to have a good and happy life, in my view best is when she is happy with her decision, her choices, and lives a life free of regrets..well mostly! I meant to imply, that I hope that she turns out to be a sensible, thoughtful individual who is capable of deciding for herself and more importantly is confident and strong enough to stand by her choices. “Best for her” definitely did not mean what you have explained above. May be the use of words was inadequate, but then this language is not my forte..:) Also, I would like to highlight here- the kind of example you have given, I myself am a product of such an environment. Pushed into taking a particular stream of education- where I had no interest in, and struggling with it for a good part of my life. So we (me and my husband) and more than careful in that space, how and why not to burden children with parental desires. Further, I even think to the extent of her orientation. Having not seen same sex relationships commonly around me, I am afraid if I would be able to take it normally if tomm she wants to settle with a woman. But then, that is something which I need to learn as time passes, I cannot expect her to have a sexual orientation of my choice. So don’t worry, we are fairly aware of not raising another suffocated, pushed kid burdened with parental desires in this world…:)

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  7. My mom used to say (tongue-in-cheek of course) that if you don’t have kids, that’s your only problem!😀

    I know many couples who are child-free by choice. So it’s not a big deal.

    How to deal with pressure/questions? My advice is to just ignore whatever you don’t want to hear. People will say things no matter what. Just go ahead with your life. If you feel you owe someone an explanation, do explain, but be very clear that their reactions are not something you can control, so don’t expect them to behave or react in a certain way.

    Having children selfish/unselfish? Either way, it is a selfish act, because you are doing what you want to do.

    Children as security deposit? No way!

    Regrets on decision? You need to examine how you handle regret personally and as a couple. If you are the kind to beat yourself up over the past, then yes, having children when you can makes sense. If you are the kind who can focus on the present and future, and leave the past behind, then any decision you make will be fine. The important thing is to understand that you are making your decision now with the best information and intentions at hand. Things may change later, but understanding how you made your decision will give you some peace.

    People have children for a mix of various reasons. Don’t worry too much, don’t get too logical about it and try explaining every little thing, just go with your gut instinct and you will be fine. Life is there with or without children. Only difference is that with children you become responsible for another life, and that is no mean task.

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    • You speak my mind, TR! I’m making this choice, at this moment, based on how I feel now. How are we meant to know how we will feel 20 years down the line? We may or may never regret it. But at least the choice was ours! The issue is, that in countries like ours, there is so much attached to being a parent that there is no room for EVER expressing regret (even if you do feel it). Hence, there is never a voice in the room that says, “hey! I sacrificed my career for my kids and I wish I could have had things differently!” They are instantly ostracised as bad parents. I wish there could be a more open debate/discussion amongst parents and families as opposed to direct vilification. Not to mention, I’m dreading this discussion with in laws😦

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  8. People will label you infertile/gay/selfish if you don’t have a child, and a bad/inadequate parent if you do. Screw them. You don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you don’t want children – it is a personal decision, and no family/friend has a say in it.

    The only real “challenge” I see is that while you are sure you don’t want kids at all, your husband seems to be in the “not now” zone. What if he wants kids later? That’s what you should be worried about, if at all. I was married to my ex for eight years, and I didn’t want children. My husband did, but there was no way I would’ve gone through all the pain and the struggle if I wasn’t sure I wanted that life. he understood. His family didn’t, but I couldn’t care less.

    Now, I’m 33, married to someone else, and pregnant. Because I wanted to have a kid. So the bottomline is – people’s expectations are their problem, not yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said anawnimiss! You’re right, I’m at a point now where I know what I want but I’m not sure what I will do if my husband decides he absolutely wants a baby or (*shudder*) if he buckles to his parents’ wishes! I’m quite insulated from my extended family out here, but if my hubby wanted a child, I’m not sure what I would do. Good point to mull over!

      P.S: congratulations! wish you all the very best with the pregnancy!🙂

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  9. Warning! Long comment.

    Interesting discussion!
    Here is some perspective from another generation.

    I am 66, my wife is 60 and we have a 38 year old married daughter and a 29 year old unmarried son both of whom have settled abroad for 14 years and 8 years respectively.

    I am very happy I had them. I never planned to have them and neither did we plan not to have them. They just happened due to the laws of biology.

    It was only after the birth of my son, that we decided not to allow biology to decide and took steps to prevent any more children.

    In retrospect, it has been a great experience being a parent to such gifted children, but that is merely my luck.

    I have relatives and friends in my age group who were not so lucky. They had children who did not do well, were a burden on their parents all their lives, and caused them sorrow and misery.

    I have known relatives in my age group who bled themselves in order to give the best for their children and who were rewarded in some cases by devoted children who took care of them well in their advanced years (though not necessarily by living with them) and some who were let down by their children who heartlessly neglected them in their later years and some children who actually cruelly exploited their aged parents and usurped their property.

    Another parent I know had a child with genetic problems. They are worried sick about who will care for their mentally challenged child after their lifetime.
    And this is balanced by other people who take pride in the achievements of their children.

    What is the point I am driving at?
    Simple, like marriage, having children is a gamble.
    You win sometimes, you lose sometimes.
    If you want to have children, go ahead and be prepared for the sacrifices that parenthood involves and be ready not to be disappointed if you are deprived of the future benefits having children. This is not an “investment” and “returns” issue.
    Times are changing and nowadays children cannot be counted on to become “buDhaape ka sahaara”.

    If you don’t want to have children it’s perfectly okay. You are not being selfish.
    The charge of selfishness is ridiculous. You are merely taking a well thought out risk and must prepare for what being childless involves when your career ends during your middle age. You must be mentally prepared for loneliness and to rough it out alone without the support of a younger generation. Of course in modern times, this is easier than it was in olden times. You will obviously have no financial problems, being a DINK couple. So your money will be able to purchase much of the security and comforts that your children can provide you, except love.

    So what should you do ?
    Simply follow what your heart tells you. Don’t have kids because others tell you you should. If you have a doubt that you may change your mind later, then take steps to freeze your eggs and your husbands sperm right now. That will keep your options open for some more years before you will just have to take a decision.
    If both of you are prepared to adopt then even this is not necessary.

    I can empathize with you. My own daughter got married at 23, and moved abroad right after marriage.
    For years she did not have children due to pressures imposed by advanced studies abroad, then hunting around and struggling to get a suitable job, worries and problems caused by her initial visa status and the possibility of having to move back home any time. Added to that , neither my wife nor I could have dropped everything here to go out and help her if she had a child. I was a busy career professional then. It was only after several years, after she and her husband had settled down in good jobs, and got themselves green cards, bought a house and settled well that she finally decided to have her baby. She had it just in time at the age of 35 and my wife and I, were ready and available to help her out. I had just retired from my profession. My son in laws parents too were available. Everything clicked and fell into place and all is well now. My little grandson is nearly 3 years old now and is the apple of our eyes.

    I said that I empathize with you and another reason is that my nephew (39) and his wife who live right here in the same neighbourhood are facing the same dilemma as you. They are a working couple and have no children and are being nagged by both set of parents to call off this extended honeymoon and quickly generate “good news”. I am not sure if they have decided not to have children or they have a fertility problem. The couple seems perfectly happy together and I feel too delicate to ask and embarrass them. But the other relatives are not so tactful. They revel in “rubbing it in” with dire warnings of the consequences of their decision in case they have decided not to become parents. The parents (both sides)also argue that that they are retired and also in fairly decent health and will be available 24/7 to help bring up the child if needed and that not every couple is as lucky as this and the couple are being foolish not to take advantage. The couple is approaching the age deadline and this adds to everyone’s tensions. My nephew’s wife is so fed up of this pressure that she even avoids phone calls to and from her parents knowing that the conversation will quickly veer around to this very topic and she has had enough of their telephonic nagging.

    There are plenty of other stories that can be related, in support or against your decision. There is no correct decision that is valid for all couples. Decide what you want and stick to it and tell yourself firmly and emphatically that you will not regret it come what may.

    All the best.
    GV

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    • Thank you, GV, for a well sounded comment! I agree with most points but respectfully, disagree with just this line “So your money will be able to purchase much of the security and comforts that your children can provide you, except love.” This line, is what I fear, my in laws and maybe my parents will say to me when we speak to them. I fear, while you were lucky to have children who have been loving and caring, I too have seen that this is not always the case. My decision has nothing to do with being DINK or abroad. It is who I am as a person and what I feel about wanting a child in my life. What my parents or in laws say may not change my decision but I desperately wish that they will understand my side of things. About regretting later, like I mentioned, I would definitely think of adoption. Why bring on to this already bursting planet another child while there are SO many little ones languishing in orphanages all over the world? I hope my parents and in laws will be as open minded regarding this as you are🙂

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      • I always knew i wanted kids, however when I had my son, the first few months were plain routine. But one day i got up to experience this feeling of pure love/attachment to my baby. It fades of course, and it changes. There are times my son exasperates me, and there are times i’m surprised beyond anything else.
        Having a child is your decision. But yes you must realize that like any choice it comes with it’s own implications. You will miss the love for sure, but maybe you will replace it with something that matters to you–travel, books, food, sharing more time with your spouse.
        I know several couples who couldn’t have children, and they seem to have good lives.
        And yes, you can always adopt if you would like to at a later stage.

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    • Vishvanaathjee Sir,
      It is so refreshing to read your posts.I am a fan of your thought process.WIth so much respect I want to say our society needs more people like you.In my entire family or in my circle I’ve never seen an elder person as logical as you and who undesrtands the dynamics of society and generations, who thoughful of the complexities of life and of this generation sans any expectations. I’ve been living in the US since 2 years and it was encouraging that your daughter faced similar struggles as mine.I so wish all people can be like you.
      Not saying that people earlier had it easy in fact they had very difficult lives too but so many times I feel that in India the society and family makes life so difficult for a young couple (especially for the daughter in law) that is already under pressure from a lot of things, cut throat competition, finances, property prices on top of that old age customs and expectations of family members. You kids and lucky to have such an understanding dad in you and your daughter in law would be enormously lucky!

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  10. When I read this letter I had a very strong sudden urge to write a reply, not just as an answer to the question at hand but also to see how I feel about things.
    First of all I would like to applaud the LW for such a wonderfully expressed letter and having a sound mind which questions and does not go with the flow just because the flow flows in that direction.
    Though I am not married and hence the question about children don’t bother me much right now, I do question sometimes if I would want children or not. My answer is more in the direction of yes I do want a child but I believe my Yes comes more out of insecurity of missing out on what others have and probably regretting later. I have accepted that fact and I will go with it even though I do feel that my life in many ways are better without having a child.

    I have met a lot of women in my life who are dying to have children however I feel some are genuine and others have been brainwashed into thinking that every woman must want a child and she is incomplete without one. On the other hand I have seen women who never really cared for children but had one just because of insecurities similar to mine. Now they adore and love their children but they say they would be equally happy without one and feel the joy of motherhood is just overrated. The insecurities that they once had about missing out by not having a child have now transformed into whether the child will do well in life or not. So they are not actually enjoying their children but constantly going through daily worries from food to education to their personal development.

    I believe if you are insecure now in terms of what will people say if you don’t have a child, what you are missing out on etc, I am 99% sure your worries are not going to go away once you have a baby. They are going to go from what will people think about me because I don’t have a child to what will people think about my child if he is not potty trained by a certain age.

    Finally it has to be your decision and no amount of talking to parents and in laws and friends is going to help it make any easier. Since you are 30 and have a few more years before your biological clock starts ticking, I suggest you look into this question more deeply not by asking others but introspecting more. You can talk to your husband and parents and in laws to see what they feel and then decide how much of their feelings weigh in the decision that you finally take. If they all say they are celebrating with the decision of you not having a child then will you still think about missing out on something and care about what others say? If you would still feel that you would then you should have the child. If they are not happy with you not having a child then you need tosee how much of their disapproval has an effect on you.

    Ultimately the choice is yours and neither are life transforming. You will be happy with or without a kid eventually. Its how you deal with other aspects because you don’t have a kid or because you do that matters

    All the best!

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    • Thank you for your kind words, Khyati! I have been thinking about this for ages before even casually broaching this topic with my husband and was elated to know he was ‘sort of’ on the same page as I was (atleast it was not outright horror!). Since then, I have tried to talk to people and read about what people think about this topic. I wish to make an informed choice and not be blindsided because I never gave it enough thought. I feel sometimes, a deep fear, what if I regret this 10 years down the line? But like you said, the issues don’t go away with having a child, there are different ones then. Life is about owning up to your choices and knowing it was what YOU wanted, not what was dumped on you or what you ended up doing because someone wanted it.In the end, what we aim for is a happy life. Some people find deep meaning in their children, others in their work, yet others in helping or volunteering or travelling or reading, etc. It is for us to find it.Having children will automatically not entitle anyone to instant nirvana! I hope I can make the right decision for myself🙂

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  11. Life requires a meaning to live for(See Viktor Frankl). Some people derive it from their children, some from their spouses, some from their profession, some from contributing to a social case. Children are uniquely yours. Nobody can take away that from you. So, it is much easier to derive meaning from your children than the others mentioned above. You might be happy with your husband now. What if some misfortune strikes, will you be able to derive some meaning in life all by yourself? If some misfortune strikes both of you, would you have anyone who will look after you with love?

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    • Hi plainspeak, I agree that most people derive meaning for their life from different things, some from their children. But is it fair for parents to do that to the kids? If I cannot find meaning in my life right now, what is the guarantee that having a child will give it to me? Like GV mentioned above, heaps of parents have been abandoned, neglected, cheated or harassed by their children. so have many children who have been abused or neglected by parents who are clearly incapable of taking care of the children they have. I would rather find meaning in my life from what I do or who I am as a person rather than this little child who I decided to bring into this life and place the burden of my expectations on their tiny shoulders. How is it fair to them?

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    • No offense to your views plainspeak, but having a child for “meaning in life” is a terrible reason for having a child.
      A child is a distinct separate person, not the fulfillment of a the parent’s ambitions. Following your logic, what if someone were to have a child, be involved in their lie, then find a more fulfilling hobby? In that case there wont be any need for the child, would there. As for misfortune striking, is the child merely “love insurance”? What if the child wants their own life? And not to be a loving caretaker or emotional support? Is the child to have no agency?
      I wonder if people consider the burden they inflict on their offspring by having these expectations. Those poor children never have a chance!

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      • A child has 50% of your genes. Seeing yourself in him/her is natural. That of course doesn’t mean that you make him chase goals you set or expect him/her to do your bidding. But, seeing a reflection of you tackle the world and giving love to the child could give one something to look forward to. And, only those whom you have given love will care for you in those dark days.

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    • Children are uniquely your– I disagree . Its flawed.

      But this what most of the Indians think so hence they even go to the extent of killing the child if he/she wants to do something of their own as they are uniquely yours.

      Child is a mini human and they have their own likes , dislikes, preference , thoughts , aspiration and it should be understood by parents and help the child in forming their own thinking. You can not bring them in world by having a pre conceived notions and expectations.

      Having a child for this fulfillment reason is very wrong. One of my friend is having a child because she and her husband feel bored in their 5 months of marriage.

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  12. Dear LW,
    I am 44, child-free, married for 15 years, and was very clear since I was a teenager that I wanted to be child-free.

    When I got married (not arranged), I was very clear that I would not want a biological child (adopting was an option), and I would not be part of any organized religion. These were my two conditions and I was lucky enough to find a man who had the same two conditions.

    I do not regret my decision a bit. Now, at my age, adoption in the U.S. or India may be difficult, but I don’t regret that either.

    Regarding people who want to give you unsolicited advice: Don’t JADE (Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain), even to your parents. Simply state that you are not ready for it yet. Lather, rinse, repeat. Do not get into long-drawn explanations and discussions about this. I have a rude, pushy mother-in-law whose children came into the world with a job – to give her a hobby and be her old-age insurance. I would hate to do that to any children of mine. I realized that when she calls me “selfish”, she’s simply projecting.

    If people warn you of a lonely, miserable future, they are wrong:

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/complete-without-kids/201103/fact-or-fiction-childfree-couples-are-happier-couples-kids

    Couples without children also tend to have happier marriages.
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jan/13/childless-couples-happier

    That said, make sure you establish deep roots in your community, find people to share your love, interests and generosity with and be an active member of society in general. My animals are my babies. They will not look after me when I am old, but I wouldn’t expect that of human children either.

    They bring me all the joy and love a human child would bring. As for people telling your “family is incomplete” without kids, well, my family is complete, thank you. I am complete. I don’t need another person to complete me.

    All the best.

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    • ~~~
      Regarding people who want to give you unsolicited advice: Don’t JADE (Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain), even to your parents. Simply state that you are not ready for it yet. Lather, rinse, repeat. Do not get into long-drawn explanations and discussions about this.
      ~~~
      Really sound advice, that! I’ve been doing exactly this even though on the inside I feel like screaming and biting the head off the person that might be pestering me with questions about having children. The only two people I did give a simple and clear explanation were my SIL and MIL, because the former asked nicely and the latter pestered me, but nicely, and, after all, she does need to understand our reasons. No one else in my immediate family bothers me with this, and if anyone else asks, I simply say “we’re not interested” and leave it at that. If they persist, I change the topic or physically remove myself from that space. Helps maintain your peace of mind, trust me.

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  13. I have kids and friends who have kids and a close friend who doesn’t. – by choice. I dont see the difference in any of our lives. My friend who doesnt is as happy as we are if not more. her husband is also of the same mind. They are simply of the belief that they do not want to populate the world more, they are satisfied with their life and do not see any reason to have children. they are in their late 40’s and i have known them for over 20 yrs and have seen no change in their attitude at all. Their priorities in life simply do not include kids. they are v loving uncles and aunts🙂
    They also faced terrible pressure from family but form what i could tell they were very united and i guess their families gave up.???
    One of their siblings also does not want kids . so i guess they do inspire some .
    I have also known couples who could not have kids who are devastated.
    The key is you should be able to do what makes you happy.
    If you want kids you should be able to have them and if you dont you should be able to not have them. either way with no external pressure. that is what makes on truly happy.
    From you rmail your husband is postponing kids till hes secure , when that will occur he only knows so tomorrow if he thinks he’s secure will he want kids ??? you will need to discuss your plan with him and come to a agreement or not. but i would be v v clear about your thoughts. yes you both can change your mind, but as if now lay out what you feel.
    We are humans we evolve, our thoughts evolve. there is no 1 right way to live this life.

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  14. I feel like giving you a hug!! This is me, thinking these same things 2 years back, before we had a baby! I have been married to my husband (who was my batchmate in grad school in US) for 4 years before we got pregnant with our son. Till then I never thought I wanted to have a baby “of my own”. I always wanted to adopt a kid and my hubby was fine with it. Going through the process of actually birthing a baby was somehow not important to me. But somewhere down the line, a little thought did creep in that it wouldn’t be so bad to actually experience the birth of a child! (my philosophy is to try out most of the things at least once in life😉 ). Hence we figured that birthing one child and adopting the other (if we feel the need for a second child) will be a good thing to do. As far as pressure goes, did not get much, apart from one mention by MIL. My mom is a gynecologist, and she did tell me the possible complications that might arise if one happens to have a child very late (not ALL have complications, but the odds of having them do increase).
    When we found out we were pregnant, frankly speaking happiness was NOT the first thing I felt. Something I feel guilty about even till today (i know i shouldn’t, but still). I felt intense fear and lots of doubts if it was too soon. But I also know that that was the most I could be prepared for for having a baby. I know motherhood is glorified by the society in general and it takes effort to not feel guilty if you do not fit that glorified values. Example, I did not feel guilty over the fact that I was dying to get back to work after my maternity leave. I wanted to get back soon because I thought it was important to maintain my sanity. I also make sure to not let my son be the center of my existence. He is still the most important thing in my life, but we as parents do take time off to do the things we used to do pre-baby without feeling guilty.
    I think the word ‘selfish’ is always seen i a negative sense, when it actually is not. Because, whatever we do, we do for us. Because it suits us/makes sense to us. Same with parenting. Or the decision to not be parents. Either way, one must do what makes sense to them, without caring what the society thinks about it.
    I did not think this was the reason why we had a child, but now that we have couple of years of parenting experience, I feel what makes it worthwhile for us is, to see our child develop into an individual. I never thought this would be such a fascinating thing to experience.

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  15. LW, that was a very articulate letter.
    You have analyzed the situation so well that your letter also contains answers to your questions – that not having children is a personal choice and cannot be categorized as unselfish or myopic. And yes, this is at odds with traditional thinking, where children are seen as making the marriage and one’s life “complete”.

    On dealing with negative comments:
    When we got married, my husband was unsure about children, and I didn’t feel ready to have children even after 4 years of marriage. My parents were very non-interfering, as always. They behaved outwardly as if it were my (and my husband’s) personal choice. Inwardly, they may have felt it would be nice if we had kids but not once did they say or do anything to make us feel hurt.

    My in-laws were disappointed. My f-i-l said nothing but he was sad. My m-i-l said plenty. Other relatives (on both sides of the family) said plenty. My strategy during this time was to not ignore them. Ignoring comments makes people bolder over time and can eventually hurt or breakdown the strongest of people. If someone got out of hand or crossed the line in terms of politeness, I would refuse to tolerate it. Once my m-i-l’s sister said, “I could not have children, even though we tried. What you are doing is very wrong. Not only to yourselves but also to your parents and in-laws.” I replied, “I’m sorry you couldn’t have children even though you wanted to. You did have the option of adopting. As for me, I see having children as a personal choice, something only my husband and I will decide on. It is WRONG of YOU to make us feel bad for something that shouldn’t concern you or anyone else.”

    At this, my m-i-l stared at me, her jaw dropping. Her sister walked out of the house angrily, claiming she had been insulted. My m-i-l asked me, “Why did you insult my sister? You are usually so polite.” I replied, “On the contrary. She is the one who insulted me. I told her politely to stay out of my personal choices.” I then left the room, refusing to be drawn into a long discussion on who was right/wrong.

    The point is – hold your ground. Don’t ignore negative comments. Nip them in the bud. Don’t engage in long discussions or explanations. No one has the right to tell you what you should do in this matter. Life is not a one shot deal. You can always change your mind in the future. My brother and wife adopted their daughter after 10 years of marriage (after trying and unable to have one biologically). They love and enjoy her just like any other parents. It makes zero difference whether you give birth or adopt.

    On having children:
    I did make the decision to have children eventually. But it was mine and my husband’s decision. No one made us do it. 6 years after marriage, I had my first kid, 4 years after that I had my second. I love them both dearly and absolutely enjoy parenting. Children will, on many days completely drain you. They can also be absolutely delightful. That is the nature of childhood – to take, take, take from your environment. Parenting demands a lot out of people. You need to set aside many of your own desires and wishes to be there for someone who needs you. But this is easy to do when we appreciate the wonder, curiosity, and open mindedness of a child. If we see children growing up and forming a mind of their own as a beautiful process, we forget what we give up, because the journey is so fun!

    My experience with children has been overall very rich and rewarding. It is not always this way. There are people who don’t enjoy the process, not necessarily because of any fault of their own. Whether you will enjoy parenthood or not depends on a complex set of factors and variables – the parents’ patience level, empathy, aptitude, personalities, compatibility in parenting styles, conflict management between the couple, the children themselves, their personalities (some kids are naturally easier, others are not), the circumstances in your life, the supports you have, and of course a bit of luck.

    On not having children:
    I have one close friend who chose not to have children. She and her husband have been married for 12 years and they lead happy fulfilled lives. They have way more free time than us and they enjoy it travelling, mountain biking, and volunteering with a local tree planting organization. They are fun loving people, compassionate and responsible. They get along great with both my children.
    I know other couples at work who lead fulfilled lives without children. It really IS a choice. It’s different for everyone. And it NOT now or never. Should you change your mind in the future, you can always adopt later in life.

    All the best!

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  16. My only advice – if you decide to have children, have them only because you want to – not for your spouse, not for your parents and certainly, not for society. Having a child and bringing him/her up requires a non-trivial amount of time and resources and if you are into it unwillingly, it won’t be long before you start resenting the child. That said, till I had a child of my own, I never realized just how much positive change a child could wrought into my life. It is hard (there are times when I wish I could go back to being childless) but I still feel the benefits totally outweigh any hardship. Again, I was never against having children, just that I wasn’t anywhere close to guessing just how much I could love my little one.

    Of all the points that you have mentioned, I can only see #1 directly affecting you – the rest of it is just learning to ward off soceity and their expectations (it gets easy if you learn to nod and then ignore). Deciding to be childfree has a big impact on both halves of a couple and if you are not on the same page, it will unfortunately have a negative effect on your relationship. However, please do not have a child only because your husband wants one – there is a likelihood that you might fall in love with your baby but you will need to think about what you will do if that does not happen. If both of you are in sync about being childfree, what anyone else says is just white noise that you should learn to ignore as you go about your lives.

    There is a chance that you might regret being childfree as you grow older (or even have “what if” questions as more of your peers have kids) – but if you are open to adoption (is your husband too? Not everyone is cut out for adopting), you are not closing the doors completely. So deciding about the here and now is what you need to focus on for now.

    Oh, by not having a child, no one is “lesser” – it just means that the said person did not have the life-experience of raising a child. Same as the person having a child does not have the life-experience of being child-free. Nothing inherently good or bad or noble in either choice. It is simply that – a choice.

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  17. If you don’t want kids,its okay,you should not have kids and than regret everyday after having brought them into this world !
    From my experience, people find it hard to accept that a woman may not want to be a mother and have kids ! I have 2 friends ,one is married for 8 years and another for nearly 10 years and don’t have kids ! I think earlier they delayed having kids and now its become fertility issue when they want to ! One is calm and trying to find meaning in religion another is antsy ,secretive,I think on fertility medicine ..,…I didn’t ask her ! Her husband was cool all this time ,now post 35 he sees life completey differently !
    Also children are lot of work ! Post 35 or even 40s its difficult to run around a child and generation gap is too much! There is another worry that parents may not live long enough for the child !
    Frankly,I have seen childless couples either desperately trying to have a child or resigning themselves in their 40s to live childless ! Childless couples i have seen in india are worn down,unhappy and lost and sidelined just like single people in india ! And there are others who get married at 22 and immediately get a child because of in laws pressure !
    There is no right way in this ! If you decide you don’t want any children, then choose to also have no regrets 10 years later !
    I suspect since this is a very difficult decision ,many couples get one child and be done with it !

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  18. I am a firm believer in nature, instincts and that life comprises responsibilities or duties that one must acknowledge to be happy.
    I am also a firm believer in personal freedom, and that it comes with its own consequences to be accepted.
    I am also a firm believer that education is not wisdom. Experiences, and elder’s guidance contribute to your wisdom, far more than your personal beliefs given by your education.

    So I suggest that CF should sit alone for 15 minutes everyday for a week and listen to her natural instincts, think why she is against having a kid (is it too much responsibility, fear of losing a career, fear of not being a good mother etc), think of the consequences of not having a child or of the experience of being pregnant and lastly think of what her parents (leave in laws for a while) would say from their experiences.
    Feeling of getting pregnant, or (making pregnant) instinctively comes when we make love passionately without tension or worry. You may take a vacation or a second honeymoon away from all the worries and see if you feel so when get one with your husband.

    lastly, No decision is a bad decision. They just have consequences that one should keep in mind.

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  19. Having read the post as well as the responses here, my response is going to be a mish mash of thoughts about all the points running in my head.

    First and foremost, having kids or not having kids is entirely the decision of the couple concerned and it would be a lot better if the decision is a consensual one as against one wanting a kid, insisting on one and the other just going along willy nilly.

    Secondly, I can’t wrap my head around the idea of people (including potential grandparents) trying to lecture young couples for hours about having kids. How on earth do they even imagine they can influence something like that? I do understand their desire to have grandkids – a desire to pamper someone without the attendant responsibilities and the joy of having young life around.

    Having kids is certainly no less selfish than not having kids. Given the fact that many people have kids in order to have someone to ‘look after’ them in their old age – budhaape ka sahaara – I can’t see a more selfish desire in this world. Like one of the responses above mentioned, imagine putting kids through this grind only so they can look after you. That concept is not very different from that of slave labour.

    Coming to the point of regrets in later life, imagine you did not want kids and had kids so you may not regret in later life. What if you regret having had them when you grow older? Regret is not something we can predict and life is not something we can live in retrospect. We cannot tailor our lives based on these considerations. We have to take our decisions in the present based on well thought out considerations and just hope for the best while we go along with the flow.

    OP, don’t worry about what others ask you. Just ignore or if people are too persistent, change the topic and make it very clear that you are not open to discussions on the matter.

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  20. This is a pretty interesting topic with many interesting comments.

    > Have any of your readers experienced the same feelings as mine? How did they handle it personally?
    – I have no urge to have kids of my own at the moment and am in no financial situation to do so currently. Unlike you, I actually do not enjoy being around kids for more that 15 minutes. Also, when I think about it, I was the only female child not interested in the baby at hand while all the other girls would be cooing over the baby. I have not yet hit 30 but really wonder about this strong urge to have a baby like everybody talks about. Guess, I will wait and see how things go. Also, I am a person who needs her alone time a lot and am afraid how I will cope with the initial years because I would never really be alone for a couple of years. Another thing would be to introspect as to why you like kids but don’t want one. Meditating on that may provide some answers.

    > I know now that I do not want to have kids but at the same time, I am full of doubts and questions – what if I regret this decision when I am no longer able to have children naturally (I can always adopt of course), will I be missing out on something wonderful in life? Will this affect my relationship with my husband? What if we split up?
    – I think I would not have kids because of this pressure and because time is running out. I feel that is not a good reason to have kids. Of course, there is this inevitable fear of regret. One has to make peace with their decision. So, if I don’t end up having kids and move on to want kids, I would accept that I made the decision at that moment to the best of my knowledge and abilities. It is easy to blame oneself for making wrong decisions, but we cannot compare our life experience in this moment to some moment in the past because the situation is different. I do not believe in regretting too much. I would just accept what happened and look at other options like adoption if I really want kids. With regards to your husband, I would recommend discussing both scenarios (having and not having kids) and see how he would feel. Of course people can change over the years but it would be your decision if you want a child to save the marriage and if you would be able to keep the resentment out if you were to do that. I discussed this with my spouse on what if time passed and we ended up having no kids for whatever reason and what if I never felt like having kids. He said that would not be the reason enough for him to walk of the marriage. So best would be to look at all scenarios with our spouse.

    > How did they deal with pressure, questions and rumours from family and friends? (For example Maybe they are infertile, how selfish of them not to have children, maybe he/she is having an affair or is gay or is unable to “do it”, how are you going to live in your old age? what if one of you dies? you will be bored of each other within a few years, what is the use of earning so much, this is what happens when you give your kids too much freedom)
    – I have not faced much pressure yet, so I cannot comment on that. Remember, you do not owe anybody an explanation for a personal decision like this. The harder way would be to argue and the easier more peaceful way would be to refuse to discuss it and let make people assume that you cannot have kids. Just tell them you tried all the tests but nothing is working ha ha.

    > How is having or not having children selfish?
    I don’t fall for not having kids is selfish argument at all. I have seen people who did not want kids become mothers and pour out all the resentment onto the kids. Not all women are meant to be mother and we have to accept that. We have to celebrate that women these days have a choice compared to a generation ago where nobody had a choice to be childless.

    4. Why should we consider children as a security deposit to be encashed later in life?
    – Absolutely not.

    5. Are couple who are childfree (implying choice) or childless (could not have children for various reasons) any less men or women or not contributing to society solely because they do not have children?
    – We have to redefine motherhood and birthing. One need not only give birth to a baby, one can give birth in terms of creativity, because having a child is creating a new human being. Similarly, we can give birth to a book or a painting and nurture so many talents and creative things. So, being child free does not mean we are not contributing. By that logic, why should women spend time on their careers or other things, why not just start producing umpteen babies the moment you can?

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  21. Dear LW, Your husband and you need to be on the same page -no one else matters. And even if one of you is against having children – please don’t go ahead. It is not fair on the child. I’m happily childfree and know quite a few childfree couples – in different age groups – all are happy and in love with life.

    There are a few child free indian blogs out there where people talk about their experiences. One such is: http://childfreebychoice-india.blogspot.in
    Best wishes to you

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  22. Interesting questions…

    First off, I love my child but he’s the only child I enjoy being around. I don’t think how we relate to kids in general is any indicator of motherhood.

    The second question is easiest to answer. Having produced a child, a boy no less, I figured I’d be off the hook as far as societal expectations are concerned. Unfortunately, as my son approaches 3 I’ve only been hearing, “try for a girl” or “single kids are lonely” or my favourite “second births are faster”. My point is, nothing prevents people from talking. It sucks but it’s life.

    Kids are absolutely *not* some sort of deposit for the future and I agree with commenters above.

    Coming to the issue of society and selfishness, let me put forth a theory. Social security is basically a massive pyramid scheme. Each generation pays it forward, so to speak. We pay the previous generation’s pensions, healthcare and so on. For an economy to be stable, we need to work and produce the next generation of workers. Our savings today have meaning only if the economy remains relatively stable, no? Our beachfront villa has value only as long as global warming doesn’t wipe it out. Instinctively, most people sense this and this is the reason for the “selfish” argument. Obviously there are flaws to this argument. But it doesn’t have to be correct, just appealing to our instincts.

    Also, our instincts don’t understand the 7 billion argument. Our evolutionary purpose (or one of many) appears to be to propagate our genes. When someone doesn’t play fair, the tribe gets upset. Again, reason to procreate? Absolutely not. But it does explain why people are threatened by the idea of choosing not to have kids.

    Finally, just a thought. It’s ironic that those who think most about parenting and understand instinctively how hard it is, those who question status quo and choose not to have kids, are the people society could benefit from procreating🙂

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  23. You’re so emotionally sound and thoughtful that you’d make an amazing parent😀 Just kidding🙂 Here’s the scoop – I’m mom to a 15 month old daughter. There are moments of uncontrollable rage and then there are moments of such joy that my heart feels like it could explode. There are moment of immense fatigue and then there are moments when you’ll find super human strength(such as when a toddler throws up on herself, you, your couch, your carpet and throughout the stairs). It takes this crazy amount of sacrifice to do a decent job at this gig. So, if you are doubtful, wait. Wait until you’ve made up your mind one way or another. While being a mom is literally my favorite role right now, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a bad-ass life being having my daughter.

    I have a 40 year old co-worker who is child-free by choice. His wife and him are constantly traveling, have enough disposable income to own vacation properties and generally enjoy each other a lot. They have the time and resources for it. When I wistfully wonder about the lack of such disposable income and time in my own life, I remember the “Ammmmaaa” I heard from my daughter’s room at 7 AM that morning and I realize that I have a different kind of joy. What I’m getting at, is that you are the only one who can determine what you want. Joy can be had one way or the other.

    Also, you’re only 30! Whoever said 30 is too late to have kids need to get their head examined! Out of some 5 currently pregnant women I know, 1 is in her 20s. They’re all having boring, plain vanilla pregnancies(touchwood). So don’t let people tell you that.

    You know what’s funny? I meet so many incapable parents everyday and then I meet couples who’re not having kids by choice. Do you know which group is way more capable of raising well adjusted children? The latter.

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    • The last line of the first para should read as “While being a mom is literally my favorite role right now, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a bad-ass life before having my daughter.”

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  24. I realize this is an old topic but I still want to comment because I felt exactly the same way. In fact unlike this person, I didn’t even adore children like most of my other friends (girls) did. I never really felt the need to become a mother and never saw myself as a care giver.
    That said I did go on to have two kids. First, because my husband really did want a child and I was not sure that I would never never want one. The second, because WOW! it was so great to have a child.
    So that is what most of the people around you feel. You do not know what you are missing. But that said, yes people should leave couples alone to take a call. We are really intrusive and do not respect privacy. One of my friends who has chosen to be childfree handles this very well. When people ask her about the good news, she flashes her best smile and says “next year, pucca!”😀 That shuts everyone up!

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  25. We have an 18 month old, and I am extremely glad that she came to us when I was ready, at 35. I have always had a busy professional life, many interests and no interest in kids in general. But I knew at 22 that I did not want my own kids and wanted to adopt. My first bf was aghast; he was advised that most women grow out of this phase. With my husband I was clear about this from the time we started dating seriously. Friends were rather annoying, but in very small doses: they couldn’t understand how you could love someone not of your making. I never really tried to win people over to my point of view. I knew this is what I wanted and I didn’t need to justify it. My parents feel that I should have one of my own, and one adopted. I listened to them, respected their opinion but didn’t bother to counter it. The path that’s worked me thus is complete acceptance of other people’s opinions, without any need to justify my feelings. Just don’t engage people in conversation about it, simply nod in agreement and move on to next topic. Good news? Just smile and say” auntie, good news is that we are still married, that too to each other!!!”. I believe there is a time and place for things, so let yours come at its pace. Don’t make a choice out of fear and certainly, I don’t urge adoption as a back up plan if you get too old. Adoption is another way to have a family, but comes with different complications. I think you know when you want to be a mum, and make a call about how to make it happen then.

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  26. LW, thank you for writing such an articulate email. I’m not married, nor am I physically/emotionally/finally ready for a child yet. But, I’ve wondered for years if I even WANT a biological child. In the past year or so, as a result of a lot of introspection, I’m about 90% certain that while I eventually want to raise A child, I don’t necessarily want a BIOLOGICAL child. I’m 26 years old right now, and have been planning to eventually adopt a child since I was 15.

    Some of my reasons for not wanting a biological child (I refuse to call it ‘my own child’) are the same as reasons others have written about here.here are already way too many kids out there who need a loving home, that I feel selfish bringing another one into a the world when I could give that love and comfort to a child who is already here. I’m also very uncomfortable with the idea of pregnancy and child-birth, particularly since my family seems to have a history of not-so-easy births. I am also beyond terrified of taking care of a new-born and being responsible for such a tiny, dependent soul. I don’t know if I will ever be able to get over that fear and discomfort.

    I have been told numerous times that I will eventually change my mind. That I should not be ‘selfish’. That I should think about my parents’ wishes/goals/plans for me, etc. Frankly speaking, I don’t care. I may or may not change my mind, but that’s just it, it will be ME doing the changing of MY mind. It won’t be because of anything anyone else says. I don’t think choosing to not have a child is ‘selfish’ in any way. It’s a choice we make in life, and one nobody else has a right to judge. It’s a neutral choice – it doesn’t make any difference to the world in the grand scheme of things. As for my parents, well, as much as I love them, they really have no say in my life choices. I will ask for their advice, once in a while, and I hope they are happy with my choices, but their goals/desires have no place in my decision; particularly a decision that they have no stake in. They have no right to expect me to provide them with a grandchild.

    I guess, what I’m trying to say is, you do what you think is right for your family, given the information you have right now and how you feel about it right now. You may or may not regret it later. But, you can deal with that if/when it happens. For now, stay strong, do what you believe is right for you, and don’t mind others’ opinions. They won’t be the ones raising the child, if you choose to have one. ‘No uterus, no opinion’ as they say!

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  27. That’s cf for your article. I feel the same way and have met quite a few people that do not want kids. There is nothing wrong with it. Hope you are doing well. Stay strong and true to yourself xoxo.

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