A lot of people try to give meaning to their lives by building a house, planting a tree, and bringing up a child. There are some, however, who are content with just the first two options. In fact, recent U.S. population surveys show that a record percentage of women don’t have kids. Recently, reddit user throwawaygeneral8899 (who is currently getting married) decided to find out how these people are dealing with the consequences of their choice. They created a post asking “Older couples that decided to not have children …how do you feel about your decision now that years have passed?” The responses started pouring in quickly, and you can really feel the honesty behind them.
Researchers rarely collect data that distinguishes between the involuntarily childless and the consciously childfree. The 2014 census figures, however, revealed that 47.6 percent of women between age 15 and 44 have never had children ― the highest rate ever tracked. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center report, 19 percent of women remain childless by age 40 to 44.
We’ve been married twenty years. We are both 50. Neither of us wanted to bring children into our family.
I spent a WONDERFUL afternoon with my 16 year old niece yesterday. We talked about her boyfriend, picked blackberries and discovered a woodland clam [fingernail mussel] living in a mud puddle [vernal pool] in the woods, which we named Fred. It was magical. I just adore her.
Not having kids is just as normal as wanting kids, I’ve always felt.
Amy Blackstone, a gender sociologist at the University of Maine who specializes in childfree research, hopes that her work at least helps question the assumption that little boys and girls will grow up to become parents. “Right now, girls in particular, but girls and boys both, are raised to imagine themselves as parents of children,” she told Huff Post. “But if we more critically thought about the question of whether or not to parent, then everyone would have the opportunity to make the choice that’s right for them.”
“Of course, the childfree would benefit… if we made it a choice rather than an assumption,” Blackstone said. “But I think parents would benefit, too.”
No regrets. Not everyone wants them, and if you’re not sure, it’s best to hold off. Having ambivalent (or worse) parents does a real number on a kids self esteem.
Blackstone conducted 60 to 90-minute interviews with 31 people (21 women and 10 men) about their decision to live childfree. The small qualitative study found out that the choice is not spontaneous but rather a complex and ongoing conversation. This pushes back on critics, saying that childfree couples are selfish or flippant.
Since publishing her research, Blackstone has interviewed 44 more people, expanding the diversity of her participant pool. She wishes to continue her research in the future as well, which will hopefully create a world where childfree people don’t have to defend their choice to others or suffer socially for it.
Well…I’m a dude in a relationship with a dude. 26 years. We could have had children but didn’t. Have plenty of nieces and nephews to spoil.
Also…we’ve been able to save and we are retiring this week. I’m 54.
Mid-40s, married for 22 years. No regrets. We’re both extremely happy – we have a great marriage, fulfilling jobs, money (and time) for all the fun things we want to do, and as much travel as we want (currently on week 6 of a 7 week road trip). I have never felt a lack in my life for not having children, and have always felt that having children would be detrimental to my happiness. I’m sure it’s great for those that actually want kids, but I’ve never been one of those people.
I also have around 16 nieces and nephews, so we get to sort of experience that whole “having a kid” thing for a week or two at a time…and then send them home, which works out perfectly.
Our two cats and one dog are as close to having kids that we will ever have, and trust me – that’s about as much responsibility for someone else’s life as we should be given. I love our pets, but having a dog has very firmly shown me that it’s a good thing we never had kids.
Every kid I don’t have is like $186,000 I don’t need to make.
My husband and I are 48. Not having kids is a huge relief, still. We get to travel, have a nice house, walk around naked if we want, and I have disposable income to support causes that are important. My life is fulfilling and happy.
I’m not a couple, just a person. I’ve been in lots of relationships and was married twice. I would not have made a good parent. Regret sometimes I wasn’t born into a different life, but given the cards I was dealt… I think I made the right choice in that department and have no regrets.
We’re both in our mid 40s. When we got married in our mid 20s we were trying to have kids, until we realized that we were pretty much just doing it because it was expected of us by family. I decided to not get pregnant and my husband has supported my decision.
After a few years my husband started having spotty employment due to health issues and ended up on disability. We don’t know if he’ll ever be able to work again or what his long term health will be like. We were concerned that he wouldn’t be able to contribute to a child’s life, either financially or by providing care. Plus I found out I have fertility issues and it would be very expensive and difficult, if not impossible, for me to get pregnant. Also I’ve realized in the last few years that 1) my upbringing qualifies as abuse and I’m more like my abuser than I’m comfortable admitting; 2) I don’t want to treat a kid the way I got treated but I’m afraid it would be inevitable without a crap ton of ongoing therapy for the entire family; and 3) I realized that I just don’t really like kids that much. Having a kid around for a couple hours? Fine. 24/7 for minimum 18 years? No thanks.
Sometimes I worry that when we’re old we’ll be alone and regret it then, but we have plenty of nieces and nephews, and the fear of the possibility of regret thirty or forty years from now isn’t a valid reason to get pregnant IMO.
I love my life. Kids never factored into it. I never wanted them, so simply didn’t have them.
Having never wanted them, I don’t think about having missed out on anything or that I’m lesser for it.
Children aren’t mandatory
I’m a 49 year old female and have never regretted my decision to not have kids. I think I’ve always been missing the mommy gene. I like not having the responsibilities and obligations (and expenses!) that go along with having kids.
I’m approaching 60, husband is approaching 70, and we get that question a lot. We know we made the right choice. I’m a teacher, so I’ve spent my life working with wonderful kids, but simply never wanted to go home to more kids after work. We don’t know who will take care of us when we’re decrepit, but adult children are no guarantee of having care in old age.
However, I think we both miss having grandchildren to take places, Christmas is quiet, and family barbecues are non-existant. That part is a bit sad.
I always thought I’d wake up one day and be clucky and ready to start a family. That day never came and I’m pushing 50 now so I’ve missed my chance.
I sometimes wonder if I made a mistake not having kids but its not something i really regret.
On the plus side, I am looking at retiring with a 6 figure income at 52, regularly donate and do charity work. In-fact I am looking at starting my own charity at the end of the year to dedicate more time to when I retire.
In some ways not having children has/will allow me to help more people than just my immediate family.
My suggestion is do what feels right, either way its a big decision that only you and your partner should make.
I’m not that old (37) and I’m not a couple, but I didn’t have kids and I can say undoubtedly, I wouldn’t have accomplished the things I am very proud of in my life if I’d gone down the family route.
My nieces and nephews are enough for me, and I can give them back and won’t be held responsible for how they turn out. It’s honestly not a bad deal at all.
I’m going to give you the different answer. I met my guy at 26. I was ready for kids at 32. He started stalling, hoping to run my clock out. I thought I was ‘too old’ to find someone new in time to have kids.
I tried to accept it. To find something else to give my life purpose. I have a fulfilling professional career. I donate. I volunteer. I care for my older family members. I have friends.
But, you know what? I never got over my anger and resentment of being denied children. Last year, after 20 years together, I ended things.
Now I’m back to looking at ways to become a Mom, however that happens. I have my own frozen eggs. I’m open to fostering or adopting.
And I don’t regret leaving my ex, not even a little. I feel resentment, and cheated.
For what it’s worth, Embryo adoption is also a thing. It’s far more cost effective than domestic infant adoption, and you can generally do it until age 55, after that on a case by case basis.
Some people can move past it, others can’t until they have exhausted every possible outlet. I’m in the latter category. I wish you peace, with whatever you decide.
My husband and I have been together for 27 years, and we originally said we didn’t want kids. Then we thought we should have some, and tried for a decade with no luck. So we had a serious talk, and decided we didn’t really want them after all, and stopped trying. Now that the pressure is off and we both feel nothing but relief, we are enjoying life so much. It’s wonderful to just be selfish without having to make excuses or feel resentful and be able to travel on our own schedule and make decisions that just impact us. If we could have had kids naturally, no harm, no foul, and we would have loved and accepted them, but it didn’t happen, so no worries. And we also don’t have to worry about f*cking up another human accidentally. Life is good, and we have the finances and resources to take care of ourselves. The only negative is that we are both the end of the line for our genetic ancestors. But that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to try the crazy fertility treatments beyond what we already did.
I’m 60 now, been married for 29 years. God did not provide me with the proper temperament to raise children. Have never regretted our decision to be child free. We’re good
I fear the answer to this. I’m ambivalent about kids. But I’ll never forget holding the hand of a man on his last day in hospice as he said ” Oh God, I wish I’d had a child.”
He was married to one woman for close to 50 years, taught for nearly 40. His room was filled with cards and photos from former students, friends, and family. It’s impossible to say if he was lucid, but the regret in his voice was heartbreaking.
I say now I’d be happy with children or none; biological, adopted, or step, but until the end I won’t ever know.
My wife and I are in out mid 40’s. I hope that counts as “older”.
We’re very happy with our decision. We have the ability to live a pretty comfortable lifestyle, and I think we generally have a lot less stress than our child-having peers, and we’ll be able to retire earlier.
Our lives are full and fun, and I get to spend a ridiculous amount of time with my wife (which is the best thing ever).
Also, there are some things that you may not think about. For example, I recently had some changes at my job that created a lot of potential income stress. I was flipping out pretty hard. If I had a kid in (or nearly in) college, I might have gone full meltdown.
Many of the concerns that went in to our decision not to have kids were centered around our own personalities, so I’m not a “child free” advocate, or anything, but I do think that many people have kids because they are “supposed to” or because the want “someone to take care of them when they’re old,” which I think is a terrible reason to have kids.
I’m 41 and chilling, do what I want when I want, no money issues, so I’m happy. I never felt like I wanted kids, I just didn’t feel I would be a good parent, so I think it would be irresponsible on my part. People still like to tell me I just “haven’t found the right girl yet” but I tell them the right girl is one who doesn’t want to have kids. Not sure why it’s such a big deal, but no one has ever said “good for you, that’s awesome”. Kinda f**ked up there’s enough people on this planet already.
I go through phases where I regret not having a kid, I still have plenty of time: My wife and I are 36, but we made the decision to be childless a decade ago, maybe more.
I understand the appeal of having children and feel it on some primal level, but logically the pros vs. cons of having a kid… there are just far too many cons.
My wife and I have been married for 12 years – I am 36 and she is 40, so, yeah, likely not in the cards. It is a reality that, while tough, I am slowly learning to accept.
I realized that as a guy, I always look at having kids with rose-colored glasses – ball games, working on my classic car with them, dad jokes, the fun stuff. That’s easy for me as it’s not my body and sacrifice. My wife is not on board and it’s her body and I love and respect her to much to force her hand. If either one of us are not 100% ok with a major decision, we don’t do it, end of discussion.
I look forward to spoiling my nieces and nephews and spending more time with my wife and continuing to make our world about us, forever.
Until I was in my mid-20s I always thought I wanted kids. Then I stayed with a couple I knew who had toddlers. They were nice kids, but I remember one Saturday morning they poked me awake for cereal. It was an epiphany. I remember thinking “I will never want this.”
Fast forward several decades. Not too long ago I was at a family function with an 8 year old. He’s not a bad kid, but Christ it was just…loud. Everything was just really loud. XBox, talking all the time, interrupting with questions. Mind you, I’m not complaining about the childrens behavior. They were better than average, from what I can tell. I’m just celebrating my decision not to get involved.
I am soooo happy I did not subject myself to that.
We are in our late fifties, we earn average money but because we don’t have kids we have a lot of disposable income. Also I don’t think I could have coped with the worry of having a child in today’s horrible world. Both our mothers are in homes. We still make sure they’re ok. There’s no one to look after us. I sometimes want to ask my wife if she regrets not having kids but daren’t. If she said yes it would destroy me.
I wanted them but never met the right person. I’m REALLY glad I didnt have any of my previous partners- they would either have made terrible mothers or we just did not make for a healthy couple.
I have the perfect partner now, and she did fall pregnant, but we lost the baby to Dandy Walker syndrome. Getting a bit too old to try again now. I am very upset that I will not have children, but I don’t regret not having children with anyone but my current partner.
I go back and forth. My SO has some significant mental health issues and I know that I would be alone doing much of the emotional labor of raising a child, and I know I’m not really capable of doing it alone. Sometimes I worry very much about what I will do when I am old. I’m an introvert and dont have many friends and am not overly likable, so I assume I will be alone. I just hope that there are some kind robots to take care of me, and that I’ll die before the robots turn on us.
I love our decision not to have kids. I’ve always had trouble adulting well and the idea of spending all my spare cash on diapers and bottles didn’t appeal to me. I’m selfish, so is the husband, and we are okay with that. I have to prepare for old age because I’m not going to have any kids to look out for me when I’m frail and senile, which sometimes worries me, but then I remember that I didn’t have to raise kids and I smile a bit.
Not older, I’m 34 and my wife is 31. Our lives are pretty f**king awesome. We do whatever we want whenever we want, and our focus and attention is on one-another. This really is the life for me, and she would tell you the exact same thing about herself. We are also the super-cool-but-quirky aunt and uncle that spoil the nieces and nephews, take them to do s**t their parents wouldn’t usually/ever do… I mean it’s great. I feel I’m surrounded by far, far too many people who are far, far to envious of us when they hear about our lives vs theirs, completely consumed by their children.
For my spouse, I can only say that they have physical and psychological issues that they’ve mentioned that they’d rather not pass on to a child.
For myself, I’ve always said that while I’m occasionally afraid that someday I might regret not having children, that’s not the same as wanting children, and that’s an important difference to me. I have my own reasons to believe I’d probably not be a good parent.
Yeah, we both get concerned sometimes whether anyone will be arsed to care about the sole survivor once the other’s gone or incapacitated. But this thought is the result of our decisions, not a basis for changing our minds about having kids, which we will not. Having kids or not is no guarantee that you’ll end up cared for or not anyway, though it does probably move the needle on your odds.