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Bringing Children Into the World

I posted recently about a traumatic event I am currently going through and shared my story, hoping it would perhaps help others, make them realize they are not alone.

The issue of having children is a complicated one and the dynamics of what even makes a family has changed so much over the years that it’s difficult to listen to all the advice from family and friends, especially when we are talking across generations, religious issues, etc. What one person sees for their future is different than what another person sees.

So why is it that when people make the decision to not have children they are treated almost like pariahs? Like there’s something wring with them? We don’t all choose to live in the same cites, have the same jobs, drive the same cars, watch the same movies…so why is this different?

Can it be purely biological? The primal need to sow the seeds, spread the genes? Or is it pressure from family, wanting to pass on the family name and parents wanting to be grandmothers? Is it pressure from within, as though we somehow feel it’s our duty to have children? Or do you truly want to be a parent with all the privileges and responsibilities?

And what is the right reason to have kids?

Seems to me it depends on who you ask.

Some people think it’s the duty of men and women to be fruitful and multiply, citing the Bible as the reasoning behind it all. Men feel it’s the duty of the woman to give them children and many women feel it’s their duty to give them. Others may not have religious reasons but still feel it’s the duty of humans to produce offspring. Some feel the urging to procreate so strongly that it becomes almost an all consuming fire, driving them to find a mate.

But what if you’re the minority and you don’t want children?

I’ve always knows I didn’t want kids and have made that very clear. I never really gave it much thought or analyzed the reasons. It’s just something I’ve always known and took steps to prevent. But it didn’t take long for the weird looks, rolled eyes, and sometimes downright hostility came at me as I got older (i.e child bearing years). It blows my mind how many people seriously think that people who don’t want kids have a screw loose. They feel it’s their duty to inform said person of the error of their ways, citing all of the things their little precious does, or how fulfilled their lives are, how much a blessing little Suzie is, you’ll change your mind once you meet the right man, you might not like kids but your own are different, who will take care of you when you get old and frail, blahblahblah…

What kills me is I still get this even at age 40. As though I were still a twelve year old that can’t possible know what she wants and will certainly change her mind when she grows up. The last few days have given me time to reflect on the decision and I realize now there isn’t any one specific reason for not wanting kids. It a whole slew of them: don’t want to be pregnant and carrying around extra weight, don’t have an desire to shove a baby out of my nether regions, can’t stand the thought of having to get up every 6 minutes to feed, balancing kids + career, no longer having the freedom to just pick up and go if I want to go somewhere, don’t want the financial burden, don’t want to be responsible for raising a child…I could seriously go on and on.

And I don’t care if someone thinks I would be a great mom…I.Don’t.Want.Kids!!!

And from the response on my last blog post, there are a LOT of people out there who feel exactly like I do and that was such a tremendous blessing. It really lifted a weight and made me even more sure of my conviction to not bring children into the world when they are not truly wanted. For me, the only reason to have children is because you want to give your whole life to them and because the thought of not having them leaves you feeling empty inside.

Don’t have kids because your biological clock is ticking, family is pestering you for grandchildren, carrying on the family name, because you want something to love you unconditionally (you’ll love your kids that way but they won’t love you that way), to fill a void in your life, because everyone around you thinks it’s your duty to do so. NONE of these is reason enough to have a child.

It’s not like trying out new furniture. You can’t take it back if you decide to have a kid and it turns out you were right all along and didn’t want them. This is a human life that will be shaped by the actions of the parents. Think what the damage would be if you brought a child into the world and you didn’t want it. Kids can sense that stuff and it will leave lasting scars that can end up damaging future generations of they have kids without seeking counseling.

After reading through the comments on my last blog post I was curious. Most of the commenters were women. I am wondering if there are men out there who are facing the backlash of a decision not to have kids. I can see it from the woman’s perspective and see how vicious and cruel others can be to a woman who chooses the kid-free path in life. But it has to be hard for men as well. I imagine there is pressure there to carry on the family name, sow the seeds, etc. I think there pressure might stem  more from parents rather than friends where women get it from family, friends, and even complete strangers! So men, feel free to chime in with your thoughts if you’re out there in the cyberverse reading this. I think it is helpful for both men and women to know they are not alone.

And if you’ve ever been guilty of trying to change someone’s mind or judging them because they don’t want to have kids just think about this: Why is it any of your damn business??!!?? It should be between the spouses and that’s IT! No family, no friends, no co-workers putting in their two cents worth. I have a feeling that if people were truly, deeply honest, many would admit they had kids out of some sense of duty rather then because they really wanted to be parents. And perhaps they are jealous of the ones standing their ground and refusing to give in to pressure to have them and this is what causes them to lash out with such arrogance at the ones who don’t want them.

I’d love to hear from you!

So what are you thoughts? Make sure to answer the poll (it’s anonymous so no one will be able to track you down) and if you are brave enough, post a comment if you would like. Perhaps someone reading this is in the same boat I am and is ready to cave to the pressure to have kids. Or maybe someone out there is guilty of pressuring someone and maybe needs to realize the damage that can cause, even if the words are voiced with the best intentions.

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15 Comments on “Bringing Children Into the World”

  1. Mhairi Simpson June 15, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    There is a middle road in the never wanted kids category, which is where I find myself these days. I’ve never wanted kids for their own sake, and even considered getting sterilised when I was younger. Having been in a couple of rather passionate relationships since, I’ve realised that, if the right guy came along, I might well have kids as a way of (and this is going to sound horribly cheesy) furthering the bond and love between me and my man. That said, if the guy doesn’t want kids, that’s fine by me. Just saying that if he does, I’m not so drastically against it that I would totally discount the idea. But for now, I’m very happily kid-free.

  2. nrlymrtl June 15, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    My man and I are in our 30s and have never wanted kids. We do leave the door open for future changes in our lives – for instance 5 years ago we would never have seen ourselves with goats, donkeys, and chickens. But we often borrow kids and it reinforces that they are fun, but more of a responsibility than what we want for now.

    My mom often said that she wished she never had kids and I heard that all the time growing up. She meant it. I don’t want to put a kid in that position.

    We do have relatives and friends who find it odd that we don’t plan to have kids, think that we will change our minds, that we are fooling ourselves, that it is selfish to not have kids and still live on a farm, etc. I look at their lives and why they had kids – family pressure, feeling of duty, oopsy baby. The kids are great, but those reasons aren’t good enough for us.

    Last comment: I do have a wonderful group of friends, all older than me by like 20 years, that never had kids and have active, happy, healthy lives. They are normal, good people.

  3. Amy Rose Davis June 15, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    I think you’re incredibly wise to avoid having kids if you really don’t feel that desire, Shay. I think it would be incredibly irresponsible to bring a child into the world knowing ahead of time that you really didn’t want him/her. I don’t have any issue with folks who choose not to have children. I admit that I don’t always understand that desire because I always wanted a big family, but there are a lot of folks who think I’m irresponsible or crazy for wanting four kids. “What’s wrong with you? The world is overpopulated! You should’ve adopted. You’ll destroy your nether regions. Four kids–that’s too expensive! How can you focus on any of them?” And on and on. For some reason, people will always think they’re allowed and even required to have an opinion about intensely private choices like this.

  4. Tracey June 15, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    I love my son very much, but he is a lot of work! I have not had a full night’s sleep in the 15 months since he was born, but I just keep reminding myself that I wanted this. I have always wanted to be a mom. Had I NOT wanted to be a mom, and had I been pressured into having him, I would be a VERY resentful, angry, sleep-deprived person right about now. You made the right decision to stick to your guns, Shay.

  5. shayfabbro June 15, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    And here’s what I should say to my soon-to-be ex and his family about his lying to me about not wanting to have kids: what if the tables were turned? What if I had lied about WANTING them?? What if I had been the one that said “Oh, yes, I’ll want kids some day in the future, you betcha.” Then string him along hoping he’d change HIS mind to match my TRUE mindset of NOT wanting them, all the while resenting him bringing up the subject all the time, and finally ending the marriage after 9 years (11 if you count the dating) because he just refused to come around to my way of thinking. That kind of puts in perspective the brutal betrayal. He is the ONLY one who had the power to either not move forward with the relationship back when I told him I didn’t want kids OR be honest early on when he saw I wasn’t going to change my mind. I had no choice, since I took him at his word when he told me and everyone else that he didn’t want kids either.

  6. Jamie DeBree June 15, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    We used to get the pressure – mostly from my in-laws. They wanted grandkids…not to keep, mind you, just to spoil and give back (and I’m sure to tell me how to raise them as well – I can guarantee that would have ended rather badly, considering my MIL and I aren’t exactly on the same plane of existence most of the time). My mom was just fine with my decision – said she wasn’t ready to be a grandmother anyways. But she’s never really been fond of small children either…even with us, she couldn’t wait until we grew up. 🙂

    We’ve been lucky as far as friends go – they all pretty much figure it’s our choice…we don’t bug them about having as many kids as they want, and they don’t bug us about not having kids. The only thing that sometimes gets between us is when they want to include kids in activities we prefer they not be included in, but we either simply skip those, or deal with it, depending on what/where it is. It’s not that we don’t like kids, but if we wanted to be around them all the time, we’d have some. 😉

    My aunt once told me I was selfish for not wanting kids, and asked me who would take care of me when I’m old. I told her that if her reason for having a kid was so he could take care of her in her twilight years, that was just as selfish as my not having any and arranging for my own care when I’m older.

    We do have friends where one spouse decided he was done after 2 kids, and she wanted one more and made it happen. It’s…not been pretty, though they are still together.

    All of this just underscores how very important honesty is in a relationship right from the very start. If your then-boyfriend would have been honest from the start, you wouldn’t be in this mess. So much heartbreak could have been avoided…it’s just very sad.

    • shayfabbro June 15, 2012 at 11:21 am #

      I guess for me the hardest thing is wondering how he could look me in the eye, say the vows, keep going day-to-day knowing he was living a lie. I just don’t get that level of deception nor how I was so damn blind to it 😦 I wear my heart on my sleeve so I couldn’t hide my strong emotions even if I wanted to.

      • Jamie DeBree June 15, 2012 at 11:26 am #

        It’s arrogance, in my opinion. He was so sure he could change your mind, it just wasn’t an issue for him. And it should have been. But it underscores how little he respects your ability to make your own decisions and know your own mind.

        Of course you trusted him…because you *should* be able to trust the person you love, and who loves you. Why would you be looking for problems? This is on him.

  7. Jo June 15, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    One of the problems we face today is that women, once married, are expected by society to take on the traditional role of housewife – raising children, volunteering for the school or on sports teams, fundraising for activities, making meals, looking after the household etc – plus we are also expected to have a career or at least career aspirations.
    We were told “girls can do anything” and somewhere along the way it got confused and became “girls must do everything”.
    Surely women who choose their career over relationships don’t feel the same social pressure to procreate do why should their married counterparts?

  8. Kassandra Lamb June 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Personally I’m flabbergasted that anyone would think it was okay to try to pressure someone who doesn’t want kids into having them (okay, I’m a grandmother so I get that reason, although I tried not to do it to my son). It’s kind of like trying to pressure someone into buying a horse who’s never ridden one and says they don’t particularly want one.

    Seriously, that is not an absurd analogy. Raising a child was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I had no clue what I was getting myself into. But I did want at least one child (hubby was resistant to more than one) and I will say that I’ve never regretted having my son. He is the light of my life.

    But I agree with an earlier commenter, if I hadn’t totally wanted him, I would have been very resentful and a horrible mother. And as a retired psychotherapist, I will tell you that a lot of my clients were unwanted children and knew it, and that was why they needed therapy!

    Shay, no one in this day and age, male or female, should ever have a child unless they truly want one!

  9. Eden June 15, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    I loved both posts, Shay. Both resonated me, as much as many of the parenting posts do… I’m in that little Fifth (sixth?) Column that you didn’t include in your poll–the “Wasn’t Sure Either Way; now has kids”.

    I started out adamantly against having children. As one of those children who was “wanted” but not because my parents wanted a child but as a way to convince their own parents they were old enough to get married, I was determined to not do that to another person. Add to that, not being comfortable around children (or bodily fluids, etc.)… I was in your boat.

    Then a lot of my friends who had wanted kids started having them, and it was “okay”. Still no hurry, no real interest. But the pressure from the parents, the grandparents (and even my great-grandmother)… I was entering my 30s and one would think I was the last woman on this earth capable of perpetuating the human race in their eyes. Still not interested though… just a bit more ambivalent.

    Then…it happened. Not trying (actually a bc issue), but I somehow got pregnant and had a miscarriage a way into the pregnancy. And my mindset went completely off kilter… I not only wanted to have a kid, I needed to have a kid. It was… well, I don’t completely understand what happened.

    I still don’t. But now that my head has settled, I can’t go and undo my six-year old son. Despite the fact that, if it were not for that insanity (hormones, loss and “what-if”, parental pressure… what-have-you), my husband and I would be quite happy to still be living our married lives with the cats and spending our time on hikes and books and visiting little out of the way places… despite that, we’re mostly happy.

    It’s still not the choice I wanted to make. I’m just glad that Nature seems to have taken a hand in the situation before the madness left and all methods of Not Having Another seem to be working again.

    I have one. I’m done.

  10. hmcmullin June 15, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    I was fortunate because my Mother didn’t care if she had grandkids or not and my Dad, who had been married before and had 4 kids from whom he was pretty much estranged, didn’t want any, either, so we were free from those pressures. Since much of my side of the family belongs to a Church whose beliefs include “go forth and multiply” there were subtle and not-so-subtle hints and questions from other relatives and acquaintenances but after awhile they gave up.

  11. Dee January 3, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    Having kids is pointless. Period.
    If it was for the reason, to have your genes be immoral…you will still be dead. LOL.

    What a joke. This world is corrupted, and most of your kids are going to turn out to be, sluts, criminals, and blah. SOME of you are even going to give birth to FUTURE pedophiles, murderers, rapists, and child molesters.

    But, oh, wait!- Those people are blessings, right? Sorry! Never mind!

  12. Alexandra June 29, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    I have just come across this post whilst monkeying about on the internet and it has made me feel so much better. I feel as if everybody in the world wants the joy of a baby except for me. There seems to be a black and white feeling that if you don’t want your own kids then you must HATE children. You must loathe and detest them and be a totally selfish person who is obsessed with their career/body/foreign holidays/freedom. I am none of these things. In fact I wish I were a little more obsessed with my career but there’s time yet…. I think children are lovely (some of them) and I am nuts about my niece and nephews, but I feel no need to lug around a huge belly for 9mths and then squeeze something out of a part of me that is just too damn small. I know so many people who would say ‘oh we can’t get a dog, we don’t have the time/money/space/patience, it’s just too big a commitment’ and yet they pop out a couple of children just because they think ‘I want a baby!’. I never walk up to people, asking if they have children and then look at them curiously and say ‘erm – why did you have them?’, and yet people think it is perfectly acceptable to ask me why I don’t have any. There’s usually the sympathetic head bob which indicates that they think I protest too much and secretly my eggs are crying out to be fertilised and I am actually living in a tragic hollow baby-less existence. There is nothing wrong with not wanting children. There is nothing wrong with wanting children. There is something wrong with the people who unfairly judge either of those 2 mindsets.

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