This post has been sat in my drafts for some time now. I tweeted about it back in September and whilst for the most part, the responses I got were great – either women agreeing with me or women who had had kids telling me that actually sometimes they couldn’t be bothered and that it’s a normal feeling – I got a comment to say that what I said was insensitive towards women who can’t have kids.

Now, before we get into this post, I need to say that my heart OBVIOUSLY goes out to all those women who want kids and can’t have them, for whatever reason. It must be one of the worst feelings in the world, wanting something that much and not being able to have it, going through years of struggle, appointments, stress and doubt.

I wish it was easy for everyone to have a child if they wished. I wish everything just *worked* if you wanted one and that was that. But that’s not life and sadly it’s not easy for everyone. If you’re one of those women, my heart is with you. But I’d also urge you not to read this post as I’d hate to trigger or upset anyone.

I also want to make it clear that I’m not SURE if I want children. I’m certainly not against having them at some point; in fact, I think I’d be a great Mum (my boyfriend would certainly make an amazing Dad) and I think it’s one of the coolest things in the world, bringing up a tiny human, teaching them about life, helping them find their passions and watching them grow.

But I also know that it won’t be the end of my world should I not have them. I’m 29 years old now. Most girls I went to school with already have children by now. A lot of girls I knew who are a lot younger than me also already have children. But it’s only now that I feel like if I were to have a child, I’d be able to deal with it and look after it to the best of my ability.

I certainly wouldn’t have been fit to do that at any other stage of my twenties when I was suffering with such a debilitating anxiety disorder that I could barely leave my room.

I don’t think not wanting children is insensitive. Whatever reason you don’t want children is a valid reason. Saying someone is insensitive for not wanting children on the basis that they don’t know whether they can be bothered with it is saying that anyone who doesn’t want a child is insensitive. If I am, all childless women by choice must be.

But I think having a child knowing that I couldn’t really be bothered is more insensitive and cruel.

Because let’s be honest, you don’t have to be a parent to know that children are hard work. Physically, mentally, emotionally, financially – and more. You REALLY NEED TO BE BOTHERED to have a child because once you do, it’s a full-time job that you’re never allowed to leave.

I won’t speak for my boyfriend here because it’s not fair but for me, I like being able to go wherever I want, whenever I want. I like being able to book a trip or nap all afternoon or spend 3 hours in the bath on a whim. I don’t cope very well with a lack of sleep. I know all of those things would dramatically change, should I have a child.

I know I’ll have to become a lot less selfish. I’ll have to drastically change my priorities. With a child, comes more effort and responsibility that I can actually fathom. And quite honestly, I’m not sure whether I can be bothered with that. To put the question simply: Am I too selfish to have a child?

A weird thing for me to consider, actually, as I’m one of the least selfish people you’ll ever meet. But perhaps this is my way of allowing myself an area of selfish-ness in my life that I don’t feel bad about and can give to myself forever. Who knows.

I’m not sure what the purpose of this ramble was. I don’t often word vomit like this but I have been keen to express how I feel, especially after reading In the Frow’s thought on having a childless future. Obviously it’s nobody else’s decision. I’m 29 years old, so I’m at an age where I could swing either way. I have time.

I find comfort in the fact that I’m sitting on the fence.

If you have any advice or tips for me to help me gain more clarity on this subject, I would love to hear it. Please be kind in the comments and don’t shame anyone for their decisions either way.

74 Comments

  1. This was an interesting read! When I was 29, I was pretty certain I did not want children. Then when I got to my early 30s, I started to move towards “maybe.” I read one of the Dear Sugar advice columns where a man was having a debate with himself over having children and asked what he should do. The advice given was to imagine your life 10, 20, even 30 years from now: what do you see? Do you see yourself living a life of independence or do you see yourself with growing or adult children? There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s just what you envision for yourself in the long run.

    I envisioned myself with children. If that does not happen, I would feel sad, but would still consider it a life well spent. I don’t think anyone should be made to feel “ashamed” for their choices. I have friends with children and friends who are childfree, and they both live happy and fulfilling lives.

  2. I’ve from the perspective of I’ve already had my children. It’s truly a personal choice and no one should be criticized for whatever they choose. I for one wish I had them later in life and not with the person I had them with. However despite that I do not regret my choice to have them. For me I cannot imagine my world without them.

  3. Hey Jenny!

    I’m 23 and have known for awhile I don’t really want kids. As a woman, I feel like there is so much pressure to want and have kids. Frankly, it’s a personal choice, one you are not alone in choosing. There are so many pros and cons list that can be made on both sides, but ultimately it’s your life and you know what is best for you.

    Having kids because you “should” never seemed like a good idea to me. Thankfully, we can choose for ourselves.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. I’ve had something similar sitting in my drafts for a few months now. While we wanted kids last year during lockdown, it was fleeting. It was very much a notion on our parts. Because the more we sat down and thought about it, the more we realised, we really don’t want them. We REALLY don’t. We’re happy as we are. And just because we’re expected to have them doesn’t mean we will. My husband is even looking into getting ‘the snip’ to prevent them in the future. We’re simply happy as we are and don’t see that changing. We’re cat people, animal people, not children people. Plus, we really couldn’t afford them in this economy.

    1. Wow that’s amazing that you had that conversation, settled on it and then completely changed track. It shows that one decision doesn’t always necessarily mean something for life. I’d love to read your thoughts on this – I urge you to publish what’s in your drafts!

  5. Wow thank you for sharing your thought process and struggle with this idea so openly. For me, I’ve always known I wanted kids. Since I was a kid I knew I wanted them. But since that’s different for you I think you can definitely take your time deliberating it. There is absolutely no rush!

  6. I love this so much! And it’s not insensitive at all – obviously, it’s heart breaking that some women struggle to conceive, but that in no way should affect your personal life choices. I’m a big believer (for my life, at least) in only having kids if I actively WANT them and know I can be a good parent. Children don’t ask to be born, so I’d only want to bring one into the world if I’m 100% ready to sacrifice and take care of it x

    1. Thank you! I didn’t think it was insensitive either, I mean language plays a huge part but I like to think I wasn’t disrespectful? Your point about a child not asking to be born is something really important to consider!

  7. At your age I was also on the fence. It wasn’t until I was 32 that I wanted one, I got pregnant when I was 33. Your feelings may change too, they may not. But I’ve always been worried about being too selfish but I didn’t have to worry because having a baby is like having another me and I look after the both of us. I’m not sure if Im explaining it right. But like, Leo’s needs and my needs are the most important in the world. So we come first! Plus you really do love them so much that it’s easier to put them first and your priorities do change.

    I hope you find some clarity!

    Corinne x

  8. When you told me that you were posting this after you told me about it Jenny, I was really looking forward to reading it and this post is just amazing! Thank you for talking about this topic, I spoke about on my blog as you know and I think it’s important to end the stigma of women not wanting children once and for all! x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

  9. If you decided to have a child (let’s be hypothetical here), I feel like we are forgetting something: marriage. These days I feel like people do things out of order. There isn’t anything wrong with that (heck, I did things out of order too) but…. I strongly recommend getting married if you are planning on having kids down the road. A child deserves to have both parents in their lives and a good relationship with their mom and dad. I’m sure you and your boyfriend are planning to be together for many many more years.

    So that begs the question: regardless of whether or not you plan on having kids, have you guys thought about getting married? What are your thoughts on marriage? Despite how traditional marriage is, I think there’s some truth in it.

    1. We’re more inclined to have children than to get married. We’ve been together for 7 years, none of us are planning to go anywhere anytime soon and we’re very similar in how we want to raise a child (if we were), so marriage definitely isn’t the most important thing for us and I think it’s important to recognize that not everyone needs marriage to raise healthy and happy children. Fair enough to those who want to get married first (I always thought I wanted to) but it’s not the only way to do things.

      1. That’s fair. I used to be the same way honestly. Marriage wasn’t high up on my list and having children was more important to me than marriage, if anything. However, I only say this because I realize how important it is to stay connected as a family, especially for the children. They deserve to grow up in a healthy, nurturing household with both parents. Anyone who feels like their relationship needs improvement, or who’s with the wrong person, or can’t commit to providing a strong foundation for their kids shouldn’t have kids imo (the list is extensive I’m only making generalizations here). I don’t think it’s okay to nag others about having kids… it’s really none of our business. Personally I’ve always wanted them but never thought I would have kids since I was single the majority of my life. I didn’t think I even had a chance of finding a husband.

        Sadly, it’s easy for parents to end things and walk away these days – and this goes for married people too. Divorce rates are SO high these days. That is my biggest concern when it relates to the children – they need a stable, committed family regardless of whether the parents are married. I only bring up the marriage thing because of that.

  10. I was never sure about kids. My boyfriend was very sure. It was in the back of my mind but I just didn’t know. Then a few years ago (I’m 32) I started to look at babies differently. I started to get broody. I say sometimes it was like a switch in my brain but actually I think it was something that was very slowly occuring. I’d look at families and think how lovely it would be to be on holiday as a family. And all the fun stuff you can do like Halloween and Christmas as a family.
    Lately I’ve seen a lot of children having tantrums but it hasn’t put me off.
    For a while I wasn’t sure if I was ready, was very unsure what to do. Fear, change all different thoughts. Then I was. And I’m looking forward to it.
    You could change your mind, like I did, but do what feels right for you. We’re all different. Having children is huge and you need to feel ready and that you want them. But hey I’m no expert. It’s funny how your thinking can change but then we do change and learn. All the best.

    1. You know what, I’ve have a VERY similar experience. A few years ago, the thought of children and being pregnant was terrifying that I didn’t even allow myself to think about it but slowly over time, I’d notice things and start thinking about thnigs a little differently. I definitely think it’s something that happens slowly over time, rather than like you said, a light switch going off!

    2. I think you have a very practical approach to this decision, and I think it’s a good thing that you are weighing your options. I’ve always wanted to have kids, but the older I get, the less that seems like a possibility. I feel like you should be all in on the decision, though, and once you are, that’s the time to go for it. I’ve heard the saying that people would rather regret not having kids than regret having them, and which ever regret you’re more comfortable living with is the decision you should make.

  11. My gf and I are 10 years older than you, we don’t have kids, we don’t want kids.

    I’ve literally always said it’s because we’re both too selfish about things we want to do with our lives, in our non work time, explore the world, spend our wages on experiences and moments, and haphazard choices. Never regretted a moment of the last 11 years, and watched many parents wear themselves into the ground, break up, make mistakes and love their kids – all in equal measure.

    I don’t think anyone should make you feel bad though for not wanting them, if you chose that, as it’s your body, life, and options. Good luck whatever you choose, this is the only life we get, do what makes you happy 😁

      1. I can definitely understand the pressure, the social pressure, general society always following a specific ‘way’ (and it’s in the nature of human beings really) but if you decide to do something else, that’s also fine, that’s the beauty of self-awareness 🙂

  12. Thanks for sharing! While I do want one or two, it won’t be for a while. I hate the culture that says a women’s purpose is to have children and I don’t like people who to try to pressure women into it. It’s a personal choice and you have to do what is right for you.

  13. Thank you for writing about this. My partner and I have been together for such a long time and we are often asked when we are getting married and having kids. Both of us agree that children are not in our future and people can’t seem to accept that.

  14. This is a wonderfully-written post! I’ve never wanted children, though I know my thoughts could change in the future. For now, I’m happy to be 3 years into my marriage, child-free and thriving. It’s precisely how I most enjoy my life and I know that’s alright!

  15. Love this post! Such an important topic and you’ll know when the time is right. Or not.
    I’m 38 soon and I still can’t be bothered to have children. I see so many people have them and they actually need the child more than the child needs them and I hate that! Which is why I haven’t had one and don’t intend to!

  16. Firstly, you are not selfish for being unsure over whether or not you’d like to have a child. The very fact that you’ve taken the time to really consider the impact this would have on you shows that. Now that’s not to say you wouldn’t be surprised at the reserves of patience and grit you discover if/when you might have a child – trust me on this! But when you also consider you have to apply for a licence to get a dog in this country, but not to have a child, I don’t think you can ever be too thoughtful. Fab post, Jenny xxx

  17. My advice after having brought up 2 children to adulthood is not to have kids unless you really want them, or you’ll resent them when you get less sleep, less disposable income, and less free time. However, as they grow it all gets much better if they’ve had a lot of love and cuddles in their formative years. Now I’m 64 I have not only 2 sons, but also 2 daughters-in-law and 5 grandchildren. These people have our backs in times of trouble and we have theirs.

  18. So refreshing to read posts like this. So much of being a woman is tied to getting married and having children.

    But there is so much more to life that those arbitrary goals that are increasingly outdated.

    Plus I’m v selfish and hate being tired so I’d be useless as a mum! 😂😂

    1. Very true! There’s much more to life than those things. I think children can work around those things as they enter your life, not the other way around. There’s more to being a woman than giving birth!

  19. This is a very important post! Children aren’t for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with that- but there’s also no problem taking your time to decide or changing your mind as you get older. Thank you for sharing Jenny x

  20. I think your concerns are perfectly normal. Every parent-to-be worries about these things even if it’s what they want. I can tell you that having kids was a big shock to my admittedly delicate system. Still, you’d be surprised at how you quickly you adjust. Of course the reason for having kids is important. That’s for the same reasons you might climb Mount Everest or undertake any difficult endeavour. For the sense of purpose, meaning and fulfilment it gives. Having kids will give you that in bucket loads. In my eyes they make everything harder. This is exactly what makes everything better (eventually). BUT you do have to be sure. They are a MASSIVE responsibility. Take your time and make sure your sure either way. Certainly no shame in not wanting them.

  21. This is a wonderful post Jenny. I think we as women feel so pressured by society to want to have kids and when we simply don’t it’s really strange for some! It’s also no secret how often people like to make us feel like we have a biological time clock and as if we are only allowed to have our children in our 20s when our 20s are some of the most detrimental times in our lives! There’s a lot of people at that age who are finishing up college and starting their careers for the first time. Experiencing the world on their own for the first time. It’s a time for transition and building ourselves up whether it’s our careers, our relationships, our sense of independencancy. There’s so much more to life than having children and it’s okay if other things take priority over that. It’s not being selfish. It’s more about being responsible and knowing what you’re comfortable with. Raising a little human is a huge deal and you want to be as prepared for it as you can be!

    I had my little girl when I was 16 and I was very blessed with a wonderful support system that helped me every step of the way. In saying that, there are simply people out here who don’t have a support system. Someone to help with childcare while they work or even make enough to afford childcare so there are so many reasons why people choose to not have children and that’s okay! And it’s also okay to change your mind about it later when you are ready!

    1. Thank you for sharing this! I totally agree with everything you’ve said, I’m 29 now, like I said and I’m only JUST feeling ready. Your 20’s are tough and confusing – I think most people would agree so I don’t know why it’s always pushed on women that that’s the perfect time to have a child. I really do feel for those that don’t have that support system x

  22. Thank you for sharing such an intimate post. I had a child when I was quite young and I’m happy for this experience. When the marriage broke down and I remarried when my child was 9 (I was about your age now) we decided that if one of us really wanted to have another child we would. We decided not to. Do I regret this decision now that I’m no longer able to have a child? I have had a few moments. But overwhelming we knew we had made the right decision for us. Let your heart guide you over the next few years – it will lead you to make the right decision for you.

  23. Thank you for sharing this post Jenny.

    I also feel for people in a situation where they face issues having children, or worse have suffered baby loss. I can’t imagine the pain.

    However, your path is yours and you are entitled to blog about that, and should. You are helping people who feel similar, uncertain feelings.

    I honestly couldn’t have coped having a naughty toddler any sooner than I did and I was early 30s when we had our first. Both my partner & I lived our lives to the fullest beforehand and I’m glad.

    Enjoy your life and make the decision as and when it presents itself. Timing is key.

    Whatever you decide, I wish you to best of luck on your life journey. We should all respect one anothers life decisions and choices.

  24. I also don’t want children, and don’t think that having a uterus means you need to use it. I have vocal cords but don’t feel the need to be an opera singer. The commenter probably thinks you’re squandering a wonderful privilege, but the real privilege is being able to make your own choices about your body and do what feels right for you.

    I think wanting to do something different with your life than someone else certainly doesn’t make you insensitive. I makes you, you. Also, having kids that you don’t want just because someone else can’t seems kind of silly to me. I think you’re making the right choice going with what feels right 💜

    1. Oh it’s not that I don’t want them, I’m just very unsure. But I agree with your point, women don’t need to use their uterus if they don’t want to! And yes the ultimate privilege is having a choice.

  25. This is such a interesting and thought provoking post! I’ve always wanted children my entire life but i totally get that some people don’t know and that’s okay. No one should feel bad for that. I think it’s amazing that you shared such a personal post as people will totally related to how your feeling. Thank you for sharing lovely. Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

  26. I love the honesty of this post Jenny. I am not sure whether I want children either and I am much older than you. I know if I keep wondering I might never be able to have one but to me I think it is better to go for a kid when I am absolutely sure and confident I can commit to it. As you said it, it is a huge responsibility and you can never go away. Thank you for sharing your opinions on such an important issue!

  27. This is a very interesting post. I have always said I wanted children my whole life until recently. I am in my last year of my Masters degree and I am not sure where I want to go with it and I do not know if children would fit in with my life anymore so I total get the feeling of not knowing.

  28. Great, honest post. It’s totally ok to not know if you want kids and also to not want kids. It’s completely your preference and it upsets me that whatever you choose, some people out there feel the need to have an opinion and share it. I know that you’re an incredibly un-selfish person, I also massively appreciate reading this from your perspective!
    Rosie

  29. No advice, but so much same. Ever since I got married, I’ve had the same question, and now we are in a position to have a bigger home, the question has resurfaced. So, while I have no advice to give, I do have understanding and solidarity, 🤍

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