An Honest Post About Choosing to be Childless

Choosing-to-be-Childless
This is one of those posts that I’m a little nervous to write, but I’ve also had it in my drafts for a few months, and I want to put it out there. Also, I think this might be my longest post ever. Be warned. Before getting started though, I want to make a few things clear.

1. I think it’s so great when couples who do want to have kids add children to their family. If that’s what’s best for you, go for it! I don’t look down on people for having kids, just like I wouldn’t want people to look down on me for not having them.

2. I don’t think TJ and I are special in any way for not wanting kids. I know it’s something that a lot of couples choose, and we’re just another one of them. I do want to share the reasons why for people who might be curious, so that’s the purpose of this post.

3. I realize that as we grow and change over the years we may decide to have a kid at some point, and that’s ok. I honestly can’t see it happening, but we reserve the right to change our minds. For now, this is a decision we came to several years ago (separately and then together, once we met), and we’re very happy with it.

4. I’m open to hearing all kinds of thoughts/criticisms/opinions on this subject – that’s part of the reason for writing it! But please, don’t tell me that we’re selfish. That’s what I’ve heard most often, and I stand by the fact that it is much more selfish to have kids just because of a feeling of obligation than it is to choose not to have them. Other than that, please feel free to speak your mind.

5. I think it’s relevant to note that as of writing this I’m a few days shy of 27, TJ is about a month shy of 29, and we’ve been together for 5 years, married for 2 1/2 of those years.

Ok, let’s get into this. Admittedly, a good portion of our reasons are superficial, and I’m ok with that. There are also several non-superficial reasons that I feel are real, legitimate concerns. So, I’ve split them into those two groups, and feel free to ridicule me for the superficial ones. I get it!

Superficial Reasons:
1. Freedom
TJ and I like having the freedom to do what we want, when we want to. Sometimes we decide on a Friday afternoon that we’re going to go stay in a local hotel for the night. Sometimes we decide to go grocery shopping at 10pm. Sometimes we decide to stay in the house all day doing nothing more than blasting through the DVR. I love having the freedom to make those random decisions without having to put thought into finding a sitter or how late night grocery shopping will affect our kid’s schedule. 

2. Football
Watching football is one of my favorite things ever (ridiculous as it may sound), and I make a point to watch the entire Steelers game every single week during football season. If I’m being honest, I would hate for the game to be interrupted by a child that needs and deserves my full attention.

3. Money
Kids are expensive, and TJ and I like having freedom with our money. We save the majority of it, but it’s nice to have the flexibility of making an occasional random purchase without putting too much thought into it. With our money going toward a child, our budget would be much more strained, and I fear we’d be constantly stressed about the balance between spending on our kid and spending on ourselves.

4. Sleep
I really value a good night’s sleep. The idea of having to wake up multiple times during the night or staying up with a sick child even when I have work the next day sounds exhausting and miserable. I know how cranky I can get when I’m tired, and the thought of being like that for several years is not something I want to go through.

5. Pregnancy
Pregnancy is something that fascinates me. It’s amazing what a body can do, but it’s also kind of terrifying. There’s no shortage of pregnancy horror stories, and I’m just not sure about signing up for that for 9 months. I know there are some women who love being pregnant, but what if you’re not one of them? How do you deal with it?

We’re halfway though – do you think I’m horrible for my superficial reasons? I hope not! I’m really striving to be totally honest and straightforward, even if that means I’m not exactly painting myself in the best light. That’s what blogging is all about, right?

Legitimate Concerns:
1. My Marriage
I’m terrified that having a kid would negatively affect our marriage. I love that it’s just the two of us (plus 3 cats), and I worry about how adding a third person to the family would affect our dynamic. What if I had a stressful day of motherhood and took it out on TJ? What if I found that motherhood was so time-intensive that I didn’t really have time to focus on my marriage? What if we got so caught up in talking/worrying about our kid that we forgot about taking the time to cultivate our marriage? TJ and I have such a good thing going – we actively work to make sure our marriage is constantly improving and moving forward, plus we genuinely just love spending our time together – it’s scary to think about it changing. I know a lot of couples whose marriages have thrived after having kids, but I also know a lot who’ve had the opposite be true.

2. Responsibility
When you’re raising a kid, you’re actually raising a future adult. You’re teaching a real live human how to act and live, and they’re going to turn into an adult one day. I don’t think I want the responsibility of raising a future adult. That’s a big commitment, and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

3. Resentment
If we ended up having a kid, I’m worried that I’d end up resenting the decision at some point. Would we really be able to travel the world as much as I want to? Would we be able to go to a Steelers game every single year? Would we be able to buy our dream house as quickly as we’d like to? Would our cats lose all of our attention once a baby arrived? If we had a kid, I’d want it to feel like it meant the world to us, not like we had to give up a lot in order to have it. And if we did have to give up a bunch of stuff, I’d hate to feel resentment over it. How could I truly be a good mom if I felt that?

4. Losing Myself
I fear that in having a kid and getting so caught up in being a mom that I’d start to lose myself. Would I still have time to randomly bake homemade bread at 9pm? Would I still have that alone time in my car where I blast music and sing along at the top of my lungs? Would I still feel like me when all of my thoughts are going to my child? It’s scary to think I wouldn’t feel like myself anymore – the silly, pun-making, oh-so-clumsy, sing along with the Sunday Night Football music, get lost in a novel every night – me. Would I lose that me by becoming a mom?

5. Family
TJ and I are both only children. If we had a child, it would have no aunts, uncles, or cousins. If something happened to us, and our parents weren’t around anymore, our kid wouldn’t have any family. That’s sad to think about! And even if nothing happened to us while our kid was young, what about when it’s grown and we pass on? How sad that it wouldn’t have any biological family around. If we did change our mind and have a child, I’m sure we’d have no more than one. Like I said, we’re both only children, and only children make sense to us. So, in theory, our kid would have no siblings, nieces, or nephews either. I’d hate to do that to our kid.

Mostly it comes down to this: if we did have a kid, we’d want to give it the best life possible, and it doesn’t seem likely that we’d be able to do that without giving up most of what we love so much about our lives.

What are your thoughts? Do you want/have kids? Are you unsure about being a parent? I’d love to hear your opinions!

13 Comments
  • Ashley
    October 15, 2014

    As I’m pregnant with my 3rd child… 🙂

    Having a child doesn’t end life…mine actually felt like it began when I started having kids. I know some people who never go out, who lose themselves, who completely forget about who they are when they have children. But that’s their decision! Noel and I go out when we want (babysitters!), we watch all our shows (football for Noel…the boys watch it with him and we take them to games), and our marriage is a billion times stronger now.

    I’ve also found that since motherhood can become overwhelming, that I do a better job about taking care of myself. I actually make the time to work out and hang out with my girlfriends, go on dates with my husband, read books that I love, etc. etc.

    🙂
    Ashley recently posted…Hello!My Profile

  • Jennifer
    October 15, 2014

    I completely agree with this. I’ve gone back and forth about having kids for years, for many of the reasons that you listed. I also just worry about having a bad kid – my siblings and I all turned out really well, and everyone has seen those families where one kid is great and one is terrible. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling this way, and I’d agree with what you said about it being selfish to have a child because of obligation.

  • Kitty
    October 15, 2014

    My girlfriend and I share a lot of these same concerns with you guys! We are both choosing to be child-free for a lot of these reasons you listed, especially the freedom and money issues! We like our freedom and sleep and…kids are hella expensive!
    Kitty recently posted…[Sailor Moon Crystal] Episode 7My Profile

  • Amberly
    October 15, 2014

    I don’t hear of many couples who don’t want to have kids, so your post was interesting to me. I honestly wouldn’t ever call it selfish, because like you said, I think having kids for the wrong reasons is more selfish than choosing not to because those kids aren’t going to be raised how they should most often. Your reasoning was interesting to me, and most of them I disagree with, but it’s something that I’ll be thinking about all day long and most likely come back and read again. Thanks for being so willing to share your thoughts!
    Amberly recently posted…S is for SafeMy Profile

  • Liz
    October 15, 2014

    I’m completely with you and I understand everything you’ve mentioned here. While my boyfriend and I have discussed having children (in the future), we always end up back at the question “Would we want to give this up for something we’re not sure about?” I’ve never wanted children. I don’t really “like” children. I have two nephews and a niece, and my boyfriend has twice that. We want to be the cool aunt and uncle. We want freedom with our money. We want to own more dogs!

    Don’t let ANYONE tell you your selfish for not wanting to have children. I think it’s a very selfless decision. You know who you are and what you want. You know that having a child that you don’t necessarily want is a foolish notion. Ignore anyone who second guesses you.

    That’s my thoughts. Kudos on this post and having the bravery to write it!
    Liz recently posted…My Favorite QuoteMy Profile

  • ashley
    October 15, 2014

    I really love this. I say all the same things that you have said when it comes to having kids. We’ve been married a week shy of two years and we get the question often. We aren’t committed to having kids, but we aren’t saying no either. Right now–we rest in this really good place of we’ll see and I think it’s perfectly acceptable to not know.

    It bothers me when people act outraged when I say we *might* decide not to have kids. They act shocked and their perception changes. I think having a kid is probably the BIGGEST decision in the world, to usher in a new human, one you are responsible for to every single extent. It’s terrifying in every way and NOT putting though to is what shocks me.

    Thanks for this post! Glad to have someone out here in the blog world to relate to on this topic.
    ashley recently posted…in case you’ve never seen a cloud.My Profile

  • Lisa @ Two Martinis
    October 15, 2014

    I loved this post and I agree with all of your reasoning! I had the exact same concerns, but we wanted kids so we went ahead with starting a family anyway, and of course I’m thrilled because so far it’s been way easier than I had anticipated and I wasn’t as negatively affected as I had feared. However, of course our marriage, finances, freedom has been affected, and I’m glad I considered that before we made a decision to get pregnant, because at least I felt like I was making an informed decision. Also, I think deciding to have children can be selfish, and deciding not to have kids can be selfish, and there’s really nothing wrong with either decision… I hope people don’t make you feel like there is!
    Lisa @ Two Martinis recently posted…Bite-sized-no-bake-deliciousness.My Profile

  • Audrey
    October 15, 2014

    Hi Ashley,

    I’m 32, going on 33 next year in February, not married and no kids. Does it worry me? Yes. Because, life’s natural and expected progression is to get married and have kids. Am I pressured by this notion? No. I think it would be irresponsible for me to get married and have a kid (single or married) when financially it’s not possible. I’d rather forego the thought of what is expected to what is most wise to do.

    My older sister is married, she is turning 37 this December. Childless, not for the lack of trying. She is having trouble having a baby. But, her husband is based in a different country. I’d rather not see her pregnant, have a baby, raise the baby on her own because her family would be incomplete most of the year.

    I think we all have our own choices to make. Whether we think it’s superficial or not. It’s just that, our own choices. Sure, there’s going to be a shock if you just mention it for the first time to people around you. They probably would be thinking about what if they are in your shoes and how life would be like, too.

    Audrey
    http://www.audreyisms.com

  • Nadine
    October 16, 2014

    I completely relate to every single thing you said. Before meeting my husband, I was on the fence about having kids. I always thought I would, because that is what “you’re supposed to do” yet I couldn’t see myself with them. When I met Chris, i quickly learned he was not a fan of kids and didn’t really want any…ever. He asked if that was a problem early on in our relationship and I told him that solidified my feelings on the subject.

    In addition to all the reasons you have already listed, I am a worried. I worry about EVERYTHING. You should see what happens to me if one of my dogs isn’t feeling well. I can’t fathom the idea of worrying about a child like that. One of my sister’s best friends lost her 6 year old son to brain cancer last year. There is no way I could go through something like that and be ok. And sending a kid to school with bullies or crazy people that walk in and shoot the place up? No thanks.

    I get told all the time I am selfish, or I will always be missing something in my life. But isn’t life about living to the fullest of who you are and not depending on others to make it full?
    Nadine recently posted…ConfessionsMy Profile

  • Megan C. Stroup
    October 22, 2014

    I just wanted to say kudos for writing this post! I know this was probably hard to “put out there,” but I think you wrote it very well and non-offensively. 🙂 Second, I don’t think anyone could call you selfish for choosing not to have kids. Honestly, I think more people have kids for selfish reasons than choose not to (and I know that is a generalization, but I’m just saying that happens MORE OFTEN). If you ever do decide to have kids, good luck! And if not, that’s a perfectly legitimate decision. 🙂 Honestly, I think more people should choose not to have children with the way our population has been exploding!
    Megan C. Stroup recently posted…Semi-Charmed Winter 2014 Book ChallengeMy Profile

  • Ashley Gabrielle
    October 23, 2014

    I totally agree with you! You have good reasons to not want kids. I also am really fascinated with the whole growing another person thing, It’s crazy! I too have some materialistic and what others would consider selfish reasons to not want kids. If they are valid reasons for you that is all that matters. The one thing that I have been told by different people is that you should not have kids if you aren’t sure you want them. You have to be sure, it changes your life completely. It’s no longer just about you, all your focus is on your children; they are your priority. I will probably touch on this subject on my blog eventually as well. Great post!
    Ashley
    http://ashleygabrielle.com/

  • Melissa
    October 23, 2014

    I admire anyone who knows what they want and is not afraid to let it be known. It is one of the biggest decisions in life & shouldn’t be taken lightly.

    I am a 28 year old soon to be newly wed that gets asked every.single.day. when I am going to have a baby…geesh, can’t people let you be married and enjoy that first? It took me YEARS to decide I do want a child. It wasn’t an easy decision for me and I still have days where I dread thinking about one day being pregnant.

    I agree, ignore the ones who think you are wrong for making a decision that is best for you. Who needs that kind of person bringing ya down anyway?

  • Erin Gray
    November 7, 2014

    I appreciated reading this post so much. I respect your honesty and applaud anyone who realizes an important decision and the responsibility of raising a child deserves a lot of thought.

    I didn’t decide to be child-free, but that’s what happened in my life. I assumed I’d always get around to it, meet the right person to share a family with, but I never honestly felt any biological clock ticking. I’m 41 now (gasp!). I know, I know people still start families at this age, but that’s not a decision for me. A few years back, I came to the realization that it wasn’t going to happen, and I was okay with that.

    Hmmmm…you’ve given me an idea about a topic to write in my own blog. Thanks!
    Erin Gray recently posted…Hi ho, hi ho…it’s off to work I goMy Profile

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