Why You Should Have Never Had Kids (If You Want To Be Happy, That Is)

Update September 2019: Wow. It’s been two years since I published this post and the comments are still pouring in.

Reading these comments will teach you more about human nature than the article will because of the strength of human biases (especially cognitive dissonance reduction and confirmation bias) that is being portrayed.

Please read the article before leaving a comment. Thanks


 

parenthood paradox parenthood gap

Do you think having children makes you happier?

If so, think again.

Research shows (over and over again) that having children reduces happiness (e.g. Anderson, Russel, & Schumm, 1983 or Campbell, 1981), even though parents think it will make them happier.

This phenomenon is known as “The Parenthood Paradox” or “Parenthood Gap“.

Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our 3 Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free. These creative, science-based exercises will help you learn more about your values, motivations, and goals and will give you the tools to inspire a sense of meaning in your life and the lives of your clients. 

You can download the free PDF here.

 

Why don’t children make parents happier?

One of the dominant explanations for this is that children increase the amount and level of a variety of stressors that parents are exposed to (Glass, J., Simon R.W., Andersson M.A., 2016,), such as:

  • time demands
  • energy demands
  • sleep deprivation (potentially starting a vicious circle)
  • work-life balance disturbances
  • financial burden

It goes without saying that all of these stressors apply even more to the lives of single parents. This is why single parents report the lowest levels of well-being compared to married or unmarried couples who are living together.

To make matters worse, people generally become less satisfied with their marriage when they have children (making the attempt to fix a marriage by having children even more ironic).

Research shows the disadvantages of parenthood to be the strongest in the United States. We’ll talk more about this in a bit.

 

When parents are at their happiest

In his seminal work “Meanings of Life“, Roy Baumeister tells us that there are two happiness peaks in the lives of adults in America, namely:

  • between the wedding and the birth of the first child
  • between the departure of the last child from home and the death of one’s spouse

So if you’re looking at children from the perspective of personal happiness, the phases of the married life without children are the happiest periods. Yet another argument against having children for the sake of personal happiness (what’s the score, 3 to 0 for not having children now?).

 

The good news

I can hear you thinking… but there’s got to be an explanation for why we’re making children, right? Otherwise, we would never have gotten this far as a species!?

Right.

And there is.

Because as emotionally taxing as having children may be, it has also proven to be a great source – if not the most powerful source – of life satisfaction, self-esteem and meaning, especially for women (Hansen, T., Slagsvold, B., Moum, T., 2009), even though men are a lot more likely to view childlessness as disadvantageous (Blake, J., 1979,).

This is true even, or even more so, during tough times and is illustrative of the fact that cognitive evaluation (what you think) and emotions (what you feel) are not on the same continuum.

I.e. we can value something and find it meaningful even if it detracts from our happiness in the moment.

In the words of Baumeister:

“Sometimes the quest for meaning can override the quest for happiness.”

But wait a minute.

That sounds familiar…

 

Would you plug in?

Do you remember Robert Nozick’s thought experiment of the Experience Machine?

He asked people to imagine a machine that would provide them with only pleasant experiences as soon as their brain was hooked onto it. Let’s say it’s a machine triggering dopaminergic and endorphinergic activity in the brain without building habituation or tolerance and without side-effects.

Would you choose to be hooked onto that machine?

Most people said “no” even though, rationally speaking, it would make sense to do so. That is, if your goal is to maximise happiness for yourself, which is the case for hedonists and certain types of utilitarians.

Like one of my favorite writers Tim Urban (n.d.) remarks:

“In the end, I think I probably would skip the machine. And that’s probably a dumb choice.”

This brings us back to the Parenthood Paradox.

A possible explanation for why the negative impact of having children on personal happiness is the highest in the United States might be its extreme focus on personal happiness (and hedonistic values).

There I said it.

The Parenthood Gap exists because of unrealistic expectations and desires regarding personal happiness.

And research is indeed pointing in the direction that the more individualistic a society is, the greater the Parenthood Paradox is (the level of financial support from the government being another important factor).

 

All this leads us to the real paradox…

The real paradox is not the Parenthood Paradox, but why people seemingly strive for personal happiness even though they would choose meaning and/or life satisfaction (subjective evaluation of one’s life as a whole) over personal happiness when push comes to shove.

It goes to show that, once again, we not only suck at predicting what will make us happy (as explained in Dan Gilbert’s “Stumbling on Happiness“), but also at valuing our personal happiness compared to other things, such as meaning in life.

And besides… happiness is so fragile.

Happiness fades with the first punch that life throws at you.

 

The solution

The solution is to avoid falling prey to the illusion that happiness results from meeting your ideal version of life.

Rather than holding on to an image of what a happy life should look like and comparing it to your current life, you can allow life to unfold with unexpected moments of happiness.

Having children will not make you happier, nor does not having children.

It is not what life offers, but what we believe that life should offer that prevents us from experiencing happiness.

So let go of your expectations and lower the importance of your personal happiness. Thereby you will lower the stress you experience from not being as happy as you think you should be.

In his book “If You Are So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy“, my friend Raj Raghunathan remarks:

“Because when one pursues happiness, one is likely to compare how one feels with how one would ideally like to feel, and since we generally want to feel happier than we currently do, we are likely to feel unhappy about being unhappy if we pursue happiness!”

This, Raj. This.

And not only do we feel unhappy about being unhappy, we can start to feel even more unhappy because we don’t know why we aren’t happy, especially if we have all the reasons to be happy.

But that’s a song for another time.

Please enjoy your parental unhappiness, for you have all the reasons to.

Best,

Seph

We hope you found this article useful. Don’t forget to download our 3 Meaning and Valued Living Exercises for free.

If you wish to learn more, our Meaning and Valued Living Masterclass© will help you understand the science behind meaning and valued living, inspire you to connect to your values on a deeper level and make you an expert in fostering a sense of meaning in the lives of your clients, students or employees.

  • Anderson, S. A., Russel, C. S., & Schumm, W. R. (1983). Perceived marital quality and family life-cycle categories: A further analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 45, 127-139.
  • Baumeister, R. (1991). Meanings of life. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  • Blake, J. (1979). Is zero preferred? American attitudes toward childlessness in the 1970s. Journal of Marriage and Family, 41(2), 245-257.
  • Gilbert, D. (2006). Stumbling on happiness. New York, NY: Vintage.
  • Glass, J., Simon, R. W., & Andersson, M. A. (2016). Parenthood and happiness: Effects of work-family reconciliation policies in 22 OECD countries. American Journal of Sociology, 122(3), 886-929.
  • Hansen, T., Slagsvold, B., & Moum, T. (2009). Childlessness and psychological well-being in midlife and old age: An examination of parental status effects across a range of outcomes. Social Indicators Research, 94(2), 343-362.
  • Nozick, R. (1974). Anarchy, state, and utopia. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Raghunathan, R. (2016). If you’re so smart why aren’t you happy: How to turn career success into life success. London, UK: Vermilion.
  • Urban, T. (n.d.). The experience machine thought experiment. Retrieved from https://waitbutwhy.com/table/the-experience-machine

About the Author

Seph Fontane Pennock is a seasoned entrepreneur and the business mind behind PositivePsychology.com. With his background in online marketing and a passion for helping therapists and coaches, he co-founded the new mental health application Quenza that helps practitioners better help their clients with digital support.

Comments

  1. Miriam

    The world is often a cruel and unfair place. I can see why many people make the perfectly rational decision not to bring more life into it. As I see more and more of what is going on the Middle East etc, then our own history in the West which has negatively impacted millions, I often wonder if I made the right decision also because it could all end in forests again 🙁

    Reply
  2. Kayla

    Hi there,

    I have the dilemma that I am 90% sure that I don’t want children, but my partner has said he knows for sure he wants children/a family, and that I still have time to find someone else/follow my own dreams. This is such a hard decision as I don’t want to lose my partner because I don’t want kids.

    We’ve talked about it in the past before this recent conversation, I’ve said I dont think I want kids, but he keeps telling me I will feel different as I get older and I simply disagree . I am almost 29 and have never had the feeling or urge to have children, deciding that I don’t want the responsibility and financial, emotional and physical burdens. The only reasons I would want to have kids is to not miss out on that “family” life, seeing what a mini me/something of both him and I would be like, and the fact that I think I (and we) would be a good parent… but I think think those reasons outweigh my reasons not to have kids.

    Should also note these other reasons I don’t want children. Freedom being the biggest reason.. I’m huge on travel and my ultimate dream would be to live around the world.. a few years here and there, to see more of the world, explore other cultures etc. Which my partner is also interested in, but he says we can do this later in life.. but I would much rather do it sooner than later. We would be like 60 by the time we could leave our kids and live that kind of life!

    It seems we have some similar life plans but they are not 100% aligned.

    I’m seeing these are my possible outcomes.

    A – He decides he doesn’t want kids and we stay together.

    B – I decide I do want kids and we stay together.

    C – We do not agree and go separate ways.
    – He finds someone else to have a family with
    – I find someone else with the same plan or stay single

    Has anyone here gone through this dilemma of their partner wanting children and you not.. how did that result for you? What did you end up doing? Also, please do not roast meeeeeee

    Reply
    • NoraRye

      After reading your story, please do not have children. You should leave your partner, give him that opportunity. His feeling will likely not change and neither will yours. It will only get worse with a child no matter how “easy” the baby is. It will be a strain. If you do compromise and have a child, you’ll likely resent your husband and blame him when things get difficult. This is my honest opinion. You’ll 100% lose your peace of mind, partner and freedom. Don’t do it.

      Reply
    • N

      Hey Kayla,
      I’m going through something very similar. But in my case, I want kids and my partner doesn’t and his reasons for not wanting kids are exactly the same as yours. I’m super confused about what to do as well 🙁

      Reply
    • Judson Moore

      Kayla, I am in a similar situation as you, and it is in searching for others’ perspectives that led me to this blog post and your comment, so thank you for sharing. My girlfriend says she might want to have kids one day and though I’ve always held the position that I would go along with whatever “she” (future or present) desires as I am rather agnostic about the topic myself, I am thinking more and more that having children is not the right path for me. The only benefits I see in having my own kids are selfish in nature and most likely fallacy (for example, not wanting to be alone when I am older).

      I’ve never had any spark of joy in the presence of children. I’ve often felt guilty that I can’t be happy for my friends when they announce pregnancy or when a child enters the room and other adults will giggle with glee, I just want to be transported to another planet. The root cause for this in my own lived experience is probably due to growing up with an older brother with severe disabilities who died when I was 14, and seeing how his 24/7 care altered the paths of my parents’ lives… I do not want to repeat that history, and I can’t shake the thought that having a child of my own would lead to a similar outcome.

      On the point about traveling when you’re older, I actually wrote a book based on the topic of not waiting until your older, and what you’re describing about traveling the world after your kids leave the nest is the thesis for a chart I illustrated which became the center-point of the book. Maybe this will be of interest to you:

      https://www.judsonlmoore.com/the-sixth-philosophy-do-it-while-youre-young

      Reply
    • Derek

      Hello there,

      I am currently in the same situation. My partner wants kids 100% and I’m about 98% I do not want kids.

      Result? That’s tbd. She’s my partner of 5 years, connection like no other I’ve met. She’s been trying to constantly convince me to have kids and it just doesn’t right for me due to all those circumstances you’ve listed.

      I feel the inevitable must happen with such a strong difference in wants unless either of you bend to each other. Ask yourself, would having kids be worth it just to stay with him? If on your death bed at 80, would you regret not having kids?

      You seem to have clear outlines of what you want and don’t want. Accepting it may be the toughest part. Change is uncomfortable but kids are forever.

      I wish you the best for I can empathize with your exact situation.

      Reply
    • Eddie Lee

      Kayla – I’d get out while you can. Having a kid is one of the most stressful events/experiences you can have in this world. Even if married life is perfect with the current beau (which it won’t be), having a kid literally upends everything up to that point. Don’t believe me? Ever visit the hospital where first parents have their first child? It’s some of the most stressful times you can experience (or witness) b/c those parents are suddenly thrust into the reality that life as they know it will drastically change. Just the first 48 hours were a complete and utter gut punch for me, realizing that my wife and I couldn’t even sleep continuously for a few hours b/c of a baby crying non-stop, all-day, everyday…we had to have the nurse wheel the baby away to the nursing room (where other babies are) just so we could get some sleep and sanity. Imagine adjusting to this, after a married life of relative leisure (we could do what we want, when we wanted, etc.) and comfort…except realize that this is for the next 20+ years of your life (until they move out). Don’t even get me started on all of the sleep regressions they’ll experience (and lack of sleep you’ll experience with each regression) for the next 3-4 years of their life (and yours).

      Also, realize that any problems you might have (knowingly or unknowingly) from your childhood with your relationship with your parents (and how they were parents with you) will bubble up into the ether of your parenting life. A lot of this may also be on an unconscious level too, meaning you don’t/won’t even realize you’re doing or reacting in a certain way. Parenting a child, especially a newborn through toddlerhood is an emotionally taxing endeavor and these things have a tendency to bring out the worst in us.

      Don’t believe all of the people (especially other parents or expecting parents) who say you should have kid/kids. A lot of them said the same thing when my wife was expecting, but they would all slowly introduce more horror stories as we got closer to delivery. Funny how reality finally comes out from all the BS about how having children is “pure joy”. Misery loves company. Don’t be a fool and fall for it by trying to go against your inner gut feeling. If you’re hesitant b/c you suspect you are a certain way, listen to what you’re gut is telling you. Having a kid is not a hobby, project, or dream…it’s a cross to bear.

      As for my marriage, I almost lost it all. Having a kid brought out the worst in me…made me full of rage and anger. Almost ended up divorcing and actually separated for a bit. After a lot of counseling and therapy, we reconciled and got back together. I think it’s better now, but it was a long road into hell for me, and I’m sure my wife too. And, it’s still not over as our child is still a long way from moving out.

      All I can say after this is, marriage, building a family, is not what you think when you think of the family you grew up in/with (assuming you had a positive experience). Even if you did grow up in a great family, just know that your parents, ideally, loved you unconditionally. Your own marriage however, will be fragile and can be broken by so many issues between you and your spouse, and, between parent and child. Bottom line, it’ll take a ton of work, and the work is non-stop and endless. I’ve heard that raising kids after 4 will get easier…but I’ve also heard from others that it’s easier when they’re past 10, 15, moved out of the home, etc., etc.

      Just really think about what’s important to you in life…all that you want to accomplish, try, see, pursue, become, experience, etc. and figure out whether parenting enables or precludes you from those things. Based on that, you’ll have your decision.

      Reply
    • Sophie G

      I dated someone 15yrs older than I was. He wanted kids, I was sure at age 20 that I didn’t. He moved on to date someone closer to his age with kids of her own, yet never had his own children. I married my high school sweetheart after 18 years of being estranged. No kids, no regrets, happily working from home, traveling & living my best life.

      Reply
  3. Throwaway Girl

    I wonder if someone can give me advice. I have been reading the comments here and they have been so insightful but I’m so conflicted.

    I’m 26, growing up I wanted kids desperately. As a teenager, I used to put a pillow under my top sometimes to pretend I was pregnant. Then when I was around 18, my brother had his child and it was my first real experience of a baby in our family. To my shock and surprise it put me off so much. My brother’s wife had a terrible experience and completely changed as a person – the person she was before motherhood was happy, loved travelling, enjoyed life, outgoing, and as soon as she had my nephew she became totally different. From the very first day she barely touched him, she was almost non-existent, and my brother and my family had to step up to parent him.

    Of course we all thought she had PND but she refused for so many years to get help. She started abusing with prescription drugs, gambling on her phone and just let herself go in so many ways. My nephew is 6 years old today and things are still the same. I love my nephew to death, and am from a European family who are all very close and affectionate, but seeing that hardship, the reality of responsibilities really shocked me. I decided I never wanted kids.

    Along with this, my own trauma was triggered I think. I had a very difficult childhood, with a single mother, who didn’t do well for us. Even though I understand her today, it doesn’t change the fact that my childhood was not the way it should have been. I am constantly going in and out of therapy (still trying to find the right therapist) to try to address and heal those past issues properly. They are not crazy issues, but they’ve left me with strong inability to trust people.

    But then I met my partner. When we fell in love, I seemed to wake up one day, a few years into our relationship, with this weird aching for a child. His child. I felt so sad, that because I didn’t want kids, I would never be able to see our baby, to create something from both of us. My mind seemed to change, although tentatively, and my partner was supportive even though he met me at a time when I clearly didn’t want any.

    We have been together for 4 years now. We are settled in so many ways, and recently I felt like an urge to have a baby. Like I felt ‘it was time’. The yearning, the readiness was so overpowering that I felt I had to sort of talk about it. Me being me, with trust issues, I began to do a very thorough research about all the things I’d have to know to have a baby. The whole ‘am I really ready now’ shebang.

    I stumbled upon SO many negative experiences that again it was like a second wave of shock. I was floored by the information I read, but most of all, about the fact that once you have a baby, you’d be attached to that baby forever. I kept thinking to myself, I’d never be able to escape. It would be 24/7. It would be constant. So much responsibility. I’m an introvert too. The idea of ‘motherhood’ sounded so unbelievably horrible. The way it would impact my relationship. How I’d never have any time for myself. How everything would have to be scheduled. The sheer non-stop nature of it. I dreaded to imagine a life where I was wishing away the most important years of my life. I didn’t want to wish my life away.

    So I was reminded once again about why I wanted to never have a baby. I decided once again, it can’t happen. I can’t be trapped in a life I don’t know I want, that is constantly demanding. I’m already happy – why disturb it? I was so at peace with this – it was so clear to me. I liked my life. It’s not necessary to have kids. I have absolutely no pressure on me. It seems the obvious choice is not to have kids – to enjoy life, to enjoy my relationship, to have all the time in the world.

    I even decided to get a birth control thing inserted so I can be even more free and never have to worry that there might be a mistake.

    And now.

    Merely a month later.

    That strange feeling is back. I have this feeling like I don’t want to be a mother – there are so many obvious reasons for not wanting to be a parent. But I want a baby. What is wrong with me?!

    Motherhood and parenting sounds absolutely horrible. I can’t imagine a bigger commitment to hardship and sacrifice. And for me, a person who craves and is in need of peace and quiet, that experience sounds even worse. And yet a part of me still wants a baby. The idea of meeting my baby, getting to know my child, teaching them about the world. I’m so sad at not being able to have that.

    Even the sensory aspect of it, of feeding my child, rocking it to sleep, being its safe place. I can’t get these thoughts out of my head. The thought of it growing up and becoming an annoying toddler and then an unruly teenager normally put me off too – terribly – but then I keep thinking ‘well maybe I can do it differently’, ‘just because everyone puts so much emphasis on those periods doesn’t mean it has to be that complicated’, ‘so they’re human, let them be human’.. like it’s like my mind keeps saying what’s the big deal!?

    Logically I can’t imagine a bigger commitment, and yet a huge part of me wants it anyway. At this point it’s so clear that parenthood is a nightmare, and is unhappy, and is horrible. And yet why do I feel like I completely light up from inside when I think about having a family?

    I tried searching on google ‘I don’t want to be a mother, but I want a baby’ on google and this article came up. That’s it. I can’t seem to find any help anywhere.

    Reply
    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi there,

      Thank you for sharing your story and experience — I have no doubt this will resonate with many of our readers who are on the fence about having children — and well done on doing the self-work to heal your past traumas.

      Of course, no one besides you and your partner can decide whether having children is the right route for you. However, your comment made me wonder whether there exists coaching to support women at this common fork in the road, and when I began reading, I discovered there is. I’d suggest taking a read of this and seeing whether you feel there’d be value in seeking similar support from a coach in your area.

      I hope this helps, and thanks again for sharing.

      – Nicole | Community Manager

      Reply
    • Ali

      Literally feel like you wrote this from my mind — but it’s the hormones. Logically, emotionally, fiscally and even in my soul I know a child would make me so unhappy, but evolution kinda made these hormones for a reason. If you are certain you don’t want one, push through the hormones.

      Reply
    • Jenni

      Thank you for your radical transparency. Your honesty is refreshing. I am childfree by choice and periodically re-explore my choice; however, I can’t say I have experienced the deep yearning that you express. Though, I recognize and empathize with the conflicting thoughts, feelings, and opinions you’re experiencing to do with whether or not to have children. Something you said really struck me and I thought perhaps identifying it would be of some help to you.

      I balked when I read: “…it doesn’t change the fact that my childhood was not the way it should have been.” That signals to me places and spaces that still need healing (and I recognize and honor that you shared your pursuit of therapy). Forgiveness is giving up the notion that things could have been (or, perhaps even, should have been) any other way. The thought pattern that the past “should have” been different is… well, damaging. I am wondering if holding on to that pain, disappointment, and heartache is an element or partial cause of your extreme conflicting emotions. I encourage you to go back in your mind and hug your former self, hug that girl whose needs were not met. Show up for her now and live your life as the woman you needed as a girl. Your writing shows how intelligent and rational you are. It may be that healing work that works for you will address one of your extremes – whether it be the hard pass or the active choice to become a parent.

      I wish you the best. Thank you again for boldly sharing your truth.

      Reply
    • LunaSay

      I don’t have answers. I’m just like you. While sad, this is so beautifully written. Your struggle resonated with me and I’m so grateful you wrote it down. I hope you are a writer. I would read this book.

      I would love to be friends!

      Reply
    • Alli Laners

      The need to have children is often mostly the wish to reparent oneself, because “this” time, one can make things “right”. Or so people think. Once they discover their kids are more than just extensions of themselves the trouble often starts. That said, not having kids can be considered just as narcissistic as having them, because the wish to be a parent or not has very much to do with one’s own parents and upbringing. Of course, logically speaking, not having kids leaves people with greater resources all around, considering that by default they have more sleep, time, money and energy. But all that may not be worth much to a parent-want-to be if the person feels they need or want to set some (perceived) record straight or ‘different’, via their future child, irrespective of whether they would or would not be good parents. Most people think the grass is greener on the other side and then question their choices, often after the fact. Natural logic advises neither for nor against children, considering that without anyone having children the human species would also end. That said, “logic”, and any subsequent choices based on it, is as individual as people and their histories are.

      Reply
    • Petunia Bell

      Aside from considering your personal needs/wants, and biological drives, I think it’s important to also ask yourself whether it’s a good idea to bring a child into the world… with all its conflict, violence, intentional and unintentional cruelty… not to mention the impending environmental doom we’re facing. There are beautiful moments… and once you’re here, I do think you can find/make meaning, but should you force another life into this world to experience it all? I remember thinking as a child that I didn’t ask to be born, and though I’m attached to people (I include my animals in this group), places, things, memories, ideas, etc. now, I feel so worn out… I’m only 40 and I simultaneously can’t wait for retirement (hopefully I’ll have enough money to retire in 20 years – ugh, 20 more years!) and fear the nearing of the end (for myself and those I love). What’s that Buddhist saying? “Life is suffering?” It certainly feels like it… Life can be excruciating.

      Reply
    • Jake Hyberbal

      You will always feel unhappy if you choose to live only for yourself and never experience the selflessness of kids. Yes, it’s hard. But it’s also the most incredible thing you’ll do. It is the graduate school of life. Try it and you’ll see. There is nothing else like it. Vapid selfishness and lack of responsibilities are appealing, that is true. But it will always leave you to experience an internal void.

      Reply
      • Olivia

        I hate seeing men make comments like this. Maybe you’re one of the few good men who commits an honest effort to sharing the burden, in which case kudos to you, but far too many shame women for not wanting kids while checking out mentally at home themselves.

        At any rate, I take issue with your underlying statement. Being childless doesn’t mean vapid selfishness and lack of responsibilities. People can contribute to the bettering of the world in countless ways, and often ones that are difficult to balance with child rearing (being a Doctor, volunteering in struggling communities, doing ecological work in far off places close to destruction, yadda yadda yadda). Being childless doesn’t automatically make you selfish… just like having children doesn’t automatically make you selfless. Far too many people are pressured into having kids by words like yours when they really, really shouldn’t, creating not only stressful unhappy lives for themselves and their kids, but also for those who have to help pick up the slack. Look at all the kids needing foster homes due to junkie single mothers or the sick people who crop up in the news who have like ten kids they kept locked in cages.

        Whether someone is a good or horrible person is irrespective of if they have kids. Kids can just compound the situation.

        Reply
    • Olivia

      It’s actually pretty simple:
      Biologically, you’re hardwired to want to have a baby.
      The vast majority of us are. If there wasn’t that primal, innate urge, life wouldn’t exist.
      Rationally, though there are certainly positives from it, most of us would look at having a kid and be turned off for good reason. But that underlying biological impulse is still there.

      For me at 28, I’ve found that being around kids scratches that itch. I don’t want kids–but spending a few hours with relatives who do, holding babies or playing with elementary age kids, is very satisfying and shuts the feeling up for months. I also got a small dog alongside our big dog for the first time ever this year, and let me tell you, he’s great at replacing the baby itch while still being much less work.

      Having said all that, you’ll probably still feel that baby urge from time to time, again because of biology. If all else fails… why not try volunteering in a child care setting, or even fostering a child? That would give you some honest, long term child rearing experience that’s not a locked in commitment. Try it for a year and then see if having your own is truly something you desire. At your age, you’ve still got a solid five years to really choose before your opportunity for parenthood really starts heading to a close.

      Reply
    • Eddie

      See my reply above. You’re biological clock is trying to give you that “yearning”. Don’t listen to it. Listen to your gut and/or brain. It’s much better at thinking things through and figuring out what’s really best for your life and future. There’s a reason why people are having less kids every year. Yes, money is one element, but time, level of stress, and your peace of mind are all much more important than the money part. Just think it through objectively as much as you can. Your biology will try to cloud your thinking with irrelevant emotions about having a baby – nip that in the bud right there. Think about what’s really important to you in life, how you are (e.g., you like quiet, peace, time for yourself, pursuing non-baby goals, etc. etc.), and decide whether having a baby helps or hurts you from doing those things, knowing that finite time/energy is your biggest enemy in that equation. Then, decide.

      Reply
  4. Lana

    I had one kid when I was quite young-20. As much as I love my daughter, I knew parenthood wasn’t really for me and never had any more children. Now I’m in my forties and my daughter is grown up.

    My fiancé and I love our child free life. Especially during this pandemic when it seems like parents are all going crazy having their kids home all the time and struggling with money. I don’t know why people whose lives are already so burdened would choose to add more. I have never been more thankful for fertility problems and aging.

    My fiancé and I love our life together, and being able to focus on each other and our love. While so many relationships are tanking in the pandemic, ours is thriving. We don’t need to add kids to achieve any kind of life satisfaction.

    Reply
  5. Dylan

    I’m 36 year old male who’s father left home at a pretty young age, was raised by a single mother. She had a relationship with another man (and kid), this guy ended up leaving and completely ignored his responsibilities as a father. During the following years my mother developed severe depression and eventually took her own life when I was 18, my sister 16 and a half-brother of 7.

    My father always stayed in touch with myself and my sister after the devorce – but only really when it was convenient for him, never offered to put a roof over our heads and instead left the real parenting to my mother, and then to my aunt and uncle. It’s very clear to me now that my father in his heart-of-hearts never really wanted children and likely only did so because he felt it was ‘the thing to do’. He’s always wanted to live for himself and so he has. A good man in many ways but should never have fathered children.

    Although I’m sure that my mother loved all of her children, I’m also sure that the breakdown of her marriage, coupled with the stress or being a single mum definitely contributed heavily to her depression. I imagine that my mother must of had many hopes, many dreams and many expectations for her life …and the reality of the life she ended up with must have been a difficult one to wake up to every morning.

    As a result, I obviously have some real issues with ‘family’, I struggled through my adolescence without the positive male role models which I think are really important to the development of boys into young men. I also have abandonment issues and have found it hard to trust the woman that I’ve had relationships with.

    I’m now in a relationship with a lovely woman who is also mid 30’s. She desperately wants children and while she understands my reservations, she has a limited time when having children is possible.

    There is part of me that fears having children, fears that I could end up being another deadbeat dad who neglects his children and potentially put a young person through the pain and suffering that I endured.

    Part of me is sure that I would never make the same mistakes.

    Part of me feels lucky and grateful to be alive despite my upbringing …and wouldn’t change a thing.

    Part of me has often wished that I was never born.

    Part of me is selfish and lazy, loves freedom and hates responsibility.

    Part of me feels incomplete because my closest friends have kids and I feel like an oddball.

    Part of me knows that my friends sometimes fantasize about what they’re lives might have been without children, even if they hide it well.

    I rarely talk about my past openly and certainly have never written it down in a public post before. I just found this post really helpful, particularly the comments. It’s refreshing to read people discussing the negative impact of having children as, particular today with Facebook etc, it’s very easy to feel like an outcast for not wanting to be a parent.

    I do think ultimately it’s a bad thing so many people have unplanned pregnancies and often never give parenthood the same level of consideration that many here have done in retrospect.

    Having children is never something I will consciously do unless I’m 100% sure, which probably means I’ll never have children and my current relationship wont last forever.

    I think the saying “regret things you’ve done, not the things you haven’t done” is truly a terrible sentiment when applied to having children.

    Thanks for the post / article.

    Reply
  6. M

    These comments are amazing, they are helping me so much, you don’t even know.

    I am a 38 year old mom of an 8 year old. For over 2 years, we’ve been trying to have a second child. It is not going so well. I’m one of those stories that give women in their early/mid 30s hoping to have kids nightmares. In the past 15 months I’ve had 4 miscarriages, and after 4 failed IUI attempts and 2 canceled IVFs due to poor response, the fertility clinic is on the verge of kicking me out. We’ll probably stop trying after that – don’t know if I can take another miscarriage.

    I love my son. He’s the whole reason I want another one. I didn’t know when I was pregnant with him whether I would want one or two or more kids. It took a while to get to know him, settle into being a parent, and realize that this mom thing is pretty great and worth the hardships.

    But it seems my body is not on the same page as my mind. I’ve given it my all and sacrificed what little enjoyment I had left in life (as of this writing we are currently living in the End Times, aka 2020-21) – coffee, exercise, not having doctors probe my vagina every other day – to try and make this a reality. I completely drank the koolaid. And now during this round of IVF-turned-IUI, after all these changes, guess how many eggs I have to show for this cycle. THREE. 3 freakin eggs. (For those of you who don’t obsessively follow the trying to conceive boards, 3 is no good.)

    It really does help me to read the people being super honest about regretting having kids. I am trying to come to terms with probably only being able to have my one, and nobody anywhere else on the internet (or the planet) ever seems to regret having mounds of kids. It is always, ALWAYS, sunshine and roses. I am surrounded every day by parents with approximately 79 kids at the school drop off here in Nebraska, and pregnancy announcements come in from all angles. It’s hard to see the upside of only having one when you are constantly faced with feeling that you are missing out on a bigger experience. So I appreciate everyone who was brave enough to share if they do have some regrets around having kids, because it helps me to put things a little more in perspective and see that there are pros and cons to every decision.

    Reply
    • Bea Thomas

      Hi, reach out to Dr. Michael Jones of McKinney, TX. He is an OBGYN and has a clinic New life Women’s Clinic. It’s worth a phone call. Maybe they’ll see you virtually.

      Reply
    • Lina

      Hi M,

      I was moved by the struggle you described in your comment. Going through all of that in 15 months sounds unbearably hard. You sound like a really strong person.

      I just wanted to give my perspective as you come to terms with probably just having one kid. I’m an only child, and I have an incredibly close relationship with my parents that I definitely attribute to that. They’re my best friends, and I have a very special bond with them. Other only children I know have described similar relationships with their parents. There have definitely been times I wished I had siblings, like when my parents split up, but I’m also very thankful for my parents and the unique relationship I have with each of them.

      It sounds like you love your son very much and have a great relationship with him. It must be hard to feel like you’re missing out on a bigger experience, but the flip side of it is that you also have the opportunity to focus on just your son and will have more time to spend one-on-one with him throughout his life. This could potentially be something to cherish : )

      Wishing you all the best!

      Reply
  7. GaryR

    The comments here are pretty fascinating. But I am curious why there are so many people admitting they are unhappy and regret children yet haven’t simply left their marriage – it would seem co-parenting might alleviate their loss freedom, their sense of having no life. Is this not being discussed because as much as people are regretting it they don’t want to do that? Or because they think it would make things worse? Or because they can’t afford to divorce financially? Or because they’re afraid to leave? Or because they feel obligated to stay? I am truly curious.

    Reply
    • Lo

      Maybe they are unhappy being a parent but aren’t unhappy with their partners and don’t want to not be with them? That seems a pretty logical guess.

      Reply
    • Bri

      Honestly?? I think it’s because the parents love each other and a child is usually an unexpected consequence of that. It might be easier to regret having children than to stop loving your partner

      Reply
  8. Emma

    The questions raised by this article need to be put into the context of post Reagan American capitalism.

    Americans are hedonistic? Focused on short term pleasure and happiness?

    There have been wonderful articles and studies on why people who are financially unstable, a definition that pretty much applies to 80% of Americans, are more likely to be hedonistic and focused on happiness then deeper meaning or long term goals.

    I wonder if that has anything to do with the long term hopelessness of being an American.

    Some other countries don’t have such a parenthood gap? Could it be because those countries actually enact policy that supports parenting? Family leave, for example, and they push husbands to also take family leave?

    Could it be that these countries have national holidays that they pay you to stay home on? And be with your family?

    Work family balance is a lot easier when you live in a country that is not actively working to alienate you so that you consume more.

    You will find that countries with a better rate of satisfaction with parenting have well-thought-out child care policies, that they pay a living wage so that people don’t have to work overtime in order to live indoors with children.

    Countries like Denmark and Sweden for example, Iceland, don’t have such a competitive society that your child must be enrolled in a competitive pre school in order to have any likelihood of choice and actualization in their adult life.

    There is so much to be said about the shortsightedness of the analysis in this article.

    The American habit of taking societal problems and making them into individual problems is well represented here…

    Reply
    • Sophie G

      Your mansplaining is breathtaking. Some women can’t physically have children. So are they too living empty, selfish lives?

      Reply
  9. Matthew Tong

    Really enjoyed the article and the comments.

    I’m 27 with no kids (was feeling guilty about it, hence googling this topic), single with no plans to get married either.

    We all have to go through life the same way, regardless of the people that offer support, the decisions you make is yours and yours alone.

    I was 14 when I accepted the fact that life is kinda stupid, all the stress and dangers of life will end with me. I do not want to put anyone else through the cycle. Especially since my life was not my choice.

    My parents are constantly pushing me to follow that perfect family model, but its obvious that they aren’t happy.

    Making peace with your decisions, reminding yourself that all you really have is ‘right now’ and finding purpose in your current circumstance is the only way to be happy.

    The mind can be a treasure trove or a prison.

    Reply
  10. H

    Hey it seems people are asking for advice and what better place to ask for advice from like minded people I guess. I’ll set a quick scene of what has occurred over 2020/2021 which is I was in a 4 year relationship when I started getting feelings for somebody else and realised I was no longer happy in the relationship so ended things towards the end of 2020. I always thought I wanted kids but when talking to the other person who I caught feelings towards I found that he didn’t want kids and I mean adamant, he pointed out some good points about why not wanting them and I held my defence on why I thought children were great. Now that things have ended between us because of this difference, but now I think about it I don’t know if I would be bothered if I didn’t have them, but why was I so broody in my previous relationship is this because I felt it was the next thing to do? Is it because my sister has been so anti children that I feel like I have to be the bearer of granchildren? even thou my mum has told me it is ultimately my happiness that matters, or is it because from the age of 14 I’ve told myself we date, marry and have children that I have brainwashed myself into that mindset of that is what brings happiness then I have the fear of obviously regret, my sister said to me she believes I would regret not having children. How has anyone over come the conflicting thoughts of having children or not to have them? Is being confused really as simple as not wanting them?

    Reply
  11. Hanna

    Funny thing is, my mom (64) has admitted she wished she went into the convent instead of becoming a wife and mom. She loves kids, but she had a hard life and I don’t blame her. I know she loves us and loves her grandkids, but I also understand her undying love and faith in her religion. The sh*t my dad has and still puts my mom through, it sucks seeing it. But the old ways of her religion don’t believe in divorce.

    She’s always told me, “Your education and career won’t leave you. Go after everything that you want. I’ll support you in whatever it is that you dream of doing.” I’m the youngest of my siblings, nearing my 30s, but don’t have kids. I want kids, I think, but I don’t care if I have them late in my 30s or sometime in my 40s. The majority of my friends have the same thoughts as I do. And one of my friend’s mom had my friend in her 40s. My dad was born to my grandma in her 50s! But grandma was born in 1907 sooo, the time was different then.

    Anyway, I came here mostly because I just don’t understand my one friend. All her life, she said she didn’t want kids. Married a guy who she seemed to just settle with. I feel like she just didn’t want to start over… She’s very shallow of a person. So the way she looks affects her a lot. Or the way she thinks others are looking at her. Anywho, they’re having money troubles, and yet he still pushed her to try for kids even though she didn’t feel ready for them. But secretly, I think she still just didn’t want any. But that’s his dealbreaker and she didn’t want to lose him. During her pregnancy, it just didn’t seem like she was all that happy that she’s pregnant, and when she found out they were having a girl he was disappointed. The bigger she gets the more body image issues she has, and her doctor is telling her to eat more but she doesn’t want to because she doesn’t want to get fat. In my head, I’m like, then why be with someone who wants kids if that’s not what you want?

    I just don’t understand, why the rush? I feel like she’s chasing a happiness that’s never going to be there. I don’t seem to quite understand that idea, since I had to see my siblings have kids in hopes having a child at a young age would make their relationship with their significant other “happy” and better, but it really just ended in brutal custody battles and divorce. Then I had to deal with their spite and jealousy because I didn’t make the same mistakes or choices should I say, as they did. I am thankful, my mom admitted she never wanted kids, and that I got to see how hard it is to have kids thanks to my siblings. It’s made me put off marriage and kids until I’m happy in my own life completely. And who knows? Maybe come that age, I won’t want them still. I don’t know. I’m legit taking life one step at a time. I have awesome relationships with my nieces and nephews.

    Reply
  12. Elle

    I have a question. What to do when you know you don’t want to raise children, nor is now the right time to have them, but you feel like there might be a slight chance of missing out if you don’t have them? I am in my early 30s, and I never wanted kids, nor did I ever met a suitable partner to have them with. I always wanted to build my carrer, have loads of money, and then help kids in need rather than produce more of them. I now have enough money, but I still don’t want to adopt yet, because there is no room in my life for kids. But now all of a sudden this feelings are here that say to me: “Oh, look you are so old, before you’ll meet someone and have a relationship you could be 38, and then you’ll be an old mother.” I don’t want to have this voice in my head, it is clearly fear speaking, and in part it is pressure from outside (my mother wants grandchildren, my male friends joking how my clock is ticking and I am a kuger now). I am happy in my life, that being said I am happy solving my issues and growing as a person, and I don’t feel ready to have kids. But everytime someone makes a joke about my age, and not having a family, I get really defensive and start arguing with them, because deep down I am riddled with doubt. Did I choose wrong? How to get over it? I try to ignore other people’s opinion but they keep getting at me with these stupid jokes. Especially men are very quick to add that even if they are in their 30s or 40s, they will just find a young 20-year-old that will have their children, which is not an option for females. I think I need to find more supportive friends, but what to do with this jokers? If anyone have any advice, let me know!

    Reply
    • Ali

      Hey, I actually think that is really horrible of your friends to be saying that to you. Maybe try telling them how it upsets you, also I would try talking to your mum as well. It is u fair of people to be making jomes like that or having high expectations etc. It sounds to me that those people who are putting the pressure on are the ones who are making you doubt. It may be worth going to talk to a counsellor or something to help you figure it all out as well, just to help you work out wnat you would like. X

      Reply
    • Venicia

      Hi Elle,

      I think it’s completely normal, however eccentric some people might view this, for you to live a life of your choosing as opposed to what it “traditionally should be”. A good friend of mine (a childless unmarried woman in her early fifties) told me that if you’ve never felt the strong urge and drive to really want children then you probably shouldn’t and I absolutely think she’s right. I’m also in my thirties and have pondered the same question. I come from a Mediterranean culture that values marriage and kids and I have always held strong to my family values but never felt the motherhood drive myself. I have been involved in the lives of my nieces and nephews and it’s been amazing and fulfilling. I have a great career, I have attained financial independence that allows me to build the life I want (travel, focus on my partner who also chose to be childless, start a non profit and just enjoy this short life on earth). You can pour your kindness and life experiences into other kids’ lives and make a difference that way instead of reproducing.

      My advice to you would be to surround yourself with people and friends who have similar lifestyle to yours and with those that aren’t so judgmental. You’ll rarely come across , although I have, parents who’ll honestly admit to you that their lives without their children would’ve been just as fulfilling if not more. Out of fear of being shamed , women will rarely talk about the sacrifices and the alternatives lives they could’ve had if they didn’t have kids; so, keep that in mind 🙂
      Go on living your fullest life, you’ll find a partner who’ll want the same path you want (those typically, especially men who don’t want to be fathers, find it hard to find women who want to be children-free) so consider yourself rare 🙂

      Wishing you best of luck. Better years and limitless possibilities are ahead for you. How exciting is that!!

      Reply
      • Louisa

        This is very true about women being shamed – I am very careful to whom I admit that I wish I never had kids. I have 3 girls (6,8,11) and I’m a full time professional who wanted to be a SAHM until they were in school but after #1 was 18mo I conceded defeat and went back to work to escape the deep depression that threw me into. 11 years in, my conclusion is that due to abuse and neglect during my own childhood, and continuing that damage through being in a high conflict abusive marriage for 20 years, I do not have the psychoemotional health and resources to be a parent. Parenting takes a huge toll on my mental and emotional wellbeing and I spend most of my time – when not at work or hands on parenting – investing heavily in various activities and programs to try hold my sanity together long enough to get my kids to 18yo, alive. To say that I hate my life like this would be an understatement. I feel so trapped. I finally separated and put an end to that source of stress, but as an immigrant I have no family here to help me so I’m completely on my own, so the parenting stress is just amped up even more. I love each of my kids personally, but having them is destroying my health and there’s nothing I can do to help it that I’m not already doing (therapy, self help, well-being supports, outsourcing domestic stuff that drains me etc). It’s honestly awful.

        Reply
        • Crystal

          I completely understand! I was pregnant at 16 by a boy I had only known for a short time. He took the condom off without me knowing. A few years later, I was pregnant again and this time it was a result of someone rapping me. It started as consensual but he would not get off me after I told him several times and tried to push him away. I tried to give that baby up but as my due date came closer, I became more and more attached to the baby. I ended up keeping him too. Three years later I fell in love and became pregnant. This time I was happy because I was finally having a baby conceived out of love. A year later I was pregnant again due to missing my birth control pill one day. My ex didn’t want me to have another baby and I knew it would be difficult to provide for four kids, so we decided to have an abortion. On the way inside the clinic people approached us and convinced me to have an ultrasound in their mobile health truck. I agreed and once I saw a fully formed baby, I couldn’t go through with it. That was 11 years ago. I have raised all four kids by myself without any family to help. It has been so hard and overwhelming that there were times I wanted to kill myself. Truth be told, I never had the option to die because who would be there to take care of the kids? I never received any child support and their dads never see the kids. Through all of this I was blessed to be able to graduate college. Having that goal set helped keep me out of depression and gave me a hope that life could one day get better. I could finally be happy. Praying and developing a closer relationship with God is what gets me through life. I have had a lot of horrible things happen to me and being all alone without any family has been very hard. But God has brought people into my life that have helped me when I was overwhelmed and near a breaking point. My kids aren’t very well behaved so my house and life border on chaotic most days. I find that when I pray and ask God to help me, some how, some way, something happens to keep me from going off the deep end. I’m definitely going to pray for you. And just know that you are not alone. ❤️❤️❤️

          Reply
          • Cyn

            Crystal, your testimony brought me to tears, thank you so much for sharing! I can relate on a much smaller level but I see how blessed I’ve been.
            I always wanted to get married and have children growing up. I got married so young and had a baby at 20, he joined the army and was deployed quickly after training. I was left with our 3 month old at my parents house.
            I was so depressed I started drinking a lot, developed an eating disorder and got very thin. I had to move out of California to be with him but he was always gone. Then when he came back from Afghanistan I found out he was unfaithful and it became a breaking point for both of us.
            The relationship turned abusive from both sides and bitter, he tried committing suicide multiple times, stopped seeing his son just so I wouldn’t be able to go out, we despised and loved each other.
            It got so bad the army told him to leave so we came back to Cali, got divorced, had an intense custody battle which I won, then he fought me in court when I wanted to move away with my son and parents even though he ignored us and never gave any money for his son.
            I won that court battle and moved away and have been raising my boy with my parents, he’s 11 now.
            I’m fighting the bitterness inside how I’m here struggling to raise his child who looks just like him while he’s just off living his life, being free from the responsibilities. My whole life revolves around my son, where I I work, where I live, who I date, when I can go out, what I can buy and afford for myself.
            It hurts to think of the life I dreamed of having but now I’m too traumatized from being hurt and abandoned to ever allow myself to to just settle down and have a family. I’m 31 now and not married and struggling to move on with my life and the man I’m now with who says he loves me and wants to marry me but he also admitted that he wants children. He told me that as long as he can be with me he can let go of wanting to have kids, but I’m very doubtful of it.
            I don’t think I have it in me anymore. In my mind it’s like being in prison for 18 years and 13 years in I’d be signing up for another 18 years.
            On the other hand I watched a woman who only had one son, he got married, had some kids and was killed in a mugging. His wife hated the mom and kept the grandkids away from her their whole lives. I watched her die alone almost 100 years old.
            My school friend, who was an only child, passed away a few weeks ago and his parents are old with not even any grandkids.
            I’m scared of that happening to me but I’m terrified of having children when I don’t want them at all. For once in my life I just want to be free to do what I want without having to worry about someone else. Nothing inside of me desires to be put through this suffering again. I’m so conflicted.

    • Kaci

      My guess is if you’ve always known you do not want kids and you feel that you do not want them now – you won’t want them in the future. You, like myself not too long ago, may be feeling the pressure of what we think we’re supposed to do or what will make us “happy” based on society’s standards. I know it is near impossible, but imagine all the “rules” of life were to slip away and the typical process of having children was not the standard, would you still be worried? From personal experience, I always suggest a good dose of therapy to dig into why you don’t want children and why you feel so much pressure and worry about the future by making that choice. I’m only in my late twenties and I second guess my choice, largely because everyone my age is actively changing their choices in anticipation of children or trying/having had children. It’s OK to be different. What’s hard is undoing the programming we have that we need children to have purpose or satisfaction.

      Reply
    • Stephanie Kirksey

      I am not an expert. But only you know what makes you happy. Trust you know you better than anyone else. Then move forward and build your happy.

      Reply
    • Rob

      Hi Elle,

      I will write this for the first time in my life. I’ll go short because I don’t want, or I am scared, or I am prepared to reflect too much on in, but I am certain of it. Having a kid was the biggest mistake I have ever made. I love my kid beyond comprehension, but that’s probably because I feel responsible for him, and because he lives with me. But the thing is, I love everyone, in the sense that I am very compassionate towards everyone. Did I need to make a human so that I could love him? No. Would I go back if I could, yes definitely, although if that option was presented to me I would declined it, that is, because I have known my kid for 5 years now, accepting the option of going back would be basically like killing him (better words would apply, but I am no psychologist nor do I have much time). And, if he was die, I would also die, no doubt about that. I love him as I said, beyond comprehension. But my point is, perhaps i am repeating myself, I didn’t need that.

      One last thing I wanted to say, “…and then help kids in need rather than produce more of them.” This sounds so mature, so intelligent, so kind. I agree, kids are wonderful and loads of them need our help. We don’t need to produce more of them.

      There will be haters to what I say, but it’s my opinion, and I hope I had read it if I have ever done any research into having kids or not. (It just went movie like, oh, kids, I love my girlfriend, let’s have kids! (I don’t love my girlfriend-now-wife anymore))

      Reply
    • Ryan Jackson

      Elle anyone who mocks you for not having kids has their own issues. There is not a reason to beat yourself because there is no right or wrong. It’s a mutual decision between two people or at least would hope. You seem pretty self aware and I would trust that. Follow your path and stay Honest with you.

      Reply
    • Ray

      I’m 40. Not married, no kids. Same reasons as you. You cannot force some nurturing instinct to drop into your lap if it’s not there, nor should you waste your life feeling guilty about a behaviour that is so common among humans, not being right for you. Some of us are just that unique, and there’s something exceptional in that, embrace it. Your friends are crap. Consider cutting out the crap in your life that doesn’t serve you. I’m serious. You’re old enough not be be listening to playground banter and judgments about your own choices about your lifestyle, body and mind. It really is unhealthy to be around those types of people. Join childfree groups. Find your ‘clan’, your soul tribe. Stop worrying about what ‘regular’ men want from a woman. You already know those aren’t the men for you. There are also unique men who don’t want children. Consider and realise that a lot of men regret being fathers because they come to realise that they submitted to pressure from their ‘partners’. Misery loves company. Remember, a lot of people might be ‘digging’ at your self esteem because they’re unhappy with their own choices. Do realise that a healthy, well adjusted person would never bother to question your lifestyle because they’d be content enough and balanced enough with their own choices to circumvent such cruelty. You already know your path, you just need to summon up the courage to be honest with yourself. Life is too short to deny yourself your authentic nature. Good luck.

      Reply
    • Petunia Bell

      You sound like you know what you want (no kids)! Don’t have them because others are pressuring you. My parents have said, “us wanting grandchildren isn’t a good reason for you to have children” – and it’s not!! I agree that you should find more supportive friends… if you want to give them a chance to salvage your relationship, please let them know that you don’t want children, you don’t appreciate the jokes, and if they continue to make them, you’ll be seeing them less and less. You could also respond by saying that you haven’t met anyone worthy of having children with and look them dead in their eyes when you say it.

      Reply
  13. Stephanie

    Great article! Obviously, everyone’s idea of happiness is different. For some it’s having kids and for others it’s something else. What I’ve noticed is that society is always feeding us the jingle that becoming parents is so darn wonderful and that if you don’t have a family you’ll never be completely fulfilled in life. Such BS and yet so many people are fooled and buy into this notion. Even now, a few weeks shy of 2021, commercials still portray the happy shiny family with the fantastic looking parents and their beautiful children, all of them wearing big bright smiles and seemingly without a care in the world. Younger couples often drink up this idea of the perfect little family lifestyle and rush into parenthood in their early or mid 20’s. The sad thing is that a few years later, often after the second or third baby comes along, they split up. The non stop work and stress of parenting, hectic schedules and the huge financial burden kids are probably have a lot to do with it. The once happy and super cute couple start to constantly fight over money issues, how to raise the kids, etc. I’ve seen this happen over and over again and of course it happens to older couples with kids also. But hey, it’s all worth it right? Ha! I’m not trying to diss people with kids because it’s a very personal choice and yes, some parents are actually glad they had kids and appreciate having them every day. I’m not one of them. I pretty much knew in my late teens that motherhood was not for me. I like kids but I just don’t want to raise any. Thankfully, my husband of 13 years has never wanted any either. I’m 46 and he’s 53 and we have absolutely no regrets. We come home from work to a quiet house except for our pets and simply have our dinner while talking about our day without interruptions by crying/whining kids who want something. We also enjoy doing many activities together or with friends. I’m also lucky I wasn’t pressured by my parents to give them Grandchildren. They knew it was my choice. That is another thing people need to understand. It is NOT adult children’s responsibility to give their parents Grandbabies. Just because they chose to have us doesn’t mean we are obligated to do the same. Bottom line is it’s our life, not theirs and they will most likely not be the ones who will need to raise them. I really enjoyed your article. Happy Holidays!

    Reply
    • Stephanie

      Oh and as for ending up alone because of not having any offspring, I’d say that is mostly a myth. When I was younger I worked for a while in a home for the elderly. I saw that several of them were almost always alone and they had grown children. Some had kids living out of state, others had some who would come visit them once in a blue moon and would only stay for an hour or so. When it was a special occasion like Mother’s day or Easter, they’d send a bouquet of flowers and that was about it. I do understand people who want kids but it’s good to know that there is no guarantee as to what kind of person they’ll become as adults, no matter how well you raise them. Some really love and care deeply for their parents but others clearly don’t. Just thought I’d add that to my previous comment. Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

      Reply
      • Judy

        So true. I volunteer in seniors homes and almost all of the seniors lack any visitors. I often think that I hope their kids end up alone in a home.

        Reply
    • Judy

      Yeah biggest mistake I ever made. Having kids is such a crock. Then there are the grandkids. Just another pain in the ass. My life would have been so much better without any of them.

      Reply
  14. Jim

    Then there are many of us single guys that don’t even have a wife, let alone having no children at all.

    Reply
    • George Washington

      I don’t think the issue is as complex as the article is making it out to be. All of this cognitive vs. emotional heady thought that’s supposedly taking place is giving your average person way too much credit. Most people are cut off at the knees when it comes to critical thinking at a very early age and when it comes to reproduction it’s usually “working class hero” cultural nonsense that does them in. Most people (irrespective of “education”), don’t have the intellectual sophistication to think their way out of the wet paper bag that is what their parents and teachers and friends and priests and television tells them to do. So they find a like minded peasant like themselves and reproduce because they’ve been told to do so. That’s it. The fact of the matter is children do make most people feel fulfilled because most people are very easily entertained……..and oh so dumb.

      Reply
      • Adelheid

        You hit the nail right on the head!

        Reply
  15. Mary

    I cannot say how much relief I feel as I read this. It was so strange being pregnant and motherhood is truly hell on earth without any reward. It’s made my marriage fall apart and my personal happiness doesn’t exist as I can’t just forget about my 24/7 responsibilities which will never go away it feels like. 10 years of motherhood have been my worst years and caused more problems than I could have planned for. I thought may be I will get happiness or contentment but that hope was false. Don’t want to sound negative but I wish I could go back and listen to my gut.
    My husband wanted kids and I was never a huge fan of kids to begin with. To this day I know I went the wrong way and didn’t consider my life in the long run when I had a slip with my ex. I contemplated having kids when I was in my 20s but had a sickening feeling like I was lying and deceiving myself with this idea when I truly knew kids wouldn’t make me happy, just the opposite.. I come from a traditional upbringing and my family pushed me into keeping it. My husband also pressured me and guilted me. Everyone else was happy for me and said I have to have kids. I feel like I’m imprisoned. I am waiting and thinking this feeling will pass. It’s been years. I miss the life I had before I had my child. I hope that when my child grows up I can finally be free to live life how I want.

    Reply
    • Louisa

      My sympathies. I identify very much fun it’s your post. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
    • Rob

      Oh well, after all, I am not the only one. The biggest mistake I have ever made was to have a kid. Sometimes I compare having had a kid (despite the fact I am the first tone to agree that it is absurd in all ways you look at it) to checking in into prison by myself.

      And note that I love him, a lot. I find it important to say it. But my life is gone.

      Reply
  16. Rachel

    I have several children. When they were all very small (under 12) I loved every second of it. It was physically hard and time consuming but I loved it because I held out hope that in the future it would all be WORTH IT. I did a degree in Early Childhood Education, I made sure I raised children to have good self esteem, I implemented all the strategies, I made sure they had lots of opportunities and a private school education. I held out hope that in the future I would have a big loving family, and when my children were adults we would be close and loving, that I would have adult children to include me in their lives, spend Christmases together, and eventually I would have lots of grandchildren to love.
    As they have grown up I have realised all my expectations were SO WRONG. It was all idealism, like the movies. My first two are from my first marriage, and have been influenced somewhat by my ex husband, so have learnt to manipulate people to get what they want. My eldest and I had a good relationship for a while, but that changed suddenly without warning after she made a lot of poor decisions and destroyed her own reputation in our home town. She is now 24 and hates me and moved 5 hours away to live near her father, never talks to me, wants nothing to do with her half siblings, and wont even add me on social media. It is like I am dead to her. It is heart breaking. My second eldest is a mean spirited grudge holder who has a list in her head of how she has supposedly been “wronged” even though all the decisions I have made and choices I have made have resulted in her now very successful life. She can be nice one minute and savagely turn on me the next. My first son from my second marriage is a nightmare and is bipolar, so that is absolute hell and I am fighting against being forced into the role of “carer’ for the rest of my life. I don’t want that. When he is manic he is nasty and violent and verbally abusive with a lot of gaslighting, and I honestly worry that one day he will kill me. The others are currently just selfish teenagers who really don’t care for me at all, and yet I stupidly kept having more. My youngest is 2 and a lovely little person, but watching what actually happens in this millennial generation of “ME ME ME all about ME ME ME”, with society’s blessing, has made me completely lose hope. It doesn’t matter what you do for them, what you provide for them, or how wonderful you make their childhood. I now honestly feel that Parenting is JUST NOT WORTH IT. Parenting, doesn’t guarantee a family, parenting doesn’t mean you wont end up old and alone. Mothering especially is a life long sacrifice that nobody appreciates. Society, which once valued the housewife and mother, as an actual career option, has morphed into not valuing mothering at all. Being a mother is seen as a bludge, as something any idiot can do, as something you do ‘as well as’ a REAL job. No cognitive dissonance here, Parenting is like believing in fairy tales….. reality is, that happiness does not exist.

    Reply
    • Roxanne

      You’re not alone. I feel exactly like you do. Both my kids are still small but I can relate. I however do not regret having children and I will always love them no matter what the future holds. As parents that’s all we can do really.

      Reply
    • Danzig13

      Rachel, please get therapy. You’re probably a lovely person under there somewhere. Don’t ruin the 2 yr old too with your bitterness, expectations, and general blighted world view. This ‘Lifetime Television spec script’ you just numbed us with detailing your scarcity of worth and general self victimization by your children, your exe’s and society is granted entertaining but really sad. Also I suspect your son not being the only bi-polar person here. Work on yourself, regain the trust your children lost in you.Your children are a reflection of everything you put into them. Period. I have 3, one daughter is schizophrenic, and her ability to take care of herself, adhere to her meds and continue to function on her own terms as a pretty awesome 22 yr old astonishes me. And we didn’t have it easy…I’m black, raised inner city, and a single mom to 3 incredible weirdos with great dreams and more ambition than I or their deadbeat Italian dad ever had. Look I’m an LCSW, so I know I shouldn’t be this snarky to you from a professional standpoint, but my mother is probably somewhere RIGHT NOW telling your sob story about me and my brothers. We don’t talk to her either, 8+ yrs, and we avoid her like the plague And that ‘ish knows exactly what she did.(despite victimizing herself all over town to anyone who will hear) AND YOU DO TOO. Square up, make amends.

      And this article rocks. Children don’t make us happy. There are moments when my little nutcases do make me happy, but the brighter colors of their existence brings me joy (something a bit different than happiness imo) Their existence in the world as creative, hardworking determined people have given me a sense of pride, and has proven to me that I’m ten times the woman my mom ever was. BTW…eff all that sacrificing crap. I didn’t sacrifice, one brunch with girlfriends, one coastal trip, or one day at the spa for my lovely little time tyrants…I made darn sure to self care whenever I could. Sacrificing something for my kids would have led to resentment. And I loved them (and myself) too much to harbor those feelings.

      Reply
      • Claire

        Yes Danzig13! I am not a mother but was raised by a bitter mother who resented me my whole life. Your response is great and I can tell you are a great mother because you simply LET YOUR CHILDREN BE WHO THEY ARE and seem to have sorted out your own emotional life so as not to blame all your problems on your kids and continue a cycle of self-victimization. I feel bad for Rachel’s 2 year old if she doesn’t change. Already having a negative outlook on the life of your child is only going to breed future neuroticism. Rachel should really go to therapy and work on her own issues, she doesn’t seem to have a clear view on how her lack of genuine emotional communication and empathy for her children are having on their current attitudes towards her. No one should expect their children to make them happy, happiness only comes from within and therapy can help with that.

        Reply
        • AJ

          Wow. Such arrogance to make such sweeping judgements about this lady which you know nothing about.

          “our children are a reflection of everything you put into them” – What a load of nonsense. That’s a bumper sticker not a factual statement about parenthood. I know plenty of great parents who’s children have gone astray and vice versa. Life is not as simple as your romanticized quotes make it out to be. Anyone with real life experience will know this.

          Reply
          • Rob

            Completely agree. And Rachel, yes you may need therapy, but I guess we all do, but not for the reasons stated above by the two people. You seem very honest, to yourself, and life sucks, but it’s not your fault.

      • Ginger

        I applaud Rachel for being honest about her feelings and not presenting this perfectly rosy scenario that often isn’t true. There are young adults out there who blame their parents for no reason with no appreciation for what their parents did for them. I’m sure Rachel is not the perfect mom, but to presume she’s just “bitter” and her relationship with her kids is all her fault and none of what she’s saying is accurate is not really fair.

        Reply
        • Danzig13

          Blame is all about entitlement. If you would like a textbook example of said entitlement please re-read Rachel’s tome. If you don’t learn the blame game you don’t know the blame game and therefore don’t play the blame game. I truly don’t understand the ‘appreciation’ trope in parenting…did we have our bang-trophies so they would in turn appreciate us for sexing them into existence or do we do the work to earn the empathy love and respect of said trophies? Our children owe us nothing. It’s a pleasure for me to serve my children not a burden. It is not expected from their end either ; I REFUSE to negotiate with an entitled adult let alone an entitled child. Other people in the world may exhaust me to the point we’re ‘appreciation’ is needed but not my kids.
          Our kids don’t make us happy. Our lifestyle does.

          Reply
      • Doe a Deer

        Danzig13 – you are badass. Love your thoughts. Keep it up. You sound like a wonderful mother doing your best to live a good life and raise individual beauties.

        Rachel, I agree that it sounds like you should consider getting some mental support, if you can hear my perspective it might help. Your story resonated because I think my dad is also telling a similar story, a victim of the circumstances he created – us needing distance from him in our lives. The story reminds me of him and all the damage he has done while genuinely trying to do well. He loves his kids so much but he could never see all the hurt he created by being unable to control his emotions. I have come to the conclusion that he is mentally unbalanced and unable to see it. I hope he finds some support because life doesn’t have to be so awful, it can be better and healthier for everyone. Until he manages to improve I cannot continue to sacrifice my dignity, self-respect and wellbeing because he refuses to acknowledge and work on his problems. Am I perfect? Heck no, did I deserve to be treated that way? Heck no. The way he was behaving had me depressed 2-3 times in my life until I recently realized my relationship with him was hurting WAY more than it was helping. So, I made the difficult decision to get the distance I need to live a happier well-balanced life. I have explained this to him but he still doesn’t understand, he literally cannot see the damage he does. He just thinks I am ungrateful, unloving, and unforgiving because to his love means always forgiving no matter what; allowing the cycle to continue forever. I have forgiven the past but I cannot allow the cycle to continue in the future. I hope that makes sense, I hope that if this has given you even an inkling of self-doubt about your actions you start to get help with your mental health. No kid wants to have a bad relationship with their parents.

        On the baby front: personally, my husband and I are 30 and we don’t feel the need to have kids. We feel the need to help improve what already exists in the world but in our house we are snug as a bug in a rug, just the two of us. Of course, the voice of society (parents, friends, TV etc.) creeps in and makes you reassess your thoughts and question your choices, it builds fear that you will miss out on the world’s greatest joy, and die alone. But I always come back to the same stupid but accurate thought experiment: I need to want to have a kid a heck of a lot more than I want a dog before I can even consider it. Anything less would not be fair for the kid. I would still want puppy #3 more than child #1 lol. I just dont have that yearning.

        Reply
    • Bonnie

      I think it is mostly society that has changed the values taught at home and so much pressure about being focused on the “self ” and on being “selfish” to the end of personal care and mostly focus on that. Lost values, encouragement on having less morals on which to live on. It is not a simple time and entitled people teach the children to be entitled and feel like everything is deserved. I feel that happiness is “meaning ” and the journey is the romance, the story, the trials and tribulation, but never a destination. Do what gives you satisfaction, some will appreciate the rime and meaning, others won’t…but in the end you would ask why, and only you can determine the why. Happiness and satisfaction is found within yourself, its hard to see it or find it but you will forever be in pursuit of it. Your not alone in feeling and fearing that we are alone. Have strength, you can do this.

      Reply
    • jachen12

      If I was your kid I would hate you too. Get some help.

      Reply
    • Adelheid

      Rachel, it appears you have offended some people with your honesty. I would say let go with love on the older ones, and just focus on the 2 year old without any expectation of the future this time around. You did your best, you didn’t do any better or worse than anyone else, but it’s time to move on.

      Reply
    • Sarah

      What’s the common denominator in all these kids’ lives? Is it possible that it’s your expectations of them that have left you disappointed? If you take them as they are and manage your own expectations, you might find some happiness.

      Reply
  17. Myranda

    I don’t think telling people not to focus on their personal happiness is a good thing. If we don’t compare our lives to what we think they should be then things would never get better. If someone is poor, has terrible healthcare, and overall bad quality of life the answer is not to just be happy with the life they have.

    Reply
  18. frank morales

    i liked the article,society thought me in my younger years to have children is good almost mandatory in order to be happy. like most people later on i figured i was brainwashed i would have been happier with out children its not that i dont like children its finding a woman i can be with all my life with out getting a divorce or child support down the road.the state inters in your private life once you have children like there the ones who fathered them and tell you how to raise them.i dont need the state to baby sit me and tell me what i can and can not do so much from freedom in a socialist government

    Reply
  19. Hanz Gruber

    I hate children with passion. Kids don’t bring me any happiness and joy. My brother has two of them; it’s nice to see them here and there, but being alone with them is the scariest thing ever. I deployed and would be much rather under enemy fire than 10 seconds alone with a child. I’ve snipped the baby donating tubes and never want to have another child.
    I enjoy my life as a single man, traveling the world, living in my small studio.
    Just having kids around me makes me uncomfortable.

    I agree that a life without children is a happy life.

    Reply
    • Luna Sadie

      if no one had children you would not be alive

      Reply
      • dan

        lol. what a silly point

        Reply
    • June

      I agree

      Reply
    • Rob

      I envy your awareness. Wish I was living by myself in a studio and traveling the world.

      Reply
  20. Me

    Children might not make you HAPPIER but they sure bring JOY. Happiness is like Chinese food. You love it when you eat it but 2 hours later you’re hungry again. Happiness is fleeting. Children aren’t. But they enrich your life if you have them.

    Reply
  21. Celine

    I had a random thought while I was watching telly. It was “why do people have children?“ And I was led to this post. Unfortunately, people have emotional reactions to other people’s decisions about their bodies. But I have to say, as a childless unmarried woman of 44, if I had met a man who wanted to marry me, stick around and raise children with me, I would have had them. I don’t have casual sex or hook up. I felt that it would’ve been a waste of my reproductive years to sleep with a series of men who did not want a committed relationship. The likelihood of my accidentally getting pregnant was very low. And I’m now in pre-menopause so it’s now impossible for me to fall pregnant without medical intervention. I have no regrets about that. Again, for me it’s the luck of the draw. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have met someone with whom I wanted to raise children when I was fertile and in my 20s. I wanted children. It simply didn’t work out that way because I have never wanted to be an unwed mother. I wanted my children to have a father in their life and I wanted be married to him. A stable, loving relationship, and a home life based on traditional values are the minimum I wanted to offer. I’m still in perimenopause, but if I met the man tomorrow and he committed to me and wanted children, then we would try together.

    Reply
    • Lee Ann OLeary

      You are such a smart, future oriented person. I wish I had had such intelligence and wisdom before I destroyed my life through unprotected sex with a worthless, selfish, man. Life has been good to him but my future as an adult was decided for me by one stupid mistake. I enjoyed reading your comment and admire you. I am everything you are not and a miserable person for it. Good for you!

      Reply
      • Pamela Cichosz

        Wow I really hope you gave your child up for adoption so they could find a loving home. How sad it’s be to grow up with a mother who despises you this much.

        This article is so stupid. I have 3 kids going on 4…..ALL PLANNED because we love kids and the kids the better. If you’re lazy and selfish of course you shouldn’t have kids. Prob should get permanent prevention done before having sex with the way some of you think. I’ve never been happier and my marriage is the strongest it’s ever been. People need to stop trying to speak for everyone.

        Reply
        • P

          I think you are misunderstanding the comments people are making here entirely. You have no empathy because you can’t see any other perspective but your own personal experience. I have so much empathy for the parents who are unhappy with parenthood. The people who tend to be unhappy with kids are the people who had them due to societal pressure, spousal pressure, or accidentally. Articles like this are extremely helpful because parenthood is glamorized and idealized but the reality of what it actually is is very different. Many people after having kids feel totally unprepared or disappointed or regretful due to it. You are happy because you wanted children and thus you are more likely to experience positive effects from them. I personally have 0 interest in having children, I never have my entire life, and I am a woman. There is nothing selfish about being self aware enough to know what you want out of life. I care about my existing fellow humans, I volunteer my time to help people, I have so many passions that fulfill me and I have a great career. I do not need a child to complete my life and nothing about that is selfish. It is what is best for me. What is selfish is contributing to the societal pressure that people should want kids and if they don’t they’re selfish. This is the reason WHY people have kids for the wrong reasons. Shame on you. Open your eyes and realize your way is not the only way. Instead of placing judgement, you should offer support for those who weren’t as lucky as you to enjoy and want parenthood.

          Reply
          • J

            I really appreciate your response. I have been under the pressure of society to have children. Although I have never actually wanted them. I have had 3 miscarriages trying to. And I am exhausted. I am 37 and trying to figure out if I should give up, or not. I am happy in my life, but feel judged often for being unwed and childless. Especially living in a small, royal, traditional type of town. I really appreciate the perspective of everyone.

        • A

          Lol. I don’t think you’re as happy as you’re making it out to be. If you were, you wouldn’t be so condescending towards others.

          Reply
        • Justyna M

          Polish ignorance! Shame on you 🙄

          Reply
        • Tony

          Privileged.

          Reply
        • Kai

          Pamela- This comment sounds defensive and projecting to me. Why are you not ok with some people hating being a mother? If you enjoy it that’s wonderful for you but I look around and see that this article makes a lot of sense. It’s not indicative of e wet personal experience.

          Reply
        • pea pod

          My my, is this your actual brain talking or just the parenting hormones taking over. Such a judgmental mind “Lazy and selfish” – I hope you don’t pass that onto the 4 kids your raising. Which I assume your fully paying for – no state benefits or top ups.
          Being the selfless person you are (having kids n all) taking money via tax from the purses of other parents would be – you know- just wrong!

          Reply
      • SofiaFF

        I have this radical impression (dont judge me please) that in the future it will became normal for each person to have kids alone or with friends. Relationships fail all the time, both parties work, each one has separate money, so why have kids in a relationship? Its better to just have a child alone if you have means or family friends support. Or with some good friend or friends that wants to co parent. Its more likelly to keep an old friend than a husband. And most of all a child needs love and security, from anyone. If the parents are allways in fights, even in court, they destry each other sense of security in the child prespective. So if I want to have a child one day, I would just have it alone and ask my parents for some help, since I trust them more than my current or any boyfriend I might have. Plus I dont want to be stuck in my ex partner town just because we have a child together, I want to be free to move around if its for the better.

        Reply
      • Adelheid

        And that’s normally the case, unfortunately. The woman is left holding the bag and passing up opportunities, because many of us are oriented to the care of the child as a primary caregiver. Women just don’t understand the impact until it happens to them.

        Reply
    • Agustin

      Celine you seem like a rare type of women . I’m surprised. Usually i don’t come across a well principled woman like yourself who has the same beliefs as you do. I pray the Best for Miss.Celine.

      Reply
  22. lucy

    Have children because you want to have them. Don’t have them if you don’t want to have them. This isn’t a difficult choice. When you operate from a place of genuine-ness, whether that be kids (or no kids), jobs, career, whatever it is you want from life, choosing a decision that is right/good for you, sustains itself. But then it’s all too easy to say I had kids because of xyz reason and blame someone else (often the kid to try to make a failing relationship work!) Make your own decisions and take responsibility for what you do and more importantly don’t do.

    Reply
    • John

      You don’t know what you want until you get what you thought you wanted. So it’s not THAT simple. Think.

      Reply
      • P

        The best phrase I was ever told in regards to choosing to having kids or not having kids was: “there will always be a ship that sailed”
        Meaning: if you have kids you may wonder what you could have done with your life if you hadn’t. If you don’t have kids you may wonder what your life would be like if you had. I think it’s human nature to contemplate the what if’s no matter how grounded you are in your decisions.

        Reply
    • Jordan

      What about when the love of your life, with whom you’ve spent 10 joyous years, wants them desperately, and you don’t want them, equally desperately? Is it still not a “difficult choice”? When he/she says that he/she will leave you if you don’t, because he/she can’t face a life without them; and you feel equally strongly in the opposite direction? Is it still just a matter of “making your own decision”?
      Try to have a little empathy for people.

      Reply
      • R

        Thank you for saying this. It is literally exactly what happened to me.
        It was not an easy decision. I voiced my opinion about not wanting kids many times (including before getting married) but continued pressure from my wife, family and society at large convinced me just enough that it would be worth it, that I let my guard down, had unprotected sex 1 TIME and now have a 15 month old. Literally a split second decision to not pull out and my life is ruined.

        I can leave and abandon my child and wife. I can stay and be miserable and maybe ruin their lives. There is no option that is okay. It was the biggest mistake ever and I can’t take it back or make it go away. It’s as if a person has died. No amount of wishing will bring them back. That’s how I feel about my future.

        Reply
  23. Loulou77

    Something to consider is people growing up with abusive parents or in broken homes who might be put off having kids. I’m 43 now and would cry at the thought of becoming a mother so have avoided that and also relationships. My father was never around and mother is extreamly emotionally neglectful. I’ll forever be glad I didn’t have kids and risk passing the trauma on. Divorce rates are going up so unfortunately there will be more like me.

    Reply
    • Joslyn

      I want to comment to your reply, because I also had a emotionally neglectful mom and absence of my father. So know, you are not alone. After my mom passed away and I continue to grow older, I realize the thought of having kids made me sick to my stomach and I never really wanted it anyways. With my mom being passed away, it made me realize all the way that she was emotionally neglectful and manipulative. But that’s a whole other story. I have told my boyfriend about me not wanting to have children one day and he is very supportive of that. I just want to let you know that you don’t have to have kids just because you are a woman. You are in charge of your own life. You do you deserve to find love should you pursue a relationship with someone in the future. Finding true love and being involved in a romantic relationship does not mean you have to have kids as an outcome of such a relationship. That is a role that society has created in a role that women have been forced to take on through societies expectations of us. At the end of the day you are in control of your own body, so you deserve to use it or not use it however you so please. Keep being great, I believe in you.

      Reply
  24. JJ

    I was happiest, starting from when my wife was born, to the day before my first child was born. It just got worse from there. I tried lying to myself saying I liked being a dad, tried to embrace being a dad, and tried to change, but in the end it is only my sense of duty that keeps me going to make money so my family is secure. My recommendation….do not have kids if you live in western europe or canada or the usa america because the culture and expenses in these places is not supportive of having kids and the women there want a career and everything that a man has instead of being a mom. . There are alot of kids from other families to keep population going.

    Reply
    • Tash

      So you start by saying that you hate being a dad and end up blaming women for not wanting to be mothers?

      Reply
      • JH

        your putting words in his mouth. He did not say that, that is what you perceived. He simply put into words what his experience has been. No where in his comment did he say, I blame women for my inability to enjoy being a dad.

        Reply
  25. Pooka

    I think it depends on who you were before having kids and your life journey. My husband and are overjoyed to be parents. It isn’t easy and sometimes I want to commit myself just so I can get a break, but I wouldn’t change a minute of my journey as a mom. That having been said both of us were very child oriented from a young age and knew we absolutely wanted kids. We also lost our first baby and that gave us a huge reason to be extra grateful for the two healthy children who came after.
    I think there has to be mutual respect on both sides. If you love being a parent that’s awesomesauce. If you have zero interest in child rearing that’s awesomesauce too. The journeys are equally different. And I would say that if you are already a parent and you feel like you have made a mistake please reach out and don’t be ashamed of those feelings. They need to be addressed for your health and happiness as well as that of your little ones.

    Blessings.

    Reply
  26. Someone Who Cares

    Stop having sex or use so damn birth control or common damn sense.

    Someone raised your greedy ass, and I guess they failed because, as an adult your still bitching about shit.

    If you feel giving up a part of your life to have kids is bad, then by all means please don’t have one.

    I’d much more agree with you all being selfish and self satisfied than teaching someone else to be better than you, cuz obviously it would fail if ya tried.

    AND PLEASE, yall stop becoming teachers and professors. Us, dumb people who have kids, don’t need anymore of your negativity when it comes to telling our kids they are dumb and don’t understand, or just not good enough if they don’t break the sky with A’s.

    You are just recreating a cycle of your own life of people not loving you. Yuk. Get a life. Stop talking about kids or being around them. Do something else. Pathedic

    Reply
    • Someone Who Cares

      Childfree people don’t need your negativity directed at them because you’re dissatisfied with having a child or childfree culture. Not everyone without children is selfish and only seeks their self-satisfaction. And on your comment about “us dumb people who have kids” and “telling our kids they are dumb and don’t understand,” maybe you should work instead on changing mindsets about failure and progress.
      Your statement of “recreating a cycle of your own life of people not loving you” is unfounded and just an insulting jab in order to make yourself feel better. People can talk about kids or not having kids if they want; and it’s pretty inevitable that you wouldn’t at least be around kids at some point. The author is writing this because they are interested in the topic and/or doing it for work, so I don’t see how that’s pathetic.

      Reply
    • Andrea Draper

      Childless people are selfish? Hahaha yes, nuns and monks are selfish people. Such selfish people to serve God & Humanity with every moment of their adult lives. Selfish selfish people okay. Hahaha hahaha

      Reply
    • Tash

      So much hatred can only come from a very bad place full of hatred and self loathing. Wish for you to find happiness

      Reply
    • Joe

      This is why I won’t have kids and got snipped. Parents are just miserable people, lol. Enjoy the decades of pain and suffering!

      Reply
  27. Rozanne

    Yes, the first few years can be quite a challenge… and yes, there are times you will hate it… but then they grow a little older… and that is where the magic happens. I am not a “toddler” mom. I do NOT enjoy playing with kids, I hate arranging birthday parties and having kids run around…. so the younger years were not all that fun for me…. BUT, now I have a teen in my house, and she is the absolute light in my life. I LOVE every minute we get to spend together and we are closer than ever before. So yes, having a baby (and for me, a toddler) is really exhausting, stressful, work, chaotic, and most of the time maybe not as much fun…. BUT THEY DO GROW UP! And you will always have this tiny circle of people that love each other unconditionally.. and that is MAGIC!

    Reply
    • T

      Thank you

      Reply
    • Yasmine

      I’m glad you had a good experience! Unfortunately not everyone gets the chance at having unconditional love from a parent or a child, so I do think it’s fair that some people would rather not even chance it, especially if they think it’s not a likely outcome.

      Reply
    • nils

      So I get to hate literally everything about existing for the next 16 years, by which time I will have forgotten everything I know about all of my hobbies and interests and nothing will be left of the person I was. Terrific

      Reply
      • S

        “I will have forgotten everything I know about all of my hobbies and interests and nothing will be left of the person I was”

        Its unfortunate for your child, or children, that you became a parent. My suggestion is to look at parenthood and non-parenthood as a journey that will change you either way. If you did not have children your hobbies and interests would probably change over 16 years anyway. Do you really want to be the same person living the same life 16 years from now?

        As a child of someone like you. Disclaimer: I can only judge you by what you wrote.

        If you continue as a miserable parent with feelings of regret, no worries. You will let them know in your behavior, and most likely words, that you are feeling cheated and disenfranchised by their existence. The Venn diagram of your relationship will develop over the years and they will know what to expect from their relationship with you. Then, as adults, they will make their own decisions about their and their children’s relationship with you. Good luck!

        Reply
        • Danzig13

          Great reply. People often discredit their own children’s sentient abilities to pick up on remorse and resentment. As children we know deep down if we’re wanted or not. And that feeling of being wanted is one of the many things during the course of childhood one experiences that can make or break expected outcomes of parents.

          Reply
    • Luna Sadie

      Thank you so so much for telling everyone the truth

      Reply
    • Avei

      I MEAN IF HE WAS NOT ALIVE, HE WOULDN’T KNOW ANYWAYS 🤷

      Reply
  28. J

    Wow, these comments.

    Actually this article made 100 percent sense. Looks like you piqued a few nerves, my friend. Thanks for penning this. Cheers.

    Childfree(butwhatever) Canada

    Reply
    • Prob Gonna Pass On Kids After This Read

      I AM HERE FOR THE COMMENTS. They are so god damn funny. MOAR!

      Reply
  29. yeah right

    This is completely spot on. Just had my first kid, 8 months in, wish I could just die and get on with whatever the hell is after this life. Its a living hell every moment of every day. So sleep deprived all $%#&ing day every day that I just want to blow my brains out. I absolutely hate it. Made my already rocky marriage even worse, if that was at all possible. Have no idea why people want to do this. Just so you can pass on your genetic material? It’s every kind of stupid I could ever imagine rolled into one ball of sleep deprived pain. I’m so tired I can barely function enough at my job to stay employed. Forget ever having the energy or rest to do anything else like continue education or seek further work promotion. It takes every ounce of strength I have just to deal with this idiotic “family life”

    People, listen to me. Kids are a nightmare. If you are the kind of person who:
    – needs sleep to function
    – has any dreams of self improvement
    – enjoys any time alone
    – hates being endlessly interrupted
    – likes doing things by themselves
    – has a sense of self worth that does not rely on other people

    Then do NOT have kids. as far as I can tell the only people who need kids are the ones whose sense of self worth is so void of substance that they need to create a subservient organism whose demands somehow impart intrinsic value. Its’ so stupid.

    Reply
    • Paul

      Through a combination of good analysis, a love of variety and sheer luck, I find myself in my 40’s with no children. I could never see much benefit or the reason in the blind pursuit of a family. I’ve only ever made it to stage1 – find a woman(or man) and fall in love. Stage2 – Invest majority of all income for 0 to 30yrs plus teach, guide, take responsibility for, make huge sacrifices, etc for investment. Then add 3 to 10yrs that your investment, even though you pay for everything it does, hates you, is embarrassed by you and openly tells you this it starts to sound like a bad investment. When you put those figures up against investing in a dog it’s ridiculous to pick a family, if that dog is a Boxer the family investment choice is below 2%. Every choice/investment we make in life has pros and cons and any business investor who didn’t at least do a cost/profit analysis would be thought a fool. The biggest time, financial and emotional decision of a person’s life is made, for no known reason, without any normal decision-making practices.
      ‘It doesn’t make sense’ aka The Chewbacca Defense
      (Maybe add the above line to the possible reasons I don’t have children)
      In closing, thank you for your self-experiment and the sacrifice you have made. Brave men like yourself are needed to show others what can happen when you jump blindly into a petri dish.

      Reply
    • GT

      intrigued what your motivation was to have a child in the first place?
      Not wanting to make too many snap judgements but it sounds like you had an unstable relationship and worked hard at balancing everything in your life before your baby came so I am wondering why it surprised you that everything felt worse and became much harder afterwards, it is surely one of the biggest demands on anyones time and biggest life changes most people go through particularly if you aren’t in a good place to begin with.
      Our baby is 4.5 months old and it is very hard but also many special moments, Couldn’t tell you if it’s better or not having them or if you have more happiness eitherway or more fulfilment and perhaps too early for me to say but i think the reason this article is flawed and particularly the title is very biased, as it says these comments are, is because it is a deeply personal decision and affects us all very differently. perhaps fewer people should have children than they do for the benefit of the planet and that of alot of peoples mental health but for others clearly they get something out of it and also provide a future generation for this planet! I think citing statistics when talking about individuals will never corolate to reality for anyone unless you are talking about favourite pizza toppings or something else far from the complexity of one of lifes greatest choices.

      Reply
    • Dan

      Thank you. Just thank you. This is so real and raw. I wish more people had the bravery to speak with this kind of honesty.

      Reply
    • Crys

      So your marriage was in shambles and you chose to have a baby?

      You weren’t satisfied in your career and you still chose to have a baby?

      So exactly why did you have a baby
      What role does your husband play in the upbringing of this family? YOU DID NOT MENTION him at all!

      The baby isn’t the problem, you are and you have some things to fix.

      Ps.. I don’t have kids either.

      Reply
    • Will I be getting through

      Yeah right, you are hilarious. I have 5 kids and yeah, everything you said is how I feel. It’s a trap. An endless circle of hell. And everyone else is so $#@*ing happy to be alive…..

      Reply
      • June

        Thank you for being so honest . I feel like I failed by not having children but reading those comments make me realise I would not cope with motherhood.

        Reply
    • Lauren

      I’ve been going back and forth for a while now on whether or not to have kids. Deep down, I always knew it just wasn’t for me, but I still wanted to be sure. Reading your comment really solidified what I’ve been thinking most recently. We live in a world/society that puts so much pressure on having children, but I don’t think anyone should be put down for deciding against it. Yeah, at this point, I’m more sure than ever about staying child-free.

      Reply
      • Caitlin

        Lauren, you took the words right out of my mouth. I’ve been on the fence for years and recently my partner and I started seriously discussing remaining childfree. I find myself equal parts scared and excited by the choice, but ultimately I’ve always known deep down that kids are not for me. The indecision is maddening though. This article absolutely helped ease my mind and I wish there was more literature on the topic.

        Reply
        • Leila

          Caitlin and Lauren, I relate with both of you on many levels. What you wrote about being equally scared and excited does resonate with me so much! I am a writer and me and my partner are travelling a lot, mostly longer travels through Africa. It is a wonderful, fulfillin yet at times unstable lifestyle. I was also back and forth for a while now, being 31, in a loving relationship of 6 years. My partner firmly believes he does not want children and I haven’t spent a thought on it seriously, until a few of my friends became parents. All of a sudden I found myself in a turmoil of questions (“you two are not planning yet?” “What are you waiting for?” “What sense does your life make if you dont have children!”) and started asking myself, do I want them? Never really came close to the answer, until I have asked myself: would I be thinking about this, if the society and the people around me wouldn’t have kids or pressure me into thinking? And I, for now, answered myself, I would rather not have them. But it is a tough choice; you win some, you lose some. I think regret can go both ways in this matter – you can find yourself regretting having them or regretting not having them. But that’s just life I guess. Not everything happens to everyone.
          I did though felt deprived of a completely free decision for a while, since my partner, who happens to be the love of my life, if I may be cheesy, knew he didn’t want them. I felt like I should have it all: him in the first place, but also a decision where I wouldn’t have to decide between something or someone – not that he pressured me.
          Through months it narrowed down to a single feeling: fear of missing out. I don’t want them so badly, but I do fear I’m gonna miss out on something possibly great! Mostly, I love my life without kids. When I see an idillic family setting, it pains me a little – if it’s all so wonderful, should I???
          Anyhow, it feels good to read that I am not alone in the childless boat. And I compliment you for being honest! Greetings from Germany

          Reply
    • June

      Thank you for being so honest . I feel like I failed by not having children but reading those comments make me realise I would not cope with motherhood.

      Reply
    • A

      Thank you for your honesty and I wish you much luck (and sleep) 😉

      Reply
  30. Terase

    You write it appears to give life satisfaction, self esteem and meaning to women to have children.

    When a woman has a child she is patted on the back, treated as the best thing ever, congratulated, now a “grown up”, regarded “mature”. – of course this results in SELF ESTEEM, everyone is treating her as worthy and “good”.
    This is no matter her age or what circumstances she is living in or whether she has the tools to be a competent mother emotionally or financially.

    As for MEANING, well every woman on the planet was once a little girl treated and basically ingrained with a sense she is worthless and selfish for not having kids. This is by design of societal pressure. It isn’t even biological. How dare you not want children a womens existence is for procreation! You not want kid= you bad. Infact she might even be miserable and sad and think her life is pointless and shit, but bam, dependant human life who needs her, suddenly she has meaning!

    As for life satisfaction, I can’t answer that it’s beyond me, an actual mother would have to explain how it makes her life whole.

    Reply
    • Disconnected Mom

      I’m finding that it doesn’t. In fact, I don’t even feel like a mother and feel like society, my family, and friends have all conspired to make me do this since everyone acts like it’s great before the child is there, and then when you want to complain afterwards, they act like you should have known how horrible it is and you should love how horrible it is. It is hell.

      Reply
  31. Mike

    Many of us single men as it is are just having a very difficult time meeting a good woman to settle down with, since most women are just so very horrible to meet nowadays unfortunately. And they usually are very nasty to us when we will just say good morning or hello to them as well. Very troubled women out there these days.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Mike,don’t give up hope,there are plenty of great woman with good values out there,keep looking,as for the ones who are treating you poorly,just think of it as weeding out the undesirables.Good luck.

      Reply
      • D

        & not to stoke fear- but let’s not leave out all the health repercussions or unfortunate circumstances that could result from pregnancies; eclampsia, unmonitored/undetected gestational diabetes, post-partum cardiomyopathy & these are a few that can be fatal to a female. & don’t forget the havoc pregnancy rains on your hormones & body…it will never be the same no matter what society tells you. Who thought this was a good idea?! & to go through all that just so you could lose your entire self for a child. & for those who say you die alone when your child free, your child will have his/her on life as an adult & you can still die alone with or without children. & even if you wanted a child so bad- millions of children worldwide, who need a home, are aging out of foster care & orphan homes. Chose the path narrowly travelled my friends. It always pays off in the end.

        Reply
    • Feebee

      You seem like a “mans, mans” of today. From this statement, you prob dont deserve a good woman. You never took the time to research why these woman are sooo terrible to you, and the other” mans, man of the world”. ” Jennifer was very kind to you, and I do not think you even deserve that. Listen up Mike, and I say this for your own good…IT CAN’T BE EVERYONE BUT YOU. I am being snarky to you bc you deserve it. I dont know you, and I can only go by what you wrote here to judge who you are, You appear Weak, Selfish, Without Kindness, empty of compassion, and unaware of what women go through. But poor you, right;) Read some books other then the oness that say…How to get what you want..

      Reply
      • Cody

        Nah. He’s right. Like- even if Mike dies alone, at least he avoided some pity-party- new aged-feminist trash like you. Keep looking Mike. I found a woman of traditional values who understands the differences in men and women who doesn’t think the world owes her every little thing because she’s a female. She doesn’t get offended at every little thing. And we’re young at that! They’re out there buddy.

        Reply
        • Alex

          Ick… Not to say that people can’t have “traditional” values, but in many cases like this there’s definitely some misogyny and internalized misogyny.
          There’s a very vocal subset of “feminists” (who aren’t actually feminists) that give feminism a bad rep. They do not, in fact, throw pity-parties all the time, nor do they believe that the world owes them “every little thing” because they’re female. That’s more of a result from growing up in highly individualistic and capitalist communities. And, if you really think that all women are like that, then you should consider how much pity-parties and self-entitlement “traditional” men display.
          And this is coming from a man.

          Reply
        • Anna

          I’m a young woman and I have difficulty making friends with women as they tend to be catty and jealous, competitive. I’ve seen the dark side of manipulative women and absolutely relate to you and Mike, I sympathize with you men. There are some good women, few and far between, but be very careful. Keep your standards.

          Reply
      • Grumbledore

        I read that in his response as well. But then again, I’m bleeding like a stuck pig and pissed at everything and I honestly came here just to unload some of that vitriol, so in all fairness, I’ve been extremely nasty in the last twenty minutes.i also regret nothing, because I truly do think people who blindly pursue parenthood are a few crayons short of a full box, and I truly do loathe when they bring their interrupting little flaptraps over to prattle on about some dramatic made up bullshit they expect me to a. Keep up with and b. Believe at all. Oh you saw a spooky witch in the bathroom? And she has… Um. Eleven dogs all named Becky? Ohhhh how clever. God, I’d rather choke on my own vomit than endure that crap.

        Reply
    • Alex

      Maybe you could try men, then? Or try actually getting to know women.

      Reply
  32. Meg

    Kids are awesome!! Adults suck!!!

    Reply
    • Luna Sadie

      Judge everyone on the inside, not on the age

      Reply
  33. Foster Mom

    Wow- there are shit ton of horrible people on this thread.. Do I even dare call you parents? I don’t think you deserve that title. If you didn’t want to have kids you shouldn’t of had them. that’s all. Simple. Really complaining how terrible it is to be blessed with a child!? Selfish and shallow are the words that come to mind.
    If you don’t want children because it’s going to cock block all the “fun” then don’t. To bring a child into this world and then complain about it like it was not your complete doing is idiotic and repulsive. I feel sorry for those poor kids .. They can come to my house I’ll take care of them. Get over your self already man up and raise that child or give it to someone who is capable of putting a child’s needs above their own. I know mind blown right! My needs come second to a child I decided to have?!?
    Incompetent

    Reply
    • Emily

      Before I had my child I asked over a dozen people (friends, co-workers, therapist) if they regretted having children. I did extensive research as my husband and I are both orphans. Not a single person I asked said they would not have their children again. I read scores of books, my husband and I went to pre-parent counseling and then parenting classes when I was pregnant. We mentally and financially prepared ourselves, we were both 35 when my daughter was born.

      It has been four years and I can honestly say they have been the worst of my life. Parenting is a terrible, soul-sucking, never-ending cycle of shit–both literally and figuratively. I was a happy person before becoming a parent and now I simply exist the serve the needs of my child. I have no identity, worth, or value other than preparing food, cleaning the house and wiping butts. My husband is miserable as well. We usually sit and literally both cry at night after the daily 2-hour long battle to get her to sleep. We have tried more therapy, numerous parenting techniques, books, etc. My child is a monster. When I think about doing this for the rest of my life I just would rather die. She is gifted, can be sweet, and beautiful but she generally treats others like shit. She is never satisfied or listens yet our entire existence serves her. She is the most self-absorbed, insufferable human I have ever met. I have 2-3 magical moments (literally like 5 minutes) with her a month and the rest is misery, utter and complete misery.

      I chose to have her but not a soul, book, nor any other resource was honest in what I was choosing. Parenting is like being held hostage by a small self-absorbed tyrant.

      Reply
      • Steve

        Well, she came from your combined genes and parenting, I wonder why she’s like that?

        Reply
      • Sally

        So y’all are just bad parents? Lol kids don’t just end up as monsters that treat people like shit for no reason. They have to learn it from someone, and given the way you speak I’m going to assume that’s y’all.

        Reply
      • Kat

        Thank you for being honest. It takes a lot of courage to speak so openly. It is absolutely not your fault. Young kids really can’t be taught mindfulness and humility for a while. Im sorry you are having such a hard time. I truly hope things get better for you and your husband.

        Reply
      • Steven

        I reckon the reason that your child -if this situation is even true because you’re saying you struggle to get a four year old to sleep…- is like that, is specifically BECAUSE you made the decision to serve the immature little creature as opposed to RAISING it. You’re the adult. You’re in control. The child would eat crap and degrade extremely rapidly into death without your constant attention, they don’t call the shots.

        Read Jordan Peterson: Don’t let your kids do anything that makes you not like them.

        Reply
        • Emma

          Don’t read Jordan Peterson carried a man who is so bad at mental health that he is regularly institutionalized.

          It gets better. 4 year olds don’t have a lot of self control, and they are Largely dependent and needy. Human beings take a while to develop compared to other mammals

          Have some patience, maybe look at how your parenting supports some of their worst behavior buried

          Maybe set some limits, maybe get a consultation with someone that can help you with a behavioral plan.

          But don’t listen to people who tell you a bunch of right wing baloney.

          Remember that parenting is particularly difficult in a country where you need 2 and a 1/2 paychecks to raise a child.

          A country where people often don’t even have the same days off. A country where to have success at your job you often have to move away from the support structures that would traditionally make parenting easier.

          Reply
      • Donna brookes

        Children are self centred naturally when young as it’s a survival benefit the world is all about them but as they get older they start to to understand it’s not all about them.. maybe you need to read some books on different stages of them growing up or else they will feel unloved.

        Reply
    • Alex

      It is not selfish or make someone a bad parent if they regret their choice. Sometimes it’s really hard to know how an experience will play out until you experience it. And unfortunately, some experiences aren’t easily reversed. I’m sure they’re doing a decent job as parents, but you can’t go around and make claims about how they’re such horrible people because they don’t love the idea and act of parenthood. MOST people are aware that their needs will come second to their child’s, and that’s why quite a few people abstain from having kids. But just because they don’t like that idea doesn’t mean that they are going to put their needs above their children’s and will treat their children terribly.
      “If you didn’t want to have kids you shouldn’t [have] had them. That’s all. Simple.” — Yeah, that is simple. However, life isn’t always that simple, as I’ve explained.
      I’m more mind-blown by how incompetent you sound; you clearly didn’t think very thoroughly about other perspectives and sides of the issue. Over-assumption is not a good thing when you’re trying to evaluate and structure a cohesive opinion.

      Reply
    • nils

      You’re right! Getting one hour of sleep for every 34 and entirely losing my identity is terrific!

      Reply
  34. Ryan

    Look, this debate in the comments is pointless.

    Want kids? Have them! Do it and don’t lecture to people who dont want them about what they are missing.

    Don’t want kids? Don’t have them! Don’t have them and don’t lecture to people who do about what they’re giving up.

    Each choice has its own benefits, rewards, and sacrifices. And those things are determined by the individual.

    What vexes me the most are people who ha e kids they can’t afford, keep having kids they can’t afford, and then open their hands for welfare because they expect the rest of society to pay for them. Then, many times, their kids turn out to be losers like their parents and continue the cycle.

    I think people would be more open to children id the system wasn’t constantly rewarding losers who make bad decisions, while making it difficult for people who do things the right way to start a family.

    Reply
    • Ibrahim

      You are right

      Reply
    • Harry

      hi, 36 and still childfree. in a 10 year relationship with someone who wants children, but the relationship hasnt been going too well for the past year. i’m also realizing that i’m hesitating about having a child because of that. i used to say i wanted children, but my recent feeling is that i’d prefer not having a kid then having one with a partner i might not still be with in 5 years. i would give it some time but she’s almost 30 and i hear the clock ticking. i also feel like i will let her down if we split, partly because i used to say i wanted kids. any advice ?

      Reply
      • Monica

        If I were her, I would actually want you to leave me knowing you felt this way. You can be honest and say things have changed for you, that you might not be sure this is the “solution”, but honestly, I would appreciate giving me a chance to meet someone or not make false hopes, rather than sticking around when feeling how you feel. But that is me and I am single at 39 which for some looks as a disaster. I also had the dream of that perfect family because it was so much pushed at me as a young girl. And to most standards, I have failed. But, as much as I want to be inlove, I cannot gut the compromise, I am open, but I am not stopping fulfilling all my other dreams – my house, my career, my hobbies, my pets, my friends. Eventually I am planning to adopt hoping I can change the life of a child or of two, and that makes me even more eligible :)) But taking now with my very important ex, 10 years after our split and hearing him misserable with someone else he eventually settled with and has a child with, I can only be greatful he once decided in leaving me because I had the same expectations. Maybe my options changed because of what I lived, but the fact that I am happier and more peaceful now than I was then, in that relationship, to me is way way better. And yes, I suffer and cried and yelled and what-have-you, and frindship came after some years (just in case you are wondering). All the best to you.

        Reply
    • Grumbledore

      While I rationally agree with you, I contend that spewing my hostility on this thread had greatly decreased the odds that I will do it in the real world. I’m multitasking! Getting out my pms rage on hapless strangers who can’t run me over in the convenience store parking lot means… Well. A whole darn lot.

      Reply
  35. Lisa

    Good grief! It seems that most posters have a difficult time understanding that a life full of meaning (which is what they are really describing) is not the same as a happy life. And you never claim that they are the same. In fact, you clearly point out that people who have children perceive more meaningful lives or experiences than those who do not. BUT, that does not equate to happiness.

    So, you can have a life that is happy and meaningful, you can have a life that is happy without a lot of meaning, or you can have a life that is meaningful and miserable, and a thousand variations in-between.

    Thankfully, we live in a world with choice (for the first time in history–more choice than ever before), but it appears that with that choice comes a great deal of cognitive dissonance over the choices made, judging by the comments.

    Great article!

    Reply
    • Anatoly

      Thank you dear sir!

      Reply
    • Grumbledore

      The ancient greeks would argue that you are incorrect, as would many tribal societies that currently exist within the same social structure they’ve had for centuries. But it’s a mistake and a fallible argument that progress is linear, or that we have it better. Historically many societies have offered more freedoms, both political and personal, than our own nation today.

      Reply
  36. Mike P

    Father of one and one more on the way.

    First one came super early at 30 weeks. PTSD from that.

    Second one on the way has my wife like Satan himself. PTSD from that.

    Having kids is like the Vietnam War. Rolling in on the heli all smiles, rock songs, billowing smoke from the fresh cigarettes, semi auto gun in one hand and your freedom in the other. Then the Vietcong (kids) come out and it all goes to shit after that.

    Then you lose the war and keep telling yourself it wasn’t that bad.

    PTSD from that.

    GIVE ME THAT MACHINE!

    Reply
    • Mike P

      Love your writing technique though. Ok don’t read often and made it through the whole article with a smile on my face lol cheers!

      Reply
    • Grumbledore

      How about the ptsd of carrying a bowling ball around for several months, fluctuating hormones you can’t control, sweating, pissing yourself when you sneeze, and the inability to sleep without agonizing lower back pain… Oh right and that pesky little thing called active labor.
      Yeah. You’re the one with ptsd. Fuckin baby.

      Reply
  37. Amelia Hurst

    a) you obviously don’t have children
    b) the U.S. isn’t reporting highest unhappiness bc of unrealistic expectations of happiness but bc of a societal structure for the least respect or support to the parent.
    c) the argument could be made that it is much Easier and Happier to stay a child.

    Reply
    • Joy

      He isn’t reporting his opinion he is reporting science.

      Reply
  38. Simbiat

    In the end, even if we create children just because we want them to exist, they will still end up ceasing to exists (as all human beings will die).
    So, when we think of why we want to have children, isn’t our reason selfish? And isn’t the best way to love our children, is to love them before they were born? Not intentionally bringing them to an unjust world? Not bringing them to a life we know they can never escape pain (either physical, mental or emotional?)
    Also, in a world, where life has no meaning, what do we really want them to come to the world and do?
    However, even if somehow we choose to have children, then the least we can do is to make sure that they are able to live the happiest life possible, by equiping ourselves with the financial ability, intellectual knowledge and emotional intelligence required to ensure our children have their best chances of being happy.

    Reply
    • Rula

      People have children to have more meaning in their life. Especially if their careers and / or social status is not satisfying. In a sense it is selfish. There is over 7 billion people in the world so it is not like we are an endangered species.

      Reply
    • Rose

      Sorry you feel life has no meaning.
      It does have meaning.
      To enjoy creation, other humans,
      To enjoy work and family.
      And to be friends with our heavenly father… and one day to live forever in a peaceful world with no tears and pain..as ISAIAH 65 vs 23 says..
      They will not toil for nothing nor will they bear children for distress.
      God will sort the planet out soon.

      I have 3 children grown .
      The reason its hard is we love them so much.
      We worry ..it can be consuming.
      But as everyone knows its all down to attitude.
      If we all count 3 things we re grateful for every day..
      That will help us be happy.
      As will having faith.
      Whether we re single , married,
      Parents or not.
      But having children is not a magic bullet to happiness….
      Neither is anything else.

      Reply
  39. Anne

    Parenting is the most annoying, frustrating, draining, exhausting, and stressful thing ever. I love my child (everyone says this) but it is horrible trying to care for my child. If you don’t have children, just don’t do it.

    Reply
    • Lue

      Amen

      Reply
  40. Magnus Wootton

    I didnt want kids when I was younger because I thought it was quite average to do so and I wanted to be something “remarkable” instead I remember. But now i’m older I realize that I have to admit we do share a great proportion of lifes activities whether we like it or not, and we have children, just like we breathe, all together, all at the same time, and doing yourself without it isnt really prooving anything remarkable except making you a slightly illogical person? 🙂

    Reply
  41. LilyR

    Right from an early age I never believed kids would be part of my future, although I came close to having them.
    Having seen the chaos they appear to have created in many people’s lives I’m really glad to be childfree. Out of all my siblings, neighbours & friends who are parents I know of ONE person who I would say is happy & a good parent (her daughter’s needs & wants are met, as are hers) and has ever once said she regretted her choice.
    I don’t care for her that much as a person, but she seems to have nailed having a life as well as having a family & doesn’t appear to have been crushed under her daughter’s endless demands… which is the opposite of my less happy friends. What she does do (and other parents don’t appear to) is to have set boundaries and to stick to them…..she isn’t strict, per se, but she has clear rules & non-negotiables.
    The majority of other parents I know seem to adopt a “laissez-faire” style where their child/children are the boss of the household, are given everything they demand, when they demand it & hence they roll-over to any of their child’s whims, no matter how unreasonable – and two of my friends have said as much this week…. berating themselves for allowing this to happen.
    Maybe I should be more sympathetic but everybody has choices & there’s plenty of evidence all around to show that parenting isn’t an “Instagram hobby” and can be brutally hard.
    So, did these people think “Oh, but MY child will be perfect?” I don’t know, none of them are stupid, or did they cave in under the weight of spousal/family/societal pressure?…. who knows?…or did they blame it on “my body clock” a theory which has since been shown to be incorrect?
    Regardless, I’m now 54 and happy with my choice – especially during lockdown where there are so many fractious kids & exhausted parents.
    Not for me at all….. you do you & I’ll do me – it’s that simple.

    Reply
    • Sara

      Happiness comes within. Children doesn’t equal happiness and being without children means happiness either. Some people are adapt to have children and some are not. That said, if your financially stable and in a loving a stable relationship then you’ll most likely be happy with children. it takes selflessness and patience. There’s moment of why did have children but many of I’m happy I had children. Just like ALL relationships yu have to put work into it and take care of yourself.

      Reply
    • Babs

      Kids aren’t that bad. And we tend to exaggerate reality anyways. Life usually isn’t as bad as what you read online.

      For some reason, our mentality of kids changed.

      Back in the 90s, my parents still did what they wanted and just drug me along.

      They were actually extremely happy people and are still together to this day.

      And I have great memories of being in bars and bowling alleys with my mom and dad.

      It was almost like, back then, you’re life didn’t revolve around kids, their life revolved around you.

      It should go in this order: from first to last: childs needs, parents needs, parents want, child’s want.

      For some reason, we have shifted as a culture and are more “child focused” as if you say, your life is now a prison.

      No, its not. Kids are not babies forever. They grow up FAAAAASSSTTTT!

      I like to even crack the joke at the “childfree” who choose to have dogs…. dogs never learn to wipe their own ass, and usually its 10 to 15 years of cleaning poop every day rather than 2-3 years 😉

      Reply
  42. Ginty Grayble

    Having kids is crap. That’s what childless people don’t realise how lucky they are to have their freedom to do whatever they want instead of listening to people churn out the same overused phrases ‘you’ll be lonely when you’re older’. Do older people not have friends?
    I think it is selfish having kids then complain about childcare and going to work. Why have them in the first place? For your own selfish needs? Conforming to societal expectations and norms?
    I see lots of couple’s with kids and they look miserable. Why would anyone want that life.
    Stop focusing your life by being in a relationship and having kids; there are enough humans and we don’t need anymore. You’d be happier for it.

    Reply
    • leigh

      Can’t wait to see what all these childless old and single cat ladies have to say about “don’t have kids!” 15-20 years from now when they all start regretting that they didn’t.

      Reply
      • Mark Diorio

        Having children in no way means you won’t still end up alone. (I get zero recognition or thanks, even on “Father’s Day”). In a world where the chances are high that one day you’ll end up divorced and out of the home, having children is pointless and meaningless. Having kids is total crap. Still raising kids, totally alone, at age 64, I am tired, exhausted, frustrated, and trapped. If I could give young men one word of advice it would be in one word: vasectomy.

        Reply
      • Ingrid

        I’m 70, childless and have only now adopted a cat. Cats rock! I have two lovely dogs as well and they get on with the cat just fine after a few months of getting used to each other.

        Having children does not prevent you from being lonely. My husband and I had 30 years of love and companionship before he passed away. That more than compensates.

        Reply
        • Lydia

          Dear Ingrid,

          I just wanted to say that I resonate with what you wrote. My husband and I have been happily married for 6 years with no kids. Unfortunately we are under immense pressure by his family – that we will be lonely once one of us passes on (and a few other hurtful things such as me being the “wrong wife” and that “something must be wrong with me” despite reiterating that my husband and I decide on things together).

          I dread the day something ever happens to us. I just wanted to say that, it seems like you had a wonderful relationship with your husband. I am just so happy for the both of you. I wish that you live your remaining years with graceful happiness.

          Much love from a 32-year-old woman with 2 cats in Malaysia.

          Reply
          • Sandra

            This resonates with me so much! Im 31 going on 32 soon and have been married for almost 7 years..
            I get the exact same pressure from my inlaws and get berated almost every other day for not having children yet especially as we come from a very child centric culture (South Asian). I always felt like I didn’t want children due to my own personal childhood and a mixture of all the reasons already discussed (impact of this world on an innocent child, time and energy that it will consume, physical impact on my body). Have you’d ecided to remain childfree and how do you deal with the pressure? I hope everyone can make a decision that they are content with and allows them to live their life how they see fit.

          • Kimberly

            Agree Lydia. Also in my 30s and undecided right now but feel societal and family pressure. (My family are also from Malaysia!)
            It’s eye-opening to read these opinion and gratitude to Ingrid for sharing your experience – wish you well.

      • Jennifer

        Leigh,
        Maybe they’ll say they are happy & content with their lives?I’ve decided to be childfree for various reasons & have no doubt it’s the best decision for myself & my future,it may be seen as selfish by others but who cares what others think.I’m not on this planet to please others,I think it’s great that people are choosing childfree lifestyles more than ever before,& if people get to an age where they do regret their childfree choice,theres so many good & loving kids that need a home & family you could adopt.

        Reply
      • Liz

        Jajaja! Poor you if you think that having kids will mean that you won’t end up alone. I know so many sons and daughters just taking their parents to a Home so they don’t have to deal with them and visit them maybe 12 times a year… you maybe lucky and this won’t happen to you, but having children for you not ending alone is not a good reason. The reason should be one that doesn’t sound that selfish and cliché. Also there is something called your chosen family, and you will be surprised how much more they will stick around if you choose well. Besides we come to this world alone and we leave alone. There is nothing to worry about being with yourself and this is one of the major lessons in life. So even if your home is full of kids and grandchildren, that travel to the next step that is when we die, you do it on your own. Have kids or do not have kids! Whichever is fine! And anyway if you are a dislike-able person no matter how big is your family they won’t want to be around you and when you are the opposite you maybe surprised! Good luck with your fears and I hope you get over them:)

        Reply
      • Nicole

        I will be old with my dogs and husband. Sounds lovely to me. I don’t like or want children now, and that won’t change in 20 years.

        It says something about you that you assume people who made a different choice than you will be unhappy just because they didn’t do what you did. Maybe think about what drives your own bitterness. Hope you find some peace someday.

        Reply
      • Tiffany

        Why assume all childless women are single? And why arent childless men.being judged for as crazy single cat men? And how pathetic is it to sacrifice 15-20 years of your life because you’re too afraid of being alone. That type of.comment is so uneducated and goes to show how even today women are judged for choosing themselves over motherhood. The 50’s called, they want their idiot back.

        Reply
      • Child free

        They won’t regret it. I know lots of older people who never had kids and they had rich full lives with friends and they weren’t lonely. Your statement is a typical fear based comment about your own inability to handle being alone and being programmed to believe that you need kids to feel fulfilled as a human. I feel bad for people who let society dictate to them what they think is good for them. People like you are exactly the type of people who shouldn’t breed.

        Reply
      • Grumbledore

        My favorite aunt is single and childless and in her sixties. She’s traveled the world, has a good job, lives comfortably, and because 60 is the new 40 I know for a fact she has a no strings attached sex life. She’s one of the classiest, most well put together people I know. I’ve asked her how she feels about this subject, and she says she got what she wanted from my childhood. We had a close relationship growing up, and I’ve always admired her for her stability, competence, and unapologetic freedom. She’s not lonely or bitter, she’s not angry about not having kids or a spouse. She does what she pleases, goes where she pleases, and, once again speaking from the perspective of a longtime senior caregiver, I promise you: having babies does not guarantee a fulfilling end of life. In fact, I’ve had plenty of clients whose children see them as an atm long after moving out, who stop speaking to their parents due to all manner of reasons, some deserved and some not, and some folks… Believe it or not… Outlive their kids! GASP!
        Stop acting like babies are a guarantee of a secure old age and for fucks sake stop treating your children like you created them so someone would owe YOU something for a change. Your child may owe you its life, but you owe your children the decency of not treating them like an investment in your own retirement plans. Kids grow up. Even the best kids make wrong choices. Drugs, alcohol, teen pregnancy, even terminal illness can drastically alter your plans.

        Reply
      • Jenny Cambridge

        Leigh- Do you have kids of your own? If so, how come you didn’t contribute by telling us how joyful it is to have kids? Please share some reasons why one should have children.

        Reply
        • sophia

          Leigh – I’m childfree and love it! Happily married with a large extended family. There are soooo many children and young adults in my life I simply could not fit in any of my own (biological or adopted).
          I love my career, I love my yacht, I love my 4 holidays a year. Have a social calendar where I actually turn down events due to lack of time. I love studying for my second Phd (all child related) and plan to become a professor. I don’t have any stress, so I shall live an extra 10 years over you (parents do get stressed – stress reduces life span). I’m retiring at 55 only 8 more years to go and already completely financially stable with Zero debts (mortgage free since 35) but all that’s just money. Money means nothing unless you have a family to pass it onto, and a family I have …..in droves.
          I currently have my 26 year old niece living with me along with her toddler, both are amazing – no judgement of our life choices either way – why would we! In fact, she has said – thanks for not having children of your own – your providing a strong family foundation for the rest of us. We all share in our lives, I offer what I have and they offer what they have and life goes on. I doubt very much I shall be alone on my boat in my 60’s and 70’s lol. I hate limited people raising children its far too much like the film “Idiocracy”. Go watch this film and consider your mindset before you spawn your genes along with your judgements.

          Reply
    • Meg Breed

      I agree with everything besides the part where you say child free people are lucky. We are not lucky because it was a choice not controlled by chance, it was a choice made not to be miserable. The easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life is not get pregnant.

      Reply
      • Child free

        I totally agree. I made a choice to never have kids when I was 22. I’ve had sex many times in life and I’ve never gotten anyone pregnant. It’s petty easy to have sex and not get pregnant. It always astounds me how many stupid people there are in this world that don’t know how to have sex and not get pregnant.

        Reply
  43. Kim

    What we really need to ask ourselves is “is it kind to unneccessarily expose new, fragile life to this dangerous world, where it’s likely they will be traumatized or traumatize others, could be victims of rapists, cancer, brutal car accidents, etc., will be forced to deal with the same problems I’m going through including aging and dying, just to make myself feel better?”

    Reply
    • Simbiat

      This is the perfect question.

      Reply
    • Ryan

      Actually, that’s a really stupid question. I mean, utterly stupid.

      The world sucks. The world has ALWAYS sucked. Acting like it just started sucking now, or sucks more now than it ever has, is asinine and demonstrates that you’ve never once picked up and read a history book.

      Every single person must seek happiness for themselves, regardless of the state of the world.

      Id that means having children, have them. If that means avoiding having them, dont have them.

      Im far more angry at losers who have kids that they can’t afford and everyone else has to pay for them through welfare and handouts.

      But yea, don’t use the whole “the world is awful” argument to dissuade people from having kids.

      Reply
    • Jennifer

      Spot on,so much trouble & hate in the world,so many things that could go wrong I’m not willing to risk it.

      Reply
  44. Claire

    Writing this to put things in perspective for anyone in my position (childless but considering parenthood in the future) who is poring over the comments in dismay. First, let’s consider the somewhat-clickbaity nature of this article. With a title like “Why You Should Have Never Had Kids (If You Want To Be Happy, That Is),” it is likely that it pops up most often when someone is searching things like “do kids make you happier,” “unhappy with kids,” “i wish i never had kids” etc. If it did not pop up in as a search result, then maybe it was shared by a parenting (or anti-child, if they didn’t read the article) account. Or the reader is like me, and stumbled across this article while looking at another blog post on this site and read it out of curiosity.
    As a result, there are several main types of people who would read and then feel compelled to comment on this article. They are:
    1. People who have kids and feel very unhappy and unfulfilled, who want to share their story and warn others
    2. Childless people who look upon “breeders” with pity or disdain, who want to tell everyone how happy they are without kids (or share stories about their unhappy parenting friends)
    3. People who have kids and do feel happy and/or fulfilled, who feel compelled to respond defensively to negative comments or simply share how much they appreciate the article
    4. Childless people who are considering having children, who want to comment about their rationale and their doubts about having children, and perhaps seek advice if they are on the fence
    Those seem to be the categories that most of the comments fall into, but as with all places on the internet, the people who feel the strongest are the most vocal. That means that many content, fulfilled parents who read this article will probably not feel compelled to leave a comment because they agree with the article and have nothing else to add. Furthermore, the fact that the article’s title is a bit misleading means that most people who find this article are probably in search of information about the unhappiness of parenthood, which most likely means that most readers are unhappy parents or childless people who are searching for information to affirm their feelings or decision.
    This is all to say that I don’t think these comments are at all representative of what parenthood is. I do not wish to invalidate any comment here, but simply remind comment-readers that there might be a bias towards negativity that doesn’t totally encapsulate what it means to have children. I myself am not a parent yet, so I cannot speak from firsthand experience, but some of the most accomplished people I know (I have specific women in mind who I think of whenever I fear that becoming a mother will prevent me from doing meaningful work) are parents. I know parents who find joy in their children and their career, who gain meaning and fulfillment from multiple areas of their lives. Privilege is certainly a factor, and it’s true that many parents are prevented from finding that healthy balance for numerous reasons. But if you are considering parenthood and are frightened by the negativity in these comments, I hope this helps you put things in perspective. Besides, it’s probably best to pay attention to the insight of parents in our lives rather than strangers online.

    Reply
    • Loni

      I think you are spot on. I think it’s all a personal preference. I do feel unhappy at times during my parenting journey but overall feel more life satisfaction as this article said. I was looking up articles such as this to see if I should have a second child and overall I feel like one is enough for us. Having a child put a significant strain on our marriage and makes working less enjoyable because I am always stressed about what my schedule looks like more so than just enjoying my career. Life has gotten easier with time, a young baby is very stressful and toddlers are more enjoyable, they see the world with fresh eyes and remind me that it’s the little things that really are important. Toddlers don’t worry about the existential questions in life but rather enjoy each moment for what it is, a practice I want to emulate. So in the end I don’t think people should be berated for one choice or the other. I always get the question, “Do you not think your child will be lonely without a sibling? That’s selfish!” Of course I worry about that but also know our personal experience and how a second child would strain our relationship further and have the potential to also create bad scenarios on our child (parents that fight, parents that are negligent due to time restraints, etc). I think it’s all a personal choice based on your own experience, you cannot base your happiness on what others find their happiness in or think you’ll find your happiness with. I really do get the comments about how having a child is selfish and have thought the same things myself. I understand these people have probably been told not having children is selfish which may lead them to contemplate what is actually the more selfish decision, I as stated have also been there before, am there right now. Anyway at this point I’m rambling but essentially it is one’s own choice and no one should be berated based on what decision they make. As someone stated you do you and I’ll do me.

      Reply
    • Anna

      Thank you for your perspective. Know that you’ve at least helped one person with it!

      Reply
    • Ingrid

      Fair comment.

      Reply
  45. selormaddipa@yahoo.com

    The Existentialist917, sheesh the Article and the comments were on point and brutal that’s what I like to see. But anyway I’m 28 years old male and still have a lot to learn. But one thing I promise myself was to learn from others and never make the same mistake as they have done. Marriage and having kids? yeah that I have come to a realization is a recipe for disaster! I read a quote once and it said “It takes a life time to understand oneself”. I’m 28 years old and still trying to figure who I am as a person, so what makes me think a 28 years old man going 30 (next year) will be capable of understanding the next person (wife) to the point an innocent child? All that will lead to is pure misery. At this point I’m more focused on my education, work and hobbies, and for the past few years all my classmates are having kids and getting married and for some reason I feel compelled to tell them their are making a mistake but who am I to tell the next person what to do with their life?
    And so with that I stay in my lane and mind my own business, I know for a fact I do not want any of society’s formula of life, I want to live my own life on my own terms, I cherish my freedom and I enjoy my solitude. Freedom is happiness and putting more limitations on your life (Marriage and kids) are just the few examples. I always tell myself “ Do not repeat the same tactics your grandparents and parents did, do better be better”.

    Reply
    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi there,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Sounds to me like you’re clear on what your values are (e.g., freedom and solitude). Knowing those, you’re in a great position to choose the formula for life that best suits you.
      God speed!
      – Nicole | Community Manager

      Reply
    • Allison

      I am 25 and have the same thought process. I grow and change so drastically every year, how can I commit to a partner yet or worse be locked in with that partner and kids. I think we already have enough stress in our lives, don’t really need kids to add to that. I would much rather focus on financial freedom (of some degree), travel, fitness, and having incredible experiences. If you’re interested, check out my blog https://everythingunconventional.com/ that I started because I felt the need to consolidate ideas about living a less traditional life, and like you mention, different than past generations.

      Reply
  46. Alice

    This article and articles like it fail to carefully consider parental happiness during different life stages. Obviously parents of young children will have different levels of happiness than parents of school age children or empty nesters. Hopefully most people don’t have kids because of how happy they think it will make them in the short term. Parenthood is a long term pursuit and should be considered as such. I once saw research showing that empty nesters with more kids have higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction. I’d like to see more detailed research on parental happiness through different stages of life. Of course people without kids will initially experience higher levels of happiness. A guy sitting on his couch will have higher levels of happiness than a guy struggling up a mountain. But if you check in with them at a later date when the mountain climber has accomplished his climb and is in peak physical fitness, you might get different results. (No I’m not saying not being a parent is comparable to sitting on a couch. lol. I’m just trying to show that when you are doing something with levels of progression, the point in the journey where you check happiness levels is going to make a huge difference).

    Reply
    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Alice,
      Thanks for reading. You raise an excellent point about how parents’ happiness is likely to change depending on the age of the child. It happens that there is research that has tracked these trajectories from birth to age 18. If you take a look at some of the charts in this article, you can see the trend. Happiness reaches a high a few years before the birth of child and then dips after the birth and remains quite flat (or lowers further depending on other factors) particularly between birth and age 10. In no case does it rise back to the level before the birth of the child.
      Of course, there will always be other factors at play and differences between family units that can alter this trend. 🙂
      – Nicole | Community Manager

      Reply
      • Mona

        Hi Nicole, sorry to bother , but I was just wondering is there any “special way” to download the comments , regarding this article, as I am not able to…neither in other articles too. I would really really appreciate if you can help with that, please.
        Thanks a lot, Mona.

        Reply
        • Nicole Celestine

          Hi Mona,
          I’m afraid we don’t have a feature that enables you to download all the comments on a post. You may need to copy and paste these manually (into a spreadsheet, perhaps), or get help from a web scraper who can automate the process.
          – Nicole | Community Manager

          Reply
          • Mona

            Thanks a lot, Nicole.

    • Matt

      This is only true if your values match the goal. Some people value family above all other things, and would be unable to feel complete if they did not complete that goal. Other people value their work above all other things. They may not feel accomplished if they do not reach a certain professional goal. Some people value spirituality above all things. In many cases, having children is not permitted for their goal. The point is to recognize the things that you value most, and to make a concerted effort to apply energy to those things. That is the way that one feels fulfilled.
      There is an assumption that children are a necessary piece of the puzzle for all people, but the reality is far more nuanced. The world and it’s resources have been taxed to a point that having children could be considered harmful. Similarly, putting children into a broken world can be harmful to the children and their progeny. I think considering these types of values should be just as important.

      Reply
  47. Man 42 without children

    Well, so far so good, happy without them for sure. Why I do not have children (yet)?…
    First because I haven’t found the woman I can say I want to live the rest of my life with her and not with any other.
    Second because actually since I passed 35 I don’t know if I want them. (Yes for some reason I did want them before, theoretically or emotionally at least). What a hustle and restriction in your life? I see it from all my friends, they don’t regret it, they like it, they do seem and probably might be happy too, but their personal life is over and if not completely over to a very large extent for sure. I love my life thank you.
    Third, cant get out of my head the idea that in truth we should not give birth to so many children, the earth is overpopulated 100% sure. In a similar pattern of thinking the human society world that is being created is not of my liking, ideals and ethical standards. Furthermore in the same pattern of thinking the future doesn’t look that promising for humanity.
    Fourth I definitely tell myself that having children is the most common and detrimental goal of everyone, seriously nothing special in it, everyone does it and it is certainly the easy thing to do even though it is so hard and demanding. It is the easy thing to do because everyone does it and looks highly of it. The hard choice is to not have children and live with the idea that you are missing out on something. The words of a friend of my parents echo in my ears “ a person is incomplete without children”, I say inside me sorry fu I don’t agree with you at all, but the words still echo and make me ponder, is she right about it?
    Fifth the idea and many times said, that children will be with you and take after you when your old. Common what bs is this, have children for being taken care off? Are we serious? Isn’t that the egotistical thing to do? people seem to have children to satisfy their own desires, weaknesses and holes in their lives by saying this and similar other things.
    However Im still very troubled in my mind and heart, do I want children ? Do I really want them? There is a part of me that Is truly fond of the idea and on the other hand I like my life and freedom and my carefree spirit. And should I ever make a discount/Compromise and have children even if I don’t find my relatively “perfect” wife for me?

    Reply
  48. Juliet

    I wish I knew what I wanted a year ago, or at least listened to that voice inside me to get an abortion. Dad’s pro lifer and basically, I can do what I want but I will loose him. I choose love instead. I am, or WAS, independent woman with a high paying job on my way for grad school. All of those are put on halt when I kept the child. Funny thing is, it’s always the mother that sacrifice everything no matter how our society has changed. It’s just Part of it. I hate motherhood and I deeply regret being tied to my child. The spontaneity is gone and the constant cry is suffocating. I love her- saying it because it always goes to say this everytime- and I will do everything for her. But if I could turn back time, I would stick to my decision 200% no children

    Reply
    • Rhi

      Hi Juliet,
      I am of exactly the same thinking as ‘Man 42’ above and just cannot figure out what is right for me. I am 36. I would love to know how old you were when you had the baby if you don’t mind saying?

      Reply
  49. Lisa

    I’m surprised there are almost no women that responded to this article. Makes me feel very alone that only men feel the way I do. I’m a mother and never wanted kids. I was given an ultimatum by my husband a year before we got married ( he wanted kids and it was a deal breaker if I didn’t) so, I gave in, made a baby, and now our life is just sad, we’re always angry at each other. I’m angry at myself that I ever had a baby. And I can’t tell anyone about it because that would make me a “bad mother”

    Reply
    • Mack

      Lisa, I’m so sorry you feel this way. I’m a mother, and although I don’t feel like you do, I regularly want to run away, or feel dissatisfied with my life, due to being a mother. I love my children and I’m so glad I had them. BUT I think the lack of honesty around this subject feels like a massive conspiracy. I’m so sorry you have no one you can talk to about this. You are not alone in your feelings. It’s difficult, but I try and speak honestly to my friends, hoping they will do the same. With time, many of them have. This makes me feel less alone. I’m sending you compassion and understanding.

      Reply
    • Catherine

      Lisa, you are not alone!! Quite a few women (myself included) feel the same and it’s awful. I never wanted kids but I got pregnant due to birth control failure many years ago. I desperately wanted an abortion, but my husband refused to sign the paperwork (we lived in a state which still enforced spousal consent even though the supreme court had overturned it in the 70’s) so I was forced to carry out a pregnancy I absolutely did not want.
      I tried very hard to be a good mother and, of course, my now-adult child has no idea that I feel this way. But I hated motherhood and everything that goes along with it and could not wait for the child to grow up. And now I am a crappy grandmother because I am just not a “kid person” and don’t enjoy them.
      I really wish everyone would think long and hard before deciding to have children, and I really hope abortion stays legal and spousal consent laws are never revived. Children should have two parents who want them and are thrilled to be parents, that’s the least they deserve.

      Reply
      • ZZ

        Excuse my ignorance, but I had no idea you need your husband’s “permission” to get an abortion! I need to get educated on that topic. Thank you for this!

        Reply
        • ZZ

          Ok I just read your comment fully and realized that it’s not the case now. Thank god!!

          Reply
  50. Lexi

    I’ve been noticing a pattern in life where people start off very young (example having a successful, high paying job at 20), get bored of that job within a couple of years, and traded that life to be a stay at home parent instead.
    I’m not saying it’s better to work a 60 hour work week for 150K a year, I’m saying you can work a lot less, be happy with what you have and not feel burnt out to give up your job to have children instead. At age 28 now, I have noticed 3 of my friends fall into this trap already. They become successful young, burn out by mid 20s and feel that kids would improve their happiness, but at the end of the day it is simply a different form of stress. You’re still working around the clock, you’re just not getting paid for the work you do.
    A lot of people like to chime in how I’m wasting my life devoted to my hobbies and traveling. I beg to differ. This year, I have taken up a simple new hobby called reading. Starting October of 2019, I have managed to finish 2 books that are over 1000 pages each. If you have any book recommendations, please feel free to reply! I have also travelled many parts of the world and I have yet to reach the age of 30.
    I have backpacked throughout Europe, the Middle East, cruised the Caribbean, and have taken road trips across America. Am I done travelling? Not by a long shot. In fact, I probably won’t be able to go to some of the places that I dream about until I am at least 70 due to everything else I want to do in life. I am thinking about going to Australia in the near future, however.
    How do I have time and money for this? Massage Therapy. I work part time with roughly 3 massages a day for 3 days a week, and I have a 4 day weekend. I make roughly $60 per hour plus gratuits. I could make a hell of a lot more if I wanted to (and it’s not like I can’t change my schedule at any time), but I choose not to. I choose to have a work – life balance. I already love my career to begin with but having this balance makes life all the more easier and enjoyable.
    Pressuring someone to have kids when we can clearly see how miserable they are raising them is pure sour grapes jealousy. They say that misery loves company and I couldn’t agree more. I fully 100% support those who truly love their children and give them the world. If you love children and REALLY, TRULY want them, then you definitely should have them. In this case, I speak for myself as well as others who know deep in their hearts who absolutely do not want children and know it would be nothing but an energy drain for us, then we shouldn’t go anywhere near a penis without condoms and birth control. If an accident were to happen, do I honestly look like the type of women who would keep the baby?
    Think I am going to give this life up by having kids? Not by a long shot. In fact, on my 30ith birthday I am giving myself the gift of tied tubes. You are all invited to celebrate with me. Live life by your own standards, no need to follow a life script that does not guarantee happiness nor fulfillment.

    Reply
    • Ricky

      The thing is, happiness is not finite, and life will always throw you curve balls when you least expect it. What if your ideal of happiness and self-actualization is sabotaged by the ‘unknowns’ of life? Will you be able to live your new life ‘off-script’ based on your new set of life circumstances?

      Reply
      • Soli

        Lol what the ? does that have to do with not having a baby. You just wanted to say something negative. Sour grapes much?
        Btw EVERYONE that I know personally who has children, … Is miserable. Oftentimes they reveal this to me in private, when their husbands aren’t there. One time someone even revealed this to me while crying her freaking eyes out. Telling me that she wished that she hasn’t been such coward and gotten an abortion. Saying this within a month of her second child being born.

        Reply
    • Julia Sprung

      Good for you love it! Sounds amazing girl 🙂

      Reply
    • Alexa

      Genuinely happy for you and your life choices. I’m just a few years older than you and chose the same path. Traveling a lot, working part-time and dating a wonderful person who doesn’t want to throw any of that away for a child (that didn’t even ask to be born in the first place).
      Thanks for sharing your story. Hope more women will realise how fulfilling it is to be independent instead of falling for this trap called parenthood.

      Reply
    • Dee

      Now this is living!

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Re: to Lexi: YES.

      Reply
    • roy norbury

      Hi Lexi,
      As a dinosaur dad of 2yo twins with my younger second wife, my former wife & I lived in Europe
      for 10 yrs and we have 3 boys and 1 girl who have between them produced 11 grandchildren!
      I found yours fascinating as after 2 German & 2 Spanish born I had a vasectomy in England.
      Fast forward my 2nd wife wanted children so IVF did the trick in California for us, now back in
      Australia I find your’s and other women’s opinion’s thought provoking.
      Our wonderful surrogate mum to our twins has 6 beautiful children in California and I marvel at
      her ability and it drives me to be a better dinodad than I was dad in Germany,Spain & Australia.
      No over expectations of life, and realistic to know that helping others is the buzz word in life?
      Great debate for the” new normal” lives we have ahead after the covid-19 pandemic.
      Australia dodged the bullet with just over 100 deaths to 25 Mn population , but the USA has so
      far over 100,000 for 350Mn and seems to be the target for this virus.
      Health should be our driver of happiness and that combination equates to fulfilment.

      Reply
    • JustaGuy

      Omg that line about reading as a new hobby killed me! Hahaha! Thank you for this. Just got off the phone with my parents, and no matter how many times I tell them, they keep thinking there’s a possibility that I’ll eventually have kids. Honestly, it’s heart breaking. I almost feel like I owe it to them but I know that’s not right. Anyways, thanks again for your very honest, insightful, and hilarious comment! Happy 30th birthday!

      Reply
  51. Smith

    The issue for many of us isn’t a question happiness or meaning, the issue is we find ourselves miserable after having kids. And that is a separate question. Life is what you make of it, but the making can be very unpleasant work that we don’t really want to toil at for years.
    I remember being stuck with my infant twins for two weeks while my wife was away. We were all sick and the crying never ended. I would wake up at 6am and all day was dealing with babies. 14 hours straight dealing with crying infants. Feeding, cleaning, comforting. And you are nailed to it like Jesus to the Cross, no way out. And it goes on for days and even years. Fast forward and one has reading issues. Fast forward and one has emotional issues. Fast forward and one develops a life long illness. One a bully, the other bullied. The teacher conferences, the 1000s of meals shopped for and cooked and clean ups. Later teenage depression. It never ends.
    Being a parent is a question of lifestyle, not a question of meaning or happiness. You are what you do and think about all day. Choose carefully, and ignore the big philosophical questions. Instead focus on the day to day duties and emotional demands, because that is what matters, and that is what you will live moment to moment.
    Before having a kid I suggest going to a swim meet or gymnastics meet. Imagine one of the kids is yours and watch the endless hours tick slowly away. Grinding by. If you see doing that every weekend, then being a parent just may be your thing.

    Reply
    • Alex

      “ Being a parent is a question of lifestyle, not a question of meaning or happiness.” – thank you so much for this, you speak such sense.

      Reply
  52. Amin Parker

    This was an eye opener to read. I do agree that “happiness is so fragile.”

    Reply
  53. Judy

    Johnny Depp said it best: Hormones are God’s way of hoodwinking people into having children.

    Reply
    • Lilith

      Lol, I know I’m asexual and abstinence is real easy (wish dieting was!!). The peace of mind every month is mind boggling. I never understood how sex was a fair trade for such a dangerous and life altering risk. Screw happiness or meaning, freedom and solitude are priceless.

      Reply
  54. Father of one, not from US.

    With non-existent maternity/parental leaves and child support in the US, the argument for not having kids is understandable, as opposed to say Finland or Denmark. However, what is mind boggling is why the fertility rates are so much higher in countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan? In US, you have to give a job, a vacation, etc. In those countries you could be dead tomorrow and yet people have kids. Those who are on the fence, should pay close attention to this fact. Everything else is just first world problems/white whine. Worst things worst, if you are really such a snowflake and don’t have a lot of money find a job in Finland or another nordic country, move there and have kids there. It will be free for you and you may even get some stipends.

    Reply
    • Morgan Boyd

      Birth Rates are tied to women’s rights and health care. Allow women to get a post secondary education and a job and they will hold off having kids until later in life. Therefore they have fewer children due to age constraints.
      Improved access to health care means lower infant mortality. If you know you can have one or two children and they are likely to survive to old age you will most likely only have one or two children. If you expect several of your children to die before reaching reproductive age you are likely to have more of them. The countries you listed all have high birth rates, they also have high death rates.
      Currently Africa has the highest birth and death rates in the world, improving those economies to the point where everyone has access to health care and women are able to get an education and enter the workforce are paramount to controlling the growth of the worlds population.

      Reply
  55. Jim

    God punished me the day i was born unfortunately which i knew i was going to have a very extremely hard time meeting a good woman to settle down with to have a family. Then again which God created so many very horrible stuck up loser women these days too, especially when so many of us single men will try to start a conversation with a woman that we would’ve really love to meet. And then there are times we will get cursed at by these very mentally ill women for no reason at all, since i know friends that are having the same problem as well. Yeah, no wonder why many of us men are still single today. Very amazing how very different most women were back in the old days when they were the very complete opposite of today, and real ladies as well which made love very easy to find back then just like our family members did.

    Reply
    • MB

      Sounds like you are struggling by friend. My advice, if you would take it, is to look to yourself before you blame others. Self improvement is hard, but its the best way to improve the quality of your life. Start going to a gym every day, read some self help psychology books and some books on how to meet and talk to women. Learn some new skills and hobbies that are active. Join a club. Improve yourself and the ladies will follow. Good luck!

      Reply
    • Julia Sprung

      Ok, but you do have to understand all of this from a woman’s perspective. Literally with almost all men we’ve come across, maybe 80%, are sketchy, have ulterior motives and thus we have developed trust issues. Especially in terms of personal safety and some of the things we have been through with many men almost every day of our lives or in single events including harassment, abuse, taking advantage, like they just want one thing, etc. We have developed a guard to keep up because we don’t want to end up as another victim, so that plays a part. Very different in the world for women vs men.

      Reply
    • Charlie

      I can clearly see why no woman would want to start a conversation with you. You think because you want to talk to a woman, she should talk back? Little reminder: No ones has to give you their time, just because you feel like you like them. You also clearly have a very low opinion of women in general, you qualify women who have no interest in talking to you as mentally ill, which is very entitled, misogynistic and shows that you are precisely the kind of man that has no emotional intelligence whatsoever, self-reflection, no desire to be better for his partner (but the delusion that his partner must be the one changing her life for him), no idea of fairness or equality in a couple. You sound like a horrible, horrible, selfish, small minded, mentally ill, retrograde man. Work on that before asking anything from any woman.

      Reply
  56. common

    Father of three. Absolutely agree with the article. If you have any expectations of pursuing personal goals AFTER you have kids, think again. Doing all the tasks around kids takes significant amount of time and energy and you just see your life/time slip away without experiencing achievement of what you deem important or positive. If I could turn back the hands of time…
    Thank you for the article though, it feels good that I am not the only one who made this mistake.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Common,
      You really just helped solidify my choice to be childfree,thanks for your honesty.

      Reply
  57. Pete

    I have 3 kids twins 8 and another 10.I went from 0 kids to 3 in 18months.I am originally from Scotland and do not have any family here.My wife’s parents were older and lived in a different part of the Country.I do agree the government here really does not help at all with families and children,compared to most European countries.
    The fact that woman do not get any paid maternity leave is pretty shocking to me.
    Anyway we got through it our marriage is still intact but has taken a few beatings.The kids seem happy enough,my oldest has ADHD which has been a challenge.
    I enjoyed this article.Happiness is fleeting and I realize that as a father I measure it by the happiness of our family unit and not my own happiness.Maybe that is right or wrong,
    Our expectations of family life has changed dramatically in the last 70 or so years.The media/Hollywood has projected this picture of what a family should be like which is usually picture perfect.This is all bullshit and the more we move away from this thinking the happier we will be.
    I am just happy we as a family have survived the last 10yrs intact that my kids are happy/healthy,and when I am on my deathbed hopefully at the age of 100 surrounded by loving family.I will be happy that I experienced and survived all that life through at me.

    Reply
    • Jen

      This comment is getting me through a rough time. Such a balance of idealism and realism. Thank you, Pete.

      Reply
    • Mike P

      Happy the marriage stayed. High five! I like the comment about the unit as a whole instead of just your happiness. High five.

      Reply
  58. lee

    Mother of 3, gave up a good paying job after the 3rd one. My own family members do not wish to help me in babysitting at all. My husband works hard and late day in day out for the family but he has no time for the kids.
    Happiness index: zero.
    Fulfilment? Zero too.

    Reply
    • Karen

      Did you expect your family members to help baby sitting?

      Reply
    • maja

      completely understand you and sympathise wuth you.

      Reply
    • JP McCarthyizzle

      Happiness is a passing emotion. No one is happy all the time. Ask your husband to work less and spend more time with the family.

      Reply
    • Edy

      Hi darling,
      So if your husband is never there and makes good money, he should provide help for you. There is also programs of young girls wanting to travel and be nannys for roof and food. If it’s his kids, it’s not babysitting. it should be normal for him to take care of them. Even if you would divorce, he would have the obligation of taking care of them half of the time, not that I wish that for you, not at all!
      Best of luck,
      Xxxx

      Reply
    • Renata

      This is me. Everyday l get up and think l had it all (before baby) l screwed it all.

      Reply
    • Grumbledore

      If we lived in a more communal culture, rather than an individualistic one, your complaints would be more validated. But did you really just assume your relatives would fall all over themselves to watch your kids? I have dodged every single request by my in laws since they kid popped out eight years ago. I do not regret it. One bit. Because these people are very “I raise my child the way I see fit and you have no right to say boo about it.” I suppose I was also resentful as the wife insulted our religious rituals (“why have a passover seder? You should get over it already, this is ridiculous!”) And shitty comments like, “it’s fine if YOU go to prison, but HE has responsibilities.” Or most recently, attending a ton kippur break fast during which she sat alone, pouted, pretended to be on the phone (honey I can see the YouTube video playing, so fuck right off) and swore loudly about how the social distancing and masks required by the relatives hosting were ridiculous, and her child would have COMMON SENSE, and not be an idiot like everyone else there, and she never wanted to come to begin with…
      Yeah that kind of shit makes me never want to look after your kid. Ever. Not just because I figure nmw I do you’ll have an issue with it, but because you can’t even demonstrate basic civility in a public setting, how on earth do you expect to teach common sense when you can’t even teach common decency?

      Considering I have a friend who was hospitalized twice in a week due to covid and its various miseries, at 34, she now faces potential kidney issues and post covid fibrosis, I do not consider covid restrictions “ridiculous”… So fuck the bitch, I hope she spontaneously combusts.

      Reply
  59. Never Again

    I had one child, a son, forty years ago; I almost lost my life to toxemia, and did not have any more children. If I had it to do again, I would have zero; this world is too cruel; the choice would not be for my happiness, but to prevent the suffering of another human.

    Reply
    • JPizzle

      Suffering of another human?? Would you be happier not to of been born?

      Reply
    • Stacey

      I agree. My son is destined for a cruel, cruel world and he has no idea. I should not have done this to him.

      Reply
  60. Leana

    I am extremely happy having a child. I love her more then anything in the world. Yes there are challenges but the amount of happiness my child brings to me highly outweighs the sacrifices. There’s nothing like having your child wrap their arms around you in the morning and Tell you “mommy I love you” we go to theme parks, ice cream, parks, parties…. kids help you feel the majic of what it’s like to be a kid one again and holidays are much more enjoyable. I feel like this is a biased article…. there are many people who can’t have children and they’d do anything to become parents. For those who don’t want kids, don’t have them, don’t make your kids miserable. Those who already had kids you made that choice and your children count on you to teach them. They love you unconditionally. Shame on you who complain.

    Reply
    • Tatyana

      I was also the same excited mother within 16 years with my son until he turned 16. After he turned 16 I could hardly recognize him: he transformed from a loving friendly child to a judging, hostile, cruel young man. Now he is 22 years old. My son took all resources from me, my Mom ( his granny) and his Auntie and he cut of ties with us 2 weeks ago. He has so many accusations towards us, though God witness, we all 3 women did our best to provide him with everything, believe me. I still can not believe that that transformation happened. I am looking at photos of my son under 16: a nice, smiling, friendly, emotionally balanced boy…. and photos now – emotionally cold, no more smiles, no more empathy, cold and judging eyes. Can not believe it happened to my family. If I had a chance to go back 22 years ago, I would not have this child. I raised him as a single parent but my Mom and sister helped me a lot. I was devastated first 10 days, even suicidal, but then I though I could live some part of life for myself and be happy. Your disappointment is several years ahead, do not worry.

      Reply
      • JPizzle

        Haha cry me a river, you sound horrendous.

        Reply
    • Adi

      I cannot believe Leana tries to spit some venom, socialist style, on the American capitalist research. The priest and family told Leana that it is a sin to regret having children, therefore once you have children, you do not need to exist anymore, your happiness does not exist, you need not complain. I do not have children yet, but I see that your reply Leana is full of bias too. I can even recognise you, you are from the same nationality as me, where 90% are religious people without capacity to think critically. I am not saying that you have no right argument, just saying something is biased does not make you less biased. It just smells like cognitive dissonance and rejection of your brain that something you do not like can be as objective as this study can be

      Reply
    • Suzanne

      Shame, really??!

      Reply
    • Vandana

      I’m literally on the verge and completely unsure of freezing my eggs. This article has brought a tremendous amount of perspective to me

      Reply
    • Jennifer

      Leana,
      This is a place where people can say their opinions without judgment,they can vent/complain however they like,your not forced to read them.

      Reply
      • xxxx

        Frankly, Jen, that is a horrendous argument. The same could be said about anyone else reading Leana’s comment. No one was forced to read her comment. However, you’re right, this is a place where people can vent/complain. So don’t box her out for complaining about how some people would wish away their children.

        Reply
  61. MamaSquid

    Thank you for your article. I am 36 and pregnant with my first child. As a long – time sufferer of clinical depression and PTSD, I have spent many years learning the difference between happiness and meaning. I’ve been helped tremendously by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which emphasizes values – based living in the face of chronic terror or despair. What most of us think of as happiness is really a more superficial level of in – the – moment contentment, but there is a world of profound meaning waiting to be uncovered in every life, and people are willing to suffer quite profoundly in the moment in order to get at a deeper and more fundamental level of satisfaction. This is why, despite my chronic struggle with depression, I wouldn’t call myself an unhappy person. Whatever my current mood in any given moment, my life is full of meaning – because of how I spend my time, the relationships I nurture, the values I embrace in my nonprofit career, my fiction writing, etc.
    So I can see how similar principles might apply to having a child. As my pregnancy has already begun to interfere with the things that traditionally have given my life meaning, I think I’m going to have to scale back and find some new ones – but that’s okay. There are a lot of ways to make meaning. I’m excited about the ones I haven’t yet discovered.
    I’ve wanted a child for ten years, but thus far pregnancy has only complicated my life and made it more difficult. That’s okay, too. Often, easing our suffering begins with letting go of our idealized vision of how we’re supposed to be feeling… I’ve learned that countless times throughout this difficult pregnancy and in my study of Zen principles more generally. Though it may be socially controversial not to express joy during every waking moment of pregnancy and motherhood, I’m allowing myself to be unhappy, without judgment nor indulgence, when the feeling arises. I’m learning to accept my limitations. I’m taking the pressure off the need for this to be a perfect experience. Anytime I find myself really afraid of what parenthood has to bring, I keep coming back to this, knowing I’m already in the practice of making meaning out of less than ideal circumstances, and I think I am going to be all right. If I’m perfectly honest, I even think we are going to have a lot of fun as a family.

    Reply
    • Meg

      You are spot on to allow yourself to feel any emotions that arise( mainly guilt for me), don’t fight them . Sit with them , let them come and go. I hope your child brings you Joy and happiness ultimately. I love being a mom and I struggle with it too and that’s okay ?. P.s hang on and don’t judge yourself so harshly. Life can be amazing if you smile more than not.

      Reply
  62. The Bad Guy.

    Sorry but I can’t wrap my head around the idea of de-emphasizing personal happiness. My personal belief is that if you’re living life and you’re not happy and not aiming to be happy, then what ARE you doing? Collecting money? And unless you’re Abraham Lincoln or Julius Caesar or someone like that, any concrete accomplishments that you make will be forgotten 20 years after you die.
    For most of my life I didn’t want kids, and I got talked into it by my wife, who was in turn talked into it by her parents (I didn’t make that connection until it was too late). And I get along great with my kid but constantly find myself at odds with other parents, who largely share none of my values and seem to actively seek out misery and complain about their lives on Facebook. My sister in law earns 150k, has two kids, and comes home after working her 12 hour day to clean the floor and get the kids ready for bed before collapsing into bed herself. What kind of life is that?
    I love my son. I’m doing my best. But I am absolutely miserable and unlike many parents, I am self aware enough to realize it. I can make the best of it for the sake of the little guy but I won’t indulge in doublethink and I won’t lie to myself and try to say that, well, happiness wasn’t that important anyway. That sounds like sour grapes. Happiness damn sure is important. It’s everything. You don’t have to live a hedonistic lifestyle to see and feel that imho.
    And I would absolutely use that opiate simulation machine. I’d use it to hell.
    I mean really, life is not all that hard, but people actively try to make it hard. Perhaps I just don’t belong with the rest of the human race… This quest for misery – I will never understand it. Never.

    Reply
    • Yurms

      Oh my Lord, I hope you get notified of this comment because I just want to say I feel the exact same way. I do my best with my THREE kids…to the point where a lot of people (including my kids and wife) consider me a good father, but I AM miserable. I didn’t plan to have any of my kids. I kinda just rolled with the punches, but if I had it my way, id choose to do a ton of other things that not only make me happy, but fulfill me instead of raising a family.

      Reply
    • Never Again

      “Life is not that hard….” Apparently you are younger than 40. You might change your mind over the next 20 years.

      Reply
    • Sheila

      I’m a mother of 4, and to be honest all of life’s ups and downs would have been a lot easier to get through if I want so worried about these kids.
      And now two of the four are legal adults telling me I destroyed their life.
      Whatever, seriously I whole hearted agree with the article the happiest we are is before we have kids and after the last one leaves and God help us if we say it in front of them cause the rest of your life you will hear about how traumatized it made them.
      And I agree with the last commenter, I was convinced how great it all would be by my mother too.
      Who also suffered her entire life raising her kids. Then pushed them all away after they grew into adults.
      If I was alone, is be on a cruise with my husband enjoying my life.
      But instead I raised these children so I could have a more meaningful senior life and so far they are just screaming in my face that I suck.

      Reply
    • Corgnificent

      I’m a mother of two and completely agree with your sentiments. I simply cannot understand why so many people prefer to wallow in their misery and wear it as a badge of honor rather than trying to be happy or working towards positive change. I love my children and would sacrifice anything for them, but I’m also honest enough to admit that’s being a parent is often grueling and the “meaning” you allegedly derive from raising children is tarnished by piles of conflicting emotions and layers of stress.
      Thanks for posting and you’re not alone!

      Reply
    • Romina

      Wow you’re the male version of me lol are you a Taurus by any chance. I was like, “Who the eff would say NO to that machine?!”

      Reply
    • Meg

      I like your response. If I am reborn after this mom life, I would sure as hell plug into that machine too! I love my children. It’s hard and annoying and exhausting but then I look at these little people we made and it’s amazing too.

      Reply
    • ZZ

      Well, your comment is fantastic!! It is so hard to find parents who are truthful about their experiences and talk about both the good and the bad (aka the whole picture). It’s usualy very taboo for parents to talk about or even think about the bad. So when you ask them about their experience, all they have to say is “Oh it’s wonderful. Unconditional love. My children are the best things ever.”
      Oh and my favorite: ” I can’t imagine going through life without my kids.” Which I find very hard to believe. You can always imagine NOT having something in your life. This lack of imagination, not admitting the difficulties and not having a clue about the things they could have achieved if they didn’t have children completely boggles me.

      Reply
  63. Anita

    Thanks for the article. I had a late marriage (at 34) and my husband is 18 years older to me. We both are very happy in our lives and love to travel. However, living in a country like India where everyone just likes to poke their nose in other people’s lives and blatantly ask about why you are not having children is not an easy task. Some look at us with suspicion as if there is some fault in us…..even my family….who had reluctantly agreed to my marriage (mind the age Gap) keep forcing me to have children while we seriously do not wish to. They feel I will be alone in my old age with noone to look after. My two sisters have two kids each and I am looked at with ridicule. I just take happiness as it comes and do not feel the need for children….I am too busy in my job and whenever we have time….we explore the world. While this article is comforting…I do sometimes get scared of what the future will hold.

    Reply
  64. Rebeca Anderson

    Amazing, you aren’t telling people to not have children, you are just saying that we shouldn’t put on our children the responsibility for our happiness, we should question why we want to have children and have for the right reasons, because when they are born is all about serving them, support them in THEIR dreams and not use them to fulfill our own expectations.

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Exactly Rebeca. Glad to see you actually read the article 😉

      Reply
    • Never Again

      Unfortunately, The Greatest Generation” never saw it that way….The Boomers were nothing but property to serve them.

      Reply
      • Grumbledore

        True story, largely. My dad grew up in a 2 room house with an outhouse. They hauled water from the river to do laundry. They hauled firewood. They learned to make moonshine and to grow and put away food. Apart from a tv that only got 3 channels and an old ford pickup, my dad’s boomer childhood was basically as old school appalachian as it could get. He had five siblings. The youngest shared the bed with the parents until the next popped out. And yes, if you’re wondering if Grannie and pop got it on with a sleeping toddler next to them, you’re exactly right. Shit was rough. The siblings shared a room, 3 boys to a bed and 3 girls to a bed. They were not planned, they were factory farmed field hands. My mother, ten years younger than he, grew up in a nice home with parents who wanted children for the satisfaction of rearing children. My dad’s parents had children because sex was non optional… You know what I mean. And birth control was generally “here honey take these queen anne’s lace seeds, that’ll hopefully keep the babies at bay…” The 20th century turned a corner when society shifted toward a more kid friendly world. And let’s be honest, not for the better.🙄

        Reply
  65. Teresa

    I am happy to have come across this article . Since I turned 30, I have a renewed sense of wanting to be a parent. I have still have many moments, as someone who has struggled with the mental health, and after seeing best friends whose lives seem completely consumed with their children’s wants and needs, where I wonder if I want it. If I can do it.
    I really appreciated the description of the fleeting nature of happiness ( ‘Happiness fades with the first punch that life throws at you’)- for me, in my life, and in my struggles with mental health, it is so true. In order to strive for balance, happiness cannot be my own end-all, be-all. It’s too fickle. I can’t define it concretely.
    Instead, I do believe I search for meaning in my work and relationships and when I think about having children. I have definitely felt the need to take care of someone else, and to make my life not just about me.
    Thank you, Seph (what a fantastic name), for this article. I appreciate the insight and the comments from readers.

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      My absolute pleasure Teresa.

      Reply
    • Barbara

      Hello Teresa
      I think I share a lot with you. I also have some struggles with metal health and want to influence the world in a positive way. And being 30 I’m quite anxious if I should have child(ren). However, I don’t know if that would be the right thing, as being a bit depressed may results in not that happy children – for both genetic and environmental reasons. So that the life may not be a gift to them, but rather a burden (as I often see my life). Also, considering overpopulation, every new life is a burden to the earth. So I wonder – what is your opinion on that matter? I don’t mean to attack you – I’m just genuinely curious of other point of view to maybe revision mine.

      Reply
    • The Bad Guy.

      I don’t know what issues you have but Ill say this – I have Asperger’s and inattentive adhd. Before having a child I structured my life around my strengths and kept my stress very low, also worked out constantly. I’d never seen the inside of a psychiatrists office since I was able to manage my own care. You wont be able to do that with a child. Sleep patterns, destressing techniques… it all goes to hell. 4 years into the parenting life now and I’m on 3 different medications and depression is a major, major problem for me.
      I’m not saying it won’t work. But really think about your current coping strategies and how having a child would affect them. Because I know from experience that I can’t say, I’m sick, or I’m in a panicky mental state, or I’m overwhelmed with depression and just want to sleep for 20 hours today. I don’t get to indulge in self-care. I just have to put on my best face each day and be a dad. It’s non stop. Just keep it in mind and be ready for that marathon should you decide to run it.

      Reply
      • ZZ

        This made me really sad to read. Thank you for sharing,
        I’m sure things will get better for you. Pain doesn’t always last. But this is such an important point of view everyone needs to think about..

        Reply
  66. John

    I get the idea of focusing on achievement over happiness, but where that thinking fails with having kids is… it’s not an accomplishment. It doesn’t provide any real “meaning.” Everyone can do it, it’s not special, it doesn’t mean you achieved or accomplished anything whatsoever in your life. It’s extremely mediocre and just kicking the can down the field, hoping your kids do something more useful than you did. If you’re going to accomplish absolutely nothing and just work some mundane job, you SHOULD focus only on happiness since you can’t achieve anything of note. Having kids doesn’t absolve you of being a loser. If I can’t achieve great and meaningful things, at least I’ll maximize my own happiness, rather than failing at both like most parents.

    Reply
    • The Bad Guy.

      Exactly how I feel. Once you have kids your own chances of real greatness, slim as they are for us all, are gone. Tesla said that it is impossible to reach your own true potential if you marry and have a family, which logically makes perfect sense.
      A lot of people seem to have this idea that they’re cashing in their chips and hoping the next player will do better than they did. Then later of course, they pressure their own kids to give up their own dreams in order to provide some grandkids.
      There’s a lot of duality with parenting. People call childless people selfish but since becoming a parent I have met plenty of awful, self-centered parents who view their child as a possession they can brag about, like a nice car. Parenting is not a real dream for many of them – it’s a milestone, something to do. And don’t even get me started on some of the narcissistic crap I’ve seen from grandparents.

      Reply
      • Helena

        Wow. I’ve always sort of felt this. People love to talk about the selflessness of parenthood and in so many ways it is, but, I just think so many people have too much ego wrapped into it. It’s a performance. It’s a way to show off and have your child be better than the others.
        On the other side, my childless friends are truly some of the most selfless people I know. They listen, they have empathy, they make time for me. I do have two children , but, I’ve never felt selfless. I think many of them wanted children and they’ve really had to choose happiness in their grief. I think that’s where the empathy comes from. In some ways for me me, it felt like something I had to do.

        Reply
        • c hsieh

          @Helena: I really do appreciate what you’re saying. In my estimation, you can learn a lot about people when you assess their ego and their heart. It’s hard to tell sometimes whether somebody is loving/caring about somebody with their heart, or with their ego. And furthermore, some people only show love from their hearts when their egos are stroked.

          I totally see your perspective, in the sense that I’ve learned to observe people’s hearts and egos — and the relationships between those two, within any given individual — as I’ve grown older and had to assess whether parenthood was right for me.

          Reply
  67. Happy without

    Personally, my partner and are both very comfortable with not being parents. The older I get, the more comfortable I feel with our decision.
    There were many different factors that influenced our decision, the biggest being climate change. My partner works in the environment sector and future predictions on climate change are pretty dire. We both felt that the world does not need the burden of another person, particularly a first world person.
    We both work part time in work we enjoy and while we may not be materially rich, but we love our lives and we have time to enjoy them and pursue other interests, even if that means just being able to spend an afternoon pottering in the garden, going for a walk in nature or reading a book.
    Our friends who have kids are good parents, but I really feel for them. They seem to be in a constant state of just going through the motions in life, with no time to look after themselves or for personal reflection. I feel like I would find it very hard to be happy with no time for myself.
    So for those who have chosen to be parents, I wish you very well, it is not an easy road you have chosen, but I’m sure it is very fulfilling also.
    For those who are thinking that parenthood is not for them, I’d say you don’t need kids to be happy. My life is simple, quiet and very happy without children.

    Reply
  68. Fiona

    I simply wish I’d given my child up for adoption when I thought about it the first time. As I knew what the future would hold. And I was right.
    I’m a solo parent. Unemployed. In school. Had back surgery 9 months ago. Besides chronic pain making me mentally unstable. I was abused my entire childhood.
    My son deserves better than what I can provide. I do not regret him. Or wish I hadn’t had him. Or care what happens in my old age, as I’ve never planned to live into old age. I wish I would have given him a home that could give him what I cant.

    Reply
    • Lulu R

      Is there any way you could get help for the mental issues? There are so many things you can do to feel better, and once you do that, everything else won’t seem so bad. I would like to help, I know how tough life can get.

      Reply
  69. Elizabeth

    Thanks for the article Seph. I appreciate the part about letting go of expectations and the image of what a happy life “should” look like. But then what? Not pursuing happiness helps achieve happiness and lowering the importance of personal happiness… what does that look like? Can you expand? I’ve goals and a vision of the life I want, but I’d like to be happy on the road to getting there. I’m trying to trust so I don’t fall apart if the “there” is different or doesn’t happen. But I’d like to be happier in general. Thoughts? Thx.

    Reply
  70. JJ

    Crazy how the bitter anti-child brigade always turn up in these threads. They are obsessed with trying to find something to prove themselves right. Racked with self doubt?
    I see one genius low down the comments (“John”) even go so far as to say having children is ‘illogical’. Do you not understand how stupid that is?
    A lot of you people are going to be bitter and alone in your old age, shunted into state-run care homes and ignored (or abused, if you’re particularly unlucky) until you eventually do the state a favor and pass away.
    Good luck! Enjoy your extra vacations and gucci sunglasses in the meantime.

    Reply
    • Adamska

      “A lot of you people are going to be bitter and alone in your old age, shunted into state-run care homes and ignored (or abused, if you’re particularly unlucky)”
      So the purpose of having kids is so that they have to look after you when you’re old? Funny how people like you like to assert that childfree people are “selfish” yet you spout nonsense like this. That’s not a good reason to have children, in fact anybody whose motivation to have kids is that is probably going to be a terrible parent.
      Having kids may or may not be ‘illogical’ but it is 100% unfair and for that reason alone it’s unethical and immoral. The child has no consent in whether they’re born or not, and they’re being brought into an increasingly difficult, competitive, over-populated and environmentally endangered planet. Yes, bringing more children into the picture to make the problem worse sounds like a genius idea 😉

      Reply
    • Max

      Let’s see…
      People probably need assistance when they’re 80+ years old. OK maybe 75+ and that’s like the end of your life already.
      Those who married and made kids around 25-30 are potentially wasting 45-55 years, just for the kids to look after them (maybe).
      Your point has just been annihilated old sport.

      Reply
    • Fiona

      It amazes me how preoccupied people are with old age- you had kids and potentially ruined the best years of your life (18+ of them) just so you won’t be alone in old age? None of us even know if we are going to make it to old age in the first place or how long we will spend needing care if any (and the only reason we have to get old in the first place is because of our parents, we didn’t ask for life or old age).
      Most people in care homes have dementia to a greater or lesser degree so guess what? A lot of them don’t even know if they have kids anyway! My auntie had a bunch of kids but only one lived nearby and visited her in her care home regularly, not that my auntie knew since she had no idea she had kids, or any concept of anything for many years.
      I believe having kids makes you more selfish, you might not be thinking always of yourself but you are thinking about your mini-me, it doesn’t qualify as selfless, they are an extension of yourself. And I bet you would put your own child in front of anyone else’s child every time. To be selfless would be to adopt a child already here not create one from your own DNA. The world is in such a mess because people only care mainly about their own family, they don’t even care about their spouse since divorce is so high, just trade them in for someone else, who cares right? I don’t think I will ever understand parents.

      Reply
      • Vivi

        I really agree with every single word you are writing here 100 percent! I’m glad I am not the only who thinks this way. Thank you!

        Reply
        • Lusani

          So grateful for your comment too. Life is meaningless and there is no need to punish unborn people by bringing them to this screwed up world.

          Reply
      • Vivi

        Fiona’s comment describes 100 percent what I also feel. Why are you so concerned about aging and loneliness when the best time of your life you are paralyzed taking care of kids. The future is uncertain plus I gladly trade 5 years of being cared for for 20 years of sleep, travel, and fun.
        Plus the selfishness , great approach Fiona! Love it!

        Reply
        • Tatyana

          I totally support. I am a nurse, working in a nursing home. Every day I see those miserable parents who raised kids and then those kids dumped their elderly parents in nursing homes. So what are the kids for then???? If they are even unable to take care of their elderly parents the way parents took care of them when they were babies?! One more observation: there are 2 patients in a share room. One elderly lady is childless and has no picture frames on her bedside table. The lady on the other bed in the same room is a mother of 8 children. There are more than 15 picture frames of her family members on the bedside table. And so what???? Bother these ladies found themselves in a nursing home! I would understand that the childless lady expected this end of life…. but what about the one who raised 8 kids? Did she expect or pan this for herself? The result is the same. They just use you and dump you in a nursing home. I am a single mother who was hurt by her estranged son

          Reply
    • Ann

      Oh my, sounds like you’re the one that’s regretful, bitter and unhappy. Geez.

      Reply
    • Karen

      Sweetie you can have kids and still be bitter and alone. I know several people like this. You need to get that out of your head. What is it with people who say “well who will take care of you when you get older”. That is a terrible mentality to have.

      Reply
      • Mike P

        Yep shouldn’t have kids to take care of you. It’s not anyone’s burden but your own.

        Reply
    • Romina

      I have a kid AND Gucci sunglasses. So there! Lol ;). I remember being “anti-child” once. And if my daughter wants to hang out with me (or care for me) when I’m old that would be awesome but it is not her obligation.

      Reply
  71. eschultz

    Lexi sounds like someone who is afraid of pain and change and either hasn’t had much life experience or has had horrible life experiences. She has the right to be selfish. Only Lexi can live her life for her.
    As a single mother who is the survivor of a relationship frought with abuse and a survivor of past mental and physical abuse, I cannot expect anyone to understand why I chose to have my daughter. My strength however benefits her. Whatever lessons I have learned in life I can pass to her. Having kids is not for everyone. Being honest about it is being true to themselves. Choosing to have kids is the buisness of those who have them and neither side needs to point fingers. I am glad we are all different people.

    Reply
    • Adamska

      “Having kids is not for everyone. Being honest about it is being true to themselves. Choosing to have kids is the buisness of those who have them and neither side needs to point fingers.”
      Well said. I don’t understand why some think that everybody arbitrarily needs to have kids. It’s not for everyone. People that don’t want kids aren’t going to make great parents anyway!

      Reply
  72. Candice

    Wow thank you for this. My last friend just had her second child. She has lost her figure (she still looks 6 months pregnant), her money, her sanity, all her friends and her marriage is ruined. My husband and I are retired YOUNG with lots of money, health, ability to travel, be intimate, sleep in, etc. I can no longer be around breeders. They scare me and remind me too much of the bullet I just dodged. Whewwwwww

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      I suppose you didn’t read much past the title Candice. 🙂

      Reply
    • Tom

      I wish I made the choices you made. I live in a child filled hell. I can’t do anything besides try to conserve what little money we have while my wife spends 15 bucks a pound on steak for a 3 year old. I want to die more everyday.

      Reply
  73. CarlZurri

    People have societal pressure to breed, pressure from family to breed, and internalized self pressure to breed. They are sheeple and afraid they won’t be regarded as “normal” if they don’t breed. So they make kids and hope for the best. It’s pretty common nowadays to have kids who fail to launch, and kids to create their own kids who then get dumped on their patents, who now are stuck primarily or secondarily at the least, raising their grandchildren. For people who say ‘it’s just an 18 year commitment’, think again.

    Reply
  74. Todd Narruhn

    I love my child and as a single parent, my happiest moments are with her. It’s better than all the things I have done under the sun. I think the author needs to go back to school and/ or study the dynamics of empathy and love because the only thing I saw as being miserable is a myopic view of parenthood. Seriously, stop blogging and start thinking.

    Reply
    • Jonathan

      If you the most you’ve accomplished in life is popping out a kid then you haven’t done anything different from any other animal. I think YOU should go back to school and learn how to read and stop being terminally mediocre. Actually try to achieve something meaningful in life not just reproducing. Extremely pathetic!

      Reply
      • CarlZurri

        Completely agree with you Jonathan

        Reply
        • Todd Narruhn

          Well, you can go through life being an opinionated, selfish asshole or you can teach your kids not to be like you. Not everything is about you and that is why you shouldn’t have children.

          Reply
          • Michael Jenkins

            Todd, you write about empathy and love. About love – woman often claim to be a mystery but in fact their mystery has only the one solution – pregnancy.
            Love, thus to the common woman, is provision of a roof. But there are rare women who truly seek the companionship of men, and their ego upon the man rather than upon the “family”, and further to treat man as a child, as men are inherently child-like. They must be greatly valued by men who cannot overcome the burdening of female instinct and societal pressure to give up on yourself and defer your efforts to a child.
            Men (and some rare woman) are in fact the more complex and mysterious ones, not the common women – who’s destination of mystery has only one cause – family. The solution for women comprehending the mysteriousness of men – it is to see that men seek not family but to be a child, but rarely reach such a condition of mind and society attempts to pacify them to comply with the common women’s single destination.

      • Vivi

        Love your comment Jonathan! So true!!

        Reply
      • Diana

        I agree with you Jonathan. Todd’s comment was just plain stupid. Being with your child is the happiest you’ve been & better than all things you’ve done under the sun??!! Geez Todd, If that’s your thinking, what on earth have you even done under the sun?! Re-evaluate your life my friend.

        Reply
    • CarlZurri

      And of course what YOU experience is how everybody should also think and feel. Gtfo.

      Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Thanks for the advice Todd, except your comment proves you did not read the article.

      Reply
      • Todd Narruhn

        Actually, I did read your article. I read it three times. I don’t think you read my comment. I got better advice from a crackerjack box. Becoming a father has made me young again. Seeing the world through my daughter’s eyes brings me joy. I get to take a break from the day-to-day struggles and realize I don’t have to be some self-centered blogger who thinks he has all the answers.

        Reply
        • Charlie

          Tod, our are very keen to convince everyone that being a parent made you happy. If that is so why do you sound so angry? Reading through all the comments you stand out as someone who is about to lose it and is in need of therapy. You are someone who I categorise as ‘deeply unhappy’ without self awareness.

          Reply
  75. Jasmine North

    I never wanted children…..I prefer dogs, cats, horses and generally all non human animals. And after observing a sibling who ended up with an incredibly unintelligent, stunted adult child, I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t travel down that road.

    Reply
  76. Lexi

    I would rather chose happiness at the end of the day over meaning. What’s the point in having any kind of meaning in your life if it just makes you miserable? sort of unrelated but on the topic of happiness; unlike most people, I will actually admit to enjoy short bursts of gratification instead of waiting to achieve something long term. In other words, I would much rather have that flashy sports car right here and now instead of waiting 20 plus years to see if I raised a good child or not. I am not ashamed to admit this nor should others be. HAte me if you will, but throughout my life no one looked out for my happiness so I had to learn to find it myself.
    There are also many negatives when it comes to raising children that I don’t think I would be able to cope with if it happened to me:
    1. Giving up everything in life to raise a child who ends up hating you. I’ve personally seen this happen to a family friend, who is an AMAZING woman by the way who did nothing to deserve this treatment. The daughter even addresses the mother by her first name and she is over 20 years old. Sometimes I have a habit of calling my mom mother and she insists that I call her mom!
    2. Being a single mother to more than one child I did not even want. Oh sure, it’s so easy for a man to be a father every other weekend and enjoy his time off, but could you imagine doing all the hard stuff on your own? Trying to get the kids ready for school every day when they do not want to go, getting their lunch ready and probably sacrificing the time to make your own lunch, only to have the children complain about everything you packed for them? Oh, and how about getting home after work to cook dinner for everyone, and “helping” them with their homework after or anything else teachers tell parents what to do for their children that needs to be completed by such and such dates. Such as sience fair projects or costumes for school plays. It’s easy for the father to take the kid to the freaken park for chrissake!
    3. On a somewhat unrelated topic as well I also stay out of relationships in case I “fall in love” which is just dopamine chemicals produced from the brain, by the way and fades over time. Only to have him emotinally blackmail me with children after marriage. I most likely will have more money than any man who is interested in me, and if he refuses to sign a prenup and I agree to marry him anyway, it is my bigges tfear that he will blackmail me into doing anything I want for him (such as having children I do not want) otherwise he will divorce me and take me for everything I’ve got. I could never imagine being a single mother with more than one job only to support myself and a family that I never wanted. As I said before, it’s easy for the single father to bring the children to the park and back home again.
    4. Mommy and me clubs. Do I really need to barf? I will save you from that discussion as you probably know how horrible it is if you are forced to hang out with other mothers you do not like because you have to hang out with the parents of your child’s friends or your partner’s friends.
    Tell me that you are glad that I am not having any children and I will agree with you.

    Reply
    • Roberto Calderon

      @Lexi
      1) Yes I am very happy you are not having children because you would make a horribly selfish mother who in short order would be a manic mess who couldn’t even get out of bed let alone take care of a child.
      2) You clearly have trust issues that require some serious soul searching or therapy. You say things that make me think you have had some pretty crappy men in your life, and thus you are just broken now when it comes to trusting people.
      3) You also mention raising a child alone over and over as if you know in advance your marriage would fall apart and this man would then turn into a vindictive predator….. this speaks to a deeper issue….. you don’t know how to be happy alone…. so you can’t be happy with other people.
      4) You should be alone forever tell you learn how to love more than just yourself.

      Reply
    • Not negative but realist

      So true, but when I was growing up in the 1960’s, getting married & having Children was like some kind of a goal & we were going to do it right by God & NOT make the same mistakes our Parents did. We of course didn’t understand all the dynamics behind having a Family. You learn that as you go along as if everyone knew what those dynamics were, essentially nobody in their right mind would do it. And it is cradle to the grave unless your Children end up to be successful financially. Even working a steady job is no longer the answer as the cost of living is so high for most so you end up helping them financially. Not everyone is cut out ending up with all the skills it takes to become financially independent or maybe they’re lazy so it’s hit or miss. Having a Family is indeed a tremendous sacrifice. I was a legal guardian of my Husband’s 4 younger Brothers & Sisters at age 19 as my Mother & Father-in-Law died prematurely. I though I was doing a good deed until things went South—my Husband ended up to be an alcoholic just like his Father & that complicated any & all problems. So I don’t have a relationship with those kids anymore after sacrificing like 10 years of my life so if I only knew then what I now know. It’s just not worth it although other folks do have happy endings to their stories despite the problems everyone has in life. But that, too is hit or miss as to whether or not that will actually happen & one won’t know until they go through it themselves if they choose to which very often young people will as they have alot of strength & hope which diminishes as you age because of the realities of life haven’t kicked in. So that’s why we continue to have Children (and now it’s not taboo to be single to have them). Ignorance truly is bliss!

      Reply
    • Anna

      Lexi, absolutely true!! You nailed all points:

      1. No Guarantee how the kids will turn out no matter how well you raised then. That’s at least 20 years of your own life you are giving up

      2. Also true. I know a few great, hands on fathers that are willing to help out with laundry, cleaning etc. But “typically,” this does fall for the woman to do, it’s not the fault of men…society hasn’t stepped up yet as a whole.

      3. Yep, in my country, divorce rates are 50%. So at the altar, it’s already 50%! People change. People get depression, fake facades come off, affairs happen…you cannot control the other person. In my young generation, people (men AND women) are not mature or reliable. This unfortunately, is a fact.

      4. You forgot to write about the mother’s wearing matchy matchy outfits with their “mini me’s” for their five minutes of glorification on Instagram 🙄

      Reply
  77. Lindsay Miller

    “How about thinking of others first instead of ourselves? Raising children is actually not hard if you don’t think the sun revolves around you.”
    I’m in tears. I live with moderate to severe chronic pain & illnesses. This began bothering me when I hit my late 30’s. I wish I had been allowed the choice. I “live” with a my caregiver & was recently diagnosed late in life with autism spectrum disorder. I’ve been in poverty my entire life. Even though I put myself through college. I have to accept being dependant on others with no career nor raising a child. Not by my choice; I’m estranged from my birth family. I volunteer when I can. I don’t get the choice to have or raise a baby. It really hurts to hear I’m being selfish?! I have to do little things that help others in other ways. I have to be okay with focusing on my health, participating in activism, & quality of life. I know of past friends who are raising children bc they simply have the money & support to it. As I said I’m crying as I write this. Forgive me if I make a few mistakes in this comment. I’m not that lucky. If you had any idea what abuse I’ve had gone through & how difficult each hour is for me; maybe you’d not say it’s easy to have a baby nor raise 1 & say someone like me is selfish? It’s quite obvious you are lucky. However; clueless & cruel to say that. Not everyone gets to choose or born into a good situation with support. Nor does everyone get out of poverty or avoid chronic illness most their life. Actually our species has about 12 years to slow down the warming of our planet. Cites are running out of water like Cape Town. Overpopulation is a very significant part of it. I have a friend who’s going to speak on it for a local group I organize events/speakers for. I could argue that having babies is selfish. It hurts you think I’m being selfish. By responsibly trying to help those here? By not adding to our climate crisis? By volunteering my time to bring awareness to others. Bc I do get to choose to be better educated. It’s disheartening how many people are selfishly only caring about their family. It breaks my heart that I’m frowned upon by individuals who think like you. Learn how to keep our planet survivable for the next generations.

    Reply
    • CarlZurri

      The p.o.s.who said that obviously is a misogynist who thinks women are just for fun and breeding and raising his spawn.

      Reply
    • Anna

      Lindsay, sounds like you are doing great things! :))

      Reply
  78. kyo

    I hate kids. never cared for them or to have any. people who don’t have kids live longer and happier. I see many people including some family members with kids who messed up their lives once they brought kids into the world. theyre miserable. some even got divorces. wedding was kinda too pointless then wasnt it?

    Reply
    • Mike P

      I want my money back from that wedding lol !!!!

      Reply
  79. Andrea

    John? Will you be my boyfriend ?because I think I’m in love. You are a smart guy. A curse really to be so intelligent in a deluge of stupidity.

    Reply
  80. Chloe :))

    i am screeching!john i love your comment XD

    Reply
  81. Mcolisi

    From a biblical point of view “Be fruitfull & multiply” as the words admonish show that God desired for the continuation of mankind.The ability for mankind to procreate is the blessing,not necessarily the offsprings themselves,I would say.Children are only a blessing if they will not bring reproach,heartache,useless strain,stress & strife to their parents.Let’s assume parent X births a disfigured,physically impaired l,mentally retarded & otherwise unrully,wayward child who struggles with school then later on abuses alcohol,drugs thereafter becoming a deadbeat parent themselves.Can we honestly say this child X was a blessing?.TO WHOM??Children are only a blessing if they have positive psychology.One should only have children if they want them ,not because of some vague call for ‘meaning’ one seeks to find,whilst the truth behind the births of such is just simply unprotected sex.A majority of children result from unplanned pregnancies after which some are forced to be parents.People should be fruitful & multiply,as supported by the bible,intentionally.Then their supposed call for ‘meaning’ would be genuine & not just a cover up for accidental pregnancies

    Reply
  82. Byron

    How about thinking of others first instead of ourselves? Raising children is actually not hard if you don’t think the sun revolves around you.

    Reply
    • Anna

      Thinking of others first instead of yourself? having children is extremely selfish. like the article said over and over, we have children because we think it will make US happy, did you not read any of the content?

      Reply
    • Lisa

      If you truly were thinking of others first instead of yourself you would have realized that when people have a baby they are willing to give the world to it. When you do give the world to 1 child you can no longer give your all to so many other things…world social issues, your job, your friends, your partner, elderly family members, etc. Sometimes people dont have a child because they are already giving to the world in some other profound way and they may even be doing it through a career! Without the people working in business you wouldnt have a stroller to buy for your child…you would have to build one yourself. Your argument that people dont have children because they think the world revolves around them is very ignorant. There are multiple ways that people make a social contribution outside of raising kids. The truth is …people have kids because they want to. Having a baby to care for appeals to them. You dont get to wear a badge of honor for being less selfish than ALL others just because you had a baby. There are numerous “less selfish” people that dont have babies. The selfish argument is really nonsense and its used way too much.

      Reply
    • John

      There are some really stupid ideas surrounding having kids. Your life is YOURS, the goal is to accomplish great things and to be happy both, but having kids to fulfill “personal meaning” is just mediocrity. It’s an acknowledgement that you really can’t contribute much else to the world, no great achievements, no great innovations, no great art, so you’re just content to pop out some offspring and kick the ball down the field. It’s also a ludicrous idea that you’re somehow this little martyr for having kids and “sacrificing” your chance at The Good Life out of some duty to society. Society, by the way, doesn’t even exist in any meaningful sense. It’s just a collection of individuals with their own goals and dreams, and each individual either somehow benefits your quest for happiness or hinders it. There is no reason for anyone to “serve” society. We are not slaves, society is not our master, you are master of your own self and your domain and as a thinking person have a responsibility to make the best logical decisions you can. Having kids is completely illogical on every level from an individual standpoint. Nature is just lucky some people are so stupid they have kids accidentally and are stuck with a miserable life.

      Reply
      • Allie B

        John, this might be the best comment on this subject I have ever read. Hahaha brilliant.

        Reply
      • Max

        Absolutely brilliant ?

        Reply
    • Corgnificent

      Have you (YOU – not your wife or baby momma) actually raised any children? If you thought it wasn’t that hard, you must not have put much effort in.

      Reply
  83. Leela

    Generation after generation have been conditioned to believe that meaning in life is a type of happiness and if one has no meaning then one has no happiness. As a caribbean woman on east indian decent i can tell you that we are pressured into believing such. I am almost 30 and unmarried with no children. I have been asked questions like what are you waiting for (as if it’s a matter of choice when you meet someone); and what are you living for etc….I have had so much pressure from women especially on this subject and been lectured on how happy and fulfilling such a life is etc but then come the complaints of such a life…as you say the paradox. I think people should choose what makes them happy and not assume that happiness and fulfillment has the same benchmark source for everyone else…

    Reply
  84. Emerson

    For me, pareting is strongly associated with the release of oxytocin, which is a type of happiness hormone, in addition to agreeing with colleagues about the meaning and value attached to pareting influencing the positive emotions felt. In any case, if somehow the parenting behaviors were not rewarded by our mammalian brain, our species probably would not have survived to this day.

    Reply
  85. Amadrio Joyce Opio

    This is so interesting! But what matters most is the value one attaches to what makes up happiness. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  86. nick

    Children are a blessing! No pain, no gain!

    Reply
  87. Noel

    To me a while ago I would say I agree with not having kids but now that I have them I can say that they give me so much joy and happiness that I did not experience before as they are a bless, I would say, but not everything is joy all the time there are ups and downs on trying to find or understand how to raise them. Happiness to me is a state that you build by yourself and not everyone is made to enjoy loneliness that is one of the reasons why many people get married and have children. I do see the beuty of both sides but just trying to be happy with what I have day by day.

    Reply
  88. Terry Branick

    I don’t like the name of your article. It caught me quite off guard. I have 5 kids and eight grandkids and they bring me much happiness, much pain, sorrow, love, and laughter. We need to take the bad with the good. If we weren’t so selfish, we would be happier in the first place. Momma used to say when I was down, “I’m going out to eat worms. I’m going out to eat worms. A great big fat one, an itty bitty skinny one, I’m going out to eat worms.” So people eat your freakin worms and enjoy it. “Suck it up,” as my husband would say. Life only happens once. Giving your life to others is the most wonderful Godly thing you can do. You were made by God, so give back to him what he deserves. That’s what’s wrong with this world. You left God out! Without God, you have nothing. With God,you have everything.

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      So people can’t give without believing in God? That’s just a false, dogmatic statement. I’m doing quite alright without any top-down explanatory systems to comfort me, thank you 🙂

      Reply
      • grace tse

        can’t agree more! And I think God is not a top-down system. God is in all of us and we don’t need to give anything back to him. To love is what we are born to do, but love inherently bring us pain and suffering (we grief for our loved ones, feel pain when people we love are in pain). Therefore the paradox is in life itself not just with parenthood. And feeling unhappy has got nothing to do with being selfish. Seph, thanks for a great article to offer a fresh perspective and points out this human condition which most people are struggling with and feel confused about.

        Reply
    • Charlie

      It doesn’t sound like you are living your life. You are living for God. I would be interested to find out if your children enjoy your company. Since you are so devoted to the Man.

      Reply
  89. Margaret Bennett

    Hi Seph and other Readers, it is refreshing to find some writing on this subject – a matter that I have had plenty of time to ponder. I am now 50 years of age and made the decision not to bring children into this world in my 20’s. I guess that I believed I had a choice, due to the example of my sister, who became a Catholic nun when I was 12 (she the only Catholic in our family). So I am on ‘the flip side’. For my high school peers, in the 1980s’, my impression was that as an adult getting married and having children seemed to be ‘the thing to do’. Sorry, but it wasn’t for me! I admire those who have chosen to parent greatly, and loved my own parents dearly (now departed). I enjoy being with children too, but have never felt the need to have my own – in my family this role has fallen to my big brother and his lovely wife, who now have grandchildren. My hope is that other women who have made this choice find their voices in coming decades, and that we hear more from academics and researchers about the outcomes and experiences of this ‘alternative’ group, who used to be called Maiden Aunts.

    Reply
  90. Lynette

    My husband and I decided not to have children, due to our age. He died 6 years after we got married. I never regretted not having children. Happiness is a choice that you make.

    Reply
  91. Johan

    I am 57 no wife and no kids, heeehhhaaaa I am an extremely happy person, and all knows me say the same. Do I want kids ? no definitely not, do I want a wife ? no no no no no no. Been there done it never again as long as I live
    why? then I will never be as happy as i am n now. I do not have drama, baggage, moaning and groaning and complaining, screaming, shouting. In laws that is more of a pain rather the pleasure. I do want I want, when I want, I eat what I want, I do not need to report to anyone. With kids, no way, love them was Godfather of 9.

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      To each his own Johan!
      There are plenty of other sources in life to draw meaning from, causes to spend your time and energy on and fulfilling activities.
      Research shows that especially people who are higher educated have less trouble finding other sources (than kids) to dedicate themselves to.

      Reply
  92. Rimi

    I’m 36 and still not sure if I want kids. We clearly have an overpopulation problem so not sure I want to contribute to that, and it seems like having kids is the “easy way out” to find meaning and purpose. No disrespect to existing parents here, just want to share a real perspective… Also seems like the desire to have kids is mostly ego-based and I wonder if the confusion around finding happiness is mixing the voice of the soul with that of the ego?

    Reply
    • kyo

      agree with all you said!

      Reply
  93. Didier

    Life is a paradox… Happiness is a paradox… and sure parenthood as well!!!
    I have 2 children but what a joy it’s to share Life with them like relatives, friends or even colleagues… ok sometimes it’s a mess and so???
    Enjoy life doing your best.

    Reply
  94. Dirk Le Roux

    Thanks, Seph. I agree 100%, but would like to ask the following 2 questions: One of the happiness peaks is “between the departure of the last child from home and the death of one’s spouse”. How would this period of happiness be influenced by the grandchildren when the grandparents live in very close proximity (say in the same house). Would there be a dip in this happiness period? My second question: Do possible future rewards not influence the current happiness?

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Very interesting questions Dirk. Not sure what the research says about this, but from what I’ve read and seen, grandparents are happier, on average, than parents. Living in the same house with a joint family has advantages and disadvantages. Some of the burdens can be shared among four adults for instance, instead of just two. On the other hand, the financial situation and how well the family members treat each other are very important factors as well. Hard to generalise, which is what I’ve tried not to do in the article as well by sticking to research findings, averages.
      Regarding your second question: that has to do with the cognitive abilities of the individual and the ability to delay gratification for instance. People who have self-control as one of their top strengths (which is rare) will be better able to let future rewards weigh in on the decisions they make in the present.
      Great stuff Dirk

      Reply
  95. sudarshana

    Quite a different thinking.. Good.. I love your writing.. yeah have gone through tough times.. sucks energy and afterall.. confused..? what is life..asking you for..?Parenthood paradox might be a little difficult to digest but I feel its the truth…

    Reply
  96. Ruth

    Brilliant article, thank you. At 70, with 2 children in their forties and now expecting my first grandchild, I can so appreciate the honesty and wonderful dose of reality here. Wish I had had this awareness 45 years ago! An antidote to all the striving for perfection and more, more, more in life. Keep writing!! 🙂

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Thank you so much for saying that Ruth. It means a lot.

      Reply
  97. Lynette

    This concept may not be applicable in the culture where I come from, infact if anyone speaks about the negative aspects linked to having and raising children they may be scorned and looked down upon.Though with changing lifestyles and careers, marriages and children have taken a backseat. As rightly pointed that it’s not about having children per se that leads to increased stresses but the expectations, the same being true about marriage!!!.

    Reply
  98. Constantinos skouroupati

    Great article!!
    it has multiple applications, and it enable us re-evalute our thoughts when we have doubts about our path in life

    Reply
  99. Sheetal khatri

    Great article Seph sir. For me as a mother of two kids very true. I really like this.

    Reply
  100. Bob Brotchie

    Excellent thought provoking insight, as ever, Seph – thank you.
    Do you think this other perspective might also be part of the equation? The negative impact of sub-optimal upbringing for those once children, now becoming (or not) parents? I recall when my first child arrived, I was devastating and completely distressed, without knowing why at the time. I’d always believed having a child would complete me, I think and of course everyone had said through my young adult life what a great Dad I’d make! I wonder how or if childhood emotional neglect was considered in research?

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Thanks Bob.
      Interestingly, I notice a lot of people are talking about their own decision to have kids or not in the comments and on Facebook. I understand that, but that’s not what the article is about. It’s about why people are so focused on personal happiness even though they would choose meaning over happiness. The parenthood paradox is an example of this phenomenon. I think it’s interesting to speculate about the reasons for this.
      To your point about sub-optimal upbringing, I find it hard to say anything in general about that. I’ve seen people flourish in spite of or even because of suboptimal upbringing (and I consider myself an example of this), and I’ve seen things turn out badly as a result of it.
      The problem is that people think that they shouldn’t have any problems. If that’s your attitude in life, you’re more prepared to deal with inevitable setbacks. Again, it comes down to people’s expectations and I think our Western societies set the bar way too high. This leads to a variety of negative outcomes through upward comparison, relative deprivation etc.

      Reply
  101. Terry

    Thanks for the article. I had six kids-2 of whom are under 18. I have about 6 years to go. I thought kids would make me happy and for the most part, they did when they were young. No one told me they would grow up and have minds of their own! Just kidding. I’m looking forward to that space between empty nest and end of life. But daily, I remain thankful which makes me happy. I’m a believer!

    Reply
  102. Robyn Walshe

    I’m with Elke! A wonderful mix of well-reasoned commentary on an age-old dilemma.

    Reply
  103. Jodie Cooper

    Great article Seph, yes I certainly wouldn’t have had kids if I sat down and thought too long about it. Thankfully I didn’t, and my two continue to frustrate me…. and bring me immeasurable meaning, joy and love.

    Reply
  104. Sibonelo

    Woooow I am really touched by the insight in this piece of writing. You have just taught me that happiness is not a goal to be aimed at but an experienced to be had where one is currently and as for that line, “it is not what life offers but what we believe it should offer that prevents us from experiencing happiness” it just stands out for me, it is so true I have noticed it many times.Thanks for sharing such, our minds need daily transformation because we are so imprisoned by them.

    Reply
  105. Jenn

    Totally agree. When we stay present and cherish the little things, life with kids is quite fun. When we try to keep up to the ” Jones” when we start to expect to much then it is easy to get frustrated. As a parent of three, one with needs, it is hard to stay in the moment and allow for unrestricted growth. To know that happiness is your choice.

    Reply
  106. Dorothy Farrand

    I found great meaning in this article. It explains what I’ve intuitively known but never quite articulated. Thank you.

    Reply
  107. henry

    From my point of view it would be a mistake if someone thinks having a baby could be a matter of happiness if we have a good understanding of what happiness represents. There is nothing in the world that will bring anybody happiness forever or unhappiness forever. Having a child is not the exception. In fact, having a baby is probably one of the most challenging things in life but not everybody will face it in the same way.

    Reply
  108. Lisa Sansom

    Well done Seph. I’m currently at the bottom of the U curve 🙂 Age, years married, kids’ ages – all right there. So I know it’s all going to get better from here! And for my kids too 🙂

    Reply
  109. sheng Li

    Seph, nice writing.
    It is really a paradox. Just as the path Budhha already taught us, we wish to go to the Moon but we grasp the fingers which lead to the Moon and even consider the fingers as the Moon.

    Reply
  110. Angelique

    The paradoxes of things…Truelly great food for the mind seeking either/ or. Makes me happy
    somehow…thanks (no children at 40…wondering if…)

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Happy to hear that Angelique!

      Reply
  111. Charles Abrahams

    I really enjoyed the perspective writing. We’ll done Seph

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Thanks Charles!

      Reply
  112. Bastiaan

    Good writing Seph. For me as a dad of 3 young kids (1yr, 2,5yr and 4yr) very true. Happiness is a mindset, don’t compare, don’t over expect and enjoy the tiny happy moments!

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Glad to see you got the gist of the article Bastiaan. I realise the title may provoke some strong reactions in people, but I think the moral of the article can in the end be seen as quite uplifting, or even as a relief.

      Reply
  113. Francisca Varas

    I just had a session with a father of new-born twins. the couple also has a 2 year old daughter. He feels awful about being angry and frustrated with his new living situation, not being able to sleep, relax, work, everything seems dark! The session was about The Here and The Now, bringing attention to idealization processes (they don´t have to be the perfect family!), bringing attention to their own needs as real human beings, bringing attention to their own needs and limitations, as well as being the “happy and completely fulfilled family because
    of the birth of a child. The article is perfect and in the right direction!

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Thanks Francisca. What you say is spot on.

      Reply
  114. Marcio

    I already have problems with all these: time demands, energy demands, sleep deprivation (potentially starting a vicious circle), work-life balance disturbances, financial burden.
    I don’t need a child to increase all those and make my life harder. Also, I would rather deal with problems that I got myself into than dealing with problems someone else got me into.

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Hey Marcio. If that is the case, it seems wise to sort those issues out before getting children. The point of the article is not too discourage people from having children though. The point is to make people think about their expectations regarding parenthood and about whether they really value happiness (in terms of positive emotions) over meaning. Most do not.

      Reply
  115. CRISTINA

    Thanks Seph, as usual your comments and reflections are very useful, blessings.

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Thank you so much for saying that Cristina.

      Reply
  116. Melanie McKinnon

    Well this is perfect. Exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you so much for your kind honesty. ❤️

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Anytime Melanie!

      Reply
  117. Elke

    Love your witty writing style Seph! Thanks for this one.

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Haha, thanks Elke 🙂 Hope all is going well with you!

      Reply
      • Anisah

        I always thought I would end up married with possibly one child. I’m now 39 and seem to have avoided commitments and even said no to getting pregnant to the love of my life. At the time I thought either the guys or the timings were not right for me… but upon deeper reflection I wonder if it has more to do with my upbringing. I was the eldest female of 5. My mother developed manic depression after my 3rd baby brother. She then had another one who was 16 years younger to me. I had to grow up fast and half my life revolved around looking after my siblings. Whilst I hated looking after my first 3 brothers, I enjoyed looking after my youngest and really devoted myself to him… (I think I did this because I felt guilt for not being a better sister for the first 3 brothers) I fed, clothed, bathed, changed nappies, did school runs etc. I watched super nanny to help discipline him and took him with me to my friends house, weddings like a mother would. He was an amazing kid and easy to look after.

        I enjoyed some freedom in my 20s… so I wasn’t dying to get married and breed like my friends because I was under no illusion of how hard it was.

        However, my life has become hell the past decade. One brother after another have become drug addicts. I felt the most crushed when my baby brother also went down that path. What did I do wrong? I tried to set the best example, never smoked, did drugs, went to uni, got a great job. They have stolen my mother’s and my jewellery, stolen thousands off me and my parents and I have had to pay off loan sharks threatening to harm my family. The emotional toll from their behaviour makes me wish I was dead.

        My eldest brother had a baby with another addict and now I’ve been half bringing her up too with my mother. I have had to call the social services but then I’m met with hostility. I don’t know what to do for the best. Perhaps there’s something wrong with me? Maybe I’m a parentified person and see my siblings as my children? Why else am I so invested in them? But how do I stop caring and living my own life? This is probably the real reason I am single with no children.

        Whilst I have created a good life for myself, a career and home and some really good friends… I find it almost impossible to be happy in the moment (at a party or holiday) knowing my siblings and now my poor niece are suffering.

        I suffered from guilt for many years as I believed it was my fault for the way my brothers turned out. But I understand I was only a child and there’s only so much I can and should do as a sibling. My friends don’t understand why I have wasted my life in their issues and to be honest, neither do I.

        Thank you for this article Steph. My mother still argues I should have children. I tell her, “but mum, why should I bother, when you already had them for me?”

        Reply

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