Childfree: So Are We, Deep Down, Feeling We Missed Out on Having Children?

by Britgirl on April 28, 2011

The comment below was left on an older post by a (I am  assuming)  a childed person on a childfree blog. Said person has quite a firm belief about some childfree people, which is, quote:

I firmly believe that some childfree people out there, deep down inside, feel they missed out on an element of life – having children. They will never know what its like to look into the eyes of a newly born, or newly adopted child. And that is the real reason for the bitter remarks they make online every day.

Most childfree people I know don’t have any regrets. Most chose to be childfree because they didn’t want children. But let’s imagine there were an element of regret… somewhere. Do people seriously believe that’s the source of “bitter remarks they make online every day?” I think not.  In fact, I’d hazard a guess that most so-called bitter remarks stem from having to put up with parents insisting anyone who doesn’t have kids will somehow regret it it. Or people who persist in asking when they are “going to have kids” or “why they don’t have kids.”

And after all, if a childfree person really wanted to suddenly have the pitter-patter of tiny feet, they can always adopt. And as many childfree people are aunts, uncles or have friends with kids there is plenty of opportunity to look into newly born babies eyes if they really want to.

They are just not that interested.

Your thoughts?

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Julie M. April 28, 2011 at 1:46 am
thebritgirl May 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Love it!

Mia April 28, 2011 at 4:00 am

Nice pic Julie :)

I’ll soon be an aunt, and I look forward to play with my little nice and buy her things. However, I don’t want to have kids of my own, and I feel comfortable with my life as it is now. I’m not bitter about this, I’m just enjoying the things that I have.

Fed up April 28, 2011 at 5:00 am

I’ve never seen any bitter comments from childfree people. As has been said, most of the bitter comments seem to be from those with children telling us we’re going to regret it etc! I would love to see some of these bitter comments that she mentions (I’m presuming it’s a she but I might be wrong!). Perhaps they are just reading their own bitterness into the comments?

Alex April 28, 2011 at 10:15 am

Absolutely right. I’ve never felt a twinge of any regret about not having kids; in fact it’s quite the opposite. We celebrated the day I got my vasectomy and haven’t regretted any of it for a second.
I’m not bitter at all about not having kids or towards people that do or their kids. It’s the “better-than-you” comments like the childed person left that make me bitter and feel the need to set the record straight with them.
But the comment itself is fundamentally flawed – why would people regreat a decision they could readily change (i.e. through having a kid or adopting, even later in life)? Sounds like a bit of reverse-bitterness; that parent is bitter because he/she now regrets his/her decision to have kids.

og217 April 29, 2011 at 3:41 am

This makes complete sense to me – why would anyone be bitter with regret when they can just go and have a kid?

Mark April 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

“They will never know what its like to look into the eyes of a newly born, or newly adopted child.”

That’s really stupid. I know exactly what it is like to look into the eyes of a newborn. I see newborns when I visit my friends who have new additions to their families.

Miss Fanny April 28, 2011 at 10:33 am

I hate being told how I should feel about anything, particularly about being child-free. All the pitying stares I’ve had when I’ve been forced to answer that I don’t have children – I can now add that I know I’m infertile and my insides are like a war-zone, and I’m happy about it all – and I’ve had to qualify my answer by saying that I don’t feel sorry for myself. Would I adopt? Jesus, I’ve had enough nightmares in my life, thanks very much!

Jenn April 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I’ve been guilty of the bitter remarks when I was younger and declaring my childfree-ness to the world at large (’cause I knew everything then, and gosh darnit, people needed to KNOW).

This theory sounds, to me, like when a parent sees their kid getting bullied and soothes them with a “they’re just jealous.” They’re probably not–they probably just think an opposite thing and are too full of themselves to grasp the concept of “live and let live.” I think bitter comments come more out of immaturity and conceit than regret. Mixed in with some frustration that people are constantly contesting their stance.

The “they’re just jealous” technique is just a coping mechanism for the person who’s feeling attacked. It doesn’t really hold much weight.

Robin April 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm

I’m trying to be a responsible adult by not having children. It seems to me so many people have children because they are afraid not to and because, well, they can. My husband has been out of work for more than 2 years and we’re struggling very hard with child support for his daughter from his 1st marriage. I can’t believe some still think I should have a child since I’m now 33. I would never do that to a kid. That’s all on top of my feelings that motherhood isn’t for me. I don’t know why people can’t see beyond a world of parenthood.

Chibi Jeebs April 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm

That’s horse pucky. What about all the parents who bury their regrets at having children? As my partner so eloquently put it, I’d rather regret not having children, than regret having a child – why on EARTH would I want to saddle a child with that kind of stigma?

The Pint April 28, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Actually, I take issue with the commenter’s implication that regret is something to be avoided or to feel bad about, and that feeling regret over not having kids = bitterness toward those who did choose to have kids.

Everyone has regrets – that’s life. So what? Should I let my regret over the fact that I didn’t keep up with my piano lessons despite having talent make me bitter and resentful toward musicians everywhere? Should I be nasty toward my best friend because she’s a fantastic painter and I chose to pursue writing and fire dancing instead of visual arts and now my paintings are clearly amatuerish in comparison to hers? No? So why for f*** sake should any regret I may or may not feel eventually for my decision not to have kids automatically mean I made the wrong decision and any comments I may make pointing out the pitfalls/downsides of parenthood are obviously based on bitterness and envy?

Feeling regret for a decision not made does not automatically mean you made the wrong decision. If one doesn’t feel regret at all after a life time of being childfree, great. If some of us do occasionally feel that twinge of regret, it STILL doesn’t mean we made the wrong decision for ourselves. Hell, I occasionally regret that I’ve decided to forgo the experience of having my own child, but no more or less than I regret the fact that I probably won’t climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or be a deep sea explorer or a Carnegie Hall concert pianist because of the decisions I’ve made in my life and the things I’ve chosen to focus on. I’ve just filled my life with other experiences that make those occasional moments of regret worth it, experiences that would not have been possible had I chosen to have a child. Given a choice between the life I have now and will have going forward as a childfree woman, and the life I could have had as a parent, I know I would have regretted choosing the latter FAR MORE than the former. Regret for not being a parent is something I can live with. Happily.

AnnieInVA February 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm

THIS! I’m fairly new to the blog and I realize this post is almost a yr old…but I started to think I was crazy! I think our society really shoves this whole “live life no regrets” thing down or throats…but I frankly just do not think that is possible. Someone who *never* has *any* regrets??? Please. And especially about a decision this big. I almost to the letter with you, The Pint. This is probably another reason why people can become so bitter; we’re not allowed to hold up our regrets and believe that they’re real. That’s a FAR cry from letting regret take over. It’s just healthy to acknowledge that sort of feeling. You think there aren’t at least a few times a week/month/yr that parents regret having kids? Again, please.

Patster April 28, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Life is full of choices, whether or not to have a child is just one of them. I have made lots of choices, good or bad but I don’t regret any of them especially not having a child as I could not have done any of those things with a child in tow.

I find you will always get nasty comments whenever you do or don’t do something that is considered the norm.

og217 April 29, 2011 at 3:44 am

When I’m 80, I will regret not having someone to yell at to come over and fix my TV for free. I suppose I’ll have to pay someone. Oh well. I can’t think of any other future regrets of being childfree.

Beth April 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I think what some people may interpret as bitterness could be frustration towards a community that is developed around children. It is frustrating when the first thing a prospective landlord starts talking about is the local school district and what a great town it is to raise children in. Yes, I do get a little snappy when all of the non-work related talk at work is about babies and pregnancy. I’m not bitter though, I just wish it wasn’t automatically assumed that I want children.

Lurker May 1, 2011 at 7:29 am

The biggest problem of being childfree is other people with kids.

The biggest problem of being a parent is other people with kids.

So what can I do to avoid the problem..?

EncoreBride May 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I’m so glad I found your blog, I too have no regrets, I’m proud of my decision and my choice of life!!!!

Piper Hoffman May 3, 2011 at 11:36 am

Being childfree brings me joy. I tried coming up with drawbacks and found only two: disappointed family members and missing out on some opportunities to make new friends. http://piperhoffman.com/2010/11/17/secrets-of-a-childfree-woman/. That’s it. Contrast that with all the advantages of not having children, e.g. the fact that I have no desire to have them, and it all adds up to no bitterness. http://piperhoffman.com/category/childfree/. It’s all sweetness and light over here.

Vinirtha May 4, 2011 at 11:32 am

I enjoy my childfree life. In my society, a childfree single adult is envied by others today. Comparing the customs; in the past, if a young woman is not married at 25, she’s called an old virgin, but today, no one uses this word of abuse. I’ve no regrets at all. Since young, I used to question; why must people get married and have children? I don’t want to have this normal routine; get married and giving birth. How boring!
I want to lead the life I want and I’ve chosen this it. How others envy childfree adults after they have children. They knew that having children isn’t as sweet as honey now.

Sandy May 5, 2011 at 11:18 am

So happy I found this site. I have five kids, all with four legs each and that’s how I’ve always wanted it. I laugh when parents think those of us childless by choice have hidden regrets about not having kids. I never had a maternal urge in my life–except towards dogs and cats. I have a few friends with kids, but don’t see them that often because they are always taking the kids to some activity or another. Kids in restaurants are my biggest peeve. I ALWAYS run into a screamer or crier or whiner! In most stores as well. In my state, smoking is no longer allowed in restaurants. Why not make the former no-smoking sections a no-kids section? I really would LOVE child-free restaurants and think if more people opened them they’d be packed constantly! I’d also love child-free shopping hours in grocery stores and child-free flights!

Vinirtha May 5, 2011 at 11:35 am

I like your suggestions; childfree restaurants,childfree section. Yes,those kids are always either screaming or whining in restaurants. And I don’t like seeing so many kids in a crowded shopping mall. Their parents push them around in the pram taking up so much space and adding human traffic congestion and expecting others to give way to them.

nerd May 6, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I read an article recently in a uk magazine, that was titled “mothers with small children – the most persecuted sector of society”
I mean, wtf??
Their basis for this headline statement was that some cafes and restaurants are not majorly receptive to their precious offspring, dont coo with joy at having babies in, don’t smile and rush to fetch hot water, or heat up the baby food they have brought with them, sometimes tut if the babies are screaming, and don’t all provide high chairs.
right.
I take offence to them claiming the above makes them the most persecuted in society. What about asylum seekers, or transgender people, homosexual people, the mentally ill, the homeless….nope, what they go through is NOTHING compared to someone tutting when your baby screams and not running to heat up the food you brought from home and did not buy on the premises.
If I was running a cafe I don’t think these types of mums would be my favourite customers, and I know that given a choice between two cafes i’ll take the one that isn’t full of screaming kids and toddlers running riot – if I am paying through the nose for a coffee and cake I want to enjoy it!
anyway, sorry for going off topic, I just wanted to share that with you all
Oh and no, I have no regrets over being childfree, it is a decision I am so glad I made.

Irishgirl May 7, 2011 at 11:25 am

My pet peeve is screaming children and babies in libraries. And the parents are always just giving a desultory “shh” and letting them run around screaming, knocking peoples’ bags over and bang on the computer keyboards. I once told one of them to stop talking and running, and got called the, uh, c word by the mother as she went over to “comfort” the child, who didn’t seem all that traumatised, TBH.

20something May 5, 2011 at 3:52 pm

LOL!!! Regret? I’m 25! I’m just so relieved to have found sane, antinatalistic people. I’m not concerned about “how I’m coming across.” My comments aren’t intended for a breeder audience!

20something May 5, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Lurker is correct!

Irishgirl May 7, 2011 at 11:21 am

Even if there *were* twangs of regret – which I doubt in most cases – what about people with children who feel the same way sometimes, at least sometimes?

I keep seeing and hearing parents, especially mothers, trying to keep each others’ spirits up by telling each other that OF COURSE it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and bored and to sometimes wish you’d never had the little brats.

All those reassuraces are what persuaded me that I didn’t want to have kids. Look at what people do and say when they’re temporarily either not aware or not concerned that people are observing them.

As a conservative childfree Christian – yes, we exist and we’re more common than people seem to think – I do sometimes get the slightly hysterical “you’re not a real woman, you’re not really pro life and you’re going to be a barren spinster!” lecture, usually from men with at least six kids and a wife who stays home.

Leaving aside the fact that I don’t want kids and being a spinster has always kind of appealed, it’s always struck me as more defensive and regretful than anything I’ve heard from childfree folk.

And sometimes people get “defensive” not because they’re unsure of their position, but because they’re sick of sanctimonious people getting all (passive) agressive on them. And sometimes people feel the need to get all (passive) agressive on people because they’re unsure of their own positions. The happy parents I know don’t have problems with the childfree.

pope suburban May 11, 2011 at 11:49 am

I haven’t ever really seen bitter. I’ve seen tired, harassed, and wounded by/excluded from family, though. I think most anyone would eventually crack after being treated badly, and that’s what I’ve seen. I’ve been really lucky in that no one has seriously questioned me in well over 15 years, but some of the stories I’ve heard are terrible. People getting cut out of wills, ostracized at work after people find out, harassed by in-laws to “live the right way,” and consistently called cold/selfish/immature/a failure. I think that would make anyone feel bad. The author of that quote is either blissfully ignorant, or trying to make his/her own bad behavior into the victim’s problem. I’m all for live and let live, but I can’t really blame anyone for just plain having a meltdown when things add up.

Leni June 14, 2011 at 7:27 pm

“And after all, if a childfree person really wanted to suddenly have the pitter-patter of tiny feet, they can always adopt.”

That does make it seem as if adoption is a somewhat trivial and easy process though… like saying “if i eat this pizza now and then get hungry later, I can always order another one”.

We do all tend to think (even if we don’t express it) that we know what younger people will feel later down the line, just as we all assume most criminals will live to regret jail, only some really don’t. I doubt many people would consider voicing this as wrong, and to most of society procreation is part of the deal so it’s understandably defended…?

Plus in all fairness there’s a whole bunch of Pscyhology theory surrounding both sides – and pandas are dying out because they can’t be bothered to breed, if you view humans as animals then it does seem to make sense for survival. After that it really does come down to choice alone – I don’t think either side should endure any criticism for making their choice, but it’s tough when you and your partner are a panda and a rabbit!

Leni June 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I should add here that I think calling people ‘breeders’ isn’t helpful… and I strongly believe everyone has a right to choice and shouldn’t be made to feel bad about it.

I do regret not having had a child when I was able, but I would never have classed myself as a breeder and I also was a nanny so had my fair share of dealing with other people’s kids which wasn’t all roses by any means. The thing with the cafes is obviously ridiculous – frankly I only took the kids anywhere public if forced to because it was just annoying, but then I find most people in cafes annoying anyway, not just those with babies.

Nobody ever said anything negative to me about me not having kids, but I’ve been guilty of saying plenty of negative things about people who did, and I said them when I thought I’d be able to do it when I wanted ironically… why do we need to declare ourselves ‘childfree’ or otherwise?

Treeves October 26, 2011 at 4:23 pm

As a response to your commenter, I would say there is absolutely NO WAY nowadays to “miss out” on parenthood, if we want it. We live in a pro-natalist culture now, where you can be unmarried, gay, older than 40, younger than 12, post-menopausal, male….it doesn’t matter. ANYONE can have kids. That’s like saying my neighbor dislikes my barking dog because she’s bitter that she’s somehow missed out on ever having a dog. Stupid. I’d go so far as to say that it’s the opposite: parents (like your commenter) are bitter towards childfree because they’re regretful about what they’ve missed out on life because of having children. You can take back being childfree, but you cannot take back a child.

Cynthia Wu November 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I love your blog and enjoy to read every comment here:) I too have a VERY STRONG will not to have any children of my own in my life. And I am pretty sure I am not going to regret it because no one knows myself more than me! But there is a huge problem between me and my husband. He wants a child in the future and I love him so much that I would not want to leave him for this disagreement. What should I do? Having a child of us without my complete love and blessing? What a poor child he or she will be….I am so sad!!!

Alex(thegirl) February 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

Just realised there’s another Alex. Sorry, mate. I’ll change my name a bit.

I’m going to be brutally honest. Occasionally, when I witness friends who are parents doing lovely things with their older children…watching them in school plays, or shouting encouragement to them in games….that’s when I think ‘OK, that’s something I can see myself doing’. But surely, one doesn’t need half a brain cell to realise that’s a minor part in raising a child. I would truly be selfish if I just wanted a child to validate those feelings. I KNOW I couldn’t cope with the other awful aspects of parenting, and more importantly, it’s still against my primary reason for being childfree; there are too many kids around, and I’m very concerned with the state of the planet; pollution especially.

Even if, deep down, my feelings were perhaps stronger on the subject; you must remember – it is SO much better to regret something you didn’t do, then regretting something you can’t change. If in doubt, don’t do it!

To Cynthia, above: Having a child means (or should mean) the full consent and understanding of both parties. It is not fair for either party to be bullied, coerced or tricked into a responsibility they don’t want and will resent.

Jai9019 September 6, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I’m a 52 year old, divorced, childless woman. I have a great career, wonderful friends, supportive family, active lifestyle. But – my biggest regret is not having children. When I finally decided in my heart I wanted a child it was too late. Yes it was my choice and I will live with that decision. I do love my life for the most part – but I have this small place inside of me that is empty and sad that can’t be filled. Don’t tell me to adopt (at my age), volunteer, etc. In this case I truly believe mothers and women who have this same regret understand how I feel.

Dartigen September 23, 2012 at 4:28 am

I see a lot more bitter and resentful comments from parents than from the childfree, personally.

When I do see bitterness or resentfulness from the few CF people around me, it’s usually directed at people who have been consistently nasty or intolerant of their decision, or consistently prying.

If they all walked a day in our shoes, they wouldn’t make comments like this. Discrimination hurts, no matter where it comes from, but apparently you’re not allowed to comment on how hurtful it is when you’re discriminated against for being CF.

(Given how much parents whine about how they’re supposedly discriminated against you’d think they would be a little more tolerant towards CF people (and all the other crowds that get discriminated against) because they’d have an idea of how hurtful it can be. Apparently not.)

Jeannine December 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I knew that coming back to Midwest from California after 40+ years was going to be a culture shock, guess I was just not prepared to be so confronted with the intense orientation to children. I listen respectfully to folks go on and on about their activities with children and grand children’s. What is so disappointing is there is almost no interest or ability to listen to what my activities in my life are providing me. Very one sided as if I must not have a life or it is so vastly different, there is no interest in knowing about it.

Guess I should keep to my own!

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