Childfree – How Do You Cope With the Pressure to Procreate?

These days very few people come out directly to pressure me into having kids. Wouldn’t make any difference if they did – it would be a waste of time. I’ve done quite a bit to remove myself from many images of kiddies and parenting, limiting any avenues for suggestions. I don’t watch t.v. and I don’t (as several disgruntled parents seem to like doing) go visiting parenting and mommy blogs.

One of the best childfree decisions I made was to live downtown. Not only is there so much else to do, most of the people downtown are single – or in relationships with no kids.  It doesn’t mean there are no kids at all, but certainly no daily reminders. A huge help.

However not everyone is quite as fortunate in being left alone to get on with their lives as childfree people.  A look at the number of bingoes they get is simply one aspect of this.  Sometimes the pressure to have kids comes from family members, sometimes it can be from friends, sometimes work colleagues, often it’s a more subtle pressure from society or other external sourced.  Since we see very few positive images of childfree people (although this is changing) everywhere to balance the overly pro-natalistic pressure from society, it’s easy to believe there aren’t many childfree people about – but there are plenty.

So what’s your view? Do you feel pressure to have children? If so, where does it come from and how do you deal with it? If not have you any tips and words for other readers?

Feel free to share your thoughts.

70 thoughts on “Childfree – How Do You Cope With the Pressure to Procreate?

  1. Mia

    After a while friends and family surrender, or at least they stop talking to you about babies. I really don’t feel any pressure know, but for sure that when i get home for holidays people will start questioning me. It seems that the holiday season is the perfect time to talk about babies.

  2. deegee

    Never got any pressure to have kids. Being single and male and 48 (now) helps. Having a family which respects the personal decisions of others also helps. My brother, 5 years younger than me, got married when he was 24 and did not have his first and only kid until 12 years later. I do not know if he and his wife got any pressure from his in-laws, though. Either way, he may have protected me from any pressure but it is not anything either of us would ever mention, as we are not very close. Our mother passed away 15 years ago, not that she was the type to bingo, of course.

    I’d rather they envy me for being retired for the last 3 years! :)

  3. Dana

    Right now all my friends are having babies. Some are cool about it, and some think it’s downright ridiculous that i don’t have baby fever. Instead of just smiling at their annoying comments, I’ve taken to giving sassy responses and telling them flat out that I don’t want to hear their comments, teasing or overall inappropriateness toward my decision. Sometimes they get mad. I don’t care anymore. I’m not telling them that they shouldn’t be pregnant because they’ll miss their freedom. I’m not telling them that their choices are stupid. They need to do the same for me.

    1. Samantha

      Wow! I wish I had your backbone! My family’s trying to marry me off in the hopes that I’ll soon after start having kids. Never mind that my sister already has one (she wants another niece..?), my 2 brothers have four between them, and there are three other little ones from a cousin. Nope, nor does it matter what’s best for me. I think I’ll take your approach and nip it in the bud.

  4. Valerie

    I feel pressure from friends and family, especially when doing any activity that seems maternal or domestic. It makes me not want to post about my culinary triumphs, or post photos of me with friends’ babies, because I’m so tired of hearing “Oh, you look so good with a baby!” As DH and I have been more open about our desire to be child-free, it has gotten better, though.

  5. Tabatha

    I used to get pressure from my mom even when I had no boyfriend, she wanted grandkids so bad that she said she’d raise it herself. but when she found out about my Essure she said she didn’t care she had accepted it years ago? I was confused, she said she just liked to tease me. bullcrap, she used to try and make me feel so guilty she doesn’t have any grandkids yet. I’ve got two younger brothers though she’s got plenty of time for grandkids. my dad doesn’t know, I expect some pressure from him if i get into another relationship before he finds out I don’t want kids. he was pressuring me and my ex a little to get married, that’s where most of the pressure came from before, b/c my family is pretty religious and my dad didn’t want us having babies out of wedlock, he didn’t know I had no intention of having babies at all. being single helps to get the pressure off. although now that I’ve found all these Childfree blogs and groups online I’m ready if the pressure starts up again. Before I just got used to people telling me I’d change my mind, now I’ve got my Essure bomb I can drop and see the look of shock and horror on their faces, I’m looking forward to it.

  6. Rose

    I avoid this kind of pressure largely by avoiding the people who would pressure me, and situations where this kind of pressure comes up. I almost never go to kids’ parties, baby showers, kiddy-themed events, etc., and visit with my own family and in-laws on neutral ground, like a restaurant or a hotel. (This also helps me keep some of the indefatiguable political windbags and religious zealots among them in check as well.)

    If some poor sod is unable to refrain from editorializing on the subject of my reproductive status even after it’s made about 1000% clear that I’m not having children, that person might as well be shoving me out the door, never to return. Too bad some people simply can’t keep their fool mouths shut on the subject, because the end result of their efforts is that I still don’t have a baby and never will, and now the pregnancy-pusher and I no longer have a friendly relationship. Nobody’s going to change my mind (or undo my snip, or grow back my cauterized endometrium) and I don’t feel obligated to sit there and let anyone browbeat me on the subject.

  7. Irish

    Here’s the thing: I like children. But for about an hour. And then I think: that’s me done. And I am so ready to go home and eat dinner with my partner/read a book/watch tv/play with my dog/sleep/make chutney (ok, sounds random, I see that). But I simply don’t want my 24/7 to be children children children. I see it from the outside and it’s not for me.

    Yet because I’m 39 people friends now have children and relationships shift because they can’t seem to sustain the ability to talk about non-child issues (work, food, whatever) – and the most irritating bit is when I’m in the middle of some profundity (8>) they break off and say “look, look, he/she’s looking at you!”. So, for me it’s not so much the pressure to have children or defend that – that’s a given, now, I suspect – but the pressure to mould my worklife, conversation and socialising around people with kiddies. It’s not talking about work because they’re on maternity leave. Not going for a glass of wine at a weekend lunch because we are in a kiddies’ play spot eating coffee and cake (endless bloody coffee and cake!!). Not being able to arrange a date in advance. Not giving a damn about my life because – suddenly – with children they are more important, fulfilled, contributing, socially acceptable. Sorry about the rant. But that’s the pressure from my end.

  8. ralgal0707

    Thankfully my parents are (quietly) supportive and my friends who know I hate kids are wise enough to not give me any grief about it. The biggest pressure honestly comes from men in the dating world….maybe not directly, but by refusals to go out with me when they see that my profile says “No” for “Wants Kids?” or who have stopped seeing me for no other reason than I am CF. The pressure to have kids is great when faced with the prospect of not ever having a partner because of my CF status. I have never liked or wanted kids and I know I will never change my mind…at 35, it’s almost a moot point anyway…but, that doesn’t mean I am not pressured by men in my dating age range who have finally decided to settle down and want a family.

    1. lisa

      “The pressure to have kids is great when faced with the prospect of not ever having a partner because of my CF status. ”

      Someone made an excellent point on this blog some time ago – in essence they pointed out that you’re not choosing between life without awesome partner or life with awesome partner and kids – your partner won’t be the same person anymore once you have kids. And YOU won’t be the same person anymore.

      I’m just about to hit 30 and I’ve noticed a lot of my friends and starting to get frantic about meeting someone “in time” to have kids. What worries me more is that I’ll finally meet someone who’ll be divorced after having kids ruined his marriage, and I’ll have to decide whether I can handle having kids around every other weekend and the emotional baggage that comes with divorce. So many men cave in – I want to meet someone “in time” for him to NOT have kids!

      I actually think being childfree gives us great freedom in our relationships. To so many people a successful relationship means it starts early and lasts forever. But if you get together early only for fear of infertility, and stay together only for the kids in spite of being miserable, is THAT a successful relationship?

      As for us – we have the next 50 years to meet the “right guy” – or to enjoy relationships with ten different “right for now” guys. If there are no kids you can have a romantic relationship for a time, then if/when you decide to, you can make a fairly hassle free transition to friendship. If you both feel that you gained something positive from the experience then it’s still a successful relationship! Love does not have to happen by age 35, or last until age 90 to be meaningful and rewarding.

      To the original question – my parents put me under the most pressure. Not a lot, but I know they worry about me not having kids and mum once said that she thinks it means she is a bad mother who complained too much when we were kids! She is a wonderful mother – the best – and the only thing she has ever done that falls into the category of “bad mother” is make that stupid, hurtful comment!

      1. lisa

        Oops – I said “my friends and starting to get frantic” – but I meant “my friends ARE starting to get frantic”

  9. Rick

    I’m pretty much in the same boat as ralgal0707. My family doesn’t pressure me anymore to have kids. The biggest pressure comes from the dating world. I want to say I wish women would understand that I mean it when I say I don’t want kids. They probably think I’m a fence sitter and that I might change my mind. In all fairness I’m doing the same thing. Most people that don’t have kids are fence sitters, I’m just hoping she’ll fall on my side of the fence. So I try not to be too bitter. I have yet to come up with an effective way of dealing with it that doesn’t involve alcohol.

    Dating and being CF can be a nightmare. Inherently the number of single, available CF people is smaller than the number of people who are simply single and available. The fact that I want to find a person that compliments me emotionally and ideologically AND doesn’t want kids can make the pickings very slim indeed.

  10. Melissa A.

    I don’t get pressure from my family or my friends really. If I did I would shut them down very quickly. I spend most of my time at home so I don’t have to deal with other random people telling me when I’ll have kids, such as co-workers. I’m sure when I re-entre the world of work I’ll have to deal with it again though.

  11. lisbet

    You know, my mother is the only one of her two siblings to have had kids, and my father has a childfree brother as well. It never occurred to me that it was an obligation to have kids, or to get married (although I succumbed to that one). I’m in Tokyo, where the low birth rate means there’s even pressure from the government for people to reproduce. But I see kids and the innumerable accessories and specialized schools that seem to go along with them here, and I immediately think of better things I could buy with my money. Like cappuccinos. ;) Or even underpants.

  12. nerd

    I used to get pressure from my family, just little comments about when theyd meet grandkids etc, but they know my views now and dont bother. My mother in law however used to lay on so much pressure, always telling us we should grow up, stop being selfish and breed, dammit! Always going on. Even when my partner got his vasectomy she kept saying she had read how it could be reversed, and what about sperm donors. I think she may have finally accepted it…however it could also be because my brother in law has recently got into a serious relationship and while he was always an on-the-fencer, all his new girlfriend seems to talk about is babies. How she loves them, can’t wait to have them, wants at least 4 and on and on. So that might be the reason we are getting less stick now!
    Friends…some just don’t get it at all. Making comments if I actually hold another friends baby or something like “oh, I thought you hated babies”, that kind of thing. And even ones that do seem to understand, when they have their own kids, suddenly start presuuring again. A friend who gave birth last week is constantly updating facebook and she sounds almost scizophrenic – her posts alternate between “oh my god thi is awful I am so tired, puke, poo, crakced nipples etc” and “oh this is wonderful, you all must do this now, everyone go get preggers” (ok, slight paraphrasing but you get the idea)
    I also think there is a lot of presure societally. I have noticed how the press will constantly refer to a woman by how many kids she has (actress x, star of yy, and mother of 4, or singer z, a mother of baby wibble etc), and the references in the media to childfree women as selfish, immature, or career bitches mean there is pressure all round. In my opinion anyway.

    1. Samantha

      “I have noticed how the press will constantly refer to a woman by how many kids she has (actress x, star of yy, and mother of 4, or singer z, a mother of baby wibble etc), and the references in the media to childfree women as selfish, immature, or career bitches mean there is pressure all round.”

      You know, I notice that too– “mom of 4 does whatever”, or “I’m a mom and I can….”– as if the greatest achievement for a woman is nothing more than reproducing. But it’s never that way for men; in fact, if parental status is mentioned for a man it’s an aside. &(*^%@g double standards.

      1. Scott

        What’s even more ridiculous is pointing out that a woman is a grandmother. Theoretically there could be some achievement in giving birth (I mean, it sounds like a nightmare to me, I know it ain’t easy) but you can’t make yourself a grandparent! That’s giving someone credit for something she had no control over.

        If the parental status really was just a neutral piece of information, then you would see famous people labeled as having “zero children” or I prefer to tell people I have zero children, instead of saying childfree or childless. To me, zero should be respected as much as any other number of children.

  13. Rhona

    I have made my decision to not have kids known to all my friends and most family members (that I see or care to talk to) and all seen to accept but one person. My mother will sometimes throw in a little jag here and there when I at least expect it. Just this past weekend during a chat about gifts for my sisters upcoming wedding shower, my mom said, “your sister should be buying lingerie for your wedding instead of the other way around”…not verbatim but close enough. I choose not to date (and have sex), get married or have kids and my mother just will not accept my decision. She is not as bad as she used to be years ago but she gets in her jags (I think in an attempt to guilt me into getting married and giving her some grandkids-not working) when she can. At this stage, I either just roll my eyes and not reply or give her the cold shoulder. It all depends on my mood.

  14. sophie

    No pressure on my end; but then it could also be because I spend zero time with the childed. I simply have no tolerance for conversations than run no deeper than, “she sleeps through the night,” or “she coughs up her food.” Yawn. I read 20 books per year, and refuse to downgrade my intellect, so I avoid breeders like the plague.

    1. HappyNow

      I love, love, love this. You have totally hit the nail on the head. Breeders are boring and do not want to become one.
      When my daughter was born 10 years ago, I went back to work after two weeks because I could not stand the other mommies. Bla. Who gives a shit if your kid is in the 80th percentile for size and sleeps five hours straight?

      1. Aeris

        …I totally agree! I find the breeders are the most selfish, as they extend this selfishness to their kids. Tey take the people around them as hostages and you can’t say anything because ”it’s CHILLLLDREN!”
        I am a painter and I don,t piss off people with the particular way this or that pigment is dripping.
        So PLEASE don’t tell me how and when diapers are dripping too!

        1. Lucy

          I hate those stupid mombies, sitting in their cafes with their prams wiffling on about birth and tit feeding and every other boring/disgusting story. I hate them. And dont get me started on breederbook, sorry, Facebook.

          1. Bree

            My boyfriend & I also refer to people with multiple children as “breeders” & it seems that is all they can focus on, or care to discuss. We are both 35 & have been together for 8 years, so of course most of our breeder friends are always asking when we are getting married because we are running out of time. Neither of us are in a rush because we have no plans to have children. I got Mirena last year to make sure! Just over this past Christmas holiday my boyfriend’s brother made a funny comment that justified our stance (he & his wife have a 2 year old and a newborn) he said “If either of you even question that you might want kids, just come over to our house where you can be annoyed all day, everyday.” Enough said.

    2. hannah

      Many people with children actually do read, and they read not simply for professional mastery, but also for ongoing intellectual and cultural stimulation. Whether one has children or not really does not determine whether one reads; rather it is the desire to keep learning that fuels the love of reading.

  15. Lonely

    I am a 26 yr old woman married for 2 yrs now. pressure of having a child is there from both our families. my husband doesnt want to have kids and live a lyf of his own…
    I wanted this when i was dating him but of late i have developed a sense of having a child. Still it is not that bad that i want to have it immediately… i have discussed it with my husband. But he doesnt seem to take it seriously. I am living alone with my husband wid not a regular job at hand and i at times feel very lonely, maybe becoz of this i want to have a child….

    Could you please help, how can i overcome this feeling of having a baby or develope a feeling of living a childless life.

    1. Valerie

      I knew a couple who always wanted kids, but they got pregnant earlier than they otherwise might have because the wife is lonely – she never sees her working attorney husband. They have two kids now, one is a handful and the other is sweet, but needs brain surgery this year. If you are bored or lonely, try a hobby or a puppy first.

        1. resi

          i don’t want to trivialize your feelings of wanting a child. when i say this i am only speaking from my own experience. i have never wanted children and i still don’t, but you say you’re 26 and i remember that when i turned 26 was the time that my body started to disagree with me on the matter. your body wants you to have kids and as you get closer to the time when it can’t it starts to play mean tricks on you with hormones. i can remember having thoughts of “maybe it wouldn’t be so bad”, and i’d get weepy and feel lonely, but i got through it and realized that it wasn’t what i wanted at all. i still get urges, but i am confident in my decision. i’m not saying you’re like me, only that it is something to consider

  16. Jenn

    I’ve found that moving downtown has helped relieve the pressure some, too.

    I get more offhand comments with the assumption that I’ll have kids someday than outright confrontation. I’m not super open with how steadfastly I intend to not have them, particularly to people like BF’s parents, my father, etc. Little things like, “And such-and-such will be great for your kids” from BF’s mom, which is intended completely innocently, so it’s not really an offense. We neither confirm nor deny, in those situations. No reason to fluster her by causing a ruckus over a throw-away comment.

    BF & I aren’t married (obvs, or I wouldn’t refer to him as “BF”), I’m sure the pressure will increase once that’s changed… for now, we hang out with mostly childfree people, so any pressure that does come about is usually squashed politely with an “It’s not for us.”

  17. Magenta Baribeau

    What really surprises me is when non-childfree people go, “What do you mean, pressure? Come on! We’re not in the ’50s anymore.” And I go, this is exactly why it’s surprising. Why do people care if we procreate or not? I still haven’t figured out to this day why it’s anyone’s business what I do with my uterus.

    I was on CBC radio the other day and you should read the amount of comments ( that generated! People kept calling this a “non-event”, that we shouldn’t try to come out and ask for respect because no one cares… I found this shocking. I wish no one cared! I wish people were OK with my decision. But that’s not the case. I am far from the “victim” type thinking everyone is out to get me, but whenever you put your lack of interest for motherhood forward (especially online), people start attacking you, calling you names. The worse one I’ve heard this far is that we’re “useless” if we don’t have kids. This truly hurt me. To have people pass jugement on other people like that. I would never call anyone useless, yet I am being called immature, selfish and useless. Ouch!

    Can I be a hippie now and just say, “Why don’t we try to get along and find some common ground?”

    1. Arcsis

      I looked over that article & saw that it contained a poll; none of the available options were really supportive of the couple & their picnic. Curious. O.o

  18. Jodykat

    Greetings from London Britgirl.

    Well yes, I did want children but it didn’t work out for me and I agree that the gap between parents and the childfree may look subtle to some, but it can be a tough space to negotiate sometimes.

    Now that I’m in my late 40s, people ask me less if I’m ‘going’ to have a family – but they still ask if I have one. Mostly I’m OK with that now, but I’d still rather talk about something else. It’s not the defining feature of my life. I couldn’t have kids. I tried. It didn’t work. I grieved. I’m OK. And in fact, now that I’m 47 and childfree, I’m neither blithe about the loss nor blind to its advantages.

    What I do think we need is more childfree role models. Women who are middle-aged, happy, fulfilled and rocking their life, whatever shape that takes. Women who are late middle-aged and still going for it. Wise old women who love kids, love life and love themselves. And who nobody ever asks anymore if they ‘regret’ not having kids because it’s perfectly obvious that their life choices and chances have worked out just fine.

    I started Gateway Women partly as a quest to identify and celebrate these women because sometimes I feel like I’m in a club of one. Nice to meet you Britgirl and love your blog.

    Jody x

    1. Chrissy

      I totally agree with you on the role model part. We need more assertive role models for women, of all ethnicities, whose sole purpose for living does not revolve around children. I’ll even take someone like Corinne Maier who has kids but at least admits they’re not the be-all, end-all to womanhood.

  19. Chrissy

    I’m a fence sitter at the moment, but only because of those societal pressures that are difficult to dismiss, even though I’ve never (from a young age) wanted kids. Babies are adorable, but only because I don’t have to take care of them. I would get so mad when people would say “Oh, you will want them when you’re older” or “Just you wait” when I pointed out some annoying aspect about children.

    Well, now I’m in my late 20’s and while I still have time, I feel the question is looming more than ever now that all of my friends are breeding. My lovely boyfriend was a little miffed when his friend (who just gave birth) asked if I was ready to become a mother and I freaked out on her a little with a firm HELL NO. He asked if next time I could be a little more subtle about it :) I guess I could, out of politeness, but kids are becoming a touchy subject for me because the more I think about it, the more I don’t want them but I’m also not blind to the fact that it’s not an easy choice to be CF either (as in, facing all the childed comments, etc.)

    I have noticed though in my search for CF commiseration that there seems to be much more support for the CF woman in Europe than here in the USA. Maybe I’ll move to Europe :)

  20. Xaviere

    Ah, pressure. As a 32 year old hetero married woman, yes, I have experienced pressure to procreate, particularly from my own mother and my MIL.

    I have found that reaching a place of peace in regard to my decision to be CF helps with pressure a LOT. Detachment! It gets a lot easier when I don’t take peoples’ thoughtless comments personally (who would have thought, amirite?).

    I personally have found with mothers (at least mine), it helps a lot to reassure them. Remember, most people who bingo the CF do it because of their OWN anxieties and insecurities. So, with mothers, it’s that panic-stricken “Is it because I was a bad mother?” Soothing my mother with the whole “You raised me just fine, I just don’t want to reproduce is all” has gone a long way in my case. Of course, this might not work for everyone (some of us CF people DID have terrible parents, and that factors into individual decisions).

    And I’m keeping some “helpful suggestions” in my back pocket with my MIL. The main one will be, if she gets baby rabid, to lovingly suggest that she look into volunteering at the hospital (perhaps testing newborns’ hearing?) so she can get a baby fix if she needs babies in her life that badly. In my experience, really connecting with the person and getting to the reasons behind the bingo are important. Of course, this advice I’m giving (showing the person genuine love and concern) is for when one is dealing with family and friends one actually cares about; stupid acquaintances and other assorted assholes (SA & OAA) can go hang for all I care.

    Hell, I will say that the most vocal bingo-ers are people who are insecure about their own paths in life, and they find solace in conformity. So they bingo like hell, because they cannot conceive of (heh) not doing what everyone else is doing. Herd behavior grosses me out, especially the Conforming Charlies and Charlottes who think it’s their job to bring nonconforming group members “back in line” using any means necessary. Pee on them, I say.

  21. Christine

    I’ve been in a very solid and happy relationship with my significant other for 7 years, although not married yet. We just turned 30 and we are already feeling the pressure from his family to start breeding. We haven’t even decided we even want to have children and his mom is already trying to give names to our non-existent kids. We’re not going to bother arguing with the childed because they will never see it our way. We just ignore the comments or change the subject.

    1. jennyjen

      Ooh. This could be my life. Been with dude for 10 years, married for one. At our WEDDING last year Mum-in-law (love her) drank a few too many lychee martinis and literally badgered me at my reception about how she has been waiting TOO LONG for more grandchildren. As we have a pretty cool relationship I simply guided her to my sticky, overtired, filthy little nieces and said: “Now don’t be greedy! You already have these two!”

      She laughed, she got it. But I have to say the ‘baby bedlam’ rant is in no way slowing down. She wants more, damnit.

      So I tried to have an honest, grown-up chat about it, going over all of the reasons over the years that I have discovered why we are happier childfree. And why we will stay that way. All she could say was a dismissive; “Oh, you’re just over thinking it.” WTF? I got irritated and replied, yeah, you know…over thinking might be the problem. Maybe next time we buy a house we’ll just do it sight unseen. Why waste time researching a life decision? Or a holiday even, hell, we won’t think about it, we’ll just chuck some money at it and hope for the best. Car? Eh, just hand me the keys to whatever is on the lot, I wouldn’t want to think about it too much.


      As I gently tell the most rabid of the bingo-ers, I have put more thought into NOT having children, than most people ever do before going “what the hell, we’re bored, lets procreate!”

      I think about NOT having children all of the time, and I carefully weigh my options, the pros and cons, the financial implications, etc. The exact same mental chewing over that almost all childfree people do. I don’t hate kids, I don’t even not like kids, I have just CAREFULLY thought, and discussed with my partner a great deal about why this is the best choice for us.

      What is wrong with thinking something through?!

      (I can answer that…and it is wrong to the person who doesn’t share your view…but I digress.)

  22. Jonah Green

    I find myself in a very difficult situation indeed.

    I met my girlfriend when I was 20 – I’m now 27 – and I made it clear that I didn’t want to have children. The very thought of having a child, particularly so young, didn’t seem remotely appealing. Plus I could never understand the ‘will-to-have children’ which other people around me, mostly women, seemed to have. I do not reject their desire to procreate. I just don’t entirely understand it.

    In any event, must of my time is spent on human rights issues and I love the work that I do. I know that having a child would make this extremely difficult and complicate the other goals that I have set for myself in the future. In spite of this, and in spite of my honesty in making my girlfriend aware that I did not want children, she is asking me to change my mind.

    She, for some reason unbeknown to me, thought I would change my mind and develop a sudden desire for children. I think she felt she could ‘change’ my mind and, by getting close to me, show me ‘the light’ so-to-speak. Yet this would, in theory at least, require that I cease processing reality in a particular way and entirely view things the way ‘she’ wants me to – thereby abandoning my own independence of thought (something I value more than anything in the world).

    I honestly don’t know what to do at this juncture. Even though I care tremendously for her and would do anything to please her, I feel that the joists are moving. I feel that our relationship, because of mutually exclusive wants, is beginning to fall apart. For my own selfish part, I wish she would drop her desire for children. I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I say it as I love her in every way possible. Equally, I know she wants me to ‘want’ children and to give up my other pursuits for the sake of a relationship on her terms.

    I don’t know how this is going to end. I try to stop debates about children head-on and she has pressured me into at least ‘thinking’ about having children. But the more I think – about the years of care, nourishment, sacrifice, that go into having a child – the less I feel I want to have one. I honestly don’t know what to do. Any advice is greatly appreciated,

    1. deegee

      Jonah, I hate to say this, but you and your girlfriend will have to split. Whoever caves will end up feeling bad while the other other will (should?) feel guilty.

      You need to set her free so she can find a man who will want to have kids. And she needs to set you free so you can find a woman who is childfree like you are.

      You two have an irreconcilable difference, a dealbreaker, which has only one outcome – splitting up.

    2. Jackie

      I think deegee is right.
      If you had children, your life would change beyond measure. For some people, this is a something they want. For you, this is NOT what you want. You would end up resenting her for pressuring you into having children and many couples split up after having children as their relationship has changed dramatically. You really need to sit down with her and tell her EXACTLY how you feel, and how you will not change your mind. You have to be frankly honest with her, as this is *your life* and having a child will change your life forever, there is no going back. At the end of it, this is about a not-even-yet-conceived foetus, and you can walk away before it’s too late. This will be very hard for you, for you both. She may hate you for it. But you will eventually get over her, you cannot put a child back. There are many women and men who were pressured into having children and regret it and hate being a parent. There are many blogs out there testament to this, just google it. You will then eventually meet someone who is like-minded, and there are more child-free women out there than you think.
      I find it bizarre that many women (and men) put the life of a not-even-conceived-yet-foetus ahead of their partners happiness, but that might just be me and my non-maternal thoughts.

      1. mary

        Jonah, I went through this. In the end we split amicably and remain good friends. It hurt at the time, but you get over these things.

        We split up a year ago, and the other night I was reading my diary entries from that time. And the months before. And the years before. And guess what, I am FAR happier now than I was for the last YEAR of our relationship, because I spent it thinking and worrying and second-guessing and feeling guilty for “getting in the way” of his life. I thought I wouldn’t be able to live without him, but it turns out I now have a really great friendship with him, without all of the agonising confusion that we had when we were together.

        My advice having been through it is this: end the relationship while you still care about and respect each other (ie before it gets bitter and horrible). You will both eventually move on and you won’t look back.

        Big hugs. I remember how much doubt I was dealing with this time last year. It’s such a relief to have it behind me. Good luck and try not to argue about it – just talk. :)

        1. Scott

          Everyone else has had great advice and put it better than I ever could.

          I would just add that you have reproductive rights. That includes the right to decide within certain parameters whether or not you will be a father. (I say “within certain parameters” because if you get someone pregnant it’s out of your hands by that point, obviously.) Your sperm belongs to you. Your reproductive status is up to you. You have the right to resist reproductive pressure. You are under no obligation to make a baby with anyone. If you are with a partner who acts threatened when you assert your rights to your own reproduction, then that partner is crossing the line into claiming ownership of you.

  23. digchild

    A married couple who chose not to have kids should not be pressurized into having kids.This is because they could end up as terrible parents and blame others for the bad behaviour of their kids.

  24. MightyPutty

    1. I have a Queen sized bed all to myself

    2. I have money in my wallet that no one takes

    3. I can stay up as late as I want, eat over the sink, play video games, jerk off without worrying about disease, kids, etc

    4. i have best friends and a cat I live with and am never alone

    5. I am seeing a lovely transgender who knows what a man wants and needs without having a kid (why I didn’t date one earlier is beyond me and she looks like a girl, yes I call her a she because that is what she feels to be obviously)

    6. I can hear out of my ears without screaming in them from a wife or kid

    7. I can swear freely if i am really mad

    8. I can spend a whole Saturday watching college football instead of shopping at Babies r Us

    9. Money goes to bills and entertainment and not bills and food kids will never eat

    10. Let’s sum it up in three words. I AM FREE.

  25. Jackie

    I’ve never really wanted children, nor has has my partner. Years ago, when asked about children, I used to say, “probably not” and avoid further badgering by being vague. But now that I’ve been “bingoed” for over 10 years, I’m now used to it and am far more honest and forthright about it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s mine and my partners business and no one elses. Over the years, the questions have got more and more condescending, dismissive and personal, down to asking, “What would happen in you got pregnant by accident?” and my answers have been more and more honest. I’m never rude, and would never question someone else’s choice to have children, so why do “they” question *my* right to chose to be child-free.

    1. Tabby

      My favorite way to counteract the ‘accidental pregnancy’ gambit is to say, “Yanno, that’s hard to do when you’re STERILE.” Now, to my best knowledge, I’m fertile. But the bingo player doesn’t need to know that, now do they? *insert evil grin here* It’s more to make the point that the other person is being rude by inquiring into a very personal area of life. If they continue, I simply say, “Look, you’re annoying as hell. I don’t have to explain myself to you, so stop asking and get on with life.”

      Yes, you can say it: I’m an acerbic bitch. I don’t mind; I was born this way.

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  27. Bunny Harriet

    I am nearly 24 and have been with my boyfriend for 7 years. Even at my age I’ve had the probing question, “when are ya havin’ kids?!” when I say I’m not having a kid because I have chosen to be childfree I get one of many responses:

    “oh hahaha, I used to say the same thing when I was your age! You’ll change your mind. It’s so different when they’re you’re own.”
    “No really. You’ll change your mind.”
    “I actually didn’t think I wanted kids either but now that I’m a mom I am so grateful. It is so amazing.” (this was from a woman with a 16 month old who has free childcare for 49 hrs a week compliments of grandma and the kid is a SAINT. My point is her experience is atypical and I know she started Paxil just a few months before).
    “you’re too young to make a decision like that!”

    I love when someone says I’m too young. Why do people support teens and young adults in their decision to have a child but won’t support my decision to NOT have a child. It’s so backward.

    1. Scott

      One counter I’ve heard of but haven’t had the chance to try yet:

      If someone says that you’ll change your mind, challenge him or her to wager money on it. Say you’re willing to draw up a signed document about it and everything. “If you’re so sure I’ll change my mind, then you should be fine with betting $500 that I’ll have kids. What? You won’t bet? Are you thinking that maybe I WON’T change my mind?”

      Supposedly the people who have countered with this have never gotten any takers. What does that say about hte bingoers?

  28. resi

    i deal with the pressure by understanding that the people pressuring me are not happy with the decision they made to have children. if they were comfortably and happy with the decision they made to have children they would not be bothered by or care about the fact that the decision i have made is different. they don’t want to consider being child free a valid option that can lead to anything but misery and regret because they are miserable and filled with regret. people that are happy with their lives, families, and the choices they’ve made don’t bother trying to make you feel bad about your own choices.

    1. Scott

      Totally agree with you about other people projecting. People who give you bingoes or pressure you into having children are probably not listening to you. More likely they’re working out their own issues, or they’re talking to some fictional character they think you are, or they’re trying to convince themselves. In many cases, they’re not really thinking at all but just reacting based on a script they don’t even know they’re following. Some of them may be genuinely happy to be parents but they just don’t think outside their own experience very well.

  29. Jerry Steinberg

    The pressure to bear can become unbearable!

    People should just mind their own business, and not pressure their friends, their children, or even their spouse to have children. Would you think it’s OK for someone to force someone else to become a neurosurgeon, a bus driver, or a ballet dancer if that person had no interest in that occupation? The same applies to the career of parent.

    Besides, if you find that your chosen occupation isn’t a good fit, you can always change. Parenthood, however, can be a life sentence — you’re legally responsible for those kids until they’re adults, and morally for the rest of your life.

    The person who will have to live with the consequences of a choice should be the only one making that decision.

    Jerry Steinberg
    Founding Non-Father Emeritus of NO KIDDING!
    The international social club for childless and childfree couples and singles;

  30. Aeris

    My gosh it feels so good to read you guys. I am a 30 years old woman living in Montreal -salut Magenta!- and I am a hardcore childfree. My family is just fine with this, as they know me. I’m a free artist and my children are my paintings and my cats.
    The pressure comes from my boyfriend and my in-laws. They are portuguese and for them, family is evrything, if not the only thing.
    I’ve been trying to tell my boyfriend (that I love deeply) about this, but he just doesnt believe me. He says that a-woman-wants-to-be-a-mother-period. He totally brushes away my feelings saying ”for now I’m not ready and by the time I am you’ll have changed your mind”.
    Now he casually drops (more and more often) that HIS son will do this, be like that, that HIS children won’t go to daycare, that when he’ll be a father he’ll do that, blablabla….
    It’s hurting me more and more and I lately discovred it’s ruining my feelings for him.
    I am even feeling less and less attracted to him…
    I really don,t know what to do :-((

    1. Sakura2209

      If he is like this towards you and not respecting your decisions and thoughts, than he is not worth it. You deserve better. Cliche but true.

  31. Scarebear


    Suggesting volunteer work is a good idea. I may try that with my baby-rabid MIL. When we were dating, DH told her we weren’t having kids and she grudgingly accepted (though she did pout and whine for quite some time). Now that we’re married she seems to think there was a statute of limitations on that decision and that we are going to change our minds. I am considering telling her to look into being a foster parent, or volunteering at the children’s hospital, but what is a good way to say that in a loving manner?

  32. Leslie Brooks

    Oh God yes! I have never been kid friendly. I mean I love my nieces and nephews very much. I just never had the maternal instinct and never heard the biological clock ticking. It just never mattered to me. Then my mom got sick and the thought of having a child plus take care of my ill mother just would kill me. Then last year I got a partiel hysterectemy but oddly enough that still hasn’t stopped people from asking if I am ever going to have children. My neighbor and I get into horrendous arguments about whether I should have kids. I tell I can’t, literally can’t have kids she now wants me to adopt. No matter how many times I have told her I don’t like children she has a response (she has two children and can barely take care of her own kids). Finally I just quit going to her apartment because I got tired of argument.

  33. Marcia Drut-Davis

    Love this blog! It answers the FACT that there’s still a need to support those who enjoy childfreedom. So many agents and publishers have told me the topic is “outdated”. If you feel there’s a need to read a memoir of an almost 70 year young woman who has spent a lifetime swimming against the stream, lost her job after being on “60 Minutes” and now is reflecting on that choice she made in 1974, go to my site and ask to be on my waitlist for my book!!! I need all of your help and support. Let’s show these publishers that pronatalism still lives and although there is a choice, it’s rough to announce it.

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  35. Kate

    I don’t really feel that anyone in particular pressures me – just society in general. In the town where I live (in British Columbia, Canada), it seems like all people in my age group (30’s) are having kids. Most of my friends have spent the past five or six years trying to find their dream job or get established in their careers and then once they attained that they seem dissatisfied and then they get pregnant, as if they are just moving on to the next thing to accomplish. It makes me feel uncomfortable that nearly everyone in my social circle has taken this path, although I don’t really feel pressured to do the same since I have known for a while that I wouldn’t be having any kids. Up until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure how to deal with my frustrations, so i have started my own site/blog, which seems to be helping quite a bit, along with reading others blogs on this topic.

  36. digchild

    I know of my neighbour who is being pressured by nearly everyone around her to have more sons.She has a son and 2 daughters,yet she has succumbed to this pressure and is trying to have 2 more sons.I don’t understand why initially people are pressured to have kids,then later they are pressured to have more sons if they don’t already have at least 2 sons.I mean,having daughters isn’t a sign of infertility and neither are daughters worthless.

  37. Dawn

    I don’t feel pressure to have children, but I do feel a bit ostracized by my friends who do have children.!

  38. Christy

    My husband and I lost our daughter to still birth and before that a set of twins to a horrible miscarriage. I had been told that I was sterile so the twins were a shock, afterwards my mother passed and we succumbed to pressure and hormones and attempted to have a child. Since then, we have decided to become child free. Nothing irritates me more now than MIL who I JUST met is already poking us about children and posting cute things on facebook because “Oh my gosh I may actually have grandkids.”…. she can poke his sister. We’ve worked damn hard to have this nice house, nice car, I like my designer bags and clothes, money I don’t have to spend on children. I love my career and my two pomerainians, who I dress up and carry everywhere. They’re better behaved than 90% of the kids you see out today. I look forward to her openly confronting us about our decision.

  39. Allendo

    I have a friend whose 9 yr old daughter is constantly manipulating her. My neighbour looks worn down and isolated by her uncooperative two yr old. My sister’s 13 yr old son took off to another state to live with his father. Most of us know the impulse to run when we hear the squeal/scream/squawk of somebody else’s kiddy and how people can bring themselves to cooo over the slimey, crumpled look of a bawling newborn is beyond me. The stories are all around us, the spectacle of human beings, in particular “mums”, reshaped into the dribbling vassals of their consumer offspring is in plain sight. Yet, now 43, I have a hole in my life that might only be filled by one of those crumpled, bawling bundles. Although in a relationship for 20 yrs, my age and lifestyle make that a generally uncomfortable and unworkable thought. My mother died 12 yrs ago, leaving the hole I now feel. My gripe is the emphasis that people place on their tribe, their own gene pool. If people could make connections with others that were independent of whether you looked like them or not, fed directly into their primitive sense of self, the need to breed wouldn’t be so strong and the world would be a warmer place. Instead what I get is people, mostly women (mums would’nt you know ) defending their tribe and competing with you, as an example of CF living, for psychological sustenance. You know the jibes, the back handed comments, the ones that denigrate what’s important to you. What’s my escape route? How do I find contentment living amongst the mumma bears, as we all have to do. I tried hanging out with lesbians and dog lovers but that appeared starkly to me one day as a crusty and dried up way to live. What to do? What to do? That is my dilemma.

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  41. Katamari

    You bet I feel the pressure! My dad has been bugging me about giving him grandchildren since I was 20 years old (I’m 26 now). My best anectode about this is when I went to visit him with my boyfriend (dad lives overseas). On a day trip, my bf took a funny photo of me in a wind tunnel where the wind billowed up under my dress and made my tummy look big. When we got back home to Australia, we looked through all our holiday snaps, which is when I realised that my dad, in sorting through them, had decided to title that particular photo “unfortunately not”. And that’s subtle compared to some of the rants I’ve gotten from him.

    I’ve learned not to take it personally at all. I know he’s only fixated on this issue because he hasn’t had a very fulfilling life; he’s essentially a bag of neuroses, anxiety and depression, and he thinks that having grandkids would solve all that. My mum, in contrast, doesn’t feel the need to pressure me because she is happy and satisfied in her life and doesn’t need to live it vicariously through me. (Parents have been divorced for a long time btw.) When people pressure you about having kids, it’s never about you. Case in point – my neighbour has just had a baby, and has also recently taken to being very pushy in trying to convince me to have kids. I’m pretty sure he’s trying to convince himself. :p

    When I get pressured to breed, I feel pity for these people who have unresolved anxieties that they are projecting onto me. They’re not worth my anger.

  42. Lauren

    I feel like people think I’m selfish for not wanting kids. It makes me self conscious around those people. But I firmly believe no child should have to be raised by someone that isn’t crazy about them. It wouldn’t be fair to the child…how can that be a selfish thought?

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