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desiree333's avatar

How did your desire to have, or to not have children change with time?

Asked by desiree333 (3206points) August 22nd, 2011

I always say that I never want children because I can’t relate to them or talk to them. I always feel awkward around kids and don’t know how to talk with them at their level like you see parents do. I also dislike the way they are always dirty and sticky and throwing tantrums. You never know though, things could change.

Did you want children originally but then changed your mind? Never found the right time to get pregnant? Realized you were infertile? Did you never want kids but then had an unplanned baby and realized it’s what you wanted all along?

What was your experience?

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27 Answers

ddude1116's avatar

I’m not old enough for it to be a consideration, yet, being still in high school, but my a few of my cousins recently had kids and I’d help watch them sometimes, which turned out, much to my surprise, to be a lot of fun. It’s really interesting watching as they age, it’s shocking, really. After that, I decided, as a complete turn in my thoughts, that I wanted to have kids eventually. Even now when I think of life as a teenager, my life in general, I occasionally think of and write about what I’ll say to my kid when he/she is the age I am, now.

Kardamom's avatar

I knew from the time I was about 3 years old that I never wanted to have children. Although I did and still do want to get married. I’m in my mid 40’s now and the not wanting children has never wavered, in fact it has gotten stronger. I now have a beloved 5 year old nephew, and I love him so much, more than I ever thought I could, but it still has not changed my mind about myself not wanting to bear and raise children.

I’m kind of like the OP, in that I find children to be very sticky and loud (at inappropriate times) and I don’t feel like I can relate to them. Sometimes I feel like I have almost infinite patience for things like traffic and irritating, non-stop talkers, but with children I have a very short window of time in which I’m able to tolerate them. God, I feel sorry for the people that had to deal with me when I was a little kid, non-stop pleader/whiner with lots of fears, phobias and insecurities and wanting to fit in and do things with the big kids (but often shunned). I like some kids (but not most) a lot for very limited amounts of time, but I would become suicidal if I had to deal with them on an every day basis.

For me, having children is simply a romantic notion. The idea of bearing my SO’s children and having them look like him and being smart and creative and quiet and disciplined. And I’d give them beautiful names like Evangeline and Friedrich. But then I sit back and think to myself, none of that is realistic for me. I can’t stand screaming and tantrums and disruption and lots of dramatic changes and dirty, smelly, sticky, grabby, pinching, biting, hair pulling, sullen, selfish, mean little brats who think that McDonald’s is their right and that everything that I hold dear is meaningless and stupid. I can’t breathe!!!

On the other hand, I absolutely love animals, relate to them completely and feel like I could not live happily without them. And I don’t mind cleaning up poop and pee pee and vomit off of the carpet. Because with animals, they seem to appreciate the effort. And although they might occasionally be a bit over-ripe, but they don’t reek and I’ve never patted a sticky dog or cat and I’ve never, ever had one throw a tantrum. And I’ve never heard one dog or cat scream, “I don’t have to do what you say, because you’re not my mom!”

Guess what, kiddo? Yes you do, because it’s my house!

sakura's avatar

When my daughter was about two I was really broody for a second child, but my husband and I decided not to have another because we couldny afford it. But I really wish we had done now, because I am sure we would have been able to survive, looking back. Now my daughter is nearly 13 and I am still young enough to have another (33) but my husband is 42 and he thinks he is too old! I do feel very broody all the time and I have just found out my big sister is going to have her 3rd child in very difficult circumstances…got.out of an abusive relationship 2years ago with two beautiful kids, started a new relationship 6months ago! Ex partner being a pain! And think if she can do it why cant I? I live in a beautiful 4 bed house, happy, stable, both of us have good permenant jobs? Then I think, we also have more of our own time back because our daughter is more independent, we are not tied to feeding and nap times, I can leave the house in less than 5 mins with phone and keys if I need to! So it is really difficuly, my mind changes everyday!! I do sometimes regret not having another closer to my daughter when I had the opportunity, but not sure if we would have done all the things we have done if I had!!

chewhorse's avatar

I’ve never had that problem, always wanted kids.. Just talk to them the way you’d talk to others.. They don’t really relate to baby talk.. You talk to a kid like an equal then they will respond differently.. Can’t help you with the dirty, sticky and throwing tantrums… that has to do with the parents and their responsibilities.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

It didn’t, I just try to change it sometimes. I have always wanted a child. It really isn’t in the cards, so sometimes I tell others, and myself, that I don’t want biological children. The whole facade usually crumbles into a little pile of jealous dust when someone I know has a baby, but at the same time, sometimes it makes it a little easier.

pezz's avatar

As you get older, your tastes change. I still like kids, but I can’t eat a whole one.

rooeytoo's avatar

I never wanted them, never had them and never regretted the decision. Other people’s kids are fine, I just never had a desire to have my own. However, growing up I assumed I would have children one day but when I was in my early 20’s I met a childless couple who worked together and were very happy as they were. It opened my eyes to that alternative. I had never considered not having them because in my generation, no one ever questioned having children, you just did. I am forever grateful for myself and unborn kids, that I met those people.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I originally didn’t want them, then in my late 20s I got smacked with an irresistable biological urge to have one, so I moved heaven and earth almost literally, I was single and infertile to have KatawaGrey. I’m glad I persevered.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It’s comforting to hear that other women have never had that strong urge to have children, too. In my younger days, I just assumed that I would have them. Then I decided that there was no way that I could pull off being a successful parent on my own, like some of my friends have done.

My SO and I met when we were in our mid 40s. He has never wanted to have children, so our discussion lasted less than five minutes. Interestingly, we have discussed opening our home to his young nephew, who is very unhappy with his family and lifestyle in another country. We were both in agreement on this as well…make the offer.

@JilltheTooth We are glad you did as well.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@JilltheTooth I’m sure she’s been more than worth it!!!!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Interestingly enough, my husband and I were just talking about this yesterday as we were discussing whether it’s a good idea to have a 3rd child. I’m a lot more for it, he’s a lot more cautious and I think I’m going on impulse and he on practicality. When I was younger, I never though I’d have two babies in my early twenties or that I’d want 4 kids, in general. I realized that it was because of him and the children we have that I want more kids. I want more kids with him, whether they’re ours biologically or ours through adoption. He was looking at the bigger picture, 20 years down the line and whether we’d be able to build a cabin someplace or own a farm, actually and if we want to still be raising kids. My answer is yes but of course I have to hear him, as well and so I think we’ll cap it at 3.

nikipedia's avatar

I guess I always thought when the time came, I would either start wanting them or realize that it’s not for me. So far I still don’t have strong feelings either way. I don’t feel a compulsion to have my own. And I hate the idea of being as terrible a parent as my parents were. But I love other people’s kids, and my current partner wants them badly.

Facade's avatar

I’ve never wanted children. When I was younger, my reasoning was very superficial– not wanting to lose my figure and whatnot. But as the years went on, my reasoning became more and more logical. No kids for me.

Scooby's avatar

Never wanted them either, horrible little things, still don’t…. I baby sat my older sisters five kids & my brothers four daughters over the years while I was growing up ( mid to late teens), that experience taught me one thing, have a life….. I might die lonely but I’ll have lived :-/

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Scooby LOL, I have lived believe you me. Kids complement your life, they don’t take it away. Wait up for my memoirs down the road.

nikipedia's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir, yeah, let’s definitely get into a competition about whose life is more lived.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@nikipedia Well, it’s no competition ‘cause I’d win~ But, sure, whatever, it’s not a competition.

linguaphile's avatar

I didn’t want kids at all—I had this image of myself traveling the world as an anthropologist, or being an actor or an artist. But when I was surprised at 19, I could not bring myself to have an abortion like my friends did. I don’t judge others for abortions, but for many reasons, I couldn’t and wouldn’t, so I have an amazing 19 year old son that I don’t regret having at all, not one bit.

When I was 31, I had a daughter and wanted to have a 3rd kid so bad, but biology wouldn’t cooperate with me. In the past 2 years, I’ve gotten to where I’m thrilled I just have these 2 kids, and am ready (and definitely better equipped) to be the crazy anthropologist/artist/actor I wanted to be :D :D

flutherother's avatar

I’m not particularly keen on most kids but I always wanted my own and thought four would be a nice number. We compromised on two, a boy and a girl and I am proud of them both.

dubsrayboo's avatar

After my second child I was diagnosed with bipolar and found out that mental illness is hereditary. I always wanted at least 6 kids but after the diagnosis, divorce, and another marriage I don’t think I can handle that. Plus I don’t want to give another human being the curse of a mental illness.

I am so blessed with the two children that I have. I am so proud of them and they are fantastic human beings. I’m sometimes sad that I can’t and won’t have more children but my girls more than make up for it.

BoyWonder's avatar

I’ve always wanted kids. Seeing how my parents raised me and my lil bro, I knew from young that I wanted that life for myself some day. I’m 30 years old now and I still want children. I’m just not willing to have them with the wrong woman. I need a great mother for our little ones!!

dalepetrie's avatar

Personal note: to anyone who has decided not to have kids, or who thinks they will never have kids, take no offense at anything I say, please…I speak the truth as I know it from my own experience. But this is one of those discussions that I know from experience can really hit a sore spot with some people. You tell a younger person who thinks they’ll never want kids that things can change and they accuse you of condescending to them, acting like you know it all and they’re just naiive…or you tell a proud parent that kids would just get in the way of other plans and you’re accused of being selfish and ignorant and everything else. So, just to stave off any problems or potential problems, I just want to say that I speak for no one but myself. There are those who don’t have kids and think they don’t want them who will one day come to want them, or will not have them and come to regret that decision, or who may not have them, not regret the decision, but who may never know what they missed out on. And there are those who had kids who maybe shouldn’t have, or should have waited, or people who think they want kids, but don’t have any idea what they’re talking about. If you can imagine it, it exist. I do not judge anyone, you will have to come to your own decision, or as Rush said, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Whatever floats your boat…here’s my story:

For some reason, kids always glommed onto me…probably because I’ve always been a big guy…I think kids see me as almost sort of larger than life plaything. And when I was a tween, a teen, and a young adult, it annoyed the HELL out of me. I didn’t like kids. They were loud, dirty, sticky, annoying, unpredictable, repetitive, fast, often smelly, and stupid…yes…they have nothing in common with me…we have absolutely nothing to talk about, they have horrible taste in music and TV and movies…there was NOTHING about them that appealed to me.

When I was 23, I met the woman I would marry a few years later, and her best friend since childhood had a child 5 days before the day we met. This friend however was no longer with the father or her child, and over the next few years, we spent a lot of time with this woman and her child. The child was very hyper, we’d go out to eat, he’d climb under the table constantly…re-affirmed everything I hated about kids. My wife and I would go to restaurants or shopping or whatever, and I’d hear kids screaming, crying, shouting, I’d say, “shut it up,” or “kill it.” I called them yard apes….we’d laugh, we’d judge parents, we’d look at the kids with disdain. Neither of us wanted kids…or so I thought…at least I KNEW I would never want kids, and my girlfriend was on the fence and playing along.

Then in my late 20s, I started to warm up to the idea. I started to think about how all these things I wanted to do that I wouldn’t be able to do anymore when I had a kid…you know what…they were starting to bore me. Life was starting to become same old, same old…what was new and exciting…I had learned so much, I wanted someone to teach some of it to. We were making enough money that we could do it without too much financial hardship. We were finally getting married, and as the wedding day got closer and closer, it became clearer and clearer to me that my wife to be really wanted to have a kid before she got too old. So we were married in October 2000, and in September 2001 (5 days before 9/11), we had a son.

The whole while my wife was pregnant, part of me was still apprehensive, I wasn’t sure about this. And I’ll tell you something I don’t think I’ve told anyone before…the delivery didn’t go well, and there was a period where I was very worried about the outcome, and I made a “wish” (for lack of a better term, because I don’t believe in supernatural things such as this), that if only one of them were to survive, that it be my wife. Part of me, moments before seeing my child for the first time, was still looking for an out…not that I was wishing harm to either of them, just saying, I’d have much rather had my life back, boring as it may have been than to have to deal with a new reality, even if it meant that new reality included this miracle I was about to discover.

So, when I saw my son for the first time, I can’t describe it….it didn’t make me suddenly believe in God or anything like that, but it opened something within me, something that had been there that I had never realized was there. Was there an immaturity…a selfishness hiding this from me? Yes, clearly there had been, and I submit to those people who aren’t even 30 who are “SURE” they will NEVER want kids that it may not always be so…this is what has caused arguments before, and as I said, you may be different, but you may not be, and the only thing I’ve learned for certain with age is that every time I’ve thought I truly knew myself, I’d look back 5 years and not recognize who I’d been. We change, we evolve…slowly and subtlety…what we want is often a mystery to ourselves. Such is the wonder of life.

In having been a parent for nearly a decade now, all these things that used to bother me about other peoples’ kids…clinging to me, annoying me, etc. and so on…these things seem so unimportant now in the grand scheme of things…indeed some of these things actually have become “enjoyable”. There isn’t much better than just snuggling on the couch with my kid, watching some bad Disney TV from hell. There’s this whole new person to hear all the stories everyone else I know got sick of years ago, a person who will listen with rapt attention. This person whom you can talk to about deep philosophical concepts put in extremely simplistic ways…it forces you to think differently, to see the whole world differently. He enjoys things I was never into, and I discover the simple pleasures of things that one time struck me as boring. Everything in the world is seen anew, with a different, nay an additional layer of perspective that was lacking before. All of the cynicism I held towards things…I’ve refocused…I don’t obsess about inconsequential things anymore, and I’m happier.

Having said that, I’ve never wanted a second one…they are a lot of work. And my kid is unique…he may possibly be somewhere on the Autism spectrum (though if so it would be very mild)...we’re currently having him evaluated. There are scares, there are times when he breaks your heart, there are sick days, big messes, huge annoyances, and a great deal of stress that never existed before. But rising to it had made me feel like more of a whole person. I realize now how “easy” my life was before I had a kid, but I also know that there is NOTHING in the world that would make me hit the undo button if someone presented it to me. It sounds cliche, but I’ve learned so much from my kid…more than he’s probably learned from me. I’ve grown immeasurably in ways that I could never have imagined.

The best way I can describe it is like the story “Flowers for Algernon”, which was made into a movie called “Charly” in the late 60s/early 70s. A young man of sub-par intelligence who undergoes an experimental surgery (which has been successfully tested on a mouse named Algernon at the lab where Charlie performs menial labor), to increase his intelligence. His intelligence grows and he begins to understand concepts that were beyond his grasp previously. When he was missing out on so much in life, he had no idea…which made it all the harder to lose his newly gained intelligence…he knew what he’d lost by the time he was back where he started, even if he didn’t understand it all. That’s what becoming a parent was like for me…I thought I knew what I wanted, I thought I knew what I liked and didn’t like, i thought I knew who I was…I was secure with my place in the universe and my attitude towards all things. Then this small being comes along and turns perception on its head, and suddenly, I’m grasping things that used to mean nothing to me.

Like when I didn’t want kids and I told people I didn’t want kids and they told me I don’t know what I’m missing…it sounded condescending, it sounded empty…I did not conceptualize that there was actually “something” behind those statements…they weren’t just hollow words…things parents had to say to assuage any guilt they might feel for not always being thrilled at being parents. As much as I am not a spiritual person in any way, becoming a parent was the closest thing I believe I will ever experience to a spiritual awakening. And I know there are things about my old life that I gave up, I know that there are aspects of my existence which are much harder because I’m a parent, and all of it is worth it.

In my experience, kids don’t so much change you as make you who you were meant to be. And I still love to do things that I had to give up…I wanted to travel a LOT…and I did travel a LOT before my son came along…then for a while I didn’t travel. For the last few years, I’ve been traveling again, but to somewhat different places than I’d have chosen if I didn’t have a kid. And I’ve discovered many things I never would have discovered otherwise, had life enriching experiences I never would have dreamed of. And now my son is almost 10, and every day he gets more mature…I can expose him to new ideas, concepts, images, places….the scope of places he can travel with us is growing. He can enrich our experiences, whereas I always assumed a kid would just get in the way and detract from those experiences.

I’ve changed a lot in my view of kids…I still prefer my own to anyone elses, but when a kid comes up to me and starts talking to me, I don’t brush him off anymore, I talk to him. I can relate now better to people in general…I have had to learn hard skills that I never would have been forced to learn…I have had to learn greater humility, and patience, and I’ve had to learn to let go of things that don’t matter. And all of these things have made me a much better person than I was 10, 15, 20 years ago. I’m still glad I waited until I was 30 and emotionally ready for parenthood, and I’m still glad I only had the one. But even though life for me is FAR from perfect, I would not change a day of what has happened so far, because those days have made me who I am, and I like being who I am. And I firmly believe that in 5 years when I’m 45, I’ll look back at my 40 year old self and think that in some ways, I didn’t know myself at all.

Bottom line, and this is as close to advice as I’m going to give, because I know people are going to do what they damn well please, and in issues so personal, no one but you has any real say in the matter. But the trick is to know thyself as best as you can. You may think you don’t want kids because of a, b and c…but you do owe it to yourself to at least consider the potential upside….think seriously about whether it could possibly be an enriching experience you’d be sorry you’d missed out on if only you’d known. You may decide that the upside for you isn’t there…and that’s fine. Conversely, if you’re SURE you want kids…make sure you’re ready…consider the downsides, consider what you’re giving up. I guess what I’m saying is, if you only look at either the cons OR the pros, you’re doing yourself a disservice, and yes, it is very hard to see the cons when you’re sure you want kids and very hard to see the pros when you’re sure you don’t, but if there is ANYTHING in life that is worth a LOT of deep soul searching, this is it.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think what is very important and is often overlooked is the guilt that society in general tends to heap on those who choose not to have children. The label “selfish” was the one I heard frequently. I never understood how not wanting to have children was selfish but it is used so often. I feel it is a choice and as I said above when I was young there was a lot less choosing than there is now and even now the labels are still brought out.

My advice to anyone, especially women, who IN GENERAL are the ones who do the bulk of the care giving and giving up of yourself in child bearing and rearing, if you don’t want to have children do not be coerced into having them by a partner, parent who wants grandchildren, society, church or whatever. It is your body, your life and your decision. And it should be made without any feelings of guilt being laid on you.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@dalepetrie and @rooeytoo : GAs and good points both of you! @rooeytoo : don’t feel bad, you’re not the only ones labeled “selfish”. Anyone who steps even slightly away from the “norm” is labeled selfish, maybe because it’s such a visceral thing for most. Of all the people I know who chose not to procreate, very very few regret their decosion, it’s the ones who delayed, or waited for the “right time” or somesuch who now are sorry.

Scooby's avatar

After baby sitter my siblings little horrors, rug rats, ankle biters, snot nose little shit machines for so long I decided this Parenting lark just wasn’t for me & never would be….. Not being a parent has never bothered me, I’d much rather remain sane than bankrupt & just do as I please at the drop of a hat…… most parents I know are only too pleased to get away from their screaming kids & push them on to someone else for a little respite, I’m not one for burdening other people, least of all myself. So long as everyone is happy in their choices that’s fine, I am too…
Kids compliment your life?? :-/
Maybe yours but not mine, waking you up at two in the morning, screaming the house down because their pants are full of crap & you have to be up at five, now that’s living…… NO THANKS! Still I guess some must get a kick out of it, the mad fools……. ;-)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Scooby You really have bitter feelings towards children. I’m thinking of asking a question about people with your kinds of feelings, ‘cause I wonder what that kind of thing is about, no judgment. I do hope your participate in that question. As per my sleepless nights, there is so much good to even out the bad, it’s not even worth a mention.

Supacase's avatar

I haven’t read through all of the responses, but my experience was that I felt exactly the way you do. I could not relate to kids. I did not grow up around babies or little children. I thought they were kind of cute, but also messy and sticky and stinky and fussy. They are very and friendly and like to share, which is why I avoided them as much as possible. No snot or saliva for me, please.

I always thought it would be different with my own child and, turns out, it was. Night and day. I still think a lot of kids are gross and whiny; I just don’t care as much when it is a child I love with all of my heart.

The worst is trying to discreetly get the hell away from a child with green snot and a big booger who is headed my way. I don’t want to offend the mom, but I also don’t want that ick on me. (No, it wasn’t a one time thing with that mom. Some parents just don’t care about stuff like that.)

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