Why I don’t have children

kidsI have been thinking for a while about writing this blog, as it is very personal. Having recently celebrated my tenth wedding anniversary it felt like a good time to reflect on why I don’t have children. Since my beautiful wedding day, I estimate I have been asked this question over 1000 times (using a conservative average of twice per week).

Here is an example of how a typical conversation plays out (I’ve used a random name to illustrate the point):

 

Sharon “Do you have children?”

Me “No”

What follows is interesting. There is always a follow-up question, often preceded by an awkward pause. I have attempted to capture a flavour of actual responses I have received in the table below:

 

SHARON’S RESPONSE MY THOUGHT PROCESS
   
What a bad decision According to what measure of “bad”?
Does your husband want kids?? Sorry this is 2017, not 1817
Do you have pets? hahahahaha
You’ll change your mind So you’re an authority on my mind?
You might regret it one day You might regret having yours one day                           
You’re running out of time to change your mind What if its not a choice?
Don’t you want them? No I am the child catcher from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”
Can’t you have them? Have you ever had (insert nasty disease here) (bit personal)
Waste of a good woman I literally have no response to this
If you have them you’ll change your mind This is illogical – does not compute
Who will look after you when you’re old? People I pay, there is no guarantee your kids will look after you
The world would end if everyone thought like you With Trump at the helm, it may happen anyway  
I have a friend like you, she is a career woman too Since when was having a family related to work?   
Do you have brothers and sisters? What?    

 

I have not written this to berate or shame the Sharon’s of the world; but merely to help people to talk to me (and others) about not having children. I would prefer Sharon just to say “cool” or “great”.

There are probably over 1000 reasons why women don’t have children. For example, left it too late, had a bad childhood, had multiple miscarriages, don’t want them, frightened of giving birth, partner refuses to have them, not met the right person, raped as a teenager, affordability, worried about exponential population growth, the world is not a nice place, don’t like them (you get the gist).

 So, back to the question, why I don’t have children . . . . . that’s for me to know . . .

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Well said Elly. It’s a funny old world. I was always questioned about why I had four children. Often the assumption was lack of control or contraception failure. Which may or may not have been the case. But there was always the horrified pause and then an incredulous ‘four?’, followed by a laugh. Like I’d made a mistake and it was ok to treat me like I was a freak. People can be quite rude over your ‘child’ choices in life. But out of those who question your choice to remain child free, there will many who envy you. People want you to join the club. Like drinkers who press you to have a drink even though you tell them you don’t drink.

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  2. fabrickated says:

    This is an important and interesting post. People feel free to ask and I don’t think it is a bad thing as we all try to get to know people who are different to ourselves. But people can get very personal and very judgemental these days which is unwelcome. There is something about this issue that invites inappropriate comments and actions. At a party a friend with four kids started criticising another woman who had chosen only to have one. My friend Penny was expecting twins. Someone in WHSMiths said “ooh twins! Did you have IVF?” And another friend mentioned how people couldn’t stop putting their hands on her bump.

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    1. ellyhoult says:

      Totally agree. I think it’s ok to ask, that’s just showing an interest. It’s the poorly judged comments that follow that grate. However, I genuinely think most of them are well intentioned, just ill thought through. Thanks for response

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  3. Mia Bousfield says:

    I doubt if Jon is asked this as much as you are and I doubt very much that people are judgmental about his response. I still find it irritating that I’m this day and age women are still judged on their decision to be a mother or not. Well said Elly, I respect your decision and don’t need to know why you made it xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ellyhoult says:

      Jon does get asked but you’re right, not very often. I don’t think he has ever been asked why. Cheers for the comment x

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  4. Hel Reynolds says:

    Oh my, yes. Funny how some people can’t cope with the idea of me not living my life as they do! I ALWAYS get told that I’ll change my mind about children, and often by someone who has just been moaning about the stress and responsibility of their own sprogs. And if I say anything nice about my niece and nephew, who are some of the most tremendous humans I know, this is taken as proof that I’m already changing my mind, as though my love for them is wistful and sad. Pah! Thanks for the opportunity to rant!

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    1. ellyhoult says:

      Ahh yes! I’m familiar with the pitying face projected towards the supposed “barren aunt” 😂 rant away

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  5. NN says:

    *deep bow* As a 40+ single woman with no children, I have been asked many of these questions. More recently, a longstanding friend called me a spinster; I was both hurt and angry (new hangry?). Having a life path that is different from others does not make us any less kind, humble, or human. Like you said: the intention is well-meaning, but very poorly executed.

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  6. L.G. says:

    Found this post through fabrickated. I too chose not to have kids. I’ve heard the same odd inquiries as you, but in addition I freqently get pure vitriol. I’ve been told (by close friends) that my life will never be as full as theirs and that childless women are a waste of a good woman. …really?!

    Anyhow I loved your responses. Keep your head up!

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  7. peggyleah says:

    There are a lot of things other people think you need to explain: Not being a Christian, is one. Also,
    You never know when you’ll hit a nerve with someone: some of us may have voted FOR Trump, and don’t regret it. There are a lot of unconscious comments out there made by people who don’t think it’s “unconscious”. pk

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