Do I have to have children?

Everyone is telling me to, but I just don’t think I want them. Our happily childfree elder has some words of wisdom for a letter writer who doesn’t want to be a mom…

Dear EWC

Hello, I am a 29-year-old female. I have noticed recently the topic of children has become increasingly popular. My friends are all having children, and my family wants to know if I want them. The age of having to decide if I want to be a parent or not has always seemed so far away until recently. I have been with my boyfriend for two years and I am very sure he is the person I want to spend my life with. I’ve dated quite a bit and have had several long term relationships throughout my twenties, and I want nothing more than to spend my life with him. We have talked about marriage quite a bit and I’m sure an engagement is in the near future. We recently had the talk about kids also. He said as of right now he doesn’t want any and he wanted to be honest and upfront about it. I kind of had this idea from the beginning from him so I wasn’t surprised. As far as how I feel, I feel confused. I can’t say I’ve ever truly wanted to be a mom. I’ve spent a lot of time with my best friend’s children over the years and while I love them very much I am always relieved when they go home. I am currently working on my second degree and am very career-driven. I also like to travel and I have three dogs that I love very much.

However, the comments people have made are unsettling. I’ve heard that I’ll regret not having children when I’m older, that my life will be boring and just having a husband will not be enough and I can’t ignore that I already feel like an outsider around all of my friends because they are mothers. My parents often talk about their future grandkids and when I voice to my mother and my best friend that I don’t think I want to have children, they say, “You’ll change your mind.” I can’t ignore these things, but none of them seem like solid reasons to have a child. I’m confused because everyone around me seems sure of what they want and I don’t know why I’m not sure yet. I am sure of my partner and am ready to get married. I love him very much, I can’t imagine my life without him. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do. The only reason I’ve considered children is that it seems it’s what is expected and is the natural progression of being a woman. It’s taken me 29 years to realize I don’t have to follow that natural progression and what might make my friends happy may not be best for me. While I’m young, I am approaching 30 and I know I don’t have forever to decide. What if I do get married and a switch flips as everyone says and I suddenly want children, but my husband doesn’t? Any words of wisdom?

Lawry replies

I would be happy to answer your letter.
I am very happily married and neither my husband nor I wanted to have children. I know what you mean when you talk about pressure from peers and family. As the eldest child in the family, for years I had to listen to my mother talk about wanting grandchildren. She even got so bold to tell me one time that I didn’t need to get married, “just bring home the grandchildren.”
I have never for a minute regretted that we didn’t have children, nor has my husband. We have both been happy with each other, our lives and we were happy with our careers before we retired. We loved the freedom to just pick up and go somewhere without children under foot. We could relax when we wanted to and travel and when and where we wanted and just plain have fun in our free time.
You just need to remind yourself that it’s your life and your husband’s life that are important. We found that we ended up making some new friends who didn’t have children either and that has been very nice as well. I’m with you when you say you have been relieved when your friend’s children go home. It’s fun for a while, but they are someone else’s responsibility.
I hope that this has been helpful to you, and I wish you both a great deal of happiness as you move forward with your lives. Think positive. I am a great believer in that.
I would love to hear how things work out for you. I’ll be thinking of you.

Letter #: 445646
Category: Children

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