Questions and answers from the childfree community

Getting a vasectomy

"I finally have insurance that will cover my husband's vasectomy 100%. Our primary care doctor gave us a referral to a urologist, and we have a consolation coming up in 2 weeks. I'm 23 and he's 25, so we're worried that the doctor is going to deny us based on age. My husband and I have been together for 8 years, and we know with complete certainty that neither of us want kids for a multitude of personal and medical reasons. What advice do you have for the first appointment? What questions can we expect to get from the doctor?" 

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Parents favouring siblings with children

“Does anyone else have a parent that shows blatant favouritism to one of your siblings with children? My father would do anything for my one sister because “he has to worry about the grandkids” but he won’t budge an inch when I or my other childfree sister ask for help with the smallest things. Anyone else experience the same?”

 

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Asking my partner to get a vasectomy

“Those of you who are married, have you discussed vasectomy with your other half? It seems a lot less invasive than getting tubes tied and maybe easier for men to get a referral? I'm not sure my husband would have it right away, but maybe something to think about in a couple years time.”

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How to silence my biological clock

I know some of the ladies on this group have gone past their 30s and have said that they've never heard a peep from their biological clock. For me, however, since turning 30 just a couple of months ago, my biological clock seems to be screaming at me, even though I still know 100% that I do not want children. It's like my body is saying to me "You've still got time if you want to change your mind" *nudge nudge* I've been very certain of my choice for years now, but I'm starting to get niggles in the back of my mind, like thinking what a great childhood I had, but I know I love and want the childfree life. Anyone else had this experience and how do you get it to shut the hell up?! It's annoying me every day and I know if I say something to my mum, she'll think I now want kids 😫 I don't need any more reasons for not wanting kids. I know what I want, and that's to carry on enjoying my life as a childfree person, but my body is trying to tell me different.

 

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Doctors denying sterilization

“You always hear about doctors denying sterilization over religious reasons...is there anyone else who struggles because doctors sneer at the notion that it’s against MY spirituality to have children? How do I approach this without ridicule? It’s been so painful even with my fiancé’s full support for a host of other reasons including my health and our life goals together. Why are my religious beliefs worthless in this regard?” 

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Wondering about other birth control options

“I have been told by my doctor because I have a family history of DVTs and my age (37) I shouldn't be on the pill anymore. I can't have the implant in my arm because it made me suicidal last time. Just wondering if people can recommend other options for me to research. What has worked or not worked for you.”

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Addressing the choice to be childfree when meeting new people

“I am moving to a state slightly southern to my liberal New England hometown. I am worried about the inevitable small talk and being received poorly trying to make new acquaintances and hopefully friends in an unfamiliar place. I do believe “no” is a complete sentence, but I also know it’s standard for people to pry. Any suggestions on how not to alienate potentially conservative people with/who want children when I’m in the getting to know you phase?”

 

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What kind of pressure do you face to have children when you're not a woman

“While women certainly face more pressure and stronger opinions when it comes to having kids, I'm curious to hear from childfree people of other genders who are being pressured to have kids. Can anyone share their experiences?”

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Becoming legal guardians of other people's children

“My husband and I are happily childfree and have made this clear to all of our friends and family. However, one of our friends recently asked us if we would be the legal guardians of their child should they both pass away before she’s an adult. On one hand, I love their daughter and would be happy to help. But on the other, I’m confused and conflicted about what this means for our chosen childfree lifestyle. Has anyone else been asked to be a legal guardian before?”

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I originally wanted children

“Is there anyone here who actually grew up wanting kids, but realized later they didn't want them? I loved babysitting and playing with kids and always thought I would have children. However, when I was in high school a light switch went off and I realized what it actually meant to have a child. All the responsibility and the fact that I love them too much to bring them into this world the way it is. Adoption is so expensive and you never know who you are going to get and again there is the responsibility and I could never do it alone. I just wondered because so many people here seemed to know that they were childfree early on. Are there others like me who decided later in life?”

 

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Singles vs couples being voluntarily childfree

“I was wondering how many singles vs couples are voluntarily childfree? Just curious. I'm single but once upon a time was to be married. Back then I expected to have kids, I wanted a family. Then life went a different way for me and I took the opportunity to focus on my career. I don't have an interest in having kids but I feel guilty that my parents don't get the chance to be grandparents.”

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Looking for advice about discussing sterilization with my doctor

“I’m going to see my doctor next week to discuss the possibility of getting sterilized. I’m 27, have been on birth control since 16 and have expressed multiple times to my doctor that I don’t want to have kids. My partner and I do not want children period and have decided to get sterilized this year. What do I do if they tell me no?”

 

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My manager doesn't think I should have stress in my life since I'm not a parent

“At a recent meeting with my manager I expressed how I was struggling with working full-time and studying (postgraduate). He responded with, “well it is hard as you have your cat to look after.” Basically implying how could I possibly get stressed with no children and that I shouldn’t be finding it a problem to balance everything. I was fuming but am now feeling more and more undermined/not acknowledged. What would you have done/said in this situation?”

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How to embrace my choice to be childfree

“I’m wondering what people’s advice is regarding being torn on being childfree/ how to accept it as a choice.

I’ve pretty much decided and my partner has also left the choice up to me (it’s my body he says and he’s pretty on the fence too) so there’s pressure that it’s all my choice. I don’t want to go through childbirth at all or deal with any of the health issues or possible complications. I’m an educated woman with debt and want time to travel. Sometimes I feel like I should have a child because who would take care of me if my partner dies- but this is a stupid reason because who is to say my kids would and also that’s what retirement homes are for...

So one choice I’ve thought of is adopting later down the road (older kid) if I feel I’m missing anything in my life. But my husband is pretty adamant that if we have kids he wants biological (would even agree to a surrogate if I don’t want to get pregnant)... I’m so confused.

How does one know when they have decided and how do you get past the judgement? Family is so disappointed as all other siblings on both sides (all older) have also decided to be child free so pressure for genetic line is on us.”

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Dealing with lonlieness after death of a spouse

How do people who don't have children deal with loneliness when their spouse dies in later life- my spouse and I are very introverted so don't have many friends and we have decided not to have children. I just wanted to know from experience what people do?"

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Being made to feel inferior because I don't have children

“My husband and I are childfree for several reasons. I am now almost 40 and am finding it harder and harder being made to feel inferior because I chose not to have kids. Whilst others discuss schools etc. I have no input - cannot even feign understanding of the need for iPads when kids are 2 etc., etc. .... it used to be water off a duck’s back, but the self importance of parents who are condescending and believe that without kids I have nowhere to be, nothing to do, are not as ‘busy’ or purposeful is starting to bother me! Anyone else feeling the same?”

 

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In-laws won't accept our choice to be childfree

“I'm at my in-laws for Christmas right now, and my husband and I told everyone 5 years ago that we don't want kids because they kept saying they expected that from us. They honestly made me feel like the only reason I should marry their son is to reproduce. Babies are still brought up every time we talk to them, but last night I almost started crying. His grandmother said they have a hand-knit pink sweater that had been made when my husband’s grandma was pregnant with her second child because everyone thought it would be a girl. She saved it for her daughter's future children, but her daughter only had one kid. A boy (my husband). So, this little sweater, and now a baby doll and jewelry from my mother-in-law’s childhood, is all sitting in an oak chest for my future children. My husband stood his ground and said we don't want babies, so his grandmother pulled the sweater out of the chest, and started yelling, "What am I going to do with this then?! We've been hanging onto it since 1970. Does that mean nothing to you?!" Like honestly, who acts like this?! They're crazy and I can't cut off contact with them because they've proven that they'll literally make our lives hell if we do. What do we do?!”

 

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Should I tell my family that I got a vasectomy

“I'm a 26 year old male and have been with my wife for 10 years (married for 1). From the time I was 18 we started discussing whether we would want children. We decided we didn't. There were many reasons for this decision, we mainly decided we definitely did not want biological kids. Her family has a history of difficult labor and she has vasovagal that triggers with anything medical. Plus we just don't like kids! If we ever changed our minds we would adopt (highly unlikely).

From that time up until I was 24 I made it a point to bring up the possibility of a vasectomy to my family at least once a year. After a year of discussion with my wife (then fiancée), I got it done right before I turned 25. I paid out of pocket at Planned Parenthood and had a great experience with them. I have not told my family. My brother is about to have his first child and this has made my family repeatedly ask me when we will have kids. Mainly by saying things like "Don't deny yourself the greatest joy in life." If I tell them I don't want kids, they say "Why would you do that to us?", "Do you even use it?", "You'll change your mind." So, a lot of guilt trips.

I brought up a vasectomy to my family every year for years, and they still don't understand. Friends have advised against telling them, because my family will not only be heartbroken, but will most likely just repeatedly bring up how I've hurt them and destroyed my future. Trading one guilt trip for another as it were. Any advice on what I should do? Tell them? Or let them stay ignorant? I'm not ashamed I got a vasectomy, but my family continuously beats me down about having children...”

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I feel pressure to do more with my life because I don't have children

“Does anyone else feel like they're under overwhelming pressure to be "extra" something in life since they don't have children, either from themselves or society/friends/family or both?

I feel like it’s almost expected that if you are childfree, you’d better have a good reason or be living your life to the fullest in ways parents can’t or don’t. Like it’s assumed you have all the time, energy, money in the world to devote to whatever you want the rest of your life and so it’s expected that you should excel in something amazing: to have an impressive career where you’re invaluable, or to wholeheartedly go after your creative ambitions, or to travel the world on a whim constantly and have an envy-worthy body on top of it all since you haven’t carried a child in your womb - just overall pressure to have a glamorous and inspiring life in some way.

I’ve been driving myself crazy lately with that thought because frankly, I’m 28 years old and my life is just as mundane as my friends’ lives who have 1-5 children, my body looks “worse” than most who have carried multiple children, and I barely have energy some days to even do the dishes let alone tackle my lifelong aspirations etc. All of these articles targeted at moms giving advice on how to “make time to have it all, chase your dreams, and still juggle the kids” only worsen this self-doubt of “well, what’s my excuse?!”. At my worst lows I even start to think “might as well have kids then if you aren’t going to make something amazing out of your life anyways”.

The whole thought process is super overwhelming and I would love to hear if anyone else experiences the same doubts and thoughts.”

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I am 40 and my husband really wants a child

“I have never had a maternal instinct or pictured myself as a mother, and I had a very rough family/childhood, and it took a LOT of therapy and sheer will to upright my life. I met my now-husband when I was working on my PhD and at that point I was still in the fuzzy "yeah maybe someday" abstract possibility space. But once we married and I stopped the pill it was like a force field stopped me from being able to continue. And then I finished my PhD and started teaching as a professor of sociology and I have total clarity that this is what I was put on the earth to do: to teach young people about conflict, peace and liberation--to help them grasp the dynamics of oppression and transformation--and to help them articulate their own values and visions. I have so many books to write, so many documentary films to finish. I am exhausted but really happy.


And I'm 40. And my husband really wants a child. But the more I spelunk in my heart, I encounter so many reasons why being childfree is my path:

1) logistics/timing with my career
2) he is wonderful, but was very spoiled by his Italian mother and doesn't help around the house much, so it's pretty clear I'd take all the load
3) we have no money, very little savings
4) I have a moral complaint with bringing more people into this crowded terrible world--who am I to yank someone into this existence that it has been a life-or-death struggle for me to find peace in? Why not guide and nurture people who are already here?
5) I had an ambivalent mother who resented how motherhood held her back professionally and also was destroyed by guilt and shame for neglecting motherhood and for not having the right emotional makeup to raise a mentally healthy child. It would have been better for her to maximize her strengths and give what she was meant to give, but being a mother compromised BOTH of her paths and really damaged both of us. We are for the first time in more of a place of peace because I have forgiven her--she had her own wounds form an angry mother, and she definitely tried her best. I'm different from her, and I have the emotional resources she lacked, BUT we are very similar in our devotion to our careers, and I don't want to repeat history.
6) Pregnancy, Ugh, Childbirth, BAHHHH! Nursing, GAHHHHH. Sleeplessness, vomit, screaming, tantrums, BLARGHHHHHH
7) Babies and pregnant women gross me out--I still need to do some processing on my overwhelming feeling of disdain, like "you fell for it!"--BUT when I pass dogs or puppies I feel the deep heart-full full-throated longing and tenderness that I assume some women feel for children.
I'm finding the courage to understand I can't just have a child out of guilt and obligation for my lovely husband.
9) I just...don't want to have a child.

So, I've pretty much figured out what's right for me.
But. I'm really sad for my husband. He has always wanted it. He isn't actually very realistic about it and I think he wants it because he's maintained a pretty abstract fantasy, and because he is very unfulfilled in his work. But nevertheless, he's really devastated that I'm coming into clarity and we're not on the same page.

I really love him and want him to be happy. But I realized my brief window of willingness was more about wanting him to be happy and enjoying the fantasy of me being able to fulfill his dream or be that mother-earth type person we wanted me to be.

But I'm not. I've got other gifts. And that's okay. I am starting to accept that.

Still the idea of drawing this bright line and being the cause of the collapse of his dream is really tearing me apart. It's the very last piece of this puzzle before I can free myself into my power, into being who I was meant to be. We are in therapy together, and we are each in individual therapy, but I'm still paralyzed.

I thought I might drop this line and see if you have any wisdom to share on the particular topic of navigating the painful space of embracing my path and yet disappointing a beloved husband who is still caught in unexamined longing for children, who feels robbed and betrayed by my choice.

I'd really appreciate any thoughts you have. Thank you so much.”

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Finding a significant other when childfree

"How in the world did those of you who have a significant other find a childfree one? I'm having the devil of a time finding a guy who doesn't want/have kids." 

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