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Old 05-09-2012, 01:30 PM
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Asimovian Asimovian is offline
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Guilt over lack of children?

A thread that Heart of Dorkness started about being an only child was recently revived, and I had occasion to re-read what I'd posted therein:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asimovian
I also recently came to terms with one of the hardest aspects of being an only child as an adult. I've never wanted kids for myself, and I recently went through with having a vasectomy. The only hesitation I had about doing that was knowing that my mom will die without ever having grandkids. I think she came to accept that some time ago, but I really hate the idea of disappointing her. Obviously, plenty of only children do have children of their own, so I don't know how common my particular situation is.
(emphasis added)

I have never in the past and don't to this day think that worrying about how my lack of progeny will impact someone else is a good reason to have kids, so I've never felt any particular pressure to procreate. But it bugs me that my mom got stuck with a kid who doesn't want kids. I can't be alone in that.

I figured I'd start a thread to see if and how other folks have dealt with the guilt of not having children. And I don't mean other people TRYING to make you feel guilty, because there are plenty of folks out there who will do that, intentionally or not. I want to hear about your own personal struggles with choosing not to have kids, or not being able to have kids. Why did it make you feel guilty? How have you dealt with it?

I am, of course, particularly curious about those who are only children who haven't and won't have kids. But this thread is open to all comers, so even if you've had kids and would like to speculate about how you would have felt guilty if you hadn't, I'd like to hear that, too. How much of an obligation did you or do you feel to have kids?
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Old 05-09-2012, 01:43 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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I have never felt obigated to have kids, even when the pressure is on. No guilt. But my parents have plenty of grandkids (and now some great grandkids), so it works out for everybody.
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Old 05-09-2012, 01:50 PM
Capt Kirk Capt Kirk is offline
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I am the last of my line, I am childless and about to be 42. I always figured that whichever woman I had as a partner would be the decider as to the children question, but now that I am as old as I am. I don't really want to have teens when I am 60. The parental guilt trip can be overwhelming, my step-mom is always trying to set me up with younger and younger women because they can still have kids. It has gotten to the point that I don't want to answer the phone. At least the steps and halfs are busy procreating away.......
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Old 05-09-2012, 01:58 PM
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I'm not an only child and my parents have two fantastic grandkids.

However I have felt guilty about the mom of the guy I'd like to spend the rest of my life with. I guess she's picked at him and his brother about her wanting grandkids. I'm hoping that he'd choose to be with me and not care about kids but it would be to his mother's despair.

It's also up in the air as to whether or not I can even have kids. So sometimes I feel guilty but other times I'm like "I need to change my story from 'don't want' to 'can't have'" and start people feeling sorry for me.
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:31 PM
Sister Vigilante Sister Vigilante is offline
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I'm not an only child and my parents will probably have grandkids from my brother (they already have one from her previous relationship).

The only thing that concerns me about my decision not to have children, is that no one will be around to take care of me when I get old.
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:34 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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I'm 45 and childfree by choice - I don't think I've had a second of guilt over it. It might have been different if my oldest sister hadn't had two kids, but she did and it isn't.
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:39 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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I do sometimes feel a little sad that my parents will never see grandkids. I'm the only child, and a daughter to boot, so I know on some level my mother felt she had failed as a mother that I didn't have children. But, mom's dead now, and she had an adopted (in the heart, not on paper) son to do her last rites, which I cannot do as a daughter, so whatever.

I don't "deal" with it any way; it's my vagina and my life and I won't have kids to suit anyone. I mean, it doesn't bother me and it's really the least reason to have kids. I just once in a while feel sorry for them.
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:44 PM
Scubaqueen Scubaqueen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Kirk View Post
I am the last of my line, I am childless and about to be 42. I always figured that whichever woman I had as a partner would be the decider as to the children question, but now that I am as old as I am. I don't really want to have teens when I am 60. The parental guilt trip can be overwhelming, my step-mom is always trying to set me up with younger and younger women because they can still have kids. It has gotten to the point that I don't want to answer the phone. At least the steps and halfs are busy procreating away.......
I'm it, too. All girls were born to my dad and my dad's brother, so that spells the end of the line with me. I've never married, and have never had the urge to procreate, either. Parenting isn't for everyone - despite what society would have you believe - and I know myself well enough to know that children would never have been a good fit for me. Neither parent ever laid the guilt trip on either me or my sister for grandchildren, either. She had two terrific kids, and I was never interested.

With both parents gone now, it's a non-issue even if there had been an issue at the time. Like Capt Kirk's family, all my cousins are busy making lots of family all on their own.
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:47 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sister Vigilante View Post
<snip>

The only thing that concerns me about my decision not to have children, is that no one will be around to take care of me when I get old.
I missed this on first reading. Two things come to mind when people say this (and it gets brought up fairly regularly when we discuss this subject) - the first is that having kids is no guarantee that they'll look after you when you're old, and the second is that paying for care when you're old is something you have to budget for regardless of whether you have kids or not, and to be brutally frank, you can probably afford it better if you don't spend all your income raising kids.
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:59 PM
SticksAndString SticksAndString is offline
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Stickman and I only have one child--Slim.

There's a good reason..well..several for that. I knew from the time I was probably 14 or 15 that if I ever had kids, I only wanted boys. I got what I wanted on the first shot, so I've never felt the need to go back and try again for another one. Also, I feel that Stickman and I have our hands full with Slilm and his special needs. I also know that if you have ONE kid with special needs, the chances of having another child with special needs goes up with each subsequent child. I have a friend who has one with ADHD, one with Asperger's and the youngest has Down's syndrome. I've always said she's bucking for sainthood because I don't know if I could handle that many special issues all at once. I feel like I'm underwater sometimes having to deal with the few special issues that Slim has--speech problems, hypotonia (chronic low muscle tone), ADHD and mild Asperger's.

I've never felt guilty about having just one. My mom has bugged me multiple times about providing Slim with a brother or sister and I just keep telling her no. It wouldn't be right to try and get pregnant JUST to give my kid a sibling. It just wouldn't.

When I was trying to get pregnant with Slim, I had a raging case of 'baby rabies'--I wanted a baby and I wanted it YESTERDAY. Once I had him, that went away. Sure, I feel a touch of it when I play with the young children of friends/family but it's like as soon as I get out of their presence, it goes away.

Last edited by SticksAndString; 05-09-2012 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:10 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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I have never felt guilt over not having kids, nor has anyone in my family attempted to instill any (it probably helped that I'm the youngest child and my brother and sister's marriages both produced offspring).

I suppose there's a mild sense that certain elements of our society would like me to feel guilty over not having Fulfilled My Duty, but until I see good evidence of a massive kiddie shortage, that view doesn't get any traction with me.

I wonder if society-wide guilt induction is taking place in Japan, what with the dire predictions of population implosion over there due to lack of marriage and procreation.
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:21 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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I personally find it wonderful to live in a time where I can get pretty dependable birth control and am not forced to either abstain totally from sex or risk being kept pregnant. I have always known that I dislike kids, have absolutely no desire for kids and trying to have kids puts me at risk of dying anyways.
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:39 PM
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I would make a terrible father. I would never be mean to a child, but I do not enjoy being around them. I do feel for children and always donate to Toys For Tots so that poor children can have gifts during the holidays, but it would be wrong for me to have fathered children. So no, no guilt.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:15 PM
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I have many siblings who have more than made up for my decision not to procreate, though my mother still wishes I would and doesn't seem to be getting the message that I'm just not going to. I don't feel guilty about it. Though I would like my mother to be happy I'm not about to make a person just for that.

My partner is an only child, and though the old mother-in-law says she's fine with it, I think she would have liked to be a grandmother. However our decisions not to have children are independent, as in we both decided for ourselves before we ever met, so I don't need to feel bad over that either.

Child-free and loving it, thanks!
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:20 PM
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I once asked my mother if she regretted that neither my sister nor I ever had children, and she said, "goodness, no, dear, that much less to worry about."

(I make her sound like Edina's mum on AbFab, don't I?)
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eve View Post
(I make her sound like Edina's mum on AbFab, don't I?)
Wow. That was actually the voice I heard in my head BEFORE I read your parenthetical. That ain't right.
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Old 05-10-2012, 01:08 PM
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I am very, very happy to have a granddaughter. However, I firmly told both my daughters that they were NOT to have a child only to give me a grandchild.
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Old 05-10-2012, 01:14 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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None here. Neither my sister nor I had or wanted kids. Mom seems fine with having "grandbunnies" and "grandkitties" to give little toys to at Christmas, and I don't think I would have accepted having kids wholeheartedly.
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Old 05-10-2012, 01:56 PM
Sister Vigilante Sister Vigilante is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
I missed this on first reading. Two things come to mind when people say this (and it gets brought up fairly regularly when we discuss this subject) - the first is that having kids is no guarantee that they'll look after you when you're old, and the second is that paying for care when you're old is something you have to budget for regardless of whether you have kids or not, and to be brutally frank, you can probably afford it better if you don't spend all your income raising kids.
Good points, thanks.

And Eve, I heard her that way too.
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:21 PM
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Mr. Snicks is also the last of his line, and we're not planning on having children. We used to say that it was his sister's responsibility, but she married later in life to a guy who already had three children (and a vasectomy), so that didn't work out as we planned.

I don't feel guilty, but I do empathize with my parents-in-law. They truly want grandchildren, and they'd be good grandparents, but it's not going to happen. Sure, they have some step-grandchildren, but I'm not certain how frequently they'll be able to see them. And it's really unlikely that SpouseO and I will change our minds. So I do empathize with them.

My mom and dad already have four grandchildren, so although they'd love to have mine as well, they've at least already got some. That doesn't keep Mom from bugging me about it every now and again, while also saying in the same breath, "if I could do it all over again, I'm not sure I'd have kids either." Anyway...

What I sometimes think of more often is how rather weird it might be for us as we get older - we won't have grandchildren coming to visit us and such, like we both did for our grandparents. But that's not weird enough to make me want to have my own kids, by any stretch, it's just something I think about now and again. With luck, I'll have my nieces' and nephew's kids coming for visits. Or not. We'll deal, for certain.
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
.

I don't "deal" with it any way; it's my vagina and my life and I won't have kids to suit anyone.
This is exactly how I feel.
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:34 PM
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No. Fuck no. I don't like children.

I don't want to give up the freedom to do what I want, when I want. The responsibility of caring for little people? No thanks.

My wife feels the same way.

We are in our early 40's.
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Old 05-10-2012, 06:43 PM
Arabella Flynn Arabella Flynn is offline
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Never wanted children, ever. Even when I was young and the other little girls were drawing pictures of their dream weddings and telling each other what they would name their magic fairy princess kids, I drew pictures of a little house all to myself, with as many pets as I wanted, and more books than I could count. The closest thing I have to a 'biological clock' is a 'biological Gameboy', which compels me to go out and buy another version of Tetris every few years.

Never felt guilty, ever. I did not get along well with children when I was a child, and I wouldn't be any better now. I'm good with teaching, mostly because I don't talk to them like they're stupid, but I would be terrible at handling any of the parts of life where they meltdown or otherwise act like irrational animals. I'm not good at those with adults, and there are lots more options for dealing with them.

I have no idea how my parents feel. This is one thing they've never argued with me over; I was very definite when I five, and I'm still definite now that I'm thirty. I've no doubt that they would have genuinely loved any grandchildren that came along, but I've also no doubt that they would have been just as dysfunctionally crazy as they were with their own children, so overall I think it's a wash.

My sister may want kids. I've no idea. I've never asked and she's never told me. I haven't talked to any of them for the better part of a year, and I'm still debating whether I'll ever do so again.

Oddly enough, I do sometimes feel guilty over never really caring if I own a house, a fancy car, etc. It's that same feeling that society led me to think that one day I'd wake up and decide that renting was for infants and I'd have a burning need to apply for a mortgage and fix my own garbage disposal. It shows no more signs of happening than the baby thing.
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:42 PM
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I am an only child with no children. No guilt over my own family. My mom was quite vociferous in proclaiming that she'd not be available for babysitting duties (no worries there), but I do feel a tiny bit bad for my MIL, who ended up with two sons who didn't want kids either. So no little 'uns for her except the neighbor kids. But you really can't have kids for other people, you have to want 'em for yourself and no more.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:11 PM
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I know a guy who got married and stayed childless. He had one sister who has never been married. He got divorced a remarried - the woman he remarried had adult children. So his mother never got grandchildren. Until my two came along - in her late 70s she became a great grandma without ever having been a grandma - the guy is my husband's stepfather.

I'm glad he didn't have kids, nice guy - wouldn't have necessarily been a great dad. And his sister, same...nice woman, not terribly maternal. His mother, however, was delighted with her late in life surprise grandchildren.

She died when they were little, but they were the joy of her final years.
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:23 PM
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My fiancé is young enough to have children, but I am not. I don't feel bad about my future MIL; she has another son and might have grandchildren through him. I feel bad for my fiancé, though. My late husband was pretty anti child, but my new guy likes kids. With a different woman, he would probably choose to have kids. He says he is fine with it, but sometimes I feel I am depriving him of something he would love. If I could still have kids, I might offer, but I can't.
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:26 PM
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Child- and guilt-free. Completely.
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Old 05-11-2012, 12:04 AM
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I'm 40 and my sisters 36- I've never been on a date and my sister's never dated seriously, so it's obvious the lines going to end with us. I feel guilty about that and not giving my mother grandkids. But it was my grandmother that kept trying to pressure me into dating so she could have great-grandkids. Just because you have kids doesn't mean it's going to turn out good, my psych nurses kid got drunk and deliberatly ran down some people with his car and got his mom charged as an accessory to first degree murder. (Charges against her were dropped, but still what a mess your kid got you in).
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Old 05-11-2012, 01:35 PM
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When I met my wife-to-be, we soon learned that neither of us had any desire to be a parent. My wife had felt that way for as long as she could remember; for me, the realization had come in my late teens. Ten months after meeting, we got married. Two years later I had a vasectomy. We've now been married 42 years, and have never had any regrets whatever about our decision.
Guilt?? Quite the opposite.
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