Childless? “Here’s What You Should Do”

Dear friends,

I have been working on the “best of the blog” book I’m putting together and decided to put together a section titled, “Why Don’t You . . .” with posts about the various things people suggest we do to ease our childless angst. For example:

  • Who hasn’t heard, “Why don’t you just adopt?” Or “You could become a foster parent.” We all have. Of course, that totally ignores the fact that if your partner doesn’t want your own children, why would he want someone else’s. Also, adoption and fostering are not easy, and not everyone can meet the requirements. Sure, we have all heard beautiful adoption stories where everything worked well, but we have also known people who waited years through one disappointment after another or who got turned down flat for some reason.
  • Most childless women with reluctant husbands have also been urged to accidentally-on-purpose forget to use their birth control and surprise their mates with, “Oops, I’m pregnant.” I don’t think that’s a fair thing to do to someone you love, but well-meaning people told me that, and I know others have heard it, too.
  • “You should look into IVF, donor eggs or sperm, or fertility treatments of some sort.” As if you never thought of that. Maybe you’re already doing it and prefer not to talk about it. Unfortunately, all the science in the world cannot guarantee a baby, and it costs a fortune. Think one Mercedes for each procedure.
  • “Oh, he can just get that vasectomy reversed.” Well, sometimes. It doesn’t always work, especially if the original surgery was performed years earlier, and if he doesn’t want to get the vasectomy reversed, you’re stuck.
  • “Just relax. God will send you a baby in due time. Look at Abraham and Sarah in the Bible.” Yeah, they were a bazillion years old, and there was an angel involved.
  • “Volunteer to work with kids. Become a Big Brother or Big Sister. Tutor, mentor, babysit.” Not the same. Sometimes it just makes you feel worse.
  • “Just enjoy your stepchildren. That’s all the kids you need.” Um, no.

That’s what I have come up with so far. I welcome you to add to the list of “Why don’t you . . .” comments you have gotten from friends, family, and well-meaning strangers.



13 thoughts on “Childless? “Here’s What You Should Do”

  1. In the “you should look into…” department, I was told “why don’t you use a surrogate mother?“

    I rarely get that angry but I allowed myself to feel it and gave her a piece of my mind.

    I’ve also been told that I don’t like kids. Very false.

    My naive younger self even said “since I don’t have kids, my pet is like my child” – ha! Nooooo.

    Off the top of my head, Sue, that is all I can think of for now.


  2. “You want to get married and have a family but your partner doesn’t want to? You should leave your partner.”

    Easier said than done.


  3. The volunteer to be a “big sister”. I’ve heard that one.

    The thing for me is – a big brother/big sister situation is unique on its own. Usually it’s an adult who feels the desire to selflessly give of themselves to a child who is disadvantaged in some way. It’s a wonderful unique friendship that many people consider to be very rewarding. And usually temporary.

    It’s a great situation for people with time on their hands, a calling in their heart, or someone who wants to build their resume. It’s not a proper substitution for someone who wants to build a family. It’s just not.

    It’s like telling a person whose dream in life is to own a restaurant. Oh, you don’t have the money or skills to have a restaurant? You know what you should do? You should volunteer at a soup kitchen.

    Sure, great solution. Live your life dreaming about a restaurant. Spend a bunch of time and money trying to get one going. Only to fail. Dine out in other restaurants and think of the ways you’d do it differently. Then deal with the fact that you can’t, because you don’t yet have your own restaurant. In the meantime look forward to that one afternoon (every other Tuesday) where you can work the soup kitchen and “pretend” you have it all. Then keep doing it until the soup kitchen closes and you have to find a new soup kitchen to pretend with. Sounds awesome!

    It’s not fair to compare a soup kitchen gig to a real human relationship. Many good things come from big brothers/big sisters. Many good things come from devoting time to a soup kitchen. But they do not fill a real burning void in a person’s life and, as such, are stupid suggestions.


  4. I love this. You’ve thrown in a few which I haven’t heard, being in different circumstances. I’m shocked at the deceitful one, though I shouldn’t be, as I’ve seen many comments on posts and messageboards with people deriding a partner because they want to stop IVF, or don’t want to adopt. As if it is only the wish of the person who wants to have children that is important.

    All these people with their instant solutions. They really don’t think about us, they fail to understand us, and refuse to simply listen and be with us as we process it, because it makes them uncomfortable.


  5. Become a single mother (as if it’s so easy). You get to make all the parenting decisions on your own! No one to fight with! (And no one to help either – financially, emotionally, physically, etc.)

    Try this “new” dating app! I know someone who met their partner on it and now they have kids! (As if the last 20 years of dating just never happened…of course, yes, it’s always the NEXT guy who could be The One.)

    Just go out to a bar and have a one night stand.

    And my least favorite: “Take mine!”


  6. Just go on holiday and relax, that will help (to conceive).

    And, long after we had been trying to conceive, but just after our fostering of siblings for 4 years had come to an abrupt and unplanned end and I was broken hearted ‘go on holiday for a week to get over it’. Took me years to even begin to get over it!


  7. Thank you for this post Sue!

    Of course, for me, I never really had a lot of people asking questions, or making these kinds of suggestions. And this might be a generational thing. My generation is and was always expected to take the reins that the previous generations feminists had offered us like we ALL wanted them. Here you go we did it, you can have a great career, AND be a mom, because we burned our bras in the 70s. And my generation was like, “Thanks! I hate it!” End rant.

    Ok, so I did hear the flushing pills and poking holes thing. Men aren’t actually that stupid. They are perfectly capable of buying their own condoms, keeping those condoms locked in a hermetically sealed safe, and using them when needed without letting them out of their sight, then promptly, flushing used condoms. Also, there is this idea that a man will hate a woman who would do such a thing (lie about birth control), so after the baby comes he’s gone.

    My ex-mother-in-law said to me, “Can’t you put your dream of having kids on the back burner?” Now, keep in mind, this was after six years of waiting and putting having kids on said back burner. I still to this day do not know what the actual deal was with that family. His family did and said everything to go along with his “I’m not ready to have kids yet, and have no idea when or if I will ever be ready” agenda. Don’t know why they didn’t say to him, hey dummy, wife will leave you if you don’t let her be happy. It’s like they knew something I didn’t. He always said he wanted kids…someday…but it was clear he lied.

    Adoption or fostering is totally out of the question if the husband has no desire for kids of any kind.

    And here’s one for the list, told to me by ex-husband: “Why don’t you be a surrogate mom, and get it out of your system?” Keep in mind, I had never had kids before, and never been pregnant. Also I was raised Catholic. Wow. So, obviously I said, no, Catholics don’t believe in that type of thing. He said, no biggie, we just make a baby that is ours and then give it to someone. This wasn’t the first time us adopting out a baby had come up. When we were first married, we were worried our birth control might fail and he had said if I got pregnant we would be adopting out the baby as “we were not ready for a baby yet” which was also BS. So then he went online and looked up the surrogate mom thing and found out no one would ever get a surrogate mom who has never had a baby before. I could honestly not believe how dense he was thinking I would willingly give away a child like that.

    And yes, my dad suggested being a Big Sister. I have no comment on this.


    • Crystal, thank you! This comment was totally worth waiting for. Sorry about the 70s. I can’t believe your ex suggested giving up your child for adoption. His mother’s comments were pretty weird, too. Thank God he’s an ex.


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