10 Challenging Thoughts About Childlessness

1. Don’t assume you know what your partner wants. Ask. Ask again later to be sure, but don’t nag. Nagging doesn’t help, whether you trying to get someone to take out the trash or change their mind about having children. They feel the way they feel.

2. It’s not just women who get caught in childless-by-marriage situations. Men do, too. They just don’t talk about it as much.

3. When guys meet, they don’t ask, “How many kids do you have?” They ask, “What do you do?” Maybe we should all just say, “Tell me about yourself.”

4. Childless women still have motherly instincts. Example: Our new neighbor’s little boy runs around naked most of the time. He’s too old for that, plus it’s cold around here. I want to wrap a blanket around him and get him some clothes.

5. People with giant families will never understand what it’s like to be just you and your partner or to be alone.

6. Mother’s Day is a drag for most people. I’m guessing 80 percent of us hate it. Some don’t have children. Some have stepchildren who ignore them. Some don’t get along with their mothers. Some loved their mothers, but they’ve passed away. Father’s Day gets less attention, but the same issues apply: no kids, no dad, no acknowledgement from stepchildren. And all those pictures of fathers fishing, hunting or barbecuing with the adoring family, bleh!

7. There will come a point in your life when you don’t want a baby. The idea of caring for an infant sounds exhausting. But you do want grown children and grandchildren. You would give anything to have someone who looks like you call you “Mom” or “Dad.”

8. Most of us can’t point to the day we knew we were never going to have children. It just happens. When do you change from potentially childless to forever childless?

9. The UK and Australia appear to be way ahead of the Americans in forming groups and offering meetups and online support for the childless. Why is that? I have considered doing some kind of Zoom thing, but then I remember most of you prefer to be anonymous. So what should we do? Ideas?

10. Our book Love or Children: When You Can’t Have Both is listed for sale at target.com. I don’t know if you can buy it at an actual Target store; we don’t have any of those here. But people are ridiculously impressed. #1 on the New York Times bestseller list? Yawn. Available at Target? Wow!!!

Things have gotten a little too quiet around here. If you feel moved to comment on any of these, do it. Let’s talk!

Hugs from the Oregon coast.

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6 thoughts on “10 Challenging Thoughts About Childlessness

  1. #4, #5, and #7!

    I don’t have kids, but I definitely have maternal instincts.

    Even my own family doesn’t realize how fundamentally different my life is from theirs. I feel like what matters to me and the whole way my life is structured is different from them.

    I never thought #7 would be true for me. I’m so glad it is. At least that specific pain has ceased.

    Good list! There are some interesting things to think about here… I’m thankful for your blog space.

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  2. Number 7 – I can’t imagine myself with a baby now. I’m 45 and my ‘little ghosts’ are around 5-10, that sort of age. Sometimes it pains me to see children that age pass my house with their parents. As I get older, maybe my mind’s eye children will too.

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  3. Hi Sue – I just found your blog. Thank you so much for bringing this to life…I genuinely thought I was the only person feeling this way. My husband and I have been married for 11 years. We’re still a few years shy of 40, so this discussion about whether to have kids is still happening. He’s amazing and I’m so happy with him. But this is the one and only thing that we haven’t been able to decide on. He says that he wants to give me the life that I want. I don’t want to trap him into something that he doesn’t really want for himself. It’s heartbreaking. But reading your posts and comments from the community give me hope that even if we don’t have kids, we could still make it work and continue to build a happy life together. Please keep writing.

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  4. These are all great points, Sue! 🙂 #7 is definitely true for me too. Re: #9, I have long noticed that the Brits seem to be miles ahead of us on supporting things like pregnancy loss and childlessness, and aging without children. I’m not sure WHY that is, but I do wish some of our leaders here in North America would pay attention…!

    Re: #8, it was kind of a dawning realization (rising dread??) for me, but I have pinpointed July 18, 2001, as the date I took my first steps towards accepting that I was going to have a childless life. That’s the day I made my first post to a message board for childless women on a site called iVillage, which doesn’t exist anymore. That’s 20 years ago, next month! (Coincidentally, I’ve also learned that July 18th is Jody Day’s birthday!)

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