Childlessness from the man’s perspective

The only childless men I know are my younger relatives. All the men of my generation and older have children, although they may not have acquired them with their present wives. Childlessness comes with the second wife syndrome; he’s done with kids, and you missed your chance.

But sometimes it’s the woman who doesn’t want to have children with the new husband. Either she has hers already or she never wanted to be a mom. Same problem. Or is it?

Men have more time. Women need to get pregnant no later than their early 40s while men have decades longer, so the need to hurry is less urgent. But once they’re committed to a relationship with no babies on the horizon, don’t they grieve the loss of children, too?

Man or woman, it always comes down to a decision. Do I love this person enough to sacrifice the children I might have had? Did I always want to be a mom or dad? There are no easy answers and no way for both people to get what they want.

I sometimes read a blog called Him + 17, written by a man who married a woman 17 years older than he is. They were unable to have children together. In a 2009 posting, he wrote, “I know I’ve missed out on something fundamental to human experience. Sheri has, too. Though I would not change a whit of my past if it meant losing Sheri, I sometimes try to understand who that young man was, and why he made the decisions he did.”

A few years ago, an anthology called Nobody’s Father was published by Touchwood Editions in Canada. It offers some good examples of the male perspective. Some of the men are content with their situation while others are clearly in pain. One writer admits to conflicted feelings when a child has a tantrum over something he wants at the store. While he is grateful he never had to deal with that situation, he simultaneously wants to hold and comfort the child, giving him everything he wants.

If you wanted kids and don’t have them, it hurts. Even if you never thought you wanted them, you might sometimes feel that something is missing.

Men out there, what do you have to say on this?

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The Male Point of View

My youngest stepson says he will never have children. He’s been pretty consistent about that, although he doesn’t give reasons.

Last weekend in Georgia, I talked to two men who were very open about their reasons. Alek, who runs a bookstore, is 40, unmarried and childless. He doesn’t want kids because he doesn’t like them, he says. I asked him what he’d do if he hooked up with a woman who wanted to be a mom. He replied that no woman who wanted children would want him. “I’m married to my work and I’m difficult,” he said. Okay.

Then I ended up in a cab driven by Massoud, with his wife Puran riding shotgun. They’re from Iran. Massoud has two daughters from a previous marriage and had a vasectomy eight years ago. Puran, who wanted children, had to have a hysterectomy four years ago, so they are childless, but seem very happy together. Why no more kids, I asked Massoud. “They take all your money and they’re nothing but trouble,” he said. I wonder what his daughters would think if they heard that. Anyway, biology has sealed the deal for them.

I know men who have agreed to fatherhood despite age differences, offspring from another marriage or misgivings about the whole deal, but I’m always surprised when a man states so definitely that he is not having any children, period, end of discussion.

On the heels of these conversations, I was thrilled to discover a new book, Nobody’s Father: Life Witout Kids, has been published in Canada. This collection of essays, edited by Lynne Van Luven and Bruce Gillespie, is a followup to Nobody’s Mother. Amazon has it for $16.95. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Childless men out there, I just have one question? Why?