29 People Who Decided Never To Have Kids Share What They Wish Their Younger Selves Knew

via Unsplash - Michał Parzuchowski
via Unsplash – Michał Parzuchowski

1. Contributing To The Future Is What’s Important

51 here, I started to have weird pangs of regret, or maybe longing is a better word, as I passed through age 45-50. This TOTALLY surprised me as I’d always been rock-solid in my choice till then.

Recently though I began to suspect that what I was craving was not my own child exactly, but rather, a sense of contributing to the next generation in a more general sense. Passing on what I know, offering what guidance I can, feeling connected to humanity, having my life be about more than just me. I’m a research scientist and used to teach long ago and really used to enjoy that. I remembered how much I used to love advising the students – goong the extra mile for them and helping them find their way in life. So I just made an appt. with the departmental chair to ask if I can shift back to teaching, 1 semester per year, and instantly I felt this weight lift off me, like I’d found the right path. The craving for a child went POOF literally overnight.

So… there’s other ways to be part of the flow of generations than by having your own kid.


2. Wondering If he Missed Out

I’m only a few weeks from the half century so I hope that’s close enough to answer!

I’m really, really ambivalent about it.

On one hand, I have decent disposable income, can do whatever I want, when I want, and to me that feels great.

OTOH I see my old school pals with their kids either just about to graduate from university or recently having done so and I can’t help wondering if I’ve missed out in some way.

On balance, I think it’s worked out “okay” but with just a touch of “what if?”


3. Feels Bad For His Parents

I won’t have any children, but it pains me that my parents wont have grandchildren.


4. It Just Never Happened

While it wasn’t really a deliberate conscious decision, I could have sought it out more aggressively, that ship has sailed. I came from a large family, 4 older sisters, so I have lots of nieces and nephews, and their kids. I knew my first wife would not be a good mother, plus she didn’t want kids. I met my second wife in our early 40’s so due to our age and other factors it didn’t happen. Who knows, I realize it may get lonely later, but for now we’re content, travel a lot, and have all the toys we ever wanted.


5. Being A Stepfather Is Enough

50, male here. I got fixed at 27 because I had a very, very shitty childhood and was afraid that I might end up doing to a defenseless child what was done to me and there was no way in hell I was going to risk that.

Another reason was, frankly, that my self-esteem was so low that I didn’t think there was a woman out there that would want to carry my child.

I met my now-wife when I was 32. She tells me that she never would have dated/married me had I not had the vasectomy. She is 10 years older than I am and had two grown (17 & 21) kids when we married. So, without having any biokids, I am now the grandfather of 3 wonderful granddaughters (7,6 and 4).

It turned out well. Because of what was done to me, and seeing how I am as both a stepfather and a grandfather, I think it was the right choice. About thirty seconds a year, it seems, I regret it. But then I think of who I am, what my flaws are, and realize that I did the right thing for the right reasons.


6. Conflicted

There’s a part of me that wishes it had been different.

But I know I would have made a bad parent.


7. Cost Him The One True Love Of His Life

60 here. Never, ever regretted it, not for a moment. And it even cost me perhaps the one true love of my life.

I finally found the Perfect Woman, but it turned out she was looking for the Perfect Man.

After 4-some years of a relationship in which I made no secret of my lack of desire for paternity, she finally piped up and said she wanted kids and thought she could change my mind about it, and had finally grasped that it wasn’t gonna happen. There’s no compromise you can make in a situation like that, everyone will lose, no matter what you decide.


8. “Lonely, Old Age And Die Unmourned”

Aging boomer here. As I see the comfort children are to their aging parents I regret being childless. Selfish, I know. But old friends and relatives are dying off, the people left in my life are, at best, acquaintances, if that. A vast number of boomers like me are going to spend a very lonely old age and then die unmourned.


9. Europe Every Year

I’m 52 and I get to go to Europe every year and can take off for a hike or other time away whenever my schedule permits. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I do occasionally wonder who’ll be around to help out if I need it in my old age, but right away I remember that’s not the children’s job.


10. Childless But Just Became Guardians

I was never really all that interested in a typical domestic life. (Am female.) I dated and had some nice relationships. In my mid-30s (and still single) a dear friend of mine who is gay told me that if I decided I wanted to have a child he’d supply the genetic material and money to raise it, but that he didn’t want to be an active parent. That gave me something to really think about. I decided that I didn’t have a good reason to have a child and didn’t really want to do that. A few years later (I was 40), I met and fell in love with my husband. He was clear at the outset that he wasn’t interested in being a father. We have been as happy as clams with our child-free life. We haven’t had any pressure from our families or friends about it. The twist is that we became guardians to my sister’s little boy when she and his father died unexpectedly last year. So we are parenting. It’s going pretty well and we’re at a good point in our lives with regard to personal maturity and resources to be parents. We love him and he’s a great kid and is thriving with the help of some professional family therapy. Still, we do miss our adult lifestyle.


11. Less Than Zero Regrets

Zero regrets. Less than zero. Compared to my friends with kids, I enjoy a ridiculous amount of freedom in terms of money, time and responsibility. In retrospect, I don’t see benefits to having kids that rival these costs. That’s not why I didn’t have kids, but it’s the view from here. My parent friends seem largely miserable to me, and they are uniformly pale shadows of their former selves. I often miss them when they’re right next to me. Mind you, I’m not judging. If raising a family is important enough to you to sacrifice these things, godspeed. We all have our own cost/benefit scales. But no, it’s not for me.


12. Totally Good With It After 30 Years Of Marriage

I’m 55, my wife is 52. We are totally good with it as we discussed this very subject before we got married 30 years ago. And I’ve always said that if somehow she did get pregnant, I’d be fine with that, but that never happened (and most likely will not now I hope!) and we are just totally fine. One of my sisters had a kid years ago, and my wife’s brother has several kids. That helped remove pretty much any remaining pressure on us (there wasn’t much).


13. No Regrets But It Had A Cost

No regrets. I lost a good GF or two on the way, which sucked but did not make me waver, but the end result is the best.


14. Not Wanting Kids Makes Meeting People Very Hard

I’m 30s, childfree woman, got my tubes tied a few years ago. The only part of my choice that I regret is that I can’t find a relationship. I’ve had a few that have ended because of my lack of desire for kids, and it seems that all the single people my age either already have kids (and I don’t want that either), or want them. Even if I make that the only criterion in my search, it eliminates 99% of potentials.

It’s depressing thinking that I may never find anyone where there’s mutual attraction, and mutual childfree spirit.


15. Being Childless Has Worked Out Amazingly

My wife is 49, I am 52. Neither of us wanted kids. It’s worked out amazingly well. My best friend is trying to figure out how to pay for college for his son. (He can’t without he and the kid going into huge debt) while his daughter is fighting crippling social anxiety issues. And of all my friends, all of whom have kids, his are the lowest maintenance ones. I can honestly say that I have never once regretted not having children. I probably will in 30 or so years when I’m looking for help in my extreme old age, but for the past thirty years, I have zero regrets and am having an incredible, full life.


16. Dodged A Bullet By Not Having Any

I had some strong inclinations in my mid 30s but then it wasn’t in the cards and I decided it was best. Flash forward to today and I feel so glad I didn’t have to deal with kids. My friends who have them are just upset all the time – the kids are mostly teens now and are surly and not nice, they can’t ever go anywhere, they hear ” I hate you” and it kills them.

I see people with infants and little kids screaming in the market and most moms look exhausted and over-burdened. It really just doesn’t make sense to me anymore why you’d ever need to do this.

And yes, I have seen the good moments. Cute kids who help clear the table after dinner, sweet drawings and little questions and games. I am close with my nephew and niece. My nephew wants to be me and cries when he leaves. I get the heart-strings stuff.

But I just feel like I dodged a bullet. Sorry – maybe time does that to the childless so you don’t feel bad?


17. No Complaints

I feel fine. No complaints. I’m a 51-year-old lady. Somehow all my female friends have also been childless, too.


18. Absolutely No Regrets

48/Wife 46…Married 25 years this year with absolutely no regrets. We have lots of money, are looking forward to retiring soon and have been able to do many of our dream trips.


19. “I would have been a really shitty parent”

My 50th birthday is in my rear-view mirror, but it’s still pretty large there. I have never had children.

Regret? No, not really. I do wish that there were more children in my life, but I’m glad that I’m not raising any. I watch my friends deal with their children, and it very rarely makes me wish I had them.

I wish that the cultural default was to NOT have children, and then people would only have them after careful consideration, and realizing that they REALLY, REALLY wanted to raise them. This would be a far better world if that were true.

I think I would have been a better parent than many of my peers. And, I think I would have been a really shitty parent. It saddens me that both of those things are true, but they both are.


20. Seventy-Three, Unmarried, No Kids

I actually just finished a clinical round in a nursing home, and the same conversation came up about 4 weeks ago. She was 73, unmarried with no children. She told me she regretted it because she was so lonely now and had no one to visit her, talk to her or bond with her. Even though she has a roommate and other residents to talk to, she felt like no one loved her.

On the flip side, I have a cousin who’s 40 with no kids and loves his life. He’s in charge of our family functions, always travels cross country to visit extended family, etc. He travels a lot and doesn’t seem lonely, IMO.


21. The Bible Tells Me So

Late 50s here.

When I was a small child I read the Bible. It kept going on about this sin and that sin and punishment unto the however many generations down the line and I went; “Well that’s unfair.” and decided I would never have children because I didn’t want them and their children eternally punished for something I did.

And I am happy that I didn’t. Children are fine for a short visit, but I would have made a crappy father and I much prefer being the annoying uncle that gives drum sets for Christmas.


22. Getting Her Friends Back

56-year-old single, childless female here. I am very happy with my life. I’ve never been married, though I came close a couple of times. I have strong relationships with my nephews and nieces, as well as some of my friends’ kids. I now know this was the right path for me.

When I was in my early 30s I wondered if I wanted kids. It seemed weird not to. Yet I never had a desire; no biological clock ticking for me. When I turned 40, I felt a sense of relief; “good, I’m too old now to have kids” was my thought.

During my 30s I do wish I had actively sought out like minded people. Most of my friends were raising young kids and to be honest, I was a bit lonely. Now, most of my friends’ kids are grown or about to leave the nest and I’m getting my friends back 😊

Truly, no regrets.


23. It Feels Like A Loss

There is definitely some regret because I have been told many times that I would have been a good dad. Having children seemed to be a risky affair that had the potential to wreck me emotionally. Thus, my decision to not have kids was ultimately selfish. I now think that I probably should have assumed the risk even though I was not entirely wrong about my decision. At this point, it feels much like a loss.


24. Kids Can Be A Burden

Just turned 50. Interesting to think that going all the way back to the beginning of life I am the first of my ancestors to not reproduce. I have friends who have grown kids. Some of the kids are great, some are fuck ups who cause their parents a lot of grief. I have a friend with a 22 year old 300lb fully autistic son who is basically an enormous burden and my friend is miserable. If I could be assured I wouldn’t wind up with a kid who isn’t a burden I would consider it but the risk is too big that you can really make your life miserable.


25. Death Of A Bloodline

35m here/ 34 wife. No kids and not having any. My main concern is my name and bloodline dies with me. This topic is one close to my heart and I always wonder what I will feel like in 10+ years.


26. Ambivalent But Not Unhappy

I’m ambivalent about it.

There were times when our finances were horrible, and having kids would have made it worse for everyone. Or my husband would have had give up his entrepreneurial dream to support them.

And I’ve been able to do some traveling that I couldn’t do with kids (until they grew up).

But if I’d had kids at the same age as my parents did, they’d all be grown up by now. And the idea of passing things (both objects and interests) down to kids and grandkids (and having grandkids!) sometimes makes me think I should have had kids.

In the end I know that my life would have been so drastically different had I had kids, that I can’t even compare it with the life I’ve had.


27. Almost No Regrets

Almost, almost no regrets. Parents passed many years ago, so I never felt the need to bless them with grandchildren.

I always hoped my brother would have at least one kid, so I could be that cool uncle. You know, the single, hip dude with a sports car, a motorcycle, and a fun life and a bit of a wild side to be a counter to my brother’s uptightness.

But that never happened.

And now Mrs. Awesome and I are aunt and uncle to a couple of young ones on her side of the family, and she just adores them. But due to distance we only get to see them a few times a year, so we don’t seem (to me) to have much impact on their lives. They do adore Mrs. A though.

But I sometimes wonder how I would have been as a parent. Having crossed past 50 a while ago I wonder how I would have done at raising one (or more) children. First, would I have done better at it than my parents? Because as an adult now I see the areas where they were good parents, and also the areas where they frankly fell short. And second, would my own character have led to shortcomings of my own as a parent? I’ll never know.

And I’m okay with not knowing, because I wouldn’t want to end up at some point realizing that I did not do a good job as a parent, and my child (or children) didn’t turn out to be good adults.


28. A Friend In His 80s Who Calls Every Day

I have a friend who is in his 80’s. He never married and never had any children. That is one of his regrets. He calls me many times every day. He’s very lonely and bored all the time. Sometimes it is very irritating to me that he asks me to come over every day despite the fact that I live over a half-hour away each way. It’s literally over an hour round trip to his house and back, which he sees as a non-issue. He’s so lonely that he gets very emotional, no crying though, when I tell him that I can’t come over. One of my favorite things about him is that he literally has a photographic memory and is great at story-telling and has shared some great stories about Milwaukee, WI. and has made me feel many-times like I went back into a time machine. For those of you who plan to stay single and not have any children, I would strongly suggest volunteering at a school or college, being a docent at a museum, getting very close with your sibling’s children or getting very close with your friend’s children but not smothering them. Find anything where you’re around friends and loved ones or something. You don’t want to end up calling friends and family more than ten times a day. I have a friend on Facebook who has vowed to stay single and childless; and I truly worry about him.


29. Recent Regrets

42 now and had no regrets until a couple years ago. Now I sometimes regret the decision, and wish I could go back and do things differently. Other times, I am glad to not have kids. We have enough money to do what we want, great jobs, and freedom galore. But there definitely are times I feel lonely, bored with not having more to look forward to in life, and the fear of getting old alone. I’ll never experience being a parent.

My wife never wanted, and still doesn’t want kids. I married her knowing this, but I am surprised she still feels this way. I feel sorry for her since she’ll likely outlive me and be even more lonely when that happens.

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Lisa Woods

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