A lot of people try to give meaning to their lives by building a house, planting a tree, and bringing up a child. There are some, however, who are content with just the first two options. In fact, recent U.S. population surveys show that a record percentage of women don’t have kids. Recently, reddit user throwawaygeneral8899 (who is currently getting married) decided to find out how these people are dealing with the consequences of their choice. They created a post asking "Older couples that decided to not have children ...how do you feel about your decision now that years have passed?" The responses started pouring in quickly, and you can really feel the honesty behind them.

#1

My husband & I are in our 50s & have been married 19 years. We both grew up with abusive dads, were the “smart kid” in the family, got the hell out ASAP, worked our way through college & made something of ourselves before meeting & getting married. A lot of common ground & we’ve built a strong, rock-solid marriage.

We considered having kids, but after working so hard on healing from the childhood abuse & escaping the cycle of poverty we grew up in, we decided long ago that just the two of us was enough. We still consider ourselves a family and we’ve been really happy with our life together. Our home is peaceful & that’s the thing we care about the most.

If I had to choose now, knowing what I do, between becoming a mother & having the marriage & home life I now enjoy, it’s absolutely no contest. Zero regrets.

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Jessica Bertram 2 months ago

I feel the exact same way. My husband and I chose this, to escape the cycles of poverty and abuse, and to build a life that is both satisfying and rewarding. So far so good: 17 years without regrets.

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Researchers rarely collect data that distinguishes between the involuntarily childless and the consciously childfree. The 2014 census figures, however, revealed that 47.6 percent of women between age 15 and 44 have never had children ― the highest rate ever tracked. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center report, 19 percent of women remain childless by age 40 to 44.

#2

We've been married twenty years. We are both 50. Neither of us wanted to bring children into our family.

I spent a WONDERFUL afternoon with my 16 year old niece yesterday. We talked about her boyfriend, picked blackberries and discovered a woodland clam [fingernail mussel] living in a mud puddle [vernal pool] in the woods, which we named Fred. It was magical. I just adore her.

Not having kids is just as normal as wanting kids, I've always felt.

Zero regrets.

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Elizabeth Shaaber 2 months ago (edited)

i fully agree... my decision to not have kids has nothing to do with how i was raised or my feelings towards children in general. it was just the natural decision, like others make when choosing to have kids, it just wasn't meant for me.

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Amy Blackstone, a gender sociologist at the University of Maine who specializes in childfree research, hopes that her work at least helps question the assumption that little boys and girls will grow up to become parents. "Right now, girls in particular, but girls and boys both, are raised to imagine themselves as parents of children," she told Huff Post. "But if we more critically thought about the question of whether or not to parent, then everyone would have the opportunity to make the choice that’s right for them."

"Of course, the childfree would benefit... if we made it a choice rather than an assumption,” Blackstone said. "But I think parents would benefit, too."

#3

No regrets. Not everyone wants them, and if you're not sure, it's best to hold off. Having ambivalent (or worse) parents does a real number on a kids self esteem.

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The Girl on Fire 2 months ago

The last part is very true

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Blackstone conducted 60 to 90-minute interviews with 31 people (21 women and 10 men) about their decision to live childfree. The small qualitative study found out that the choice is not spontaneous but rather a complex and ongoing conversation. This pushes back on critics, saying that childfree couples are selfish or flippant.

Since publishing her research, Blackstone has interviewed 44 more people, expanding the diversity of her participant pool. She wishes to continue her research in the future as well, which will hopefully create a world where childfree people don’t have to defend their choice to others or suffer socially for it.

#4

Well...I'm a dude in a relationship with a dude. 26 years. We could have had children but didn't. Have plenty of nieces and nephews to spoil.

Also...we've been able to save and we are retiring this week. I'm 54.

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Hope Floats 2 months ago

You made the right decision for yourselves, so good for you.. And retiring at 54?..That 'right' decision, just became a GREAT one!..

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#5

Mid-40s, married for 22 years. No regrets. We’re both extremely happy - we have a great marriage, fulfilling jobs, money (and time) for all the fun things we want to do, and as much travel as we want (currently on week 6 of a 7 week road trip). I have never felt a lack in my life for not having children, and have always felt that having children would be detrimental to my happiness. I’m sure it’s great for those that actually want kids, but I’ve never been one of those people.

I also have around 16 nieces and nephews, so we get to sort of experience that whole "having a kid" thing for a week or two at a time...and then send them home, which works out perfectly.

Our two cats and one dog are as close to having kids that we will ever have, and trust me - that’s about as much responsibility for someone else’s life as we should be given. I love our pets, but having a dog has very firmly shown me that it’s a good thing we never had kids.

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SBW71 2 months ago

No regrets at all. I got a husband and 2 fur babies. That's all I need.

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#6

My husband and I are 48. Not having kids is a huge relief, still. We get to travel, have a nice house, walk around naked if we want, and I have disposable income to support causes that are important. My life is fulfilling and happy.

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Foxxy 2 months ago

I never understood the people who say that if you don’t have kids you aren’t fulfilled. Not everyone wants kids (as this post shows) and that is fine. They can still live very fulfilling lives.

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#7

Every kid I don't have is like $186,000 I don't need to make.

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Id row 2 months ago

Amen. Plus you don't have to worry about them screaming at you that you ruined their life when you say no to the thousand dollar iphone they want. The entitlement of kids today makes me double glad I didn't have them.

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#8

I love my life. Kids never factored into it. I never wanted them, so simply didn't have them.

Having never wanted them, I don't think about having missed out on anything or that I'm lesser for it.

Children aren't mandatory

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Jaguarundi 2 months ago

I love that last line.

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#9

I'm not a couple, just a person. I've been in lots of relationships and was married twice. I would not have made a good parent. Regret sometimes I wasn't born into a different life, but given the cards I was dealt... I think I made the right choice in that department and have no regrets.

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Michyle Glen 2 months ago

Same here,,, Most of my relationships were short term, and I was always afraid I would be like my Father (he had a temper) and that I might put one of my kids into a wall. Better not to have kids if you you have a temper. Because Kids love to push the envelope to see how far they can get away with anything.

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#10

I'm a 49 year old female and have never regretted my decision to not have kids. I think I've always been missing the mommy gene. I like not having the responsibilities and obligations (and expenses!) that go along with having kids.

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Nancy Jeckells 2 months ago

I am missing the mommy gene as well, although I like babies and little children, but when they start to talk back, forget about it, I just want to run for the hills. I was engaged at 26 but he wanted kids. turned out it was a deal-breaker . I could just see that it wasn't the life I wanted. this was in canada. because I wasn't tied down, I was able to move to england in the 80s, where I met a wonderful man who has been my husband for over 20 years. Luckily, he didnt want children either,. we have wonderful lives down in cornwall. be true to yourself. always......

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#11

We're both in our mid 40s. When we got married in our mid 20s we were trying to have kids, until we realized that we were pretty much just doing it because it was expected of us by family. I decided to not get pregnant and my husband has supported my decision.

After a few years my husband started having spotty employment due to health issues and ended up on disability. We don't know if he'll ever be able to work again or what his long term health will be like. We were concerned that he wouldn't be able to contribute to a child's life, either financially or by providing care. Plus I found out I have fertility issues and it would be very expensive and difficult, if not impossible, for me to get pregnant. Also I've realized in the last few years that 1) my upbringing qualifies as abuse and I'm more like my abuser than I'm comfortable admitting; 2) I don't want to treat a kid the way I got treated but I'm afraid it would be inevitable without a crap ton of ongoing therapy for the entire family; and 3) I realized that I just don't really like kids that much. Having a kid around for a couple hours? Fine. 24/7 for minimum 18 years? No thanks.

Sometimes I worry that when we're old we'll be alone and regret it then, but we have plenty of nieces and nephews, and the fear of the possibility of regret thirty or forty years from now isn't a valid reason to get pregnant IMO.

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TD Baker 2 months ago

shouldn't worry, there are people with children, and the kids don't care or visit or ship them to a home and wash their hands of it. there are no guarantees in life, make the best of what you love starting with yourself.

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#12

I'm going to give you the different answer. I met my guy at 26. I was ready for kids at 32. He started stalling, hoping to run my clock out. I thought I was 'too old' to find someone new in time to have kids.

I tried to accept it. To find something else to give my life purpose. I have a fulfilling professional career. I donate. I volunteer. I care for my older family members. I have friends.

But, you know what? I never got over my anger and resentment of being denied children. Last year, after 20 years together, I ended things.

Now I'm back to looking at ways to become a Mom, however that happens. I have my own frozen eggs. I'm open to fostering or adopting.

And I don't regret leaving my ex, not even a little. I feel resentment, and cheated.

For what it's worth, Embryo adoption is also a thing. It's far more cost effective than domestic infant adoption, and you can generally do it until age 55, after that on a case by case basis.

Some people can move past it, others can't until they have exhausted every possible outlet. I'm in the latter category. I wish you peace, with whatever you decide.

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Kimberly Young 2 months ago

Wow, her ex sounds like an awful human.

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#13

I'm approaching 60, husband is approaching 70, and we get that question a lot. We know we made the right choice. I'm a teacher, so I've spent my life working with wonderful kids, but simply never wanted to go home to more kids after work. We don't know who will take care of us when we're decrepit, but adult children are no guarantee of having care in old age.

However, I think we both miss having grandchildren to take places, Christmas is quiet, and family barbecues are non-existant. That part is a bit sad.

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JP 2 months ago

There are more ways of having 'grandkids' than having grandkids. So many organizations out there that help kids and need volunteers. You don't have to become foster parents to change a child's life. A 'family' is what you make of it, so if you want family barbecues, full Christmas's and taking children to fun events, then become involved and create a family.

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#14

I always thought I'd wake up one day and be clucky and ready to start a family. That day never came and I'm pushing 50 now so I've missed my chance.

I sometimes wonder if I made a mistake not having kids but its not something i really regret.

On the plus side, I am looking at retiring with a 6 figure income at 52, regularly donate and do charity work. In-fact I am looking at starting my own charity at the end of the year to dedicate more time to when I retire.

In some ways not having children has/will allow me to help more people than just my immediate family.

My suggestion is do what feels right, either way its a big decision that only you and your partner should make.

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Alex Bailey 2 months ago

If there is already a charity that covers the area you want to support then please don't start another. Doubles the admin and halves the support. Also, people don't usually understand the role trustees have to play. It's more convoluted than people realise.

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#15

I'm 41 and chilling, do what I want when I want, no money issues, so I'm happy. I never felt like I wanted kids, I just didn't feel I would be a good parent, so I think it would be irresponsible on my part. People still like to tell me I just "haven't found the right girl yet" but I tell them the right girl is one who doesn't want to have kids. Not sure why it's such a big deal, but no one has ever said "good for you, that's awesome". Kinda f**ked up there's enough people on this planet already.

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Jessica Bertram 2 months ago

"Good for you, that's awesome!"

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#16

I’m not that old (37) and I’m not a couple, but I didn’t have kids and I can say undoubtedly, I wouldn’t have accomplished the things I am very proud of in my life if I’d gone down the family route.

My nieces and nephews are enough for me, and I can give them back and won’t be held responsible for how they turn out. It’s honestly not a bad deal at all.

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Erika Jones 2 months ago

I like how many people mention their nieces and nephews - spending time with other people's kids, family or otherwise, can be great, and much less of a commitment than having your own! I'm sure the kids appreciate the attention, too. :-)

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#17

I’m 60 now, been married for 29 years. God did not provide me with the proper temperament to raise children. Have never regretted our decision to be child free. We’re good

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Id row 2 months ago

Same. A crying baby would have made me have a nervous breakdown. I just don't have it in me.

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#18

My husband and I have been together for 27 years, and we originally said we didn't want kids. Then we thought we should have some, and tried for a decade with no luck. So we had a serious talk, and decided we didn't really want them after all, and stopped trying. Now that the pressure is off and we both feel nothing but relief, we are enjoying life so much. It's wonderful to just be selfish without having to make excuses or feel resentful and be able to travel on our own schedule and make decisions that just impact us. If we could have had kids naturally, no harm, no foul, and we would have loved and accepted them, but it didn't happen, so no worries. And we also don't have to worry about f*cking up another human accidentally. Life is good, and we have the finances and resources to take care of ourselves. The only negative is that we are both the end of the line for our genetic ancestors. But that doesn't seem like a good enough reason to try the crazy fertility treatments beyond what we already did.

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TD Baker 2 months ago

if you don't want children you are not selfish. you are realistic. there are a lot of people who have children and they are very selfish-the child suffers, and the world proves it with a lot of messed up families.

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#19

My wife and I are in out mid 40's. I hope that counts as "older".

We're very happy with our decision. We have the ability to live a pretty comfortable lifestyle, and I think we generally have a lot less stress than our child-having peers, and we'll be able to retire earlier.

Our lives are full and fun, and I get to spend a ridiculous amount of time with my wife (which is the best thing ever).

Also, there are some things that you may not think about. For example, I recently had some changes at my job that created a lot of potential income stress. I was flipping out pretty hard. If I had a kid in (or nearly in) college, I might have gone full meltdown.

Many of the concerns that went in to our decision not to have kids were centered around our own personalities, so I'm not a "child free" advocate, or anything, but I do think that many people have kids because they are "supposed to" or because the want "someone to take care of them when they're old," which I think is a terrible reason to have kids.

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FloC 2 months ago

I do agree with this about all the wrong reasons to have kids. I am childless myself (never wanted any). When people tell me "who will take care of you ?" I think that is very selfish to put this strain on the children.

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#20

I fear the answer to this. I'm ambivalent about kids. But I'll never forget holding the hand of a man on his last day in hospice as he said " Oh God, I wish I'd had a child."

He was married to one woman for close to 50 years, taught for nearly 40. His room was filled with cards and photos from former students, friends, and family. It's impossible to say if he was lucid, but the regret in his voice was heartbreaking.

I say now I'd be happy with children or none; biological, adopted, or step, but until the end I won't ever know.

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Id row 2 months ago

And even if he had kids, there's no guarantee they would have been there at the end.

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#21

My wife and I have been married for 12 years - I am 36 and she is 40, so, yeah, likely not in the cards. It is a reality that, while tough, I am slowly learning to accept.

I realized that as a guy, I always look at having kids with rose-colored glasses - ball games, working on my classic car with them, dad jokes, the fun stuff. That's easy for me as it's not my body and sacrifice. My wife is not on board and it's her body and I love and respect her to much to force her hand. If either one of us are not 100% ok with a major decision, we don't do it, end of discussion.

I look forward to spoiling my nieces and nephews and spending more time with my wife and continuing to make our world about us, forever.

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Demi Zwaan 2 months ago

This is bad for your relationship. One person definitely not wanting kids and the other does, but goes along with the decision. In the end, he will resent her for taking away his chance to have children away and it WILL come up in an unrelated fight. You should really be on the same page on big things like having children and not just ‘respect her decision’.

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#22

No regrets.

Until I was in my mid-20s I always thought I wanted kids. Then I stayed with a couple I knew who had toddlers. They were nice kids, but I remember one Saturday morning they poked me awake for cereal. It was an epiphany. I remember thinking "I will never want this."

Fast forward several decades. Not too long ago I was at a family function with an 8 year old. He's not a bad kid, but Christ it was just...loud. Everything was just really loud. XBox, talking all the time, interrupting with questions. Mind you, I'm not complaining about the childrens behavior. They were better than average, from what I can tell. I'm just celebrating my decision not to get involved.

I am soooo happy I did not subject myself to that.

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Id row 2 months ago

Those kettle whistle shrieks they do...makes me want to jam an oyster fork in my ear.

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#23

I wanted them but never met the right person. I'm REALLY glad I didnt have any of my previous partners- they would either have made terrible mothers or we just did not make for a healthy couple.
I have the perfect partner now, and she did fall pregnant, but we lost the baby to Dandy Walker syndrome. Getting a bit too old to try again now. I am very upset that I will not have children, but I don't regret not having children with anyone but my current partner.

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Lousha 2 months ago

I always thought that if one day I'd feel that way, realising I wanted kids but by then being "too old" I'd just adopt a slightly older kid. That way a kid with very slim chances of a family would get one, and I'd get to be a mom still. A good deed and a blessing all in one. By now I know that this won't happen, I simply don't want kids. But I don't think those who want them shouldn't have one just because they waited too long or had issues getting a biological one. DNA would not mean anything for me. Apart from my parents I don't keep any contact with any of my family members because they are not worth one moment of my life. So much for blood and all that...

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#24

I go through phases where I regret not having a kid, I still have plenty of time: My wife and I are 36, but we made the decision to be childless a decade ago, maybe more.

I understand the appeal of having children and feel it on some primal level, but logically the pros vs. cons of having a kid... there are just far too many cons.

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Wizardbg 2 months ago

This. This is exactly my thoughts on it. There is definitely this inherent feeling when I see my friends with children or see the students in my classroom, but at the end of the day the cons are far too much. If I ever decided to have a child, I would gladly foster kids who need a home.

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#25

I’m sad and in many ways I think my husband is also. He is terrific around our friends’ kids. Me not so much. But I see the unbelievable love that my friends have for their children and that is something I will never know. We’ve had great careers and have a wonderful life together. But it is also true that we also are very much alone without family. Our siblings all live far away and parents are gone. So when we die,that’s it. We have lived a self absorbed life is my guess. It doesn’t feel that good deep down.

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Katchen 2 months ago

This is so sad.

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#26

I go back and forth. My SO has some significant mental health issues and I know that I would be alone doing much of the emotional labor of raising a child, and I know I'm not really capable of doing it alone. Sometimes I worry very much about what I will do when I am old. I'm an introvert and dont have many friends and am not overly likable, so I assume I will be alone. I just hope that there are some kind robots to take care of me, and that I'll die before the robots turn on us.

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Alex Bailey 2 months ago

That is sad but it doesn't sound ideal for a child to be brought up in.

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#27

I love our decision not to have kids. I’ve always had trouble adulting well and the idea of spending all my spare cash on diapers and bottles didn’t appeal to me. I’m selfish, so is the husband, and we are okay with that. I have to prepare for old age because I’m not going to have any kids to look out for me when I’m frail and senile, which sometimes worries me, but then I remember that I didn’t have to raise kids and I smile a bit.

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TD Baker 2 months ago

why people say they are selfish? no, they are practical, realistic and self-aware. do you know how many children are raised by selfish parents. messed up for life, then the kids that survive being emotionally abused are either duped into taking care of them or abandoning them. stop saying you're selfish if you don't want kids. i say bravo to you for being responsible. btw, i love kids but grew up in a phyisical and emotionally abusive family, i couldn't run the chance of putting children through that, plus i do have the option of adoption.

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#28

For my spouse, I can only say that they have physical and psychological issues that they've mentioned that they'd rather not pass on to a child.

For myself, I've always said that while I'm occasionally afraid that someday I might regret not having children, that's not the same as wanting children, and that's an important difference to me. I have my own reasons to believe I'd probably not be a good parent.

Yeah, we both get concerned sometimes whether anyone will be arsed to care about the sole survivor once the other's gone or incapacitated. But this thought is the result of our decisions, not a basis for changing our minds about having kids, which we will not. Having kids or not is no guarantee that you’ll end up cared for or not anyway, though it does probably move the needle on your odds.

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katarina 2 months ago

"I'm occasionally afraid that someday I might regret not having children, that's not the same as wanting children, and that's an important difference to me." - agree completely!

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#29

Not older, I'm 34 and my wife is 31. Our lives are pretty f**king awesome. We do whatever we want whenever we want, and our focus and attention is on one-another. This really is the life for me, and she would tell you the exact same thing about herself. We are also the super-cool-but-quirky aunt and uncle that spoil the nieces and nephews, take them to do s**t their parents wouldn't usually/ever do... I mean it's great. I feel I'm surrounded by far, far too many people who are far, far to envious of us when they hear about our lives vs theirs, completely consumed by their children.

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misteriosa 2 months ago

To be honest, I too would be a little bit envious while hearing such stories of awesomeness because I am supertired, chronically lacking sleep and my patience is stretched to the limits, but then again, when I come home and put these three monkeys to bed, I know there's no place I'd rather be at that moment but beside them. Sounds a bit masochistic, haha.

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#30

We are in our late fifties, we earn average money but because we don't have kids we have a lot of disposable income. Also I don't think I could have coped with the worry of having a child in today's horrible world. Both our mothers are in homes. We still make sure they're ok. There's no one to look after us. I sometimes want to ask my wife if she regrets not having kids but daren't. If she said yes it would destroy me.

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Katchen 2 months ago

The average age of a child in the American foster care system is 8. If they wanted to they could positively impact the life of an older child without the 18 years and biological hardship of having their own children.

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