Someone Asks Childfree People Over 40 How They Feel About Not Having Kids, Gets 30 Honest Answers
When a 20-year-old says they don’t want to have kids, people often roll their eyes and respond with the classic, condescending, “Oh, you’ll change your mind when you get older.” Those words can sting like lemon juice in a fresh papercut, and, unfortunately, that young person will have to wait about 25 years before people stop assuming that they'll have regrets or suddenly wake up one day with baby fever. But deciding whether or not to have children is a personal choice, or a choice made between two partners, and starting a family is certainly not for everyone.
To shine some light on this topic, one curious Reddit user asked childfree people over the age of 40 how they feel about their decision not to have kids. Many of them shared eye-opening, raw and honest responses, so below, we've gathered some of their thoughts ranging from how fulfilling life can be without kids to how painful it was for some of them to learn they would never have children.
Be sure to upvote the responses that you find touching or that resonate with you, and if you're childfree yourself, feel free to let us know in the comments how you feel about that decision. Then, if you're interested in reading another Bored Panda article where you can hear from even more childfree adults about their thoughts on never having kids, look no further than right here.
I love kids. I love my nieces and nephews. I want to help them be good people, achieve their dreams, have experiences, and hear good advice from the viewpoint of someone not their parents. I love to play Evil Robot with them and family gatherings usually consist of me trying not to spill my beer while swarmed by squealing kids.
But I am an extremely introverted person, and I need a lot of time alone. I have never wanted children full time, and neither has my partner. We are, consistently, really happy with our choices to remain childless. The world needs awesome uncles and aunties to help shoulder the burden, and to slam kids on the bed yelling "Gravity takes you to the pit of Destruction!"
I'm 44, wife is 39 for a few more months.
We're feeling absolutely fine, it's the people we meet on a daily basis that seem to have problems with it.
I'm in my 40s and am glad I never had children. The way this world is going...jobs in 50 years will be harder to come by. Climate change is killing our planet and it's going to get worse. This world doesn't need another one of me, there are already enough people overpopulating it already.
I'd like to comment on behalf of my neighbors.
They're an old couple, probably mid 60s, who have more energy than anyone their age that I've met. Instead of kids they seemed to adopt our neighborhood as their family: hosting jam sessions, drunk Christmas caroling, and ping pong tournaments.
Idk if not having kids has kept their attitudes young, but when I(mid 20s) hangout with them it doesn't have that age gap feel to it, they just seem to have the energy of youth despite their age.
41. I chose not to have kids because I'm mentally ill. I only found out to what extent 3 years ago, but as a girl in my 20s, I just knew that I wouldn't be able to be different than my mom, whose anxiety and depression had caused my brother and I so much pain as children. I wouldn't accept the chance that I might have a child (bio or preferably to me, adopted) and be unable to avoid causing it pain, sadness, or growing up to be like me. I'm incredibly sad about it, it feels unfair of course, but it's still the proudest thing I've done in my life, and honestly I wish my mom had had the insight to do the same.
Note: before the whole "but then you wouldn't exist, wouldn't that be sad, etc." No. I think that's a silly argument. People who don't exist can't be upset about never having existed. If I were to blink out of existence now like Back to the Future, sure.
Rich. I feel rich.
My coworkers who make the same money as me complain all the time about not having enough, and here I am with more money than I know what to do with.
My husband and I are both 48, married 25 years, no kids. Absolutely no regrets. We discussed it before we got married, and every few years after. Never changed our minds. His mother resents me to this day, despite the fact that she has 6 grandkids and 3 great grandkids from my husband’s siblings. She once told me that there was something mentally wrong with a woman who didn’t want to carry her husband’s child. I don’t spend a lot of time around her. Finally got my tubes tied over 10 years ago. We are happily child free, and enjoy our life immensely.
52 yo woman. From a very young age I was absolutely certain I didn’t want kids. As a young girl I had zero maternal instinct. I *hated* babies, thought they were the ugliest creatures in the world and as anti-cute as possible. (Even hated dolls too, to the point that when somebody gave me a doll I cut all its hair off & buried it in the mud outside, lol).
When I became an adult the sheer hatred faded and I found I began to enjoy kids (BUT NOT BABIES. Never came around on babies. They still even smell gross to me! That nauseating milky smell... *shudder*). Anyway it was just crystal clear that I was not cut out to be a mother. Additionally I am pretty ugly and I as I grew up I realized I really don’t want to pass on the ugliness genes because tbh it’s a real burden. (I’ve also wondered if the lack of maternal instinct is itself genetic; if so, I shouldn’t pass that on either.)
Went through my 20s/30s perfectly happy with my decision.
Then to my surprise I felt flickers of regret and uncertainty popping up as I went through my 40s, which is when the door really closes permanently. My long-term bf & I split up, and the reality of aging completely alone began to sink in, especially as I began to develop some of the classic age-related health problems & realized there will never be anybody to drive me to the doctor, nobody to call for help, etc. But beyond even the aging-alone thing, I just began to crave more of a connection to the next generation.
That phase of uncertainty & slight regret lasted several years but actually it’s faded now. For one thing, as I watch my friends & parents age, I realized almost everybody ages alone anyway. None of my siblings live within 1000 miles of my folks, for example; and all my older female relatives, *all* of them, have ended up alone as their spouses either die or divorce.
Ultimately I realized there are many other ways to connect to the next generation besides just having kids of your own. I mentor grad students now & decided to go back to teaching, and that really has sated that craving for some kind of connection, some kind of impact on the world. I teach in community music groups too. Also my career is endangered-species research & climate change and I do feel that the work I’m doing there can potentially have much more of an impact than raising kids of my own; and if I’d had kids I would not have been able to really do my work as well (I have to travel all over the world constantly, and that would’ve been impossible with children).
And ultimately I know I’m too much of an introvert to have been happy with kids in the home. Literally this morning I was thinking about this, while I was cleaning my house, and I looked around at my beautiful little home and actually said out loud, “It’s so peaceful and pretty and restful and rejuvenating.” I LOVE my perfect peaceful home life, LOVE it. I’m happy every day; happy when I wake up, happy when I go to bed. I love my independence. I believe in my work & I love the way I can go traveling 6x/yr all over the world. I love mentoring my students, I love teaching. I’m glad I’m not passing on my genes. I’ll die alone, yeah, *and that’s okay* and I’ve made my peace with it.
This isn’t the right path for everybody but I know it’s the right path for me.
My parents are in their 60s and 70s and have many friends who never married or had children.
As they've aged and started to have more health issues, their friends have stepped up to the plate. Even some of those who did have children have been supported primarily by their friends.
My dad has driven his friends to and from chemo treatments. He visits them at home and brings them food. He's helped them arrange for Meals on Wheels or hospice. Many of his friends do the same for each other. They've known each other for 50+ years and they all look out for each other, with the healthiest ones looking after the sickest.
My dad's childhood friend Jay passed a few years back. He never married and had no children. My dad and his friends cared for Jay for years as he deteriorated, and he died at age 70 with his mother still alive at 90. My dad then took over looking after Jay's mother, since Jay was an only child and they'd been friends since high school.
We're both in our mid fifties and without children. We are very happy with just the 2 of us. We realise that we have no one to look after us when we are old and are already thinking about how to go about living when we will be in need of help. Nieces and nephews we won't approach for that. They have their lives with their own parents to look after. It is our decision not to have children so we have to make sure we will manage by ourselves.
In my 60s. My husband and I couldn't have children. We regret that, but we enjoy our life and have freedom to do things we couldn't do otherwise. It wasn't a choice, but it has turned out fine.
I didn't get married until I was 39, and my wife is eight years older than me so, yeah no. I'm 49 now. No regrets.
Your late 40's is a weird time. You have some friends the same age who are grandparents and some who have toddlers.
In our 50's, no kids, no regrets. My husband came from a family of nine kids and didn't want to struggle like his parents. As for me, the idea of children fills me with a horrible trapped feeling. I refused to ever play with baby dolls as a child.
At this point we smother our cats with affection and occasionally send money to our nieces and nephews. Oddly enough, little kids like us.
I'm 45 and I've never felt at all maternal - babies have just never done anything for me. I'm the eldest child in my family, and had to look after younger siblings so I'm done with it, plus I prefer dealing with humans that you can have a conversation with. It's not that I'm a psychopath or have no feelings, if anything I have too many, but I'd rather have pets than children. On top of this I grew up with a very shouty father, and I suppose he was emotionally abusive. I'm afraid that I'd react like he did, as to me that was "normal". I don't think I'd make a very good parent. It's a shame that more people didn't consider this before having kids. Too many people have them for the wrong reason.
My brother has two kids, and I'm aiming to be the cool auntie. I'm happy with that.
I'm in my early 70s, & not only do my wife and I have no kids, but many of the couples we know have no kids
It's not a topic of conversation or contemplation. We're all satisfied with our lives.
I am 51. I chose not to have kids because of serious family genetic problems. I miraculously don't suffer from it but I carry the genes and the genetic specialist I saw said there was an 80% chance my children would be afflicted and a 50% chance my grand children would be afflicted. I decided I ethically could not subject a child to a life of suffering. My siblings did not make the same choice. Out of the combined 7 children they had 100% are afflicted. That's the way odds work. Each child runs the 80% risk.
So, I am glad that I made the choice. But I love kids. I wanted four of my own before I found out about this. Some days I am really sad I never got to have them. But mostly it's OK. I never wanted to adopt because the social safety net where I live is so strong that healthy kids are never given away for adoption and if I were to raise a disabled child, it would have been my own. I was never able to afford a donor egg/surrogate. A large part is just accepting that kids are just not in the cards for everyone. I've had a good life. I have an SO, hobbies, I have done some traveling, I have pet parrots who really are little people with feathers. I enjoy my life.
I’m a little younger (35) but my husband and I are never going to have kids. It’s great, no regrets. We travel, we have dogs, we can do what we choose to do.
It’s working out well for us because I hate my job and am soon going to get certification to do something else. I’ll be without an income for about a year and we will be just fine - less travel, but no major stress. If we had children this probably wouldn’t be feasible and I’d have to stay at my job.
We also have almost no conflict/arguments, I think largely because we have no children.
In our early 60s no kids. We never really wanted kids, both from messed up homes.
It's good, I don't know what the future holds but today it's great.
We got married in our early 30's and wanted kids. We left it up to nature. Well, nature said no. We decided we weren't going to spend money on trying. It just wasn't in the cards for us. We have a good life, travel, boating, and pets. I love all my nieces and nephews and make a point of seeing them as much as possible.
Just recently we found out that because of a medical problem I was having, they would have to tie my tubes or insert an IUD. Thus killing any chances of us having children. Even though we knew it wasn't going to happen for us, we kind of always held out hope it be that 50 miracle. Cried for days
Early 40s. Only child. Married. No kids. No niblings.
I don't like children. I didn't like being a child and I didn't like the other children I had to be around except for my two close friends. I was always happy not to have any siblings. The thought of having to be around another child all the time was horrible. I wanted my parents to myself. I talked to my parents a lot, and otherwise read books and played alone with my toys. I liked making up stories about them and didn't want anyone to interrupt me.
Still don't want kids. Never got that biological urge. Just thinking about the distraction of having a kid around raises my blood pressure. I like things quiet and predictable. I don't want to have to worry about school catchments, feeding one, dealing with their emotional growth or any of that nonsense. I have no idea what kids are like, how they work, or what they need. Babies are the worst and become semi-tolerable around the age of 7 or 8 if they were raised properly. I simply have no patience and I know that about myself.
I suppose women are supposed to like babies and children, but I simply don't and I'm happy to live a life where I am never around any. I know parents think the world of their own children and that's fine. You're supposed to. They're yours. But to me, your child is just another human being that is almost certainly more annoying than the other human beings in my immediate vicinity. If I've noticed your child, they have already likely annoyed me. Sorry.
I have met a few kids I like, the children of friends. They universally like to read, are quiet and are well-spoken. Those are the kind of adults I prefer as well.
My wife and I decided not to have kids. We are 42 and 45 years old. We have found there is a social stigma--that is kind of frustrating. People assume there is something wrong with us, or, the most annoying thing, "oh thats okay, there is still time..." Plus, we basically have nothing in common with our previous friends who are all balls deep in diapers and day care etc-- when we do see our friends, all they talk about is their kids with each other etc. Its been really hard to find people to hang out with that don't have little kids at our age. The last bit which pisses me off is when I explain to my friends why we don't want to do it-- A) Money. We have plenty now to live in a nice house, in a nice area and do nice things- if we had a kid we'd be broke. B) Time and Business- both of us run our own businesses and have spent a lot of time making it this far, neither of us are willing to give it up. C) The fact that we think the world is headed for a bit of disaster with climate change, over population, shortages of water and energy etc--just don't want to bring a child into this right now- and D) At this point I would be 60 when my kid graduated high school, just don't have the energy to do it right and frankly no desire. -- We get from people either we are selfish or "oh you'll figure it out." Yeah-- I've seen my friends figure it out- Someone quits their job because day care is almost as much as their salary, people get tired and fat, then in debt, then divorced with a 7 and 5 year old. Maybe I am a negative a*****e, or a realist but mostly I think misery loves company and people are jealous that we are happy, financially secure, fit, and get to sleep in on Saturdays. Our realistic problem right now is decided how we can get a beach house to retire in.
My great aunt and uncle never had kids. They both retired by 50 and go on vacation really regularly all over the world, roughly every 2 months. Live in the beautiful countryside of Scotland, with not another neighbour in sight. Will regularly visit my dad and aunt, and seem to be happy. Although, who knows what goes on behind closed doors. Their retirement lifestyle has made a serious case for myself not to have kids.
I liked the idea of having kids (but it wasn't a deal breaker for me), my wife absolute did not want kids.
25 years later and we're very happy with our decision. Don't get me wrong; I tend to spoil any kids I get around if I have the chance. But not having kids has allowed us to travel more, to save more, and not to have to think about what to do with the kids when we want to go out to dinner.
(Though truth be told I'd probably make one of those obnoxious doting fathers who show everyone my kid's pictures. I'm not regretful; I think I'd be just as happy, but my life would be unrecognizably different.)
I am 47. I chose not to have kids, and married someone who can't have kids.
We did adopt one of our nephews but, and I want to be clear on this, we did it not because we wanted a kid, but because he needed a better home. He was 17 when we adopted him, and He is now 19 and moved out late last year.
I work from home, and our home is happy and often full of laughter and all that other Hallmark s**t. It's a good life, and we both feel fulfilled.
Occasionally, we have people ask us what the secret is to our happiness, and honestly we don't know, but kids are not really part of it.
Our 20th anniversary is coming up later this week.
I never wanted children, perhaps because I babysat a lot in my young teens and I couldn't see why people did this on purpose. My husband didn't really care one way or the other, but I knew it would basically be my responsibility to work full time and raise kids. We had moved away from where our parents lived, and I would have no support system. I had no desire for that to be my life. Some of our friends have so many problems with their children that I don't think they will be much help to them when they need it. My only regret is it would be nice to have a grandchild to pass our money to should we have any left at the end, and I do worry who will assist me or my husband when one of us is alone, but having a child is no guarantee there. We were able to retire in our early sixties and have a nice life.
I'm fifty, no kids (no spouse). Absolutely no regrets, never wanted them (never really wanted a spouse either). Unlike others here, I don't love kids; babies stress me out and younger kids are pretty annoying. I find kids most interesting when they reach about 12 or so and you can see them start becoming adults.
When people (mostly relatives) used to ask me about it, I'd be like "don't jinx me!". Now they don't bother asking, I guess I'm old enough the question is kinda moot. Never got my tubes tied so it was always kinda a worry but I'm actually glad I always had the option if I had changed my mind (everyone changes so much over the years, way more than you realize when you're twenty and know everything). A couple of times I day dreamed about having kids with some guy I was infatuated with but I realized I didn't really want kids for their sake and that would be a horrible reason to have some.
Mid-40s here with mid-30s gf. We're loving it. We travel, we have a little dog that gets spoiled, we visit our various siblings' children and come off like heroes at Christmas.
I'm 48. We've been together almost 30 years and never wanted kids. We made up some excuses for family but the truth is that we just didn't want to.
And we LOVE our decision. We borrow our siblings children (three on her side, two on mine) 2-3 times a year and we see them on holidays and that's MORE than enough. Lots of love on both sides of our family and in our home.
People say that our two dogs are our children but that's not true and we don't think of them that way. They are no more our children than our television or our cars are. (Don't get me wrong, we love the dogs, but we don't believe for a second that they are a substitute that we've chosen.)
Best decision we ever made.
Turned 40 this year. My nieces and nephews are cool as hell, but I'm very, very glad that I don't have children of my own. It doesn't seem worth it to me, I have exactly zero desire to take on that additional expense/responsibility/etc. for the next 18+ years. My girlfriend and I have been together about 5 years. She's only 30, but she doesn't want kids either. Works out nicely.
Only weird thing people say to me about it is "you'd make a really great father." Which is probably true; If I have a responsibility, then I will handle that responsibility to the best of my ability. I don't think I have great "fatherly instincts," by any means, but I do have two excellent role models to emulate in the form of my own father and my little brother. However, I don't have any kind of desire to do it, and if somehow pressed into it by circumstances... I could see myself becoming resentful. No kid deserves that.
We're nearing retirement, (68 & 66), and decided not to have kids for a number of reasons- wife's career, money, *very* different views on child rearing, etc. I wouldn't say we have no regrets- occasionally we'll see and spend time with our young friends with kids, and there are those "what if" moments. On the other hand, we'll see and hear about families with kids whose lives are just turned upside down by really bad experiences. And it's not always associated with the parents making bad choices- we see people who have done all the "right" things and have had lousy outcomes, and others who have just screwed up time and time again, and the kids turn out great, so there just seems to be such a random aspect to it that it's kind of baffling
All that being said, we're very comfortable with our decision. We're financially comfortable, we travel quite a bit, and although we live far from immediate family, our young friends have kids who we can spend time with, baby sit on occasion, and get just enough kid time to keep us happy.
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