Going childless isn’t a new idea. In fact, it was chosen by many people born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, also known as generation X. Since becoming parents is the current status quo, people who go childless tend to get scrutinized. But the comment theme is that “you’re going to regret not having children when you’re older”.
So when someone posted a question “People over 50 that chose to be childfree, do you regret your decision? Why or why not?” on r/AskReddit, it immediately turned into a very interesting thread. Below we collected some of the most illuminating answers that explain the decision and put it in a whole new light you may have never thought about.
I’m 55 (F) and never wanted children. I just don’t much like them, and 20+ years of motherhood sounded (and still sounds) like a prison sentence. Maternal af when it comes to cats and dogs, but small humans? No chance.
And I’m very happy to be childless. Cannot imagine my life any other way.
I explain it to people like this – you know that feeling you get where you just can’t wait to teach your kid how to play baseball? or whatever it is you want to share with them? I don’t have that. It’s basically a lack of parental instinct. Having children was never something I aspired to. My SO is the same way.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against children. And I get really angry at people who harm them or mistreat them. I just never wanted my own.
Not one bit. I have never believed that I would be a good parent. I have a short temper, and while I don’t think I would have been physically abusive, my words and tone of voice would be harsh in a very similar way to my own father.”
“I wasn’t happy growing up with that kind parent and I wouldn’t want to subject any child to that kind of parenting.
To find out more about the childfree life that more and more people are opting for these days, we spoke with Zoë Noble, the founder of the “We Are Childfree” community that celebrates childfree lives, one story at a time.
“In our world, becoming a parent is the default. It’s not a choice or a conscious decision, it’s not even visible—’everyone’ just has children, because that’s just what ‘everyone’ does,” Zoë told us. Meanwhile, childfree people challenge that idea and hold it up for everyone to see, maybe for the first time. “And that makes people uncomfortable,” she said.
The creator of “We Are Childfree” said that “if it’s not a requirement, or even a good idea, for everyone to have children, then that raises questions about parenting, motherhood especially, and sex, sexuality, gender… so many of the assumptions that our patriarchal, capitalist, the religious, heteronormative world is built on.” Zoë continued: “If you’re occupying a position that mainstream society still sees as radical, you’re supposed to have a bunch of good reasons, to be able to justify and defend yourself in a way that those who follow the script never have to.”
My wife worked at a nursing home for years. Imagine seeing for years that over 95% of old people never have family visit. Till they die and people want a piece of the pie. This is when I learned that the whole “well who is gonna visit you or take care of you when you’re older” line is complete bullsh*t. We decided to not have kids ever after that. Made great friends and saw the world. No regrets.
My wife and I chose long ago not to have children, but always left it open for renegotiation. We’re 40 now and feel absolutely no regrets about not having children. Still feels like the right choice for us. Hopefully, we’ll still feel that way long into the future.
Lots of folks ask us questions like, “who will take care of you when you’re old?” or “what if something happens to your spouse?” No judgement, but to us, those have always felt like pretty selfish reasons to have children.
F(56) No I don’t regret it. I’m simply a loner by nature, and I’m happy hanging out with my cats.
According to Zoë, the reality is that most people just want to have children, “and that’s great—and some people, a far smaller number, just don’t want to—and that’s great too,” she said. “I’d love us to get to a place where something like We are Childfree doesn’t even have to exist, because people have learned to respect each other’s individual choices.”
When asked how Zoë realized she wanted a childfree life, the author said that she always knew she didn’t want children. “I felt alone in my feelings and scared to live my truth. I’d heard women without kids described as cold, selfish, and career-obsessed, and worried that people would think the same about me. Growing up, I didn’t see anyone like me in my life or in the media, so I kept that part of me hidden, tucked away in the back of my mind,” the woman recounted.
I’m 52 and I’m in bed watching the morning sky over the ocean with a mug of tea and a book. Quiet music and no one is demanding cereal or needs a diaper change or the car or to sleep in my bed.
Later, I will walk around a museum without a stroller and a screaming, hungry, wet baby or a gloomy preteen. Yes, there would be times that the kids would behave, but what’s the percentage? BI will cook for one, not one vegan, one who only eats chicken nuggets, and another who will burn water if I let them near a pot.
I’ve never regretted my decision ever.
Nope. I never had the urge to change diapers or lose sleep, free time, and most of my earnings. Other peoples’ kids are great. Mostly because they are other peoples’.
When people ask “Who will take care of you when you’re old” I tell them that when I’m 75 I will adopt a 40-year-old.
57 years old and childless. I don’t regret it at all. I sincerely believe that I would have been a piss-poor mother. I’m an extreme introvert, and seeing my sister with her sprogs clinging to her all the time, wanting something or other — food, attention, a toy, whatever — and calling to her, mommy mommy mommy, convinced me of the wisdom of my decision. If I had had children, I would have been driven to suicide or homicide in short order. My sister’s kids are grown into wonderful young adults, and I love them to death, but I need lots of alone time to remain sane, and you don’t get that with kids. If I’d had them, I might have become one of those horrid humans who feed their kids Benadryl to make them sleep, just for some peace and quiet. Childless is better for me.
Things changed for Zoë when she moved from London to Berlin, Germany at about age 30. “I gained the confidence to embrace who I really am. A weight was lifted from my shoulders as soon as I started to say out loud that I didn’t want kids. That’s why, with We are Childfree, I want to empower people to embrace who they are, stand in their truth, and live authentically—to know they’re not alone, and there’s nothing wrong with them.”
Zoë explained that being childfree has enabled her to pursue a life path that’s fulfilling for her, and the flexibility to change direction when it suits her. “It’s given me the freedom to move to another country, to change careers, to travel as much as I could. It’s absolutely still possible for parents to do those things, but it is harder,” she added.
“I love the fact that I don’t know what my life is going to end up looking like, and not having children has allowed me to pursue that sense of adventure,” Zoë concluded.
No. I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to marry my husband. He had two sons from his first marriage and a vasectomy. He was worried because I was so young (comparatively, he’s10 years older). I did think it over seriously and concluded that a life with him compared to a life without him but (perhaps!) with a baby I didn’t even have yet was what I wanted. It worked out for us, we’ve been together for 26 years. As a bonus, I have 9 grandchildren. All the fun without the work of the raising!
Yeah same, it took me years to really come to terms with this whole “I completely lack a desire to have kids” thing. First, I thought I would magically develop the desire when I got older, and then I thought I was broken in the head, and then I thought I needed to just “talk myself into it”, or have a kid and hope the feeling came. But I’m in my mid-thirties now and still don’t have ANY desire to have a child. People always ask “why” I don’t want kids. Like, I have 100 reasons why. But the most important reason is literally “because I don’t want them”. As in: “I don’t WANT them”. As in it is simply not something I actively want. Why would I force myself to do something that I have no natural desire to do? Seems like a good way to mess up my life and some poor kids.
No, and I found a partner who feels the same. We are the cool aunt and uncle.
We also wanted to find out what a Redditor who goes by the name tag IBeTrippin and made a decision to live life childfree had to say about their choice. In a response to the thread, the Redditor wrote: “I explain it to people like this—you know that feeling you get where you just can’t wait to teach your kid how to play baseball? Or whatever it is you want to share with them? I don’t have that. It’s basically a lack of parental instinct. Having children was never something I aspired to. My SO is the same way. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against children. And I get really angry at people who harm them or mistreat them. I just never wanted my own.”
I’m 57 and do not regret it. My husband thought he wanted kids when we were in our early years together, but now he is very happy as well that we never had any. It’s allowed us a more free, peaceful, and debt-free life. The flexibility to make life choices we couldn’t otherwise make it so much better.
I also don’t think that people should have kids just so they have some sort of insurance policy in old age. It’s wrong to bring other people into the world with the expectation that they’ll serve you when you need them and, right now, I can’t imagine any child is grateful to be brought into this world with what is surely coming due to climate change.
I don’t necessarily regret not having them, but I regret the fact that I wasn’t in a healthy enough relationship where I felt I COULD have children. I regret not being stronger to leave the abuse earlier, if I had been stronger, I think maybe I could have had the choice at least.
So yeah… I have regrets.
Best decision I ever made. However, it waant so much a decision as knowledge. I knew from a very early age I would not have kids, just didn’t see them in my future and never wanted them. I love my solo, selfish life!!! Do what I want, when I want
IBeTrippin told us that they’ve never experienced pressure over children. “I can understand that there might be in some families, but there wasn’t in mine.” When it comes to the decision not to have kids, the Redditor said that “neither of us was particularly interested in having children. It was not something we discussed and made a decision over. It was just the way it was.”
When asked how their life would have been different if there were children, the Redditor said that “certainly there would have been some career choice differences for stability.” Having said that, IBeTrippin made a point that “we weren’t choosing not to have children so that we could live out some fantastic carefree life of travel and adventure” like it’s commonly assumed in our society. “It was simply because neither one of us was interested in being parents. It didn’t appeal to us,” the Redditor concluded.
Absolutely not. Knew by my twenties I didn’t want to be a mother. Never had a biological clock go off (it’s a myth). Glad to have had a life free of reliving school bullies, math homework, and most of all, of having to be responsible.
I wanted children but it didn’t happen for me. I had regret for years but now am at peace. I am 64
I’m in my 60s, happily married for 30+ years, and without children.
Most of the time, I’m happy about our decision. Sometimes, my husband and I both wish that circumstances had been different and that we had someone that we could count on to be there when we get old.
However, our reasons for not having children still stand.
We both felt the world was moving in a direction that can’t be sustained. Research on global climate change wasn’t part of the picture, but ecologically unsound practices were.
We’re both from families where there are plenty of children and grand-children. So, our genes will be represented, without more taken from the available resources.
We both endured teasing about our physical appearances and didn’t want our children to suffer the same.
We’d both been exposed to more than average levels of radiation and didn’t want to risk it.
Personally, I was concerned about being a good parent. (My husband, on the other hand, would have been amazing)
By the time we were in a position to support having children, I felt I was too old. I’m the child of a 40-year-old mother who had 5 children before me and 1 after — and although I would never have told her this, I really felt that some of us didn’t get the time and energy that her eldest got. I didn’t want to do that to another being.
So, instead of having kids, we participated in helping those already here, in a number of ways. In the end, we wish circumstances had been different, but in the main, do not regret our decision.
Not one bit, and with my medical and other problems, I know I made the right choice.
I’m almost 50 so I’ll chime in. I never wanted kids, just never had the urge. But I wound up helping raise my niece and nephew after their mom, my sister, died in a car accident when they were 7 and 5 respectively. I didn’t have the full time but split housing them on weekends while their father worked and his b*tchass wife didn’t want them around. I had them every other weekend and about half of each summer for years. They’re now 21 and 19, so I wound up as more parent-ish than an aunt. They were a handful so I’m glad I didn’t have any of my own, it was exhausting enough being a part-time parent substitute and, of course, I wish their mom hadn’t passed away. Full-time parents, you’re awesome, I couldn’t do it. At least their dad gave me money for all the time I took care of them, sharing my sister’s social security benefits so I could feed and clothe the kids and give them some fun activities and camps.
I love the hell out of them, but still glad I didn’t have babies of my own. They’re good kids, I love them to death, but they’ve also broken my heart a fair few times acting up, making dumb decisions, but all kids do that. I’d beat the a** of anyone who messed with my niece and nephew.
I work in education so I feel similar. I raise/ have raised enough people’s kids at work. I don’t think I have any energy to even think about adding my own in there. How coworkers can go home and parent after a long day of teaching, I’ll never understand. At the end of the day, I am peopled out and just want to sleep.
Wasn’t by choice, but yes. I’m happily married and I worry about what will happen to my wife when I die. She’ll be alone. Otherwise, it’s fantastic.
My wife and I married when we were in college. After graduating we started our careers and sometime later we wondered if we weren’t missing out on something, like children, and decided No, this is great, let’s keep going like this. That was 30 years ago and it’s still great and we still keep it going.
Over 50 and childfree. My only regret is that my wife would have been a great mother, and sometimes I feel like I deprived her of that, even though we both agreed we didn’t want kids. Sometimes I wonder if I pushed her into that decision. She works with the elderly every day and sees a lot of lonely folks so it gets to her sometimes. I was always afraid I’d screw up the parenting thing, so I was never really interested in the idea. I’m a loner by nature though.
I’m 40 I regret it. I can’t imagine how horrible I’ll feel at 50.