In Her Words: Caitlin Weiskopf

6 years ago by

It’s funny, we didn’t plan this at all, but lately we’ve been talking a lot about motherhood on Atelier Doré. And non-motherhood. In other words, our choices as women, and the incredible pressures we have to face. It’s a topic that touches us all, and it’s fascinating. There’s so much to say, and so many things that go unsaid, so I think it’s great to be able to talk about it openly.

Caitlin, a woman who works with us and whom we all adore, has a really refreshing, touching message to share with us. I know you’re going to love reading it. Thank you, Caitlin, for sharing these beautiful words with us…


Caitlin Weiskopf, Business Development & Partnerships

I’m going to rip the bandaid off and get the hard part of this story over with — I’m 35 years old, and I don’t want to have children.

It’s not that I’m trying to save the world from overpopulation, or that I’m scared my child is going to grown up a victim of climate change. Or even that I’m nervous to try and find out that I can’t have kids… It’s just what I know and feel in my gut: I’m not meant to be a mother.

It’s taken me the most of my adulthood to get comfortable saying that outloud, even though it’s something I’ve known since my teens. Being open about this isn’t easy and a lot of people won’t understand it and some of you may even get angry at me… but I think it’s important that we talk about it.

They say that with maturity (using that word loosely here) comes a sense of self and acceptance of who you are, and as I get older, I agree. I’m finally in a place where I feel like I know the person looking back at me in the mirror. I’m self assured, driven, and loyal (to a fault). I’m passionate about life, ambitious in my career, and inspired by my peers. I’m a crappy liar, but a really great listener. I love cats (a lot). And more than anything I want to continue to grow, learn, and be the best version of myself.

But to be happy with who you are, I think you need to start with being honest with yourself and those around you. Even if it’s tough. Even if that dialogue includes being up front about doing something that society tells you is not the right way to live your life (keywords: your life!)

There’s an obvious expectation that having kids is just part of life’s blueprint, especially as a woman. You grow up with your version of a family, you get a job, you find a partner, you make big decisions together, you have children, and you do your best to survive (and maybe, just maybe, you’re happy doing it all).

While I’ve known for a while that this wasn’t exactly my path, I haven’t had to talk openly about it until recently, nor have I wanted to… because frankly, it’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. It’s polarizing. But now I’m being forced to because my marital status is changing and I’m engaged to my partner, Kristopher, of 6+ years, and apparently this opens the door for a lot of questions about “what’s next.”

On our third date at a Met’s game, Kristopher asked me during the 2nd inning if I wanted to have children. Without hesitation, I said, “No.” I didn’t have to think about it. And immediately, I could see his relief. It was like an unspoken pressure had been lifted for both of us, and for the first time I saw our future together.

But now we’re working on building that future, and with that comes questions, strong expectations, and lots of pressure. People (acquaintances, coworkers, my hair stylist, our families, the building super, etc) feel free to ask, “So, you guys planning on starting that family of yours during the honeymoon [insert wink here]?”

And thus begins an awkward conversation. I do my best to keep my reply pretty casual, “Eh, we’re not really planning on having a family.”

The next question is almost immediate, and very direct, “Why?”

This is the tougher question to answer, and most people aren’t happy with the real answer which is simply, “We just don’t want to.” Which, I’m guessing doesn’t sound worthy enough for such an important life question.

The conversation goes downhill from there. At best, I’ve heard, “Oh, cool.” At worst, I’ve gotten a slight foot shuffle with eyes diverted to the ground and “Well, that’s surprising.” Safe to say, we normally change topics at this point.

Beyond the awkwardness, the reactions I’ve received are what makes these conversations difficult. It’s put into perspective just how much pressure is put on us (women) to fulfill certain gender roles and it’s a big slap in the face when you realize you’re being judged because you’re not sticking to the norm. This is something I’m still learning to deal with and I’m not sure I’ll ever figure out how to.

I do my best to make people understand that in no way am I trying to devalue the importance of being a mother. I think being a mom is both the most important and hardest job you can have. Watching my close friends go from irresponsible 20-somethings to brilliant mothers (and career women) is something I’m endlessly impressed by. I honestly don’t know how they do it.

Oh, and on that note — yes, the path I’m taking is easier, but no, I’m not taking the “easy way out.” I’m just doing me.

Rarely do you hear of women being applauded for choosing to forge their own paths without children, or heaven forbid, a partner. We’re taught that we’re not leading a fulfilled life unless we have it all (sidenote: is anyone else sick of hearing the term “having it all”? I. Am. Over. It.). What I’ve come to realize is that it’s ok to not have it all. And it’s pretty damn liberating when you realize that your life is yours to define… with your own goals, your own ideas of success… your own idea of family.

So while this may seem like the “easier” choice, it’s not easy to stand up and say “I’m not having kids, and I’m happy about it.” It’s actually really, really hard. There’s a reason why I’ve kept quiet about this until the ring on my finger made me a target for a barrage of questions from near-strangers about our life plans.

Let’s have an open dialogue about this. About mothering, about not mothering, about being a woman, and what that means today. This topic has been off-limits for too long and it’s too important to ignore. It’s scary and intimidating to raise your hand and say you’re doing things different…It’s time we talked it out, together.

I’ll kick it off with this… I’m tired of feeling like I’m not good enough because I’m not realizing my potential as a woman by not becoming a mother. I’m sick of being judged for honestly answering questions about my plans for the future. I’m done being called selfish or irresponsible for going down a different path. I’m ready to build my future and my marriage — and I’m proud of it.

Now, your turn.


Add yours
  • Beau témoignage, très touchant … Il n’est pas évident d’aller contre la normalité , et ce genre de témoignage est essentiel …C’est un peu comme choisir de ne pas travailler et donc de passer pour une imbécile ou une femme soumise (ce qui fut mon cas…) … et non, la liberté de vivre selon nos choix , ne doit pas être jugée … et même au XXIème siècle , certains gardent un esprit étroit …

  • Idem, je n’ai jamais voulu d’enfant, jamais eu de doute à ce sujet, c’est juste pas mon truc, et j’ai eu toutes les réactions possibles, jusqu’à ma belle mere qui s’est mise à pleurer (euh allo ?), les employeurs qui pensent que tu leur caches quelque chose ( alors qu’ils n’ont en principe pas le droit de demander), les mères de mes copines qui me demandent si, en voyant leur fille avec leurs enfants, ça ne me donne pas envie (difficile celle là, il faut bien doser le “je trouve ça super pour elle, mais c’est pas pour moi”), ceux qui m’ont dit que j’allais changer d’avis, que je n’avais pas rencontré “le bon”.
    Bref foutez nous la paix, non nous ne sommes pas égoistes bien au contraire, on veut juste ce qui est bien pour nous et éviter de faire un enfant “pour faire comme tout le monde”. Avec le temps et l’âge, on nous laisse davantage tranquille, même si je me doute qu’un jour viendront les “tu ne regrettes pas?”. Ma réponse sera la même …

  • Si votre belle-mère pleure c’est qu’elle désire surement- elle – avoir des petits-enfants :)
    Si son désir est aussi valable que le vôtre de ne pas en avoir, il n’empêche que nous sommes tous libres de faire les meilleurs choix pour soi-même

  • @florence : il s’agissait de la femme qui vit avec mon père, non de la mère de mon mari, donc non

  • Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your story. I think you are incredibly brave. Because I know those reactions. I will be 37 at the end of this year, and I am still not sure if I want to have children. Sometimes I think if I REALLY wanted to, wouldn’t I have by now? But you’re right, marriage changes things. I just celebrated my one year anniversary, and the questions startered almost immediately after the wedding. And not “Are you going to have kids?” but “WHEN are you going to”. It’s crazy. And such a personal question! How does anyone know? Maybe you CAN’T? Why is it considered acceptable to ask people this question? It’s dangerous territory.
    And yes, there is judgement there if you CAN, but DON’T. I think selfish is the word that comes to mind. Which is really so sad.
    Love all the different sides of this situation that are being shared. Please keep up the dialogue, it’s a good thing!

  • Rita – congrats on your one year anniversary! So true that the marriage conversation completely opens the floodgates for the “what’s next” chatter — you’ll know what’s right for you guys, and when… Bask in being a newlywed, still, I can’t wait for that part! Xx

  • Sunny Side September, 8 2017, 9:43 / Reply

    Bravo ! Tout d’abord cet article est très bien écrit/traduit ! Je comprends parfaitement ce point de vue. Il y a un conformisme tellement oppressant parfois. Je n’ai jamais voulu depuis toujours ni me marier ni avoir d’enfant. c’était si évident que je l’assumais sans problème. La vie ne se situait pas dans cet horizon là. L’amour n’a pas besoin du mariage. Je ne crois pas, sauf cas très rare et c’est tant mieux, qu’un seul partenaire pour toute la vie soit souhaitable. je trouve cela horrifiant. Ce n’est pas réaliste. Nous évoluons. Sorry si je choque. Un réel épanouissement est bien au-delà. Mes ex sont mes meilleurs amis. Quant à l’enfant eh bien un jour un homme m’a donné envie d’en avoir un ! Surprise ! J’avais plus de trente ans, et je l’ai reçu comme un cadeau. Je ne me suis pas mariée. L’essentiel est d’être en phase avec soi même ! Chacun sa route !

  • You go Girl ! On ne devrait même pas avoir à expliquer nos choix. la société doit évoluer sur cette question (parmi tant d’autres) et c’est grâce à vous, les femmes qui vous exprimez qu’on y arrivera. Speak up ladies !
    Je pense aussi qu’il ne faut pas voir de malveillance dans les questions (intimes certes) des personnes qui s’interrogent sur le Pourquoi de ce choix.
    En ce qui me concerne, j’ai 2 enfants et ne me suis jamais demandé (avant de les faire) si j’en voulais, c’était ‘naturel / normal’ d’en avoir, comme une suite logique. Et du coup, quand on me dit ‘j’en veux pas’, je pose cette question de savoir pourquoi, non pas pour juger / émettre un avis / essayer de convaincre du contraire, plutôt pour comprendre comment cette décision se prenait, comment on arrivait à cette conclusion ferme et définitive.

  • Je partage tellement ce point de vue ! ça fait tellement du bien de savoir que d’autres personnes pensent et vivent la même chose et que c’est ok.

    Je n’ai jamais voulu avoir d’enfants et l’assume (enfin je crois ;oD). Par contre, je suis toujours frappée et interloquée par le fait que la femme qui n’a pas d’enfants, pour une raison ou une autre, doit toujours justifier ce fait, alors qu’on ne demandera jamais à une femme qui a des enfants pourquoi elle a des enfants. Mais qu’on laisse les gens vivre comme ils l’entendent. Du moment qu’ils sont heureux dans leur vie, fichons-leur la paix! Je ne comprendrai jamais pourquoi l’on devrait tous vivre selon les mêmes schémas et standards, alors que l’on est tous différents!

    Garance, un grand merci pour ton blog, pour le choix des thèmes de tes histoires et de partager des interviews de personnes inspirantes et motivantes.

  • Im so happy to read this perspective here. I’ve never wanted children myself and also 35 and in a committed relation. Though Ive never been afraid to share this with anyone who asked, Im sometimes a bit surprised about the judgement when I just tell people its not for me. Its the same as with other stuff, if people have a nice car that makes then happy, Im happy for them. I can see the happiness it brings. But doesnt mean I want it for myself. ( i realise the car children comparison is, ahum, very flawed)
    I just feel I need more time for myself, to relax and unwind. And if some people see that as egoistic, than thats their problem and narrow sightedness.

    Im frankly a bit flabbergasted that people still ask that question, if you want to have children, or hint about it like in the comments under Garances articles. By now everyone must know women who struggle with fertility issues. And even thats not the case, there are so many sensitive issues involved, insecurities, pressure. Its too private to ask about.
    Someone asked me the other day if I like children. Thats already so much better. I can just say ‘yes, but for other people’.

  • Agree completely with your perspective… happiness is a very personal, and individual thing. Whatever works for you! And also love your answer RE: other people’s children, took the words right from me! Xx

  • Thank you. I echo every single sentiment expressed here. I have never wanted children and it’s frustrating to either not be believed, or be judged/questioned on that decision. I am incredibly grateful that I’ve never had any pressure from my parents on this, either. That’s a huge stress that I haven’t had to handle.

    Empowering women also means accepting their choices. Period.

  • Wow! Thank you for giving a voice to how I feel and a choice I have consciously made…I have never felt any desire or longing to have children. I’m now 44 and still have no regrets about not having kids. People project so much of their desires and wishes for what they believe makes for a happy and fulfilling life – we have to follow our own path for happiness…

  • La pression sociale! Le jugement!… J’ai 2 filles et je ne travaille pas, pas le choix au debut (je voulais écrire ici les raisons, mais non pas besoin de me justifier: parce que!) et puis j’en ai fait un choix délibéré avec les annees, parce que comme Caitlin je ne voulais pas tout faire en même temps, tout réussir? En même temps et courir pour avoir tout ça. Alors j’en ai absorbé des regards surpris, des regards accusateurs de ne pas participer à l’économie… Et d’autres sur mon manque d’indépendance… J’ai 47 and, 2 ados ( qui en ce moment, j’ai l’impression, non ce n’est pas une impression, ont encore besoin de moi, de mes mots, de mon amour, peut être même plus que jamais) mais j’ai aussi le projet de me lancer dans ‘ entreprenariat social, pas pour contribuer à l’économie du pays, pour contribuer à ma propre vie et à celle de mes filles, parce que c’est le bon moment JE pense. À chacune son rythme, à chacune sa vie, du mieux qu’on peux!!!! ( ou qu’on puisse ,j’ai un doute tout d’un coup)

  • Celine – kudos to you! I love that you’re continuing to create and evolve your path – for both yourself, and your daughters. Thank you for sharing! Xx

  • J’ai vécu la même chose, avec les mêmes questions intrusives. 99,99 % des gens sont incapables de comprendre ce choix et, même s’ils le comprennent, certains nous jalousent parce qu’ils auraient bien eux aussi avoir eu le courage de prendre la même décision.
    Au début, j’essayais d’expliquer. Mais ça ne fonctionnait pas. Assez rapidement ma réponse a été “c’est une question qui m’affecte, je préfère ne pas en parler. Merci de votre compréhension”. Et finalement ma réponse était sincère. Et courte. Et imparable. Et on me fichait la paix. Et j’ai 25 ans de mariage l’an prochain.
    Belle journée

  • This is spectacular and refreshing. Hear!Hear! to being done with “having it all”. Life is about tough choices and opportunity cost. I say we talk about how to evaluate and prioritize, not how to chase a golden standard. The hardest part of life, in my opinion, is defining what path you want to take, and what you’re willing to give up to walk that path. The introspection required to figure all that out is already a hard task without the barrage of exterior expectations. Thank you for sharing <3.

  • Thanks or sharing your story. I think it’s incredibly insulting the way some people can’t accept a woman’s choice not to have children. They always seem to think (or worse, say aloud) ‘she’ll come around’ or ‘she’ll regret this sooner or later’. I do have children and the wish to have them came from deep within my heart. If that feeling was missing, I wouldn’t have them either and it would be nobody’s business but mine and my husband’s.

  • Wow, someone saying the thing we are not allowed to say! And all the approving comments too. What we need now is for people to actually believe us when we say it.

  • Oh Caitlin thank you so much for this piece. This sounds so familiar!
    Sometimes I really feel like asking to these persons asking such private questions “what about you? why do you have children?”, just to make them understand that this is an inappropriate question. Nobody question the fact to have children.
    I’m turning 40 this year, so I know I will be asked about regret. Are people ever regretting having children? So why should we regret not having any?
    Just like you, I chose my own life, my life with my husband over a more classic family life which I feel isn’t for me. And I love children, and I admire my friends with families and full time jobs, just like I admire my friends who are living on their own.
    Everybody should be allowed to choose their lives, alone, in a couple, with a small or huge family.
    Happiness is such a personnal path.

  • …thank YOU! It’s super inspiring to hear all the positive comments, and similar stories – kids, no kids – marriage, no marriage. And guess what? We’re all doing A-OK! Xx

  • Thank you for expressing words almost nobody wants to hear. I feel the same way and, by being 39 now, questions about “do you want children” change to “do you have children”. The answer is still “no”. Compassionate looks following. And yes, I never wanted it all neither. Just happy with me, my life and my love. And the cat ;)

  • You’ve figured the secret out… the cat ;). Xx

  • C’est chouette d’aborder ces sujets “tabou” de cette manière.

    Je n’ai jamais voulu avoir d’enfants non plus, puis, sans le vouloir, je suis tombée enceinte.

    J’ai aujourd’hui un enfant que j’aime.
    Par contre je n’aime pas tellement la vie de maman.

    Il y a toujours au fond de moi cette partie de moi qui ne voulait pas d’enfant, et il y a aussi cette partie qui s’est dit: pourquoi pas?

    Parfois je regrette d’être devenue mère et j’aimerais ne pas avoir d’enfant, parfois je suis pleine de gratitude pour ce cadeau de la vie.

    Prochain article sur un sujet encore plus tabou : celles qui regrettent (un peu, beaucoup, tout le temps) d’être devenues mères…

  • Ander – now that takes courage. Love your honesty and your story idea – this is definitely something that comes up in conversation… completely agree the topic deserves a larger forum! Xx

  • Merci, c’est si sincère et authentique. Il y a eu cette étude qui a fait beaucoup de bruit, sur les femmes qui regrettent d’être mères :

  • Laurie Reeves September, 8 2017, 11:00 / Reply

    I am now 66, grew up in Delaware in the US til 22, left , moved to San Francisco for 8 years, then Italy 8 years, now NYC 20. I never in my life was judged for not having children. I never even married! I have a boyfriend now and love living in our separate homes across the street from each other and “choosing” each day to continue being together and only with each other. We are both completely monogamous by nature. Men are a lot of work too by the way. (Does anyone EVER tell the truth about relationships and life? ) No one ever, made any comments about me not having children. To me it’s jealousy that you are your own person that they inquire. Everyone knows that having children puts tremendous stress on a marriage. Unless there is plenty of money to pay for the extra support to care for the home and children, it’s very tough. And without the support or extended family members on your side of the family and you husband’s… it’s daunting, overwhelming. When I lived in Italy in the 80’s a woman could always count on having plenty of support to raise her children from her sister’s, aunts, mother. Not so in the US.
    Raising children today in the US, most likely will take place in a city, miles from your immediate family where you have NO family support. If you do great, but most don’t. Having children is a personal private choice that requires no response too when the question is poised. I have NEVER had to respond to the question. People would not dare to cross that boundary with me but if they did, and it’s not coming from someone I trust with caring intent, I would respond with, “you know very well that is personal and private so I’ll pretend I didn’t hear it and forgive you”.

  • Great response. I will be saying that from now on. Thank you.

  • Merci pour ces mots si justes !
    J’ai trente ans, pas de mec, jamais eu de relations sérieuse et aucune envie d’avoir des enfants. Mais ça, ça ne changera pas. Pour le moment j’ai relativement la paix, mon statut de célibataire embête plus certaines personnes, mais mon caractère et ma capacité à envoyer paître ceux qui s’essayent à me donner leur avis sur ma vie dissuadent facilement.
    Mais à chaque fois que je me suis retrouvée à dire, que non, je ne veux pas d’enfants, j’ai du me justifier. Je trouve ça insupportable, et mon “Je ne tient pas à me reproduire” ne dissuade que rarement de m’interroger plus. Je me retrouve à expliquer que les problèmes de santé que j’ai depuis l’enfance sont potentiellement génétique et que je ne veux pas revivre ça à travers un enfant. Ça a le mérite de calmer. Mais au fond de moi je sais que c’est une explication pour me débarrasser de l’interrogatoire. Je ne veux pas d’enfants. Point.
    Et gare à moi si je me réjouis pour une naissance dans mon entourage familiale ou amical “Ah bah tu vois ! Je suis sûre que tu changeras d’avis quand blablabla”. Au secours.
    Et je ne parlerais pas de ce ravissement quand j’annonce la naissance d’un garçon dans ce même entourage. Mon féminisme ne saute pas à la gorge de chacun dans ces cas là mais je me retiens sérieusement.

  • This is so refreshing to read. There are so many choices in life and marriage and children aren’t for everyone. Having children and raising them well is the biggest responsibility and commitment one can make – it’s huge. It’s such a personal decision and I would have done it only if I really wanted to and the circumstances were right. I think society is more accepting of men not wanting to be fathers than women not wanting to be mothers. How many times I felt judged for living together and not being married, less than for not having children ( and I hate to say it was women judging).
    We all move at different paces and have unique lives and can be happy in different ways.

  • Orangeufunny September, 8 2017, 11:17 / Reply

    This question has existed since the beginning of the human race. It is a question based on a basic expectation. It is asked by people who may or may not really be interested, kind of a small talk question, but the answer is expected to be “YES, we do want kids”. People are thrown off course when your answer is “NO”. My husband and I wanted to have children, and we waited 3 years after we were married to try. It took us 2 more years to get pregnant. About 1 year after we were married people started asking, “So, when are you going to start your family?” At that point, I answered,”I have a family.” They would laugh and say, “you know what I mean, kids” It didn’t bother me then, but when we were actively trying to have a child and couldn’t, it really irritated me. I came to the conclusion that most people do not think before they speak. They want to talk to you, and that seems like the obvious thing to bring up if you’ve been married for a few years and don’t have any children. People also tend to want you to jump on their bandwagon. It makes them feel like they have made the right decision. Hey, if we all have kids, we can get them all together and have fun and talk about our kids and school and play dates etc. If we have kids and you don’t, what can we possibly have in common? I would hope I would have more in common with my friends than just our kids.
    Don’t fret. You have nothing to explain. You just have to accept that this is tradition forever and probably will never change as long as people continue to pair up and have kids. Do your thing and answer people’s wonderings with politeness and a smile. Any negative response you get is because of their insecurity with the topic.

  • Caitlin, that is fantastic, exactly my words. Even I am unable to count how many times everyone scarred me years and years ago when I will be over forty I will be desperate without infants. No I am really not. And I do not understand why everyone thinks it`s only macro for happiness. To have kids does not mean to be automatically happy, smart, intelligent, perfect and do not have does not mean to be unhappy, stupid, selfish, what else? Nobody is better to have kids and nobody is worse do not have. The same as is mad to think that relationship is here just for reproduction. Why?

  • I was 36 and in a fairly committed relationship when I unintentionally became pregnant. If I hadn’t become pregnant, I very easily could have “forgotten” to have a child. I don’t say “forgotten” lightly, I think that is exactly what it would have been. I was busy with life and work and love and it just wasn’t something that was on my radar. I’m also fairly introverted, and at that time I worked in animal welfare/rescue and didn’t hang around a lot of people with kids. It might have very easily passed me by.

    This was 20 years ago. Am I glad it happened? Oh, my God, yes. And of course I can’t imagine not having a child. It wasn’t easy though — I was a fairly reluctant mother who had her world largely interrupted at the age of 37. On the other hand, if I hadn’t, I have no idea if I would have regretted it or not. There’s just no way to say.

    Anyway, I’m sensitive enough to never ask this question of others, as I easily understand not wanting to have kids, or not thinking of it even.

    But also, when I hear someone say that they don’t want to, my heart quietly reaches out a bit. So it’s not out of malice or social norms or pressure that makes me feel that way, it is just my heart wondering how I would feel right now if I didn’t have a child. There’s just no way to know.

  • Mary – your perspective is so refreshing. And real. Thank you for sharing -I have several friends around my age (your age when you had your child) who are in a similar situation…. if it happens, it happens, but what if it doesn’t? Hard to predict how you’d feel, or your life, either way. Kudos to you guys for embracing life as it comes! Xx

  • Amen Caitlin! Thank you for telling your story. And it’s great to see so many comments from women with the same experience. Now, we just need all the judgmental people in the world to read this!

  • Thank you for this text!

    I never wanted to have children. And I was and am always very vocal about it. My (10years+) boyfriend learned about it very soon in our relationship since I wanted him to know before he commited himself to something deeper. I fought with my mother about it until she accepted it.
    I am 35, I never wanted to have children because: that’s not me. And that’s it. I am sticking to this explanation – in Germany it got accepted by most people (kind of). Now that I live in Japan it’s more of an issue.

  • Je suis maman d’une petite fille mais avant qu’elle soit là- sur terre – ma vie aussi était super! Je retardais toujours le moment d’avoir un enfant et suite à un évènement douloureux, je suis tombée enceinte…Maintenant je n’envisagerais pas ma vie sans elle, puisqu’elle en fait partie et je l’aime plus que tout. Mais je constate plusieurs choses:
    · Avoir des enfants, non, ça ne donne pas de sens à sa propre vie
    · Ma “qualité de vie” était nettement plus confortable avant.
    · Mon corps se portait vraiment mieux avant – et quand je dis mieux, c’est qu’il y a un avant et un après
    · Un enfant c’est une bombe au sein d’un couple. Il faut tout reconstruire depuis presque 0

    J’ai décidé donc de n’avoir qu’un enfant. Il n’y en aura pas d’autres.
    Cela dit, je trouve que c’est quand même fabuleux de pouvoir “choisir”. Dans encore une majorité de pays du monde, enfanter et avoir des enfants est un passage obligé.

  • Been there, heard that. People always ask questions, even unapropriate. I think it’s none of there business! I always told people that I never wanted children. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I’m crazy with kids. But if they can’t cope with that answer, that’s there problem. Not everyone is happy with children!!! I’m happy that I’m having the age now that I can’t have children anymore and that was what I was looking forward to. And I still say I didn’t wanted them. And when I see the weird face of not understanding me…I just smile!

  • I like your approach… just smile. Kill ’em with kindness! Xx

  • People usually don’t understand that maternity is a choice, not an obligation. And foremost, a choice to be made by women!

  • two suggestions – 1) you have already “started your family” – but its a family of two! and 2) your choice is not easier, its just hard in a different way. I am a single mother by choice (had a kid on my own at 39) and people are always telling me “oh that must be so hard, how do you do it” and I just think, its not harder, its just hard in different ways than doing it with a partner. I would also add that I disagree that being a parent is the hardest job in the world (although the pay is shit) – sometimes I think that women like yourself who are making these choices (and hurray for you, btw, being childless is a great choice!) sometimes feel they have to think that; its part of the myth, I believe, of the mother-as-madonna story, which I don’t buy. Being a parent CAN be hard, but it can also be easy; being childless CAN be easy, but it can also be hard. Life choices are complicated! power to you though!

  • Karen – you owned that! Well said. Xx

  • I’m the same. I really wanted to have a child, I am very very happy to have one but I so understand people who don’t want one, more than ever. You loose your freedom, really, I don’t buy the idea that you can be the same, be as adventurous with or without a child. There is a sense of responsibility that is really huge for me when you have a child. So this is really interesting not to have one ! But I agree, it’s not easier. Because you are responsible for you and in a way are supposed to make great things if you are childless. Like it must be worth !

  • Thank you for sharing. I am 35, and I feel pretty much the same. It´s been a topic in my circle of friends, since most of my friends have startet a family with kids by now, which sometimes makes me feel a bit lonely. But having that kind of family is just not me, and I have been struggling with the (seemingly) expectations of people around me my whole life. Most of it, because I am a woman, I suppose. It´s time, that the ever so good sounding phrase “be yourself” gets an actual meaning.

  • This was such a wonderful piece and definitely rings true for me. I’m almost 41 and have known since I was a teenager that I didn’t want to have children. My husband was of the same mindset, so we never had to have an uncomfortable talk about it. I’m not regretful of my decision, either. So many of our friends have beautiful children and I love them all. This year, I had the wonderful pleasure of becoming an aunt for the first time, and my time with my sweet little niece is something that I cherish and love. When she was born, it’s almost as if it solidified it for me: “Yes. I’m supposed to be an aunt!”

    Thank you for writing this piece. We women are so often judged when we remain childless. It’s nice to read a story that is so similar to my own.

  • So nice to see! Thanks for sharing! at my current life stage I feel the exact female pressure except about marriage instead of children. Ironically the pressure only changes with time and in a few years children will be the next pressure. It can be tiring and sometimes feel lonely so thanks for sharing!

  • Well said! There are so many ways to live a good life – and they should all be supported and celebrated!

    Women seem to get shamed no matter what they do about kids – and that sucks. If they have kids, every choice they make is horrible to someone. If they are dying to have kids, they have to endure well-intentioned but useless advice (just stress out less/sleep more/eat better/pray more/take vitamins). If they don’t want to have kids, they are made to feel like heartless monsters. The comment section here gives me faith that we’re changing the conversation around motherhood. Keep up the great work, everyone!

    I’m 34 and married, and it stings to have people call me selfish or say things like “You don’t know what you want,” or “You’ll regret it when you’re older,” or the ever popular “You’ll change your mind when your husband does.” I do my best to take the high road when people get like that, but man is it hard sometimes!

  • Such a well written article. I could not agree more with the latent social pressure surrounding women to go along with what is socially expected. I got married recently and I know that I want kids at some point and continue on with my career etc… but on my own terms and at my own pace. I find the question “When are you having kids/starting a family?” incredibly rude and so indelicate. Unfortunately, it has come up more regularly since we got married along with other as annoying ones. Having an open dialogue is critical to start changing social expectation and to support women in their choices whatever they are.

  • Another really great article and dialogue opened! And some interesting comments. Sometimes wanting or not wanting children isn’t black or white. My story falls somewhere between Garance’s and Caitlin’s. I went through my 20s and 30s assuming that I would have children, but not actively pursuing that goal – it wasn’t on my agenda as I was too busy doing other things, hadn’t met ‘the one’ and had no urgent desire to be a mother. I just couldn’t picture it. Then I met my fiance at 43. We both agreed that we’d like a child, but knew our chances of having one were slim. It didn’t happen, and a few years later, we have both made peace with that. So when people ask ‘Did you want kids?’ I find it a) rather impertinent (it’s a question I would never ask) and b) hard to answer, because I don’t know whether I really did or not. Which might be the case with many women, whether they have kids or not.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Best clip ever about that subject!! I have often bit my tongue in order not to use these words. ;)

  • Darlings, I may get criticized by responding to what has come across as a women’s issue. I am a gay man , who was really denied the right of being a parent by society! The perspective I come from is one of never feeling parenthood was an option . I am 55 years old and grew up when options were much more limited. So I choose to embrace life and my experience with children would be as an Uncle (or Auntie Mame ). Choosing not to have children is a wonderful option probably not available to past generations of women because of birth control ! Women now possess the ability to be sexually active and not be mothers . You are only ever free if you have choices!
    Dress The Part

  • I am 55 and have never wanted children. In am Scandinavian and even though we are so liberal on most things choosing not to have a child is a very difficult issue to talk about. It is questioned as being egoistic, selfish, unloving, hard, thoughtless…. I have had to explain and almost excuse why I have chosen not the be a mother. When do we ever question those who chose to have a child? And why is it ok to say that ” it only happened”, ” it is what everyone does”, ” we never really discussed it…”…… – I have heard them all.
    I am proud to say I chose a life without children because I thought about it, considered it and made my choice. I stood up for my values and what I wanted and now i wish I could say young women do no longer have to explain and excuse but sadly this is not the case.

    Be proud of yourself and the life you have made for yourself whether you are a mother or have chosen a life without children. And please, think before you ask and interrogate another woman on her choices.
    We are not all cut out to be mothers but we are still of great value to the people we chose to have around us – and those who chose to stay around us

  • Your last line says it all–your tribe will always be your tribe. Xx

  • Caitlin is great to hear your voice!
    …”It’s just what I know and feel in my gut”… That’s it. Everything comes down to that and what your partner also “know”, that’s awesome that you too were/are in the same page, you are strong together. Who tells you different: middle finger.
    I asked myself the kid question probably 20 years ago and I responded: yes and my husband responded: yes. To then realize that we have to fight with infertility for 10 years. We have two beautiful daughters now. In january I will be 45. Am I happy to be a mother? incredible yes. Do I feel my soul was hijacked from maternity the last 8 years: yes. Do I feel horrible to feel that way: yes!. Now I “know” I am coming back to myself. It is like you said: we cannot have it all. At least not at the same time. Life is complicated and beautiful all in one.
    Love, Mercedes

  • Thank you for writing this. It resonated with me even though I have three grown children. Ultimately, I’ve felt a constant barrage of judgement about my choices in motherhood since the day I announced my first pregnancy and up to present day as I encourage my kids to travel over going to graduate school or taking office jobs. Your article reminded me that no matter what we choose to do about our ability to reproduce or adopt or parent, people generally feel they are entitled to judge those choices. At 46, with 20, 22, and 23 year old adult kids, I say fuck the endless judgement. It’s time for every woman to drown out the universal advice and judgement on motherhood and embrace the message your article delivers. Bravo!

  • Thank you for your honesty Caitlin, and sharing your thoughts with us.

    Way back when, I too experienced a lot of discrimination from friends and strangers – I had decided to put my career on hold and be a stay-at-home mum to my four children. My decision caused outrage (‘you’re wasting a good education’ ‘you’re letting down the sisterhood’ etc etc), but in the end it’s nobody else’s business.
    You don’t have to defend yourself or your decision to ANYONE. It is your life. Live it without regret.

  • Excellent article.
    Je me demande simplement quand les femmes pourront faire comme bon leur semble ? Je suis fatiguee de donner des explications, des excuses pour des decisions qui ne regardent que moi (j’ai la chance de vivre avec un homme super)
    Je suis tres independante et vis dans une societe asphixiante, des relations, des amis et meme des membres de ma famille m’ont tourne le dos, c’est surprenant et quelquefois douloureux mais je suis enfin ce que j’aurais du toujours etre.

  • It is so important to think about each decision you take in your Life, about any subject. Even more about whether or not having a child. It is great that this decision is clear for you, because many people dont always imagine the impact having a child has on a life. I seriously think you are a super example for anyone just mentioning that one should think about it whatever the answer to that question is (which is totally personal and should be accepted; there is no right or wrong here). Thanks for the article on this !

  • I’ve been married for 9 years now. Day in and day out I’m harassed by family and strangers alike about the issue. On a weekly basis I’ll get a call from my MIL about how, “time’s running out”… not fun…
    She even brought up the fact that I’m an only child and I should definitely have 2 or 3 kids so that I never have to feel alone.
    Cannot understand why people feel that they’re entitled to pass judgment.
    My husband and I know that this is the right decision for US and we couldn’t be happier!! NO, it’s NOT selfish. It’s OUR life and we tell others to feel free to do what they want with theirs. (:

    Thank you for this, Caitlin!

  • I have a kid, and even I can’t stand the pressure and, even moreso, the sheer rudeness of asking a woman about her plans to have children. Seriously, the chances you are delving into an area of deep personal stress and possibly heartbreak is just so f-ing high! Why, why, why is this line of questions considered socially acceptable?

    Of course, I’m lucky to have avoided most of the talk. My partner and I met and were just happily cruising along as a late-30’s couple when I got pregnant by kinda-sorta-accident at 39 (who is being careful at 39 when you’ve never been pregnant before?! Not me! I just assumed I would have fertility challenges!) So people were too blindsided by the speed of things to really ask anything rude. BUT 1) Hello, doesn’t everyone know someone who has had fertility challenges? Why would you ask that when it’s such a heartbreaking subject?! and 2) My GAWD I miss being an independent, adult couple who can explore the world with ease. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in love with my child, but I know what the other side looks like – and it’s an excellent place to be! Autonomy is frickin delightful!

    So… yeah. Thanks for sharing.

  • You have given a voice to people like myself (closeted). I’m 33 and there isn’t a week where I’m not being harassed about pregnancy. I’ve been married to my husband for six years ( you can imagine the horror of people when they find out we’ve been married so long and we do not have children). We’re happy and we do not want children. We’ve been harassed by almost every single member of our family. We’re Latin, and Lord have mercy on our souls for not wanting children. It’s gotten to be so much that we’ve deliberately have lied to our family members and said we’re thinking about it. I’m so tired of hiding. When I’ve wanted to explain that it’s just not my path. I’ve been hit with all of the lines. “You’ll get over it in a few years, you’ll see”. You name it I’ve heard it. Thank you for not apologizing for it either. I find myself apologizing to people for how I feel and what I’ve chosen. I’ve gotten over it by telling myself that people’s opinion of my decisions are none of my business. I don’t want to have children to make other people happy.

  • Good for you! I went through this when I was in my 30’s (I’m 53 now). I knew from a very early age I wasn’t going to have children. I was shocked by the number of men I dated in my 20’s and 30’s who refused to believe it or immediately left because they didn’t think that was “normal”. I’ve had people tell me I would change my mind. Had a man tell me I was crazy and he would prove to me that I wanted kids. Uh, what? I’ve never regretted my decision. Not for one moment.

    I ended up marrying a man who had grown daughters. One of them had twins last year and it’s a blast. One day per week we have a blast with babies. Then they go home!! Best ever.

  • Caitlin,

    I turned 50 this week and I’ve always known I didn’t want kids. People don’t know how to handle that information; and that’s okay. I love that you said you’re doing you. My choices allowed me to have a wonderful, fulfilling career with lots of travel and experiences and zero guilt. Do you. And the right partner will get it; mine has for 18 years. You’re not alone; I applaud you for the essay.

  • Kari – happy, happy birthday!!! A big year, and a wonderful life to celebrate. Cheers! Xx

  • Yes, so many taboos around having children. Not wanting to have children is a big taboo and so is having children and not really thinking it was the most marvelous thing in the world. For me, it was very difficult. He was a “difficult” and demanding infant and child. It was a difficult marriage but my husband was a good father.

    With a difficult child there is no privacy, no time to oneself, very few feelings of contentment and satisfaction. And then there are the expectations to do things that are boring (go to sports games). Did he turn out to be a good person, husband and father? Yes. Were there good times? Of course, but on the whole… would I do it again. Probably not.

  • I’m 48 and describe myself as Childless By Choice whenever anyone asks prying questions. This phrase seems to provoke a positive reaction from most people, almost like “You go girl.”
    Sometimes it just provokes a change of topic in the conversation. I don’t owe anyone further explanation.

  • I am 39 and have been married 11 years. My husband and I made the decision to be child-free over 15 years ago. I didn’t think I was sacrificing anything then or now. I have nieces, nephew, goddaughters and godsons that allow me to love them wholeheartedly. My sister said the most important person in her kids life is the child-free aunt. My choice gives me the freedom to help my family and girlfriends when they need a break. I’ve owned my decision from day one and that quickly stopped any commentary from outsiders.

  • Charlotte September, 8 2017, 8:20 / Reply

    I totally get your plan. It was exactly the same one I had at 35, except I wanted dogs not cats! I felt that I wanted to be the best I could be and that included being the best aunt, daughter, sister, girlfriend etc. It did not include Mother….. And apparently this was a bit selfish!! Funnily enough I got pregnant and had no clue till way into the pregnancy, such was my denial!! I have a great kid now, wouldn’t be without him and he has become my world, I chose to adapt to the situation or I would have probably gone loopy! But I miss those days before and even though my future is brighter because of him, I now live with the fear and worry about his future. As a sibling myself I would prefer not to have a single child, but know that the strain and stress it would cause would probably cause me to become a single parent which I also don’t wish for. The saying goes the grass is always greener, but your choice is yours alone and no one should judge you for it! :)

  • Genevieve September, 8 2017, 8:30 / Reply

    Great essay, thank you for this.

  • I felt like I was reading my own story. My husband (also a Christopher) and I didn’t want children and we also had this conversation on our 3rd date. In fact, we both didn’t even believe in marriage but knew we were going to spend the rest of our lives together. I never wanted to be a mother and felt it just wasn’t for me. I loved my life, my career, traveling, and I fiercely guarded my independence. And then 2 years later I got pregnant while on birth control pills. Ten years on The Pill and never had a pregnancy scare before. We were shocked but after a couple of days we became excited and decided to keep the baby. Sadly, we lost that baby and would go on to have 2 more miscarriages all within a year. We finally welcomed our rainbow baby into our lives 8.5 months ago and being a mother has been the most fulfilling role. I was 37 when I had our son and now I’m 38. I’m not sharing this to change your mind or anything. I just wanted to share my story because it’s so similar to yours and if your life takes a detour like mine did, it can be a beautiful one despite you wanting to go in a different direction. xo P.S. We are one and done. ;)

  • Nina – sounds like the best detour life could have thrown your way! Congrats on your beautiful family; and thank you so much for sharing… we definitely share a very similar story! And, of course, good taste in names ;).

  • Cournot-Vernay September, 9 2017, 2:36 / Reply

    Merci pour ce témoignage.
    Merci de rappeler que ne pas avoir d’enfant ne fait de nous des “non-femmes”, des anormales…

  • I have four children, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I think it’s so rude to question a woman about why she doesn’t want to have children, and I am already teaching my young daughters that women make all kinds of choices about motherhood, and that all of the are valid. Don’t ask a woman if she’s pregnant, don’t ask her when she wants to have kids. Just don’t unless the topic is brought up in a private conversation. Never shame a woman for who she is.
    Please know there are so many hands reached out to you from mothers and non-mothers, supporting you to do what feels right for you.
    My husband and I also sometimes talk about the lives we might have had without the children – different, equally fulfilling lives.
    Thank you for writing about this.
    Also, you look amazing in that dress :-)

  • Simplement merci pour cet article et celui de Garance également sur le même sujet. Ça fait un bien fou.

  • A week after my 40th birthday my fiancé at the time told me he didn’t want kids. My life crumbled when this happened. I thought what will I do now ? Time was ticking. I spent 2 years after that obsessing on how I was going to get pregnant, and was basically interviewing for a baby daddy, found one, and could not get pregnant. 2 years after I spent mourning that i can’t get pregnant. I also realized, I didn’t want to live my life obsessing about it any longer and being sad about it. I was very lucky to have supportive parents that didn’t make me feel bad about my journey. I’m now 46, and am very happy and at peace that being a mom will not be in my life. Everyone says don’t give up, you can still adopt, or there’s hope. The reality is I don’t want to anymore. I don’t want to be a mom. I feel weird saying that. It’s like I’m going against what should be happening in life. I always grew up thinking.. you go to college, graduate, have a career, meet a guy, get married, and have a baby. It didn’t turn out that way for me. And I’m ok with it. It scares the shit out of me at times.. but I’m ok with it. I think I get scared cause I think, why am I so okay with not being a mom? After reading your wonderful story, I’m thinking maybe I never really wanted a child. I’m sure I could have made it happen somehow. I just didn’t.. or maybe it just isn’t part of my journey. Whatever it is, I’m very happy with my amazing partner and cutest little dog ever!

  • Gabrielle September, 9 2017, 4:31 / Reply

    Thank you for this. It sums up the story of me and my husband, right down to the big question on the second date! I still find it amazing how openly we felt talking about it so early in our relationship. But then, our families and some friends… My sister’s reaction when I gave my honest answer about having children surprised and disappointed me. She said something like that I was going through a phase. I felt empathy for gay people coming out for the first time and who are met with a response that says their true self is ‘wrong’. My own mother never asked me, and I’m grateful for that. On the other hand, my mother in law will not let it go, and now that I have turned 40, she has begun pleading with us to have a child (for her).

  • I think the hardest part of becoming a true adult is truly realizing what you want – after all the purpose of life is realizing one’s personality. The most beautiful people are fully themselves.

    On that note I will add that in my life motherhood is the most beautiful part – as someone trying to understand the true nature of life, seeing it appear and develop before your eyes is a truly transformative experience.

  • Frédérique Chartrand September, 9 2017, 6:43 / Reply

    Bravo Caitlin pour votre courage ! Et un grand merci à toi Garance de donner une tribune à ces femmes. Je vous kiff trop !!!! :-)

  • Merci pour cet article qui, effectivement, se lit très facilement !

    J’ai bientôt 35 ans et je me suis fiancée cette année. Il y a une certitude qui m’accompagne depuis l’adolescence : je ne veux pas enfanter. Je suis incapable de me projeter dans un rôle de mère; pour moi, c’est totalement impensable… Ma plus grande frayeur serait de tomber enceinte par erreur !

    C’est un sujet qui reste difficile à aborder avec autrui… Il provoque toutes sortes de réactions. Quand j’observe de l’incompréhension, je renvoie généralement le même sentiment : je suis tout autant abasourdie, lorsqu’une amie m’explique son désir d’enfant, qu’elle l’est elle-même lorsque je parle de mon non-désir. Des choix de vie différents… faut-il vraiment les expliquer ? Vivre son bonheur suffit largement.

    Une phrase que ma mère me dit souvent : “Mais qui s’occupera de toi quand tu seras vieille ?”. Tout un schéma social est résumé dans cette simple phrase… Selon les régions du monde, il est encore plus présent ! Du côté d’une partie de ma future belle-famille, les enfants enrichissent (au sens propre comme au figuré) la famille et sont présents pour leurs parents tout au long de leur vie. Et ils ont des enfants pour reproduire ce même destin… C’est sans fin, une dépendance sans fin.

    Ce n’est pas mon souhait, pas ma vision de la vie et du bonheur, et certainement pas ma vision de la vie en couple. J’ai rencontré un homme merveilleux que je vais bientôt épouser, nous prendrons soin l’un de l’autre, et nous vivrons ensemble… autrement.

  • Je suis vraiment interpellée par ce témoignage ainsi que par ces commentaires qui montrent la difficulté de faire comprendre et accepter ce non désir d’enfant .
    J’ai su très jeune que je ne voudrais pas d’enfant , ça n’a pas été un choix ou une décision réfléchie , non , c’est en moi…ça ne s’explique pas … c’est comme si j’ avais été programmée comme ça .
    Par ailleurs, ça ne m’a jamais empêché d’aimer les enfants de manière générale …d’aimer ceux de ma famille ou de mes amis ….mais je n’en voulais pas !
    Aujourd’hui j’ai la cinquantaine et je n’ai jamais regretté de ne pas avoir eu d’enfant . Je mène ma vie comme je l’entends, professionnellement et sentimentalement, avec beaucoup de bonheur.
    Par contre , je n’ai jamais eu de problème à assumer clairement et franchement ce non désir, ce qui je pense, à largement contribué au fait que je n’ai jamais rencontré de problème avec mon entourage , qu’il soit familial amical ou professionnel .
    Il faut dire que lorsque l’on me posait des questions que je trouvais, dès le départ, soit trop intrusives ou soit trop bien pensantes voir à la limite du jugement , mes réponses étaient tellement fermes et laconiques que généralement les personnes n’insistaient pas et n’en reparlait plus.
    En ce qui me concerne , je n’ai jamais chercher à expliquer ni convaincre qui que ce soit parce que sur le fond, il n’y a rien à expliquer et encore moins à justifier .
    Et honnêtement, je n’ai jamais ressenti cette pression décrite dans un certain nombre de commentaires.
    Je crois que je n’ai jamais laissé la possibilité à cette pression de s’immiscer dans ma vie.
    Je suis toujours partie du principe que ce que les autres pouvaient penser de cette situation m’était complètement indifférent et que c’était leur problème à eux … et non le mien.
    Serait il possible que de la manière dont on accepte et assume ce non désir d’enfant découle l’attitude des personnes que l’on a en face de nous ?

  • Caitlin, wonderful piece. I am 47. Married 20 years. No kids. About five years ago people stopped with the questions and the pressure to have kids. Because, hey, my chances of procreating at that point were probably slim to none, huh? And it felt good that they finally stopped. Not that folks’ pressure or questions influenced my husband’s and my decision in the least, but freeing to not have that conversation again. Best wishes for you in your marriage.

  • What ever you do, people will always talk! I have 3 boys and people are still asking me when will I have a girl (never, hello I have already 3 kids). You just have to choose what is right for you. Just listen to your heart. and let people talk.
    A friend told me about a book, l’accouchement est politique. I haven’t yet read it, but, in one part it explains how by killing the “witches” in the middle age (that had the know how to controle birth with plants), the clergy and the state would take over the power on the women fertility to make them produce soldiers and workers. that might be a source of the pressure on women to have children.

  • Jacqueline September, 9 2017, 9:47 / Reply

    Great story and so true. I am 51 and I never felt strongly on having children. I never regret it which is a very nice feeling. Just follow what feels good for you. It took me a long time to understand that ‘you have to own yourself.’ I am an artist and in interviews I never answer these questions because I think they are very private. By the way having children is just as egoistic as not having children.

    On another note is it possible that we can agree that we all communicate here in english? I do not understand that people answer in french. You exclude people who do not speak french.

  • Hello Jacqueline,
    The website is in french too. :)
    Here :

  • Jacqueline, I use google translator, not always perfect, I admit, but possible to get it. I understand that to express in different language, specially such hard topic is not for everyone and let we don`t loose their comments due to language, because are actually grand – for example Meg`s one ;-) Meg, my sister is using the same sentence, “who will care about you when you are old”, while her own, already adult children, are living in different continent…so, do you see? How she exactly mean it? it`s nonsense. Many people just copy/paste without thinking. Ladies I very appreciate the article, it`s relief to know we share the same feelings. Cheers.

  • Bravo!!! The more we all speak our truths , the more we normalize truth! I am a 70 year old grandmother and when appropriate, I don’t hesitate to state that I have had 2 abortions. It puts my face on my choice. I am ever grateful for living in a time when I have had control over my own fertility. The fight now, here in the US is to keep choice alive and make good birth control available to all. Keep speaking out…we all need to hear each other..without judgement.

  • Matilde Noriega September, 9 2017, 12:11 / Reply

    You know what is the worse part? After you have one they ask when will you have the second. I have two kids and I’ve had women with three or more kids, question me and belittling me for having “just two”. So its a never ending story. Good for you to know what you want and following your path.

  • Many years ago, my childless by choice friend, on the eve of her 40th birthday commented in a mildly panicked way, that she was questioning ALL her decisions. A rite-of-passage with all those big birthdays. I am a mother and explained, I feel it is in many women’s natures to question and judge herself and this doesn’t stop, mother or not. Either path taken you’ll most likely find yourself weighing the pros and cons and will probably ask “Have I taken the right path?” – I still do. Regardless of your path, the answer is always yes.

  • I am 71yrs old. Was married and divorced over the years. Never regretted not having children. When asked if I have children even these days, I answer that I did not want the responsibility. I was never pressured to have children. In my early career I was a pre school teacher for many years. A happy traveler.

  • Ca a toujours été mon choix aussi.
    J’ai simplement arrêté d’en parler voilà déjà des années, après avoir essuyé des réactions pas toujours évidentes à gérer. Depuis les réactions agressives ou ultra déçues de nos familles, jusqu’à certains amis qui m’avouaient, à portée d’oreille de leurs rejetons, qu’ils se seraient bien vus, eux aussi, libres et sans enfants…
    Belle vie à vous!

  • Great story about women choices Caitlin…will be interesting to talk about what kind of contraception people with definitive decissions have use to avoid the accidental pregnancy that so many have mention as a changing point …maybe a derivated discussion about the reluctant motherhood?…

  • I’m not sure if anyone mentioned this in the comments (I read through most, but not all)… but Caitlin, you really drew me in with the first line.

    My choice not to have kids is actually *precisely* influenced by climate change and overpopulation — or in other words, the overconsumption of resources by people everywhere, young or old. In terms of mitigating your impact on the planet in a lifetime, not having a kid is the most significant choice you can make.

    I work in the climate policy, adaptation, and mitigation field. Based on the science, and living in an area where we are already feeling significant impacts in terms of heat, water, air quality (LA), I just cannot imagine bringing a child into this world. It’s devastating and I don’t say this out loud much at all, but the phrase “this isn’t a world for kids” comes to me often.

    On top of that, my social ethos skews towards yours, Caitlin. I’ve realized I just don’t want them. I am in a committed partnership and am lucky that he doesn’t want kids either. I love hanging out with my friends’ kids (who all seem to be showing up right about now). I’m not a misanthrope. But it’s hard for me to think of justifying children when we are being affected by extreme climate disruption already and will continue to be throughout our lifetimes.

    I inject joy into my life as often as possible and wherever I can, though cannot ignore scientific fact.

  • Kristina – thank you for sharing your background, and knowledge. That line was definitely not “just a line” in the piece, I know a handful of women (and men) like yourself who have made the choice to not have kids based on the very same reason… Xx

  • Kiwon Shin September, 9 2017, 9:49 / Reply

    Thank you. I totally agree with you that we need to share our stories and speak up. I’m 33-year-old South Korean. many of my beautiful, thoughtful friends just don’t want to get married or have children (and maybe you can guess its same hard, or a little more hard in some way, to say that openly in South Korea.) I think it is much more responsible to not have children than have them without self assurance. :)

  • I am 59 years old, a black woman in South Africa, and I chose to be child free. My very good friend PHD thesis is on women who chose to be child free, not child less, as she says, because the two are different. I was one of the subjects of her research. During those sessions, I realised how content I was with being child free. The pressure on us is even greater, and I was very fortunate to have a mother who understood, who even said had the traditional pressures of being expected to have children in marriage not been there in the 50’s and 60’s, she would have chosen to be child free. I was told I was going to regret it when I get older, I have not regretted it at all. I love my life, and it was refreshing to read all the comments of all the child free women from around the world. Thank you Caitlin.

  • I’d be very interested to hear more about this thesis… and bravo to for you for participating and supporting your friend (and even better that it solidified your own choice!). Xx

  • Melisa Mitchell September, 10 2017, 7:10 / Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. I have no regrets about my choice. I live a very full life with my husband of 25 years and enjoy the fact that I can be the best “aunt” possible to the children of my friends who I adore.

  • You really didn’t say why you don’t want children. You said it what it wasn’t about, but not what is IS about. I think that would be interesting to know. It’s always interesting to hear the other perspective. But, you really didn’t say why. Maybe that’s your point, not saying. Do you have a reason or is it just a feeling of not for you? Not duplicate comment

  • Lauren – thank you for asking this… and the simple answer (the only answer) is: it’s just not for me. I know I’m not supposed to have children. There is no “why,” or reasoning behind it, and I don’t think there needs to be… it’s something I’m fortunate enough to know in my heart+mind. Xx

  • Margaret Chamberlain September, 10 2017, 8:01 / Reply

    Gosh! There are so many stories here I have not had the time to read them all. I too never wanted children. I am now 63 and have no regrets. I am amazed to read all you young women say how there is still a pressure to conform to the ‘norm’ and follow the motherhood path. I have a good strong marriage (40 years) and neither of us have regretted it. There are a few people I know who I think have regretted having children though! That is the big taboo. How many people have you heard admit to this? Thanks for raising the issue.

  • SO many stories!! Overwhelmed by all of them, and extraordinarily touched… you are all amazing… for sharing, for commenting, and for being yourselves. I really can’t express how thankful I am for each and every word. Please keep the conversation going!!! Xx

  • The freedom of one person ends where the freedom of another begins.
    This question (a desire of motherhood) does not affect anyone else.
    So, You with your partner are in borderline of your freedom to determine what is good for both of you.
    Good luck for You both!

  • Bravo, Caitlin, for writing this! I’m 47, have been married for 25 years and never wanted children. I’ve dealt with all of those attitudes from the people around me for a long time. I have gotten the sympathetic “you poor thing, you can’t have kids” and the “you can always adopt, you know ” and the bit about how my life will never be fulfilled, etc. My standard answer is that God gives everyone the exact number of kids that they are supposed to have. For me that number is zero! That usually stops that conversation ! Now that I’m older, I mostly just get surprised looks, and the yearly awkwardness at Mother’s Day when people in restaurants, churches, etc try to give you a flower just because you’re female and I have to either accept it or say, “not for me, thanks, Im not a mom. It’s definitely a different path, but despite the pressures and disapproval I have faced, I think it has been the best thing for me. I applaud your wisdom and your confidence to write these things!

  • People need to mind their own business…I would and have never asked anyone not even friends or family about their decision or not to have children. I think if this pressure wasn’t build up in our daily lives many people who had children without even thinking through this may have had the courage to stand up to pressures and be fine without making an extended family. It’s not for all of us that’s for certain.

  • Nancy Barrett September, 10 2017, 9:06 / Reply

    As I read your piece and despite not knowing you, I felt a surging sense pf pride and affection in your coming to terms with your true self and your courage to accept the difference and the strength to tolerate the tension of that difference. I know you’ll appreciate this funny anecdote. That being there’s always someone judging us out of their own insecurity. When I was your age (I now have a son your age) I was a professional painter living in Tribeca. I was married. I’m still a painter. That was my life. But, deep in my bones I wanted desperately to have a child. And I too always knew that. But the unspoken culture then for “women artists” was that painting was what you did and all you did if you wanted to “make it”. I struggled for a long time with those conflicting desires. I was in therapy dealing with this. I felt that there was something “wrong “with me” for wanting to be a mother so badly. Nuts, right? So it’s not really about the thing itself, it’s not really wanting or not want children, it’s about how we perceive that in relation to the culture we are in or the family we come from or our own psycho-social issues. It’s not the thing itself it’s the judgement that’s added on. So I take my hat off to you. You obviously have something very special that’s uniquely yours a few being courage and self acceptance. P.S.I have my first granddaughter from the son that I almost didn’t have.

  • Beautiful and well said!! And GOOD for you for following what you know was right. Xx

  • Jessica Van Nuys September, 10 2017, 9:32 / Reply

    I am 62 years old and from the time I was a child I knew I did not want children. I never wanted to play with baby dolls when I could have a Barbie, who had a fabulous wardrobe, a boyfriend, a convertible and–most important but of course I was not aware of it then–a job. I enjoy a great life with the love of my life–whom I met when I was almost 40 because before then I could have boyfriends, work, and not waste time worrying about having a “family”–and am still enjoying a long and interesting career. You choose your family–they’re the people you love sitting around the dinner table with. Not having children was the best decision I have ever made and I have never regretted it. I am only grateful that I was able to avoid it and follow my heart. Own it, Garance, and good for you.

  • Bravo! I am a mom but waited until I was a bit in my 40’s to have my daughter. I always knew I’d be a mom, even if I adopted so I was just taking my time and letting nature and my process take its course. On the way, I had a lot of backlash for waiting or not rushing to have kids. I was told I was being selfish and it would be difficult and yadda yadda yadda. I wish every woman took the personal time to reflect, really reflect on their choice to have or not to have children. There would be a lot more happy women and families in the world.

  • “the easy way”…
    what is the “easy way ?” was my question when reading you. Decide not to have children and have no children is an easy way. Decide to have children and have children is another easy way. Decide to have children and not having children is a difficult way, as well as decide not to have children and have one…
    My way was so difficult.
    From my childhood, I was reluctant to have children. But social pressure pushed me to try (just try) … and discover this won’t be simple. Pushed by my partner, we went into the medical path (insemination, in vitro fertilization). Everything was OK, we got so many oocytes .. And I don’t know why and how, I became eager to have a child. All my life was useless if I had not this child.
    I took me years to became a mother and, before being pregnant, I was sure my partner and I won’t be a couple for a long time… At that time, I was sure the the will to become a mother was just chemical, the result of all the hormones they put into my body. And I was sure that it will stop after the treatments end.
    But when the baby was born, we immediately wanted a second one. I went back into the medical path, more and more, but we never got the second one. It was a nightmare to admit I’ll never get the second one.
    Today, I am disabled and I’m convinced it’s due to the heavy treatments I got at that time. My partner and I spitted when my daughter was 6. Being an alone mother with a growing handicap is a difficult way.
    I have lots of regrets for having not chosen the right partner .. but, never, never, I have regretted to have my daughter. The wound of not having the 2nd one has healed with the hope to become grand mother…
    Caitlin, you’re right to chose an easy way, whatever it is.

  • Je n’ai que 25 ans, en couple depuis 7 ans et pareil, je prends de plus en plus conscience de mon non-désir d’enfant – partagé par mon copain, ouf! Pour moi, il est autant lié à mes convictions politiques qu’à mes envies, à savoir que je ne me suis jamais réellement projeté dans une vie avec enfants. Je sais que je suis jeune et que je peux changer d’avis, et d’ailleurs plus la fameuse date de “c’est-le-moment-ou-jamais-d’avoir-des-gosses” approchera, plus j’en discuterai avec mon amoureux pour être sûre de ne rien regretter, mais je sais aussi qu’il se peut que ce choix reste le mien.
    Étrangement, tout le monde considère cela inconcevable : ma mère est persuadée que c’est la jeunesse (la puérilité ?) qui parle, et mes copines que je suis sous la pression de mon copain. Mon copain, lui, personne ne questionne son non-envie d’enfant. Encore un combat féministe à gagner…
    (A côté de ça j’ai hâte que ma soeur et mes amis fassent des gosses, je serai la plus heureuse et dédiée des baby sitter) :D
    Merci en tout cas d’ouvrir la discussion, donner une visibilité à ce choix et à cette possibilité d’épanouissement facilite grandement le chemin des plus jeunes, comme moi!

  • WHOA WOW-wow! I can not express how much this essay has meant to me. I’ve been in a similar life situation and the extent I’ve allowed it to pummel my self-esteem is staggering- but reading stories such as this one continues to lift me up that I am not ‘selling myself short’ just because I have not procreated and no longer beat myself up about it. Stories like these help me not to feel like an outcast- and that feels really really good! Thank you for this piece!

  • I’m 74; I wish I thought of this choice; all that I dreamed about was marriage and children in the 50s…….this was the direction almost all woman in my age group chose……Well, reflecting on my 2 sons, 55 and 48, I can see I might have chosen to not have children……I had my first at 18 and it changed the course of my life; I was modeling, dreamed of going to NYC that was gone, second son; not planned has been a real challenge, he has add/ocd and iS mixed raciaL. He has been on disability his whole life, not being able to work and earn a living that could support him…….but both are so loving, supportive and conscious and they both are very talent singers, song writers and musicians….this is the result of me having to raise them on my own, financially, emotionally and spiritually…….it’s been a difficult life and still is…… never know how the children will grow up in adulthood…….that being said, I can’t imagine my life without them; being a Mother is a continuous journey till the end….doesn’t change with age… still worry, feel sad when they have life challenges……… good for all you woman with making the choice……….of not having children……life now is sooooo much different than the 50s and 60s…..thank God…….as woman well shall rise into a much more evolved species and we need that now more than ever, and truly it takes time and energy to create a better world to live in, and not having children afford that time and energy………ok I’m done……the short version of my single parent life story……….WE SHALL RISE, my Mother always told me, “What doesn’t kill you will make you stonger” and I’m a fierce woman for sure

  • Thank you so much for starting this conversation! I’m also engaged, 33, and people keep asking me! My fiancé and I have decided not to have kids, and even from my most liberal (single/no kids) friends, I get a that….”Are you sure? But what if….”

    No one is really mean or anything, but it’s just refreshing to hear from someone (and some people here in the comments!) who are choosing the same path!

    Cheers to all of you!

  • Rhiannon Gharibeh September, 10 2017, 11:55 / Reply

    As a woman who chose to have children, I want to applaud the writer and all those who echo her sentiments for being self-aware and in touch with yourself and the direction you want your lives to go. As more people are brave enough to live their lives authentically, I hope society will learn that there is more than one way to have a fulfilled and satisfying life.

  • Juste MERCI

  • At 52, I can say that I have no regrets about *choosing* to not have children. My husband and I recently celebrated our 27th anniversary, and we are in agreement that we made the right decision for us. That should be all that matters, right?

  • I’m not sure why it should be a band-aid that needs ripping off or why it should be uncomfortable for a woman to express not wanting to have children. I’ve never wanted to have children either. I like them well enough but I can’t imagine any commitment that’s more time consuming and identity stripping than becoming a mother. Of course there are women who are able to maintain an identity independent of motherhood but they are few and far between. You put your own development and goals aside so that you can raise other humans. That’s fine for people who want that but you accomplish less when part of your life is devoted to raising children. Of course, raising a child is an accomplishment of sorts but not that same as being able to live, travel, and accomplish things that you wouldn’t if you had to be at home taking care of children. Its a shame that you feel uncomfortable expressing your wish to never have children.

  • Ms. Weiskopf, with all due respect, your wrong. You are just too young at the tender age of 35 to know it. Being genuinely old and ‘mature’ enough at 60 to assert so is my decision not to have children for a myriad of very well thought out reasons when I was your age. Perhaps if you cutout the rhetoric and genuinely open your heart, you will come to a better decision including your choice of a partner. Because the truth is if you really didn’t want to have children, there would be the security of not having to publicly declare so. Best of luck to you.

  • Amy Vitale September, 10 2017, 2:37 / Reply

    I honestly couldn’t care less what decision other women make regarding having kids and find it baffling that everyone else does seem to. Shortly after meeting my now husband when tings were starting to get serious, I said outright to him “At this stage I don’t see me wanting to have kids, I can’t guarantee that won’t change though”. I should say that he’s 11 years older and I felt I shouldn’t waste his time if we wanted different things. He was happy to be with me either way.

    It was other people who seemed surprised or confused when I told them I didn’t want kids, one co-worker even telling me, “if you’re not sure then you should just have one, nobody ever regrets having one but they do regret not having one.” She may not be wrong but that’s not a good enough reason for me to have a child.

    In any case a slow sea change happened as I approached 30 and now we have a five month old boy. I love him fiercely but my husband & I are not like most parents, we openly tell anyone who asks just how f@&!ing hard it’s been. It’s not all roses and rainbows as some would have you believe. When you’re planning for a child parents gush about the joys of motherhood while cracking jokes about losing sleep, then once baby arrives they share their hardships and mental breakdowns like they were storing them up until you became part of the club.

    All this to say, more power to you.

  • So many thanks for this article! I could feel myself breathing a sigh of relief as I read this. I will add that I am tired of some people insinuating that mine or my husband’s time is less important or valuable just because we don’t have children. We have a dog (he is our kid)! We have each other. We have family and friends. We have hobbies. Our time is important and valuable to us, just as much as it is to our friends or acquaintances with children.

    I’m also tired of some friends who try to make us feel badly because we have money to spend on things like travel, experiences, and items, and they don’t. We made a choice and because of that have money we may not have otherwise had. I’m not sorry for that.

    I found this article so liberating! Thank you for sharing, and thank you for a place to be appreciated and supported!! Just Merci!

  • I don’t know why anyone would get angry at you for not wanting children. It’s really no one’s business but your own. I find those questions of whether and when you’re going to have children and when are you going to have another incredibly intrusive and nosey and well, rather rude.
    I wish when I was younger I had known myself as well as you know yourself.
    My daughter is in her early 20s now and quite often says she does not want to have children and I am fine with that. I didn’t want children at that age either. After I got married, without really putting deep thought into it, I just went along with everything and got pregnant. Can’t say it was the smartest or most wonderful decision of my life. I love my child, but I do not love the dramatic change in my health or life that came after pregnancy.
    Bravo for you for knowing how you want your life to be. Wishing you and your finance a long, happy life together.

  • Thank you to Caitlin for writing this article, and for all the lovely posts that followed.

    I wish for us all to be able to make our own authentic life choices. Without judgement from others, instead with support and appreciation. We are all different, and that is something to celebrate! Someone’s plans for children, how many they have, if they have any– all such personal questions I would never ask. I just let someone bring it up if they want to.

    I am now 45 with 3 young children; one of our favorite books is “Only One You” which includes the empowering line”There’s only one you in this great big world.” This idea that you’re the only you there is has really stuck with us; it is so true! It is my hope that we can all celebrate that motto together.

    As a stay-at-home mother (for lack of a better term; can we find a better term?!) for the past 10 years since having my first child, I have noticed a bit of judgement in the media and in general conversation against those of us who have made this choice. I am incredibly grateful for the choice, and it is authentically who I am. I am no less a person because of it. I am still contributing to society, working hard, and living my life. We are all multi-facated people, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I absolutely cringe when I hear someone use dismissive the term “housewife” or make a judgement along those lines. Feminism and the modern age have given us choices, thankfully. Now we need to respect each other’s choices.

    I could really relate to your post, so I had to take a moment to write in (uncharacteristic of me!)– do any of us really sit at opposite ends of the table?? We sit at the same table. Life is good.

    I support you and thank you for this thoughtful article!

  • Hi, I totally hear you on this and I have 2 kids! Social pressure – (especially from women) is so hard to deal with. I come from an extremely judgmental society (the South) and damn if I’m not STILL in therapy trying to figure out how to be a bad ass -true to myself no matter what- woman like you. I was trained to care a LOT what other people think. And I still do. It’s like trudging through the weeds and muck toward an ocean view. I know that I am on my way make to see the beach – and I am leaving behind me a cluster of nitpicking hens still stuck in their chicken coop. I can’t wait to get there – to the land of not caring what anybody thinks. Aka: being true to yourself. (Are they the same place? I suspect so.)

    In the meantime I’m thankful I’m learning not to be so judgmental myself anymore! I would probably have thought you were selfish at one point. Now I think you’re brave and admirable. (I have a really good therapist.)

    Furthermore: Women should lay off! Kids aren’t for everyone.

  • I think it is great. Far too many people become mothers that are NOT cut out for it. Bravo for knowing!

  • Suzanne Bateman September, 10 2017, 5:27 / Reply

    Caitlin thank you so much for sharing your perspective! While my husband and I decided to have two kids and are happy we did, we have most recently decided to sell our ‘perfect home’ that has made us a lot of money and could continue to do so for many years to come in order to take some risks and breath a little lighter. Societies conventions can be suffocating and not for everyone. It’s important that we talk about it!!!! We have moved our kids into an apartment that is 1/4 what we paid to live in our house. They now share a room which they love. I can’t get them to come inside from the lane way where as before I couldn’t get them to play outside in our lush backyard with a trampoline. I feel so free from that house and can’t wait for our next adventure even if it’s just to keep living in our apartment. ? Bravo to all women who are doing their best to be themselves!

  • Suzanne Bateman September, 10 2017, 5:28 / Reply

    Caitlin thank you so much for sharing your perspective! While my husband and I decided to have two kids and are happy we did, we have most recently decided to sell our ‘perfect home’ that has made us a lot of money and could continue to do so for many years to come in order to take some risks and breath a little lighter. Societies conventions can be suffocating and not for everyone. It’s important that we talk about it!!!! We have moved our kids into an apartment that is 1/4 what we paid to live in our house. They now share a room which they love. I can’t get them to come inside from the lane way where as before I couldn’t get them to play outside in our lush backyard with a trampoline. I feel so free from that house and can’t wait for our next adventure even if it’s just to keep living in our apartment. ? Bravo to all women who are doing their best to be themselves!

  • Thank you for your story! I am 50 years old, married with no children. I got married when I was 44 to the man I had been dating for the previous 11 years. I knew early on that I didn’t want children, and I’ve endured the questions “do you have children?” and even “how many children do you have?” and the ensuing awkward silence from the questioner after I simply answer in the negative. I love my life, I love the freedom to pursue whatever I want. I have three sisters who have kids and I love them dearly and would do anything for them, but I have no regret over my decision not to have my own.

  • Thank you for sharing your story and kudos to you for the choices you are making about your life and the way you want to live it. As a community of women it wonderful that we embrace each other and our diversity of choices since we face enough barrage from society, family, etc.

    Growing up I said I didn’t want children. The response I received from the adults around me was, ‘ah you’re young, when you grow up you’ll want kids’. Even when I did grow up I still didn’t want children. I enjoyed following other dreams and passions, I didn’t want to bend to the social and expected norms.

    My opinion changed when I met my now husband. A few months after being together over a roaring fire at a New Year’s Eve party we had ‘the chat’. I was honest and said I had never pictured having children but being with him was changing this. He said he would like to have children one day and he would like to have them with me. Seven years later we welcomed our son into the world just two moths ago. We chose when we were ready and we were so fortunate that when we decided to try that I was able to fall pregnant.

    What was hard in this journey was the ramped up expectations from family once we were married that kids would come along, and soon. The most hurtful were comments from my mother, who I had always pictured as being open minded and liberal and happy to accept her daughters choices. I didn’t want to have a child just because people were wanting or expecting us to have a child, and this pressure may have impacted our decision when to try because I didn’t want to do it just because it was what family expected us to do. I wanted us to be as ready as we could be to welcome a child into this world, and to do it on our terms. It is a deeply personal and private decision, no one has a right to invade that space expect for the people who are making and will be affected by that decision.

  • Hello Caitlin,
    Great to read your thoughts and good for you for standing by what you know is true for you. The only people that should be having children are those that want and are prepared to have one.

    I give thanks that I do not have any children. Life is hard and life is expensive. Without children, there is time to love my husband without distraction and cultivate many deep friendships.

    Now when listening to friends speak of their grown children and their problems, I know why it was’t meant to be….. a child would have broken me.

    Don’t feel pressure to conform. and know you are NOT alone! Sometime people want you to do what they do so they feel validated in their own important life decisions. Also,believe or not, people may envy you.

    So you know:
    I am a grateful and positive person, however do not think I could maintain this balance with children.

  • This is such a great message and such a refreshing way to express this view that is still surprisingly pretty controversial. I love how there’s no judgment in this for people making other choices, but it’s a hopeful message that you can go ahead, build YOUR life and be happy. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it.

  • Lisa Walker September, 10 2017, 10:42 / Reply

    Having children is a BIG DEAL. Getting married is a BIG DEAL. I think too many people jump into marriage and children for the wrong reasons; and I believe it’s that crowd that is so desperate to ask myself and others like me why I’m single and childless… I would never ask them if they made the right choices in their lives. I’m 48, single, no kids of my own, with a career that I love more each day (I’m a chef). I have a niece and nephew I adore to pieces and an incredible family and family of friends that bring me so much fullfilment.

    I ask those simple enough to question my life choices– how am I missing out? And as so many have said in the blaze of wonderful comments above– when will they believe our true contentedness? Well, I suppose they can’t relate. But thank god for all those that do! And may we all be really happy with ourselves.

    And thank you for this brave discussion! You look great, and a woman at ease in her own skin!

  • I am grateful to you for writing this post. I agree 100% that as women it’s high time we bring these issues to the surface and break the script.

    I’m 38. My husband of 13 years and I decided after many, many years of conversations, deliberation, etc. to have a baby. Winston, our son, just turned 5 months. He’s awesome. But it took us a long time to make that choice, and I am grateful we were able to concieve.

    Here’s the thing: for years people, family and friends, strangers, coworkers, asked if and when we would have children. I would say that we were unsure, and that we were waiting to be sure, if and when the time came. People say, “oh, you’ll never be totally sure, have the money you need, be fully ready” and so on, “you just have to go for it”. As an educator of young children (elementary school art teacher/former K1 classroom teacher) I can tell you that parents have such a strong impact on their child’s development/being that in my opinion there is no greater decision to be weighed than that of having a child. Sure, we can never be 100% ready for much in life, but you can be More ready.

    We live in a crazy ass world, in a crazy ass time and there are no rules. The script was written long ago, it’s outdated, tiring. I want to raise my son in the spirit of this post- that is, write your own rules. Make decisions that honor what lies within. Thank you for putting yourself out there.

  • Brian Bowman September, 10 2017, 11:15 / Reply

    Who am I to judge (as said by Pope Francis)? God bless you both. You both are wonderful.

  • Mamavalveeta03 September, 11 2017, 12:39 / Reply

    Caitlin, I don’t know what it’s like to make the decision to be childless and then get judged for it. But I do know that it’s no one’s damned business but yours and your fiancé’s. I recall getting married and then having the questions (Yes! “winky winky”) begin. Although my husband and I wanted kids, we struggled with infertility for quite awhile, so all of those intrusive questions were quite painful. Eventually, we had 3 daughters and I loved being a mom…still do, even though they’ve all flown the nest. But I’ve always told them “You’re enough just as you are. You don’t need a man to complete you!”

    You be YOU! And forget about feeling the need to explain to people. You don’t owe them!

  • Amen Sister !! Even if i ended up with 2 beautiful girls that i love more than i anything i keep thinking it was not totally my choice.
    As far as i remember i did not want kids , I love them but I did not want to have my own. This was driving my mum , my friends everybody crazy except my dad and my aunty( who has no kids herself)
    I guess love help a lot and my fiance make me feel like we can do it.
    However it totally hear you and I know that I will never push my girls to make me become a grandma unless they really want it.
    I am far away from a perfect mum as i really never picture myself like that so i deal with it day by day.
    I think you make a great choice because it’s the choice that suit you best. And for that really BRAVO !!

  • Ai-Ch'ng Gan-Bhullar September, 11 2017, 1:37 / Reply

    Lovely, heartfelt article!

    Whenever women/couples are asked, “Are you having kids?” And they reply, “yes”, the other person’s response is invariably, “wow! How many? What would you call them? Do you fancy a boy/girl first?” And, so the conversation rolls on like a snowball gathering momentum. Never is the couple asked, “how come? Why?”

    When the answer, however, is, “no, we aren’t/don’t want children”, the response is almost always, “why?”, as if there must be a reason for what appears to the other person to be completely unnatural negation of parenthood. Usually, after admitting to someone that you don’t want children, the conversation will stall suddenly – or the topic abruptly and uncomfortably changed by the one asking the original question. Unless you’re in the company of another likeminded soul, who simply doesn’t like children/won’t be responsible for adding to the world’s food burden/feels that they honesty love caring for pets more than small people/feel like their role is in parenting.

  • Connie Pichler September, 11 2017, 3:54 / Reply

    Congrats! I am a mom od two daughters and I love them more than everything else but I totally understand and approve your decision to not have children. Just because we are women we do not have to become mothers. Females are not defined by motherhood. All the best for your marriage and your future – enjoy being you.

  • Great post! Thank you for sharing. It’s great to also see your fiancé supportive. When you are sure kids are not part of your plan and you start a new relation, there will always be this one day where you’ll have to discuss this with your partner and not all the couple can face it. And this might constantly be challenged over the years…

  • The next time someone asks me about the topic “children”, I’ll say: “You ARE aware of this being a sensitive topic for many women, right? Some want children and can’t have them. Some tried and have heartbreaking stories of lost pregnancies. Some are in the middle of fertility treatments and are suffering physically and mentally and don’t want to talk about it. Some simply don’t want children, and some have stories of abortions. Some have children and still suffer from not having more. Or they suffer from having children at all. So you ARE aware that most people (women AND men!) would rather talk about this only with their closest friends, if at all?
    So let’s pretend I didn’t hear your question – and let’s start anew.”

    Also: What really should stop is an artificial separation/wall between people with children and without. It is what often happens – you don’t get invited by the other group as much as before the phase of family planning. Just because some people don’t have children doesn’t mean that they don’t like them and want to become “a friend you only join for dinner in a fancy restaurant when you finally get an evening off – to feel “normal”(child-free) for a couple of hours”.

    Thank you for this refreshing discussion!

  • I can totally relate to that!
    I’m around 30 and since my teenage years I’ve felt I did not want to have children.
    Actually, I love children and get along very well with them. I’m the eldest of 4 siblings and have a fantastic relationship with them. Due to our big age difference, my role with them has been part sisterly part motherly, and I’ve always felt very ate ase with that. Yet, I don’t feel any pull at all to have children of my own. I used to feel uncomfortable saying it, and a key moment from me was when a dear friend of mine who is a fantastic therapist told me : “You don’t have to have children to be a mother”, and it totally clicked.
    Not having biological children does not prevent me in any ways to be motherly and caring (I know, quite obvious :-) )

  • Great article, so encouraging to empower women always more! I am not yet concerned by the issue but I feel like later, I would like to have children but not at all costs, and only if I can raise them in the conditions I and my eventual partner value are the best to them, otherwise no – but I like to have the choice and among everything on such personal levels!
    I was thinking: what about asking back to the person who bothers you with the sempiternel question: ” And you, why did you want to have children?”. Not in a naughty approach, on the contrary, with big empathy just so as to reguide the conversation in a more exchanging way. For the beauty of sharing different point of view without judging (and then that way maybe the curious people badly intentioned will find themselves stucked in silence and ridiculousness for not having always the answer! Because there is not always a good answer!).
    Next subjects: equality pay for women? Bigger representation of woman of colors and minorities everywhere? Stronger laws to punish any harm done to women?
    Thank you very much for so much passion, share and kindness.

  • I became a single mother in my 20s. I got knocked up by an awful person and decided not to have an abortion – the decision was impractical at least. (Some said insane.)

    A week or two after my daughter was born, I was overwhelmed with sadness. No one had told me that when you become someone’s mother, the life you had prior to the child’s arrival is annihilated. I spent a few days in deep, deep mourning for the life I had lost.

    I am in my 40s now, and my daughter is nearly an adult. She is, if I may say so, *magnificent* and I love her in ways I didn’t know were possible. My life is profoundly different than it would have been if she did not exist, and it’s a life I could not have imagined in my 20s.

    A friend of mine planned to have children, but life did not result in children for her. When she was around 40 and realized that she would, in the end, not have children, she took a few days for herself and deeply mourned the life that she had imagined but would not have.

    A few years later, my friend is a *magnificent* person who has a fulfilling and genuinely beautiful life that is profoundly different than the one she would have had if she had children, and it is a life she could not have imagined when she was in her 20s.

    Real acknowledgment of what we felt we’d *lost* helped both my friend and me embrace the lives that came to us.

    I will never understand why so many people are so ungracious and ungenerous to women. I look forward to (and try to work toward) a time when we each get to make decisions about our lives with real freedom, and when we can each *expect* kindness and respect.

  • I am so glad to read such an honest perspective on womanhood and motherhood. Thank you!! I hate that women have live life in limbo when it comes to motherhood. If you’ve decided you don’t want to have children, you have to be quiet about it. If you’re not sure about it yet, it feels like your life is in limbo until a decision is made. I’m 30 and have been married 7 years but I still can’t see a clear path in either direction. I am actively pursuing a path to not get pregnant, but I hate how such a huge life change could be determined by a “surprise.” Overall I think it’s so wonderful for women to open up about this and explore how they truly feel about having children or not having children. Thank you for encouraging more of this conversation :)

  • Quel article ! Merci ça fait du bien de savoir qu’il y a tellement d’autres femmes dans mon cas ! Dans mon entourage je suis la seule à avoir choisi de ne pas avoir d’enfant (mon conjoint aussi) et ce n’est pas toujours facile à assumer. Avant je ne me posais pas de questions ça coulait de source d’aussi loin que je me souvienne je n’ai jamais voulu avoir d’enfants. Mais les 40 approchent et la pression sociale augmente donc on y réfléchi un peu plus, on se projette dans qq années pour voir ce que l’on ressent, pour être sûr car il paraît qu’on va le regretter ! … et en même temps la vie avec un bébé ne me fait pas rêver, j’aime ma liberté, dormir tranquillement ne pas avoir à m’inquiéter pour quelqu’un et revivre toute la scolarité oh la la ! Peut-être qu’un enfant de 22 ans me conviendrait ! ;)

  • Thank you for this honest and vulnerable post Caitlin! I’m with you on this one. My partner and I have decided not to have children, and we also are not going to get married. After almost 10 years together, and sifting through all of my thoughts and feelings about the traditional path of marriage + children, I’ve realized that I don’t need either in order to be happy or to feel complete. I personally don’t think that motherhood is the “most important” job in the world. It’s certainly one of them. But it’s not the only one. Saying it is, discredits all of the other beautiful and essential ways women contribute to this world.

    I’m not scared of marriage or worried that kids will change my relationship or be “too difficult” for me and my man to handle. In fact, I think we’d be pretty damn good at both if I do say so myself! I simply don’t feel the need or deep desire for either one. So instead, my partner and I are planning a “WooHoo We’ve Been Together For 10 Years (and no this isn’t a wedding)” party next year. And we’re starting a business together (our version of a baby) and we’re still in love and growing together and honestly – really, really happy.

    I hope this conversation you so generously started here, helps those who might be feeling pressure to follow the traditional path. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. You get to decide what makes you feel fulfilled. Period.

  • Bonjour,
    Cet article fait du bien à lire. Pour raison de maladie et à 40 ans, je dois me résoudre d’abandonner mon envie d’être mère… Dans ma vie, je ne me suis pas pressée et je n’ai pas fait les bonnes rencontres. Mais, au vu du regard des autres, je suis pas dans la normalité. Régulièrement, on me demande si je n’ai pas d’enfant, pas de mari…. Ce n’est pas facile… mais c’est comme çà, il faut toujours se justifier.
    Malgré la maladie, je me sens heureuse même s’il y a des coups de stress.
    J’ai abandonné mon désir d’être mère.
    Mais je me sens heureuse… je me sens apaisée avec çà.
    Je profite de la vie… et après la maladie, je profiterais de vivre mes passions au maximum…
    Le boulot me remplit pleinement et me permet d’avancer.
    Merci encore pour ces témoignages car une vie épanouissante n’est pas seulement tournée vers le modèle standard de vie.

  • Quand on me demande “tu ne regrette pas de ne pas avoir d’enfant”, il m’arrive de répondre, surtout quand les leurs sont bien pénibles, j’avoue j’en profite : “et vous? pas de regret d’en avoir fait?”.
    Et souvent, il y a comme une petite ombre dans le regard. Car oui, comment avouer ouvertement que si l’on avait su on aurait peut-être fait un autre choix.
    J’ai une amie qui assume très bien, elle dit toujours : j’adore mon fils [et c’est une vraie mère poule], mais si c’était à refaire, ben, je le referais pas.”

  • Wonderful, brave & sincere: just what we need in this world. Thank you for sharing this story.
    For 5 years, I now have been looking after two wonderful little human beings (a girl and boy from different families), they enriched my life in so many ways, they are both a huge mirror in which I see both my bright & dark sides. I have been judged by a lot of people for ‘just being a nanny’ (I should have a succesfull job with money and status). People just are very very afraid of those who choose to live life differently, because it confronts them with their own insecurities.
    To be honest, I do not really need to be a mother myself necessarily, as it is a very very intense role to take.
    Really it is different for everyone, and there are so many perspectives, but in the end it all comes down to follow your own heart and pave your own way.
    Thank you for conributing to the much needed openess on these topics, very important. I wish you just keep on following your gut, Because that is as close as you can get to your truth
    ??? Love, Djoeke

  • You’d be being irresponsible if you had a child just to fulfil society’s expectations! Child-raising is f* hard and – do not fool yourself – you’d still be having to fulfil society’s expectations as a mother! Breastfed babies vs bottle fed babies. Stay at home mom vs working mom. And the stupid list goes on… Wanted children is soooo much more important then mothering just for the sake of fulfilling other people’s expectations! Thank you for sticking to your own mind on what is going to make YOU happy!

  • Patricia Weiskopf September, 12 2017, 7:11 / Reply

    Well, I loved you before you were born and I love you more each day. Thank you, Caitlin!

  • Thanks, mom. You’re the best mom anyone could ask for. I love you!! Xx

  • Bravo Caitlin and Team Dore for opening up this topic!
    I myself am “undecided leaning towards ‘no'” so I empathize and understand the predicament of having to deal with what you’ve described.
    I’m sure the underlying issue here is fear (from both men & women) around the power of women defining themselves, for themselves.
    It’s an exciting time to not be the ‘norm’.
    And I’m thankful that we have the privilege of choosing for ourselves.
    We’re also creating more options and less judgement for future generations. Girls can’t imagine for themselves what they don’t have the opportunity to see. To see women who’ve made authentic choices – whatever they are – not according to society’s ‘norm’ – is very powerful.

  • M Anderson September, 14 2017, 2:19 / Reply

    I have never believed that every woman wants to be/should be/is cut out to be a mother. I have always wanted children and had three of them in my 20s. They are the greatest source of joy and pain (the worrying is endless) in my life.

    It is forward and downright rude, but still typical, for others to ask about your future family plans, I agree. However, to play devil’s advocate here, maybe it’s not always motivated by nosiness. Maybe they care for you and don’t want you to have a life without the unmatched joy of holding your child (infant, adult, or anywhere in between) and be swept over with a love so intense it’s not describable in words Maybe they worry about you having someone to care for you when you’re old and that you may find yourself lonely when the career is far behind you.

    I’m not trying to sway anyone in their life choices, just some things to consider when you find yourself resenting those unwelcome inquiries about having kids. Oh, and I am not a busybody who asks anyway.

  • Lynn Lindsay September, 14 2017, 3:13 / Reply

    My daughter sent me your article. I am a 68 year old woman; my daughter is 36 and has gone through much self searching on this subject. I always had such respect for actress Kathrine Hepburn as she stated in an interview that she loved children, but she loved her career and it would be selfish to have children and not give them the time they deserved. Not a selfish choice; a very unselfish choice. I have known two couples who made the conscience choice not to have children and I so respect them for that. It is not a selfish choice but a “selfful” choice. Thank you for addressing this sometimes painful subject.

  • Thank you SO much! As a satisfied, confident, fulfilled woman in her mid-thirties who is also choosing not to have children, I could relate to every word you wrote. It is such a welcome perspective and really helps to combat the “oh wait, am I just being really selfish?” thoughts that sometimes creep in after those awkward conversations with others on this topic. Your sentiments were brilliantly expressed and wholeheartedly appreciated.

  • Great article! In two days I will be 61 years old; married for 31 years. We did not have children and made that decision before we married. It was the right decision for us. Unfortunately, I don’t feel the majority of our family or friends have ever understood our decision. But that is their issue/problem, not ours. It hasn’t been easy navigating around people’s expectations, but for us it would have been much harder “going with the flow.” As the years have past, I actually think some friends now look at us and internally say to themselves, “maybe they had the right idea.” It takes so much self-confidence, real knowledge of self, and courage to say to society, “I’m going to do this my way.” Please know it can be done, and rewardingly so!

  • I absolutely feel the exact same way, it’s like you read my mind.

  • francoise m mcaree December, 3 2017, 8:34 / Reply

    Thank you for this article. I chose not to have kids but the thing I did not anticipate was the judgement–that there is something wrong with you for deciding not to have kids–from other women. And it gets worse with age. I believed that women had fought for me to have a choice–the choice to do what I wanted and live the way I wanted, but social norms are incredibly strict regardless of how far we think we have come. I honestly don’t think we have made much progress as much as you want to think or want to believe….one of the comments mentioned: ‘un petit ombre dans le regard” is the perfect way to describe the effect one gets when you say not only do you not want kids, didn’t want kids and don’t have kids. I also think its unbelievable when the very first question women often ask when I meet them is “do you have kids?”.

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