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Pressured To Have Children?

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Pressured To Have Children?

Direct and Subtle Pressure to Have Children—How Can a Childfree Wannabe Cope?
Exploring all facets of childfree living.

By Ellen Walker, Ph.D.

The whole topic of childfree living is controversial, and becoming more so all the time. Just this week a woman submitted a comment on my book, Complete Without Kids, saying she thinks it’s ridiculous that a book had to be written on the subject. She is herself childfree and knows others who are as well, and no one she knows has had unpleasant experiences or mixed feelings about their choice.

I’m happy to learn that there are many who have not been made to feel badly about not having had kids, but the reality is that this is not the case for so many others.

Pressure from Family and Friends

I recently heard from a young woman who told me she’d mentioned to her mother and her grandmother that she didn’t plan to have children.  The response from the older generation was, “You will have children. You must have children.” She asked for my advice on dealing with this pressure from her family. I suggested that she avoid the topic of kids with her mom and grandmother and also make sure that she has people in her life who are themselves childfree or who are supportive of her choices.  Of course, she might also tell her relatives that she appreciates their opinion, but that she does not wish to discuss the matter further.

There’s also pressure from friends. I’ve been told by many young women that they feel left out, as one by one their friends get pregnant and shift into the roles of mommy and daddy. These young childfree women get together with groups of others their age and find themselves alone in the crowd, as the talk moves from diapers to daycare options. They feel that their choice is to either join the group by having a child of their own or find a new group of friends.

As a childfree woman in a city filled with families, I’ve surrounded myself with older women. Their children are grown and they’re focused once again on their careers and hobbies. But this can have its drawbacks as well, because now these same women are beginning to have grandchildren, and this becomes a primary interest and focus on conversation.

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113 comments

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2:17PM PDT on Apr 2, 2012

Interesting comments!

5:52PM PST on Dec 2, 2011

thanks

11:13AM PST on Nov 20, 2011

My husband and I don't have children by choice. My side of the family doesn't bug us at all about children, but my in laws do. I had the best childhood a kid could ask for - my friends actually wanted to hang out with my parents because they'd play board games, etc.
I don't hate kids at all. I just never remembered having that 'I want to be a mommy' feeling, at all really. After getting pressured, I thought maybe we should, because we may be missing out somehow since everyone keeps telling you you're going to. But then I saw how hard it was and said, um, no.
And having kids so that they'll take care of you is the most selfish thing I've ever heard. If I did want kids - I'd want them to live the life *they* want, not how I want - that's not giving them freedom imho.
And, the world is overpopulated as it is!! Are people really that naive to believe that the world, it's resources are infinite?! Come on! We've reached 7 billion! There are people dying of starvation, people rioting over jobs. Why oh why, then, do people pressure others to have kids if they don't want to?!
I have a theory - it's been my experience, generally, that people that try to talk you into their lifestyle generally are not happy with their choices and want you to be as miserable as they are. Otherwise, why all the pressure?! Just my 2 cents;)

6:58PM PDT on Jul 1, 2011

Children are wonderful but only if they are wanted and loved.

4:31PM PDT on May 31, 2011

Do not let anyone pressure you on such profound issues! It is your life and your decision, to hell what others think you should or should not do!!!

12:05PM PDT on May 14, 2011

Noted

6:01AM PDT on May 7, 2011

If you love someone who doesn't want the things that are so important to you, you're not a good match! If you know you don't want children and your significant other does, what sort of future is that ? One of you will be unhappy, and guess what...so will the children if you have them!

5:56AM PDT on May 7, 2011

Why do other people care so much? Having children is a personal decision. And if your mother or grandmother so want to have babies in their lives, let them take a foster child or volunteer for an agency that works with children!

11:18AM PDT on May 3, 2011

I know quite a few people who have grown-up kids and also a number of pets. When I hear them talk about their kids and their pets it is clear they are far more attached to the latter :-D

11:15AM PDT on May 3, 2011

I always love comments like "Children are a Blessing from God". Not everyone believes in a God, and more than 350,000 children are born EVERY day! Children come from a very simple biological process that even the stupidest person can achieve, it's harder to NOT get pregnant than it is to get pregnant.

Also "Why get married if you don't want children?" To comments like that I tend just to say "You don't love your husband very much if he has to agree to provide you with children for you to want to marry him." Marriage is meant to be about love, not children.

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