Will I resent my partner if we never have kids?

Updated Oct 12 2015
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By: Nadja BiumCC BY 2.0
My partner and I have been together for almost ten years, and we're nearing 30. When I was a kid, I never wanted children — I saw them as incompatible with my identity as a feminist.

But when I met my partner, I knew I wanted to have kids with him. He felt the same way. We both just knew we didn't want them yet.

Over the course of our relationship, he has started to come to terms with the emotional abuse he suffered as a child, and he has become increasingly reluctant to have a family where those destructive patterns are perpetuated. I, on the other hand, still want kids.

My feeling has always been that I love my partner and I want to be with him, and that that trumps any hypothetical kids I might have with some hypothetical other partner that I could hypothetically find if my partner and I weren't together any more. But now I'm starting to worry that I'll resent him if we never have kids. I certainly wouldn't want to pressure him, though — having kids with a partner who didn't want them would be worse than not having kids at all.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? How did it work out? — Whimsy

  1. I have two examples from my family and close friends.

    The first was my sister. She told her husband when they were dating she never ever wanted kids. She was very upfront about it. He said he was ok with it then, but 5 years into their marriage he began pressuring her to have a child. She was still very against it, and said since he had a daughter from a previous relationship he had a kid… but he continued to want kids. They eventually broke up.

    The other example is two close friends of mine. The wife cannot have children biologically due to a birth defect, and even getting pregnant could kill her. Her husband is 10 years her junior, and immediately got a vasectomy to protect her. 10 years into their marriage, the wife is now starting to want a baby, perhaps through adoption, but the husband got very comfortable with the idea they'd never have kids and loves their lifestyle. I can tell she struggles with it some (I just had a new baby, and she has started talking about babies more) but she loves her husband and their life very much, so she is staying in the relationship. I can't speak to whether she resents him or not, but they seem very happy and genuinely so.

    I think this very much depends on how YOU feel about your wants/needs… maybe travel down the path in your mind where you see yourself in another 10 years, would you be happy with no kids? Would you travel? Or would you feel resentful and lonely?

  2. I can only speak as someone who suffered emotional and physical abuse as a child as well and had the very same fear that your partner had when I (woops!) got pregnant with my now two and half year old son. My biggest fear was perpetuating what my mother did to me. However, with the help of my partner and some good therapy, I've come to realize that I am NOT my parents — and that coming from that environment makes me strive even more to make sure my child is not growing up in that environment. It is hard, though. Sometimes, I feel myself slipping into those manipulative and destructive tendencies that are the result of growing up in that environment. But, those are the times I rely heavily on my partner. If that is his only reason for not wanting kids — and it is definitely a very strong, personal, and legitimate reason — I would have a conversation with him about the possible avenues for working through it. My guess is that he's already had to work through a lot to trust and be in a healthy relationship with you (just like I had to do for my partner) and the steps to being that person for a child aren't much different. This is something to think about.

    The reason I bring it up is because it seems from your post that you know you definitely want to have children. And knowing that, you may regret it later and that resentment would destroy a relationship.

    As always, these are just my two cents, but hopefully something in here was helpful.

    • Just seconding the idea that it is possible to break these sorts of patterns and not pass on the abuse one suffered. I know people who have done it.

      Of course, it is up to your partner to decide if that is something that he is capable of and want to commit to doing and if it isn't then you need to decide what that means for you. Either way, it is good that he is asking himself these questions before he has children.

    • I agree with this comment, I also was emotionally abused as a child and through a lot of good therapy am in a wonderful relationship and I feel raising our 2 year old son in a very healthy way. I do also feel occasional urges towards some of the destructive interaction styles, but with meditation and talking frankly to good friends/counselors, recognize them right away and have avoided actually acting on those impulses. Just another person's experience in case it's helpful.

    • Same here. Suffered emotional abuse from a severely mentally ill mother, yet I am happily raising a well-adjusted child in a calm, violence-and-emotional-abuse-free home. It is absolutely possible

  3. It seems as though if your partner doesn't want kids only because he's afraid of perpetuating the cycle of abuse, yes that is a valid reason, but it's not a complete stop to having kids. To me, that shows a logical fallacy at work in his thought process – he's assuming he will be continuing the cycle. I'm sure he hasn't been doing that because you've been with him for 10 years, and I'd like to think you would have left if he had been. I agree with the previous post, I think as long as he is working through it with a good therapist, and if he is afraid of falling into that cycle than maybe some cognitive behavioral therapy might help? Perhaps to identify triggers or weak areas he can work on and recognize what is happening so he can create ways to cope with the situation in a more healthy and positive way. I think if you want children, and don't have them, you may eventually come to terms with it, but I don't know that you'd ever be totally happy with that. I know I wouldn't. I have 2 kids, and want more really bad, but I have to come to terms with the fact that with my current husband who I love dearly, it may not happen biologically. And if that doesn't happen, then any other means may not work, so we may not have any of our own. I know I will eventually come to terms with that and accept it, because I have to, but it will always gnaw at me and eat at me. I wouldn't want to "trap" your partner into having kids when he doesn't want them, but it definitely needs to be discussed.

  4. I'll be very frank here, although I usually either never say this or sugarcoat the hell out of it: I think if someone definitely wants to have kids (or kid), then they are missing out on a deep and profound life experience if they do not have them. I never doubt my childfree friends or those who are on the fence; I'm NOT one of those "just wait and see!" types. But I knew early on I wanted to raise kids and now that I'm a mom, I feel like I would missing out on SO much if for any reason I didn't have the chance to be a parent. It is a gift and a blessing to be this baby girl's mama, and my world was/is cracked open in ways I never imagined.

    In a previous relationship (the one before I met my husband) I was with a man who already had a son with an old girlfriend. We talked about having kids…in the end he said he'd have another one "to make me happy", which was nowhere near good enough for me. That was only one reason it didn't work out, but it made me realize (even more than I already knew) how important it was to me to have kids. I do think this is something that can make or break couples, and why compatability on the "big stuff" is so key.

    But only you can decide if you're ok with never having kids. You're still pretty young so barring any fertility issues, you have time to think about it. But it's good that you are considering all of this now, because it is important to work through.

    And by the way, I'm a proud feminist raising a kick-ass, strong, smart little girl…if anything, becoming a mom made me even MORE determined to make the world a more equal place!

    • I came here to say pretty much exactly this. It is 100% possible to have a happy, fulfilling life without having children, but if you want to have children, there is no experience that compares to it.

  5. I wanted them when he didn't, didn't want them when he did… we eventually both got to a place where we would be ok not having kids but… one last conversation needed to be had:

    When we reach our 'golden years' WOULD WE REGRET "NOT" HAVING KIDS…?

    After much discussion, we realized that the answer was likely a yes.

    Long story short… we now have two. It's fun, tough, exciting, exhausting, lovely, crazy-making and sometimes I ask what the hell were we thinking but…

    I love them and I love our life with them, I'm loving watching us 'damaged' people grow into the conscious parents that we are.

    My 2-cents.

    Best wishes.

  6. I went through a long period of not wanting children. I have several mental illnesses with genetic components and frankly, I did not want to risk passing those genes on to my kids. My husband, whose illness is far more impactful then mine, never felt this way. He wanted kids always. His rationale was that by swearing them off, I was positioning mental illness as a fate worse than death, and that simply isn't true. Even if our kids do wind up inheriting our illnesses, it is not the end. Mental illness doesn't define anyone.

    My father came from a home that had a lot of neglect (not abuse, but neglect) and dysfunctional patterns. He is the best father I could ask for. He always told us that being subject to neglgect and witnessing such dysfunction made him able to recognize it more quickly in himself. He says he has to make a conscious committment every day to NOT falling into those patterns, and he has never slipped up.

    What would I suggest for your partner? Therapy. Lots of of it, with a therapist who has extensive experience in helping adults heals from childhood trauma. It sounds like he is very afraid that he might turn into an abusive parent himself. A good therapist can help him deal with this fear and help him learn how not to fall into such a pattern. But at the end of the day, he might still decide that having kids isn't for him. If that happens, you have a choice to make. if you truly want kids, that might mean parting ways. It is totally possible to really love somebody but just not be compatible when it comes to specifics. That's okay, it happens. Is it possible that you'd grow to resent him? Potentially yes, potentially no. But that's why you should address it now. But I should stress that you should certainly address therapy with him. Even if it doesn't result in the result you hope for, it can only do him lots of good.

  7. Therapy, therapy, therapy. The first step to breaking the cycle is acknowledging the problem. It can be done, I did it, and I learned how to parent by modeling people who are doing it right. I have a kid, and I know I am doing 90% better than my parents did. No one should throw their life away, and their dreams, because their parents abused them.

    I had to look at it like this: "My parents stole my childhood. I will not let them steal my adulthood, or my future child's childhood. They can't hurt my life anymore."

  8. My understanding of the happiness and kids research is that it works out something like this. From happiest to least happy:

    People who do not want kids and do not have them. (Most happy.)
    People who do want kids and do have them.
    People who don't want kids and do have them.
    People who do want kids and do not have them. (Most unhappy.)

    Wanting kids and not having them is a big deal. So is overcoming abuse, and so is a reluctant partner. You are struggling with big issues here. I wish you every bit of help and luck and skill working through them.

    • Actually, I think the third option is far, far worse. There's nothing more awful than being a kid and knowing your parents don't want you.

    • I think when talking about wanting children, happiness is not the most important factor and can sometimes cause confusion about parenting. Parenting is not easy and on a day to day basis does not necessarily make someone happy. It can be very frustrating, cause a lot of self doubt, and the parent has to understand that despite all they try to do to influence a child, the child may not have the qualities they want in a person when they are grown. Their child could grow up and actually cause harm and sadness. It is taking a risk in some ways.

      But for a lot of people, parenting is meaningful and gives a sense of purpose in life. Not all people have to have children to have a sense of purpose. Some have other ambitions and passions that fulfill them in a different way.

      That is my little side note here. Happiness and parenting are hard for me to reconcile, I don't think there should be an assumption that children are a path to making someone happy. I think a more appropriate affiliation would be that children can help give some people meaning and purpose in life, making them feel more fulfilled.

      • I'm going to respectfully disagree with part of this. I actually think it's also a really awful idea to use children as a means of personal fulfillment. If one finds parenting meaningful and fulfilling, that's really great; but I don't think anyone should expect another human being to provide that fulfillment. I strongly feel that people should be able to find meaning and fulfillment through activities and relationships, but that a child should not be conceived specifically in hope of fulfilling that purpose. It would be a very selfish reason to have a child.

        To illustrate: when a person suddenly finds that parenting ISN'T fulfilling , there's no going back. Now they have to raise a human being through resentment, disappointment, and fallen expectations. I think more people should think through the reasons why they want to have children, and evaluate whether or not those reasons are born of unrealistic expectations or selfish goals. Kids should not exist just to fill a hole in someone else's life. That's too much burden to impose on another person.

        That said, I will say that I've never been completely satisfied with any one reason to have a child, just yet. Sometimes I wonder whether procreating is just an inherently selfish act.

        • Your child cannot and should not fulfill you. But the experience of being a parent certainly can.

          As for procreation being "selfish"….it's a biological drive. DNA is driven to replicate itself, hence the very common desire of animals to propagate their species. Is that selfish? I mean, sort of. But we can't – and shouldn't – judge people for their desire to have children, just as we can't and shouldn't judge people for their desire not to.

  9. Purely anecdotal, from folks who lived through it…my parents' generation, who are of retirement age, and their friends who were in relationships where the partners disagreed and therefore they did not have children. I see a lot of regrets. When I was a kid, they voiced their regrets even then, and showered us with attention and expensive gifts. Now that they are watching their friends have grandchildren, and they have a lot of leisure time to reflect on their life and what will happen if they outlive their spouse, I see their regret getting acutely painful. And the resentment towards the spouse who didn't want kids has been growing for 20+ years. They accuse that partner of being selfish and they see every extravagant purchase like a boat or a car as something that replaced children. It's sad to watch. I know if they could go back, they would have married someone else who did want kids. Sorry to disillusion the romantics of the world, but by the time you are 60, it seems that yes, partners can be replaced, and children do trump an individual partner.

    • Come to think of it, everyone should ask their parents and grandparents about this issue, since most of us readers are too young to be able to say, personally, what the life long effects might be, of partnering with someone who disagrees on whether or not to have kids.

      • I think asking (childless) aunts, uncles, great-aunts and great-uncles would be good too – parents and grandparents obviously had children and might not have quite the same perspective as those who didn't.

  10. You're still quite young (<30) and hopefully you and your partner will have happy, healthy lives for four or five more decades. Given that you want to be a mother, can you really imagine living that whole span of time without children?

    Sorry if that sounds harsh, but this is really a question about the whole rest of your life and who you want in it. You're young and you've been with your partner for a third of your life so far: of course he's important to you. But you have the rest of your life to live, too.

    At least I would discuss the issue with your partner and ask him if he can agree to a decision-time e.g.: one or two years from now, he'll decide yes or no, leaving you free to find someone else if that's what you still want. In the meantime, he could commit to therapy to help him sort out his feelings about his childhood and what he really feels about fatherhood.

  11. I have been in your position: wanting kids with a suddenly-reluctant life partner. I won't address his reasons for not wanting them; they are his to come to terms with and so their validity is not germane to your issue. Will you resent him? I wish I knew the answer, but I asked myself the question daily for a long time. I can say that my wanting them and him not took a big toll on our marriage because I had a hard time not accepting that we were not "getting pregnant" and not only did I feel out of control of the situation but I didn't even have my partner by my side to get through it with. For the first time, I kind of felt like we were working against each other and I could see how this resentment could eat me (and our marriage) alive.

    I think that if the resentment is going to destroy your marriage it will destroy it now — not years in the future. You have to decide whether you are going to accept that he may not want children and embrace your childfree life, or if you want to risk leaving and becoming a parent on your own or, possibly, with another partner. In my case, I knew that my husband would eventually agree to have kids – and I found a way to let it go as too he compromised in little ways – and, yes, we did eventually get pregnant and have a kid. Now that the kid is here, I can say that you are 100% correct that it would be WAY worse to have a kid with a partner who is not on board than to pitch the hard sell and pressure him into having one. Your situation seems similar in that, with therapy, he will probably draw the conclusions others have written about in here – especially since at one time he did want children. It'll take time, and you are may be worried that in that time your fertility may decline (I worried about that). But resist the temptation to pressure him and resist the temptation to decide right this moment. If you've been talking the issue to death, maybe give yourself an internal deadline of, say, a year (or whatever) to let him work through these issues and use that time to live your life as if you are not going to have kids (let him know you're doing this, and ask him to use that time to work through his own issues/feelings about having kids). Use that time to throw yourself into your hobbies, nurture your friendships, work late and save money, travel and be spontaneous, and read all the books you wanted to read. Find the things that make you happy for you. And after your internal deadline has come up, re-raise the issue with your husband and see if he feels any differently.

  12. Is it possibly to consider foster care? This will give him a chance to offer a home to kids that really need a good home. It might also open him up to the idea that his not going to be a terrible father. If this isn't an option then I would consider counselling together, as this can become an issue as you get older and fully grasp its never going to happen, so you need to discuss concerns you both have in a neutral territory. Then you can make an informed decision whether this will be a problem for you or whether he might come around to the idea.

    • i definitely didn't want kids going into my relationship (but for reasons completely different than above), married my wife who was certain she wanted kids, and am now a foster parent (and totally thrilled with it).

      i think it's important to go into foster care wanting to foster – it *is* different than having a baby, and so it may or may not meet whimsy's "wanting kids" requirement.

      also, though, it is an *awesome* way to be a parent without going all-in (so to speak – i mean, you're all in for the duration, but not for forever) – which helped my parent-panic immensely. it also has solidified that i want to be a foster parent for the long haul, but i'm still unsure if i want to be a forever-type parent.

      but i also have two thoughts on the specific abuse-related concerns he has: fostering will almost certainly bring those to the forefront for him, so like everyone said in other comments (but more so, i think), if that's something y'all want to do, he's going to have to put a lot of work into dealing with his past/present/future.

      but also – someone who has dealt with abuse can be an amazing resource for kids going through the same thing, if he's up for it.

    • But if he struggles with the trauma of childhood abuse, and worries about repeating the pattern, sometimes taking in foster children–who are often victims of the same thing–can be triggering. Also, those children sometimes may have anger issues which can make it more difficult for someone who is learning how to gently parent. Just something to watch out for…

  13. I'll see everyone's suggestion of therapy (though hopefully that's a way he's working through his history) and raise parenting classes/books/videos (depending on his learning style) and looking for friends/mentors who are good parents who can model that behavior for him. If he has a good toolbox of skills, that will hopefully make him feel more comfortable.

    Shellz suggested looking into foster care – my state also offers respite care to foster parents; two days a month to give foster parents a break. If committing to a foster child is a little intimidating and uncertain, maybe you could become respite providers? (Or if you have friends with kids, occasional babysitters?)

    As far as resentment goes, one of the reasons my first marriage ended is that I wanted kids and he kept telling me he "wasn't ready," but he also wasn't willing to put a deadline or any kind of effort into *becoming* ready. I ended up resenting it a lot.

  14. I feel for you! This is why my husband and I are divorcing (we've been separated for a year now, living in different countries) despite the fact that we love each other very much and are compatible in a myriad of ways, though obviously not in one fundamental way. He changed his mind about having children nearly three years ago. (We had originally planned for at least one child.) For two years, we tried to work through the issue and basically see if the other would change. He only grew more adamant that he was not born to be a father while my biological clock only started ticking more loudly. (I'm nearly 31 now.) It has been very painful, but I would rather have had a beautiful relationship – without resentment- for a limited time than have a long-lasting relationship full of resentment and "what ifs?". I've had to do a lot of mental and emotional work, and I'm still grieving, but our split has no bitterness, and I'm hopeful about my future. One thing that was so frustrating was people saying, "Oh, but men change their mind" or "my partner changed his mind the more he grew to love me." It made me feel that my husband didn't love me enough, and that I somehow didn't "inspire" him to have kids with me, and that's just not the case. This is a value difference. He sees his future one way, I another. As a point of comfort, I think that when you know that the relationship has to end, the clouds clear, and you just know. I felt it in my gut, and I chose to listen to myself. If you haven't felt that yet, I think there's still some contemplation, discussion, and waiting to be done. Good luck. I wish you peace with wherever your choice leads you!

    • I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this one comment. Going through the process of trying to decide whether or not I want children – with a husband who has always leaned toward not having any. I have often given friends the same advice I needed to hear – namely, that you'll know when it's over. Reading your comment was a great reminder that, hey, for now I'm still here and that's a good thing.

      The biological clock thing really is a stressor for me and I often feel like my age is what is making me feel so backed into a corner – like I have to make a DECISION, NOW. But when I can mentally sort of put that aside I can see that I'm not there yet – I'm not done with us, and not ready to make this issue something that could end our relationship. I feel so much uncertainty and confusion about the bigger question of whether or not I want kids, and the connected question of if I would resent my husband if we don't have them. It is, weirdly, such a comfort to just remember that if it comes down to it, I'll KNOW.

  15. I don't know whether you would resent him if you never had kids. That is something you will have to find within yourself.

    But I can say from experience that people who work through their childhood issues do not have to repeat their parents' mistakes. When my sisters got married, we talked a lot about how we are afraid of repeating the things our parents did wrong (and believe me, our childhood was far from pretty). And every time I visit my sisters and see them interacting with their wonderful children (two nephews, three nieces and one great-nephew – yes, the oldest one is a grandmother already), I know that they are doing a great job. And this gives me hope for my own children (which are yet floating in space). Of course my sisters and their husbands make mistakes as parents, everyone does, but I have seen none of the things our parents did that made us all so scared to begin with.

    • As someone in a similar boat who has kids, I feel that if you are so worried and concerned that you might repeat your parents' abusive behavior it probably means that you won't. You'll do the work necessary and be self-aware enough to stop that cycle.

  16. I went through this with my (former) fiance 8 years ago. We had always said we never wanted kids. But after a death in my family I started to realize how much family meant to me and wanted to start one of my own. He couldn't promise he'd ever get to that place, although he admitted it would be possible he could change his mind. Neither of us wanted the other to resent us for having children or not.

    I had to consider a future timeline if we decided not to stay together, how long to find someone new, to figure out if they would be a life partner or not, how long to plan a wedding (an optional step, but an important one for me), how long to get pregnant. And doing all of this before getting pregnant took on health risks for me and that child.

    We broke up. I found someone new. We got married. And we struggled with 4 years of infertility and 3 miscarriages before finally having our child, who is now an energetic one-year-old. All that said, if it's a dealbreaker, give yourself enough time to make an alternative plan work.

    Another note, my ex and his wife just celebrated their first wedding anniversary and are expecting their first child together this year. People change!

  17. My first marriage ended due to issues of when to have children. We did discuss having children before marriage but not when. It came to a head when we had been married for just under 4 years when I told him I didn't want to wait much longer…and he said he wanted to wait until we were in our late 30s or early 40s. I refused to accept that because I couldn't see how we could ever afford IVF if it wouldn't happen naturally. I did resent him, so much so it led to our splitting up. However, keep in mind this is my own experience. I have wanted to have children ever since I was a child myself and I knew that I myself would hate him forever if we didn't have children (he wasn't open to adoption). My aunt wanted children, but she and her partner never did and they've been together for as long as I can remember.
    About the abuse issue, would he be willing to go to counseling? It could help him to know how to deal with children without repeating the pattern of abuse he himself endured.

  18. I agree that therapy is awesome. But I wouldn't go into it hoping for a change of heart. I am the "reluctant partner" in my partnership, and the truth is, family is just not fun for me. I don't want to parent. It sounds terrible. Even though I know I could do a good job, and I would do better than my parents, it just sounds like terribly hard heartbreaking work with nothing appealing to it. "I don't want to have kids" for me means I lack the "want," the desire, the appeal, the urge, the excitement, the dream. It's not a choice against kids, it is a simple fact that the desire does not exist. I don't believe in bringing a kid into the world without that "wantedness." How well I could possibly parent is irrelevant. If there is some part of your partner that still wants kids, then maybe it's just a matter of working through the issues. But if he has done that and has realized (like me) that the desire is simply not there, I think you have to decide to make peace or move on according to your life's priorities. Either way, therapy might be good for you as well. Good luck <3

    • It doesn't sound terrible! It sounds like you know what you want and what you don't. Hell, I get people who look me like I'm a monster when I say I never want a dog! People get weird when you don't make the same choices they do.

  19. I'm not married or planning on kids yet, but my fiance and I have talked about it. I'm not sure if I want kids at all, but I'm certain I don't want more than one– I'm currently studying to become a teacher, and I know I couldn't handle coming home to take care of 2-3 kids after herding dozens of cats all day.

    But my fiance definitely wants more than one kid and he's sure I'll change my mind. Maybe I will (hell, I'm not even totally certain right now), but I'm afraid of him being resentful if I find that I really don't want more than one. However because of our age and current financial situation, all we can do right now is put off any childbearing for at least 5 years.

  20. Can I suggest therapy, but maybe not just in regards to having children?

    I am no expert in any way shape or form, but children are not the cause of emotional or physical abuse—they get the effects of someone who has the capability, for whatever reason, to abuse. The reality of having children may be the stressor that triggers that capability, but it can be triggered by other large life events (or even a series of small ones.). And if he's worried about being an emotional abuser to a child, he should also worry about being one to his partner.

    As many have said, therapy will be the key to alleviating any fears or helping his work through issues and hopefully these fears are unfounded. He may still not want children but he will have the tools to deal with his emotions so that his partner doesn't have to bear the brunt of his childhood pain either.

  21. I was in a similiar situation where my signafiant other felt too old to have children. I was told I was selfish for only thinking of me. Well, when it comes to children, I have no problem being selfish. I ended up going through IVF and have beautiful twin girls now age 4.They are beautiful!! Needless to say, I lost the relationship with my lover of 8 yrs but never been happier with the decision I made. My honest suggestion, is to get help for the problems he might have….hoping things get in the clear. If they dont, at least u tried and go ahead and do you…thats whats it comes down to the long run. Because you will eventually regret the situation, and be unhappy with him. But you will have enough love to go around…good luck!!

  22. My husband and I both had abusive childhoods. Before my husband and I got together, I did not want kids. I had never really seen a good father figure and my mom was not the best single mother. She did the best she could but she also grew up in an abusive household. She had me when she was a teenager and hasn't had the best taste in men. My whole life I have been worried I would follow in her footsteps and I always wanted better for myself.
    My husband and I were best friends for over a year before we got together. He knew my background and we related well to each other because our similar childhoods. When we got together, he already had a 7 year old from a previous relationship. He knew I didn't want kids and he didn't want any more.
    Well things change sometimes. My husband is a wonderful father and has always done everything in his power to make sure his child did not have the same experiences he did growing up. He changed my view on fathers and for the first time in my life, I want kids. We have been together for almost 8 years now and are going to start trying to have a baby later this year. We have had many deep discussions about this. About our hopes and fears. It wasn't an easy decision and took us years to be on the same page. My advice would be to just keep talking to your partner. Be completely honest with him and keep the lines of communication open. Be honest with yourself and what you need. It's a hard decision to make but that is a really big sacrifice if you want to have kids and he doesn't.

  23. You know, I am reading a lot of women saying you will not be fulfilled without children. This just isn't true. You've posted on a parenting blog so of course everyone here already has one! I have been going through the same struggle the last two years and it has been one of my toughest things to deal with. What I can tell you is that you won't be empty without them and life with your mate can be amazing again. It has taken me a lot of work but I feel confident in us. There is a lot to weigh, I know.

    Something to ask yourself is do you want to force somebody who really really doesn't want a kid to have one? Because if he doesn't he might not be a good father and he's being honest with you that he doesn't want one.

    Also, there is a baby myth out there. New mothers are really in love with their tots (as I would be!!) but sometimes since I'm the one without a kid they'll confess that it isn't always that great and there is a loss of identity. But it is really taboo to admit that it isn't all great. Which sucks because mom's need that safe space.

    I've found this writer really helpful to read and I wish all these moms commenting would read it too. It's really *$*&^%# hard to hear the constant barrage of "you won't be fulfilled":
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-notkin/my-secret-grief-over-35-s_b_1202808.html

    • Hey Emma — I wanted to point you to our Child-free archives in case you haven't seen them. A lot of our readers actually don't have children, and we encourage comments and discussion from people all along the spectrum. Don't get me wrong — a ton of our readers obviously are parents, but I wanted to toss this out there in case you didn't know about the archive, or were interested in the Child-free posts we do have.

      I think your third paragraph is super interesting, and would definitely be a good conversation to have! Thanks for bringing it up.

    • It's not that people can't be happy or fulfilled without children. But if you want to have them, and having them is very important to you, then it IS an experience you would be missing out on. It's not for everyone, but if you truly want to have children, then it's not an experience that can be replicated in another way. Of course being a parent is both good and bad – every complex human experience is both.

  24. Reading all of this actually breaks me up a little bit. I actually kind of cried some for someone I know with something like this issue. My sister-in-law. I met my husband, the baby of the family, and knew that I would have to choose at some point.. give up my dreams to travel internationally, maybe even live with my Da in Japan..or choose to be with a man who heavily is involved with his family.(Like so involved, his grandfather will be deeding out land to him and one of his other first cousins specifically to continue land owned by family only. With that responsibility, my husband and I's relationship will obviously-as my in-laws have said be expected to produce children to be heirs, as old traditional southern culture dictates, even though I'm just happy I'll get to have my own little hobbits to love on.
    My husband, well.. doesn't give a flying fuck either way. My problem as we near the time I want to start trying for our first, I want to share so badly my happiness in planning, getting googly eyes at greenbum diapers, and wondering what decor the nursery will be (Nautical or medieval..or BOTH!)..but I halt when I see my sister-in-law.
    Backstory would be her being with a man who already has a kid in teen years with another woman from a previous relationship. The guy literally comes home well after midnight, then leaves at like 8-9 am EVERYDAY, texts her every so often, but even moreso when he's home and she's with family. My mother in-law who had a previous husband cheat on her swears up and down that this guy is doing the same thing. My sissy admitted to me that he does "pull-out" and that she has gone as far as even getting a crib that she sits in a back bedroom. I love this lady to death. She is an awesome sister to me. I want her to be involved in our children plans and lives. But I can't get over how horrible I may make her feel with all my baby talk. The husband's reasoning? Well he already has a kid and Casey gets along with her, why can't she be happy with just that? He doesn't want more kids. It breaks my heart to hear her talk about anything baby-related. It has been a big family discussion nearly, especially as me and matt start planning, ourselves. Everyone keeps asking her when, she finds ways to change the subject, and everyone keeps pushing for answers until she finally said like last week,"Well I don't know what to do. You guys are talking to the wrong person." =( I keep feeling so much hurt for her, but I don't want to keep her from being involved in her future niece or nephew's life. Can anyone help, please?

  25. I have a number of perspectives on this post that I would like to share…

    I am a child of a parent that never wanted to have kids. My dad made a deal with my mum that they could have children if they spent a year living abroad in the country where he is from. As a child I was acutely aware that I "annoyed" my father most of the time and that if he could get out of babysitting me then he would. This understandably had a detrimental effect on my sense of self and self esteem. It was only when I found out as an adult that he didn't want to have kids that it made sense and i stopped blaming myself for not being "loveable"….

    Second perspective is that I was with a partner for over 5 years who didn't want to have children when I knew that I definitely did want to. It caused such a rift and I knew that I would not want to bring a child into the world that may have the same experiences as I did. Eventually we broke up and I am just about to get married to a man who is on the same page with me in terms of futre goals and life values. It is such a relief and much more comforting to be in this space, than in a relationship that is struggling and isolating…..

    Third perspective, is that I am a therapist who sometimes works with people who have had very difficult childhoods and worry about the effect that this will have on their parenting. I wholeheartedly second the advice above about suggesting long(er) term therapy to your partner. Understanding and recognising the situation that contributed to the person that you are can help to break cycles of disrupted attachment and abuse.

    I hope that you find the answers that will be helpful.

  26. I think the baggage we carry from our childhood shouldn't create insurmountable hurdles, but I can understand the fear. If anything, the baggage I carried helped me be more perceptive and less complacent as a parent. I may have taken some things for granted had I not been so aware of them. But that requires a willingness to engage with your own *stuff*; I'm not sure how ready or able your partner is to do that yet.

    Having children was a big deal breaker for me. But I can also believe that 'mothering' can present itself in so many different ways. I have friends without kids who mother nieces and nephews, dogs, classes of children… if your partner is adamant about not having kids, maybe mothering can look like something different.

    I hope you both find what you're looking for.

  27. Hubby and I are at a similar life stage to you, and have the kids/no kids debate a lot. When in our early 20s we had both thought, "well, yeah, seems likely" on having kids. Now that we're 30 and it's something that should happen in our more immediate future, both of us remain unsure. I think an important thing to think about though is this: can you see a happy version of your life in both scenarios? If we have kids, I know hubby will be an amazing father. I would love to meet the person we would create. I think of our life with a couple kids with a heart full of love. If we don't have kids, I think of our lives now and how they would evolve. We would nurture each other, and enjoy the other kids in our lives. I had a cool (childless) aunt who took me out every year for my birthday as a kid to see musicals! I could be that aunt! I can think about a childless life with a smile too.
    You will always wonder about what life would be like if things had been different. Undoubtedly, the grass will sometimes be greener on the other side. But that's something we have to deal with in many areas. You have to decide whether you are okay with both versions of your life – and if you're not then your partner deserves to know that.

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