Will I resent my partner if we never have kids?

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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

Comments on Will I resent my partner if we never have kids?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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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