Some people have always dreamed of having children. Others are on the fence. Then there are those who know they absolutely do not want them. The latter is a decision that’s at best viewed as controversial, at worst, often vilified. Here, four women who’ve chosen not to have children – and are completely happy with that decision – tell us why…
Nikki Bellis, 37
“I always thought I’d have kids when I was growing up. I am one of four and I loved being the youngest so I thought I’d have the same amount and really wanted that energy in my own home… one day. When I met my brilliant husband, Lawrence, I realised that ‘one day’ was fast approaching, and I didn’t want to have a baby. I have 9 nieces and nephews and although I joke that they put me off, the truth is that when it came to it, I just didn’t want to. My time is my own: I do what I want, when I want and I enjoy that autonomy.
When I see people out with their kids, there is not a single part of me that thinks I want that. If that were to randomly change one day and I can no longer biologically have a child, we are fully open to adopting. My father-in-law was adopted and had a wonderful childhood, and if we did one day decide we’d like to add a child into the mix, we would happily do it. But if that day of wanting never comes, I’m happy as I am.
I have friends that don’t seem to accept my choice, asking each time we meet up if I’m pregnant yet as if there is no other option once you’re married. I am a great auntie and that is enough for me. If I’m being honest, I think a lot of people have kids because it’s the “normal” thing to do, or they want to have them around to avoid loneliness, but I plan on being a fabulous old lady who has lots of fun with her nieces and nephews instead of sons and daughters.”
Sara Warren, 42
“I’m not really sure when me not becoming a mum was a definite choice, it kind of just happened. I always thought as a teenager I would have one child. My younger sister had her first baby at 20 – I still lived at home and helped to look after him when she was at work. I met my husband when I was 25, he’s eight years older and already had two children aged six and nine at the time. We took it slowly, I didn’t meet them for six months and didn’t stay over until we’d been together a year, but it was hard; they weren’t the easiest of children at times and obviously they’d been through a really difficult time and upheaval.
My job meant I worked a lot of hours and I think having other children in my life didn’t make me crave having one myself. We married when I was 30, and I think everyone then thought we’d start a family of our own. We didn’t. It just didn’t really become a massive subject of discussion, I knew my husband would have a baby if I wanted, but also knew he wasn’t desperate as he already had two.
I got it into my head that if I hadn’t felt the desperate desire for a child before I was 38 or 39 then it wouldn’t happen. By that time I had three nephews, one niece and three godchildren as well as step children. I’ve never felt that I’m selfish, or that I’m missing out; my life has been a full one and I’ve been lucky in so many other ways, I’ve had lovely holidays and experienced things that maybe otherwise I wouldn’t.
I think it’s other people that find it hard to accept that you’re childless by choice. I’ve had many comments over the years, and quite frankly my womb is no one’s business but mine. Now, after 17 years together, my husband and I have recently become grandparents! I must admit at 42 I feel too young, but I am fully embracing the role! My step children are in their twenties now and we have a great relationship.”
Kat Adams, 32
“I’ve never known whether I wanted children; I’ve been undecided since I was 18. People told me I’d change my mind, but I haven’t. I’m now 33 and still don’t “know”. I have friends who just “knew” (or know) – and that’s great for them – it’s just never been me.
Recently, I held my newborn niece, looked at my dad and said “she’s cute, but it doesn’t make me broody” My dad replied: “if anything was going to make you broody it would probably be this; maybe it just isn’t for you, and that’s OK”. I love children. I’m good with them. But I have simply just never felt “the pull”.
I like my life, it feels complete without kids. Luckily my partner feels the same – we talked about it on one of our first dates. Is it partly selfish? Probably. I want to see the world and I want to spend my money as I please, and keep my weekends as free and fun as I can; not as a taxi service, on a cold football pitch or at a soft play. I want city breaks in the sun, getting drunk, having no responsibility at that moment. I want lie-in’s, sex whenever I want and sun-drenched, child-free holidays; not a holiday at family hotel with a water park or a trip Peppa Pig World.
I have also seen the toll that parenthood has taken on friends with children – they’re absolutely knackered. My job is relentless enough, I don’t think I’d cope if I added a child to the mix. I want to prioritise my relationship with my partner, which would be affected if we had kids.
Obviously, it’s such a personal choice. I totally respect and understand why people have children. They’re cute and I imagine hugely rewarding. For me, it’s just not something I want to do. I’ve given it a lot of thought, especially over recent years. Some people have quietly confessed to me that they love their children but “they’re not sure they’d do it again if they had the choice”.
I’m going to be surrounded by nieces and nephews and that’s enough for me.”
Claire Mackintosh, 45
“I am 45 and have chosen to not have children. I have never really felt the need or urge for kids and felt that unless I was 110% sure I wanted them I would not have them. It is not a decision that can be reversed but it has been an easy choice and one I have never regretted.
I have never felt any pressure or judgment from friends or family, save for one friend who asked me years ago who would look after me when I was old? To me, that is not a good enough reason for having kids. Having no children gives me a sense of freedom which I crave; I can do exactly what I want most of the time, whether it’s going out and getting drunk or sitting on the couch all day eating cheese.
I have an amazing nephew who I am very close to and my partner has three lovely girls, but at the end of the day my time, my money – everything – is my own. I have friends whose lives are engulfed by school, tennis, football, ballet etc. They have no time for themselves, nor their partner and no life beyond children. They are already worried about what they will talk to their partner about when the kids leave for university. That’s great for them, but it’s not a life I would choose or want.
I don’t know who will look after me when I am older but what I do know is I am living my life how I want to, not how society expects me to. There are plenty of people who get married and have children just because that is what is “supposed” to happen. I have always felt comfortable with my decision and I am sure I will continue to.”