Sunday, 1 October 2017

Never felt the need

It's funny but I've never for a moment regretted not having children. I'm happily sailing on without them and have never felt there's some kind of void in my life that needed to be filled with scampering offspring.

I've never had a yen for descendants who can carry on the family name, or for someone to love and admire their daddy, or for the delight of childish innocence or misunderstandings or precocity.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not in any way criticising those who have had children and (in most cases) got huge pleasure from them. It's an individual choice, after all. Some are raring to have kids from an early age, and know they'll love it, while others wonder what all the fuss is about and have never felt the need.

All those daft arguments about selfishness don't help, because of course they work both ways. Are you selfish to not want children and not help to replace the older generation? Or are you selfish to have children and expect others to contribute to the public services they'll need? You can go round and round in circles and just get everyone's backs up.

But I must say, from what I see of parents and children every day (and I see a lot of them because there are two schools close by), there's nothing that makes me feel I missed out, that I'm lacking a vital experience.

When I see parents angrily reprimanding their wayward children, when I see children running round restaurants screaming their heads off, when I hear about children with serious mental and emotional problems, when I hear about children in thrall to drugs, when I hear about relentless bullying, I just think that bringing up kids must be equal parts joy and anguish.

So - no charming son who loves and admires his daddy. But suppose he turned out to actively loathe his daddy. What then?

29 comments:

Z said...

I've got a lot of friends who chose not to have children - and some who would have loved to, but couldn't. I have no idea why so many people take it personally that someone else made a different decision on how to spend their life.

As for me, the childhood years were sometimes a slog, sometimes a pleasure, a willingly embraced responsibility but sometimes an immense worry. But my grown up children are great and grandchildren are the greatest joy I could have imagined.

kylie said...

Once a child reaches adulthood and has time to mature, assess and reflect, their thoughts and feelings toward a parent are exactly what the parent has created. You don't get loathing out of nowhere.

Nick said...

Z: Exactly. Why do people take other people's choices so personally? So what if others have/don't have children? Good to know your grandchildren give you so much pleasure.

Kylie: I agree. There are very good reasons why I loathed my own father for so many years. It seems much more natural for children to love their parents.

Bijoux said...

I never longed for children until I met my husband. For some people, like me, having children has more to do with creating a sort of spiritual connection with your spouse. It's hard to explain the utter joy of seeing a person you made with the one you love.

Ursula said...

Please allow me to take it from the top.

Children are not made to "fill a void". What void? I was complete before either that fabled and famed "other half" or, indeed and many years later, the joy of my life, my son, entered my life.

You happened not to want any children, for whatever reason, so you didn't. Good. Lots of people do shit they shouldn't if only they could be bothered to reflect before the damage is done.

Since when are children expected to "love and admire" their dads (I typed "deads" but did correct)?

I never thought about having children. I had my fill, in many ways, being my mother's right hand, with three siblings considerably younger than me. Got married to FoS (Father of Son). I don't know what he thought. Maybe children to an English man as inevitable as the mortgage that makes them get up in the morning for another day's hard slog at a job they don't enjoy. If I ever understand the British mindset I'll rejoice. Where were we. Children. So neither here nor there. But by golly - and who knows whether it's different for men and women - one day my biology kicked in. Big time. So big time I didn't know what had hit me. I was nesting. And I WANTED a baby. I literally, not something you will understand, Nick, and, obviously, you won't and no shame in it, was held to ransom by some primal urge. The urge resulted in the Angel. Without hesitation I declare my hand. His emergence, his existence has made my life. To this day - he has just turned twenty six - I look at him as a miracle. The miracle of my life.

However, Nick, to dampen the above heat of motherly passion, my first husband (who'd have made a marvellous father by his laid back temperament alone) on point of our divorce (we were in our early twenties) decided to go for the snip. I never asked him why. I guess, for him children were too much of a hassle. Not necessarily in practical terms, in emotional terms. Maybe he feared he'd fail any possible kids of his as he felt his parents had failed him (though, in my opinion, they didn't. Maybe a little, but not really.)

Main thing is you (and Jenny) decided what was best for you at the time. Remember my first line of argument: You were never overcome by the URGE. There is no reasoning to it, no rationale, not justifying. It's just what it is or, in your case, isn't.

By the way, just because you live near two schools doesn't give you the least insight into what it's like to be a parent. Ask a teacher.

U

Mike said...

I never thought about not wanting children, until after we had two -- and then we decided two was enough. I would liked to have had several grandchildren, but, then, it turned out that two were all we were going to get. And they have never lived near Arkansas where we live.

Our oldest daughter and her hubby live down the road from us a couple of miles. They are childless, by choice, which is probably a good thing. Ironically, she recently got the job as children's librarian at our county library and is doing wonderfully at it. Her programs are very popular with participation way ups since she took the job.

Wisewebwoman said...

Odd this. You are in a long term partnership and don't mention any discussion on the topic with partner. Was it at the beginning of the relationship? We're there second thoughts? Biological yearnings at any point?

Filling a void? Oh boy. No.

The love for a child, in my case, us inexpressible.

XO
WWW

Dave Martin said...

You did it your way Nick, without feeling the need to do something just to fit with society's expectations as some do.
I for one don't think you're in any way selfish for making the decision you did, but I also believe that for a child to grow up loathing their father, he must surely have behaved in such a way as to deserve such an extreme reaction. You get out what you put in.

Nick said...

Bijoux: Yes, that's something I can't imagine. It must be a very satisfying feeling.

Nick said...

Ursula: Is there such a thing as a British mindset? If there is, I don't understand it either. I've never felt British, whatever that means.

But I can understand the sudden primal urge to have a child. I know what you mean by a deep-rooted urge that suddenly appears out of nowhere and can't be shaken off.

I think a lot of would-be parents are afraid they'll repeat their own parents' mistakes. Some opt out of parenthood for that reason, some decide to go ahead with the confidence that they can avoid the mistakes and get it right.

I'm sure my observations of parents are very incomplete. But they're illuminating as as they go.

Nick said...

www: Oh, I've discussed it with Jenny many times. But we were both sure from very early on in our relationship that we didn't want kids. We were very happy just being the two of us!

Dave: Indeed, you get out what you put in. I dearly loved my maternal granny, even though I only saw her a few times each year. She was funny, kind-hearted and open-minded.

Nick said...

Mike: I think there are quite a few childless individuals who work with children one way or another. I guess they enjoy being with children for specified periods but without the responsibility of looking after them full-time.

Anonymous said...

It's not the first time you spoke about this subject. Maybe it would be really interesting to explain your very profound reasons , why you decided to have no children.
Mia

tammy j said...

I tend to not question the big life decisions in my past. in many ways choices that were forced upon me by unalterable conditions.
I find I'm happier that way! what's done is done. what happened happened. or... in the case of your subject... didn't happen.
anyway. it works for me. :)
I understand Ursula's point though. I went through a rough time in my very early 30's when I wanted a child so badly. just not to be for me. I soon 'got through it' and moved on. maybe that's just a woman thing.

Helen Devries said...

People asking when we were going to start a family infuriated me...none of their damned business. I haven't experienced the urge to have kids, so find it hard to understand those for whom it is vitally important.
How can you find yourself so lacking that you think that you need a child to make you complete?

Nick said...

Mia: There's nothing very profound. Jenny and I just had no desire for children.

Tammy: Interesting that you had the same sort of overwhelming urge as Ursula but the urge eventually disappeared. Yes, best not to think too much about previous decisions, especially if there's no way of going back on them.

Nick said...

Helen: As you say, none of their damn business. I think most of my blogmates have kids, so we're quite exceptional! I guess we just never had "the urge".

Rummuser said...

I know a number of people who are like you, including my son and daughter in law who have decided not to have any children. I also know a lot of people who want/ed children who could not have them and who adopted, or learnt to live without them.

My late wife and I would have liked to have had one more child but were against having another one for medical reasons and had to be satisfied with just one without undergoing any stress because of that. Both of us would have liked to have had some grand children, which too were denied to us, but it is no big deal.

All of us play with the cards that are dealt to us.

Nick said...

Ramana: It must be hard for a couple to accept that they want children but aren't able to have them because of infertility or whatever. It's sad when people spend years trying IVF and still get nowhere. But as you say, there's always the possibility of adoption.

Suburbia said...

You've nailed it Nick. it can go either way and its all so utterly incontrollable! I'm glad you're happy with your decision. I am happy with mine too but I was never a born mother!

Nick said...

Suburbia: I'd never have known you felt that. In all the photos your two look very happy and well-parented!

joared said...

Children are not necessary for happiness for everyone. Interestingly, you describe a very limited solely negative view of children’s behavior. If you had had children you might have surprisingly altered your view, but you’ll never know — or you might not have,— a moot point now, I gather. I was never enamored with the idea of having children but think for me to have had them sooner than I did in my early thirties might have not been in their best interest or mine.

Since I became a widow and have become older, especially as other family and friends have died, my children - though many miles separate us - give me a pleasure unlike that from any other living persons. Whatever attention they may choose to give me in the years ahead will not be because I’ve conveyed they are obligated to do so. I treasure their love and affection plus however much of their lives they want to share with me.

Nick said...

Joared: I suppose my observations are a bit negative. I guess the really joyful moments of parenting tend to happen at home rather than in public. The children usually look happy enough, but the parents often look preoccupied and anxious! I'm glad your children are so precious to you.

Liz Hinds said...

I find not wanting to have children hard to understand - but other people's choices are nothing to do with me so that's fine. I think it was all I ever wanted: to be a wife and mother and now adoring grandmother.

Nick said...

Liz: Well, as I said, some women are just raring to have kids from an early age. And I'm glad it turned out just as fulfilling as you thought it would be.

CheerfulMonk said...

I wanted one child and she turned out great. She and Torben didn't/don't want any, and I'm happy with my granddogs. :)

Nick said...

Jean: So everything's fine and dandy!

Jenny Woolf said...

If you don't want kids I think it is very wise not to have them. They are a real strain in some ways, and I am so sorry for the ones whose parents seem to resent them.

Nick said...

Jenny: Children whose parents resent them are psychologically damaged for life. Unfortunately there are many children who aren't loved and cherished as they should be.