A Childfree Life

5 things not to say to women without children

July 19, 2016

Almost one-quarter of women in the western world will not have children. It is something I never considered a choice. I thought I would be a mother one day. I imagined I would have the urge and eventually do the ‘normal’ thing. Settle down, get a house with picket fence and children running around in the backyard. It didn’t happen for me that way, and when societal pressures made me feel for a short time that I should go down that path, my instinct responded with a very loud NO.  We live happily in our small apartment, pursuing our creative careers, and at 35 I’m still waiting for the motherhood urge. It may arrive one day, but at this stage I think that it is highly unlikely. My husband’s opinion is pretty much on the “no” side, and I’m not cajoling someone into parenting just because ‘I might regret it later on.”

Women without children may not have them for a number of reasons, which are often beyond their control. They might meet someone in later life who has already had children, might not be able to, or may  just not want to. Most of my girlfriends, welcome a frank conversation about the motherhood, and respect my decision. But some people have said some very strange things.

Here are some things not to say to women without children.

You will regret it later on 

This statement is laced with the assumption that the person, (if they have in fact made a choice not to have children), will regret their decision later on. You might be right, and be well intended, because they might regret it, as we can regret any big decisions. But please keep this opinion to yourself. I sure have wanted to say to friends that they might regret some choices, like marrying XYZ after 17 break-ups, or having a baby with someone they just met, or quitting that ace job that they worked so hard to get. But I have kept my mouth shut and opted to support them, trusting that my friend knows what is best, for her.

Imagine if you told me you were pregnant, and my first response was “Why? I think you might regret this later!” Enough said.

I never knew real love until I gave birth

This makes me feel really sad for the person making this statement. What does this mean? That my life is loveless because I have not birthed offspring? That their life was loveless before they had a baby? That I’ve never experienced love with my husband, my family, my nieces and nephews? What a lonely, sad existence. I’m sure that motherhood is an intricate, amazing experience like no other in this world, where you make something that is a part of you. (Which I think is freaking amazing by the way.) By not having children, I acknowledge that I may never experience this. But statements like this negate the love that can be experienced in any relationship, and I’m not even mentioning the wonderful people who adopt and foster children.

Is their love worth less?

You would be a great mother 

I would be an awesome mother. I would indeed. I’d love the kid to death, and be an organised laminating Tupperware type of parent. Of course The Ginger Hunk and I would go apeshit for a little human that was part Ginger Hunk, part Crazy Cat Lady. What an awesome human we could make. But this does not mean I have to, just because I can. I could also be an excellent yoga teacher if I gave up running, quit my day job, and joined an ashram. Be careful of saying statements like this to people who might be trying desperately to have a baby. How do you know that they do not want to be a mother and can’t? In that kind scenario, these kind of statements just sting.

Don’t you like kids? 

I have met very few people who actually hate children. I love children. I just do not love them all the time. I love quiet time, silence, thinking time and sleep. Being spontaneous and having freedom is something we value greatly. Alone time is pretty important in maintaining my health and wellbeing as someone who is living with anxiety. I love spending time with the kids in my life. I bake my niece and nephew their birthday cake every year. I have them for sleep overs. I want to hear about your child’s milestones and the cute things they say. Take the Ginger Hunk to a party and you can guarantee in five minutes in the kids will be jumping all over him. Love them, just can’t eat a whole one.

Your love is wasted on your cats 

The weirdest thing someone has said to me, was the just the other week that my love is ‘wasted’ on my cats. What the hell does this mean? Should I love my cats less because they are animals? Are animals less deserving of the love, care and respect we give to humans because they are only animals? I’d hate to live in your house if that is how you feel.

Any other weird statements that I am missing out on here?

PS. I don’t intend this to be a mother-bashing post, it’s a “how about we respect our own choices” post. 

Much Love

Ashleigh XXX

Linking up with Jess for #IBOT


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  • I totally respect your choice!! The next time I meet someone who’s pregnant I must say to them… you might regret this later on… in fact, I’m sure I can say with 100% accuracy that they WILL regret this later on… hopefully not for too long at a time,

    It’s a pain in the arse being a parent, a great deal of the time. As a mum of teenagers, life is especially tough… crushing at times.

    Funnily enough I did always want to have kids, but I realise that I was only really keen to know what the pregnancy and birth bit felt like and to cuddle a newborn. But it turns out it goes on FOREVER…. help, panic….

  • Natalie @ Our Parallel Connect

    Og how good is that video – Do you regret having them? That is so true. Either way it is a personal decision and one you shouldn’t be judged on. The cat thing – do people really say that?

  • Before I had kids I heard, “Don’t wait too long, it gets harder as you get older.”

    • My friends also said that once you are pregnant then people just tell you how hard it is. #can’twin

  • People should really be careful when talking to childless people. As someone who battled infertility 4 years to get my daughter and so far 16 months trying for number 2, random comments can cut deep. P.S. your love is wasted on your cats, wtf? I loved my cats as my first kids before I had real children, cats are awesome why shouldn’t they be loved.

  • Your love is wasted on cats, bahahaha! That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard! What a dingus! When it comes to the regret thing, I reckon it’s better to regret never having children than to regret having them! I don’t really get why having children is anyone else’s business, I mean really, who cares who has kids or not? What difference does it make to them? Great post, Ashleigh!

    • Exactly. I think people can sometimes feel threatened like if people are not doing what they are doing it is like THEIR choices are in question. Which is not the case.

  • This is a biggie for me though I’ve been pretty open about the fact I wanted kids but… remained single. By the time I gave up on falling in love I was in my early 40s, so attempted it alone but was unsuccessful after a couple of tries. I commenced the IVF path but stopped when some results indicated my fertility count (whatever it was) was really really low. I was 43 or 44 and devastated. It made me rethink my life though and I realised if THAT was the life I was living… ie. me working long hours to pay my mortgage for ever and ever, it wasn’t one I wanted. So I made a seachange and attempted to envision a different life.

    • I’m sorry Deborah that you did not get to experience your wish. I can’t imagine how hard it would be and the adjustment to a new life path when you already planned things a certain way. It is exactly why people need to be careful of making off handed comments, assuming that a baby can just be something we can all just “get” so easily.

  • Bahaha love is wasted on cats. Wow. Talk about issues whoever said that. I don’t want kids. I don’t particularly like kids. I don’t know what you do with them and don’t find them interesting. Yes I’m sure they’re great if they’re yours and I’m sure you would love your own. Doesn’t mean I want them! I’ve been told I’m great with kids (by a child psychologist who observed me with them). Still doesn’t mean I want them.

  • “Your love is wasted on your cats.” Who says this kind of thing?? I didn’t think I’d ever have kids and when the urge took hold of me it was a few years until we finally fell pregnant. I got all of these comments in the meantime and before plus a few pearlers like “You stop being selfish when you’re a mother.” What? Some people have no filter!

  • Amen, sista! That House of Cards clip was pure gold! Like you, I love kids, I just don’t want some of my own and conveniently neither does my husband. It’s a decision that we’re 100% happy with, so I don’t see why everyone else can be happy about it too. It’s a choice, right?! Here’s to respecting choices!