Having children is no small lifestyle change. They pretty much take over your life. They cost a lot of money. And they cry. Like a lot. While having children has been considered the societal "norm" for a long time, it shouldn't be. People should not be expected to have kids because "that's just what you do." There are many reasons why someone might choose not to have to children. And they're all valid.
This AskReddit thread is full of older people who didn't have kids talking about why they made that decision and how they feel about it now.
Oenonaut's spouse has physical and psychological issues they didn't want to pass on to a child. And Oenonaut themselves had enough doubt about having kids that they're OK not having them. They really put it best: "While I'm occasionally afraid that someday I might regret not having children, that's not the same thing as wanting children, and that's an important difference to me." That's a very important distinction.
Some people, like MoiraCousland and her husband, grew up in abusive households and had traumatizing childhoods. They finally got out, found partners they love, and have had a "rock-solid marriage" for 19 years. While they considered having kids, they had to work extremely hard to heal from the wounds of their upbringings, and together they decided that they were enough for each other. "If I had to choose now, knowing what I do, between becoming a mother and having the marriage and home life I now enjoy, it's absolutely no contest. Zero regrets," she wrote.
On the other side of things is shapeofthings, who actually did want kids but couldn't find the right person for a while. They finally found "the perfect partner," and she did get pregnant, but they lost the baby, and they're a bit too old to try again. In a true statement of maturity and honesty, they wrote, "I am very upset that I will not have children, but I don't regret not having children with anyone but my current partner."
Piskie and their partner have been married for 20 years, and they're both 50 years old. Neither of them wanted to have kids, so they were a perfect match! While they don't want kids of their own, they said that they love hanging out with their 16-year-old niece. They talked about boys, picked blackberries, and had a great time. "It was magical. i just adore her." But that doesn't mean they want kids of their own.
Some people's views on kids evolve over time. When I was a teen and in my early 20s, I was convinced I'd never want kids. Being pregnant seems horrible, and babies are only cute some of the time. But, when I found my wonderful partner and started getting older, those views started to change (not about pregnancy, though, not looking forward to that at all). Ufology24 had an evolution as well, only in the opposite direction and way more extreme: "At 17 I wanted 12 children (!!); at 18 I knew I didn't want any ever. Best decision of my life. I'm 60 now, and no regrets."
Henrythethirteenth and their husband are both 48, and the fact that they never had kids is still a huge relief for them. They get to travel, have a lovely house, "walk around naked if we want," and they have much more disposable income than they would if they had to support children. After all, the average child costs over $200,000 to raise in the United States. That's a lot of money that you have to want to spend on a kid.
It took Intersectaquirer a little while to come around to the idea of not having children, but his wife was adamantly against it, and he realized that as the dude in the relationships, he will always see the experience of having kids "with rose-colored glasses."
"That's easy for me as it's not my body and sacrifice." And she doesn't want to, so he respects that. "If either one of us are not 100 percent OK with a major decision, we don't do it, end of discussion," he wrote. "I look forward to spoiling my nieces and nephews and spending more time with my wife and continuing to make our world about us, forever."
When grahag and his partner found out it would be difficult for them to have kids, they stopped trying. His wife was "heartbroken at first," but he was kind of relieved. Over time, his wife came around and has said a few times that she was glad they didn't have kids. They've been on so many amazing adventures, are planning for retirement, and made sure their lives were full and fulfilling for just the two of them.
Calcuttacodeinecoma wrote that they do go through phases where they regret not having a kid. They technically still have time since they and their partner are 36, but "logically the pros vs. cons of having a kid... there are just far too many cons," they wrote. I understand that point of view. The planet is in jeopardy. The world seems like it's falling apart. Millennials are "ruining" everything, including having kids, because we just don't have the financial security our parents did. There is a lot to consider when making the decision about whether or not to have a kid.
This is a bit of a different story. Academiclady wrote that she and her partner definitely regret not having kids...but they might still have a shot. While they're both in their mid-40s, they froze their gametes years ago in case they changed their mind about not wanting to have children. When they decided not to have kids, the decision was "more practical than ideological." They both had sick family members, and having kids would just add to their already immense stress.
She's a geneticist, so they decided to freeze their gametes in case they changed their minds. She does admit that there are perks to the child-free life (great financial situation, freedom to travel, etc.), but now she feels like they got all they could out of a life without kids, and they're longing to add to their family. It's amazing they had enough foresight to freeze their gametes in case this day came.
Jjz was convinced they would wake up one day and know for certain that they wanted to have kids. "That day never came..." they wrote. While they do sometimes wonder if they made a mistake not having kids, they don't quite regret the decision. They'll be able to retire at 52 and might even start a charitable organization. They believe that not having kids has allowed them the time and resources to help people other than their immediate family.
LRWR and their husband are always asked how they feel about the fact that they didn't have kids. "We know we made the right choice," they wrote. They're a teacher, so they love kids, but they "simply never wanted to go home to more kids after work." Have you been in a school? I understand that notion completely. The one caveat is that they both miss having grandchildren. "Christmas is quiet, and family barbecues are non-existent. That part is a bit sad."
"I'm sad and in many ways I think my husband is also," wrote brotherRod2. Although they have had "great careers and have a wonderful life together," they "see the unbelievable love that my friends have for their children and that is something I will never know." They feel too alone, especially now that they're getting older. "It doesn't feel that good deep down," they wrote. I feel for them. I just hope they know their life isn't worth any less because they decided not to have kids.
ThrowawayTink2 really wanted to have kids, but their partner didn't and stalled, "hoping to run my clock out." How messed up is that? They tried to find happiness and fulfillment in other areas of life. They have an amazing career, they volunteer, they have family and friends. But they just don't have their own children. "I never got over my anger and resentment of being denied children," they wrote. "Last year, after 20 years together, I ended things." Now, they're looking for ways to become a mom. They have frozen eggs, or might foster or adopt. I love that they are making their desires a priority and not giving up on their dream.
"No regrets," TophaDevilsSon wrote. They always thought they wanted kids, until they were in their mid-20s. What happened then? you might ask. "I stayed with a couple I knew who had toddlers," they wrote. Welp. That'll do it. "They were nice kids, but I remember one Saturday morning they poked me awake for cereal. It was an epiphany. I remember thinking, 'I never want this.'" And they haven't looked back since.