A Vox poll

Lately, I have been getting more than my usual share of 'Go forth and multiply' kind of advice.

All my friends, cousins and colleagues seem to be having children. Which basically translates into one question popping up in every conversation.

What are your plans?

Well, we don't have any.

As someone who helped raise both my nephews for extended periods of time, I've had a reasonable surrogate motherhood experience. I've experienced some of the joys of motherhood- the first step, the giggles, the baby breath against my cheek, the lispy voice, the endless curiosity.

And the pain- the puke, the colic, the diaper changes, the sleep deprivation, and the stomach drop when I realized I hadn't heard the five-year old make a noise in the last five minutes.

After witnessing all that first and second hand, I'm not sure I want to have children.

Do children bring you joy? Definitely. Do they bring you stress? Oh yes. Do they take away your freedom? Of course. Is it worth it? Depends on who you ask.

There is a lot of research out there, but a Vox poll might be in order.

Do you feel that having children has made you happier/not having children has made you less happy? Please feel free to choose contentment/satisfaction/quality of life if you don't like the word happiness.

Read and post comments


About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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28 Responses to A Vox poll

  1. Oink says:

    I don't have any. Neither can I imagine a future without having some. In a way towards answering your question, I've been watching my sister raise her two little tykes and it looks like hard work. It also looks immensely rewarding and no matter how difficult she finds it sometimes she wouldn't have it any other way.I don't think there can be many people who actually regret it.

  2. My children are all adults now—thank god!—and I'm glad I had them all. They keep me young in many respects: who else would recommend the latest alternative and indie bands to me, or tell me that my wardrobe looks "old lady" and needs refreshing?

  3. Well, this is something I have thought a lot about. Mr. L and I decided NO on the kids thing. I will make a list of why.*we both have a parent with mental illness and we dont want to bring a child into the world with that issue *my mother was not great, she was not even near good, I don't know how to be a good mom, children deserve that. I never want a person to look at me the way I look at my mother*I raised my baby brother and sister and that is some HARD work, I love seeing them succeed in life now because of efforts I made, but I don't want to do that again*children are a joy, but I like sleep, If I do not have sleep I cannot be the type of mom I think a child deserves * I have come to the conclusion that I just don't have what it takes, I could be a decent mom, not a great one. That is one of the things you do not want to skimp on, you want to be your all. I just don't have it. And that is okay. My answer is honest. It will be me and Mr. L the rest of our lives, no kids. We like it that way.

  4. jaklumen says:

    To respond to everything above:You either have it in you, or you don't. I grew up in environments where the adults were not quite emotionally mature and not always confident in raising children. I learned that rapport with children is apparently a gift; I had long figured it to be a given and was shocked to have my parents tell me I had it and they didn't.I have seen plenty of bad parenting examples that I do respect those who want to avoid that. Then again, my life would have probably been VERY different had my parents made that decision.Yes, it is hard work. You definitely must make sacrifices and put some of your own selfish desires aside. It definitely changes your life; so many of your life experiences just can't be shared with those who do not have children. I hate to be rude, but childless/child-free couples cannot relate, no matter how hard they try. (Of course, I'm not including those who have done some full-time raising of siblings/relatives– I mean more pet owners and those that have occasional visits from young family members.) And yes, you lose sleep or have it disrupted– my 2 year old is not yet settled and it is difficult even though I do not have a job. Because I am home and I am domestic, I take turns with the missus.And as I've probably said before, having children does not involve an intellectual lobotomy. The stereotypes do not necessarily apply– not all parents have endless collections of Disney movies, discuss their children's every activity including potty habits, etc. I am not a parent that says "my child is so smart". I am a parent that says "my child is too smart for her own good".There is history of mental illness on both my side of the family and Cimmy's. My daughter is showing hints that she may be crazy like us. I have no regrets about that whatsoever; I would rather society continue to learn to accept it as something manageable or simply part of the diversity of humanity. Yes, it is harder to work with an otherwise intelligent child that has this problem but… I've already learned to live and survive with it already myself and I am willing to pass on the wisdom and knowledge with that.Being a good parent, I think, involves a talent to both learn and to teach, and understand the yin and yang of the two. I am not quite sure why some of society seems to be devaluing it, but I think that for me, it is worthwhile and enriches my life.

  5. LeendaDLL says:

    I don't have, and don't want, kids. I've known that since I was about 16 years old. Too much responsibility, too much drama, too much stress, too much cost. I know there are good parts but I just can't imagine a 24/7 job that lasts 18 years and totally changes life as I know it. I'll stick to pets.

  6. Aubrey says:

    Teenagers. Teenagers will destroy your soul.
    I won't be having children. You need a sense of responsibility, and you have to be willing to relinquish your sense of self as well. The closeness you will feel with your child, as you love it/raise it/protect it will re-define your life…but it's not in me to be a mother.

  7. A friend who didn't have a child until she was 39 perfected the best replies.
    "When are you going to have a baby?"
    1. "Why do you want to know?"
    2. "What does it mean to you?"
    3. "When are you going to have a baby?"
    Another firend got tired of being asked when they were going to have baby 2 – which they had no plans of having – and he would just say "Oh actually we are having some problems in that area" and people would look all sympathetic and never ask again!!!!
    I love my kids dearly and would probably have had more if physically and economically possible, but I in no way think parenthood is for everyone. If you have any doubts, don't do it, there is return policy! It is your life, you live it!

  8. obvioucly I mean there is NO return policy – LOL!

  9. Me?I don't like children. I never did.I never wanted them in my life. I listened to a lot of nonsense for decades about how I was making a mistake. "You'll be sorry. It'll be too late, and then what will you do?" I heard that all the time.Well, it's too late now and I don't regret it at all.I'm grateful to have had the choice. And I'm glad I made the one I did.(((((((((((hugs)))))))))))) I'm trying to imagine how you must be feeling, not knowing what you want to do, trying to decide, getting all that pressure and feeling it so much. It's a lot of stress. People can be very intrusive and annoying. Well, that was no help, right? I'm sorry……..One thing I can contribute is what to say when people bring up the topic, when they ask you if or when you're going to reproduce. When people said to me, "When are you going to settle down and have some kids?" I always replied, "Why?"No one ever had a good answer and most people never asked again. (((((((morehugs)))))))

  10. Brown Suga' says:

    What everyone else has said.My parents are pressurizing me to get married, and obviously for only one reason – grandkids. The topic gets me riled up and I hate people who are rude enough to ask someone such questions about their personal lives.I helped my mom raise my sister. I was only 10 years old at the time and my experience was nowhere near my mom's, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that parenthood is very hard work. It's the sort of thing that can change the life of a parent for better or for worse.I'm not against the thought of having children but I'd like to have them when *I* please, not when other people want me to. At the same time I don't think I'll regret it if I'm unable to have children because 1) I can always adopt if I'm so inclined and 2) Not having children does not make reflect poorly on one's character in any way.I'll reiterate what Robbbie says – if someone asks you when you're planning to have a kid, simply ask "Why?" End of conversation.

  11. faithy says:

    Again, i'm in such a rush (before i get nagged at again..)..so forgive me if i my sentence doesn't make sense…. I would say to have kids..they give you joy as well as everything else..headache, stress, no freedom..etc but i think they bring the family together and you will enjoy them – the process of seeing them grow up that is something $ can't buy. You may not necessarily like other ppl's kids or not a kid person but having your own kids is completely different. You can say you do not have maternal instincts but after you become a mom, it comes naturally. I say it for myself and for a lot of my friends who say they are not a 'kid' person etc..and after they have given birth, they change completely to someone who adores their kids. πŸ™‚

  12. Waterbaby says:

    I wouldn't dare respond in such a personal weighty matter with anything other than: Know your own heart and spirit.

  13. Purplesque says:

    You're right- I don't think there are many who regret having children. I just look at having children as an immense task- one with both ups and downs. Its the immensity of it that scares me, though- should I even go there?Sigh..maybe its time to bury the thought for another year or so, until it blossoms into an answer.

  14. Purplesque says:

    You put that so well. That's exactly the sort of debate I have with myself- while I adore kids, am I smart enough, responsible enough, hard-working enough to have them? I guess there is some more growing up to do. πŸ™‚

  15. Purplesque says:

    I'm sure it took you a while to come to that decision, but I love how clearly you thought it out. I don't think all parents out there do that- maybe the urge to procreate as a species is just too strong.I hope we can come to an honest answer ourselves.

  16. Purplesque says:

    I doubt if anyone would devalue the raising of a child, but I do respect those who decide not to have a child because they wouldn't be able to give the process all that they think it deserves.That's how I feel at this point, anyway. If I raise a child, I want to do it well, and doing it well is not easy. Since the survival of my species is no longer a burning issue, I wonder about the pros and cons. Would I make a good parent? Yes. Is that the only reason to have children? No. It can be very rewarding, but do I want those rewards? I'm not sure. Lol..I don't think any of that made much sense. It will be a while before the answer to this one becomes clear.

  17. Purplesque says:

    Good for you- I wish I knew what I wanted as clearly as you do. Maybe it will come some day- right now, the thought of having children scares me.

  18. Purplesque says:

    ..and you have to be willing to relinquish your sense of self as well..That's part of it. I've barely found my sense of self, having lost it for a while with marriage and moving to a new country. I need to define my life clearly before I get ready to re-define it.Thank you for the wise words, Aubrey.

  19. Purplesque says:

    πŸ˜€ That's one of my big fears- if I find being a parent too much, I can't just say, 'no, thank you, I think I've had enough', and return the baby to wherever babies come from. It is a big commitment, and sometimes I wonder how people seem to make that decision so easily.Love the 'why' response. I used another variation of it once. A friend suggested, 'you have babies when you settle down in life.' I asked her 'why must you?' She was stumped.

  20. Purplesque says:

    I'm glad that you knew in your heart what you wanted, even though it must have been hard dealing with the pressure.A and I both adore kids- we are good with them (I think), and I completely see the joy/serenity/love that being a parent brings. I just don't know if I want to do all that work..The one thing I always wanted to do as a kid was to adopt- maybe we can still do that if i get too old before I decide, but I'm not making this one in haste. πŸ™‚

  21. Purplesque says:

    Oo yes, I like the 'why' very much. It is such a personal question to ask someone, though. I would never ask someone if they are planning to have kids. Its like asking someone about their sexual or religious practices. Just…weird.

  22. Purplesque says:

    Ha ha..I am quite the kid person already, Faithy, just not sure if that's enough to have kids. Thank you so much for stopping by, though. Its good to hear from someone who truly enjoys their kids- a few parents I know tend to use their kids as excuses for everything that's missing in their life- 'you know, you can't do that with kids and all'. I never believe that. πŸ™‚

  23. Waterbaby says:

    usually is. only wish i'd found the way to direct the good advice of which i'm capable for others to myself – lol.

  24. jaklumen says:

    It's not a direct thing, but rather a subtle disrespect for the parents. It is an envy and even a resentment over parental leave at work; it is an impatience over the normal but annoying things that "someone's" children do, even when the parents are doing their best (and not neglecting them in an obvious way); and sometimes, it is the simple matter that lifestyles of parents and childless/child-free couples/individuals are often VERY different. There is often no clear statement from the latter when and where children are not welcome– it is often left to the parents to figure that out. As my children are still very young, sometimes I feel I cannot take them ANYWHERE inside where they are 100% welcome.Some people make great fuss over babies, but when they are able to articulately talk and move around independently, their attitude suddenly sours. Of course, this is even sadder when some people are parents as well, but I more often see it otherwise.I suspect you are aware of this, but nevertheless be forewarned.

  25. Jabulani says:

    Ok, so here's another insight: 10 years ago Medicos told me I'd never naturally conceive. I went through 2 emotions:
    1) sheer delight because after 6 years of marriage, I'd come to the realisation that children were the LAST thing I wanted to bring into my husband's dysfunctional family. We'd spent years having them tell us "G must be firing blanks because she's not pregnant yet", so you can imagine my glee when I one day said "Actually it's ME with the problem." That shut them up quick smart!!
    2) I was really battered that, despite having decided I didn't want them, I'd actually now lost the choice to have them later if I wanted to. I felt half a woman because my body had failed me. It was a weird time…
    However, within 9 months of being told I couldn't have them, I gave birth to my son. And having had one, we quickly decided to have a second because a single child is often (not always) a very lonely child. So a year later, along came our daughter.
    Do I regret any of this? Sometimes. Sometimes I look back to the days when I could selfishly be responsible for just me (and hubby); have to tidy up after just me (and hubby); we could simply go out if we suddenly decided to, and not have to organise a babysitter weeks in advance; my space was my own – I didn't have to divide my time between that fantastic book I'd just picked up and 3 paragraphs later had to put down because I must now go find this, fix that, help with whatever. I wouldn't have to sort out wet beds, soiled pants, remember school projects/homework/clarinets/ whatever … whatever. Somehow I look back and mourn that life was just so much less tedious BC (before children).
    On the flip side of this coin though, there's the stuff you get to do: take a bicycle ride so that you can show your kids the countryside (you probably wouldn't have done this on your own), go to fab places like the Science Museum and get to play with cool stuff in the Kids' Area!, go watch them in the school plays, and alternatively have your heart shrivel in embarrassment when they shout something inappropriate at the top of their lungs/forget their lines/pull funny faces and have your heart swell to damn-near bursting when they have their 15seconds of fame and do the solo beautifully so that those around you whisper how well they did, and you preen like a peacock. There's the conversations you tend to find yourself in where you feel like you've just woken up in a parallel universe and have entered the Totally Surreal dimension – and more shockingly realise you LOVE it here! There's the 3am little body that crawls into bed with you and says "I love you" and then promptly falls back asleep with their arm thrown over your head blocking your ear and breathing right up your nose – and you just melt because it's your 9-yo son and he'll probably hate you in 3 years time! And then, of course, there are the times when they look at you and say "Mummy, you are just mad. But I love you anyway." and you melt all over again.
    The interesting thing here is this: the choice over whether or not to have kids was removed from me. I was already 12 weeks gone when I discovered I was pregnant (trust me, it's possible!!!). Despite my reticence, termination was not an option for me, so our son was born. But I sometimes wonder if I'd have ever chosen that route for myself if I'd been able to. Looking back, I don't think I would have. Now, I'd never be without my children. They are my little gifts from God and – mostly – I thank God every day for them.
    It's an enormous responsibility though. I'm fortunate enough to be a stay-home mom; I get to raise my children the way I want, do things with them, be there to support them, encourage them, teach them. But I see friends of mine who spend hours trying to co-ordinate schedules around work/childminders/partners' schedules … that would drive me nuts. I figure that if you're going to have kids, try to take out 10 years of your life to dedicate to them and then go back to yours because by that time, they are already sprouting little wings of independence. Even this philosophy is flawed: it might not be possible (for whatever reason) to take time out, so then you're just back to doing what you can how you can, and maybe beating yourself up about that because you feel you're doing that wrong. Eish … just so complicated.
    Ultimately, it's a decision you make. And, as said above here before, made not because of external pressure, but because you and A have chosen to. I would not change a moment of my children (well, possibly the descending testicles bit and the borrowed-and-now-broken lipstick bit, but … you know …!!!)
    Good luck with your choice πŸ™‚

  26. LeendaDLL says:

    your comment cracked me up!! I don't have a clue as to what I want… only what I DON'T want. That greatly narrows the playing field.

  27. Purplesque says:

    Thank you- you summed it up so well. It is the enormity that you talk about which scares me; that, and the fact that I don't want to give up my career. I have seen women who juggle both careers and motherhood, and it seems just too darned hard.Ah, well, I'm glad we had this discussion- I now know I must wait.

  28. Purplesque says:

    Lol- that's half the battle!

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