5 Things To Do If You Don't Want Kids

My typical conversation on childbearing: 

Nosy person: “You’ll be a great mom someday!” *eyes twinkling with thoughts of babies*

Me: Thanks! I don’t want kids, though.

NP: Oh, sure you do! (Translation: “Normal people want kids!”)

Me: No, I really don’t. To me, the sound of a screaming kid in a Target store is like an alarm to evacuate the building.

NP: *eye twinkles burst, and are replaced with dilated pupils* Ohhh. (Translation: “Ohhh. YOU’RE A SOCIOPATH.”)

Slight exaggeration, but not really.

Even as a little girl, I never wanted kids. I aspired to be Angela Bower on Who’s The Boss, except it would be only me living in a Connecticut Colonial with a handsome, Italian housekeeper from New Jersey. Dang. That’s still my dream.


Hello? Yes, it’s you I’m looking for…

As a teenager, those ambivalent feelings about being a future parent persisted. I thought I’d grow out of it. I didn’t.

Now that I’m an adult, I’m 100% okay with this. Truthfully, I love kids. I think they’re wonderful even though a 7-year-old boy at Starbucks once pointed his toy gun at me and kept yelling, “DIE! DIE! DIE!” I could actually feel my ovaries shutting themselves off.

Here are a few things I’ve discovered on my journey:

Don’t feel horrible about it.
People, even well-meaning ones, love to sprinkle guilt on an otherwise happy sundae that is your life. They may try to dump a steaming heap of “But having kids is what you’re supposed to do!” on you, causing you to second guess yourself. Please don’t. You know your heart better than anyone else. The desire to have children is deep and genuine and can’t be forced or manufactured. So don’t. You be you.

BUT, Don’t be an obnoxious jerk about it.
Even though your eyes may glaze over when your friends start talking about potty training their toddlers, this doesn’t give you the right to gloat about how much you cherish sleeping in late, or wearing clothes that haven’t been defecated on.

Remember: Your friends love their children as much as you love not having any. It doesn’t make either of you better, or even happier than the other. It’s about different life choices.

Be honest with yourself and others.
This one is really key. You may be absolutely positive about not having kids, or sitting on the fence about it. It’s okay. But, if you’re an adult who’s in the dating scene or even married, it’s important to be open and truthful about your feelings with the other person. Real communication is vital, especially when it’s a huge decision about making more yous.

When I date I guy, I make it clear early on that I’m pretty adamant about my decision to not raise children. Either he’s okay with it, or we both decide to move on. Everyone’s on their own path. Make sure you’re both heading in the same direction.

Be someone’s mentor.
Before you throw yourself a party to celebrate a life free of parental responsibility, hold on! Don’t spend your life focusing on your own needs 24/7. Even though you may not raise your own kids, it’s important to invest some time, love, and encouragement in the next generation.

Deep thought: In the end, the valuable things we leave behind are relationships, not stuff.
(I know this is solid advice. Saw it on a cross-stitch on Etsy.)

I suggest spending regular time volunteering in a program that supports kids (or adults, if you really don’t like kids) who need a positive mentor in their lives. Also, if you have siblings with children, being an aunt or uncle seems like the perfect thing, really: Shower your niece or nephew with love. Load them up on sugar at Pink Berry. Take them to jump on inflatables. Feed them sno-cones sprinkled with extra sugar and then send them home to their parents. Perfect, right?

Volunteering your free time to help others is awesome, because morphing into a self-focused oompa loompa is a very easy, but unsightly thing to do.

Be open to changing your mind someday.
I don’t use the words, “I’LL NEVER. . .” in my vocabulary.

Circumstances and opinions can change in life, and you have to be open to that. At this very moment, you may have a 100% I’m-ready-to-get-the-tattoo-and-etch-it-in-stone stance on not wanting to have kids. However, you might find yourself feeling differently one day. If so, don’t disregard it just because it’s not how you’ve felt in the past.

For me, I don’t want the responsibility of raising another human. But, who knows? Maybe I’ll marry an Italian guy and we’ll adopt a little boy from Korea, name him Sam, dress him in bow ties, and make him listen to Radiohead on vinyl.

Seriously, though. Be flexible.

So, hey. You’ve been on this planet for a while. By now you’ve realized there’s no set pattern we all have to follow. Not wanting to have kids does not mean you’re selfish, weird, or a heartless sociopath. It means you’ve made a different life choice that fits you. Also, having kids does not make a family “complete” or even make a person feel fulfilled. I know both single people and married couples at different stages in life who don’t have kids, and they are perfectly happy and complete.

Also, Tony Danza, if you’re reading this, call me, because that would make me complete.


  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1218250861 Serena Johnson

    This is amazing. The typical response I get when I say I don’t want kids is “it’s different when they’re yours.” I’ll just take your word for it. So glad I’m not alone on this.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      Ugh! I also hate that line, Serena. I always respond, “Really, how do you know? Are you willing to adopt them if you’re wrong?!” Jokingly. (Sort of.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=14809401 Lauren Wood

    This is great. I have always told muself (and everyone else) that I definitely do not want kids… but lately I’ve started to give it more thought!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      Good, Lauren! Being independent and in charge of your life = having the confidence to adjust choices in your life as YOU see fit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13735440 Crystal Lynn Kamm

    Great article. I completely agree, being on the fence about kids. I don’t want them, but I assume someday my body may change its mind. You never know! I do feel your pain about the supposed compliment “you’ll make a great mom!” Why will I make a great mom, exactly? Because I am a responsible pet owner and clean up after my dog when she poops on a public lawn? I suspect the people in my life are fishing for reasons to drop parenthood hints….

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      It’s funny how NPs (Nosy People) always seem to know what’s best for your life, right? I always wonder if they have any time/energy left to take care of their own. Being a member of the NP Brigade must be exhausting! ;^)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=67502442 Darla Qaisi

    I think this article is really good and the idea of being flexible is truly key. What you want now may not be what you want in 5 or 10 years. I used to sincerely think that I didn’t want any kids. Then I met my now husband and I can’t wait until we have our own little ones. Maybe it’s cliche but it’s true. Also, having the cutest nephew ever helped change my mind a lot too. They are truly the best thing next to having your own children :).

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      I’m so glad you’re choosing to do what’s best for you, Darla! Much love to you and your family!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002082127648 Amber Pierson

    People always ask me why I haven’t had kids yet and I’m only 23, and single! It boggles my mind and when I tell them I don’t want any they say it’ll be different once I have one, like it is inevitable and I have no choice in the matter. I wish more people on both sides of the fence were more open-minded.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      Exactly. “It will be different when you have your own…” is probably the worst response I’ve heard. I’m so glad we have choices over our lives, and don’t have to follow a societal rulebook!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005147888610 Erin Oxnam

    All I’ve ever wanted for my whole life was kids someday. There are some people that don’t want kids and that’s absolutely fine. I’d rather have parents in the world that really love their kids than people that don’t and treat their kids badly. Like you said, it’s about life choices and going one way or the other doesn’t make a person more happy than someone who has chosen a different path.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      Erin, I’m so glad a parent took the time to comment on this article, because I didn’t want to be negative towards the choice to want kids. It really is about choosing a very different journey. Neither one is more valuable than the other. I’m happy that was clearly conveyed. Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1033315137 Deanna Kantz

    My explanation when people question me about not having kids is always “If I had to decide right now, for the rest of my life, the answer is no kids. That may change one day if I meet the right guy, but right now I am thoroughly enjoying being an aunt instead.” Most people (family NOT included) find that to be an acceptable response.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      Great response, Deanna! Yes, a family’s response can be a little less understanding than friends’. I TOTALLY sympathize. ;^)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000276811232 Tess Carts

    It’s weird because this is something I’ve been thinking about lately, and I feel like I’m seeing jokes, and articles about not having kids all over the internet.
    I’m 21 and have been happily married for almost three years in December. I don’t have, and don’t think I ever want to have children. A -lot- of my friends have kids, younger and older ones, and it’s what got me thinking about it the last few months. I just don’t think it’s a life experience I want, and my husband is totally okay with that – so am I. Of course everyone insists I’ll change my mind, and maybe I will years and years from now, but I’ll just say this – probably not.

    Thanks for the article, Sarah Neal. Because of it I will actively try not to cringe and roll my eyes at the obsessive amounts of baby pictures on my facebook feed from all my ‘new mom’ friends; I realize now it’s silly, they are entitled to gushing over their little monsters, even if it annoys the crap out of me.
    What’s important is that they’re happy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      You are welcome, Tess! Thank YOU. I loved what you said about not rolling your eyes at the baby feed on Facebook. Perfection.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1090490579 Carol Conway

    I thought this was an ok article but then I got to the ‘Be open to changing your mind someday’ part. This is the exact attitude people who don’t want children come up against all the time. You complain about it in the beginning of the article but you endorse it at the end. I’m not open to ‘flexibility’ because I know my choice will never change. Ipso facto. That’s I choice I made as a young child and have actively thought about as I grew up. So to have someone take that attitude and not take my decision seriously is the height of disrespect. Looks like women STILL aren’t trusted to make their own decisions about their bodies….

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      Hi Carol! I do see your point, but I think there’s a big difference between someone with children trying to impose their life choices onto someone else vs. a woman who doesn’t want kids telling other women to not feel they’ve compromised or are conforming if, IF, they decide to change direction someday.

      Trust me, I in no way want to disrespect or invalidate women and the choices we’ve made about our lives. I don’t feel telling women it’s okay to be openminded about yourself and life is distrustful. I think it’s the opposite: You trust yourself enough to make the right decisions for yourself, AND have the wisdom and compassion to adjust if you feel necessary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1014725536 Stefanie Gijdé

    This is me as well. I’ve had the idea pretty early on kids were not for me (for various reasons) but then everybody tells you oh but you’ll change your mind once you get older (but up untill now I never did and I really don’t think I ever will).
    You get different reactions when people ask you if you have kids or will have kids one day and you say no – often depending on the person asking those questions. I gave up trying to explain it to most of my family (aunts and uncles) and just say no I don’t want kids right now, it generally shushes them because they think there is a possibility it might happen one day (aka I might seem a little bit more ‘normal’ to them :p)
    Most people indeed see it as something you are supposed to do, a goal in life so to speak. But what if I have different goals in my life and having kids just isn’t one of them. It’s just the fact that this makes you different then most other people that they can’t understand this – I think for some it also challenges their beliefs:”but you’re supposed to have kids”, but who says you do?
    My friends (most I’ve known since kindergarten) have gotten to accept this as a fact for me through the years and they don’t have an issue with it, though you’ll have some acquintances where conversation will stall if the first questions is do you have kids and the answer is no, and I”m not planning on it.
    I’m glad I’ve found a guy who’s okay with not having children so this was never an issue in our relationship
    The only time I have a hard time with my decision is when it comes to my parents. I’m an only child (not by their choice I might add) and they would love to have grandchildren. I haven’t followed a ‘traditional’ path (buy a house get married..) as it is and now the fact that they seem to have realized it’s really not gonna happen makes them sad, and this is indeed added pressure. But guilt definitely shouldn’t be the reason to have kids (and many other reasons to go with that) so I’ll be sticking to my guns :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      Stefanie, you pretty much described MY life. I’m an only child, too, which adds a little extra fun* (*pressure) to life. I know my parents have very laser-focused expectations since I’m the heir with no spare.

      I really, really loved your assessment of people’s adverse reaction to you not wanting kids: “I think for some it also challenges their beliefs.” You are so spot-on. Sometimes I think people react negatively because it simply contests “traditional” thought. Way to stand your ground and beliefs!! Your post was encouraging to me, and I’m sure others.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=521620482 Jacqueline Spiegelman

    This my favorite not-wanting-to-have-kids post I’ve read yet. I have one child and most of my friends don’t have or want any, which I totally appreciate. However, most of the articles about not wanting to have kids seem incredibly judgmental towards women who do have/want children; having a child does not mean the end of your personal life and personal goals… it definitely shifts priorities a bit, but moms are still people too! Anyway, I think it’s great that women are really reflecting on what we want out of life and recognizing that it doesn’t always include the huge responsibility of raising children.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      Jacqueline, I totally agree. I’ve read similar articles that I think are too harsh. Raising kids is a very challenging and rewarding choice, and shouldn’t be discounted and viewed as, as you put it, giving up of your personal goals. Choosing NOT to have kids should be equally celebrated and respected. THANK YOU for your insight!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002581598663 Hans Johan Svensson

    It might just happen anyway. We humans are made that way.

    • Chava

      That’s why I’m pro-choice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1438950631 Kari Lynn

    THIS! So much this!
    This exact conversation happens at least once a week:
    Coworker: So, you’re married, when are you going to have kids?
    Me: I don’t want them.
    Coworker: Why don’t you want kids?
    Me: I have stuff to do.
    Coworker: Like what?
    Me: I need to go to Japan and Australia! I have to have a meaningful conversation with Joss Whedon before I die! I have to go to Comic Con and wait for 8 hours to get into Hall H!
    Coworker: You can do that stuff when you have kids!
    Me: You can’t stay out at a bar until four in the morning when you have kids, and it’s generally frowned upon to take them with you. Plus, if I had kids, I would have to share my toys. I’ll stick with my cats, thanks.

    And then, when I say that just maybe I might adopt an older kid someday, they say “Don’t you want your own?” *headdesk*

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=543696851 Emma Mueller

    Thank you so much for writing this. It’s my constant struggle right now trying to explain to people why I do not want children. Everyone acts like you must follow some sort of timeline that society has laid out for us but we don’t! I’m doing life my own way! I have lot’s of nieces and nephews and would love the opportunity to have overnights at my house, shower them with love and gifts, and then drop them back off at my siblings house. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with that. Kids are super cool but I just don’t want to bring them home with me every night and that should not be anyone’s concern but my own.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1616119283 Sarah Neal

      Amen to your last comment, Emma! Thank you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=804135260 Lizzie Orley

      HEAR HEAR! *echoes and fades*

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=804135260 Lizzie Orley

    I get ALL of this. All of it – my goodness have you been stalking me?! 😛 I kid.

    I also really hate it when you say to those same friends:

    Me – “Oh man, I’m feeling sick…”
    Them – “PREGNANT!”
    Me – “Ha, no.”
    Them – “It always happens to people who say they don’t want kids.”

    Oh for goodness sake, shall I also inform you, then, how I practice safe sex and what contraceptive method I use? Bloooooooooody hell mate!

    • Chava

      Whenever anyone says that to me (“Accidents happen!”), I always respond, “That’s why I’m pro-choice!”

  • Bridgitt Lee

    It’s awful if someone says to you if you weren’t an atheist, if you were not mentally ill, if you didn’t have a bad childhood you would want to have sex, get married, and have children. Makes me sick. So I guess your a broken person or less of a person if you have no desire for those things and prefer your own company and life. People really are hypocritical, I mean there are men out there that say if thy found out their teenage daughter was pregnant out of a rape they would force e to go through child birth and force her to raise them even if she doesn’t like children, is traumatized, and can’t handle it/don’t want to handle it/ feel suicidal. The world really makes me sick.

  • Bridgitt Lee

    It’s awful if someone says to you if you weren’t an atheist, if you were not mentally ill, if you didn’t have a bad childhood you would want to have sex, get married, and have children. Makes me sick. So I guess your a broken person or less of a person if you have no desire for those things and prefer your own company and life. People really are hypocritical, I mean there are men out there that say if thy found out their teenage daughter was pregnant out of a rape they would force e to go through child birth and force her to raise them even if she doesn’t like children, is traumatized, and can’t handle it/don’t want to handle it/ feel suicidal. The world really makes me sick.

  • Bridgitt Lee

    It’s awful if someone says to you if you weren’t an atheist, if you were not mentally ill, if you didn’t have a bad childhood you would want to have sex, get married, and have children. Makes me sick. So I guess your a broken person or less of a person if you have no desire for those things and prefer your own company and life. People really are hypocritical, I mean there are men out there that say if thy found out their teenage daughter was pregnant out of a rape they would force e to go through child birth and force her to raise them even if she doesn’t like children, is traumatized, and can’t handle it/don’t want to handle it/ feel suicidal. The world really makes me sick.

  • Bridgitt Lee

    Maybe if we said we’d rather commit suicide than have children or die, because it is just not for us, and we shouldn’t be forced to have sex if we don’t want to, and we shouldn’t be forced to have children, that we don’t want or can’t afford, and people should respect that. People should mind their own business.

  • Katystheboss

    Why on earth would I be flexible over having kids? I’m pretty sure kids and tattoos aren’t in the same ballpark – comparing the two is fucking stupid. The assumption that I should be open to changing my mind because of some dream guy is the most offensive remark I’ve heard this month. If I knew in my heart of hearts that children aren’t for me but I get a little glimmer because I’m dating McDreamy, that’s not a good gamechanger. Newsflash: adopted or otherwise, kids aren’t returnable.

Need more Giggles?
Like us on Facebook!

Want more Giggles?
Sign up for our newsletter!