If you’re not baby crazy, you aren’t alone. There are many people who either know for sure that they don’t want kids or who are on the fence about it. As we’ve discussed in an earlier article, fewer women and people with ovaries are deciding to become parents for a multitude of reasons.
When we’re younger, many of us who weren’t sure about having kids assumed that by the time we got to our prime childbearing years we would know whether or not we wanted to become parents. This is true for some and not for others. Therapist and author Ann Davidman helps people who are struggling with this decision.
“No one can tell you what’s right for you, yet society, family, and your own assumptions continue to influence these decisions and sometimes even demand a particular choice,” she says. “In my opinion, if everyone paused and pondered whether or not motherhood or fatherhood was for them — no matter how certain or uncertain they felt about the answer — the experience they would have of coming to an ultimate decision would feel more expansive and have fewer fears attached to it.”
Every person’s decision and journey to become a parent is uniquely personal, so there’s no right answer if you’re undecided. For those looking for a starting point in what to consider, we’ve rounded up some different perspectives on the uncertainty that comes along with parenthood and having children.
When in doubt, wait it out.
“If you are truly undecided, torn, sitting squarely on the fence not knowing what the fuck to do — don't have kids. At least, not yet. Wait until you feel confident that these sacrifices and life changes are ones you can embrace not just because you feel like you should or because the world around you is telling you it's time. Do it because you can't imagine your life moving forward without them, feces and all.”
Talk about it.
“And not knowing is beginning to stress me out. I’ve always hoped that intuition would kick in when the time was right. But as I get older – and increasingly aware that I don’t have much time to dither – I feel more confused than ever. As my pros and cons list has so far failed to edge me towards a decision, I realise I need some help. I decided to make a plan and seek advice from people who make a living through helping others make choices: a psychic, a philosopher, and reproductive rights activists … and my mom.”
Picture the full reality of each option.
"My husband and I had a really good life, but the question just kept coming up. I always bounced back and forth. We were reaching the end of what we assumed were childbearing years, and it just started to close in on us...(A therapist) had us live in the ‘yes’ for a week, and then live in the ‘no’ for a week, and write about everything that came up. I was so used to going back and forth in my head a million times a day, and never just sat with one answer. And it was so powerful.”
Try not to let self-doubt get in the way.
“I lack the confidence in my future self’s desires to be sure she will be happy having never had children. There is of course no cultural space to say you regret having children, but there are women who say they wish they had. What if, I think in the moments of self-doubt, I end up one of them? This pervasive ambivalence seems to be the norm among my peers. Even the women I know who are sure they want children remain plagued by the question of when — and no time, it seems, is the ideal one. No one is looking for children to fill some empty hole in their lives; instead, the women I know worry about how they can be the best mothers possible while also retaining their own identities and their own work and their own interests.”
The above snapshots are of course, not exhaustive since ultimately there is no one right answer: the decision to have children is personal, complex and dynamic - some decisions might feel right in one set of circumstances but not in others. Just know that if you’re on the fence about your baby plans, you are not alone. And ultimately the decision that you make is great, so long as it is your decision.