unsure about children

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2010
unsure about children
Mon, 05-24-2010 - 7:20pm

I'm 26 years old, in graduate school and working a full-time job. I've been dating my current boyfriend for 4 months but we've been close friends for almost 15 years. He really is the love my life, but recently we stumbled upon a topic of children that's made him say our relationship is worth his time anymore.

He knows he definitely wants children one day. I've never considered it. I've always been more concerned with my education and trying to get a stable career and I never gave marriage or kids much thought at all.

The thought of having a child scares the s**t out of me, to be honest. I've never spent much time around babies. I held one once and couldn't wait to hand him back over because I thought I was going to accidentally hurt him. I don't mind spending time with children 4+ if they aren't spoiled jerks.

I have no idea what to do about all this. It really hurt to hear that he would throw our relationship/friendship away because of this. I know it's an important issue, but it's one that I haven't given much thought to at all. My knee-jerk reaction is to say, "I don't want kids," but it's really just never been a thought in my mind.

Any advice anyone can give me would be appreciated. Thanks!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2010
Tue, 05-25-2010 - 8:15am


I can totally relate to everything you are saying. And this is a very hard topic for couples because it can make or break relationships. But it is also quite unfair to make you be held to either a yes or no answer at this point in your life. Things can change, your opinions may change. You don't know how you will feel in a year or two, or five.

When I met my now husband (22 at the time, now almost 29) it was nowhere on my radar. I was fresh out of college and got a great job, I wasn't going to compromise that. I didn't know if I'd want kids either- we went into our marriage that way. Watched friends have their first, then second child. Still didn't phase me. But, since about January I finally feel "ready". Don't think I was ready for the additional responsibility before- and my husband tells me he's been waiting "5 years" for me to be ready. Now that I am in my job almost 7 years, have a home, no debt, did my vacationing, now I feel ready. Also...I finally held my first infant 2 months ago- used to scare the cr*p out of me too, thought they were too tiny and breakable ;)

I honestly don't know what is best for you, but I have found that being very open with communication definitely helps. Tell him all of your fears, what you want to accomplish first, why you think you may not want them right now. Tell him you haven't really thought about that stage in your lives yet.

I hope some of this helps, at least a little!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-20-2009
Tue, 05-25-2010 - 8:04pm

Hello- I am a graduate of this thread, currently TTC to first. I lurk occasionally and saw your post and thought I would comment. Like the PP, I don't think I can tell you what to do or what will happen, but I can share my experience. After college I spent a year on a research fellowship, and then started work on my Ph.D. when I was about 23 years old. I spent 6 years in my doctoral program, and barely gave one thought to having kids or getting married. I do research in Southern Africa, so I spent a lot of time in the field, and all I focused on was my goal of getting my Ph.D. I finished when I was 29-30, and started working as a tenure track professor. Within a few months of moving to my new university, I started thinking about the whole family thing, and realized it was a more interesting prospect to me since I had accomplished my Ph.D and felt more secure in my career. Although I have a lot of pressure on me to achieve tenure, my focus definitely shifted to be more about my personal life. My partner who I met at the end of grad school was not concerned about having kids- he never even gave it a thought. So when my ideas about kids changed, I started talking to him more about it, and slowly, he got on board. I never forced it on him and it was never an ultimatum issue between us. I just explained how my feelings were changing, and since he was not outright opposed to having a child, he was able to eventually get on board.
Since making that decision, we've been through the ringer. It was discovered that I am "fertility challenged," and I had to have surgery on my tubes in late March. I don't regret at all that I put having a family on hold in my 20s, but I am increasingly anxious to get pg, and after a short trip to Ghana in June, we will be back to TTC and probably moving onto more medical intervention by the end of the summer.

I write all this to let you know that what you feel when you are 26 and career oriented and in the middle of your graduate education may or may not be what you feel when you are 30, 34, or even 40. You don't need to rush your decision, but being open with your partner will probably help rather than hurt your relationship. I am still not all that comfortable around newborns, and have no experience with infants beyond holding my family and friend's infants for a few minutes at a time. I don't think I am much of a "baby person," but my urge to have one of my own is very strong and surprised the heck out of me since I spend my 20s not even thinking about it.

Don't rush yourself, don't close yourself off, don't make any "final" decisions, and take it day by day. Good luck with your degree!


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May Baby

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-11-2005
Wed, 05-26-2010 - 8:39am

You're still really young and I don't think that the fact you're not thinking about kids right now means you'll never want them.

Like you said, education and career are important right now. Let him know that. Don't throw out the idea of kids altogether though. If it's something you've never really thought about just saying that you don't want kids doesn't seem like an accurate answer.

If kids aren't an immediate pressing concern (I don't see why they would be at 26) then just stay as you are and put that discussion on hold for a little while. Maybe have him ask you in a year or so when you may be more stable in a career, or out of school. It's kind of hard to evaluate that far in the future when you're just at the beginning of life.

Do you have any friends with babies? Maybe spend a little time with them to be around babies a little bit and get some experience/insight.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2010
Wed, 05-26-2010 - 2:18pm

Thank you for your advice. Hopefully, I'll get to have a discussion with my boyfriend over the long weekend...

Unfortunately, my friends with babies live across the country. I have talked to one friend about this situation as she's known my boyfriend and I both for many years. She echoes what I've read and heard from other people: Raising her son is hard work but it's worth it. I obviously can't really understand that at the moment when all I can think about is how in the world I'm going to finish two giant mid-term papers and work 45 hours a week without having to resort to taking Adderall. She also thinks my boyfriend is selfish for giving me an ultimatum at this point when he's years away from wanting children.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2010
Wed, 05-26-2010 - 2:30pm

My boyfriend was upset because I dismissed it outright, but you're right - I have no idea how I'll feel years from now. Being financially secure is a big issue for me, and I guess I can't really consider kids at all until I'm in a good job with good insurance, and own a home.

I guess I need to talk to him again... It's hard to want to when every conversation about this ends with one of us in tears.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2010
Wed, 05-26-2010 - 2:51pm


Thanks so much for your response. It definitely helps hearing that your mind may change even after focusing so much time on education. I just don't want to feel like I wasted my time pursuing a degree that isn't much use if I have kids. I've seen a lot of people juggle both really well, but I'm definitely not a superwoman.

Best of luck building your family! :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2006
Wed, 05-26-2010 - 10:42pm

Hi, welcome to the board! What's your name or how would you like to be called?

My name is Becki and I'm the CL of the board. I think you've gotten some great advice already and I hope it does help! Your relationship is still very new even though you've known each other forever, but suddenly you have conflicting sets of expectations. That's tough. Maybe even tougher for you since as friends, you may never have had expectations of the other, but now as a couple you suddenly are thinking about how you will influence each other's lives. Yikes!

People can be set off by all-or-nothing responses for sure. I was upset recently when I said a place I'd like to live someday and my husband flat-out said "no." Later I explained that I had been thinking about it for awhile, and it was just an idea someday, and he could at least consider it, and he agreed. But that flat out "no" can be very hurtful.

Keep up posted when you have another talk with him, and I hope it goes more smoothly next time. It is the biggest decision of your lives whether to have children, so no one would take it lightly, nor should you!

Proud CL of Waiting to Try - Thanks for my sig Katie!
My Weight Ticker

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2010
Tue, 06-01-2010 - 3:04pm

Oops! I'm Jamie. You can call me Jamie. :)

I mentioned something to him about it briefly, but it probably wasn't the best time to do that. I saw him after going out for a friend's birthday party, and my teeth just couldn't stop the words from coming out. He didn't really say much in response, but I think I got the point across that I can't really predict the future.

One of my other concerns that I haven't said anything about is about his ability to be a responsible parent. I think it's one thing to want kids but another to be in a position to be good to them. Unless he suddenly becomes more responsible, that's really not something I'm willing to gamble...especially when I'm on the fence anyway.

Sigh. All this makes me wish we had stayed just friends.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2005
Mon, 06-07-2010 - 2:23pm
Well, I think your boyfriend was right in asking you this, so early. And here is why.
One thing is to be unsure of "when" to have children, and the other, not knowing if you want them at all. If you feel like your strongest instinct is against having children, you need to make it very clear. It is a deal breaker in a relationship. You can't expect your man to invest time an emotions in a relationship and find out that he can't fulfill the dream of parenthood. KWIM?
AS the other ladies said, you'll probably change your mind in a few years. In fact I was kind of scared of children until I got pregnant, and now I love motherhood. That said, I think you need to really sort your feelings about this.
I don' want to sound harsh, I do respect your right to choose. It's only that I think a couple needs to be roughly on the same page about something like this.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-08-2007
Mon, 06-07-2010 - 4:33pm

I agree with everyone else. I was on this board for YEARS and now have been a grad for YEARS and I have seen tons of people work through issues with wanting/not wanting kids, and to me there seems to be three kinds of women in the world:

1. Those who have ALWAYS wanted and thought about kids.
2. Those who say they don't want kids/don't think much about it, but hit about 30 and suddenly want them.
3. Those who REALLY DON'T WANT KIDS and never will.

Based on what you are saying, I have a feeling you are in the second group. Unless you are dead set against having kids (and even sometimes when you are) biology seems to kick in at some point and you just want them.

I can't tell you how many stories I have heard of women who thought they would never want kids, and suddenly hit 28, 30, 32, etc, and suddenly changed their mind.

But at your age, whether or not to have kids is going to be a talking point in any serious relationship you are in. As Mari said, I don't think it's a point on which either person in the relationship should "compromise" (that is, if one person REALLY WANTS kids and the other one REALLY DOESN'T, neither one should give into the other, they should just find a new partner).

If I were you, I would let your relationship with your BF run its course. If he proposes and you still feel like you REALLY WOULDN'T want kids, you might have some deep thinking to do, but 4 months into the relationship I don't think you should worry much about it right now. Let things develop naturally, including your relationship and your feelings about having kids.