How to Know If You’ll Regret Not Having Children

On 5 Surprising Secrets for Coping With Childlessness, a reader asked how to decide if she should have children. She’s weighing the pros and cons, but doesn’t know for sure what to do.

“My husband and I married last year at the age of 42 – this is the first marriage for both of us,” says Michele. “I can’t decide if I want to try to have a child….I always thought that having a child was ‘a given’ but now that I’m 43, I wonder and am concerned. Do I have the energy and stamina to be a mother? How much will our lives change? Certainly life is easier when all you have to do is take care of yourself, and cater to your own wants and needs at your own convenience. But I can’t help but wonder if I would be missing out on deeper, more fulfilling experience by having a child. Will I regret not having children?”

The truth is that you may never know for sure until you reach the end of your life. I’m not having children, and below I share how this decision this unfolded in my life…

But first, here’s the rest of Michele’s comment:

“I am so full of doubt and anxiety,” she says. “I am really interested in hearing from other women who are in similar situations. Also, how do you feel about getting pregnant in your 40s? What do you feel are the real benefits of having a child later in life compared to your friends who had children in the 30′s? I would greatly appreciate hearing from others who are experiencing or have experienced the same dilemma. Is anyone else going through the same thing as I am?”

Why Have Kids? A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness is a concise, easy-to-read, honest book about having children. It’s good for couples trying to decide if they’re regret not being parents because it reveals the darker side of parenting – as well as the joys.

Why I’m Not Having Children – and I Won’t Regret It (Mostly)

I’m 42, and my husband and I have been married for 7 years. We can’t have children naturally; my hubby unfortunately has azoospermia (no little swimmers). I didn’t want to go through fertility treatments, so we’re not having children. We talked about fostering or adopting, but I’m getting my MSW (Master’s of Social Work) at UBC, and don’t want to bring my work home with me. That is, my future job will involve counseling people with chronic illness, which will likely be stressful and draining. After work, I want to go home and not worry about taking care of children who may need more from me than I can give.

Part of me will always regret not having children. You’re right when you say that kids bring deeper, more fulfilling experiences to life! Most of the parents I know would never, ever miss out on having kids (though my sister once told me that she regretted having children. There are women who wish they could turn back time and put that condom on!).

One of my closest friends adopted two boys when she was 43, and another friend had a baby at age 38. Both say they wish they had more energy for their kids, and see the benefits of having kids as younger women. Me, I’d much rather have kids later in life (around age 40), because I was far too selfish, immature, and narcissistic to have children when I was young.

But, it’s different for every woman. It’s good to ask questions about not having children and having children later in life – but it’s also important to follow your heart and gut. What works for one 45 year old mother may not work for the next one, depending on their personalities, lifestyles, energy levels, jobs, and future goals.

My husband and I have accepted the fact that we’re not having children, and we will always have a shadow of regret. We wanted kids, but I didn’t want to sacrifice my health, time, energy, and money for a 10% chance of getting pregnant through fertility treatments. We decided to invite children into our lives in a different way – I’m a Big Sister, and my husband is a Big Brother. It’s a ton of fun, without the parental responsibilities, and our Littles are always so happy and excited to see us.

So, I’ve learned to let go of the things I can’t have…and reach for the things I can.

Are you regretting your decision not to have kids? Read Accepting a Childfree Life – How to be Happy Without Having Children.

If you’re worried you’ll regret not having children and want to get pregnant, read How to Prepare Your Body for Pregnancy – From Food to Treating STDs.

And if you have any thoughts on regrets and children, please comment below…I’d love to hear from you!


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