Deciding NOT To Have Children

Posted April 22, 2013 by Monica O'Connell in Life After Five


For some people deciding NOT to have children is just as important as deciding TO have children. This can be a painful decision that comes from a place of wanting kids but something about that process not aligning for the opportunity.  Reasons may include not being in a relationship that offers that opportunity, infertility, or health problems.  But for others, the decision is one deeply rooted in an understanding that having children does not work for their lives. This post is for those people.


If you have decided not to have children it may seem as though you are going against the grain.  People report ongoing questions about when they will be having children especially after having been in a relationship for any amount of time.  It is assumed that once you’re married, a child should soon follow, so the barrage of questions about one of the most intimate decision you’re making regarding children ensues. You’re not alone in this experience.  It goes back to my post about shame specific to women.  First, you should carry shame about not being in a relationship, then about being in a relationship and not getting married, then being married and not having children. It can be a never ending cycle.

What is missing in this situation? How about the opportunity to be supported in whatever decision you make? We are putting pressure on the largest life altering decision for women.  We are pushing on the decision to have children.  As many of you are aware, having a baby isn’t the same as acquiring a new pair of shoes, buying a house or taking a new job.  Turns out, this kiddo impacts all facets of your life.  Let’s treat it that way.

If you decide from where you are standing that having a child is not the decision for you, for whatever reason, I support you.  If you are on the fence about having a child and one of the sides of that fence looks lovely child-free, I also support you.  And I want to hold the space with you for that to be your option.  And not a hide in the corner, raise your hand meekly option.  The side of not having children for you should look as lovely as the side of having children that people are telling you about.  Find some friends on your side of not having kids, which should sweeten the deal.  You can all go on vacation together, to an adult only resort.  And hopefully you travel on a plane without children.

About the Author

Monica O'Connell

Monica O’Connell is a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In her practice, she spends her career cheering on “Career Girls” as they learn how to get the most out of life. Monica works with arguably some of the most successful, intelligent, inspiring women in the Twin Cities who tackle self-discovery, career success, and what’s getting in the way of their true desires. She shares her favorite moments as those “best described not by words but by the stomach aching, face soreness that comes from spending an entire day laughing with loved ones.”