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Regretting Motherhood is a very interesting non-fiction book by Orna Donath. Donath did qualitative research in which she talked with mothers that regret having had a child. Some participants are young and have only just gotten their first child, some are already grandmothers of several children.

What makes this book so notable for me, is that it's the only text I know that dares to discuss this really sensitive topic. I don't have any children and I don't want any, ever. Because I'm a woman, barely anyone respects that decision. I don't want to be pregnant, I don't want to birth, I don't want to adopt, I don't want a fertility treatment, I don't want to care for a child, I don't want an adult child visiting me in the weekends, I don't want grandchildren and I don't want to spend any time or money on any children either. Nevertheless people will make up any argument about having children to try to convince me: You'll change your mind, it will be great once the child is there so just do it, there will be no-one to take care of you when you're old, what even is the point of living then if you won't leave something behind and be remembered when you die. But I absolutely hate one argument the most: You'll come to regret it.

I don't think I will ever regret not having children. However, I do think I would regret having a child if I had ever succumbed to the pressure. It's something that felt too taboo to ever say. Surely such women don't exist because 'children are great once you have them!! they're worth every downside because love!!!'. This book was such a confirmation. Regretful mothers exist. They're not evil, but when they open their mouths, their lives are over because of the backlash. This is why the study behind this book was very risky for many participants.

The question on most people's mind (mine at least): why take children then? The mothers questioned are from Israel, so contraception and abortus are available. Some interesting reasons that were mentioned:

  • I never thought about what having children would be like, so it just happened because it's what's supposed to happen.
  • Pressure from society was too great, being childless is too stigmatizing.
  • Thinking it would be better because of the unrealistic portrayal of motherhood as fantastic and holy and the best that can be done with one's life.
  • Too much pressure from husband/own family/in-laws to do it.
  • Believing the argument 'I guess I will like the idea better once the child is here because then magically feelings change'.

The book also explores other difficult but interesting topics such as how one can combine loving a child dearly but still regret being a mother, and whether or not ever letting the child know about your feelings (most mothers were dead set against that, but not all).

I personally really believe having children should be an opt-in situation for people who really want to raise children. A conscious choice. Having children shouldn't be the default that you have to opt out of with lots of stigma, shame or judgement. However, I don't judge any women with children either, whether they were planned or unplanned, wanted or unwanted. I think this book really shows that these women, despite regretting motherhood, are not at all evil or dumb or any other prejudice one could have. But the book does show that our societal attitudes surrounding motherhood, children and choice are highly questionable and very sexist.

Have you read this book? What do you think about this topic? Do you have any other interesting book recommendations for me about not wanting to have children as a woman?

*Regretting Motherhood* is a very interesting non-fiction book by Orna Donath. Donath did qualitative research in which she talked with mothers that regret having had a child. Some participants are young and have only just gotten their first child, some are already grandmothers of several children. What makes this book so notable for me, is that it's the only text I know that dares to discuss this really sensitive topic. I don't have any children and I don't want any, ever. Because I'm a woman, barely anyone respects that decision. I don't want to be pregnant, I don't want to birth, I don't want to adopt, I don't want a fertility treatment, I don't want to care for a child, I don't want an adult child visiting me in the weekends, I don't want grandchildren and I don't want to spend any time or money on any children either. Nevertheless people will make up any argument about having children to try to convince me: You'll change your mind, it will be great once the child is there so just do it, there will be no-one to take care of you when you're old, what even is the point of living then if you won't leave something behind and be remembered when you die. But I absolutely hate one argument the most: You'll come to regret it. I don't think I will ever regret not having children. However, I do think I would regret having a child if I had ever succumbed to the pressure. It's something that felt too taboo to ever say. Surely such women don't exist because 'children are great once you have them!! they're worth every downside because love!!!'. This book was such a confirmation. Regretful mothers exist. They're not evil, but when they open their mouths, their lives are over because of the backlash. This is why the study behind this book was very risky for many participants. The question on most people's mind (mine at least): why take children then? The mothers questioned are from Israel, so contraception and abortus are available. Some interesting reasons that were mentioned: + I never thought about what having children would be like, so it just happened because it's what's supposed to happen. + Pressure from society was too great, being childless is too stigmatizing. + Thinking it would be better because of the unrealistic portrayal of motherhood as fantastic and holy and the best that can be done with one's life. + Too much pressure from husband/own family/in-laws to do it. + Believing the argument 'I guess I will like the idea better once the child is here because then magically feelings change'. The book also explores other difficult but interesting topics such as how one can combine loving a child dearly but still regret being a mother, and whether or not ever letting the child know about your feelings (most mothers were dead set against that, but not all). I personally really believe having children should be an opt-in situation for people who really want to raise children. A conscious choice. Having children shouldn't be the default that you have to opt out of with lots of stigma, shame or judgement. However, I don't judge any women with children either, whether they were planned or unplanned, wanted or unwanted. I think this book really shows that these women, despite regretting motherhood, are not at all evil or dumb or any other prejudice one could have. But the book does show that our societal attitudes surrounding motherhood, children and choice are highly questionable and very sexist. Have you read this book? What do you think about this topic? Do you have any other interesting book recommendations for me about not wanting to have children as a woman?

76 comments

[–] AlltheRoadrunning 46 points (+46|-0)

I haven't read the book but I must say pregnancy was a bit of a shock to my system. I've always been kind of a tomboy and worked in a male-dominated field, and had never experienced any obvious disadvantage at work on the basis of my sex (some colleagues had potentially sexist views, and there is some systemic/structural sexism in the field, but I don't think it affected me too much).

However, being pregnant is just a whole different ballpark. First I had to do loads of extra paperwork to figure out what parts of my job I could do safely. Then there was no support to find alternative arrangements - if I couldn't do it myself, it basically just couldn't be done, and then I kept having to say in meetings "well I was unable to complete that experiment because I can't handle this chemical". Anyway then I got morning sickness and was hardly able to work at all for 2 months, then the physical discomfort was slowing me down, and finally I was sent home completely due to being vulnerable in a pandemic.

Maybe in some jobs that would be ok, but in a research career you need to demonstrate productivity in order to progress to the next level, and I have very little to show for the last few months.

I'm still happy to be having a child but my work was a big part of my identity and I feel like my career is really suffering compared to my partner's, which is going from strength to strength. I don't begrudge anyone who chooses not to sacrifice that, or anyone who feels regret later on when they realise how much they've had to give up.

[–] XX_Power 17 points (+17|-0)

That was a really interesting write up, thank you.

I started out hating children when i was a child myself and was extremely childfree in my 20s. Now I'm in my 30s and i do often think that i might miss out on a human experience that i may not want to miss out on. Also the thought of having adult kids seems nice. But I'm really not someone who loves small children, at all. So im leaning towards no children but there is doubt in my mind.

How did you know you really wanted them enough?

Well I never had younger siblings so I can't really say whether I "love" children - actually I'm a bit intimidated by them! But I helped out in younger kids' lessons from the age of 16 and throughout university so I know that I really enjoy teaching. I'm not sure I could cope with being a teacher full time and doing crowd control in a school but I do like the idea of passing on what I've learned in life.

I also feel like my own parents could've done a bit better in that regard; my home life was fine but they split up when I was young and were a bit emotionally distant, so I have an urge to become the fully supportive, emotionally available parent that I lacked as a teenager.

Finally, while my career has been a big part of my life, I've achieved all my major ambitions and my home life with my partner is the most important thing to me now. I want to have a mini version of him and I think child rearing will be a positive challenge for us to take on together.

[–] Boudicaea 12 points (+12|-0)

It's called being "mommy tracked". And frankly it's as much an issue of completely unreasonable work expectations for everyone as it is discrimination against mothers. I have been mommy tracked in my career. I can only take jobs that are 9-5, M-F, because that is what I have to have to be a present parent for my son.

My husband does not feel the same compulsion to slow it down to accommodate our son. But he should not be expected to work more than full time either. It's ridiculous that we do this to anyone, parents or not. But it is clear that men mainly benefit, as women are the ones who are always expected to drop our careers for the kids, because we always are the ones who will put our children first.

Although my career has progressed a bit better than his due to the kind of work. But I would be making double his salary by now if I were willing to work 60-80 hours a week like I used to.

Yes that's exactly it, I already got fed up with the meetings running outside normal working hours but now I definitely won't be able to take weekend shifts or stretch my day out until something is finished.

In recent years I've been pleasantly surprised to see a couple of male colleagues putting their foot down about it too. One professor said he couldn't travel to us for a meeting before 10.30 because he needed to drop his daughter off at nursery in his home city at 8.30 that morning, and another postdoc won't come to meetings that start before 9am for the same reason.

[–] Lilim 35 points (+35|-0)

I personally really believe having children should be an opt-in situation for people who really want to raise children. A conscious choice. Having children shouldn't be the default that you have to opt out of with lots of stigma, shame or judgement.

This is beautifully put and exactly how I view it as well.

I was just watching the news and they’re trying to pass a Bill for more affordable childcare right now because even well off families in Ontario are struggling with just one child and of course women are dropping out of the workforce and losing jobs during the pandemic because of it. There’s always articles pondering “why are millennials and gen z not having kids?” It’s because they can’t fucking afford to even if they do want them, which more and more women are realizing they really don’t, especially with uneven parenting dynamics.

[–] Mirren 30 points (+30|-0) Edited

My mom told me and my siblings that she didn't want or not want kids, it was just the normal way of life. Although she loves us obviously.

My cousin's mother died when she was eight. This was back in the 1940s and 1950s. Her father put her and her brothers in an orphanage. Even when he remarried, he told my cousin and her brothers not to tell the orphanage that he was no longer single and he didn't remove the kids from the orphanage. They stayed there until they aged out, and they were abused. Maybe my cousin's dad's attitude was caused by poverty, maybe not.

I wanted kids but couldn't have them. I am too old now. When I was young enough to adopt, single women were not allowed to adopt without a husband.

I think that the part of feminism where women are encouraged and supported to only have kids if they want (and encouraged and supported to have the kids they want, too) is an important thing.

[–] MadSea 28 points (+28|-0)

I’m 41, don’t have kids, and still don’t regret it.

I’ve been the one to pick up the pieces for everyone else. Drug addict brother abandons his family and his wife falls into alcoholism? I took my nieces in and made sure they finished school and had the most support I could give them. Now as adults they come to me, not either of their parents, for any big things they need to discuss or work through.

Younger brother had a kid with someone he has a lot of issues with. She’s called me begging to take the kid multiple times because she can’t handle it anymore. Every time I say, “a room is ready for him, tell me when you’re ready for me to come pick him up” (they live across the country, so no easy thing). They ultimately sort their nonsense at the last minute, but this cycle is starting to repeat.

Close friends that live out near me made me an official auntie to their kids. When they are fighting, guess who goes and grabs their kids and takes them to the park or for ice cream? Who sits with them and teaches them to paint? It’s me.

Now my husband’s siblings are all having kids. Who do they come to for advice (I am in social work and spent some time teaching parenting classes)? It’s always me. I’m also who will be getting some of those kids for summers/spring breaks when they’re a little older and able to travel.

I see first hand how much having kids stresses/destroys many relationships that probably weren’t sound to begin with. No thanks to all that.

As for, “who will take care of you when you’re old?” Well, most of us know sons won’t/don’t take care of their aging parents anyways. My uncle murdered my grandfather for not giving him money for meth. Not exactly the future I’d want for myself. Further, after a life of not having our own kids, we’ll be pretty financially set whereas the parents of all these nieces and nephews won’t be as much. I know those kids will likely be keen to stay close with us knowing we are where the bulk of their likely inheritance will come from.

I love my freedom. I love my relationships with all my nieces and nephews. I wouldn’t change a thing.

[–] Penthesilea 17 points (+17|-0)

Thank you for posting this. I'm pretty set on being childfree, but not because I hate kids. I actually really like the idea of being an aunt to my 3 siblings' kids. I just don't want to have to be a parent 24/7. I like my freedom, I like having money, and I like the quiet.

[–] MadSea 12 points (+12|-0)

It’s truly the best of both worlds. You get an amazingly strong bond, but also don’t get hated like the parents do. And you get to put your resources where they’ll help the most because you’re not always tapped out. I absolutely love being an auntie.

My mid 20’s niece is having some health issues and other struggles as of late. Her husband is deployed. I finally told her to throw her crap in storage and head up to me, which she’s in the process of doing. I’m going to help get her sorted out so she can feel well again, and I’m also hoping to wipe the libfem from her memory and replace it with radfem. :) It’ll be a process but I feel like now is the time. I wish I had someone to drag me through similar things at a similar age.

You know what’s right for you, just as I did. I’ve known since I was a teen I didn’t want kids. I’ve always been an auntie to all my friends’ kids and it’s been a blast. But having my own space, time, and energy has been such a blessing too.

It takes a village to properly raise kids in today’s world. I’d rather be part of the village than be one of the parents. Sometimes we have to trust what we know about ourselves and disregard what others think.

I’ve worked with a lot of women who have admitted to me they regretted having their kids. I even had some clients tell me they wish they could give ME their newborns (I worked with them in social work capacity). I had to try to encourage them while seeing how much they struggled. I watched many discharge from our program and go back to drug usage and lose custody of those little babies we did our best to teach them to care for.

Some of us just aren’t meant to be parents, we’re meant to be helpers, or we’re meant to be left to fight our own personal battles without the extra burdens that some of us truly cannot handle. I’ve even seen moms that are miserable try to talk others into having kids, which often felt off. There is no shame in doing what you feel is right for you, and sometimes you just know.

It takes a village to properly raise kids in today’s world. I’d rather be part of the village than be one of the parents.

Love that sentiment. I think it does children well too to be raised by a village and not be totally dependent on a nuclear family only.

[–] Ilikecoldwater 7 points (+7|-0)

Thank you for being one of those people <3. I am an only child whose parents got many years of parenting experience before I came along, through similar circumstances. They are still the people who several of my cousins reach out to first/come to visit/travel with us, it's so important.

This is such a beautiful read. I appreciate all that you done as a mentor and essentially a parent at this point.

I have someone in my life who is very similar to your role in this type of caregiving in that respect, and she is one of the strongest people I've ever known.

Wishing you the best freedom, best relationships, and best life, sister.

[–] MadSea 10 points (+10|-0)

Thank you for saying that! We are often ignored as though being an older, childless woman with cats is the worst thing ever. People don’t realize how much we turn and invest in others because we have plenty to spare.

All the best to you as well! ❤️

[–] Circles 3 points (+3|-0)

Wow. Thank you for sharing. You are really a life saver for do many! Everything you're doing requires a lot of patience, strength and so much heart.

[–] Eriomra 26 points (+26|-0)

I’ve read the book last year, and I found it to be a great and detailed read. It was fascinating to see how different these women were, with various context, and yet, they all felt the same: the privileged and rich woman who had all the support in the world, from the one who was pressured with several children. It’s not just a problem of not having the means or time: it’s also a huge shift of identity, of health, of social expectation, of responsibilities.

It also struck me as well how the older ones explained that it does not get better. Once a mother, always a mother, even with adult children.

If anything, it reinforced my childfree stance (though I might be still a bit on the fence). I really recommend the book to those who have not read it.

[–] HesitantHyena [OP] 25 points (+25|-0)

It also struck me as well how the older ones explained that it does not get better. Once a mother, always a mother, even with adult children.

Yes! This really struck me as well. I also felt pretty sad for the older women eventually getting grandchildren and having to live through taking care of smaller children once again. I hadn't even thought of that before.

[–] Eriomra 18 points (+18|-0)

Same! I bought into the common wisdom which says “well once they’re out of the toddler phase all is for the best!”. I was even thinking “well maybe I should just adopt a child older than 5 then”. But yeah, did not think at all than the challenges are still there, they just are different, that you’ll always feel worried or responsible for the child, and that then there might be grandchildren later on...

It’s such a shame than all of that is not talked about. It came to a point that I don’t even know if I should trust people when they say they love being a parent. I mean, surely a lot of them are happy, I don’t doubt it, but how many are lying (maybe even to themselves)? How many don’t dare saying they regret it? What’s the real proportion? This silence makes it even more complicated to make a decision. (Which, I guess, is the point of it.)

[–] Wegotthebeat 0 points (+0|-0)

Haven’t read the book but the grandmas I know are all about the grandkids. All the love and none of the responsibility. Plus at that age, really, your contemporaries are dying. Kids give some people a bit of light and cheer, something to look forward to, instead of bearing so much grim loss.

[–] [Deleted] 9 points (+9|-0) Edited

it does not get better

Simply the endless, inescapable nature of parenthood is all it takes to repel me. I can never take back my choice? I can never have a day off? Hard pass.

[–] LadySparklz 23 points (+23|-0)

I've struggled against the identity shift of motherhood because the stereotype of motherhood is so narrow, I feel like I don't belong. I've also gone through a "not like other mom's phase". I'm told I don't belong, for all the times I've heard people say, "you don't seem like a Mom" people don't hear themselves actually saying, "I have a very rigid view of what mother's should look like and you aren't one of them".

I've landed at a place where I'm proud to represent an unconventional Mom. I feel that Western society allows me to half keep my original identity as the woman I always was but only because I have one child. I feel if I were to have more than one child, my identity would have to fully shift into high gear motherhood and I don't want that.

[–] LunarMoose 19 points (+24|-5) Edited

The things is, we all live with regrets.

I'm not saying you will regret not having children. (At all!)

But, I've known women who did regret having children (and a few who regretted not having children).

I guess the way I see it, regret is also part of life - so it isn't even all that special.

So, for people to pull that out as an argument - they are pulling out their own experience (and reluctance to engage with) - their own regrets. (So, in the end, it has less to do with you - and more to do with their own life, iykwim)

[–] Tnetennba 1 points (+7|-6)

I'm confused, are you telling women to roll the dice and have children anyway?

[–] LunarMoose 19 points (+20|-1) Edited

I'm not telling anyone anything. Just that when someone cautions about regrets - they are talking about their own experience of regret in life (whatever that regret might be. job, husband, whatever. perhaps children, but not necessarily).

We all have regrets. It's not the BIG deal that is suggested when women are counseled about not having children (the but you'll regret council). When someone says that - it's because they have not learned to roll with the experience of regret in their own life. They are looking at their own life and have not learned how to live with, overcome, accept - the experience of regrets. So, that council has very little to do with the person they are giving caution to.

Does that make sense? (I - apparently - need more coffee, lol - to be cogent! :)

[–] KBash 11 points (+11|-0)

Yes, it does make sense. Most of the negativity people fling at you is projection, so this rule applies pretty much everywhere. (It’s why “don’t take anything personally” is one of the Four Agreements).

I feel like if you regret not having children, fostering to adopt and mentoring children in the community are things you could do at any age, whereas you can’t really “unhave” children without being a bit of a shitty person (I mean, you can give up your baby for adoption certainly and that’s not shitty, but if you raise your children to some degree and then deliberately abandon them because you got tired of it- of course worse when they’re minor children, but also shitty to abandon adult children- yeah, it does make you kind of a shitty person).

If you’re really not sure, hedging your bets in favor of not having kids makes sense. You don’t want to either ruin your child’s life nor your own, so proceeding with caution here is the most pragmatic if you’re at all agnostic, IMO.

[–] mountainwitch 18 points (+18|-0) Edited

I really wanted my child. But the birth trauma and PTSD from that and the NICU stay, plus my absolutely psychotic mother in law ruined motherhood for me for a long time. I will never forget the days they kept me away from my child in the hospital. I have never felt anything so unbelievably powerful--like my very soul had been ripped from my body. Post partum hormones are something I had read about but holy shit y'all. Nobody can prepare you for the primal rage and grief that comes with the feeling your child might die. I can't describe it, nor do I wish it on any woman. If you're ambivalent about children, don't want them, or struggle with depression like I have... consider yourself first. Nobody should ever choose to be a mother without being fully aware of the dark underbelly of motherhood. It's difficult, you don't get breaks, and the emotional lows are something I had never been aware of because motherhood is painted with a sparkly pink brush. Women aren't informed of the negatives, because how dare any woman be human and have a hard time with the reality of parenthood? (Not saying there aren't good things, but the bad shit is soooo unbearable and nobody will warn you!)

Now I'm dealing with COVID isolation in a foreign country and while a whole lot has gotten better, I still struggle. It was so bad that I would sob uncontrollably while I sung my child to sleep for the first six months, which resulted in my son crying any time I sung until about six months ago.

I can't say I regret my child, but I was stupid as hell to have a child in a foreign country just because it was "easier" than traveling home and giving birth alone. I think I subconsciously placed a lot of blame on my child and it made things more difficult for me. I know my situation is pretty unique, but birth trauma is not, nor is post partum depression. Shit is so hard for mothers, and we can't even talk about it.

[–] pennygadget 7 points (+7|-0)

I had a baby recently and was fully unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster.

The other big frustration is how other women dismiss my complaints by pointing out how other women have it worse. And how my fiance gets treated like a literal God for doing basic shit like putting a bottle in the kid's mouth while I get treated like a failure for doing the SAME THING (ie "why didn't you try harder to make breastfeeding work?"). Fathers get treated like heroes for doing the bare minimum while mothers are scrutinized for every decision. Its maddening!

Motherhood has really woken me up to how deep patriarchy goes...

[–] LunarMoose 1 points (+1|-0)

everyone gives new mothers advice. it really is a thing. it doesn't last forever - but about childbirth/raising kids. EVERYONE has an opinion. (sigh)

[–] pennygadget 2 points (+2|-0)

I don't mind advice. I just hate being told that I have no right to complain about being exhausted, frustrated, etc just because the kid's father deigns to feed and diaper his own child.

That sounds really tough. I wish society had more room for mothers to not only share the good, but also the bad (and to support each other through that). It must weigh on a person to walk around with negative emotions that are just too taboo to discuss anywhere.

[–] mountainwitch 4 points (+4|-0)

I was in a reddit bumper group and they saved my sanity. When we bought plane tickets and the Indian visa system fucked us over by not sending the exit visa by the time of my flight, the women in that group raised money to get us out of there. Unfortunately I did have to come back because being a traumatized single parent with no stable living situation wasn't working, but we were safe and I had time to heal thanks to those women. I owe them a great deal

[–] spinstah 6 points (+6|-0)

Holy shit, living in a foreign country is hard enough, I couldn't imagine giving birth in one. I hope things are getting better for you.

[–] mountainwitch 3 points (+3|-0)

Things are... stagnant in a lot of ways (no real freedom) but given the pandemic I am doing better than most since I'm used to staying home 24/7 😂. My mental health is great rn though ☺️

[–] Ilikecoldwater 5 points (+5|-0)

Saving your comment to share with my friend- she had a VERY similar experience and is struggling immensely with feeling like everyone she talks to says "it's sooo easy and always wonderful" and that she is not allowed to express anything other than how wonderful it is or she gets branded crazy/a bad mother. (I actually seriously thought this comment could be from her, but her MIL passed away a few years ago so it's not...)

[–] mountainwitch 3 points (+3|-0)

There is a traumatic birth support group on Facebook and it was really helpful to have as a sounding board, and to feel less alone. I was also in a wonderful reddit bumper group and they were all angels, especially surrounding the trauma. Idk if it will help your friend but finding a community is worth a mention. It does get better. Bits and pieces at a time, healing comes. I hope she can find support and can come to terms with what happened enough to be okay again. Thank you for thinking of her and doing what you feel would help her.

[–] Clotho 4 points (+4|-0)

I am so so sorry you had to go through that. My daughter was premature and in NICU for 3 weeks. I was even allowed to visit her frequently but they don't let you live there and it was SO HARD. I know the fear of thinking they will die. We also got pushback when she was finally well enough to take her home.

One of the hardest things I've ever gone through.

[–] mountainwitch 3 points (+3|-0)

I'm so sorry to hear you've experienced that as well. I'm happy to know your daughter made it 💕. That fear never truly leaves you. I feel like something was stolen from me.

No books come to mind, but I am deeply interested in the subject as well. I've been dealing with high amounts of tokophobia all my life, and the pressure we face as women to have children is always pushing the tokophobia button in my brain.

It's not like I even dislike children and child-rearing, but I'd rather just avoid everything about becoming a mother. I've seen how unhappy it makes woman around me, and I would absolutely hate tying myself so intimately with a man. Makes me shudder thinking about it.

I've always thought about giving mentorships and certain community programs like that a chance instead, while avoiding having anything to do with birthing or physical aspects of motherhood. I'd still want to try being there for young woman, if I could at all.

Anyways, thoughts aside, there's this place if you haven't already explored: https://www.facebook.com/IRegretHavingChildren/

They seem to be pulling their stuff from elsewhere (like reddit), but I've never been able to figure out where. It's a really good place for the destigmatization of this topic, and I hope you find more things on this topic of parental/childrearing regret as well.

[–] Penthesilea 10 points (+10|-0)

It's not like I even dislike children and child-rearing, but I'd rather just avoid everything about becoming a mother. I've seen how unhappy it makes woman around me, and I would absolutely hate tying myself so intimately with a man. Makes me shudder thinking about it.

I'm tokophobic too and I relate. I was raised Mormon so I was surrounded by very young mothers who would become pregnant with their next child before the first was even a year old, and I babysat for them too. My worst experience was when I was about 14. A young mom had me come over to her house to help her with some cleaning and childcare while she tried to work from home. She had three boys under age 5, the youngest being barely 2. The house was an absolute sty. In the kitchen, there was a can of soup that had spilled some days earlier and had congealed on the floorboards, and when I got there, the mom made a threat that if I were to find a dead mouse in one of the drawers, I was NOT to take a picture and send it to all my friends, because that had happened to her with her last sitter and it had made her very angry that her "trust had been betrayed." There was a lot to clean (I can still remember the smell of the house even now, 7 years later) and the boys were hard to keep track of, but the entire time she just wanted to talk to me like I was a peer. She kept pulling me away from what I was doing to show me clips of musicals on YouTube and talk about her husband. She seemed really immature for her age and also really miserable. I just remember thinking that I would rather be dead than end up as a stay-at-home mom with three young children to take care of and only the teenage babysitter to talk to. Oh, and afterward, she tried not to pay me. She wanted me to agree to her husband giving me some swim coaching in exchange for my work. No thanks. I don't want to be around your creepy husband. When I wouldn't accept that, she just refused to pay me at all, saying that I had spent all my time watching YouTube videos with her and not really working... as if she hadn't been the one who kept distracting me from my job.

That entire situation is just one big NO, I am so sorry you had to deal with that.

I am so, so, SO happy to know of another sister dealing with tokophobia! It is literally the worst because I want to appreciate life and everything that pregnancy entitles, but I can't get past the feeling of losing control and everything else to someone. Getting bound to a man just lets everything be even more inherently skewed, and I'd rather focus on female friendships and community at that point.

I hope things are better on your end now, and as a fellow tokophobia sufferer, I am here if you ever need to talk to someone about this sort of stuff.

[–] Flower_tsuji 0 points (+0|-0)

This sounds awful Im so sorry, I feel sorry for the young mother as well, i've heard .. negative stories about how mormon's views on woman. My main experience with the creepy-o "Skippy the 40 year old virgion and is creepy exploits of trapping Mormon woman in dates on youtube, and of reading about Mormon cults 😅"

[–] KBash 8 points (+8|-0)

I agree that I hate the idea of being tethered to a man. My most recent relationship proves how quickly you can fall in and out of love.

I’d definitely think about, before deciding to have kids with a man:

1) Would he be a good divorced co-parent?

2) Would he treat me well if we divorced, and our kids, too (vis a vis child support, alimony and custody arrangements)?

3) Will he be a good father and co-parent? (Actually be an equal parent to his kids and not a glorified babysitter).

4)Can I afford to raise a child on my own?

If the answer would be “yes” to all four questions, then I would consider it.

Exactly! I'm not man-hating, I just recognize a lot of behaviors that won't necessarily apply well to child-rearing being reflected in men most of the time.

I've taken massive steps back from the romantic relationship department, and golly, it feels nice for once. Less stress, for sure.

[–] KBash 4 points (+4|-0) Edited

Yeah, I have to admit to thinking my recent former partner is not the greatest parent.

He needs to have more involvement in his kids’ lives. He takes them every other weekend.

He does play co-op games with them pretty much every day, but IMO that’s not enough.

The first thing his ex-wife ever said to me is that he was not there for her when they had their first child, who was a very difficult toddler (she seems to be on the autistic spectrum).

He has unsarcastically referred to other men with their children as “babysitting.”

Just not someone I’d ever want a child with, and I can’t help but think he’s not necessarily the greatest dad to the kids he has.

He needs to take a way more active role in their education (they are home-schooled and their mom teaches them three hours a day, with very little homework). She is also a prepper libertarian Trump supporter, so he needs to do way more to counteract those messages, in my opinion.

All in all how he is as a father is unattractive to me. Playing videogames with and spoiling your children is not the way to be a parent.

He also snaps at them when they annoy him even slightly- also unattractive.

It’s hard for me to say these things about him even now, but they’re true.

Interesting link, thanks!

Of course!

I will warn you though, read the comments at your own risk. And I also stick to the mother-based posts, just because I feel like a father's experience isn't something I value as much, personally. I usually come out feeling absolutely horrible for the women in these situations 😔

[–] Foxglove 15 points (+15|-0)

Same here, I don't want children or anything that goes along with having them. Luckily my wife feels the same and this was something we agreed on very early in our relationship. Also, fortunately for us, neither of us can get pregnant accidentally and we've never been pressured by anyone to have children. I think that is one of the ways in which we have it easier than heterosexual women. I know women who really struggle with motherhood, and some who don't like their children and I'm always very happy that it's not something I'll ever have to deal with. I read the book "The push" by Ashley Audrain, it's fiction and quite chilling, in case you are interested in fiction too.

[–] Elizabelch 9 points (+10|-1)

I haven't read the book but I may add this one to my reading list.

I'm childfree, past the age or ability to have any and relieved about that. Reproductive rights are very important to me because the idea of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood terrified me from the time I was a kid. I never got past that.

I couldn't envision a pregnancy outcome for myself that wasn't either abortion or suicide. I could no more imagine myself pregnant or a mother than I could imagine myself as a man, or as a zebra, or as a satellite dish, or having a litter of puppies. I'd have felt like I was trapped in a sequel to "Alien" but the alien looks like a human.

Not every woman feels that strongly about it. I get it. I've heard my share of comments over the years about how "extreme" or "disordered" my attitudes are. Here I am years later, no kids, no regrets.

A book that was popular in childfree/childless circles years ago was The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless by Elinor Burkett. Not much has changed since then. If anything, the problems she wrote about have only gotten worse, and it all ends up pitting the childed vs. the childfree/childless.

What especially irks me is when people with kids fight for parental benefits, instead of fighting for benefits that could help childless people too. Instead of baby bonding leave, parental leave, childcare leave, how about family leave of any kind? Instead of subsidies for child care, how about subsidies for any family or partner care? Even if we don't all have kids, most of us have aging parents or grandparents we worry about, and eventually parents will become those aging elders to their young ones. I think most childless people would stand alongside parents to fight for these broader benefits that aren't restricted to parental issues.

But, maybe all that is a topic for a different thread.

That would be a really interesting thread! I hadn't looked at it like that fully before, but I must admit it has irked me in the past as well. It also annoys me that Christian parties in my country always use it as a method to gain a lot of parent voters and to play into that divide: 'other parties give social benefits to whatever, but we know what really counts: children, and we will spend it on you' (which they barely ever really do).

[–] pennygadget 3 points (+3|-0)

Instead of baby bonding leave, parental leave, childcare leave, how about family leave of any kind? Instead of subsidies for child care, how about subsidies for any family or partner care?

As someone who has an infant AND an aging, disabled father that I help out, I would absolutely support this!

IIRC, many jobs do provide family leave options for a partner or relative (my sister took some leave from work to help my father). But the hoops you need to jump through for that are ridiculous and much more complicated than I had to do to get maternity leave/benefits

[–] zuubat 2 points (+2|-0)

The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless by Elinor Burkett.

Thank you for reminding me of one of my favorite writers. Hard to find anything she has published in the past six years; did she get blacklisted for this?

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/opinion/sunday/what-makes-a-woman.html

(Sorry, I don't know how to find this one in the archive; tried but failed._

[–] BJ581 1 points (+1|-0)

What especially irks me is when people with kids fight for parental benefits, instead of fighting for benefits that could help childless people too. Instead of baby bonding leave, parental leave, childcare leave, how about family leave of any kind? Instead of subsidies for child care, how about subsidies for any family or partner care?

👏 👏 👏 Thank you for this. I couldn’t agree more. When r/GC was still a thing I wrote a super long post explaining an idea I had that would allow for sabbaticals for everyone, instead of maternity leave. The responses I got actually really pushed me away from being a radical feminist, and I don’t consider myself a radfem even now.

It’s my personal belief that women are only free when motherhood is an enthusiastic choice 100% of the time, but I don’t believe that choice should be of more importance than the choices of others either. Everyone’s choices or personal situations deserve support and space. Why can’t we support mothers and women who want to spend the last few months with an ill family member, or even spend a few months volunteering for a cause they care about, or learning a skill they care about? All of those pursuits are a net positive for society and the individual.

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