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My boyfriend doesn't want children, my mother is heartbroken.

Tagged as: Big Questions, Dating, Family, Pregnancy, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (8 November 2018) 10 Answers - (Newest, 11 November 2018)
A female United Kingdom age 30-35, anonymous writes:

I met my boyfriend 1 year ago. He is 40 and I am 30. He told me about 3 months into the relationship that he does not want to have any children. I am confused because I am not sure if I want to have any. I know that my current circumstances will not suit a child at all and to be honest, when I see how much work goes into looking after them. It is very off putting.

I have done some inner searching to see which voice is louder. My boyfriends voice saying he doesn't ever want any or my own which never really knew, just went with the flow of life.

My mother these days though has being putting some pressure on me. Asking when I will marry and have children. When I got sick of her pestering, I told her I am not sure if I want any. She was stunned by this and I can tell that she is heart broken. She says I will regret it and to not let anyone put pressure on me. Now I am very very down and upset because I know my mother is heart broken and I am so confused about everything because I have a fear I will regret something. I love my boyfriend and my mother loves him too, she thinks he is perfect for me but she was surprised he did not want children. My mother is good at reading people and I am afraid now she will say even though he is a good person he is not for you. In my previous relationship she was right. The guy wasn't right for me at all. He treated me badly though. I don't know what to do. I am so confused. I don't know if my mam is right or I am right. I am afraid he isn't for me but also he is for me because he makes me so happy and I have never felt so lucky. I have no clue if I want children. I have no desire right now to have them so I believe it would be wrong to put pressure on myself. Please any advice would be a great help.

View related questions: heartbroken, no desire, want children

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (11 November 2018):

My daughter is 30, with a long term partner (six years) of the same age. They are aware they are entering into the decade when most people have children, but neither of them know if they want them or not, or exactly when. They do know, however, that they will probably decide together over the next 3 - 4 years whether to go for it or not.

Because they are the same age, and in a truly equal relationship where they really respect each other and work things out together, my daughter doesn't have any of the pressure or confusion that you have.

The important thing here is that this man that you think is so lovely has caused this confusion and doubt. What is worrying is that he has done this as a MUCH older man.

A man at 40 is far and away in a completely different mindset to a woman of 30. He is aware he is entering into middle age, and will be thinking along the lines of what he wants to put in place for the rest of his life, to maximise the chances of his life being good for him

At 30, you have every right NOT to know if you want kids or not AND to make sure that no one manipulates you.

It's only become an issue at all because of him. YOU have some time left on your side, he doesn't (or is in a mindset where he is being so inflexilbe that he thinks he doesn't). If you throw away the next few years just 'going with the flow' with him, then you lose the chance to develop a truly equal and loving relationship with someone else who may be feeling the same as you re. kids.

If someone loves you, really loves you, then they would not cause you this confusion. It's what manipulators do to get what they want - cause a lot of self doubt in a person, confuse them and then weaken them inwardly, and also split their allegiance with other people who usually support them (in this case, your Mum) to emotionally isolate them. People who seem loving and charming can be just as manipulative - if not more so - than those who are more obviously cruel, in order to get their own way.

My daughter and her boyfriend have a rescue dog. They've had him for 3 years now. Everyone knows this is like their 'trial' baby - they look after him extremely well and its shown me that they will make good parents IF they choose to. The practicalities don't seem anywhere near as overwhelming to them as they would to me (even though I've had kids I haven't had a dog) because they work them out together. The man you are with is making you feel negatively about kids because he is confusing you and making you feel like you'd have to look after them pretty much alone. That's not what love is. I know it sounds strange to say, but if he really did love you, he'd see he was 10 years older and being selfish and HE would be the one to break off this relationship, as kind as he could, to give you time and space to see what you want re. kids.

Your Mum is just doing what any Mum would do in this situation - she's worried he is manipulating you. I think his nasty manipulative side has 'flown under the radar' for both your Mum and you but now it is emerging. If he is capable of imposing this on you, he will be capable of other manipulative things.

What you are learning is that it takes time to get to know someone. Going from a bad relationship before, you've probably been a bit blinded by this man's good traits and not been on the alert for the bad. There will be someone out there, closer to your own age, who will give you all that you need, including space to come to your own decision. If you let this man take that away from you, it's not only the chance of kids that you will lose, but your inner self esteem too.

Honestly, I know so many, many women who have 'gone with the flow' with men like this or similar and then ended up in their 40s, devastated not to have children and alone after realising the man involved was nothing like they initially thought. They can't turn the clock back, but you are effectively on the verge of giving yours away entirely, letting someone else control your body and fertility, due to fear of not finding someone who is the whole package. Your self esteem is what's being played into and lack of it is eating away at you. He is working away at that, slowly and steadily, to a point where he hopes you'll just give in.

He's not what he seems. Get rid.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (9 November 2018):

I think your boyfriend is being really selfish. And I don't think he is all that you make him out to be. He's 10 years older and wants a women 10 years younger - to many people that's normal, but for some it's a red flat, including me. He seems like the kind of man that needs to be pretty much worshipped by a much younger woman, in order that he can get a regular ego boost and ensure that everything in the relationship revolves around that continual ego boost of having a much younger girlfriend. Whilst you give him that, then he will 'reward' you by treating you like the best thing on earth - because the point is he can only do that because he has nothing else and no-one else to think about and as far as he is concerned it's a straightforward deal - he treats you like a precious thing, that guarantees your adoration of him. Simple.

Except it's not as simple as it seems. For someone to very forcefully impose THEIR decisions on you is cruel. He KNOWS you are not even ready to be making that kind of decision and he is 'getting in there early', imposing this on you now, because the thought of a child threatens the deal he has created for himself - he treats you well, he gets his ego boost, nothing gets in the way. A man like this is fundamentally selfish underneath. He may seem kind, loving, giving and so on, but only so long as nothing rocks the boat. He is playing upon the fact that you were treated really badly in a previous relationship - so he senses you will be terrified of losing him and also that you are vulnerable to being psychologically manipulated (and this is what he is doing by trying to forcefully but subtly align your mindset with his) because of that fear that he will up sticks and go.

He has now planted the fear of abandonment, by him, in your mind. If you say "I'm not sure" or "I want to leave my options open" then the situation HE has created makes this like a ticking time bomb.

I don't agree with the other reader who says just enjoy it for a while and see what happens. To get close enough to really trust someone to have a child with them, I think you need a good few years of a relationship under your belt - 3 o 4 years - and creating a stable, loving life together. At that stage that's when the issue of children may just naturally unfold - because it would never have been blocked from the outset and would just be open ended. So, by four years in, you'd then be making a decision WITH someone you love, and everything would be in place IF you both decide you want a child. This horrible man that you think is lovely is quite brutally closing down your options and you are letting him. THAT is what your Mum is upset about. I am a Mum and my daughter is exactly you age. I would be extremely concerned if a man much older than her was trying to close down her options and tying to make it seem reasonable by being upfront about it; it's not reasonable to do this to someone. Even if you later DO decide that you don't want children then it shouldn't be because someone has psychologically manipulated you into that mindset, through fear of losing him.

As to the work that goes into kids - yes, 100% it is the hardest job ever, and it is also like throwing money into a bottomless pit. It means being selfless not selfish. But millions and millions of people do it, because they have something that you partner doesn't have - the capacity for selfless love and the gratitude of receiving a child's love in return - there is no other experience like it. Choosing whether or not to have a child is not like choosing whether to get a new sofa, or a dog, or a car. You can't really weigh up the pros and cons in the way that you currently are. It's a whole different experience. With a strong partner who was saying to you "yes the childcare will be tough and yes the financial aspect will be tough, but we have love to give and if we sort out those two issues then we can create a loving family" I think you would feel happy that at least that was a possibility. I think you are actually more inclined to want to at least have that option. I do NOT think you've ever experienced being with a really strong, selfless man, so you don't know what that feels like or what you're missing.

I say dump this seemingly perfect guy. He's selfish to do this to you. I'm actually annoyed at you Mum for letting you believe a much older man could be good for you, knowing that you've come out of an awful previous relationship - you're still making decisions based on how you were treated in the past and so this guy seems like the bees knees when he's actually a selfish, ten a penny bloke.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (8 November 2018):

If you're unsure at the moment whether or not you want children and you love being with this man, then why not enjoy being with him until you DO know.

Yes, you have a biological clock to think about, but you might be with this guy for another year and find he's not all that.

Or you may decide that you really don't want kids and this man of yours fits the bill nicely. Who knows how things will pan out in life. You could leave your boyfriend and never find anyone else that you want to procreate with anyway.

The way I have always played life is go with the flow. Do whatever's working at the moment and enjoy it.

If one day in the next few years you find you have a yearning for children, then you will have to think again, but if you're unsure at the moment and happy at the moment, then why rock the boat?

I never felt I wanted children and it was never an issue in my relationships. My mother would have loved to have had grandchildren, but she said 'If you don't want them, then I don't want them'. She was wonderful and very un controlling which is how parents should be. I still wish I could have given her what she would have loved, but I couldn't. Don't feel that you have to live our life according to ANYONE else.

My advice is to enjoy what you have at the moment and if one day you feel it's not enough, worry about it then. You can't force an issue like this one, because of a time constraint. You can't have children until you're sure you want them anyway, so enjoy life and see what time offers up to you.

Good luck.

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A female reader, Andie's Thoughts United Kingdom + , writes (8 November 2018):

Andie's Thoughts agony auntSit by yourself. What do YOU want? Not your mum, not your boyfriend. Right now, you don’t want one. Maybe you’ll change your mind in a few years, but maybe you won’t - wait and see. For now, you don’t want any and that’s okay. That said, I don’t think it’s wise to marry your boyfriend until you know for sure you don’t EVER want children.

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A female reader, CindyCares Italy + , writes (8 November 2018):

CindyCares agony auntI don't think you would make a baby just to please your mom and make her happy, right ? ( At least I hope you wouldn't ). That would be going well above and beyond the call of duty in the department of being a good, caring daughter. Having , or not having, a child will influence and impact your life 10, or 100 , times more than your mother's life, so while it's a pity that you cannot please her in everything… your mom's opinion is something you should not take into account at all in reference to this particular issue. Mothers can't always get what they want ( they try hard, some times :) - and they know it well , even when they pretend they don't. If you decide that you won't have a child, so your mother won't have a grandkid- she'll get over it, I promise you. She may be disappointed for a while, but she won't be " heartbroken " forever. Not if she is a " regular " mother ( see, I am not even saying a good one , just regular ); she will want you to be happy, or as close to happy as humanly possible- even if YOUR definition of happiness is different from hers and does not include having and raising kids.

The problem is another, IMO- you should try and decide what you really want. You don't want a child now- but can you conceive ( pun not intended ) that you might possibly change your mind in the next future ? Unluckily, now it's already time to decide : if it's no kids for now, or no kids forever. If you have doubts, and you think that you might want kids at some point, and are afraid you' d be

" missing out " not having them- alas your partner is not the right one for you. You'd end up resenting him, irrationally if you want, for having deprived you of a big thing.

Note that I have friends who are childless by choice, and they live happy , fulfilled lives. As for that, I also have friends who desperately wanted children and could not have them, and, guess what, they TOO live happy, fulfilled lives, they focused their energy on , and get gratification from, other stuff . So, it's not as if there's no life without maternity- a mother is one of the things that , hopefully, you can be in your life, not THE thing which defines and validates all your existence

- Yet, this is a very personal, intimate, sensitive decision, and one you have to take on your own, looking deep into yourself, and being true to yourself.This is a decision YOU have to be fine with. Not your mother. Not this guy, or the next.So start listening to those inner voices and try to sort them out. You are young, sure, but it is certainly not too early to choose which way you will shape your future.

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A female reader, YouWish United States + , writes (8 November 2018):

YouWish agony auntThe real issue is whether YOU want children in your life. Forget about your mom for a moment, and think about what you want your future to be. If you have even the slightest desire for children, then you should leave your boyfriend, who is NOT going to change his mind about the subject. Too many women suppress their desire for kids in hopes that a guy they're with will change his mind once he marries her or gets older. No way. He is 40, which means he's had plenty of time to think about this. If you stay with him, you will NEVER have children.

Can YOU live with this? Wanting or not wanting children isn't the measure of a man, so your mom would be wrong if you decided you never wanted children either and so stayed with him. You don't owe grandchildren to your mother. However, if you do want kids in the future, then this is an absolute and complete dealbreaker, and you should end things sooner rather than later. Never suppress your wishes for a guy who says he wants no children in hopes that he'll change his mind.

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A female reader, MissKin United Kingdom + , writes (8 November 2018):

MissKin agony auntForget about what your mother wants. She doesn't have to raise any children you have, YOU do. Yes she will feel sad but you are not here to have children for her benefit.

I would try to think about this outside of your relationship. If you weren't with someone who didn't want children how would you feel about children? have u ever wanted them? Are u feeling like you don't want them because you dont want to ruin this relationship? You need to figure it out somewhat soon because it could be a lot of wasted time and heart ache for both of you if things change further down the line and you want different things.

Do you have any friends with children? Young ones especially. If you can spend time around other people's children you will have a better idea of if you yearn to have them. Try to think about your old age life with and without children and grandchildren.

It's 100% okay not to have children and not to want them. People act like its a definite certainty you'll regret it but I know quite a few middle aged people who spoil nieces, nephews and friend's children and that is enough child interaction for them and they love their life. Children are not for everyone.

No one can really tell you if you want them or not, but I think you need to try and work it out sooner rather than later instead of just going with the flow this time :) Goodluck!

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A male reader, Code Warrior United States + , writes (8 November 2018):

Code Warrior agony auntWhile it's a shame that your mother is heartbroken, and she certainly has the right to feel that way, at the same time, she has no right to expect you to live your life according to her vision. You have to live your life according to yours. That being said, female fertility has a shelf life, so nature will eventually make the decision for you and your mother is right to warn you of the consequences of the decision to have no children.

Raising children is the most difficult thing a person can do. It can also be the most rewarding and meaningful thing a person can do. Nothing else even comes close. However, raising children is a young person's game because it's exhausting, time consuming, and it curtails your freedom.

Typically, as a person ages, they become less tolerant of childish behavior and restrictions on their time. I can tell you that my wife and I are extremely intolerant of poorly behaved children and we really like our free time. We're much more intolerant now than we were when we were young. Most of that is the result of being so strict with our children's behavior. It's not that our kids didn't act out just like everyone else's kids, they did, we just acted immediately to remove them from the situation so as not to inflict their behavior on others. Consequently, our children learned that we weren't going to tolerate bad behavior, and other people who had our kids for overnight stays always gave us glowing reports about how well behaved and respectful our children were. However, even with all of our experience, we wouldn't even entertain raising children at our age. We paid our dues and we're both high earners and we want to enjoy the fruits of our labors in our older age. Young children would make that exceedingly difficult. Grandchildren would be fine, as we get all the benefits of having young children, and can just give them back to their parents when they're misbehaving. But having to deal with misbahaving children at our age would be far more difficult. Frankly, we would resent having to give up the nice vacations, travel, and freedom that we can finally afford to enjoy. We can do whatever we like without concern for how the kids will like it. It's very liberating.

So, if you wait too long, when you've finally reached a financial position where you can afford the nicer things in life, young children will make it exceedingly difficult to take advantage of those nicer things, and that will breed resentment. Best to raise children when you're young.

It's easier to deal with the loss of freedom before you've had a chance to experience it, than it is to experience it and then have to give it up for the sake of the children. You're already experiencing that freedom. Consequently, you're likely to resent the restrictions that children will place on that freedom. Also, it's easier to deal with those restrictions when all of your friends are in the same situation than it is when your friends are in different situations.

Lastly, I know my children will be there for me in my old age when I'm too feeble to be doing much. At least I have comfort knowing that they're only a phone call away when I'm feeling lonely - especially after my friends have started passing away.

I know I've rambled, and I've written more of a stream of consciousness than advice, but, hopefully, there are some bits that will help you gain more perspective.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (8 November 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntMy advice would be, as you are now 30 and not a child, you need to start deciding what YOU want in life and stop feeling you have to keep your mother happy. As someone who chose not to have children (and who "disappointed" my mother in that way), I know I made the right decision for ME and I also know my mother eventually got over her disappointment and accepted my decision.

Your mother will not be the one looking after and responsible for any children you have. YOU and your partner will. It is not your mother's call to decide whether you should have children. This decision is down to you and your partner alone. Your mother can feel any way she chooses but it is not her place to make life changing decision for you.

Your relationship is still in fairly early stages. You are still young enough to start over again and look for a new partner if you decide further down the line you would actually like to have children. Remember there is no guarantee you will find someone who wants to have children or that you can even have children yourself. Your partner cares for you and makes you happy. He has been honest about his choice not to have children. It doesn't sound like you were too upset by this until your mother waded in with her sense of entitlement to have grandchildren.

Think this through for YOU, not for your mother. Make your decision on what is right for YOU, not for your mother. Your mother has had her child/children. That was HER choice. Whether YOU have any is YOUR choice.

In the meantime, make sure you use effective contraception otherwise you could end up raising a child alone.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (8 November 2018):

I think before you worry you head on this you should be thinking of getting married first. Maybe he doesn't want to get married either.

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