I Don’t Like Kids. I Don’t Want Kids. What’s Wrong with Me?

Dear GoodTherapy.org,

Everyone I know goes bonkers when they see a kid under the age of, say, 6. “Oh, what a sweet-faced little angel!” they’ll say. All I see, meanwhile, is a snot-nosed germ factory and life/financial drain whose parents, in the prime of their lives, surrendered their freedom to raise.

I never say this out loud, of course. But sometimes my dislike of kids inevitably comes out, as when the unwanted questions about my own situation come along: “Any kids?” “Don’t you want to have children?” “When are you having kids?” Nope. I sure don’t. Never! People stare at me like I have three heads when I say I don’t like or want kids.

I’m getting to the age where most of my friends are having kids, and this makes me feel increasingly isolated. I can’t help that I don’t like kids (at least, I don’t think I can?), but I also sometimes find myself wondering if there’s something wrong with me for not liking/wanting children. Your thoughts on this would be welcomed. —No Kidding

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Dear No Kidding,

I really appreciate this question. So many people struggle with this issue. Having children, like any other life decision, is not for everyone. Some people are certain they want to have children, others are certain they don’t want to have children, and still others are unsure. It sounds like you fall squarely in the category of being certain you do not want to have children. There is nothing wrong with you for making this decision.

Society seems to be at something of turning point on this issue. People of previous generations often got married and had children without giving it much thought, but rather because it was just “what you did.” These days, for many people, major life events—including marriage and having children—are not taken for granted, but rather thoughtful decisions based on the kind of lives they’d like to live. Still, there remain plenty of people who see these events as customary, desirable, traditional, or inevitable and therefore have no qualms about asking you when you are going to do them.

It sounds like you fall squarely in the category of being certain you do not want to have children. There is nothing wrong with you for making this decision.

I would imagine if you can do some work to get to a place where you accept this as a valid choice designed to give you the kind of life you are seeking, you may stop questioning what is “wrong” with you. You may feel more comfortable providing people with explanations when they inquire or, even better, you won’t feel a need to justify your choices. If you struggle to get to this place on your own, you might consider partnering with a therapist to help you explore this issue, come to terms with it, and decide how (or if) you want to talk about it with people.

Before closing, I’d like to end on a practical note. You mention feeling isolated as more and more of your friends begin to have children. People generally become friends with one another because of some commonalities or an experience that draws them together. This was probably the case for you and your friends when you met. As your friends move into parenthood, there can still be a place for you in their lives (and vice versa), but it may also be important for you to find some friends who are interested in the freedom a child-free life can provide.

Kind regards,

Sarah Noel, MS, LMHC

Sarah Noel
Sarah Noel, MS, LMHC, is a licensed psychotherapist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in working with people who are struggling through depression, anxiety, trauma, and major life transitions. She approaches her work from a person-centered perspective, always acknowledging the people she works with as experts on themselves. She is honored and humbled on a daily basis to be able to partner with people at such critical points in their unique journeys.
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  • Tucker

    July 14th, 2017 at 10:42 AM

    I don’t think that there is anything wrong with you. Actually I think that you are quite smart to know that this is something that you don’t want in life.

    Do you know how many kids would probably be much happier had they not been brought into the homes where the parents really don’t want them in the first place

  • william

    July 15th, 2017 at 8:20 AM

    I always knew that I would want to have a big bustling house with tons of kids running around all the time and that is now what I have. My wife and I both agreed early on that this was what kind of home we wanted since we both came from bigger families and felt like this was the right move for us too. I don’t however think that you are strange or weird for not wanting kids. It all boils down to the things that you want in life and the things that you do not and a huge part of self awareness is knowing exactly what you want and the life you would like to lead. I do think though that it is important for you when you do commit to a relationship know that the person that you are with wants and feels the same things that you feel. Things can get pretty tricky really quickly if the two of you are not on the same page when it comes to something as important as that.

  • Renee Trimble, MS, LPC, LCDC

    July 16th, 2017 at 8:27 AM

    Dear No Kidding,
    I read this and so appreciated your honesty, insight and bravery of exploring/admitting your feelings. As a therapist, I would like to offer a few things for your consideration. First, there is nothing wrong with you. Please keep in mind that you thoughts, feelings and emotions are value neutral and they are authentic. Secondly, your strong feelings could be rooted in your own childhood. As a specialists in trauma, I often find these “strong emotions” about certain things have a relationship to something in the distant past that we have been through. I use an evidenced based therapy called “heart centered hypnotherapy” that help individuals find the root cause of many of their feelings, behaviors, and emotions. “Making a connection” often give my clients great satisfaction and even greater love of themselves. There is much more we could explore about your question, as my thought is a lot more people feel the same way, but are just afraid to admit it. Renee Trimble, Founder, Free Indeed Therapy, Houston, TX

  • Elle

    July 17th, 2017 at 10:47 AM

    It isn’t quite fair of others to put their own expectations of life onto you.
    It’s your life, live it the way that you want

  • isaac

    July 18th, 2017 at 11:27 AM

    You sound pretty smart to me. Now you just have to work on finding your own tribe of like minded folks, or either work on discovering just how you can fit into the lives of those friends who are starting to add children to the mix.

  • Chris

    July 18th, 2017 at 12:33 PM

    I used to feel the same way. Although you don’t say how old you are, I am guessing mid-20s, so there is time whether you end up feeling differently in the future or not! I was always annoyed by babies and little kids, and the worst was when people wanted you to hold their babies (as if you longed for that!) Although other people’s kids still do not thrill me, and I never offered to babysit for ANYONE, I did have two sons of my own, and I love them more than you can imagine. They are now 20 and 30 years old, and they are the only children I enjoyed being around. I just wanted to tell my story, so you can know that in the future if you consider the possibility, you will probably love your own kids more than you can imagine, but you don’t have to love ALL children! Best of luck to you whether you have kids or not! It’s your personal decision :)

  • Evilyn

    July 21st, 2017 at 5:58 AM

    Hi Chris. It sounds like you mean well, but it kind of invalidates the asker’s feelings on having children to say they might change their mind later on. It also gives the impression you feel you know them better than they do because you might be older. It can come off as very hurtful and condescending to someone in the asker’s position. I know plenty of parents who always wanted their own children despite not enjoying the company of others. I also know many childfree people who love children despite not wanting to raise any themselves. The two are not mutually exclusive. There is also the type of not liking children and not wanting them, which the asker seems to fall into.

    No one tells someone that wants children that they might change their mind about it with age. Their feelings and opinions on the topic are respected and usually not undermined, but childfree people are rarely given the same respect. It’s a double standard that doesn’t make sense and doesn’t need to be perpetuated any further.

    Also, not everyone bonds with their biological children. It’s rarely discussed, but it happens more often than people think. Offspring are people just like the rest of us, and we don’t all have compatible personalities that mesh well to guarantee a solid connection between us. I’m glad you felt differently about your sons than you did about other people’s children. It means they’re loved and well cared for, something many people often take for granted. But to assume the asker may change their tune with age is damaging. As others (and yourself) have said, it’s their decision.

  • Chris

    July 24th, 2017 at 7:37 AM

    I apologize to anyone my comment may have offended. It certainly was not my intention. I would remove the comment, but I don’t know how to do that.

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