When the pandemic hit, a meme circulated, titled “Check on your friends with little kids”. Following was a list of things parents can’t do during quarantine, including sleeping in, going to the bathroom by themselves, and starting a new book or project. Despite the apparent difficulties, some parents relished the opportunity to stay home and focus on family. For other people, the precarious situation affirmed their decision to not have children. In fact, birth rates in the United States had dropped during the outbreak, although they were already at a record low before it hit. 
According to a Pew Research survey, the majority of adults (56%) who choose not to have kids simply don’t want to. The other 43% had other reasons, such as medical issues, financial reasons, a lack of partners, their age, the state of the world, and the environment. 
However, going childless isn’t a new idea. In fact, it was chosen by many people born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, also known as generation X. Since becoming parents is the current status quo, people who go childless tend to get scrutinized. But the comment theme is that “you’re going to regret not having children when you’re older”. So a Reddit post opened a discussion to seriously ask if this was true or not. The responses were often heartfelt and clearly explained their decision. Here are 15 replies coming from people in different situations with different answers. 
“People over 50 that chose to be childfree, do you regret your decision? Why or why not?”
#1: I’m 55 (F) and never wanted children. I just don’t much like them, and 20+ years of motherhood sounded (and still sounds) like a prison sentence. Maternal af when it comes to cats and dogs, but small humans? No chance.
And I’m very happy to be childless. Cannot imagine my life any other way.
#2: I explain it to people like this – you know that feeling you get where you just can’t wait to teach your kid how to play baseball? or whatever it is you want to share with them? I don’t have that. It’s basically a lack of parental instinct. Having children was never something I aspired to. My SO is the same way.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against children. And I get really angry at people who harm them or mistreat them. I just never wanted my own.
#3: Not one bit. I have never believed that I would be a good parent, I have a short temper, and while I don’t think I would have been physically abusive, my words and tone of voice would be harsh in a very similar way to my own father. I wasn’t happy growing up with that kind parent and I wouldn’t want to subject any child to that kind of parenting.
#4: Over 50 and childfree. My only regret is that my wife would have been a great mother, and sometimes I feel like I deprived her of that, even though we both agreed we didn’t want kids. Sometimes I wonder if I pushed her into that decision. She works with the elderly every day and sees a lot of lonely folks so it gets to her sometimes. I was always afraid I’d screw up the parenting thing, so I was never really interested in the idea. I’m a loner by nature though.
#5: My wife and I chose long ago not to have children, but always left it open for renegotiation. We’re 40 now and feel absolutely no regrets about not having children. Still feels like the right choice for us. Hopefully, we’ll still feel that way long into the future.
Lots of folks ask us questions like, “who will take care of you when you’re old?” or “what if something happens to your spouse?” No judgment, but to us, those have always felt like pretty selfish reasons to have children.
#6: My wife and I married when we were in college. After graduating we started our careers and sometime later we wondered if we weren’t missing out on something, like children, and decided No, this is great, let’s keep going like this. That was 30 years ago and it’s still great and we still keep it going.
#7: Hispanic Guy here, close to sixty years old, no I don’t. The fact that I chose to stay childfree is very unusual in my culture, and I originally did not intend to be childfree. I just avoided it having children because I knew I was not really ready, it just progressed from there. Still, now I know that most men are not entirely ready when it happens, I think I would have been a great dad, still, I have absolutely no regret!
#8: I’m 40 I regret it. I can’t imagine how horrible I’ll feel at 50.
(When asked why, the Reddit user elaborated🙂 Several reasons. I’m the last male in my family so my family name dies with me. My sister has kids so the family goes on but the name doesn’t. I see my sister and my friends who have kids who are all amazing in their own way and I miss that. Even if you go someplace you’ve been a billion times for a kid they’ve never seen an elephant before so you get to experience that for the first time all over again. I also feel like I have some wisdom/life experience (might be hubris on my part) that might help someone but there’s no one to pass it on to. Plus, there are the more practical things to worry about like who will take care of me when I’m old or who will I leave my stuff to when I’m gone.
#9: No. I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to marry my husband. He had two sons from his first marriage and a vasectomy. He was worried because I was so young (comparatively, he’s 10 years older). I did think it over seriously and concluded that a life with him compared to a life without him but (perhaps!) with a baby I didn’t even have yet was what I wanted. It worked out for us, we’ve been together for 26 years. As a bonus, I have 9 grandchildren. All the fun without the work of the raising!
#10: Yeah same, it took me years to really come to terms with this whole “I completely lack a desire to have kids” thing. First, I thought I would magically develop the desire when I got older, and then I thought I was broken in the head, and then I thought I needed to just “talk myself into it“, or have a kid and hope the feeling came. But I’m in my mid-thirties now and still don’t have ANY desire to have a child.
People always ask “why” I don’t want kids. Like, I have 100 reasons why. But the most important reason is literally “because I don’t want them”. As in: “I don’t WANT them”. As in: it is simply not something I actively want. Why would I force myself to do something that I have no natural desire to do? Seems like a good way to mess up my life and some poor kids.
#11: I don’t necessarily regret not having them, but I regret the fact that I wasn’t in a healthy enough relationship where I felt I COULD have children. I regret not being stronger to leave the abuse earlier, if I had been stronger, I think maybe I could have had the choice at least. So yeah… I have regrets.
#12: I wanted children but it didn’t happen for me. I had regret for years but now am at peace. I am 64
#13: I’m in my 60s, happily married for 30+ years, and without children. Most of the time, I’m happy about our decision. Sometimes, my husband and I both wish that circumstances had been different and that we had someone that we could count on to be there when we get old.
However, our reasons for not having children still stand. We both felt the world was moving in a direction that can’t be sustained. Research on global climate change wasn’t part of the picture, but ecologically unsound practices were. We’re both from families where there are plenty of children and grandchildren. So, our genes will be represented, without more taken from the available resources. We both endured teasing about our physical appearances and didn’t want our children to suffer the same. We’d both been exposed to more than average levels of radiation and didn’t want to risk it.
Personally, I was concerned about being a good parent. (My husband, on the other hand, would have been amazing) By the time we were in a position to support having children, I felt I was too old. I’m the child of a 40-year-old mother who had 5 children before me and 1 after — and although I would never have told her this, I really felt that some of us didn’t get the time and energy that her eldest got. I didn’t want to do that to another being. So, instead of having kids, we participated in helping those already here, in a number of ways. In the end, we wish circumstances had been different, but in the main, do not regret our decision.
#14: I work in education so I feel similar. I raise/ have raised enough people’s kids at work. I don’t think I have any energy to even think about adding my own in there. How coworkers can go home and parent after a long day of teaching, I’ll never understand. At the end of the day, I am peopled out and just want to sleep.
#15: I’m almost 50 so I’ll chime in. I never wanted kids, just never had the urge. But I wound up helping raise my niece and nephew after their mom, my sister, died in a car accident when they were 7 and 5 respectively. I didn’t have the full time but split housing them on weekends while their father worked and his b*tchass wife didn’t want them around. I had them every other weekend and about half of each summer for years.
They’re now 21 and 19, so I wound up as more parent-ish than an aunt. They were a handful so I’m glad I didn’t have any of my own, it was exhausting enough being a part-time parent substitute and, of course, I wish their mom hadn’t passed away. Full-time parents, you’re awesome, I couldn’t do it. At least their dad gave me money for all the time I took care of them, sharing my sister’s social security benefits so I could feed and clothe the kids and give them some fun activities and camps.
I love the hell out of them, but still glad I didn’t have babies of my own. They’re good kids, I love them to death, but they’ve also broken my heart a fair few times acting up, making dumb decisions, but all kids do that. I’d beat the a** of anyone who messed with my niece and nephew.
Keep Reading: ‘I gave my son an unusual name and I’m fed up having to explain what it means’
- “One Legacy of the Pandemic May Be Less Judgment of the Child-Free.” The Atlantic. Samhita Mukhopadhyay. August 5, 2020
- “Growing share of childless adults in U.S. don’t expect to ever have children.” Pew Research. Anna Brown. November 19, 2021
- “[Serious] People over 50 that chose to be childfree, do you regret your decision? Why or why not?” Reddit. November 2021