11 Things Not to Say to a Woman Who Doesn't Want Kids

When you've got a full-blown raging case of baby fever or practically cry with ecstasy when you tuck your newborn into her crib, it's hard to believe that there are women out there who don't long for the same thing. But just like there are cat people and dog people; city people and country people; rap people and disco (?) people -- there are I-want-a-baby and I-don't-want-a-baby people.

There can be lots of reasons women don't want children. Some do, but feel it wouldn't be responsible given their life situation (lack of funds, lack of family support, lack of partner). Some just plain don't -- even if they've got all of that. But if a woman tells you she doesn't want children, and you want to remain friends with that person, or at least not get a dirty look, or at least not be a wee bit of a jerk, you'll want to avoid saying these 11 things.

1. "But you'd be such a good mother!" Telling someone who doesn't want kids that they'd make a good mother is like telling someone who is scared of heights that her hand and eye coordination would mean she'd make a superb pilot. It doesn't really matter.

2. "Well, some people just don't like kids." People who don't want kids don't necessarily not like them. In fact, I know teachers, daycare workers, and dedicated volunteers with children's groups who love kids ... just not for themselves.

3. "Not everyone is maternal." Lots of people are maternal and still don't want children. You can be maternal with pets, with family, with significant others. A person like this no doubt would be maternal with kids -- doesn't mean she wants them.

4. "Who will take care of you when you're old?" Most likely the same people who will take care of you, home nurses or long-term care providers in a skilled nursing facility (read: old folks' home). Since a child-free person won't have kids, he or she will likely have more money to hire a caretaker too. As for visitors, that's what friends are for.

5. "You'll change your mind." While it's true that a woman might change her mind about not wanting kids, it's not up to you to tell her what her mind will do.

6. "Don't you think that's selfish?" There are over seven billion people in the world and counting. Watch this counter if you want to see how many more we're making every second. There are a limited amount of resources on the planet. Choosing not to have a child is hardly selfish.

7. "What if you regret it?" Well, what if? People regret lots of things. I never lived in Paris! I never wrote a book! I never got married! I DID get married! What someone chooses to regret instead of live peaceably with is really up to her. Besides, better to regret not having a child than to regret having one.

8. "But your kids would be so beautiful!" That's a nice compliment, but it's not like the world needs more beautiful children. And that's not going to entice anyone who doesn't want them. Besides, beautiful people can have un-beautiful kids!

9. "But don't your parents want grandchildren?" Unless grandparents are willing to raise the children, it hardly matters to people who don't want kids whether their parents want to play grandparent sometimes.

10. "I didn't want a kid either, but I had one, and it was fine." That's great it turned out well for you, but that's quite a risk to take. Not everyone might end up feeling the same.

11. "You don't know what you're missing." Chances are if she doesn't know, she doesn't care.

If you ever meet someone who doesn't want kids, I recommend saying something like, "I gotcha!" or "I hear ya!" or "Totally understandable." Keep it short and vague and non-judgemental. Just as you would want if you decided to have a kid when you were young, or older, or have your sixth, or stop at one.

Have you ever heard any of these? What do you say to people who don't want kids?


Image via iStock

fertility, emotional health

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Jay Souza

I've gotten the (wonderful) you'll never be a complete woman unless you have a baby.


Wow. Yeah, because my family, my lovely home, the job I love and my wonderful friends mean absolutely nothing. Unless I have a baby I really don't want to have.


Makes complete sense. In loony land.

LadyM... LadyMinni

I agree Jay. I was told that -at 15, by a cousin. My life was complete before my kids, they're just nice little bonuses.

nonmember avatar kb

In my humble opinion, not everyone is qualified to be a parent, so if someone decides not to have children because they know something about themselves that we don't, that could possible affect their ability to raise a productive member of society that follows a moral code, then that is the opposite of selfish, that is actually selfless. Even a cat can give birth so that is not the such an amazing feat. The amazing part is actually being a good parent. Unfortunately not everyone is qualified that is why we see so many children in this world who have been and are mistreated and abused on a daily basis.

blunt... bluntcakes

I don't want kids. My reasons are because I just don't want them. I'm not a mommy I'm an aunt, I like being able to play with my sisters kids and then I don't see them after we've spent time together and they go home. People tell me all the time that I will change my mind once I've had kids, well what if I don't? It's hard for me to bond with anyone. I'd rather not risk it.

Jay Souza

I hear you, Minni. And I must add that expecting your kid to make you complete is to put a pretty have burden on his or her little shoulders.


You should, like yourself, be happy and complete before having kids. :)

Reese Bauer

I always get the "you'll change your mind when you are older". I'm 37, but I look younger. They get very annoyed when I respond "so, if I was 25 and HAD a kid, you'd think I was old enough to know my own mind and have a child. But at 37 I'm not old enough to know I don't want a child? How does that make logical sense?".
This list is awesome and so very true.

nonmember avatar Floria

I don't want kids because I found out I have Type III (Hypermobility) Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I'm in constant pain because of it and for each kid I have there's a 50/50 chance of passing it on to them. How could I, being in such pain, ever want to knowingly inflict that on another human being? I'm not the motherly type, but it absolutely crushes me that my choice has essentially been taken away. So when people ask if I want kids and I tell them I don't, it crushes me a little on the inside.

Think before you judge a woman for not wanting kids. You don't know their actual reasons and some of us don't like a reminder of painful decisions we've made.

Erika Villatoro

As a mom I can completely understand why someone wouldn't want kids.. And in fact there's great people that have been of great benefit to society that don't have children. Dr Seuss for example, he had no kids and yet he is responsible for some of the most AWESOME children's books ever... Just some food for thought

lovem... lovemy2sons25

I always wanted to be a mom, that was my number one wish.... And now I have 2 beautiful boys and they complete me!! But parenthood isnt for everybody and people who have kids shouldn't try to make people who dont have or want kids feel bad about it.

Jay Souza

On a second though, being single, I guess I get an easier time than married people.


Some people I know told me they hate it. They hadn't even gone to their honeymoon trip and people were already asking about kids.


And I have a case of "shouldn't have" in the family. "Dear" SIL has a lovely little girl. I watched her, as she tried to feed the baby (about 6 m.o.) saying stuff like "I'll hit you if you don't open your mouth". Say what? IMO, people who even consider hitting a baby, no matter why, should never have one.

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