Wanting to want children

By Victoria Fryer 

As someone who has chosen not to have children, it can sometimes be difficult – especially early on – to come to terms with that decision simply based on the dominant narrative in society. The dominant narrative that we’ve been told all our lives. You grow up, you get married, and you have children.

These dominant narratives are changing rapidly, to be sure, but it can be hard to break out of that, when it’s a narrative in which you grew up.

When I got married, I assumed I would eventually want children. ‘I have found the right man,’ I thought to myself. (Who’s heard ‘When you find the right man, you’ll want children’ before?) ‘I’m just not ready yet.’ ‘I’ll get there.’

After the wedding, I figured the glow of happiness and bright futures would translate into a ticking of my biological clock. And when a year or so went by and that didn’t happen, I started to try to make myself want children. To jump start the maternal instinct, if you will.

I was reading “mommy blogs” every day, trying to internalize the happiness and reward they felt from their children. I read message boards filled with posts from women who wanted children badly, who felt the desire in their bodies like a craving.

And when we were shopping for a home, I evaluated each one for the potential of raising a family in it. ‘The bedrooms are too split up in this one,’ or ‘Where would we put a nursery?’

But still, the clock would just not start.

I’d said for years that I didn’t want children, but even I thought, somewhere inside myself, that I might just be ornery—contrary for the sake of disagreement, to set myself apart from other people.

At this time in my life, however, I wanted to want children. All my friends had them or wanted them. I was on the outside, and I saw myself continuing to be so unless I could just get in line and want a child like everyone else. I was tired of being an anomaly. I was tired of being different. I wanted to fit in with my community, and I felt that one of the best ways to do that would be to grow our family.

In the end, I just couldn’t want to. No matter how much I wanted to want to. No matter how hard I tried.

Have other people felt this way? Were you disappointed in any way by your lack of desire for children?

Victoria Fryer is a writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

Childless by choice


  1. kathmeista says

    This article is exactly how I am feeling right now. Over the Christmas holidays, I finally found the courage to admit out loud to both myself and my husband that I have been trying to make myself want kids for the past 6-12 months. In reality, I have absolutely zero broodiness or whatever you wish to call that apparently innate urge to have kids. Zero. And it scares me – am I weird? Deficient? Selfish? Some how doing the biggest reverse psychology trick on myself of all time? And why don’t I want them? I married the most amazing man who would like to have kids and would be a sensational father. I’m 33 and I reserve the right to change my ind, of course, but I really don’t think I will. I adore kids, but I just don’t want my own.

    Thank you for writing and sharing this. It really hit home for me and made me feel that at least I wasn’t the only one trying to jump-start my ovaries!!

    • Hi Kathmeista, thanks for taking the time to comment. You are neither weird, deficient or selfish. You are just you. And there is nothing wrong with you. You are being true to yourself and it will be wrong to bow to pressure and have kids, just so you can please those around you.

      I have heard many stories from women in particular, who knew deep down that motherhood wasn’t for them. However, they went ahead and had children anyway, and naturally, some have become deeply unhappy because of it. Who knows, you may be one of those women, who ends up enjoying the whole experience. You have to decide whether it is a risk worth taking.

      One of my favourite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and it says: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you into something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

      As I have said many times before, you need courage to be happy. That is because the pull to conform is so great that unless you have the courage to say no and stick to what intrinsically makes you happy, you will be pulled in every directions, and be miserable as a result.

      Whatever you decide to do eventually, I hope you and your husband continue to be a strong couple, and that your relationship goes from strength to strength.

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