What has been your family and friends reaction to your decision not to have children?

By Nina Steele 

Even though we did not choose to be childless, as a person of African descent, I knew that telling my mother we had decided to stop trying after 9 years would be met with resistance. After all, she is from a culture where everyone is expected to have children, regardless of whether they can have them or whether they have the resources both in terms of finances and capabilities to look after them. It is considered the natural thing to do with no allowance given to anyone who God forbid is unable to have children or even worse made the decision not to have them. My mother kept pressing me to keep trying and I kept telling her that we have had enough of trying and even though she now says that she is comfortable with the idea, she still cannot bring herself to accept it as a fait accompli.

I have had other relatives again on my mother’s side enquiring about when we are going to have children and wanting to know why it has not yet happened, as if I would want to confide in people to whom the very notion of not being able to conceive is totally alien. My husband’s side of the family has been supportive throughout, along with a few other acquaintances. Overall, our experience of friends and family has been one of great cultural divide, with acceptance from the Western side and non-acceptance from the African side.

childless couples


  1. GemmaRowlands says

    Many families will be surprised, because obviously having children is something that people tend to expect of others automatically. However I do feel that it would be incredibly selfish for them to be anything but supportive, because at the end of the day it is a decision that only the couple in question can make. It may be a shock, particularly if you’re an only child and your parents would have liked grandchildren, but in time they should come to accept it.

  2. My parents were gutted when I told them that I wouldn’t be having children, however I was quite lucky because they found out that there was another grandchild on the way so they didn’t have too much time to worry about not getting one from me! But I can see how they would be upset if you were an only child, and I think that I would have felt guilty if that was the case for me.

  3. I am exactly that case Dawn. I’m an only child and when I told my parents that I wouldn’t be having children, they were devasted.

    Being their only son, I’ve stopped the family line still in its tracks. I refuse to bring a child into this world to please others or to try to fulfil what people expect of me, including my parents.

    I won’t make a very good father and it’s just something I’ve never wanted. I can understand why they feel the way they do, the guilt hangs with me.

  4. Julez Fitzmond says

    Not all of my family know that it isn’t my choice, and there are always some awkward questions at family gatherings about “when I’m having children”. I just shrug it off, because anybody who doesn’t know are the ones I don’t see too often anyway. But I’ve kind of stopped caring about other people’s reactions, because it’s not up to them.

    • It must be hard to have to answer those questions, but I am sure that the support of those who do know the situation helps you through it. I do admire you for not caring though, because I admit that sometimes people’s comments get to me. Those who are most important to you will be supportive, though, and that’s the most important thing.

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