We Need To Talk: I'm Ambivalent About Parenthood

I am married, as most of you know. My husband and I have been together for nine and a half years, and married for almost three. As soon as I was married, people began asking us when we were going to start a family...I was really shocked that people were asking this. Call me crazy, I just didn’t see it coming.

At the time, I wasn’t thinking about children at all, but the question was thrust upon us, and so it became a force to be reckoned with. Before we married we, of course, talked about becoming parents...for all intents and purposes, both of us thought the question of whether we would have children or not was settled. What I found, though, was that when we married and the question became more real, I was less sure.

Nearly three years later, I find that I haven’t changed my position all that much. While having a child would be a great experience, the simple truth is that I am still very much ambivalent about parenthood. The funny thing I have learned about being on the fence of parenthood, is that everyone has an opinion about it.

Right at the start, I’d like to clear up a few of the misconceptions I have come across in the years since the question of parenthood first reared it’s ugly head. First of all, it’s important to know my ambivalence is not because I’m some sort of freak, and it’s not because I “just don’t know what I want.” It’s not that I dislike children, or that I’m selfish. It doesn’t make me less capable of love or less of a woman.

Now that we’ve got that covered let’s talk about what it is; I have a choice as to whether or not to become a parent. Speaking in terms of the society we live in, this is a relatively new choice for women, and it’s a powerful one. The thing IS that I love my marriage, my freedom, and the life I have. Having a child would change things so much--and my husband and I just haven't gotten to a place where we want to give those things up. Maybe someday we will...maybe we won’t.

Do we dream of a family? Sure. We love the idea of it. I also love the idea of living in France or perhaps buying a house, but who knows when or if these things will ever happen. In short, it IS what it is...and it is also what it is not.

What I found out about being ambivalent about parenthood is that it becomes its own journey. People can be judgmental and even willful when it comes imposing their own views about parenthood. No matter what you decide, people will judge you. If I decided tomorrow to have one child, some people would tell me, “you should at least have two--that’s selfish.” If I had three, others would say, “You shouldn’t have too many kids!” And still if I decide to have none at all, others would slap me with this “You just don’t know love until you become a mother.” There is no winning.

It’s all hogwash. You don’t need a baby to be happy if you don’t want one. And yet for some, their lives would be incomplete without one. The people who are ambivalent--who might go either way--are no less valid than those who have three kids or one kid or nine kids. If you are ambivalent, be ambivalent. Think hard about your decision, and don’t base it on what other people think because they don’t have to live your life. Happiness takes all forms, and it doesn’t have to conform to societal norms.

I want to hear from you--what do you think about starting a family? Have you been asked and felt the pressure? Or did you always know that you wanted to be a parent? Share in the comments section below!


  1. I think for me I started at a young age, 19 and it was a bit difficult as I was still growing up myself. But eventually my son became more independent and I got my time back. He was our only child for nine years. With the second one, now almost 2, it's definitely harder because I was spoiled with my freedom and now I'm basically starting all over. And I'm pregnant once more! Some people look at me like why am I having all these kids, and they are the same people who asked me for nine years when we were going to have more. At the end of the day, it's my choice and I'm still young in my eyes. These two little ones I have are only 2 years apart and they will grow up together as sisters and best friends, while my son will be off to college. Soon they will be grown in another 10 years and I will have my independence back, at only 40. So I don't think life is over if you decide to have children-it's just put on pause for a while so you can focus on them and give them the best childhood you possibly can. But I respect your decision because God knows I would love to travel and have that freedom. But at the same time, like I said, I don't think that time is too far away from me.

    1. It's a great point, Emily. Waiting comes with pushing back those days that come on the other side of parenting...and that is always in the back of my head, too. I certainly don't think life is over because you have a child, but rather it changes considerably. That is not to say it's good or bad, it's just different.

      I haven't made any decisions yet about parenthood, and luckily there is plenty of time left to decide. But voicing that I am even thinking about it at all, I have found, is quite controversial.

    2. Yep I completely understand. And there are those who say they will never have children and then oops! They get pregnant and it ends up being the greatest thing that ever happened to them. I think you guys are doing it exactly right. Just because you got married, does not mean you have to instantly start making babies. That's just the way society has taught us is the right way to do it. But I think you guys are living the good life right now, and as long as you're happy, who cares?! :)

  2. "If you're ambivalent, be ambivalent".
    NO. If you're ambivalent, don't have kids. Ambivalence means you don't *really* want to do this mommy thing. So don't do it. You say a kid would cramp your lifestyle...you want your freedom. Then don't do it. If you wanted to do it, you would have done it already. Accept that parenthood is just not for you, that you'd rather your life revolve around your personal needs, and move on.

    1. For some people, it may be that black and white. For me, it isn't. Everyone's lives center around their personal needs, of course, and those are ever changing, whether or not you have children. Thank you for your comment.