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What if you just aren’t sure you want kids?

There are many women who always knew that when they were older, they wanted to have children, and there are those on the other end of the continuum who knew that motherhood was not for them. However, there is another group of women we rarely hear about – those who are ambivalent about having children. These women often find themselves fluctuating between: “I don’t feel compelled to have children” and “What if I regret not having children?” A recent article in New York Magazine profiles the experiences of this group of women who aren’t necessarily delaying having children, but rather, are weighing out whether or not they really want to have a family. Because they are so undecided, some women decide to leave it to fate by being inconsistent with birth control. They wait to see if it happens, rather than making a definitive decision to start a family. Others continue to struggle with the decision – weighing the benefits and costs of parenthood versus remaining child-free. Still others decide to wait for the perfect circumstances to help them decide whether or not to have children – like finding the right partner or becoming more financially stable.

According to Laura Carroll, author of The Baby Matrix:

“A lot of women on the fence feel like they should be feeling a deep longing to raise a child, and the truth is they don’t…More often than not, the desire isn’t that strong…they have to come to terms with that. A lot of women who keep pushing it off, the truth is they’re pushing it off because it’s not that important.”

It may be when deciding whether or not to have kids, those who are ambivalent need to picture their lives with children, and without, and decide which one seems more desirable, rather than making a decision solely based on fear of regret, or on societal or family pressures. The article ends with the following advice for women who are ambivalent about whether motherhood is for them:

“…this sort of soul-searching seems to be the only way out. And it’s probably worth doing right away, rather than waiting for waning fertility or for a particular constellation of fantasies to come true and make the choice clear. “Part of getting through ambivalence,” Carroll says, “is to start sorting out what’s true and what’s myth, and sitting with your own naked feelings.”

Read more here. 

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