What if you don’t want kids or have serious doubts about it?

This is a rhetorical question but also a thought I’ve been having.


Lately, I find myself in conversations with people (both Muslim and non-Muslim) about the pros and cons of having kids. I’ve spoken to people who have kids and are bidding their time until those kids are “out of the house” and I’ve spoken to people who have smaller kids who love them to death and couldn’t imagine life without them. I used to want to have a baby very badly. The feeling would come in waves. Sometimes it would manifest itself as severe desire and border on obsession. Eventually I would have a lull. At times I could think of nothing else.

Fast forward to 2009…

I don’t know exactly when or how it happened but my feelings have changed. I’m having serious doubts about having kids and more often than not, I feel like I don’t want them at all. The weird part about is that I like kids. I’m pretty fond of them. I have no problem with other people having kids or being around their kids (unless they’re bad 🙂 ). But when it comes to me…well, I feel like I should sit this one out. (If Allah allows it to remain that way, of course).

Now, if I say this around Muslims…oh just wait for the backlash! They start talking about increasing the ummah, femininity, womanhood in Islam, etc. Some have even suggested that my feelings are from shaitan. (Really?) What I want to know is why my personal decision affects other people so much. Last time I checked this body was mine. Furthermore, I don’t think everyone is cut out to have children. (Look around you, I’m sure you can spot plenty of who shouldn’t have had kids). And I wonder if I’m one of those people.

Some people say that I’m being selfish. They say I don’t want to make the necessary sacrifices that go along with having kids. The irony is every reason I can think of to have kids involves selfishness on my part; the desire to further my legacy, because I feel like I want one, because I want someone to be there for me in my old age etc. But it also has to do with other people’s reasons; societal/Muslim community pressures, being told that I’m incomplete without children, being told that I am abnormal because I don’t want what every woman is told she should want etc. If Allah willed, and I chose to have a child, shouldn’t I be doing it for reasons other than the aforementioned ones?

I’m not trying to start any mass movements here. I think deciding to have children or not is a personal choice. I just want people to take their hands and ideas off my ovaries…

31 responses to “What if you don’t want kids or have serious doubts about it?

  1. I know it’s a touchy subject to bring up, but some of your diction makes me wonder how you feel about abortion (since people tend to use phrases like “my body” and “my ovaries” when discussing their pro-choice stance). Of course, I don’t expect you to discuss this.

    I should say that I DO want children eventually. But, I agree that it’s everyone’s/every couple’s choice on whether or not to have children. I can imagine the backlash from Muslims (especially women) about not wanting children. As bad as it may sound, I disagree with the idea that people should not avoid having children because of money issues. Allah (swt) does provide, yes, but I think that people need to be sensible. If two people who are unemployed, homeless, have no family, and living on the street have a nikkah (Islamic marriage) and then decide to have children, that’s irresponsible. Am I wrong?

    I have to go! Work is over… But looking forward to comments on this! 🙂

    • xey, Honestly, I don’t think about abortion very much because it’s not part of my reality. If I were pushed though I’d say I’m “pro-life but…” I think there are times when abortion is necessary. I used the words like “hands off my ovaries” because I don’t like it when people feel like they have a right to tell me what to do with my body based on their ideas about womanhood, ummah building, femininity and so on. If I have children because they told me to, what else should I do because they told me too?

  2. “I wasn’t cut out to have kids.”

    That thought must have crossed my mind one thousand times since I had my own children. I think that every time I am short of patience, every time the crying drives me nuts, every time something doesn’t go right. I am an anxious, perfectionist sort of person, devoid of patience – not exactly a “motherly” type. Becoming a mom – and then a mom who could look herself in the eye and say, okay, now you’re doing a good job – has been a huge struggle for me. It still is.

    The trouble with having children is that once you have them, you can’t pop them back in and say, “Oops, wrong decision”. You’re stuck with it (them) lifelong.

    Of course I catch myself thinking, “If they hadn’t arrived on the scene, I would have done this and this and this….” only to stop myself and wonder about the things I might have missed if I hadn’t had children: the smiles, the hugs, all the silly motherly prattle that I write about.

    So I really don’t know whether it was the right decision or not *shrugs. Of course, I wasn’t thinking about all these things when I wanted to have a baby – I was just thinking “I want to have a baby” without having the slightest inkling of what was going to follow!

    I think I have rambled a little bit, but what I want to say is this: If you know that you know yourself at this stage, and you absolutely don’t want children, then go ahead and be proud of that sentiment. There’s no point being sorry later (I mean, being sorry for having kids, that is).

    As a society, I think we have evolved in such a way that different people can contribute to society in different ways. Not everyone needs to have a baby to “feel fulfilled” or to “continue the Ummah”.

    Hope I made some sense :)!

    • “The trouble with having children is that once you have them, you can’t pop them back in and say, “Oops, wrong decision”. You’re stuck with it (them) lifelong.”

      Which is exactly why I feel like I shouldn’t do it. I have SERIOUS doubts about it. Some sisters have told me the feelings of happiness and joy will come later but I ask them and myself, what if they don’t, then what?

      “As a society, I think we have evolved in such a way that different people can contribute to society in different ways. Not everyone needs to have a baby to “feel fulfilled” or to “continue the Ummah”.”


  3. Sister, I totally agree with you here. Choice is choice, and we should respect them all, even the ones we don’t like!

    Personally, I do not want children for a zillion reasons, including economic, environmental, etc., but also including selfish reasons. There is nothing wrong with being selfish here–if a woman is not interested in making room/sacrifices for a child, that child’s life will not be as happy, rich, and full as a child whose mother wanted him 100%.

    I’m excited to be Auntie Fatemeh. But it’s not possible for me to be less interested in being a mother. We are not abnormal, incomplete, or terrible people just because we don’t want children!

    • “Choice is choice, and we should respect them all, even the ones we don’t like!”

      Thank you Fatemeh! I just wonder where some of those people will be if I had a child and needed a babysitter or some “me time”. I can hear the busy signals now, lol.

  4. Salaam Alaikum,

    Definitely nothing wrong with not wanting children.

    It’s also ok to worry about if you will enjoy motherhood. I know I did and yes, once Oreo arrived I was absolutely, physically overwhelmingly in love with her.

    Another key question is what your husband thinks. Not saying anyone should have children just to please their spouse, but the children question is a genuine deal breaker.

    From an advice point of view I would pray istikhara. Aside from that, either you will come to a point where you are ready for children, you will accidentally get pregnant (no contraception is 100% effective), or that time won’t come and insha Allah, what ever happens you will be at peace with it.

    Fatemeh – I’m always a bit concerned when people say they won’t have children for environmental reasons. I find the whole Population Control movement to have very disturbing undertones.

    In economically developing countries, the birth rate is in rapid decline. The same will happen in the economically developing world when access to birth control improves. Overpopulation is a symptom. The real issues are resource wastage and the financial monopoly of environmentally destructive corporations.

    There is enough to go around. Anyone telling you otherwise has very sinister ulterior motives, because it’s usually the numbers of the marginalised that they want to control.

  5. I had my first at 35. I wouldn’t have traded my early years without children for them. I love my little buggers but relished the freedom I had when single to do as I pleased. Don’t let others get to you. Many Muslim sisters are forgoing children and marriage in pursuit of equally good things. I think the fact you are out there in the public sector, working, representing us is a really good thing. Also you are well known in the cyber world. Both would change with children trust me. Oi, I gotta go – just got barfed on. Bet you want some of that, eh

  6. I believe if someone has serious doubts, or really is not sure about having children – they shouldn’t. They are a blessing, but they’re also a lot of work.

  7. I totally understand how you feel. I don’t think its fair to bring a child into this world unless you are sure you want it. It is an awesome responsibility that never ends. I understand that wave feeling too. Today I want children as much as I want my next breath, BUT I don’t think I’d be willing to have a child with special needs… especially if I knew that in advance. I’m not cut out for that. So what do I do? I keep on waiting.

    Another thing that I hate is these same folks that tell you you need to become a baby factory, tell men your same age that they have plenty of time. Whatever…

    • Another thing that I hate is these same folks that tell you you need to become a baby factory, tell men your same age that they have plenty of time. Whatever…

      because biologically, men’s reproductive age lasts longer. women have a significantly higher chance of something going wrong with their pregnancies once they hit 30

      (The incidence of Down syndrome rises with increasing maternal age. Many specialists recommend that women who become pregnant at age 35 or older undergo prenatal testing for Down syndrome. The likelihood that a woman under 30 who becomes pregnant will have a baby with Down syndrome is less than 1 in 1,000, but the chance of having a baby with Down syndrome increases to 1 in 400 for women who become pregnant at age 35. The likelihood of Down syndrome continues to increase as a woman ages, so that by age 42, the chance is 1 in 60 that a pregnant woman will have a baby with Down syndrome, and by age 49, the chance is 1 in 12.)


  8. Back in the day, I didn’t have any doubts about whether or not to have kids. I didn’t want them. Period.

    Most people did not respect my decision, I *had* to have kids, was to young to make that choice so early.

    Four years into my marriage, I was suddenly hit with an overwhelming desire to become a mother. Didn’t matter if it was a biological child or a foster child… I wanted to be a parent. And Allah blessed me to have a beautiful, sweet daughter. Just one.

    Most people do not respect this, I *have* to have more kids, am too young to make that choice so early.

    I’ve concluded that people are never satisfied and their input should have no bearing whatsoever on personal decisions like this. All that being said, you know yourself. If you feel so strongly about it, why do it? Nothing is written in stone, and you have the right to feel as you do now and the right to change your mind… or not.

    There are a lot of bad parents out there — nothing worse than having a child you resent. Some people should have to fill out an application to have kids.

  9. Salaams,

    I don’t have kids, for a variety of reasons, including medical ones.

    It’s made me not take the kids + marriage + house + kids = happiness equation for granted and to think about what I really want from my life. In so doing, I’ve built up a life I am happy with, alhamdolillah.

    I do feel that a child could add a lot to our lives, but I also recognize that it is a personal choice and one that requires a lot of sacrifice. But, if or when it happens, I will not be doing it to “complete” myself as I’m very happy with my life with my partner as it stands.

    The important thing is to be happy with who you are at any given point in time, and to be thoughtful in that process. It sounds like you are doing exactly that.


  10. As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    I must say, I respect a woman who doesn’t want kids and doesn’t have them much more than one who has them and then goes on about how much better life is without them, or talks to the press about how she really resents them and that she’s bringing it all out into the open because a lot of women think like her (every so often the British press comes up with a story to that effect), or throws her kids under the bus to get ahead herself.

  11. Salaams,

    Not sure my last comment made sense given I wrote it half-asleep last night.

    What I meant is:

    Build a joyous & fulfilled life for yourself. Then, if you ever have kids they’ll add to it. And if you don’t, you’ll still be happy with what you have and have been given.


  12. Salam JM,

    I get where ya coming from. I have never had an inkling to do the whole mom thing. The more settled in my ways i get, the harder it is for me to imagine myself as a mother. I am somewhat selfish. When i say this, i don’t mean it from a monetary standpoint, i mean selfish within myself (my time, my ability to travel, my space and lifestyle). Obviously, people constantly evolve. Time, experience and relationships can change a person, but i don’t see motherhood as part of my ultimate vision for myself. Muslims do seem to have an issue with this, but that is just something that they need to workout! I even had a couple of guys throw the having kids thing at me and i had to tell them, children weren’t a selling point!

  13. Hi,
    I stumbled on ur page while looking for “reasons ppl want kids”….
    I feel exactly the same way as you. I’m not a muslim tho. I’ve always wanted kids since I was 16 (of course back then, it was just coz babies were cute and all that). All the relationships I had was with the aim of getting married and starting a family. But then after dating a few guys who did not believe in marriage & kids, I started to think like them. I don’t want kids anymore…and shudder at the thought of having them and all the responsibilites that come with it. I like being able to do anything I please and not worry about my child(ren). I.e. Not work/live my whole life for someone else.

    Now, I’m with a guy who really wants kids and I’m wondering if its unfair of not to stand my ground. He’s mentioned that he doesn’t want to leave this world alone and also want his kid(s) to have a better life than he had.

    Maybe I’m being selfish but I hate to change the dynamic of our relationship. “Why fix something that isn’t broken?”. I really wonder how we’ll come to a compromise on that one.

    Phew, this is gonna be a tough one.

    Good luck huh!

  14. I googled “i don’t want kids anymore” because I’m sitting in my living room, trying to watch a really neat 2 minute segment of the news and I have a 3 year old in front of me wanting me to play and an 8 month old sobbing because she wants to be held. Meanwhile, I am wiped out from working all day yesterday (I’ve had about an 75 hour laborious work week and i’m a bit under the weather as well.)

    I don’t want kids anymore.

    I love them most of the time and we have a fantastic time together. (i played hide and seek for 2 hours in the house last week and i played running games with my daughter when i got home last night until she fell asleep, which was amazingly fun. THOSE times I wouldn’t trade for the world. Also, I wouldn’t trade the crabby times because it is so nice to help them get better and watch them learn…)

    With that said, I wish i could drop them off when I want time to myself. In saying that, I thought of how often that would end up being and I figured i would be a fantastic uncle.

    Kids DRAIN your finances… my wife and I were so happy to finally be making some decent money and then we decided to have children (by choice.) … well, I agree one child needs a sibling and now my wife is thinking ‘third.’

    I own 2 businesses (own one great one and am transitioning to the second to get rid of the first since though it’s running well, it’s not really my passion anymore and I have reached as far as I feel I can go with it with my constraints.) and I am in school full-time working towards my doctorates in clinical psychology. I almost can’t do this anymore..

    even this poorly written post took me about 45 minutes to write because i had to tend to the kids(and i don’t even know what the news article was on anymore… something about valentines day gifts for wives.)

    I’m not sure if i am using kids as an excuse for my slowing of mental progression and personal success. However, you can only do so much in a day and with the constraints that kids put on your ‘every moment of the day but work time and few hours after they go to bed before you pass out from exhaustion”…

    I’ll honestly state that if I COULD go back a few years, I’d still say I want to adopt older kids when I’m 35-40(and well set in life) than start having when i was 25.

    … but, you get what you ask for and have to do the best with what you have when you have it… I’ll just give my advice & experience to others.

  15. Asalaamu’alaikum wr wb…..
    just came across this website when looking for women who don’t want to have kids. For the past couple of years i have been having thoughts of not wanting children. Now obviously as a female and a muslimah at that, it is very hard to find sisters that have similar thoughts and it does seem like a tabo subject. At university it was all about finding a mate and getting married and then having kids etc.. now that i am at a age (24) where most of my friends are getting married i am getting the same question over and over again ‘why don’t you wanna get married?’ instead of turning around and telling the truth i tend to stick with ‘i’m not ready yet’ especially since my younger sister got married has 1kid and is now in the process of brining another 1 into the world, the idea of having children is less and less attractive…am i being selfish into thinking that i don’t want things to change? and have this freedom…am i ‘westernised’? as some aunties would say…i mean c’mon there are so many parentless children in the world and islam encourages us to take care of them so wouldn’t that be good compromise? I would like to see the world finish up my studies and do something for the ummah…not just my family and maybe if i have some time the community but the ummah itself every1 is so busy with their lives that they can’t do anything for their brothers and sisters in difficulty..so why not..the only problem i seem to have is to find someone with the same ideas i am not against marriage am totally for it ..but how many brothers are willing to get married and stay childless by choice?

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  18. slm sister

    the decision is huge. I always wanted a baby n wen our beautiful dawter was born it felt like life had jus begun. At 9 months she was diagnosed with a fatal genetic condition. Alhamz she is stil alive bt cn nt walk or sit. We are trying 2 make every day count. All im saying is dat if u dnt want kids dats ur decision. But if u do hav them they a blessing. Its easy to say u cnt pop dem back in bt ppl forget dat a normal healthy child is such a huge blessing. Wud trade netin in da world to hav my kid normal

  19. Assalamu Alaikum,
    I guess I’m really late on this. I’m not married or anything like that but I feel as though I spent my whole life imagining married life and thinking I’d want a child exactly 9 months later! As I’m getting older, I’m starting to realize the responsibilities that come with children. Many people have them, but do not know how to raise them. I feel as though those children will not be helping the ummah, but rather they will become a burden on society. Some people might say its cruel, but that’s just how I feel about it.If you don’t have the energy to instill values into your child, or you all of a sudden realize that you’d rather go out to dinner every Friday night and leave your child with a baby sitter, then maybe you should have thought about the consequences before you decided ot have that child. I know Allah is the one in control and who decides what happens, but we do have some control (whether we try to prevent it or not). Raising a child is as difficult as fortifying a city, if done properly. Many responsibilities come with a child, and lately I feel as though yes, I do love babies and think they’re cute, but those babies do grow up and get pretty annoying in their toddler years and beyond. Anyhow, I’m very surprised to read about sisters who feel the same way because nobody will really say this publicly. Everyone would definitely attack them. I feel as though I can maybe fill the baby moments in with my cousins’ babies–that way I can enjoy the babies’ presence, and buy them things, but they’re their parents’ problem! Just kidding about the last part. I understand some people say that it is haram not to have a child, and that’s what bothers me a lot.. I don’t want to do something haram, but I don’t want to have a child if I won’t raise it properly either. I think you do a lot worse if you have a child but fail to raise it righteously either due to the society its in, or whatever other circumstances, than to not have a child at all. Who said my child will want to follow my religion and become part of the ummah anyway? I don’t know.. I’d appreciate any responses.

  20. right there with you

    If you don’t want kids, you don’t want kids. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    I really can relate to most of what you wrote. I love kids and I am considered ‘good with kids’, etc. But I have no maternal longing…at all…to have kids. It actually bothers me – because I feel like I am ‘supposed’ to have some…because most females do. But I really can’t see myself pregnant and having a baby.

    I will say that maybe…I can see myself as a stepmom or adopting an older child…but that’s a big maybe. But I have no idea. I just know that the maternal longing is absent from me. I have no answers for why it is…I just know it is and that is part of who I am.

    To each their own.

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  22. If you guys dont want ur kids then dont have them. If you end up pregnant dont have a abortion. My husband and I have been trying for a couple of years to have one and no such luck . Having a child would mean the world to us. We are not rich but we have so much love to offer them. If anyone wants to give there child up for adoption, please consider our family.Please email me at luvbug22@mchsi.com

  23. Im a healthy young muslim guy who doesnt want kids. I have found it impossible to meet any girl who feels the same. The subject is so taboo! Im so open about it and make it clear that if they know anyone who doesnt want or cant have kids, im happy to meet them and see how things go. I dont mind if they are a little older, divorced etc as long as they are a good person…

    such a shame 😦

    • salams every one,,,

      im surprized there are other muslim women who have similar thoughts as me….
      So,,, im the next in line to marry,, a man has been chosen for me,, he’s ok… But i dont want to marry,, anybody at all..
      first of all i dont want children,, but how do i tell him that,, this proposal being arranged…
      Being a muslim i know the facts of life, no matter how gud we do, no one can escape from the punishment that we’ll go through in our graves after we die.. Punishment will continue until day of judgement when we r going to go and burn in hell untill we have been forgiven completly and allowed into heaven by allah (swt).
      Now knowing all of this y would i want to bring a child into this world… Im not a saint and i cannot guarentee to bring up my child as a complete non-sinner.
      If a soul of my child has already been created by allah then i wud rather let that soul stay close to allah than come into this world and be trapped…

      Secondly,, i dont want to be touched by a man,, not that im suggesting im gay coz im not,,,, totally into guys,,, just dont have any desires of being close to one,, if u cud understand what im trying to say…

      Apparently islam says everybody has to marry,, if u dont then u r not following allah’s command nor following our prophets foots steps therefore u r not a muslim….
      In a marriage there has to be physical relationship between both partners, if that doesnt happen then the marriage is meaningless.. If there is a physical act then there is a baby on the way,, no contaception is 100% safe..
      So,, i dont want children, dont want physical relationship,, have to get married otherwise not a muslim,, what do i do….

      What do i do…… Plz help

  24. Assalamu alaykum,

    I noticed that this thread was started a couple of years ago, but just wanted to add one little experience (and I am a sis, 25, married happily for 3.5 years alhamdulilah, and living in North America).

    I have always been inclined towards not having kids, and have always struggled with this issue. It was never really 100% that I knew I didn’t want to, but on the whole, I felt it was a no. But one day, the mother of a very close friend of mine passed away. She left on this earth 13 children. My friend and her family were devastated, but alhamdulilah this lady had raised these children to be religious Muslims (at the time, the oldest child was 35, and the youngest 13) and every single one of her children made duaa for her (may Allah have mercy on her), along with countless others.

    At the time, I reflected that she will inshallah be remembered in their duaas and inshallah their children’s duaas, so she will have possibly hundreds of righteous people making duaa for her, and she will be getting sadaqah jaariah (action that keeps giving good deeds even though you stopped doing the action). After this experience, I felt it was definitely worth it to have kids. Imagine if you teach a child something, and it benefits them in this life, you will get unimaginable good deeds if they practice it, (and imagine if they pass it on to others – ex. prayer). My husband and I have been trying to get kids for 2 years now, and sometimes the no kid thought creeps into my head. Then I just remember that we aren’t on earth for a long time, and our actions will speak loudly on Judgement Day. Since I don’t feel that I am benefiting our ummah enough as of now, and I definitely waste lots of my time, I feel having kids would make me less accountable in front of Allah. And God knows best.

  25. This affects women in the Christian world, too. Welcome to the Sisterhood. The one where your body and its functions are suddenly everyone’s business; where you have no right to decide for yourself whether it is right for you to be a mother or no.

    The fact is, there is more than one way to build community; not all of them involve having children. You can, if you like children, offer to mentor them, work with them as a teacher, or any umber of things. When I was younger, I had vague notions of offering a home to children who needed one. I have since realized I do not have the patience for even this — however, I have learned that in short bursts, I /do/ have the patience to become an older, more experienced confidante to other people’s children. Someone they can talk to for advice, or simply explore ideas they are uncomfortable speaking to their parents about. They will share their secrets with me, and unless I feel the secret is a danger to them that their parents need to know about, I keep it for them.

    And, when I am being perfectly honest, I look at my personality — ill-tempered, impatient, desirous of plenty of time alone — and say to myself, “A child would suffer in my hands.” That would be hideously unfair, should I have one. In the off chance I DO end up pregnant (highly unlikely), I have decided that adoption is the best course of action. I am under no illusion that that is an easy choice, but it is the right one for myself, and for any child I may bear.

    Is that selfish? Why, yes, yes it is. But the alternative is much worse for the potential child. I simply cannot wisely care for a baby, while I can sufficiently care for an animal who is reasonably self-sufficient. I said all this to say: No one knows you better than you know yourself. If you have severe doubts about having children, DON’T DO IT. If you find yourself wanting them, there are plenty of children in the world who need a parent. You do not have to make your own.

    Peace, sister.

  26. Stumbled upon this blog. I agree with Baraka’s comment: build a joyous and fulfilled life and try to put the “having kids” thing to the side. The problem is that there is no “right” answer, but I feel pressures that are unspoken from society and/or religious views.

    I am in the same boat. I feel the same pressures as a devoted Catholic wife. I am comforted that I am not the only one, as evidenced by these comments. After a miscarriage 4 years ago and then trying to get pregnant for months and months, the emotions really took a toll. In order to survive, a part of me said “just live your life now and quit worrying about it”. I started focusing on doing things for me and making sure to live my life to the fullest extent possible. Now I worry that the longing for kids is gone as I am comfortable in my life. I am always thankful to “give back the kids” when we sit for our godsons, even though I love them to death.

    Unfortunately, I cannot “will” myself to want kids and will always be open if we were to get pregnant but it is always a difficult discussion to have with the husband, who still wants children. And the questions and pressures and feelings are always present…

    Perhaps the key is to trust in God. Maybe He has a different plan. In some ways, like a Catholic priest must give up the idea of a wife and children (not all priests are gay, believe it or not) and live a just as fulfilling life in other ways, we must focus on the same–how are we living lives in which we inspire and help others, perhaps things that people with kids cannot do? Just me thinking “outloud”….

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