But what if she just doesn't like children?


#1

Hypothetical situation:

A 20-ish woman is pondering her life, her goals, her aspirations. She hopes one day to find love and marry.

But what if she just doesn’t like children?

I understand Catholic teaching regarding marriage is that if one marries one should be open to children. That is, if one does not like the prospect of having children with her husband one ought not be getting married.

So is this woman doomed to a solitary life if she just does not have a desire to be a mom?

Surely there are thousands of women in this situation. I hate to think of a woman having children if she does not like children…


#2

[quote=monina]Hypothetical situation:

A 20-ish woman is pondering her life, her goals, her aspirations. She hopes one day to find love and marry.

But what if she just doesn’t like children?

I understand Catholic teaching regarding marriage is that if one marries one should be open to children. That is, if one does not like the prospect of having children with her husband one ought not be getting married.

So is this woman doomed to a solitary life if she just does not have a desire to be a mom?

Surely there are thousands of women in this situation. I hate to think of a woman having children if she does not like children…
[/quote]

That’s a tough one. Well, I suppose that if a woman was against the idea of having children, then maybe marriage isn’t the correct direction for her to go. She does not need to be “doomed to a solitary life” however. Sex isn’t the end all and be all of a happy relationship. I’m old fashion I suppose but I would much rather have a “best friend” for a spouse than a sex partner.


#3

BTW, when I wrote “doomed to a solitary life” I meant no insult to consecrated celibates or anyone else who wishes to be single. I said that this particular woman would be “doomed” since she aspires to love and marriage.

So, Tietjen, it’s your opinion that this woman should not get married, but could enjoy companionship and lifelong friendship?

Monina


#4

I would agree with Tiet. The Church stresses the need for openness to life is essential and the gift of procreation is a very important aspect of the marital union. And I also agree about companionship and lifelong friendship outside of marriage, though it might be best done with females if such relationships with males are a temptation to sin (not that they would be for everyone, but I think they would be for me).

Another possibility would be for the woman to reconsider her views on children. Maybe thinking of them as little souls that she can help get to heaven. (And on a personal note, I think having children makes reliance and a personal relationship with God essential which can only bring spouses together). I once heard it said that before children each spouse looks only at the other, after children they are looking forward (towards God) together.

God bless,
k


#5

[quote=monina]So is this woman doomed to a solitary life if she just does not have a desire to be a mom?
[/quote]

Nuns don’t live alone :wink:


#6

I think such a woman would need to pray hard for guidance regarding her vocation. The discernment process isn’t so much about figuring out what we “like” or “don’t like,” but about asking God how we can best serve Him. Some women are called to be consecrated religious, serving Him primarily through their community life; some are called to single life, serving Him primarily in the workplace; and some are called to marriage, serving Him primarily in their family life. And He won’t call a woman to a particular state without giving her the graces to live it out. :slight_smile:

This encyclical from John Paul II might be helpful:

Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women)


#7

I’ve heard that as 20ish women get closer to 30ish that desire for children increases a little too :smiley:


#8

I am going to provide the flip side. I believe that in a proper examination of one’s situation, the emotional ability for a person to raise children should be a significant factor. Thus, if the couple prayerfully determined that they were not in a position to raise children, they could then practice NFP.

This would mean that she could marry so long as each sexual act was open to life through the norms of NFP (no sterilization, contraception, etc). Obviously, this is something that would need to be discussed openly before marriage and re-examined every month in the decision of whether to continue NFP.


#9

[quote=Forest-Pine]I am going to provide the flip side. I believe that in a proper examination of one’s situation, the emotional ability for a person to raise children should be a significant factor. Thus, if the couple prayerfully determined that they were not in a position to raise children, they could then practice NFP.
[/quote]

I think one can’t enter marriage unless they truly intend on trying to have children at some point. If she cannot honestly intend that on the altar, than it would be a canonically invalid marriage.


#10

[quote=monina]So, Tietjen, it’s your opinion that this woman should not get married, but could enjoy companionship and lifelong friendship?
Monina
[/quote]

I’m saying that she need not feel alone and can still share love (though not sexually). Her life can be very rewarding and full regardless of whether she is married or not. Here is some additional info concerning marriage that may help.

The Catholic Encyclopedia defines marriage like this:
Marriage is that individual union through which man and woman by their reciprocal rights form one principle of generation. It is effected by their mutual consent to give and accept each other for the purpose of propagating the human race, of educating their offspring, of sharing life in common, of supporting each other in undivided conjugal affection by a lasting union.”

The article goes on to say this:
There might be a sinful agreement between those contracting marriage which likewise nullifies their marriage — e. g., not to have more than one or two children, or not to have any children at all, until, in the judgment of the contracting parties, circumstances shall enable them to be provided for; or to divorce and marry someone else whenever they grow tired of each other. Such an agreement or condition denies the perpetual duties of matrimony, limits matrimonial rights, suspends the duty consequent on the use and exercise of those rights; if really made a sine qua non of marriage, it necessarily annuls it; the parties would wish to enjoy connubial intercourse, but evade its consequences. The agreement to abstain from the use of conjugal rights is, however, quite different, and does not nullify the marriage contract. The parties to the marriage fully consent to transfer to each other the conjugal rights, but, by agreement or vow, oblige themselves to abstain from the actual use of those rights. Now, if, contrary to their agreement or vow, either party should demand the actual use of his or her right, it would not be fornication, though a breach of promise or vow. Such a condition, though possible, is not frequent nor even permissible except in cases of rare virtue.

The complete Encyclopedia article can be found here.


#11

Or, let’s ask the question another way: why should she doom a husband to a life with no children just because she does not like children?


#12

[quote=otm]Or, let’s ask the question another way: why should she doom a husband to a life with no children just because she does not like children?
[/quote]

And what if neither of them actively seek outside NFP to forgo pregnancy, but after prayerful reflection neither of them believe they are in a position to bring children into the marriage at the time? Being open to life, according to NFP’s norms is quite different from desiring children. It is my understanding that the theological minimum for marriage validity would be a willingness to be open to life within the norms of NFP, which can include indefinitely avoiding pregnancy for grave reasons. Whether this would be a grave reason would depend on the couple and their spiritual counselor and would not be something we could give a generic answer for.


#13

'Fraid I simply cannot understand someone “not liking children”. It’s like saying “doesn’t like love”, or “dislikes smiling”. It’s all part of being human. We have God-implanted instincts in us which make us find children delightfully beautiful gifts from God. If someone doesn’t feel that, they must be purposefully shutting their instincts out. They must value their “space” and their precious material goods and their “me-time”, and see children as something which would not allow them to be as selfish as they want to be. Not the sort of woman I’d want as a wife, as I could only imagine she’d be selfish toward her husband as well. No…the Church is right again on this one. Marriage includes wanting kids.


#14

[quote=monina]Hypothetical situation:

A 20-ish woman is pondering her life, her goals, her aspirations. She hopes one day to find love and marry.

But what if she just doesn’t like children?

I understand Catholic teaching regarding marriage is that if one marries one should be open to children. That is, if one does not like the prospect of having children with her husband one ought not be getting married.

So is this woman doomed to a solitary life if she just does not have a desire to be a mom?

Surely there are thousands of women in this situation. I hate to think of a woman having children if she does not like children…
[/quote]

My Mom doesn’t much care for kids, and she had four of us and loves us dearly! She says it’s different when they’re your own. I don’t much like kids either, but I’m sure if God wants me to have one, two, or ten, He’ll find a way to help me out.


#15

[quote=JeffAustralia] If someone doesn’t feel that, they must be purposefully shutting their instincts out. They must value their “space” and their precious material goods and their “me-time”, and see children as something which would not allow them to be as selfish as they want to be. Not the sort of woman I’d want as a wife, as I could only imagine she’d be selfish toward her husband as well. No…the Church is right again on this one. Marriage includes wanting kids.
[/quote]

Nah…not so much. My space is my husband’s, my pet’s, my family’s and my friend’s space too. As is my time and affection. I’m not a selfish person either. I just don’t care for the company of children …we have nothing in common and I cannot relate. Maybe one day I’ll learn.


#16

It can also be due to not having much to do with kids? I didn’t grow up surrounded by small children, and I can remember once upon a time not knowing how to relate to them…and worrying that I might say or do something wrong. But it didn’t take long to realise they’re not so scary, and VERY non-judgemental. AND they’re so cute! :smiley:


#17

For the record, I don’t like children that much, never really have, and as of right now, my big reason for wanting children somewhere along the line would be to continue my side of the family; I would never want my family and my history to eventually be forgotten because my generation did not have any children. That being said, I’m only 19, and it’s quite possible that in ten years my opinion will change. However, when I look at all the problems some children have to deal with (abuse, divorce, ect.), then I can appreciate someone admitting that they do not want (or like) children, and parenthood is not for them; just because there is a great need for children and procreation does not mean everyone is called to do so.

Now, whether or not they should get married, I don’t know that I really have enough life experience to answer that. However, I have known people who did not want children until they felt ready to be married. So maybe it just changes with age. I think anyone who really did not want children should seriously question why they feel called to marriage (if they indeed are called to it), and what the feel is the purpose of marriage; and definitely do this through prayer and guidance of a trusted spiritual advisor.


#18

[quote=JeffAustralia]'Fraid I simply cannot understand someone “not liking children”. It’s like saying “doesn’t like love”, or “dislikes smiling”. It’s all part of being human. We have God-implanted instincts in us which make us find children delightfully beautiful gifts from God. If someone doesn’t feel that, they must be purposefully shutting their instincts out. They must value their “space” and their precious material goods and their “me-time”, and see children as something which would not allow them to be as selfish as they want to be. Not the sort of woman I’d want as a wife, as I could only imagine she’d be selfish toward her husband as well. No…the Church is right again on this one. Marriage includes wanting kids.
[/quote]

I know a very generous medical student who doesn’t want children. She has a real passion for working in third world countries and knows that that kind of work would not lend itself well with raising a family. She is perfectly loving to her boyfriend, and she’d probably make a great wife.

Kendy


#19

[quote=tcay584]My Mom doesn’t much care for kids, and she had four of us and loves us dearly! She says it’s different when they’re your own. I don’t much like kids either, but I’m sure if God wants me to have one, two, or ten, He’ll find a way to help me out.
[/quote]

I can say the same thing. I’m not female, but I can say that when I was in my 20’s, I literally could not stand children.

By the time I got into my 30’s, I could tolerate them. By then I was married, and my wife, being a leukemia survivor and having gone through some real heavy chemo about the same time she hit puberty, was incapable of having children, so it was a moot point.

And then one day in 2000, she went to the doctor and said, “I feel awful. I think I have the flu.”

The “flu” just turned five years old this week, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. In fact, I would have to say that I haven’t experienced such a blind, unreasoning, overwhelming sense of love for any other human being since my father was alive.


#20

[quote=Wolseley]I can say the same thing. I’m not female, but I can say that when I was in my 20’s, I literally could not stand children.

By the time I got into my 30’s, I could tolerate them. By then I was married, and my wife, being a leukemia survivor and having gone through some real heavy chemo about the same time she hit puberty, was incapable of having children, so it was a moot point.

And then one day in 2000, she went to the doctor and said, “I feel awful. I think I have the flu.”

The “flu” just turned five years old this week, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. In fact, I would have to say that I haven’t experienced such a blind, unreasoning, overwhelming sense of love for any other human being since my father was alive.
[/quote]

That is a great story! God is good!


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