Does not wanting children = damaged?


I apologize if this question is in the wrong forum.

My 16 year old daughter does not want to marry or have children. She is pretty sure she is not called to a vocation, and she discusses this regularly in spiritual direction with a consecrated woman. My daughter is very bright, well read, has had some success in speech and debate, is a strong student, and wishes to pursue a legal career.

In her religion class, her teacher told the students that people who do not want to have children are “damaged”. :eek:

Is there some sort of Catholic teaching to support this assertion? I find this statement astoundingly judgemental.

My daughter simply does not want children, or feel called to motherhood. She wants to work in her chosen career, she is very committed in her faith, accepts that she will have to live a celibate life, and sees a future in which she is active in her church, in ministry, and in her chosen career. She has not discounted the possibility that she may meet someone someday and she will feel differently, but for now, she is fairly sure of where she is headed.

Are her only choices a vocation or marriage with children? Is a decision to be single and childless a sign that one is “damaged”?


There are four vocations that one can be called to. The priesthood(for men), marriage, religious (men and women), and the single life. A vocation is a calling. God calls every one of us to our specific vocation and it is in this vocation that we will be the happiest. It only makes sense that the vocation God is calling us to is the most fitting for us since He knows us better than we know ourselves. With that being said, all vocations are important and not wanting to have kids does not been you are damaged by any means. Nor does the Church believe that they are damaged for not wanting or having children. Some people are not called to the vocation of marriage and that is fine. Everyone’s vocation is different.

God Bless,


Not damaged at all!

There are three vocations: married, single, and religious. Singleness is a vocation that not all feel called to, and your daughter seems to be very bright and recognizes this at an early age.

Single people face unique challenges just like people do in other vocations–not having a family or religious duties to be devoted to means they basically devote themselves to the community as a whole, through perhaps more volunteering, more charitable donations, since they’re just supporting themselves. And that’s a quite noble vocation in itself! Not all can handle being so charitable without having some sort of obligation that comes with families or religious orders.

Congratulate your daughter and feel blessed she’s already actively discerning her call :slight_smile: I remember going through that period from age 10 to 19…(and didn’t have any outside help besides the few books I found at the library to help me either, so that might account for the reason why it took so long to figure it out :wink: )


Single people can be very active members in their parish and can be every bit as devoted to God as married people. My Confirmation teacher was an older, single man and I am very inspired by his devotion to God and participation in the church. (: At one time I felt called to the single life, but when I turned fifteen or sixteen I started thinking that I was called to be a wife and mother.

It’s different for everyone. If she feels God is calling her to a single life, she would be blessed to have her family’s support. I don’t think it means she is “damaged” in any way!


I don’t know what the church teaches about this, but I would ceratinly hesitate to say that she’s “damaged”

Your daughter sounds a lot like me at the age of 16. I was convinced that I would go to college, go to law school and then work in law or politics and never get married and have kids. There were lots of adults around me who implied that I had something wrong with me because I didn’t envision a traditional role for myself as a woman. I finished college and started working in a male-dominated field and the assertiveness and determination I gained during my high school and college years was extremely beneficial. However, around the time I turned 23 I started to feel that I truly was called to be a wife and a mother.

I’m 26 now, and still single. But I am 100% certain that I’m meant to have a family. It is amazing how much God has changed my heart over the past three years. My job is still important to me, but I know that I’d give it up in a heartbeat to raise kids.

I think that it’s normal for a 16 year-old to feel certain that they have it all figured out, but things can really change. Your daughter sounds like she has a good head on her shoulders and I’m sure that she finds it insulting when people say that she’s “damaged” or condescendingly tell her that she’ll change her mind. If I were you, I would just encourage her to continue to pursue her studies and goals to the best of her abilities, but always remain open to how the Lord is leading her. In any case, I’m sure that she will turn out to be a blessing to all who come in contact with her, and a credit to you as a parent! :slight_smile:


Whoops :o I kinda categoricized priesthood under a general “religious”…go with what he said :wink:


It is always good to distinguish between priests( who have holy orders) and lay religious( who do not).

God Bless,


Whoa, “Sandra” I was just thinking about posting a similar question.

I’m in my twenties, but all my life I’ve had the hope that I would marry and have children. I have felt anguish and sadness that it didn’t happen.
However, for a few months now, I’ve been calm and I started thinking about marriage and children and I’m starting to think that I don’t really want to pursue that.

My question is that I started feeling bad for thinking like that. I thought that you had to be married, religious, or single but open to marriage.

I’ve thought about the religious before several times, but I don’t think that’s my path.

I’m single, but I feel like I’m not open to marriage and correct if me if I’m wrong, but is that a bad thing? Should I be single and open to marriage? Is that what the person might have meant by when the word “damaged”?


I think you should be single, but open to God’s will. I think that if you are called to be married someday, God will somehow let you know. (: If you don’t feel called to it, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about not being “open” to it. Some people are simply called by God to the single life, and that’s okay. n_n


She is only 16! At that age not many girls can see themselves as a mom. I know when I was 16 I just wanted a career, so I went to college, studied English literature at university, did a teacher-training course…and at the age of 26 was still single and NO WAY did I want children! I even thought this must mean I had a vocation as a nun, and stayed a year at a monastery…when I came out I worked, got to 28…still, NO desire to have kids! Met a man, got married…still for the first year or so was terrified I’d fall pregnant, really wasn’t maternal at all…Then aged 31 fell pregnant and lost the baby, and felt the WORST loss I’ve ever felt, overshadowing even the deaths of my parents! That’s when I knew I’d like to be a mom…and at 32 our daughter was born, followed 2 years later by her sister. I’m still not keen on other people’s kids, but I LOVE my daughters, without them I couldn’t imagine life!

Sooooooooooo…I’d suggest to let your daughter enjoy being young, enjoy her studies, build a career if she wishes…and see where life takes her! If God calls her, she’ll know…whatever it is. And don’t worry, she’s not ‘damaged’…if she were, a whole bunch of us would be!


If she was mine, I would be in the DRE’s, dean’s, pastor’s or principal’s/ headmaster’s office, and we would be having words about teachers who call 16 year olds “damaged” for a valid, licit lifestyle choice,AKA vocation!:mad:** I would first, of course, make sure that was what the techer did indeed say. If I found it to be true, the gloves would be off!**

When there are 12, 13, and 14 year old girls out there only half knowing what they’re doing, at best, getting pregnant out of wedlock, keeping babies, flushing newborns down toilets, and abandoning babies when there are places to leave them (no questions asked); gee, what could be going through this teacher’s head?


Wow, such great support! Thank you for these kind and thoughful responses.

My daughter has always had a practical streak, a good head on her shoulders, and she has always known who she is. She is not one to fall in with the crowd, nor is she easily influenced. She has more good sense at 16 than I did at twice her age! But most of all, the strength and commitment of her faith gives me such confidence in her future.

I will speak with the teacher, and ask her to clarify her comments.

In defense of the teacher, I do not know if she knew of my daughter’s lack of desire to have children when she made the statement in class, and may not know it could be hurtful or upsetting to her.

God Bless you all! :slight_smile:


When I was 16 I said I never wanted to get married, or have children. I was very serious about an acting career, got a scholarship to college and studied acting the first year.

Things change :slight_smile: I graduated with a degree in English, got married, and was pregnant about a month later :smiley: People who have not seen me since high school are shocked when they find out I am married and have a child.

I certainly don’t think your daughter is “damaged”…that’s just ridiculous. I think she’s 16. And she is starting to think about how she wants her life to be, and so what if she doesn’t think she wants kids right now? That could change. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. Doesn’t matter, as long as she follows God’s will for her life (and if she does that, she’ll probably end up somewhere she never thought possible anyways, seeing as God seems to have other plans up His divine sleeves, KWIM?) :slight_smile:


can’t comment on the teacher’s actual remark since I wasn’t there, but the sentiment sounds very much like the way many non-Catholic preachers and writers do when they attack clerical celibacy and consecrated religious life. I don’t like this as a tactic except in serious cases but this is serious since it is a misstatement of Catholic teaching. I would first go to the teacher and find out what was said, in what context, and if indeed problematic, go to the principal.


The only comment I wanted to add was that… I remember when I was 16 :slight_smile: Your daughter sounds very intelligent and mature, however, she may change her mind on having children. I wasn’t thinking about wanting to be a mother at ALL when I was 16, let alone having a husband.

Even when I was 21 and had a long term Catholic boyfriend, I wasn’t interested in marriage or children, at least not right away. I broke up with him when he proposed.

When I met my husband at age 23, I knew right then and there I wanted marriage and children.

I guess maybe your daughter is sure she doesn’t want them EVER.

I realize too that this topic is more about the comment that her teacher made. The comment itself is “damaging”. Who knows for sure how she meant it… :shrug:


**I want to chime in in defense of the teacher. Is it at all possible that what was said was meant more as " anyone who wants to be married but does not want children is damaged"? After all, that is how our society works now (marriage is so far separated from children/family) and that is what the teacher could have meant. And since your daughter is feeling a calling different from most (if not all) of her friends she may have taken it the wrong way.

Obviously I have no idea what was said or meant, just wanted to throw that out there to think about:thumbsup:**


Just wanted to comment that your daughter is only 16. She’s not an adult and can’t be expected to think like one yet. I didn’t want to be a mom at 16. I wanted to be a teenager. Teens tend to be very self-focused…like big 2 year olds, I’ve read, and probably aren’t good at perceiving the future like an adult. keep the communication open with her…don’t pressure her…continue to pray for her. God isn’t done with her yet.


I have a question for those posters dismissing the OP’s daughter’s feelings w/ the “she’s only 16, she may change her mind” mantra. While that is very true (I’m flabbergasted when I reflect on how different I am now than when I was a teenager and thought I knew everything), would you be saying (or rather, typing :wink: the same thing if this girl felt called to the religious life? For some reason, on this website, I doubt it. We’d all be applauding it, and giving the OP advice on how to encourage the vocation. The OP already stated that her daughter is very mature and focused and doesn’t “go w/ the crowd” (which, at that age, generally does reject marriage and children, although not recreational sex, something her daughter is apparently willing to live without). What I’m trying to say (in a long convoluted way), is 1: to not be so quick to dismiss this. It’s at that age that a lot young men and woman first feel called to the priesthood or religious life, why not the single life? And, 2: the OP wasn’t asking for advice on what to do w/ her daughter, she asked if it was Church teaching that one must either be married or be a priest, brother, or sister, and that anything else is “damaged” thinking? Which it most certainly is not.

Sorry for going on a mini-rant, it just seems that a lot of people have a problem w/ this girl feeling called to the single life. Maybe she really is, maybe not, only time will tell, but I don’t think we should try to discourage (or get parents to discourage) any valid vocation.

In Christ,



I stand corrected. You’re right. And I agree whole-heartedly that her daughter’s thinking isn’t ‘damaged’ and to say that it is could only make her daughter feel like there’s something ‘wrong’ with her adn that could have adverse effects. Some are called to be single…some married…some to a vocation. The point I was trying to make was, though, that a lot of 16 year olds aren’t thinking of marriage and children. Maybe she wants to go to college first? A calling to enter a religious life is wonderful but a 16 year could change his/her mind about that, too, couldn’t they? I just think 16 is too young to make a life-long committment to anything.


I agree with your assessment. I think teens believe the adult world and high school world are similar. They may equate future male-female relationships to that which they perceive in their peers.

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