Childfree People Over 40 Reveal Whether They Regret Their Life Choices

The decision whether or not to have children is extremely easy for some to make. If you’ve dreamt of being a parent your entire life and have had baby names picked out since you were 15, you probably haven’t thought twice about it. On the other hand, if you love your independence and live a transient lifestyle, the thought of bringing kids into the picture might not have ever crossed your mind.

But for some of us, the right time just never comes. It may not be a conscious decision not to start a family, but you may wake up one day and realize that it’s just not going to happen. Redditors who are over 40 and single have recently been discussing whether or not they regret not having kids, so we’ve gathered some of their thoughts below. Enjoy scrolling through, whether you’re a parent or not, and keep reading to find a conversation with Sue Fagalde Lick, creator of the Childless by Marriage blog and author of Childless by Marriage and Love or Children: When You Can’t Have Both.

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I do regret – but if I had children with any of my previous partners, I’m sure I’d regret that more.

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41 male here, no I do not regret anything. My mental health is balanced thanks to me being a “hermit” for 13 years now

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50M and no.

My mental health fluctuations would not have provided a good and healthy home for kids to grow up in. It’s not that I wouldn’t have loved them, in fact that’s more the why I didn’t, because I respect these people that don’t exist because of this choice enough to not pass on my problems. It was a decision I came to, probably in my early 20s.and even when times have been good, and I have been stable, I have never regretted the decision.

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To gain more insight on this topic, we reached out to author and blogger Sue Fagalde Lick. Sue is the creator of the Childless by Marriage blog and author of several books including Childless by Marriage, Love or Children: When You Can’t Have Both, and No Way Out of This: Loving a Partner with Alzheimer’s, which comes out this June. Sue was kind enough to have a chat with Bored Panda about her experience being childless and when she realized that kids weren’t in the cards for her.

“I grew up assuming that I would have children. All of the women around me were mothers. I mothered my many dolls and my big black cat,” she shared. “Before my first husband and I were married, we signed forms at church saying we would welcome children and raise them in the Catholic faith.”

“During our six-year marriage, I spent a lot of time knitting and crocheting baby things and fantasizing about being pregnant. My husband was in no hurry to have children,” Sue continued. “Not yet, he kept saying. By the time I realized he didn’t ever want kids, the marriage was broken. He married twice after me and didn’t have children with those wives either.”


I regret not having enough money to have the choice. 

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Nope, i prefer my lifestyle of travelling. Too much stress dealing with a family. Bad enough with my parents who are getting old.

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45M. Not married but not single. No kids wanted or had, no regrets.

You realize not being married nor having children doesn’t mean someone doesn’t have a family, yeah? What does one call one’s parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.? It also ignores people’s “family of choice,” i.e. longtime friends who are often closer than family.

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“When I remarried in my early 30s, I thought I might still have children, but my second husband, who was 14 years older than I was, already had two sons and a daughter from his first marriage and didn’t want any more,” Sue shared. “He had had a vasectomy after his youngest son was born.”

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“I should have known then that it was never going to happen for me, but I spent years hoping for a miracle that didn’t happen. I was in my 40s when the truth finally sank in,” she continued. “I hoped that my stepchildren would fill the gap, but we never formed a close bond. When my husband was 65, he developed Alzheimer’s Disease. He died at 73, leaving me a widow at age 59. I have been single and living alone since 2011.”


F58. Would have loved to have gotten married but never wanted children and don’t regret not having had any.

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49F and if you’d asked me thirty years ago, I would have assumed I would find someone lovely to marry and have children with… even though, deep down, I hated myself, and my mother’s lousy parenting methods, enough to not really want to pass on any of my genes to my unfortunate imaginary offspring.

As I hurtle towards 50, I’m just really grateful that I didn’t reproduce with any of the d**kheads I used to settle for during my childbearing years.

As a single cat lady, people do eventually stop asking: ‘do you want children?’… only for it to be replaced by: ‘would you have liked to have children?’ ?

Mostly, I’m a bit sad that I never did find the great human love of my life – a best friend to navigate life with – but I count my friends, and my blessings.

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53m. Regret it every day.

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Although Sue didn’t choose to be childless, she can still acknowledge some of the upsides of not having kids. “Freedom is the big one. No babysitters, no working around a school schedule, no being interrupted every five minutes by a child needing attention,” she noted. “During the years we might have spent raising children, we are free to work, travel, and pursue our dreams. We don’t have to wait until the kids are grown to do things for ourselves. We have more choice about how to use our money, too.”


Almost 40 female. Never regretted. Sitting here on the Red Sea on a deck chair, sipping a cocktail. Scrolling reddit at 1pm on a Wednesday. I was also a live in Nanny for 8 years to other peoples kids, so it’s not like I don’t know what it’s like.

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35F- not quite there at 40+, but I think I’m close enough. I’ve been single for over 10 years now, so I don’t see that changing.

I would’ve loved to have been married and had kids. I think it’s too late for me to have kids now… I don’t see myself getting married, either. It would’ve been nice… it wasn’t my choice- I was just never… anyone’s choice. So, there’s nothing to regret, cause it wasn’t my decision- but I still feel like I’ve missed out on something special.

I would’ve made a good wife, I think.

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Nope. I have an average income and still barely make it until the next month’s pay.

I can’t imagine how anyone can have a family and kids without being very wealthy.

I mean, my kids wouldn’t starve, but I wouldn’t be able to buy them everything they want and give them a top tier life. So, I feel it’s better this way.

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While many people choose to be childfree and are happy with that choice, there are also many people who did want to have families. So we were curious what Sue wishes parents understood about what it’s like to be childless. “So many people don’t understand that it really is not by choice. Not directly anyway. I am childless because the men I married wouldn’t or couldn’t give me children. The man I dated between marriages would have gladly gotten me pregnant, but he was abusive, and my life with him would have been horrible.”


As a guy nearing his 40s: id love to have a family, but my genetics are so broken that it would be unresponsible to pass them on to any children

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I (F) turned 40 this year. Single, never been married and no kids. When I was younger I definitely envisioned having a husband and a kid or two. But I’ve reached a point where I definitely don’t want to give birth to my own, but I have been thinking about adopting, especially an older kid. But it is a bit daunting to take on by myself. A supportive spouse would be great, but the dating world can be so frustrating.

Maybe I’ll eventually adopt, maybe I won’t. However I do certainly enjoy many aspects of my life with just me and my pets. I don’t have to worry about a babysitter, can travel pretty easily (with or without the dogs), and I have a great group of friends, many of whom I also consider family.

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I am 40f. My regret is being with someone who didn’t fully commited when I ready. When I talked about having children he started saying things like: “It’s unfair to not be able to ask the children himself if he wants to exist.” And said I don’t want to do it to you. (Talking about pregnancy’s risk and toll on your body) Eventually I decided he wasn’t ready and I stuck around way too long. So I am unhappy I never had kids but I am learning to live without them.

“’You did this to yourself,’ my sister-in-law told me once,” Sue shared. “Her whole life is wrapped around her children and grandchildren. ‘Stay away from Aunt Sue. She doesn’t do kids,’ she told her daughter’s children. Wrong. I love children. Don’t shut us out because we’re not moms and dads.”

“Parents don’t understand that we didn’t choose this, that it hurts like hell, that we are not anti-kid, and that we’re not weird or crazy because we’re not parents,” she continued. “I wish they understood that we grieve the loss and are ever conscious of what we’re missing.”


I’m a 42 year old female with no husband or kids. The only reason I regret not having kids is because I don’t feel connected to my friends or community. I’m pretty introverted so that makes me feel isolated. Other people’s reasons for having kids seem selfish to me. I don’t need kids so someone can take care of me when I’m old or because that’s what I’m suppose to do. I love kids but I can’t imagine them in my life Traveling the world and loving my pets is fulfilling enough.

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Female and over 40. I tried getting pregnant with 3 different men and none of them was able to impregnate me.

2 of those men fathered kids in previous relationship. 

So I think the problem is me. 

I was depressed in my late thirties about never having kids. 

But now seeing my siblings with children actually made me super glad I didn’t have them. 

I am not envying their life right now and it’s much nicer to be auntie. 

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47M, no regrets not having children, considering the state of the planet, along with the increasing cost of living.

In fact I personally believe that if I cannot provide an equal or better standard of living to any hypothetical child of mine than what I enjoyed as a child it would be incredibly selfish and abusive to said child.

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Sue also shared what she would like people to understand before deciding whether or not to have children. “Yes, raising children is difficult and expensive. You sacrifice a lot, but they are not children forever. Eventually they become adults you’ll be glad to have in your life,” she told Bored Panda. “You should not let someone else make the decision for you. If you don’t have children, you could end up very alone in your older years. The loss doesn’t go away.”

Sue also pointed out that IVF costs a fortune and frequently doesn’t work, and adoption is expensive and difficult as well. “There are no easy fixes. If you physically cannot have children, you need to grieve that loss as much as if someone you loved has died, but know that there are other things you can do with your life and you have the gift of time and freedom to pursue your dreams,” Sue shared.


M41… no, don’t regret it, I never wanted kids, and so far, that’s working out. Always dated women with no desire to have kids either. Don’t want to get married… or live with someone either. I do kinda live a hermit lifestyle

I don’t want a family life anyway, never did… I’m totally fine with being by myself and spending all my time, money and space on things I want, rather than things I have to because I have a kid or something… (because I’m well aware that these thing take resources from me, I don’t want to spend)

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No. I deal with depression and I have a lot of difficulty reading people.

My fear was that I’d pass whatever genes cause depression on to my children and / or I’d have a really hard time reading my kids and either be too strict or too naive to raise them.

Had a vasectomy at 26. Was a pain (wanted to say, “a pain the in the a*s” but thought better of it) because no doctor would agree to it. Started looking at 24 and couldn’t even get a referral from my PCP to a urologist.

Eventually went to planned parenthood and they agreed to do it. But they didn’t accept my insurance. So, went back to my PCP and told him to make a referral or I’d go to Planned Parenthood and have them do it.

He made the referral and the urologist said he’d do it but he made me go through three months of counseling beforehand.

While I won’t pretend to fully understand the struggles women have with reproductive health, I do kind of get it. If someone says, “I shouldn’t have children.” for God’s sake, believe them.

As a side note – I’m 50. I’ve only dated one girl who felt my vasectomy was a deal breaker. Every other girl was literally relieved and happy that we wouldn’t need to use birth control – though I am always insistent we get STD panels before we sleep together.


38F I don’t regret the kids thing, I love kids, and I have 3 nieces and a nephew that I adore, but they are a handful and I can honestly not picture myself having to deal with all of that on a permanent full-time basis. Even just 1 might be too much.

As for a partner, theoretically, I would like that, someone to share the load with.
Practically, however, is a different story. Whenever most new couples start to reach the point where they get comfortable being around each other and want to spend more time together or move the relationship forward, my anxiety acts up. I get stressed out by this person constantly occupying space with me.

I mean, goddammit, just let me sit on my couch munching popcorn in peace and don’t be here.

I’ve just figured out I’m a lot more comfortable on my own, and I will probably stay that way.

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“I am childless by marriage. As far as I know, I had no fertility problems,” Sue noted. “There are more people like me than you would think. In a society with so many divorces and remarriages, the second wife or husband may lose their chance because their partner has already raised children and doesn’t want to start over.”

“Also, these days, many young couples find they just can’t afford to have children. Overwhelmed with student loan debt and a huge cost of living, they can’t even buy a house; how can they raise kids and pay for everything they need? They may delay childbearing until it’s too late,” she added. “Childlessness comes in many forms, and there are more of us all the time. Strangers need to stop opening conversations with, ‘How many kids do you have?'”


First marriage was when I was 18 to an abusive friend of my stepfather. That lasted 5 years.

Second marriage was 10 years to a mentally and financially abusive guy.

Had a boyfriend for 6 years, broke up because I was tired of being his mother.

I am 45 and single, it’s been 3 years since the breakup and I do not miss being in relationships.

Never had kids and I am thankful I made that decision otherwise I would be tied to people that I would rather not be.

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I (Male 47) have been on both sides of this. So I have more insight than others.

I was married for 10 years and got divorced at 36. We didn’t have kids together (Thank god)

After the divorce was single into my 40’s. I had an awesome job, great big house all to myself, “A LOT” of disposable income and friends to hang out with to keep my busy. Traveled with work and for fun. And I was dating a lot. I thought it was the best thing ever.

I was on track to be that old creepy guy that hangs out at bars hitting on younger women.

But I ended up meeting a great woman. She moved in and after a few years we had a fantastic baby enter our lives.

Being a partner and a parent is 10x more stressful. But its 1000000x more rewarding and fulfilling.

When I reflect on these two different lives I lived, I wish I had met my partner earlier and I didn’t waste so much time f*****g around, partying, hanging out with friends, and blowing my money. Because my partner and I really want a second child, but unfortunately we have aged out.

I often think about the poem used at the end of the last James Bond film, No Time to Die.

*”the proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” -Jack London.*


Modern life is brutal. We sign away the best time of our lives just to scrape by until we retire and hopefully have something left to make it till the end. I’m not going to put another soul through that.


I’m 36 I’m not even at the feeling ready for a baby time yet lol. I haven’t said no but I don’t think it will be on the cards for me. I’ve never really had a desire to be a mum though I find it exhausting. I work with kids every day it’s enough for me


44 F and absolutely zero regrets. All my friends with partners and kids start all their conversations with I love my family but… then go on to say how lucky I am. I have a very fulfilling job. Love my friends and get to be the fun at to all their kids. I have such a peaceful and stress free life. Not one of my friends makes me feel jealous or makes me want what they have even if their partners are amazing and great providers. I love having freedom to do what I want when I want it. I love not having to stress about others and their choices. I love the quiet and when I want the chaos I can choose it at my own discretions.


My dad used to say I wouldn’t take $1 billion for one of my children but I wouldn’t pay $.50 to have another one


41f recently broke up with my 38m ex boyfriend with whom I was living with since more than 3 years. We didn’t want children since the beginning but he left saying that since we are not going to start a family there is no reason to be in a couple. I disagree but I have to cope with it and go on and it’s f*****g painful


55 male. Never married no kids
Honesty I wish I would have found someone but it never happened. I spent my early 20’s in the military and it seems that is when most get married. Don’t even look or try anymore.
About 3 years ago my mother passed away and my brother a few months later.
I got hit with this I am alone in this world feeling. It is not pleasant especially during the holidays.
So yea I got regrets.


46M, I never got married or had any kids. I got SA’d multiple times as a child and it has utterly destroyed my life and me as a person. I have a collection of broken relationships (lovers and family) in the past where I’ve pushed my girlfriends and family members away because of my mental health issues and self hatred and very self destructive tendencies. While I’d still love to settle down and be a dad, I’m a realist… I know that’s unlikely to happen the older I get. And tbh the older I get the more I’m sure that i do not want to hurt other people by inflicting my mental health and personal demons on them.


Not me but my sister, she talks about this frequently. She’s 41, never married, no kids. It wasn’t by her choice necessarily. She made a lot of mistakes when she was in her 20s with drinking and duis. Various other life events led her to now where she lives with my parents. She blames herself all the time and says she f****d up, no one will ever want to date a 41 yo who’s never been married etc. She has her s**t in order now, a job she’s been at for 2 years and going into management. I wish she had the confidence and care to not completely give up.

I guess to answer your question, she’s very unhappy about it but kind of just accepts it.


40s, single female.

Sometimes I do as I always wanted kids and I feel as if I have no value to men as I can’t have kids anymore.

Other times, I’m glad. I am not great with a budget and struggle with my mortgage. I also am mostly undateable so maybe having kids is not a great idea! And I am just happy to be able to live my life and do whatever I want. I go away, have hobbies, stay up etc. Never have to worry about anyone else!


49 here and no.


42F. Semi-regret. I didn’t think about kids or marriage at all in my 20’s. Too busy having fun. In my mid-thirties I was ready for all that, but the life partner just never came. Although ive had a good life and got to spend it doing anything I wanted (travel, years salsa dancing), I now wish I had children.


62 in 6 days. Never married no kids. Sometimes I wonder how it would have been. Bur I feel God has led me on this path. I was able to help out my parents at the end of their lives. I like being alone at times.


There’s a lot of my life that I don’t love, but I really love being single and not having any depends. That freedom is awesome.


54 male, 48 wife. We made an active decision. WHilst I don’t regret it, the downside now we are getting older is becoming clearer… We will die alone.


48M Here, and never been married, no kids. I’ve shared a house with friends until I was 35 then bought my own place. I had a flatmate until 5 years ago and I’ve never been happier. I work full time, I get to eat what I want, life is good. Could I have married? Yes, but I never met someone I hated enough to inflict me onto them.


I’m 33 (M) about to turn 34 and I feel like I’m just missing out on life by not having children or even having a partner.

My last relationship lasted for 2.5 years, we broke up just before COVID happened and I’ve just been doing casual hookups and such since that point in time, now currently, the idea of getting back into a relationship with another woman is daunting, it actually fills me with dread, like I don’t want to go through that again but at the same time, I would like to start a family at some point. Idk, I guess I just feel lost more than anything else.


I’m not 40, but I’m 38. And I don’t. I do however like to have casual relationships, for now it’s still pretty easy to get them, I wonder if it’ll be the same down the line. Kids I’m pretty sure I’ll never want to have, but maybe get married eventually, let’s hope I’m not too late if I decide I want that. For now though I can’t see myself having a comited relationship for too long.

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