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Growing up, what was your experience of 'family'?

  • 22-07-2021 7:58am
    Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 30,480 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Faith

    I'm curious about whether people's experiences of 'family' growing up influenced their decision to not have children as adults?

    I feel like mine certainly did. I didn't have a bad childhood, but of course it wasn't perfect. I have one sibling, much older and became totally disinterested in me once they hit adolescence. My parents were loving but never the type to put children first - you existed in their world and were expected to fall in line. Our house was ideal for adults - private, secluded - but very lonely and isolated for a child. Emotionally, I always felt that I was walking on eggshells, unable to predict what would set someone off and never feeling quite good enough. I never felt particularly 'heard' as a child. I was expected to entertain myself and not bother the adults, so I have no memories of my parents playing with me or making an effort to join in or anything. I was always expected to be incredibly independent, even at a very young age.

    Overall, I feel like these experiences shaped my view that children are a nuisance, and I think that's probably a big reason that I don't want kids. There's loads more, but this isn't my therapy thread 😂.

    Do you see any patterns or experiences from early life that shaped your decision to be child-free?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,964 ✭✭✭ budgese

    My parents had a similar style to yours. We were definitely a nuisance in their world and pretty much left to raise ourselves. Much horror and anger would ensue if we failed at this, as we were expected to be mature from a very young age. This worked out ok for one of us, but myself and other sibling were all over the place and got up to all sorts. Knowing what we were like and are still like definitely frightened me off ever wanting kids! But realistically I had made that decision from an extremely young age, because I also was brought up to believe children were an annoyance and a suffering. My mother always counters my "I don't want kids" with "I didn't want any either!" And one of these days I will likely tell her the truth and that it really, really showed in our upbringing.

    Catch evolve transfer

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,611 ✭✭✭ nothing

    I think maybe my mother expected a child akin to a doll that grows, unfortunately she got a fiercely independent child in me. My emotional needs were never met, and I was (and am, I suppose) very sensitive, so there were a lot of them. There was an atmosphere of fear, anger, frustration among us all growing up. Punishments came for the slightest perceived wrong doing. My siblings came along when I was 5 and 12. My brother was the golden child, could do no wrong. If there was a fight between us (because violence was the solution we were brought up with) then it was my fault, as I was oldest, no matter my actual age. My sister was then foisted on me to mind as my mother developed PND, which was blamed on me a few years later.

    Dad went out to work every day, so he wasn't a huge presence, but he just went along with what my mother wanted anyways, to keep the peace.

    Mother minded children at home too, I could never understand anyone leaving their kids in our house. They were shoved in front of the tv in buggies for hours on end, or sent out the back with myself or my brother to mind them.

    She always told me as a teen that if I got accidentally pregnant, she'd mind the kid until I finished school or college or whatever. I think that was probably when I first realistically thought "fuuuuu, nope, no kids!"

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,997 ✭✭✭✭ DaCor

    I've stated my reasons in other threads but to answer your question Op, my experiences with my own family had zero to do with my decision. I had a good, happy and love filled upbringing. It, in no way, influenced my childfree decision

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,282 ✭✭✭ Aisling(",)

    I grew up with 3 older siblings and had great parents.Always being brought on days out,ferried to whatever hobbies interested us,holidays etc and they spent time with us and made us feel included.

    I always felt they were a bit too strict but my eldest brother went off the rails so I get it.I'm still close with them now.I'm close enough with my sibling and their kids too.

    I wouldn't consider my parents to be a reason why I don't want kids ,though you could argue the fact I saw them spending their time and energy on their kids as something I don't want to do.

  • Registered Users Posts: 146 ✭✭ honeyjo

    My upbringing wasn't bad but not perfect. My father ruled the roost with an iron fist and my mother placated him. Anything for a quiet life.

    A lot of the time I was walking on eggshells due to his foul temper. I'm the oldest so I got the brunt of his temper. We were clothed well, fed well and always had a roof over our heads. My mother is a very kind person but I feel she pandered to my Dad's every whim. I can't say for certain if this put me off having kids. I knew from when was a teenager I didn't want children.

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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Objectively speaking I was a lucky, privileged kid, but I don't have any happy 'family life' memories. My family are good people but we've never been close, have nothing in common, and we've long since lost interest in getting to know each other.

    I see my parents about every two months. For them since retirement, it seems to give them something to be proud of in public that I 'turned out well' (read: have a gaff and a boyfriend). I'm nice to them mainly because I feel like it would be cruel not to, and they do help me out with stuff sometimes.

    While everything's all civil now, I really struggled as a kid, and I'd hate to have to revisit that in any way by having my own children. It's taken me a long time to get to a place where mentally I'm capable of self-care, and now that I've got some peace I intend to make life as easy for myself as I can. I don't think having children really fits with that mindset.

  • Registered Users Posts: 927 ✭✭✭ BuboBubo

    I'm the eldest of 3. My siblings are a lot younger than me. I saw my mother being horribly sick and depressed during pregnancy and after their births too.

    Me - i couldn't do anything right. Everything I did as a kid was wrong. Constantly corrected. Even now, as I'm approaching my 50s, she's still at it (although now I quickly retaliate). I know I wasn't a "planned" kid, I probably condemned her to a life of motherly drudgery.

    My siblings have kids, she's really the doting grandma nowadays bless her. But she never babysits - says she's "served her time".

    To me, children are a joyless hardship to be endured, and I'm certain she shaped that. My father wasn't interested in us either.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,715 ✭✭✭✭ Dial Hard

    Definitely nothing to do with my lack of interest in having children, I was (and am) incredibly lucky with my family. I'm the youngest of five and while my siblings saw it as their noblest calling in life to make life as difficult as possible for me (and each other!) I grew up feeling nothing but secure, safe and most importantly, loved. I got in all the usual amounts of trouble (probably more than my fair share, tbh) and had more than one run-in with the wooden spoon but I never felt anything other than unconditional love from my parents, even while getting shouted at at times!

    My whole family - 20 of us now, including partners and children - are still extremely close and go on holidays, weekends away and regular meals out together. They drive me demented but I love them to bits and genuinely have no idea what I'd do without them.

    I just never, ever had any interest in having children!

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,249 ✭✭✭ sunbabe08

    Its not that I had a bad childhood that influence my lack of desire to have children, I had a good childhood, I was known as the quiet one of the family, left alone to my own devices. I know when I was in my twenties my mum was talking about grandkids and felt the pressure and I would panic, but then my brother had my niece and my nephew, I literally cheered.

  • Registered Users Posts: 92 ✭✭ scottygee

    I'm the 2nd out of 4 children. To be honest, I like being in the middle, they let me do things more freely compared to the eldest and the youngest.

    I can say that we're really close (I mean all four of us since we only have a 2-year gap for each). It was a good childhood. But we aren't close to our relatives that much since my father is strict and doesn't get along that much with my other relatives, they think he's crazy for taking a lot of risks, especially with business. But I admire him for being like that cause it somehow taught me to be one as well. Plus he lets us decide what we really want to do and supports us all the way.

    We're all in our 20s and in terms of having children or family, we aren't that into it yet. Probably because we're too busy with our own careers. But I do see myself having kids probably in my mid 30s.

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  • Posts: 18,752 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    My parents were young and unmarried when I was born in the 70s.

    My father was useless, alcoholic and womaniser. He was not around much in my life. I have two younger siblings and tbf, we had a grand happy childhood. We didn't have anything, no holidays, no extras, my mother didn't even drive until I was in my 20s. She worked hard, very hard.

    I actually don't think that influenced my decision so much, but watching my mother and other friends trying to bring up kids alone possibly did. I would never have any interest in being a single mother.

    And then, when I am in a relationship with someone, I love being able to do anything we want, go where we want, love the spontaneity. Would hate to be tied down.

    So, while i don't feel my childhood affected my decision, it may have done subconsciously.