Women who want to have kids should make it a high priority in their early twenties to find a partner. This week’s Newsweek cover story, Marriage by the Numbers, says is okay to wait until after 35 to get married. Newsweek is revising the saying that a woman has more chance of getting hit by a truck than getting married after age 35.

But the article ignores one of the most pressing issues facing Generation X: Infertility. No generation of women has had more trouble with fertility than this generation who received the terrible advice, “Wait. You have time. Focus on your career first.”

In fact, you have your whole life to get a career. This is not true about having a baby.

Even if you are past your early twenties, or not heterosexual, if you’re single and want to have kids with a partner, you need to find one now. Take that career drive and direct it toward mating because your career skills will outlast your ovaries.

In case you think you’re waiting for “the right time,” there is no evidence to show when in a woman’s career is best to have kids. At any point, she is thrown off track. At any point when a woman has kids, statistically she will start to earn less money even if she takes no maternity leave whatsoever. There is no evidence to show that it’s easier to take time out of the workforce at a certain point in a career. People just plain don’t know.

Phyllis Moen, professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota, told me in an interview, “Don’t wait until the right time in your career to have a child or it will never come.”

However there is lots of evidence to show that a woman’s biological clock takes a nose-dive at age 35. I know, because that’s when I started having kids. The geneticist showed me and my husband a graph of Down’s Syndrome and we nearly keeled over when we saw the cliff at 35. We had no idea. That Down’s Syndrome cliff, though, is a stand-in for everything, because a huge percentage of fertility statistics get bad at 35.

There is also lots of evidence to say that having kids at least two years apart is best for the kids. However there is a distinct advantage for first-born kids. They are richer, smarter, and as if that’s not enough, year after year 90% of Harvard’s incoming freshmen are first-born. You can mitigate the impact of birth order on your second child by having three years between kids.

If you start when you are thirty-one, you can have two kids, three years apart, before you’re thirty-five. But this plan does not take into consideration that about 20% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage. This means you have almost a 50% chance of having to go through three pregnancies to have two kids, which means you should start when you’re thirty.

If you want to have babies when you’re thirty, then you probably want to be married when you’re twenty-eight. This is good news because if you marry very young you’re more likely to get divorced, but the statistics get much better if you wait until you’re twenty-five. For a healthy marriage, experts think people should be married two or three years before they consider having children. A reasonable expectation is to meet someone, date for a couple of years, and get engaged with almost a year’s time to pull off a wedding. So you need to meet the person at age twenty-four.

So this means that it may make sense for men to work full-speed ahead on their career in their early twenties, but women cannot afford that. Women need to make time in their lives to search for a mate in the same systematic, focused way that women have been searching for careers in their early twenties. And don’t tell yourself you’re waiting until you know yourself better. Getting to know yourself is a lifelong process, and after age twenty-five, waiting to get married won’t decrease your chance of divorce.

The good news here is that a large body of research shows that you will gain more happiness by being married than by having a good job. Yes, you should not have to choose between a good job and marriage. But this column is not about what is fair or what is just. It is about what is real.

You have a biological clock that does not pay attention to issues of social justice. You cannot control your biological clock and you cannot control the workplace. But you can control where you spend your time and energy, and you should look hard for a husband early on. Line up the marriage first, then the career.


Enter your name and email address below. No spam. Unsubscribe anytime.

349 replies
« Older CommentsNewer Comments »
  1. MajorHart
    MajorHart says:

    Good observations here. I think what many of us are trying to say is that there is no particular size that fits all for all people – and having NO kids is an option too.

    I think a man and his lady have to have some adult fun first – and I don’t particularly mean sex. Just being together, doing things together – building the bedrock of a successful marriage or relationship. If I knew my wife was on a treadmill with making babies in mind – I would run away.

    I think individuals have to be in agreement about when or if to have children. I don’t think it’s good for kids growing up to realize they are the reason a relationship exists – rather, they should realize they are only a part of a relationship. I had 8 male friends when I was younger – 6 of them either had a girlfriend or wife get pregnant within just a few months and without consulting the husband or boyfriend. 6 of 8 hit the road – due mostly to the deception and feeling the gf or wife was trying to trap them. Babies are 25 years if you do it right and many men don’t want to spend the best years of their lives raising babies, dealing with potential delinquencies Some do want to do that but it’s not a decision for either to make alone. For a man – having a wife doesn’t necessarily mean having kids – It didn’t with me and was a feeling I shared with my great wife of almost 40 years now. We both like kids but didn’t want any of our own. We’d had a great life together and hope there is a lot more to come. We workout, play, watch birds, try to make money and are politically active as well. All these things would not have been possible had we had kids.

    We do know that many women feel compelled to have kids and sometimes a lot of them. Some think that is the only reason they are alive. We think of that “what an empty person this is.”

    Thanks for your post

  2. fengshui
    fengshui says:

    Ummmmm…. what!?!? This is not only an unrealistic article, but quite bizarre. I had NO DESIRE what-so-ever to get married in my early 20’s. And, I found it very hard to date men seriously without being educated. Most of the men that I dated were impressed with my drive and education and epressed that their expectation that their wife have a master’s degree. I also had the desire to LIVE, date, travel… I married when I was 30. I’m still not sure if this is going to work out. I’m turning 33 next month. So, I’m supposed to have a child with someone that I’m not sure if we’re not going to stay married? Getting married for the sake of getting married is disturbing. Get married because you’re truly IN LOVE, no matter what age, when you’re READY. If we all married when it was RIGHT and not by a “biological clock” perhaps more people would stay married.

  3. fengshui
    fengshui says:

    “second child before 34 to avoid the probability of a genetic abnormality”

    You’re being paranoid here…. There is still plenty of time to have a healthy baby. I’m turning 33 next month and I have no children yet. I married at 30, and now I’m not even sure if this marriage is going to last. But I’m not going to bring a child into this world simply because I feel compelled to by society. Yes, the risk increases as a woman reaches the 35-40 range, but many, many women have healthy, happy babies in the 35-40 range. And, I haven’t felt READY to be a mom until now. And, I speak with knowledge regarding risks, as I am a nurse practitioner.

  4. E
    E says:

    Penelope has done a fantastic public service through this article. The sad fact is that fertility takes a nose-dive at 35. If you think otherwise, go do your research. Sure somebody’s aunt Sophie might have had a baby in her 40’s, but she is the exception to the rule. And forget all the news reports about women having baby’s in their 60’s — none of them used their own eggs.

    It is very painful for a couple to realize that they have spent too much time working their asses off to afford a decent house in a kid-friendly neighborhood with an extra room for the baby only to realize they’re too old to have a baby.

    Hopefully Penelope’s article saved a few couples from this fate.

    • John Hansen
      John Hansen says:

      SO . . . life does NOT end if you never have a baby – if that’s all you’re living more – you’re an empty shell of a human being.

      Women often get the urge because their friends have babies, but that’s not a good reason to have them.

      Only if you and your partner want a baby and for your wn reasons and not as the only important thing in life.


  5. fengshui
    fengshui says:

    I’m certainly NOT advocating for people to wait until they are 40 years old to think about a baby. However, it is foolish to think that because someone is 35, that they shouldn’t even try because of “risks”. Yes, fetility declines as we age:
    Pregnancy Rate (within 12 months of trying)
    Ages 20 – 24: 86 Percent
    Ages 25 – 29: 78 percent
    Ages 30 – 34: 63 percent
    Ages 35 – 39: 52 percent

    These figures do NOT include fetility “boosters” such as Clomid and other treatments. As an NP, I see MANY, MANY women in their 30’s having healthy, beautiful babies. I’ve been seeing more and more women in their 40’s having babies too. I see miscarriages at ALL ages. I do not advocate having a baby while in an unstable marriage just to have a baby while in your 20’s. Babies fon’t “save” marriges. And, there is also absolutely nothing wrong with adoption! So, yes, fertility decreases with age, but from ages 25-29 to 35-39, it decreases by 26%, hardly a “nosedive”. Once over 40, then it does indeed, decrease much more. I also do not “advocate” for having a baby in 18-22 range (unfortunately when fertility is the highest). That is incredibly young, and many people in this cohort have children for the wrong reasons, because they tend to make more “implusive” decisions. Children are NOT an experiment…..

  6. fengshui
    fengshui says:

    “Only if you and your partner want a baby and for your wn reasons and not as the only important thing in life.”

    Well said! :-)

  7. jcutter
    jcutter says:

    Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, you need to get the marriage right the first time. Popping out too babies before this 35 year deadline in some dead heat race is not going to help the kid if their parents are divorced. Some men, many men are not ready to have kids in their early 30’s. My husband wasn’t. Most men are older than their wives. So, women out there you need to have this conversation with your prospective husband even if right now in your 20’s you swear you would never want to have kids. If you think you never want kids and you have the money, freeze your eggs! Egg quality is the major issue. Also, I would stress to those of you who haven’t followed this neat little plan because of whatever reason that you should go to a reproductive endicronologist sooner rather than later and get basic fertility testing done for yourself (even if you are single) and on your man. There is ample evidence to suggest that men have a biological clock and that sperm that is over 35 years of age also begins to exhibit abnormalities that can result in higher incident of autism, schizophrenia. I just think that we should all be more educated. I think it is a travesty that OB’s aren’t required to start educating women on their fertility by the time they are 25 years of age. At least give them a brochure, something. So many young women just don’t realize it. Me, I met my husband at 21, we broke up, we got back together. We married when I was 28. Husband wasn’t ready and was several years older than me. Job sent me accross country without him and that took almost a year. A few months prior to turning 32, I started trying. After several miscarriages, I delivered a healthy baby boy at 34. If I have another child, guess what, I will be 35. Also, note that it is the age of conception, not delivery. And further, the cliff at age 35 is an average based on all women. You can have a Day 3 ovarian reserve/volume and FSH test done. When I had mine at 32 and at 34, my RE said that my fertility age was much younger. I menstruated much later at 15 and my mother went through menopause much later, there are lots of factors that can dictate your “fertility age”. I think the main point is not to panic, but to get educated so that you are making educated decisions.

  8. Crystal
    Crystal says:

    What is so wrong about having kids? If your parents thought the same about you you would not be here.
    I am 21 and married. I will finish my law degree in 2 years and I plan to complete my Masters thereafter. I am a determine person so I doubt having a child will stop me from accomplishing my goals as I hope to have a child during my life year for my Bachelors in Law.

    Life is a balance. If you focus too heavily on one aspect you will have problems with another aspect. My mother was a nurse, a mother, a wife, and a student with four kids who are now a doctor, lawyer, police officer, and teacher. I am sure she did not have the financial funds the experts assist you must have before raising a child.

    Having kids is both the husband and wife decision..however the husband should take into consideration that the wife is the one carries the child for 9 months…the wife has a time limit. When you make decisions be sensitive to that.
    Life by itself throws many disasters,if a man allows the fact that his wife want a child to destroy his marriage then that is something to be sad about. It means both allow their selfishness to rule their happiness.

    If a person wishes to wait then wait..if there is consequences then I’m sure you will deal with it.
    If a person decides not to wait then cool do not make a woman seem stupid because she choose to give life.

    For those who said there is no need to have kids…I wonder if they value their life. What if their parents thought the same way, then they would not be here to even say that. There is something life changing that a child brings..and if you teach the child good morals and values the child will make you proud, and be there for you in your old age.

    I dont care how healthy I am at age 40 i would rather run behind a 2 year old in my 20s then 40s. When I reach 40 hopefully my kids will be out the house and my husband and I can get back to dating each other, enjoying life and visting our grandkids. Do you think you will see your grandkids if you have kids at 40, if your kids does the same thing you did.

    I am married at 21 to a man 27, no kids, no second married..(no offense). You can be chossy when you reach a certian age. At my age I could.

    There are exceptions to every rule and if you’re an exception dont get offend. Eveyone is entitle to their own opinion.

    • ME
      ME says:

      If you plan to have a law degree & further your education, you better get a tutor for remedial spelling & grammar.

      I don’t think it was you but someone else: “Edged in stone!!”

      People, please! Don’t have babies when you cannot even write precise English in a short post. You won’t be able to help your kids w/their homework.

      • Cushy
        Cushy says:

        What a horrible thing to say! She’s just a young girl expressing her opinion. I’m not entirely supporting her view, but who cares if she has a few grammatical errors? And since when does scoring 100% on your NAPLAN test ensure you will be a good parent? In the workforce, some of the most talented professionals cannot spell for the life of them. I come across people like this a lot in my field. Sure, it makes me giggle, but not in any way does it diminish their value to their profession, nor the quality of their parenting.

  9. fengshui
    fengshui says:

    Wow… lots of “opinionated” people here. Crystal, I do not believe that anyone has said that there is anything “wrong” with having children. It is just that things are changing A LOT in our country, and it just isn’t as simple as it once was to have children…. I mean, there is no way in h*ll that my hubby and I could have 4 children. In my city, day care is on average $1,100 PER CHILD PER MONTH. That is 75% of our take home pay. But we can’t live off of just one income because we’re both fresh out of college. It just can’t happen. I’m a woman and I just turned 33. My husband is 32. We’ve only been married for 3 years. First marriage for both of us. We’re not ready for a baby yet. Does that make us bad people??? I think not. We’re trying to do the right thing by not ending up bankrupt. I just graduated with my MS Nursing. I’m trying to pay off my student loans and credit cards first. Then, within a year, we can try for a baby, and maybe I might make enough for hubby to be a SAHD. We’ll see. I feel plenty young and energetic for a baby. I couldn’t imagine only being 40 and having a child in college, that seems bizarre to me because 40 is still “young” to me…. but we’re all different. I have NO desire to be a grandmother before the age of 60…. lol.

    • Crystal
      Crystal says:

      I believe every one situation is different. So one should do whats best for them. In my situation my kids would not attend day care. I have someone at home to take care of him or her. So from home he or she enters pre-school and on and on.

      I agree 40 (or 50) is young thats why hopefully my first chidl will be young adults when i reach that age, and my hubby and I can have tons of years to our selves.

      I treid to be extremely careful with my decisions so I dont have a any credit card bill and with regard to my student loan I save and put my monies in a fixed deposit so when I am finish with school I can use it to assist with my school loan payments and I presently work full time at a law firm.

      If I have a child I probably will have one during my last year of school. I may be more confident because I have the assistance of my family, both my husband and I have a college education, etc..I dont know. But having one child at 23 to me is no big deal. As I dont plan to have any after 30 (joke: have to keep my slim figure naturally in shape) I may only have 3 kids 3 years apart.

      It’s my way everyone should find their own way. And if someone else opinion is different, I just dont want persons to be rude about it.

    • miss
      miss says:

      I agree with you. My mother married at 24, at 25 started having my brothers (who are 3 years apart and still single), then had me ten years later at 38; she’s turning 60 soon. She tells me all the time how that in waiting to have her third child, me, I’ve kept her young.

  10. Carrie
    Carrie says:

    Wow! Great article. I got married at 21 to my college sweetheart, had first kid at 25, and am looking into either grad school (which, with prereqs will take 3 years)or kid number two now at age 27. I never knew there was evidence that having kids at least two years apart was best for them! Is there a link to that information? All this time, I have felt a little guilty for not “making him a friend” sooner…haha.

    Anyway, straight out of college, I still really had no clue what I wanted to do with my life and was working a series of demeaning dead end jobs, like the deli at a grocery store for one. (I found out that a liberal arts degree isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be) Now that I have a concrete career goal, I feel like motherhood isn’t going to be the end of me after all. It was also encouraging to hear that there is no evidence that working on the family first vs. the career will have hindered anything for me. And I feel like I wouldn’t have made the choice to be a stay at home mother if I would have been making enough money to actually pay for childcare! And watching my son grow up every step of the way these last two years has been a priceless experience.

    Thanks for the article!

  11. Amy
    Amy says:

    This advice is right on. I got married at 22 and people thought I was nuts. “Are you crazy? Go have a career! You could meet someone else! Young marriages break up within a couple of years!”

    10 years later, we’re still married. We have a three-year-old and while we’ve decided not to have more children, we certainly could in the next three years, if we wanted, without much anxiety. I am a mostly stay-at-home mom and my husband’s career has taken off since I quit working full-time. Meanwhile, the women who counseled me to wait to get married are 32, really want to have kids before they fall off the 35-year-old fertility cliff, and are finding out that men our age and older are only interested in dating 25-year-olds. No one we know who didn’t get married within 1-5 years of leaving college is married now, 12 years later.

    It’s a harsh and uncomfortable truth, but it is the truth. Get married young. Then you grow up together and end up creating compatibility as the years go by, instead of ending up on an endless search for it as you get older and more persnickety. I have friends now who I doubt will ever get married, as they are unwilling to compromise an inch when it comes to their lifestyle (which they’ve now enjoyed solo for over a decade).

    Careers are great but kids are even better. if you’re a woman who wants to have kids, you’re in your early 20s, and you have a nice stable boyfriend who is good husband/father material and wants to get married – do it. Throw guys like that over for your brilliant career at your own peril. I guarantee you he’ll find someone else and be married within a couple of years, and you may end up at 35 with your clock ticking like crazy and only toxic bachelors to choose from. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

    • Paul
      Paul says:


      My own life experience proves most of what you wrote is wrong. I’m 45 and have never been married- but I’m a guy who put his career ahead of marriage. I don’t date 25 year olds, I date women around my age. And I date a lot. There are quite a few women in my area who have never been married and don’t have kids, and they aren’t bitter or anxious that they’ll NEVER get married or have kids (at least around me). While we may be trying or hoping for marriage and parenthood in different degrees, what I don’t see is a bunch of people who are regretting not getting married in their 20s. Quite the opposite.

      The real truth is that a career is merely “great” and kids are better for YOU. The real truth is that some people are better off marrying in their 30s and 40s- and you aren’t one of them. The real truth is that you’re leading a life that many of us (esp. some women) don’t want. We’re all glad it’s working out fine for you, but open your eyes and actually see the world and you’ll see marriages and families being started later, and being the better for it.

      I may be your toxic bachelor, but I’m going to be some 30/40 something woman’s Mr. Right.

  12. MajorHart
    MajorHart says:

    You were just lucky – very lucky.

    Do we know for sure that your husband wanted a baby at that young age (or did you nag him because of your agenda)and people in their early 20’s are often not settled enough or sure enough in their relationship to risk having a baby or babies.

    And you suggest that not having a baby or not be married is a bad deal – well for many it is not. Seeking personal fulfillment is not a crime and not having babies is also not a crime.

    Glad it worked (works) for you and wish you a lot of success and happiness – but it’s not for everyone or even many.


  13. fengshui
    fengshui says:

    There are a lot of presumtions here…. to think that you can’t “meet a man” and have children is ridiculous. I married at 30, and we’re both 33 and still not sure “when” we want children. I don’t believe in the “35 year old cliff”, but then again, I’m a nurse practitioner and am very knowledgeable about fertility, and options, etc.

    I have plenty of friends who are single and in their 30’s and they are dating and meeting plenty of men. I don’t know any men their late 30’s or early 40’s who are dating women who are 25. As a woman who was 25 not that long ago, I certainly wasn’t interested in dating an “older man” when I was that age.

    I also have seen my husband’s friends wives almost ruin their marriages because of their “biological clock” that was ticking at age 26 or age 27. They practically forced their husbands to get them pregnant right after marriage and the men just wanted to “be married” for awhile. Give me a break. I just laugh at them. Silly girls.

    • MajorHart
      MajorHart says:

      I fully agree.

      I knew a very nice woman who was 25 and already had two kids and no husband. She thought it was “old” at 30 years of age and in fact too old for her. We still had a lot of fun but she had an agenda to have more kids (one way or another) and I just wanted to be.

      She’s a lot older now and barely clinging to her 3rd marriage. Her husbands all balked at having more kids (so she dumped the first two marriages) and I expect she’s a miserable person at age 66.

      No matter what age they start at, people need a few years to just be together and have fun before starting to decide if they want kids or not.

      Two is a family – the rest is up to them and not up to someone pontificating a particular scenario as the only one.

      There is nothing wrong with having kids if both who would be parents want kids but with neither under any pressure from the other. There is also nothing wrong with not having kids.

      A few have told me my wife really wanted kids no matter that she said she likes kids but when the end of the day comes -she’s happy to leave them with their parents and go home. I think they are stereotyping all women as being the same.


  14. Happy with That
    Happy with That says:

    I can see Penelope’s point about the fertility window, but I don’t appreciate the overall tone of her article. It seems so calculating and controlling to try to PLAN events like finding a husband. Whatever happened to “you can’t hurry love”? I think it just happens when it is going to. Some people are not meant to get married at all it seems, and others plan everything out with plenty of time only to be devastated by infertility. Even worse some people get married and have children before they are themselves mature enough to be parents- child abusers, alcholics, violent or selfish people whose children live with those scars for the rest of their lives. Statistics are fine for most areas of life, but I think the attitude in this article is pretty condescending and out of touch with reality.

  15. tashi
    tashi says:

    Well this is a new one for you Penelope!
    Im 25 this year, I have two kids one 5 year old daughter and one 10 mnth old son…met my husband at 13 at a cousin’s party, we dated through jr high and high school and college and have been together for 12 years, you could say we’re married but we still havent got the marriage party going yet!
    well ofcourse it wasnt all that sweet and fairytale like, we’ve had our fair share of downers….cheating, lying, abortion, fighting, breaking up, etc
    well your article is a good one but we can really say i suppose when is the “right” time and moment to have kids, to have a career…it just comes. It wasnt in my books, but hey im here and all the better for it.
    I became a better person with the journey Ive had.
    I guess the best thing is, if you want it-go get it and enjoy while youre on your journey…its the journey thats important, not the destination.

  16. Connie
    Connie says:

    Hmmm. I don’t think this will work for me. I only want to be with someone who is smart and accomplished, and I only want to be with someone who is looking for his equal in those areas, not his inferior. So I need the school/career in order to snag the man in order to have the kid. (By “accomplished,” I’m not referring to hobbies.)

    I do wish I could have kids first before career.

    Why am I even commenting on this article? I already think that most people are chumps anyway. Of course I don’t agree with some random article on the internet.

    Never mind.

  17. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    This is definitely thought-provoking, but doesn’t discuss some of the other related issues. For example, *how* are women supposed to focus on meeting men in their 20’s while men of the same age are focused on their careers? Answer: the mismatched goals conflict. Further, from my own experience, no 20-something male in my generation was/is interested in a woman who is baby-oriented. If you don’t have a job/career and solid plans for your own financial independence, he’s not interested. It’s too much pressure for him to think about having to support you – much less future kids. Men at that age aren’t interested (for the most part, though it’s not true for all) in even *talking* about kids. Mention it to some men already in their 30’s, and even they will find a way to excuse themselves from the conversation – even for those men who do see themselves having children one day.

    As an unmarried, childless woman in my early 30’s, this is something I worry about rather often. Unfortunately I can’t turn back the clock, so I’m already technically out of time, by these standards. I considered children and family life when making career choices (even in my late teens), and I was certainly putting effort into finding a life partner. It just turned out – for me – that none of the men I met were of like mind, and I think that this is just as much a part of the equation.

    Whether we, as women, pay much attention to what society tells us about needing to establish ourselves in our careers or not, the men who are so essential to the equation which results in children *are* paying attention.

    Even though I’m happily involved in a long-term relationship now, my 30+ partner (who definitely wants kids some day) isn’t interested in planning for marriage or kids right now. I have no choice but to be focused on the one thing that I can actually count on – myself, and my career. Rather, my other option would be to end a happy relationship in search of another (possibly less happy relationship) that may produce children on a shorter time line. I can’t make a man have children with me (responsibly), but I am the only person I must rely on for excelling in my career. In my career, I can truly be self-sufficient. In making (and ideally *raising*) children, well….I can’t very well (and have no wish to) do that by myself. ;)

    Perhaps the solution for today’s generation of women is to date men who are much older (35+) and ready to have children, financially and emotionally, or to have children out of marriage, or with men they don’t necessarily wish to keep as life partners. I would hesitate to give my younger female friends that advice, but it certainly seems to be one of very few options for your suggestion to work, in my opinion. I don’t disagree with the theory or the science of fertility – just with the application.

  18. John Hansen
    John Hansen says:

    Interesting observations.

    The problem is that many men don’t want kids at all and most women do. TO date or marry someone 15 years older just because they might be “willing” to have kids wouldn’t work very well because they would be 55 or more by the time the kids were grown. Many of them also are concerned with the free tme and financial stability that having kids would generally wreck.

    And young women need men nearer their own age group – there’s a lot more going on that just planning for kids i.e. music, travel, dancing, dining, rock concerts and sex without responsibility – all part of the fun most younger people enjoy and should – young women with that baby fixation will usually find they don’t have boyfriends at all.

    I would think skipping that whole idea and seeing if things develop that way over time. I know a woman with having babies on her mind would have sent me running and most of my previous male friends as well. My wife and I are childfree and have been married (or together) 40 years – she didn’t ever want to be a parent and I’m very happy about that. She doesn’t seem to be missing a thing.

    Thanks for your post.

    John Hansen majorhart@sbcglobal.net

  19. jae
    jae says:

    There is a thing about such an advice: it might be helpful only to those, who actually *want* to have kids and are concisiously delaying having them because of their career.
    I`m just not so sure that`s the reason most women who delay having kids do that.

    I`m 23.I have a job I kinda like, and a profession I love, the one I want to have a career in. I also have no desire to get married and have kids in at least next 5 to 8 years. Are these two facts about me related in any way? No.

    I dont want to get married and have kids anytime soon because I`m not sure I want to do any of that at all, pure and simple. In fact, me loving my professon is the only thing about myself I`m totally absolutely sure about.

    Understanding myself is much more of a high priority for me than having kids, finding a husband or even a boyfriend. And if I will find, that I actually don`t want any of it – so be it. Being able to live with myself for years and years to come is my highest priority.

    What I wanted to say: I might be the only one like that, but I think I`m not. And for many women (and men!) “I can`t do it right now because of…” is just an another, more socially acceptable way of saying “I don`t want it, at least not right now”. To them such an advice basically reads like^ “Do it now, whether you want it or not!” And that doesn`t seem like a nice reason to have kids, especially if such a person will be unlucky enough to realize, they don`t actually want kids, after having them.

    And then there are those, who would like to live by that lovely plan, but actually can`t. Because of money (not “I can`t afford those Manolos!”, but “I can`t afford my own place to live!”), because of a spouse leaving them or not wanting to have kids, because of being sick… To them all this is just one more “SUCKS TO BE YOU!!!”

    Maybe I`m just angry. You see. I was born im Moscow, Russia. I grew up and got my education there. I`m living there, and I don`t plan to leave anytime soon (sorry for the mistakes btw, my English isn`t exactly perfect). Attitudes towards a woman`s place in society are different here. We`re progressing, but really, really slowly. I like to read foreingh blogs because it`s nice to imagine there are better places out there. And here I read same old stuff about basically being a failure if I don`t find a man before I`m 30.

    • dfsdf
      dfsdf says:

      that’s not what penelope is saying – she’s saying if you want kids then you should find a partner in your 20s. she’s not suggesting for one moment that women are failures if they don’t want to/can’t have children. women are so insecure.

  20. John Hansen
    John Hansen says:

    I don’t think anyone should have to fit into a “place in society” but maybe they do it differently in Russia.

    I think many men who go along with having kids do it t o get along with their wives that they usually love. And that’s a poor reason – if you don’t want kids the relationship will suffer and may fail – leaving both partners amd the kids on the short end of the stick. And often if there is one – there are 3, 4 or more.

    I do imagine there as some guys who really do want kids and might be good fathers but I don’t think they are that common or easy to find.

    I wish you luck in whatever you decide to do.

    We had some pressure from my wife’s father but when she told him we just didn’t want kids he backed off.

    John Hansen

  21. fengshui
    fengshui says:

    “because they would be 55 or more by the time the kids were grown. ”

    And?!? I’m 33, and I don’t have children yet. I may be a rare person, but I FEEL young, and I don’t care if I don’t have a child until I’m 36. So what if I’ll be 54 when they graduate from HS. To me, 54 is still young! My dad is 56 and rides a Harley, still goes out socially a lot. He looks young, he feels young. I think that a lot of it is attitude.

  22. fengshui
    fengshui says:

    “As an unmarried, childless woman in my early 30’s, this is something I worry about rather often. Unfortunately I can’t turn back the clock, so I’m already technically out of time, by these standards.”

    You are NOT out of time! There are many men out there who seek intelligent, career driven, mature women in their 30’s! Don’t think this way! Once you hit 40+, then start to worry….

    • SG
      SG says:

      Great decision to not have “crotch fruit.” What a disgusting phrase! You definetely are not “mother material.”

      My husband & I met as teenagers in boarding school & “somehow” fell in love & continued to love & support each other through grad school, post docs AND the birth of two children.

      Raising children has been the highlight of our lives. We are now in our mid-50’s & our children are 36 & 31.

      The eldest (female) is married & a law prof & her husband is partner in his law firm. They have decided not to have children due to the demands of their careers. My daughter would be a wonderful mother, but I respect her decision as she feels she could not devote the proper amount of time & dedication necessary to raise a healthy, wholesome child w/her time-consuming job demands.

      She is very career-oriented & knows she could not devote adequate time & attention that raising a child requires.

      That is a mature decision–having a baby is not a lark, or rite of passage or an experience that is naturally for everyone (just read the news). And it definitely is not for someone who calls babies/children “crotch fruit.”

  23. the Sarge
    the Sarge says:

    Why all this obsession with biological children? After reading through some of these comments, I am still thoroughly disgusted by our society. What gives certain people the right to breed, anyway? Do you know how many babies there are that need clean water, shelter, food, etc? Why not adopt one of them?

    I am a professional woman, a college graduate, and I have no desire to have crotch fruit, aka babies. And this sort of disdain for those who do not want children really irks me; the people who say that children “change you for the better” or “make you prioritize” are fools, if you think that way then you should not be breeding in the first place. I pay my taxes, donate plenty to charity, travel, and love my life– I have my priorities straight, thanks much.

    I am glad to be childless, I would much rather volunteer my time to make someone else’s life better. That is much more gratifying than labor and delivery, in my opinion.

    I actually think that men have it right: go to college, get a job, experience life and the world. I have seen waaayyy too many women give up their careers and their identities to child-rearing, only to realize that they made a very bad decision. Somtimes, when I am around my friends who used to be fun, I actually feel guilty for saying “my life is pretty awesome, I have a great job and I travel everywhere!”, because I can see the dispair on their faces. Maybe if they had waited a few more years, they wouldn’t be in such a predicament.

    • John Hansen
      John Hansen says:

      I’m with you. My wife and I chose to NOT have chldren and now that we are older – we are very glad of that decision. There’s a lot of reasons but the events of America and the world makes it a very unhospitable place for anyone and little further for new adults.

      We’ve been in Insurance and Real Estate and a lot of travel. That’w what we wanted to do with our lives. MY wife and I like kids but when it’s time to go home -we enjoy leaving them with their parents.

      I don’t think there’s anything especially wrong with having kids but I think so many women who think that’s the only reason for living are shorting themselves.

      There’s got to be more than just popping babies. I’ve had a number of women dump me when I told them I didn’t ever want to be a parent and that’s okay with me.

      Congrats on standing up for yours and my lifestyle choices

      John Hansen

  24. Cat
    Cat says:

    Are you kidding?!
    Are you a reproductive specialist?
    No, you’re not!
    Yes, one’s odds of conception are reduced with increasing age. But who cares..it’s a choice for me and other women not to settle for a mediocre partner as well.
    So many I grew up with are divorced after getting married in their 20s and having that “perfect” family by 30.
    It’s better to wait and marry the person you’re truly meant for, than to look specifically for a sperm donor. It’s so laughable.

  25. MajorHart
    MajorHart says:

    I fully agree Cat.

    Many choose to not have kids at all.

    For those that do want them – did they BOTH want them – too often only the woman wanted babies. For those that are in a rush – that’s not a good environment for a baby to come into.


  26. jenni
    jenni says:

    I wish that our society was more accepting of married couples who choose to NOT have children. I’m 33 and my husband is 32. We’re not sure if we want children yet. We’re both highly educated and love our jobs and our life, the fact that we get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, that we can just rush off on a last minute trip, enjoy time with friends without having to worry about when we have to be home, etc. We know that having a baby would change all of that. My mother-in-law is almost disgusted that we are toying with the idea of choosing to not be parents. Why is that so bad?

  27. dave
    dave says:

    This is one of the most sensible pieces of advice for women I have read in a long time. What many women don’t realize is that men who are truly up to the task of being good husbands and fathers are not very impressed with a woman’s ability to run a big corporation or climb the so-called corporate ladder. We want a woman who is truly wise—someone who knows what is important and goes after it. To such men, dedication to family; being an excellent mother, wife and companion is far more attractive than sitting on the boards of directors at a fortune 500 company.
    It is a well known fact that the most “successful” women in America are unmarried (e.g. Condoleeza, Sotomayor, etc). While it is understood that some of these women chose not to be married, the fact still remains that excessive focus on career by a woman is a big negative for a good family life.
    Well done, Penelope

  28. Angela
    Angela says:

    Thanks Penelope! I’ve been worrying about this aspect of career planning for a while and your clear, logical, evidence-based guidance really spoke to me.

    I’m 22, a recent grad working as a per diem substitute teacher with no health insurance or better prospects in a market flooded with teachers. This prompted me to look into taking that background and transition into a human resources position as my day job and flirting with entrepreneurial event planning interests on the side.

    I want to pay off my student loans before I make any big moves like getting married or having children, but I’m having trouble finding work that will provide a salary that will meet these needs and provide a group benefits plan. Anyone have any advice?

  29. Deborah
    Deborah says:

    Wow, I am very surprised at all these comments claiming “98.9%” of women want babies and plan for it from their 10th birthday, and that almost all men don’t want children. I’m 26 and married, and don’t plan on ever having children. Most of my girlfriends who are my age and newly married have husbands pushing for kids, but they aren’t ready for them yet. I’ve had two long term relationships where the guy left me when I firmly stated my intention to never get pregnant.

    This article doesn’t bother me, it was obviously written as advice towards people who WANT to have children. There are plenty of web resources supporting people that don’t want children, try the Child Free boards when everyone around you seems simply appalled that you would choose not to reproduce.

  30. Pregnant Yuppy
    Pregnant Yuppy says:

    AFter 10 years of marriage I tossed the birth control at the age of 33. I told my husband that if he did not want kids, then the responsibility of birth control was now his. I was through putting synthetic hormones into my body.

    And so we began our adventure to try to conceive. At 34 I got pregnant. 8 weeks later I miscarried. 2 years later I am still trying to conceive.

    Do I regret waiting? No. Will my husband and I be happy if we never have kids? Yes. Do I think that Penelope is trying to “dictate” a life plan for everyone? No.

    I believe that Penelope is saying that you can apply business planning techniques to your life. (i.e. choosing a goal then working backwards from that goal to ensure that the necessary steps are on place to succeed). Sure, babies can “just happen” for many, but for many others they won’t.

  31. MajorHart
    MajorHart says:

    My polls indicate what I said and personal experiences with many friends did also. You’re a breath of fresh air in a very biased environiment. Thanks

    My wife also was. We both like kids but didn’t want any of our own. She still says she could not have ever wanted her own kids.

    I didn’t have any male friends that wanted kids soon if at all and I made no effort to pick that kind.

    naturlly I wasn’t well liked by the females in my acquaintances and in fact 3 of them got pregnant to trap their boyfriends. 2 were dumped. The rest said they would not get pregnnt for a few years and all were within 3 months of getting married.

    there is so much more to life that having kids. Having kids is okay too if it’s not the only reason for the relationhip and even for life.

    Thanks again.


    • DemolitionLady
      DemolitionLady says:

      This is beautiful advice on paper-but often in the real world it doesn’t quite work that way. Most men in thier 20s and even 30s are too immature and broke to have a healthy, decent relationship, let alone be married-ditto for women now. To marry just to have a baby is crazy. That’s what my older sister did-her husband is a closet homosexual and a waste of humanity and now she wants out. The only thing that seperates me or her from killing him now is that it’s illegal. I live in Philadelphia-a city with almost 100K kids in foster care. Why are our own genes in our minds and only our minds superior to anyone else’s? If you want a child, adopt some of these millions of unwanted kids out of foster care in the USA-don’t just get married to have a child. Marriage for the wrong reasons is hell on earth-and to marry just to get a baby almost as bad as putting a hole in a condom to get a child, and less honest in it’s perfidy.

  32. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    I find most men I meet are afraid to have kids right away. My former boyfriend, who I met when I was 32( he was only 24) at the time we talked about marriage after dating for 2 years I just turned 34 at the time… he realized that he was not ready to have kids by the time I am 35 so we broke up. Now I am single and 35. I have a great job…I mean is this my fault? My issue is not all men want to have kids. So even if you marry early, if it turns out your husband is not into kids, it doesn’t really matter. women is best off taking care of herself with careers

  33. Kathy Zucker
    Kathy Zucker says:

    When my husband and I attended his tenth college reunion in NYC last year, we were the only ones with kids. When we ran into parents with young children at the bookstore, they were from the class 10 years ahead of us.

    It’s only been the last couple of years that the media has started publicizing the fact that female fertility goes off a cliff at age 35 and is essentially nil at age 42; too late for many of my friends, who are struggling with IVF after IVF. Very few of my friends are married or have children, even though they wanted that lifestyle. They just thought they had a lot more time than they actually did.

    How did my husband and I pull it off? Well, we started dating when we were in college, bought our first apartment together, got married, skipped graduate school, worked our tails off in our twenties, and had our first child when I was 32. At that point we had been together for 11 years and married for six. We had our second child a year later and are now contemplating a third. We are very financially stable and own a four-bedroom across the Hudson River from NYC.

    Life doesn’t always work out the way you plan, but if you prioritize and concentrate on your goals, the chances are much higher of priorities #1 & #2 happening as planned.

    • Paul
      Paul says:

      Well Kathy, good for you. But your personal story overlooks a few things.

      Most people I know did not plan on meeting their spouse in college, including myself. There were too many other things we wanted to do, and most people I know did not want to go right from college to marriage. That’s not you, but it is quite a few of us.

      I’ve heard of too many women having children in their 40s to agree that it’s “essentially nil” at 42.

      In 2010 marriage in your 30s is probably for the best for quite a few people. For some of us it’s our 40s. I think if you push for these things, including parenthood, too early you’re asking for trouble.

  34. MajorHart
    MajorHart says:

    I agree Paul. I got married at 32 and my wife and I have been happy for almost 40 years now. She did not want children and that was fine with me too as we were both busy in our careers. WE did travel alot and moved alot and would do it the same if we could do it over.

    Over time I saw so many women throw away a good career and life – just to have babies and I saw a lot of women compelled to get a man and get started – that sent a lot of men running. I say where’s the fun in all that if we are on a treadmill and everything we are supposed to be doing is already laid out for us. I had 8 male friend – 3 were trapped into marriage by a pregnant girlfriend (2 left and the women went on welfare) 3 more married but didn’t want kids right away and all their wives were pregnant within 3 months. I had a girlfriend that wantd a very large family like the 13 child one she came from. That’s wasn’t the path I was going down. This is just too one sided – how can anyone enjoy their life with someone else having an agenda like that, and forcing it on them? This isn’t about Kathy but just general.

    Thanks for your post.

  35. Sophi
    Sophi says:

    What bothers me most about this article is that it’s ‘assuming’ that the young men in their 20s will actually be willing to marry and have kids WHEN these women (who are taking this advice) will want to have them. I am mid 30s, and most women my age that I know recently got married a few yrs ago, or still not married. I also know many men my age who are still not ready for marriage.
    I don’t know of any men early-mid 20s who desperately wants to find a wife and have kids before age 30. Maybe there are some guys like that, but I think especially this generation of people in their 20s, they are really into getting married so young.
    So the women who want to get married and have 2-3 kids before 35, they really need to make a big effort to find any guy even if it’s not a guy they really fall in love with?
    Or find an older guy? Which makes no sense in the long run, since very few men late30s-early 40s(who may actually be ready to have kids, more than those in their 20s)have much in common with women in their early 20s, and vice versa. So get married JUST to have kids? What about when the kids leave home, what else is there about the marriage that will keep it going?

    I haven’t had the luck of finding the right guy whom I really want to marry yet, and even though I’m over 30,I don’t want to feel rushed just because of my biology. What about emotions, and feeling a real attachment/love to the man? Wouldn’t this be better for a child, to have loving parents with a good relationship? Too many divorces already, or homes where parents don’t get along.
    It’s not that simple, as the article states. I have met many men through my job, activities, volunteer in specific charities, mentor some kids, etc. etc. but just haven’t actually found someone I truly want to marry. I think some people are lucky and find the ‘one’, and others well just settle because they think they are running out of time.
    Also, I don’t consider myself ‘picky’ or demanding of certain characteristics in a man. I just want to feel the right chemistry, and it hasn’t happened for me yet. I refuse to settle for someone that I just feel lukewarm about, just to have children. I love my nieces and nephews, and all the kids who I work with, but don’t feel the ‘need’ to have my own. I think some women maybe were not meant to be mothers, and that doesn’t make them cold or selfish. I contribute plenty to society and help mentor kids, and enjoy my career, which involves helping others.

    • Tessa
      Tessa says:

      Sophie, you hit the nail on the head.One of the problems the women of Generation X face is the “arrested development” of the men in our age cohort. The majority of the guys I went to school with still see themselves as “eligible bachelors” who can date like rock stars, so why wuld they settle down. And the problem is much worse for African-American women, who were already at a numbers disadvantage when it came to dating. The real advice we should be giving women is that if you haven’t found a partner to start a family with by age 33 or 34, you better start looking for fertility clinic and sperm donor.

      • EE
        EE says:

        The main reason for this is the deindustrialization and outsourcing of industrial and technology jobs.  They would continue to develop if there were the prospects of long-term stable careers in the fields they studied.  Testosterone causes brains to be wired in a certain way, and careers are disappearing in America for that kind of brain wiring.  If you don’t know where the hell you’ll be in life 5 years down the road, why would you settle in any shape or form?  Why would you get married if there is the very real possibility of finding out 2 years from now that you are being made to train your replacement, or you are presented with the choice of relocating and selling your house if you can, or losing your job?

      • EE
        EE says:

        The main reason for this is the deindustrialization and outsourcing of industrial and technology jobs.  They would continue to develop if there were the prospects of long-term stable careers in the fields they studied.  Testosterone causes brains to be wired in a certain way, and careers are disappearing in America for that kind of brain wiring.  If you don’t know where the hell you’ll be in life 5 years down the road, why would you settle in any shape or form?  Why would you get married if there is the very real possibility of finding out 2 years from now that you are being made to train your replacement, or you are presented with the choice of relocating and selling your house if you can, or losing your job?

  36. MajorHart
    MajorHart says:

    Sopie I fully agree. Most men seek sex and company first -sometimes but not always they want kids but lots later in life – after they feel a stong bond has developed between them and their lady. They want to travel, follow sports, build a successful business and kids don’t enter into it at that point and sometimes not at all. Many of use feel that if having kids is so important that a woman will leave us if we don’t – the relationship is phony because it doesnt matter who we are. I and wife worked together to build a business. Having a baby is usually having more than one and that sure can put a strain on the great relationship that hzs developed.

    SO, if women are preoccupied with having babies – many men will not be inteested. Later in – in the muddke if a great relationship that seems as if it might last a long time – many men will consider having children but not usually because they want to.

    That said – loved the kids of two former girlfriends – I didn’t want any of my own though and they both left me.

    Lots of young men are shying away from marriage – some are shying away froo sex because they don’t want to take a chance on an accidental (or not) pregnancy.

    Thanks for your post

  37. jenni
    jenni says:

    I agree with Sophie. This article is assuming that it is an “easy” task to find a man who actually wants a commitment/ marriage/ children in their 20’s. I am a beautiful, educated, 33 year year old unmarried woman, and it isn’t as easy as people think to find a man who is respectful, intelligent, responsible, and nice (not a player, etc). There are men who will bolt the second they even suspect that the concept of marriage is lingering in our minds… unfortunately. I call these men “man boys”, but they are everywhere, in their 20’s, 30’s, and even 40’s….

    • MajorHart
      MajorHart says:

      It’s not irresponsible to not want a serious commitment. Sometimes a man just wants to do something different with the only life he has. Women have that right as well.

      Most men know that a relationship involves commitment and that almost always means kids and a lifetime of doing something other than what he wants to do with his life.

      SO if like me – he still likes women he will spend time with them and try to avoid marriage. The kid thing is what keeps most of us at a distance. My wonderful wife (very early in or relationship) told me firt that she really didn’t want to ever be a parent. A lot of people wonder if there is something wrong with her or us but we know that was the right path.

      Men who are “players” probably want much of what a woman has to offer but they know that (usually) she is preoccupied with getting a situatio where she can become pregnant. That’s not a good situation for most o fus. And it’s long been known that women change after marriage.

      One woman I met invited me to her house – I took my guitar and we sang together very nicely – then she began to berate me because I didnt have any responsibilities and she had 3 kids (like I was the cause of that) I guess she thought I might marry her to absolve myself of guilt. Instead I just left.

      Not wanting kids is widespread among men of all ages and those that do have them often do it to keep a woman but we too have our resentments. And a marriage between two people with such widely different goals is ot likely to last.

      Thanks for your post


  38. Sophi
    Sophi says:

    I also think an article like this seems to say that women should not be considering a career that would involve many years of education and preparation such as doctors, lawyers, or scientists, etc. etc.
    I understand that some women may be fortunate in finding a career later in life or continuing the career they left, upon having kids….but this would not be conducive for a woman who aspires to be a doctor, for example.
    Medical school is 4 yrs after college, which could mean at 26 yrs old (if all goes as scheduled) then a few yrs residency, which means the woman is now over 30. Then if she wants to specialize in a specific area in medicine, it would be another few yrs. Of course, I know some women have been able to have kids while in medical school or during their residency, but that’s not the norm. I have a few female friends who are doctors, and am know about the tremendous amount of studying required during medical school, and usually lack of time to do anything else. Sure, some can say, if the woman has a supportive husband, he can take care of the kid(s) but it’s not realistic since he would have to be working, due to the fact that medical students rarely have time to work, or if they do, it’s not a full time job, and not much income.

    Also, a relationship requires work and time, and often involve drama and problems, even while dating. So many women may not want to deal with that, and concentrate on school. Or even if they want to meet someone, they may not have the time to dedicate to the relationship.

    As far as thinking about returning to medical school after having kids, and raising them a few years, I don’t think it’s that simple. Plus, entering medical school for the first time in your late 30s/40s, is not necessarily easy either, since many administrators give preference to younger students just finishing undergraduate degrees.

    Ok, some people will say they know female doctors with 2/3 kids, but I think most of them did not get married in their 20s. Many women have healthy babies in their 30s, even up to late 30s or early 40s now. Sure, it’s not ‘ideal’, but not as uncommon as people think.
    But what if a woman only has 1 kid? Would that be less ‘ideal’ than 2 or 3? Why does it HAVE to be what the woman wants and not what life brings. I am undecided about having kids, but if I had only one, I would feel less happy just because I didn’t have the socially ideal 3 kids that most women aspire to have. Or would people call me selfish because I didn’t give that kid a sibling? I think some people just will criticize others’ actions no matter what.

    • em
      em says:

      Both my parents are doctors and Mum had all three of us before she turned thirty one (26, 28, 30) and she kept the family financially afloat while my Dad was still studying. Of their class mates it’s about 50/50 kids early/ kids late.

      My friend was recently told at the start of Med School that “now was the time to have them” aka 23ish – but that will have been from doctors who have to look at the birth defect stats day in day out

      • em
        em says:

        That wasn’t under the US system though. Here you start Med School straight out of high school. Even then it’s not difficult. If you take two years out you have to sit exams to prove you’re still competent – for a 2year break?! It’s a pretty antikids / fairly sexist rule. Perhaps what needs to happen is for those fields to become more accommodating to different life paths rather than imposing a single track on everyone.

  39. Sophi
    Sophi says:

    MajorHart, thanks for your feedback. I understand what you are saying. If a woman off the bat starts to weed out men based on the neat time equation of above article, I think it’s a turn off for a lot of men. Especially young men these days.

    As a woman, I want to be respected for my thoughts, ideas, aspirations, etc. So why wouldn’t I do the same for a man? How can I demand respect if I’m not giving it?
    Maybe some guys want to continue their education, travel, engage in other pursuits, etc. before having kids. I know this is what I am doing, which is why I never would have thought of marrying in my 20s.
    I meet men constantly, and have become friends with some of the most wonderful men. But they are not ready for marriage yet either. I am well aware of my biological clock, since I am in the science field. But I guess that I have always thought of marriage as a romantic partnership first, and becoming close with the other person. If children come from it, that’s great. But if not,that doesn’t mean that I would stop loving the man or dump him. I also don’t think a man who truly loves a woman would leave her if she was infertile. This information is not always readily known when people are dating.

    So for me, when people talk about a specific timeline for meeting a man and having kids, or tackling it like a business plan…it makes it seems that marriage is just a means to an end, having children. Which I guess is ok if that’s what someone really wants. That’s a key word, what they Want, for their personal fulfillment, etc. Which is no different than if someone wants fulfillment in other pursuits that do not involve having kids. They are still an ‘individual’ want, or desire that will bring that person happiness.

    But even those who have kids, they eventually leave, and the married couple stays together. So if the only reason or main reason of the marriage was for kids, what happens then? Continue to try to revolve their lives around their kids, to the point of almost intruding on their kids’ personal lives, whatever they may pursue? I know several mothers of friends who constantly call them and make them feel guilty that they don’t visit more than once a week, since they are so lonely and never developed any other pursuits, long term friendships, or passions that would not revolve around their kids. I feel bad for them sometimes, but think to myself that I wouldn’t want to place that guilt trip on my kids if I had them.

    I guess I just think of marriage differently, and kids can be beautiful, but I personally never have thought of having kids as a personal attainment..rather as a consequence of a loving marriage, if it happens.
    At least that’s my opinion.
    But then if everyone thought like me, there would be much less people in the world. People will continue to have kids whether they find loving partners or not. But that doesn’t mean the people who don’t have kids are failures or lead unhappy lives. There is alot to do in life, and people can contribute to society and the world in many ways.

  40. MajorHart
    MajorHart says:

    I fully agree and I have high admiration for professional women. A relationship is not just ro reproduce ourselves. It takes real work and dedication and having the same love partner over 40 or 50 years is still a great value or even having none if a person is happy that way.

    I was alone for about 15 years and in college (although not a professional field) and I had a lot of friends when I could find time for them. I enjoyed my life the as I do now.

    What employers or colleagss would take a woman seriously if they kew she would not be there for the long haul.

    I knew many women who were looking for support so they could spend their lives raising kids. I saw many young women starting to rise up in corportions or as entrepreneurs – they suddenly abandoned their careers and became pregnant. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that as long as both partners want it but being compelled to do that would ruin the chances of a happy, long term marriage. One of the partners is going to feel neglected and the marriage has little chance of survival in my view.

    Still it’s good to have forums like this so we can discusee the issues.

    Life is somewhat of a treadmill anyway – having such an agenda would make it not worth living for many. I had numerous times when the chemistry was perfect between myself and a woman but I knew if I told her I didn’t want kids – she would lose all interest and move on. SO I Kept my distance physically from those women. Some probably wondered if I was gay.

    You’re among quite a few women though that feel as you do. I have the greatest admiraton for you and that type of women. They are not usually heard of in forums like this, but they are here too.

    Thanks again.

    • Yemmy
      Yemmy says:

      @ MajorHart Who says a woman cannot have kids a husband and a good career. As a Practicing Chartered Accountant ,wife and Mother of 3 beautiful kids I have friends who are mums and Finance Directors of large corporations.

      As of not being able to enjoy life with kids well I will be miserable without mine and my husband feel the same as well.

      I am currently 36yrs Old married for 10years and have been with my husband since I was 13 and he 17. We love each other and our kids just adds to our joy.

      To all the women out there you can have it all if you are ready to work hard. I always had my eyes out for a good husband from a very young age and it never crossed my mind I couldn’t have a career and Kids as well.

      • MajorHart
        MajorHart says:

        Doing all of those at once will one day leave you nothing more than a burned out shell of a human being – not to mention that your husband (no matter what he says or you say he says) is being seriously shortchanged here.


  41. Jan
    Jan says:

    Look for a husband, then a career? Did feminism ever even happen? There is nothing more appalling than someone saying family will make you more happy than your career. I am 28– was engaged at 23 and the wedding was called off. Thank goodness. In the past five years, I have completed THREE Master’s degrees and onto my PhD. I am married to my career and I might have children, who knows. But there is nothing in society more disgusting than saying a woman should be married at a young age “just because”. I’m sorry, but the last thing we need in this world is more babies raising babies. Absolutely nothing wrong with a woman waiting until her 30’s. At least I know I will have something to contribute to the welfare of my children when and if I do have them.

    • Dine
      Dine says:

      Maybe you haven’t found someone to share your life with is because you’re an over-educated, actually over-schooled, boor? I hope you aren’t an educator; I feel for the young minds you might be influencing.

      • MajorHart
        MajorHart says:

        Of course you don’t know if she is or not – you might be the one that is. Having or not having kids has nothing to do with be overeductated or a bore. Some couples want kids and as long as they can afford them (and not go on public assistance) – that’s fine with me. But those who do not shouldn’t be maligned.

        And being single (whether male or female is also an option and doesn’t assume that the single person has anything wrong with them. I’ve been married 40 years and was single a lont time too and loved both lifestyles. MajorHart

      • MajorHart
        MajorHart says:

        That’s over generalizing. some people with any amount of education might be boors but others will not. If that kind of education satisfies her – why not. Education never hurts anyone and often that education helps others as well.

        Some guys might feel threatened but that’s their problem.


  42. John Hansen
    John Hansen says:

    To the woman who said “what if your parents didn’t want kids.

    I say – so. I just would’t be here and the earth has plenty of people.

    and she said I should consider that it’s the woman who carries the baby for 9 months.

    Well, after that – theres up to 24 YEARS to pay for it if it’s a mistake and only one of the parents wanted it.

    It could keep your finances under stress, you time together limited or not fun anymore, travel down the tube, business success lessened.

    There’s nothing wrong with having kids if both parents WANT them but all these things have to be considered.

    I know the schedule that woman in college working on her phd and having kids too would be far too much for most (many) women.

    And to the guy who says having kids is BETTER for us – I say sez who?

    John Hansen

    • Paul Neubauer
      Paul Neubauer says:

      In fact population growth is slowing down and may reverse around 7-8 billion.

      Having monopolized the machinery for giving birth to children, women then assume the responsibility for squirting out the next generation.

      Waiting to later in life not only reduces fertility but increases defects enormously.

      Another consideration is that keeping the biological father in the family significantly improved the quality of life for the child and very significantly reduces abuse.

      Necessarily, marry early, be committed and plan your career for later.

      Men really can’t take up the slack on this. We don’t have ‘options’, So, when women invade the labor force, there isn’t any safety net for men. It’s work or dumpster dive for dinner.

      It’s really quite insulting to real about this discussion of ‘options’ especially given the privileges, protections and entitlements afforded western women. Not to mention the enormous asset transfers to women that are never calculated into ‘equality’ data. (how else can women earn 70 cents on the dollar and still make 85% of all purchase decisions).

      Frankly, I’d love to stay at home and raise the kids while the wife spills out her guts at some soul draining job to support me. But it never will be an option because I don’t have a uterus to market.

      Again, reproduction isn’t fungible, only women can do this and thus it is important to society to make sure that they do so. Or there isn’t a future. (remember that movie ‘children of men’)

  43. Melanie
    Melanie says:

    Interesting, blunt and true. What the article implicitly acknowledges but doesn’t focus on is the fact that even though you may “focus” on meeting & mating earlier in life, there is no guarantee of success. Just a better likelihood.

    I on the other hand didn’t focus on my career but instead life experiences (quit my career at 27 and travelled for 2 years, which landed me living and married on another continent where in due course I had a child at age 39).

    I couldn’t have lived the way I did with a child. I was lucky to find success in a restarted career, a partner and fertility later. Would I have done things differently, knowing what I know now? Not sure. I would have had a different life and been a different person.

    All in all what I take away from this article is that to get what we want (be it children or be it something else), we need to sacrifice in some way. We cannot expect it will all be waiting for us at the end because it might not, and women need to be open to that possibility.

  44. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    This article nails it. It’s astounding how unrealistic most people nowadays are about what can make them happy in the long run. Your statistics are a well known fact for people(like me) who work in the area, yet they somehow don”t go well with the general public. Grats.

  45. Clarice
    Clarice says:

    I got my first university degree at 21. With plenty of time to find a partner and I did find a boyfriend at 22 in fact. And had all those calculations in my head of course like you wrote “well, I could marry at 27 and have kids a couple of years later…etc. etc.” but it didn’t work out. Then I met another guy at 26. It didn’t last long either.
    At 31 it seemed I had finally found Mr. Right. A bit late but not too late to start worrying about Down Syndrom and fertility issues. Thing is he had second thoughts and we split up for a year. Then got back together, it finally seemed like we were gonna make it. Be toghether, have a family and live happily ever after but he died. Now I’m 37, alone and reading stupid articles like yours. You can do both things, a carreer is not the reason why women end up alone and it’s not as simple as “if you want it you’ll get it”… it doesn’t work that way. I tried really hard and was left with nothing anyway. And my chances of ever having my family or even having someone to share my life with are less and less everyday as my friends move on with their lives and their kids and their projects and I’m stuck here.

  46. Melanie Arabsky Ledger
    Melanie Arabsky Ledger says:

    Clarice, I don’t think this article said anything was guaranteed, just that for those who have the opportunity to have marriage and kids early and choose to defer, the risks are there.

    Good luck to you. My best friend is in a similar situation to you, she was married young and perhaps in someways luckily didn’t have children during her marriage (and thus managed to escape a lifetime of connection to a man who turned out to be a terrible liar and cheat). But she has had a full and successful life so far, but at 42 its pretty unlikely that her life is going to include descendants. Everyones ultimate path is different – but the fact remains that if you don’t try or prioritise, you may not get. I think that is the point of the article.

« Older CommentsNewer Comments »

Comments are closed.