Couples need just 1 conversation to decide not to have children


April 25, 2014
Brain & Behavior

Many couples agree not to have children after only one discussion, and sometimes none at all, the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Leeds heard today. [Friday 25 April 2014]

Edina Kurdi, of Middlesex University, said that 40% of the childless women she surveyed for a study had either not talked about having children, or had only discussed this once early in their relationship.

Miss Kurdi carried out an online survey which included responses from 75 UK women aged 35 and above who were childless. She interviewed nine of them face-to-face.

The survey asked about discussions the woman had had with her current partner about not having children. She found that 23 of the 63 who responded to the question had decided not to have children after one conversation. Three others mentioned they had not talked about the issue at all.

One woman said: “Negotiation? It only needed one brief discussion, along the lines of ‘I don’t want kids – do you?’ ‘Nope, me neither’. Then move onto something more interesting to talk about… and neither of us reconsidered our options. There was no need to.”

Another said: “it never really got said, it was just realised by our actions – we had a two-seater car!”

Other quotes, all from different women:

  • “We didn’t discuss whether or not to have children, we were both child-free when we met.”
  • “In both relationships the issue of whether to have children or not was not a point of major discussion.”
  • “To be honest, it was never a serious discussion. I never reached that stage when I thought I must have this conversation.”
  • “There is no discussion, I don’t want kids and I would never bother to pursue a romantic relationship with someone who did, it would be a pointless endeavour.”
  • “We didn’t discuss really, just mutually agreed. There was no issue to discuss.”
  • “We were prompted to discuss based on conversation and pressure from friends and family but neither of us wanted kids.”

Miss Kurdi, a Lecturer at Middlesex University, said the result was “somewhat surprising and very interesting”.

She told the conference: “Not having children is obviously a very important decision, and what was interesting from the research was the negligible amount of discussion that couples engaged in – many are agreeing not to have children in one conversation, or in an unspoken way.

“One possible reason that couples did not need to talk about the issue much is that they could accurately sense their partner did not want children from their beliefs and lifestyle.”

Her research project also studied the reasons why couples remained childless and attitudes of others towards a childless couple. “Very little attention has been paid to the negotiations within romantic relations about not having a family, even though developed countries are facing a general decline in fertility combined with an accelerated rate of childlessness,” she said.

87 women responded to the survey after it was advertised on social media networks and word of mouth, 75 of them childless. The research, which was not statistically representative of all childless women, will form part of her PhD studies.

Miss Kurdi is also Research Assistant at the Social Policy Research Centre.


11 Responses to Couples need just 1 conversation to decide not to have children

  1. Anja (14174546) May 3, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    The study is very interesting and some of the points I agree with but however I believe that having children,or not is a big decision that couples need to make, and I believe that a big decision like that can’t be decided in one simple conversation or no conversation at all. In most parts of the world there are relationship equality, and with that there would be endless conversations about having children, if one partner disagrees. There are allot of factors to be considered as to why a person would not want children like their age, gender,the period the couple have been together, financial state and past.
    In conclusion the survey group for this study was far too small with only 75 UK women.

    THIS IS MY SECOND POSTING.

  2. Anja May 3, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    The study is very interesting and some of the points I agree with but however I believe that having children,or not is a big decision that couples need to make, and I believe that a big decision like that can’t be decided in one simple conversation or no conversation at all. In most parts of the world there are relationship equality, and with that there would be endless conversations about having children, if one partner disagrees. There are allot of factors to be considered as to why a person would not want children like their age, gender,the period the couple have been together, financial state and past.
    In conclusion the survey group for this study was far too small with only 75 UK women.

  3. Lauren Snow (u14009189) May 3, 2014 at 5:16 am #

    In the past it was expected that once a couple got married, they would begin having children, but as woman’s independence has grown and socially accepted norms have changed more couples are choosing to not have children at all. The article tells us that couples hardly participate in any conversation on whether to have children or not. This is where I disagree with these couples; I feel that having children is an important decision that needs to be considered carefully.

    When I’m older I know that I don’t want children and I know that there are many reasons why couples have children; however I have seen families who cannot cope with raising another child, still have more children far too many times and I feel that there are some factors that couples should consider first when deciding to have children or not. Like will they be able to afford to raise a child, with inflation rates escalating at an alarming rate parents will have to budget their expenses carefully. We must also think of what kind of environment the child will grow up in. Personally I would not like to bring a child into a dying world where some magnificent creatures we are able to see today will be extinct and many more will become endangered, my children’s quality of life will be affected by threats of natural disasters (due to ‘Global Warming’), violence and crime (especially in South Africa, which has the 6th highest crime rate in the world). I also think that many people subconsciously make their decision on whether to have children or not based on their own childhood. I’m not sure to what degree this influences their decision but I do believe that a parents’ childhood greatly affects the way they raise children.

    Whether or not a person decides to have children or not, they should always discuss their opinion with their partner and keep an open mind to how he or she feels about the topic. Listening to their reasons just might change their mind; however, it’s also important to realise that because someone’s opinion can change, this decision must be made carefully to minimise potential regret.

  4. 14083826 May 1, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    This article was a very interesting one and some of the points that were made were indeed very valid. However one would think that there are many complex reasons as to why people don’t want children or will not have children. One would not believe that such a serious decision can be decided over a simple conversation or lack there of. How can a couple be sure that they do want children just because they have not had a discussion about it?

    There are many factors that influence couples’ decisions to have children or not, for example one’s personal past, career, financial situation, culture, health, age etc. Furthermore some couples display power relations, for example in some parts of the Eastern world women have less of a say in the relationship and may want children, however, if her husband does not want children the decision will be made in a single discussion. In some parts of the Western world there is more relationship equality and in this case there may be endless discussions as whether or not to have children if one party disagrees.

    That being said one would agree that this article and in fact this survey is inconclusive as the results obtained are too open ended and the survey group was not nearly large enough. On the other hand this research shows promise, if a larger sample group is surveyed and if the results factor in the reasons as to why a single conversation or no conversation at all is needed to make such a big decision.

  5. Lesedi Radebe-14133131 April 29, 2014 at 6:25 am #

    At first hand reading i found this article to be interesting and reliable but after reading comments from Cliffort and Jan, i also think that they are right by saying that a conclusion cannot be made from this article. My main argument is that the period of which the couple has been together should be considered too.
    From personal experience, i have noted that couples who have been together from teenage hood have had numerous discussions about having kids or not. They may decide to have kids in the earlier stages of their relationship but after making mistakes and experiencing life they might decide not to have kids, that is why it cannot be concluded that just after one discussion or none communication about not having kids, a couple then decides not to have kids, hence i say that the period of time of which the couple has been together has to be considered.

  6. Tasneem Khan (14002478) April 28, 2014 at 2:27 am #

    I tend to agree with Danielle as we are not told whether the study included a cross section of couples including their age, social background and economic standing. I also appreciate Sinesipho’s incite into the psyche of how men are affected.

    Besides the upbringing of the couples interviewed or their being exposed to social issues revolving around family inadequacies whilst growing up, and perhaps often times, traumatic experiences of their own, consideration of such as well as their current social and economic standing at present will definitely be a factor in the couples’decision whether children should be a matter of discussion at all.

    Just sensing the behaviour of one’s partner should not necessarily be decisive in any situation. This is unhealthy for the relationship and a one line answer is by no means an explanation which merits a holistic and acceptable response.

    Younger couples in cities tend to decisively choose that having children sooner will impact negatively on their careers and perhaps their carefree lifestyles. This is acceptable, presuming consensus through discussion has been reached. But what about older couples who shy away from the mention of having children? Again we need to consider their economic standing. Is it affordable with the high cost of living these days?

    There are so many factors which come into play and a study of this magnitude does not seem to consider a set of criteria from which a conclusive outcome to the questions posed is met.

    Spot on , Danielle.

  7. Hope Baloyi (14275407) April 28, 2014 at 1:03 am #

    well having children is really a huge step,either way not having children is also a huge a huge step. Even reading this blog i really think that out of those 75 women who are childless might really reconsider their decision at a later stage because most of us make sudden choices as we grow up, my point is that might reconsider when it is too later( when they have already reached menopause). if they have really discussed i think it is a good idea but if they didn’t talk about it,it’s a problem because they don’t trust each other to give both their opinion. either of the two would be willing to have kids but not openly coming to terms with their needs/wants.

  8. Jani van Wyk 13005856 April 27, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    I agree with what Cliffort said. A conclusion can not be made. The hypothesis of Couples need just 1 conversation to decide not to have children is too broad if you look at the amount of people that took part in the study. She interviewed only 75 UK women aged 35 and above who were childless and got the conclusion. Other factors must be taken into consideration like nationality. Some countries limited the amount of children that you can have to one child. Some people would rather have no children than one. Religion may influence people not to have children. Or emotional history for eg. if one of the parents were abused as a child they can be scared that they will abuse their child. These are all factors that would influence people not to have children. That’s why I think this study is too limited by only using 75 women in the study.

  9. u14058864 Sinesipho Gosa April 27, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Most men do not want to have children because of a fear that the children will take up most of the attention they get from their spouse`s.In such cases, the women tend not to have a choice but to go according to their spouse`s wish.Most couples do not necessarily discuss the issue, the woman can detect from their spouse`s actions that they are not interested in having any children.In cases like these, there is no one conversation that leads to the decision of not wanting to have children.

  10. Cliffort Matabane 13405897 April 27, 2014 at 7:49 am #

    I think this research is not reliable and therefore the conclusion cannot be reliable either,this is because the it did not take into consideration the period of time that the women have been in relationships with their spouses.The sample size is also too small that we can make a conclusion from this survey.

  11. Danielle Schönborn 14074550 April 26, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    I don’t think the mutual understanding between the spouses is merely a superficial understanding or decision in some of the cases. It might be due to individual motives because of previous experiences or current beliefs and suspicions.

    While there are some true statements in the article there are some psychological factors to take into account. In some cases women delay birth to avoid certain effects and experiences. Women who avoid childbirth may have underlying reasons such as the fear of pain during pregnancy and labour as well as the rejection of the spouse because of the change of physical appearance. According to Dr Kristina Hofberg there is a surprisingly common hardships affecting one in six women: “Tokofobia – fear of bearing children, pedophobia- fear of children and teratophobia which is the fear of bearing a deformed child. Psychotherapist Graham Price, who has treated many patients with the condition, says there are some specific triggers. Victims of sexual abuse are more likely to suffer from it, as are women who are prone to anxiety.

    Was this considered as a contributing factor when these individuals were assessed on their decision?

Leave a Reply

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *