15

I am a woman, about 25 years old. People (especially my mother) tell me that my biological clock should start ticking any day now.

To be honest I can't see myself as a parent. I am disgusted by infants and newborns; their crying is annoying, they feel too fragile to hold and to be honest most of them are quite ugly. (Please don't take this the wrong way, I'm sure your baby is the most beautiful thing on earth, but I just can't see it.)

I do spend time with children. My boyfriend and I are godparents to a 16 month old girl. (Luckily) we lived quite far away from the girl and her family for the first 6 months of her life, so I didn't have to hold her that often. Now we live very close to her, but it's not a problem anymore. She walks and even say some words. I have no problem with holding her, spending time with her or (what I actually like about children) teaching her stuff. She has an older brother and an older sister and I get along with them as well.

I simply can't deal with the infants and especially not the newborns. Honestly, I find them overall scary. It seems to be accepted for men to feel this way, but a woman should biologically feel some form of affection towards these small humans and I don't. Is there something wrong with me or do other women feel this way too? I simply can't imagine myself with a newborn and that is one of the reasons I can't see myself having children.

I guess I am looking for a reason to why I feel this way, if it's common among women and maybe even how to "fix" it (or at least make it better).

It does feel strange when someone with a baby asks if I want to hold it and the response in my head is immediately 'NO! Don't let me touch it, I will break it.' followed by minor panic and a feeling I want to get out of that situation as soon as possible.


EDIT: THANK YOU for all your words, I feel so much better now! I must admit I was hesitant about asking this here, but I thought I would get the most honest answers here and I was right. I now feel okay with never having children, but also (if I ever get to a place when I feel I want it) okay with someday having children despite my dislike of infants. It's difficult to choose a right answer since they all helped me in a way or another.

  • 6
    I'm a father. I enjoy interacting with children that are old enough to be "fun", but otherwise the only infants I would care to be around are my own. Biologically, we're more tuned to the care and survival of our own children, not someone else's. I'm not at all uncomfortable around other newborns, but I still won't hold them and don't care to be around them while they're crying. Their cries evolved to be annoying as possible in order to get our attention to ensure survival. However, it's very different when it's your child (biological or adopted). – user11394 Feb 20 '15 at 16:21
  • 8
    You are NOT broken. There is a huge societal burden on women and huge social expectation on us. Just because you don't fit what society currently feels is the norm doesn't make your feelings wrong. So having children isn't for you there are tons of options still. You like older kids, if you feel the need to have kids maybe fostering older kids would work for you. You could also become a teacher or mentor kids through programs like big-brother-big sisters, girl scouts, or any other of programs. You don't have to be a baby maker to be normal or to have kids. – scrappedcola Feb 20 '15 at 18:31
  • 6
    The biological clock stuff is nonsense (see all the replies) but 25 is quite young! – Ida Feb 20 '15 at 18:40
  • 4
    @scrappedcola Having kids isn't even enough. My wife and I are asked at least once a week when we're having a boy because we have two girls. "But, who are you going to do man stuff with?" Pff, my girls like football, and I like tea parties. I don't need a boy to have a child I can have fun with. – corsiKa Feb 20 '15 at 21:55
  • Agreed, in the end people as a whole will not be happy with your choices. You can either spend your life living up to societal "norms" or live your own life and tell the rest to take a long hike on a short pier. – scrappedcola Feb 20 '15 at 21:59
19

a woman should biologically feel some form of affection towards these small humans

No. That's a social rule, not a biological one.

You're not alone.

  • Some women adore all babies and children. My kid's teacher wholeheartedly enjoys spending her days surrounded by dozens of young children.
  • Some women are pretty into their own kids, but find other (or too many) children annoying. I can't imagine being a kindergarten teacher, I wouldn't be able to stand it.
  • Some women like other people's kids, but don't want to have their own. (They're fun in small amounts, until they start getting cranky...)
  • Some like kids, but not babies. My grandmother had nine children, and (in her words) "rather disliked them until they could carry on a conversation." Queen Victoria famously disliked pregnancy, and didn't think babies were cute.
  • Some women don't like kids, at all, in any form.

I have kids and I've been told I'm not a good enough woman because I don't adore all babies unconditionally.

This isn't necessarily related to whether you have (or can have) biological children or not. Adoptive mothers form deep and loving bonds with their children, even though the child didn't physically grow in their body. I would never argue that a father is biologically incapable of loving his baby just as much as the mother.

If you really want to like infants more, the only solution I can imagine is to spend more time with them. Hang out with family members or friends who have very young kids. Take it slowly: you don't have to hold, hug, feed, or change the baby right away, just sit there and watch for something adorable and convince yourself it's not going to explode. Don't take it personally when a baby cries when you eventually hold her -- it's not you, it's her.

But if you're doing this because you think there's something "wrong" and you need to be fixed, I don't think you're doing it for the right reasons. Some people don't want to be parents, some people don't want to be around babies, and that's just how it is.

  • 3
    My mom is definitely better with older kids that babies. I was never into babies, until I had my own. I was SO worried about not liking the infant, but I did. Once I had a baby, I liked babies more. As my kids are growing, that baby love is fading. All women are different. – Ida Feb 20 '15 at 18:43
  • 3
    I think it's not wrong to say, Some women have a biological urge to like babies, particularly when those women have babies. It's wrong to say All women have a biological urge to like babies, or at least sufficient urge to get over the reasons not to like them. People are different. Don't let people paint you into a corner just because of [some physical characteristic], and don't let it shape your actions. – Joe Feb 20 '15 at 20:52
  • 2
    Most people are affectionate towards babies - biologically speaking. They either possess features we find cute or we have adapted to think "babyish" features are cute. But it's incorrect to say all people feel like that. – Prinsig Feb 20 '15 at 22:44
10

Warning - this may seem mean

I'm glad you stood up to say this. I'm a dad and not quite the same scenario, but even after having 2 daughters who are not quite out of the crying phase I can tell you the sound of crying is just about the most annoying thing you can hear. Part of me thinks it's supposed to be though. I have found ways to deflect my kids from crying unless they're genuinely injured.

I never wanted kids per say. I just wasn't opposed to it when I knew my wife wanted them - or more that she phrased it as her dream in life. So I dealt with having to hold tiny babies and thinking I was going to break them or not know what on earth they could want when they can't communicate. It was scary to think of, but what a lot of people don't tell you is this:

  1. the first 6 months or so of any baby's life is spent with them doing almost nothing. Barely rolling over, crawling, etc. During those months you will somehow forget that babies indeed are ugly, rolly, fragile or whatever else may be roaming through your mind.
  2. Babies are a lot tougher than you think. My newborn rolled off a bed and crashed head first into the floor from about 3 feet. She was fine. You really can juggle babies around - to some degree - and they kind of just go with it.
  3. Babies are truly genius. To know absolutely nothing and yet somehow convey interests and needs in a way I can only describe as telepathic is very interesting. You will delight in seeing just how much they retain in such a short period of time.
  4. Crying is a nightmare and will ruin you for sleep, for sanity, for personal time, for comfort on every level. But crying persists when you fail to approach it and figure out what calms them down. It's surprisingly not too difficult, at least for my two girls who have opposite personalities. That has to account for something.
  5. As much as you want to deny it - like I did for years - you will love the sh** out of your kids. Unless you're a drug addict psycho, I guess. So even if you feel uncomfortable around babies (i still do) you will not feel the same way around your own.

Now let me tell you this: Enjoy every second of your life. Go out, have fun, live it up. Cause if you end up getting pregnant either by choice or accident, it will be a long time before you can ween back into anything that you once did in life. You will probably not miss your old life much... maybe a few things... but I don't know anyone that regrets their kids. I'm a jerk, but I love my kids and wouldn't go back in time if I could.

You're not messed up. You're nowhere near alone. You shouldn't do anything to change how you feel about this, at least from my non-professional, know nothing about psychology perspective. I was the same way. I still am. And having kids is not the nightmare I thought it would be. It's a different kind of nightmare, to be sure. But not one you want to wake up from.

PS - I'd say you feel this way because you're not psychotic. I'd say people who blindly dream of having kids without thinking of breaking them are affected by some kind of psychotic tendencies. It's those of us who fear damaging them that end up paying the most attention to our kids. At least that's what I've come to believe from my short life of parenthood.

  • 2
    I don't see what you think might be considered mean about this. – kojiro Feb 20 '15 at 22:12
  • @kojiro - just that typically people take offense at people saying infants are annoying or ugly. Especially when they have kids. It sort of implies I dislike my kids somehow, which is probably considered mean to a lot of people. Plus I tend to annoy people on this site, I think. – Kai Qing Feb 20 '15 at 22:14
9

If you stated you really wanted to be a mom, but were repulsed by babies, this answer would be different. But I don't hear that. So this is a lot about not wanting children, which should be the first step in decision-making.

Many people ignore that having a baby is a crisis situation (albeit a normal crisis): you are suddenly called upon to take on a completely new role and new responsibilities that very few are prepared for adequately. The failure to publicly acknowledge the degree of crisis that occurs, our unpreparedness for it, and the continuing societal definition of the primary role of women as mothers puts stress on the woman who even considers voluntary childlessness.

Is anything wrong with you? No. You are simply asking a question that most people have not considered asking openly.

Google voluntary childlessness and you'll come up with article titles like:

  • Stigma management among the voluntarily childless
  • When no means no: Disbelief, disregard and deviance as discourses of voluntary childlessness
  • Childfree and feminine Understanding the gender identity of voluntarily childless women
  • Women without children: A contradiction in terms?
  • Women's voluntary childlessness: A radical rejection of motherhood?
  • 'Unnatural','Unwomanly','Uncreditable'and 'Undervalued': The Significance of Being a Childless Woman in Australian Society
  • Does the reason matter? variations in childlessness concerns among US women

The very fact that this is framed negatively (child less instead of child free) is significant. No wonder you feel that somehow you're wrong. You're not. You're just being honest.

Google "parenthood and happiness" and you'll get better results dealing with the myths of parenthood.

If, after an honest exploration of whether you actually want to be a parent (not even considering the repulsiveness of squalling, wrinkled little baby in your arms), you decide you do, then you can take steps to overcome your dislike of babies, or deal with parenting without the baby-phase.

Remember that babyhood is a short period in the life of a child. I have known enough women who don't like babies but loved having children to know that it's not rare, and very possible.

I have known fewer women who voluntarily chose to be childfree. We all suffer from the lack of non-judgemental discourse on the subject.

7

I guess it's not uncommon at all, it's just social pressure that tells women that they "should" want babies. Even for men, there is incredible social pressure to make a family and have infants. From what I've heard, people (and especially couples) that make the choice of not having babies and keep to it do feel that pressure.

I am not sure how you feel, if you:

  1. Want infants "some day" but are afraid of breaking the frail newborn. I think that is sane—you do want to protect children. I would be afraid of someone that takes a newborn in his hands and not be afraid of how frail he is.

  2. Do not want infants, ever. In which case, I think it is a perfectly valid choice to do so, but it is a difficult path. But I do not think it is fair to have a child just because of social pressure if you do not really want to have infants and family.

  • I guess it's a mixture of both. If you asked me a year ago (before I got close with my goddaughters's family) I would have said no, never. Now it's more like "Maybe one day... when I'm over 30... if I feel really alone... and I have nothing better to do." So the feeling right now is that I do not want children, but I am aware that I might change my mind depending on how my life turns out. Also, there are more stuff than simply breaking the baby that freaks me out about the pregnant-giving-birth-parent-for-the-rest-of-my-life-thing, but that is maybe better suited for another question. – Lemon Feb 20 '15 at 11:02
  • Also, I fully agree on the "I do not think it is fair to have a child just because of social pressure if you do not really want to have infants and family" and if we do end up considering having a baby we will not have one simply because my mother wants grandchildren or anything like that. (But I am afraid that I will be affected by her opinions regarding this, since I am her only child and her only chance of grandchildren.) – Lemon Feb 20 '15 at 11:08
5

I am unable to comment (not enough rep points) and this isn't really an answer only a supportive message. My wife had tokophobia and also just didn't like babies. I really wanted kids and she knew that when we met. We went though with having a baby (it was really tough pregnancy, panic attacks, identity crises) and we had a psychiatrist for the panic attacks and got a cesarean section birth on the UK nhs due to stress.

I am pleased to say three months one week later everything is okay. The biology kicks in; other peoples kids are still not that interesting but out child is loved, cherished and enjoyed. Now she is suggesting another one. I am not saying that could/should happen to you. It's fine not to have children. Having a baby with all the risks and biological turmoil is hard and not for everyone. I am just saying that having panic attacks around babies happens to some women and that it doesn't define your outcomes.

There is immense social pressure on women to want to have kids. There is zero social awareness of tokophobia. When my wife was pregnant at her office mothers would take about difficult births and things which would stress my wife out and want to make her cry and puke. But to not be "a social outcast" she just bit her lip and swallowed. She only told a few close friends. Women should try to tune in a bit and back off when someone isn't actively engaging in the conversation and should always ask if it's okay before launching into stories of the "nuts and bolts" of birth and new borns.

In short: it's normal for a minority of ladies and it doesn't define your possibilities.

  • Welcome to the site. It is quite reassuring to hear from others who have been through something similar. The outcome is wonderful! – anongoodnurse Feb 22 '15 at 0:31
  • I've never even heard of the word 'tokophobia' (not even google spellcheck knows it) but it's nice to have a name for it and I believe I suffer from it too. I've also heard horror stories about the birthing process and I am very afraid of it all. It's wonderful that you and your wife got through it though and it gives me hope that if I'm ever in that situation I will make it through as well. Thanks for sharing your story! – Lemon Feb 23 '15 at 7:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.