Can you be a parent if you hate children?

should you have kids if you hate children

Can you be a parent if you hate children? It’s a bit of a weird question I guess. Technically of course you can have children – perhaps the question really is should you, or maybe even why would you?

I’ve been thinking about it because of a conversation I had recently on Twitter. I’d been harping on about my midlife unravelling and a man replied telling me that his life wasn’t quite where he had expected it to be by this point in his life. He had never been married, he told me, no girlfriend, no kids, no pets. He spent a lot of his time alone he explained.

I asked how he felt about this – was it that he wanted all of those things, or was he actually quite happy with how things were, but feeling under pressure to tick the boxes.

His reply surprised me.

‘I hate children,’ he said, ‘but I would like one or two of my own kids some day.’

Ummm, okay.

I asked him to explain as I was confused. I wasn’t critical, I was just genuinely puzzled as to why you would actively choose to have children if you hated the very concept of them.

He likened it to a car. ‘I hate traffic,’ he said, ‘but I still drive a car.’

I wasn’t particularly enlightened. I can see the car thing – you need to get to places, and so you tolerate traffic for the sake of being able to move about – but I wasn’t sure how this equated to having children. What purpose were the children meant to serve that meant you would be prepared to tolerate them, full time, for at least 18 years? Was it some kind of feeling of duty to reproduce? Someone to spend Christmas with? People who felt obliged to care for you when you got old?

I wasn’t sure I understood.

I hate making packed lunches and helping kids find things that are right in front of their noses as much as the next person, but I don’t hate the idea of children. The difficult bits are bearable because you inherently like the children as people – how awful would it be to not have that to balance things out?

Aside from the why, there is also the question of should – should you make the decision to bring children into the world, to live with them through their formative years, knowing you’re going to actively dislike them? How healthy is that for children and what impact might it have on them if it’s clear that you’re not really into them?

I thought about the family structure through the ages – children being seen and not heard, born for the sake of continuing a family line, or tolerated by husbands to keep their wives happy. I wondered how many people nowadays do actually have children, even though they hate kids. Does it make a difference when they’re your own? Does it change as they get older?

Perhaps I’m being naive to think that everyone who starts a family does so because they like children, or at least doesn’t hate them. There must be people too who thought they liked children until they had their own, and then realised it wasn’t as fun as it looked on the TV.

If you have children, did you have any strong feelings about kids generally before starting your own family? If you don’t have your own, would you choose to have kids knowing that you hated children generally?

What do you think – can you, should you, and why would you be a parent if you hate children?


Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash



  1. 30 June, 2019 / 8:26 pm

    I’m not a fan of children generally. Definitely before i had a child. Now i can cope with them because I can understand them and I’m a pretty good mum so they don’t make me nervous. But other people’s children, unless they’re well behaved and i can relate to them and hold a conversation, then I’d quite happily remove those ones out of my reach. Thankfully, most of the children I come across have redeeming things about them so it’s ok and quite often fun to be around them.
    Tbh, i think I’m just quite intolerant of a lot if things about annoying people overall, doesn’t matter if its kids or adults. If they’re nice chatty people, and i get on with them, then all is good.

    But hating kids is a bit OTT although it is very different when it’s your own

  2. Emma
    30 June, 2019 / 10:50 pm

    I find other people’s children harder to tolerate than my own? But then, other people probably feel the same about mine!!!

  3. 1 July, 2019 / 10:32 am

    So, I have 2 mini me’s who I completely love even when they drive me up the wall but I can be honest and admit I really am not a fan of other people’s children. I can handle them in small amounts but I could never work in a school for instance. I’m not patient enough and I’m not flexible enough to understand the different ways children are raised compared to mine. Do I hate them? No. Am I glad I don’t have to look after them or live with them? Definitely. Would I have more? 1 or 2. I hope that helps a bit xo

  4. 2 July, 2019 / 9:57 am

    My Husband has never had his own children – he was lumbered with mine when we got together, and he admits to not really liking children as a whole, but he loves mine and the grandkids.
    I think maybe people don’t realise how much they could love children and because they get annoyed by other people’s kids (I do myself, no kid is as lovely as yours though is it?) they guess they hate them (I am sure there are people out there that do, but I’d guess then they wouldn’t be considering having any)
    Or maybe your man is thinking he is too great not to procreate, but will leave the upbringing thing to the wife/mother (he may even not be planning to live with them)
    Soz for the long post, brain on overdrive, I had something to say and thought od the rest as I was going, lol xx

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