Sarah Paulson: ‘I am a woman of a certain age who chose not to have children’

World premiere of Crisis in Six Scene

Sarah Paulson is a cool lady. She turns 43 years old this month and she is, right now, the most famous she’s ever been in her life. She toiled away as a character actress in film and television for years, all while working consistently in theater too. Then Ryan Murphy made her into his muse and suddenly there aren’t enough hours in the day for her – she’s been working back-to-back for years on a variety of projects, plus she’s been juggling her career with her relationship with Holland Taylor, her 74-year-old girlfriend/partner. Paulson has a supporting role in The Post (about the publication of the Pentagon Papers), and next year she’ll appear in Ocean’s Eight, the all-girl installment of the Ocean’s franchise. To promote The Post, Paulson chatted with net-a-porter’s The Edit, and you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

The journeyman actress: “I’ve always fancied myself a journeyman actress; a working character actress. Early on in my career, people couldn’t place me. I had long blond hair like every girl in Hollywood. I looked like four different actresses all rolled into one. I wasn’t standing out in any way.”

On the outing of Hollywood predators: “I think that’s what happens when you take the top off something that’s been pressurized for a long time. But there is one positive coming out of this, and that is this knitting together of women. There’s this feeling of being really supported by other women, and that’s incredibly powerful. It’s very clear that there’s a new world order.”

Her ambition: “I come from a family of women who want things. I am ambitious and unsatisfied in general. I’m not often content with anything the way it is; I always want more. I dreamt about holding an Emmy for a long time. As a kid, I dreamt about holding any kind of statue: I would practice holding an Oscar in the bathroom.”

Whether she sees herself as “off center”: “I think so. My life choices are, um, unconventional. I’m with a much older person [her girlfriend of two years is actress Holland Taylor, 74] and people find that totally fascinating and odd, and, to me, it’s the least interesting thing about me. But I do feel a bit unconventional. I am a woman of a certain age who chose not to have children, and who has made my career my priority. I am the captain of my own ship, and I’ve never looked to anyone else to validate that, or tell me it’s okay.”

Her history of dating older women: “Early on, when people found out I was with Holland, some said: ‘I think you have to be careful, I’m afraid it’s going to affect your career negatively’. I was like, what? It never occurred to me at all.”

[From The Edit]

I wish more women would say sh-t like this: “I am ambitious and unsatisfied in general. I’m not often content with anything the way it is; I always want more. I dreamt about holding an Emmy for a long time.” YAS. I get tired of the “what who me I never expected this Golden Globe nomination OMG” thing. That being said, I know it’s about the messenger too, truly. I’m fine hearing about Paulson’s ambition for awards because I think she’s an immensely talented and deserving actress. If Blake Lively said that quote, I would metaphorically throw her into a bonfire and gleefully roast her.

I also enjoyed this: “I am a woman of a certain age who chose not to have children, and who has made my career my priority. I am the captain of my own ship, and I’ve never looked to anyone else to validate that, or tell me it’s okay.” Queen. A lot of us do choose the childfree life. A lot of choose to work and be free and be the captain of our own respective ships. Bless her for saying it like that.

World premiere of Crisis in Six Scene

Photos courtesy of The Edit.

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134 Responses to “Sarah Paulson: ‘I am a woman of a certain age who chose not to have children’”

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  1. Clare says:

    Euururghghg why do we live in a world where women have to constantly discuss/justify/explain their decision to have or not have children?

    I’ve said on here before – I choose not to have kids. My husband is desperate for kids. It is hard enough to find a balance and happiness within our relationship WITHOUT the world having an opinion on the contents of my uterus and household.

    • Amy says:

      I am genuinely interested in how you manage this. I can feel a storm brewing in my own relationship as I’m in my early 30s and just not interested in having kids at all. I may change my mind in future, sure, but I don’t see it as being on my agenda.

      My partner, on the other hand, is clucky as hell and I feel that it’s going to become an issue in the next few years.

      So if you are balancing the same issue successfully (more or less?), I’m all ears for your life tips!

      • Franny Days says:

        This would be a toughie. Both my husband and I definitely want kids but I have to admit I would be a little heartbroken if he said he didn’t want any. I really hope this question does not sound judgy I’m just curious, did you and your husband discuss not having kids before y’all got married? Or did one of you just end up changing your minds.

      • Clare says:

        @Amy – I’m in my early 30’s too, and I’ve been with my partner since our early 20’s…I’ve always been clear that I didn’t want kids, so it’s not really a surprise for him, y’know? Until 3-4 years ago he was ok with that, but has now changed his mind. I haven’t. He is, for the most part, respectful of that.

        Having said that, this baby thing comes up AT LEAST once a week these days, aw one of our best friends is pregnant and any conversation about her leads to ‘so when are we having babies’. It’s more irritating than anything, tbh, but also a little unnerving because he hopes I will change my mind.

        My honest advice would be – don’t encourage the ‘I may change my mind’ narrative, because that leaves a door open for your partner to think you WILL change your mind.

        I think the saving grace in our marriage is that I have always always been firm about not wanting children – and open about my reasons for this. a) I have no desire to raise kids b) I grew up bi-racial in Georgia and have no desire to bring bi-racial children into this world to go through the shit I did as a kid (husband is white British, I am a mutt American). I guess so far, he stops at irritating and hasn’t quite crossed into pushy. There have been solutions on offer like ‘we can adopt’ but I try to be firm in my ‘nope no kids, thanks’…it is hard, because I do adore him and feel like I am disappointing him in some way – but truthfully, I’d rather disappoint him (he changed his mind – not me!) than make a sacrifice that would completely change my life. I mean…I’m referring to having kids as a sacrifice, I think that speaks volumes as to where I stand!

      • anna says:

        you’re not alone. “but you`ll regret not having kids!” yeah, well, maybe i’ll regret having them. who knows? i still got a little time…

      • lightpurple says:

        @Clare, are there opportunities for him to channel his interest in kids elsewhere, like a Big Brother or Best Buddies or a coaching situation? Or would that just make it harder?

      • Clare says:

        @lightpurple we have dogs, including a 7 month old puppy…plenty of ‘baby – daddy’ cuddles haha!

        I think the big thing for him isn’t so much having kids NOW – but being older and not having children…he sort of has this very English country gent fantasy of taking his kids camping and hiking and rowing…and running amock his family home in Yorkshire causing havoc etc. You know the kind of stuff the person who doesn’t have to grow a pumpkin in their uterus comes up with 🙂

      • lightpurple says:

        @Clare, ah yes. He can still take kids camping, hiking, and rowing. It’s called The Boy Scouts.

      • lightpurple says:

        @Clare, ah yes. He can still take kids camping, hiking, and rowing. It’s called The Boy Scouts.

    • Maria F. says:

      i believe that you should only have kids if you are really convinced you want them. I know that there are a lot of people that got used to the idea once they had them, but they change your life so completely, that you need to be willing to accept that. I have seen too many cases where people are really bad parents and I always wondered if it was done due to social pressures. At the end the only ones suffering will be the children and that is a high price to pay.

    • Wren says:

      Clare, are you me lol? I’m in a similar situation; I’m not interested in children but my husband would really like to have kids. I’ve been on the fence, leaning towards no when we got together years ago. He always envisioned he’d have kids without thinking through exactly how or why. Just because “it’s what you do”. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have adult children because I have a wonderful relationship with my parents, but the rest of it holds zero interest for me.

      We can’t afford it, which puts the external kibosh on it for now, but I don’t really know what the future will bring. I’m a little apprehensive, honestly, since it’s not a thing you can compromise on. So I guess I’m trying to say you’re not alone.

    • M4lificent says:

      I belong to a group of single mom’s by choice, and a fair number of women in our group divorced in their mid- to late-thirties because they couldn’t come to an agreement with their spouse about having children. I’ve also known a number of men who wanted children when their spouses didn’t. Either they never talked or never came to an agreement about it in the first place, or they changed their minds over the course of years or decades. And we all know people who have children because it’s expected or to please their partner. But whether a child has one parent or two, they deserve to be truly wanted by those parents.
      Unfortunately, it’s a wicked problem without a clean solution.

      It can be hard enough to figure out what you want from life as an individual. And harder still to make it make it synch up with another persons wishes and needs. But no woman should have to feel like she can’t be honest with herself about what she wants her life to look like. I’m angry that I had to defend my choice to have a child, but I’m equally angry that women who choose to not have children also have to defend their choice.

    • Artemis says:

      This would be my nightmare. You never know if one part of the couple changes their mind so many years into a committed relationship.

      It doesn’t help men are validated in thinking they have endless amounts of time to make up their mind but women can struggle around age 40 onwards if they do want children and live with the consequences.
      Some men also claim they don’t want children because they don’t want them with THAT partner (who does want them) and then waste that partner’s chances to then have kids with a younger woman in their next marriage.
      Or childfree women who date douchebags who don’t want to admit they want children because they want to control when the children come and think/expect the women to go along with procreating when they do finally show their real wants. I read accounts on both mother forums and childfree forums (for men and women) and straight men are a damn trip! I love reading people’s experiences though, it just shows real life.

      • Yup, Me says:

        I’ve really enjoyed the women who speak up and encourage women to know what they want and go for that in their lives. A woman who wants children and stays with a man who has said he does not has made a choice to potentially not have children. He didn’t waste her time (if he was honest with her about this). She wasted her own time.

    • Angela82 says:

      This sounds super frustrating. I had a boyfriend about 10 years ago who insisted he wanted kids because “that’s what people in love do” and “how else will you be taken care of when you get old?”. Both terrible reasons IMHO. Perhaps he likes kids but he never gave that reason probably because he knew I didn’t really like kids.

      Luckily my family has always known I didn’t want kids. They laugh because I didn’t like kids even when I was a kid. I was the 5 yr old hanging out with the grown ups. Needless to say that relationship didn’t last because I wasn’t going to be bullied with the “you’ll change your mind argument” forever. Like dude sorry NOT happening. Yeah nothing is said and done until you realize you are in your 50s and can’t but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Flash forward to 2010 and I met a divorcee who knew he was completely fine not having kids. At one time he supported his wife (now ex wife) and they tried for kids but it never happened and then they divorced. I make it a point all the time to say “still don’t want kids” and he completely understands. We both have had nieces recently and it hasn’t tugged at our heart enough to change anything. he is 42 and I am 35. it makes me feel safe we are both getting older and are still content with our childfree life and endless vacations.

    • noway says:

      It does always bother me too that people feel this is an appropriate question. I was married to my husband for a decade before we had a child. I got this question a lot. Funny enough it was not usually from my family, they knew better, but from strangers or acquaintances mainly.

      Since, everyone shared with me for a decade, I’ll share with all of you strangers and acquaintances. I had one and done, and guess what question you get then, when is the next one. My husband passed away when my child was five so that shut up those nosy bodies. I admit I kind of felt good in a sick humor kind of way making people feel guilty for asking such a nosy question. My husband had a black sense of humor he would have thought it was funny. I am happy we had our child, but it’s not for everyone. It’s easy enough to mess it up when you want to do it, I can’t imagine how hard it would be if you didn’t really want to do it. Everyone has to decide for themselves, and it is hard when you and your husband have different feelings on the subject. Good luck making a decision that works for both of you. Sometimes I think though that men only think of the good things about raising a child, because most didn’t have a father who did the nitty gritty of raising a child, the mother did. Raising children is fun, but also really hard.

      • Wren says:

        Honestly, the last bit is my husband. He sees only the rosy aspects of kids, the happy family ideal, and all the sweet moments and joys. Which is great, but it comes with a whole lot of day to day exhaustion and grossness and stress and responsibility that I don’t know if he could/would handle. I have a strong feeling I’d be left dealing with all the nitty gritty and nasty aspects while he got to claim things like “gag reflex” and “I’m not comfortable doing that”. That’s what he does with our animals (which is fine because they are my thing), and I don’t really expect the fact that it’s a tiny human instead of a dog, cat, or goat to suddenly make that stop. So no, darling, I’m not excited by the prospect.

      • Lady D says:

        I have one kid, and when I asked when the next one would be I always replied that I was on the one-per-lifetime plan.

      • Tourmaline says:

        @Lady D Same here. With 1 the constant questioning continues because no one can imagine you could be happy with just 1.

      • Kelly says:

        @Wren I think that fathers seeing more of the Kodak moments instead of all the emotional and physical labor that women put into child raising is part of it. My father wasn’t the most involved parent until my sister and I were in our early teens. He says he likes babies, but both my sister and I who still haven’t given him two legged grandkids, are somewhat skeptical. We know from experience that he’s more interested in kids once they’re around late elementary school age when they have a longer attention span.

        My late mother claimed she could count on two hand the number of diapers that he changed between two kids. I think that was her way of expressing her frustration with how much of the emotional and physical effort she put into child raising.

    • Sherry says:

      This is something I got squared away when I was dating my husband. He had kids from his first marriage and said he didn’t want anymore because he “didn’t think it would be fair to them that he’d be a full-time dad to the new kids while they only would have him part-time.” At first, I thought I’d be okay with that until my counselor pointed out that I’d told her I said I always wanted five kids. She said I would regret giving that up for him one day if that is something I’ve always wanted. She was right and I told him, “I understand if you don’t want anymore kids, but I do and if that’s not something your willing to do, then we just need to call it a day now and end this.” I’ve never seen someone change their mind so fast. We decided on two, though after #2 was born, we both said we wanted one more, so we have three.

      Having kids is not for everyone. My daughter (20) is adamant she does not want kids and I’ve told her that’s fine. If you don’t want kids, you should not have them, but if you do, you shouldn’t have to give that up either.

    • Scotchy says:

      It’s so nice to see someone else out there with this perspective. I am now in my 40’s and I would like to say that having made that choice gets easier, but it doesn’t. My husband is still onboard although he does get a little misty eyed when seeing our nieces and nephews but I have been firm in this decision. As a beige Canadian even with the social structures in place to support having a family racism is alive and well and the idea of bringing life into this planet in the shape it’s in for me just has not, nor will ever appeal.

    • Pandy says:

      You’re right Clare, it IS a sacrifice that will completely change your life. I’m childfree by choice, but almost 56. Met my husband at 35 and we had one conversation about children (after initial “do you have kids” question). I said I’ve never been interested and I’m still not and he agreed that he was happy enough with the way his life is. We sometimes have that conversation – are you ever sorry we didn’t have kids – and neither of us ever is. I’m happily selfish with my time and energy. I don’t even want to work truthfully. Just all round lazy I guess lol. At least I know it and planned my life around it!

    • magnoliarose says:

      He should mentor children and maybe you could too for biracial children together. So many children need someone to talk to, and it is rewarding for both of you, and your husband can get some camping and hiking in with some kids who would love it. He can also build a relationship with children. My father does it, and he gets other men to do it, and it can be life-changing for everyone.
      Just throwing it out there.

    • Mel says:

      “why do we live in a world where women have to constantly discuss/justify/explain their decision to have or not have children?”

      We don’t. I actually find it quite odd that SHE brings it up, calling it “unconventional”, then goes on to talk about how she’s the “captain” of her “ship” and needs no-one to validate her choices. Based on my own experience – or perception – very few people in this day and age actually think of childless women as “unconventional” (or think much about other people in general, but I digress). As a “woman of a certain age” who never wanted children it never occurs to me to think of myself as “unconventional” in THAT particular regard. I also never had to explain my choice to anyone.
      (E.T.A. Maybe it’s different here in Europe. I don’t know. I’ve never lived in the USA long enough to find out.)

      The other thing that bothers me is the coy, passive-aggressive-sounding “woman of a certain age”. Again, based on my experience, only (certain) women use it – never men. Maybe she used it ‘sarcastically’, but again it sounds like she is projecting.

  2. lightpurple says:

    Gorgeous red dress. Gorgeous cover.

    Some of us don’t choose but just can’t and people still feel free to badger and judge. People need to butt out of the life choices/paths of others.

  3. Lucy says:

    Fantastic Christmas-y photoshoot (love the dress and the sweater) and an even better interview. I long to see her as the lead of her own movie.

  4. Alissa says:

    I have three step kids ranging in age from 8 to 22, and I’ve been with my fiance for over 6 years. And people still Badger me constantly about when we’re going to have one of our own. I think of the kids as my own, and my fiance already had three kids. We’re going to be able to travel by the time we’re in our early forties and fifties because all the kids will be grown. Why would we want to change that now.

  5. Barbcat says:

    I am captain of my own ship and I am married with kids.

    • drea says:

      But no one questions your choice. I’m 44, in a long term relationship but we aren’t married and don’t plan to be. No children because we don’t want them. People are always telling me “it’s great you made that choice for yourself!” or “it’s good you didn’t have kids if you don’t want them” – as if I asked for their opinion/validation? Keep it to yourself please. Those of us who decided kids aren’t for us are not seeking anyone’s approval about our decision. You really don’t need to feel obligated to comment on it.

      • Miss Melissa says:

        It’s worse hearing those speeches when you don’t have kids because you couldn’t have them. They still try to offer their opinion and validation on your “choice.”

        People need to learn to keep their opinions to themselves, in general.

      • amilu says:

        I’m 39. 10 unmarried years with my 40- year-old guy, and neither of us have ever wanted kids. We got a good thing going, and I really feel for all who have a partner who does want kids but you don’t (or vice versa).

      • Kitten says:

        THIS completely. I really do think it’s impossible for women with children to understand the almost-daily irritation experienced by those of us in our 30s and 40s who have chosen a childfree life. People absolutely do make you feel like you’re a zoo animal and it’s frustrating and debilitating. It’s a personal choice and it is NOBODY’S business. My 41-year-old brother and my SIL (who is 31) don’t have kids yet. I have no idea if they want them and I would NEVER ask. If they want to talk about it with me, I’m all ears, but I would never infringe on their privacy by asking.

        I’m 38 (39 in a couple weeks) and my BF is 31. He says emphatically that he does not want kids. I am on the fence but lean more towards not having them, especially now that 40 looms near. I worry very much that he will change his mind and decide that he wants them in 5 years when it is too late for me. Anybody else here dealing with something similar? I mostly don’t think about it but have random nights now and again where I wake up at 2AM stressing out….

      • Angela82 says:

        @drea: and amilu: This sounds exactly like me. 35 yrs old with a longterm bf (hes 42). We don’t plan to marry or have kids. hes already been married and it didnt end well. Marriage also isnt that important for me to fight for it. I think this is the best life for me. I enjoy having the option to take vacations without having to worry about the kids or their college fund. My parents have always been 100% supportive but I still hear the shocked gasp once in a while from those not close to me or those who don’t understand my life. That or the joke “oh come on youll crack one day.” I think more people are shocked I refuse to get married than actually having kids. I don’t need a piece of paper to give me a reason to not cheat. I also hate this idea that I may get stuck in a horrible divorce if anything did happen (you never know) and what for if you don’t even have kids. That type of commitment isn’t important to me. Anyways thats how I see. I am also atheist so to me I don’t have religion telling me what is normal and what isnt. The only thing I worry about is setting up a will that honors my wishes bc America can be such a pain in the ass with things like DNR, funeral wishes, hospital visits, etc. with so called “single” but not really single people.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Your post was touching. I know you love your man and I do hope it works out happily whatever you decided. The yenta in me thinks you would be a cool mother with a cool kid but the feminist in me just hopes you do you with confidence.
        I wasn’t eager for kids or thought deeply about it until I met my husband and I know that has happened to women before. I have childless friends who are perfectly happy and ones who aren’t happy and one who was happy until her divorce. She remarried a lovely man and has two now. Her first husband WAS a big baby, so it was okay not to add to the burden.
        I don’t think there is a way or answer.

      • Sticks says:

        Honestly, I think people just ask in general. It used to irritate me before I had a kid because at that time I didn’t think I wanted one and besides it was not their business. But now that I have a kid the question then turns to see you going to have more than just one. It’s still irritates me just as much as when I didn’t have a child. People should really just not ask. But I think it’s like trying to have small talk. But a horrible small talk topic of conversation…

    • kaye says:

      she isn’t saying it is one or the other, she isn’t asking women to justify their choices, whatever they may be–she’s talking about her own life and agency. she is however, representing an often stigmatized view of what it means to be a woman in the world. more power to her!

    • SM says:

      Yes, thank you as if having kids means you are no longer the captain.

    • trillian says:

      Exactly. I may have a couple of ship’s kobolds running around my feet, pranking me and trying to trip me up, but I AM THE CAPTAIN HERE, DAMMIT!

    • CynicalAnn says:

      Well, yes, I’m married with a bunch of kids too. But it’s still not the same thing. You don’t get to do EXACTLY what you want to do when you have kids, especially when they’re small. You make enormous sacrifices and compromises. I see what she’s saying. I made the choice, and I’m totally happy with it-I always wanted to have kids. So in that respect, I’m in charge of my life. But let’s not pretend like that having a family doesn’t steer your life in different ways than if you were single and child-less.

      • Kitten says:

        Thank you, CynicalAnn. This is exactly what she’s saying–or at least that’s what I got out of it.

        What’s weird is that the same people getting offended by her comment are probably the same ones that would gladly (and truthfully!) drone on about the sacrifices that come with motherhood. Come on, people.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Yep. I wish I could have two lives in parallel, one to be free and one to parent. You look for freedoms inside the parenting and you look for child engagement (if you want) inside the freedom.

      • Artemis says:

        Yeah I didn’t get the replies. You’re not really the captain when kids clearly steer your life in another direction on a day-to-day basis. You have to make sacrifices whether in your personal life or career unless you’re rich and can afford lots of help? Just a morning routine alone is a complete mindf- with children and can mess up the rest of your day.

        And you can pour your whole life into raising children but if they don’t succeed in life (however they or you define success), or end up miserable, or maybe even end up as criminals or very common : never visit their parents in old age, then nobody tell me that ish doesn’t affect you on the deepest level!
        There’s a whole lotta physical, emotional and financial effort in raising children and from my own POV, what they give back to you is not worth it.

        I also want to note that in my work, I meet many single mothers, happy and unhappy, and they very often reply ‘don’t’ when I mention I’m not sure if I want to have kids. I’m listening and processing all of this and pretty much know I’m not somebody who should be mothering human beings 🙂 I can deal with animals though, they actually bring comfort and what you put in is likely what you get back tbh. There is no balance like that with children.

      • SM says:

        Yes, there are a lot of compromises you have to make when you have kids. But so definitely have to make them too in any kind of relationship where someone else is involved, like with partners. Thinking that you are the captain only when no one intervienes amd everything goes according to you all the time seems like a recipe for a lonely and misserable life

      • Lady D says:

        @Artemis, a Dear Abby poll in the 70’s asked, If you could do it over, would you have children again? Over 67% of the respondents said no. Being young, I couldn’t believe 2 out of 3 parents wouldn’t do it again. I mentioned it to my neighbour and she said, ‘when they are little, you have little problems, when they are big, you have big problems. She said she wouldn’t do it again either.

      • magnoliarose says:

        I agree with Cynical Ann.
        Being a mother is a joy, and I love my little posse. I have a bunch of little people too, but I am the captain of my ship in that it was my choice. I grew up in a large family, so I knew what I was doing.
        However, there are enormous sacrifices and concerns that I didn’t have until I had them. When my marriage was on the ropes, it was more of a burden, but now that we are stronger than ever, it isn’t.
        It is a different ship. That is what I would say.

    • Domino says:

      Barbcat, you could easily take off to a foreign destination for a job? Decide to go back to school without any regard for how it would affect your dependents? Quit a job that is sucking your soul?

      Yes, having a partner means you take someone else into consideration for your choices, but kids need and depend on you physically and emotionally to the point that some moms And dads I know really cannot make a life for themselves outside of the one they have at home.

      If you have financial means, incredibly competent childcare and other domestic help, and a supportive spouse and community, then yes, I see how you can consider yourself captain of your own ship. But that reality doesn’t exist for so many people, and the imbalance of emotional labor and physical labor can become disproportionately shifted on women way too easily.

  6. marc kile says:

    If everyone was meant to be married and have children divorce lawyers, alimony,child welfare offices,and foster homes would not exist.

  7. Doodle says:

    I love my kids and would anything for the . But not a day goes by where at least for five minutes I fantasize about what life would be like without them. I feel guilty about it, but they are exhausting. You have to really, really want them in order to do a good job. And you never know what child you will be given… you assume you’ll be given a neurotypical child but there are no guarantees in life. If you know you don’t want kids, don’t cave. I love my kids and wouldn’t trade them for the world, but parenting is such a huge responsibility and so easy to screw up when it’s what you really WANT to be doing.

    • Lindy79 says:

      This x

    • Millenial says:

      Yes, definitely exhausting. I imagine there are moms out there who love motherhood, and excel at it… I love my child, I don’t love being a parent, if that makes any sense.

    • Wren says:

      I worry that any child of mine would turn out just. like. me. Or just. like. my. husband. Neither prospect fills me with joy, as we were both difficult children to raise for very different reasons.

    • ab says:

      same here. I have two kids and have recently admitted to myself (and my husband) that I actually regret the decision to have them. if I could go back, I would not do it again. I never really pined for kids and my husband didn’t either, but after getting married we just kind of caved in to the pressure. now we’ve realized how much having children completely changes your life. there are so many things we want to do that we can’t do, and having a family destroys your finances. one of my kids has special needs, she’s like three kids for the price of one. it’s stressful and exhausting.

      I know this isn’t rocket science but we as a society don’t talk enough about the real toll that having children can take on your life and even your mental health. certainly many people who already have kids are all too happy to only show the good side, “hardest job you’ll ever love” and whatnot. in most arenas you can’t say one negative word about being a parent without people assuming that you hate your children. it stops any real discussion before you even get off the ground.

      • Ash says:

        As a childfree woman, I appreciate your honesty.

        When I turned five, I first articulated not wanting children. Yes, five. I had a decent childhood and my parents were fine so those aren’t reasons I have never wanted children. I’m now in my forties and haven’t changed my mind. I’ve become more resolute as I get older. Not every person has regrets about being childfree.

      • ab says:

        @ash I admire your strength of conviction. I didn’t have a really strong opinion on having kids until I had them. I wish I knew then what I know now!

      • CynicalAnn says:

        I’m curious how old your kids are? Ime, the first five years are brutal.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Yes, it’s relentless!

    • Kitten says:

      Wow your honestly is so unusual, refreshing, and very, VERY much appreciated.

    • magnoliarose says:

      It is a lie to say you always love them serenely or even that you always like them. I have two that work my nerves and one that was born to challenge me. I decided to work again, a little just because I know I have to have breaks. I have my own bathroom for the same reason. I have to have my own space. My husband has his outlets. We live near lots of family and have help.
      You must set up systems and practice self-care and not give a hot damn what anyone else says. I know stay at home mothers who send their child to daycare or share a nanny between another mother or two just to have some days to be alone. They felt guilty in the beginning, but it makes them better mothers.
      My children aren’t always angelic, and running and yoga help my mind, but sometimes kids are jerks.
      They want to consume you, but you have to resist, or you will lose it.

  8. Beth says:

    I’m often told that I’m running out of time and better hurry up and have kids before it’s too late. Plenty of women out there don’t want or are unable to have children. My inability to get pregnant has ended so many of my relationships, but it is what it is, and not everyone needs children to make their lives good. It really irks me when it’s said that you’re not a woman unless you’re a mother, because all of us are women no matter what, and it’s great when women decide to do what they want with their own lives. Good for her for being with who she loves and living life the way she wants

  9. adastraperaspera says:

    Love her. Love Holland Taylor. As a lesbian, I have always appreciated them stepping up and coming out publicly, which they did at different times before getting together. I also love their Twitter messages to each other–adorable!

    • Angela82 says:

      Agreed. I don’t like how some people see their age difference as the same as a 50 yr old man dating a barely legal 18 yr old. Sarah Paulson is older and mature enough to know what she wants. It may not be my preference but if shes happy than good for her.

  10. Barbcat says:

    I was childless until my late 30’s. I loved those years and didn’t think I wanted kids. But I had one and then couldn’t imagine not having them. You don’t miss what you never had.

    But the easier route is not having kids, so women who brag about making the brave choice to not have kids always make me laugh. So you have to explain to some people that you choose to be childfree. That is so much easier than bringing humans into this world who depend on you for so much.

    • drea says:

      I hope no one takes this bait.

    • Beth says:

      I think that being a parent would be an incredibly tough job, but why would you laugh at the rest of us who don’t have children? Life for me definitely isn’t easy even though I don’t have children. Stop and think about the reasons some women choose to not have, or don’t have children. Some of those reasons might keep you from laughing your ass off. Not all women “brag about the brave choice to not have kids.”

      • Ash says:

        I’m childfree, and my life hasn’t been a picnic by any stretch of the imagination.

        Thank you for pointing this out.

    • perplexed says:

      Where was she bragging?

    • Petra says:

      It ís a brave choice because you also ‘choose’ a much more lonely life as it is very difficult to connect with your peers who are all mothers. It is not an easy choice. At all.

    • Barbiegurrl8 says:

      no one’s life is easy. Having children is not the only path to selflessness and sacrifices. Nor is choosing not to the only path to bravery or nonconformity. Women being judged harshly by other women beacause of choices that were fought so hard for always saddens me.

    • Helen Smith says:

      Nope. Not taking the bait at all. My friends have children. They envy me not the other way around.

    • Snowflake says:

      I agree with her. I don’t think I want kids, although sometimes i feel on the fence about it. But not having kids by choice is much less work and emotional involvement than having kids. I think that’s what OP means. Not trying to bait anyone

  11. Rhys says:

    Ooooh, I like her! “I’m a captain of my own ship and I don’t need anyone to validate…” – this speaks to me. I also chose not to have children and regarding work, I have people regularly tell me that I can/should do this or that.
    I like this woman!

  12. Svea says:

    Tis the season when the childless are discriminated against. There is not one single successful relationship in the immediate family, across generations, yet I am singled out because I didn’t choose ro marry my mistakes or bring a child into a bad situation.

  13. CynicalAnn says:

    Historically, and biologically, women have had children (whether they wanted to or not.) So being able to make a choice at all is a newer thing. How fortunate we are to be living in a world make that decision.

  14. Micki says:

    The need to explain is already a half-wish for validation. Sorry. I’ll call Jodie Foster “cool” and “queen”. She left the paternity of her child open for speculations and never, ever explained.

    And let me bitch that :””My life choices are, um, unconventional” comes a bit of self-congratulary.

    • perplexed says:

      She’s with a 74 year-old woman though. That IS unconventional.

      • Micki says:

        Yes, but it sounded to me as just one of her inconventional choices and she says herself it’s ” the least interesting thing” about her. I think that such pairs are more common among the hetero-population, so in every respect you are right. But stating it’s the lest of all makes one curious what the rest is….and it’s still sounds like a humble brag.
        It’s probably me though. most peoeple seem to like how she words things.

  15. JenB says:

    More power to Sarah Paulson! She has so much talent.
    I’d like to add that if a woman does have children it’s just the beginning of another realm of judgement – regarding every decision she makes about raising them.
    The judgement never ends, yay!

  16. Maum says:

    I remember her in American Gothic decades ago… I used to love that show!
    Good for her for being honest. She seems like a cool person.

  17. Jennet says:

    I will be turning 30 soon and although I have a child, I’ve always wanted more than one. I’m single, though, and honestly don’t think I’ll be in a relationship anytime soon. I’m feeling some anxiety ahout it but have accepted it.

    • Kitten says:

      You’re 30 and you have PLENTY of time. Please don’t feel anxious–you might find the love of your life next year and be ready to have a baby two years from now or sooner. Almost ALL of my friends had their first kid after 30. Three of my friends just had a second child the past year and they are 37.

  18. Janna says:

    I’m a married mom of four kids, and I AM SO JEALOUS OF HER LIFE. I love my family, my kids are seriously wonderful (except when they’re not!!), but managing a bunch of new humans is a LONG and psychologically difficult endurance challenge to take on. Cheers to her for making a different choice! Personal freedom should never be underrated.

  19. Digital Unicorn (aka Betti) says:

    I’m over 40 and have no kids – my immediate family don’t badger me as they know i’ve never wanted any, extended family however are all ‘when you are going to settle down and have kids, your younger cousins have cute young kids’. They seem to view me as some sort of hard nosed career focussed woman – am not really, i have a good career with a good work/life balance (I contract).

    It’s when strangers feel the need to comment that really winds me up, esp if they have children. The comments are usually accompanied by a passive aggressive tone that implies that you are less of a woman or that something is wrong with you.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      I’m a mother by adoption. I get all kinds of “tone.” Ah well, my kid’s great and I wanted it this way.

  20. realitycheck says:

    Yes! more people need to save the environment!

  21. unwind says:

    I would place myself in the category of women who love men and not women who need children.

  22. paranormalgirl says:

    I wasn’t sure how I would take to motherhood, but I surprisingly liked it (after the pregnancy part…. HATED that). And I’m not bad at it. My spawn ended up OK and I didn’t break them! But it IS a brave choice to choose not have children. While it is becoming more and more conventional, it held a stigma for a long time.

  23. IMUCU says:

    My husband says if he had maybe an extra 100 years to add to the typical male lifespan, then maybe he would consider having a child. I have a slight interest in children, not really biologically though (for a variety of reasons). I’d rather help a school-age child/teen (no babies) coming from adversity because I came from a dysfunctional family and as a child I often wished to have a stable influence in my life. Most likely I will participate in the Boys & Girls Club or a Big Sisters program at some point. While I think both of our families would like us to have a child because we are very stable & resourceful, they also really want grandchildren (particularly his, bc he is an only child). Though, in general, when I think about how much work children are, I do not feel like I’m missing out. My childhood was so exhausting that I don’t wish to invite more long term exhaustion (though a different kind) into my life. Bust did an interesting article about women who regret motherhood called: “Women Who Regret Motherhood Share Their Stories”

    Here’s the link (I apologize if we are not allowed to post links):

  24. Elizabeth says:

    I have never wanted kids. As someone said above, even as a child I didn’t hang out with the other kids. I’m pretty open about it. I’m also in a 10 year relationship. What’s funny to me, though, is that when someone wants to insult me they always talk about me not being married and having kids. Do they think I don’t know how babies are made? If I wanted to have a child I would obviously have them. It just makes me sad that when it comes down to it a woman is defined by her husband and children for so many people.

  25. A.Key says:

    Having kids is the easy part, however raising a child and having it turn into a decent human being is a whole other level of hard and life-time achievement award thing (which is why so many people have kids but end up being shitty parents because hey, kids mean a lot more than just getting laid and giving birth successfully, surprise!). Seriously, in my opinion producing a good person is the hardest thing one can do, so I admire and respect both men and women who manage to do that.

    And yes I am a woman in her 30s who chose not to have children and I don’t think that’s something noteworthy at all. In fact I think it’s a selfish, cowardly thing to do, but hey it’s my life and I get to be a selfish coward who only wants to put herself first if I want to.
    But people who have kids and are good selfless parents are really the ones who deserve the praise.
    Seriously this world we live in today is too self-centered. Everyone is only ever thinking about themselves and what they want and how they feel. Such a selfish culture we live in.

    P.S. I also think women (and men!) who want children more than anything but unfortunately cannot have them because life sucks and isn’t fair are the true heroes because they still go day by day through it all and live with the heartbreaking unfair hand that they’ve been dealt with. That is brave to me. Choosing to not have kids when it’s no problem to have them but you’re just too damn comfortable and selfish to change your life and put someone else first – that’s not brave at all, and I should know because I’m like that.

    • Elizabeth says:

      My decision not to have kids isn’t any more selfish than someone’s decision to have kids. Maybe you don’t have them because you are selfish and don’t want to put them first, but I think most people don’t have them strictly because they don’t want to have children. You being childfee yourself doesn’t mean you get to make horrible judgments about other childfree people.

    • Tourmaline says:

      I don’t agree it is selfish and cowardly not to have children.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        Why is it selfish? There’s a difference between selfish (taking all the goodies for yourself) and self-interest (doing what’s best for yourself). Not having kids isn’t selfish. Having or not having kids – both choices can be made out of self-interest, and that’s fine.

        Why is it cowardly? Of all the brave things there are do to in life, and all the challenges we may have to face, having children is only one of them. Even then, bravery is dealing with exceptional threat, feeling afraid and doing it anyway. Yet people have been having kids for eons, and not seen it as a matter for fear or overcoming fear (except for the dangers in pregnancy and delivery, etc.).

        These are just not words that apply to this situation.

      • Helen Smith says:

        I always say having children to prove you aren’t selfish is one of the most selfish acts in the book.

        Let everyone live their lives. If you don’t want children, don’t have them and tell people who will judge you to mind their own effin’ business.

    • petra says:

      The world is overpopulated! Luckily some of us choose to live childfree, nothing cowardly about that.

  26. Helen Smith says:

    I never wanted children and it has ended quite a few relationships with nice men but I’ve never wavered. I am waiting for the post-raising children divorces to hit to see if a husband pops up out of the woodwork. If he doesn’t I will be okay because I’m comfortable with my own company and my dogs. I’ve had to be very independent since so many men want children. I’m forty-three and single because of my desire to live childfree.

    • magnoliarose says:

      Your post cracks me up, but you are right to wait for the bumper crop of divorced men with kids. They had the ones they love and wanted, and now they want a woman to have fun with and start a new chapter. Steer clear of the ones that were terrible fathers though. There is bound to be some drama and baggage.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        And steer clear of the ones that were terrible husbands! Though that might be a little harder to suss out.

      • Helen Smith says:

        Thank you for the advice. It is well taken. I don’t want an angry cynical man who takes his issues out with his ex-wife on me or has children who are messes who are going to live in my house or have him raising his grandchildren. I’ve keep my life pretty simple. No need to complicate it now.

  27. Helen Smith says:

    One of the most frustrating things about being childfree has been parents and other people who think I will change my mind. I’m so glad that in my forties everyone has realized that I’m serious.

  28. Kelly says:

    I think it’s interesting that we’re having this discussion on the same day that Paul Ryan made comments about how more women need to be having children because we need a higher birth rate in this country. He was comparing the number of Baby Boomers (finally) retiring to the low number of people entering the workplace.

    Maybe those of us of both genders interested in being parents would think about it if there was paid family leave, affordable daycare so that both parents can work, affordable and comprehensive health insurance, and properly funded public education.

    • magnoliarose says:

      I know. Make it easier for everyone and maybe that would happen.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      Hey Paul Ryan, you know what increases the younger population and replaces older people who die out? IMMIGRATION.

    • Domino says:

      Yeah, @Kelly – this is the biggest issue for me – not enough support structure. From crap childcare, to shit maternity leave to companies giving way too little vacation or inflexible working hours, to men being angry when women get to leave early or turn down work because of maternity leave or to go pick up their sick kid (yes, I have heard men say this). It is almost like society views pregnant women or women with children like a burden, and that men don’t need to be as involved.

      Oh and then let’s look at how many women I know who have stayed in awful marriages ‘for the kids.’

      Raising a child takes a community AND social support, and I will be damned if I am going to try to do it without both of those things.

      • Kelly says:

        @Domino – I second you on the lack of support. My workplace doesn’t offer paid family leave – you have to contribute into a fund out of your paycheck that would fund a maternity/paternity leave after you run out of sick and vacation time. Having that time isn’t an issue for me – I have plenty of time banked after nearly 5 years of service.

        It’s the scheduling that would be an issue. Of the four full time people in my office, two have kids, including one infant. The woman with the infant is the newest hire and ran out of vacation and sick time because of her maternity leave. She has a toddler in addition to the infant and has had to do some juggling to find daycare coverage for days the oldest doesn’t have nursery school. The other one is divorced male with three kids from middle school to elementary school age. He’s the one that you would think has the very young children with how much accommodation he’s gotten. He’s very much a helicopter parent who thinks that the oldest boy shouldn’t be expected to help his siblings get home from school on the bus and watch them until his dad gets home. I’ve had to hold my tongue to avoid a smartass comment that if the eldest was a girl, she’d be expected to watch her younger siblings in the same situation.

        As far as the women who have stayed in terrible marriages, the one in my family that stands out to me is my late, very Catholic aunt, who never divorced her husband who physically and mentally abused her. She died young in her mid 60s after having dementia, a direct result of his abuse. Her asshole husband likely abused their kids, most likely verbal, but possible physical abuse.

    • Helen Smith says:

      This issue of too many boomers and not enough gen xers or millenials has been around for a long time. Typical politicians. They’ve known this problem was coming for decades but they do nothing about the problem until it is here. Then, when they think of solutions they are nonsense. You only can place so many large mammals like humans on a planet before the rest of the planet suffers. A model of government and economy based on ever expanding numbers of people and consumption are unsustainable in the long run.

  29. Shannon says:

    Yeah, I’m tired of women having to explain their family planning to everyone. I have two sons, but for 12 years I only had one (big gap, I know lol) and people were always getting up in my business about, “How can you only have one? When are you going to have another? Don’t you want to try for a girl?” I imagine it’d be even worse if I didn’t have children. My aunt never had any and gets questioned about it all the time. My uncle also never did (we don’t really procreate a lot in my family lol) and nobody questions that. wtf?

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      The old, “What are you carrying around that empty womb for?” question eh? Sigh.

  30. SJhere says:

    I feel like I need to join this conversation. 🙂
    What I want to know is when did “kids vs. no kids” become an open discussion with the entire world? OMG! Shut up and mind your own business everyone! At no point during my pregnancy did I ever get confortable with the questions from people, right down to the grocery store checkout clerk trying to reach over and pat my baby/tummy area.

    This “I’m just asking” is really nothing more than rudeness. If I am over the legal age of adulthood, I also reserve the right to tell noisy people…”Now, WHY on earth would you ask me such questions?” How would they like it if I strolled up to them at every gathering and asked “So, how much money DO you make these days? Well, I’m just asking”

    Yes, I did have some very personal issues before/after pregnancy and to this day, I resent the idea that family would discuss/ask as if it was as casual as “please pass the butter.”

    Noisy people = No good, IMO.

  31. Canadiancutie says:

    Just my two cents here. I am 47 years old and made the decision long ago not to have children. I met my first husband and told him right when we started dating that I really had no interest in having children. We got married and everything was fine for about 8 years and then he decided he wanted children. Instead of talking to me about it, he had an affair with a coworker. This was a deal breaker all around for me and I asked him to leave. I refused to take him back after finding out about more extramarital activities on his part. He eventually married his coworker and had a child with her. Do I ever regret not having a child with him? No way! I moved on and met the love of my life who has two children from his first marriage. I love being a stepmom, but full time would drive me bonkers. I love the time we have alone together and the ability to travel and do whatever we want when we don’t have the kids.
    There really isn’t a compromise on having or not having children and I would have resented the hell out of my first husband if I would have given in and had a baby. I have never once regretted not having children EVER! It’s just not for everyone and no one should ever feel that they have to explain this to anyone!

    • Jaded says:

      +1000 Canadiancutie. I stayed single and childless, mostly because I had a pretty dysfunctional childhood and relationship with my parents and older sister. I knew without a doubt I didn’t want children from the time I was a teenager. I went through a number of relationships, and got my heart broken because I was vocal about not wanting kids. One relationship that truly broke my heart ended when he met someone else, disappeared, married her after 10 months and had a baby with her. Fast-forward 30 years and who do I run into? He was divorced, had a horrible marriage and only stayed in it for the love of his daughter until she was out of the nest. We’re together again, he got his child and I got the love of my life back. Good things happen to those who wait!

      • CynicalAnn says:

        Wow, Jaded-that is a crazy, wonderful story.

      • Canadiancutie says:

        Trust me, that is definitely not happening with my ex and I. Lol! Great story though. Sometimes things just go a certain way for a reason. We may not understand it at the time, but it makes total sense later in life.

  32. TuxCat5 says:


    The fisherman rib stitch sweater (in which Ms. Paulson is looking absolutely gorgeous)! I had a bunch of these in a bunch of colors in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    I’m seriously wondering how far this “return of the 1980s styles” is going to go. For the love of all that is holy–please don’t bring back painted-on jeans!

  33. Olivia says:

    I dont know what she means by “I am a woman of certain age”. Like she should be/expected to be in the thick of childrearing? or to late to have kids?

  34. melissa says:

    Another aspect is sometimes people dont choose. Life chooses. I was in a deep depression from 29 to 35 ( Quit a good job, moved back in with parents). Now soon to be turning 36 coming out the darkness of depression-I guess the whole kids thing isnt happening

    • TuxCat5 says:

      That’s exactly what happened with me. I’m 45, and it’s taken most of my adult years up to this point to stabilize my life. I’d always wanted kids, but circumstances didn’t allow for it.

      However, at age 44, I had a change of heart, and realized that at this point, I no longer want to raise children. Especially since the planet is so overpopulated.

      I have a number of friends–all between 35 and 55–who are unmarried and child-free. We don’t talk about that fact…we just live our lives.

  35. Adele Dazeem says:

    People who’ve had children tend to romanticize their single and or childless days…I got married at 35, first kid at 37, and I can honestly say the stress AND happiness levels in my life have been comparable regardless of marital status, child status, etc.

    What I am saying in a very ineloquent way is life is life. We all have ups, downs, stressors, fears, happiness and problems. Children (and any life path decision, really) are not an end all be all. Some of my most painful, stressful days and some of my greatest memories and times have not involved marriage or children, just a part of the human experience in general. I adore my kids but they don’t define me. Only I DEFINE ME.

  36. cruisey says:

    ‘If Blake Lively said that quote, I would metaphorically throw her into a bonfire and gleefully roast her.’

    I’ve never felt the need to comment before until this. I’m not a fan of Blake Lively at all but can we please not think that some women are worthy of ambition and others not? If a woman wants to see herself at the top of her field – who are we to ‘gleefully roast her’ rather than support her?! I agree with calling people out for their mistakes but having ambition and drive is completely different

  37. Kimberly says:

    I applaud Sarah for being honest about the whole children. I love this interview overall.

    If only more people were being honest with themselves when it comes to having children.
    I say this because I have been around so many people who have kids and I wonder why they even bothered in the first place.

    For e.g. My cousin and his wife recently had their 3rd child. My aunt (cousin’s mum) lives with them and does all the cleaning, cooking and raising these grandkids.

    They don’t spend much time with them, be it leisure/quality time or when they need help with homework. They don’t even bathe them or get them prepared for school (oldest is 6 and the 2nd child is 3 years)
    The longest time they ever spent with the older kids was when they were newborns.

    The mother is always working. She leaves 7am and reaches home 1am or later depending.
    The father works normal hours from 8am to 4pm Mon-Friday. On the weekend, the majority of the time he’s hanging out with his friends (who have no kids or wives BTW)

    And the kids are spoiled ROTTEN. When they are with the kids they don’t discipline them. They basically let the kids control them. And it has gotten so bad that they refuse to even carry those kids out in public in the fear they throw major tantrums and embarrass them.