Candace Bushnell felt the impact of being childfree & ‘truly being alone’ in her 50s

Cuba Gooding Jr. hosts the opening of Marbles Downtown NYC

Candace Bushnell has a new book coming out, Is There Still Sex in the City? It’s about a group of women in their 50s and 60s who move from New York to the Hamptons and just start living their lives out there. As such, Candace is spending a lot of time during her book promotion talking about all of the sh-t she’s learned about men, dating and living a childfree life. Candace is 60 years old right now and she’s always been childfree. She talks about what that means at her age versus when she didn’t even think about having kids in her 30s. Some quotes (from a couple of outlets):

On cosmetic work: “When you’re in your 50s, it’s expected that you’re going to be spending tens of thousands of dollars on these little lasers or filler. It’s the price of maintaining that feminine image.”

On how her husband of a decade, Charles Askegard, left her for someone else: “The reality is, if two people meet and they are in love and you happen to be in a relationship with one of them, there is not a hell of a lot you can do honestly except wish them the best.”

In 2016, she and several female friends moved full time to Sag Harbor: “We’re all single women without children. And you think about, what are you going to do when you get old? If you don’t have kids, you realize, ‘Who is going to take care of me?’ Your girlfriends. It was a weird, great communal living where your best friends who are like your family are right across the street and you can run and see them any time and you’re there for each other. We live within walking or biking distance [of each other]. We get together usually for Sunday brunch. And sometimes we have a paddle-boarding lunch.”

On being childfree: “When I was in my thirties and forties, I didn’t think about it. Then when I got divorced and I was in my fifties, I started to see the impact of not having children and of truly being alone. I do see that people with children have an anchor in a way that people who have no kids don’t.”

[From The NY Post & the Daily Mail]

I’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot lately because of what I’ve been going through with my mom (she’s been hospitalized for the past three weeks but she’s doing a lot better). Like, I enjoy my freedom and my quiet, no drama life and I honestly never wanted to be a mother. I always think that the question of “who will take care of me when I’m old” is a terrible argument for having children. But I do think about it. I don’t have any answers here or any argument to make, because I don’t think there’s a right answer. In some ways, I admire Candace for almost admitting that she slightly regrets not having that “anchor.” But it still sounds like she’s got it figured out? I don’t know.

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175 Responses to “Candace Bushnell felt the impact of being childfree & ‘truly being alone’ in her 50s”

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  1. OriginalLala says:

    I’ve thought about that too as I’m childfree, but then I think of my mom and her brother. My mom’s entire life has become taking care of her elderly parents and her brother won’t help at all. Having kids does not mean they will be there for you or take care of you, and it’s such a selfish reason to have kids.

    • Lucy says:

      Been through that. I don’t have kids and when my mother began to decline and couldn’t live alone, I was the one who helped take care of her and hired a part time caretaker (she fought that and ended up loving the woman). My brother was of no help until the very end. Now I too wonder who is going to take care of me if I need it?

    • M says:

      I feel the same way. I have no real desire for kids… I thought I would know by now (late 30s) and the best I can come up with after years of agonizing is the whole “someone will care about me when I’m 85″ thing. And a little bit of the “experience the range of human emotion” thing. Neither one is guaranteed and certainly neither one justifies bringing someone into this world. I do think that Bushnell’s version works just as well, even for us less-monied sorts. I have friends and a sister who are 100% my ride-or-dies and I trust them to be there with me as I age.

    • Tanya says:

      It’s also kind of entitled, you know? I joke about getting myself a card every Mother’s Day because I had to raise myself. My now-estranged mother has given me nothing but abuse, and yet she still expected me to buy her a house to retire in.

      • Rose says:

        Agreed. My mother ended her days in a rest home and I got lectured by one of the nurses for not coming in to visit often enough. They thought I was a monster. I told her that if she’d wanted visitors in her old age she wouldn’t have egged me on to commit suicide when I was a teenager (obviously didn’t get around to actually doing it, but it was a very dark time). I would call and discuss her care and make decisions when necessary, but never visit.

        I later got a job in a skilled nursing facility and we had one patient who was a man who literally lost everything to alcoholism. House, possessions, car, one of his limbs, the works. The children of the man wanted nothing to do with him at that point because his addiction had taken them around the block and then some. The man had to be discharged but NO ONE among his family or friends would take him in. Thank god, the man was a veteran and we were able to get him in a VA home. I saw the kids once, and they were talking to him about finally quitting drinking—and those adult men were just beside themselves, fed up, and done.

        Don’t ever judge children for not visiting their parents. You don’t know the story and the sweet old person you see burned every bridge with family long ago.

    • H says:

      I worked p/t at a nursing home as a receptionist when I was in grad school. It broke my heart that some of the older residents had no one to visit them. And just because some of them had children doesn’t guarantee that either. We had a 98 year old lady with Alzheimer’s and her son lived ONE block away but never came. There’s a special place in Purgatory for him.

      • Stefanie says:

        You don’t know what kind of a mother she was to her son. It is possible she totally deserves to have no one visiting her. I am not religious, but perhaps this is her “purgatory”.

      • H says:

        The staff said when she first came to the home about a decade before that, she was lovely and son visited. But as Alzheimer’s progressed he said, she doesn’t know I’m here anyway, why bother? Yeah, he was a prince.

      • cannibell says:

        I can empathize somewhat with the son, as when my mom first arrived at the nursing home (her choice, btw), she was way more lucid than she became. It was excruciating to watch her decline. I got to the point where I I reduced my visits from four to five times weekly to twice (more when I could, but always at least that much), and felt terrible about it, but was calling regularly and by then had enough of a relationship with the staff members that they let me know if something extra was going on. When she fell and broke her hip (it wasn’t the fault of the caregivers – she got up in the middle of the night and walked out and they couldn’t catch her in time), I was back to every day and then just lived there until she died. But it’s a hard place to be – for the declining/dying parent and the adult child watching. That said showing up matters.

        Now, to the childless part of this thread – I had a long talk with a childless friend who is my age, and she talked about the plans she has in place for care should she need it. I like Candace Bushnell’s idea of a supportive peer community, and I know that my offspring will have the backs of a lot of my childless friends who’ve been constant presences in their lives. It’s less about whether you have children than whether you have plans and a support system. I’m working on both of those now, especially having had that front row seat to my mother’s exit.

    • Rita says:

      And an anchor can also come with. negatives. Becoming the fall-back baby-sitter, and chauffer. Could she have moved to create a community of old friends if she had a grandkids established back in the old neighorhood. Save as much money as you can.

      • Angela82 says:

        My mom recently got relieved of her duties taking care of her mom bc her mom decided she was moving to Florida. I am honestly happy for my mom bc my grandma has always been a self-centered piece of work and it was starting to effect my mom in her 60s. I also think my grandma is regretting the move b/c she never realized how much my mom did for her when she lives around us. But yes everyone has their reasons for why they aren’t stopping by as often as some think they should.

        I am also child-free and my ex-boyfriend used to use the we should have kids bc we need to them to take care of us excuse. I’m sorry I rather be alone in the end than spend 20+ years raising a kid. I never wanted kids and I would make a shitty mom. Not only that but my brother is in his early 30s and now my mom spends a lot of her free time babysitting his kids and supporting them financially. Its a never ending job even when they grow up and move out.

  2. Allie says:

    “I always think that the question of “who will take care of me when I’m old” is a terrible argument for having children.”

    Yes, it is. It is also very naive to think that once you have kids they will take care of you someday. I come from a region where in the past 30 years most young people moved away (because of work or better said lack thereof) leaving their parents behind. They will have to take care of themselves because those kids are not coming back. This includes my parents as well.

    • Esmom says:

      I think it’s also kind of selfish to expect your kids to take care of you. I have two kids and I would never want to saddle them that obligation. Of course I’ll want them to want to see me and spend time with me but I feel like my living and future care arrangements are something I need to take care of independent of them.

      I have seen too many siblings fighting and embittered, wracked with guilt and resentment, regarding the care of their aging parents. It’s awful. Sometimes it all works out fine…but too many times relationships are ruined.

      • Millenial says:

        I mean, I think it’s one thing to set up your own arrangements, but at the end of the day a lot of older people do need an advocate in their corner. If there isn’t a spouse or a child or friend up the a– of the assisted living or the nursing home, you can guarantee they are going to get sub-standard care. (My parents have both worked in nursing homes/assisted livings all their careers, I’ve spent a lot of time in them and I’ve seen and heard what goes on, even in the nice ones). It’s little things, as simple as making sure hearing aids work, glasses aren’t lost or stolen, socks are on when it’s cold, etc… because I can tell, in most cases the staff will not do it if someone isn’t checking behind them or nervous that a relative will pop in and check on things.

    • Dani says:

      I also think it depends on your upbringing. I moved away from my small town for college. I RAN. And then my dad got sick. And he declined soo quickly. My mom was struggling. I dropped everything – friends, boyfriend, college – and went home to help my mom. My sister was pregnant when it all happened and she basically moved in with my parents to help them. My dad passed away after a long struggle but I am comforted knowing that I was there to help him, put him at ease. I would do it again today if I had to. My parents gave their lives to us, to give us what they didn’t have growing up.

      • H says:

        Bless you, Dani and your sister.

      • Marianne says:

        Dani, I am going through this too. My mother has just-starting dementia and my father has physical care issues. I am doing everything to get them the care and support they need at a time in my life that is terribly difficult given the recent passing of my own husband who I’m grieving very much.

        Aside from instances of abusive upbringings and so on, I think it is only right that we care for our parents when they need us. My childhood wasn’t easy but my parents did their best for us, and I’m doing my best for them. Our society encourages self-centredness and indeed even selfishness. We can rationalize indifference all we want, but doing right by others sometimes calls for some self-sacrifice. So I see this as my season of self sacrifice, at least for the short term while their situation is sorted out. And if not for my parents, then for whom?

      • HMC says:

        Depends on the child. I’m a single mother, my son and I are close and have a great relationship. But he’s on the spectrum. He will never be able to “take care of me,” I will always have to take care of him in some areas, and figure out who can take over for me when I can’t. I’m glad that wasn’t a thought in my head when I found out I was pregnant (being young and still in my invincible stage helped!).

    • minx says:

      I want my kids to lead their own lives, but I hope we can always be close and I can share in their lives. So far we do, they’re in their 20s, and I’m happy about that.

    • tealily says:

      I think about this a lot. I had to move away for work, and my brother did too. Our youngest brother still lives near my parents, but I hope he doesn’t end up with undo pressure to be a caregiver because of it. Thankfully, they are still in good health, but it worries me. Likewise, if we have a child, I’m not sure how we’ll manage so far away from family. It’s definitely a reason we’ve put off having kids longer than we probably should have. I suspect my husband and I will move back closer to home at some point, but that gets harder and harder as we advance in our careers.

    • Kendra says:

      You can also move to live or be in a retirement home near your kids, they don’t have to live near either to take care of your big decisions and help with finances and cane visit on important events and holidays.

  3. Croatian says:

    I have so much respect for Candace, it seems to me she’s living a very self aware life, always has been, and she could always tell it like it is, name the things with their true names.

  4. Lucy2 says:

    Having children is no guarantee for the future.

    • lisa says:

      This. Candace has a romantic view of that anchor… I have several siblings who put my parents thru hell, to the point where my mom, in her 80s, said that if she had to live her life over, she would not have had kids.

      • Agenbiter says:

        Apparently Candace has never heard anyone admit that.

        “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!”

  5. Mia4s says:

    ““who will take care of me when I’m old” is a terrible argument for having children. ”

    It’s an HORRENDOUS argument for having kids. And anyone who says otherwise has not spent enough recent time working with the elderly. Not only is there no guarantees the child will…the reality these days is most kids do not and will not have the resources to “look after you”. They will often live in another place and be struggling with bills for themselves and their family. Have kids if you want, that’s lovely, but your long term plan should (actually…must) include resources to take care of yourself.

    • Allie says:

      Actually, in my mid-20s I had a talk about this with my parents. I told them that they’d have to be prepared for me not to take care of them because as an only-child I simply cannot take care of two old people, especially when single and living far way. I think it’s important to have a conversation about this ahead of time.

      • Actual Denny Lsu says:

        I’ve been putting off having ‘the talk’ with my parents but your courage has inspired me. Thanks for posting.

      • OriginalLala says:

        my parents, after having to put their own life on hold to take their of their parents, sat me down and said that they refuse to do that to me and want to be placed in a home should they need it. I was really surprised and thankful they brought it up

      • Desdemona says:

        My parents are the ones who say that as an only child, I can’t take care of them both on my own so they’ll go to a home and I’ll visit. Funnily, they do worry about who’s going to take care of me since I’m single and childfree. I always tell them not to worry, because my biggest friends are all single and childfree so we’ll end up in the same home, driving eachother crazy, just like we’ve been doing for the last 30 years,,, :D

      • Christina says:

        Desdemona, what a lovely outlook. You e made my day.

        My mom wants to live the life she had, but she has very little money. When she slows down, she will live with one of us.

        My husband and I don’t want our daughter to take care of us. We are in our 50s and we save everything so that she won’t have to take care of us. We want her to visit occasionally but not provide any care.

      • Christin says:

        Having a conversation about expectations and boundaries before something happens is a great idea.

        I realize there are a lot of financial demands these days, but one of my best “peace of mind” purchases was a long-term care policy when I was 30. My premium is still very low, thanks to signing up at a young age. Not that it will help ensure I get good caregivers, which is one of my personal concerns. There is so much elder abuse (financial and otherwise), but then again, it can be family who perpetrate it.

      • Millenial says:

        Ya’ll, truly, if you love your parents, do not put them “in a home” far away from you, even if they insist. Move them to a home near your home if you have to. Not too close, if you don’t want to go every day, but close enough that you make routine visits to see how they are being cared for. If you want them taken care of as your beloved ones deserve, you need to be present often to ensure proper care.

      • Algernon says:

        @ Cristin

        I also have a long term care policy (so do my parents, and they recommended I start paying into one while young to take advantage of that low premium), but I also worry about quality of caregivers. I have learned, though, that you can engage a lawyer to be your advocate. Do it while you still have all your faculties, and make sure they have copies of all your policies, your funeral plan, your will, etc. They can oversee hiring a caregiver to check on you and ensure you’re not victimized by elder abuse.

      • Lizzie says:

        Allie – same here. i’m an only child and while my parents say they don’t expect me to provide a certain level of care – i’m not so sure when the time comes that will be true. i know they don’t want to burden me and the best way to do that is for all of us to be prepared in advance. that means i truthfully need to know their wishes/desires for care if they are unable to make those decisions on their own. it is important to have a future plan both financially and expectations wise.

        my mom has 9 brothers and sisters and she was the only one who cared for her ailing mother and father for over 15 years. no one else spared their time or a dime. my mom went into debt and would never confront her siblings over it because that is just her role in the family. it was sad and it worried her on top of the grief she felt for her parents. it just wasn’t fair for her siblings to leave her hanging or for her own parents to not have provided a road map.

      • Desdemona says:

        @Milllenial, of course my parents will be in a home near me… where I can visit often and pay attention if something isn’t right… Some people who work in homes (some owners also) don’t care about the elderly…

  6. Jenns says:

    I think about it also. It’s something that you have to think about when you are childfree. But, as you said, having children just because you want someone to take care of you when you get older is a terrible idea.

    I’m also single, so it’s very important that I plan out my future in my old age, especially if my mind starts to go. And while I do think it’s important to think and plan for at my age(almost 40), I also realize that so much can happen in life, so I don’t let myself get too freaked out about it.

    • mel says:

      THIS! I am in a similar position. I’m 45, single and childfree. I don’t honestly want to be single the rest of my life, but even if i were to be with someone…no guarantees!
      I plan so that I will be comfortable and healthy. Otherwise, not much else you can do but live every day. Otherwise you are just planning to die and focused on all the harsh ways that can happen!

    • Darya says:

      I think people with children also need to think about who’s going to take care of them when they’re old. I work as a carer and a lot of the people I care for have children but still has to pay for help.
      Some of them have children who visit, but most have children who live abroad or too busy with their own children and families.

  7. perplexed says:

    I think she means that having kids will provide you with company . I have a feeling that’s what she means by “taking care of you.”

    • Esmom says:

      Maybe. And I do think there’s truth to that. I have a friend who’s in his mid 50s and single after a divorce, no kids. His parents are gone and he says he feels so rootless, has been struggling so much in the few years after the split. It’s almost like having the freedom to do anything you want, live anywhere you want, is just too much. I often wonder if having a kid would have made him feel more like he has a place he can call home.

      As for providing company, no guarantees there either. I feel bad that I don’t like to spend time with my own parents, mostly because of their political views and general pessimistic outlook. I do spend time with them but it’s not very enjoyable and I feel endlessly guilty that I just can’t have a nice, carefree relationship with them.

      • WafflesintheWild says:

        Esmom, I have the exact same struggle with my parents (mostly my mother). It’s tearing me apart inside. I wish more than anything I could have a nice relationship with them but time spent with them is filled with anxiety and unpleasantness and then when I avoid them for my own mental health, the guilt weighs on me. It’s brutal. I don’t know how I am going to cope if/when one of them gets sick and requires a lot of care.

      • Dani says:

        He has a point. When my dad died, my mom nearly lost herself. She tells us time and again if it weren’t for her kids she would be lost. Both of her parents have long passed and she was with my father for 30 years before he passed too.

  8. Joanna says:

    There’s positives and negatives either way you go, with anything in life. If I’m single and lonely, I think about how it’s better than being in a bad relationship. The older I get, the less scared I am of being alone. I’m married now but who knows what the future holds.

  9. Trillian says:

    I think that is no valid argument for or against children. They might be there for you, or live in another country, or have their own lives. You either want kids or you don’t. Being alone later in life might be one price to pay, as never having a moment of peace is often the price for having kids. Just live with it.

    I have an uncle, he was married to my mother’s sister. They never wanted kids and always were something of jetsetters. When his wife got sick and later died, he was suddenly forever on the phone with my mom, saying things like: Oh, you’re well off, you have your kids in your life. Yes man, and she spent a good 20 years raising the three of us while you wouldn’t even take the responsibility to own a houseplant. So don’t complain now.

  10. Michael Lawrence Kelly says:

    Her community of friends sounds like a great idea. If you are wealthy and can afford to move to some small idyll place in the country it would be great.

  11. M says:

    I think she is doing what’s best by living in a community with women of similar backgrounds. My mom is in her 60s and she has formed a tightknit group of friends who all take care of each other. I don’t live close to my mom, so it’s comforting to know she has support while I am away.

    Also, I want people to understand that having children does not guarantee that you will have someone to take care of you when you are older. My aunt had 3 children, and they were horrible to her when she became ill. There are several reasons why there are so many nursing homes open and operating in the world today.

    • Allie says:

      I know an old lady who is living the lonely life now despite having raised two children. She successfully managed to alienate both of them when they were adults. Especially the son tried for years to cope with the ongoing psychological abuse from her as he knew she’d be all alone otherwise. It’s not always the kids who suck.

    • Christin says:

      I echo the “no guarantees” when it comes to grown children providing emotional or physical help. I have watched families comprised of three to twelve children end up with one adult child providing 90+ percent of the chores/care/support.

      If I had kids, there is no way I’d expect them to provide daily/ongoing care for me. I took care of my parents daily, for several years. While I am proud to have juggled work and home while keeping them in their nearby house, I also feel that I missed out on being their child instead of basically an employee.

      I don’t judge anyone who chooses to outsource care. We had a small amount of help at times, but now I realize how much more we should have pursued.

  12. Sankay says:

    I’m childless and in my 50’s and I find that friends my age are doing things with their daughters. I gave two friends who go on vacations with their daughters or mini-me’s as they refer to them. They are both married and love their husbands but do a lot with their kids. So for me, I don’t regret not having kids but I see this bond they have and are enjoying that I find envious.

    • Brunswickstoval says:

      Sankay I think I know what you mean. I am somewhat the opposite as I have 4 kids (who are still quite young in age but I’m 48) and I yearn for freedom some days. I wouldn’t give up my kids for anything in the world but if I knew then what I know now about how hard it would be to have 4 kids I might have done things differently. It’s not regret though it’s something else.

    • Lizzie says:

      sankay – make sure not to let the outsider perspective weigh you down. maybe they have a great bond but maybe those relationships are fraught under the surface. having a “friendship” with your parent when you are an adult can be extremely complicated.

      my mother is in her 60′s and love her deeply but – she doesn’t have a lot of friends and it puts so much pressure on our relationship. we do enjoy ourselves but i find it to be a stressful dynamic, especially since having my own children. it isn’t totally unpleasant but sometimes it is hard to juggle her feelings and the needs of my husband and child.

      i see the same thing with my sister’s in law and mother in law – only worse b/c my MIL has high expectations to always be included. from the outside it looks like they are best friends and everyone is having the time of their life on vacation but from my SIL’s perspective, it is like having another child. she has to entertain and feed everyone to my MIL’s standard while having to ignore her nitpicking, passive complaints and her constantly undermining her parenting. it is tense and hard to be around as an insider – no matter how idyllic it is presented to the world.

      • noway says:

        Some of these comments makes me sad. I’m not sure why belittling anyone else’s relationship would make anyone happier. Sure adult sons and daughters relationships with parents are complicated, and some don’t work out beneficial for either party. Knowing that the relationship you view may not be perfect or is complicated does nothing to make your personal situation better or worse.

        I think it’s normal and a lot of people second guess choices they have made in their lives, especially when those choices aren’t easily available anymore. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad, and you might have a thought oh that would have been nice, but just remember life isn’t perfect. People can be happy in many different ways, and try to make the most of your path. I personally think a lot about what if I had done this or that too, and I honestly envy the people who seem to be well I made this choice and don’t second guess. They just aren’t me.

    • H says:

      A friend if mine adopted an 11 year old out of foster care about three years ago. She was 52. All of her friends thought she was crazy as she’d never really shown any interest in children before. Marriage yes, kids no. I thought she was lonely. After about a year honeymoon period, kid has turned into a teenage nightmare (cops called, inappropriate behavior with boys, bullying at school – she’s the bully).

      Friend told me last week she’s wishes she’d never adopted and misses her carefree banker life in NYC. I’m a retired high school teacher who worked with special needs kids, so I understand her frustrations, but she was the poster child for: who will take care of me when I’m old?

      • mel says:

        This is super interesting. I am 45 and am certainly sad about not having a child. I wanted one but I was late to the game and I was pretty clear that I didn’t wanna do it solo. Given my criteria, it just didn’t work out.

        I’m as ok about it as I can be, but also allow myself to feel sad about it when those feelings bubble up. I have a good job, great friends, two godkids i LOVE, so I do my best to enjoy life and focus on what I have vs don’t.

        I think it’s the human condition to not be totally content. Single, married, divorced, with kids, without, renting vs owning, career, health, fitness, looks. Always SO much to grab on to if we want.
        I briefly thought about adopting on my own or taking in a foster kid, but at the end of the day I’ve done everything in my life by myself and i KNEW that raising a child was not something i wanted to do alone.

        I feel so sad both for that foster kid and that woman. I hope things stabilize and she realizes she has to hang in there and just give as much as she can, with no expectation of anything in return. That to me was always what parenting would be about…being able to give with no expectations. Not an easy place to get to.

  13. Helen says:

    was looking forward to this topic being discussed on here bc as an early 30s childfree, single woman who intends to stay that way, one of my biggest fears is ending up feeling the way candace is feeling when all is said and done. and it would be too late to do anything about it. i know what i feel now, but how will i know what i’ll feel in 20-30 years, and how can i even anticipate it?

    also, this is off topic, but i was watching comedians in cars getting coffee and the jamie foxx episode just highlighted what a *presence* foxx is. how on earth is he with oatmeal katie holmes?? what do they even talk about?? this needs to be discussed somehow lol

    • M says:

      I get scared about how I’ll feel later, but I always remind myself that there are a lot of kids in the foster system who need a good place to land and launch themselves from. If I feel more ready in the future to be that person, that’s the path I’ll take.

    • yeet says:

      @helen – I think you raise some good points. I also think what it comes back to for me is I don’t be making decisions out of fear – if I make a decision to bring someone in my life, it better be out of a genuine desire to connect, not just to not be alone – whether parent or fostering.

      And also – I had the same thought about Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes after seeing that show! He seems like a jerk, to be honest, but who knows if what he’s showing the camera is the ‘real’ him – he was definitely bro’ing it up with Jerry.

    • noway says:

      I don’t think Candace is all that sad about it, but I do think when the option isn’t there to easily have a child you might think about what your life would have been like if you did this. My husband died when my child was 5, and I did not remarry and raised her as a single mom. She’s 18 now. I was married to my husband young but didn’t have children till we had been married 10 years. I often think what if I had her earlier and maybe more kids. Or why didn’t I want to find someone else and remarry, which I really don’t want to do, and not cause I don’t like marriage if my husband was still around, I’m sure we’d still be together and happy. Some of these weren’t decisions I made or in my control, but life altering non the less. I think for a lot of people it’s normal to do the what ifs, even on decisions you were pretty sure about. It’s okay as long as you don’t dwell on the negative too often. If you do think about the positive things that decision created, for Candace I’m sure it’s her friendships and career. The reality is there is way too much out of people’s control with life in general. The one thing having children does teach you is you have so little control over their lives and how you fit into it. It’s cliche but you need to go with the flow a bit, and when you think too heavily on the what if’s just breathe and let it go.

  14. Helen says:

    commented above before reading the post, just wanted to add that i’m sorry to hear about your mom.

    as for candace, in spite of her misgivings, she does seem to have it figured out after all?

  15. Crumpets and Crotchshots says:

    Nursing homes are filled with neglected people who have children out there. There are no guarantees, and the way our economy is going pretty much assured that it will be more and more difficult for your children to do anything for you. They will be pinned to the wall just trying to care for themselves.

    Bring on universal basic income and a four day work week though and maybe people would be freed up to form greater bonds through friendship and thus be able to care for one another that way.

    • Helen says:

      the financial aspect is one thing, but even something as simple as a phone call from someone you know truly cares for you, company, someone who will advocate to the nth degree for you in case you can’t do for yourself, who’ll make sure you’re not abused, disregarded or exploited… who cares deeply enough to make sure you’re done right by… friends will likely all be in the same predicament, siblings and parents might already be gone… still, i truly don’t have the answers.

      • yeet says:

        Even people who have children who care about them hire someone called a patient advocate to take care of all the things you are talking about. Whether because they live some distance away, or they just have no idea how to navigate the worlds of long term health care, medicare, getting blood work or a good doctor, finding a caretaker, or the specific health condition their parent has been diagnosed with. Most patient advocates seem like wonderful people though there are always bad apples, like in any field.

    • Lucy says:

      Nursing homes are horrible. I refused to put my mother in one bu I get your point that for today’s kids it just may not be economically feasible to take care of an ailing parent.

      • HK9 says:

        I hope your mother never gets sick-because if she does the illness will not only outstrip your abilities to care for her but also impact your finances deeply. Unless you’re independently wealthy, and have space in your home for hospital equipment and the staff that comes with it, good luck.

  16. Ai says:

    I am 42, single and don’t plan on having children and I get asked this question alllll the time; what will you do when you get old. I don’t have answers but I have some girlfriends in the same boat and we are thinking of being neighbors later on to keep each other company – like the Golden Girls lol. Also, even as I get older – I plan to learn new things, keep social and make friends as I go to keep myself from being isolated.

    • Esmom says:

      I think you’re on the right track. Even with kids of my own, this is my plan if my husband is ever not in the picture anymore. As it is I probably spend more time with my friends than with him, lol, other than us living together.

    • mel says:

      Yup. Me and a girlfriend (who is married no kids) have also talked about this.
      I also have friends with one grown kid who don’t have a good retirement nest egg. I thought I could buy a property and everyone pays for upkeep, community garden and we each get a tiny home and then build a communal space.
      Who knows! There are many ways to live and sometimes I think we are too limited in our thinking! Us singletons put ourselves on the sh*t end of the “nuclear family” stick and assume all is bad and sad.
      But if you invest in your community, there are other ways to be in the world.

  17. Billbop says:

    I have been in nursing homes a lot over the last decades for my family members. If anyone has visitors is is almost always spouses or their children and their children’s family.

    If you don’t have a spouse or kids, have fun visiting with the church people. Friends are less likely to have that deep connection that your kids will have with you. I know there is no guarantee, but that bond with your parents can be incredible. I have helped take care of my grandparents and my parents and I value it.

    I was happily childless for 36 years and reluctantly had kids. Once I had them I got it. A childfree person can be incredibly happy for sure because they have no idea of what they are missing. There is no love like the love you have for your children.

    I don’t expect my kids to take care of me. I just love them and am enjoying this time with them. They make my life complete, along with my husband and my parents. Family is EVERYTHING.

    Glad Candace is being honest.

    • drea says:

      I dislike your entire post.

      a happy couple child-free by choice with no regrets at 45 i’m not missing anything!

      • Renee says:

        @ drea and OriginalLala, Agree completely. Yes we knew the “until you have a child” argument was on the horizon. I am a childless single woman in my 40′s and am happy with my choices.

      • Kitten says:

        I’m actually surprised as I figured this would be the first or second comment…

      • noway says:

        I have one child, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. I still know it’s not the only way to be happy and live. I think it’s closed minded to think this way.

        From a practical point, I was a widow with a five year old at 40, and there weren’t many women in my predicament around. Plus some people I think were afraid I had bad luck and it would rub off so they didn’t know how to relate to me. Now I’m a mid 50′s widow with an adult kid, and guess what there are a lot more women around similar to me. I think this communal living might be a good idea. If we are all expecting our kids to help us out, I think we may be very disappointed. Plus, I don’t want to put that on my kid too.

        Another thing some of these aren’t really choices people intentionally made, it’s just the way life happened, and your comments about how you miss out without a child’s love could be pretty hurtful to the ones who are really struggling with the issue.

    • Ali says:

      Bill bop I agree with every word here and had my kid at 38.

      I knew I would read the “there’s no guarantee your children will take care of you it’s a bad reason to have kids” arguments but that’s not the argument. “Take care of” doesn’t mean PSW tasks (yes you can hire those out) but someone to love you like no one else can.

    • OriginalLala says:

      Ah yes, the old “you don’t know what real love is until you have a child” argument….I was wondering when that would show up.

      Maybe you didn’t know what real love was before you had kids, but plenty of other people do.

      • DG says:

        She didn’t say “real love”.

        There are different types of love but those of us who have had children have experienced a type of love that doesn’t come from anything else. We know because we have parents, and romantic partners, and siblings, and pets, and best friends, and feel love in all of those relationships and yet once you have a child it’s a new type of love that wasn’t there before.

        Not saying it is better (although if I’m honest I think it is the best feeling ever the love I feel for my kids) just that it is something all to itself.

      • Dani says:

        Agree with DG. The difference in love between friends/spouses and kids is that you would literally put your life on the line for your kids. They are an actual part of you. You would give up everything for them to be happy. You’re in a constant state of concern over these little humans. I’m almost 30 and married and my mom still expects me to text her that I’m home safe.

      • OriginalLala says:

        “A childfree person can be incredibly happy for sure because they have no idea of what they are missing. There is no love like the love you have for your children.”

        The implication is clear.

        Look it’s great that you love your kids and think that love is the best in the world – for you. That’s your experience. I wish people would stop projecting that on to others specifically to try to make them feel bad.

      • Kitten says:

        +1, OriginalLaLa

        So tired of that shit.

    • Esmom says:

      It’s great that you have a loving family but I disagree that no bond is stronger than the one you have with your kids. I love my kids more than anything but I recognize they are free to have relationships that are just as strong, if not stronger, than what they have with me. My husband’s mom has estranged herself from two of her three kids and in all honesty her attitude has caused their family far more painful moments than joyful ones. And I have a friend with a child with special needs who will soon become a ward of the state because nothing they have been able to do has been enough for her. This is after years of stress and pain and heartbreak. They recognize that the best and only option for her right now is to let her go. There are just no guarantees.

      • Kitten says:

        Thank you, Esmom, well-said.

      • DG says:

        I want my children to grow up and experience all types of relationships and grow as a people and find another person who makes them feel special and loved as an adult. I fully expect to fade into the background as they reach adulthood, to be there for moral support and love when they need it. It’s not reciprocal after early childhood and that’s ok. I think that’s how it should be.

        On aging parents, my dad is 65 taking care of his 92 year old mom and his 67 year old sister who has cerebral palsy and has lived with my grandmother her entire life. My grandmother will tell you she never wanted to have children it was just what women in her generation did, get married and have kids, but she dedicated her life to taking care of my aunt, never complaining. No guarantees in life.

        And not how my dad expected to be spending these years of his life and he says it’s hard work and he’s lonely but he’s doing it and I’m so proud of him and hope if the day comes that I need to take care of him, I can.

    • Jenns says:


    • wtf says:

      I had a kid at 40 and it totally changed my life. He is my everything. I am a different person, and my priorities have changed, and I couldn’t be happier. BUT I don’t think that means people that don’t have kids are missing something. Let’s just respect everyone’s choices. We don’t all have to want the same things. I also don’t think that when people talk about having someone to take care of you, I don’t read that as selfish. I read it as, having someone that really knows you and cares about you. As your age mates get sick, move away or pass away, having that next generation can be really important to some people.

      My real issue with Candace is how she talks about plastic surgery like it is a given to maintain ‘that feminine look’. Girl bye. Not a lick of surgery or fillers and I’m proud to say my wrinkles are feminine AF!

    • Allie says:

      “A childfree person can be incredibly happy for sure because they have no idea of what they are missing. There is no love like the love you have for your children.”

      There are plenty of mothers who do not love their children. People who are childfree by choice have valid reasons for it. One of them could be that they know they would not be loving parents.

      • Patty says:

        People who don’t have kids don’t know what they’re missing – because they don’t have kids. Some people care and some people don’t. I think it’s important to remember when someone is making a general statement – the comment was not directed at anyone in particular. I don’t have kids; I read it and took no offense because it doesn’t apply to me.

  18. tempest prognosticator says:

    It’s interesting that she thinks cosmetic work is the price of maintaining the feminine image once you’re over fifty. I just don’t buy into that at all.

    • Nikki says:

      It was the word “feminine” that bothered me. “Youthful” would have been a better choice, but when it’s overdone, as it often is, “creepy” or “unnatural” is a better description. But to imply a woman loses her femininity without plastic surgery is problematic to me too.

      • Gottasayit. says:

        My neighbour is 88 years old and not a stick of surgery or fillers. Wrinkled and beautiful. I can honestly say she is one of the MOST feminine women I know. She is always in a frilly hippy dress and beautiful barrettes holding up her silver hair and jangly gorgepus bracelets.

    • wtf says:


    • noway says:

      This comment did bug me the most. Personally, I wish we all just learned to love our wrinkles and an older woman is beautiful just in a different way than a younger. Apparently, older men can still be beautiful just not women. We need to look like the joker from Batman. We need to change this!!!!

  19. Rhys says:

    What if, ultimately the main benefit of having children that people actually talk about when they discuss the subject, is to know that you will always have a purpose in life if you have a child? It’s not that they will physically take care of you and make you feel good. It’s your parental instinct, desire to be in this world because they might need you as a parent will give you a sense of purpose and the will to go on? You know how mothers always talk about feeling how they are so needed. That feeling is important. Just a thought.
    I never wanted children, I like my freedom and I do have friends but friends have never been a family for me. It might be a cultural thing, since I’m an immigrant, but I have no idea how one makes her friends her family.

    • Gottasayit. says:

      RHYS. YES! This is so true. When I had my first baby first thing that changed was I would no longer do any high roof work or electrical. I couldnt ‘risk’ my life/well being anymore. I dont do any risky sports or anything. I dont tale risks with the law or travel to risky countries. I am so cognisant of making sure I stay alive for my kids !! Who else will devotedly love and care for them like I will !! It does give you an almost insane purpose to maniacally stay on this planet !

    • mel says:

      I think every scenario is different. Some people have kids and feel like they are a burden. I love my friends like family, and the only way I know that is that I am there for there and vice versa. WIll that change over time? Maybe, maybe not. Just like some people have challenging and changing relationships with their families. There are NO guarantees in life. Only thing we can do is be grateful for what we have, give love and be open to it. In all shapes and forms!

  20. Aang says:

    Yikes at some of the comments. I fully intend to care for my father (my mom passed already), and even my in laws if I have too. I also expect my kids to take care of me and they know it. Cultural differences I guess, I see elders as the heart of a community and a family.

    • Esmom says:

      It is cultural, I think, for sure. There’s not a lot of great things to be said, imo, about how the American family dynamic has evolved. It’s more isolated/isolating than ever now that it’s not the norm to have extended family living together. And studies have shown that loneliness can damage a person’s heath as much as smoking a cigarette per day and shorten a person’s life span. Sigh. Good on you for upholding your family’s tradition and culture.

    • Dani says:

      It’s definitely cultural. And I think being from the middle east and being married to someone of a similar cultural background – it is expected but also something that comes second nature. It’s also the way you are brought up. If you come from a loving, nurturing home, chances are you will WANT to care for your parents as opposed to HAVE to care for your parents. My in laws are older and they don’t and my husband doesn’t expect me to care for them but I do – I drive them wherever they need, I get them groceries, I help with doctors appointments and paperwork etc (all while working and having two young kids) because they raised my husband and made him such an amazing man.

    • Millenial says:

      I’m with you. To be fair, I don’t have super toxic family members. I do have a parent and in-laws I don’t particularly like, for many reasons. Nevertheless, maybe it’s cultural, but I just feel duty-bound to my parents and my husband’s parents – particularly if their minds go and they are no longer able to self-advocate.

    • Algernon says:

      I *want* to take care of my parents, but I simply cannot afford to. Maybe some of this attitude is cultural, but among my friend group (old millennials), we’re looking at a reality that we cannot care for our parents. The likelihood of any of my friends kids being able to take care of them is even less.

      • Rhys says:

        @Algernon, there’s hardly ever an ideal situation that lets one think they CAN take care of their parents. I’m from a different, much poorer country than America. Old parents there often live with their grown children and nobody has any money. Sometime the grandma has her own room in the apartment, other times there isn’t enough space for everyone. You just make do together, because that’s what family is for.

    • yeet says:

      I agree culture plays a role in everything. Out of curiosity, Aang, where are you from originally? Do you have siblings? My family outside the US took care of my grandma, but they also lived in a country where it was cheap and easy to hire outside help but also women who marry into the family have the sole job of taking care of elders – and thus, they pay the bride’s family a huge dowry upon marriage because women are seen as a tremendous household asset.

  21. Kersplasha says:

    Sorry to hear your mom has been unwell Kaiser. Glad she is on the mend!

  22. Tulip says:

    Children can die before you. So do the best you can, socialize, and don’t feel bad if life doesn’t turn out the way you hoped (you’re not alone there).

    • mel says:

      Yes totally agree with you. Plan, hope for the best, be kind, don’t take things for granted and love.
      Not much else you can do.

  23. Nikki says:

    I’m married with 3 adult kids, yet my girlfriends and sister are VERY important to me. I don’t know about other husbands, but there are some things mine just doesn’t “get”, whereas my girlfriends and I can share our dreams, fears, and bounce ideas off each other in a different way from my hubby. I’m close to my kids, but my girlfriends and sister are my contemporaries, so we laugh about things they’ve experienced right alongside me. We’ll be there for each other as we bury some of our husbands, and through difficulties or worries with our children. So women helping each other is as old as when we lived together in caves or tribes, I would guess.

  24. Savannah says:

    No kids here, but I feel like I’ve had kids for the past 30 years, cause I grew up with irresponsible parents and a depressed mother. My parents are basically like children, always have been, and I’ve had to be the responsible grown up. So it’s a hard pass for me having any children on my own, I’m already too exhausted, lol.

    Someone here said something about having children to feel a sense of purpose, I agree on that, I think a lot of people need that feeling.
    However you can find your life’s purpose in other ways and in other areas of life than having children. At least that’s the case for me. My purpose is just being me.

    I know most people think family is the most important thing in your life, but considering how much suffering family can cause a person/child also I would say: Choose your own family and be happy with that.

    When I’m old I’ll still have friends, maybe a spouce, and by god, at least I’m at peace being alone and on my own.

    • Kitten says:

      Oh god your post resonated with me so much and I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I hope your future IS filled with the peace and fulfillment that you deserve.

    • yeet says:

      @Savannah your post resonated with me too. Like Kitten said, I hope your post is filled with peace that you didn’t get in your childhood – there are lots of us out there.

    • Christin says:

      One thing I have learned is to be your own best friend. At some point, we will likely be alone for a period of time (long or short).

      Even having good parents or good kids does not shield us from someday being by ourselves. I like knowing I can be happy in my own company.

  25. Gottasayit. says:

    Ack ! I cant imagine talking to my parents about not being able to care for them. I have spent my whole life being hyper responsible. I take care of everyone. And I take care of my mom now. She is quite mobile and healthy but when/if that changes I expect to be dealing with all that. Sadly I nursed my father thru a terrible debilitating disease for 8 years. It was my priviledge. And funnily enough my dad used to say to me when I was very little ” Who will take care of daddy when he is old? ” and I would proudly exclaim “Me!”. Indoctrination :) . Maybe. But it worked !! Taking care of my dad was the most painful and terrible thing. It was awful watching his decline and terrible paralysis. But really what else would I do with my life. How could one even question what else you would do. It is the circle of life really. I had children later in life. I love them passionately !! They are my everything. And one thing no one mentions here is the burgeoning acceptance of euthanasia. I plan to use that. It was awful warching my father decline and not be able to help him end it when he would plead with me. I couldnt as by then I had a baby and couldnt consider risking prison. But that was 15 years ago and things are changing thankfully. I am a productive and vibrant person and reading all these comments on this site everyday I can tell everyone here are exceptionally bright and amazing individuals. My choice is to quietly end things when I no longer am that person. I know this isnt quite the conversation but some comments are talking about loss of minds etc….anyways all food for thought. And just as an aside. Sadly I watch daughters step up. Sons not so much when it comes to elderly but there is a gendered expectation. And usually it is one sibling who gets the responsibilities to care for the ageing. And it is the responsible ones. The ones that are self centered and flighty growing up tend to be the same as adults. Le sigh….

    • Kitten says:

      Wow. Honestly, good for you. That couldn’t have been easy but you maintained a great attitude about it.

      These posts are hard to read…makes me think of my parents and at this stage, I’m just so thankful that they’re in good health. Still, one never knows what the future will hold. I hope to have the same level of patience and kindness that you did when caring for your father, should I face the same situation.

      • Gottasayit. says:

        Kitten ! I never said the word ‘patience’. :) I had many a meltdown and many a terrible cry. It was awful. I sobbed everyday. I tried to maintain a cheery front for my dad but he did see me crumble sometimes. I remember I worried I wasnt coping well till one day I read on an internet forum that a university prof who was caring for her husband with the same illness would go and cry in her car inbetween classes. And that is when I knew I was doing ok. It is ok to cry and be devastated. Thank god for internet forums ! This whole thread has been really interesting. Good topic Kaiser !

    • Teebee says:

      We could be the same person, my experience is so similar!

      I am adopted by two incredible people, not perfect, but loving and caring all my life. I have two kids, after saying right up til I met my husband that NO WAY would I have kids. They aren’t my everything, but I do credit their births with smartening me up, making me motivated to work hard, at everything, career, my relationship with my husband. Everything has a different purpose and perspective when you have kids to raise. Yes, loss of freedom, yes financial obligation, yes frustration… but man do I love my kids, and am so glad I had them!

      Now, at 52 I am helping my father look after my mom who is in late stage Alzheimer’s. She cared for her mother who passed away with cancer and Alzheimer’s when I was 19, and it left an indelible impression. Not to have kids so I’d have someone to do the same, but an incredible sense of devotion and love that even I couldn’t fathom (I provided no help at the time, not even to my mother through emotional support, which I regret to this day). My grandmother was a tough bird, and my mom moved out as a teenager, eventually carving out a semi-close relationship with her right until she got sick. Then she stepped up like I never would have imagined, staying by her side for 18 months until she passed.

      I am so fortunate that my father is healthy and strong and completely devoted to my mom. I pushed through most of her disease to place her in care, and finally a year ago my father reluctantly did. We made it three days before we pulled her out. It was awful. She deteriorated into a zombie within days, not from medication or the disease, but the ability through the disease to still be aware that she was no longer home, now surrounded by chaotic noise and surroundings, and she simply retreated inside herself out of despair. I told my father I would quit my job and sit by her side in that facility to protect her until she died. From that statement came the arrangement we have today; I quit my job and help my father at their little apartment, giving him much needed time off, caring for my mother, and we hope to right til death. I will do the same for my father, and my elderly aunt too who lives in the apartment next door. I don’t really have much going on in my life besides caring for people, but man, am I fulfilled. The way I look at it is my folks loved, supported and cared for me all my life, 52 years and counting. If I devote a fraction of those years back to them, it’s the least I can do. That is a powerful force in your life, and makes all the heartache I feel as I watch her wither so less debilitating.

      Having children is no guarantee of anything, and that is not why I have them, nor why my parents adopted. There is just love. I’m not religious, an atheist, but I feel that my children gave me a purpose beyond my own needs and wants, yet in our modern lives, we certainly still enjoy a quality of life that is not pure sacrifice like it was for generations past. I would not be the person I am today without my incredible parents, and my crazy kids, and my loving wonderful husband. I had and still have such a great life.

      Not sure what this adds to the conversation, but I am here to say that when I was young I wanted a future full of me, and ended up with a today full of everything but. And I would change nothing. Have kids, don’t have kids, I don’t judge. But for me, family is integral to my life. Friends can be family too. I think it important to surround yourself with meaningful people, whether blood related or not.

  26. Talix says:

    50-year-old, child-free with no best-selling books with TV shows and movies based on those books on my resume…

    Having money also anchors you in a way that nothing else does. If you offered me the choice between grown children living their own lives and enough money to live modestly without having to work every day? Enough money that an unexpected medical emergency wouldn’t bankrupt me? I’d take the money. But I’m a self-preservationist at heart. People whose instincts are more social I’m sure would choose otherwise.

    • Jenns says:

      “Having money also anchors you in a way that nothing else does. ”


    • Kitten says:

      Yup. Money provides a level of comfort and support that even kids cannot guarantee.
      It must be nice to just up and move to Sag Harbor and bring your friends with you. Not many people would have that ability.

  27. Megs283 says:

    I definitely didn’t have kids so that there will be someone to take care of me when I’m old! I’m not good at long-range planning.

    It’s great that Candace has developed strong friendships and a support system. That’s something that EVERYONE should/could have, whether or not you have children.

  28. ME says:

    Ha ha she really thinks adult children will be there for you? The majority of people in old age homes have children. Your children can be a$$holes who see aging parents as nothing but a burden. Don’t expect them to take care of you when you’re older. That is the WRONG reason for having kids. You can be childfree and still have a fulfilling life !

  29. HK9 says:

    I’m glad Candace has found a solution that works for her. However, having children is not a solution to one’s old age. There is not substitute for not figuring out your options and discussing them with your loved ones long before you get old. If you think your kids are going to foot the bill for everything you better know what you’re asking them to spend/give up to do that. You need to provide that cash yourself. You need to know when you’re moving out of your house to downsize (and not spend 15 years arguing with your kids about it making it a crisis when you get sick). You have to realize that most illnesses will place demands on you, you didn’t know possible and outside help is extraordinarily expensive. You need to not only make a will but update it and make sure the executors are well enough to carry out your wishes. My my has Alzheimer’s, it’s effect on her life and mine is too devastating to even put into words which is why I don’t judge ANYONE who is in a nursing home or does or does not visit. You don’t know until you live it and even if you have, if you can’t encourage someone, just keep it to yourself.

    • Gottasayit. says:

      Hon. Know you are doing your best. Dealing with the care of elders is really realy hard. Seriously can be the hardest thing u will ever do. The lack of support and isolation is staggering. We dont all have the fortitude for it. And it can be maddening dealing with estates and wills. Also with Alzheimers it can make the person abusive and / or violent. I know when I cared for my dad I just wished there was an instruction manual. I had so many questions – ethical/financial/moral… was so much some days.

    • Esmom says:

      HK9, My heart goes out to you. My husband went through something similar with his dad and even though his dad planned everything and had the funds for it, his wife ultimately was the one who put up roadblocks every step of the way. No one was going to force her from “her” house. The kids pleaded for her to move to a smaller place or assisted living because the big house was too much for him but she refused. They finally made plans to move him out without her but the week before the move he fell down the stairs, as everyone feared, and ultimately died from his injuries. This was after years of threats and stress and drama with her. He just wanted to move and live a quieter, easier life but no one could convince her. Part of me thinks maybe he threw himself down the stairs to finally just end the terrible battle.

      Wishing you continued strength.

      • justwastingtime says:

        Esmon – ug. We are going through something similar, one parent is working against the other’s best interests. So hard to deal with, sorry for your husband.

    • 2lazy4username says:

      Hugs HK9. I feel you all the way.

  30. Jb says:

    Wish them the best?? Oh hell nah…Yes I understand and agree that if you no longer love me please don’t stay out of obligation BUT to say you fell out of love with me at the same time you fell in love with someone else, that’s BS. I’m happy for her but I wouldn’t be as gracious as her. As far as what she’s saying… I’m mid 30s and trying to envision the next 30 and whether they’ll involve children and then what I’ll do if it doesn’t. Ultimately I just want to be happy and satisfied with my life and I’m trying to figure out exactly what that means for me

  31. Gippy says:

    I took her comments more as someone to visit with and love you – then truly provide care like a nurse would. It seems more and more the norm that parents decide on where they will ended up and get long term care insurance for those types of things. I actually wouldn’t mind my parents moving in with us when they get older but not requiring around the clock care. I don’t expect my boys to take care of me and my husband but I do expect them to provide love and companionship with occasional visits (more the better).

  32. knowitall says:

    Im childfree and recently found out I can’t have children the “normal” way. That was enough for me to begin to let go of the idea. I can’t afford a surrogate and I don’t want kids badly enough to mortgage science. I guess my attitude now is just that life isn’t really in our control that much. Let the chips fall where they will! None of us know what the future holds and this type of pressure for women is largely socially-induced.

    Prayers for your mom Kaiser 💕

  33. Pineapple says:

    Having children so someone is there to care for you in your old age? You are a complete and utter idiot if that is one of your reasons. Kids are a fark load of work. Hire a nurse. Way, way, way less exhausting and time consuming. XO Oh hey, ALSO … less expensive.

    Once a human is 18 … they are ideally an adult human making their own decisions. You should have raised them that way. Yes, they still need guidance but they are their own human. They are not automatically going to “care” for you in your old age. You earn that by being a healthy, loving support in their lives. And an exceptionally good parent, a healthy loving support, doesn’t wish for their children to parent them in old age. A really healthy parent makes other plans, puts aside money or apologizes for not having a great old age care plan.

    My husband and I have aging parents needing extra support. It is an honour to care for one. He was a doll face human. It is harder to care for two .. they are kinda tricky humans. We care for them because it is the right thing to do and we are in the same city. But we won’t make ourselves sick helping them. We will try to improve their situation how we can …. when we can. We realize we have some crazy relatives who we can never do enough for.

  34. 2lazy4username says:

    I have a 76-year old mother with worsening dementia and insulin-dependent diabetes. I’m also going through a separation after a 30-year relationship and have a very selfish 18-year old daughter. All of my family liives in another country – including my sibling. In short, aside from phone calls from afar that offer “moral support,” I am dealing with my mom all by myself and it is NO JOKE.

    My parents (dad passed away 8 years ago) didn’t save any money and didn’t have any life or LTC insurance, so what is happening to my mom right now is not only an emotional nightmare, it is a FINANCIAL nightmare. I’m one person (with a demanding full-time job that requires travel) trying to figure it all out, and the one thing I have learned is while I hope my daughter will want to spend time with me when I’m old, there is no way I would want to put this type of burden on her. And yes, maybe it makes me sound like an asshole, but aging parents with no resources and no support CAN feel like a burden. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my mom and that I’m going to abandon her, but I’m honest enough to say this situation sucks.

    SO… this is my long-winded way of saying that having kids just so they can take care of you when you get old is seflish. I can only hope my daughter will be there to willingly offer love and support when I need it in the future, but I want her to be able to live her life fully and without guilt when it comes to me. She is not my insurance policy. Instead, I will do the responsible thing and buy a REAL insurance policy.

    • Renee says:

      *Hugs to you 2lazy. I’m sorry you are going through all of this. You sound like an unselfish and loving daughter and parent. I’m hoping you soon see some light at the end of your tunnel.

    • Kitten says:

      You do not sound like an asshole. You sound like someone who is understandably stressed but also very realistic about the situation you’re dealing with.

      Honestly, these stories are just…you women are my heroes. I just hope I can be as strong as y’all when it comes to my own parents.

    • HK9 says:

      I’m going through something similar so my heart goes out to you. I hope you’re able to find the solutions and support you need.

    • Christin says:

      To you and all others currently in this massive juggling act – Take care of yourself. If it is any small comfort, you will be glad you did what you could.

      Taking care of an adult has a lot of physical and emotional complications. Several of these comments put it into better words than I can.

      Please know that there are people in the world who do care and admire what you are doing. It is hard to believe that the chapter will ever end, but it does.

    • 2lazy4username says:

      Thank you, all. I appreciate your kind words!

  35. Thaisajs says:

    What a terrible reason to have children. I chose to become a single mom because I ran out of time to find the right guy and I don’t regret it for a minute. But I’m also pretty realistic about how much time my daughter will be able to be with me when she grows up. You should have children if you want to be a mom and feel a desire to do that. Plenty of women don’t and there’s nothing wrong with that. We must all find our own paths. I hope that when my daughter is older that we’ll be able to spend time together. I’d love to be a grandmother if she chooses to have kids. But there really are no guarantees in life.

  36. Ginger says:

    The truth is that you can’t have everything. You have to choose; and in making that choice, you will sacrifice something. Simple as.

  37. My3cents says:

    Someone once explained their decision to not have kids to me as “I’d rather regret not having kids than regret having them”.

  38. PixiePaperdoll says:

    My brother has three kids. I’m working on spoiling them hard so that I end up in a ‘good’ nursing home.

    • ME says:

      Good luck with that. I have spent soooo much money and time on my nieces and I never even get a “thank you” or a “happy birthday” from them.

      • PixiePaperdoll says:

        My brother is going the crunchy granola route and thinks the twins can share but I buy two of everything and a lot of stuff. Also, they’re only 3 right now. :)

  39. Kate says:

    I guess good for her for being honest, but also I hate this whole story as I’m sure there are plenty of women who are involuntarily not in relationships and without children and this is their greatest fear. It just reinforces the fear-based story that we all need to couple up and have kids so we’re not alone when we’re old. I think her rich Golden Girls situation sounds pretty amazing tbh.

    • Elle says:

      I TOTALLY agree with you! I had all of these fears – I was that person who was devastated that I might not get to have a baby and a “family”. I met my husband right before I turned 40 so I know EXACTLY what the fear is about not getting the partner and baby.
      I am 43 and I had a baby with my husband in April. My mom passed away April 23 so I have had a hard time dealing with both at once. People warned me that it will feel like a bomb went off in your relationship and they were right…
      It has shown me that you truly do not need to have a child to have a great life. Don’t get me wrong, I love the baby but you can be totally happy without one!!!

  40. A.Key says:

    She’s got enough money so that she’ll always have someone taking care of her if she’s ill. Most people aren’t that blessed.
    Also I know so MANY older folks in my neighborhood whose kids just placed them in senior’s homes and never visit.
    Having a kid doesn’t mean the kid will take care of you like a nurse once you’re old.
    Also, in the end, everyone dies alone, as I’ve seen many times. Whether you have a big family or no one. So just live the life you wanna live for yourself, so you won’t have any regrets in the end. That’s the best any of us can do.

  41. no says:

    Just no to this. She is rich, white, and will be fine. This idea to have a child to be your servant is awful. If you want to help your family that is great; if they were terrible to you – you should do what is best for you. Sorry, I just feel really strongly about this.

  42. Dizzy says:

    I’m in the same situation as her. For a few years the thought of it disturbed me but now I’ve accepted the situation and I’m really happy. There are no guarantees in life. When my dad was dying in the hospital all of his 4 kids were there for him. The nurses told us lots of patients has kids who never visit and they die alone.
    I’ll just try to keep friends around me and live happy and free. If I get seriously ill, assisted suicide is now legal where I live for terminally ill patients.

  43. Leah says:

    I know elders who have children who don’t come around or visit due to a falling out or whatever. I know one senior who told his daughter that she was getting heavy (which she was, he really had no right to say that but seniors sometimes don’t have a filter so things get said), and because of that she hasn’t visited him in 15 years. So no, having children is no guarantee that the kids will be taking care of or visiting parents in the future.

    I am happy to be childfree, I don’t have to share my paycheck with anyone (well except the taxman of course) and I can do what I want and go wherever I want. I won’t have greedy children scrapping over my estate.

  44. Bobbie says:

    I like the idea of the “friends village” that she has, but to what extent will they help? Will they become power of attorney if necessary? Take care of one of the group is she has dementia? That seems like more than most people want to do for their friends.

  45. mara says:

    I am one of five offspring (I do not call them my siblings). I was the only one that took care of my dying parents. Two of the offspring were emotionally abusive to my elderly parents, and the others were just indifferent and absent. My parents died weeks apart. I know that if something had happened to me, my parents would have been completely abandoned. Having children is NO guarantee that you will be cared for in your old age.

  46. isabelle says:

    Worked in a nursing home, several. You know all of those desperate for attention and look very lonely, 99% of them have kids. In no way does having kids mean you have community. Many people with kids are alone. They actually are way more depressed IMO than those without as they become very disappointed and surprised by it.

    • Esmom says:

      I can imagine that it hurts a lot to realize your kids aren’t going to take time out of their lives to visit you. Even stranger is how the relationships can become somewhat warped in that situation. For example, my grandmother had to move to a nursing home and my mom was there to see her and bring her things twice a week, minimum, for 15 years. Her brothers came to visit maybe once a year, usually less. Yet my grandmother would complain and verbally abuse my mom constantly, even as she was the only child to regularly visit, and she would talk about her sons in the most glowing terms, even though they hardly visited. My mom has never really recovered from the anger and resentment that came out of that situation.

      • Christin says:

        This sounds similar to a friend’s situation. She was the only daughter, with two brothers. She was the only one who helped with the mother’s care and later nursing home needs and errands. The mother spoke to my friend as if nothing she did was appreciated, and would glowingly repeat how one son had visited “recently”, even though it had been one time, months before. My dad experienced something similar with his parents.

        It must be infuriating to endure that. It’s emotional abuse, IMO.

      • ME says:

        For some reason it seems daughters are just expected to be the caretakers while sons aren’t. It sucks and this needs to change because it just isn’t fair.

    • Christin says:

      Sometimes the older or more frail the parent gets, the less the adult children choose to be around. My MIL had plenty of visits when she was able to cook and be a seamstress for her kids and grandkids. She even raised one granddaughter, yet only one child (my husband) is helping her. It really frustrates him, but it’s impossible to force the others to do anything. They think a very rare call or visit is fine, and they all live near her. Even if they don’t want to help her, he wonders why they won’t help HIM by helping her.

      My MIL is still in her home, but that sense of loneliness and near-abandonment is there. In her mind, they don’t love her. Yet they will stand on their heads for a grandchild. Not helping their elderly mother is setting a precedent for their own children, I think.

      • ME says:

        That will be their karma. When they are old, they will have to deal with abandonment from their own children ! How cruel of them to use their mother when she was able to do everything for them and now that’s she’s not able to they forget about her. I say f*ck them ! Your husband is a good man !

      • Christin says:

        Thanks for the kind words, ME. These situations show how self-centered some people can be, while others are far more selfless.

        There are some extremely mean parents in the world that may reap what they’ve sown, but to just drop out of an elderly person’s life because they are needy is pretty rotten, IMO.

  47. Alaska says:

    I feel like many readers here have poor relationships with their parents? I have never had a time in my life (other than ages 15-19) where I wasn’t delighted to be around my mother and always wanted children, who have always been a joy but are especially fun now that they have their own adult lives. While I don’t expect them to “care” for me in terms of living arrangements or finances, I do expect to be a daily part of their lives (even though the closest lives about 150 km away). We all speak daily, even if it’s just to say hello or to comment on the price of chicken breasts. Or my daughter just called me to say that the clouds looked pretty and she thought of me. So I read this and can only hope that this woman finds the same joy in her chosen family that I do in mine.

    • ME says:

      You are a lucky woman to have such thoughtful children. I have 2 siblings that NEVER care to call my mom and ask how she’s doing. They simply do not care but have dollar signs in their eyes hoping for some inheritance. Pathetic. Once again, count your lucky stars you have children that will call you for no other reason than to simply hear your voice. You are blessed.

  48. Betsy says:

    Gosh everyone jumped right to talking about kids having to take care of their dying parents and that’s just not what I thought she was talking about. I know there’s no guarantee of grandchildren, but if you do get them, there’s something nice about watching weddings, new homes and then watching another generation grow up, too. There will hopefully be family who keep up with you socially as you get old, to have holidays with, some lucky families I know even enjoy each other enough to (happily) vacation together. Having children is no guarantee, but it is an anchor in the future in some ways.

    Kaiser I hope your mother feels better soon. That’s a long hospital stay and I bet that was really hard on you both.

    • Christin says:

      Some situations are not exactly caring for “dying parents”. Caregiving (physical and/or emotional support) can last for years or even decades, be it for a parent or a developmentally challenged child.

      I don’t think anyone has addressed another modern day reality of having children, which is the possibility of later raising THEIR children. I cannot count the middle-aged and even elderly I know who are taking on daily tasks and financial responsibilities for grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. That’s not exactly the dropping-in type relationship of days gone by.

  49. Shannon says:

    Having children or not having them is so GD heavy. I didn’t plan either of my children. I’m pro-choice 100% but since I was in good situations both times, I opted to have them but I always wonder had they not happened if I would have ever tried as hard as I see people try to have them. Truth is, I don’t feel intrinsically maternal. I’ve never been that person that begs to hold the baby. The truth is, the grass is always greener. But most mothers won’t admit that and with good reason. No mother wants to say, “Well, maybe I’d be better off without kids,” but if you have no kids it’s easier to openly wonder what life would be like if you’d had them. I’ll openly say, I’ve turned down job opportunities for my children, made major life decisions centered around my children and of course I love them with all of my heart, but it’s only human to wonder. As for who will take care of me? LOL The way this country is going, I’ll probably just start feeding stray cats and let them haul me off to jail for it.

  50. Summer says:

    The universal lesson here is everyone will have regrets as they age — and that life doesn’t turn out quite like we planned. But everyone is different, so regrets will vary by person. Candace wishes for children to “anchor” her, while another woman may wish she could detach from her familial obligations.

    That said, research shows that people base the decision to have a child mostly on negatives, but only promote the positives when trying to convince someone else. And the top regret for people at death is that they didn’t have more children and spend more time with their families.

    Economist Bryan Caplan wrote a great book about this called, “Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids,” where he posits that modern society has made parenting pure drudgery, which is a real turn-off for some. It’s an eye-opening perspective that shows how children don’t need to take so much time, money and identity away from us.

  51. laura-j says:

    I’m late 40s, I don’t have kids and don’t regret it, I know older people who have kids and they don’t visit, or they aren’t close by. But they have an amazing circle of friends that cares for them in every way. That’s this girls’ squad goals.

    I had the “talk” with my mom when my dad passed away earlier this year. I’m an only and I told her if she wants me to help her out she needs to move closer to me not vice versa. (She didn’t really raise me and well that’s a long story). She has money saved and is planning on taking care of herself.

    I figure it costs upwards of 250k to raise a kid these days, might as well save a lot of that for myself and just live it out and hope for the best.

    Total aside, as someone with no facial work done and very little inclination to ever have any, I have to say she has the best work I’ve ever seen.

  52. Talita says:

    My mom is 79 years old and I’m 34. She has said to me, many times, that I was born to take care of her. That my fate in life is to be with her. That I’m the only one who can do it.

    I’m a strong woman and I knew this was all kinds of wrong since I was very little. I’ve fought to have my own life and not to let the love I have for her mislead me. I’ve built a life in another city, close enough to stay in contact but far enough so she doesn’t know much about my life.

    Next week I’m going to take two weeks off from my work and she has no idea. If she finds out I’m free, she’ll admit herself at a hospital and ask the nurse to call me to go there right away, because she’s obviously dying, just like she did last time.

    She gets psychiatric help but she comes from living a whole life making herself look sick and miserable so people would feel bad for her and love her for that. She won’t change.

    It took some time for my family (dad and sister) to understand why I can’t give in to her demands and why I can’t be around much. They’re like “but she’s your mom”, as a reason to allow her to do whatever she wants to me.

    It’s still difficult but I know in my heart if she was a better person, she wouldn’t let anyone do this to me.

  53. AJ says:

    This has been a fascinating thread to read. I am in my thirties and have chosen not to have children and the “who will look after you when you’re old” question is the one I get asked the most. I don’t know why elderly care from children is expected!

    I’m the oldest of 5 kids and I am definitely the one who mum expects to look after her and dad when they get older (they are only 60 now). Even though I live 6 hours away from them and my sister and 2 brothers literally live directly across the road from them. They definitely don’t expect any of the boys to look after them and mum only wants me to do it because she thinks I’m more patient than my sister. My grandma lives with my parents so mum is doing all of this with her own mum already (and complaining about it incessantly) so I don’t know why she wants that life for me!

  54. Lucy says:

    I took care of my mom the last 3 years of her life because I wanted to. She didn’t expect me too and would apologize for being a burden which I assured her she was not. As I already said, I hired a part time caregiver. We didn’t have the best relationship but she was my mom and caring for her wasn’t all consuming. I guess I was lucky in that regard. All she wanted was to stay in her home and I was able to do that.

  55. Elle says:

    I am that girl who was pushing 40, single with no hopes on the partner horizon. I was terrified of not getting the chance to have a baby so I did the math and I simply couldn’t afford to be a single parent. It was devastating, not to exaggerate but it was. My closest friend told me it would be the greatest regret of my life…
    Fast forward to 43, I am married to a great guy and had a baby in April naturally. My mom passed right after so it’s been rough.
    All this to say – women – you CAN have an awesome life without kids!! They are great but there are zero guarantees that you will have a good kid who might visit you, let alone take care of you. I am on the other side with a kid and I can tell you – you can be happy either way. Please don’t regret the choice that you make!! Neither are right or wrong or come with any certainty!!

  56. KeiraKK says:

    Just put all the money you’d spend on a child into a fund for a luxurious retirement home. That’s bulletproof compared to hoping that your child will be taking care of you. Not to mention that it might create so much negativity in your relationship. My mom taking care of my demented grandma is the most heartbreaking vision. At this point, no love left, only exhaustion, hopelessness and resentment.

  57. NYC_girl says:

    I have had numerous conversations with my 80 year old mother about this. I just turned 50. I am single, and did not have children. My stepsisters don’t give a crap about me (and the feeling is mutual, even though we all met when we were young children). Important things my parents instilled in me:

    - SAVING money. I may not have a million in the bank, but I own an apartment and have IRAs. You can talk all you want about how you would handle a sick/aging parent, or what you would do when YOU get to that age, but if you don’t have $$$ your options are limited. You may say now, “I would definitely take care of my parents,” but if that parent is ill, or has dementia, and you have your own family and job to deal with, from my experience, it is a different story. It’s important to have significant savings, but this is not a possibility for many. I have friends my age who have NO savings whatsoever. They’re 50 still living paycheck to paycheck. Some of them have kids, some don’t – but when they’re old, what will happen? I just saw an ad for a retirement home here in NYC, and it’s $3500 a month. If my parents didn’t have savings to pay for that, I would drain my own.
    - Finalize your will, and think about your executor and power of attorney, especially if there are significant funds and you have siblings. Money makes people behave in a really ugly way. I do not expect to inherit anything from my parents because we have discussed that whatever funds they have will go to full-time care if needed.
    - Even if you plan out your retirement, it will probably NOT end up that way. You never know what is going to happen, but if you have savings, it will help. Money does not bring you happiness, but it does offer independence.

  58. enike says:

    to be honest, I am not surprised that Candace is talking like this

    her book, on which the Sex and the City was based on, was quite depressing and foreshadowing how she is talking now

  59. Yes Doubtful says:

    I have also thought about who will take care of me when I get older being that I’m a single woman with no children. I have an older brother and a niece and nephew so I guess I better stay in their good graces…