John Cena on not wanting children: ‘totally not qualified’

John Cena and Shay Shariatzadeh at the Peacemaker premiere
John Cena was in a very public relationship with wrestler Nikki Bella from 2012 until 2018, about a month before they were supposed to get married. They split in part because John did not want children and Nikki did. Both have since moved on. John married his girlfriend, Shay Shariatzadeh, in a private ceremony in 2020 and Nikki has an 18-month-old son, Matteo, with her fiance, dancer Artem Chigvintsev. John was recently on the Drew Barrymore show to discuss his new show HBO Max show, Peacemaker. John spoke with Drew about having children. John reiterated that although he has not ruled out having children, he doesn’t want kids right now. John also stated that just because he is good with children doesn’t mean he should have them. Here are a few highlights via ComicBook. The interview is embedded below:

“First of all, thank you for the comment,” Cena said. “I really enjoy my life. I have been riding a lightning bolt for quite some time now. I have been given opportunities to do and see things that man, I didn’t even dream of and I had some pretty lofty dreams. It’s hard work. It’s hard work to balance the time, I need to run myself correctly. It’s hard work to be the best partner and husband I can be to my loving wife. It’s hard to keep connections with those in my life that I love. And it’s also hard to put in an honest day’s work. This is just my perspective, totally not qualified, but I think just because you might be good at something, for me, is not a strong enough reason to do that. You have to have passion for it. You have to have a fuel for it. It’s like saying to someone, ‘Man, you know you are pretty good with your hands. You would be a great carpenter.’ But if I want to be an actor, I am going to be an actor. Just to say to somebody you have a great interaction with young people, that’s flattering.”

He continued, bringing up his years of work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation — “…The reason I love Make-A-Wish so much is because those are those families’ wishes. You can do anything you want, and Make-A-Wish’s list is enormous, they literally will do anything you want. ‘I want to kick it with John Cena and go see him wrestle.’ That is the coolest thing I have ever heard in my life.”

After going into detail about granting a record number of wishes, he got back to the question by saying, “But all things considered, I love all that, I love that joy. I love that connection and that’s where I’m at right now. It is difficult water to tread because everybody’s like, ‘Well, when?’ I just know not now.”

[From ComicBook]

I have never understood why no one accepts when people say that they don’t want children. As if declaring we don’t want children is a personal affront to them. I know that Drew meant well, but John is right, just because you’re good at something does not mean you want to do it. I have mad respect for John for knowing that he would not be able to prioritize a child now. John may change his mind, but he is content and that should be enough. It is grating when people treat those of us who do not want children like a sad story or anomaly. It really is no one else’s business.

I wish more people would take the care that John and so many other people have taken when planning a family. I would encourage people to not be pushy with people who have chosen to be childfree. Their life choices are just as important as those who decide to procreate.

Photos credit:, Instar and Backgrid

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48 Responses to “John Cena on not wanting children: ‘totally not qualified’”

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  1. mel says:

    The only person he should be discussing whether he wants kids with is his wife. Everyone else needs to shut up and mind their own business. It is one of my major pet peeves when people (family, friends, strangers) involve themselves in one of the most personal parts of someone’s lives.

    • MerlinsMom1018 says:

      ALL OF THIS.

    • shanaynay says:

      I’m sorry, when these celebrities choose to air their business to the public, we the public have a right to give our opinions.

      • Jules says:

        @shanaynay- totally this ^

      • Demonsweater says:

        Do hosts ask every single person on their show if they have kids? With who? Why did they decide to have kids? When and why did they decide that? How do they feel about procreation in general? Do they regret it?

        No, they don’t. Don’t ask child free people to justify and explain their decisions.

  2. Monette says:

    I have major respect for people who know they don’t want children and remain childless.
    I do not respect people who have children for any numbers of selfish reasons.
    Those people I do not respect at all.

  3. CherHorowitz says:

    I say this as someone with a child, but when I see someone outraged at someone else’s decision not to have kids it seems like they’re mad they didn’t think of that as an option

    • Kay says:

      Right? I’m the opposite of John in that I don’t particularly LOVE kids as a collective, but always have known I want kids of my own. I have a son who I love absolutely and never, not even in the most sleep-deprived days with feeding issues, have regretted it. It therefore makes PERFECT sense to me that someone can like kids a lot and just have “I don’t want a kid of my own” as their default setting. Nothing wrong with it, and like you, I suspect a lot of people had a kid because it’s what you do, and never put thought into it and then regret it.

      • TaraBest says:

        Yes! Liking kids and wanting kids of your own are not related. I love kids and really enjoy getting to be an Auntie. Along with the fun stuff I’ve taken care of infants, changed diapers, comforted little ones when they’re sick, all of it. Friends of mine knew for years they wanted to be parents and had never even buckled a car seat or changed a diaper when their daughter was born. They are fantastic parents but never really cared to spend time with other kids.
        It’s funny to realize as I someone who does not want kids of their own, that I’ve had more experience with them than many people who have their own kids. I just wish more people understood that just because I don’t want kids doesn’t mean I don’t like kids!

  4. AmyT says:

    My knee-jerk response to that statement when I hear it is, “Good! The world needs more aunts/uncles.” I had kids because I wanted them, but when they grew up and people started asking me about grandchildren and I said I didn’t care whether it happened, sometimes they’d look at me like I was a monster.
    But it’s super simple. Parenting is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Sometimes it’s a “Nope,” and people need to respect that. I’m married to a childless guy who never wanted kids, to the point where, he told me (because I asked him), that if my youngest had been 8 instead of 17 when we got together, whether he’d’ve asked me out. The answer was no, and I was fine with it. Parenting is hard.

    • AnneL says:

      I am like you. My kids are in their twenties now, and while both claim to want children at some point, neither is ready now. I would like grandchildren but I actually do NOT want them unless and until my kids are ready. They will need to raise their own kids; I’ll just be the loving grandmother. I don’t regret having and raising mine at all, but I don’t want to do it again.

  5. Wendy says:

    As a childfree woman, the worst thing to deal with is the self-satisfied smugness of some parents when they fix their mouths to say something to me like, “well, it’s good that you know your limitations,” or “Thank god you realized you’d be a terrible mother before you could actually ruin a kid!”. It’s certainly a fast way to expose the people around you who harbor some deeply retrograde ideas about a woman’s role and inherent value.

    It’s sadly ironic that the same people who say that sort of weirdly mean stuff to me and other childfree people tend to have the most fucked up relationships with their children — so many of the women who’ve been low-key terrible to me about my life choice also verbally abuse their kids and make “jokes” about having to be drunk to enjoy family time. And the dads who have made snide comments to me about how I can’t know what real love is or have a fulfilling life because I haven’t given birth are always the dads who don’t know their children’s clothing sizes, pediatrician’s phone number, or sometimes even the name of the school they send their child to every day. It’s just…. it’s VERY telling, the things some parents say when they meet someone who chose a different path.

    • Snuffles says:

      I had a (now EX) best friend, who I had known since kindergarten, drift away from me 10 years ago. When I asked her why, her reason was because I didn’t have children like she did, and therefore she could no longer relate to me. As if our lifetime of friendship didn’t matter. I was shocked.

      • Chaine says:

        This happened to me too! My friend asked me what I thought about have
        Ing kids now (we were in our mid twenties and in a graduate degree program). I said no, because we were still finishing up our degrees and starting job hunts that it would be better to wait to have kids. Unbeknownst to me she was already pregnant and took offense at my opinion and basically cut me off after that conversation.

      • Snuffles says:

        Wow! Didn’t even give you a chance.

      • Desdemona says:

        I’m a highschool teacher and most people here actually don’t ask such questions, because there are so many people who don’t have kids. But I do hate it when parents try to excuse my students behaviour with: You don’t have kids, so you don’t understand teenagers or something of the sort.
        The opposite has already happened. Parents asking me for advice on how they should raise their children because they don’t know, but since i’m a teacher I must have studied the “secret formulas”..
        It’s a strange world with a strange society…

      • lucy2 says:

        My bff since K said something similar, that they don’t hang out with her husband’s friends much anymore because they “don’t have kids and can’t relate”. I am childfree. I kind of just stood there in shock she actually said that to me.
        We’ve been friends for 40 years, I considered her family, treat her kids like I’m their aunt, and in the past few years it’s been really weird. I only hear from her when I reach out, only get together if I push. But when I do talk to her, it’s like there’s nothing wrong. I don’t really know what her deal is, if she thinks she can only relate to other parents now, but her kids are getting older and soon will be out on their own, and she’s made her own world pretty small if that’s the case. It’s hard, but I’ve been trying to just accept the idea that we aren’t just going to be the type of friends I’d hoped.
        My other friend group is a mix of non-parents, parents, and step parents, and we all understand and support each other.

      • Snuffles says:


        Thanks for sharing! I could relate to everything you just said. I too felt like I was the only one reaching out and pushing to get together. When I brought it up, she got SO mad and then used the “you have no kids I just can’t relate reason” and ended the friendship.

      • lucy2 says:

        Sorry Snuffles, it’s painful, especially with someone you were close with for a long time.
        I feel like if I bring it up with mine, I’m going to get the same reaction, so I’m just letting it be what it is. I’m going to make the effort I want to make to stay in touch, and not to expect anything back. People grow apart, but it’s sad when it’s someone you’ve known so long.

      • Tiffany:) says:

        “Unbeknownst to me she was already pregnant and took offense at my opinion and basically cut me off after that conversation.”

        Chaine, this happened to me too! A co-worker was pressing me about “are you REALLY sure you don’t want kids?” and “I’m mean, come on, deep down don’t you really want to have them?”

        I responded that I had a dream a few weeks before where I found out I was pregnant and it felt so real. I woke up so sad and depressed as if my life was over. Her face looked like I had personally insulted her.

        Turns out she was pregnant and wanted me to be jealous of her.

  6. Songs (or it didn't happen) says:

    It’s okay to not want to have kids.
    It’s okay to want to have kids.
    It’s okay to be undecided.
    It’s all good. Make the best decision for you.

  7. smcollins says:

    This sort of reminds me of something Allison Janney once said when asked in an interview about being child-free. I’m paraphrasing but she said she’d rather regret *not* having children than wind up regretting that she did. I thought that statement (explanation?) was so simple (in a good way) yet also so powerful. Maybe that’s where JC is at right now, and may very well remain, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that no matter how much pressure comes from society/friends/family members.

  8. FancyPants says:

    My favorite has always been when they say “Oh you’ll change your mind!” Twenty years later, and I still don’t want kids. I don’t even want the commitment of a pet that needs to be fed on a regular basis, why would I want to sign up for a physical and financial parasite for at least 18 years? I do love my friends’ children and spoil the heck out of all of them, though.

    • Crooksandnannies says:

      I was with you until you called them parasites. I think that’s the kind of lingo that turns people with children off from those who talk about how they don’t. It sounds like people who don’t have children seems themselves as superior, look down on those who do, and think children are monsters. I’m not saying you’ve said that, but parasite is a common term used by people like that.

      • schmootc says:

        To me, using ‘parasite’ or a similar term is a reaction to the ‘oh you’ll change your mind’ comment. The other person thinks they know your mind better than you do, well, then I’ll take it a ways the other direction so maybe you’ll actually believe I mean what I say. I’ve had the last part of that conversation in my head before. And I’m 48 and still childfree.

  9. Tootsie+McJingle says:

    Good for him. Don’t have kids if you don’t want! I think it should absolutely be way more accepted. Some people are stuck in a time period where there was something mentally wrong with you if you didn’t want kids. You were expected to. I think my husband is subconsciously stuck in this era. Now I chose to have kids and I have four of them. My oldest is seven and, like all kids do, he talks about what he wants to do when he grows up. He says he might get married and my husband keeps saying “I hope you have a couple of kids.” And my son keeps responding with “I don’t want to have kids. I don’t want to take care of them.” Of course he’s seven and might change his mind but he might not! I keep telling him it’s ok if he doesn’t want kids. I just want him to know it’s his choice!

  10. girl_ninja says:

    I think it’s great when people know what they want as far as children are concerned. I am on the other side of 45 and I still want them but if I can’t give birth and raise a child then so be it. There is always adoption and surrogacy (maybe.)

    I’ve seen a few scenes from that Bella show and he seemed like a lot. So did she but it seemed as though it was all in service to him and making it work. It’s hard for me to see that he didn’t see this. I side him a bit after seeing some of those scenes, not that he’s a bad guy but…

    • Cheryl says:

      Idk. I did respect John for showing Bella who he was from day one, even as rigid and anal as he was a lot of the time. I never got the sense that he bamboozled her by making her believe that he wanted the same things as she did in order to get her emotionally hooked. If he did, I would be like “ yeah. What an assh*le!” But I don’t think that’s the case here. I think she just made the mistake of thinking that she could ultimately change who he was, and investing her time and emotional energy into that (which, no shade towards her as I’ve done the same thing too in my past. It’s a harsh lesson a few of us have to learn the hard way, unfortunately).

  11. Veronica S. says:

    He was smart to be honest about the issue, and he and his ex were wise to break up over it. There’s no reason to marry if you differ on an issue that enormous. It’ll just cause resentment down the line.

  12. Beana says:

    My husband and I have a special needs son, that we had just before we turned 40. It took a while for us to feel “ready” to have a kid, but once we felt ready, we wanted him so badly. All of our best friends are very happily child-free. I truly don’t understand the mentality of assuming that one’s choices must be everyone’s choices. Our son’s care sometimes pushes us almost to our limits physically, financially, and emotionally – but we’re in love with him and embrace our purpose in his life. Our friends couldn’t be more lovely in how they’ve taken him into our “tribe” – and he’s so blessed to know them! Our friends have had to make more effort at times to spend time with us but we’re very vocal in telling them how happy and grateful we are to have that time with them. And we, in turn, enjoy seeing them purchase homes, travel, and have adventures that are just not in our realm of possibility now. I’m happy that JC knows what he wants and spreads joy to others in ways that are authentic to him!

  13. T says:

    I don’t understand why interviewers still ask this man this question over and over. First, it is no one’s business. Second, it’s been answered. Why is it still a discussion years later?

  14. Joanna says:

    I know it’s not our business but I’m kind of glad to see you guys getting asked the same questions women do. I’ve had people tell me I would be a great mom I really need to have a kid but I don’t want to! A lot of people don’t get it. And that’s OK they don’t have to it’s my life not theirs. I like kids in small doses but I don’t want one for life!

  15. Harla says:

    My daughter stated when she was around 12 that she never wanted children and now she’s in her mid 30’s and still sticks to that. As her mom, I knew that she didn’t particularly like children and when babysitting she would call me or her brother to come over and play with the kids, so I believe that she made the best decision.

  16. Watson says:

    I think it’s great when people know they don’t want kids. Wish more people had this sort of honesty

  17. Lucille says:

    Why is this even a question? Shouldn’t the question be why people want to have kids? I feel like way too many people don’t properly reflect on that.

  18. Mimi says:

    I don’t want kids’ ever and I’m very upfront about it and idc what anyone says . It’s my decision

  19. Londongal says:

    I love this bloke. He seems a total babe, is beautiful interviewed, does loads of charity work, seems to work hard full stop and is so smart and charming. People need to leave off this entire subject, it is *beyond* rude. Who knows the reason? Maybe he doesn’t t now/ever or maybe he’s protecting She. He shouldn’t have to as they’re a lovely couple and it is ok to never have kids if you don’t want to. The end.

  20. Luna17 says:

    I’m glad people know they don’t want kids! We have enough unwanted kids in the world! I love my kids but I’m so proud of my child free friends (who are sometimes awesome step parents, animal rescuers, career people, etc). Also seeing my friends have kids with a not great person and spending tens of thousands in court fees and lawyers is heartbreaking and nothing I would wish on anyone. If you have kids make sure you’re ready and careful about who you have them with is always my advice to people thinking about it.

  21. MelOn says:

    Can we make it part of polite conversation to stop asking people a) when they’ll have kids b) why don’t they have kids c) When will they have more kids d) When will you go for the boy/girl. People just need to mind their own business. Other folks reproductive choices are not your business!

  22. Tanya says:

    Good for him. I love my kids, but parenting is really hard, and I cannot imagine how much harder it’d be if I hadn’t full-heartedly wanted to have kids.

  23. steph says:

    I always got the vibe that his and Nikki’s relationship was faked for publicity and that reality TV show.

  24. Kate+S says:

    So over people asking others how many kids they have? Hubby and I don’t have kids by our own choice. But people outside our friends don’t know that. STOP ASKING. And my new favorite, “you wouldn’t understand, you don’t have kids”. Dumb asses!

  25. jferber says:

    John Cena’s show Peacemaker is a blast. Also funny was his movie Vacation Friends. As long as I’m plugging shows, I just saw Bridget Everett’s new show on HBO called Somebody Somewhere. I love her and the show is really good.

  26. Songs (or it didn't happen) says:

    These comments are such a respectful and non-judgemental conversation about reproductive choices. It’s honestly refreshing and just makes me happy to be a part of it. <3 <3 <3

  27. Jillyybean says:

    Saying you want to remain kids free is like saying you want to be alcohol free at a party.,,, all of a sudden everyone feels the obligation to weigh in on your decision

  28. Likeyoucare says:

    Since i cant have children. My husband and i decided we are fine with it. Unfortunately, some people keep hounding us to adopt children.

    I am a teacher so i have always have an interaction with small kids, i love them they love me. We have lots of niece and nephew that we can spoil.

    That’s enough for us. More money for us to travel each year.