Valerie Khoo

CEO. AUTHOR. CREATIVE EXPLORER.

This is the personal blog of Valerie Khoo, CEO of the Australian Writers’ Centre, one of the world’s leading centres for writing courses. She is author of ‘Power Stories: The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business’ and co-host of the popular podcasts ‘So you want to be a writer’ and ‘So you want to be a photographer’. Valerie is also a mentor, keynote speaker and tech-junkie. She is passionate about exploring worlds of creativity and business. READ MORE

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38 Comments

  1. Jasmin Tragas

    I never thought I would get married. Becoming a bride never even entered my imagination. Becoming a mum…considered but not a life long dream. Lo and behold…I had a big Greek wedding. TaDa…I have three children. Did a clock tick? Surprisingly yes, shortly before I hit 30. Having kids has turned out to be the most creative thing that has ever happened to me.

    Your decision to be honest with yourself, and to be comfortable where you’re at – without any behbehs on the horizon – seems perfectly natural 🙂 Enjoy the moment!

    1. Valerie Khoo

      One does wonder whether one should say these things out loud. But then why not? Everyone should be comfortable with their choices 🙂

  2. Lacey

    Good on you for thinking about this instead of leaping in. If you don’t have kids, you can always be a cool aunty (or even foster kids if the urge to keep them for more than 24 hours is strong!)

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Or you can have multiple fur-children!

  3. Jen Brown

    Thanks for writing so openly about your feelings Valerie. I have, since I was about 12 years old, always said that I never wanted to have children. I’d be a millionaire many times over if I had $1 for every time someone told me that I would change my mind. I’m 37 now & know that it’s not for me. So it’s nice to hear that there are others out there who feel the same way as me.

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Yes sometimes it can feel like you’re saying the wrong thing …!

  4. Leah Klugt

    Wow, Valerie – thankyou! So happy to join you and Jen in enjoying being ‘child-free’. I really don’t have fond feelings for children and think I will be quite happy not having any of my own. Im 27, finding the friends are choosing to go down that path.. I really don’t want to go down that path for FOMO either. We’ll see. Great post 🙂

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Oh no. That’s right, don’t succumb to FOMO!

  5. David Moore

    Welcome 🙂

  6. Shaggy

    When I was 20 I wanted 6 kids. 6. My sister is still aiming for 4. As I’ve gotten older the desire ran away (screaming possibly because good sense said “6! are you out of your mind?”). Even when the desire had gone, I knew that I’d be devastated if I lost the ability. Because the choice would be gone. Well I’m pretty much at that stage now because it would require intervention to get me pregnant should I desire it. Would I want to be a first time parent at my age? No way. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I won’t be a parent. There are ways to fill that need, well if I had it. I’m an awesome Aunty. I love them and I miss them when I am away from them and they adore me. They don’t however fill me with a desire to take them (or any I may spawn) home with me.

    I’ve long ago understood that you have to learn to be happy with whatever stage or situation in life you are. The more time you spend wishing you were married, single, a parent or whatever, the more unhappy with your current life you will be. If you really want to change those states, do something or get over it already.

    Having said that, I feel truly sorry for those with that strong biological yearning for motherhood who are unable to have a baby. I imagine that would be a horrible state to be in. Like models who are always hungry staring at buffet tables. I am so glad I am not one of them.

    1. Valerie Khoo

      I never actually understood that yearning (until the movie with Clive Owen). I just couldn’t imagine wanting a child that badly. Some friends (of a certain age) used to tell me how their eyes would well with tears when they saw toddlers in prams being wheeled down the street. This was mind-boggling to me. It just simply wasn’t in my frame of reference. I think that fateful channel flick simply taught me empathy.

  7. Monica

    Love your blog Valerie. Made me smile and laugh!

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Thanks Mon. Glad you enjoyed it. Hope your brood (furry and non-furry) are going well 🙂

  8. Lisa

    Wow it is so weird that you are blogging about this – my husband and I are pretty much in exactly the same place right now – we love our lives, have two adorable dogs and are happy being married and having successful careers. Whether or not we have kids doesn’t bother us right now – great to see that we aren’t alone 🙂

    1. Valerie Khoo

      As David Moore commented: welcome!

  9. Anna Butler

    What a relief to know there are other women out there who feel the same way. Having turned 40 last year, I still haven’t changed my mind (from as young as I can remember I never wanted children) and biologically the chances would be pretty difficult even if I did.

    For unconditional love, I can get a kitty cat… and just see how unconditional that love is once your precious little bundle has morphed into a selfish, surly teenager who doesn’t want to know anyone over 30!

    I know plenty of people who vowed never to have children.. then did.. and declared it the best thing ever – and that’s great. Maybe I’d even feel that way myself, but it’s too big of a risk to take for the sake of “maybe”. Not for me, but for that poor child.

    I guess my biological clock is just digital.

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Oh Anna I hear you! I see dysfunctional families and just hope and pray that people like my friend Bob (in the post) don’t end up seeing that unconditional love of his two year old transform into selfishness, resentment or, worse, hate. As for kitty cats … you are right … that’s unconditional love right there!

  10. Micky Stuivenberg

    Valerie, I could have written this exact same blog post myself.

    I have never felt that feeling that most other women seem to have. Never had that yearning. In my twenties, I had friends who became mummies smugly say to me, oh you just wait, maybe you don’t feel it yet, but you WILL get the urge. This is what we women were meant to do. I know for sure your feelings will change.

    Well, I’ve been married over 10 years now and am into my early forties and my feelings (as well as my husband’s) about this haven’t changed. I’ve now closed this door mentally and I don’t regret it at all. I like my life and my freedom.

    If you live in a big city it’s much more accepted that you choose not to have children, but I have found that here in regional Australia it’s much less common and I’ve had to defend my decision more than once.

    You don’t mention partners in your post, but I reckon that’s an important factor in the decision for most women. I am just glad my husband and I feel the same way about this. Things would be much more difficult if one partner really wants kids and the other doesn’t.

    Thanks for sharing and great to see the other responses.

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Micky: I’ve heard that too! “You’ll change.” “When you get older, it will kick in.” I’m still waiting for it to kick in …

  11. Julia Bickerstaff

    What a fabulous post. My Grandmother didn’t want children and counted herself lucky to have got away with one. My Mum didn’t want to have children and says she never had maternal urges. She went on to have two daughters and, well, our family all agrees that the maternal instinct failed to kick in! My sister has no plans for children and happily tells everyone it’s not for her.

    I on the other hand love having four kids; I guess I inherited my maternal nature from my father’s side of the family. When I told my Mum, Gran and sister that I was expecting my third child they looked incredulous and simply said “why?”. With the fourth they just laughed.

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Thanks Julia. Wow …. the desire to have a child is not genetic then 🙂 Still, I’m amazed. Four! I don’t know how you do it …. I think a mini-van or Tarago must be involved.

      1. Julia Bickerstaff

        What I should have said earlier is, aren’t we lucky to have the choice?

        My Gran was born in 1910 the oldest of 10 siblings. Not wanting to have kids (hmmm, put off?) she worked in a bank and refused all offers of marriage. When she was 31 England was in the midst of war, her sisters wanted to marry their sweethearts but my Great Grandfather wouldn’t allow them to until my Gran (the oldest, tradition) was married. So she married my Granddad. She tried avoiding his conjugal rights at certain times of the month but that form of contraception failed and my Mum was born. My Gran wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice so she banished Granddad to his own room for life!

        Mum in turn was happy to be married but was on contraception cos she didn’t want kids. It failed. She investigated an illegal back yard abortion but her courage left her at the last moment. After I was born she had one more child to keep me company.

        Some people just don’t want to be parents but for most of history there wasn’t a choice.

  12. Heather Smith

    Valerie,

    You know I love your writing, and it was a great subject to share. We are all different and we should not tell one another how they should feel.

    I wanted children since I was eight, wanted 5, wanted them early, knew what their names would be.

    I am very fortunate to have two healthy happy children.

    You mention “to be honest, I’m glad. Because it was so very sad. To want something that nature (or luck, God, the Universe or crazy chromosomes) may not necessarily grant you.”

    I have tried to have further children, and efforts end in nothing or miscarriages, bloody pools of blood and this teeny glimmering lump of lost hope (In case you are wondering it looks like a large size glistening marble in the early months). Wanting to have children and not being able to have them is crippling.

    If I could take a pill, to stop me wanting to have more children, to stop my breasts hardening whenever a baby cries, to stop wanting to feel a tiny stretching foot pressing my belly, to take away this sadness, I would.

    Be happy that you don’t want children, because wanting them and not being able to have them, is all consuming emotionally draining, and practically everything I do is to stop thinking about wanting another baby. I wonder if menopause changes this.
    :’(
    Heather

    PS. Had to laugh at your comment in response to Julia (I have 4 children!) Bickerstaff’s “the desire to have a child is not genetic then :)” doh!
    PPS You can be my kids rich Aunty 

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Apart from watching “Children of Men”, I’ve never really heard that yearning expressed so profoundly, Heather. Heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing. You’ve opened my eyes even more than that movie did.

  13. Kim Seeling Smith

    I’m one of those happily child free women as well. I got clucky for about a week in my early 20’s and it passed. I’m now 51 (a month from today) and have never ever regretted not having children. In the mean time I’ve seen many friends get into bad marriages because they wanted kids and just picked the nearest man around to have them with. And I’ve seen many bad mothers who had kids because they thought they should or felt family pressure to do so, even though they themselves did not want them. I think being child free should be an acceptable option and that choice should be honored instead of hearing the usual argument about, “when it’s your own you’ll love them – you really will.” No, I really won’t and at least I recognise that and have been able to be true to myself. Good on ya!

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Kim, it really does KILL me when I see people with children but who are desperately unhappy with their partners. And many have admitted to me that they only got married (or partnered) so they could have kids. Their kids are sometimes growing up in such a toxic environment!

  14. Robin

    My late father told me on several occasions that people who don’t have children are selfish. He’s entitled to his opinion of course, but I don’t agree with it. I have children, no parents now, no siblings and only a handful of really close friends. I had children because in my era, you got married and had kids … everyone did it right? Having no-one else in my family chain, it’s lovely to have a daughter, son and grandson, but I understand that not everyone wants that.

    If your biological clock chucks it in Valerie, you could always go for adoption and hook up with some poor kid whose life promises to be a misery … without you. Love doesn’t have to be through DNA and it also has the advantage of bypassing the “high maintenance” stage of wiping bums and feeding etc.

    It’s never too late to adopt and there are plenty to choose from.

    1. Valerie Khoo

      That’s right Robin. I think that adoption is a great idea for people who want kids.

  15. Robin

    I once worked with a lovely 39 year old clinical psychologist who kept telling me she was running out of time to have a baby and needed to find Mr Right. Unfortunately, her prescription for Mr Right excluding divorcees, men with hairloss, smokers, wanting university educated, tall and not too short, and all the rest of it put her in a predicament where nobody on this planet would have been suitable. I told her that she would never find a perfect man, that she needed to find someone healthy enough to impregnate her and bring the kid up on her own if it was so important. I occasionally think about her and wonder what became of her.

  16. Kelly Exeter

    This was definitely me about five years ago. I never had the maternal urge but my husband sure did and I kept cutting deals to delay the inevitable. In reality, I had a baby for my husband because like you Valerie, I just loved my life and couldn’t really see where a child would fit in. I also wasn’t sure I would like being someone’s mum (you know, loss of identity and all that stuff).

    Consequently I was quite unprepared for how much I love being a mum. It’s the most amazing thing in the world but as I told a friend the other day, if you choose not to have children, the best thing is – you don’t know what you are missing out on. And I mean this quite literally.

    I don’t think anyone can adequately articulately the incredibly intangible ‘rewards’ that go with being a parent which is why I know that if I had ever decided NOT to have children, my life would have been just as happy and fulfilled as it is now … just in a different way 🙂

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Thanks, makes sense Kelly. It’s like the fact that I’ve never yearned for a brother or sister because, as an only child, I have no idea what that would be like!

  17. Anna Butler

    Such a very interesting conversation.

    And I’ve never understood how not having children is “selfish”. Do the people who say this do so because they regret the freedom they had to give up in order to be a parent and therefore feel resentful that others have not done the same?

    When you consider that my husband and I both pay taxes to pay childcare rebates, baby bonuses, family payments, schools, etc., with no benefit to ourselves, I can’t see how that is considered selfish (especially when the elderly, sick and disabled so often have to fight so hard for the financial support they need for a condition they have no choice in).

    I’ve also seen people have children to fill an emotional need, or to “save” their marriage, or please their parents, or a number of reasons other than because they actually wanted children. More often than not (in my experience) these children have led unhappy lives because of these choices. But hey… that’s not at all selfish. Right?

    As Julie pointed out – we’re so lucky to be living in a time where we have such choice. A choice that is slowly becoming more accepted.

    1. Valerie Khoo

      I hear you on every single point, Anna. Every. Single. One.

  18. Erica Enriquez

    I’ve just had “That Talk” with my partner the other night so this article speaks volumes to me right now. We both agree that while we love our lives, we wouldn’t knock it back if I was knocked up. I love my job and my sleep and my small amount of disposable income that allows me the freedom to travel (rarely) and eat (unhealthily). However, sometimes I wonder if I should turn the volume up on the ole Biological Clock’s audio control to appease Society’s guilt in making me feel like a selfish git. I know I’d make a great mum, I just don’t know if I should be actively planning for it now, or if I should just let nature (or a faulty contraceptive device) take its course?

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Haha. I know what you mean Erica. I’ve often said that if it happened to me by accident, I’d let it!

  19. Diane Azzopardi

    My psychologist used to say quite often “you are the only person that knows what’s right for you” and I agree. I admire how you are being honest with yourself and sharing it. Having someone like you sharing your feelings honesty helps give other less self-assured people to live their own truth also. I am a firm believer in women making their own decisions about what they want to do with their bodies. I’m also a believer in everyone being self-aware enough to understand why they are making these decisions and if these reasons are something that fits in with their own personal ethics and moral code.

    From an ecological perspective it’s a good thing that not everyone is reproducing at the same rate as previous generations. This planet is already struggling to support the current population levels. By not having children, for your own reasons, you are inadvertently helping the rest of the human (and animal/plant) population on the planet.

    Personally I want children, I always have. I hope that by educating them in being responsible global citizens my future family will be able to make a positive impact on this world. This doesn’t mean that I think you can’t contribute to the greater good without having children, I believe each of us has a different mission in life and different ways of helping the communities we live in.

    (P.s. Must look up definition of succinct, and learn how to apply this when writing).

    1. Valerie Khoo

      Your psychologist is right Diane. Too often, I see people succumb to the pressures and expectations of their family or friends. I love it when people have the confidence and self-belief to stick with what is truly right for them.

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