If You Really Wanted Kids…

‘If you really wanted kids, you would do whatever it takes to have them. And if it was meant to be, it would have happened by now.’ 

Yes, there are people in the world who still think this is helpful advice to give to childless people. 

Where do I begin with dissecting this twaddle? 

OK, strap in. Here goes. 

I am sick to death of the ‘Believe’ culture in modern society. This culture says that you can have anything you want to have, *be* anybody you want to be, if you simply believe. ‘Just believe, and it will happen,’ people reassure me in breathy, New-Age tones. 

This culture says you can have anything you want, if you simply believe.

When Christians say it to me, it almost sounds biblical. 

Except that those of us who are childless know it isn’t true. Good things don’t always come to those who wait. What doesn’t kill us doesn’t always make us stronger. And simply believing does not necessarily bring things into our lives that we badly want. 

Even prayer and faith are not coins in God’s cosmic slot machine. Sometimes our prayers go unanswered. Sometimes we can ask for good things, biblical things, and the answer is no. 

Prayer and faith are not coins in God’s cosmic slot machine.

Many childless people have tried to have children, sometimes for years. They have researched every conceivable (forgive the pun) option, trialled various medications and treatments, psyched themselves up for yet another try—only to have the rug pulled out from under their feet. 

My book, Surviving Childlessness, is full of such stories from childless people. *Shameless self-plug alert*

The problem is society continues to shame childless people for it. The statement, ‘If you *really* wanted kids…’ insinuates that childless people couldn’t really have wanted kids after all, or did not want them badly enough, or did not try that hard…because surely it is enough to simply believe? 

’If you really wanted kids…’ insinuates that childless people couldn’t have really wanted kids after all.

That’s like blaming bad luck or unfortunate circumstances on every person who encounters misfortune. Which is every person on the planet. 

Which is ridiculous. 

Just imagine applying our original sentence to another life circumstance: 

‘If you really wanted that job, you would have got it.’

‘If you really wanted a partner, it would just happen.’ 

‘If you really wanted to be cancer-free, you would be by now.’ 

Insane. 

I am not about to say why these things happen to us. I don’t know why some people are able to have kids and others are not. I don’t know why IVF works for some and why God says no to others. I wish I knew. I truly do. 

But I know it’s not the fault of childless people who wanted children but couldn’t have them. 

It’s not the fault of childless people who wanted children but couldn’t have them.

Let’s not blame childless people for the absence of children. Let’s not blame ourselves for deciding to stop trying—or, if you’re like me, deciding not to try at all because the risks were too high—and for putting our wellbeing and sanity first. 

If anyone has told you, ‘If you really wanted kids…’, this is your reminder you are not to blame for your childless circumstances. (And neither is God.) Let’s throw off the shaming and thoughtless remarks of others—especially those who don’t know our story—and walk with our heads held high. 

We really wanted kids. We are childless. Both can be true. 

Has anyone ever told you, ‘If children were meant to be, you would have had them’? How did you respond? How can we help to stop the public shaming of childless people? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation. 

2 thoughts on “If You Really Wanted Kids…

  1. Hi Steph. I really like the line ‘prayer and faith are not coins in God’s cosmic slot machine.’ It is true what you say – people so easily fall into the trap of using Christian platitudes. One of the phrases I do not like is “God has is all in HIs hands’ which is true in one sense, but it also shuts the door on being vulnerable, expressing our true heart and feelings, and of course that is what connects us. My life-long grounded faith still quivers often, despite lots of heart felt prayers. Especially at the moment with the Omicron covid virus sweeping through our community, and some important family events planned in the near future, keeping my faith jar full is a constant challenge! It often empties right out!!

    • Hi Val, I know that emptied-out feeling, for sure! I completely agree with your point about platitudes: they sound totally right on the one hand, yet they utterly fail to comfort us. Such pat answers often serve to shut down the conversation before it has begun, which is why we feel we cannot be vulnerable around platitudes. Thankfully, God can handle our vulnerability. It takes courage to share our quivery, wobbly faith moments, and I fully respect you for sharing today. Thank you.

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