Being a mom or dad isn't in the cards for everyone, especially in 2019. Some of the world's biggest stars are choosing not to have children, and they are speaking up about their decision to skip out on traditional parenting in favor of taking more time for themselves, focusing on their family and partners, and mentoring in other ways. Here's why 40 of your favorite stars will never have kids.
Zellweger kept it short and sweet when talking about not wanting kids in an interview with the London Times in 2008, three years after her four-month marriage to country crooner Kenny Chesney ended: "Motherhood has never been an ambition. I don't think like that."
Marisa Tomei doesn't like the notion that many people seem to believe it's a woman's duty to have children. The actress questioned the obligation in a conversation with Manhattan Magazine in 2009: "I don't know why women need to have children to be seen as complete human beings."
Some people choose not to become parents for one simple reason: They don't want to. Katharine Hepburn opted out of motherhood because she wanted to focus on herself and her well-being. "I would have been a terrible mother, because I'm basically a very selfish human being," the Hollywood icon admitted.
Celebrity chef Rachael Ray simply doesn't have time to cook for her own brood, and is perfectly satisfied being a mom to her pup. "I think that I'm 40 years old, and I have an enormous amount of hours that have to be dedicated to work," she said in 2009 in an interview with Salon. "For me personally, I would need more time to feel like I'd be a good mom to my own child. I feel like a borderline good mom to my dog. So I can't imagine if it was a human baby… I feel like it would be unfair, not only to the child but to the people I work with."
It may not come as too big of a shock that one of the world's premiere feminists doesn't see the necessity of having children to fulfill a woman's life. "I'm completely happy not having children. I mean, everybody does not have to live in the same way. And as somebody said, 'Everybody with a womb doesn't have to have a child any more than everybody with vocal cords has to be an opera singer,'" she told fellow childless lady Chelsea Handler on Chelsea Lately in 2011.
Hamm took a hint from his philandering Mad Men character Don Draper, stating "I'd be a terrible father!" in 2012 to Us Weekly. "I see my friends who have children and I'm like, 'Dude, how are you even upright, much less here at work at 6 a.m.?'" he joked candidly.
Hamm's ex, actress Jennifer Westfeldt, never expected to reach her 40s and not have any children, but she'll cross the road if and when she gets to it. "The chance that we’ll regret it doesn’t seem like a compelling enough reason to do it," the actress mused in an interview with The New York Times. "I may wake up tomorrow with that lighting bolt, and I’ll have to scramble to make it happen. You were wondering how we make it work. One way is we’re really mobile. No one’s had to give up an opportunity they really wanted.”
Much like her own character Samantha on Sex and the City, Cattrall is more about freedom than anything else. "When I was 5, my fantasy was to have a hundred dogs and a hundred kids. I realized that so much of the pressure I was feeling was from outside sources, and I knew I wasn't ready to take that step into motherhood. Being a biological mother just isn't part of my experience this time around," she openly shared to the March 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.
If the American author and journalist had chosen to have children, she might not have had the energy to give us the gift that is Sex & the City. She opened up about choosing her writing career over motherhood in a 2003 interview. "There are women who do it. On the other hand, there are a lot of women writers who never get married and don't have kids. I am married, but I didn't marry until I was 43. I knew when I was young that if I had to make a choice between being married and being a writer, I would have chosen to be a writer. I think it's a career where you have to put the career first. I don't have kids but—and luckily everyone isn't like this—I think if you have that passion, in a way, your career is your child."
Comedian Margaret Cho got real on her blog in 2012: "I don’t know if I could stand that kind of commitment, or if I am really honest, I don’t think that I could handle being that vulnerable to someone else. My child would have my heart completely, and having never truly given that over, in all my relationships in my life, starting with myself, I don’t even know where to begin."
We're a little bit disappointed with this one, only because we all wish she could be our grandma, but Betty White admitted in 2011 to CBS Sunday Morning that she has never looked back on the decision to not have kids. "No, I've never regretted it. I'm so compulsive about stuff. I know that if I had ever gotten pregnant, of course, that would've been my whole focus. But I didn't choose to have children because I'm focused on my career and I don't think as compulsive as I am that I could manage both."
The former Secretary of State is too busy doing amazing things for our nation to have a family of her own: "I won't have kids [laughs] but I may still get married," she said in 2010 to Ladies Home Journal. "But I would have lived a very fulfilled life if I had gotten married and had kids, too. But I'm very religious, and I at some very deep level believe that things are going to work out as they're supposed to. The key is to be open to that and to appreciate the life that you've been given."
Stevie Nicks gave a hard no to having to do mom stuff back in a 2002 interview with InStyle. Her reason: to stay true to her career. "It's like, Do you want to be an artist and a writer, or a wife and a lover? With kids, your focus changes. I don't want to go to PTA meetings."
In response to a question about her and wife Portia de Rossi's baby status after five years of marriage, Ellen addressed it head-on: "We'd probably be great parents. But it's a human being and unless you think you have excellent skills and have a drive or yearning in you to do that, the amount of work that that is and responsibility—I wouldn't want to screw them up! We love our animals," she said to People in 2014.
Portia de Rossi
Portia echoed wife Ellen's sentiment in a 2013 interview with Out, setting the record straight that "you have to really want to have kids, and neither of us did. So it's just going to be me and Ellen and no babies—but we're the best of friends and married life is blissful, it really is. I've never been happier than I am right now."
According to the ever-busy Grace & Frankie star, becoming a mother didn't make any sense—she was always working. In a 2006 conversation with Metro Weekly, Tomlin reflected on her and partner Jane Wagner's choice not to raise children. "God only knows what I would have done with them, poor things. I really do like kids, but there wouldn’t have been room in my life to raise children. I was so involved with my career and I would have had to give up the career in large part because I could not possibly have shortchanged the child."
The talk show host honestly doesn't think childhood is fair for kids of parents in showbiz. "I definitely don't want to have kids. I don't think I'd be a great mother," Handler admitted in 2013 while appearing on The Conversation with Amanda De Cadenet. "I don't want to have a kid and have it raised by a nanny. I don't have the time to raise a child myself."
Hollywood royalty Dame Helen Mirren gave her two sassy cents on motherhood to British Vogue in 2013: "It was not my destiny. I kept thinking it would be, waiting for it to happen, but it never did, and I didn't care what people thought...It was only boring old men [who would ask me]. And whenever they went, 'What? No children? Well, you'd better get on with it, old girl,' I'd say 'No! F*ck off!'"
Oprah shared her ability to act as a mother to hundreds of girls who need her guidance, with the opening of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in 2007: "I never had children, never even thought I would have children. Now I have 152 daughters; expecting 75 more next year. That is some type of gestation period," she said to Extra TV.
Though the international superstar has achieved unheard of success with her music, motherhood isn't something she's sure is in the stars for her. "Of course I wonder what that would be like but, your destiny is your destiny and I can’t imagine, if by some miracle I got pregnant…at this point in my life, I wonder, could I even manage that?" she told The Sunday Times. "It would be a lie to say there’s not a bit of sadness there, but I don’t get caught up in it."
However, Minogue is open to raising her significant other's children: "There’s a high probability, if/when I meet someone, that they will have children anyway. So I could imagine being a stepmum."
Jen has never hid the fact that she's not willing to fit into society's molds for women. "I don't have this sort of checklist of things that have to be done and if they're not checked then I've failed some part of my feminism or my being a woman or my worth or my value as a woman…Y'know, I've birthed a lot of things. I feel like I've mothered many things. And I don't think it's fair to put that pressure on people," she told the Today Show in 2014.
"I want to have kids when there's nothing else I want more," the comedian stated in 2010. She's never been married, but shares her life with partner Michael Sheen, and so far doesn't seem to have any voids to fill.
Country legend Dolly Parton plays so many roles in her life, that mother doesn't need to be one of them. In 2014, Parton said to People Country: "I grew up in a big old family with eight kids younger than me and several of my brothers and sisters came to live with me early on in my life. I've loved their kids just like they're my grandkids, and now I've got great-grand-kids! They call me 'Aunt Granny.' Now I'm 'GeeGee,' which is great-granny. I often think, it just wasn't meant for me to have kids so everybody's kids can be mine."
Diaz is one of the most vocal celebs on this topic, never feeling guilty about her decision not to have kids. Diaz discussed the topic in her 2014 cover story for Esquire. "It's so much more work to have children. To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for—I didn't take that on. That did make things easier for me. A baby—that's all day, every day for 18 years. Not having a baby might really make things easier, but that doesn't make it an easy decision." She added, "I like protecting people, but I was never drawn to being a mother. I have it much easier than any of them. That's just what it is. Doesn't mean life isn't sometimes hard. I'm just what I am. I work on what I am. Right now, I think, things are good for me. I've done a lot. And I don't care anymore."
For the 76-year-old actor, having children just wasn't a feasible option, so he decided against it. Walken started acting as a young child on television and theater productions, and he believes that his career was only able to flourish because he focused his time and money on acting. "I'm sure many of the kids I knew as a child would have continued in showbusiness, but they had kids of their own, had to do something dependable," Walken told The Guardian in 2013. "I didn't, so I could get by even in periods of unemployment."
Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally
Though they considered the idea of becoming parents at some point, a kid just wasn't in the cards for this funny couple, and they're not mad about it. "I never had a burning desire to have children," clarified Mullally in an interview with GQ. But then I met Nick, and I thought This is the only person I’d do this with. So we tried, but I was a little long in the tooth for that sort of thing. But we didn’t turn it into a soap opera. We tried for about a year or so, and it didn’t happen, and took that to mean it wasn’t meant to be." Their mutual decision to not continuing to try may have been the key to keeping them together—the duo has been married for 16 years.
An actress and activist, Judd is passionate about improving the quality of life for marginalized groups, especially disadvantaged children. Knowing that there are kids in need, Judd has never been particularly interested in having her own, and she discussed this unique perspective in her 2011 memoir All That Is Bitter and Sweet. "I figured it was selfish for us to pour our resources into making our 'own' babies when those very resources and energy could not only help children already here, but through advocacy and service transform the world into a place where no child ever needs to be born into poverty and abuse again. My belief has not changed. It is a big part of who I am."
The GLOW actress doesn't want to have kids because she knows how much goes into raising them. "It's great because I don't worry about when I should get pregnant—between seasons, while we're shooting the show [GLOW]—I don't think about it every day," she said in an interview with The Times of London. "It would be nice, but I think of all the things that would be so stressful. I think about how much we're involved in our cats' lives. Oh my God, if it was a child!"
While many women really want to have children of their own, fur babies are good enough for comedienne Garofolo and her partner. "As much as I enjoy other people's children, my dogs have always been for me and my boyfriend our babies. I mean, we're those types of people that people probably loathe if they overheard us the way we are with our dogs," she joked with Middle Mojo. "But we both are very certain that not having married when we were younger and having children when we were younger was the right thing to do."
The Oscar winner revealed to E! that while she had been obsessed with the idea of motherhood as a child, those desires had slowly faded over time. "When I was 21 or 22 I was like, 'I can't wait to be a mother. Now I'm like...[shocked face]. They are actually getting less and less as I get older, which is starting to worry me. I don't think that's how it's supposed to work!"
Dita von Teese
Despite loving children, the burlesque star knows that she has worth outside of being a mother and is happy all the same. She kept it real in an interview with The Independent back in 2007. "I was married to someone who was not cut-out to be a father. He could hardly take care of himself, let alone a child, so I changed my views, adapted accordingly, thought: It's okay not to have children. Now I'm just going to watch how my life unfolds and see what happens. I'm not going to be less of a person if I don't have children. It will work out the way it is supposed to."
The journalist and former Real Housewife of New York star has a very fulfilling life, but there are times where she wonders whether she made the right choice not becoming a mother. "I knew that [late husband Anthony Radziwill] couldn't have kids, and that wasn't in any way a deal-breaker for me. I just wasn't that girl who dreamed about getting married and having children. Those weren't the priorities for me," she said to The Daily Mail in 2013. "Now, looking back, I think it would have been nice to have a child. But I'm not going to sit around and mope about it."
Jay and Mavis Leno
When Jay Leno met his wife Mavis in the 1970s, she was a hardcore feminist with zero interest in having children, and she had the 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners to thank for that. "I would see a young woman who was very attractive, and a thousand times
smarter, and she’s living in this little tenement hovel with her
husband, Ralph, and then this Ed Norton, who has an even hotter wife," she explained to The Washington Post in 2014. "It’s
perfectly obvious the women are the ones trapped. I remember telling my mother when I was 7 or 8 that I was never going to
get married or have children. To me, this is the way
women get caught."
She obviously changed her mind about marriage—she and Leno have been married since 1980—but the couple remains happily in love without having children.
After struggling with infertility, Tyler and her then-husband Jeff Tietjens decided to stop trying to have children and focus on other aspects of their lives. The actress and television host opened up about her choice in a 2014 appearance on Huff Post Live. "I wanted families [and] couples to know that it was a valid choice not to get on this crazy merry-go-round of IVF and tens and tens of thousands of dollars,” said Tyler. "I wanted people to feel—men and women—it's okay to say, ‘I love my marriage, I love my life, I choose not to have children.'"
The 67-year-old told Cinema.com that her decision not to have children was due in part to an anxiety about having to part with them when she went off to work. "There have been times when I wanted children and other times I've been grateful not to have them. I am a mess if I have to say goodbye to my dog for longer than five days. I don't know how I would deal with kissing my children as I left for work. I know there are women who are able to do that. I don't know if I could."
Paulson told The Sunday Times Style that she's put motherhood on ice until she's 100 percent sure and ready. "I love kids, but I’m very impulsive, and I was afraid that I would have children and then regret it." Her current solution? Freezing her eggs.
For the singer-songwriter, having kids isn't an option because she's still trying to evolve as a person. "I have a thing about, like, wanting to learn about parenting myself. I don't want to have kids, but I tend to buy a lot of books about parenting," Apple said in a 2012 NPR interview. "So I think that if there's something like, I have a problem with a work ethic, say, and maybe if I read a book about the new way to teach your kid about how to form a good work ethic, maybe I can do that to myself and maybe it'll work, you know?"
Tracee Ellis Ross
Although she plays a mother of 5 on ABC's Black-ish, in real life, Ellis Ross doesn't necessarily want to subscribe to those traditional ideals—unless it feels right for her. "I’m constantly asking myself questions, reminding myself, Are you making that decision for you or someone else?" she pondered the choice while talking to The Times in 2018. "The husband and the babies are the expectation of what's supposed to happen at a certain point, and people fall back on, 'Well, that’s the point of the human species, procreation.' And I’m, like, 'I think there are a lot of babies, isn't that part of what’s going wrong, there’s too many?' Some people could be working on the world being a better place, or just being happy."
In 2011, self-proclaimed lifelong bachelor George Clooney said he wouldn't pass on his silver fox genes: "I've always known fatherhood wasn't for me. Raising kids is a huge commitment and has to be your top priority. For me, that priority is my work. That's why I'll never get married again."
Despite his reservations, the actor did in fact get married again and even became a father; in 2014, he tied the knot with international law and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, and the couple welcomed their twins Alexander and Ella in 2017.
Eva Mendes never wanted to be a mother because it just didn't fit her life. "I don't wanna have kids," she said in the past. "I love the little suckers; they're so cute but I love sleep so much and I worry about everything."
However, like George Clooney, everything changed when Mendes met her soulmate. The Hitch actress credits her partner Ryan Gosling for her sudden desire for children. "Ryan Gosling happened," she explained to Women's Health. “I mean, falling in love with him. Then it made sense for me to have…not kids, but his kids. It was very specific to him.” The couple have two daughters, Esmeralda and Amada.
Mara is a freelance writer and editor specializing in culture, politics, wellness, and the intersection between them, whose print and digital work has appeared in Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Airbnb Mag, Prevention, and more. She’s a Fordham University graduate who also has a degree in Italian Studies, so naturally she’s always daydreaming about focaccia.
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