The real reason Oprah doesn’t have any kids

Just like anyone else, Oprah Winfrey has the right to do (or not do) what she wants with her own life. Still, that hasn’t stopped people from wondering why she doesn’t have kids. According to People, Oprah and fiance Stedman Graham have been together since 1986In 2019, Oprah told People they contemplated having kidsbut it wasn’t one of her dreams. In 2013, she told The Hollywood Reporter, “Gayle [King] was the kind of kid who, in seventh grade Home Ec class, was writing down her name and the names of her children. While she was having those kind of daydreams, I was having daydreams about how I could be Martin Luther King.” 

Oprah theorized, “If I had kids, my kids would hate me.” She even mused, “They would have ended up on the equivalent of the Oprah show talking about me.” She told People that hosting her show showed her “the depth of responsibility and sacrifice that is actually required to be a mother.” She explained that a lot of the guests were “messed up because they had mothers and fathers who were not aware of how serious that job is.”

She proclaimed, “I don’t have the ability to compartmentalize the way I see other women do. It is why, throughout my years, I have had the highest regard for women who choose to be at home [with] their kids, because I don’t know how you do that all day long. Nobody gives women the credit they deserve.”

Oprah considers the girls at her school to be her kids

In October 2019, Oprah Winfrey told People, “I have not had one regret about [not having children]. I also believe that part of the reason why I don’t have regrets is because I got to fulfill it in the way that was best for me: the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.” She explained, “Those girls fill that maternal fold that I perhaps would have had. In fact, they overfill — I’m overflowed with maternal.”

In an interview with Good Housekeeping UK in 2017, Oprah revealed, “I have 172 girls, and 20 are in college in the United States and use my home as their home base.” She added, “It is more rewarding than I would ever have imagined. I was doing this to help them, but it has brought a light to my life that I can’t explain.”

She explained, “Love knows no boundaries. It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10, or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works.” Even before Oprah established the school in 2007, she thought to herself, “I knew I was not going to be a person that ever regretted not having [children], because I feel like I am a mother to the world’s children.”

Oprah gave birth to a child when she was 14

In a 2016 sit down with Australia’s Now to Love, Oprah Winfrey opened up about giving birth to a son when she was 14. “I was raped at nine years old by a cousin, then again by another family member, and another family member,” Oprah revealed during an Australian tour in 2015 (via

Initially, she didn’t even realize she was pregnant. “I was getting bigger every month and I realized, something is happening to me,” she told Now to Love. “I asked some girls at school. I literally had to look up ‘how long is a pregnancy?’ Okay, nine months, and then I guess I have to kill myself.” Young Oprah went into premature labor and her son died shortly after he was born. She recalled that, at the time, it “never even occurred to [her] to name him.”

Decades later, she eventually gave the boy a name, telling the crowd at her Australian tour stop, “So I have named him, I had a little boy named Canaan.” She chose “Canaan” because it means “new land, new life.” 

While Oprah seemingly became more comfortable talking about the birth and death of the baby, she wasn’t the one who initially shared the news with the world. Oprah’s half-sister sold the story to the National Enquirer in 1990 for $19,000. During her interview with Now to Love, she admitted that she was so nervous knowing that the story was going to drop that she spent the whole night before throwing up in the bathroom.

Oprah had a difficult relationship with her mom

In that Now to Love interview, Oprah opened up about her tough childhood. Her mother, Vernita, “had no facility to raise a child.” As a result, Oprah lived with her grandma Hattie Mae Lee. When her grandma’s life was coming to a close, Oprah was sent to live with her mom. She shared, “So at six, I am introduced to this woman who I’m told is my mother.” They had a very unconventional relationship, with Oprah admitting, “for years, I was asking the question … what is a mother? What are you supposed to feel about your mother?” 

Growing up, she thought to herself, “I am alone. I must take care of myself.” Then, things got even more complicated once Oprah became a household name. She explained, “When I became wealthy, everyone’s like, ‘You’ve got to take care of your mother!’ My own mother is like, ‘You’ve got to take care of me!’ And I’m like, ‘But what are you supposed to feel for your mother?’ I still didn’t know.” Ultimately, she concluded,  “Even though there are times when I think [she] could have done better, I know [she] did the best [she] knew how to do.”

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Oprah not having children, it’s understandable why some people might be curious about why she’s made that decision. That being said, she has channeled everything she’s been through into giving back to many people, including children, many of whom she considers to be her own.

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