Is parenthood a lifestyle choice?

baby-bingo.jpgGiven that Boing Boing readership almost certainly indexes higher for people without children, I thought I'd bring up a movement that doesn't get a lot of press: the child-free movement. We live in a world where pro-reproductive ideology is so pervasive that you'd think that having children is an inevitability, even a duty. Exhortations to have kids are the cornerstones of many religions. It's even been suggested sometimes that those who do not have children are "selfish," where those who do have children are serving the greater good, like firefighters. Yet if, say, a gay couple tries to adopt an unwanted child, some of the same people who talk about the importance of children and parenting change their tune on the whole "selfish" thing.

While there are certainly plenty of unplanned pregnancies, it could be argued that this is a result of a lifestyle choice as well: the decision to have consensual procreative sex (for the sake of simplicity, let's leave nonconsensual sex off the table for this argument). Most pregnancies are planned in the sense that people want kids, then create the conditions for reproduction to occur. Either that, or they know that sex carries a risk of pregnancy and engage in sex anyway. After the jump, I pose a few questions that might elicit lively and interesting replies from fellow Boingers. I also have a few links to childfree sites for those interested in learning more.

(Image: Baby Bingo coaster from The Child Free Life)

1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

4. Who (if anyone) is being "selfish" regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

Some thought-provoking stuff:

Childfree and Loving It!

No Kidding!

To breed or not to breed

Childfree USENET FAQ (includes snappy retorts)

Childfree Lingo (many lulz to be had)


  1. I don’t buy into ‘most pregnancies are planned in the sense that people want kids, then create the conditions for reproduction to occur”. It seems to me that you are being way too forgiving here – most people do not have sex with the intention of getting pregnant, rather they have sex and don’t mind if a pregnancy results or more likely accept it and don’t terminate. The bulk of the evidence I can find anywhere says that the overwhelming majority of pregnancies are unplanned and at best ‘happy accidents’

    …which to me says a lot about breeders

  2. I was agnostic, and very open to the idea of ‘owning’ my life, if not even inclined in that direction. I had a daughter (now 5) and I can easily say that she has given me something to be delighted about for 5*365 days in a row, which I doubt would have been the case otherwise. Having a kid totally changes your world, and changing worlds can be a good thing — of course, I’m now biochemically obliged to feel this way.

    1. So, the only way to find solace and reason in life is to procreate? Sure, having a child gives an individual a shred of meaning in existence but surely there must be other avenues we fail to explore before taking the plunge into parenthood.

  3. I am child-free and totally happy about it. I am actively disinterested in children (not passively, I actually move away from them). But it’s never been about a selfish/not selfish dialog in my head, it’s the feeling of dread, terror and doom I’ve always experienced at the thought of becoming a parent. And for a while, like you mentioned, I felt like it was my duty, I’d have to do it some day… until finally I just told myself, Hey, self, you don’t have to do it just because society says so. It’s not like many of my friends have kids, and my parents have never pressured me. So the important people don’t care, and I don’t care about the non-important people. So, barring an accident, I vow to remain CF. And as for “where will you go at Christmas?”, well, I’ll have all the money I didn’t use putting two kids through college, I’ll spend Christmas wherever I damn well want to.

    1. No, kdub, no one wants you to be a parent, especially consider your revulsion. You’d make an awful parent. If the world needs anything, it’s not less kids: it’s less BAD PARENTS, who can’t help but cultivate BAD ADULTS.

      “Given that Boing Boing readership almost certainly indexes higher for people without children”

      er… based on what? Your preconceptions of what parents are like? What they read and think?

      If you aren’t basing your opinion on actual data, I have no choice but to be apalled. (and completely apologetic if you are basing your statement on actual data.)

  4. Given that Boing Boing readership almost certainly indexes higher for people without children,

    I’m not sure this assumption is verifiable, and if it is I’m still not sure it relevant.

    Fortunately, it’s just a clumsy lede to an otherwise interesting piece.

    1. I’m not sure this assumption is verifiable, and if it is I’m still not sure it relevant.

      We have a lot of commenters with children, but we definitely have a lot of child haters as well. Or at least commenters who don’t understand why three year-olds refuse to take complete personal responsibility for their lives and enjoy the benefits of the invisible hand of the market.

    1. Living is a selfish lifestyle choice.

      I’m serious. Every single thing you use is a thing that can’t be used by someone or something else. Please use your things wisely.

  5. I have no idea why someone would not want to have a child.

    I’m sure plenty of readers have no idea why I wanted to have a child.

    So, I’m not sure- why is this a useful conversation? Unless someone from one side is interested in imposing their view on the other, which would be bad.

    As for your questions, only #3 invoked any sort of response from me. Humans > animals in my world. #2 makes me think of how I (public school parent) mooch off private school parents who still pay taxes. Why set the question up as parents vs. childless?

    1. Oh, for crying out loud, use your imagination.

      Why is any conversation about X vs. Y useful? To help foster greater understanding “across the divide,” to break down stereotypes, etc…

      Why would someone not want to have a child? In my case, physically bearing a child will be medically risky, moreso than for most women, and my doctor recommended against my attempting to become pregnant. Some people with emotional disorders may not feel they can handle the pressure that comes with raising children in addition to coping with their own needs (several of my friends are in this category) and some people just flat don’t like kids. I’m personally happy to babysit and enjoy the company of children in that way.

      2) Personally, in my childless state, I don’t mind footing the bill for other people’s children to go to school, because those children will probably be footing the bill for my social security benefits.

      3) The solution to both is similar: go pick up the child/let the dog out, feed the child/dog and either say a tearful goodbye to the pup or put the kid in the car and haul it back up to the office with you. It’s what my coworkers do.

      4) Neither is selfish, because everyone has different emotional capabilities and needs. Imposing your will on someone else is the selfish bit, here.

      1. Don’t forget those of us who can’t afford having children, or feel they can’t provide the stable home environment. Technically, they may *want* children, but they choose not to have them.

        There are many out there who weigh their desires against their abilities. I find myself wishing that more of this kind of people were parents, because thoughtfulness is such an important component of rearing a child.

        Of course, there are many amazing and wonderful parents out there. I only remain so sensitive to bad parents because no matter how many good parents are out there, the fact is that a human life is at consideration.

        1. I’m in the same boat (can’t afford to adopt). Thanks for adding it to the list of perfectly valid reasons!

    2. I’d have an idea of why you wanted children if you said some words that indicated some kind of reasoning like that.

      There are lots of reasons to want or not want children.

      Among just feeling like I have a different purpose for my life, I also don’t think I’d be a good mother. My family was severely abusive and I was almost a homicide victim as a young adult. I work to manage my life, do the things I love, and deal with the PTSD etc. There’s only so much you can do though and one has to be realistic about oneself.

      It wouldn’t be fair of me at all to bring another person into a situation where their mother might not be able to provide a good stable environment because of her own problems.

      Now for people who think that’s selfish, well, I think you have no empathy then.

      Selfish really depends on what’s more self-centered.

      The people who have babies to have some one who will always love them aren’t much less selfish than the people do don’t have babies so that they can spend their money on themselves IMO.

      Honestly, most people are pretty selfish anyway.

      1. Blueelm, anything I type into Boing Boing to explain having a child would sound trite, no matter the feeling or good intention that might be behind it. I think technogeek put it better than me in his comment.

        It’s like a white person saying “Oh, I can imagine what it’s like to be black.” No. No, you can’t.

        1. Why would I want to imagine what it’s like to be you anyway? That certainly isn’t a requirement I don’t think to having some understanding. It’s that empathy thing. I can’t know but I can empathize a little bit because I’m not a sociopath, luckily. I doubt your reasons would sound trite anyway, but whatever.

          At least you have reasons.

          Well, peace.

    3. I suspect crankypage is correct, and that this winds up boiling down to “de gustibus non disputandum est.” People have preferences in how they run their life. Now that kids are more reliably avoidable, those who would prefer not to deal with ’em have simply become visible.

      I happen to like my genes, but I don’t feel a compulsion to pass them along; they’ve got some problems too and are definitely a mixed bag. Nor do I feel a need to continue the family for tradition’s sake. I’m not _opposed_ to children if I’d been in the right kind of relationship with someone who really wanted them, but I’m thoroughly uninterested until they become old enough to hold a real conversation with — which is about 9 for the precocious ones. Below that, they’re house apes at best, and as far as I’m concerned don’t even make good pets.

      I have great respect for someone who is willing and able to invest the effort and money and patience to properly raise young humans. Good parents, like good teachers, are to be celebrated. (Unfortunately bad ones can’t be fired; parents have a remarkably strong union.) But I’m perfectly content to let them do so.

    4. @crankypage

      “So, I’m not sure- why is this a useful conversation?”

      I think you pretty much summed up the rest of the comments, right there.

    5. The topic is interesting to me as a person without a child, as I have the option of choice at this point. It’s probably less interesting to those with children already since the decision has been made and there isn’t much in the way of recourse.

  6. I opted to be child free. I was very interested in my career and my relationship. After 10 years of child-free marriage, we had a surprise pregnancy. I spent the entire 9 months certain I could not love a baby as much as I adored my dogs, and fearing that I would resent the child for having imprisoned me in reluctant motherhood.

    Now having had a son the last 2 years, I am better able to see both sides of this argument. I totally get why people elect not to have kids, and I have felt the frustration of pressures to have them. However, now I can see why misguided people cajoled us for so long to have them. Truly, and surprisingly, I have never been happier. My son opened a whole new world to me that I would have never known about without him. My second pregnancy was planned. She will have her big brother to thank for her existence.

    If you don’t want children, by all means, please forbear. I am certain not everyone would have the same experience as I. Though I do find it peculiar why it is necessary to have a non-reproductive movement, and I keenly resent condescending stereotypes about families who have elected to have families.

    1. Though I do find it peculiar why it is necessary to have a non-reproductive movement, and I keenly resent condescending stereotypes about families who have elected to have families.

      I keenly resent condescending stereotypes that not having children means that my family isn’t a real family.

    2. That is one of the finest comments I have ever read in an online forum and hits the nail on the head for this article. There is no need for either side to look down on or cast resentment at the other.

  7. Demonstrating, as has been suggested in any number of works of science fiction, that intelligence is not necessarily a survival trait. Have you evolved to the point where your intelligence tells you that reproduction is not a “good” choice? Thus ends your particular genome.

    Is this also part of the “death is optional” mindset often attributed to America in particular or western culture in general?

  8. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    I dunno. Mine were. (I am married and have two sons.) Twice we decided to have kids, and did so.

    Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)?

    Probably, but in modern society we’re all kinda footing the bill for each other anyway. Isn’t that (partly) what the recent health-care extravaganza was all about? Anyway, I read something recently that suggested that in the last few decades, the cost-and-burden on parents of raising kids has increased substantially.

    If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    Maybe a little. Nothing bad will happen to the dog if it’s not let out (just to the carpets), but the daycares get really shirty if they’re stuck with kids at the end of the day, and it inconveniences your wallet, the daycare workers, maybe someone on your alternate-contacts list, and for all I know the cops if it goes on long enough. But absolutely, people should be able to go let their dogs out.

    Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    Everybody, probably. But that’s okay.

    There isn’t such a dire shortage of people in the world that we need more kids raised by people who don’t want kids. Actually, that’s probably the last thing we need. I don’t regret having kids myself; I love my sons, I do the best I can for them every day, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out… but it’s hard work, and often unpleasant, and you never know how you’re doing. I don’t have a problem with anyone who doesn’t want to sign up for that.

  9. At the moment having children would mean giving up on what I wanted to do with my life which would be a huge disappointment not only to me but to my parents who might have done better things with their lives if it weren’t for me.

    So I’ll try to accomplish my goals, and being a mother just happens not to be one of them. If that changes, fine, but until it does I’m not having any babies. And if it’s too late, there’s adoption, and if i can’t adopt I can always volunteer at a childrens aids center or something.

    Can you tell I’ve had this argument before? :P

  10. I’ve always thought that people find me a little strange because I have no interest in babies. I actively turn down offers to hold babies, and looking at a baby doesn’t elicit any kind of emotion for me – there is no squealing or cheek pinching. As a 28 y.o. woman with two years left in my studies, issues of procreation will no doubt rear their head over the next 5 years. I don’t know what my answer will be. I would hope that if I ever had a baby all those often-described biological maternal urges would kick in, as I’d be pretty screwed if I felt for my own kids like I feel about other people’s.

  11. Unlike ‘letting the dog out,’ Reproduction is generally agreed to be one of the defining characteristics of life itself.

    Maybe we should make an effort to accommodate it in society.

  12. If I had known what joy children would bring me, I would’ve started at age 25 rather than 35, and had 3 or 4 rather than 1.

    I think non-parents do end up help footing the bill but I’m one of those liberals who thinks we all end up footing the bill for someone else, and that’s one of the things that makes us human.

  13. 2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    Rare indeed is the person who benefits directly from every service paid for by their tax dollars, but if you had the benefit of a public education when you grew up then you owe the next generation the same courtesy whether you birthed them or not.

    1. I agree with this comment 100% We live in a society and we all reap the benefits of having educated fellow citzens and since the marjority of Americans attend public school, there is no reason why you shouldn’t “pay it back” to the next generation. Even if you didn’t go to public skill you benefit from public school education. Can you imagine what this society would be like if only people who could afford a private school education were able to obtain an education? We would have a seriously lower standard of living and that would impact on everyone, not just the uneducated.

      Also, if you don’t want kids, don’t have them but if you do that is great but please don’t lord them over the childless. I actually have had people tell me I didn’t understand things, not even related to child rearing, b/c I didn’t have children (yet) and someone else make a blanket statement on a website that people don’t really know what love is unless they have children. Yeah, like their aren’t parents who are horrible unloving people (Stalin, Gengis Khan, Leona Helmsley).

      Finally, it isn’t selfish not to have kids but if you don’t have them it is selfish for you to put the needs of your dog at the same level or above that of someone with kids. I love my cat but I would never think my going home to take care of them comes before a parent caring for their child. Of course you should love and take care of your pets, and though I sometimes feel like my cat is my “baby” it still isn’t the same as having a kid.

  14. I have a kid. I read bOING bOING. Therefore, my kid will be a genius. There is, however, the downside that he’ll be an evil genius.

  15. 1) I would expect and hope so.

    2) Well, broadly speaking, humans are generally productive during the middle parts of their lives, and nonproductive consumers during the beginning and end parts. Those in the middle therefore tend to support those at the ends, either directly or indirectly. (e.g., if you’re a retiree living off a 401k, you’re living off the labor of the productive workers in the businesses you own pieces of.) Inevitably we all end up supporting and being supported by those we aren’t related to. If you have children you draw extra help from the general pool to raise them. If you don’t have children, you are drawing help at end of life without having replaced yourself with more productive citizens. Eh, call it a wash.

    3) From a libertarian perspective definitely not. I don’t really know.

    4) Everyone? But, as far as usefully pointing it out, probably limited to those who have many children, if only from an environmental perspective. And perhaps those who have any children who are particularly incapable of supporting them for one reason or another.

    Incidentally, I’m working on the premise that somebody has to have children. To those that don’t share the axiom that human extinction is to be avoided, I doubt we have enough common ground for any kind of discussion. Of course, I also don’t find the possibility that not enough people will choose to have children at all likely in the foreseeable future.

  16. I’m a new parent (28 months or so into the deal). I think the whole “selfish” issue is just semantics. It’s not selfish to go childless. It perhaps would be if our species was in population decline, because you’d be putting your own priorities over the survival of us all.

    But when people say it’s selfish not to have kids, what they mean is that the lifestyles of childless adults are self-centered, or at least appear to be from the perspective of parents. I think this is because it’s hard for a parent (for me at least) to imagine a childless person being devoted and interested in someone else’s being and welfare as deeply as I am to my kid. It also looks “selfish” from the outside because non-parents are able to treat themselves to more–even non-monetary things like sleeping ’til noon–appear selfish to us breeders. And lastly, I think there’s a bit of self-selection at work here. Some people who choose not to become parents do so precisely because they don’t feel cut out for it–are too into their art, their work, or whatever–all pursuits that lead back to the self.

  17. I’m a parent and I respect those who choose to not reproduce. BUT (everyone has a big but):

    The anger, hatred and derision from the more militant “child-free” is pugnacious, filthy and disgusting. There are those within this “movement” who actively spew their disgust of parents and children and equate us with microorganisms. These are the LAST people I would want representing me, if I were one of the many decent child-free people.

    If you have self-selected to remove yourself from the gene pool, you have nothing to crow about. I accept that your genes will not be part of the future of humanity – that’s your choice. Don’t try to rub it in my face as some sort of superior moral/aesthetic/ecological imperative.

    1. “Anonymous” wisely says:
      The anger, hatred and derision from the more militant “child-free” is pugnacious, filthy and disgusting. There are those within this “movement” who actively spew their disgust of parents and children and equate us with microorganisms. These are the LAST people I would want representing me, if I were one of the many decent child-free people.

      Blooming Psycho replies:
      I agree with you. It’s fine for people to decide not to have children–in this overpopulated world, maybe it’s even good. But to be hateful towards those who choose to have children is tremendously misguided. Hate is nearly always a misguided and overblown response.

    2. I agree. My wife and I are “childfree” ourselves, and naturally would like to seek other couples who share the same view. However we have found people who are bitter, negative and antagonistic about the whole thing and are VERY unappealing to be around. We don’t have kids, plain and simple, but don’t feel the need to lash out about people who do all the time.

  18. On a global scale, parents are generally selfish. It is an undeniable fact that the earth is overpopulated by at least a factor of five. The sooner people lose their unreasonable sentimentality about babies, the better off we’ll be.

    1. It is an undeniable fact that the earth is overpopulated by at least a factor of five.

      The quickest way to shut down meaningful debate is to declare your position “undeniable.”

      Where did you get that “factor of five” figure from anyway? Is it adjusted for any particular lifestyle (ie hunter-gatherer society vs. sustainable agriculture society)?

    2. Actually not. If we all lived in an urban conurbation the density of say Bangladesh and were vegetarian, we and the earth would be just fine. However we are selfishly choosing not to.

  19. #3. We had an NIE Coordinator who adopted a boy child. She was never around to do her job. When asked where she was, the administrative assistant would answer, “She’s a single mother.” So bloody what?! Every single mother out there who gets to work on time should take exception to this answer. My own supervisor was once one herself and never used it as an excuse not to work. We are being paid for our time and talent, not our parental status. Do the job or we will find someone who can.

  20. Q: If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    A: Yes. One is a dog. One is a child. If the difference is a confusing one to you, be thankful it wasn’t to your parent.

  21. I am sorry, but there is a lot that is just wrong here. Do non-parents foot the bill for parents. WTF??? What the hell did those non-parents do when they were kids? Who took care of the bill for them? I don’t mind the idea of not having children, but there are a few things here which seem shallow and misguided. Should I compare my child to a dog? When you were a child, should your parent not work late to pick you up from daycare, or should the dog owner be allowed to let their dog out instead? Which is better for the child? With children, we are actually talking about people. I think there is a serious perspective problem here.

  22. Framing school taxes as a parenting issue seems wrong to me: it’s more about “making our community viable and sustainable” rather than “picking up after the breeders,” IMHO. Sure, it’s “parents” that produce future students, but this seems like an odd frame to me: we all have a vested public interest in the education of the young, regardless of who bears or raises them. Would non-parents really save that much by letting public schools go unfunded? It seems rather that the social costs would far outweigh the negligible cash savings.

  23. I would never want to presume about the feelings people have toward having children, which are many and varied. However, I do have respect and appreciation for those who recognize that having children is a heavy responsibility and take reasonable steps to plan their families.

    As opposed to people who use no foresight whatsoever.

  24. I’m (human-)childfree, and strongly dislike being around children (this was true even when I was a child myself). While I can’t sympathize with the appeal that babies or children seem to hold for many, I believe society has a duty to provide for the needs of all of its members, regardless of age, so I certainly don’t object to funding schools, etc.
    I do think regulations need to be put in place, however, that remove discriminatory distinctions between those who choose to parent humans and those who do the same for non-humans. My fur-children are indeed ‘dependents’, have associated expenses and time requirements from me, and are of no less intrinsive value (to God or the Cosmos or me) because of their non-human status.

    1. My fur-children are indeed ‘dependents’, have associated expenses and time requirements from me, and are of no less intrinsive value (to God or the Cosmos or me) because of their non-human status.

      However, they’re much less valuable to society. If everybody stops having pets tomorrow, some people will be sad. If everybody stops having children tomorrow, our economy will soon collapse, and eventually our species will go extinct.

      Thus, there are sound economic and societal reasons to support the making of more humans that don’t apply for pets.

      1. “If everybody stops having pets tomorrow, some people will be sad. If everybody stops having children tomorrow, our economy will soon collapse, and eventually our species will go extinct.”

        I absolutely agree with this comment. Unfortunately, this isn’t what anyone is talking about. This isn’t “who do you save from the burning building the dog or the baby” (the baby), it’s about preferential treatment at work for what amounts to an inconvenience. It is inconvenient to have to make other arrangements to care for your children, and it’s also inconvenient to have to do the same for your pets. Yet parents garner sympathy from other parents and are routinely given the “I gotta kid” excuse.

        The intrinsic value of humans is grater than animals, but we’re talking about what people can get away with at work. Not economic collapse and extinction.

      2. You said it more elegantly and succinctly then I could have.

        Pets are wonderful and, certainly for many people, have meaningful emotional relationships with their owners on the level on any parent/child relationship, however their societal value is not comparable with that of children.

        Dogs/cats will not grow up to be doctors or teachers or congress-people or gas station owners or sanitation workers or sales people or factory workers or any the millions of workers and service providers we depend on in our society. The large scale effects of humans not having pets is far less substantial than the large scale effects of humans not having children.

  25. It’s just a choice, and, like most choices, people too far to either side of the argument are likely so caught up in their own opinions that they fail to see how anybody could view things differently than they do.

    My wife and I have a daughter we love dearly, but we also spent many joyful years together prior to her birth, all the while in agreement that if we had kids, great, and if not, also great. Having or not having kids was never a lynch-pin in our relationship, which I think is why we still manage to get along quite well.

  26. Here are my thoughts on this. I have never read anything about it, this is just how I feel from my own experience, so I could be missing something. I look forward to following the links in this post, maybe I’ll change my mind. But for now here is how I feel.

    A) For many many years, my parents did a LOT of work to bring up my sister and me. I would be selfish to not pay that forward, to just benefit from all this work without doing some myself for someone else to benefit from. Sure, having a child isn’t the only way to help raise/teach/fund the next generation but I can’t think of any other way that is as work-intensive. Bonus points for adopting.

    B) Having a child is probably awesome. I try to preserve some child-like attributes like curiosity, asking why, drawing, etc, but it would be much easier and more fun with an actual child around. Re-discovering the world through someone else’s eyes has to be pretty cool.

    So to answer your questions,

    1) I think so. See “B”.

    2) I would think that raising a child takes so much work, every day for so many years, that those who do not raise children (even if their taxes help fund the schools and whatnot) have a much lower “cost” of living, other things being equal. Parents “foot the bill”, effort-wise, for developing the next generation!

    3) Yes, preventing a child’s suffering is a more urgent need than preventing a pet’s, by some amount (for the same reasons why killing a dog, while terrible, will not get you convicted for murder). A working parent can only offer so much of their time to their employer, and that’s that. If you engage in other activities that you want to get out of work to do, then not doing them causes only you to suffer (and possibly a partner in the activity). But if not getting out of work would cause a child to suffer too, then this is arguably worse. I think. Not 100% sure.

    4) Non-parents. They benefited from parenting, and will benefit from having a younger generation around when they’re old, yet they put less effort into maintaining these things than a parent. I do stand by the “duty” argument, since it does seem to me that not being a parent (or a teacher, or a pro-education philanthropist, or a pediatrician) means you’re not doing your share of society’s generation-raising work.

  27. I’ll answer the one question. At a former job, the married with kids people went home on time or close to it, despite being in higher-level consulting positions. Not even a matter of daycare. “Soccer game. See ya!” “Band practice. See ya!” “Chess club. See ya!” Meanwhile, because they couldn’t get everything done in these tightly structured days, guess who had all the extra work dumped on her? Yes, me, the single loser. The single loser without little tax deductions.

    I have nothing against children, although I think more are being produced than the planet can bear long term. I do resent the culture of marriage/family where it imposes on those of us in the minority, whether we’re child free by choice or simply for lack of opportunity. I pay more proportionally for health insurance, and I don’t have those little tax deductions, either. Society skews toward the tradition, and anyone outside that tradition is viewed askance. And taken advantage of in the workplace.

    1. Well, if everybody else went home on time, why on Earth didn’t you too, instead of whining about the rest. It’s nt like you were paid for more hours than specified in your contract, you know.

      Demanding work > the 40 hours in the contract is NOT REASONABLE.

      If you do it anyway while the rest don’t, it’s basically your own fault. AND you help put pressure on others to work more than they’re paid for. This is bad behaviour. If management need to get more work done they should, frankly, honestly, pay for it.

      1. Because it was not a choice. When you’re in the middle of the hierarchy and cant’ delegate, you have to do what you have to do to keep your job, and that means covering for the people above you, who have those oh-so-critical soccer practices to get to. And in consulting, > 40 hours is the norm. You don’t get paid more. That’s the way it is. The client expects work, often on unreasonable deadlines, and work must be done. Those without children don’t have an excuse and frequently end up with the bulk. The standard answer if we said anything was, “Well, it’s not like you have anything else to do, right?” Right.

        BTW, demanding work > 40 hours is pretty much the standard in the U.S.

        1. Well, stand up for yourself/yourselves. Support the unions. Do NOT let the workplace pressure you into working hours you’re not paid for. If you do this, you’re helping management exploit yourself, and others who also feel they must succumb o the pressure because you do.

          Do not let yourself be trodden on. But I must confess, Iøm not in the US, I’m in Denmark, and here the norm is 37 hours. I must also confess that I’m a single parent, formerly of four children, and have really needed that flexibility. However, I’ve always pulled my weight so I’ve never had people bitch about me.

          Still, DO NO let yourself be pressured into unreasonable working conditions. It’s harmful to yourself, and it’s harmful to your colleagues, or find decent job instead. The management you bow to don’t really care about you anyway, you know. Pressure for unreasonable hours = white colla slavery.

          Me, I’d rather be out of a job.

  28. According to some estimates, the Earth will reach its carrying capacity of 10.5 billion people by 2045. Do any of us really trust our markets/government/economy to discover a way to increase it by the time your newly born child is 35? I don’t.

    I will likely never have children for two reasons. One, extreme cynicism over where things are headed. Is It cruel to bring a child into a world that will likely be filled with extreme strife for most by the end of the century. And two, I don’t think the economy is moving in any sort of way where I’ll be afford to support a child. College tuition has gone up how many times in just the last decade? Multiply that by three considering the stagnant wages of the last thirty years. Yeah, won’t be able to afford that, ever.

  29. Hrm. Our first child is due on Bastille Day, so this post is somewhat timely.

    Here are my responses to each of the questions above, from the perspective of a parent-to-be:

    1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    Speaking for me and my wife, our desire to have children is just that, a desire, but I feel that the problem with western culture these days is that the word ‘desire’ is linked with material gain, and that’s not what I mean. I don’t want kids because they’re a fun accessory and might give me more cash for when I retire (see OctoMom et al, for an example of this taken to an extreme). I want kids because I think that throughout all the stages of their (and our) lives, they contribute in a very positive way to our emotional, social and spiritual well-being. I have a “desire” to have children for the same reasons that I have a “desire” to have good friends, and be close to family.

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    Of course they do. We all pay taxes, and when you start arguing about whether or not it’s fair to pay for things you yourself won’t use, you start to sound a lot like the American Right, when they say how horrible health care reform will be. Before I was married and before we were going to have kids, I was paying NYC taxes – the highest in the country – and was happy to do it, even though I wasn’t directly benefiting from the programs I was helping to fund. Those programs don’t benefit me, but they do make life a little easier for people who are in need, and I’m fine with that.

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    Of course it’s more valid. Animals are not people. Why not rephrase this, along the same lines as your earlier end-of-life care example:

    “If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to go home to take care of their developmentally-challenged sister?”

    The answer to this version of the question is, no, it’s not more valid.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    I don’t think it’s to do with being a parent or not. I think it’s to do with personality, and maturity level. If you’ve got an aunt who tells you, “you’re selfish not to have kids!” You could tell them, “You’re selfish to have 12 kids just because you like to buy baby clothes.”

    1. #25
      The answer to any version of the question is, no, it’s not more valid. People are hired for talents and time, as noted earlier, not to make up for others’ obligations. And just because an employee has other obligations — any other obligation — doesn’t mean that those same people with fewer personal obligations should be required to make up for it. I put up with it then, but I wouldn’t now. I’m not going to work harder so the happy parents can spend their evenings carting their kids around to activities. They can do their share.

      1. “The answer to any version of the question is, no, it’s not more valid. People are hired for talents and time, as noted earlier, not to make up for others’ obligations. And just because an employee has other obligations — any other obligation — doesn’t mean that those same people with fewer personal obligations should be required to make up for it. I put up with it then, but I wouldn’t now. I’m not going to work harder so the happy parents can spend their evenings carting their kids around to activities. They can do their share.”

        Yes, but then there’s the idea that we’re here to help other people. If I’m single with no kids and one of my coworkers asks me to cover for them while they (do something that is obviously necessary for the welfare of someone/something they care about), I’m more than happy to oblige; I’m not going to be an asshole to somebody who needs my help.

        1. Yes, but the point is eventually that co-worker should make it up to you, which may not always happen. Oftentimes, a family person just gets off the hook, with the perception that they’re already having a hard enough time juggling family and work.

          1. In this case, I think I have been blessed with working with people who pull their weight (and more) all the time, and therefore am much more forgiving about it all.

            However, I can understand how infuriating it might be for someone who’s happy to help to find out that the person they’re helping is actually just trying to get to the bar early. In which case, it’s time to talk to the supervisor.

        2. I’m not being a ‘hole for requiring the other person find a way to do their work and their share of the work. You missed the point — in all cases, I worked extra hours so people could be home or at activities in the evening with their self-sufficient, two-parented children. You try working ’til 10 o’clock every night for weeks on end knowing that your co-workers are at home watching TV without a care in the world. And, uh, no, they never make it up to you.

          1. I worked extra hours so people could be home or at activities in the evening with their self-sufficient, two-parented children.< ?i>

            That would be your lifestyle choice. That particular career path is called ‘martyr’.

          2. Weirdly, I’m still at work (although obviously it’s not taking my full attention) and the non-breeders have all left and are probably half drunk by now.

            I just spent ten minutes on the phone talking my daughter through installing firefox on the PC she just built (she’s ten).

            I’d rather be home with my child, but I guess the non-breeders had to let their dogs out. Not entirely kidding. I’ll leave if this boot finishes clean… stupid Dell/Red Hat IPMI conflicts.

            JennieBean42, you said it better than I did!!!

      2. #53
        You state:
        I’m not going to work harder so the happy parents can spend their evenings carting their kids around to activities.

        Though I think your idea that a parenting as an evening of “happy parents…carting kids around to activities” is pretty naive.

        I understand if you don’t want to work late if a parent can’t…so just don’t work late. And if you somehow are arguing that work should always trump the needs of raising a child, be ready to change your tune fast when you see what sort of generation comes from that. And just in time for you to be elderly and need of care too…whoops! Sorry! I got work to do.

  30. I utterly loathe the child-free people. Loathe. First, the identification. “Oh, I’m child-free.” Then the sanctimonious attitude. Then the child-hating mouth-breathers. Then the people seeking validation because they can’t stand up to social influences without a dozen people cheering them on.

    If you don’t want children, don’t have children. I certainly am not planning on having any. If you want to advocate that people, in general, should reduce the number of children they have, you’re probably right and should do so.

    Most of my close friends are without children and without the intention of having them, for various reasons. None of them identify as “child-free”. The only people I’ve met that identify as child-free are just downright annoying.

  31. I’m a new parent (28 months or so into the deal). I think the whole “selfish” issue is just semantics. It’s not selfish to go childless. It perhaps would be if our species was in population decline, because you’d be putting your own priorities over the survival of us all.

    But when people say it’s selfish not to have kids, what they mean is that the lifestyles of childless adults are self-centered, or at least appear to be from the perspective of parents. I think this is because it’s hard for a parent (for me at least) to imagine a childless person being devoted and interested in someone else’s being and welfare as deeply as I am to my kid. It also looks “selfish” from the outside because non-parents are able to treat themselves to more–even non-monetary things like sleeping ’til noon–appear selfish to us breeders. And lastly, I think there’s a bit of self-selection at work here. Some people who choose not to become parents do so precisely because they don’t feel cut out for it–are too into their art, their work, or whatever–all pursuits that lead back to the self.

  32. What’s with the term breeder? Is that some kind of pejorative gays use for people who decide have a family? It’s really fucking insulting.

    1. Yeah, it is a pejorative term, and I had it flung at me in the gay neighborhood of Dallas by a waitress who failed to realize that not all short-haired women are lesbians. Her manager got a quick lesson in what clients will and will not tolerate from waitpersons, and the waitress quickly learned that some customers know the restaurant owners, even if they don’t flaunt it to get discounts…

      1. Architexas… If I’m following you posts here we are similarly aged in the same city.


        Carry on!

    2. doesn’t have to be a gay person using it, but it is generally a slur/reference on people who have kids.

      I like it, similar to refering to people as monkeys – cuts to the point.

  33. I think this is a rather intriguing conversation just because I’ve never heard it before. The few girls I’ve tried to date who DON’T want kids have each told me that they feel as though they are the only ones around. As a guy who isn’t excited about being a father, I am always reluctant to share that with others for fear of being labeled with some sort of stereotype.

    I don’t mind in the slightest paying taxes for schools that other people’s kids will attend. As a society we are all affected by certain things, such as literacy level and cultural attitudes. Though I’d have a problem with living in a place where they taught “Intelligent Design,” but that’s an altogether different topic…

    1. “I think this is a rather intriguing conversation just because I’ve never heard it before.”

      I know I’m being dry, but try harder :P

  34. Other people having children has an unwarranted negative impact on my life and by this metric is an an evil act even if you could successfully argue the impact is trivial.

    At the very least, if you get to have kids without any thought to my happiness and well-being I should get some reciprocity, so I suggest that non-breeders no longer be subject to noise ordinances or societal norms regarding body functions. I deal with your kid’s noise and stink so you deal with mine.

    1. In response to: “Other people having children has an unwarranted negative impact on my life and by this metric is an an evil act even if you could successfully argue the impact is trivial.”

      Your opinion seems inconsistent with the fact that you exist in the first place. Other people having children (your parents, your grandparents, your great-grandparents, etc.) is the only reason you have a life at all.

      1. I don’t think you understand what ‘inconsistent’ means.

        That I exist has no bearing on whether or not reproduction is an evil act per the metric I gave. What would be inconsistent is if I claimed that somehow my creation was not evil. I did not claim this and I gladly admit that my creation, like all others, was an evil act by the metric provided. Judging procreation as evil is simply descriptive / categorizing and that one exists as a result of the act is irrelevant to what sort of act it might be viewed as in a given moral framework.

  35. I have no problem with some of my money going to benefit other people’s kids. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? I mean even if you have kids you pay for other kids too.

    I’m just glad for productive, well-informed parents. The most disgusting thing is to see two people have a baby to save a doomed love relationship, cry over not getting the sex of baby they wanted, bring multiple lovers into their angry battles, and then sue the crap out of each other for the duration of the childs life.


    Yeah, a lot of my straight friends are having kids these days. The above scenario included.

  36. 1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?
    1A. Sure. The desire for sexual intercourse.

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?
    2A. Of course non-parents end up footing part of the bill for children that aren’t theirs. I’m a non-parent but I realize that children are too important to leave the responsibility for them solely to parents.

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?
    3A. Yes. The first time.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?
    4A. Me. It was very cold the other day, so I didn’t leave the house all day long. In fact, I didn’t even change out of my pajamas. My wife and I watched episodes of Dr. Who and went to bed early. We might have missed that if there were kids, so we won’t be having any.

  37. 1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    U.S. 2001 unintended pregnancy rate: 49% [source]

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)?

    Yes. But I’m OK with that, because I live in a society, and that means that some pay more, some pay less, to maintain that society. That’s life.

    2a. Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    Yes. They pay for food, shelter, clothes, education, etc for their children. Non-parents, of course, do not (at least, not fully and not directly).

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    Yes. Children in a society are valued more highly than dogs, movie night, or whatever. Again, this is one of the costs of living in a society.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    Neither, except for the parent who brings their screaming infant into a restaurant! ;)

  38. @tgfrushour: Honestly, I’m not as interested in someone else’s being and welfare as deeploy as you are for your children. But even if I had children, I wouldn’t be terribly interested in their welfare. I’d suffer through the pre-mobile, poop-factory phase, then I’d start finding useful work around the house for them to do.

    Children are generally as useless as cats, but not half so cute.

    //I wish I could find useful work for my cats.

    1. Children are generally as useless as cats, but not half so cute.

      Good luck getting your cats to feed you and change your diapers in that old folks home some day.

      1. “Good luck getting your cats to feed you and change your diapers in that old folks home some day.”

        How do you guarantee your children will still care for you in your old age? That you won’t have a falling-out, or become estranged, or that they won’t die of some horrible disease or accident? I’d like to know your secret.

        It’s a sad fact, but many old folks don’t receive these privileges from their children either. I’m guessing the majority of people in homes have their bills *paid* by their children, but many are never visited.

        And that said, I think we as a whole wish we had a better system in place. I don’t think people should ever have children in fear of a distant future.

        I’d also like to say that characterizing your children as a form of glorified Social Security is a very bad idea. Naturally I support the idea of taking care of your parents, but I should think that ought to be out of a loving sense of duty.

        1. Allow me to clarify: I didn’t mean that all people should have children themselves so that they have someone to look after them. I’m saying that everyone who lives to retirement age will count on SOMEBODY’s children to look after them, which is one reason that children are more inherently useful than cats.

          1. Saying that children are necessary in order to staff nursing homes/save the economy/preserve humanity is as disingenuous as saying sodium intake isn’t an issue because sodium is needed for life. Yes — if *nobody* had any kids, or typical diets had *no* sodium, this would be bad. But this nowhere close to being true in either case.

          2. Saying that children are necessary in order to staff nursing homes/save the economy/preserve humanity is as disingenuous as saying sodium intake isn’t an issue because sodium is needed for life.

            Children ARE necessary for all those things so it’s not a disingenuous statement at all. I never claimed that everyone should have children, but rather that the earlier comment about children being “as useless as cats” was demonstrably absurd.

          3. It’s disingenuous as an argument that each person needs to have kids, sure. On the other hand, it shows “having kids is selfish because the world has too many people” for the nonsense it is.

            Where I live, the population average is becoming older, and yet it doesn’t look like the aging xenophobes are becoming more welcoming of immigrants as a result. So while I’m probably not going to have children, it would hardly be neither accurate nor polite to call them societal problems if I did.

      2. I can’t think of a more selfish reason to have children, not to mention not all parents are so lucky to have such loving children. No one knows how the long term relationship between parent and child will evolve. Also, babies become children, teens, and finally, adults. Some of them are horrible people and hardly a gift to the rest of the world.

  39. We don’t have kids. At first it was a choice, then it wasn’t. I do think having children is selfish. The human race is not in danger of dying off due to lack of people, but due to the overabundance of people. When we thought about having a kid it was selfish, but really the old song is correct “the stupid people are breeding”, more accurately out breeding.

    Having said that, I have never voted against raising taxes for schools. Stupid people are of no use to me. Having smart, or at least educated, next generation is important. Having said that, every time one of my co-workers “has to go home to take care of the kid” and leaves me to work/clean up, it pisses me off.

    (and yes, my wife was once called selfish by a stranger when she said we didn’t have children, didn’t ask if we had been trying for 3 years, thanks for asking, f#cker)

  40. The number of “child-free” people I’ve come across that are actually “child/breeder-haters” is alarming, and I don’t get it. You don’t like kids, that’s great, you really don’t like kids, ok, but hate them? You do realize that these are the people that are going to be in charge when you are old and infirm right?

  41. Also: I must be completely honest and say that there is a slight bit of selfishness in my desire to have kids: I hope that, one day, one of my kids will grow up to invent one of the following:

    Net-energy Fusion (unless I get there first!)
    A Flying Car

  42. 1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    Of course — whether that desire is based strictly in evolutionary urges, or comes from a higher level (such as a history of working with kids and wanting your own, for example), I’d say it’s true either way.

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    Absolutely — in the same way that anti-war activists foot the bill for war, non-drivers foot the bill for roads, non-sportsfans foot the bill for stadiums — thanks to the “fairness” of democracy, we all end up paying for other people’s desires at the point of a (government) gun through taxes.

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    That depends on your answer to the following: what has more worth, a child or a dog? No matter how deeply vegan/environmentalist/PETA/etc type of person you are, anthropocentrism is alive and well — and frankly is a necessary survival trait – do we really think that a chimp would prefer a human infant over a chimp infant? Of course not – so it’s only natural that the societal preference would be for human over animal in most choices. It’s not a question of morality, or fairness, it’s a natural end-result of species preservation urges.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    Selfish is having kids when you don’t want them, seeing them as a means to an end. If you don’t want kids, no problem. If you do, no problem. If you see them as a means to an end, rather than an end in and of themselves? Problem.

  43. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)?

    I’ve seen this claim before, and it took me entire minutes of thought to figure out why it is deeply ridiculous.

    Subsidizing children is never unfair because all adults have been children, and hopefully all children will become adults.

    Anybody who claims children are a “lifestyle choice” is analyzing things in a purely self-focused way. They’re as absurd to me as the Galt-worshiping right-wingers who believe that society has done nothing for them. Either way, I can’t see it as other than, “I got mine, so screw the rest of you.”

  44. #2 —> education has huge positive externalities/ social benefit so everybody who pays taxes to fund it is selfishly reaping the rewards. however, it is balanced by the altruistic funding of jails which has huge negative externalities/ social costs. while all us tax payers are making huge sacrifices to fund prisons, those prisoners are selfishly taking advantage of our generosity. being incarcerated is so selfish.

  45. I really hate the term “childfree.” There’s something vaguely Newspeak-creepy about it. “We’re not having kids” sounds perfectly fine way to put it.

    That said, I don’t have kids and it’s probably too late for me to responsibly consider it.

    Now, since the sustaining birthrate is 2.1 kids per couple, I’ll make up for it by consuming 2.05 times as much resources as the average person. Starting with that 42″ LCD HDTV, woohoo!

  46. To post #2, I’d have to say that, in this crowd, a higher-than-average number of pregnancies are planned. This may be a stereotype, but given the wide range of birth control options, their ease of use, and their effectiveness, I’d wager that the Boingers know how to get their schwerve on without producing a by-product.

    To the questions:
    #1: I’d have to argue biological imperative for smart people, and rank idiocy for the “oops” crowd. I was one of those “I don’t like kids, don’t hand me your kid, please keep your kid on a leash” kind of people, but I still wanted to have kids. I had to assume that the same drive that made me want to have kids would also curtail the urge to smother them once my own came along. I still believe that no one in their right mind would have children (especially when it’s so easy to rent!), so it would almost have to be a hormonal/genetic thing.

    #4: I’d say the only people being selfish on either side of the fence are the rude people. On the breeder side, it’s the people that let their children run amok and make no effort to reign them in. Kids scream, and there’s often not much we can do about that. But letting your munchkin run around Chez Snoot with his hair on fire is goddamn rude. Hell, I haven’t been to Chez Snoot in years, because I KNOW it’s going to be a miserable time keeping the munchkin in check.

    On the non-breeder side, it’s the people that are completely intolerant of kids. Kids scream, and I’m doing my best to shut her up; I could do without the dirty looks. I know that you would like unobstructed access to the new wave of Star Wars figures they just got in, but the toy store is one of the few places I can let the munchkin off the leash a little bit. And I’m aware that your Rottweiler doesn’t like kids, but save the snark when my kid looks like she wants to pet him — I’ll grab her before she gets in range. KIDS LIKE DOGGIES — work with me here; I’ve told her a majillion times that you should ask before petting a dog, but I don’t quite have all the bugs worked out of her programming.

    Well, that turned into something of a rant. Sorry.

  47. 1. No, most babies are still accidents. Maybe 2nd+ born less so than first.
    2. Yes. Of course, most of the BB readers are oh so happy to fork over taxes no matter how wasteful the spending is, or how poor the return on investment may be. Public education tends to have a very poor ROI but I begrudgingly accept that it is necessary. Far worse are all the anti-liberty issues put forth “For the Children”.
    3. No, but Child Protective Services is a lot more scary than the ASPCA.
    4. I don’t know, but I suspect the Catholic Church and it’s “no artificial birth control” policy is being a dick.

    My father would very much like to have grandchildren. It doesn’t look good for him, though. Maybe if he hadn’t told us “it’s a terrible thing to bring a child into the world” and “I used to lay awake at night and hear you coughing and it would just tear me up inside”, you know, done a better job of selling the whole being a parent thing, he’d have had some by now.

  48. Having no children is not selfish. Avoiding having children becuase you refuse to take on the responsibility of a parent can be viewed as cowardly.

    Being a good parent is like a teacher or politician. Those who can rarely do and those who can’t often are.

  49. As a recent father, I have to say I have never been more fulfilled as a human being as when I held my son for the first time. I feel a discrete sadness when my friends announce they choose not to have and raise kids. They are missing out on one of life’s great experiences.

    Is that selfish? No. Egocentric at first, yes. However, your life quickly rotates, unless you are aiming to be on Springer, to becoming a very selfless individual with all your primary interests revolving around your child and their future world. I would argue people without kids run the risk of being selfish as they only plan to use the earth and pass on leaving nothing to make it a better place.

  50. For me as a heterosexual non-breeder, this subject tends to come up a lot. At the core of this discussion is “why aren’t you having kids (like the rest of us)?”, which for me is impossible to answer without coming off as a self-righteous jerk.

    Children are the fulfillment of desire, although I’d hate to see the stats on people who desire children vs. people who just desire sex.

    On your second question, yes to part 1, but it’s not really “part of the bill for parents”, it’s a generalized cost to society. If there’s no public schools, then some kids will be both uneducated and have nothing to do all day. I consider paying taxes or school levies part of crime prevention and societal development. As for part 2 of your question, I think the answer is no. This ones a freebee for breeders.

    Leaving work to take care of you kid vs. pet…Yes, the child excuse is more valid – however, it’s not going to float with me if I am the boss. If everyone is asked to stay late, that means everyone has to cancel their plans or make other arraignments. Or just do what they want and wait to get called into my office. My dogs are like my kids, but if I’m asked to stay late then I can call my wife and have her let them out, or a neighbor or friend or parent. All things people with human children can and should also do.

    The last question should be rephrased as breeders vs non-breeders. People who adopt are still parents and are, in general, saints for doing it. Breeders are being selfish. They want children, and they make them. I want children but choose not to have them. And yet it’s always the parents of children who look at my free-wheeling lifestyle and think, boy…he sure is selfish. I don’t understand this viewpoint at all.

  51. I will answer two and four: 4) I absolutely feel that my decision not to have kids is selfish. I am jealous of my own time and resources, and jealous of my girlfriend’s affection. I think I’d make a decent father but would rather be a decent boyfriend, friend, writer, reader, cocktail afficianado, and gamer, in that order. Also, to echo other people here, 2) I’m fine supporting other peoples’ kids as a citizen since those kids’ well being, education, etc. will make my city less hellish.

  52. I have one child (almost 10) who spends about half of her time at her biological mother’s house and the other half with me, and my wife, who other than her role as step-mom, is child-free.
    I love our situation. It is particularly nice because my relationship with my child’s biological mother is amiable. We live only a few miles apart. We communicate regularly and are comfortable negotiating occasional differences of opinion. Our child understands (and I stress the point to her) that all the adults in her life “work together” for her best interests.
    I am an only child and I only ever wanted one child (at most).
    I enjoy contemplating just how perfectly I’ve arranged to “eat my cake and have it too”.
    My child’s biological mother is now having her 4th child (her 3rd with our child’s step-father). My child-free wife and I can only marvel in stunned amazement. We are so intimately aware of the stark differences in quality of life due to the different life-choices of our two household’s.
    My wife and I enjoy the Arts and a stimulating nightlife on days when my child is with her biological mother. My time with my daughter is focused on her and I come at our time together rested and relaxed and ready to enjoy it. In contrast, her biological mother’s house is often full of strife from physical exhaustion and financial uncertainty.
    I imagine the peace of mind that both households could have enjoyed if we’d only had two (or one) child between the four of us.

  53. Oh man – I *love* how you all are giving eachother huge pats on the back for removing yourselves from the genepool.

    Judging by a lot of your comments and the linked sites, I would give you a hearty pat on the back as well!

  54. 33 y.o. married male with no kids. had a vasectomy two years ago. i’ve never had the urge or desire for being a parent. my wife also.

    so far, we have not heard from the commenters who didn’t want kids, but had one (or more) anyway, and are unhappy with the outcome. certainly not every single birth is joyful life-altering celebration.

    remember the simpsons episode:

    SSCCATAGAPP was countered by PPASSCCATAG

  55. #27: Amen to the aggressively child-free ones. My wife and I were child-free by choice for 20 years before adopting a baby girl, and were utterly appalled when we went to a meeting of “adults” who had chosen to not have kids. We though it would be nice to be able to socialize with other people who didn’t have kids, and instead spent an evening with some of the most bitter, angry people I’ve ever met. They handed out “baby smasher” stickers to put on changing tables in public restrooms. I was amused until I talked to the woman who had been kicked out of stores for doing this and fought it because she felt it was a free speech issue.

    Look, it’s OK if you decide that you’re not going to have kids. I’ve got no problem with that. But to become a sanctimonious asshole about it is another thing. Your life decisions do not automatically make you a superior person. If you don’t like kids, then it’s probably a good thing that you don’t have them. But your dislike of them does not grant you the moral high ground.

    Honestly, I wish everybody who becomes a parent would go through the conscious decision-making process my wife and I did. We had a good run as unencumbered adults and decided we wanted (and had the ability) to raise a child. We have the maturity and stability now that we didn’t have early in life, and believe we’ll be better parents because of it.

    Raising kids isn’t for everybody. It’s important, difficult work. If you choose not to do it, I’m fine with that. But having seen both sides of the issue I’m utterly tired of the crap from both sides.

    Yes, parenting is a lifestyle issue. Or it should be. You should be having (or adopting) kids based on your desire to commit a huge amount of resources and time to doing the best work you can in raising them. The people who hate kids (aggressively, publicly, insultingly) piss me off every bit as much as the ones who have X more than they can ably provide for. They’re both self-absorbed fools, and deserve to be shunned.

  56. thank you for this post. my husband and i have chosen not to have children. he had a vasectomy. if we change our mind we can have it reversed. we think it is the most responsible choice of birth control. people think we’re too young (early 30s). that’s BS. if we chose to HAVE a child, people would not think we’re too young for that and that is not reversible. i have yet to find a respectful OBGYN who respects my choice not to have children. the closest i got was, “well, we can’t hold your hand through life.” whenever people fawningly say, “oh but you’d make such great parents!” i reply, “if we don’t WANT a child, what is it that would make us such great parents?!”

  57. 1. I think, in general, in Western countries, yes. In places & situations around the world (and even within Western countries) where birth control isn’t easily available/affordable, I think children are just something that happens whether or not that’s what you wanted.

    2. I agree with an earlier poster here. I believe I have a responsibility to pay into the system not because my future children will benefit from it, but because I, myself, benefited from it. I owe America for the opportunities it gave me. And besides, whether or not I ever have kids, making sure that future generations of Americans are well-educated has a huge societal benefit that I get access to in the form an economy that’s better than those in places where public school isn’t a widely available norm.

    3. This, I go back and forth on. I do think it’s unfair if someone isn’t pulling their weight on the job and gets to dump their work, consequence-free onto a colleague simply because they have kids and the colleague doesn’t. On the other hand, if the parent is getting their work done (or as much work done as everyone else), when they leave the office is none of your damn business. Frankly, I’m a big believer in flexible scheduling for all, so that both the dog-owner and the parent could leave work when they need to or work from where they need to in order to best manage their jobs and their lives.

    4. Both are being selfish. Neither are being “wrong”. Whether or not to have kids is an inherently selfish decision because it’s based on what you want, without regard (or much regard) to what the rest of the world wants you to do. And that’s perfectly OK, whichever way you choose. Because it would be pretty oppressive (either way) to force or expect people to make such a personal decision based on any other criteria.

  58. Oh yeah, I never answered the questions:

    1. Yeah. One desire or another, sure. Most things are the result of *some one* fulfilling a desire.

    2. Yeah, sure they do. They’re part of society and so are the kids that are born. We’re all in it together anyway.

    2b. Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?
    Not really. From what I’ve seen most kids DO NOT care for their elderly parents. Especially since eldercare can easily leave a family too poor to raise their own kids.

    For instance, even if I really wanted to have a baby there would be no way in hell I could provide for each of my ailing parents and that child.

    Elderly people are living longer and costing a lot more. Don’t expect your kids to take care of you beyond liquidating your assets so you can hopefully get into state care!

    3. Yeah, they have to get their kid. They can always come back or something or work from home. Chillax, some times things just have to get done in business. But it’s no reason to leave your kid standing around in an empty parking lot :(

    4. Some times both and some times neither.

  59. Re this:

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    If your employer does not hire enough people to cover the work during normal working hours, why blame it on the parents who work there? The argument is completely misdirected.

    Someone in our society has to have children. Most of those someones also need to work. Corporations that are inflexible towards their employees just LOVE it when said employees blame each other rather than looking towards the real culprit, which is them.

    If you’re pissed that your coworker can’t work 50 hour weeks because *she doesn’t want to neglect her child*, perhaps her desire to care for her child is not the problem; perhaps it’s the 50-hour weeks.

    1. Amen #85 Anonymous. If the company won’t provide enough resources to get the work done why is it a parent or dog-owners issue to want to go home at the regular time.

      Celeb8 #145 also realizes as I do that these questions verge on just trolling to get the”Child-Free people and the parents to fight and generate comments. Here is mine to make it feel like it was worth your while.

      I also hate the term breeder and don’t want to be called one or I would even hate being called blibble-blabble or zoomafoo or some other random assignment of letters if it was said in the same pejorative sense.

      By the way I was ambivalent toward children before I had one as was my wife. The instincts seem to kick in and take over and now I am gaga over our 11 month old. I am a concrete idea person and so I like the fact that the baby is kind of a concrete combination of us and a physical representation of our love for each other, but I realize it is not for everyone. That being said I think people should do what they want, as long as it doesn’t hurt or unduly affect others. It’s that second part of the phrase that gets everyone all excited. Enjoy.

  60. ” 2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?”

    This sounds like an argument some of the surlier residents of my co-op would use regarding building repairs and upkeep.

    I’ve been reading various books on Buddhism, and if you believe in the idea of interdependence, non-self, etc, you would know that what benefits your community directly benefits you. Not investing in education for our children is a situation detrimental to everyone.

    I’m a new dad, 12 weeks into the deal now, and still suffering from sleep deprivation. My lifestyle is completely different that it was before, but I’d hardly call it a lifestyle choice. It’s probably the most important thing I’ll do in my entire life. A lifestyle choice seems more like when I decided I wanted to be “punk” or “indie.” Being a parent has much more meaning and substance than that. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I’ll take feeding my son at 4 am to partying until 6 am any day.

    1. I also don’t think parenthood is a lifestyle choice, but i think “not parenthood” often is… at least, as with ‘indie’ and ‘punk’, you may outgrow it.

      1. That’s a silly thing to say.

        If you “outgrow” parenthood there’s nothing you can do about it. My father is sorry he had a kid. He tells me all the time.

        Shit to be done about it though.

        So yeah parents, you may regret it too :(

        1. Please try again. I said “not-parenthood” is a lifestyle you might outgrow. Sadly, being a twitchy pedant may not be something you can outgrow, But do give it a try anyhow.

          1. Parenthood, too, is a lifestyle some of my friends are eagerly looking forward to outgrowing. The moment the youngest is off to college, they’ll start looking for a smaller and more convenient place to live.

            “It’s a poor knife that doesn’t cut both ways.”

  61. On question #2, I don’t agree with the assumption that the only benefits of the education system are the children or the parents of those children. I prefer to live in a society where children are educated, and I don’t have to have a child to reap the advantages of that.

    There’s obviously a bigger issue about the quality of that education, but I don’t think it’s accurate to frame the question as one group footing the bill for another group.

  62. Would any of you non-breedin’ BoingBoingers jump in front of a bullet, race into a burning building, or willingly and unflinchingly endure the most horrific torture devised by mankind in order to save your pet-friendly-latest-must-have-techy-steampunkish-gadget-and-or-post-graduate-degree-with-a-side-of-unicorns?

    Those of us with kids know both sides of the debate. We didn’t always have kids. Those without children, or without long-term experience caring for a child, only know one half of the argument.

    I don’t care if you want kids or not–and if you don’t want them, please, please don’t have them–but in my opinion, it sounds like folks doth protest a bit too much when they bring up discussions like this.

    In the United States, at least, it’s quite difficult to force anyone to have a child. If you’re scared or threatened by the prospect of being fertile, do some soul searching and figure out what the real issue is.

    And while I’d never force my beliefs on another soul, I do think fearing children is a bit like being afraid of flying: totally irrational and potentially damaging to one’s well-being. Overcome the fear, and your life opens up to limitless possibilities for enrichment and personal growth.

    1. Probably not, but I’d probably run into a burning building to save YOUR kid so consider that for a second :/

    2. No, but I’d do it to save my mother or my brother, etc. Just because some of us don’t have children doesn’t mean we’ve replaced all our human ties with possessions.

      For the official record — I’m sure there’s a record somewhere — I’m someone who’s decided to go without children for now, but it’s up in the air for the future. I love (reasonably behaved) children, but I’ve also taken care of babies before so I don’t really conflate squeeing over an infant with actually wanting my own.

  63. The best reason to not have kids is that this poor beleaguered planet simply does not need anymore people on it. That having been said, I really wanted to be a dad, and with the help of family, my wife and I were able to adopt a baby. A win-win if ever there was one. I do believe non-parents are selfish only if they are super cool people who would be great parents. All others should feel no shame for not breeding, they are doing us a world of good.

  64. Didn’t have time to read all the comments, so this may be redundant. As someone who is childless and has very little interest in changing this, I happily pay taxes that go towards the public school system as I benefit from this. Being “socialisticly” inclined, paying for school is a shared burden, whether I directly use it or not, as it makes for a healthier society to have educated, literate citizens.

    I don’t hate children: I have a niece and nephew who I love. I just don’t want children myself. The only thing I hate is any suggestion that I am selfish for not having children (which I have heard from parents). My life, my choice.

  65. Re: 2: I’ll agree with several commentators. I went to the school system; I feel it’s only my duty to keep contributing to it and ensuring it maintains its quality or improves. Same goes for any program that does social good.

    Not sure if this is really a selfless motive though — I just want to make sure that in my future, I’ll be surrounded by smart, literate, savvy young citizens, who’ll be marginally easier to tolerate because at least they’ll get all my dated insults.

  66. People who have children almost never actually want children. If they did they would adopt. They want THEIR children, as in THEIR genes. As in SELFISH.

    Life is so short, why waste it caring for another human being during the most youthful, energetic time of your life? Why not travel? Spend the money you would have spent on 20+ years of clothing, housing, books, food, medical bills etc on YOU and a significant other?

    There are plenty of humans on earth, have fun being child-free and live life. There is no guarantee your child will not be born with all kinds of defects, will not be some sort of maniac, will not wrap themselves around a telephone pole at age 16.

    1. “Life is so short, why waste it caring for another human being during the most youthful, energetic time of your life? Why not travel? Spend the money you would have spent on 20+ years of clothing, housing, books, food, medical bills etc on YOU and a significant other?”

      How, exactly, is this not selfish?

      1. But why is this selfish? It’s his money. Isn’t it more selfish to bring a child into the world because you feel lonely, need some sort of fulfillment, are trying to repair a bad relationship or any of the other wrong reasons to have a child? Let me get this clear: I’m not saying there is no correct reason to have a child or that people should no longer have children. Breed, be happy. But there are many wrong reasons to have children. Why is someone choosing not to have children selfish?

        1. @Freshacconci let me add in the whole quote, and rephrase:

          “People who have children almost never actually want children. If they did they would adopt. They want THEIR children, as in THEIR genes. As in SELFISH.

          Life is so short, why waste it caring for another human being during the most youthful, energetic time of your life? Why not travel? Spend the money you would have spent on 20+ years of clothing, housing, books, food, medical bills etc on YOU and a significant other?”

          Now then. What I meant was, it’s a bit hypocritical to say, “You’re so selfish for wanting a minime! You should be buying things instead!”

          1. I also take issue with the idea that if someone wants their own child, that is somehow selfish. Sure, it may be fun to see how your genes merged with your spouse (or whatever) but ultimately child rearing is much deeper than that.

      2. whats wrong with being selfish? That was my point..if you are going to be selfish, do things for you that are FUN. Changing diapers, going to and from karate class, buying schools supplies etc is NOT fun.

    2. This comment is neither selfish, unselfish, or thoughtful in any way. While raising a child is a personally uplifting and rewarding experience, it does not make it selfish. And genes have nothing to do with it. Whether parent(s) adopt, or conceive of their own child, it is ultimately driven by an unselfish desire to extend our own beliefs and ethics onto another person… to leave a lasting mark on the future.

      1. “Whether parent(s) adopt, or conceive of their own child, it is ultimately driven by an unselfish desire to extend our own beliefs and ethics onto another person… to leave a lasting mark on the future.”

        How is wanting to leave YOUR lasting mark on the future by foisting YOUR beliefs and ethics on another person unselfish?

        It sounds like pure ego stroking.

  67. just reading a book this morning on the strict interpretation of adaptive evolution. It posited that we, the ‘us’ of consciousness, emotion; everything is just a gene jacket. Our flesh is only a temporary vessel for the permanent code of our genes. So everything that registers in our behavior or in what we do is designed to breed and then get out of the way, or insure that those genes continue.
    If you think about that it will melt your brain.
    Think of the children…*scream*
    also #breeder i guess we have to designate a ‘straight closet’ as the ‘lightless colorless void in which you’ve been for the past ten years where you haven’t heard the term breeder.’ seriously dude… sorry that the waitress was rude, she was probably insecure and thought you had turned down her pass because she wasn’t attracted to you.

  68. Although not entirely fond of the term childfree – it is leagues better than the default childLESS.

  69. The only selfish choice is to have children and not care for them. Which is why I hate the use of the term “lifestyle choice” to describe the decision to have kids or not. Once you have kids, you have created small human beings who are utterly dependent on you. At that point, it is no longer really a choice in the way you might choose where to live, who to hang out with, or what music scene to be part of. You have a moral responsibility to stick with it. The “lifestyle choice” language trivializes the decision, whether you choose to have kids or not, so I don’t understand why “child-free” advocates are so eager to use that term. And, I think, whether you have kids or not, you still have a responsibility to ensure children are cared for in our society as a whole.

  70. Actually, Thank you for writing this. I have never wanted to have kids-not because I dont like them, but of my personal ambitions and wellbeing. Often I am pressured by society and my peers that having kids somehow makes you a nicer, more fulfilled person. It is nice to be reminded that my choices are okay. So thanks.

  71. On a similar note, Japan could use a few more kids. Hell, they could probably go for more relationships.

  72. I have loads of friends with children and all of them were planned. And my friends with children, male and female, all seem pretty grateful to have single, childless friends who’ll help them break out of jail occasionally for a night on the town.

  73. I had a tubal ligation at the age of twenty. My husband was not as sure about not wanting children as I, so I felt if was only fair given we had just gotten married, to get myself fixed, so if our marriage collapsed, he’d be able to have children with another woman.

    At the time, (I’m 38 now) I had never heard of childfree, or of any movement to avoid having kids. I just didn’t want any, and hated the available birth control options.

    1) Anecdotally, the people in my life had children because of birth control failures, but they were happy accidents because they had assumed they would have families anyways. I don’t think it was really wish fulfillment.

    2)I hear the ‘footing the bill’ argument from some childfree quarters these days, and I disagree with it. I am happy to pay for school taxes and the like. Children are important. I may not want them, but that doesn’t mean I want the next generation to grow up in a school system, or without needed services. I would prefer to focus on schools, and healthcare for children than end of life costs. I’ve been a hospice nurse for ten years, so I’ve seen the end of life thing a lot.

    3) I worked in an office where there was one gal who always took off for her kids. The rest of us (myself being the only one without kids) had to cover for her constantly. It wasn’t about her kids, but about her being “that guy”. Folks who are going to screw their coworkers will find a way with or without kids as an excuse.

    4)The selfish discussion. This came up a lot in my twenties, actually. You would be amazed at how many folks feel they can discuss your reproductive choices derisively if you are a young woman that chooses not to have kids. I have been called selfish, and I have been given the backhanded compliment of “Thank god you realized you weren’t mother material in time.” Now that I’m nearing 40, nobody remarks much on it, but I was always astounded by it when I was younger.

    We’re not in any danger of going extinct as a species, so I don’t think choosing to not have kids is selfish at all. Even if we were, it’s a personal choice like any other.

    I also don’t think having children is selfish. I sometimes think there are a lot more child having folks (not all) that just assume they will always have kids, without really thinking about it. Choosing not to have kids is something that is so challenged in many circles it’s hard not to really think about it.

  74. Having kids or not having kids is a choice. My wife and I were once on a panel for a college course about married couples choosing to remain childless. It was interesting that some students believed you couldn’t be married and CHOOSE to not have children.
    Now my wife and I have 2 kids we love so very much and I am glad we have them.
    What is most important is that neither group feel they are better than the other. Have kids. Don’t have kids. Most importantly don’t be an asshole about it, or anything else for that matter.

  75. Dogs are not children. Children are not bad or evil. People who want children can have children. People who don’t can go without. I will never cease to be amazed at the ability of certain people to express smug disdain at those whom they place on the other side of increasingly absurd dichotomies. “Breeders?” What utter nonsense.

    thr thn th ntry bt Vnn dgrms, vry sngl pst n ths msrbl gst blg hs bn clbrtn f nnsnscl, rrlvnt, sphmrc, slf-stsfd, vcs grbg. I look forward to its end. Thereafter, if I should feel the desire to read the thoughts of a person obsessed with cataloging and naming every single conceivable way in which she is different from – and, consequently, better than – the rest of us squares, I will point my browser to Ms. James’s blog.

  76. 1. Depends on the person, like all desires. My wife really wanted a kid. I was terrified of having a kid. However, I desired to make my wife/family unit happy and fulfilled more. There are others who have never desired kids who end up with them as well. They then turn out to be really great parents, but the desire is not necessary.

    2. In American society, everyone ends up footing the bill for others for certain things. I don’t own a car, but I pay taxes that fix roads several hundred miles away from me in my state. I’ve paid for the police, the fire department, ambulances, city council members, mayors, civil servants and welfare benefits I’ve never called upon or needed but that civilization requires me to pony up for. And I do it willingly, because I don’t want to live in a society that lets Thog (with the biggest club) beat me to death because he wanted to.

    3. No, both excuses are valid. But as others have pointed out, it’s good form to return to work if you cannot finish your job in the allotted time.

    4. Why does either party have to be selfish? I’ve seen selfish parents, I’ve seen selfish non-parents. No group has a monopoly on selfishness or virtue.

  77. I must be hanging out in the wrong parts of the internet, but I certainly don’t think that the “child free” community is without their voice in the dialogue The thing I’ve noticed, however– and this was even before I had a child, mind you– is that child free often means “anti-child.”
    And while there are certainly the bad parents who make *me* sometimes antichild, I find the attitude in general galling.

    My husband and I made the conscious choice to adopt a foster child instead of having biological children. I can’t tell you how many people assumed automatically that we were having fertility problems, and this was our “last resort.” They couldn’t imagine that we didn’t have this biological imperative to have a little “us” around. And we don’t.
    I highly suggest this option for people like me who would like to parent, but have concerns about… the environment, their genes, etc. etc. I could go on, but I won’t.

    I don’t think either option is “selfish”– as long as you choose to parent well, or you keep your opinion about MY child to yourself.
    Like religioun, I don’t care what you believe, just as long as you don’t preach to me.

  78. First of all, thank you for such an insightful post! Finally, I don’t feel alone in the world in which not wanting to have children has deemed me a freak of nature.

    At the age of 35, most of my friends are well into advanced stages of childcare. For years people have asked me whether seeing their children or even my nieces and nephews made me want to have some too. This was never the case. I have met many people who do feel a deep need to reproduce, but I have never felt it myself. I do not enjoy the company of children and I do not wish to have any of my own. I have been told that once I have my own child my feelings towards children will change, but what if that experiment failed? Will I be able to return the child to where it came from? No! I am aware that having children, taking care of them and nurturing them is a major responsibility that cannot be taken lightly, and I have no wish to experiment with a child’s life.

    This is not about selfishness at all. One may ask whether having children in an overpopulated world is selfish, but this is not true either. Not everyone can be a good parent, one needs to have a true desire to bring up a child in order to take such an important long-term commitment.

    For many years my choices have been frowned upon, even by people very close to me, who should care more about my feelings. I have been shouted at by people I hardly know, ignored by people who do not understand, and had to bear hours upon hours of condescending lectures. I will surely return to this post and the links embedded in it. Thank you for finally making me feel accepted!

  79. Wow, from the time I started to the time I finished posting (chasing the 3 year old in between) everything I said was already said.
    “I can’t afford to adopt” is not true if you go through social services. It is free, and in many cases you get state subsidies. True, the children have “issues” but in my experience they aren’t any issues that other children don’t have, and because you take parenting classes, you are more prepapred.

    Incidentally, if everyone had to do what *I* did to get my son, there would be a lot less people in the world.
    But I think he is worth it!

  80. 1. Most children, in this and other cultures, are accidents. I thank the scientists who designed my IUD and the docs who have installed them; I’ve had unprotected intercourse five times in my life and got pregnant twice, so I shudder to think how many children I would have had before childbirth killed me, had I lived 150 years ago. That said, I thank from the bottom of my heart the scientists who have brought reproductive success to people who richly DESERVED to be parents.

    2. Somebody’s kid is gonna have to scrape your bum later; or push the overdose into your iv line, if that’s how you roll. People won’t stop having kids because of anything anybody says, because you cannot make heterosexual intercourse 100% free of pregnancy. Those of us who chose to remain childless should be grateful they don’t have to have kids, and while I am not going to ask you to be grateful for other people’s kids, get a fucking grip – as you get older, you’ll have reason to be glad SOMEbody did.

    3. Having kids, dogs, birds, octopi or heffalumps does not guarantee you the right to have an understanding workplace. Do what the boss asks or find a job where your lack of planning isn’t an issue.

    4. May we please cut each other some slack? There’s nothing I like better than people who a) have a choice and b) have thought through that choice. If you choose to keep the baby, give it away or never have it, please at least think about it all first.

    The most selfish people in this debate, in my view, are the people who insist that having kids is right and should be the aim of all persons, whether fit to or not and whether they want to or not. The jails are full of people who, by their very life histories, are a sad reminder of what an abyssal font of shit the ‘everybody should breed’ trope is.

  81. Well I have children, but I’m okay if other people don’t, and I’m okay if gay people want to have kids too. So I guess maybe this isn’t aimed at me. But as to no. 3: Yes. Your dog can take a dump on the floor, but your kid probably can’t walk him or herself home from daycare. Still, I get what you’re getting at, and all I can say to that is this: people shouldn’t look askance at other people not having kids. That’s just wrong. That being said, don’t be surprised if our society in general places some (small) value on having children, and accords parents privileges that single people don’t get. Remember, after your done working late you can go get sushi with your friends, while I’m likely to be reading “The Little Engine That Could” for the 15th night in a row. It all evens out.

  82. 1. Reproduction is a pretty basic human right and isn’t some sort of “lifestyle” choice like extreme sports or being a goth. It’s no more a lifestyle choice than having gay sex. Strongest biological imperative and all that jazz. Believe me, you can really HATE kids but want your own.

    2. Economically speaking, old countries don’t do well in the long run, so I think if anything kids are good for the economy. Dependency ratios and all that.

    3. This always strikes me as an argument made by selfish whiners, both by parents and by non-parents. I do think it’s fair to say that you don’t really understand responsibility until you’ve had to care for someone else, though, be it a parent or a child. Personally, I think work should be flexible enough to accommodate different ways of living. Yeah, sometimes I need to take care of a sick kid. So I SPEND A LITTLE LESS TIME WATCHING YOUTUBE the next day. I don’t freak out that a lot of younger people seem to think it’s OK to roll in at 10am instead of 8:30, as long as the work gets done. Before kids I never felt any resentment for parents, and with kids I don’t feel like I take advantage of the situation. Have a little compassion for others, people.

    4. Selfish? No one is being selfish. It’s selfish like wanting to have sex or eat food other than beans and rice or live in a house.

  83. I suppose that if you’re against the continuation of the species, by all means make not having kids into a movement. But if that’s how you feel wouldn’t you be better occupied by slitting your wrists? Otherwise, just don’t have kids. It’s pretty simple. I won’t treat you differently. In the wealthier countries at least, we’ve reached a point where we can make choices like that. Our adolescences often last until sometime in our mid twenties. We don’t have to settle on a career for even longer. And really, people care less and less if you have kids. It’s not an issue amongst any of the people I know. The average age of my social circle is about 31, and parents are in the minority.

  84. Every culture has its default set of values that thoughtful people may choose to reject, but that are important if that culture is to continue to exist. When being child-free becomes the default value, that culture will disappear within a couple of generations. We are already beginning to see that with some of the developed countries. Whether that is a good thing is another discussion altogether.

    I wouldn’t consider being childfree necessarily selfish. We all have to juggle the commitments we have taken on. A thoughtful person should consider that bringing a child into the world, or adopting one, makes that child, who has no choice in the matter, their single primary responsibility.

    If you are a thoughtful person without children, you have more options. You can choose to put in the extra hours to advance your career. You can choose to live wherever you want without regard to the quality of the schools. You can choose an unconventional lifestyle without worrying about the affects on your charges.

    I would never push anyone to have kids. Rather, I would urge them to make sure that they are prepared and eager to make someone else’s interests more important than their own. (Incidentally, I say the same thing about marriage.)

    So, to answer the questions:
    a) Yes, but not always the desire to have children (duh)
    b) Any society that does not put the welfare of its children at the top of its agenda will face the consequences of a generation of angry young people. Where is the next generation of productive people going to come from? What happens when they get the vote?
    c) I find that by and large people with children stay late, if at all possible. It’s a lot easier to advance professionally if you don’t have the extra responsibility of children to take care of, and it’s usually recognized that parents choose to make this trade-off.
    d) It’s not about selfishness. It’s selfish to have children without being fully committed to the care of those children. Over the long term, people look for fulfillment. Raising children is perhaps the most accessible way to be fulfilled.

  85. There are obviously an abundance of people totally willing to have children, therefore I need not worry about the extinction of the human species and I can live my life happily child free :). We’ll hit 9 billion sometime near 2040, kinda scary, just think about the logistics.

    I think it’s wonderful that so many people have said that they are glad to have had their children (please educate and take care of them, please please please), but just because YOU enjoy them doesn’t mean everyone would.

  86. 1. Depends on whether or you you view the sex drive as a component of breeding.

    2. Yes, everyone pays taxes that are used to cover children to include school, child services, CHIP, etc. But, at the same time, those children also pay into retirement services for the child-free elderly.

    3. This question supposes that a dog and a child are equal in value. Legally they are not. Leaving a dog inside merely inconveniences the dog owner.

    4. Non-Breeders are extremely selfish. Deciding to not breed so that you may fully enjoy life is simply being a parasite. Society is self renewing only through our procreation. Selecting to not pay that “tax” but still enjoy the benefits is really just freeloading. Children of Men is a nice SF speculative look of the effects of the cessation of breeding on the extreme side of the debate.

    Culture and society, of which non-breeders want to enjoy more thoroughly, are by definition based on breeding. Culture and society do not function without breeding. Not breeding is not only a rejection of society and culture, but your fellow human.

    1. “Non-Breeders are extremely selfish. Deciding to not breed so that you may fully enjoy life is simply being a parasite”

      So those who make a conscious decision based on not being able to provide (money, location, etc..) for a child are parasites on society?

      What about those who are physically unable to reproduce?

    2. So having kids is the only meaningful way you think I can give back to society? Really? I mean, we’re not exactly hurting for human beings, you know? Immigration has done some pretty nice things for us, historically. (Ok, so that’s actually in response to the birthrate crisis people).

      I don’t at all agree that the only way that I can make critical contributions to society and my community is through children.

    3. What about not breeding so that you can fully give to society.

      I know teachers who feel this way because they don’t consider themselves having time for their own family, but value the work they do for other people’s families.

      What about people who work tirelessly to provide solutions for society in ways other than breeding?

      You honestly think that work is worthless? What’s the point of breeding then, just to keep breeding?

      Sorry to get all Kantian on you but you’re not making sense.

  87. Yes, non-parents do foot part of the bill for raising children but only a small portion overall. But non-parents also gain the benefit of a sustainable economy because more children are added to the population. Without more babies, the future would not have enough employees, employers, producers and consumers.

    Look at places with low birthrates (like Russia: Their governments desperately encourage people to make more babies because the economy depends on it.

    It’s perfectly fine if some people choose not to be parents. It should always be an opt-in job. But don’t complain about the higher taxes because you’re still getting a large benefit. Making more babies is for the better good. Just like science research, just like firefighters, just like microbreweries.

  88. Yes, childless me does have to subsidize your reproductive lifestyle. My co-workers cut out of work every day to pick up their kids. They casually take time off for sick kids, in a way I would never do. I have to pay for your schools operating and construction expenses, etc.

  89. Mod note:

    The next person to suggest that anyone who wants to reduce population should commit suicide will lose their vowels.

  90. Not having kids is a choice, having kids is an instinct.

    Straight or gay, the maternal/paternal instinct overrides all that for most of us.

    As for people without kids being selfish, I disagree. One of the most selfish things I’ve done is have kids. And I am very selfish about my kids. If I aim for the betterment of the world, what I’m really doing is try to make the world better for my kids.
    Sounds more altruistic the other way around, but hey ;)

  91. I think I should speak up, because I haven’t seen anyone post with more than one or two kids.

    I have five kids. 13, 11, 10, 8 and 4.

    My wife and I had a child because we wanted kids. We love kids. We loved it so much we had more.

    Sure, consider the source of this comment but: my kids are incredibly well behaved. I take them anywhere, anytime. They’re polite, quiet, they know how to sit properly for any necessary period of time. They ask intelligent questions and interact well with adults. We have spent the time and effort to ensure that our kids know what correct behaviour is.

    We have 7 of us living at home 24×7 (I work at home and we homeschool (oh geez, I can only guess at the fury I’ve unleashed in the comments below)), but we generate less garbage and the same amount of recycling than everyone else on our block. We buy less, do more with what we have, and are far more conscious of the source and real cost of products we buy than almost anyone else we know. This isn’t due to financial need, but because we’re trying to raise kids that will make a positive impact on their world.

    We’re trying to raise people that give a damn about their neighbours and their community, poverty, and underpaid labour and sickness and the role that corporations and politics play in those things. We’re trying to raise kids that figure out things to do to help, and then do them.

    The problem isn’t overpopulation, it’s overconsumption. It’s oppression and greed. There’s plenty to go around if we’d all just stop scooping it up with both arms.

    If everyone, regardless of whether they had kids or not, tried to focus on making the world better for everyone instead of themselves then the world gets better. If everyone makes decisions based on getting more for themselves (be that not having kids out of desire to stay “free”, or having kids just to look after them or to be fashion accessories) then the world gets worse.

  92. I am a 37 year old woman who claimed my own destiny at 29 when I had my tubes tied. I have always known I didn’t want kids, so medically ensuring my childfree identity made me whole. It feels like I gained the gift of 18+ years if freedom that would have otherwise been a blur of car pools and Scout meetings.

  93. I guess I am out of touch with society, but most of the parents I know were actively trying to have children. Some spent tens of thousands of dollars for various fertility treatments, etc. I know several gay and lesbian couples with children.

    Anyway, these children came out of a desire for children, not sex per se.

    Now I will say that trying to have children is an aphrodisiac. After 5 or so years of marriage, suddenly you’re back to a time, just like when you first met your partner, when you know you’re going to have sex as often as possible.

  94. . Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    I assume this means the desire to have children for whatever personal reason. If so, I think almost 1/2 of first time pregnancies are unintended.

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    My life would be impacted negatively – in many ways – by increased numbers of ill-educated juvenile delinquents. So, though I have no kids, paying taxes for child welfare and education seem fair.

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    This question leads to debates over what/who is more important – a child or a dog? I think a better question may just be the direct one — is it fair that workers with children leave early or take more time off than those without kids? I think this is, in fact, fair – provided their pay is docked for any time taken off or for “flex time” rights. Otherwise, parents should make arrangements (hire a babysitter, ask a parent or friend to help, etc.).

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    What does selfish mean? Does this mean making a choice based solely on personal benefit without regard to the impact on one’s community, the environment, etc.? And, shouldn’t you consider the damage caused by “selfish” actions too? If the answers to the prior 2 questions are yes, I think that those who voluntarily have biological children are the most selfish. If you want to be a parent and you can afford it, why not adopt? As for those who can afford to have kids and choose not to have them, I would say they are selfish too . . . for not adopting. But the selfish decision of the latter does not have as much of a negative impact as that of the former. Unless, of course, you are absolutely CERTAIN that your superior genes would produce the next Einstein or Fermi or Shakespeare, in which case, yes, by all means, have biological children.

    1. Unless, of course, you are absolutely CERTAIN that your superior genes would produce the next Einstein or Fermi or Shakespeare, in which case, yes, by all means, have biological children.

      Anecdote alert: Beethoven was the eighth child of an alcoholic father and a mother with tuberculosis, and the family were in dire straits. They really really could have made a better choice than getting little Ludwig, and noone had any reason to believe they’d create a genius.

      You NEVER know where the next genius is or is not going to be coming from

  95. 1. Why on earth is this even a question? Asking polling people might make sense, but asking people what everybody else’s motives are just seems like an invitation to a troll-fight.

    We planned our boy, even started trying before our wedding since we weren’t sure how long it would take. Part of it was that we knew we wanted to have kids before we died, and our ages (around 30) preclude waiting too long before having kids unless we like Downs and other crap like that. I suspect that part was also fulfilling a need, for me to make my wife happy and for her to have a child to love.

    2. The world is over-populated. Breeders like me (I note that breeder is OK while fa**ot isn’t?) are doing no favors to those around us, my wife and I have made a pledge to not increase the world population however by just having no more than 2 kids. Think globally, mate locally :V

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, yes that’s more valid than the dogs. Resent it all you want, those of you with barren lifeless wombs, but human children take a lot more work, care, and money than dogs and even precious kitties. Daycare costs upwards of 1000/month in our area (Seattle) and on top of that they will charge you ridiculous amounts for every MINUTE you go over the pick-up deadline. Those quick to toe the line with the “that should be YOUR problem not mine” argument, this is also true, but most decent employers will take circumstances into account for everybody, not just parents/non-parents.

    4. The only people being selfish are those saying how others should live.

    1. gosh, thanks so much for the “barren, lifeless wombs” comment. As a 41 year old woman who waited until her mid-30s to start trying to get pregnant and never managed to (and decided that neither expensive reproductive tech solutions nor adoption was right for her at this time) i absolutely appreciate your sensitive approach to dealing with anyone whose life experiences or choices are different than yours.

      1. Yeah, I have to agree with the response to this comment. I tried to conceive for years(10 plus years), and was never able too. Despite all of the fertility treatments I have gone through, nothing worked. I love when people rub salt in wounds that will never go away. I had to stop because I couldn’t afford to try anymore. It has depleted all of my finances so I can’t do anything else. Yes, I made the choice to to try and have a a baby and spend all the money. However, I didn’t choose to be “barren”. That was already decided for me. It’s called crappy genetics that was something I had no control over. Why do people have to be so heartless and mean? How can you be so insensitive? You have no idea what people go through when this happens to them. I can’t control what other people do, but comments like this are very difficult to hear. Especially when you have done nothing wrong. Thanks for reminding me yet again of what I will never have!

  96. Regulars here know by now I’m a parent, both biological and adoptive. I choose not to have more biological children because there are too many parentless kids, and (in my own opinion) too many humans full stop.

    1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?
    Yes, and yes. I believe it’s a better economic deal for non-parents, though. Someone else’s kids will change their diapers when they are senile or incapacitated. Someone else’s kids will protect them from muggers when they are old and slow. Educating all children is believed to decrease crime and increase prosperity, which is an extremely good investment for the childless if they plan to get old.

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?
    Absolutely! The legal requirements for parents are fundamentally more onerous than for dog owners. If you don’t like it, start a campaign to change the law so that parents have no more responsibility towards their children than they have for their dogs.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?
    Here’s a partial list:
    -Anyone who is permitted to adopt, but doesn’t because they don’t want to “cramp their swingin style”.
    -People who have more than two children without adopting a child.
    -People who value their religious bigotry so much more than parentless children that they refuse to let gay people adopt.
    -Americans who claim they “can’t afford” to adopt. There are many children who need parents, and the state will absorb 100% of the costs for those with physical handicaps. Some children are blind, some are missing a limb, some just need a parent to hold them while they slowly and painfully die. The state will pay you to be a parent to these children.

    I do not state here whether “selfishness” is good or bad. Most people I know are to some degree selfish – some to a foolish extreme. Personally, I am too selfish to endure the pain of adopting a terminally ill child. God bless those few of you that can do it, you are better than I am!

    Many of you that are reading this, YOU PERSONALLY can change the world for the better, with less risk and expense than having a biological child. Go for it!

    1. “There are many children who need parents, and the state will absorb 100% of the costs for those with physical handicaps. Some children are blind, some are missing a limb, some just need a parent to hold them while they slowly and painfully die. The state will pay you to be a parent to these children.”


      I’m not being sarcastic, btw.

      1. Absolutely true, Blue. In my own state and the three others surrounding it, I have personally verified this.

        To adopt a healthy newborn, you have to prove you have a decent income, money in the bank, food in the fridge, and some reasonable standard of personal hygiene. That’s because there is stiff competition for healthy newborns from the increasing number of sterile Americans.

        But, if you are willing to take a handicapped child, the state and federal government has a vested interest in helping you do so. The more seriously damaged the child is, the more help you get. This is in everyone’s best interest, both socially and economically, even when you leave out the obvious moral issues. Children in state care cost more to support than children with parents, it’s a simple fact, and children with parents generate more tax revenue (in the long run, in the aggregate) as well.

        In many US states, you can also get assistance if you adopting children who are not handicapped but have other issues that make them less likely to be adopted. For example, sibling groups and older children. Call your local adoption authorities to find out what your state needs and what they will pay for.

  97. I don’t think people should be pressured to have kids, but I do see a lot of resentment against people with kids by people without kids. How about we agree that we won’t critique your lifestyle choices if you don’t critique ours. I’m sorry if your boss makes you work late. You have the option to say no and your place of employment could be considered a lifestyle choice on your part.

  98. If your coworkers are taking advantage of your childfree state, put your foot down. They are getting away with it because you let them.

  99. 1. Dunno. I don’t have kids. I could speculate or guess on the answer but I guess parents here could comment with slightly more authority.

    2. Maybe. Depends on how much they’re paying in taxes vs. how much they “take” from the state/government. Rich parents might be paying for some poor a-hole’s healthcare. Wealthy non-parents may be paying for some kid’s schooling.

    3. Society says that yes, it is. And frankly, if it’s something that pops up unexpectedly, I wouldn’t really mind. If a parent makes demands of the company he/she works for that are incompatible on a long-term basis with the company that he/she works for then it would probably be mutally benefitial for the company to find a different worker and for the worker to find a different company. “Some” exceptions are always reasonable but it just depends on whether someone is gaming the system or not.

    4. Probably the people that get all up in my face about kids, regardless of whether they are pro or anti-kid.

    My wife (Polish, formerly Catholic, now agnostic and Civic Platform-supporter) and I (American living in Poland and agnostic and Libertarian/Civic Platform-supporter) are happy without children and we make a point of not having children. We also make a point of telling everyone who tells us to have kids to cram a ham in their pie hole. We make a point of not loudly announcing to everyone that we don’t have kids. We don’t flee from children but we’re not asking to hold them/hug them, etc. We don’t think they are cute/precious/little bundles of joy but we don’t think they are vermin, either. Some of our friends have kids, as do some of the younger members of both our families. Some people we know don’t have kids and seem happy that way. Some family and friends have adopted or are trying to.


  100. “And while I’d never force my beliefs on another soul, I do think fearing children is a bit like being afraid of flying: totally irrational and potentially damaging to one’s well-being. Overcome the fear, and your life opens up to limitless possibilities for enrichment and personal growth.”

    Why do you assume it’s fear? Maybe I just know myself well enough to know that I’d hate and resent the time, energy and resources a child would require and that the potential joy they could bring wouldn’t be enough (for me) to make up for it. Why would I bring a human being into a situation where they are hated and resented? Is it selfish of me? Yes, I’m hardly denying that I’m a selfish bitch; but I’m also thinking of that potential person. That potential person? Frankly? Better off without me.

    While I very much think that the militant child-free need to get off my side because they’re making it look bad…some of that IS in response to the constant pressure to have kids from what seems like every other person ever. I’m completely amazed at the number of people who ask me if I ever plan on having kids and then scold/yell/rant at me when I say no. It’ll be different when their your own (which, given the child abuse rates not always and 2. that’s a really stupid experiment to run given the what rests on the outcome), your life will be unfulfilled if you don’t, you won’t ever get a man (um, maybe I also don’t want a romantic entanglement?) so on and so on. I mean, I didn’t say I wanted them all to die in a fire (I plan on being the cool aunt) I just said I personally didn’t want any.

    Oh, and I think the footing the bill for parents argument is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You either pay now in terms of school and food and childcare or you pay later for jail. In theory, paying earlier gets better results then paying later.

    I’d prefer is more work had flexible hours and that childcare in the US wasn’t so expensive and ridiculous. Not types of work can be flex obviously, so as long as I’m not always the one picking up the slack? I don’t care that much.

  101. I used to have a very dim view of people who had access to birth control and still had unplanned offspring. We had a planned child then I took the appropriate steps, had a vasectomy. 15 years later, my wife was pregnant and I was pissed. She pointed out that 2 in 1000 vasectomy’s spontaneously reverse and I reluctantly agree to postpone further discussion until the child arrived. She was delivered in October of this year and damned if she doesn’t look just like me.

    I have also found that I am much better equipped to appreciate the joys of parenthood this time around… and we had the wife’s tubes tied.

  102. I am married, I have a nice job, a nice house, and I choose not to have a kid.

    I think having a kid is completely selfish and fullfills a biological desire.

    When thinking about the issue, I was trying to come up with any non-selfish reason I could for having a kid. Is there any? It isn’t like I am doing the kid a favor, they either exist or don’t. They wouldn’t know the difference. I am not necessarily contributing to society, we don’t need more humans beings on the planet. Who’s to say that my kid would contribute anything but more pollution, consumption and heaven forbid mental illness and suffering? Just what does the kid get out of the deal of being brought into existence? And who am I to make that decision?

    I also think my decision to not have children is completely selfish. I do sleep until noon, and go where I want when I want. I fly to Europe for weeks at a time, and have disposable income. I am completely selfish in that regard. But I am a high school teacher, I spend all day with kids. I am their mentor and confidant, I am invested in their lives. I would make a great mother, but I only have so much of me to give.

    I respect the decision to have children. I love my job, and wouldn’t be able to go to work everyday if it weren’t for people with children. But I ask for respect in my own decision to forgo the motherhood experience.

  103. Given that Boing Boing readership almost certainly indexes higher for people without children,
    I don’t know, @Andrea. Seems specious to me, given no evidence.

    Here’s some counter “evidence” — a lot of comments disagree with your view.

    Also, re: staying late vs leaving for kid responsibilities. At my job, I take vacation time if I need to leave early. It isn’t “free time” nor is it something I just do — I have to plan for it. Then again I don’t work for an org that makes me work beyond 40 hours without paying me overtime.

  104. @20 – I would never, ever tell someone else what they should do, procreatively, or assess their own choices by this metric.

    But an important reason I have chosen not to reproduce (which is separate from my choice not to parent – those are two different issues) is that I believe I owe it to the populace to remove my type-1 diabetic, fibromyalgial, myopic – et .c, et c. genes from the gene pool. I don’t want to pass my genes on – and I think it’s fine to classify that as a choice in keeping with my ethics.

    I do appreciate your point on all the really nasty, awful people out there – there are plenty of moral, respectful, kind non-reproducers and non-parents, and I think we can get a really bad rep from the hateful folks. That’s why I always try to point out sources of reasoned debate on the issue, when I can.

  105. Most of us are going to age and depend on the support of younger people. I don’t just mean physical support, but also emotional support – you’ll really appreciate a hug when you’re old and frail. And government benefits for the aged aren’t paid out of past collections: they’re paid out of taxes paid by the current generation. So be nice to parents – they’re the ones who are making sure that you’ll be warm and secure when you’re old.

  106. I can’t believe the way so many readers are responding to question 3. I definitely know what the first lie I tell my next boss will be.

  107. It’s precisely Boingers and people thoughtful enough to engage in conversations like this who should be having kids.

    Because the birthers, truthers, jihadists, neo-haters sure aren’t going to stop.

  108. I’m about to have kid #1. I never had any desire for having kids. I love kids- if there are kids around, I prefer their company than that of their parents. I relate to their point of view more than most stupid adults. Still, I love my life, the freedom to pursue all the things I love to do, and having a kid means a severe reduction in my playtime. From a totally selfish point of view, I did not want kids. There’s also the many arguments on why one might not want kids, like humans’ effect on the planet, the fear that we’re bringing more kids into a shitty world, etc. I would have been happy to someday adopt an already-existing human that create a new one. I still think adoption is wonderful, and anyone who “needs to have one of their own” instead of adopting truly is selfish.

    But hey, then my girl got pregnant by me. Conscious? No way… but at the same time, she’s the first person I’ve been with whom I would trust raising a child with, and she feels the same… so the fear-factor involved in always making sure there’s a condom around was much more reduced (and condoms suck, so…) So oops, now we have a kid on the way, and that’s probably a good thing.

    Most people that don’t want kids are probably the ones that need them the most, and vice-versa. Having a kid puts so many things in perspective, and if there’s one thing most moderns are lacking these days, it’s some freaking PERSPECTIVE. On the other hand, having kids, like having a house, breeds fear and insecurity- fear that your precious stuff will be taken from you- and in that way, parents become MORE selfish, less liberal, less generous with others and more generous with their clan. This is a bad habit we need to ditch as a race, too. We need single people to remind us of our ideals and parents to remind us that we’re not so important as we think, nor are our stupid little lifestyles.

    I can’t say I’m excited about having a kid yet, but I will probably be whistling a different tune the minute they pop out. In the meantime, I accept my fate and trust that everything will be fine, as everything always is, when you stop trying to control everything around you.

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    We all depend on each other for so many things we take for granted, this is a pointless question. We all foot the bill for each other, whether we want to acknowledge this or not.

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    Yes, though I’m sure non-parents have equally valid excuses as well.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    It depends on their motives. How can you ask such a general question? It depends on WHY people want to do what they do.

  109. Why all the hate, people?

    It matters not a jot to me whether or not people choose to have kids. So why the necessity for all the vitriol on either side? If there were any real wit to it, I could buy it, but Jeez…”breeders?!” Come on. And the childless selfish? What?

    I’m not convinced that “pro-reproductive” ideology is what is the norm anyway. I suspect that it’s a mite more complex than that, in practice at least. Having said that I suspect that this has been covered in this almighty thread already and it’s a little late for me to go into all my questions anyway!

  110. I think this is a pretty lame discussion because it is predicated on some false assumptions.

    The most telling of these, in my opinion, is the assumption that a choice like that of having a child (or not having one) can be easily boiled down to “selfish.” If you think life is that simple, then either you are a lazy thinker, or you are just trying to be provocative. I’m thinking the latter, in which case…uh…troll much?

    First of all, the natural world cares not for such moral judgments. These moral concepts spring from the Mind of mankind. Without human children, there would be no mankind, and so animals and plants could continue blithely on, feeding off each other without anyone telling them that to do so is to be selfish.

    Secondly, by the mere act of existing you are consuming valuable resources that could be used by another living animal. Your very existence is an act of pure selfishness. If you conclude that parents are selfish, you should also then logically conclude that you are just as selfish, and should seek to remedy that as soon as you can or risk the stain of hypocrisy. Go feed yourself to a family of badgers posthaste. They will not appreciate your sacrifice in any philosophical way, but still…

    I think, as in politics, religion, or even the Mac vs. PC wars, this is just another way for some group of people to feel morally superior to another. If you feel special because you’re a baby-factory, or if using terms like “crotchfruit” makes you feel all edgy and cool, I think the rest of us would appreciate it if you would just keep that stuff to yourself. You’re not going to shame anyone into joining your cult.

  111. My mom chose to have a child, and I’m pretty sure that as soon as I was in this world she was asking about the return policy, lol. There are many reasons for wanting to have children, and many for not wanting them. My mother should have considered the fact that she’s not a big fan of people, as a whole. While she’s been a blessing to me in my adult years, she spent most of my childhood over 1,000 miles away from me (I grew up with my dad and step-mom from the age of 9).
    Now Mom AND Step-Mom are asking for grandchildren, even though they both know that I don’t want children, could not afford a child at this point in my life, nor would I be a particularly good mother.
    You can call me selfish if you want, but I feel no need to procreate. I have a lot of bad genetic code that simply does not need to be passed along to another unsuspecting individual. I hope to age, eventually make a decent amount of money, and use my vacation days to travel, which I will be able to do, as I will have no child to pay for, and no one in need of a babysitter should I choose to leave my home for more than a few hours at a time.
    Do I enjoy being around children? Well, it depends on the child! Middle-school children frankly scare me, and have since I was one. Perhaps it’s because I was an only child raised by only children, but I generally just don’t “get” kids. There are a handful that I enjoy being around on a regular basis, but I also get to send them home to their parents, or leave when their parents get home! Can’t do that if they’re your own, as much as you might want to.
    What amuses me is that my step-mom was also someone who never wanted kids. I was supposed to be the weekend kid. In the end, she was at least half responsible for raising me, and, yes, she’s my best friend.
    I’m sure there are many people who never planned to have children and ended up with one and are very happy in their new lives. But that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have been equally happy had they not had a child.
    Selfish? Sure, you can call me selfish. Do I want to take care of a screaming, crying, puking, yelling, expensive little thing that I have limited control over? Heck no!
    I realize kids have their good points too, but I know I put my parents through a lot of misery over the past 30 years, even if I did turn out mostly alright in the end. And now that I’m grown? Well, they’re taking a LOT more vacations!

  112. Oh and I, non-breeding, am still here at work (but obviously I’m also on the internet!). The childfree lady behind me has left, as has the mother of three to my right. One of my team members has gone home (has kids) and the other has not (also has kids).

    I have a feeling it probably works out like this a lot of times.

  113. You are only “child-free” because you married a video game character and/or have an apocalyptic world view.

  114. Free childcare for all working parents in America!

    Now that I’m off my soapbox, here are my thoughts on having a kid: I’d really rather let someone else carry my child, but will probably end up doing it, I will probably only have one or two (two is a stretch- ugh, literally), and I have always had the extremely selfish desire to pass my wonderful, superb genes on to the next generation and to engage in the social experiment that is caring for, educating and raising another human being. If I didn’t have a kid, I would be sad when I got older. Plus, I don’t know if my mom is lying or not, but she says I’m the best thing ever, and we are like best friends, so it would be nice to have that.

  115. I’m a parent who used to read the childfree usenet group back in the late 1990’s. It was interesting reading for a parent, especially all of the bingo-like comments (“you’re young!” “who’s going to take care of yourself in your old age?” “what do you mean, you don’t want kids? Everyone wants kids!”) which I found pretty horrific. But man oh man, the vitriol and sheer nastiness that some (by no means all) on that group posted about kids and parents was unbelieveable.

    It’s totally a lifestyle choice. If you want them, great. If you don’t, great. Be polite, occasionally put yourself in the other person’s shoes, carry your weight at work. And there are definitely some people of both sorts who need to be slapped upside their heads. If anyone reading this happened to be the clueless git who snarled at me to get my screaming child out of the SeaTac airport about 6 or 7 years ago: she was screaming because she’d just been stung by a bee, and we were rushing her to the first aid facility.

  116. “However, they’re much less valuable to society. If everybody stops having pets tomorrow, some people will be sad. If everybody stops having children tomorrow, our economy will soon collapse, and eventually our species will go extinct.”

    But this argument really depends on a definition of ‘society’ that excludes non-humans — a definition of political convenience, given that not only do humans and non-humans interact in domestic settings, but our present societal order depends on the exploitation, torture, and murder of vast numbers of others. It’s rather like defining a slave-based society in such a way as to excluded the slaves themselves from any consideration.

    Arguably, the best thing that could happen for the vast majority of living beings that make up this planet’s pan-species social order would be for the human species to disappear. While I’m valuable in my cats’ eyes, the human species as a whole is probably not very much so; without us, the cats would just go out and catch birds and live like…well, cats. So humans’ “value to society” depends entirely upon who is framing ‘society’ and in what way.

  117. I was never a kid person, had never even held a baby actually (never wanted to!) but then I had one of my own. It’s interesting being an artist and having a kid, there’s definitely some reverse discrimination-as a mom, I’m a minority in a mostly childless profession. I have peers who clearly do not take me seriously because of it.

    One of the biggest differences I’ve found, though, in my friends who have past the point of no return and probably will never have kids, is they tend to be a lot more uptight. Having kids means you learn to hang tough and ride the ups and downs of life.

  118. I don’t really care about leaving my opinion about the whole complex issue of having a child or not. I do, however, have an opinion on paying for other kid’s education:

    It is our duty as an educated world to pay and subsidize at least some part of schooling, even if it isn’t my own kids.


    There are many reasons, but the one that sticks out the most is for employment and the workforce. If I and other childless business owners refused to pay for education for other citizen’s kids, then we undercut the future labour force. This would create a generation(s) of future worker without basic math, language, and critical thinking skills.

    Not only would these people would be either horrendessly underemployed or underemployed, but it might cause a whole other cascading negative effects. For example, I might have to import labour from better educated countries, which would cause more unemployment in my country and strain public services like public medicare. Which will just cause the very tax increase that I wanted to avoid.

    This is why I pay for education for other people’s kids.

  119. How about those of us who REALLY believe that a kid needs 2 parents, not just one? And then never find, for whatever reasons, that ideal mate to make those babies with? That was my situation; I simply could not imagine trying to raise a baby alone, as a single mother. Very small extended family, so there would have been no support there, and short of a willing donor, I couldn’t tolerate the notion of a nameless and faceless “donor”, either. This thinking was all about the kid, and what would be best for the kid, if I had a kid.

    so, there ya go. My eggs dried up before my perfect (in my case) father-candidate showed up, and I’ve clearly relegated myself to last of my line. All because I was putting a potential kid’s potential family-life experience ahead of my own need to “leave something behind” after I’m gone.

    And, while I was not happy as I moved into my 40s that I might end up never bearing a child of my own, I was never “baby crazy”, nor did I ever decide that I should adopt, either. Maternal instincts? Not here, apparently.

  120. So many interesting points of view! For the record, I am not involved in the child-free movement. I am just interested in any countercultural group, especially their jargon. I think it’s the best way to get a better understanding of predominant cultural forces. There are usually a bunch of important questions at the ideological border between two groups.

    I haven’t asked for access to BB readership data, but I have reason to believe BB readers are more likely to index higher for childlessness than the US average. In the US, about 44% of women aged 15-44 are childless (2004 census data), and that is trending upward. Demographic groups that index higher tend to be more educated and more affluent, both of which I believe apply to BB readers. So it’s an educated guess, but I can’t say definitively (which I never did). That’s why I thought we’d see a good range of opinions, which we have.

  121. I’m a parent and am troubled by the judgmental attitude that often accompanies this sort of discussion. As earlier posters said, I don’t buy the suggestion that childless people are being put upon in situations such as taxes for schools. You pay for a strong, stable community; if your community skimps, you’re likely to see it reflected in your property values (if you must view it in monetary terms). Personally, my child attended public schools for years but now attends a private school, so I’m paying education costs twice. I’ve had to adjust work schedules for childcare, but also know childless people who have taken time off to care for aging parents. And as for the payback, if you expect to receive Social Security or to be cared for in old age, look to people in my child’s generation.

  122. In the United States, parenthood is a choice, in all cases where force is not involved. I don’t buy the argument of so many people that “it just happened.” There are many, many, many ways to keep from having children, from simply not having sex to contraception to sterilization to abortion.

    The bigger question is why people don’t take that choice seriously. A child is a lifelong commitment, and one that is not always fun or easy. A child is a bigger commitment than a marriage or a career, both of which can be abandoned with relative ease in this country.

    I believe that most child-free people have given their choice a lot of thought, and I applaud them for their consideration. Having a kid to please society, a spouse or your parents is irresponsible and stupid. Making a choice to remain child-free is an adult and responsible decision that no one should question.

    Similarly, making a considered choice to have a child is not something that should be ridiculed by those who remain child-free. We live in a society, and this demands that we depend on each other and that we have another generation to depend upon in the future.

    The people we all need to worry about are the ones who avoid making decisions about sex and reproduction and then complain about being saddled with brats or whine about how they want children but can’t conceive at 45. Those are the people who are costing society through children that require extra interventions because of emotional and physical neglect (i.e. counseling, foster homes, jail, psychotherapy later in life). They are also the people who often cost society through expensive reproductive technology, premature birth, higher rate of birth defects, etc.

    I know there are lots of people who will be angry about the previous paragraph. Tough. For the record, I have 2 kids, both born in my 20’s. Both were premature. After the first, we sought counseling from our OB/Gyn about whether we should have another and were given the green light. After #2, I had a tubal ligation so we cannot have any more. I love my children, although they are not always easy. I chose to have them. I choose to not have any more as it would not be reasonable to ask society to bear the burden of children who would likely be early. My brother has chosen not to have children, and I honor his choice. We are lucky to be living in a country that allows us to make considered reproductive choices. Not everyone is so lucky.

  123. It is not selfish to be kid-free to the rest of us, but it is selfish to your long line of ancestors (who all “sacrificed” so you can live), and not to mention, it is really selfish to your potential kids. But for the rest of us, you are really doing us a great favor. There is already way too many people on our planet for anyone’s good, and if you choose not continue your genes so that mine can live in more comfort, all I have to say is “Thank you!”

  124. Amazing number of ‘life is worthless without children’ comments. Disturbing to think that the people who are least able to empathize with other viewpoints are the ones who seem most eager to have children.

    1. Oh, Antinous, you ain’t heard nuthin’ yet.

      Wait ’til you hear a bunch of Catholic nuns earnestly tell you that it’s wrong to adopt the children of unwed mothers because it allows them to escape God’s punishment for the sin of fornication. The bible says the sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children, so clearly it’s God’s will that a 16 year old and her child should have to live in abject poverty after making one mistake.

      OK, I’m outa here. G’night all!

    2. I think you’re bringing a viewpoint to the table, and you’re reading what you want to see. Confirmation bias.

      I don’t see anything like that. There are a few, but not enough to make that kind of generalization, and certainly not enough to expand into the broad brush you use.

    3. I think it’s cognitive dissonance in action actually. Try as hard as possible to shame anyone who doesn’t make the same choice as you so as to make it absolutely clear you have made no mistakes… EVAR!

  125. Those of us who raised special needs children bring another issue to the table. Will you be able to manage if things aren’t perfect? My dear hubby couldn’t deal with the outcome, so he worked more and more. He was able to pay for all sorts of things. He just never could give her the attention she needed. His parents reacted in the same manner. They would travel hundreds of miles to see something special for another grandkid. The first thing they ever attended for her was her high school graduation.

    My daughter made great progress (thanks to all that money that was directed towards her “problems”). However she is now really emotionally messed up from the lack of male attention and approval. Now she seeks love from any willing man. She continues to seek a dad.

    So, before you breed, be clear on your own limits. Look closely at the breeding partner. My ex and his family are all too selfish and self centered to deal with the realities of reproduction. Doing it alone is really hard.

  126. “We live in a world where pro-reproductive ideology is so pervasive that you’d think that having children is an inevitability, even a duty. Exhortations to have kids are the cornerstones of many religions. It’s even been suggested sometimes that those who do not have children are “selfish,” where those who do have children are serving the greater good, like firefighters.”

    That’s a pretty bold statement – and one that doesn’t seem to hold up to scrutiny.

    By most objective measures I can think of, the opposite is true – having children is increasingly seen as a burden, and being child-free is the default and dominant choice. In recent decades birth control, abortion and divorce rates are way up, fertility rates and participation in traditional religions way down. Populations are ageing, family sizes shrinking, people are waiting longer and longer to settle down and have children (if at all). 2.3 children is widely portrayed as an old-fashioned Stepford-Wives-like peculiarity.

    What evidence is there of this increasing pro-reproductive ideology?

    (I don’t mean to imply that marriage is necessary for raising children – but a long term relationship certainly helps, and those are becoming less common. Also I’m referring mostly to affluent Western nations, as is Andrea.)

  127. Amazing how the pro-procreation/no-procreation discussion can generate extremes of viewpoint similar to the pro-gun/anti-gun threads.

    Me and the Missus have chosen not to have kids. We like kids, we like visiting our friends kids, but at the end of the day its nice to go home and selfishly focus on each other. When we die, the children of our friends and family members will be in our wills. Because we love them too. So instead of a child with two parents, there is now a child with additional emergency-backup parents.

    Personal story: Long after my father disowned my brother and I, my childless aunt and uncle where there for us. Taking us to football games and sending me money for college. No kids, extra love.

    And I still don’t know why they never had kids. I guess it doesn’t really matter.

  128. Yes it’s a lifestyle choice – and one I’ve chosen. Had no idea there was a “movement” regarding it, and I have no plans on taking part in such a thing now that I’m aware of it. There’s no reason to make a big deal out of it either way.

  129. My parents were horribly selfish – they abused my brother and I throughout our growing up, and repeatedly reminded us how their lives were great before we were forced on them, how awful raising us had been, and how they’d wished we’d never been born. By the time I was an adult I had no interest in having kids, partly because I didn’t have any sort of family support system to back me up, and I could never allow my kids to spend time with my parents. And I was scared to death of it, what if I had kids and hated them as much as my parents hated me? The thought of having kids was terrifying. I was lucky my husband was happy without kids too. We enjoy other people’s kids just fine, we just don’t need any of our own. It’s taken me 20 years since I got away from my parents to learn to deal with all the insecurities they implanted in me and become a socially functioning adult.

    So people see my husband and I living our lives, doting on our dogs, and think ‘wow, look at those selfish people, too self absorbed to have kids’? Maybe we all spend a bit too much time judging stranger’s lives without knowing what all went into their decisions, eh?

    1. Reply to #190 – I post here a lot but I’m anon this time too.

      Thanks for sharing – it’s reassuring to know I’m not alone. My brother and I were sexually abused by my father and neglected by our mother whilst growing up. I have no idea how to be a good parent and I am not naive enough to believe that “things will all work out” or that “being a mum comes naturally.” I don’t want to bring any more children into the toxic family that I come from. My only other female friend that doesn’t want children is from a very similar background.

      I have been cajoled, mocked and even shouted at at for being a mid thirties married woman who doesn’t want kids (mainly by my male friends fwiw.)

      They will never know the truth: I am *so* *fucking* *jealous* of my parenting friends and their cool assurance that things will work out, that parenting is natural, and that family will support you. I have none of that and it breaks my heart.

      So those of you who think it’s all about the material things (#73 for example), try opening your mind to the other, more soul-crushing reasons that might lead to this choice. Thanks.

  130. I have no problem “footing the bill” for parents, being an ardent socialist. I would love it, though, if everyone kept their judgments and advice to themselves, be they pro- or anti- childbearing.

  131. I had my CF choice made two years before an emergency hysterectomy at the age of 29. The nurse had the gall to ask me, although I was sick as hell, if I was REALLY sure about my surgery and did my husband know that I wouldn’t be able to have kids? What? No- he was absent that day in grade 9 biology. Ten years later we are CF and freakin’ happy about it. If that’s selfish, then I’m getting a Tshirt that says “Alive Because I’m Selfish”.

    1. The no-baby army will always have to recruit from the ranks of the babymakers army.

      Mmmm. Just like vampires and werewolves. I’m in.

  132. Excuse me? I’ve been reading Boing Boing since before I started reproducing, I am currently pregnant with #3, so your whole premise that non-breeders read BB is BS.

    As for your questions, actually having a child is a big freaking deal physically and mentally, if you mean fulfilling a sexual desire leads to the consequence of parentage that’s why we have things like plan B and abortion. Sex is far more then reproduction. If you mean having a child is the desire, sure, I can tell you they are so delicious that I want as many as I am having, it’s unreal how great they are. It feels illicit to be pregnant right now, it’s my 5th pregnancy and the 3rd that has gone this far and it still feels illicit even though I am an adult.

    Actually our children will pay YOUR bills when you’re old, so that idea is BS too.

    No a dog is not the same as a child, sorry.

    It’s selfish to have kids – if you suck at being a parent and are otherwise worthless. It’s more selfish to have more then two kids, I justify my desire for four by the fact my two brothers will have none and my sister may have only one, thus I am allowed extra (yup, self justification for selfishness, but I think women with masters in biochemistry should reproduce and reproduce at a higher rate, again – totally biased.)

    The whole point of evolution is reproduction, it’s not to over-produce as we have, but I do think if we reproduce thoughtfully all of us will be better off.


  133. #40

    I have severe asthma as well as various allergies. It runs in my family. I cannot in good conscience risk passing my asthma to any children.

    I absolutely *loathe* slurs like mouth-breather. How the eff else am I supposed to gasp for breath?

  134. People getting their panties in a twist about childfree using “breeder” don’t understand what it is generally used to mean or happen to be the ones it is meant to insult.

    Have a child, discipline him, don’t bring him to inappropriate places, educate him? Congratulations, you’re a parent. Breeder doesn’t apply to you. Bring your colicky 2 year old to the midnight showing of an R movie, keep having children with no means of support, constantly repeat “kids will be kids”, let them run around with no discipline, you’re a breeder.

    I have no problem paying for children’s education, despite having none of my own, and never will. BUT, and that’s a big but – I want my money to go to education. Not putting fancy furniture in administrator’s offices or paying for stadiums or electronic scoreboards.

    And for those of you saying “Who will take care of you when you get old”, check the details of that bingo card. It’s there for a reason. There are more old people abandoned in nursing homes, never seeing their children. How are they being taken care of by their children?

    1. @Rob #203

      You rather missed the point there. The people who take care of you when you get old and need taking care of won’t necessarily be YOUR children. But a new generation is required to take care of you. Also, a new generation is required to pay the taxes required to keep the whole system going. No one breeds, noone takes care of you, that’s how it works.

      As for the people left alone in nursing homes, quite a few of those (who have kids) never gave themselves time for their children. All about work, and never time for simple things with the family. Those in old peoples homes who had a strong relationships with their kids generally get much more visits and seem to feel better. This comes from my wife who has worked around eight years in old peoples homes (actually hospital ward for the sicker old people). Lot’s of people get up to daily visits and lots of love. Others don’t get a single visit.

    2. Thanks for explaining that. I think that there are a lot of people who don’t understand the proper use. Heck, I have a kid (well, an adult now) and would refer to the people you’ve just described as “breeders” too.
      Not that all people who have lots of kids are, but it seems that a large proportion of the people who just keep poppin’ ’em out willy nilly with no forethought to the consequences are from the shallow end of the gene pool!

  135. I can’t lie – I have 4 beautiful children, and what does that buy me? Squat, that’s what. I drive my 1996 Mazda to our 40 year old home from work at 5:30 and watch my wife walk out the door to an evening job so that we can afford to keep them in clothes and lessons. Where’s my drumset? SOLD! Windsurfer? SOLD! Drunken nights smoking and staying up late? SOLD – for diapers, saliva, and backtalk!

    I don’t see why abortion has to be prenatal…

  136. The world would be a lot better off if people who don’t want to have kids don’t have them, and people who want to have them do, and everyone leaves everyone else alone about their personal choices. Not only whether you have kids, but how many, at what age, etc. Why is it anyone’s business but the person/couple/family in question?

  137. Holy Crap look at all the responses.
    and a lot of you folks are …. a lot of you people have very passionate opinions about this.

    I was going to go all evolutionary science on your asses but I will simply say that children need, by my best guess, over 4 parents. Closer to 5.

    The math hardly ever works out. Fortunately, some of us aren’t having kids.

    You’re welcome.

  138. The most hilarious trait of the self-identified “child-free” individuals out there? They hate children, but live for kid stuff. You see them at Disneyland, grumbling about the presence of children spoiling their vacation. Or they go out and see “Ponyo” and bitch about babies crying. I’d just like to say to them: “Grow the #$%@ up!”

    Kids are great. Adults are annoying. Parents and self-identified “child-free” adults in particular.

    1. Sticking to R movies is no guarantee that someone else won’t drag their kids in, UncaScrooge. And I’ve never been to Disneyland in my life, not do I plan to.

    2. I call bullshit. I personally can’t stand kids but I don’t complain about them when I am on their turf (McDonalds, Disney etc). I complain about kids when they are sitting next to me at the fucking bar at the Airport Applebee’s at 10:00 at night. I complain when someone brings two toddlers on a redeye flight out of Vegas and releases them to wander around the cabin.

      1. This is it exactly. Only I’m inclined to complain about the moronic, disinterested parents, not the children. It’s not like the *kids* chose to hang out at the bar at 10.00 at night. Hell, BRING them, I don’t care, just keep them the hell quiet if the place you’re can’t be reasonably expected to be a kid hangout.

  139. I don’t see how not breeding makes you any more or less selfish than breeding. A good number of the commonly stated arguments for having children are selfish (e.g. who will look after you when you are old?). And hey, did Mother Theresa have any children? So isn’t the selfishness determined more by the intent behind the decision and not the decision itself? A lot of people have children because they think it will make their lives fuller, happier, more complete. Same reason a lot of people don’t have kids. Different strokes, folks.

  140. First off, someone saying “I don’t really want to have kids” is fine. I think if you don’t want to be a parent, certainly don’t be one. Secondly, those who have negative opinions on gay parents are intrinsically fucked in the head, and are not really part of this question.

    Using your example though, where do firefighters come from? When you’re seventy, and there’s a fire, you’re going to hope someone bred one sometime.

  141. 1. Yes. A desire to have children? not necessarily =D Though I do think more pregnancies are “planned” than some of the commenters here seem to think.

    2. Somewhat, but school taxes also mean (in an ideal world) that your cashier should be able to give you correct change because they went to school. So the childless do reap some benefits from school taxes if you look at it that way. I certainly wouldn’t want a world full of uneducated folks, we’ve got a world full of folks without common sense as it is!

    3. Yes, because like someone said, daycare centers are going to get mad, and like someone else said, at the end of the day, people are more important than animals. (Also – if you left a piddle pad on the floor for your dog just incase, they CAN take care of their own need if you’re late…) Though I do wish I could take sick time to take my dog to the vet, since folks with families can take sick time to deal with sick family members (whether children, spouses, or parents)

    4. Everyone to some extent. Ok maybe not everyone… but there are people who can clearly not afford to support kids who have kids because they want to (go visit the young married couples at any conservative Christian college – Lots and Lots of people having babies early because they want them, when they clearly are not in the best place in their lives to do so at the time), and conversely if you choose not to have kids because you just don’t want kids, well obviously thats a selfish decision as well. Not selfish as in bad – but either way – you are deciding to either have or not have a baby based on what you want.

  142. I cannot imagine a better piece of advice to give to a teenage man than “Whatever you do, don’t have kids”

    I have only a high school education and have never earned more than 40k a year. On this I have bought and paid off two homes and taken an overseas vacation every year for the last 10 years. Several times I have quit jobs because I no longer enjoyed them or because something more interesting came along. When Bush was re-elected I moved to Canada on a whim and have stayed here.

    I cannot remember the last time I was seriously worried about money. Every single day I congratulate myself for having the wisdom while still in high school to avoid having children at all costs.

    For me, the only downside to having no children was meeting women my age that also had no kids. Someone should really think about starting a kid free dating service. Attractive single women in their 30’s without kids are as rare as unicorns.

  143. If the only people who had children were people who really, truly, absolutely loved spending time with children, they could have as many as they want and the world population would still be down to 3 billion by the end of the century. Once you strip away societal guilt, parental and peer pressure, hormonal surges and all the other imperatives, there just aren’t that many people whose idea of heaven is spending twelve hours a day with an eight year-old. For those who really love kids, I’ll be happy to pay for schools, show up for birthday parties and hire you a baby-sitter so that you can have a day at the spa.

  144. I’m 29 and not going to have children. Both for medical reasons and by choice. Many times it is selfish or poorly planned for some people to have children. We can’t over look the explosion of underage parents, is there any reason for someone under 18 to have a child? Or the people who have a child to “keep their man/woman” or to up the amount of welfare they get and so on. It’s pure selfishness to have a child when you can not support it or yourself. Personally I think fertility drugs are the height of selfishness. Those people do not want A child they want their OWN child what other term is there for that? It angers me that health care, even medicare, will pay for fertility drugs but not for abortion. Those are flip sides of coin to me- pay for both or don’t pay for either.

    Also being child free doesn’t mean I dislike children, I had a huge role in raising my siblings and I have a great part in helping to raise my niece and nephew. My exact genes may not carry on but my family lines will though humans are not exactly hurting for gene diversity or population.

  145. Being a parent is a choice with a lot of responsibility attached. I don’t see how it’s selfish to give of a lot of yourself to provide a good life to another person.

    Granted, there are people who choose, for very good reasons, not to have children. There are a lot of people who have children for the wrong reasons.

    What’s selfish is to decide to have children, and then complain that your life isn’t as it used to be.

    Absolutely, in my B.C. life (BC = Before Children), I had more disposable income, could travel more, sleep in, etc. All that was great. My wife and I were together for 10 years before having our first. Was it fun? Definitely. Is it better with children? You bet it is.

    For those who don’t think they’d make good parents, every parent will tell you that having children changes you. Believe it – until my first child, I never would have agreed to attend pretend tea parties.

  146. 1. Sure hope so.
    2. Non-parents taxes are an investment in the educations of the people who will take care of them when they are old and feeble. Just because they don’t have kids doesn’t mean they aren’t going to rely on the younger generation in the future.
    3. I’ve been the day-care worker who is forced to wait over an hour past pick-up time for a parent. Yes, needing to pick-up a kid from day-care or school is more important than letting your dog out, if for no other reason than it affects more people.
    4. As long as the decision is made in good faith, no one is being selfish. Certainly us “breeders” (I love that nickname), could be thought of as wishing to leave a lasting legacy in the world, and this could be considered a selfish goal (esp. those who desire boys over girls to “carry on the family name”), but I don’t consider this to be really anymore selfish then the desire to put ones energy towards other tasks.

    As for the Darwinian arguments, I think it is safe to say that any child-free movement will die out in about a generation.

  147. I love kids; as long as they’re someone else’s because they go away at the end of the day. I had several siblings and my parents fostered many others for various periods when I was young so I had done more child-rearing by the time I left home at 16 than most of you parents will ever do. That was enough for me. Now I get to dote on 17 nephews and nieces from a safe distance. Recommended as a middle way.

  148. As for the Darwinian arguments, I think it is safe to say that any child-free movement will die out in about a generation.

    Really? Where did the child-free people of today come from, then? I know some people must find it shocking that people can hold opinions and worldviews different to those hed by their parents, but really, it happens all the time.

  149. 2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    This was the question I was most interested in answering. To me, this question is like whether health insurance should cover maternity because only women have children.

    Everyone getting an education is in everyone’s best interest.

    As for my example – everyone gets born, that’s why insurance should cover maternity.

  150. Talking about Darwin in the context of deciding whether or not to have children seems a bit odd. Unless I’m grossly mistaken, the Darwinian model says that natural selection is fueled by heritable traits. Sex drive, heterosexuality (although that’s a complex mess of antagonistic sexual selection), fertility, ability to form bonds with infants might all be heritable traits. Is there any evidence to suggest that choosing to have/not have children due to economic considerations, career choices, etc. are heritable traits? In the non-human world, animals don’t reproduce because they want to pass on their genes. They reproduce because they want to fuck.

  151. All the parents in this thread talk about how much joy and such it brings to them, isnt that just as selfish as the joy I get from silence on a Saturday morning?

  152. “Is there any evidence to suggest that choosing to have/not have children due to economic considerations, career choices, etc. are heritable traits?”

    Yes. If your parents chose not to have any children, chances are that you won’t have any either.

  153. We are reproducing memetically now. Bodies are platforms for ideas. There are enough bodies already, and enough other people obsessed with making more bodies that I don’t have to. I am making more of me by spreading my ideas.

    And given that, even as a sterilized non-parent, I *want* to help pay for public education. I want to live in an educated society, and I am happy to pay my share for that to happen.

  154. Kids are clearly a choice – or at least the byproduct of choices. People who automatically defend whether their child bring joy & fulfillment to their lives are missing the point of the question. I don’t think anyone questions that you love your child – nor is anyone claiming that those who don’t want kids hate all children.

    I love kids, but I don’t want kids. I simply don’t have that urge to produce and it doesn’t come from a place of selfishness about my resources. At this point, most people ask “well why DON’T you want kids” and I don’t think there needs to be a definite answer. Most parents don’t have a clearer answer for why THEY have kids other than “I just felt it”.

    I don’t have a problem helping pay for childcare because I want to live in a society that is not unravelling at the seams and parents also put in tax money that I benefit from so I figure it evens out.

    Also, having a kid does NOT make you an expert on parenting so STFU.

  155. I want a career. Being the child of two working parents I think I can safely say that you can’t have kids without negatively impacting the career of at least one of the parents. The flipside is the parents who don’t give a rat’s ass about their kids’ ball game (or whatever) and continue to push their noses to the grindstone of their career, and that’s not fair to the kids.

  156. I got some good laughs from that Childfree Lingo site (“Tit Nazi’ was especially good) but as in the case of militant atheism, I ultimately don’t get where all the evangelical fervor comes from. Nobody should feel obliged to spawn; everybody who can should recognize that the decision is momentous either way. But if someone is going to serve me with an enviro writ for being a dad, I’m going to want to know why they haven’t killed themselves the better to protect Mother Earth.

  157. I can’t stand parents. They seem to always want to talk about their kids. Then put little cute pictures of their kids in their profile pictures instead of themselves. They’re almost as bad as cat people.


  158. I think people should all have exactly the number of children they want to have, including zero (as a programmer, I tend to avoid special cases).

    I have three kids. They’re cool, but I’ve just never understood why so many people on both sides of this get their knickers in quite such a twist.

    To assume that an artist or scientist who doesn’t have children because they are consumed by their work has in no way contributed to humanity is very naive. It’s not -all- just about passing your genes on, and I’m sure my life has been enriched quite a lot by many people both alive and dead who never had children.

    But by the same token, for someone to complain that babies “take away” somehow from their life is being naive. They were children once themselves, and lots of people they did not know recognized that they represented part of the future, and treated them accordingly. Someday they may stand in a doctor’s office in front of someone else’s “brat” and get the information that saves their life, or enjoy a particularly delicious meal prepared by a kid that once cried in the same restaurant. It’s not all just about right here and right now.

    I suspect that this argument is probably like just about any debate though, particularly after reading some of the responses here. Lots of people on opposite sides have perfectly rational views and plenty of respect for the other side’s choice, while a few outliers at either end scream shrilly about how everyone should have made exactly the same choices they did. You could probably start a discussion about the merits of one particular choice of engine for a radio control plane over another and get roughly the same results.

    1. Things like VHM is really creepy. When we hear about a people dying out, we always feel bad, but someone if you want the same for everyone it becomes OK?

  159. I work in an office where the overwhelming majority of my coworkers have children. One father of three is constantly putting in long (salaried) hours, constantly picks up pager duty and sacrifices time with his family so he can ultimately provide for them. Another father of 3 cuts out early at least once a week or “works from home”(which is closer to working a half day) to attend to family-related issues. Still another father of twins works his shift, then goes home at about the same time everyday.

    I can understand all approaches and if I were in their shoes I would fault none of them. In fact, it only bugs me when I’m considered fair game for extra work on the grounds that I have no family, therefore have nothing better to do, and have no real excuses to offer when given the least flexible schedules.

    I understand it. I don’t like it. But, I do understand it. Working 60-70 hour work weeks has broken more than a couple relationships, caused lots of stress and generally had a negative impact on my life. I’m not sure if it’s balanced by relative financial freedom.

    But it’s not the fault of my breeding coworkers-it’s the fault of the corporate mindset that makes it ok to squeeze twice the time out of some employees while still paying the same wages. It’s the mindset that makes it ok to prioritize one individual’s needs over the company’s needs, and then prioritize the company’s needs over a different individual.

    Are children the consequence of a desire? Of course they are-a desire to have sex, or a desire to have kids. It’s the same desire not to have kids that keeps me buying condoms.

    Is it fair that my property taxes pay for schools? I went to public schools, so yes. I’m not paying for other kids, I’m paying back a loan with interest, in the hopes that the interest helps pay for another kid to have the same opportunities as me.

    If my dog needs to go out and a coworker needs to get their kid, but only one of us can leave, we try to compromise(as in, we exhaust our options-can we get someone else to do it? Maybe the person who gets to do their chore can take on a little of the other’s work later.) If there’s no solution, I can pick up some poop.

    I’m being selfish in not wanting to be a parent. It’s what I choose to do, therefore it’s selfish. Someone who chooses to have kids is making a selfish decision as well. It’s not a zero-sum.

  160. Now in my early 40’s I am past the point that I can have children. I put off having them when I could have because I was frightened of the prospect of all that responsibility, (although I certainly would not have phrased it that way then). Unfortunately, I got Crohn’s disease in my early 30’s and it rather compromised my reproductive system.

    If any one has any good ideas, I’d be delighted to hear them. I doubt I could adopt, I am on a fixed income.

  161. Please, if you are thinking you *might not* want kids, don’t have any. I see parents everyday who couldn’t care less about their children – we don’t need any more.

    I’m not sure boingboing readers are less likely to be parents – in fact, I’d guess they are educated, affluent, and over 30, making it quite likely they are parents. I’m curious what the demographics are now…

  162. I have always felt that the act of having a child is more selfish than actually not participating in procreation. The greater lot of unplanned pregnancies and the decision to keep the child stems from this maternal and psychiatric urge to love and tend to someone…but that urge is a need/want and if having a child satisfies that maternal need, thus making the act of keeping a unplanned pregnancy selfish. Babies are not pets. If you need to satisfy yourself maternally, adopt a child or an actual pet. There is no use in bringing another consumptive human in this world.

  163. 1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    The biological urge was incredibly strong for me. I’m really happy to be a parent.

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    No. The a well educated populace is a benefit that all of us depend on for our quality of life. Your doctor, your garbage collector, the firemen, the inventors the shopkeepers that you depend on are the people they are partially because of you (chipping in for their education-thanks for that) and mostly because their parents invested years into their upbringing.

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    Yes. A dependent human being is more important than a dog.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    No one is being selfish. I believe the only reason this is a question is because the author believes parents are selfish, and/or worries that others think she is selfish. I don’t think the childless are selfish. I think anyone who avoids it by choice is very sensible. Raising children is a tremendous challenge-it’s definitely not for everyone.

  164. Smoke-free, pain-free, cancer-free, child-free.
    Penniless, worthless, brainless, childless.
    There must be a way to say this that doesn’t make kids sound like a disease or people without them as less than fulfilled.

  165. After seeing the movie Idiocracy, I have a constant nagging notion in my head that somehow I am contributing to the decline of the American society if I don’t produce intelligent offspring to add to the pool. The decision (and it should be a conscious decision) to have children is an amazingly complicated and twisted emotional problem.

  166. So, the only way to find solace and reason in life is to procreate?

    I don’t think anyone said that. But like some other posters, I have noticed that parenthood changes people in a way that is hard to explain. Perhaps children can also “find solace and reason,” but life as an adult is simply more meaningful than life as a child. I believe that the same goes for parenthood. It certainly does in my experience.

    I sometimes wonder if parenthood causes physiological changes, other than the ones caused by childbearing. We talk about parents “bonding” with their babies, but I haven’t seen anyone consider what the long-term consequences of this might be. It could be that parents’ brains really are different – that we are equipped to act and react like a parent in ways that most childless people are not. If so, it would explain why some of the parents in this forum think of childless people as being somewhat immature. Parenthood is a natural stage of life, just like adolescence, and while there’s nothing wrong with being an adolescent it is hardly something to boast about.

    1. Parenthood is a natural stage of life, just like adolescence, and while there’s nothing wrong with being an adolescent it is hardly something to boast about.

      If the next stage of my evolution is to be smug and pompous about contributing a teaspoon of spooge, I’ll stay right where I’m at, thanks.

      1. @A- none of Joe’s comment said anything about donating chromosomes being a prerequisite for being a parent, or about being pompous about it. If people stopped having kids a generation ago, you and I could not have the privilege of this exchange.

        1. If people stopped having kids a generation ago, you and I could not have the privilege of this exchange.

          This topic never would have been posted if it weren’t for a world of arrogant gasbags telling childless people that they’re somehow developmentally inferior.

          Any more meta-commentary?

  167. Okay, I skipped most of the comments, because there are a lot of them, so this may have been covered.

    I don’t plan on having children, and I completely agree that societal pressures to reproduce suck. I don’t like that there are forces in the culture that cause people to believe that only families with children are ‘real’ or ‘complete.’

    But when I looked into the childfree movement (mostly on the large LJ communities) I was completely repulsed by the hate going on, and especially the misogyny. You guys would have a lot more legitimacy as a movement if you didn’t go around calling women “moos.”

  168. Having kids isn’t for everybody, and “being child-free” strikes me as a rather stupid thing to have any sort of “movement” over. Besides, how can they judge what its like to have kids? They’ve never tried it!

  169. The whole “darwin” argument is crap. It assumes that people who choose not to have kids have somehow evolved with “faulty” genes that cause them not to want to reproduce. It’s just another way of expressing the idea that people who choose not to have children are somehow flawed or broken.

    There are many, many reasons that a person might choose not have children.

    There are many, many reasons that a person might choose to have children.

    Making a judgment on the value of a human being based on those choices is ridiculous and people should stop doing it, period. I really wish people would stop making such a personal decision their business.

  170. If we make the assumption that most Boing Boing readers are left-leaning with above average intelligence, then we have a dilemma. If the more intelligent people are thoughtful in their decision to have fewer or no children, what does that mean about the average political persuasion and intelligence of our population over time?

  171. To all of those who use the argument ‘Who will take care of you when you’re older?’:

    Here’s a thought: Save your god damn money. Invest in your RRSP, or what ever is equivilent in USA. This goes for both the child rearing and childless folk out there.

    I mean, telling childless people that they’re selfish, and then relying on your children to take care of your old saggy ass later? I hope your children have good taste when they buy your retirement home cell.

    1. Oh, my goodness. Here, here! There is no guarantee that your kids will take care of you, or themselves, in your old age. They could predecease you. They may hate you for your potty-training methods. They may join a cult and disappear. One never knows. Raise a child as a separate, unique individual, not because you want a day nurse in your old age.

  172. One thing that really interests me is that no one has challenged the whole premise of “when everyone is asked to stay late”
    There’s a whole bunch of supposition underlying our societal acceptance of the idea that work has rights over everything else. Is it really the case that that widget can’t wait until tomorrow to be made? How many lives *actually* hang in the balance by everyone’s staying late.
    SO my response to it is that not only does the child’s parent have the right to go home and be with their family, so does everyone else. Bosses just need to be better about planning their time, setting their goals and valuing their workers.
    That being said, of course the child has precedence over a dog – but what the question really wants to ask is not about the object but the subject – when does someone have the right to refuse to work longer hours? And the answer is one that our society really needs to get a grip on.
    NO one should be asked to work insane hours. I say this as someone with a child, who regularly does – and you know who bears the brunt of it? My spouse -the child’s father, who has to make sure he works a job where he can leave when he needs to.

  173. 1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?
    Yes, the desire to have sex. It is kind of a biological imperative for quite a few species out there.

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    Do you mean parents who give birth to kids and then put them up for adoption, or parents who adopt those kids, or the ones who birth the kid and then keep and raise it?

    From another perspective, welfare is provided to the children on behalf of the parent/caretaker. School taxes are for children with and without parents. I think it is rather selfish to think of welfare and public schooling as something that benefits parents. It doesn’t, it benefits our society because without trained workers and business leaders, we would not have all the fun toys and services that everybody enjoys at some point in their lives (like social security and medicare for the elderly).

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    Yes. You can leave a dog unattended all day, or put in a doggie door, and that is ok. If you do that with a kid, you can get arrested. This answer should suffice for most of the sociopaths and wanna-be Rayndians in the room.

    Joking aside, the premise of the question is damaged in the first place, so let me rephrase it- why work late if you are not being rewarded for your time, and if not, why is having a reason to leave bad?

    I’ve worked for a couple of startups, and continued working late long after my coworkers went home to dinner and soccer games with their families. And, do you know what? This crazy thing happened- I got PAID for my extra effort in the form of more stock options, comp time at x1.5, and a big bonus! And when I didn’t feel like staying, I was always able to claim that I had a parent/relative/close friend that needed the same attention and care that other peoples’ kids needed, and… I was able to go home too! Wow!

    Now, let me just add another shocking concept into the mix- we all have jobs to pay for stuff so we can have more comfortable lives that we enjoy. If working is what you enjoy, then by all means remain there, but don’t get pissed off that your co-worker has different priorities because *gasp* they aren’t choosing to be as miserable as YOU.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    Um, maybe nobody is being any more selfish about parenting than with anything else they do? I didn’t have kids until I was 39 because I hadn’t met someone who would make a good parenting partner for the next 20 years. Other people are not that discriminating, or maybe they are often more lucky or persevering with regards to their choices one way or the other.

    There are plenty of people out there who have kids but aren’t parents. Some even keep the kids they bore under the same roof with them.

    Others make a conscious choice to take kids under their care for the next 20+ years with the knowledge that the sum of their efforts and children’s genetics will result with an adult who will have to be responsible for how their choices affect everyone around them.

  174. Ask yourself this – if your current self were forced back in time to raise your 6 month old self for a week, would you do it?

    Of course you would.

    Prcrt r stp yr winng lrdy.

    Remember, those babies you hate so much will be spoon feeding apple sauce to YOU soon enough.

  175. Whether to have children is a fundamentally private decision and as such I think society (and its members) should simply affirm whichever choice is made. You want to be a parent? Good. You don’t want to be a parent? Good.

    I do hate the assumptions that underlie questions 2 & 3: that a public service has no value and should not be paid for by anyone who does not make immediate use of it, that an employer should have the power to arbitrarily dictate work hours, and that we should take these as a given and argue not over whether they’re right but who should be most disadvantaged by them. Depressing.

  176. I feel sorry for any future daughter I may yet have, as she will most likely be named Jackhammer Jill. Thanks, BB.

  177. I just wanted to make a quick comment since I’m tired and ready for some sleep.

    When I was in the military parents were always given priority. I often worked shifts and it was very rare that a mother was actually on shift. I didn’t have a problem with it and I still don’t. There may be shared responsibilities among all of us. They ensure the survival of the species. The rest of us try to make it easy on them.

    I do often wonder how many people choose that path because of their perceptions of how the rest of us treat parents. We give pregnant mothers close parking spots, congratulate them on their pregnancy, defer to them in matters of time off, etc. We even treat them as if they have some special knowledge, either instinctively or gained because they raised children (some of my family members think “maternal instinct” causes a mother to automatically make the right choice regarding her children – I can conclusively say that this is not true). Surely all of this plays some part in the decision to become a parent.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen many unwanted pregnancies. I’ve also heard of or met many parents who I think should’ve never had kids (some because they seem very ill-equipped or uncaring, others because it’s obvious they don’t like the lifestyle – many times these two overlap). I’ve seen many cases of people getting pregnant just to try to scam the system (on top of those I met in the military who just used it as a way out, my wife used to work for the department of children and families and I was completely shocked by just how many people think of their child as little more than a paycheck).

    Just a note: I mention mothers often here. I’m sure fathers come into it in many places, but I can’t remember any fathers ever being shown very much preferential treatment in the military. My wife has never mentioned a single story of a father trying to scam money out of the department of children and families either. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen – maybe it’s just that the woman is often stuck with the kids.

    I suppose the bottom line is that I, and apparently many others, view parents as carrying a special burden. We compensate by providing special treatment to parents to help alleviate that burden. However, the parents should not abuse this special treatment by taking advantage of it or assuming it somehow makes them better than the rest of us.

  178. So many assumptions in this thread.

    Who say’s I’ll live to get old? Who says you will? Or your kids?

    Nothing is certain.

  179. Some needed observations:

    -I don’t care if people choose or don’t choose to have kids. But non-parents have to admit that, until they have kids, they can’t really say whether being a non-parent is more fulfilling or less fulfilling than having kids. I include myself in that group, since I don’t have kids (yet). Let’s not kid ourselves- clearly, the majority of parents rave about parenting and tell you something inexplicable happens to you that you never regret. So, come on folks, it is willfully arrogant to ignore this little fact.

    -There’s plenty of selfishness to go around for everyone, parents and non-parents alike. Humans are pretty selfish, and by “selfish” I mean doing what you want at the expense / detriment of others, which is different from simply doing what you like to do. Let’s get off the “selfish” thing- it’s a pointless argument for either side.

    -Something no one’s mentioned, which is partially related to this, is that we are obsessed with control. The more control we have over nature, the more we want, over and over- and control rarely leads to happiness. So for all those people trumpeting making a conscious choice to not breed, I don’t see that as a great thing, necessarily. Sure, on one end you have really irresponsible people who don’t think about the consequences of their actions. On the other end, you have control freaks who can’t bear the thought of life throwing them a curveball. THEY are the ones that probably SHOULD get pregnant by accident, because they might stand to grow a little and not be so damn uptight.

    Bottom line, there’s at least two sides to all of this.

    1. The thing is. Once you decided to have kids you never get to know what your life would be like without them either. You only know what it was in the past, but you’ll never know that’s pats non-kid future. And I don’t really trust people’s memories of their pasts that much anyway.

      That’s the problem with the whole “but you’ll never know” argument.


      But it doesn’t stop with kids. As for people raving about it? Well there’s no returning is there? So you better like it. Besides the shame on parents who admit they think they made a mistake is HUGE. Good luck finding many people who would voice that.

      So no I’ll not know if it would have been fulfilling, and if I have kids I’ll not know if my life without kids would have been more fulfilling.

      And as for people who say otherwise. Bullshit. You don’t know what you don’t know. All you have is your rationalizations. So be as happy as you want, but don’t pretend you know what will make other people happy.

      1. I’m not saying I know what will make anyone happy. I’m just saying, let’s not start making declarations that, quite honestly, we aren’t fit to make.

        Someone who has a kid at age 20 might fit your description, but someone who’s lived a full life, taken the risks they wanted to take, tried things, traveled, made lots of mistakes, grown, and then have a kid in their late 30’s… well, I’m pretty sure they’d be at a better vantage point in that aspect of the debate. No one’s saying they have exclusive, objective wisdom we should all follow. Just that, perhaps, just MAYBE, it might behoove one to reconsider their “no kids” position, when they’re all alone and not arguing on the internet and can be honest about how their life is going. Like I said, I like my single life. I have lots of interests. I wouldn’t define myself as “unfulfilled” in any way- I am the last person my friends would ever think wants kids- they know how busy I am and how much I enjoy what I do and what my personal goals are. I’m just open to the idea that a child could trump all of that- there’s too much evidence for me to ignore.

        1. Testamonials != Evidence.

          I have people telling me all the time how happy they are to have found Christ. I’m sure they are. That doesn’t make it the right religion, or the right religion for me. It also doesn’t mean there aren’t some people who don’t like being Christian either.

          Sorry but for the people in my life insisting that I’ll be happier if I have babies I don’t want and can’t raise, prove it to me.

          Show me some good hard evidence that I’m wrong or just let me execute my judgement to the best of my ability regarding my own body and life.

          There’s nothing more patronizing than the “you’ll never know” comment. It’s just as disgusting as when a straight person says, “Well you haven’t found the right girl yet.”

          Don’t be so open minded your brain falls out. Please.

  180. “Most pregnancies are planned in the sense that people want kids, then create the conditions for reproduction to occur.”

    This is not true the last time I looked. Most pregnancies in the US are a variety of “oops.” That is, they are not necessarily unwanted, but not necessarily planned.

  181. “The problem isn’t overpopulation, it’s overconsumption.”

    Complete nonsense. Overpopulation is a serious problem, and there’s a pretty strong connection between existence and consumption.

    Incidentally, 50% of the people I know who read BoingBoing have children, and the other 50% definitely want to have children. The former is my former boss, and the latter is me.

  182. I don’t have a point to make that hasn’t already been made… I just want to rant for a second. Bear with me or ignore me, either way I get it out of my system.

    I have a kid. He’s pretty cool. He wasn’t planned, but since I have no moral objection to abortion and decided to have him, that does make him a choice. Heck, I love the little bugger. I wouldn’t send him back even if I could. But, he has autism, and its some intense work, so I won’t be having any more. There are only so many resources available to my household and I want them all devoted to him.

    I understand why people wouldn’t want to have kids. I understand why people would want to have kids. I had originally intended not to bear my own, but to adopt. It just didn’t work out that way and I’m ok with that.

    What I don’t understand is why people rag me about having not had *enough* kids. I went through three separate doctors trying to get signed off on a tubal and all of them denied me because they were convinced that I will want more kids. Random people I talk to ask me when I’ll be having more. People constantly tell me “you’ll change your mind.”

    Didn’t I do my reproductive duty? My body will NEVER be the same. I already signed on for 18++ years of parenting and I’ve fulfilled 6 years of that already. In fact, depending on how things develop my son might live with me the rest his life. I’m almost 30 years old, WTF do I want with a new baby? Haven’t I suffered enough? Why do people demand that I have MORE kids? And what the fuck is with telling me that I have it easy because I only have one?

    I hate the “have more kids” people almost as much as I hate the “I hate you for having kids people.”


    /end rant

  183. It seems that the ‘child-free’ movement is enjoying the rare privilege of vocally hating a large subset of human beings without being branded bigots.

    I’m aware not every child-free person is out there viciously hating on every kid they see, but many sure sound like it (one only has to look through the above comments). Children are humans. They’re not all noisy, dirty, obnoxious, noxious little creatures bent on trashing your lawn. I always wonder what leads a person to boldly claim they loathe and avoid all children. Has the world’s youth somehow wronged you personally? At what age do your fellow people earn your respect? 12? 18? When do they qualify as persons enough to not be compared to someone’s chihuahua?

    To have children is a personal choice and both options are valid. But to direct hatred and contempt towards all humans below a certain age is plain disturbing.

  184. Personally I’m uncomfortable around children and I don’t want to have any of my own. However, if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that that’s because I have some serious personal issues that I may never be able to resolve. I don’t think I’m emotionally equipped to handle being a parent at all, much less to be a good one, and I’m glad I at least have the clarity to see that this is the case. No one has yet seen fit to give me a hard time over this, for which I’m glad, because it would irk me to no end to be called less of a human being simply for knowing my own limitations and refusing to bring yet another damaged person into the world.

    But to turn that into a general resentment of kids and parents? That’s kind of messed up. Sure, there are entirely too many shitty parents and obnoxious kids out there, but that’s the general pattern of humanity, not a factor inherent in parenthood. As others here have said, parenting and non-parenting are not selfish in and of themselves, but here as in every other field of human endeavor there are those who do things for the wrong reasons. If you have kids, it should be because you want to bring new life into the world and nurture it for a lifetime.

  185. I’ve received more rude comments and painful words when I tell people I don’t want any children then when I tell them I’m bisexual. I don’t know what it invokes in people, but the backlash has been incredible – even from people not related to me who have absolutely no interest in the genes I carry. I’m not militant about it either – I just don’t want children. I value my free time, time to write, pursue my hobbies and spend with my husband. I value the extra small bit of money left that means I can buy something for myself or have takeout instead of cooking. And no, I’m not willing to sacrifice those things in order to have a child. But neither do I want you to stop having children if that’s what you want – it’s your right. Just don’t step on me and tell me that I’m “unnatural” or “messed up” for not wanting kids. I don’t feel maternal in the slightest. I don’t get that “awww” feeling around kids and never did. As far as I’m concerned, it would be plain *irresponsible* to have a child knowing that I may never well bond with it and that I would see it as a thorn in the side of my free time and the things I enjoy. So I’m smart enough to make good contraceptive choices until the day when somebody in the medical profession *finally* believes me and lets me have my tubes tied. But I’m 24, and everyone reading this probably believes I’ll change my mind. I know I won’t.

    It’s painful that people won’t trust me to make my own choices. It would be offensive if somebody said I’d change my mind about my sexuality, and it’s offensive to say I’ll change my mind about reproduction. I’m a grown adult, and all I want is for somebody to respond when I say I don’t want kids and be like “oh, okay. That’s cool then”. Why do people get so preachy about trying to convert people to having kids? Whether I have children or not doesn’t impact your life.

    I see where the super-militant childfree people come from, even if I don’t necessarily agree with them. They come from the intolerance everybody has shoved down their throats about the choices they’ve made about their own lives.

    Just… live and let live, yes? It would be so much better for all of us if we could just accept that some people want kids and some people do not, and leave it at that.

  186. Well I don’t have kids, and I’m not sure I’ll end up having any. But my mom for instance planned extensively for her only two pregnancies. She decided that she would have one kid after graduate school (and six years of marriage) then my sister was planned when I was four and already going to pre-school so she could handle both of us better. My mom also planned for us to be born during the summer so my dad could help out since he is a professor and had more free time during these months.
    So I guess it really depends on the couple and how serious they take birth control and are conscious about the difficulties involved with raising children.

  187. Oh, and I think it’s perfectly justified to resent dumb, judgmental parents. I wish less stupid people had kids altogether. But I see no excuse to take it all out on children. All I’m saying is a large group is being painted with a wide and ugly brush… and it’s not even the guilty party.

  188. I presume in your world all CF folks either have had a vasectomy/hysterectomy, are celibate, or exclusively homosexual, so that they avoid the “lifestyle choice” of having procreative sex. No contraceptive is perfectly effective.

    1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire? I really really hope so. There is nothing more sad that a small child who knows he or she is not wanted. Accidents happen, but I hope that if you don’t want children, you either terminate the pregnancy or arrange for an adoption.

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care? No one uses all the government services they pay for. That is the point of risk sharing and government providing those services.

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out? Yes. But people shouldn’t be asked to stay late. Is it more legitimate to have an employee say that they have to go out for a smoke break? Or for that matter, a doctor’s appointment? Everyone has reasons they have to leave sometimes.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood? Those people who want to set this up as an us-against-them process are being selfish. So, mostly journalists. The working mom v. stay at home mom wars, the parents v childless wars, all these conflicts are artificially inflated by people who want attention. In the real world, these conflicts are fairly minimal. Until people come along and try to point fingers. Yes, I mean you.

  189. I live the selfish thing; ask anyone with kids why they did it and it always starts with, ” I wanted to _____”. *I* wanted to. Not anything about the world needing another person for some reason, but I want a son I can teach ( something useless ) or I want someone to take care of me when I’m old. All selfish reasons. I am sick and tired of other people’s children impacting my life. If there were only millions of us and not billions, there’d be no global warming, much less hunger…pretty much all of our problems come from breeding in a macro-sense. Oxytocin. Hell of a drug. Either we transcend, control breeding or Dr. Malthus will be proven correct. Having kids does not insure the future of the human race, it dooms it. But what do I care, I’m not having kids, heh…

    1. Having a child because you want them to help mankind isn’t any good either, though, since it puts a heavy burden on them. If having a child is a selfish act, though, it’s certainly one that requires more selflessness later on.

      “You wanted to spend most of your time looking after someone else? How selfish!” strikes me as a very weak claim.

  190. If and when humanity achieves real immortality, then childrearing will be an honest, uncoerced choice. As long as we’re mortal, not so much.

  191. When my brother had his first child — a daughter — I breathed a sigh of relief, because I was off the hook for passing the gene line along.
    When he had his second child — a son — I breathed another sigh of relief, because I was off the hook for passing the family name along.
    My brother took care of the breeding in the family. I’m free to pursue my own interests.

  192. This is one of those debates where I wish I had some magical crystal ball that could tell me the background of each and every poster, or at the very least, a sense of where their bias might be.

    Me, I don’t know where the future is. I’m not against having children, but I can’t imagine it either, the best the magic 8-ball has told me so far is “Reply hazy. Ask again later.”

    It’s interesting to read all the comments. I don’t know that I necessarily agree with the initial assertions.

    It seems like a false debate, though. “Hey readers, if you’re reading this, chances are you already agree…” seems…well…flimsy. That’s not to say that people haven’t commented in earnest so much as the…the conclusion…was reached questionably.

  193. @Anon#184 “It is not selfish to be kid-free to the rest of us, but it is selfish to your long line of ancestors (who all “sacrificed” so you can live), and not to mention, it is really selfish to your potential kids.”

    Potential kids? How can I be selfish about little people WHO DON’T EXIST? This whole debate about selfishness is personal opinion, pure and simple. Feel free to label me since I choose not to have children for a multitude of very good reasons, the first being I simply don’t want to have them, and have a great time feeling superior. I’m not child-free in the sense that I say horrible things about them and I’m honestly surprised there is a movement that probably started out more like a support group and morphed into rabid anti-parent and -child haters. However, I will not stop labeling myself child-free because child-less implies that I’m some pitiful wretch who could only be truly fulfilled by giving birth.

    If you want them, have them. Educate them and raise them to be decent members of society. If you don’t want them, that’s your choice too and ignore anyone who tells you you’re selfish.

    1. I fully support and encourage everyone who doesn’t want kids not to have kids. That way mine and other kids will have better chance facing the environmental, food and energy problems humanity is going to face soon due to overpopulation.

  194. My wife and I choose not to have kids for career and other reasons, but to be honest, I think we’d make decent parents even if we did choose to have them. I don’t bear “breeders” or “non-breeders” any particular ill-will, or assume that one or the other is malfunctioning. I’ve got plenty of friends who have kids, and plenty who don’t, and everyone seems to find happiness in their situation regardless.

    One thing I can’t stand is when one side or the other makes assumptions about the other side and dehumanizes them with stereotypes and false facts. People, it seems, will do anything to paint their own decisions as superior to anyone else’s. I really don’t care if anyone has kids or not, as long as they don’t tell me that I’m a troglodyte for having/not having them.

  195. Net net, we live in a world where we are given a choice to have or not have kids. Have them, don’t have them, either is fine if you don’t try to project your decision on to others.

    With regards to “why is it not ok for me to care for my dog with the same flexibility as your kid?” Well, bluntly, which one has a better chance of curing the cancer you might get in 30 years?

  196. Does the suffix -less really have inherently negative connotations, that something is incomplete? If so, I will have to inform people that they’re using “priceless” and “spotless” wrong.

  197. Just to focus on one aspect for all those who say they don’t want kids because they don’t like X, that’s simply a bit too simplistic. Truth is kids grow up and you don’t *have* to love ever single moment of it. It’s perfectly fine not to. Personally babies do very little for me indeed and I find toddlers rather irritating and boring too – not to mention the trauma of having adolescents around much of the time. OTOH pre-teen is magic, and with my eldest at university now doing a subject in which have some interest and who’s starting to travel independently then that’s just great (both our kids are under strict instructions to go and live in interesting places so we can visit them ;-) ). If your considering having kids but are worried because you ‘don’t like kids’ then that’s just far less of an issue than you might think because you don’t get any particular phase of ‘kids’ for that long.

  198. myself and my partner have been disscussing alot recently about if we should have kids or not (assuming we can). One thing we both agree on is that dumb people are out breeding the smart ones 10 to 1. But I don’t think this is an argument to breed if you consider yourself smart afterall the world needs more dumb people and only a few ‘smart’ ones. We have agreed however that the world is over populated and thus should have no more than one or two kids (only replacing our own number in the gene pool). Personally I believe that as a race we need to breed less and bring down our numbers. Forget energy saving light bulbs if you want to save the world don’t breed. The ‘selfish’ people are the ones who breed excessivley without the resources and time to look after their own kids. Hate to say it but your kids are a massive drain on government and environmental resources aswell as my taxes

  199. Call me crazy, but to me, people who have kids just don’t seem all that happy. That’s just my experience and opinion.

    I look at their faces. They are tired. They are stressed. They don’t smile. They don’t sleep. They never have any money. They don’t get to go out, or travel as often as they would like. They complain a lot, about their kids, and their spouses, and their obligations. Their lives are governed by schedule and routine. They have no freedom. They lack the time and/or money to pursue their passions.

    I have never looked at any of my child-bearing peers and felt any desire to have what they have.

    I’ve been fortunate enough to have a fair number of human beings acknowledge to me many of the ugly realities that come with choosing to have children. (Including the realities of what it can do to a woman’s body.) I have also had enough people express a twinge of envy for the lifestyle and freedom I am able to enjoy without children. (“You’re lucky”, I hear far too often.)

    For me (and speaking just for me), this has all been overwhelming evidence to convince *me* that having kids is just not something that is right for *me*. I find deep fulfillment through various aspects of my life, and just don’t feel any motivation to have children.

    A kid-free, early-40’s friend of a friend once said, “I’d much rather look back five years from now and regret NOT having children, than look back and regret having them.”

    If you want to have kids, have kids. But don’t discount the idea that it may actually be possible to get everything you ever wanted out of life (and even more) without them. To each his own.

  200. The “child-free” movement is motivated by one thing: “let’s please talk about ANYTHING but my bloated, reckless overconsumption! Let’s even talk about the over-consumption of the unborn, ya? Just don’t take away my new HDTV and my Starbucks coffee and my…”

  201. 1) yes in my experience they are

    2) this is an artificial divide. Society as a whole (including the childless) has a vested interest in making sure new members are brought up well and taken care of.

    3) This is the sort of nonsense that polarizes arguments: you just implicitly equated humans and human children specifically to dogs. Yes raising a human being to be a productive, healthy and well adjusted part of society is a tad more important than walking the dog. Raising a child is a choice that once made brings with it an awesome responsibility, doing anything less than a 100% is not an option. Having a pet is an indulgence.

    4) Both choices can be made for selfish reasons.

    Nearly all of those question read like a bad troll by the way.

  202. Call me crazy, but people in their thirties and later without kids just don’t seem all that happy. That’s just my experience. They just seem kind of lonely and sad and a little too eager to rationalize not having kids to strangers.

    Oh and that No Kidding convention – that sounds about as creepy as a furries meetup.

  203. I wasn’t aware that there actually was a childfree movement, but now that I know I’m actually quite happy about it.
    I’m also quite happy about people who decide to have children, by all means, carry on.
    But don’t expect me to. We talk so much about “Choice”, isn’t it my very personal choice if I want a baby or not? Why is everyone up on their soapbox when I say “No, thank you”? I don’t want one. I don’t feel incomplete without one – how can I miss something I never had?! I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I’ve never awwwwed over cribs and I’ve never had any maternal motions.
    I also resent the very idea that women who don’t want children are selfish career women – most of us don’t have “careers” but jobs, and losing the job and depending on social welfare and descending into poverty is not anyones idea of raising children well, is it?

  204. kids are fine. i just wish our society in the US would stop catering to them on everything. yoou know, the whole “what about the children” cliche. id like more “so what, about the children.”

  205. My flabber is well and truly ghasted at some of the comments I’ve just read here. As a father of a 6 month old I have to start with the assumption that more people read boing boing who are childless than some undeclared other demographic. Who exactly are we being compared against?

    Anyway, what’s with the term “Child free”? What’s wrong with “Childless”? Freedom is not about steering clear of long term commitments and there is nothing freeing about remaining childless, it’s just you end up with different people and different things demanding your time and attention. Not having children limits your experiences in some areas of life, and having them limits your experiences in different areas of life. Usually you can have both, just not at the same time.

    Having a child is a kind of temporary state, in that within 20 years you can expect them to be self sufficient, more or less. So all those books you never had the time to read and those movies you didn’t get to see, you can go see.

    Let’s have a look at post 284 from Andrewb:

    > I look at their faces. They are tired. They are stressed. They don’t smile. They don’t sleep.

    Tiredness is from pushing the pram. It’s called exercise, and it’s not known for causing smiling. Obviously we do sleep. Maybe not enough at times, but of course, we sleep. Of course we do.

    > They never have any money.

    Some do some don’t. They have new priorities for their money that’s true. But kids don’t cost all that much (at least in the last 6 months it hasn’t).

    > They don’t get to go out, or travel as often as they would like.

    Well, perhaps they had kids too early. I did a lot of pissing beer against the urinal, and you know what? It’s not actually got that much going for it. Some of the recent movies are shockingly bad unoriginal thoughtless pap.

    > They complain a lot, about their kids, and their spouses, and their obligations.

    People love a good moan. I doubt that they are the only ones complaining.

    > Their lives are governed by schedule and routine.

    Which is fine. Most people live like this. Think “job”.

    > They have no freedom.

    See above. Freedom is not about avoiding long term commitments.

    > They lack the time and/or money to pursue their passions.

    Rubbish. You are busy, fine, but our 6 month old is awake 10 hours a day. I’m awake for around 16. There is time. Especially when you consider that there’s 2 of us and only one of him. Though of course that’s not quite true as you have more children.

    I think 2 is probably the best number as any more and you have to move from man-to-man marking to zonal defence.

    And as for money, well, as ever, some people are more equal than others.

    1. I’ll try taking Andrewb’s little survey as well:

      > I look at their faces. They are tired. They are stressed. They don’t smile. They don’t sleep.

      I slept on the floor with my first kid for four years, because that’s where she wanted to be, and because she liked having me there. It wasn’t comfortable at all. But then again, I’m a stubborn bastard, and I don’t do much of anything I don’t want to do– what interesting thing have you found lately that was so cool you’d voluntarily sleep on the floor for years?

      > They never have any money.

      I didn’t have much money before I had kids, either. But that doesn’t matter much– my experience is that kids require much more time than money. Besides, when I get $20, I usually don’t find much I want to do with it anyway. Perhaps my needs are simpler than yours.

      > They don’t get to go out, or travel as often as they would like.

      Well now, that’s where you’d be wrong. My kids are great little road-trippers, and we go everywhere. Illinois to Florida on a weekend? No problem! Nashville on a whim? Certainly. NYC, Las Vegas, Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, San Diego? Been there, brought the kids. Part of the fun with kids is sharing these sorts of things with them!

      > They complain a lot, about their kids, and their spouses, and their obligations.

      Complaining is part of being human. It’s called “letting off steam.” No doubt you’ve complained about one or two things before as well– a job, a bad boss, your homework, cleaning up your place, losing your keys, drama with a friend, etc…

      > Their lives are governed by schedule and routine.

      It’s unfortunate, but that seems to be how most of life goes, unless you’re independently wealthy and have no responsibilities whatsoever. Even a single person with nothing more than co-workers to keep them company has responsibility and schedule in their life. But yeah, if you want to be a hobo, I suppose kids might cramp your style. On the other hand, kids are better beggars.

      > They have no freedom.

      “Oh freedom / well, that’s just some people talkin’ / your prison is walking / through this world all alone”

      > They lack the time and/or money to pursue their passions.

      You seem awfully hung up on time and money for such a free person. If these are your “passions,” you’re missing out on a lot more than kids.

  206. Before I had children (at 32) I don’t recall anyone “making” me feel bad about not having them. I wonder if this pressure some are resenting is partially self induced?

  207. Some people are meant to have children, some are not, and most probably don’t know even if they think they do. So what? I have always believed that I was meant to have them but was born with the gay. Fortunately, I lived long enough to benefit from being childless and then for technology to offer me the opportunity to start my family at 57. I’ll be 60 in a few months and have baby twins and a toddler. We couldn’t be happier, though I’m exhausted. I adore my childless friends and share my kids with them whenever possible–not to pressure them, but to let them enjoy them, while giving my kids the richest experiences possible.

    I know I’ll get flamed for creating life when my own life is on the wane. Let’s just say that my kids are far luckier than many I know with young parents in less desirable circumstances. Older parents are a whole ‘nother thread, and I would suggest that the only ones whose opinions count are their children.

  208. As for 2: School taxes aren’t a transfer from non-parents to parents. They are a transfer from adults to children. I have no problem charging ex-children for the education of current children.

  209. It’s a tougher choice for women, as they have to do decide whether they want kids by around 35. Men can pretty much inseminate until they die (Larry King) so there’s not as much pressure.

  210. Single here, so no kids.

    I have a couple of friends who don’t want to have kids, and I’m appalled at how much hell they catch when they DARE to say “oh, we’re not going to have any kids”… you’d think they throat punched the pope. People act like it’s a personal insult for someone not to want to procreate. Like you hate kids, all kids, particularly their kids. Like you despise and look down on people who have kids, particularly them. I suppose it’s mostly jealousy… a dual income, no kids family lives a lot more comfortably financially and has a lot more personal freedom.

    I know that when I was younger, I’d decided to not have any kids until I was at least 30 or 35. Now that I’m in that range, 45 sounds like an absolute cutoff. Gotta get them out of the house before you can retire. Or at least old enough to be out of the house… my sister’s 28 and still living with mom, so no guarantees I guess.

  211. Wordtipping, I really hope you’re being sarcastic.

    I’m 27, my husband is 26. He has cancer. They started treatments quickly and we had about three days to decide whether we wanted to bank his sperm for later IVF if he became sterile from the chemo. We chose not to do so and got a lot of flack from some people. I’m sick and tired of a)people thinking we’re selfish b) thinking what I do with my body is any of their business and c) that parents are somehow more enlightened than the rest of us.

    To the people who think that you’re really only busy and obligated when you have kids, please think again. I get really sick and tired of parents who think I can’t possibly be as worn out as they are. Think about being 27 years old, your husband diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, going through multiple surgeries, tests and chemo,and all of a sudden being a primary caregiver who now much do all the work two people used to do. Pile on trying to juggle work and then wonder why I want to throat punch a parent who complains they didn’t get an extra day of vacation to spend at Disney World.

  212. I wonder how much people think about the increasing genetic roulette we are faced with. Knowing what i now know i am not sue i would have a kid now. One in 100 is autistic. And tons of kids with ADD ADHD – all form increased radiatiaion and chemical exposure.

    Walk through one of those airport scanner that are so in the news, may abort a pregnancy or create such change in the child that your life will be spent looking after the result as a caretaker,not a proud parent.
    Oh, and your chances of getting cancer from the walk through a radiation bath will be much improved. Parenting is no longer a lifestyle choice – it is a total crapshoot.

  213. this i have to say is a very interesting topic!
    i am 28 years old and has no intention of having children.

    id like to be child-free for the rest of my life because kids would be a great inconvenience for me. i dont have a good job so it is only sane for me to be child free. also i live in a third world country where population is huge problem… i dont want to contribute to this problem. to answer q1 the way i see things here in my country, most kids here are products of accidents and also of backward thinking (i.e. marriage means having kids)

    but unlike the child-free people i do not spew hatred towards parents and kids. i actually like kids. i love my nieces and nephew so much, it’s unbelievable. i would rather send my brothers’ children to school than have my own kids.yeah i’d like to do that.

  214. I think that extremes on any side of this particular subject are unfair and selfish. If a couple chooses to have a child, they are in their right as members of a global society to do so and should not be judged for it. Alternatively, if individuals or couples choose not to, they shouldn’t be judged or judge the ones who do.

    I have personally chosen not to have children but that is my personal decision and I have no right to judge those who do. It is like religion, it is wrong to judge someone for their personal beliefs.

    Also, it makes me sick to think that there are people out there who HATE children. It is unfounded and completely against our very nature. Every species on earth procreates, it is part of evolution. Children scare me a little because they are so fragile but they are necessary to our species and our continuing developement!

  215. I hadn’t planned to have kids (although I wasn’t against it either) but my other half was keen. Our daughter is now 1 month old and she’s fabulous.
    On the other hand I don’t think we should do more than replace ourselves (i.e. no more than 2, probably only 1) the world is already way over populated and I don’t want to contribute to that problem too much

  216. I never got married until I was 45 and my wife 39. We have been married for ten years and have had no children in the process. Married late because of my military career and because I was taking care of my own inner child.

    I asked all the same questions listed above about why do I have to pay for other peoples children (health insurance costs, school taxes, or garbage fees based on a family of four). I did resign myself to carry that burden until recently when the issues of “Global Warming” and “Universal Health Care” coverage hit the political scene. Maybe now I’m all for importing new educated US citizens from other countries. It might be cheaper then manufacturing them here?

    Does anybody else see “reducing our carbon emissions” as just a form of better people packaging on the earth. If we were to cut our individual carbon emissions to 1/10 of what they are now, can anybody promise me the earth won’t end up with 10 times the people in the future and negate all our efforts.

    As far as the universal health insurance goes, if we refuse to federally fund abortions, shouldn’t we make people that have more then X amount of kids pay all medical expenses out of their own pocket?

  217. You are ignoring the fact that parentless children already exist.

    They need YOU to take action.

    They need YOU to provide them with parents.

    NOBODY needs you to make more children.

    Yes, I’m talking to YOU. You are affluent enough to read BoingBoing, you have more than enough resources to adopt a child. Stop making excuses.

  218. I like it. I do think the pro-children message is stronger and louder than the alternative, but personally I kind of think there should be more people not having children in the world (or at least adopting or something).

    1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    Yeah, I’d say most kids are desired, at least in that “well, it’s okay if you get pregnant” kind of way. A lot of ways exist to avoid conception, if that’s what you’re going for.

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    Sure, both public schools and welfare count. But the whole “borrowing from future generations” that is the deficit is a HUGE expense that everyone — even the childless — puts on the children of the future.

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    I’d say absolutely yeah. The bond between a parent and a child is of quite a different character than the bond between pet and owner (however much some weird cat ladies beg to differ).

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    It is difficult to be a selfish parent. Not impossible — there’s plenty of horrible, selfish parents out there — but the biology and culture is against it. Being a parent means sacrificing yourself for the offspring. That might be a little selfish in the Darwinian sense, but not in the casual sense of the term. I don’t think that people who choose not to have children are selfish, though. More, I see that moniker as a measure of parental jealousy over the freedom of the childless. While it’s true that the childless can do more for themselves than those with children, generally no one forces you to reproduce. You chose to give up a portion of that autonomy with kids. No one made you, and there’s a million ways to not do it, so if you do it (in most cases), you have no right to be angry at someone who made a different choice, even if you envy their freedom on occasion.

  219. It’s funny; I wanted to be a parent and we now have a 9-month old girl. I don’t want a tattoo because it’s too permanent. I’m very happy as a parent.

    Once you’re a parent, that’s pretty permanent. I don’t quite understand why I wanted one but avoided the other, but there it is.

  220. My thoughts on this, from the perspective of someone with a newly-empty nest who has gone through the entire process from end to end.

    Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    Ours was. I always wanted children, but my wife was on the fence. One June weekend, she suddenly decided at age 32 she wanted a child and stopped taking the Pill. I guess it was then or forget it for her. Thank God for the Pill; we’ll reproduce when we’re good and ready (and more financially secure), thank you very much.

    Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)?

    Anonymous poster #10 suggests we all pay for each other. There is a whole political movement in this country dedicated to rebelling against this, but OK. I kind of wonder where childless old people go myself. I would guess Medicare/Medicaid ends up with the tab for whatever accommodations they end up getting, which probably suck.

    Another cost that we all bear for those who choose to be child-free is that there is another political/religious movement in this country dedicated to the proposition that it is every woman’s duty to pump out another Christian soldier every year until her uterus falls out. The idea that these people will one day outnumber more rational people, if they don’t already, scares the bejeebers out of me.

    If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    Been there, done that, have no problem with it. If you need to leave early, come to some compromise solution with the boss. Maybe you can come early the next day when he decides at the last minute that everybody has to work late. And yeah, as long as you don’t live too far away and can get your butt back here, I have no idea with you going home for a couple minutes to let out the dog.

    Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    Huh? What? People are selfish for its own sake; parenthood doesn’t enter into it. You either want kids or you don’t. There are lots of reasons one might feel one way or the other, selfishness being but one of them.

  221. i’m 27, happily married, and child-free. more people should be grateful that some people chose not to have kids and contribute to overpopulation. and finally, it’s okay not to like kids. there’s no law that says u have to say “awww.”

  222. The many cheerleaders for adoption on this thread should know that by the time adoptees are adults, they’re usually much more negative on the concept of adoption than the general public (having lived through the consequences). Adoptees will tell you that the most selfish people are adoptive parents: we WILL have children, no matter what God/nature says. Psychiatric illnesses, criminal and self-destructive behavior, depression and suicide are all significantly higher among adoptees than people raised in their own biological families. Have children or don’t, but do the research to make sure you are actually supporting the child’s needs, not your own selfish desires.

    1. How do rates of depression, suicide, etc. compare between kids raised in foster homes or government facilities versus those actually adopted? That seems to me the most relevant comparison.

  223. Wow. This hits my buttons both for snide and for culturally privileged wrongness. I’ll start with a little data:

    As of 1994 (first link), 49% of pregnancies in the US were unintended. Unintended pregnancy is much more prevalent in lower socioeconomic strata, but happens elsewhere.

    That trend continued essentially unchanged to 2001 (second link) and probably continues today (third link, though that’s the least reliable of the three sources).

    It’s true that some people, particularly richer and whiter people, have access to pregnancy termination services such as abortion, or safe reliable adoption services. So I suppose you could argue that for these people parenthood is a choice.

    However, the treatment of parenthood along the lines of “lifestyle choice” is insulting and extremely classist. It makes discussion of the other more valid points (such as social and workplace biases in favor of parents) much harder to discuss.

  224. Surprised no one has posted this link (maybe I missed it), especially given the number of people who claim that there is some sort of quantum leap of happiness that occurs when you have a kid:

    “Parents experience lower levels of emotional well-being, less frequent positive emotions and more frequent negative emotions than their childless peers”

  225. These two questions are, IMHO, misplaced:

    “2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    “3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?”

    We support parents because that is the means by which society supports children. Being a parent is quite burdensome; even with help, parents end up with less money and less time, and studies seem to imply they even have less happiness. In the task of raising children parents put in more than society, even with the societal support that they get.

    I believe the more direct question is: do non-parents have a responsibility to support children (in a collective sense, not having their own children)? Do children deserve special consideration? More consideration than, say, a dog? I don’t think it’s very controversial to say yes.

  226. “I don’t care if you want kids or not…

    And while I’d never force my beliefs on another soul, I do think fearing children is a bit like being afraid of flying: totally irrational and potentially damaging to one’s well-being. Overcome the fear, and your life opens up to limitless possibilities for enrichment and personal growth.”

    You’re right, you wouldn’t stoop so low as to force your view on others, but you certainly don’t mind condescending to those who have chosen a path different from yours. Saying that people who have chosen not to have children are cowardly or haven’t thought it through is infuriating to me.

    It boggles my mind that so many people seem to think that people who don’t agree with them just don’t “get it”. That is such a patronizing way of viewing someone else’s choices: “Oh, if everyone thought it through enough they would eventually see it my way…” GET BENT.

    And for the record: as a childless by choice twentysomething, I am happy to pay taxes for education. I like kids but I don’t want any of my own, thanks. I love my parents for the great job they did raising me but I’m not interested in doing it myself. The world has enough people as it is and I can be of service to society in other ways than being a mom.

  227. This topic is basically pointless. Sure, it could bring up great discussion, but then you get the assholes at the extremes who hate each other.

    I like kids. Heck, I love kids. I don’t have any of my own (yet). Someday, I probably will. My wife wants them. She always has. I always thought I’d have them until I started really enjoying life as someone who had the income to do what he enjoyed. Now I’d prefer to enjoy my life and do lots of stuff. The main problem I have is being able to afford them. I don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck just to have a kid. My wife seems more willing to do so.

    I know if I had a kid, I’d probably be happy with it and wouldn’t regret it. So to answer the first question, I’d say it’s about 50/50 people who plan to have one and people who don’t. I know my cousins planned it (though one of them had a couple accidents after the first planned one).

    What I hate is people who have kids who get all high and mighty when people who don’t complain about them. If I was in a restaurant and my kid started acting up, I’d pay my bill and leave, even if I didn’t finish my meal. If I was grocery shopping and my kid started acting up, I’d pay for what I had in my cart and leave, to finish some other time. Kids need to be disciplined, not ignored. There are many situations where a kid should not be brought, especially if they are acting up. And for the record, by acting up, I mean causing a major disturbance. So the people I can’t stand are the ones who go “you don’t know anything because you’re not a parent”. I do know things and I know that your screaming kid doesn’t belong running around a store bumping into people. Either discipline the kid or get out. That’s exactly how I would handle the situation if I were the parent.

    On the flip side, I also hate people who claim to hate children. Is your life really that miserable? I hate people who call people with kids “breeders”. t’s jst s drgtry s cllng blck prsn nggr r gy prsn fggt. It’s also just as immature.

    The second question is an obvious move to start a heated debate. Yes, people without kids help foot the bill for people with kids. But you know something? Those kids who were not yours will be helping to foot your bill when you’re old and feeble.

    The answer to the third question is yes, and I can’t put it any better than the commenter who rephrased the question with a person who has no kids but has to leave early to take care of their physically/developmentally/mentally/whateverly disabled sister. That being said, I have a boss who has no kids, but understands the need for a co-worker of mine to leave early to pick up his kids. But to be fair, he let’s me go “pick up the kids” if I need to leave early for something (even if it’s a haircut, but always to bring my cat to the vet).

    Finally, the 4th question goes both ways. People who have kid after kid because kids make them happy, even if they can’t afford the kids or because they haven’t gotten a kid of the right gender, are just as selfish as people who don’t have kids but plan on living off the system. After all, as many people put it, if you went to public school, someone without kids helped pay for it.

    All of my rambling aside, it really comes down to your attitude. Don’t be a dick. It’s as easy as that. Militant parents, militant breastfeeders (because this can start a whole new discussion), militant child-free, militant anyone… they’re all obnoxious, they’re all immature, they all need to grow up.

  228. To define a few of the terms:

    “Breeder.” A pejorative term describing a human being who chooses to reproduce, i.e. the bulk of humankind. That those who don’t reproduce feel the need to create such pejoratives is fascinating, since those who choose to reproduce have coined no such terms.

    “Selfish.” Acting in a way that benefits oneself and one’s desires. By definition, all humans are selfish, and could never be otherwise. “Selfishness,” concern with one’s self, is inherent to beings like humans that possess a self. Several people participating in this discussion seem to think that there is another conceivable category of selfishness: Moving to help oneself in a way that hurts others. This is not a separate category; if I consume resources, those resources may not be used by others. All selfishness benefits oneself and thus harms others, and this movement is basic to all human existence.

    “Pro-reproductive ideology.” Ideology that treats reproduction as normal, desirable, etc. Man is a social animal, and reproduction is a prerequisite of the continuation of society; thus, reproduction is desirable. Moreover, the bulk of humankind chooses to reproduce, and human physiology not only allows for reproduction but creates a biological urge to reproduce; reproduction is thus by definition normal, both biologically and culturally. I would note that “normalcy” is hardly the most desirable of categories; I only wish that those who choose not to reproduce would have the nerve to admit (or even revel in) their abnormality, rather than acting persecuted whenever basic logic is considered.

    “Lifestyle choice.” A meaningless term invented to disguise the truth by those not interested in examining problems thoroughly. “Lifestyle” is an all-encompassing term that describes all aspects of a person’s life; thus, properly considered, all choices are lifestyle choices. Education is a lifestyle choice. Using the internet is a lifestyle choice. Living in a building, rather than on the streets, is a lifestyle choice. Having children, when it is a choice, is a lifestyle choice. This is no relevance to the issue at hand, which is whether those who do not have children subsidize those who do have children. And the answer to that question is, Yes, they do. And this is fitting, since children are necessary for the continuation of human society, the fending off of demographic decay, etc. By having a child, although you are benefitting yourself insofar as you enjoy having children, you are also rendering a service to society.

    “Demographic decay.” A term I’m surprised I haven’t seen here. When societies have not enough children to reach the replacement rate, demographic decay ensues. Businesses are unable to find enough people to fill their payroll. There aren’t enough productive citizens in the workforce to support those too old to work. It’s a nasty problem, and one that parts of Europe will likely be facing in the future; those who choose not to have children are dishonest with themselves if they ignore it.

  229. Author of Families of Two: Interviews with Happily Married Couples Without Children by Choice here.

    I’d like to speak to the “selfish” issue. Thinking childfree people are selfish is one of the biggest myths about people who decide not to become parents.

    I’ve interviewed over a 100 childfree couples and in just talking to many people who have chosen not to have kids, I’ve found that people who’ve make this choice often see far beyond themselves and the consequences of their actions. They are involved in their communities, churches, nonprofit causes they care about, including those that help kids.

    It is important to define what we mean by “selfish”. Wikipedia has a good discussion on this topic—here is the subsection of “the issue of selfishness”on its Childfree page:

    “Some opponents of the childfree choice consider such a choice to be “selfish”. The rationale of this position is the assertion that raising children is a very important activity (childfree author Virginia Postrel calls it “the most important work most people will ever do”), and so not engaging in this activity must therefore mean living one’s life in service to one’s self.

    There are two value judgments behind this idea: One is that individuals should endeavor to make some kind of meaningful contribution to the world. The other is that the best way to make such a contribution is to have children. For some people, one or both of these assumptions may be true, but others prefer to direct their time, energy and talents elsewhere, in many cases toward improving the world that today’s children will inherit.

    Proponents of the childfree choice posit that choosing not to have children is no more or less selfish than choosing to have children, and in fact choosing to have children may be the more selfish choice especially when poor parenting creates many long term problems for both the children themselves and society at large. The decision to become a parent is often based on characteristically “selfish” and egotistical motives as well.

    Philospher professor David Benatar argues that deciding to bring a child into this world does not have the potential person’s interest at mind but it’s the parents’ own desire (to enjoy child-rearing) that is at the heart of such a decision. Hence a childfree person is no more selfish than a person who has chosen to have a child. In fact, it can be the case that a parent is more selfish for the above stated reason.

    There are lots of people who make this choice, the numbers are growing. You will find a good number of books out there and while not in the press enough, I usre have been and continue to be — check out

    Thanks for bringing attention to a group of people who need to be better understood and accepted without judgment!
    Laura Carroll

    1. Child-free people are not inherently selfish at all, and quite a few that I know well chose not to have children very rationally. But if you read the 317 comments above yours you will notice quite a few comments from people who affirmatively declare that they are selfish (I don’t want anyone wanting something from me, but then I would have to spend money on other things than me, etc.) Which, of course, is their right.

      People who have children are ALSO not inherently selfish at all, and quite a few chose to have children very rationally. But there are people who have children for all the wrong reasons (now someone will be dependent on me, now I can live out my fantasies of being a model by pushing my kids into that life, etc.)

      In summary, judging people who make choices that are not the same as yours is not a good idea.

      The original article was clearly at troll. And a successful one too, with 318 comments.

    2. “Thanks for bringing attention to a group of people who need to be better understood and accepted without judgment!”

      I have no quarrel with people who choose not to be parents. The people who tell you you aren’t fulfilled until you have a kid are idiots. Don’t associate with them!

      However, taking the position that those who do have children may be more selfish than those who do not because they desire to be a parent is a rather provocative stance. Why does either side have to take the the label of the most selfish?

  230. I’m surprised at the amount of vitriol here.

    Both can be choices and both can be right.
    I did not want a child, both because I thought I would be a bad father and because I have Aspergers and did not feel comfortable in passing that on.
    Then i got older, got into a relationship in which I felt comfortable and after a lot of thought and time I felt better about the whole thing. Eventually we had a child, a boy, and my life was transformed. Added a second child soon after and intend to keep it at two. Spending time with my family is the best thing I know.
    I was happy when I had no children, the happiness with my children is just more intense. Might be biological in nature, not sure.
    I realize now that I can help my children become clever and strong, although that’s all I can do, help. I am considered by those who know us to be an excellent father (enough so that close family and friends mention my dedication) and people tell me that my happiness shows and spreads out from me.

    But people, don’t be stupid.
    Not having kids can be a fine choice in many cases.
    Ditto for having kids.

    And sometimes people who should not have kids, do.

    But the anger and nastiness expressed above just beggars belief.
    If I’m on a red eye flight with my kids it’s probably not because I wanted that. Probably necessary for some annoying reason. And I’ve been traveling with my kids since they were a few months old, they mostly know how to behave in public. Mostly.

  231. Speaking as someone who has gone out of his way to avoid having kids (but hates the concept of a “child-free movement”):

    1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    Dunno. Are most pregnancies planned?

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    I don’t see it that way. Paying for schools is part of living in a civilized culture. I benefit from living in a civilized culture where marauding gangs of teenagers do not roam every street (only a few).

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    More valid? Probably. But parents can pull this kind of thing more than non-parents, and it can rankle.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    Having kids on purpose is selfish. You’re not having kids for the kids’ sakes or anyone else’s, your having them for your sake.

    Not having kids could be construed as selfish because I am denying posterity the glory that is my genetic payload. But modesty forbids me from taking that position.

  232. I have no emotional opinion on having or not having kids. At my age it’s too late to worry about it. I would like to know if not having children entitles me to “Carbon Credits.” I’m obviously making an effort to decrease carbon fuel consumption and waste!

  233. My only child (now almost 20 years old) was unplanned, but in my defense, I was 24 years old, had been married for six years, and had been told that I could never have children. So he was a surprise, but a good one.
    Due to history of psychiatric illness from both his father’s and my families (I have bipolar disorder, my ex husband deals with major depression) and his own experiences (my son has major depression and social anxiety disorder) my son has expressed that he is not certain that he ever wants to have his own biological children. I told them that I fully support whatever choice he makes in this matter. There are plenty of children who need to be adopted, and an adopted child is just as much a part of the family as a biological one.

  234. Parenthood should be a choice. It should not be the result of pressure (from anyone) or an accident.

    Children are too precious to be created without sufficient forethought and planning.

    Jerry Steinberg
    Founding Non-Father Emeritus of NO KIDDING!
    The international social club for childless and childfree couples and singles;

  235. I can’t believe anybody has a hatred or dislike for children, unless they hate humans as a whole. I can believe some folks have a hatred for parents who demand that the rest of society helps them in rearing their children.

    As to whether children are an expense or an asset to society, I don’t really know. I would like to see actual financial statistics on how much a childless dual working couple has to spend on society’s children as a whole versus how much we get out of them in our elder years.

    All I can see is that I’m working longer now because retirement is falling out of my grasp. I can’t get full social security now until I’m 67. Plus,I think Generation X voted in a new administration to cut medical payments to us Baby Boomers, deciding we were too expensive.

    Average life span for a US male is still somewhere around 78 I think, if I have to work until 67, I won’t be around long. Lets see, I payed school taxes for 49 years, I should get social security for 11 years, that seems fair? I know its all a perception issue, so I’m open to getting my facts straight!

  236. I personally prefer the term child-free. It’s short and conveys the sense of lacking that childless does.

    I am surprised, although shouldn’t be, at all of the umbrage taken by the pro-childbearing/rearing commenters. Really, there probably would not be a childfree movement if people had been allowed to chose not to procreate without being continually castigated and harassed by “breeders”.

    People should really think before urging other people to have children. That’s great that those of you posting who had kids think it’s the most wonderful fulfilling thing ever. Are you really so arrogant as to think it is that way for everyone, or that you know what’s better for someone else’s life? Instead of trying to convince everyone else to have children, why don’t you just think for a second of what happens when people who shouldn’t have children do anyway. Check out this link for comments from mothers who wish they hadn’t had their kids:

    I have a good friend who considers his son to probably be the biggest disappointment in his life. This was someone who wanted children very much and now he’s gotten a vasectomy to prevent any further disappointments.

    I worked at a preschool for a time and witnessed first hand the resentment many of the parents had towards their children. They acted like their lives had been ruined (probably they had) and all of that could have been prevented if they had just thought rationally about how parenthood would change things.

    My boyfriend’s parents told him constantly when he was growing up how miserable parenting was. Now they are surprised none of their kids will be giving them grandchildren.

  237. To phenotypical #287 who said…
    “The “child-free” movement is motivated by one thing: “let’s please talk about ANYTHING but my bloated, reckless overconsumption! Let’s even talk about the over-consumption of the unborn, ya? Just don’t take away my new HDTV and my Starbucks coffee and my…”

    Wow that’s a really nice theory on the childfree you have there. Seeing that my husband and I eat vegan and organic, haven’t EVER purchased a new car, have only owned one brand new tv (which is now 5 years old), were the only people on all the block after Xmas day with a trash can that was only a 1/4 full (no one else could close theirs), recycle everything we can and choose to not purchase things that are un-recyclable… where did you come up with this theory?

    My theory is that you are a person that can’t bear the idea of other people going against the reproduction status quo, making a well informed choice that leads to a positive world impact and a life DIFFERENT then the ideals you were brainwashed with as a child.

    “The bottom line is that absolutely nothing else you can do—driving a more fuel efficient car, driving less, installing energy-efficient windows, replacing lightbulbs, replacing refrigerators, recycling—comes even close to simply not having that child. All those good things still add up to less than 500 metric tons of CO2 savings. Not having the kid saves between 10,000 and 13,000 metric tons of CO2.”
    Tiniest of Baby Booms- A Monster

    8lbs, 21 inches, and 3,800 diapers worth of planet-pummeling joy

  238. 1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    “The best part of having kids – is making them!” -Rodney Dangerfield

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    We live in a society. I pay taxes for things I never use (but I suspect militant childfrees folks support), such as bike lanes on public streets

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    This is a straw man. While I have two small children, I have observed that I work harder and longer than my peers who do not have children (including working on Christmas Eve and New Years Day during the past few weeks).

    One of my former co-workers in particular was rather hostile towards parents, frequently referring to women in his neighborhood “Bugaboo B*tches”. However, he often left work early using personal chores as a justification.

    I’d love to work at one of these mythical companies that makes the singles work extra hard and gives the parents special treatment, because I’ve only experienced the opposite.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood?

    No one. It’s everybody’s decision, but I find it odd that some people feel the need to loudly and at times angrily legitimize their decision. Are they trying to convince the world that their decision was the right one? Or themselves?

    1. While I’d never use the term “Bugaboo B*itches”, I REALLY hate those fucking strollers. A pushchair does not need to take up an entire vestibule on the train, or an entire aisle at the supermarket. Really.

  239. If the people in question #3 were working for my (fictional) company, there wouldn’t be a problem. We would have kid- and dog- daycare facilities.

  240. 1. Are most children the consequence of fulfilling a desire?

    Some yes, some no. Even in the same family, each pregnancy can differ (my sisters were madly wanted, my mother admitted to just barely canceling the appointment to terminate her pregnancy with me). I’d say that among married people in countries with easy access to birth control, the stats would skew to 60 percent wanted, 40 percent “surprise”. In unmarried, probably 5 percent wanted, 95 percent “Oh shit, now what??”.

    2. Do non-parents end up footing part of the bill for parents (from school taxes to welfare)? Is there an opposite cost that parents absorb, like end-of-life care?

    Since all companies need workers, and communities need schooled children who grow up to be people who keep the roads/hospitals/tax base running, I say that everyone reaps a benefit from investing in the rearing of the community’s young, whether or not they produce offspring themselves. And with all of us Gen-X/Gen-Y being outnumbered by the Boomers, it is actually the KIDS who are going to be footing more of the bill for elder-care in the decades to come. So encourage those breeders!

    3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?

    A neighbor or pre-arranged back-up person can perform either task, and hopefully that would have been taken care of beforehand. However, a $20 per fifteen minutes late fine or a call to Child Protective Services is hardly going to be the result if the dog craps on the the kitchen floor. Like it or not, our society depends on parents doing a good job and turning out a well-balanced child. If at all possible, it would be cool if the parent could offer to drop by and take rover for a walk or if ask the boss to order in a happy meal so the tot could eat with the staff when mum and child returned to help get the big project out.

    4. Who (if anyone) is being “selfish” regarding parenthood or non-parenthood? I and my childless friends are all folks who are child-free (so far) by choice, BUT choose to invest time and resources in the children of our friends and family. My nieces and nephews all have much nicer lives with more “extra” adult time, attention, opportunities (summer camp, classes) because I choose to sink my extra “child free” resources into their upbringing. My child free friends do the same. My sibs do the best they can and I help out as much a _I_ can. Science has shown that in many species, the more non-parental adults around to help care for the young, the better the young’s chances of healthy survival. Same with humans.
    And if you don’t LIKE kids, you’re doing everyone a favor by not having one and creating yet another miserable human on the planet. Feel free to back off and do your own thing and then jump in when someone else’s kids are teens or in college- less snot and mess, and often it’s a time when all the other adults who ADORE the baby-prattling phase can’t STAND the newly opinionated-eye-rolling offspring.

  241. arrrgggghhhhhhh.

    To the morons above saying “maybe your kids won’t take care of you…”

    The next GENERATION takes care of the PREVIOUS generation. No kids=no next generation=no one to take care of you=no one to pay for society..

    Jeeeeeebus, read the comments. Plus, how can something so simple be so hard to understand. Aren’t frontal lobotomies rare these days, or?

    1. Perhaps it would help if the procreators would stop asking “who will take care of you when your old” in response to people who say they are not going to have children of their own. Since such a small percentage of the population is deciding against having children, does it make sense to respond to each of these individuals as though there will be no children or younger people anywhere if these few individuals personally do not have children?

      1. Yeah, Sukis, some of us breeders are stupid enough to think that the non-breeders want everyone to stop having kids, and that the non-breeders hate children and all that.
        Oh, wait, that seems to be exactly what around half the non-breeders seem to be saying…

        To the non-breeders: if you don’t want a stupid question directed at you (like: who will take care of you when you’re old), then don’t try to push stupid ideas like the one that people SHOULD stop breeding. That just gets that question asked, because if people were to follow your lead then this question would become legitimate.
        YOU not breeding is a perfectly valid stance. Just fine. You hate it when people try to push the idea that you have to have kids. Don’t try to push an equally dumb stance (people should/should not breed) on others.

        If you say “I personally don’t want kids” (emphasizing that it’s your personal decision, and not something you want others to follow) and still get the question, then you’re dealing with an idiot anyway. Walk away and do something more fun.

        1. I don’t need to emphasize anything. If I say “I’m not having children” it’s obvious that’s my personal choice for my life” yet it’s astounding how many people feel that they should be offended and convince me of the error of my ways.

          And likewise, if you are dealing with people who are stupid enough to think that not having children is universally what everyone should do then you’re dealing with an idiot anyway. Walk away and do something more fun.

          Actually I think the whole “who will take care of you when you’re old” argument being extended to mean the whole generation to follow rather than merely one’s own offspring is bunkum. It’s obvious that anyone presented with that question will think of the latter context rather than the former yet it’s never phrased in a way to include the broader context until AFTER it’s been refuted with the fact that many children wouldn’t lift a finger to care for their poor old mom and dad. Nice try.

    2. @arikol. “The next generation takes care of the previous one”? Put simply, that is a sweeping generalization. And, as most sweeping generalizations go, there are many and large exceptions both on the micro and the macro level.

  242. My wife and I were fascinated (and elated) to discover, 20+ years ago, that there WAS a “childfree” lifestyle choice. At that time, there was no avoiding the smug, sanctimonious “oh, you’ll change your mind” attitude from, well, everyone (people who have made bad choices always want you to join their misery). And we were sorry to inevitably cross off the “breeders” among our friends, as they (inevitably) descended from serious political and artistic discussion to “you’ll never guess what junior pooped today!” (I’m not even remotely joking).

    Fortunately, as we’ve moved beyond reasonably breeding age (I’m 51, she’s 43), people have realized we’re serious, and the crap has largely stopped. And some of our former breeder friends have actually rejoined human society as their kids have moved out (although they never really leave, do they?$$$$$$$)(parents personal experience, though not me).

    Get serious, people. The world is vastly overpopulated, and your precious angel is as likely to break into my car as it is to cure cancer. The third world will very handily take care of continuing human evolution, at a much reduced environmental cost than yet another US super-consumer.

    Do you really, REALLY, think your gene-pool is so important? Unless you’re a Nobel-prize winner, you’re just trying to fulfill your own failed dreams, WHICH IS THE DEFINITION OF SELFISHNESS.

    And seriously, that whole “who’ll take care of you when you’re old?” argument is bullshit; spend a little time in a nursing home, THEY WON’T BE THERE FOR YOU. At best, they’ll grudgingly pay the money YOU made. And hey, since I’m saving my own money for that, I get to cut out the (greedy children) middle man, and pay someone to actually take decent care of me, instead of the minimum-wage minimally-educated drones who will be minimally taking care of you, while your “precious angels” skim off the best of your hard-earned inheritance. Seriously folks, look it up, or just go there.

    I’ve got no beef with people who sincerely want to raise children and make a sincere effort to raise them as responsible members of society (they’re often boring, but hey, lots of childfree people are boring too). I have major problems with people who don’t raise their children responsibly, and especially with people who have multiple children irresponsibly (I live in a large US southern city) and don’t even attempt to raise them. I have no problem with paying taxes for public schools, because an educated populace benefits everyone. I have no problem with covering for childed coworkers, as long as they don’t abuse the privilege (and it is a privilege). In the first decade of the 21st century, I don’t believe that any reason for having children can NOT be selfish; we simply don’t need more people, period.

  243. That sounded kind of mean; I should point out that I actually like kids, I have fun with my co-worker’s children, and I’m very fond of (and generous with) my nieces and nephews (of course, I know their parents, and know that they are trying very hard to raise them right). I don’t have anything against kids, it’s not their fault that they’re here, and I always wish them well; they’ll need all the luck they can get. I just really believe that they, and the world, would be better off without them (and yes, idiots, I believe the world would be better off without me too – my meager contributions won’t offset the damage I will do as an American, I’m no Schweitzer or Einstein, but I’m trying to mitigate my existence as best I can).

  244. Of course its a lifestyle choice!

    You chose to have kids, it affects your lifestyle.


    On many levels, a little yes.

    But only when you use them as excuses for being selfish.

    Leave work early but not arriving early because you need to pick up the kids.

    Taking them to the pictures when its not for kids, but you want to see it, and they disrupt the movie.

    Adding another mouth to feed when we have too many already.

    I could go on..

    I don’t see how not having kids is selfish at all.

    BUT people do lots more selfish things every day, so its not the end of the world, that would involve the 5 horsemen of the apocalypse.

  245. Are people trolling, or is there really that much narcissism among non-breeders? I always thought “child-free” was a choice for most, and a medical condition for the rest. The posts here make it sound as if there is active hatred towards children and the parents who care for them.

  246. I’ve worked in education for over 10 years. I’ve taught middle and high school students and now work on projects for a not for profit organization that will help state departments of education and their academic initiatives.

    I am a taxpayer therefore my finances are subsumed in state and local education efforts. I also contribute my time and money to historical and artistic projects and volunteer my time regularly to preserve historical sites, films, and independent media organizations for future generations.

    I also contribute funds to Planned Parenthood because I believe, and I paraphrase Margaret Sanger, that parenthood “should neither be accident nor enslavement.”

    I also contribute to City Meals on Wheels because I feel that once I am older, I hope that I too will be taken care of by my community.

    It is my instinct and choice to refrain from having children. However, in light of my above activism, volunteerism, and career choice, I do not think myself as selfish in my decision.

    I have made a concerted effort to help children, peers, and the mature population; my community.

    My only criticism of those who want to have children is their argument that they partly want children so that these children will “take care of them when they reach old age” is slightly naive.

    I do not wish this on anyone, but what if your child is born with Downs Syndrome? What if your child is born with severe Autism as my own brother was. You cannot assume that your child will be able to or want to take care of you in your later years. Ideally, it would be wonderful to have a child support you as a senior citizen, but one should make other provisions as well.

  247. Are you seriously suggesting that every time someone engages in heterosexual intercourse, no matter how many contraceptive roadblocks they use, that pregnancy is a “natural” result and they decided to “have sex anyway”?

  248. Just reviewed what had been posted since my own comment.

    I’m seeing a lot of “It’s obvious to me, why isn’t it obvious to you — maybe if I say the same thing differently you’ll understand.” That’s a fairly common bad habit of bright people who have trouble with the concept that other bright people can fully comprehend their point of view and still disagree with it. Sorry, folks: Same data processed through different assumptions/experiences/emotions can correctly yield different opinions.

    Do what works for you; I’ll trust you to extend me the same courtesy.

    (That does NOT mean I want to be exempted from school taxes. As I see it, those are an investment in making the society one I want to live in. If you think educating everyone else’s kids is expensive, think about what happens to your neighborhood if you don’t. Never mind that it’s simply a moral imperative.)

  249. We tried for four years to have a child, first medically and when that didn’t work we looked at adoption. We didn’t make enough money — or have enough “good faith” money in the bank — for any private agency to take us on; and the state only wanted to talk to us about short-term emergency foster care, NOT adoption.

    Two years after we officially stopped trying and told our synagogue community our story, we still feel shut out of many congregational activities at our synagogue. (Judaism is one of those faith traditions that exhorts women to have babies!) But we are also exploring the upside that comes with not being able to parent:

    –not having to worry about keeping up with the Joneses/Cohens regarding schools, technology, after-school activities, college funds and a host of other “opportunities we supposedly expected to provide for our kids;
    –not having to worry about our local school system, presently in the toilet; or private schools we can never afford;
    –not having to worry about explaining to a child why we can’t afford something for them that seemingly all their friends have;
    –not wondering if our child will grow up angry and ungrateful and not be there for us when we are old and in need of care;
    –having time — and energy! — for each other and for our extended family and friendship networks;
    –having time for furthering our education, volunteering in our community and pursuing other interests.

    Instead, we are building community with other adults — mostly childless but not exclusively — and working to ensure that as we age we can all be there for each, whether we have children or not.

    Meanwhile, I am looking for Jewish connections that aren’t dependent on my being a mother…

  250. Do childless people pay for children? Definitely.

    Do childless people (at least in the USA) also pay for Hellfire missiles used to blow up innocent wedding parties? Definitely.

    Is our tax system even remotely progressive? Uh, that’s not fair either.

    Childless people being forced to pay for education seems to be one of the least unfair things in this world, and there could probably be a pretty good collective responsibility argument to be made anyway – it’s not like childless people are exempt from getting mugged by uneducated children.

  251. People trying to get me to have kids always reminds me of the same who try to get me to believe in their brand of God ™. Their responses always seem so insecure to me. If my not having children/not having the same religious beliefs as they do upsets them so much and causes them to make drastic, unfounded character judgments, I know not to take it personally as I’m being used as a projection board. Both the you-must-have-children and the you-must-believe-in-MY-God groups try to convince one of how much you are missing out on. I may have an incredibly strong, long-lasting, life-changing, soul-tying relationship with my husband, but I’d never tell anyone that they will never find fulfillment and know true happiness without one. That’d be fucking stupid.

  252. Selfish is becoming a parent for the wrong reasons. As succumbing to the pressure of family, friends and the keep up with the Joneses society we live in. As to #4. What makes a parents home life more important than a non parents home life. Being a parent is a choice and if you are not prepared for the demands that parenthood will bring, you should have thought twice about it. Why should a non parent have to pick up the slack.

  253. “3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?”


  254. 3. If everyone at work is asked to stay late, and a parent says they have to get their kid from daycare, is that excuse more valid than if a non-parent says they need to let their dog out?”

    Trick question presenting a false choice. An employee’s decisions vis-a-vis trading off personal and professional time are completely private. Why an employee decides they can or can’t stay late should not be up for discussion. Even between the employee and management. It’s nobody’s business why I choose to leave early or late.

    A question that gets at the issue better: why are kids allowed in restaurants and dogs not, even though many kids are more irritating and less hygienic than many dogs? Answer – because dogs are not people.

    1. “Why an employee decides they can or can’t stay late should not be up for discussion. Even between the employee and management. It’s nobody’s business why I choose to leave early or late.”

      If your employment is ‘at will’ and not ‘under contract’ they can just terminate your ass. You reasons for being unable or unwilling to fulfill your job commitment are ALWAYS open for discussion.

      Having a career and kids at the same time is certainly difficult. But that’s not a choice your employer made. I’m willing to bet if they can now discriminate against hiring smokers soon your family status will be a qualifier in your employablity in some professional fields.

  255. “I can’t understand how some people would NOT want to have children” is probably the most selfish, self-centered and ignorant comment I’ve heard people tell me when I tell them my wife and don’t want to have kids. Makes as much sense as me saying I don’t understand WHY people WANT to live in the suburbs, why people LIKE sports, why people DON’T like Indian food or why people DON’T think 70’s Italian Progressive Rock isn’t the most AMAZING music ever written! If you don’t agree with it, fine, but I’m amazed how some people can’t look outside their own little world and realize people have different values and feelings than they do.

  256. “Given that Boing Boing readership almost certainly indexes higher for people without children”.

    What a bizarre assumption. How about gathering some evidence? The person who turned me onto BB has four kids, and I have one.

    I would bet that people without kids are less stressed out and/or have a bit more free time, and are therefore more likely to leave comments.

  257. I’ll preface this by stating I have three children (only the one in the middle was planned and I think unplanned pregnancies are the norm for most people).

    I remember holding my tiny girl and looking into her eyes and my mom said,”Do you remember telling me how you didn’t want children?” Yes, I did remember but obviously I had changed my mind. I saw the transformation in other people when they had a child and I wanted that.

    Maybe someone else doesn’t. Fine. Good for you.

    Why does society get a vote if I have one child (not acceptable to have an only), two (apparently just the right number), three (bordering on a horde), four or more (way too many!), or no children? Society also feels the need to make other parenting choices for me as well that I do not appreciate.

    Why? Because many of us are an opinionated lot and want people to do things our way because to have differences is threatening to some people.

    Perhaps we want you to know the torture of child that just won’t sleep or a toddler who is so funny she makes you cry or a 5 year who says the sweetest thing and makes your heart melt or a shitty teenager with an attitude. We see these things are a part of “normal” development in one’s life. Some people can’t see beyond “normal”.

    I would prefer that people not have children as a matter of due course but to instead realize they are creating and molding a human being that can contribute to society or take from society. Even though it’s very common it’s still very special and an adult should make the decision to get pregnant (or continue a pregnancy) from love not from obligation.

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