Childless by choice

Discuss

265 Responses to “Childless by choice”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have four kids. I don’t recommend anyone having kids if they don’t want to. There’s nothing worse for a child than to grow up with parents who resent them. If you don’t want kids, don’t have them. Just don’t pretend your choice is any more valid than mine. I like my child-free friends, and I like the friends I made because my kids were friends with their kids. Also, don’t call my kids meatsacks. They’re bright, interesting emerging people.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It does not matter whether one chooses to have kids, or not to have kids. What matters is that one makes this choice consciously without feeling pressured or being misled one way or the other. Beyond that, different people are made happy by different things. The choice to have children (or not) is no different – those who will be more happy with children than without should have children. Those who would be more happy without children should not. Suum cuique.

  3. madprime says:

    I’m glad to see that nobody here is preaching childlessness as a solution to overpopulation — the global fertility rate is barely above replacement at the moment and continues to fall. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TFR_vs_PPP_2009.svg

    As we can already see in Europe, the problem becomes encouraging families to have children. It’s troubling to me to see religion and irresponsibility becoming the driving force for having children. I’d like to see more support for children-bearing by society, things like access to childcare and paternity leave. (The latter is ironically critical from a women’s-rights perspective, so women can avoid sacrificing their position in the workforce for the sake of having children.)

    I think being childless is totally valid, because having children is a big task, it’s hard work and expensive. I hope we can support those who do have children, rather than dismissing the task as the domain of the religious and irresponsible.

    • Sagodjur says:

      You seem to missing other factors in the equation. Current average lifespan, the distribution and limits of resources, and damage to the ecosystem need to be taken into account before you conclude that we need more people in the world.

      • turn_self_off says:

        And also that there was a birth explosion right after WWII, and so one can wonder if not the west is way above sustainable when it comes to resources used pr person. Hell, i encountered a claim that norway would need to have 1 in 4 work in healthcare to provide the expected care to the aging population.

    • TEKNA2007 says:

      Since everyone who exists was born and had parents, it seems like most people are going to have a strong initial bias toward the idea of having children. It’s just how things are, for someone growing up. The idea of not having kids isn’t going to come along until later. People who choose not to are facing not only external pressure but a little internal voice telling them they’re off-script.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      the global fertility rate is barely above replacement at the moment and continues to fall.

      How then do you explain the fact that the world’s population is still rapidly rising?

      As we can already see in Europe, the problem becomes encouraging families to have children.

      Sounds a lot like desperately trying to replenish the white race.

      • Anonymous says:
        As we can already see in Europe, the problem becomes encouraging families to have children.

        Sounds a lot like desperately trying to replenish the white race.

        Oh, come on, not the race card, please. The problem is a bit bigger, you know. Here in Europe we usually have a quite strong state-provided social safety net, including health insurance, free schools, social welfare for the unemployed, disabled and the elderly etc.. It varies country by country, but in general, such systems are there in all countries in a much stronger way than in the US. You can argue on whether it is good or not, but most people think it’s good thing and having higher taxes is a price worth paying to know that you won’t get bankrupt if you get sick or that you can count on support from the state when you get old or disabled in an accident.

        Now, the problem is that such systems cost tons of money to support, tons of tax money. Which is all fine, when the age distribution of a country is “healthy”: that is, the majority of the people are working and paying taxes and their taxes can support the minority who’s in need of support. But two thing’s been happening in Europe in the last decades and keep happening as a trend: people are living longer and people are having fewer and fewer children. And this means fewer and fewer actively working people have to support the growing number of pensioners. And it’s getting less and less sustainable.

        So goverments have two things to do: tear down these safety systems (this doesn’t usually work well, just see the recent protests/riots in the UK and France which’ve happened for a lot smaller reasons than abolishing the state pension system) or ask people to have children so that we would have the next generation of taxpayers. Granted, goverments can find disguisting ways to provide incentives for those rearing children, but the goal is acceptable.

        And it’s not some white superiority crap. It’s basic maths.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          And it’s not some white superiority crap. It’s basic maths.

          The population of Europe is shrinking due to low birth rates? Because immigration can solve that (non-)problem. Unless the real (non-)problem is that the white population is shrinking and some Europeans don’t want to see their ethnic supremacy diluted. So, yes, it is some white superiority crap. People are literally dying to get into Europe, and many of them would work quite hard to support the social safety net if they were welcomed and treated as equals.

          • madprime says:

            I have already replied to your “just take immigrants” solution, pointing out Mexico’s low fertility rate (2.16), but you don’t appear to read what I write.

            The birth rates outside the developed world have also plummeted, so in the long term you are actually advocating those countries be *drained* of their own youth, to supply the needs of Europe. In other words — the US should import Mexican youth to support its aging population, dumping the problem of aging population into Mexico’s lap?

            This vampiric old-white-people sucking the young-brown-youth out of other, poorer countries is hardly less racist… unless you’re still making the racist assumption that “brown people breed like rabbits”. The few places where they still have high birth rates, we should be doing everything we can to improve their situation, not using them as a breeding ground for youth supplements! Ugh. The more I think about it, the more horribly cynical your “solution” sounds.

          • fionnmatthew says:

            I don’t think that’s what Antinous was suggesting at all.

            Believing that people should be allowed live and work where they want isn’t the same as believing that able-bodied Mexicans should be imported. Anything but.

            It is inconsistent to both oppose immigration of people who want to live and work in your country, for whatever reasons, and at the same time fret that the indigenous population’s reproduction rate is below replacement. Inconsistent, that is, unless there is a tacit premise that it would be preferable if the ethnic ratios in workforce/population stayed as they are.

          • madprime says:

            You’ve created a straw man and put words in my mouth, to suggest I oppose immigration. I don’t. I’m really very liberal. It’s lazy to “other” me rather than read what I write. For what it’s worth, I’m also atheist, childless, and donate a significant and ever-increasing portion of my income to the developing world.

            Antinuous accused me of racism and brought up immigration as the answer to the aging population structure issue — in contrast to my suggestion that society should provide support for people who choose to have children. I keep pointing out that this is not a sustainable solution — other countries also have a drop in birth rate, assuming those countries continue to over-reproduce is ignorant and vaguely racist.

            Yet Antinuous continues to push immigration as the solution. Of course people should be allowed to immigrate, but to suggest that is a sustainable solution strikes me as being itself cynical and/or racist. I’m sure Antinuous doesn’t *mean* to be cynical and racist, but I’m trying to force attention to be paid to my words.

            I’m not going to follow up here. I again recommend people look at the TED talk I linked earlier and the Gapminder site if they want to update their outdated views regarding the developing world.

          • fionnmatthew says:

            Antinous never assumed here that countries from which there is a high immigration rate into Western Europe or the United States “overreproduce.” The closest thing to that was that there are certain countries from which large numbers of people seek to immigrate into Western Europe.

            As I read it, Antinous merely wanted to suggest that if people want to immigrate and there is a worry about a waning workforce, that is one more reason not to oppose immigration, assuming you’re taking this national self-interest as the prime motivator.

            I didn’t straw man you, because I don’t assume, with Antinous, that you are advocating the anti-immigration position, or that there is a tacit racism in what you were suggesting. I was concerned merely to correct your own straw-man.

            My own position on it, which I share with Antinous I think, is that the prospect of an aging population and a shrinking workforce is not a problem that should be outsourced by producing a new generation on whom should be foisted the burden of providing. That actually seems particularly callous. I am inclined to think that this is a problem the aging population really ought to just tolerate. It seems profoundly unfair to bring someone into the world as an insurance policy.

            I don’t suggest, as Antinous seems to, that immigration is a “solution.” There is a large anti-immigration movement in Europe though, and – at least in national politics in my MS – this is often linked to worries about underreplacement. So I can see why the association is happening, and I think it is correct to point out an inconsistency between opposing immigration and seeing underreplacement as a problem. And in fact, how forcing human beings to exist without ever asking them in order to replace you is a far more drastic decision than allowing willing immigrants to bolster the workforce (however little a difference the latter makes.)

            However, I can see how you could hold the position you hold and not be endorsing racist premises.

          • ryhntyntyn says:

            I am not sniping your replies, so I apologize in advance that this is the second debate in a day in which I am replying to one of your comments.

            I live permanently in Germany. Munich to be specific. I am a cultural historian and social scientist by training. I don’t see the racist roots of the concern for social welfare gap where I live.

            There is racism, and xenophobia here, there are intergration difficulties. But I do not see immigration being touted as the answer by any of the sides in these arguments whether the discussion is about the aging population, birthrate, social security or any of the related topics.

            In addition, if just letting in millions of immigrants who are dying to get here (which is hyperbole) and integrating them to them and them to them, was so easy, I think that the rather pragmatic people who live here, would proabably be ready to do so. But it’s not as easy as saying “come on in, welcome to the family.” and then it all works out. And the lack of integration. Where there is a lack, works both ways.

            Immigration is a question of sovereignty, and the citizens of any one nation do not have to admit the citizens of another. It is not a right to be allowed to immigrate in, rather a priviledge. It also does not equal racism or ethnocentrism to control the inflow of immigrants. That’s just responsible management.

          • Ito Kagehisa says:

            Immigration is a question of sovereignty, and the citizens of any one nation do not have to admit the citizens of another. It is not a right to be allowed to immigrate in, rather a priviledge. It also does not equal racism or ethnocentrism to control the inflow of immigrants.

            Nationalism is mostly interchangeable with racism and ethnocentrism.

      • madprime says:

        I noted that global fertility rate is barely above replacement, and you asked: “How then do you explain the fact that the world’s population is still rapidly rising?”

        That’s a great question! It’s intuitively a bit tricky to think about this, it has to do with a time lag in how the current “fertility rate” shows up in the total count.

        Let’s look at it with bacteria. Take three generations, doubling each generation: (G0) 100 bacteria, (G1) 200 bacteria, (G2) 400 bacteria. Total population is 700.

        Now let’s say, starting with G2, bacteria reproduce with replacement instead of doubling. Add one generation of children and subtract the generation of grandparents: (G1) 200 bacteria, (G2) 400 bacteria, (G3) 400 bacteria. Total of 1000 bacteria — still rising even though reproduction is at replacement!

        Next generation there is still an increase in total population: (G2) 400 bacteria, (G3) 400 bacteria, (G4) 400 bacteria — 1200 total. Only after all generations before the replacement-level-generation *die* does the “replacement reproduction rate” result in a steady population.

        The world’s population is still growing because of that lag. I think it would be a mistake to overshoot curtailing of reproduction simply because we have a fallacy that humans are still over-reproducing.

        You also said “Sounds a lot like desperately trying to replenish the white race.”

        Your statement implies you believe in a common, vaguely racist fallacy — that only the “rich white people” have seen a dramatic drop in birth rates, that all the “poor brown people” are still having huge families. With the exception of Subsaharan Africa, pretty much everywhere with some stability, education, and access to birth control has seen the same dramatic reduction in fertility rates. And that’s a great thing! Women should have that choice!

        For now, the US gets away with not worrying about a stagnant population because immigration props up the population growth, but this can’t last: Mexico is down to a fertility rate of 2.16. Check out GapMinder & this TED talk: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2670820702819322251

        • Mister44 says:

          All good points. To expand a bit, fertility rates are linked to how well people are off economically. As they rise up, the birth rate goes down as it becomes more expensive to raise a child at a certain level and more options are available for birth control.

          This is why those videos about Mexicans in America, or Muslims in Europe out breeding the native population are silly. Simply put, when they immigrate they have have less kids within one generation.

  4. Jenonymous says:

    Subject near and dear to my heart.

    I never wanted kids but it took 21+ years until I could find a doctor who was willing to do something permanent.

    Finally, in my early 40′s I finally got Essures put in after a LONG argument with my ob-gyn about not wanting to continue the Pill and NOT wanting an IUD.

    And, I must say, I feel more myself than ever before.

    To the anti-childfree folks out there: Would you be as quick in condemning people who are gay/transgendered/etc?

    FWIW, I make no apologies about my dislike of infants. I had to raise a younger sibling as a child myself, and that’s what solidified what I’d always known–I would NEVER bind myself 100% of the time to a bottomless pit of demand.

    And yes, I AM one of those people who glares if you’re letting your kid run around a bridal shop with a cherry snowcone and telling them to “use their words” while they turn into little noise-and-shit missiles.

    And yes, I DO like sleeping late on weekends, having my disposable income be 100% mine, and not having a sheen of orange juice and peanut butter on every surface of my kitchen. Thanks for asking!

    And yeah I really don’t give a flying fuck what the “oooh you should have them, your life is empty without them” set thinks. At the end of the day, they’re the same crowd who admonishes “just wait until you have some of your own” as if a baby was a sort of punishment (well in that case they’re sort of right) and just get more pissed off when you tell them that it will NEVER happen for you.

  5. Anonymous says:

    …we need to figure out this food/air deal first…

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m all for more people having less kids, the global population needs to be reduced anyway and as it’s gonna take some hell of a change of heart to convince me to have them I’d rather not be not the only person without kids when im in my 30s.

    however ever see the beginning of Idiocracy?

    that daily seems less of a warning and more of a foreshadowing

  7. Voris Klopchick says:

    Darwin is going to win this one, see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakers

  8. emmdeeaych says:

    How could I hate children? They’re so innocent. It’s parents I hate.

    Doing ‘the best you can’ seems to involve having almost zero time to yourself and pushing yourself so far out of balance for the good of someone else who needs you, more than anything, to be balanced.

    It’s like having a nice lawn. You do it mostly to not make your neighbors uncomfortable.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are not ‘innocent’ (how many children have you been around recently? really?)! Many posting comments above allude to the very true point that children are people like any other – human beings with the potential to be horrible, close-minded hideous little monsters just like the rest of us, as per Vidya108′s post;

      [quote]When I was a kid, I was quiet, shy, and very bookish. Most of my friends were adults, however, as I preferred their company to that of the children I encountered at school, to whom I simply couldn’t relate and who took delight in harassing me because I was perceived as ‘different’.
      I’m basing my ‘conclusion’ on my own experience. Being trapped five days a week in a building full of other children for over a decade of my young life made me realize what vicious little monsters many kids are, and how utterly lacking in values, self-discipline, and empathy the majority are.[/quote]
      which I second to the letter.

      Maybe it’s that ridiculous, mawkishly sentimental vision of children that needs to be eradicated – many people who have them are astounded and disappointed when their kids don’t turn out to be the exceptional, sweet little angels they were dreaming about when they thought about having them. This is evidence that the human population problem can be ameliorated by more solid education about what having children entails in reality, and not the ideations people (and also marketers of baby products (and also ‘baby’ and ‘infant’ dolls, which are objectionable in terms of forcing extremely premature caring roles on young girls – but that’s another argument)) perpetrate about them. (Not to mention that when you project onto, and demand, these unrealistic properties from those same people, it cause them psychological harm.) They are not a status-symbol or a lawn-ornament. If you want one of those, you should just get an actual status-symbol. (Or a lawn-ornament.)

      Essentially, when you do procreate, you’re not bringing more lovely little joy-bundles into the world, you are merely bringing more /people/ into the mess we’ve made. Not only that, but what kind of people they are (better or worse) is nearly 100% up to you, and if you fail, /you/ are the one to blame. That is the humungous, damn-near unsustainable, fuckawful responsibility you are taking on when you have kids. That is what one really needs to consider before even considering having them, and I think if more people took the time to do so, they wouldn’t go through with it. Conversely, if you’ve come to see child-rearing as nothing but a grinding, endless, thankless chore (as I have) then you really shouldn’t do it either.

  9. Sekino says:

    Argh. Above comment a reply to fionnmatthew

  10. futnuh says:

    I’ve never understood why a seemingly sizeable fraction of the child-free pet (typically dog) owning demographic refer to their furry dependents as “children”. Is it a defence mechanism against society’s unfortunate pro-procreation attitude? Or do they really believe that keeping a dog has any similarity to rearing a child? (Anecdotal but I’ve get to meet a single parent who responds to the question, “do you have any kids” with anything like “yes, two, a girl and a cocker spaniel”.)

    • Vidya108 says:

      In my case, it’s a perception that the nonhumans in my life provide many of the same sort of benefits that other people seem to expect they will get from human kids (unconditional love, affection, cuddling) but without most of the drawbacks of human offspring (energy-sapping, noisy, annoying, uncontrolled, expensive, and, imho, generally unpleasant to be around). (Btw, I also don’t really understand having *dogs* as ‘kids’, as they seem to me to have most of the same disadvantages and unpleasantnesses of human children. I have cats.)

      I also come from a family where referring to nonhuman members in relationship terms is common practice. Growing up, the neighbourhood children knew my mother as “[name of our cat's] mom,” and my mom still refers to her nonhuman charges as her “kids,” even when speaking to us (her human kids). Other family members often ask how my (nonhuman) “children” are. I take it things are different in your own family.

      • Anonymous says:

        drawbacks of human offspring (energy-sapping, noisy, annoying, uncontrolled, expensive, and, imho, generally unpleasant to be around)

        So when you were a kid you were all the above and you’re projecting it on other kids? Or was there some kids survey that you’re basing your conclusion on?

        Sorry for possibly being offensive here but this just is incredulous.

        I have kids, I interact with other kids. Kids are people. They are fascinating people. They are energy giving. Uncontrolled? Are you controlled? Every kid is an individual, like other individuals they’re not always perfect but they’re a lot less likely to be screwed up than adults, in my opinion. It’s unfortunate that modern society is trying to screw them up.

        Adults are expensive, they want cars, fancy houses, plasma TV’s.

        • Vidya108 says:

          “So when you were a kid you were all the above and you’re projecting it on other kids? Or was there some kids survey that you’re basing your conclusion on?”

          Nope. When I was a kid, I was quiet, shy, and very bookish. Most of my friends were adults, however, as I preferred their company to that of the children I encountered at school, to whom I simply couldn’t relate and who took delight in harassing me because I was perceived as ‘different’.
          I’m basing my ‘conclusion’ on my own experience. Being trapped five days a week in a building full of other children for over a decade of my young life made me realize what vicious little monsters many kids are, and how utterly lacking in values, self-discipline, and empathy the majority are.
          But, more than that, I consider my dislike for children to be rather akin to a sexual orientation. I knew from a very early age that I absolutely never wanted human children, and I can no more feel an ‘attraction’ to the idea of having them then I can feel an ‘attraction’ to the idea of having a romantic relationship with people of my own gender. So, it’s not that I think it’s wrong for other people to have kids, I just can’t even begin to imagine feeling the desire to do so myself, or appreciate why anyone would prefer human kids to cats.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m with Vidya108. Even when I was a kid, I didn’t care for kids. My stress just skyrockets when they are around. And yes,I’ve heard “you’ll feel different when it’s your own kids.” Really? I’ll get to keep them away from all other kids? Well that’s a different matter entirely then! That, and I’d want to be the Dad– I want to avoid the whole pregnancy phase, do all the fun kid stuff, and not face massive societal condemnation if I decided it just wasn’t my thing anymore and I was leaving. Actually, I think my dream parenting role would be to have a child for a gay couple, get to name the kid, and get pictures occasionally of another human being that kind of looks like me. Meanwhile, I’ll go on living a life I’m very happy with– and no, it’s not all about movies, or the “bar scene.” I’ll resist the urge to extend such a failure of imagination to, um, other life choices…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wow! A boingboing topic I can readily identify with. When we got married just a bit over ten years ago, the decision not to have children was front and center for me. It was important for me to find a girl who was not so excited about children. Not that I don’t like children, in fact, I love them when cousins bring them over the house. Cute and all. But, as Asians living in the so-called “thriving ” economy of Asia, the environment is just not right. I would feel rather negative about myself bringing into this world a soul that will have to suffer what we’re going through. Besides, why should we enlarge a tax-generating entity for our corrupt politicians to fleece for many years to come. No no no.

  12. Anonymous says:

    From a very early age, I never wanted kids. I told my husband as much when I met him. In the last two years or so, I’ve loosened that position up a bit. I’m now at the point where I want to want to have kids. But I don’t 100% want them. And until I do, I’m not going to have them and ‘hope for the best.’

    Not all people don’t have children because they want to go to the movies or spend all their money on Louis Vuitton purses. At this point, I don’t want to have kids simply because I don’t want to have kids. There’s no burning desire in me to have them. I don’t see a kid and think, “Oh, I gotta get one of those!” And I feel the number one thing a parent needs is the desire to have a child. If I had a kid, I think I’d be a good parent. All the selfish stuff I do now would fade and I would do what was best for my kid. But until I wake up and think, “Yes, I absolutely 100% want to be a parent”, I’m not going to do it.

    And that’s different from being ready. I realize that no one is ever ‘ready’ to have kids. If you wait to be ‘ready’, you’ll be dead before you have a kid. But I feel like you should WANT the kid. You should want nothing more than to bring a life into the world.

    Sadly, I am not there. I’m giving myself another five years. At that point, I’ll be 35 and I don’t want to be 60 when my kid graduates college.

    My husband and I have a cat and a dog. We jokingly call each other Mama and Daddy in regards to the pets, but they are not our children. And the term furbaby is really, really creepy.

  13. clenchner says:

    This issue resonates in particular with the Jewish community in North America (non-Orthodox).

    The social pressure for children+kids as normative is great, and truth be told the existing institutions are engineered around having this happen.

    One consequence is a huge out-migration of Jews to non-Jewish spouses, estrangement of singles and GLBT Jews from active participation in synagogues and other institutions, and massive funding for continuity programs aimed at reversing these trends.

    It would be a real step forward if the wider culture took away the ‘normative’ aspect of two parent families with kids and affirmed that it was indeed a lifestyle choice.

    “We decided not to have kids and invest in our home beer brewing hobby instead. Looking back, it really does seem like we made the right decision. Just taste this citrus-y double bock!”

    • RobertBigelow says:

      I once heard an elderly and learned rabbi mention that one does not need to procreate to be acceptable to a single universal truth because there are those who – through no fault of their own – cannot procreate. According to another rabbi, in rabbinical Judaism there appears so many ways to fulfill one’s responsibilities (mitzvot) that a fully Jewish life can be lived without having children.

  14. Lelielle says:

    I have never wanted children of my own because I feel I could not be the kind of parent that they deserve, and I feel there are plenty of kids out there already. I like kids, and I am quite happy with passing on my legacy in the form of info, advice, and helping those with kids who might need help on occasion. I believe it takes a village to raise a child and the more decent, diverse, and large a group of adults a kid has in their support circle, the better of they will be in the long run. There are plenty of ways direct and indirect to support the future that have nothing to do with having your own children and you shouldn’t be judged by your choice either or (and not everyone has a choice).

  15. Anonymous says:

    Let’s just call a spade a spade– selfish folks make crap parents anyway. If you can’t think beyond your immediate need to attend movies, you won’t feel that parenting is anything but a chore. There’s beauty and fun to be found in most everything, but you have to know how to look for it!

  16. swishercutter says:

    When I met my partner both of us were decided on the fact that we did not ever want kids…I was 24 she was 19. After a few years passed we both made a decision to have a child, I was 31. Our son is 3 now and I have no regrets about the decision, both of us had already done the party/bar scene for years (I don’t miss it).

    I understand and respect others choice when they tell me they don’t want kids (after all it took me much longer to decide to have one) but I cringe when I read things like people having vasectomy’s at 20…had I gone that route I would never know the joys of having a child that I chose. Birth control is great but its a bit pretentious to assume that you know at 20 what you will want at 30 (after all, do you still want the things you wanted at 10). By removing your options you are limiting yourself. Don’t get me wrong I know some people should never have kids and nobody should ever be pressured into doing so especially if they are not emotionally ready.

    For those who say that they cannot afford it…we thought so too. What we found was that it is cheaper than going out every weekend. Plus, we actually had more free time in some ways because we were not spending most of Saturday/Sunday recovering from the previous nights “self poisioning”. We also spend more time cooking for ourselves instead of wasting money on eating out.

    If someone tells you that you should have a kid they are wrong…only you can decide that. If someone tells you that you are wrong for having 8 kids they are also wrong (my grandmother had 8 kids and now has 23 grandkids and 10 great grandkids) I can say that the family interaction was/is much better on that side of the family than on my fathers side (he was an only child).

    Overall, do what YOU want…just don’t make rash decisions early in life. What is important might change.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thing is, it’s clear that you weren’t really decided at all, especially given the way you refer to your pre-child life now that you’ve got a child.

      My life isn’t about going out partying, getting drunk etc, never has been, never will be, I deem being alive as a privilege that I should use to help others (those that parents usually do not have the time or ability to properly be able to commit to helping).

      I live in a country where my life would have to be in immediate danger for my doctor to agree to the hysterectomy I so desperately want, doesn’t matter to him that I’m in constant pain (have been for 2 decades) because of his refusal, and that with every year he refuses my health declines more. Apparently my life is worthless compared to the life of the child I am never going to conceive because I use contraception responsibly!!!! Pathetic eh? But that’s the pro-natalism culture of the good old medical profession in the UK, it’s disgusting.

      If you’re honest with yourself you’ll realise you had a ‘niggle’ somewhere. I don’t have that niggle, none of my friends who are childfree (many now well into their 40s and 50s) ever had that niggle, yet I have met other people who claim to be childfree but from talking to them I just know they don’t have the same mindset as me. I was born not wanting children, it’s just part of who I am (just as some people are born heterosexual, others homosexual etc), I don’t have reasons for not wanting children, I don’t have to have any reasons because I simply don’t want them. If I found myself listing of reasons then I’d be concerned and query whether I did really want them after all.

      And don’t get me wrong, I love children, I spend a lot of time with children, and my not having my own allows me to give children of friends and family the quality time and the respect that I think it is important for adults to show children (but that many adults, especially those with children of their own) fail to show chidlren. I know that I consider myself lucky to have these children in my life, but equally their parents consider the children very lucky to have me in their lives. I have the patience and the willingness to pretend that I can see the imaginary zoo they’ve created and help them round up the animals. When every other adult zones off into little adult groups I have the willingess and respect to understand that the child that’s now being ignored has things to say that are just as important to them as the adults consider the things they have to say to be. And when a child wants to spend ALL afternoon not quite managing to do craft stuff the way it is meant to be done I have the patience to sit there and guide them while encouraging their creativity and don’t get too anal about it. I know I can only do this for these children because I don’t have my own and I don’t have to deal with kids 24/7. It’s a win-win situation, I get to have peace and quiet when I need it and they get quality time from ‘educational aunty’ (my nickname to most of them it seems).

    • Amphigorey says:

      “Pretentious?” For getting sterilized at a young age? No, that’s called “responsible.” I had my tubes tied when I was 24, and it was the best decision I ever made. I knew exactly what I wanted. I’ve known since I was 5 that I didn’t want children, and I decided at 13 that I’d get sterilized. At 33, I couldn’t be happier with it. I love my tubal! I am the Queen of Spayeds!

      (I have to assume that Aaron’s #59 is a Poe because the arguments are so mind-numbingly stupid.)

      • swishercutter says:

        Just seems to me like cutting off your fingers because you don’t want to play piano as a child.
        There are other “not as permanent” (albeit not as effective) methods. Although, condoms (obviously) prevent infection as well as pregnancy. I guess if you know what you want then you know what you want…I just would never make a permanent decision like that early on in life.
        I have female friends who up until last year said they never want kids…now they are in their 30′s and either trying or talking about how they “…wish they could..” but do to choices in partners or lifestyle they are unable. My cousin is in her late 30′s and she is just now having a child.
        Again, to each his/her own. Some people really should not have children.

        • swishercutter says:

          *edit
          “due to” not “do to”

        • spriggan says:

          It’s often those who can’t who are most offended by those who choose not to.

          Just an observation I made on my ways past a planned parenthood everyday for work. (oddly enough it was the same one that a frustrated man videoed some protesters out front for yelling at his wife while she entered the clinic, that was posted here a while back)

    • sbarnes2 says:

      THANK YOU FOR YOUR SANITY. This whole discussion is frankly a bummer.

      Now for my 2¢ Childless activists: Don’t tell me kids are going to ruin my life, and I won’t think you’re an overbearing bossypants. Let’s live and let live and not rub our beliefs in other people’s faces. Deal? I’ve seen this kind of thinking before when it comes to marriage. Marriage can ruin lives, true. 50% of people get divorced, also true. It is also true the independence is great. But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life without a husband, or without a child! Just because something could go wrong doesn’t mean it will. Just because something might negatively impact your life, doesn’t mean it could also add so much positivity that the good outweighs the bad.

      I look at having a kid as a grand experiment, and also to add something to my life to make it more complete. Do you people not understand that reproduction is a cornerstone of what makes us all living beings? My genes are too good NOT to produce offspring, I’ve always known that. The thought of growing a tiny human in my body seems like it would be the coolest scientific experiment EVER. Seeing what I’ve created with the help from my loving male partner and then watching that little life grow, getting to know it and help shape it, it just seems too amazing not to do it. I used to think seriously about whether I wanted a kid as a teen/young adult because I was worried about stretchmarks. But then I got fat and got covered in them anyways, so now I have no good reason not to put a baby in my belly eventually- when I am living with a quality guy with good genes and money isn’t too tight, bring it on!

      Oh, and all of you know you’re praising an article that cites Dr. Phil as a reputable source, right? 40% of people wish they hadn’t had kids. Who did they poll, parents of drug addicts? I took a poll this afternoon and 100% of people said kids were fun and were glad they had them. Believe either polling you want. Either way, it’s all anecdotal. But you probably didn’t know that. Maybe it’s better if you don’t reproduce after all.

      • robinm says:

        The “half of marriages end in divorce” is a hoax, just fwiw.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/19/health/19divo.html

      • swishercutter says:

        Oh yeah…also we are not married. The child was not an accident we discussed the decision beforehand, we went 7 years with no issues and had we decided to not have a child we would still be childless.

        I never understood people who said that “accidents happen” either…babies come from combination of sperm and egg, if you don’t do that no baby. It is literally that simple.

      • Vidya108 says:

        “The thought of growing a tiny human in my body seems like it would be the coolest scientific experiment EVER.”

        That’s great — for you. For me, it would be the most horrible and most disgusting thing imaginable. Ever have that dream where you suddenly find out you’re pregnant, and wake up with heart pounding and drenched in sweat because it is the absolute worst nightmare you’ve ever experienced? I have. I intend to never make it a reality.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I’m childless not by choice, which I think is what more people these days would say rather than what is said in this article.

    I fully acknowledge that the world is overpopulated (in ways inexplicable to available resources); I know that there is a selfish argument to having children, blah, blah, blah, …sorry, fell asleep for a second there.

    The “childless by choice” argument is old and tired to me. And I give full acknowledgment to the terrible pressures, in general, that people (especially women) experience that encourage them to have babies, babies, babies!

    I believe and know that some of those people exist and shouldn’t be pressured.

    But you know what’s left as far as I’m concerned? Intelligent people of both sexes that want to have babies and aren’t encouraged to because of the arguments presented here.

    Women that apologize non-stop for being “nothing more than” stay at home moms.

    So, in short…I counter this argument by saying that it’s the old argument and I apologize if you still feel pressured to have children because I think you’re lucky to have that pressure. I don’t want to hear it. I think you are out of tune with the more recent trend happening to the most intelligent,up to date people. Seriously, I heard this, “choice to not have children” argument” when I was like, 5.

    Welcome to the counter/counter argument. The argument where smart, up to date people get to have babies without guilt. That seems like a good idea, right?

  18. Beezy says:

    The need to have one’s choices validated by others is almost maddening. Some people want kids and some people don’t. Be glad that there as so many options now and stop trying to convince others that your way is the right way.

    • fionnmatthew says:

      Consider the same argument, used in this way:

      The need to have one’s choices validated by others is almost maddening. Some people want slaves and some people don’t. Be glad that there as so many options now and stop trying to convince others that your way is the right way.

      Would that work?

      You’re assuming that both ways are unobjectionable.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is an interesting article, thankfully free of the moral grandstanding that inevitably creeps into the discussion of this issue. I just don’t understand why there is such a need to debate this. Children will always exist, and we are collectively obligated to protect and care for them and try to leave them a better world to grow up in. Choosing not to have kids helps with this by freeing up more of our limited resources for the kids that will, inevitably, be born. Choosing to be a responsible parent who supports and cares for your children also serves the same goal. I’m happy to hear about people who make either choice. I’d rather tune out the moralizers and the haters on both sides and focus on what’s best for the kids that are out there.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Here’s the perfect example of someone being selfish:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1368763/Fibrodysplasia-Ossificans-Progressiva–Woman-rushes-aisle-rare-disease-turns-statue.html

    There is a 50/50 chance the kid will have the disease “There’s a chance my child will have FOP, but I love my life and I don’t see why that should change anything.” Well glad she loves her life but forces a kid to endure pain and suffering!

  21. Anonymous says:

    No money to start a family, too much of my paycheck already goes towards raising other people’s kids.

  22. Onecos says:

    Kids are great until they’re 13. Then all hell breaks loose.

  23. Teller says:

    If you don’t want children, for God’s sake, don’t have them. They’ll make your life miserable and you, theirs.

  24. Ito Kagehisa says:

    There are over one hundred thousand children who need parents in the United States alone.

    Even crappy parents are better than growing up in an institution. That’s not a figure of speech; study after study has shown that children who grow up in care are less successful than children who grow up in families, whether you measure success by income, educational level, perceived or reported happiness, lifespan, health, you name it. Families, even two-person families, are better than orphages; and of course abuse of children by adoptive parents is less likely than abuse of children in institutions.

    If you are openly gay you may not be allowed to adopt in your area, and if you are very severely physically or mentally handicapped you may not be physically able to manage adoption.

    You can also choose not to adopt. But it’s not a morally neutral choice. And, as the man said, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

    When inaction will lead to suffering or unnecessary harm, one must take action. Rush into the burning building, dive into the frozen lake, throw yourself on the grenade. Be valiant! Adopt children!

    • chgoliz says:

      of course abuse of children by adoptive parents is less likely than abuse of children in institutions.

      Citation needed.

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        Citation needed.

        Altshuler, S., & Poertner, J. (2002). The child health and illness profile-adolescent edition: Assessing well-being in group homes and institutions. Child Welfare, 81(3), 495-513.

        Bush, M. (1980). Institutions for dependent and neglected children: Therapeutic option of choice or last resort. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 50(2), 239-255.

        Colton, M. (1992). Carers of children: A comparative study of the practices of residential and foster carers. Children & Society, 6(1), 25-37.

        Frank, D., Klass, P., Earls, F., Eisenberg, L. (1996). Infants and young children in orphanages: One view from pediatrics and child psychiatry. Pediatrics, 97(4), 569-578.

        Le Mare, L., Kurytnik, K., & Audet, K. (2006). The Implications of Early Institutional Caregiving for the Social-Emotional Development of Internationally Adopted Children. Child and Family Journal, 9, 16-26.

        Margolin, L., & Craft, J. (1989) Child Sexual Abuse by Caretakers. Family Relations, Volume 38, Issue 4, 450-455.

        Quinton, D., Rutter, M., Liddle, C. (1984). Institutional rearing, parenting difficulties and marital support. Psychological Medicine, 14, 107-124.

        Triseliotis, J., & Hill, M. (1990). Contrasting adoption, foster care, and residential rearing. In D. Brodzinksy & M. Shechter (Eds.), The Psychology of Adoption, (pp. 107-120). New York: Oxford University Press.

        The data indicate that children are more likely to be abused in institutional settings than in adoptive families, and slightly more likely to be abused in adoptive families than in biological families, and more likely to be abused in single-parent biological families with other adults present than in two-parent biological families.

        It boils down to this: the more adults the child comes into contact with who have unsupervised power over the child, the more likely the child is to be abused. No giant surprise, I hope? In an institution, each child is subject to the whims of dozens of adults. There seems to be some poorly understood protection afforded by “kinship” in the genetic sense, beyond the Westermarck effect, and there’s also some lesser protection offered by the adoption process itself, but children in care don’t have either advantage.

        There’s a lot of ongoing study concerning the differences between children raised in care, adoptees, and children in biological families. The higher probability of abuse is only one of the many problems with orphanages; all available data pretty clearly indicates that the best place to raise a child is in a biological family, second best place is an adoptive family, and the worst place is a state-sponsored institution. Everything else falls somewhere in between.

  25. RobertBigelow says:

    No one – absolutely no one – should be made to feel inadequate or ashamed for not having children.

    Given the state of available life-sustaining resources, fewer children might not be a bad idea.

  26. alowishus says:

    Went from single to married with kid and owning a house in about four years.

    Most of the time I regret my choice.

  27. The 2-Belo says:

    I don’t want kids, but I have never given anyone a hard time because they do, or have them already. It’s rude, and they have nothing to do with me. I would never say or think such a thing.

    So, may I please be extended the same courtesy?

  28. Johnnu says:

    Society does dictate that married couples should have a child. In fact, some people believe that people get married to start a family -meaning, by having a child. But let’s face it, not everyone are ready to take the responsibility of raising children; or simply some people are just not the type who would want to have children. Don’t be guilty about it. In fact, be proud because you are brave enough to tell how you feel. Having children just because society dictates it will end up raising unloved children who God knows what they’ll be when they become adults.

  29. Anonymous says:

    i like the voluntary human extinction movements ‘why breed?’ chart
    http://www.vhemt.org/whybreed.pdf

  30. pjk says:

    I have no beef with childless folks, and I am in fact more than a little envious at times. Ah for the days when I could read on a Saturday afternoon. The only thing I will say, though, is that if you’re a person who likes to wax eloquent about public policy and urban planning and human society and whatnot, you won’t really be able to fully partake in these discussions without reproducing, because as far as biology goes, eating, shitting and reproducing are as basic as it gets. Which is to say, I am very much jealous that you childless folks can stay out till 2 am drinking and then enjoy a leisurely brunch with your friends the next morning, but don’t tell me you understand the emotions and responsibilities of being a parent because you have a fucking cat.

    • emmdeeaych says:

      Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s fucking raining.

    • robinm says:

      I don’t think any of the childless people among us are going to lecture you on the “emotions and responsibilities of being a parent.” Personally, I have a pretty good idea that they are insanely far reaching and out of my comprehension, which is why I am always leaning to childless.

    • irksome says:

      Actually, my experiences with having a “fucking cat” as you so eloquently put it, are one of the many reasons I know procreation isn’t for me. Odd that you equate it with “eating and shitting” though.

      Mostly, I just don’t like children. Simple as that. A co-worker’s response was “Oh, but when you have one you’ll feel differently!” Really? You want me to take that chance? I should treat this like buying I’m a car? Tell me where I can return it if it turns out I was right.

      • pjk says:

        It’s not that odd. If any organism (or species) stops eating, shitting and reproducing, it will soon cease to exist. I can’t think of many other biological activities that are so crucial. That’s not to say that everyone should reproduce, but I do think it means that societies should be (and typically are) somewhat deferential to those who do make the decision to reproduce, since their offspring will be responsible for keeping out the barbarian hordes/paying our social security checks when we’re in our dotage.

        • Anonymous says:

          “It’s not that odd. If any organism (or species) stops eating, shitting and reproducing, it will soon cease to exist. I can’t think of many other biological activities that are so crucial.”

          By that logically train of thought, that we are simply viewed as base animals, I can kill you for your resources to better my standing. I wonder how society would take to that thinking? “But Judge I was only trying to better my offspring!”

          Societies should not reward/differentiate toward people who reproduce over those contributing money, wealth of knowledge and viable skills to society. Bodies are just bodies. Most anyone can have a kid, not everyone can be a doctor, a teacher, a scientist or engineer.

        • irksome says:

          “Deferential”? The unbridled gall of that statement is appalling. Your arrogance is a poor reflection on the attitudes that this thread seeks to address, if not your actual parenting abilities. The need for mass-procreation went the way of all things right around the time we stopped being an agrarian society and huddling in fear of thunder. So we should defer to you for having the infinite wisdom to spew your seed in order to prop up our social safety net? Please.

          How’s about you giving me some props for having the wisdom to not pop out the snot-nosed bastard that’d bespoil your little princess’ honor in the backseat of your mini-van?

  31. Anonymous says:

    Well, just because the number of undereducated people is probably going to be exponentially growing for the foreseeable future doesn’t mean the educated upperclass isn’t going to be in control. It just means there will be 20 people bagging groceries for every person with a college degree rather than 10… and the elite will always be able to manipulate the lower classes into voting against their best interests, so the whole “idiocracy” thing doesn’t really hold water. Just because there are a lot more stupid people around doesn’t mean anything when the same elites are running all the huge corporations and holding government office and can manipulate the masses into supporting them as they do now… The fact that birth rates are dropping among the educated is an advantage to the continuation of that class as the elite, since having fewer children and more money per child ensures that those kids will be sent to good schools and will continue to dominate the worlds of business and government.

  32. Anonymous says:

    My partner and I are in the ‘If it happens, it happens’ bracket.
    If she were to fall pregnant, we’d be elated. Otherwise, we enjoy what we have, without worry that our child may or may not inherit our illnesses, which so-far our parents and siblings also share.

    On a different plane of thought, who is saying that the human race is so thin-on-the-ground, that those choosing not to have children are ‘selfish’?
    The worse-case is a few family lines might end.

    If you choose not to have children – you are NOT rubbing it into the faces of those who cannot have children.
    It would be callous to do so.
    It is also callous if those who cannot or those who want to argue the point, to tell those who chose not to have children, that it’s not their choice to make.

    The ‘real’ issue are those who look down on the other for their choice.
    Those who do not properly treat, teach and control their choice.
    Those who do not understand what treat, teach and control ‘actually’ are and involve.

  33. freshacconci says:

    “The only thing I will say, though, is that if you’re a person who likes to wax eloquent about public policy and urban planning and human society and whatnot, you won’t really be able to fully partake in these discussions without reproducing”

    Bullshit.

    So those who cannot have children should keep their traps shut as well, or do they get a free pass for losing out on the genetic lottery?

    “but don’t tell me you understand the emotions and responsibilities of being a parent because you have a fucking cat”

    I don’t recall anyone saying that. My wife and I have no children, are planning one in the next two years, and we have three cats. We understand there’s a difference. Cats are cleaner.

  34. Anonymous says:

    If I could afford some decent frickin’ health care, I would have considered having kids but it seems ridiculous to even consider when I can’t even take care of my own ass.

    I would have been selfish of me to HAVE kids-not breeding is just survival instinct at this point, the way things are going in this society.

  35. inphiknit says:

    The love of my life and I both love kids. She is a teacher. We have always been 100% certain that we don’t want to have any of our own. To me it is bizarre that there is not more discussion about the fact that we are wiping out the wilderness and other species on a grand scale without considering where this will all lead.

    We don’t need to keep having children thanks.

    • spriggan says:

      Exactly with people living longer and longer we don’t need more people. We need a better quality of life for the 6.91 billion we already have. Maybe when all the children we all already have are adequately cared for we can talk about more. I tell my mother in law if she wants grandkids she better be prepared to give up her social security. It’s only fair…

  36. joncro says:

    We tried to make babies and failed, and so adopted a couple of kids other people were not in a position to parent. Before we did it we were reminded by a few people who have happily chosen not to have kids that we could be happy without them (as if it hadn’t occurred to us). We decided while we definitely would still be happy without them, we’d be happier with them. So far so good.
    Upon meeting our daughter, a family friend said, “Well, it’s good you two couldn’t make it happen, you’d never have produced such a beautiful child.” They’re both swell lookers.
    With no guilt, we do sometimes dream of our 50s when it’ll just be us two again.
    It’s nice.

  37. Anonymous says:

    WOW! I doubt I will clarify anything, but…

    1. If you want kids, great have them, if you don’t, don’t. Neither position is somehow superior.

    2. Pets are not children. Sorry, love dogs, not the same.

    I did not want children. My wife did. We have a great kid. Yes its tough. Yes I love him. No I don’t think you’re a monster for not having one. On the “hating children front,” deal with it. Plenty of adults act like jerks, children just have an excuse now and then. FYI, I am not advocating the letting your kid run wild routine you sometimes see, but sometimes kids will be cranky. It happens. Most of the time mine is a “propaganda kid,” meaning people see him and go “see, they’re not that bad…”, but every kid, and adult, is sometimes a jerk.

    As far as the “fur child” comments: I love dogs. When our dog died I cried and felt bad for a long time. But just simply, logically, IT IS NOT THE SAME.

    Everyone just needs to ask one question, does it (other people having or not having of children) hurt ME? And I mean in an immediate way, not the “we will run out of resources” or the “we will fail as a species” extremes on either end. Everyone reading this will be long dead before either of those scenarios comes to fruition.

  38. folkclarinet says:

    I’ve never wanted kids but I am not a “child-hater.” In fact, I teach private clarinet lessons. I love kids, in fact, but I have a hard enough time keeping myself sane and fed that I don’t think any kid of mine would survive well.

    That said, I’ve always claimed that if I ever felt the need to be a parent, I’d adopt. There are many more kids out there who need good parents, and for me, it’s part of being pro-choice. If a pregnant woman doesn’t want to keep the baby, there better be a great place to put it! :)

  39. Ari B. says:

    Personally, I’m really happy that my wife and I decided to have a kid. She just turned four months-old, today. Of course, we hope to be good parents and raise her well.

    That said, I could totally understand why somebody would choose not to have kids.

    What I continually fail to understand is the animosity on that exists in some segments on both sides.

    Meh.

  40. Anonymous says:

    I don’t want children, and I don’t have any. Nevertheless, I find the “breeder/non-breeder” terminology quite offensive. It’s very rude and conveys an air of smug superiority.

  41. triscuit says:

    I enjoyed the read- it was encouraging as a newlywed 30-something (whose gynecologist tells her it’s time to get cracking). For those of you who think it’s easy, or common, to choose not to procreate likely live in metropolitan areas or maybe already have kids and have no idea what you are talking about? The article was not smugly written- it was relieved.

    Recently at a local board game convention (where Mark would have a ball) we ended up playing with another local couple. She asked me “Kids?” and I said “Nope- you?” then she smiled and said “Oh good- Insta-friends!” And thinking about it, she was right. It’s much easier for us to find social time with the new folks than it is with our many wonderful friends with kids.

  42. Aaron Bockelie says:

    I love to state the obvious, so I will point out that every single post on this forum, and every action you see in human society is because someone decided to have children.

    On the very large scale, the resources freed by not having offspring will be filled by another because the resource opportunity was provided.

    From a strictly Darwinian standpoint, I feel that those who choose to not have children provide a disservice to society. Why? Because those who are in a position to choose or are able to articulate their choice tend to be the ones who would (statistically) raise children who are more informed, articulate, and with more advantage than those who do not.

    In summary, I do not declare the choice to have no children as selfish, per se; those same people are likely to contribute to society in other equally positive forms.

    I do feel that over a multi generational view it could be harmful for the human race, however.

    FYI, this perspective comes from a father of three.

    • freshacconci says:

      So you’re saying that people who choose not to have children are brilliant and are therefore robbing the future of their superior genes? Interesting paradox.

      I think the human race is safe. Enough smart people are having children to make up for those who don’t.

    • Snig says:

      So worker bees who stubbornly refuse to breed don’t help the hive? I’ve had many good childless teachers/mentors over the years. Procreating is not the way that everyone contributes to society/humanity.

      • Aaron Bockelie says:

        If you look at my original post, I think the worker bees contribute in other (sometimes very) useful forms. However, it makes me wonder what sort of evolutionary advantage is conferred by making a choice to not have children.

        In a simplistic form perhaps it’s making the greater sacrifice for the good of the species?

        • turn_self_off says:

          Heh, now you reminded me of an article about crows. Crows form social groups, and in those groups there are members that are more relaxed in their efforts then the rest. But when the productive crows hit a snag, those “layabouts” will step in and pick up the slack.

          And lets not forget that when farming was the common way, several households (related by blood or just common goals) would build in close proximity so that one could have the older members that was unfit the heavier tasks could instead watch the kids as a group.

          So Not having kids oneself may well benefit the group as a whole. This because it frees one up to watch the kids of others, or gather resources that can be shared with those that have kids to watch. So the kids became a collective issue rather then a individual one.

          And i think one can observe this with apes as well, where members of a group will watch over kids that do not directly belong to them.

        • jezebelserpent says:

          You do know that only the queen bee mates and reproduces, that all the other “worker bees” in the hive are sterile female bees? Same thing with ants. Worker bees don’t have any chance of ever reproducing and a queen survives only because her workers are there to support her.

          Isn’t this an example of a strong evolutionary advantage? I don’t see how you can use bees as an example otherwise in this discussion.

    • bradmofo says:

      You’re saying I’m providing a disservice to society because I make a conscious choice to not have a child? Would you rather I raised a child badly, probably resenting my decision and in turn having the child resent his/her parents? In my book, its a service to society that informed people only make an informed choice; the outcome doesn’t really matter so long it is right for them.

      And in a multi-generational view, a world population of 9bn by 2050 doesn’t sound too beneficial considering the complete lack of plans to deal with such vast numbers. Our genes have ultimately liberated us from ‘strict Darwinism’ so I think that’s a valid standpoint anymore.

      • Aaron Bockelie says:

        Brad, I’m not saying you’re dissing the human race by not having children. I’m just making the observation that most people are aware that they may be bad parents are far more aware of themselves, their role in life and how they interact with others.

        Paradoxically those same people would often make better parents than those who are unaware, simply because they know their limitations.

        Also, I admit in a multi-generational view yes 9bn people is a lot of huddled masses. I also agree that our genes have liberated us from a strict Darwinist expression of evolution. Humanity’s ace card is that we can recognize and craft an existence that runs contrary to pure natural selection.

        The simple fact that we have people cognizant enough to realize they are “not fit enough for procreation” tells me that those people specifically may be better suited for reproduction than the rest of humanity’s morass.

  43. fionnmatthew says:

    This one sails close to one of my favourite poets.

    Philip Larkin – This Be The Verse

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you…

    http://www.artofeurope.com/larkin/lar2.htm

  44. Yaruki Zero says:

    On the one hand there are people who decide have or not have children for the wrong reasons. Some “childfree” groups come off as more “anti-child,” and there are those whose reasons for having a child boil down to “the condom broke” or “God said so.”

    Personally, I think my own emotional issues make me completely the wrong person to raise a child, and in a way I envy the folks who have it in them to be there for their children 24/7. If I had it in me to do that, I could probably be a better friend, son, and brother. Insofar as you can draw conclusions from online comments, when this kind of thing comes up it seems like a non-trivial portion of childless people don’t want kids because they legitimately feel they’d screw it up, and would rather not cause suffering and bring yet another damaged human being into the world.

  45. RedPanda says:

    I’m one of those women who changed her mind when she hit 30. A stereotype, I know. It shocked everyone, including my husband (who had wanted kids, but accepted that we wouldn’t be having them). Up until this point, I couldn’t stand to be around children; they were so loud and needy and dirty. I couldn’t imagine giving up that much of my freedom and time to cater to someone else’s needs. I knew I didn’t have it in me. And from what I could see, the world was going downhill fast. Every day it’s harder to get a job; there’s violence, poverty, cruelty. Why would I want to bring a kid into this mess?

    Then, over the course of a year or so, I started to realize that the children I interacted with were becoming more charming than irritating. The hobbies I found so important in my 20s, that I was unwilling to sacrifice the freedom to pursue, now seemed far less essential. I suddenly felt like I had gotten what I needed out of my youth and was ready to begin the next phase of my life — a life centered on something other than myself.

    And I realized the world isn’t that bad, despite the doomsayers. Life is, in fact, pretty good. The thought of sharing the wonder of life with someone I helped bring into the world seemed like the most rewarding thing I could imagine.

    I waited a long time before I even brought it up with my husband, because I wanted to be absolutely sure it wasn’t a passing whim or the vagaries of hormones. Then we talked about it. A lot. About where we would need to be financially and emotionally in order to give a child what it needed. About whether we were willing to embrace the drastic lifestyle change it would require. And starting next year, we plan to start trying to conceive.

    I still haven’t told most of my acquaintances that I’ve changed my mind, and they’re probably going to be pretty shocked if/when I announce a pregnancy. But I also know that my choice is none of their business, and I feel no need to justify it to them.

    So count me as one of those “glad I didn’t permanently sterilize myself in my 20s like I wanted to” women.

  46. Snig says:

    Another side of that is folks who are having infertility issues. Urging them to have kids soon, or endorsing them for being wisely child-free can completely unintentionally cruel.

  47. ryhntyntyn says:

    Starting with Ito Kagehisa

    Nationalism is mostly interchangeable with racism and ethnocentrism.

    Maybe I missed something in context but I wasn’t advocating nationalism or even mentioning it. So please explain what you mean and why you brought it up.

    All three represent different levels of ignorant or very narrow minded ways of thinking, but they are vastly different in scope and effect.

    And then on down to Madprime – That makes sense. It does seem kind of cynical to plug one gap with young people from another country leaving another gap. In addition one aspect we discussed in Munich on the Subject of the US/Mexican immigration debate, was that allowing the US to be a drain or pressure valve prevents the pressure at home from creating the impetus for social change. There should be more support in US Society for those who have Children. Anything less is frankly uncivilized and at a minimum it helps perpetuate the glass ceiling by penalizing women who choose to reproduce. In the broader sense the lack of support maintains the cycle of poverty across the scope for every ethnicity and demographic and gender pairing.

    And then down to fionnmatthew and Madprime – As an immigrant myself I do not see immigration as a right. It was in my case a privilege. It is not necessarily a given that people should be allowed to work and live where they want without the consent of the country to which they wish to move.

    • fionnmatthew says:

      And then down to fionnmatthew and Madprime – As an immigrant myself I do not see immigration as a right. It was in my case a privilege. It is not necessarily a given that people should be allowed to work and live where they want without the consent of the country to which they wish to move.

      Ah, well, I’m no advocate of borders, I think “the consent of that country” isn’t entirely coherent, and I think passports are an institution of authoritarian control, so I can see that we’re unlikely to find common ground on this one. ;)

      • ryhntyntyn says:

        Of course we won’t find common ground, I wasn’t looking for it. And I wouldn’t welcome it. You’re an anti-natalist. That means of course that you are evil. ;) But at least we can be polite.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      You said:

      “Immigration is a question of sovereignty, and the citizens of any one nation do not have to admit the citizens of another. It is not a right to be allowed to immigrate in, rather a priviledge”

      Sorry, but you can’t argue that the rights of nations supersede the free movement of individuals and then claim you haven’t mentioned nationalism. Any sort of immigration control that is bound on “sovereignty” or “citizenship” or imaginary lines drawn on maps IS nationalism.

      You did it again here: “It is not necessarily a given that people should be allowed to work and live where they want without the consent of the country to which they wish to move.”

      The essential primacy of a country, a national entity, is the basis of that entire argument. It’s nationalism.

      I like your usernym, by the way. Arf!

  48. Emo Less says:

    Far too many people on this planet already. Just look around at the misery index – it is due to overpopulation. Most of you support overpopulation so there will be more worker bees to pay off the horrendous debt you have created by supporting the corrupt status quo (Democrats and Republicans)and to fund/subsidize your retirement.

  49. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to add an analogy for perspective.

    Reproductive organs are like eyes.

    We can’t blame others if they choose not use their eyes. The world can be a sad place. We have wars, suffering, and death. We can be very cruel to one another. And seeing all this, can be very hard for some people. Although some, just like living in the dark.

    And some people choose to use their eyes and see all the good that this world has to offer along with all the bad. To a point where they will tell people who can’t see, what they are missing. (this is the annoying parents part)

    Some people have not been given a choice to see at all. And they live their lives through other senses. Hearing, Touching, and Smelling all that the world has to offer. It is not a lesser experience. We can call it a sightfree, rather than sightless experience.

    We can choose to see things and how they affect who we are, and how we make the world. In that same way, we can choose to make children that will affect us and this world.

    Use your eyes.
    Don’t use it.
    User your reproductive abilty.
    Don’t use it.

    It is called free will.

  50. Anselm says:

    I often hear “You’re a great person, you should totally have kids! Your genes shouldn’t go to waste!” To which I reply that I’m more than just a body, thank you very much.

    At 28, I have no kids and no desire to have them- ever. Selfish? Perhaps. See, I have this idea that I want to be a college professor and educate the next generation. And I have this idea that if I have kids, in the next 10 years, I’ll be having them while I’m trying to get into grad school, while I’m in grad school, or as a new academic who’s trying to get his feet under him and pay off massive student debt. Somehow, this doesn’t seem like a good time to have a kid.

    Of course, I could wait until I’m established. At that point, my freshly-minted brat will happily distract me from my work, and I’ll be an overtired, distracted professor rushing through my grading and without time for my students. That doesn’t seem fair to other people’s children, the people I’m teaching.

    So tell me: Do my genes make me who I am? Or does physical genome, which can only be passed on through spooge, play in concert to my mental genome, which can be passed on to thousands of people through education? Is it still selfish of me if I want to take that part of me that people revere, my education and carefully-trained thought processes, and favor that over asthma, allergies, weak joints and a predilection for alcohol and stimulants?

    • RigelK says:

      Anselm, I really, REALLY enjoyed reading your very well thought out and well written comment.

      I do have a question, though. You didn’t mention a partner’s position on children vs. no children, so I’m asking this in light of the likelihood that you aren’t married/in a committed relationship. You are 28 and on career track. Soon, you will move into in an age range where many of the women you will have to consider in the pool of possible partners will come with kids from prior marriages/relationships. These will be children or are not yet grown. Would you marry/partner with a woman who has at home children? Does your no children policy extend to step-children? The question of your genetic spawn is removed from the equation. But, there’s the point of there being little distraction in the home that you are helping to raise.

      Not judging. Not taking a position. Just truly curious. What’s your thinking on this?

    • Capissen says:

      That was an incredibly eloquent and well-thought-out comment. I admit that I had never thought about selectively passing on ones better traits, if only through memes and knowledge transfer. Good food for thought.

    • Radka says:

      One of the best replies I’ve read! Everyone should put thought into what they contribute to this world.

  51. Anonymous says:

    NOT PROCREATING is “selfish”? Give me a break. Ask anyone to justify their decision to have kids, and I’ll be shocked if you get one reason that doesn’t start with the words, “I wanted…”

  52. Anonymous says:

    Oh come on, just look around. We could stand a few less people on this planet. I’m doing my part to make that happen. Unfortunately, those of you who breed like rabbits are not helping.

  53. turn_self_off says:

    And the rich have kids to flaunt that they have the time and resource access to actually be with them rather then put them into daycare because both parents do double shifts to cover expenses.

  54. veganinfurs says:

    Eh. You either have kids or you don’t. It’s like writing a song or a book or a piece of poetry. To sit there and get all clinical about it is pointless. Do it or don’t. Child bearing is such an integral part of what it means to be a human that reading this article strikes me as yuppie-ish and just off putting. There’s pro’s and con’s for and against having a children, but reading this made me feel dirty by talking about it so flippantly. “Let’s go see a movie!” It’s clear to me that you don’t want children, and to be frank, are not equipped to deal with them should you decide to either.

    Having a child should be something done out of profound love, not cold clinical analysis. Otherwise you’re just setting yourself and the child up for failure. People have to realize that our ideas about child birth will directly translate to the way we treat and raise our kids once they exit the womb and into this crazy world.

  55. LabRat001 says:

    SHOULDN’T HAVE CHILDREN
    DON’T HAVE CHILDREN
    DO HAVE CHILDREN
    SHOULD HAVE CHILDREN

    Four groups with four areas of convergence where do you fall? With three of the areas not hurting anyone it’s depressing how big the fourth one seems to be some days.

    Generally speaking should haves with children have more responsibilities than the other three groups. It doesn’t mean that others are irresponsible just that they don’t have as much to be responsible for. It’s an amazing thing that you’ve chosen to do and you should be supported in it by society BUT ultimately our kids are our problem as well as our joy.

    You can ask for a favour because you’ve got kids and you’ll get it cause kids are a good reason. If you keep wanting favours because you can’t plan your life well enough or you believe you have a right to special treatment then the fights break out. Entitlement is antagonising no matter what the reason for it.

    To the childfree yes we can occasionally seem pushy and defensive but you can seem smug and uncomprehending at the same time. There’s maybe a touch of jealousy in there that you can ask the question “What would you like to do tomorrow?” quite so easily but that’s one of the benefits of your choice and the downside of ours. Our choice works for us but it’s contemptible to try and claim it would also work for you.

    Pretty much what I’m trying to say I think is that anyone telling someone else that “my life is better than yours and your choices are all wrong/selfish/stupid” is evil whichever direction it’s going in.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Immigration won’t solve Europe’s problems, anymore than immigration from Europe “solved” the underpopulation created by massive mortality due to disease for native Americans in the 15th century. Cultural devastation due to immigration is very real – ask the Aztecs, the Tibetans, the Ainu, the Uighurs, the British Celts, the Copts, etc. etc. The new immigrants simply won’t be Europeans. They may create a new and interesting culture on the ground that used to be Europe, but it will be European in the way modern Turkey is “Byzantine”. Whites aren’t “superior” – but if you value diversity why is it a crime to want to preserve European culture?

  57. Anonymous says:

    There are no shortages of clever children, even amongst “stupid people”.

    There are shortages of opportunities.

    Privileged people electing to not have children, particularly in largely privileged societies, tends to make way for clever children without opportunity to rise.

    This is a good thing.

  58. Anonymous says:

    My wife and I decided not to have kids. We don’t dislike kids though. We just don’t want them to be the focus of our lives.

    “You don’t have kids, do you dislike children?”
    “No. We don’t own a horse either, doesn’t mean we hate horses.”

    “You don’t have kids, isn’t that selfish?”
    “Everything you do is selfish somehow. Having kids is very selfish. You force someone to exist and tell them what to do to make you happy.”

    Pros:
    Having a kids is a way to feel like your life has purpose if you don’t know what to do with it otherwise. Everyone likes to feel useful.

    It forces someone to be your companion and is dependent on you (for at least a decade or so).

    You can feel like a piece of you lives on.

    Kids can force a marriage to stay together.

    Cons:
    They won’t necessarily take care of you or even call when you are old.

    You might hate them.

    They might hate you.

    They might always be dependent on you.

    Kids shouldn’t be your friends. Good parents are parents first, not buddies. Friends don’t make their friends eat their veggies because they care about their health.

    You can create something else or become part of someone else’s kid’s life and live on that way.

    They are damne expensive unless you are a crappy or poor ($ wise) parent.

    Kids can force a marriage to stay together even when it should breakup. Kids can break up a marriage that might have stayed together.

  59. NuOrder72 says:

    Disclaimer (I have two children and absolutely couldn’t imagine my life without them…)

    One of the things that I NEVER do is proselytize about having children to my friends or co-workers. However, I can NOT understand why couples make the PLANNED decision to have children, but they dump them in daycare as soon as they turn six weeks old, their maternity leave ends, or both…Yes, I do understand that some women are single and have no choice, but when I see perfectly capable people putting the lives of their children in the hands of strangers, I shake my head and swallow my words every time. These are the people that need to be told that they shouldn’t have had children in the first place!!

    One of our neighbors runs a daycare out of her home and every time I see a mother arrive (before 6 am many times) with their dreary, sleep-eyed little ones, I feel my heart shrinks a few sizes.

    Where is my post heading? I have not a clue, but I do vouch for those of you who have to sit and listen to the idiots who ask you (again and again), “So, when are you having children?” For all those who have children and never dare ask that question, I apologize for their ignorance.

  60. Anonymous says:

    “But I don’t want to spend the rest of my life without a husband, or without a child!”
    Girls are trained from day one to believe they must be married and have kids. Its like they can’t survive without man by their side. I cant get why people are nosy either. They start by they time you are in high school: are you dating anyone, when are you two getting married, when are you having kids? I mean why do they even care?
    Some women have done fine without either husband or kids even though it may not be what they wanted. Im married with no kids-not by choice- so I am for marriage and whatever else it may bring if it that person’ choice. Not all are suited for marriage and kids. I still feel we are being pressured by society to have kids. look at the reality shows on about parents with umpteen kids. Where is the flip side?

    “Simply put the only reason for not having children is purely a selfish one.”

    How can you call childles s by choice selfish when so many parents have them or selfish reasons/

  61. donna says:

    Hi all. I am currently completing my dissertation on women who choose to be childfree in the United Kingdom for my Master’s thesis. I am looking for female participants, who live in the UK who have chosen not to have children. The research will involve interviews via e-mail. If you would be willing to take part, or if you have any questions, then please let me know.

    Many thanks and best wishes in advance.

  62. Headbone says:

    “Anyone who hates kids and dogs can’t be all bad.” — W.C. Fields.

  63. Antinous / Moderator says:

    People with children are like Christians: most of them just quietly observe their faith, and a few of them need to get all up in your face about how your life sucks if you don’t have Jesus. They both operate on the theory that there’s a hole in your life if you don’t have what they have.

    Some folks just spend way too much time thinking about other folks’ holes.

    • Flying_Monkey says:

      Reading this thread, it seems pretty clear that the same applies to the ‘other side’, or indeed to any group of people who want to make a political issue out of something so intensely personal, and then go on to stereotype and denigrate the ‘opponents’ they themselves have created by their own insistence on differentiating themselves. There are no natural ‘sides’ here and no right and wrong in one artificial and pointless position or the other.

      Some of our friends have children, some do not, some by choice, some not. We don’t like any of them more or less than the other based on their choices nor do we judge them on this basis. People who want to waste this short time we have in this world in judgmental, competitive and hateful division – on whatever basis they do this – I just ask ‘why?’

      • spriggan says:

        “People who want to waste this short time we have in this world in judgmental, competitive and hateful division – on whatever basis they do this – I just ask ‘why?’”

        I think you may have just defined the human condition.

  64. John Farrier says:

    I’ve got two lovely daughters, and had them just before it would have been dangerously unhealthy for my wife and I to try. I think that, had I been unable to have children, I would have been emotionally crushed in an unrecoverable way. But I recognize that other people are different and don’t have that need.

  65. ndollak says:

    It works the other way too. I’ve been trying for over 30 years to have a baby, and from my POV, it seems that people who want to have children are by far the exception, not the norm. Most of the people I know who have babies seem to have them only after a substantial amount of alcoholic consumption, which tells me it’s not what they’d do if they were sober. Am I just in a horrible geographical location for those who would like to reproduce deliberately?

  66. Daemon says:

    Never had the slightest inclination to have a child. I can’t even begin to fathom why people would want them. I don’t mind others reproducing, just so long as they leave me out of it.

  67. Austinmodern says:

    Hooray for those of us that have decided to refrain.
    Hooray for those of you that decided to go for it.

    I’m with the folks who have posted that there isn’t a decent enough return policy in place if you get handed an asshat.

    Some people love parenting, some people know it isn’t for them. Way better to be the child of parents who are committed to raising you and doing it with unconditional love and patience than to be the child of a parent/s that are undecided, uncommitted or unavailable.

    The WONDERFUL thing is those of use who choose to refrain are doing society a favor because we know our limits.

  68. alowishus says:

    I never wanted kids. Now, thanks to love, I have one. And I’m pretty much miserable all of the time. Now what do I do?

  69. Emo Less says:

    Does Africa and Asia need more kids? Does inner-city America need more kids? I get it — white suburban America needs more kids — they are the precious ones we must have more of.

  70. LikesTurtles says:

    It’s odd when people tell me that I should have kids because I have good genes. I have a good white collar job at one of the leading companies in my field. Not rich but certainly in the top 20% in terms of income (but not net wealth). Only very minor medical problems over my entire life. Attended a good university and earned a bachelor and master degree in engineering.

    Sounds good until you look at my four siblings:

    One brother served time in prison for having an on going sexual relationship with the twelve year old babysitter when he was in his mid 30s. As a teen dropped out of high school but eventually got a GED. Has been in treatment for substance abuse. Has two kids, both of which have major emotional problems, probably from their parents nonstop string of not so secret affairs and of course having a father spend time in prison for being a child molester.

    One sister who has three children. The oldest, by a father who never had anything to do with kid, is in constant trouble. The twins are seemingly normal tweens. Dropped out of high school, eventually got a GED and career certificate.

    Another sister who has four children, all by different fathers, none of which are around. Was given a house totally free by the parents. Three years later the house was falling apart due to ignored maintenance issues and was eventually foreclosed on due to a mortgage she took out on the free house. Graduated from high school on time and earned a BA at a local college. Has a genetic kidney condition.

    Another brother, who has no ambition beyond his decade long career in food service. He seems pretty happy with life so it seems like a good choice to me but for the “good genes” crowd, he wouldn’t qualify as desirable. Has no children but would like to some day. High school graduate.

    All five of us came from the same genetic soup. Three of them have already had kids, so not having children isn’t causing my so called good genes to go to waste. And quite frankly I have a hard time seeing them as being in any way superior.

  71. phillamb168 says:

    This seems to be an American problem. Why all the hand-wringing? I can’t say I’ve encountered much of either side of this discussion over here in Europe. Or perhaps that’s just because I don’t watch TV…

    Also, Xeni, that was not the coolest response ever. In fact I’d say it was a rather sad attempt to be “edgy” that just comes across as looking desperate for attention.

  72. phillamb168 says:

    It should also be noted that this is probably an American thing because of the American way of life. If everybody has to have a huge house with huge energy consumption and everybody buys prepackaged crap with a million preservatives in it, of course having multiple children is going to be bad for the planet.

  73. Anonymous says:

    I find pieces like this hilarious and, well, sort of dull. My mother was hugely pregnant with me when finishing her masters on the OSU campus, at that time population control was huge and she had to walk past a group picketing and advocating that every day.

    I am indifferent to this call for less population, to the wearied cry of “children are expensive”, you end up spending money one way or the other children or not. I also want YOU not to reproduce so that MY children can use the resources that would have gone to your children, on the other hand I resent that your aged body will be cared for on my children’s dime. Guess what? Since having kids our family’s use of resources per person has gone dramatically down, we don’t travel anymore, we eat at home, we don’t drive as much, we recycle more and dry our clothes on the line, we garden, we walk, we everything.

    Besides, as one who believes in evolution (and so many here do, so it is hilarious to me), I want my genes to continue, I want that ultimate ego to regenerate. Having kids is a primitive and unexplainable desire, not to be shared with those who lack it.

    Just, I ask one thing from the non-breeders, please recall when you bitch about children, they are human and have all the rights you do so do not deny them what you think you deserve. They are also more important then your pets, you may not feel this is true but it is a fact both in law and in society. Just a FYI.

    • davidasposted says:

      Assuming you live in the U.S., as a fact of law your children explicitly do not have the same rights that I do.

  74. JimEJim says:

    For the record: some of us could care less what you do.

    I was pretty indifferent to having children since I figured I’d find happiness either way. My wife was more interested, so here I am now with a daughter, happy as can be. I don’t fault others for choosing not to have them.

    In the end, we’re all a bit self-involved anyway, whether you’re choosing to have kids or not. Nothing wrong with that.

    Oh, and the questions don’t stop just because you have a kid. After “When are you getting married?” it’s “When are you having a kid?” followed by “When are you having another kid?” Some people are just way too interested in telling people what to do. Best to ignore them.

  75. Anonymous says:

    I’m 40. Don’t have kids, never will. No one has ever harassed me about not having kids or implied that I’m less of a person because of it. That’s one of the good things about being as queer as a seven dollar bill!

  76. Anonymous says:

    Frankly, I would love to have a kid or two. I always thought it would be wonderful to have a nice house, a wife, couple of kids, maybe a dog and all that other suburbanite stuff hiply referred to as “drab.” Instead, I’m 33, all fucked-up in the head and basically unable to build meaningful relationships with people. The body is able, but the mind spirals into panic when people get too close. I’ve kinda-sorta made my peace with the fact that I’ll probably never be able have a relationship or a family, but there is still a part of me that would genuinely love to have a child. I can’t even tell you how awesome that would be, to have a little son or daughter, to watch them grow up and maybe (if my hypothetical spouse and I raised them right) watch them grow up and have families of their own.

    Of course, this is the internet, where people are too busy hurling abuse at each other and trying to “win” every conversation, so nobody’s able to give a shit about the people who are childless by circumstance.

    Beyond my neurotic issues, what about those of us who are sterile? God, the heartbreak I’ve seen in men and women who find out that they’re basically a genetic dead end, whether they like it or not. I wouldn’t wish that on… well… most people. Some of us probably shouldn’t be breeding, but you know what I mean. Most people are okay.

    Sorry to ramble, but this isn’t the first time I’ve happened across the child-free subject this weekend. I’m not the victim type, but it does send a sting through the heart, so to speak. There’s always more to people than simply plugging away at a willing ewe to mindlessly expand the herd.

  77. Roger Krueger says:

    Post-industrial society’s “survival of the fittest” favors those too inept to use a condom correctly. Or too lacking in impulse control to even get that far.

    Good genes are no guarantee of success, but they are better odds. Similarly, success is no guarantee of good genes, but it is better odds.

  78. Anonymous says:

    Please stop saying “WE got pregnant”, “WE are pregnant”, “we, we, we”. Only one person in a hetero-couple will get pregnant or is pregnant. The women. As in: “SHE got pregnant”, “SHE is pregnangt”, “she, she, she”!
    You (= the man) cannot get pregnant (yet). Just accept it.
    (Barring you’re part of a lesbian couple and you both are pregnant, then of course the “we” is correct)

    On to the topic: Whether someone wants to have children is up to them. I’m so fed up with being told that “kids made my life richer”, “you’ll like them once you have some too!”, “it’ll give your life a reason”. Why can’t some parents just not accept, that there are people on this lovely planet who do NOT want to procreate? We do have an overpopulation going on at the moment, so shouldn’t everyone who decides not to produce offspring be applauded?

  79. wolfiesma says:

    I am just so happy to see this concept getting some attention. Awesome, valid, *unselfish* life path. Anybody who tells you, “You haven’t known love until you’ve had a child,” is spouting total BS. Total narcisstic nonsense. You can have equal love for animals. You can have equal love for your lover/partner/whatever. You can focus on trying to accomplish something meaningful in your life without the constant distraction of childrearing.

    Babies are taking over the culture! A little push back is long overdue. Grandparent-age baby boomers need to get ahold of themselves and stop pressuring their adult children to give them little babies. Everybody needs to chill way out on the child fetishization that is going on. There was a great article a week or so ago in Huffpo which addressed this point entitled, “My Uterus is Closed for Business and I Have No Regrets.” I love it. Empowered and confident! Yes!

  80. sdmikev says:

    I’m 45 and my wife is 38. We do not have kids and won’t be having them. This is my second marriage (no kids from that 5 year adventure, thankfully).
    We were married in 2004 and thought about it a little then decided no. One big reason was the age issue.

    About a year into our marriage, my wife was corned in the ladies room by a friend of ours who just had a baby and asked if we were going to have one. She said probably not. This friend (who we do love dearly) was very upset and said that our marriage couldn’t possibly be totally fulfilling unless we did.

    We’ve also been hit with the “who will take care of you when you’re old” question. To which I reply “so I should have a child so I’ll have them spending their middle age wiping my butt?” That’s a hell of a guilt trip to lay on your offspring.

    I guess we’ll never know whether we’re completely fulfilled by having kids, but we’re both very happy with our lives. We love our adopted dogs, our ability to travel at will (granted, we do have to pay for a dog-sitter) and knowing that our retirement won’t be taken down a notch or several by having to fill up a college fund and more.. I know some people view that as “selfish”, but I really don’t care. If that’s selfish, then so be it.
    PS, I usually think your kids are cute.

  81. lknope says:

    Child-free is a more positive term than “childless.” Something to think about.

  82. spriggan says:

    “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.”

    - Tod, Parenthood (1989)

  83. Anonymous says:

    Being childless by choice upsets and alarms people. When I went in for my vasectomy many years ago, the nurse who brought me the gown, just chatting, asked me how many kids I had. When I said “none,” she clammed up, froze over, and gave me one of the most withering, hateful looks I’ve ever gotten from a person.

    If I’d been a woman, they probably wouldn’t have let me have a tubal ligation. At least in those days, most clinics refused to sterilize childless women. The excuse: the women might sue them later! That should tell you a lot about the men running those clinics. A friend of mine had to travel to a more enlightened Eastern US state to get hers, back in the 1980s.

  84. TombKing says:

    I was 34 before I became a dad and really was never ever interested till about 31 when something just clicked and I thought okay I am ready for being a parent.

    While I love my kid to death and he has been more fun (and more frustration) than I could have thought both my Spouse and I do not want another. Happily the one who think we should give him a playmate are few. Though the thought of giving him a little sister to annoy him is an amusing one at time.

    We have friends who are childless and for the most part don’t like kids so will stay that way but they seem to think ours is awesome so I guess we are doing something right.

  85. Anonymous says:

    Ironically, I find that those people who put a lot of thought into whether or not they should have kids would tend to make better parents.

    Regardless, to each his own – no one should have to rationalize whether or not they want to have kids – if you don’t want them, don’t have them. I’ve got two that, despite all the trials and tribulations that go into raising them, I wouldn’t trade for the world.

  86. Anonymous says:

    If you don’t want to have kids, then don’t. What kid would want parents who don’t want kids? I don’t think anyone should pressure anyone to have a kid they don’t really want.

    I also think responsible people shouldn’t have more than a couple kids. Either we limit our numbers, or hunger will do that for us.

  87. Anonymous says:

    Seems that this is being called a “lifestyle choice” to trivialize the matter.

    It also seems there’s a correlation between people who “hate kids” and people who don’t want to have kids.

    This “hate kids” business is something I don’t get. Weren’t those people kids themselves at some point? I don’t care about people not having kids or having kids but I do care about people hating kids.

    • Rob says:

      This “hate kids” business is something I don’t get. Weren’t those people kids themselves at some point?

      You were a sperm once too. Want to go cuddle a wankstain?

      • Anonymous says:

        More to the point, don’t people remember being children, at least enough to recognize that they’re people and not gametes? Statements like this sound uncomfortably like how bigots describe people they don’t like.

        • Rob says:

          And if you remember being a child, you remember children are assholes. You don’t remember bullying, name calling, exclusion or any of those events?

          • Anonymous says:

            My experience is that some people are assholes and some aren’t regardless of age. Yes, I remember those, and I remember them from adults too; only they have more often learned other ways to be cruel, like dismissing people for what they look like without caring who they are.

  88. songofsixpence says:

    Never wanted children, will never want children.

    I have a girlfriend who feels the same way.

    We both actually actively dislike children.

    I have a lot to offer society and that would only be hampered by having to raise a child.

    • Stooge says:

      songofsixpence, when you say you and your girlfriend “actively dislike children”, does that just mean you insult them or do you go around overturning strollers and handing out poison candy too?

  89. ryhntyntyn says:

    I dislike talking to people who brag on their dogs or cats or their kids. I haven’t met anyone who brags on their lack of a kid or lack of a dog or cat, but if I did, I would probably be averse to hearing about that as well. I have met people who tried to proselytize me to their way of thinking about not having kids. I didn’t like that but I didn’t like it when the Jehovah’s witnesses wouldn’t stop coming around either. I realize and I am not actually ungrateful that they are tying to help me out, but why always at bathtime?

    We have a kid. She’s 3 now. I don’t brag on her. She’s ok. I really like being a father, but wouldn’t wish it on anyone who didn’t want it. We plan to have more. People who don’t want to have kids, shouldn’t. It leaves more resources for my kid and future kids. I think that’s ok too.

    Irksome I think it’s a well thought out decision that you made, but that thing about “Killing the thing”, lame and tasteless, certainly not the coolest of any comment.

    And fionnmatthew, the anti-natalist movement is as subjective as any other belief system, from atheism to judaism to spaghetti monster.

  90. Emo Less says:

    @songofsixpence

    Agreed. Many people can offer more to society by not adding more mouths to feed.

  91. Anonymous says:

    I have nothing against people who have or don’t have children; at the moment I’m one of the latter, but reserve the right to change. However, it always bothers me how topics like this bring out so many people who are childless out of misanthropy.

    Having been a child, I can tell you it’s really unpleasant to be disliked for no real reason. Have kids or not, but please put aside your biases and stop hating people, OK?

  92. Anonymous says:

    To anyone who doesn’t see why this needs to be discussed or that there isn’t anything radical about not wanting kids, it’s really not something that is seen positively. As a female who doesnt want kids, i’ve have numerous people say “what the hell is wrong with you??” I’ve been called a terrible person, even by people i consider my friends. Women are still seen as vessels to bear children. Never mind everything else we can do, all the things we can create – we are still expected to create a child as well, because what else are we good for? If someone told me that this is how people react i’d never believe it, but i’ve experienced it firsthand.

  93. jezebelserpent says:

    I am now 33 years old and I have known since before high school that I had no desire for children. I had been trying to get sterilized since 18 because I know what I want out of life, I like sex and know that temporary birth control can fail. Up until the beginning of last year I was told no from every doctor I had seen. Why? They told me I would regret it and change my mind because sooner or later ALL women want children (This was always told to me in a condescending tone). Hold on, WHAT? You are telling me that I don’t know myself? I have been with my husband since I was 19. Our first date I told him I was never having children and was not going to change my mind. He is the ONLY person who has ever respected/believed me and this is one of the reasons why I am with him. Unlike many people, I constantly think about all the choices I make in life. There are many things that I have never wavered on since childhood and one of them is being childfree.

    So what changed at the beginning of last year? I almost died of stage IV endometriosis. It took 7 days and multiple blood transfusions to for them to get me stable enough just to operate on me, I was in terribly bad shape. I spent 3 more days in the hospital after my after my full hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. It probably didn’t help that Mothers day was coming up, but almost every new nurse (all female) I had in those 3 days asked me if I had children and several expressed shock at the idea that I had a full hysterectomy at 32. Some even started to lecture me on why I shouldn’t have had a full hysterectomy at my age. WTF people, can I have time to celebrate that I didn’t die from the WORST CASE OF ENDOMETRIOSIS MY SURGEONS HAD EVER SEEN before ya’ll start insulting me again? See parents, many of us childfree women NEVER hear the end of it.

    Like before surgery, people will find out that we have been together so long, they ask how many kids we have and I reply with a smile, “we don’t have any & don’t want any”. Then like a broken record they tell me in a condescending way that I’m young and will change my mind like they did or “accidents happen” sooner or later. It doesn’t piss me off any more like it use to. It gives me a big kick when I look them in the eye and say, “Since you know me so well tell me how I am supposed to change my mind? I have no ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus or cervix. How exactly am I going to get pregnant?” Finally being able to get the other person to shut up and feel embarrassed about their mindless statements is a lovely change.

    I know why the childfree seem like an angry bunch, I was so sick and tired of people telling me I didn’t know myself and insulting my very personal choices on a daily basis. I never would bring up kids or lifestyle choices in conversations but parents would ALWAYS find a way to bring it up. People who say “I’ve never been insulted, what’s the big deal” have never really experienced what many childfree career women have experienced. Only once people get their noses out of our reproductive choices and once the medical community starts respecting our decisions will we stop being so angry.

  94. ratcity says:

    Surely by now some selfless childfree advocate has created a no-questions-asked sterilize-all-comers clinic by now?

  95. Anonymous says:

    When i told our family doctor we almost had a second one by accident, but it was a false positive on the PG test. But my wife wanted to go ahead and i for sure did not. Our cool Doc told me the truth: “You consider yourself an environmentalist, correct? For the environment, if nothing else, it’s better NOT to have kids”

    btw. love the one and only and he’s an angel 90% of the time, but if you haven’t had one, NOTE: “it’s like throwing a hydrogen bomb into the middle of a relationship” said one marriage therapist. Separation is on the way any day now, surprise surprise!

  96. Anonymous says:

    Less educated/ less well off and selfish are the ones procreating. So smart people have to take responsibility and help children who are already in existence who need help. If you want to be selfless and help humanity sponsor as many children as you can without having your own for selfish reasons

  97. StRevAlex says:

    Looks like an excellent trend. Let’s hope things continue in this positive direction.

  98. slywy says:

    This need to discuss one’s choices, whatever they may be, is very revealing, as though we need to persuade others of our rightness, justify our own, or implicitly criticize those of others.

    • emmdeeaych says:

      Icy what you did there. Kinda jerky, really.

    • mindysan33 says:

      I kinda agree with this. Personally, I think it’s great if people want to have kids, and it’s great if people don’t. I have plenty of friends with kids, and plenty of kids without. No big deal to me either way.

      But it kind of annoys me when people assume that their choices are the “correct” choices, on both sides. Maybe it was the tone of the article, but the childless folks quoted come off as a bit smug, and likewise for the commenters in support of parenthood.

      Also, to paraphrase Dorothy Gambrell in her Cat and Girl comic, “your ideals are a luxury.” We have the ability to have “lifestyle choices” because of our advantaged position in the west, and as presumably in a better economic position than others. Again, not that everyone should have kids, but the whole rubric of “lifestyle choice” comes in part from privilege in many ways.

      Either way, the article is nice food for thought. Thanks for posting, Xeni!

  99. irksome says:

    I feel no need to justify the choice my girlfriend and I have made concerning child-rearing. I find it is those who’ve chosen to procreate who tend to advocate strongly for their chosen position (usually missionary…).

    They remind me of religious converts who actively seek to bring others around to their way of thinking. It usually isn’t until their third unasked for reference to the joys that we’re denying ourselves that I’ll come out forcefully against the notion. I tell them I’m a 52 yr old ex-junkie with acid-damaged chromosomes and an aversion to responsibility, that my girlfriend is a Bosnian war refugee who was a tad put-off of the human animal due to the atrocities she witnessed, that we frequently forget to feed the cats and that we both view children as caterwauling little meat sacks with a bottomless pit of demand.

    If that doesn’t work, I tell them we’ll give it a go on a trial basis but that if it doesn’t work out, I reserve the right to kill the thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Having a child changes ones life in ways no one can imagine before having them. People want to share all that stuff with everyone. I think for every zealous new parent attempting to convert someone, there are probably a few more childless friends of new parents who interpret talk about parenting as an attempt at brainwashing them into joining the cult.

    • RobertBigelow says:

      Absolutely. =)

      In my part of town, we call your detractors “Birthers” or “The Baby Brigade.”

      You can figuratively “out” these these characters by publicly announcing, “Childbirth is an OPTION. It is NOT a requirement.”

      Not that a person would always want to, though.

      • irksome says:

        The ’80s Boston band said it best: “Love is no excuse to procreate.”

        Having offspring should be a conscious and reasoned decision, as was mine to refrain. “My body, my choice”, right? All I ask is to be given the respect that I extend to those who choose to spawn.

      • irksome says:

        Sorry. It was Human Sexual Response.

    • bishmasterb says:

      Thank you for not having children!

    • Xeni Jardin says:

      Coolest response ever.

      • RobertBigelow says:

        Our “children” comprises a neighborhood of non-stray cats what we take turns feeding, caring for and visiting with. They have all had their procedure – one that might not be such a bad idea for a number of humans – and make regular visits to a nearby school of veterinary medicine.

        It takes a village to raise a kitty. ^..^~

      • nanner says:

        i don’t agree, not cool. make a decision and stand by it but don’t compare me to a religious kook with a boring sex life just because I want to have a family. why the name calling? i have 2 children, by choice (both planned). i have told my single friends and married friends that feel the societal pressure on them to breed that it’s Not For Everyone. It’s a major lifestyle choice, you are in it FOREVER and shouldn’t make more people just because your mom wants to have pictures of her grandkids to show off at brunch. i also show them the tuition bills :P I am glad to see more people not giving in to the pressure.

    • mindysan33 says:

      While I understand your position, not all of us advocate strongly for the makin’ of the babies… And some childless folks do advocate too and look down their noses at those of us with kids. I find both incredibly self involved and irritating, frankly. I don’t feel the need to ask anyone to justify their decisions to me. Who am I to do that?

      BTW – last line is very funny. I lol’ed.

    • RigelK says:

      1. I applaud your patience that you manage to wait until the 3rd unasked for push. I think I’d have to get snippy after the second. lol

      2. Your rant amuses me greatly. Well put, sir! Well put! I bet that sets folks back on their heels.

      3. I am a parent and rejoice in my son’s existence. But, that doesn’t mean I think everyone must feel the urge to spawn. I delight in your answer/explanation! Good on you and your girlfriend for knowing what is best for your two-person family and making an informed, well thought out decision.

      4. Hugs and encouragement to your girlfriend as she continues to heal from the atrocities of war.

  100. ioan says:

    Not having kids is genetic suicide.

    • noen says:

      “Not having kids is genetic suicide.”

      Some people make this same argument about homosexuality and that the gay life style should not have broad acceptance because it is also a kind of community suicide. The truth is that every society needs and benefits from those members who may not all reproduce. One can contribute to humanity in ways other than having children.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your point is?

      It’s hard not to think of it as rather arrogant for someone to be desperate for their own DNA to continue on, I mean it’s not like the rest of humankind or the planet requires one specific person’s DNA to carry on. Anyway, I guess if I was that arrogant I’d be content in knowing that I’m an identical twin.

    • Anonymous says:

      And having kids might be genetic poisoning. What do you care what I do with my genes?

      Sounds like you have a need to feel “immortal” in an irrational sense.

    • veganinfurs says:

      Genetic suicide is poisoning our rivers, oceans and lakes. Genetic suicide is killing off species carelessly (and beyond repair) so that there will be none left for our children to enjoy should we decide to have them. Genetic suicide is being complacent schmucks and letting corrupt government officials get away with poisoning our air, water, food and minds.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you REALLY think that the choice of some people to NOT procreate is so threatening, so damned to make humans extinct, then I really feel sorry for whatever slippery slope fantasy you’re living in.

      It’s a simple choice to have, or not have kids. Not everyone is a great parent, or wants to be a parent. Your own lifestyle shouldn’t be so fragile that it requires everyone else to be a mindless sheep to it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yours is the same logic that believed the Sun revolved around the Earth. Is the reason to procreate a way to live forever “genetically”? We aren’t going to live forever and after we die there are billions left to pick up the banner of human life where ever it’s headed. Get over yourself,in all due respect.

    • Steaming Pile says:

      Not only is it genetic suicide, it likely leaves the world in the hands of the stupidest, most ignorant among us, the people who Mike Judge warned us about in Idiocracy. For every one of you who are choosing not to reproduce, there are probably ten fundamentalist lunatics pumping them out as often as they possibly can. Watching someone like Rick Santorum (only nuttier) take the oath of office in front of the White House at noon one cold, raw January 20th is not my idea of progress.

    • bradmofo says:

      And?

    • Rob Cruickshank says:

      For some, it’s more like a mercy killing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Genes are nothing put information. There are countless other ways to pass on information to the next generation.

    • grimc says:

      If you have a sibling, he/she carries 50% of your genes. If you have two, your contribution to the march of humanity is covered. You are not as unique and special as you think.

    • travtastic says:

      There’s a lot more to heritage than genetics.

  101. Ugly Canuck says:

    Imho, it is with marriage, as it is with having children: most will marry; some will not marry; others do not marry.

    I will only say that some of the finest people I know were not ‘planned’ by those who are their parents; and that otho others I know have only succeeded in starting families after the most stringent efforts. Or by adoption.

    As an aside, I wonder how many of those who say they do not wish to have children, actually could not, were they to make the attempt.

    This is one of those topics upon which I would not presume to advise anybody – save myself. A more personal matter is difficult to imagine.

  102. Mark Frauenfelder says:

    “we both view children as caterwauling little meat sacks with a bottomless pit of demand.”

    So you’ve met my kids, I see.

    • mindysan33 says:

      And again, I lol’ed!

    • rebdav says:

      The funny thing is I like the temperament and intelligence my wife and I share and by nature or nurture have passed down, I am only sorry that we can’t have more kids as I see them as a gift to the world.
      They are trilingual, polite, curious, hyper, affectionate, attractive, and natural leaders. I always thought I was biased but it is actually other people showering praise and us trying to keep the kids grounded.
      We have a very tight budget and low pay since we blew off good jobs in the US where we were both born and raised so we have to improvise and DIY quite a bit but I try to make nearly every action we take into an interesting learning opportunity.
      I am biased, I have easy great kids so far even with the learning differences but by now I couldn’t even imagine the hole in our life without my own little people to bring on our journey.

  103. Anonymous says:

    Much rather have furbabies than larval humans.

  104. Anonymous says:

    I don’t really understand why some things need to be discussed. I don’t think there is anything radical about choosing not to have children – we have free will and the ability to make that choice, after all.

    Also, the couple described is not like China. They are choosing not to have children; they are not being punished for having more than one child.

    I read the rest of the article, too – blah, blah, blah, statistics. However, it may be because I fall into the category of “introverts, thinkers, judgers—these are people who think before they act” and I have already thought about this that I don’t feel it need to be further discussed FOR MY BENEFIT. For others, perhaps they do feel that they’re turning societal norms on their ear and need to talk about the decision to not have children. Ok.

  105. yellokat42 says:

    Although I have never had an interest in having children (and no regrets), I respect those who decide to do. They are giving up a lot.

    We decided to be childless when we married 20 years ago. I have to confess that part of the motivation was that as a woman, most of the child rearing falls on her and destroys her career most of the time unless she has lots of money and can have nannies.

    Many (not all) woman of note in the past (Hypatia, Mary Cassatt, Emily Dickinson, Beatrix Potter, Jane Austen, Annie Jump Cannon and others) did not have children. My mother has hypothesized that the reason women have had so little influence in the past is that many died in child birth very young when there was no access to birth control.

  106. Sagodjur says:

    It’s too expensive and too irresponsible to bring a child into the world, much less several, without being fully financially able to support them. Since the ability to get a good paying job soon after graduating college is diminishing, and many are in debt with student loans and/or not finishing college until their 30s, many of us are in our mid 30′s by the time we’re able to responsibly have kids and then adoption becomes a better option because the rate of pregnancy problems goes up the older you get.

    The problem is that a lot of the people who make the responsible choice not to have kids are the responsible ones who would likely be decent parents because they even considered not having kids in order to be responsible. It’s like the person who doesn’t want to be in charge is probably the most ethical kind of leader.

    • Slurpy says:

      “…many of us are in our mid 30′s by the time we’re able to responsibly have kids and then adoption becomes a better option because the rate of pregnancy problems goes up the older you get.”

      Which is why us 30s males should marry 20-year-old girls!

    • emilydickinsonridesabmx says:

      “It’s too expensive and too irresponsible to bring a child into the world, much less several, without being fully financially able to support them.”

      That’s a big marketing myth. There is a whole industry built around selling things to parents with guilt. “If your child doesn’t have X, they’ll be at a disadvantage in life.” It just isn’t true.

      Kids need good food, books, decent schools, the occasional doctor visit and some markers, string, cardboard boxes and legos to play with. Kids require a lot of your time and attention, they don’t require a lot of your money.

      • Sagodjur says:

        I’m not referring to luxury items and private schools. Healthcare and insurance are expensive. Education is expensive.

        Spending time with them is difficult when you have to work so much to cover the bills that they contribute to.

      • Chesterfield says:

        I’m guessing you make substantially more money than the average American or perhaps you aren’t in the US.

        In the US I can’t even fathom somebody talking about decent schools and doctor visits in the same sentence as “they don’t require a lot of your money.”

        One child with less than stellar health could easily use up any disposable income a family might have. Call up an orthodontist sometime and ask what braces cost. It’s about the same as a very good used car.

  107. giax says:

    Childless described the lack of children, so if the lack of human offspring is by choice, I would rather call it being childfree. Free of children, not someone who misses or lacks them.

    Same way as people are cancer-free, not cancerless.

    I have never wanted (human) children, and that is something not worth compromises in a relationship. Either someone wants children, maybe wants, doesn’t care, or really doesn’t want them. There are no right or wrong choices, but it’s not realistic to expect the other part would change their mind. So my advice is to pick someone with similar breeding preferences. Fortunately there are several openly childfree men and women out there.

  108. Anonymous says:

    Anyone using the “against nature” argument must agree that euthanizing post-menopausal women is a moral imperative. After all, they can no longer serve to propagate our biological material, so they can have no value.

    When will people stop bringing their vast misunderstandings of evolution and biology to arguments? Perhaps when they aren’t bigots and morons. This is the same [bullshit] argument used about homosexuality and anything that isn’t “natural” to the hegemonic culture.

    On a side note, the pro-chillun side of this argument (the part that aren’t trolls) seems chauvinistic.

  109. Vidya108 says:

    I’ve known that I don’t want kids since I was about seven years old, at least. Mid-thirties, and still absolutely no desire for them. In fact, I don’t even like being around kids. I support children’s rights and education and all — I just don’t enjoy dealing with kids. I dislike their spontaneity and noise and lack of self-discipline. (I don’t even care for the often-immature adults I encounter in my college teaching work.)

    This only, however, applies to human children. All my life I’ve looked forward to having nonhuman ‘kids’ of my very own, which I now do. I’ve known some amazing people, but I have never encountered such unselfishly, enthusiastically loving individuals in the world among the human set, young or old, as I have in my fur-kids. In spite of limiting some life-choices and keeping me in a living situation that is far from ideal, they bring me more joy than I can describe.

  110. radixe says:

    Every single article about not wanting a child seems to blame “social expectations”. Honestly nobody gives a damn whether you decide to have a kid or not, apart from your parents and ancestors whose efforts all these years passing down their genes to you are now worth shit.

    Why with all these numbers and statistics to justify? Simply put the only reason for not having children is purely a selfish one. Do you really need to pretend to justify it? As I said no one cares whether you do or you don’t.

    In fact, the question these days is not whether to have a child or not. It’s now to “get married or not”?

    It seems to me the more educated/well off a person is, the more self-centered they are and more likely they’re not getting married/procreating. So, by logic, the less educated/ less well off are the ones procreating. This can’t be good for the human race as a whole can it?

    • davidasposted says:

      Please. The decision to have a child (or the decision to have sex, with childbirth as a consequence) is often an entirely selfish and self-centered exercise. Among other examples, you expect everyone else in your society to pay, literally and figuratively, for your procreative act.

      High horse. Get off of it.

      • Snig says:

        I disagree with Radixe’s premise that not procreating is selfish. I disagree with your premise that it’s largely selfishness. At some point, FSM willing, you and friends will be aged. Assuming from your tone that you will not be doing the kids thing, statistically you and they will be dependent on others. Would you rather these younger caretakers (cops, doctors, nurses, younger neighbors) have been raised hungry, uneducated and believing that no one looks out for others in society? Investing in society is just that, it’s neccessary for the payoff.

        • freshacconci says:

          Maybe I’m missing your point, but at the age of 42 I am currently childless. As I said earlier, my wife and I are planning on having a child. If I remain childless however, I won’t have anyone to “look after me”? I wouldn’t want that burden on a child any way. I support through taxes an education system I haven’t personally used in years and I’m happy to do it so that others’ children will be well-educated and we can have a functioning society.

        • davidasposted says:

          The word ‘often’ does not have the same meaning as ‘largely’ but I take your larger point. I am committed to helping create a society that cares for its members from cradle to grave. What I take issue with is the assumption that because I will not reproduce one more member of that society through childbirth I must be self-absorbed.

          • Snig says:

            I agree with that, it’s absolutely wrong to assume someone’s self-absorbed because they don’t want to have kids.

        • cpolk says:

          Oh my stars. The “but who will take care of you when you’re old?” argument? Listen, I have news for you. I’m not spending one single minute taking care of either of my parents when they get old – and since I haven’t said a single word to either of them in decades, i’m pretty sure they’ve figured out that trying to force me to take care of them when they were young kinda screwed up that future plan.

          As a reason to have children, it’s only a good one if you’re not an unrepentant bastard. hope you’re nice to your kids.

          • Snig says:

            No, that wasn’t my argument. I really don’t think people who don’t want kids should have kids, and looking for cheap caretakers is not a good reason to have kids. Sorry it happened to you. I think the institution of taking care of people, including people having kids should generally be supported, the commenter I was discussing it with kind of agreed, actually.

      • bklynchris says:

        Yes, but how do you REALLY feel? Bwahahaha

        No, seriously, with regard to society paying for it, I assume you are aware of how social security funds itself? Meaning, your “selfish” parents are quite possibly draining the monies you paid in to date. which begs the question…whose gonna fund your social security check. If you are not American, still every westernized country has a version of it.

        • davidasposted says:

          Do you happen to follow contemporary American federal politics? If not you should note that the generation before mine, i.e. the Baby Boomers, are working quite hard to ensure that the Social Security program will not exist by the time I qualify for it. Whether or not you decide to have children, if you are of my generation, you would be wise to assume Social Security will not exist when we decide to retire; plan accordingly.

          FYI: American citizen but have lived abroad for years.

    • freshacconci says:

      “Simply put the only reason for not having children is purely a selfish one.”

      And that is why people who choose not to have children feel the need to justify themselves, write articles about it, and risk sounding preachy.

      I know people who had children for very selfish reasons and now the rest of us have to deal with those kids.

    • mypalmike says:

      “Simply put the only reason for not having children is purely a selfish one.”

      Simply put, the only reason for not making and maintaining a sourdough starter in your kitchen is purely a selfish one. Give that yeast a chance to live!

    • Anonymous says:

      I do see your point Radixe, and maybe you have been lucky enough to grow up in a society that doesn’t think it has a divine right to know whether or not you want children.

      However, many people have grown up in a similar vain to me, where on many occasions throughout life (even as a young child) they here the phrase “oh, well when YOU have children”. And it’s never “if” it’s always “when”. Hearing that so much growing up, from friends, family members, complete strangers, even from TV programmes, is no better than indoctrination, it tells you that this is the ‘normal’ position and considering any other position makes you the ‘weird’ one. Of course the younger we are the more we feel the need to fit in.

      Society does, and the media does, still indoctrinate people that there is only one right way and the right way is to have children. And that, unfortunately, has led to many people having children because they just went with the flow assuming it was what they wanted and never stopped to really think IS it what I actually want. Far too many people have felt obliged to have children because “it’s just what people do”, and that is most definitely wrong.

      Thankfully the exposure (albeit only really coming from random blogs) given to people who are born not wanting to have children will hopefully mean that no-one will ever again go on to have children just because “it’s what people do”. It is very sad that there are people who regret having their children and wish they had the strength to stand up to people and say “no, I don’t want children, deal with it”.

      Not wanting children shouldn’t be an issue at all, but too many busybodies with no lives of their own seem to think it’s their business whether or not I use contraception when I have sex with my husband (let’s face it, when you ask me if I am trying for a child that’s what you’re really asking!)

      On the issue of social indoctrination (and it is rife) think social events of any description, it’s easier on the men (although not as easy once they are in a stable relationship) but try going to a social event meeting complete strangers and NOT being asked “do you have children?” (and when you answer no it will be followed up with “do you want children?”) It’s always before or after “what do you do?”

      Why people are so God-damned nosey is beyond me, and that’s all it is, plain, simple, pathetic noseyness. Roll on the day that no-one asks such personal questions.

    • Antennapedia says:

      In regards to your “no one cares whether or not you have kids” comment… I’m going to guess you’re not a woman aged 28 to 35 who’s been married five years or less. I would say I’m asked when we’re going to “get on it”…oh… conservatively? Counting people asking on facebook? At least twice a month. And it’s been this way for about the last 4 years, with a marked uptick in the last two, as many, MANY of our friends are having children. It is VERY much a societal expectation that I, as a 31 year old, married woman, should be starting a family RIGHT now.

    • irksome says:

      My people have displayed a genetic predisposition to alcohol and substance abuse for generations. If I decide to have a kid, I’ll send it around to your place. I suggest locking your 2nd story windows (you’d be surprised how many people don’t bother). I look at it as doing society a favor.

      So much for being selfish; do you really want me pissing in the gene pool? I only hope that your kids don’t inherit your arrogance and need to generalize.

  111. EMJ says:

    @Sagodjur

    Please explain how “adoption becomes a better option because the rate of pregnancy problems goes up the older you get.”

      • EMJ says:

        @ Sagodjur

        I realize that older women statistically are at great risk during pregnancy. It’s the other people involved that you seem to have forgotten.

        You say “adoption becomes a better option because the rate of pregnancy problems goes up the older you get.”

        Do you mean that letting someone else (younger) take the risk of pregnancy is better? Or that adoption guarantees a healthy child? or that a better option is one that is has less “pregnancy problems”?

        Consider the adoption implications for the whole birth family including the baby.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Simply put the only reason for not having children is purely a selfish one.”

      Please consult a dictionary and explain your comment in the context of the actual definition of the word selfish. Also, you need to tell us what the ‘only reason’ is? Seems to me there are many reasons, luckily for me it is simply that I have never wanted children, I was born that way, I cannot make myself want children any more than a heterosexual can make themselves homosexual. Yes I could go ahead and have them anyway, but then a heterosexual could physically carry out a homosexual act, the physical act doesn’t make the ‘want’ magic itself out of nowhere :-D

      There are two general emphases in the definition of the word ‘selfish’. The first is about being excessively or exclusively concerned with yourself. You cannot equate “choosing to be childfree” with “only being concerned with yourself”, one does not automatically follow from the other. I put everyone ahead of myself, family and friends regularly tell me that I really need to consider myself and my own well-being more (not less). I help others, and often to my own detriment. You may help your child, but you are biologically programmed to do so to protect the continuance of your own DNA so helping your child doesn’t count as a selfless act. The second part of the definition is about being concerned for your own benefit without regard to others. Maybe you fail to realise that since no child comes into existence there is NO disregard of any child’s needs, nor is any child being hurt by our lack of procreation, no child, no harm, no foul.

      On the other hand, if you have children and then expect everyone around you to muck in to help you raise them (because YOU wanted those children), expect the taxpayer to help with the cost etc but fail to have any regard for the fact that these people are also tight on money, they also work long hours, they also have a life of their own and their own commitments, then isn’t that selfish? It certainly fits the definition well! It’s worth also noting that it is likely that my decision is beneficial for other children as I am helping minimise the suffering they will encounter due to overpopulation.

      And isn’t the ubiquitous reason for having kids that “I want kids”? How is that NOT selfish? If you want me to believe that you are only having children for the greater good of the planet and that you have given no thought to the benefit having children will bring you then by all means I might accept that you’re not selfish,… but I’ve yet to meet anyone who could say such a thing with a straight face :-D

      You WANT kids because YOU want kids! I DON’T want kids because I don’t want kids! Simple. If one is selfish then SO IS THE OTHER! In reality there are some practicalities that can sway us slightly one way or the other but for the most part we are either born wanting kids or born not wanting kids and it would be utterly idiotic of us to try and lie to ourselves to please other people. Also, anyone who would ask us to do such a thing is, by definition, being selfish!

    • Steaming Pile says:

      See Palin, Sarah. That is all.

  112. rollermonkey says:

    Articles like this are worthless to the point of insulting my intelligence. Don’t want a kid? Good for you, go off and live your life without feeling the need to rationalize or explain it. You’re whining about something you didn’t do, I can’t think of a worse waste of time (other than commenting on it, I know…)

    • Rob says:

      Can you tell that to the doctors that wouldn’t sterilize me because I didn’t have kids? Or the ones that wouldn’t sterilize my wife because she would “change her mind” at 38?

  113. Tango Charlie says:

    Further to what Sagodjur said, has anyone written up an in-depth reality-check on the responsible vs irresponsible breeders? Basically, has anyone debunked the premise of the film “Idiocracy”?

    It’s probably way too simplistic a view of things, but I do worry. Will we have to wait and see how it plays out? (if there are even any scholars to execute such an investigation in a handful of generations) ;) Are there any historical examples or analogues that we can dig up some insight from?

  114. cjp says:

    My husband and I have been together for 18 years. We decided early on that kids weren’t going to happen, and by the time I was 29, an uncooperative uterus made that decision final. Having read over the comments here, we had the discussion together about regrets. Neither of us would have changed our choice. While we would have made great parents, I think, we never felt a strong desire to procreate. We were busy with our careers, our Gen X employment struggles and our aging, dying parents. Then, we were finally busy having a life.
    Now we’re both on the other side of forty and our lives are our own. They are quiet and reflective and full of adventure, learning and travel. We didn’t need to have a family – we are a family.

  115. Courtney says:

    I like kids. I just like it when they go home. So far the question for us, coming up on our 8th anniversary, has been “Do we want to trade cheap guilt (not providing grandchildren) for expensive guilt (day care, not visiting enough, etc)?” So far the answer has been no. I guess we’re Postponers.

  116. Sekino says:

    Before this devolves into 250 comments fighting about whether it’s the child-free or the parents who are most preachy, perhaps we could concede right now that obnoxious, self-righteous people are pretty common regardless of lifestyle? Seems to have been my own observation over the years…

    I think another twist on this whole “You have the right not to have kids now” is that you ALSO have the right not to be the stereotypical ovescheduled, perpetually stressed, perpetually bored suburban parent EVEN if you choose to have a kid. It’s like everything else; you gotta put the thought and effort to build your own life the way that suits yourself, not what you think the neighbours will approve of.

    • robulus says:

      “Before this devolves into 250 comments fighting about whether it’s the child-free or the parents who are most preachy, perhaps we could concede right now that obnoxious, self-righteous people are pretty common regardless of lifestyle? Seems to have been my own observation over the years…”

      I’m surprised we got the 250 comments projected given the thread was done at dusted here at 20.

  117. imorgan73 says:

    My faith in humanity is restored by the fact that only 15 commenters in this awful thread were reduced to using the terms “breed” or “spawn”

  118. scifijazznik says:

    As a parent, I think I can appreciate both sides of the argument. I’ll go further and say that non-parents may be able to appreciate what it’s like to be childless, but have no idea of the awesome and not so awesome things about having a kid and don’t really know what they are or aren’t missing out on. But I’d wager every parent at one point or another has been all too aware of what they’re missing out on because they know what it’s like to not have a child.

    I’m not advocating for one or the other, just that I think parents can more clearly see both sides. And I don’t think it’s honest to say that you know what it’s like because your friends have kids or whatever. I’m sorry, but it’s just not the same.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not the case that parents can know both situations and childfree people cannot. Parents CANNOT know both situations. Having, at some stage, not yet had a child, but knowing that you will do someday, is entirely different from knowing that you never, ever want to have any.

      So neither can actually appreciate what they may or may not be ‘missing out on’, neither parents, nor the childfree (childLESS is a different thing, this article is about childFREE people).

      I’m entirely confident that what you believe I’m missing out on is only actually relevant to you because you DO want children. Because I don’t want children I’m not missing out. Goodness, I really believe that my mates miss out in life by not sailing, but since they get seasick they (naturally) don’t believe they are missing out.

      People like and dislike different things, that is as true of the subject of having children as it is fashion, sports, music. We’re all different so it’s best not to patronisingly assume that others are ‘missing out’ just because it is something WE enjoy.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t have a cat, but I don’t have a cat because I don’t want a cat. I work with colleagues who are totally obsessed with their cats and clearly they get lots of love and affection from their cats, they make it clear they think I’m missing out by not having a cat.

      But am I?

      Funnily enough, those same cat lovers all have children (range of ages), they don’t think for one second suggest I’m missing out by not having children.

    • Anonymous says:

      3…2…1…dogpile!

      Sorry, but there are WAY too many holes in that argument. First you say that non-parents who have friends with kids can’t possibly know what it’s REALLY like to have kids. But then you go on to claim that parents know what it’s like to not have kids because they had no kids before they had kids….I’m sorry what? That there’s some circular logic…

    • irksome says:

      “But I’d wager every parent at one point or another has been all too aware of what they’re missing out on because they know what it’s like to not have a child.”

      I’ll grant you you’ve experienced a child-less life at say age 25. Now tell me how you know what it’s like at 52?

      • scifijazznik says:

        I didn’t become a parent until I was well into my 30s. To your question, yes, of course, there’s no way I can possibly know what it would be like to be a childless 52-year-old man. And I’m grateful I will never know.

        • Anonymous says:

          Irksome is childFREE not childLESS, maybe you’re difficulty in understanding the position of childFREE people is in your failure to understand the difference between the two words?

  119. Mister44 says:

    To each his own, I really don’t care, but it’s their loss.

  120. Flying_Monkey says:

    I suspect the whole ‘issue’ is down to the decadence of North American society (and wealthy countries more generally) with its relatively overprivileged, overwealthy and complacent population who seem to have little better to do that make mountains out of molehills rather than dealing with the real mountains that all humanity has to face.

    The rise of identity politics and the politicised personal has been vital to the understanding of the difference between people and in freeing people who were oppressed by forms of traditional prejudice. However, there is a big gap between being open to the wonderful variety of different but equal humanity, and basing a politics of superiority on lifestyle choice – whatever that choice is.

    Sometimes, trying to shift the argument is just ‘whataboutery’, but his ‘debate’ seems more than most things to demonstrate that we need to recover a sense of common humanity, of what we share, and a deeper perspective on what matters collectively.

  121. Sekino says:

    I do appreciate you providing a source for the arguments behind your beliefs. I do think, as any philosophy, that they are worth consideration. We indeed don’t have the room (or time) here for exploration.

    My initial beef with your position was that you seem to have taken for granted that absolutely everyone who espouses a different philosophy does so out of sheepish or lazy obedience to social trends, that it’s impossible that some of them may have put as much careful thinking and exploration into their life views as you did your own. It is quite a harsh judgement to make, especially in a setting where sound debate is not a practical option. Morality is still a very murky area of theory and we are all seeking a measure of certainty and validation. I simply advance that in such uncharted grounds, it’s good to keep a window cracked open.

    I agree that this would be a very stimulating debate, in the right environment and with the right preparation. I hope we can shake on that.

    • fionnmatthew says:

      I do appreciate you providing a source for the arguments behind your beliefs. I do think, as any philosophy, that they are worth consideration. We indeed don’t have the room (or time) here for exploration.

      My initial beef with your position was that you seem to have taken for granted that absolutely everyone who espouses a different philosophy does so out of sheepish or lazy obedience to social trends, that it’s impossible that some of them may have put as much careful thinking and exploration into their life views as you did your own. It is quite a harsh judgement to make, especially in a setting where sound debate is not a practical option. Morality is still a very murky area of theory and we are all seeking a measure of certainty and validation. I simply advance that in such uncharted grounds, it’s good to keep a window cracked open.

      I agree that this would be a very stimulating debate, in the right environment and with the right preparation. I hope we can shake on that.

      Yeah, we can shake on that.

      I’ll just supplement with some extra info.

      I think even given my premises, there are cases where having a child is less wrong than not doing so. They are just rare.

      All children that have been brought into the world are sentient creatures, and should be treated humanely, and with as much love, as is possible, so as to minimize their suffering.

  122. Anonymous says:

    I never had the desire to procreate. Even as a kid, when everyone was foisting shitting and barfing baby dolls on me as if that would instill some sort of instant female bliss, I shied away. Of course, I was the recipient of endless haranguing by the “breeders” who insisted that nature would bless me sometime in the future with the rabid impulse to fuck everything, constantly, until pregnancy is achieved because THAT IS WHAT NATURE DEMANDS! The “you’re so selfish/self-centered” response seems to be a favorite, followed by “hardwired biology will take over after you squeeze one out” assumption. Thank goodness for my multitude of health problems. The “bad genetics” argument seems to end those unwanted convos on a quick, awkward note.

  123. Anonymous says:

    I wish I had the balls to have mine snipped four years earlier. With a $20 co-pay I could have saved a trippling of my social and financial life long debt. If you like sex, get cut.

  124. jenb43 says:

    I wanted 8 kids when I was a teenager. Then I slowly learned what raising a child means, and that number slowly dwindled to zero.

    There are a lot of things I want to do- go to graduate school, travel, save the world- that would simply be harder, or in some cases impossible, with a child. I adore the kids of my family and friends, but when I am with them I don’t feel a big gaping need to have my own.

    I respect (good) parents for the sacrifices they make and the very hard work that they do. I respect (good) people who choose not to parent and enrich their lives in other ways. I am equally annoyed by the woman ignoring her shrieking child on an airplane and the people who automatically roll their eyes and use hand sanitizer when a laughing child runs day.

    People suck, whether they have kids or no, and alternately people can be awesome, whether they have kids or no. I find people too far on the end of the spectrum (God says have tons of kids versus kids are the devil) incredibly boring.

  125. Anonymous says:

    @radixe : If you think nobody cares, why did total strangers on the street feel compelled to lecture me on my duty to provide siblings? How I wish nobody cared! Especially you …

    @rebdav : Congrats. The same happened to me – with my one and only child. It is not quantity that we share, but quality, and the rate of quality production seems to lag behind the rate of production itself, despite your excellent work. Have you ever owned a Maserati? Me neither. Maybe that’s why we don’t miss having one.

    It’s a big world, people. Big enough for you to do what’s best for you without telling me what’s best for me.

  126. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Some “childfree” groups come off as more “anti-child”

    I’m quite pro-child, which is why I would prefer that every child have great parents. If you have a child because you didn’t use effective birth control, you’d better be prepared to increase your attention to detail in the immediate future. If you have a child because your parents want grandchildren, you are a child. If you have a child because you want a little version of yourself running around, you’re a narcissist. If you have a child because you want someone to care for you in old age, you have a big, ugly surprise in store for you.

    If you have a child because you really like spending time around children and would enjoy trying to give them a happy childhood, congratulations. You’re probably a great parent.

    • Anonymous says:

      Woohooo, well said!

      Parents so often accuse childfree people of being anti-child. In reality I have no children, ergo I cannot harm one of my own children. What I can do is help children who ARE already in existence and whose parents are failing them miserably.

      If anything I choose not to have children because I couldn’t help those children that already exist as much, nor as effectively,as I do just now if I had my own children. No child is being harmed (because no child has been conceived), but because of my choice some kids are being helped that desperately need help but who would otherwise suffer due to the lack of resources and funding available to help them.

      I spend a lot of my time advocating FOR children because I have bothered to learn what they actually need and make it a priority for those needs to be met. I spend a lot of my time getting frustrated with parents who are actually more interested in maintaining a certain kind of lifestyle than sacrificing roughly 18 years of their lives to properly care for and nurture the child that THEY chose to bring into the world!!!! And much as wealthy parents like to think the problem is ‘poor people’ I’d like to point out that indeed the problem of bad parenting is rife among affluent, well-respected, highly educated people. If anything they are the most inclined to expect their child to fit into their life rather than vice versa.

      So to parents I would say:

      You CHOOSE to have a child, your child doesn’t get a say in being born. The least you can do is ensure that the absolute basics of your child’s physical, educational and developmental needs are met, YET, go to any school in almost any country and you will see children with (supposedly) loving parents, but these kids have bags under their eyes, they aren’t getting enough sleep for their brains to develop to capacity, they are being overfed and fed the wrong foods, they are being dragged into social situations that are unsuitable (nevermind utterly boring) for them because it suits mummy and daddy and it’s what they want to do, they are often being treated ‘like children’ rather than as valued members of the family whose thoughts and opinions are as important as anyone elses, worse still they are being dragged around the world on long haul flights, and many of them are fully aware that their parents don’t really have any desire to spend quality time with them but will meet their minimum obligations!

      Frankly, if you aren’t willing to lay aside many of your personal dreams and aspirations for around 18 years so that you can properly nurture your child then I can only infer that you don’t really want a child all that much (at least not as much as you want the promotion or the regular meals out at fancy restaurants, the holiday abroad,…), and if you don’t want a child THAT much then why on earth are you having any? Is it as an accessory? Something to show off to friends and family?

      Mind you, since half of all births in the developed world are unplanned (scary!!!!!!) I guess people don’t really want children that much after all, they just fail to understand the instructions on the contraception packet or they were too busy being drunk to use the contraception properly.

  127. ethicalcannibal says:

    I’m 40. I got a tubal ligation at the age of 20. One of my male friends got a vasectomy. The reception our choices engendered was vastly different. He got high fives, and jealousy for “dodging the bullet”. I got recriminations about how selfish I was, how I would regret the decision, and how I wouldn’t be fulfilled as a woman.

    I don’t care what folks do with their reproductive organs, and the larger number of folks don’t care about what I do with mine. However, there is a vocal minority that are nasty to me about my choice, as a woman, to not have a child.

    Now, when the someone asks that question, “So, when are you having kids?” I tell them I can’t. I’ve been married for 18 years, and it’s my husband and my stock answer. However, it’s not fool proof. We have been badgered by a couple of well women that it was “god’s will” that we adopt. Being atheists, childfree by choice, etc were not concepts she grocked. I had to lie, and tell her I had a court order preventing me from being around children. Only then did she leave me alone.

    • mindysan33 says:

      I think you hit on an important point here, about how society greets childless men v. women. But it’s a larger issue than just having children. Women with children are often scrutinized just as much as women who decide not to have children. Just one example is the breast v. bottle debate. People get nasty if you tell them you didn’t breastfeed, because “everyone knows that breast is best” blah, blah, blah… ignoring the many variables involved in raising a kid. It comes down to people thinking their choices are the only correct ones.

      It’s a society wide problem about how women are treated, not just a societal view of childless women (though it is certainly one aspect of it). No matter what our choices, we are going to get more scrutiny then men overall. And you’re right about it being a vocal minority. I wish they would all shut up and let us all get on with it, frankly.

      • ethicalcannibal says:

        The way you framed the issue makes sense. I hadn’t thought of the breast feeding vs. bottle feeding example before, not having had children. It makes sense that this is more of a gender perspective when it comes to women and childraising (or lack of it) on the whole.

        • mindysan33 says:

          yeah, trust me. And I agree 100% that women without children are still under pressure to reproduce. But those of us who have them, tend to be under pressure to have more, and to raise them a certain way, etc. You can think in terms of work, too, and the guilt of having something going on outside the home, which goes both ways. You stay home, you betray feminism, you go out to work, you betray your family. And someone up thread mentioned the constant pressure she gets to make a baby, too. We get it coming and going basically. I try not to contribute to that. If you don’t want kids, great, if you do, great. I really don’t care. But I think we get negative attention from the larger culture as women no matter what we do. And I think we get pressure to fight about it as well, to pick a side, stake it out, and pressure other women to go along, or to shame them if they don’t. It’s kinda sick, actually.

  128. fionnmatthew says:

    Great to see this being discussed here, Xeni. I’ve been an antinatalist since before I knew what it was – as a teenager. It’s only lately I realized that – like all good heresies – there is a huge number of people who subscribe to it, but that it’s just not done to talk about it.

    I’m at the stage of life where many of my friends are starting to have kids, either through choice, or through negligence. I cannot help but lose respect for them, and consider them basically immoral for having done so.

    I’ve never heard a reason for bringing people into this world that didn’t sound flippant or narcissistic. It alarms me that few tend to consider the possibility that their children – however good their lives are – may well resent their parents mortally, for making them be alive. It’s for this reason that it is basically immoral to have children. It is the height of arrogation. One of the most self-centered presumptions available to a human being.

    I am reminded of the heartfelt introduction to South African philosopher, David Benatar’s book, “Better Never To Have Been” :

    “To my parents,
    even though they brought me into existence;
    and to my brothers,
    each of whose existence, although a harm to him,
    is a great benefit to the rest of us.”

    There’s a good interview with Benatar here: http://antinatalism.blogspot.com/2009/03/david-benatar-radio-interview.html

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you also lose respect for anyone who’s actually thankful and glad about being alive in this world?

      Surviving is intrinsically selfish; no matter who or what you are. Whether you are a human, a plant or a bacteria, you will be leaving a mark, consuming something, destroying and creating, causing an imbalance until something comes along to counter it… Of course, you can see life as something cruel and consider the world- especially humanity- with bitterness and horror.

      But I personally find it wholly worthwhile. I am thankful to the circumstances that allow me to witness the universe and reflect on it. I am happy to be a tiny little speck of life flashing in an unlikely world. That and I really love the food…

      That’s the main reason my husband and I decided to have a kid. Because we both loved our childhood; we both love our lives and families. We love having more of it; bringing our own little brand of it. Our own parents took us out to see the dinosaur bones at the museum, the stars with a telescope; they showed us art and animals and books and other countries… Now it’s our turn. We’re just mirroring what we know and sharing experiences that we feel are worthy and precious. Your choices and views are yours to hold. But I dare you prove to me that ours are any more selfish and immoral in the big scheme of things.

      “Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” -Carl Sagan

      • Sekino says:

        Crap. Hate to make this venomous thread even longer but I don’t like posting anonymously (got logged off mid-posting). So That’s me up there at #95.

        Might as well post a bonus video of Neil Degrasse Tyson, an awesome mind who understands (and respects) how fun and wise children can be for the right people :D

        • fionnmatthew says:

          I’m seeing a lot of comments of the “live and let live” variety.

          And I guess that’s fair enough, if the point is that natalists tend to proseletyse those who just have no interest in reproducing. The original point, I think, was a live and let live philosophy.

          However, some of us believe that having a child is basically evil. Like owning a slave, or the wanton slaughter of sentient animals for your own culinary habits.

          Under those circumstances, I don’t think it is appropriate to mind my own business. I think what you’re doing is basically immoral, and I will tell you that, and you’re just going to have to deal with it. Preferably by thinking about it properly.

          I’m also seeing a swathe of naturalistic arguments, all fallacious.

          Yes, we understand that reproduction is a natural process. No, that doesn’t mean you should do it. Dying of cancer is also a natural process.

          I’m also seeing a bunch of arguments of the form: “I think having children is WONDERFUL therefore…”

          Good for you. But that looks like the most profoundly selfish argument for creating a sentient, sapient creature and dumping it in a world that is only going to get more miserable. And if you don’t think the world is miserable, that doesn’t matter. Because your child might, and that’s a risk you shouldn’t be taking on behalf of someone else.

          Just about all of the reasons I have seen here for having kids, apart from these really bogus “do it to save the species” arguments (where a series of dodgy premises is at fault) have been deeply callous and self-absorbed.

          Because you might learn something. Because it changes your life. Because it will give you vicarious immortality. Because you think your “genes are just so great” and you couldn’t bear the idea that some of them wouldn’t get passed on. Because it allows you to relive your childhood. Because you’ll need someone to look after you when you insist on staying alive well past the time you should. Because your time is running out and you don’t want to regret it later. Because it might save the marriage. Because your partner wants it. Because your mother wants to be a grandmother. Because your friends are all doing it. Because it’s just what is done. Because you want somebody to love you with the unconditional love of a child. Because your life won’t feel complete without one. Because babies are cute. Because you want kids. Because you want to. Because you think it’s a good idea.

          None of these are good reasons. And all the indignant parental responses advising that everyone mind their own business totally miss the point that there is a third party to this dispute that doesn’t have a voice, and doesn’t ever get to say “leave me alone” until it’s too late. Because this argument actually isn’t/shouldn’t be about the parents, and it’s not about the child-free either. It’s about the poor sods who you feel entitled to create as centres of awareness and suffering, as if they were some kind of upholstery for your life. Just about any possible parental justification for making someone be alive is trivial – flippant, even – beside the grave and hazardous moral seriousness of choosing to force existence on someone.

          And it seems to me that the enormity of that just fails to compute for most people, because of the absolute prevalence of this habit.

          Even if it should turn out that that person is glad about your decision, it doesn’t justify the risk. Life is not an unequivocal blessing, and there is altogether less humility than there should be about the practice of reproduction.

          Surviving is intrinsically selfish; no matter who or what you are. Whether you are a human, a plant or a bacteria, you will be leaving a mark, consuming something, destroying and creating, causing an imbalance until something comes along to counter it…

          Surviving is not intrinsically selfish. Sometimes killing yourself is more selfish than staying alive. Given certain assumptions, such as that an overriding imperative is to minimize suffering. I’m sure you can generate the examples.

          However, telling yourself that survival is intrinsically selfish to complacently avoid guilt for your own reproductive narcissism: that probably is intrinsically selfish.

          • Anonymous says:

            However, some of us believe that having a child is basically evil. Like owning a slave, or the wanton slaughter of sentient animals for your own culinary habits.

            Some of us believe that posting on Boingboing is basically evil.
            Some of us believe that speaking English is basically evil.
            Some of us believe that driving is basically evil.

            Maybe we can hear more about what’s good and what’s *evil*.

          • Sekino says:

            The comments you are seeing are not of the ‘live and let live’ variety, they are of the ‘I’m able to tell when something is highly relative and more complex than black v.s. white’ sort.

            You’re good at wildly accusing others of sophism but not so great at verifiable arguments yourself. You opinion is a bit more absolutist and scornful than the norm, but it is by no means more rational.

            Considering how my response may have been exhalted (though fully earnest) but was in no way as contemptuous and arrogant as your own, I’m going to assume that you are a tad more trollish than a tragic abyss of despair struggling with Cassandra-like perception.

            I’m going to bed now. ‘Happy’ feuding.

          • fionnmatthew says:

            The comments you are seeing are not of the ‘live and let live’ variety, they are of the ‘I’m able to tell when something is highly relative and more complex than black v.s. white’ sort.

            You’re good at wildly accusing others of sophism but not so great at verifiable arguments yourself. You opinion is a bit more absolutist and scornful than the norm, but it is by no means more rational.

            Considering how my response may have been exhalted (though fully earnest) but was in no way as contemptuous and arrogant as your own, I’m going to assume that you are a tad more trollish than a tragic abyss of despair struggling with Cassandra-like perception.

            I’m going to bed now. ‘Happy’ feuding.

            Alright. I don’t think what I said was short on argument simply because I didn’t render it explicit. Put simply, I argued that having children is so morally serious as to require justification prima facie, and that I hadn’t yet seen an adequate justification; that, in fact, all the justifications I had seen were selfish.

            But if you are interested in arguments you would do well to read Better Never To Have Been. It’s by a fine analytic philosopher, and there is no shortage of “verifiable” arguments.

          • futnuh says:

            Even if it should turn out that that person is glad about your decision, it doesn’t justify the risk. Life is not an unequivocal blessing, and there is altogether less humility than there should be about the practice of reproduction.

            Though you probably don’t want my pity, I can’t help but feel sorry for you. Most people I know are reasonably happy most of the time. Not “living in ignorance” happy, but optimistic that the future will continue to be incrementally better than the past. I try to live by Warren Zevon’s “enjoy every sandwich” outlook. I have a nasty feeling that you’d respond with “ask Mama Cass about that perspective” …

          • fionnmatthew says:

            Though you probably don’t want my pity, I can’t help but feel sorry for you. Most people I know are reasonably happy most of the time. Not “living in ignorance” happy, but optimistic that the future will continue to be incrementally better than the past. I try to live by Warren Zevon’s “enjoy every sandwich” outlook. I have a nasty feeling that you’d respond with “ask Mama Cass about that perspective” …

            Look, it’s not about me, or whether I want pity. It’s that your pity is a very typical defense mechanism in those who are trying to avoid the substantive moral at work. The implication is that what I have said can be safely ignored, because I am (you believe) abormally pessmistic.
            The position I take isn’t the consequence of a temperament. It’s a real argumentative position in moral philosophy, with a literature and a history.

            I’m not suggesting we air all the arguments here, because that would be repetitive and change the subject, but I will say that there is a right way and a wrong way to vindicate natalism, and that only the latter includes cheap ad hominems implying (but not explicitly stating) that “the interlocutor wouldn’t think that way if he wasn’t so depressed.” The right way is to ensure that you’re not labouring under a false premise or a dodgy inference. I won’t assume you haven’t done that, but if you haven’t, I recommend that. It normally starts by going hunting for an argument you can’t defeat.

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