No Kidding: Childfree By Choice an Unpopular Sentiment

Do I want to have children when I’m older? I waver from “No” to “Maybe.” I have yet to meet anyone on my college campus — or anyone close to my age — who shares my ambivalence toward having children when older. You’re not going to have kids? comes the gasp of a response, like I’m somehow letting down my race by pondering the possibility of opting out of the procreation process.

My theory is that many young folks can’t imagine married life with no children. By imagine I mean a vivid image in one’s head about how a no-child situation would actually look. Most of the adults you get to know as a kid are the adult friends of your parents. Because parents tend to hang out with other parents, your first-hand knowledge of adults consists almost entirely of other parents. In other words, kids and teens usually have minimal exposure to families without children.

In my own experiences in the business world, I have befriended several adult couples without children and seen close-up how happy they are. I have a clear image in my head of how this could work out; it feels like a real option.

Moreover, I have befriended couples who have kids and I’ve seen their careers or lives suffer. As youth we tend to hold romantic notions of parenting — taking junior to his first baseball game! buying her her first dress! — but children require enormous sacrifice, sacrifice not often paraded by parents and therefore invisible to many. When was the last time your dad told you about his hobbies left unpursued, travel guidebooks unopened, and everything else that went on pause after your birth? Never. Every parent says “It’s worth it.” Thanks to the ginormous investment of time and energy it takes to rear kids, our brains wouldn’t let us think any other way. And what kind of parent would want to guilt trip his son or daughter?

Even if, as a kid, you’re aware of the sacrifice in the abstract, it’s much different to ponder it from afar at age 19 than to actually face the brutal reality at age 29 when you’re thinking of having kids and yet just a couple years away from the promotion you’ve spent the last eight years striving for.

Finally, I have the good fortune of being free from any kind of religious or parental or societal influence pushing me toward procreation. I’m growing up in the 2000’s, not 1950’s where staying childless was considered “deviant or abnormal” according to the Chron article linked to below.

I don’t mean to imply that I’m more “enlightened” than my age-similar peers. Most people have children. I’m in the minority now, and if nothing changes (though I may very well change), I will be in the minority later. I’m just speculating as to why I have yet to find another person in college who shares my view.

Related Link: Here’s a Salon article on studies that show couples who choose not to have children are happier than those who do. Here’s a SF Chronicle article on groups such as “No Kidding!” which help childless-by-choice couples connect.

40 Responses to No Kidding: Childfree By Choice an Unpopular Sentiment

  1. Eric says:

    I share your view, and I’m in college. Shock :). I haven’t found that it is such an uncommon view at least among my circle of friends. Children aren’t the end all and be all of life.

    I feel that especially at our age (17-23) the idea of kids should still be far off and slightly scary. It’s one of the pillars of adulthood and responsibility. The “i’m not ready for real life” view of the world exhibited by many students seems to clash with having kids. Real life sure seems mighty real when you have another real life to take care of.

    They say there’s a switch that flips in your head once you get older that makes having kids seem to be right. I assume it’s evolutionary. For people at our age to unequivocally know they are having children seems absurd, at least to me.

  2. Ryan Kellett says:

    Talking to some working professionals and college students in China, a lot of Chinese folks are also turned off by the idea of kids (regardless of the one child policy). Why? A lot of people here are concerned with the costs of raising kids. In particular, the cost of education, which by US standards isn’t much but by Chinese standards is increasingly costly after years of “free” education. Schools come up with all kinds of fees starting right from pre-school where one pays for naptime beds and fees for late pickup from school.

  3. Krishna says:

    Decision to raise a family is also often driven by youthful curiosity than societal pressures. Especially when you’ve dipped into all other pursuits, your’re tempted to take deeper dives into life and explore.

    One of them is “How will it be with a little bundle of joy added in ?”.

  4. Chris Yeh says:

    I’ll be very curious to see how many comments this post picks up. I think it would get far more if Penelope posted on her blog, just because I think more parents read it.

    It doesn’t make sense to argue in the abstract whether it’s better to have children or remain childless.

    The fact is, raising children is hard work. In some ways, it’s harder than it’s ever been, given the decline of the household servant, the extended family, and the local community.

    (Admittedly, things like infant mortality are far lower, and modern medicine has made death, a common fate for children in an earlier era, an infrequent and therefore overpowering tragedy)

    When people ask me about being a parent, I don’t sugarcoat it. It’s hard work. You have to give up a tremendous amount, including things like eating out, carefree vacations, and a good night’s sleep:

    link to chrisyeh.blogspot.com

    It costs a tremendous amount:

    link to chrisyeh.blogspot.com

    And yes, all the happiness research shows that having children causes your happiness to nosedive and only fully recover when your blessed bundles of joy are packed off to college.

    And so I always tell people the same thing: “There is no substitute for being a parent.”

    I don’t mean that you have to be a parent, just that no other experience is like it, good or bad.

    The problem, of course, is that it’s a pretty irrevocable choice–the government doesn’t let you abandon your kids if they crimp your style (unless you’re Britney Spears).

    Here, it seems wise to follow Daniel Gilbert’s advice and use surrogates:

    link to bookoutlines.pbwiki.com

    Talk with people who are similar to you, but at a later stage in life. Talk to both parents and non-parents. Remember, surrogates are a better predictor of how you will feel than your present self.

    And Ben, just be glad that you were born male. You’ve got a lot of time to make your decision.

  5. Dario says:

    Ben, interesting post. I’m glad you don’t want to (or are at least questioning whether you want to) have kids, and I hope that a lot of other people from our generation come to similar conclusions — this world cannot sustain the human growth that is predicted for the future. And I personally don’t think you’re in that small of a minority – I know I’ve met a lot of people our age who express similar sentiments.

    That said, I think your logic is flawed. I don’t think young people are so naive as to not be able to envision the ways in which they were a disruption to their parents’ lives. Even though I think of myself as a pretty okay little guy, I can definitely imagine how I must have been a pain in the ass at moments & maybe even the derailer of a dream or two.

    Also, the idea that we can’t imagine married life because we’ve been insulated by traditional families with kids, seems far-fetched. I’m in a relationship without any kids right now & it’s not that difficult to imagine the married version of that same relationship.

  6. I’m actually really encouraged to hear you say that. I always got a childfree vibe from you but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

    Everywhere you turn, we hear that as adults, we should be investing our time, money, resources, and damn near every waking thought into “the children” because “the children” are the future. Right. A future generation that proceeds to invest all of *its* resources into *its* children. And so on.

    When do we stop waiting for the next generation to cure cancer and start curing cancer ourselves (so to speak)?

    There’s an amazing mailing list at childfree.net that I highly recommend. Lots of intelligent, thoughtful members from all walks of life with one thing in common: we’ve chosen to be childfree. If I was ever ambivalent about my choice before, years on this list have convinced me that a life without children can be infinitely more fulfilling.

    Parenting is hard. Even the most perfect child still involves year after year of mind-numbing boredom, as the smartest of six year olds is still nowhere near as smart as I am now. I enjoy children to a limited extent, but I am a much better member of society if I can contribute my mind, energy, and passions to other things, and be an aunt and a mentor where I can.

  7. There’s a lot I disagree with in this post. Other people have taken you to task on the semantics, which I more or less agree with, except for the bit about how the world is overpopulated. The basic premise is that happiness is the be all and end all of life. Nor is the be all and end all the accumulation of money, nor of fame, or of hobbies, I reject that.

    I think the driving force is the desire to know one’s limits. Maybe that’s a form of happiness, but maybe it’s more a sense of purpose — that the future is always wonderful and attainable, but never knowable.

    As one of the many people that plans on having (and adopting) children,
    I don’t have romanticized versions of what married life or being married with kids would look like.

    I know that there will be a lot of fights, that children often disappoint their parents, and that parents almost always let down their children, but there are moments with my parents — some good, some bad– that really taught me the essence of what it means to work, to lose, to win, and to keep going. I hope I can teach my children those very powerful lessons, but if I fall short, hey, maybe they can at least write a decent book about it. At the end of the day, even a failed parent has taught their children lessons. And I think those interactions are some of the most telling glimpses Man will have ever at immortality.

    The notion that the love of my life and I might one day breed and have a tangible, real symbol of the feelings we share, is both terrifying and exciting.

    I know plenty of married couples that didn’t have children because they wanted that big house, the promotion, or the freedom to pursue hobbies or whatever. Sure, they all say they are happy, but scratch the surface.

    To a couple, all the ones that I have found, are all miserable. They seek meaning in other things — traveling the world, reading great works of literature, but at the end of the day, they spend their time quietly waiting for the passage of time to eat away at however menial their accomplishes.

    Those homes are quiet homes. They are static homes. I want something a bit more dynamic where there is never a dull moment.

    I think we’re a little too obsessed with our own happiness. Maybe we ought to be shaken up a little. I can think of nothing that would shake me up more than having a whole clan of children. I only hope I can figure out a way to afford them all!

    You see, Ben, I’ll have kids when and because I choose to, with the woman I’ve chosen to love. Together we’ll choose our futures, plunging head first into the abyss of the unknown. I cannot wait to suffer the consequences of those choices. Choices of those magnitudes always have consequences, but they also have upsides.

    If you decide not to have children, you will never know that future. You’ll live a safe life that’s controlled by what you choose to let in and what you choose to avoid. That isn’t exciting or enticing.

    And for me, the pursuit of that knowledge, of those random experiences, are what it is all about.

  8. @ “…not 1950’s where staying childless was considered “deviant or abnormal…”

    This is why so many gay people played out society’s expectations and married heterosexually then.

    I imagine that even people who were conscious of their “deviant” sexuality might have found it difficult to picture a child-free future for themselves under that societal pressure.

    I began proclaiming my intention to never get married and never have children when I was twelve or so (coincidentally about the same time I discovered masturbation, or was it coincidence?).

    Since I was born in the ’50s, most of the adults I knew as a kid had come of age in that decade or the early ’60s.

    By the time I was a teenager and the sexual revolution had begun, I had picked up the idea that until the advent of the Pill the U.S. was a sexually repressive wasteland for adventurous young people.

    Kerouac and the Beats were the irresponsible prophets who presaged the coming of the ‘liberating’ ’60s.

    They were the first of their generation (in the ’40s) brave enough to defy the suffocating puritanism of society’s post World War II attitudes toward sex.

    Me, I just kept on beatin’ it till I was old enough to launch my own sexual ‘revolution’.;-)

  9. Heather Duey says:

    When I was in college, I didn’t want children. In fact, I didn’t want them until I married my husband (I was over 30). At that time I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to have them (and we now have two – which is enough for us!). I even stayed home with them for their toddler years, despite not believing that I was “stay-at-home-mom material”.

    The point of this is that your views may change. I was adamant I didn’t want children, for a multitude of reasons. It wasn’t until I found someone I wanted to have children with that it made a difference.

    Either way you decide, it should be your and your partner’s decision, and nobody else’s. And, you’ve got plenty of time to decide.

  10. Tom says:

    Question: Is there a sort of shared societal Nash-equilibrium-esque moral burden to have 2.1 kids, for the good of the species? Our most fundamental need, of course, is survival…

    Comment: The pursuit of hobbies is not as great of a good as raising a child. Think outside yourself.

  11. Kevin says:

    I can relate to and appreciate hearing somebody honestly questioning whether or not they want to have kids. My wife (27) and I (26) get asked the standard baby questions all the time. Do you have kids? Do you want to have kids? Why don’t you want kids? Who doesn’t want kids?

    We walk away feeling like we just personally insulted the person questioning us when we don’t give the expected answers. I wonder if they would feel the same way if I asked them the questions I wanted to ask in return. Why did you have kids? Are you truly any happier now than before you had kids? Don’t you feel like you have limited your life options/choices for the next 18 years by having kids? Did you really think having kids was going to save your marriage?

    “I’m in the minority now, and if nothing changes (though I may very well change), I will be in the minority later.” Acknowledging and accepting the fact that you might change seems a lot more reasonable than most other people who automatically blurt out, “Yes, I am definitely having kids.”

    Kids are not for everybody and the right time to have kids is not the same for all couples. If that is true, continuing to question yourself and your thoughts on having kids seems to be way more responsible than those who have made their mind up to have kids by the time they are 18.

  12. In most people’s lives, there comes a time when choices are presented that we didn’t seek, and which are so challenging, we have to give in and grow to fit them as best we can.

    That’s what having children used to be. In some cases it worked, in others the result was bad parenting.

    These days, it might be whether or not to endure IVF because you met your partner aged 40 and suddenly became desperate to have a child because it means something to you that seemed unimaginable before.

    Or, it might be leaving a partner whose love transforms you so much that life alone seems like life without your arms and legs- because he or she wants children and you don’t, or vice versa.

    In most of the past, men didn’t want children for much more than to be heirs to their fortunes and careers. The women did the work, and got to know the kids, and the kids didn’t interfere with the father’s life. It may be biologically “normal” (?) for men not to want kids, but to enable their spouses to have them, and to tolerate them nonetheless!

    The men who do want kids are the ones who presumably sacrifice the most for their sake- I think you grew up in an era when we devote sometimes ridiculous amounts of time and energy to child-rearing. Maybe there are lower- cost ways of doing it.

    Worth exploring for people whose partners want different things, maybe. Unless one wants to live alone, it’s a partnership issue.

  13. Meem says:

    I don’t know whether I will have my own kids in the future, I’m still in college. I used to think that kids are kind of a pest. But the more I spent time around kids (well, other people’s kids), the more I realize they mean a lot more to my life, in ways that other things can never substitute for. They touched my hearts in parts that I didn’t know exist. Yeah, I think kids are amazing that way.

    Whether or not you decide to have your own kids, just don’t deprive yourself of the wonderful experience of interacting with kids.

  14. Speaking as someone who was born during the 1950s, I can tell you all about the societal pressure to marry and reproduce. Especially if you were female.

    Well, people, there are plenty of us who made it out of that era with our sanity intact, and there are more than a few of us who didn’t marry and have kids. And, no, we are not bitter, barren spinsters. Not by a long stretch.

    A thousand thanks for this post, Ben.

  15. Anonymous says:

    To Charles Johnson:

    I have always found that it is those that are not sure of their own choices and plans who have to bash others. You say if you scratch the surfaces of chidless couples, you’ll find that they are unhappy. But the only reasoning you give for this is that they have quiet homes. It seems that it never crosses your mind that they may like their homes quiet.

    It seems to me like you are trying to project your feelings on to them. Since you can’t imagine how someone could have a truly fulfilling, productive life without kids, you just decide the can’t be really happy. They *must* be lying.

    I fail to understand how having children is the only way to have a dynamic life. I’d think traveling the world and learning about other cultures would be a great way to have a dynamic life. I also fail to see how concentrating on your own tiny little corner of the world with you and you kids could possibly lead to a dynamic life. Some people are “missing out” on having kids, but you’re missing out on the rest of the world. I’m really glad that not all parents and future parents think like you.

  16. Ben Casnocha says:

    Charles Johnson:

    As Chris said in an earlier comment, it’s silly to debate the merits of having children or being childless in the abstract — each couple is different and in the end it’s possible to be happy or fulfilled or stretched either way.

    The point of my post was to simply postulate that if more kids had exposure to childless couples, more would see it as a viable option. Everybody knows the potential joys of having kids — after all, we are bombarded with this imagery every day by the media or the church who whoever — my goal is to make people more aware of the potential joys of not having kids, at least as I see it.

    What disappoints me about your reply is you say you don’t have romanticized versions of having kids, but then go on to list all the usual, sweet reasons, and then you dismiss the childless path with all the usual, unimaginative claims and even insult those childless couples who say they’re happy, because YOU know they’re really not, because YOU can scratch the surface and YOU know how boring their lives really are. This is what annoys me: how convinced people are that having kids is the universal path to fulfillment, dynamism, happiness, or whatever your metric is.

    I agree with all reasons for having kids — excitement, entering the abyss and randomness, sharing your lessons and wisdom, etc etc. But for you to think this isn’t possible in the childless path speaks more to a failure of imagination and an extremely biased sample set of couples w/ and w/o children. I happen to know many “quiet” households: they live amazingly dynamic, happy lives. They desire to know their own limits by travel or work or athletic competition or companionship with each other or philanthropy or whatever it is. They pursue the unknown.

    You clearly recognize the costs and benefits of having children (you don’t seem deluded into thinking it will be one big joy ride with no hitches). But I still don’t think you recognize that the same costs and benefits can be had in the childless path, albeit in a different form.

    On the happiness question generally, I agree that I probably emphasize this more than most. Knowing one’s limits — pushing yourself to the outer bounds of your capacities — is an interesting worldview, but I wonder. Do you know your physical limits? Would you spend six months in Antarctica to know your physical limit for coldness? Would you spend a year without speaking in a Buddhist monastery to test your ability at sitting with yourself alone? There are probably better examples, but my point is that in some of these cases you might answer, “Hell no – that’d be miserable”. I know I wouldn’t be very happy in a monastery not speaking for 365 days. So my personal happiness trumps the interesting but unactionable life purpose of pushing myself to the limit.

  17. R. Carter says:

    During a class discussion, I told the professor that I wasn’t interested in having kids. He told me I was selfish…

  18. Jenny Ford says:

    Ben,

    I am astounded that you can find male college students who say they want to have kids!

    I have a lot of friends in their early-mid 20s, and only nine in ten of the guys are adamant that they don’t want kids.

    Mind you ,only one has had a vasectomy so far …

    And I move in alternative circles, so my friends tend to be people who have already pretty much rejected living within the nine dots.

    I might have a skewed sample!

    Jenny

    P.S. We chose to have our kids really young so that we would be free to have a life in our 40s – and paradoxically, our kids ended up being the cause of our success in business! We run Cash-Smart-Kids.com …

  19. Max M says:

    I’ve definitely pondered the “to have or not to have” questions about kids.

    These are some thoughts I’ve entertained about the subject:

    There is definitely the societal pull to encourage having kids. It makes sense that, that would develop too, the people who did not want to have kids didn’t pass on their genes. I don’t know whether there is any genetic basis to a tendency to having kids but that behavior would be something that’s not ‘selected for’. So that’s one reason it exists. And yes, you’ve definitely got the backwards rationalizing thing right Ben. Its our brains ego defense mechanism.

    Last year, I read the awesome and wonderfully insightful book, Stumbling on Happiness, by Dan Gilbert. One major thing I took away was that people are generally bad at gauging what makes them happy. And he had pretty good evidence that as sad as parents think an empty nest will be they are much happier when they have time to themselves.

    I think that’s because we are inherently selfish creatures. We evolved to pass on our genes…

    But I think maybe that dynamic changes now due to the connectedness of society. The ability to communicate with a large network of people very cheaply.

    Having kids is definitely not a good from an economic investment stand point. But before it was the only way to pass on your lineage.

    But I’d say the dynamic is different now, because now your ideas can live on, you can pass on your memes. Look how many people you’ve already reached with your blog. I’ve found the people who don’t want to have kids, are the ones leading successful lives, they have a focus, and feel like they can do more good by contiuing what they are working on, rather than “settling down”

    They will have more of an affect and lasting legacy through their ideas, and work than through the lineage that is passed on. Hundreds of years ago probably the most “successful” person was the one who rose to the top of his societal circle and had hundreds of kids. I heard some fact that like more than 10% of people in the world have some genetic ties to Genghis Kahn.

    But now we live in the information age. Its an information economy and memes can leave a stronger legacy than genes. And information, society and change is growing at an exponential rate. Leaving a lasting impact in the world through passing on genes is really inefficient, its really hit or miss. And if you believe anything the singularitarians, like Aubrey De Grey or Kurzweil, have to say then passing on your genes is really an obsolete process because In the old model the fittest eventually die. But now the fit may continue to live indefinitely.

    Anyway this just one musing I’ve had on this subject. This is not my unwavering viewpoint but I do find it an interesting lens to look at the question of ‘to have or not to have’

  20. Jim says:

    Charles Johnson:

    People are different. They’re fulfilled by different things.

    Amazingly enough, sometimes it’s really not more complicated than that.

  21. Jim says:

    BTW, I’m 46, never been married, and childless.

    I donate 95% of my income exclusively to children’s charities, and have since I was 27 (most people have trouble even believing this, but it’s true). To say that I care deeply about children would be a severe understatement, and yet I’m still regularly told by people that my decision to not marry or have children is selfish and that I won’t truly “get it” until I have one.

    God forbid I care more about broad well-being than simply the well-being of one or two children I would personally parent. Until then, I guess I’m just an unhappy, empty body who hasn’t “seen the light”.

    You can’t win.

  22. Hi Ben,

    A childfree (CF) friend just told me of your site, and I burned up the cable getting to it.

    I was amused and pleased that you had entitled your post “No Kidding: Childfree By Choice an Unpopular Sentiment.”

    I am the Founding Non-Father of NO KIDDING!, the international social club for childless and childfree couples and singles. I founded the club in 1984.

    We have many chapters in several countries, and each chapter enables CF people — married and otherwise — to make some new CF friends in their area. We also have a Convention every year, which enables members to put faces to names of CF people they have “met” via e-mail.

    If you’d like more information about NO KIDDING!, please visit our website at http://www.nokidding.net.

    Jerry Steinberg
    Founding Non-Father of NO KIDDING!
    The international social club for childless and childfree couples and singles
    http://www.nokidding.net; [email protected]

  23. The world would be a better place if more people who truly do not want kids – and/or have the skills for it – didn’t have them regardless. As the child of two such people (who would swear blind that they wanted kids), I cannot begin to tell you the damage this causes the child and society. The more I look into the subject of unwanted kids, the more common I believe it is. (I want kids, but only if I and the right partner are qualified and equipped to raise them to self-sufficiency while providing the certainty of being worthy of existence and loving action. Unwanted kids never get that, and without exception it leads to self-destructive behavior.)

  24. Artemisia says:

    ITA with your post. I’m 51 now, and have been passionately Childfree all my life. I think at least 75% of children are born solely because their parents lack the imagination not to have them. They are also symptomatic of a lack of real ambition or a strong life plan, especially for women.

    With world population pushing 6 1/2 billion, children do not represent the future. They represent the death of the planet and the future.

    Artemisia

  25. Shefaly says:

    Ben:

    This is an interesting post, especially coming from a young man like you. My thoughts on this are many and I think a (second) post is due on this, right after my doctoral defence is over.

    On similar lines, I had written a post earlier wondering why those who have children can never articulate a clear reason why they had them, whereas the child-free always can.

    The link is here:
    link to laviequotidienne.wordpress.com

  26. Shefaly says:

    There is a set of curious things emerging with being an Auntie, as I am, with no children of her own.

    1. The number of demands (I am serious) from parents to contribute to their children’s college funds – both made in jest and seriously – are growing;

    2. Two friends(a couple with children) have noted in their will that should anything happen to them, the children should come to stay with me rather than their own uncles and aunts, whose judgement the parents do not trust;

    3. Three friends think, hope and being alpha-moms actively work to ensure that I am the adult the children talk to in a judgement-free, affectionate, caring yet not taking-over-emotionally manner, when they are no longer on speaking terms with their parents i.e. in the teen years.

    Why, if parents are so critical of those with no interest in kids, is this the case?

  27. Pirate Jo says:

    “During a class discussion, I told the professor that I wasn’t interested in having kids. He told me I was selfish…”

    Well whose life IS it, anyway? Sheesh!

    I have always known that I definitely did NOT EVER want children. I stayed on the Pill for 17 years and finally got my tubes tied at the age of 34. I am so happy I did it. I did not choose this because I wanted a big, fancy career or lots of money – I don’t have either of those things, although I have a good job and enough money. I simply have no interest in kids! I have no interest in preparing tax returns either, which is why I chose not to become a tax accountant.

    My house is not all that quiet. My dog and my boyfriend are usually here, and I have a steady stream of friends who stop by.

  28. Dave says:

    I wish that everybody gave this choice in life more consideration. How may couples end up having children just because that’s what everybody else seems to be doing? Raising a kid requires more than providing shelter and food.
    With the population of the world still growing, having kids to ensure that the human race doesn’t go extinct is no longer necessary.(and would the world be worse off when it did?)
    Humans are mammals that have been given the opportunity to act against their own instincts, let’s benefit from that as much as we can. Taking a conscious decision to have or not have kids should be the standard, but it is still regarded as selfish.

  29. Kaye Walters says:

    Ben-

    I am so glad to see there are intelligent people like you carefully considering the consequences of having kids, before just jumping in. Even better, that you’re talking to other people about it!

    I am a 46-year-old childfree who is writing a book called “Kidfree & Lovin’ It,” for people who- by choice or by circumstance- did not have kids, and for those who are still on the fence. I have an online survey that over 1,500 childfree around the world have taken, and I invite you to take it too. Here is the link: link to tinyurl.com

    I also have a Kidfree Website that has links to many childfree groups, websites and articles:
    http://www.kidfreeandlovinit.com

    I’m surprised you can’t find anyone on your campus that is questioning parenthood, as my research has found many young people and college students who already know they don’t want kids. Brian & I lead an active life, and are relieved that we never took that path. Parenting is not for everyone.

    Thanks for spreading the word, so people will think twice about automatically following the norm!

    Kidfree Kaye

  30. I don’t understand the mindset that would cause someone to be so weak as to succumb to irrational societal pressure and have children just because of that pressure, when very often disaster is the natural, predictable result for parent and child.

  31. Fencer Acrux says:

    My wife and I are in our 40’s and we chose to be child-free. We are members of no-kidding and have been for 10 years now. When we first married, we became aware of pressure from friends, peers, and family to have a child. Both of us believe that in order to be a good parent, a person needs to really want to be a parent.

    Some people say that we are selfish and don’t want to sacrifice, but that is absolutely untrue. We both wanted to pursue our education and career goals while in our 30’s, so kids didn’t fit in that picture. Money never once entered into our decision, but I must admit, it is nice having extra money to spend on my hobbies.

    I agree whole-heartedly with Ben, this isn’t the 1950s, this is the 21st century. Look around, the planet does not have a population shortage. A recent study in the United States suggests that married couples who don’t have children are the happiest demographic. I can’t argue with that!

  32. Chris Yeh says:

    Science fiction authors often speculate on potential futures where parents have to obtain a license for each child they bring into the world.

    I’ve often found it ironic that a couple is required to go through more of a screening process to adopt a stray dog, than is required to become a parent.

  33. Chris,

    Do you realize how frightening that notion is?

    What’s next? Getting a license to think a certain way? What business is it of the government’s to decide how many children (or how many dogs) you can have?

  34. To my many detractors:

    I don’t believe anyone should be obligated to have children against their will. But you must also recognize that most people on the world want to have children — indeed if they didn’t why would fertility drugs and clinics have such a large market? Why would so many people adopt?

    For most of us, the only thing that will remain after we’ve shuffled off is the lessons and love that we passed onto our children. Something tells me that at my funeral they won’t say he had some really good hobbies.

  35. Pirate Jo says:

    Well Charles, I don’t consider myself a detractor of yours, but your ‘scratch the surface’ comment sounded smug and snotty.

    You don’t want a quiet house – that’s fine. And yes, lots of people want children. You have quite a bit of company in that department. Having kids is something you want to do, and I’m glad that you have thought about it so carefully. You don’t seem to be wearing rose-colored glasses on the issue, yet you still want to do it anyway. Great! I hope it works out for you – and I mean that sincerely!

    You are just wrong to suggest that life is going to be empty for people who don’t do the same things you do. Because, see, they don’t all WANT the same things you do. People are happiest when they get what they want and avoid what they don’t want. So when they want different things, they are happier doing different things.

  36. Tim Taylor says:

    Ben,

    I just hope that regardless of which way you go that at some point you will feel what it’s like to unconditionally love someone.

    It’s pretty sweet!

    TT

  37. Emma says:

    Ben:

    What an excellent post. I’m 40+ years old, am childfree, and I love my life.

    I’m rather offended by Mr. Johnson’s insinuation that childfree people can’t possibly be happy and fulfilled. What a sad and boring world we would live in if everyone had the same likes and dislikes.

    As for the selfish remark, it’s disturbingly common and one of the “bingos” we hear over and over again ad nauseum, along with “how sad that you’ll never know unconditional love,” and a plethora of other ignorant and arrogant remarks.

    I’d give you the whole list of reasons why my S.O. and I are childfree, but I’ve been accused of gloating before, so I’ll not post the list here. You seem to be an intelligent individual, so I’m sure you can figure most of them out anyway. ;)

    Good luck, Ben. I wish you the best no matter what you decide and I’m truly thrilled that people your age are actually thinking about their choices and not blindly following the Life Script.

  38. Julianna says:

    I’m in high school in Raleigh, NC. I don’t know anyone who considers having children to be their life plan. Roughly a third of my friends would even stoop to “maybe”. Of course, virtually everyone I know come from dysfunctional families. Their parents routinely remind them of the sacrifice being a parent is–especially since many of those parents are divorced and/or had to drop out of high school or college to raise their children.

    Maybe it’s a location thing. I completely agree with the sentiment, much like if you had said “I like having oxygen around me.”

  39. Devin Reams says:

    It’s cool to hear about some of your personal thoughts Ben. I often hear that childlessness is selfish but I also feel I could give back to the youth through mentoring and programs such as BBBS. I hope many agree.

  40. Yamini Ayyagari says:

    I am probably not in the age group as you are, much older. And I come from a country where the societal pressure to marry and have kids is enormous, where if you don’t have kids the immediate conclusion is something is wrong with you.
    I made a choice not to have kids, and yes, you are right – people ask all kinds of questions and assume a lot more. But I stuck to my decision and didn’t give in to any peer pressure. And I can tell you this, there have been no regrets; and I have the satisfaction that I have been able to live my life on my own terms (people question this as well).

    So, my advice is this: If you don’t feel it in your heart, don’t give in to peer pressure of any kind.

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