Having it Both Ways: Childless by Choice

Having it Both Ways: Childless by Choice

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I have a handful of best friends.  We’re talking … people who knew me before politics, people who knew me “way back when” and who I have grown and evolved with over the years.  I called one such bestie the other day and she told me that she was about to call me because a recent trip to see her in-laws resulted in a discussion about when my friend and her husband were going to be starting a family and having kids.

This particularly bestie and I have long shared our mutual resistance toward having kids.  There was an interesting presumption with her in-law family, however, that it was her that was determined never to have kids.  Her normally easy going husband at one point piped up – “We’re not having kids…”  They were all shocked.  What Bestie realized about the in-laws insistence for them not to wait – was that they were way too old when they had children.  Such that the aunt had to endure huge amounts of hormone treatments and it was an all around nightmare to get their daughter.  Bestie said to me, “So while I’ve never ever wanted to have children, I realized I now have to either make peace with that or we have to talk about having kids.  NOW.”

We talked about how both of us have always been anti-kids.  Not that we blame other people of course, but many of the reasons that people say they want children are selfish reasons.  People want families for themselves, they want children that come from their genes not from the plethora of kids who don’t have good homes, we also talked about parents we’ve seen who love to live vicariously through their kids, or need someone to love them and idolize them.

We talked about how when you throw kids in the mix, your life is over.  Traveling for fun – forget it, picking up and going rock climbing on a weekend – turns out you can’t do it with a baby strapped to you, not to mention the first three years are filled with nothing but body fluids and screaming.  And the financial cost is tremendous.  The estimations once showed having kids was an investment, but now you run deficits with kids costing upwards of $250,000 from birth to their 18th birthday, and that doesn’t include college.  In the end is it more selfish to have a kid to complete you and your needs or is it more selfish to not have a kid because you have no interest in being a parent, raising someone, or disrupting your own life?

Remember back when I talked about The Professor and how he turned 40 and realized he needed to get married and have kids quick and to do that he had to find someone between 25 and 30?  I’ll never forget one of the people who commented on that blog post that I was a “selfish bitch” because I would rather not have a kid, which I still find hilarious.  There isn’t an argument for having a child that doesn’t involve someone being selfish and “wanting a kid.”  The fact is – people who want kids… want kids.  They want it for their own reasons.  While my Bestie and mine’s reasons for not having children are status quo – nothing changes with our decision and no one and nothing is impacted by a decision to not have a kid.

I’m at an advantage because no one asks me these questions because I’m not married and no one even sees me with a potential partner.  I still occasionally get the “when are you getting married” question, I don’t think anyone really expects me to have kids unless they come with a future partner.  But this whole discussion reminded me of the bizarre need for our culture to stigmatize couples who are childless, like there’s something wrong with them or one of them have bits that don’t work.  We’re so obsessed with this need to continue a DNA chain or have some image of what a family ought to look like.  The truth is, some people are different and want different things that aren’t traditional or typical.  If you want them, power to ya and have fun.  But all you Baby Boomer parents who are pissed at us because we’re not into it just need to calm the hell down.

6 Responses »

  1. I say kuddos to you!!!! Too many people have kids because they are “expected” to then don’t want to take the time and responsibilty it takes to raise them. Don’t do something just because society puts pressure on you….not everyone has the maternal or paternal instinct. No child should have to suffer for the selfish & immature choices of their parents. People shouldn’t be made to feel like they are the ones being selfish for not wanting to bring a child into this world…people should be made to feel guilty for bringing a child into this world & not being completely 100% involved & responsible for said child!!!! I applaud you!!!

  2. My mother… I guess she didn’t know what she was signing up for. When she had me, she neglected me, abused me, I had an awful childhood. She repeatedly told me how I ruined her life, career, her health, energy, money,.. she tried to strangle me when I was three, she tried to drown me in a lake when I was five. I got to live with a nice foster family for a while : ) After I hit 18, She advised me not to have children if it would make me bitter and miserable. My instinct is to work hard, lift and haul heavy stuff, get stuff from point A to point B in the most cost efficient manner,… but not to bring children into this world. Quality of life of the kid is just as important as the quality of life of the mothers.

    • Your mother may have also been suffering from some serious mental illnesses as well. I mean… I don’t want to strangle kids – I love my precious Maddy who is my bestie’s daughter I just don’t want to raise Maddy. She can come stay with me though and I can teach her things her parents won’t and take her on adventures. I think the trick is being someone who knows what they are getting into and giving up by having children because if you’re going to have a kid you better be prepared to put your entire life on the back burner and put them first…. that’s only fair… its only responsible. And if you DON’T do that… then you end up impacting the child’s life. So my theory is – if you’re not 110% invested in it then don’t do it. And I sure as hell am not… financially, emotionally, intellectually, etc… so why would I ever do that to a child just because I want to have one? It’s selfish and its wrong… but people do it all the time and its why we have jacked up kids who want to kill people.

  3. So I am having a war from within, trying to debate whether to have children or not. I have been told due to medical reasons, if I want kids, I should have them now. At 29, just married and still working on a blossoming business, I question if I really do what kids now that I have to decide now. My main reason for commenting on here is barbecue I debate that NOT having children is selfish. That my reasons for not having children is beacuse I don’t want to loose the freedom, the energy, the money that I/we have built for ourselves.

    I appreciate your outlook, and glad I’m not the only one struggling with the issue.

    • I don’t think the idea of NOT having children is selfish – because as I said, that decision is status quo… nothing changes. Selfishness is when you choose yourself over someone else. With no child in the picture… you’re not choosing over anyone else. Your decision to NOT have children does not impact anyone elses life – but having children DOES. It impacts your life, your partner’s life, your family’s lives, as well as the child when its born. NOT bringing another life into the equation for whatever reasons you have… only keeps things as they are.

      What you could do – that is the epitome of selfLESS behavior is to establish your business and a financial stronghold, ensure your relationship with your partner is stable and strong, and then look into adoption for one of the MILLIONS of children out there that really really really need a good home.

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