I don’t want kids. There, I said it. Now that that’s out of the way, allow me to explain. This isn’t a decision that I’ve made lightly or flippantly. I think I have some pretty valid reasons for not wanting kids. But this decision has been brewing for awhile.
Interestingly enough, this decision has come with age. I’m smack dab in the middle of my family-building years. Hell, most of my peers are working on their second child at this point. Allow me to take you on the journey that resulted in this decision.
When I was younger, I definitely would have told you that I wanted to have kids and a family. While most 20 year old guys are so paranoid about having kids they slap on two condoms (which is actually less effective than wearing only one, FYI. My public health service of the day.), I welcomed the thought of having a family–eventually. Certainly not at age 20. But it was definitely on my radar. And while most 20 year old guys hold a baby like a live grenade, I welcomed the chance to interact with kids. Kids have always liked me, and I’ve always embraced that.
And then I got older and people around me actually started to have kids. And I saw what it did to them, to their lives. Not that children are nothing but negatives, but having a child changes one’s life. There’s no way around that. And yes, there are a lot of good things about having children. But there are some drawbacks to having kids. The long and the short of it is that when the biological clocks of my peers started to kick in, mine–which seemed to have started early–abruptly turned off.
But back to the reasons why I don’t want to have kids. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Let’s be frank. The survival of the human species is no longer dependent upon all of us procreating. With over 7 billion people on the planet, I think we’ve done a good job of propagating the species. Maybe too good of a job. I know I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I have a lot of concern about the ability of the planet to sustain current and projected population levels, and I don’t want to contribute to that. I also have concerns over the quality of life that people-to-be will have in the immediate future. Social, political, and environmental upheavals seem to be increasing as human activity on this planet does. I don’t know if I could justify bringing another life into the world if I’d be dooming it to live through war, poverty, the death of the environment, etc.
It’s physically demanding having children. Unless you’re super wealthy and can afford a team of nannies, chances are your life with children will be filled with stress. As if life isn’t stressful enough already. And yes, I know it’s possible to make it through all of that. I would assume that if it wasn’t, we all wouldn’t be here. But why would I want to subject myself to sleepless nights? To worrying about saving enough for college. To worrying about their health and safety. For the stress of paying for my kid’s braces. For the anxiety that comes with them starting to date. People pay for all of that stress, mentally and physically. Chronic stress can have profoundly devastating effects on the body. And I’m not really interested in that. Compared to a lot of my peers with children, I practically look like a teenager.
I don’t want the lifestyle that comes with having kids. Perhaps that’s a selfish reason, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable. I like the ability to pick up and do whatever I want, whenever I want. I like that I don’t have to censor myself, my language. And when I think about how much money it costs to have and raise children, I definitely like the thought of never having them. Yes, I’m aware that you can take vacations with your family. But it’s not the same. You’d never do the things with your children that you’d do by yourself or with friends or a SO. Yeah, sure, I guess parents get to ultimately experience the freedom of not having children–after 18 years of service. And maybe not even then, given the new economy and the emergence of boomerang children. But I’m not interested in waiting to have my freedom. In fact, I’m not interested at all in relinquishing it for a period of time just to start a family.
Kids are annoying. And that’s coming from someone who likes kids. Even the coolest and most well behaved of children have their weird moments or phases. As I said before, kids like me and I like them. But every time I see a child having a tantrum, misbehaving, or just being plain weird, I can’t help but feel the desire to have kids dwindle a little bit more.
Now look, I realize that there are a lot of good things about having a kid. The love you get from them for one. The knowledge that you’re leaving a legacy on this planet after you die, that a part of you will live on. Someone to take care of you in your old age (now who’s selfish?). The joy of watching them grow and learn and explore and (hopefully) turning into functional adults. For those reasons, I don’t begrudge anyone for having kids or for wanting them. It’s a natural part of life. But it’s possible to lead a perfectly fulfilling life without children.
Society hammers it into us that we need to have kids in order to be complete or whole. It’s some sort of social obligation. And if you decide not to have kids, people look at you funny. They think you don’t like kids. That you can’t handle responsibility. Not wanting kids doesn’t make you a bad person. I like kids, and I enjoy the times I get to interact with them. I’m not afraid of the responsibility of having children–I just don’t want it. There’s a difference. It’s not that I think I’d be a bad father. I think I have a lot of the qualities that make up a good dad, actually.
But people act like if you don’t have kids you’re not actually a member of society. That somehow every achievement you make in life, every contribution you make to society, pales in comparison to having kids. And that really needs to stop. Couples who decide not to have kids aren’t weird, backward, frigid and distant assholes, etc. You can have a meaningful life full of love without having children.