Choosing to not have children
I hesitate to even use the term "childfree" for this post, as the reputation the community has gathered on reddit isn't the greatest. For good reason tbh - there's a reason I don't post on that sub.
I knew from a very young age that I wasn't cut out for kids. I didn't want to play "house", hated baby dolls (especially the gross ones that "peed" so you could change the diaper), babysitting was done only under duress, and the noise that came from being around a crowd of kids made me crazy. I grew up with dozens of cousins, of which I was one of the oldest girls, so "taking care of the young ones" was kind of an expectation. But while the other cousins in my age range were happy to do so, I was off in a corner with a book, avoiding the entire thing.
As I got older and started dating, the conversations about weddings and having kids were the last thing on my mind. I went off to university, got a job, moved out on my own, and just didn't really think twice about it to be honest. I guess I always assumed it'd happen one day, and the urge to settle down would kick in, but it never did.
Now as I'm past the ever so major gate of 30 (that crucial age where everyone says you'll change your mind), nothing's changed. I have a large circle of friends who feel the same way (none of us have or want children) and we're enjoying our lives in a way I didn't think was possible. We enjoy our dinners with each other, traveling on weekends to spontaneous destinations, last minute concerts, festivals, and many other events that keep us busy and engaged. The thought of giving it up and settling down just doesn't hold any appeal.
The accusations of selfishness, shallowness, leading an unfulfilled life are all just water off a duck's back. If I'm selfish, it hurts no one but myself. If I'm shallow, well, I'm not shallow so that's not an issue. My life is my own, and it's exactly how I want it - full of friends, spontaneity, and peace and quiet when I want it.
I honestly never understood why other people care at all. It's your life and you're clearly living it the way you want.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
Edit: as a woman, I think it's crazy annoying when someone else thinks they'll know you better than yourself.
They might have pangs of regret from having kids that they feel guilty about, and they want to validate their having had kids by convincing themselves that not having kids is "wrong" somehow.
Granted, that's just a guess.
I'm sure that might be true for some, especially for ones that discuss it so negatively.
Though the majority of people I know constantly trying to tell others to have kids love kids. I think maybe they're so consumed with their own lives that they believe (maybe not with full awareness) it's the only right way to live.
It's absurd to me that anyone would pressure another into having a child they don't want. This isn't like trying an exotic flavor of ice cream or funky hoppy beer. Parenthood is a long-term, life-altering decision and should only be undertaken by those who both feel the primal inspiration to reproduce and have mentally prepared to upend their lives.
While I'm a dad myself and love the role even though it has required making sacrifices, I view anyone that decides not to have children as brave and selfless. It takes some gall and serious introspection (especially for women) to come to that conclusion in the face of generations of reproductive success and societal pressures. We should all be appreciative and respectful of adults that choose not to become parents because the world already has too many unwanted children.
EDIT: That is not to say someone who doesn't want kids but ends up getting pregnant will automatically be a bad parent. Only that we shouldn't pressure those who feel incompatible with parenthood.
I have never understood the accusation that people who choose to not have children are being selfish. Surely from an environmental perspective, that is not the case at all. I got a lot of those same comments in my 20s when I wasn't sure what I wanted and they annoyed the hell out of me. I never felt like anyone had any right to pressure me into such a big life decision, especially when it had no effect on them.
Good on you for deciding what you want (and don't want) in life and living it despite other people's judgement. Your life sounds great :)
No kids, and happily celebrating recent menopause! I still had the family pressure to have kids, including my father, who actually pulled the "marching morons" (e.g. Idiocracy - also see "ugly undercurrent of racism" mentioned above) and "Holocaust repopulation" arguments out.
I always thought that for me, the responsible thing was not to have or adopt children whether I wanted them or not - bad upbringing, bad genetics (too much early cancer death and at least one catastrophic genetic disease in the family), bad depression (Mom's years-long postpartum depression episodes were also instructive), unsuitable temperament (I was never the girl who liked taking care of babies, playing house, etc.), increasingly bad environment.
This is not a "moral" choice that I expect any other person to uphold, nor a standard by which I judge anyone else's choice to have or not have children - this is totally personal, and there's no accurate way for me to mentally model what leads anyone else to their decision.
I actively enjoy using my time and talents to do things to support other people's children (though more so in the abstract than close-up). If there's any moral duty towards the future of humanity, it's that we all participate in this project, but the biological lineage part isn't the burden we're all suited to undertake.
I feel this so much. I don't like the word 'childfree' either, having seen some bad behavior from people who used the term on Livejournal, but I can't see a future where I have kids. Even if my mental health issues magically cleared up, I'm a cis woman married to another cis woman, meaning that we'd have to spend a lot of money that we don't have... just to create a situation where we'd have to spend even more money for at least eighteen years. Not happening unless I win the lottery, and even then probably not anyway.
I used to get bugged about this a lot, but ever since I tied the knot I haven't had many issues. Sometimes customers do pester my wife about it while she's working. When she says "My wife and I would have to pay a lot of money for that", she gets met with blank stares. A lot of people don't consider circumstances outside of their personal norm.
Oh man I remember those groups, they were something else. I was a lurker mostly, during my "I don't want kids and I'M REALLY ANGRY ABOUT IT!", but mostly grew out of it.
I'm getting to be in my 30s and my girlfriend wants to one day have kids, so this is something I've been thinking about a lot. With the realities of global warming, I'm not even sure that it is a moral decision to have kids. I might die of old age, but kids of mine would almost certainly die due to global warming's side effects.
That was a big consideration for me and my spouse too: future health of our planet, what kind of life would a future kid be left with due to climate change. I hold a much more optimistic prediction than my spouse. I hope I'm not terribly wrong. It really should be a consideration that people take into account when thinking about kids.
What evidence do you have that your kids will die due to global warming? They may be affected by it in some way but to me it’s outrageous to think your kids will definitely die from global warming.
I think this type of thinking hurts the cause of bringing awareness of climate change. Just like the extreme predictions from the al gore days has made some people believe today’s predictions less.
I'm on mobile so my ability to hunt for and share links is a little limited, but all of this should be easily google-able if you want to dig deeper.
Every disastrous prediction made about global warming has been shown to be not as bad as the real life results.
We are currently experiencing global warming enhanced heatwaves across the world. Over the winter, the North Pole did not freeze for a significant amount of time. Many species migratory and life patterns are showing signs of disruption. So we can say that we are currently in the beginning stages of seeing global warming's effects in our day to day lives.
Even if we completely stop all carbon emissions, due to physics the effects of global warming will not immediately cease. That itself is unlikely to happen. Even the climate models that look at a best case scenario where we avoid massive global extinctions rely on the undeveloped technology of carbon capture. This technohology hasn't even been shown to work in small scale designs, let alone on the massive industrial scale we'd need.
And let's be honest, what are the chances of us completely stopping carbon emissions in the next decade or two? There are too many powerful, entrenched interests that benefit from the status quo. The ultra-rich already have their private islands and underground bunkers. They won't have to deal with the consequences and they know it. We would have to stop not just our own personal day to day carbon emissions, but also things like:
the shipping industry, where just the five largest container ships in the world emit as much greenhouse gas as all of the world's cars
the meat industry, which basically turns plants into meat by creating carbon emissions
and the military-industrial complex, which is the single largest consumer of fossil fuels in the US. Consider too that one test flight of a jet fighter creates the same amount of CO2 as driving a Hummer for a year would.
...I just don't see it happening. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer.
Global warming timelines are grim. By 2030 if humanity hasn't gotten its act together it will be too late to make any meaningful change. It's important to mention too that meaningful change just means slightly less bad extinction events. By 2050 the oceans will start turning to acid, meaning the collapse of fisheries. Climate change will be extreme enough at that point to effect crop growth. No crops and no fish mean most of humanity is going to be starving. History suggests that will not be a peaceful process.
I'd love to be wrong about this, I just don't think I am.
Here's the thing though, if anything Al Gore undersold it. I could care less what the people with their heads in the sand think. They won't believe in climate change until their neighbor is cracking open their skull to feast on the delicious brains within.
Not OP, but this is definitely a thought I've had. They may not definitely die from global warming, but I can already see a significant difference is my own life in the last couple decades. And honestly, the changes in the last few years (my area has seen floods and forest fires), do worry me.
Of course, this is not to say, people shouldn't have children because of it, but I don't think it's crazy to consider it.
I think the opposite. It's more important to make changes because we want to fix it for the generation (or not screw it up more). I'm not exactly sure what predictions of Al Gore's your referring to, but I'm not sure he was wrong.
I seriously don't understand how chosing not to have children can be considered selfish. To imply that it is is a little too close to rather ugly far-right ideas for my liking (think 14 words).
There's definitely an ugly undercurrent of racism when it comes to those accusations. Whenever you hear tales of women being told it's their responsibility to have children, there's always that nasty side of "for the future of the White race" and "so we don't get out bred by the brown people."
I'm curious about your position here. Is this behaviour when racially motivated only gross for white people? Would the same apply to some tiny ethnicity in imminent risk of vanishing?
Also does it apply cross species? Are the efforts to get pandas to reproduce unfair to the Pandas? (They really seem hell bent on extinction)
I don't really see it as anyone else's business if me & my partner have kids. But it seems a bit inevitable that people want to preserve the existence of their identity. My identity isn't, I think, really tied to my race but I baulk at the idea that classic liberal ideas might die out. I'd also feel pretty shaky suggesting that other people shouldn't include their race as part of their identity if they wanted to so it seems a bit of a strong statement to me.
It's gross when it's done because you think your own race is superior to "those other races", and you fear being surrounded by those of other races. Which is generally the implication when a certain type of person rants about how it's the duty of white women to bear more children for the cause.
The idea is that you aren't having children because you don't want to share your resources with another. Parents are often selfless and make great sacrifices, so a person doesn't want children because they find that untenable.
Like most suspicions of motive, it's probably true in some cases.
I fully admit to and embrace the notion that I am at heart a selfish person who doesn't want to share my resources with a child. It's just not something that bothers me as it doesn't affect anyone else, and the consequences of me being a parent (I'd be a HORRIBLE one) are much worse than me spending extra time and cash on my own indulgences.
Follow your bliss. It's your life, and we probably only get the one. Make the most of it, whatever that means for you.
I've chosen not to have any myself, and I'm not sure I'll ever hear the end of it from my poor mother. It's caused me some grief in my dating life. If there is such a thing as The One, well, it was a deal-breaker for her. I really love children — what with their infinite curiosity and bottomless creativity — but I don't think the life I'm leading would be a good environment for a child. I work too much. To say nothing about what I think about bringing new life into the world with such an uncertain future ahead. Maybe someday I'll adopt, but that's far in the future, if at all.
I have thus far not had kids because I'm not selfish, I know I'm not cut out for it mentally, my problems would become my childrens problems. In retrospect I'm so glad I didn't have kids, looking at the past 10 years I would have been an awful parent.
I'm 39 and male, and I never wanted to have children. I didn't like being a kid myself, and saw no reason to put another human being through the purgatory of childhood. Besides, why should I help provide more wage slaves to keep the capitalist Leviathan going?
While my wife had always been ambivalent about having kids, she has PCOS so it was never likely for her without expensive medical interventions. And since she'll have to get her ovaries removed because genetic tests show a predisposition toward ovarian cancer, we're not going to have kids.
My mother will just have to make do with grandkittens unless my brother knocks up his girlfriend.
I don't know why, but the thought of having grandkittens makes me smile.
Cats are awesome though! Kittens are fun to play with, but damn they're so high energy. I'm happy to just have my one lil cat who's low maintenance and sleeps a lot.
Well, they don't have to be literal kittens to be somebody's grandkittens. :)
Good for you! And happy 30th birthday!
I don't want any either, and never have. I recently turned 25 and feel like I'm old enough to be confident that no, I will not change my mind. It's not that I don't like kids - I do. I just don't want risk having to put a potential child of mine through the shit I've been through myself. My fathers mom killed herself when he was 25, and his father had Alzheimers - and on my mom's side, her mom has Alzheimers too but thankfully her father is healthy at 94 - but one out of four is pretty shit odds I think. Point being that mental illness runs in my family. I have/had a rather terrible time with it... And I wouldn't wish that on anyone. So no, I'm not passing that crap on...
I was pretty sure I didn't want kids at 30 but my wife did. By 35 I changed my mind about being anti-kids to being more ambivalent, and by 37 I have a daughter. I have no regrets, priorities definitely change. Not saying your mind will change or not, either way it's your choice and it's not wrong, don't anyone let you think otherwise.
I've been past 30 for a while now, and still nothing has changed here either. Getting older might make one start thinking about different considerations, sure ("legacy" or "last chance" panic or who knows), but I firmly believe age doesn't change who we are.
I will never understand the accusations of "selfish" for not adding to our planet's overpopulation crisis. It may have made sense in a tribal society where having enough farmers & warriors (especially in the face of horrid infant/child mortality rates) meant survival as a people... but that's not been the case for a long while. If anything, I could argue that insisting on consuming resources to make a bunch of little "me"s in my image, to bear my mark & carry my personal flame... that that's more selfish than opting out. Though I wouldn't make that argument to anyone with kids, because not my business any more than my choices are theirs. Well... maybe if they start shit, it might slip out. Especially if I weren't quite sober. But only as a "kindly STFU, please... thanks."
I'm getting to the age where it won't be an option anymore, and I'm still happy about my choices. God knows, there are so many pre-made kids out there in need of guidance, mentorship, & love... there'll still be the opportunity to contribute meaningfully that way if/whenever the urge strikes. I kind of get enough of that in my job though, so don't even see wanting an informal "parent-ish" role in the foreseeable future.
TL;DR you're definitely not alone, and I wouldn't expect things to change as you near future milestones :)
Hello fellow.......non-birthing person?
I know CF gets a bad rap because of the subreddit (happy member there) but do we need to find a better name for it??
Neither of us ever wanted children.
We had one accident (damn you anitbiotics!) but thankfully lived in a state where terminations arent all but illegal.
Your choices are not only for you but for the world at whole.
We are coming up on 8 BILLION people.
Are all these people clothed? Nope.
Are all these people fed? Nope.
Are all these people treated humanely by others? Nope.
Yeah even if I wanted kids, I wouldnt want them to grow up in this world.
Accident kids aren’t always a bad thing. Both of mine were accidents, which was why I got a vasectomy at 24. Many years later and I still usually love them and always support them. My wife and I have kids way too young, but it’s worked out and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.