Why No Kids?


I have heard from some folks who have no children that they get a lot of flak for it. That they are called greedy, selfish, or irresponsible. I can’t say that has ever happened to me. I am often asked if I have children by folks I meet for the first time. And every once in a while, someone asks me why, and always in a very polite way. I’m thankful for that.

The answer is pretty simple. Sometime before we got married, Anne and I talked about having children and she made it clear she was not interested. I was neutral on the subject and so we agreed that if we married there would be no kids. About a year into our marriage I decided to ensure this by getting a vasectomy, mostly so neither of us needed to worry and to free Anne from the rigors of hormonal birth control.

Anne didn’t want children primarily because she felt she would be a bad parent and secondarily because she didn’t much enjoy childhood. I’m not convinced she’d be a truly bad mother, but I do think she’d not enjoy being a mother which to me is just as good a reason. Patience and tolerance of foolishness are not high on her list of virtues and both are good to have as a parent. Kindness and nurturing are things she is good at, and those, I think, are good qualities in a parent. Anne was worried she’d be the kind of parent her parents were, and perhaps more than anything, that put her off the idea.

I think I’d be a great parent, but I don’t feel any special need to be one. While my exact genetics are pretty spiffy, I don’t see that the world requires them to carry forward. Were there some great human shortage, I’d feel some obligation to help perpetuate the species, but it seems humanity has done an admirable job producing the next generation. I’m grateful to them for it.

I do feel a social obligation to help support other people’s children. I almost always vote for school levies and the like. I want those kids to have all the educational opportunities they are inclined to take advantage of. I also try to have respect for kids. I remember well what it was like, and it wasn’t an easy thing. It is a bewildering world and they have so much to learn. Adults too often forget all the advantages they have of time and experience. When I do interact with kids, which is fairly rare, I try to be the best role model possible and give them the best advice I can.

There are certainly some advantages to being a couple with no kids. The most obvious is that it is cheaper. We’ve always been able to spend a fair bit of our money on what I would deem luxuries. It is also less stress. Being a parent is hard and emotionally challenging. Studies have shown that while parents feel they are happy, they are on average more stressed and less measurably happy than those without kids. Finally, there is a bit more freedom. If I had dependent children, I’d have a lot more to consider before giving up my old career and heading out across America. Not that it would be impossible, but it would be much more worrisome.

But there are also disadvantages. I think having children is a pretty fundamental human experience, and family is the center of human society. Good or bad, its something I will never truly know first hand. I don’t regret that, but I still recognize it. There are many joys of pride and love that come from parenting, and I won’t ever know them. The others would all be about missed opportunities, though I find life has so manny possibilities, provided you have something that gives you joy day to day, it’s foolish to worry about all the things you didn’t do since that list could go on forever.

So that’s about all there is to it. If you have kids, that’s awesome, be sure to take good care of them and teach them well. You have my thanks. If you don’t, hey, don’t feel bad, enjoy the life you have and don’t let others tell you different.


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