To Procreate or Not to Procreate

Joanna Goddard interviewed five women about why they don’t want to have children—their reasons are thoughtful and well-articulated and allllllllllllllll different. BUT NO ONE MENTIONED MONEY, which everyone knows is THE REAL REASON not to have kids. That’s okay the NYT has a whole article on the COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS and its effect on people deciding to end their bloodlines.

What is YOUR reason not to have kids? Mine has to do with wanting to do whatever I want, whenever I want to, but also comes with a clause that I can change my mind about this or anything at any time, ever.

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45 Comments / Post A Comment

Bill Fostex (#573)

Isn’t it in your financial interest to have kids so that you can squander your savings on Golden Age Hollywood movie memorabilia, custom Segway scooters, exotic pets, and rare bourbon, and then impose upon your offspring the burden of caring for you when you’re senile and incontinent?

faustbanana (#2,376)

@Bill Fostex Totally, but the problem is that you have to “feed” and “pay attention to” the children after they’re born, which sucks up a lot of precious time you could otherwise use to ride around on your Segway while sipping rare bourbon and gazing at the signed photo of Pola Negri you’ve secured to the handlebars. Did I mention your Vietnamese pot-bellied pig is in the sidecar?

Bill Fostex (#573)

@faustbanana You’re right, I didn’t think that through. Sometimes I get on The Billfold and just start typing.

But on a serious 4-real note, my grandmother lived the last ten years of her life with my parents and me, with no Segway or fine bourbon or sailboats or anything. She didn’t plan it that way, of course, but she was totally destitute after her husband died and would have been financially screwed without my mom to take care of her. And they raised my mom on a shoestring, she went to college on scholarship and lived at home for all four years of it, she settled for a pyrite instead of a genuine gold monogrammed four-finger ring, etc. I don’t plan on spreading my seed as a safety net, but for my grandmother, having kids turned out to be a solid retirement plan.

faustbanana (#2,376)

@Bill Fostex I hear ya, Bill Fostex. And I do like the idea of younger folks looking after older folks when the old folks get old. I will probably play that role in my family and I’m fine with it. As for having safety net babies, I don’t think I’m there yet either. Given my current lifestyle the baby would probably get carried away by a strong Lake Michigan current while I was busy watching “Mystery Detective.”

Bill Fostex (#573)

@faustbanana “The body of yet another neglected infant washed up on the shore of Lake Michigan yesterday, bringing the baby-death toll since last week’s gripping season finale of Mystery Detective, the full season of which is now available on DVD via Amazon.com, to eighty-nine.”

WaityKatie (#1,696)

Ohhhh, here we go…

AlliNYC (#1,725)

@WaityKatie This comment is particularly hilarious because of your username ;)

Marzipan (#1,194)

I made a list before reading the article to see how well it lines up:

1. genuinely exhausted by the thought of solving relatively small problems – fixing my car, doing my laundry, applying for jobs, planning a trip, etc. Imagining having to deal with all the problems children create/have all the time makes me tired just thinking about it
2. selfish
3. don’t have the patience
4. I get anxious when I am baby-sitting because WHAT IF something happened, it would be MY FAULT, do not want to shoulder that full-time
5. requires a tolerance for all kinds of gross shit, not interested

A couple times it was mentioned it is often assumed to be selfishness, which is strange for me, because I’ve kind of taken that on as a self-descriptor, and it kind of really is like, the one thing that when you say that as the reason you don’t want kids, people will accept it without trying to convince you, because I guess people assume that makes me a bad person and selflessness and goodness is required for being a mom? Which is weird because I think a lot of reasons FOR having children is selfish, too. We’re all just doing what we want to, mostly, when it comes down to it, right?

But, yeah, I don’t mind saying that’s the reason, because in some ways it is, some ways it’s not, but I don’t really consider it a bad thing. You know? Not a huge fan of selfishness, in most circumstances, but here, heck, I’ll own it. I’m not interested in selflessness for the sake of selflessness, not trying to prove my own pure righteous goodness, just trying to make a life for myself that I enjoy.

@Marzipan Exactly. “Sure, let’s go with me being selfish and immature. So WHY exactly do you keep trying to convice someone like that to have kids?”

ThatJenn (#916)

@Marzipan I actually think that my residual desire to maybe have kids (I’ve mostly decided against it – they’re not in the plan and I take efforts to prevent them, but if I got pregnant I would keep the kid) is the selfish part of me. It’s clearly selfish of me to want to create a whole other human based on my own desires! It’s selfish to further contribute to overpopulation and our overuse of limited resources, just so I can have someone else to love! I don’t actually feel this way at all about OTHER people having children, though, only myself.

blair (#1,962)

My reason for not having kids is that I can’t yet afford to buy them their own Volvo 240. That, more than the family name, is what I am obligated to pass down NO JOKE

I tell people I will have kids once I have satisfied my quota for 100 good weekends. I mean – GOOD weekends. Ones that feel long and satisfying and productive, or ones that are fun and destructive and wasteful. Since I made that resolution 3 months ago, I have had 7 solidly perfect weekends. At this rate, by the time I’ll want to have kids, I’ll be too dried up.

The real reason I don’t want to have kids? To spite my mother. She didn’t do a good enough job with me, so she doesn’t get to reap the rewards of grandchildren.

@Kara M & Lisa L@twitter I really like that concept. 100 good weekends. Gonna aim for that.

You know, I was talking to someone about this awhile ago (which led to a recent blog post: http://nzmuse.com/2012/10/30/if-staying-childless-is-selfish-so-is-procreating/) and yeah, finances would be the biggest reason NOT to have kids. I do want them eventually but if for whatever reason it couldn’t happen, I wouldn’t be devastated. That conversation went along the lines of: without kids, you can live a really fabulous life – travel, not be tied down, and have a lot more money in the long run.

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

Reading this post, an ad is now alerting me that every three weeks, a child is killed by a tipping tv.

So I guess that’s my list: I have a tv that could tip onto my child and I am just not willing to give it up. That’s the main reason. Also, I don’t have any money, my mom and dad live out of state, and I don’t have a significant other to help out. But mostly, it’s that I own a tv.

Sarah H. (#408)

@aeroaeroaero Strap or bolt it to the wall. Problem solved!

(The TV, not the child.)

ladycakes (#2,109)

I’ve have a history of changing my mind, but then last year I thought I was pregnant and that pretty much solidified that I really don’t want them. My reasons are both financial and selfish – I’ve finally sorted out my life in a creative career but that means I live off very little. I couldn’t stay in this role if I were to have a child. I can’t afford the extra cost of food, clothing and education. And to be honest, I’ve fought so hard to get where I am that I’m not prepared to give up my life’s ambitions to find a more reliable job that means I could have a child (I actually did that once when I was much younger, in the heady days of my early 20s when I had a life plan that included “I must have first baby at 29 – it was hell). Aside from close friends, there are surprisingly a lot of people who give me a “what is wrong with you” look for not wanting kids.

eagerber (#1,958)

A little off topic, but what is in that photo? It seems kind familiar but also about 80% creepy.

aeroaeroaero (#1,422)

@eagerber I think it’s the baby from Dinosaurs.

eagerber (#1,958)

@aeroaeroaero Oh right, ok. Thanks!

Keck (#2,466)

because I have better things to contribute to the world than human #7,897,863,432

WaityKatie (#1,696)

I’m just gonna go with “don’t like kids.” I don’t think that’s particularly selfish; I mean, people who don’t like dogs don’t have to adopt them, even though it means one more dog will probably die in a shelter. My imaginary uncreated children won’t be dying, so I think I’m one up on the dog haters, actually.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@WaityKatie Love it! And it’s not selfish at all.

questingbeast (#2,409)

I really liked this article: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/04/09/120409crbo_books_kolbert?currentPage=all . I think I could pretty much jump either way on having children, but this quote, about the danger of ‘overvaluing the present’, really made me think about it: “Suppose you’re thirty. Selfishly speaking, you conclude that the most pleasant number of children to have during your thirties is one. During your forties, your optimal number of kids will rise to two—you’ll have more free time as your kids assert their independence. By the time you’re in your fifties, all your kids will be busy with their own lives. At this stage, wouldn’t it be nice to have four kids who periodically drop by? Finally, once you pass sixty and prepare to retire, you’ll have ample free time to spend with your grandchildren. Five kids would be a good insurance policy against grandchildlessness.” I don’t want any children now or in my thirties, but it WOULD be nice to have lots of grown-up children around. So really, I need to think about whether I could stand to ‘save up’ children for the future. Or, to have enough money to send all my hypothetical children to boarding-school, so I don’t need to see much of them until I’m 50.

sea ermine (#122)

@questingbeast Maybe you could get involved in mentorship programs? Or make a lot of younger friends? That way you can have the whole young people stopping by when you’re old without actually raising a child you don’t want.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@seaermine Yes! One of my favorite older woman role models is single and never had kids, but she has tons of friends of all ages. She’s in her late 60′s and has friends in their 20′s and 30′s, as well as 40′s, 50′s, and beyond. It seems like a pretty good life to me and she has more energy than a lot of her younger friends.

questingbeast (#2,409)

@seaermine @WaityKatie Actually yes, because thinking about it childless people seem to tend to have a lot more friends generally. I’ll just have to work on getting 9000% more sociable over the next twenty years!

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@questingbeast Ha, yes, me too.

emilies (#956)

This Cup of Jo article made me a little angry. Her breathless intro to the interviews as “FASCINATING” as if these women are zoo animals. Or her only justification that she wanted to have kids was because she felt such a deep longing, like all women should. As though she’s more of a woman than the others.

AND YET, for all the ways Cup of Jo drives me crazy…I can’t stop reading it.

kellyography (#250)

@emilies I kind of agree – not a big fan of the tone of the intro.

My reason for not wanting kids is that both (divorced/remarried) parents started having them again when I was in junior high. I was up with the colicky or hungry babies at 2am, changed diapers, gave baths, got thrown up on, etc., and when they were older, got all my stuff broken or ruined, endured tantrums, and tried desperately to keep them alive even when all they wanted to do was touch the hot oven. Now that they’re all in high school, they make fun of me for how I dress, don’t listen when I try to tell them all the stuff I wish I knew when I was their age, make excuses, and generally act above-it-all.

I don’t need to deal with that all over again. I also come from a large extended family, so if I ever feel “the urge” or “the call” (which I haven’t, and don’t see happening, despite how many people tell me I’ll “grow out of it” even though I’m in my late 20s), I can just go see one of a few dozen cousins and their kids, and hand them back when the day is over.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@emilies For reals. I look forward to the article asking women to give their reasons for wanting kids. Except that would just be sad because a majority of the people would say something along the lines of “that’s what people do” or “I never really thought about it but always assumed I’d have some.”

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@emilies I agree that Joanna could have done a lot more with this piece. But it’s from A Cup of Jo, so it’s supposed to be fluffy. I wish Logan didn’t make it seem like it was an actual interview from a real source. Pretty misleading if you don’t know who Joanna is already.
I don’t want kids because they are expensive and they are not required to love you unconditionally like pets are. Folks who think their kids are going to take care of them when they are old have probably never visited a nursing home. I also see people have children and watch their own relationships fall apart (like my parents), especially if the kid has special needs. It drives me insane when people have babies to save relationships or because it’s expected of them. Those are the selfish people.

emilies (#956)

@WaityKatie Well obvs after you plan your dream wedding a la Cup of Jo you have to start planning for your perfect children and all of their outfits.

ThatJenn (#916)

Money is totally one of my reasons. So are all the studies about happiness and kids.

One other big reason is that, while I always thought I’d have kids and am sure I’d love them if I did, I found myself with an amazing partner – with whom I’m building a life I love – who doesn’t want kids, and I found that I’d rather build a happy life with him than split for the uncertainty of maybe someday having kids with someone else or on my own.

Like one of the commenters above, I don’t really want kids now, but I kind of wish I could have adult children and grandchildren in the future. My partner and I do sometimes half-joke about adopting a 17-year-old.

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@ThatJenn The one thing that ever made me think “maybe I should have kids” was the thought of how cool it would be to have adult children dropping home from college, and how we could talk about their classes, etc. Of course now I have a nephew who’s about to enter college, so I guess I can just do that with him, problem solved. (I am a free-rider in the child having realm).

ThatJenn (#916)

@WaityKatie I am trying to wiggle my way as far into my best friend’s child’s life as possible just so I can be a free-rider like this.

I have also thought about fostering potentially college-bound teens because I think I have a lot to offer someone who needs that kind of mentorship, and continue to mentor them through college. I could provide some financial and social support for that. It is freaking HARD to be a first-generation college student and I think it might help to have someone to talk to about the whole thing, who will help you navigate the process. (In fact, I’d also be happy just being a mentor like this, without fostering, but I haven’t quite figured out how to do this.)

oiseau (#1,830)

I am pretty sure I do want kids, but I’m sort of on the fence about it. I’d want them because I am selfish – I want to ‘continue the bloodline’ aka replicate myself, and would also like to sort of experiment and try my best to raise some thoughtful, caring, mischievious, ambitious little humans. Basically it sounds like fun to me and I realize that having kids does not mean I am doomed to a suburban shut-in lifestyle which is my worst nightmare – I can do whatever I want as long as I give all my love to my sticky-fisted, snot-nosed little bastards. I’m sort of looking forward to it and might have some kids while I’m still young. Maybe. First I want to get to a place where I know what I want to do career-wise, which I don’t know when that will happen…

Megano! (#124)

I have genes that I actually DON’T want passed on!

WaityKatie (#1,696)

@Megano! Me too!

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@WaityKatie Me three!

megsy (#1,565)

I don’t want kids for all the reasons above. They’re expensive, they would require giving up a lot of freedom… I don’t even want a relationship right now because I’m not willing to compromise.
I’m 28 and one of my best friend’s from high school is already freaking out about being single and not having a kid. She’s been looking into international adoptions (costs, requirements, etc.) and being pretty insane about the whole thing. I mean, if she wants a kid then whatever, all the power to her – but we’re 28. I don’t think it’s time to give up on a partnership and a baby through traditional means if that’s what she really wants.

la_di_da (#1,425)

I love this conversation for totally different reasons. I want kids eventually(when I’m financially ready and in the right position at my job) because I like them, and there’s something basic in me that wants them. BUT, as we see here, that’s totally not the case for everyone for totally normal reasons that do not make anyone bad people. Less people should be procreating in general. Let’s make having children a conscious choice, not an assumption. Let’s just all relax about the whole thing.

(Sorry, slightly off topic rant, but more power to all of you! More conversations like this! Have a glass of wine in pity for me in 10 years when I’m tearing my hair out with a screaming toddler.)

MuffyStJohn (#280)

I genuinely hate children. A lot.

The end.

Bill123 (#2,895)

I think it’s sad some the most educated successful people don’t want children because they are focused on their careers and personal success. However joe shmoe in the trailer park is procreating like crazy. 100 years from now we will have lost some of our society’s intelligence because the smartest killed themselves off. It is sad… and in a way it is completely immature and selfish. Well, so maybe it’s for the best after all. Carry on then.

I have 2 little kids. I had my first while finishing my PhD, and my second right after. I bring them everywhere — up mountains, around cities. They’re really portable. I don’t really have any money at all, but I don’t feel like my freedom’s gone. We’re happy.

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