Some Thoughts on DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids)

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A couple weeks ago, I posted some links to a discussion concerning whether it was smart or selfish to not have children, as well as a response to that issue.

Since then, the whole matter has stuck in my head. Is it smart or selfish to have children? Several readers have emailed me their thoughts on the subject as well.

In the end, I don’t think you can strictly say whether it’s smart or selfish to have children or not without deeply knowing the people you’re talking about.

First of all, children are expensive. An average child born today will take up somewhere on the order of $300,000 in expenses before they are fully independent (though, honestly, some of that is offset by behavioral choices made by parents). They also require a lot of time, emotional giving, and patience.

Some people – and I would put myself in that camp – deeply want to be parents. It’s a personal goal in their lives. They spend a lot of time focusing on how to be good parents. They genuinely strive to produce good children, not only for the benefit of society, but because it’s a personal drive within the parent.

For me, the price of being a parent is one I’m willing to pay, because being a parent is something I’m intrinsically driven to do. My deepest personal values tell me that being intimately involved with the crafting of the future people of this world – directly, in the case of my children, and indirectly, in the case of many of their peers – is one of the most valuable things I have to do in life. I can equip them with the basic tools they need to achieve things beyond my imagination.

Other people don’t have that drive. Their motivations and goals and aspirations lie elsewhere – in career paths, personal endeavors, or other areas. Without that drive, they tend to see the costs – which are easily calculable – in front of the benefits, which are much less direct at first glance.

I think that many people are on the fence about where they stand. They see the positive experience that some parents have and want that in their life, but they’re also taken aback by the problems and difficulties and social implications of parenting.

My belief is that if you don’t wish to have children, don’t have children. If you think that children are more trouble than they’re worth, you probably should not have children.

I also believe that if you feel driven to have a child, you should do everything you can to prepare to be the best parent you can be. This means spending the time to really figure out who you are, how to control your emotions, how to teach, and most importantly, how to be patient.

The world needs both parents and non-parents. There is a lot of societal value in a wide range of skills, abilities, and thoughts. I absolutely feel that being a parent is a noble choice, but that does not imply that DINKs are not making a noble choice. They’re making a different one in line with their values, goals, and talents.

To put it simply, I think it’s smart to follow your nature and inner drive – whether that leads you to be a parent or not – and it’s selfish to ignore that drive and push yourself in a different direction. If you’re born to be a caregiver, it’s smart to become one and selfish to push away that nurturing side. Similarly, if you’re born without that ability, it’s selfish to try to force yourself into it, but quite smart to seek out and follow your other talents.

The worst thing that either side can do is insult the other and believe that their side of the coin is the only worthy side. We need both parents and non-parents in society – without both, we would see the end of the human race.

Just remember, you don’t have to be in either group. If you listen to your heart of hearts, though, it will eventually guide you to where you should be. Just remember that society needs the caregivers and it also needs those who walk alone and blaze a different path.

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129 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids)

  1. I know that you’re just following the lead of those other posts, but “smart” and “selfish” are not actually opposites. You can do something that’s both smart and selfish, or you can do something that’s neither.

    And that’s why this:

    “I think it’s smart to follow your nature and inner drive – whether that leads you to be a parent or not – and it’s selfish to ignore that drive and push yourself in a different direction”

    has me scratching my head. Pushing yourself in a direction that’s contrary to your inner drive is selfish? How so?

  2. Thought I agree completely with the main sentiment of this post, the following sentence perplexes me.

    “We need both parents and non-parents in society – without both, we would see the end of the human race.”

    I get how parents prevent us from seeing the end of the human race, but non-parents aren’t really doing anything to preserve the human race. They may make it better by their valuable contributions but they’re not really preserving it.

  3. As a person without children who someday wants some, I’ve often noticed that people with children tend to have a “wait until you have kids” attitude that turns me off to the whole idea of parenting.

    I realize that becoming a parent changes a lot about a person and their priorities but the attitude that I’ve experienced seems more that children are a limitation. I don’t like that attitude and when I decide to have children, I will not use them as an excuse not to pursue any of my personal ambitions.

    Whenever I travel, people always tell me to “enjoy it while you can because once you have kids” blah, blah, blah…

    Maybe someone with children can explain to me this opinion that children are the limiters of dreams and prevent people from pursuing goals and desires. Why do so many people have this attitude? Is it as widespread as it seems or only amongst the people I have encountered?

    It seems like you (Trent) draw this conclusion yourself when you separate those people who want children because it is their dream and those who don’t because they want to oursue their careers or personal ambitions. Is it not possible to do both? Can I not have children and still travel extensively or pursue a career, or both?

    Thanks for the answers, its a bit frustrating hearing this attitude from so many people. I want kids but I still want to chase my dreams and I do not view children as a hinderance…then again, I have no practical experience.

  4. I mean this question in all seriousness…

    I understand that children must exist for the human race to continue. But why are people so hung up on having children created from their own DNA? There are tons of needy children in the world who could use good parents. Are people that narcissistic that they must have small versions of themselves?

    It is kind of like with pets, most people think its a wise choice to adopt from the pound rather than breed pets themselves or purchase from a breeder.

    So, why are people more likely to rescue pets to raise than children?

    I admit, I am still young, and not yet to the point where I feel a desire to have children.

  5. @wanzman: I can’t explain folks who have no desire to adopt and/or would not do so as I’m not one of them, but I can tell you that it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to adopt a dog from a pound than to adopt a child. So my reason would be cost.

  6. @Steven: DING DING DING!! I totally agree. Or feeling like that people without kids have no valid opinion on how kids should act in public (example would be the mirror-lickin’ kid in the link at the top of Trent’s post). I was commenting at lunch one day on a pair of siblings who were knock-down-drag-out fighting in a store with no adults to be seen. All I got were expressionless reactions and “Well, wait until you have some,” as if that were a given. Not only is it annoying, it makes me feel really bad for the people in my acquaintance who CAN’T have kids – it must be like a knife to hear those kinds of assuming comments.

    As for the whole topic, I appreciate this kind of discussion. I am kind of in the same boat as the original author at the linked article.

    It’s a very hard discussion to have in person because people take one stance or another and they take it strongly. I appreciate the variety of responses at the original article as well as over here.

    One final thought, I appreciated Trent’s view that the world needs non-parents and parents alike. I dunno, I’m a teacher and sometimes I think, is it worth NOTHING that I’ve touched the lives of literally thousands of kids through my work? It only matters if they came from my own womb? You can probably tell I’m under a liiiiiitle external giddy-up-have-a-baby pressure. :) But honestly, only a little.

  7. @wanzman: Adoption is my preferred method of having children ;) Guess I could have mentioned that in my post above. I absolutely agree that adopting is a great way of having children since there ARE so many children in need. I think a major problem is that adoption is a lengthy and expensive process. Creating a baby with your own body is not so complicated and insurance picks up the costs (if you have it, that is).

  8. #2 – Joanna – Think about all the people in your life that interact with your kids that don’t have kids of their own and then tell me we’re not contributing. There are people out there who love children and can’t have their own, but choose to make a mark by being teachers, councilors, youth group leaders, etc. As an example, people without kids can still be role models, which in turn makes the next generation strive higher than their parents. We do contribute, just not with our DNA.

    #3 – Steven – I find a lot of people have told me that too… usually trying to make me feel better because I am unable to have my own children. (BTW, that is the wrong thing to tell someone who can’t have kids.) I often wonder if it’s because our society prizes people talking about how bad they have it or we like to glamorize our hardships. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because my friends are used to getting together with other parents and complaining (or trying to out-complain each other) about their kids. I’m interested to read any responses to your questions too!

  9. @lilacorchid: Please re-read my comment. I explicity said that people without children may make the human race better with their contributions. They just don’t contribute to the cause of continuing the human race. Which was why Trent’s statement was confusing and not factual.

  10. @Steven: In order to be healthy and happy, children need consistency and schedules. You can manage consistency and schedules while traveling around the world, but it’s hard. My family is planning a trip through Finland this summer. I’m trying to figure out how nap times and regular meals are going to work into our touring so that the kids don’t get cranky. Kids cramp your style. Be aware of that before you decide to have them.

    @wanzman: 1. you’re much more likely to get a healthy child if you have one yourself. Many of the children up for adoption are seriously disabled. 2. It can often take up to FIVE YEARS to adopt a child and cost over $30K. If you don’t have fertility problems, or if your insurance covers fertility treatments, it’s a lot cheaper. 3. Pregnancy and nursing are part of the parenting dream, particularly for women.

    Just a general comment. Today, I was at a big party, wearing a nice-ish dress with my kids(I’d planned on having a babysitter, but couldn’t, which ended up being ok, because other people brought their kids too, and the person whose house it was at had a big box of duplo out…) My son (still in diapers) pooped, and when I picked him up to change him, his poop got on my dress. I ended up taking him up to a bathroom, washing my dress a bit in the sink (with soap!), giving him a shower, borrowing pants from the host’s son (for my son), and dressing him anew. Then I went back down to the party and continued on and enjoyed myself. If that’s something you couldn’t handle, don’t have kids. Things like that happen, and you have to handle them. If a situation like that would make you cry, then you’re not ready to be a parent.

  11. @Joanna: Since so many parents have more children than they need to replace themselves, if all the non-parents became parents too, the world would become overpopulated (you know, more than it is already). And all those people would destroy the planet (more than we’re doing already), which would most likely hasten the demise of the human race.

    I have no idea if that’s what Trent actually meant, but that’s my take on it.

  12. TriLcat: do you have references for “In order to be healthy and happy, children need consistency and schedules” and for “Many of the children up for adoption are seriously disabled”??? You make it sound like no schedule means a sick kid (not true, a lot of arents overschedule instead of going with the flow of what the kid needs that particular day) and what consistancy does? Also, you make it sound like it you want to adopt, you’ll end up with a disabled kid! While there are disabled children up for adoption, you can adopt a not-disabled kid, and therefore reduce your risk of giving birth to a disabled babay.

  13. What is it about adoption that costs so much? I have always heard that but did not understand it.

    One other observation…

    For many “parents” the DNA contribution seems to pretty much be the end of the line as far as parenting goes.

  14. @#9 Joanna – I did read your comment.

    “I get how parents prevent us from seeing the end of the human race, but non-parents aren’t really doing anything to preserve the human race. They may make it better by their valuable contributions but they’re not really preserving it.”

    I preserve the human race by helping your raise your child to adulthood so they can reproduce. I imagine this is more important in countries where one or both parents die, and the orphan is taken in by a childless person than it is here. In this part of the world, I’m more likely to be taking care of your child at some point in the day, keeping them safe from harm and educating them in some way. I don’t see how that is not helping the human race survive.

  15. @wanzman: Among many reasons, organisms as a whole are driven to reproduce. This is, of course, an oversimplification that cannot be applied to every individual equally, but overall it’s a correct statement.

    A person’s child is his or her biological extension into the future. That is why parents generally want what they perceive to be best for their children. This is also why we sometimes see parents living vicariously through their children’s accomplishments.

    Ideally, my wife and I would like to both adopt and have biological children of our own. Our research shows us that either adoption is expensive, or you are at an increased risk to adopt a child that provides additional difficulties, such as a severe learning disability or emotional maladjustment. I work with teens with special needs every day – I need my family to not present the same challenges my work life does. We still plan to adopt, but the extra expense or risk of emotional strain makes the whole process seem far less ideal that it did initially.

    I hope this gives some insight into the minds of those of us who want to have our own biological children. It’s not narcissism – there are healthy biological and psychological reasons behind the decision.

  16. I know this website deals mostly with finance so the reasons to not have children that will be discussed here are mostly financial, but I want mention that there are many, many reasons to not become parents.

    I always assumed I would become a parent but as time went along my fear that I wouldn’t be able to be a good parent won out. That and the fact that I carry a genetic disease that I would never risk passing on settled the matter for me. Adoption was never an option for me because I’ve never had the money to be able to afford to adopt when I was young enough to become a parent.

    There really are reasons other than selfishness for not having children.

  17. People have all sorts of reasons for not having children. For me, it was a very considered choice. My father was mentally ill, as are several other family members. There was a very good chance that my own children would be affected.

    Also, because I grew up in a crazy house where reality was often turned upside-down, I know I have no concept of a ‘normal’ environment in which to raise children.

    I did want children, but think I made the right choice.

  18. Reality check:
    $300,000 = $15,000 per year if child is kept until age 20. That’s a totally fictious number when you consider that median household income is $48,000 per year, therefore $300,000 has to come from only the upper half of society where expectations are higher.

  19. In the end it’s all about personal choice. To say “…if you’re born without that ability (to be a caregiver), it’s selfish to try to force yourself into it” is an inaccurate and offensive statement.

    I was born with the ability to be a caregiver to children. I just choose not to do it. Does that make me selfish? No. Anyone who says it does can’t see beyond their own wanton tendencies to force their beliefs onto someone else. Just because other people have kids doesn’t mean it’s for me. And just because it isn’t for me doesn’t make me selfish. And to say “it’s selfish to try to force yourself into it” if you don’t want to be a parent begs the question: Selfish of whom? You can’t be selfish by forcing yourself to do something selfless.

    Maybe it’s selfish of the parents who try to pressure and guilt non-parents into joining them in parenthood. And ok I’m gonna say it: Maybe it’s selfish of a child to assume that I want to dedicate my life to raising them. I know, I know “They don’t know what selfish is”. “How can you say that?” “They’re so innocent and they’re our future” etc. etc. The fact remains that children grow up. They become selfish (even if it’s only 1%). They take things for granted, they rarely appreciate things until much later in life, and so on. You know how I know? I used to be a kid. Anyone who runs around shouting about how amazing children are have obviously forgotten what they were like as a kid or think that somehow their kid will be different.

    News flash folks: We were all kids once. Kids may be a joy but they are not fun. Raising one may be rewarding but there’s no reward. And quite frankly with half the people I see having kids today and the way this world is headed, I wouldn’t want to send a human being I created out there to face those idiots.

  20. @Joanna. There is a school of thought that since our planet is well-populated already, that having children is actually the selfish course. If everyone had more than 2 children, eventually the planet won’t be able to produce enough food for all the humans (and animals).

    This may be veering off topic, but this post reminds me of a question I have, because there can be such vitriol on both sides of the kid/no kid subject: I’m interested in knowing how people who have kids manage to retain friendships with friends who don’t, and vice versa. (I’m the latter and don’t really like kids, especially babies.)

  21. @3 I actually used to hate the people who would say “when are you going to have kids”

    The reason people say those things about “do things while you still can” is that kids are a huge time suck. And although it is possible to take an international vacation with a baby (which I have), the hassle of packing all the gear takes a lot more effort than just filling up your backpack and grabbing your passport.

    The reality is that even though kids take up a lot of someone’s life, you can still schedule in all the things that are important to you…You just can’t do it as often, as conveniently, or as cheaply. After all, they’re one more plane ticket and one more mouth to feed.

    I also think for high performers, it’s difficult to make that transition from being an A player at work, to being a B player at work and a B parent. Initially I used to scratch my head at all these high flying women staying home once they had kids. Now I get it. They can’t be super mom and super employee at the same time because both take 80 hours/week.

  22. @Tizzle. It isn’t easy. I’m pretty much the only of my friends, three brothers, and sister who doesn’t have any children. Personally I do like kids, I just don’t want any of my own. So for me it’s easy to hang out with any of them and their kids (and then go home where it’s quiet) but it gets tough when they have the big ‘kid parties’. Know what I mean? Like the birthday parties with 30 kids running around. It’s hard to hold a conversation when one person has to go warm up a bottle and another has to go bandage a knee and the other has to go yell at their kid for pushing the dog. You just have to tough it out and try to maintain contact as much as possible. I find e-mail and Facebook are awesome for that. They can read your messages when they have time and get back back to you with a day and time that works for them when they can get a sitter or arrange to get together with the kid(s) there. The key is to just stay in touch. You’ll find the folks with kids haven’t forgotten about you at all. They just get caught up in the day to day routine and time flies by a little faster for them.

  23. Thank you for this.

    I am deeply driven to have children. It seems to be a part of my very core & who i am.

    Circumstances have dictated that this will not happen, however. (I’d appreciate no one give me “advice” on this. My husband & i have agonized over it & know where we are at.) I’m often told i’m selfish or that “plenty of children need homes” by people who don’t know me, my reasons for my choices, & by people who have never considered fostering/adoption themselves.

    I always consider people who are parents at least giving me the benefit of the doubt, & particularly appreciate this very well-thought out post, Trent.

  24. “If you’re born to be a caregiver, it’s smart to become one and selfish to push away that nurturing side. Similarly, if you’re born without that ability, it’s selfish to try to force yourself into it, but quite smart to seek out and follow your other talents.”

    Just because I chose not to have children does not mean I was born without a nurturing side to me. Quite the opposite. I just didn’t want children.

  25. @wanzman I’ve thought about adopting over having my own kids, and one issue that sticks in my mind is the more narrowed scope of control. Unless you look for an infant (costly, hard to find, and for me an awkward dynamic, interviewing the birth mother and hoping she doesn’t change her mind, etc), you don’t know what kind of extra baggage, emotional and physical, are already with your child. Nevermind the risk (and depending on your state, it’s a big one) of the birth parents wanting back in the picture: my grandmother’s birth mother did just that, and ruined my grandmother’s relationship with her adoptive family.

    Also, a note on the article, unless you really mean to be saying that not having kids if you’re a “born caregiver” is a violation of your social responsibility, I think you got a little sloppy with your semantics there (and if you did mean to phrase it as a social responsibility, I would very very strongly disagree in the case of electing not to have children). It feels like you really had to force yourself to keep that dynamic of smart/selfish, and by the end it does hurt the article as a whole.

  26. @Tizzle – I know a number of friendships that have ended (some rather dramatically) because one person wanted to socialize and the other was too busy caring for one or multiple children. I have found it easiest to lump your parent-friends in with the “family” group, which is to say, you see them at holidays and occasionally on the weekends, but weeknights and “DINK activities” like going out for drinks or to a late movie are not going to work for them.

  27. one more comment regarding people with kids can’t pursue their goals…

    I found that the people who gave that advise were not very good multi taskers. When they were in college..that’s all they did..no part time jobs, just study, study, study. Then career came along and same deal…workaholic. So when they had kids, they told me I had to drop everything to focus on family. Yeah right.

    If you fill your life with a lot of different things now, that’s not going to change when you’re a parent. You’ll still do a lot but you’ll naturally start substituting adult activities with family ones. A concert may be substituted by a trip to the beach or the zoo. Still fun, just different.

  28. @19 Tizzle – It was very hard for me to maintain some of those friendships because I was (and still am to some effect) going through infertility. It was torture to listen to my friend complain at being home for a year with her baby and then go back to work and complain about not being with her baby. I had to tell her to stop complaining about that stuff to me and to save it for her mommy group. I still find it hard at times to talk to her because I don’t have much to say about kids, but we are slowly repairing our friendship. We were friends once before with overlapping interests… I just had to wait until she had some time to start pursuing them again. Life changes and sometimes that means friends drift apart.

    @#22 Kathryn – I enjoyed the post too. Sorry to hear you are part of the club… I know what you mean about hearing about adoption. The last time I checked, people who can have kids aren’t banned from adopting! Try suggesting that to the people who are advocating that you adopt… lots of stuttering and stammering! ;) Good luck on your journey. :)

  29. I knew from a very early age that I didn’t want children, and it’s one of the few early decisions that I never changed. Now that I’m getting up in years, I can clearly see the cost of NOT having children. Not that I’d expect my child to take care of me, but it is one of the few bonds that can never broken. I say that I have no children but I have many grandchildren — I was granny-at-large to many of my friends’ children, and not to their children. But it’s not the same. I don’t regret my decision; it was the right one for me. For every choice, there is a price: the choices not taken.

  30. @Kat
    >do you have references for “In order to be >healthy and happy, children need consistency and >schedules”

    Pretty much any parenting book and any therapist will tell you that your child needs regular mealtimes and regular bedtimes. Life needs to be overall predictable. No, they don’t need every minute of their day scheduled activity by activity, hour by hour. They do, however, need three balanced meals and a regular bedtime.

    >and for “Many of the children up for adoption >are seriously disabled”???

    I’ve known more than one person who wanted to adopt. The domestic options (in the US and most developed countries) are either to pay very very large amounts of money and wait on a long list, to accept a badly disabled child, or to adopt from another country. In the first category, many of the children have problems because of inadequate pre-natal nutrition or b/c of prenatal drug/alcohol abuse. In the third, many of the babies who are “dumped” in foreign countries are dumped because of disabilities (I am in touch with several people who have adopted blind or visually-impaired children from China). Additionally, you usually get the children at a later age and miss the sweet “newborn” phase which a lot of us dream about.

  31. As someone who both loves children and cannot bear my own children, the most troubling aspect has to be how expensive it is to adopt a child either in the US or outside of the US. It is still something my husband and I debate, but as we get older the questions get harder. I wish everyone in the forum great happiness, regardless of the choice they make or which is (in a few cases) thrust upon us.

  32. A sustainable world population is around 2 billion (this assumes an equitable global standard of living that is low by American standards).

    There are 6.7 billion people (give or take) on earth.

    That’s why I believe it’s selfish to have children. Lots of people make the argument that children are necessary for the continuation of the human race, and obviously that’s true, but the flip side of that is that if world population keeps growing, then we are going to experience WIDESPREAD pandemic and famine, and billions of people are going to die, and it is going to be the fault of the people who knew this, could have made choices that did not contribute, and went on to have children anyway.

    This is why education on this issue is so vitally important – however, unfortunately, any politician who touched this issue with a 10-foot pole would be run out of office so fast everyone’s head would spin, so the government deliberately doesn’t educate us, and of course we are all masters at tuning out what we don’t want to hear, so even though we “know” this (in the same way we “know” the meat industry produces more greenhouse gasses than the entire transportation industry) we shrug our shoulders, say “I want what I want,” and engage in actions that directly contribute (or will contribute) to the pain and suffering of others.

    What we should be doing is abolishing tax incentives for having children, replacingt them with tax incentives for the childfree, and engaging in extensive outreach efforts to provide birth control to developing nations. Then we could say we were ensuring the continuation of the human race.

    (FWIW, my partner and I are childfree vegetarians.)

  33. Hit the nail on the head Trent! It is a decision that is made by the couple for reasons more complex than those outside the relationship probably realize.

    Since getting engaged (and then married), my wife and I have been peppered with “When are you having kids?” and when we say we’re not, it’s followed up with some variation of “Oh, you’ll change your mind” which is the same as saying “You’re wrong, you just don’t realize it yet”.

    For whatever reason, the lack of children makes people assume my wife and I can not have any valid opinions on:

    1. Wanting to have children (bwuh?!)
    2. Particularly unruly children (I’m sorry, a kid throwing things and screaming bloody murder in a store, unless being assaulted, isn’t OK. You don’t need to be a parent to know that)
    3. Anything related to how public schools are run

    Yet, there is not a single issue that a couple with kids can’t weigh in on.

  34. Children, marriage, mortgage, car loan, student loan, credit card debt, corporate job . . . all these curtail one’s freedom. Locked into a job that you can’t quit because of debt, a marriage you can’t quit because of kids, a mere two weeks’ vacation a year.

    Saving chump change for the “heaven” of retirement someday, when you’re too old to work, too old to go on adventures, having squandered youth day by day in a series of nonstop errands and crises.

    Ha! It’s amazing that people don’t see through this normative nonsense!

    Am living a block from the beach in a paid-off penthouse condo, am pulling in $300K a year with a freelance job that can be done anywhere in the world with a fast-enough internet connection, and have rock-solid, decades-long friendships with benefits. Bite me, American ideals!

  35. Absolutely perfect. It’s amazing to me that such an amazingly written post on acceptance and open mindedness can be immediately met with nitpicking. Oh the irony.

  36. @George The most recent figure from the USDA for a middle-income family is $220,360. The report is here: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/CRC/crc2009.pdf. There’s been a lot of good debate over that figure but I find it a little suspect, especially since housing is such a huge part (31%) of the total.

    Thanks for the balanced post on this subject, Trent. In my experience, this debate is much more interesting online, as I don’t find much DINK sympathy in my in-person discussions.

  37. As a mom of more than two children, I really appreciate all those who decided to not have kids… so I could have a couple extra for them. I think children greatly benefit from being in a family with siblings. So rather than asking everyone to have two, it is nice if many people don’t have kids so that more children could be raised in bigger households.

    I cannot think that DINKS are selfish, because they pay far more taxes. These taxes pay for things like my kids’ education. There were many years when we paid no income tax at all. So thanks to all who decided not to have kids.

    As far as kids meaning you have to postpone your dreams, it depends on your dreams. But realistically, when your kids are small, they suck up a huge amount of time.

    My daughter Emily intentionally got pregnant as soon as she was married. She was just 21. Her sister Rachel was dismayed and had a hard time understanding why Emily did this before she had yet to live her life. Rachel said she wanted to do things like go see the Grand Canyon first. I said, “But having babies is Emily’s Grand Canyon.” Does having babies mean you have to postpone your dreams? Not is having babies is your dream.

  38. All of these posts are about deciding to either have or not having kids and don’t take into account those that my want but can’t and those that are still in between. Sometimes that “choice” that everyone talks about is made for us and leaves a totally different emotional point of view.

  39. I am just a SINK. I haven’t made up my mind. I don’t think that its my duty to humanity to procreate. I don’t think that I have special genes. I don’t have a deeply personal drive to send on my DNA. I don’t want to needlessly increase the population. But many times I would like to give a child the wisdom and knowledge I have. I would also find it much easier if that was from a comprehensive strategy. Adoption appears to be full of complications, expenses, and obligations in addition to normal parenting.
    All things considered I’m probably better off without. Its a shame to think that a willing and capable adult is discouraged from caring for children.

  40. I guess I don’t understand why so many people care whether I have kids or not. What is the fascination? You don’t care if I have pets. You aren’t concerned with the type of car I drive or whether my home has 1 bathroom or 4. You don’t lie awake at night questioning my career choice. But when it comes to kids you have already made up your mind whether I have made a huge mistake or not. Why does anyone care? If kids are good for you and will make you complete, great have them. Have 1, have 12, whatever works for you. If I choose to have none really what difference to your life is it truly going to make?

  41. Thanks to the American medical system, I am now infertile. (I was not born this way but due to a minor medical condition turning into a life-threatening emergency, had to become infertile to live.)

    Like many, I do not choose to adopt. My reasons, like most people’s, are multi-faceted. I still dream of bearing my husband a baby one day.

    The fact is that an adopted child is like an apple while a child that you have carried to term is like an orange. Both are fruit, both have their own merits and faults, but they are far from being substitutes. (For instance, you can’t make cider from oranges but you sure can make a good orange juice.)

    I’m truly unsure why Trent addressed this issue on this blog. His words were offensive and hurtful to me. I want help managing my money not unasked for opinions about family planning.

    Also, I thought it was rather funny that Trent thinks he can determine, through his parenting, if his kiddos will be good contributing citizens. Ask my parents – 3 kids all identically raised – 2 great kids, one addict. Good parenting only goes so far.

  42. Wow! Really interesting post and amazingly flame-free discussion. I thought many people made important and relevant comments.

    I come at this from a rare angle. A year into my adoption as a single mom, I met the man of my dreams. After completing the adoption, we married, and now I’m expecting a biological child. (BTW- I have an adopted sister, and I always knew I wanted to adopt, so my decision to adopt was based on a deep-seated desire to parent an adopted child. I’m also thrilled to have the possibility to give birth.)

    Adoption is a huge decision and it is very true that parenting an adopted child poses different and significant challenges. Our son (almost 5 when he was adopted) is making amazing progress, but being his parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I have fallen so far short of my own ideals that it’s not funny. I would do it again in a second (and hope to at some point), but that doesn’t mean it is easy. I would love to see more adoptions, because I hate the thought of any child growing up in an orphanage or the foster system, but a potential adoptive parent has to really consider the stamina, patience and understanding required might be more that what one is expecting. I guess what I’m trying to say is that suggesting adoption as a substite for having a biological child without knowing much about the differences is perhaps not as helpful or realistic as it could be.

    Also, in response to the non-parents who feel as if their opinions on behavior, etc are not respected, I do apologize for those parents who make you feel that way, and I have had that same experience since I became a parent fairly late in life. (Try being a teacher without kids. ARG! Some parents thought that I obviously knew nothing simply because I wasn’t a parent. However, my views on what is and is not OK have remained largely unchanged, and now they regard me as having some real know-how! HUH?) I agree that there are certain behaviors that are simply unacceptable and some parents do a poor job of realizing that or taking responsibility for it. I do, however, get a bit frustrated with just one or two of my acquantances who don’t understand that kids have a different ability to handle frustration (especially when tired or hungry) than adults and seem to look down on me and my parenting when I have a child who isn’t behaving, despite my best effots. The fact is that even outsatnding parents sometimes have to deal with meltdowns in public from time to time, and that’s just a part of the deal.

  43. @Tizzle: If you “don’t really like kids,” it’s going to be VERY hard to maintain friendships with folks who are parents.

    Parents, especially parents of babies and young children, spend so much of their attention on their little ones that it is hard to tear them away. Even if they physically leave the child(ren) behind with a babysitter, they may not have much else to talk about, especially if one parent has decided to cut back on outside-of-the-home work.

    Personally, I’m a stay-at-home-mom, and I try to keep a few no-kids-allowed hobbies so that my toddler is not ALL I talk about all the time. Even so, it’s hard to carve out time for my childless/childfree pre-baby friends.

  44. On a light note: I was complaining a bit about why I have to pay property tax that goes for kids to be in school when I don’t plan on having kids. My husband said he happily pays to keep them off the street/ playing in our yard for 9 months out of the year. LOL

    No one has mentioned an alternative to parenting or DINKing. We’re SINKs. Single income, no kids. The whole topic is very personal and it’s probably rude to call any individual’s situation “selfish”. Isn’t it just like with money? One of my favorite posts was from that Zen website Trent gave us in a post recently. We shouldn’t be judging how people use their money. Maybe they had to cut back in one area to splurge in another. It might have been a stupid splurge to us but it’s whatever’s important to you, right?!

    I LOVE babies. I really dislike misbehaved children. I still have to periodically battle my desire for having kids. For one thing, my husband came from a divorced family. He has no desire to have the potential to screw up someone’s life. In addition, he works in the medical field and has seen some pretty bad things. Is it selfish to want to protect yourself from hurting because someone you love is? Some people might think so.

    Well, I could probably talk my husband into having kids but the real reason I don’t is that I want to follow the Bible command at Matthew 6:33 to “seek first the kingdom.” For me, that means informing others about the future blessings’s of God’s Kingdom and letting them choose if they want to conform their lives to Bible standards in order to benefit from those blessings. I spend nearly 800 hours a year as a Bible teacher (100% unpaid/no expenses reimbursed). Door to door and in other ways. Right now a Sudanese woman and two of her kids have personal home Bible studies with me. She has an 18 month old cutie too–see, I get to be around kids and then send them home. The older kids came over and we made cake yesterday! This fills many of my needs and hopefully and most importantly is filling their need for spirituality. I guess it’s possible to be selfish and unselfish at the same time! I’m unselfishly giving of my time and selfisly feeling the benefits of teaching others, filling my need for caring for people and this work makes me feel so good about myself-more than my part-time seasonal work so we keep food on the table job does. =) Starting in April my husband joined me in full time volunteer work! He just has to work a little harder since he works 3 days a week too. =)

  45. @ #3. Yeah. Just wait until you have kids!

    My son is 18 months old and we have a blast. He is the funniest person ever, and is always doing something to make my husband and I laugh. It has been such a joy watching him learn new things and show interests in things.

    We go out to eat with him (we choose our restaurants carefully), we went camping a few weekends ago, and we’re going on another big road trip next month.

    Sure, you have to make a few extra arrangements when you have a child–they need certain gear, and they usually need a nap and stuff. But it’s so minor compared to how much fun it is to be his parent.

    We can go to museums, zoos, cute kiddo movies (went to the drive-in last weekend to see Toy Story, it was great!). It’s like you get to enjoy all the things that were fun when you were a kid, but with grown-up eyes.

    I can’t imagine my life without him, and we are doubly excited to welcome his little brother or sister later this year!

    Don’t let nay-sayers tell you your life sucks once you have kids. They need to be more creative!

  46. Love this post.

    I’m a DINK, and have been ‘fixed’ so that won’t ever change.

    I just don’t think kids are for me. I don’t think it’s selfish – why have kids I don’t want? Why make them suffer when I don’t want them? There are so many other ways I can contribute to the world rather than having kids.

    I think it’s great that you’re seeing listing both sides of the equation. For some people – having kids is everything, something they’ve always wanted. For others, not so much. I don’t understand why people fight over it all the time, and I don’t think it’s fair to put either side down.

  47. @Tizzle–Thanks for your comment. This is a more interesting question for me than whether or not someone should have children. It is incredibly difficult to maintain friendships with DINKs after you have children. Just as it is very difficult to remain close friends with working class people after college and a “professional” job.

    I think this is a big problem in our society. I grew up in a working-class home and quite honestly I miss those who do skilled labor. It seems there are just too easily perceived slights and hurt feelings both ways. Same with people who don’t have children: They too easily feel we are putting them down, and we too easily feel the same way. I think we’d all be better off if we would learn to mix more easily with friends who aren’t in the same sociological categories that we are, but it seems this is more and more difficult to do.

  48. Our lives are a continual cycle of taking on more responsibility which changes us for the better, which prepares us to take on more responsibility.  Getting your driver’s license when you were sixteen gave you more responsibility but maturing in that responsibility helped to develop you into someone that could use their car to go to a productive occupation every day.  Leaving your parents home to go to college was an increase in responsibility.  But if you hadn’t left what kind of person would you be today?  
    Having children is the next logical stage in that cycle.  DINK’s decision not to have kids stops that cycle and shuts down their growth.  Refusing to take on that responsibility is trying to be Peter Pan.  As a society we look down on anyone else that stops that cycle at any different stage in life.  People that never move out of their parents’ basement are not exactly models for society.  How much do we admire the fifth year high school senior who didn’t graduate because he wanted to play instead of buckle down to the hard work it required?  How many of us would like to have stayed in the care free days of our childhood?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the only thing you had to worry about on warm summer days was which swimming hole to ride your bike to?  But life doesn’t work that way.  
    Raising children refines us in a way that nothing else can.  There is something about having to care more about someone else than you care about yourself that is immensely maturing.  When my kids cry in the middle of the night I have to put them first.  I get up even though I don’t want to.  This process refines me into a better person.  I love my kids but I also love how parenting has changed me.  I’m less selfish.  I am more aware of how my actions impact those around me.  I’m closer to my wife – working together to raise kids has brought us together in a profound way.  I appreciate my parents more.  When such a significant part of your life revolves around another person you finally wake up to what it took to raise you.  Having kids is valuable not just for love they give, or the rewards of watching them grow, but also for very selfish reasons like the fact that it will make you a better person.

  49. @Kevin–”Kids may be a joy but they are not fun.” You don’t know my kids. We have a blast together and, as a family, have a lot of fun. Sure, it’s not always a laugh a minute but our kids have brought so much joy to our lives. They’re now 22 and 14 and we’ve had many good times throughout the years. If you don’t feel the need to have kids, great. If you do, wonderful. It is truly a very personal decision. In fact, my 14 year old told us the other day that he has decided he is not going to have kids. Why? I asked, “Just look at us” he said,”Kids are way too much trouble!” I had tolaugh because, at least from my perspective, the positives totally outweigh any negatives there might be.

  50. I wanted kids, did not/was not able to have them. I put alot of my spiritual and physical and mental energy into nieces and nephews, kids at church, etc.; also sponsor kids with World Vision, so on. That sort of extra-parental support is critical to helping kids — trusted, caring adults in their lives, providing different views and experiences. I am a blood-relation as well as an honorary auntie to several kids (some now adults), and I know it is hard, expensive work to raise children! It can also be a most joyous, fulfilling, wonderous experience!

    Regarding traveling with young kids — do it. I have traveled all over Europe with four kids, Ma and Pa, from the time the oldest was 7. We started camping in the Western USA when the oldest was a baby! I’ve been on remote fishing trips with the baby in the backpack, to Paris with 10 year olds, Sweden with teens, camping in England with kids and dogs! It can be done comfortably and without mountains of toys, equipment & gear, and hassle!

    But the traveling is done on kid-time, not parent time. Naps, meals, time to play in the park, etc. were structured around keeping the kids engaged but not exhausted (the way lots of folks travel — 17 sites before noon and no down time, quick crappy food before the next place!)

    Parents can see and do things at an adult attention span, choose one exciting event or place per day, or a mix of high activity and quiet time, or have a nice meal somewhere, but know that dragging primary school age kids to the Louvre for 10 hours is going to result in tears all around. Dragging a tired, hungry kid to the grocery store at 5:30 p.m. will have the same result!

    That’s my story! Love kids, don’t have any at home, but treasure the ones I share in my life. Travel with kids is great!

  51. Thanks for responses…

    I posed this question because my friend asked me last weekend if we’d stop being friends if they have kids – I had just said something rude about children to my friend with a vasectomy, who is much ruder than me. In our defense, we were in a bar with adults during the Pride parade, and were on our 5th cocktail. If there is ever a place where children shouldn’t be…that was it. :)

    I said ‘no’, of course. I wouldn’t lose these friends over anything. As Trent is always saying, it comes down to priorities and choices. I’ll figure it out when that bridge is in front of me.

  52. I’m really happy not to see anyone in the comments preaching that those of us who choose not to have kids are selling ourselves short. I’ve gotten that lecture before, been told I’d be a great parent, that I’m not old enough to know what I want, yada yada ya. And I’m soooo sick of it. I’m not even old enough to get a straight answer from my doctor as to how old I will have to be before I can get “fixed”. I ask how old I have to be and she says, “You’re not old enough.” Um, okay, I know that, I’m not talking about right now, I’m talking about the future, how old do I have to be? “You’re not old enough.” AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!

    One of my biggest reasons for not having kids is overpopulation of the planet. If I want kids that badly, I can adopt. Yes, it’s expensive and all the other cons, but I figure if I can’t make enough money to adopt, I’m not making enough money to support a kid. I also have a big concern about genetics and the strong tendencies toward mental illness on both sides of my family, and I feel I’d be irresponsible to risk passing those problems on. And being a child of separated parents, I’ve seen first hand how messed up the family court system is, and I do not want to bring a new life into this world that could potentially become a victim of that system.

    And this is ironic coming from someone studying to be a teacher, but I think the K-12 system is seriously broken, and it would be irresponsible for me to have kids unless I was in a position where I could homeschool them. Private school would not cut it, that’s where I went and when I got to college I found my public school classmates had much better critical thinking skills than I did.

    Oh, another one of my favorite reasons that people give me for why I should have kids: Who’s going to take care of you when you get old. My mom once told me if I ever thought of having a baby, I’m not having a baby, I’m having a human being that will eventually grow up into an adult who may or may not like me, and this adult may or may not want to take care of me when I get old. Better to keep the money to hire a good in-home nurse than to gamble on my kids picking a good nursing home for me.

    As for the comment that some people have heard some parents out there say that those of us without kids don’t have any right to criticize how their kids may act in public: I may not have kids, but my parents had kids, and their kids never threw tantrums in the grocery store like I hear every time I go shopping.

    Some people, I swear… fortunately I didn’t see any of those people commenting here, but I felt a need to blow off some steam hearing about some of these comments.

    Despite all of my reasons for not having kids, I do love kids. Especially babies. I love seeing babies in their strollers and stopping to say hi to them and wave and smile at them, and they smile back at me and giggle and drool and squirm and it’s all so cute. Then they get cold, or tired, or hungry, or their diaper gets wet. And then they start crying. Then their parents take them away. I love kids! I love them so much that I don’t have them because I know I’m not cut out to be a parent.

    So all of you good parents out there do what you’re good at: Have kids and raise them well. I’ll do what I’m good at: Study like crazy and teach your kids well.

  53. The best, the ONLY reason to have kids is because you love them and want them. If you want something and then get it for yourself, isn’t that selfish too? The whole rguement makes me mad. What about people who want kids but can’t have them, and don’t qualify or make enough money to adopt? Are they selfish too?

  54. A few thoughts here:
    1) Overpopulation: Everyone here seems to have bought into the idea that overpopulation is a proven concept. It is not. The vast majority of the problems in terms of resources is not the lack of having them, but the lack of ability to get them to the right people… these are conditions caused by political issues, not environmental ones. In fact, current populations in Europe and Japan are well below replacement rates and much of the current economic crisis both here in the United States and abroad is due to a “birth dearth”… not overpopulation. There are too many elderly and not enough younger workers to support them. The population bomb theory has been predicting the end of the world doomsday scenarios with the first predictions of unsustainability slated for the 1970s. Not one of their predictions has come true. If any of you are interested in further information on the topic, you can go to http://www.demographicwinter.com/index.html for some rather eye-opening information about the negative consequences of population control.

    2) If you really don’t want to be a parent, please don’t. No one should criticize someone for knowing their mind.

    3) Having children does not prevent you from reaching your goals or fulfilling your dreams. There may be certain times in a child’s life (immediately after birth, times of illness, etc.) where certain things are put on hold, but all of us have times of our lives where we need to put our goals on hold whether we have children or not. I was a single (abandoned) mother of six when I worked my way through nursing school, graduating with the third highest grade in my class and receiving the Nursing Chair Award of Excellence, the highest honor our school bestowed. My children were my motivators and my inspiration… in no way did they take away from my ability to achieve that goal. I tell each and every one of them how proud I am of them and thank them for their contributions towards meeting that goal. Now as a married mother of 7 (yes, my husband is a saint!) I continue to set and reach goals and encourage my children to do the same. Parents who use their children as an excuse for not reaching for goals and dreams are not only selling themselves short, they are damaging their children. To be told, “Well, I would have accomplished such and such, but I had YOU” is a horrible thing.

    4) Some people who do not have children have extremely inappropriate expectations for them. Others do not. Some people who have children are excellent parents who teach their children how to behave in different settings. Others do not. If you don’t want people telling you how to raise your children… at least consider that perhaps you aren’t taking the job seriously enough. And if you see an exhausted mom buying pedialyte and tylenol in the grocery store line, understand that she is probably sleep-deprived and dealing with massive amounts of vomit at home, so may not be up to her usual parenting abilities.

    5) Adoption is a great thing. It also isn’t easy. As a registered nurse with a specialty in pediatric medicine married to an EMT, we actually WANT to adopt special needs children. We have TWO YEARS of training and social services appointments and counseling and home inspections that are necessary to prove we are good enough to do that. International adoptions are great… and expensive and time consuming. We will eventually get there… but it takes time. In the meantime, we are open to whatever children God sends our way. As all seven of our children are known for kindness, respectful behavior, leadership skills, volunteer work, and just generally being nice, loving people to be around (I have many childless friends who tell me that they love being around our kids… just not most kids) I feel no need to apologize for having biological children in addition to our plans to adopt.

    I love how positively this thread has continued. I hope to see more comments the next time I check back!

  55. Oh, I forgot to add… costs…

    We raise seven children on an income of about $45,000 per year without taking any social services money (no food stamps, medicaid, etc.) and with no credit card debt. The estimates are highly inflated and do not take into account the fact that many durable goods can be handed down from child to child, thereby reducing their per child cost.

  56. To me, the decision to have children or not should have nothing to do with finances. Let me qualify that. If a couple decides to have children, then they should plan and budget and do what they can to be able to afford everything. However, letting your money situation dictate whether you have kids or not to me is ridiculous.
    If this is what it comes down to, you probably don’t want them.

  57. I generally agree with Trent’s conclusions that the world needs both parents and non-parents.

    However, this sentence is quite delusional: “They genuinely strive to produce good children, not only for the benefit of society, but because it’s a personal drive within the parent.” Short of abuse or serious neglect, parental influence hasn’t been proven by any study. Once they reach their mid teens, you have almost no controll on how your children will turn out.

  58. Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to have a husband and kids. Then I was put on medication for manic depression and figured out that I wouldn’t subject my unborn child to my medication nor would I be able to survive without the medication. I made the choice not to have kids. My condition runs in the family and I also did not want to pass that along to children.

    Now I am glad I don’t have kids. I am selfish with my time and energy. It doesn’t matter if I want them or not now. I had cervical cancer and had to have a hysterectomy this year.

  59. @Jeroen… the idea that once children reach their mid teens you have no control over how they turn out is short-sighted. Certainly, if you wait until that age and attempt to exert control over them, it will fail. In addition, by that age you should be beginning to turn over the “reins” of their life to them, being more of a sounding-board and resource than “controller”.

    However, any parent who has been actively involved in raising their child from birth on most certainly does affect their child not only through the mid-teens, but beyond. (Actually, all parents affect their children, but I’m not discussing abuse or neglect, even the benign kind).

    Yes, as they get older children make their own decisions. (Smart parents start teaching them how to do this appropriately long before that age.) Some children will wander away from what their parents taught them. However, in most cases, they won’t wander far too far, and most will come at least part of the way back. My husband, for example, spent the latter part of high school on drugs and homeless. I’m sure most considered his parents failures at the time. However, the core of what he had been taught was still there and he kicked the drug habit and has since become an EMT, great dad, loving son, pillar of the community.

    My older children are 14 and not quite 18. It is a joy to see the role of parenting morph from the more active role I play with my younger children to a more advisory role… with my eldest we are almost to the point where parenting “leaves off” and friendship begins. And we are very good friends.

  60. @Jade: “I may not have kids, but my parents had kids, and their kids never threw tantrums in the grocery store like I hear every time I go shopping.”

    Wow, they didn’t? Not ever? Because mine sure did. Not all the time, I’m sure, but sometimes. And not because my parents were bad parents, but because I was upset or scared or uncomfortable about something or other, and I wasn’t old enough to know how to express those feelings any other way.

    For example, I have a clear memory of throwing a tantrum once in church. And I remember it being because we got there a bit late, it was really crowded that day, our usual seats were taken and we had to sit somewhere else, and I was afraid we were going to get in trouble. And my mom (my dad wasn’t there on this occasion) didn’t know what the matter was, so she didn’t know how to get me to stop.

    This is why it annoys me to see parents (usually mothers) getting piled on every time their young children cry or make noise. Sure, we can have standards for how children should act in public. But even the best parents (or maybe *especially* the best parents) don’t have absolute power to control their children’s behavior. So let’s have some compassion too.

    (Now I’m sure that a Person Who Has Missed The Point is going to come along with their theory of how this means there is something wrong with my parents, me, or both. Pass the popcorn.)

  61. Maybe everyone should just stop judging everyone else and just worry about whether THEY are good parents (if that was their choice) or good human beings.

  62. Here’s what I don’t get.

    How can parents call DINKS “selfish,” yet simultaneously claim that parenthood is the greatest thing since sliced bread?

    Doesn’t logic dictate that if you call someone’s actions “selfish,” then that means you think they’re doing something enjoyable, that you are choosing not to partake in, because you’re somehow more “selfless?” It seems like a double-standard to me.

    How can being a parent be super-awesome-double-fun-rewarding, if NOT having kids is “selfish?”

    Which is it, parents? Are you martyrs who took the less-selfish route “for the greater good,” or are DINKS missing out on something awesome? It can’t be both, yet it seems many parents insist on taking both positions. I don’t get it.

  63. @Johanna
    Right on! I just had my first and I can’t help but notice the hostile “blame it on the parents” attitude. Like if children make even the tiniest peep every stranger is quick to start shooting dirty looks and start complaining.

  64. I think that it is selfish for a teenager to have a child because she might think that she will be loved more or the father will stay with her because of the child. And it’s selfish for those mothers to pop out a few babies because the government will hand out foodstamps and welfare and section 8 housing therefore the woman never has to worry about work and can sit on her behind all day and do nothing but make more children.
    In the end, you are only responsible for yourself and your decisions and it’s impossible to make everyone happy.
    On another note, I am pro-babies. I have kept up with the Simple Dollar for tips and ideas to get debt free in which my husband and I plan on in the next 3 years. As soon as the last payment is put into the mailbox we will start! We want to start with a clean slate and not have money problems when we would like to be focusing on our future children and careers.

  65. Some of us are not DINKs by choice. Our “choice” is neither “smart” nor “selfish,” merely biological.

    People are so quick to suggest adoption (especially if they’ve never looked into it themselves), but the truth of the matter is that adoption is an option fraught with problems. First of all, it is VERY expensive. Why? Lawyer fees, paying for mom’s medical expenses from the birth (not covered by your health insurance, of course, like you giving birth would be), and frankly, supply and demand. At one local agency, adoption costs for a Caucasian baby are $16-25K depending on disabilities, while adoption costs for an African-American baby are $3-8K depending on disabilities. Older children with disabilities or emotional problems can be adopted for MUCH less, but it takes a special person to raise that kind of child, and I’m not that kind of person. Physical problems often bring a lot more expense that we can’t handle financially, and emotionally, I have my own hang-ups from childhood, and I’d like to start fresh with a child who hasn’t had time to learn the horrors of the world, and maybe even one who (gasp) looks like me. We are also not in a position to take in a much older child, because I am a dwarf and I fear behavioral problems out of my control. Many of my friends have suggested this is a selfish pursuit, but honestly, it’s what they get when they choose to have biological children instead of adopting. I love the IDEA of adoption, but it’s WAY expensive if you want a baby of the same race as you with few physical, emotional, or behavioral problems. I’m just not ready to pull the trigger yet.

    For the person who didn’t understand why adoption is so expensive, let me just suggest that it was a lot LESS expensive before abortion was an option. Women who become unexpectedly pregnant now tend to choose to abort the baby or keep it for themselves. There is a perception in the unplanned pregnancy community that it would be too painful to carry a baby to term and then give it up to a healthy family for adoption, so women choose that far less often anymore. It’s sad.

    But anyway, the DINKs lifestyle is for some and not for others. I’m grateful you recognize that, Trent.

  66. @ #3 -Steven:

    Parenting is a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. People say, “Wait ’til you have kids,” because your whole perspective changes. What used to be a carefree trip to an island sipping drinks and snorkeling is now spending your vacation closer to home, usually with a massive amount of ‘stuff’ or worrying about your children when they aren’t with you.

    I was pregnant at my wedding and sometimes we feel as if we missed having that together time that new spouses enjoy. We never had the chance to travel or build our friendships outside of family — we were POOR! Diapers and formula are very expensive. Day care is VERY expensive. And let’s face it, your priorities change in an instant.

    I have three kids now and love (almost!) every minute of it. The sacrifice pales in comparison to the rewards. But just don’t expect you will be able to book a flight to Vegas at a moment’s notice…unless you are my sister who cries, “Mommy!” every time she feels the need to escape. Mom-Mom to the rescue. But that’s another story.

  67. Gee whiz Trent! A posting on swimsuits and now the debate on parenting vs non parenting?!? What are you trying to do? Chum up the water or get more hits to your site or somthing?!? Do you need more hits to up the advertising dollars?

  68. How about considering the stupidity and offensiveness of such a question? Is it smart or selfish to have children? Seriously. How about: is it smart or selfish to ask self serving questions that allow us to judge (or, as Trent does, ostensibly nobly refrain from judging while expressing a distinct preference for those who choose to reproduce) other people on their own PERSONAL life choices that have nothing to do with the rest of us? This is the kind of question asked by people who believe that they have the RIGHT to judge other people and their choices. The condescension, superiority and lack of depth in this post are breathtaking.

    When you take this kind of question seriously you set up polarisation arguments, parents vs childless, working mothers vs homemakers, men vs women, black vs white.

    “But Trent said it was okay not to have children!”
    Yes. Yes he did, and by doing so he implied that his view at least, there is a moral element to a question that is essentially equivalent to “Is it smart or selfish to eat an apple?”.

    (Yes I am childless, a circumstance which I do not defend, explain or apologise for).

  69. Sorry if this comment double-posts. In moderation forever for some reason I can’t fathom.

    “If you’re born to be a caregiver, it’s smart to become one and selfish to push away that nurturing side. Similarly, if you’re born without that ability, it’s selfish to try to force yourself into it, but quite smart to seek out and follow your other talents.”

    I find this statement offensive. Just because I chose not to have children does not mean I was born without a nurturing side to me. Quite the opposite. I have a very nurturing side. I just didn’t want children. It’s “selfish” if you’re born to be a caregiver and don’t have children? I don’t get it.

  70. This article definitely held more than a hint of superiority for those who are parents. I am a parent and picked up on it immediately. Shame on you, Trent. None of us should be picking on or judging others about this. And the whole “we must each pick what’s best but my choice is better” attitude is the kind of stuff that keeps the discord going. If you are not a parent, wonderful. If you are a parent, also wonderful. Conversations like this are meant to stir people up and that is exactly what Trent did. I’m disappointed in him.

  71. Thank you, AndreaS (#30), for recognizing that people who don’t have children pay taxes to provide for everyone else’s children. I’m a SINK by choice. I have never had any urge to have or raise children, and I honestly don’t have any desire to be around children. I DO have a deep desire for all children to be loved, cared for, educated, and given every chance at a happy life. Not only do I pay my taxes, but I also donate to charities that help children. I send a child (that I never met) to camp for a week every summer.

    I dare a parent to EVER call me selfish.

  72. There are to many kids out there being abused by parents who for some reason or another decided to become parents. Maybe they felt presure from parents, friends or society to become parents and then abused their kids. I admire people who are parents and not parents because they bring interesting points of view to our world. The way I see it, if you don’t want to become a parent then don’t, but don’t decide this after you have a child.

    I’m a parent and love my child and always wanted to have one. I would like to have another one.

    RazMaTaz

  73. There are some jobs you can do without passion and proper skill and resources, but you cannot be a half-committed bomb squad technician, and you cannot be a half-committed parent!

    People who don’t have children have been contributing great things to their communities throughout history – for example celibate monks and nuns, shamans in many cultures, and mamluks in the Ottoman Empire.

    The childless have provided valuable services to the rest of the community that are made possible by the fact that they don’t have the emotional investment and enormous time and energy commitment of child-rearing.

  74. As to the selfish point I think that’s pretty straight forward. If, regardless of having children or not, you only care about yourself you’re selfish (the definition of the word). Bad parents are selfish. DINKs destroying the environment by satisfying every material whim are selfish. Good parents helping to ensure the next generation is brought up properly are being more selfless, as are DINKs who get involved in charitable activities or something else larger than themselves.

  75. Being a parent is the absolute best. I love it. My children are not perfect but are wonderful. I love seeing them grow in who they are. It is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I may have inadvertently offended someone who does not want children. Being a parent is so awesome and children are so wonderful, it is hard sometimes to remember or even fathom that some people don’t want to have children.

    I don’t think people who don’t want children are selfish but sometime they give seemingly selfish reasons for doing so. Now please understand it is not selfish for a non-parent to not want to spend their Saturdays with their non-existent children. It is all hypothetical. No children were harmed in this hypothetical situation. On the other hand, if I, an actual parent, do not want to spend my Saturday with my actual children, I am selfish.

    I remember when David Lettermen became a parent. He said everyone told him how hard it was, but they didn’t tell him how wonderful it was. It is great. It is hard to think people would make a deliberate choice to not do something so great. But they do, and we need to respect that.

  76. Wow…as current DINKS who are also the parents of adult sons, I think I am qualifed to put in my two cents worth! Parenthood SHOULD be an informed choice and NOT the result of too many teguila shots! Perhaps many of the derogatory comments about “wait until you have kids” directed toward non-parents come from these “parents by accident” who really may not have WANTED children! Sort of a spirit of “if I have to suffer this so should you!”

    Other folks cannot imagine NOT wanting children, based on their enjoyment of parenthood, and cannot conceive (pun intended!)of life as a DINK. They may pressure others to have kids because they think non-parents are missing out on a beautiful life ezpereince..

    The truth, as ever, is in the Golden Mean…some people are sure of their choice to have or defer parenting….no need to debate that. Others on the fence need to do TWO things….consider what they want from life based on their abilities and values, and second USE RELIABLE BIRTH CONTROL until they have made a decision to bring a child into the world (or opt for sterilization to avoid parenthood.)

    My husband and I went through a period of discernment 35 years ago, including reading a book titled “A Baby? Maybe!”. I went from not wanting children EVER at 17 to a happy mother of two children conceived with fertility drugs at afe 27.

    There is no right or wrong choice here…with the possible exception of HAVING CHILDREN you do not want, love, and care for. That is a mortal sin against God and human society.

  77. I am married but no children, I always keep dreaming to have a kid(s) but my husband cannot provide me. Before we got married, he promised me to have fertilization, I agree with him. After few months, he suddenly changed his mind not have, I am so sad and I told him he is SELFISH because he already has 3 children with his first wife. Until now, I am still sad because I am 35 years old and still children. Please advice me ….

  78. A few comments on the ‘selfish’ comments. A few years ago a relative asked if my wife and I were going to have kids and when I said no the response was ‘oh your selfish’. I didn’t say much at the time, but that attitude really bothers me. Many people have kids for the most selfish of reasons – feel they have so much love to give, need to keep the family name going, lineage, leave a part of themselves, need someone to love them unconditionally, etc.

    Personally, I took on a step daughter, work with Big Brothers/Sisters, donate time to local charities, etc. How is that selfish? Raising a child that’s not yours (with no real child support either) is anything but selfish. It seems to me that taking care of people already here is more noble than bringing a new life into the world to satisfy some personal emotional need.

    I have no problem with anybody who has kids and I don’t think I’m special or anything. I just get really annoyed when those with kids think I’m selfish for not having my own children. Might be good for those that think that way to look deeper and at the bigger picture. It’s about personal choice and if you start pointing fingers about being selfish you may find your own finger pointing back at you.

  79. This is a great discussion. I’m in one of those 2 person families – we didn’t choose not to have children but we couldn’t have them and then we chose to accept that. So many people have accused me of being selfish it’s incredible! It’s amazing that some people think we should all make the same decisions about how to live our lives. I appreciate your open attitude and respect for other people that you bring to this blog. Thank you!

  80. I agree with everything in this blog post (not necessarily with all the comments, of course). I will just say that it never ceases to amaze me that parents often judge non-parents to be somehow less human or somehow deficient for having chosen or being unable to have children! I do not see non-parents, on the other hand, looking down upon those who have chosen to have children. Just a thought.

  81. Could someone please tell Joanna to get off her high horse and stop thread jacking this as a chance to talk about her own kids? THIS is why most people loathe parents of her ilk.

    Joanna, why don’t you check out the website http://stfuparents.tumblr.com/ sometime soon to get an idea of how people feel about sanctimonious bossy comment hogs such as yourself? So you had kids, great. Did you cure cancer? Oh, then did one of your kids? Get back to us then. Other people are allowed to do what they want so long as no one is harmed. No one needs you to judge them, however slyly you do it.

    Sorry to be negative but, I really enjoy this blog, and I feel like this person is just shouting the rest of the polite commenters, all of whom are following the rules, down.

  82. One cannot escape one basic truth:

    Humans come in sexes, designed to reproduce.

    It’s natural and universal. Any intention to not bear children requires careful self-discipline and substantial purpose…unless physical reality makes it impossible or harmful. Because it’s natural and universal, it’s virtually impossible to not convey a bias towards giving birth.

    Trent did what he always does…he shares with the world his own personal thoughts, conflicts, struggles, questions and decisions that he must work through. We read his writing because it often helps or encourages us. If it doesn’t apply, then ignore it, but don’t rebuke Trent for posting it…get your own blog. His thoughts and answers and questions are his, in the same way that your decision to not bear children or adopt or give birth is yours!

    A young woman I know is pregant. She did not want to become so, and is not sure whether she wants to become a mother, but does not desire to end the pregnancy. She, and I, believe that a baby is a human, from the moment of conception, and has a complete right and responsibility to life, even while in the womb, just as fully as the human who has just been born, or is 25 or 85 years old, or any age. But must this young woman become a mother? Should she wait and see if motherhood becomes a heartfelt desire, or should she resist bonding with the unseen child and adopt it out?

    No easy answer.

  83. @ #49 Evangeline-Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You said exactly what I was thinking as I read the post & comments.

  84. @#52 Hope D writes: I don’t think people who don’t want children are selfish but sometime they give seemingly selfish reasons for doing so.

    Really? I hope you would like to retract such a vulgar statement. Please choose your words with more care. Words matter.

  85. It’s funny that there is still an expectation in our culture that most of us, especially if we are in a relationship, will have children. Making the decision not to have kids, whether you consider it to be smart, selfish or otherwise is still a difficult decision, not always to make, but to explain, express and articulate.

    I don’t really feel obligated to explain to the world why I didn’t have kids, but there is a sort of tip toeing around the subject – on both sides.

    On their side: “Did you want kids and couldn’t have them? Could you have them and didn’t want them? (Maybe it’s her husband?) Do you have regrets? But it seems like you love kids…?”

    On my side: “My husband and I decided not to have children.” That seems so cruel to the couple who desperately want kids and can’t have them. I rarely expressed that – even though it was the truth.

    I’m glad to be past the childbearing years – the question doesn’t come up anymore and for those new people I meet who ask, “do you have kids?” – a simple ‘no’ seems to satisfy. If there is curiosity, it is politely kept under wraps.

    The issue of dealing with the explanation of why you didn’t have kids is much harder when you are young, happily married and within childbearing years. And each of us finds our own best way to handle it.

  86. I’m a 38 year old DINK and I’ve been pretty lucky in that I really haven’t had that many negative comments about not wanting to have kids–in fact, if it ever gets brought up at all, most people (including those with children) are really supportive of our choice not to have kids. Because, as mentioned in several posts and in Trent’s article (which I appreciated, by the way), it’s really a personal decision, like most decisions in life.

    Personally, I think as more and more couples decide not to have children, it’s not as big of a deal as it was in the past.

  87. socalgal:I agree with you regarding @#52 Hope D. Hopel D: Please give us an example of child-free people’s seemingly selfish reasons for not having children? Please! I would be so interested to know this.

  88. Well, Trent’s post certainly stimulated a lot of discussion so whether he did it well or not, I give him loads of credit for broaching the subject.

    I have 2 kids and was amazed to see how much we received in taxes after being DINKS for many years. So, without going into policy, I am very grateful for that, it helps. We also use the library, streets, have police and fire protection and are not required to pay into those services.

    The overpopulation and starvation arguments are silly to me. I’m a Christian and thankful God has a plan for the world, but also notice we are one of only a handful of families in town with a garden. The seeds and the soil are there for the food to be grown, and if you don’t want to grow–just make friends with a gardener. There’s always extra.

    Kids changed our life for the better–there are limits and we are now more organized and purposeful in every way. We look forward to saving money for family trips in the future and dream about things we’ll do after the kids are grown–habitat for humanity, the peace corps, who knows? Sometimes having kids just means delaying dreams or choices. Sometimes it just means taking a risk and reacting to what happens. And we’re not ready for another risk right now, so we’re waiting on the 3rd kid.

  89. Either option is fine as long as you’re doing it with a lot of thought and because you want to. The worst situation to be in is to become a parent by accident or before you’re prepared for it. I went from not wanting kids early on in my life to now looking forward to becoming a parent. It’s a personal choice and I’m the only one who can make it. I am now doing my best to prepare for that moment. However, I also respect my best friend who is not interested in having kids. It’s his choice and is no less or more valid than mine.

  90. I hate it when people assume my husband and I chose not to have children. In trying to get pregnant I had 3 miscarriages, 6 minor surgeries, 2 major surgies, and countless prescriptions over 16 years. While I am still overweight it has taken me almost ten years to come back physically from the trials of conception, which in the end proved fruitless. Yet, when we meet new people they inevitably ask why didn’t you have kids? My husband did not want to adopt. I usually say we tried for almost two decades. Then, maybe out of their own embarrassment, they tell me I should have changed doctors, had bad/wrong medical advise, or do I have any regrets. Just remember when you meet a childless couple it is selfish to assume they are selfish without kids. The only good reason to have kids is that you want to be a parent, which is what this post is saying. As far as regrets, I usually tell people I have learned from experience that it is better to count blessings than regrets. My husband and I are married 25 years this year. I think all relationships need something outside of the relationship to keep it going. In our case we run a business together. So we have been blessed many times over, just not with children.

  91. It is a MYTH that there are loads of happy healthy children just waiting to be adopted. Unless you adopt a disabled child or a child over the age of 6, you are not “rescuing” anyone. Adoption of young healthy children is very competitive. People wait a year or more before being matched with a child, domestically and internationally.

    Yes, there are many children in need of homes – but they are all special needs children. Healthy infants & toddlers have families begging to adopt them. Don’t believe me? Try to adopt one. Unless you have, or you are a case worker, don’t look down on people who bear their own children. The situation isn’t what the media makes it out to be.

  92. We’re DINK’s but have friends with and without kids…I never really thought about our child status as something that would effect people’s viewpoints on our selfishness until I entered the pf blog world.

    I have been accused several times of not making an impact on the world unless I reproduce, which I think is nuts. Good parents should have kids and people who aren’t ready or wouldn’t be good at it shouldn’t. If it were only that easy…

  93. The most egotistical act humans can perform is to reproduce themselves. As Will Smith said in an interview, “it’s really neat to see so many little ‘me’s!” in reference to his many sons. At least, I admired his honesty.

    More people need to decide to reproduce wisely: don’t reproduce oneself more than once, afford what you produce. Not producing resource-using offspring is actually the height of unselfishness. As the planet is destroyed and polluted by too many humans, it’s time for all to consider the merits of reproducing less or not at all, certainly not more.

  94. For @steven and others who have observed the “wait until you have kids…” comments. It unfortunately comes off in a condescending tone, but what the person is likely meaning is to enjoy the simplicity of every day tasks while you can.

    I scoffed at a lot of pre-parent admonishment I got and figured these people were slaves to their kids. Need to go somewhere? Just go, for crying out loud. I’m a bit wiser now and see how you need to plan your days (and roll with the plans that fall through) much more when you have kids. It isn’t like the kids tie you down as much as the sheer logistics of it all makes you settle into routines.

  95. I agree that children are a personal choice. Some frugal people have a lot of children and some spendthrifts have none. My main concern is worldwide human population and the demands on resources.

    I disagree on the “cost” of raising well-adjusted children today. The Tightwad Gazette outlines how frugal parents can raise children on a reasonable amount of money. $300,000 is an amount most parents will not spend per child simply because they never make enough in the child-rearing years to spend that much. And that is a good thing.

    Parent can lead by example and show, not just tell, their children about living simply. It is okay to live within one’s means.

    You are dead on when you say I should prepare to be the best parent possible. I have two daughters and am very happy with my choice. I respect those that choose not to have children as I considered this until my bride helped me understand the blessings children can be.

  96. I think one should carefully consider the consequences of having a LOT of children, when they could have a couple and then adopt some of the thousands of children who need homes so badly, or just adopt to start with.

  97. Is this article smart or stupid? How can you possibly ask whether it is selfish without asking about the impact of yet more people on the globe which just cannot support the gusher of children from selfish or mindless people who don’t ask this question about global (community) impact when they consider having children?

  98. I’m 22 years old and would consider myself naïve when it comes to experience or knowledge in raising children and choosing to or not. For reference, I have spent a lot of time with my nieces and nephews and spent five years leading sports classes for children as young as 4, but naturally, my perspective is much lacking compared to those people who have raised children.
    This may be the perfectionist in me speaking, but I would refuse to raise a child in anything less than a 100% enriching, productive, and safe environment. In the same sense, if I was to raise a child and he experienced any lasting emotional trauma or was to not develop absolutely all of the values necessary to be a “good” human being in the world (morality, equality, discipline, hard work, etc) I would hold myself fully accountable. If I raise a child poorly and he grows up to be depressed and not enjoy his life, then I have committed a crime against him. If I raise a child poorly and he grows up and kills another human being, then I have committed a crime against that victim as much as my child has. With that being said, I can think of a few things I would need to raise a child to my theoretical “100%”:

    -a PhD in psychology
    -a degree in education and a bank of knowledge sufficient to home school him until college
    -extensive nutritional and physiological knowledge to ensure his healthy development
    -a vast amount of time to devote fully to him (homeschooling, feeding, playing, talking, etc)
    -a large amount of money and full financial security (to pay for necessities, not luxuries)
    -100% mental health in myself, because if I slack at any time in my parental role (say, because I’m super stressed and just need 10 seconds to myself) then I have harmed my child.
    -the ability to protect him constantly from the harmful aspects of our ever-degenerating society while still developing in him strong social skills, social fortitude, and social health (impossible as far as I know)

    Of course I hardly have one of these qualities so I’ve chosen at this point not to have children. Now please understand that I’m not saying that every parent whose child didn’t grow up to be Nelson Mandela has harmed their child. Rather, there must be flaws in my logic because 1: if everyone followed it our race would cease to exist and 2: you can talk to adults who experienced childhood trauma – maybe even directly from their parents – and many of them will tell you that they love their parents more than anything and that no one on earth has done more for them.
    This is just the perspective of a young adult reaching the age at which he is partially expected to begin reproducing. Responses and contradictions are appreciated :)

    @Sophie and Evangeline (#48, #49) I believe that Trent, despite what his true beliefs actually are, did a very good job presenting a balanced, unbiased post to stimulate discussion. Two things are very important to achieve progress through debate, assuming our definition of “progress” is the obtainment of new knowledge and/or perspectives by both parties. These are impartiality and cordiality. The necessity for impartiality is pretty obvious, a biased opinion does not take into account all perspectives and is thus an inferior argument and hinders progress. Cordiality is important to maintain because it represents that the party is not letting emotion interfere with logic or reason. Granted, just because a person types in a cordial fashion doesn’t mean his/her beliefs are correct or moral or impartial. That’s how many politicians work. But when a person debates in an uncordial fashion, we must assume that emotion pervades their reasoning just as it does the presentation of their reasoning. I’m not saying emotion is bad; rather, it facilitates our experience of the most incredible things this world has to offer. But for an argument to be 100% objective, it must be void of emotion. Thus a comment like “Shame on you, Trent” not only has a hint of superiority itself, (which was the aggrievement to which the post was responding) but it shows us that the writer has a higher priority for emotion than for productive debate, and would be better replaced with “I was disappointed in Trent for the way he stated…etc” as in the last sentence.
    In my opinion, it is acceptable and encouraged to state when you have perceived someone’s written or spoken argument or thoughts as offensive. But to assume or present inferences not of your own, and then label them as offensive, is unproductive. Because none of us has the power of mind reading, there is only a thin line between perceived inferences and delusion. (By delusion I simply mean getting the wrong impression, be it the fault of the speaker or the listener.) Thus a 2 paragraph post that focuses solely on accusing a perceived inference as being offensive shows us that the writer spent more of his/her cognition fishing for critiqueable offenses than trying make progress (again, mutual obtainment of knowledge) through debate.

  99. “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”
    ~John W. Whitehead

  100. Since when is “caregiving” is strictly equated with parenting? As a non-parent has cared for both a dying father-in-law and now a mother with dementia, I feel I can safely call myself a caregiver.

    BTW, what is with the use of DINK? I do not refer to myself as a DINK, nor would I refer to you as a breader. Both terms are unnecessarily stereotypical and inflammatory.

  101. @Le Chat Rouge: Wow! Who’s not following the rules. I expressed my opinion calmly and then proceded to have you read quite a lot into it. For the record, I don’t have children and am myself a DINK. Take a pill lovie.

    For the overpopulation folks, can you send a link to info on the 2 billion number?

  102. overpopulation…. book- population bomb.

    and what if someone does not want to have children for the sake of not contributing to the overpopulation of this world (taken as a whole)? keep exascerbating our resources…like many corporations who have the attitude that everything can be claimed, exploited, exhausted, abused, neglected.

    land. water. we’re not where we were 100 years ago.

    those are my thoughts when i first read the title of the article.

  103. I am with @28 Sophie. I found the very question and discussion offensive and out of place. Discussing selfisness over personal choices, for God’s sake!
    I have no children of my own (and I will not disclose the reasons). But I certainly do not consider myself selfish since I
    1) pay school taxes
    2) pay income taxes that help needy families
    3) do extra work (unpaid and taken for granted) to cover parents unable to get to work because the kids are sick, the school has a “special teachers day”, the day care is on strike, etc., etc. etc.
    4) serve as an unpaid nannie on emergencies
    Enough said!

  104. Because it’s natural and universal, it’s virtually impossible to not convey a bias towards giving birth.

    I’m confused about this statement.
    @ Milt
    How can something be universal when there are clearly people who have never had the desire to have children?

    I although I don’t want kids I thought I did for awhile, but I know plenty of people who have always known, even from a young age, that they never wanted to be parents.

    Also I don’t get
    Any intention to not bear children requires careful self-discipline and substantial purpose

    What kind of self discipline are you talking about? Taking a birth control every day? I picked the option of every 3 months shot, not much contemplation in that and no real self discipline.

  105. I believe that many of the responses are too simplistic. There are many personal reasons for not having children. I don’t think that cost is foremost in the minds of those who choose to not procreate.

  106. @Socalgal- The word “seemingly” in my comment meant – may look that way but actually isn’t. Guess I wasn’t as clear as I meant to be.

    To all those who don’t like it when people say, “Just wait till you have kids.” I have only said that to people who have commented on how handled a situation with my kids. I have one friend who would always give parents discipline advice. I would just shake my head and say, “Wait till you have kids”. He now has a daughter and understands. He’s a good friend, and his daughter is lovely as are mine:)

  107. I grew up lower middle-class, constantly hearing how much work and trouble children were, because my Mother was a nervous, insecure person; she probably had children because it was the right (expected) thing to do, but she couldn’t cope.

    At the time I should have started a family I was in no mental shape to take on that responsibility. Today, I regret not having a family to enjoy but know for sure I made the right decision for me at the time.

    Over the years my brother-in-law has announced more than once that I was selfish for not having children while he had three. two of which are very successful and one, his daughter, is struggling.

    Beyond all the personal reasons, the world’s population density is a strong argument not to have children or to have just one, something below replacement level.

    RCharles

  108. Re: “My belief is that if you don’t wish to have children, don’t have children.”

    Amen. Everybody loses when parents have kids they don’t want — the kid, the parents, society, etc.

    I’m a parent, but I’m careful to not give couples a weird attitude when they tell me they don’t have kids. It’s a personal decision, and more power to them if they choose not to have any. (My (and my wife’s) decision: we want a family.)

    MJ

  109. I am in favor of having W2′s looked at, basic psych exams, and a written exam on what the food groups are before letting people have any kids. The smartest thing to do in life is to do what is best for your situation. The situation can always change, but ignorance and consistent judgment never ends from other people.

  110. @#41 Jade who said:
    One of my biggest reasons for not having kids is overpopulation of the planet. If I want kids that badly, I can adopt. Yes, it’s expensive and all the other cons, but I figure if I can’t make enough money to adopt, I’m not making enough money to support a kid.

    Really? Have you looked at the requirements to adopt a child? If you have a private domestic adoption you are looking at @25.000. International, from $25-50,000. And yes, you can get healthy, young infants from fostercare but the wait is long. And if you are single or older it is expected that you will take the older child who has more issues.
    Yes, if you can save that amount of money you can probably raise a child comfortably. But I think a child can also be raised happily and healthfully in a familiy who is not able to throw tens of thousands of dollars into an adoption and THEN start the usual parenting expenses.

  111. I’ve been reading the comments here (and in the two blog posts about the same subject) with a great deal of interest. I’m 34 now, single, and childless. The way I see it, unless I *soon* meet someone with whom I want to spend the rest of my life, suddenly develop parenting urges, and have the financial means to raise a kid (which I currently do not), I will remain childless.

    Not having kids right now is fine with me, but what I’m afraid of is that at age 45 (or whatever) I’ll regret it. I believe that raising kids is extremely difficult and also extremely rewarding. I also believe it changes you as a person — life stops being all about you, as you now have someone helpless depending on you — you’re now living for something more than yourself. Do I want my life to change? I don’t feel I’m emotionally mature enough to have kids just yet. I don’t especially like kids (though I’m sure if I had one I would love it). I’m also worried about guilt — I’ll feel guilty if I don’t give motherhood 100% of my time and effort, and I’ll feel guilty if I’m not out building a career — but extra hours at the office will mean I won’t see my kids as much. I’m so on the fence here.

  112. As a parent, I’d never ask anyone why they didn’t have kids because I know too many couples who simply can’t have children.

    Nor can they afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars for either fertility treatments or adoption.

    Why compound their pain?

  113. Wow..I read some comments and it reminded me of one more thing. I can’t stand it when parents use their kids as an excuse for special treatment. It was your choice to become a parent (whether you really wanted to or didn’t use birth control cuz you were winging it), and you shouldn’t expect childless people to pick up your slack. If someone does help you out, it should be from the goodness of their heart, not b/c you demanded it and whined about how hard your life is b/c you have kids.

  114. Just my addition. We wanted children, Mother Nature was not cooperative, and we tried science, no go. We looked into adoption, it felt more like extortion with the cost and legal. We have decided that we will live our lives to the fullest and enjoy the ride. Parents need the money from the cost of adoption for raising children. The biggest recipient of money from adoption is the lawyers, and that is just wrong. Whether you have children or not is not always an active choice we get to make, so whatever your outcome enjoy what you have and do not judge unless you know. In addition, to all those who do have children, give them a hug and let them know they are loved! Thank you for the great post.

  115. @Caroline #120 – depends what you mean. Last week, my son had surgery. We also had a big party for my dad. I asked other people to pick up the slack for me because I was out of business two days while I was dealing with my son’s surgery…Is that special treatment or ok?

    What kind of preferential treatment are you talking about?

    To be honest, when I didn’t have kids, then I made a huge effort to take on extra responsibilities for the people close to me who did have kids. For a whole summer, I picked up my niece from daycare almost every day while my sister was on bedrest (for another pregnancy). I took buses 2 hours out of my way to pick up another kid for a friend who was stuck one day. Call it karma – someone took care of you once, and more than likely someone will take care of you again… have a little consideration in the meantime.

  116. It’s an asinine question, and the only reason I can see that people are still discussing it is because it’s emotionally charged. It’s like asking “is it selfish or smart not to take a homeless person off the street and into your home?” or “is it selfish or smart not to adopt a dog?”

    Hardly anyone has kids to be “intimately involved with crafting the future people of the world” – in fact, I’ve never met ANYONE who’s said that. You might see it as a benefit, but I seriously doubt that’s the reason you had them in the first place. Hell, there are enough bad reasons to become parents (and enough bad parents) to counter the idea that having kids is for the sake of humanity.

    People have kids because they want them. People don’t have kids because they don’t want them. They are equally selfish strategies.

  117. So what if it is pure selfishness that makes someone decide not to have kids?

    I prefer that to those who don’t really like/want kids but have them because “it’s expected of them.” Talk about selfish and stupid. @@

  118. My partner doesn’t want kids because she’s worried aboutthe kid dealing with ‘that kid has two mummies’ stuff. I *think* I want kids but am unsure I can deal with the responsibility since I find walking the dog everyday a tedious chore and get frustrated very easily, so currently we are enjoying life and enjoying my partner’s niece and nephews. Is that wrong?

    I am really worried that my friends will start to have kids and they won’t want to come and visit anymore if we don’t have much in common, and I won’t have the chance to really get to know any more children on a daily basis, other than casually, since we aren’t likely to have any more in either family. That saddens me.

  119. I’m a SINK, and I’ll probably stay that way. I did have a child, but he died at birth, and for various reasons (including, but not limited to, medical issues), I have chosen to not have any more children.

    I honestly LOVE kids, and always have. I love playing with them, I love it when they grab my hand to pull me over to their newest toy, I even like figuring out why they’re crying and helping to calm them (within limits of course). But I have never had an overwhelming urge to procreate. I’ve always been ambivalent about it.

    When I was pregnant with my son, I wanted THAT child. When he died, I thought about having more, and thought, and thought, and thought – and five years later, I still don’t have an urge to have another kid.

    I’m a great auntie. I’m a great babysitter. I love kids’ parties – I’m more likely to be with the kids than the adults. Kids’ screeches and high-pitched laughs don’t phase me a bit.

    But I also like going home to my quiet apartment, having a glass of wine, working on my crafts, traveling without worrying about a little tyke, and thinking about whether my next career move will be to start a not-for-profit organization, or teaching English abroad, and not having to worry about how to keep a roof over my kids’ heads and food in their mouths.

    I love kids. But I also like being able to leave them with their parents after we’ve had a great time together.

  120. There are too many people on the planet.
    We do not need any more – especially upper-middle class Americans. It would take six planets to support the current world population at the American rate of consumption. So don’t use the excuse of perpetuating the race – enough people will choose to have children without your throwing yourself on that grenade. Recognize that a lot of procreation is just responding to irrational biological drive. If you must, consider having just one, or adopting.

  121. @Sharon, I’m not having or adopting a child unless I can homeschool them. So up to $50,000 in adoption expenses compared to the loss of my income for 18 years (as I would most likely not be able to work outside of the home, or if I did then very little) is really not that much to save in comparison. So I either have to win the lotto or have a spouse who can support me and the kid on his income only.

    My experiences in preparing to teach have taught me that it would be irresponsible for ME to bring a child into this world or adopt one without a plan to be able to handle that child’s education on my own until college. While I, like many other teachers I know, enjoy teaching and am willing to take on the challenge to do the best I can within the constraints of our educational system and lobby for change whenever possible, I won’t put my own child into that system.

    On a related note, I witnessed a miracle the other day. Stopping for some takeout, there was a family with a few kids having dinner at the restaurant. The kid in the high chair decides to start screaming at the top of her lungs, and her mom told her to stop. And amazingly enough, she stopped! I shared this with my friends on facebook, and one of my friends (who is a parent, so since I’m not a parent and can’t comment, I’ll quote her instead) said, “What you witnessed is called ‘parenting’. Document it! You may never see this again!”

  122. What’s interesting, is when one spouse wants children and the other doesn’t share that drive. It’s hard to figure out what to do then.

    -Scott

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