Updated on 07.30.14

Reader Mailbag #87

Trent Hamm

Each Monday, The Simple Dollar opens up the reader mailbags and answers ten to twenty simple questions offered up by the readers on personal finance topics and many other things. Got a question? Ask it in the comments. You might also enjoy the archive of earlier reader mailbags.

How about combining your frugality and kitchen skills by giving us some recipes and tips on cooking Beans and Rice and Rice and Beans?
– Marcia

A long time ago, I wrote an ode to the bean, which may be my favorite item to use in cooking. It’s inexpensive and it’s a protein-rich backbone to countless different kinds of meals, from tacos and chili to curries and soups.

What I usually tell people to do is very simple. Just take whatever staple ingredient leftovers you have – vegetables, meats, and so on. Add some rice or some beans to it. Season appropriately. There, you have a killer meal.

You almost can’t mess it up.

For giggles, I’ll reprint five of my favorite bean-oriented recipes here.

Beans and Eggs
Easy as pie. Just crack four eggs, add half a teaspoon of milk and some pepper, and beat them rapidly until they’re consistent in texture. Pour the egg mixture into a skillet and add half a cup of cooked black beans (or a bean mix, if you prefer). Scramble the eggs by repeatedly moving the eggs around in the skillet as it cooks until it’s nice and fluffy and full of beans. Put some cheese and salsa on top and you have one of my favorite breakfasts in the world – plus it’s an ovo-vegetarian dish.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Bean Salad
Take two pounds of cooked beans, any variety you’d like, and add in a diced medium red onion. To this, add two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, four finely chopped garlic cloves, a quarter of a cup of extra virgin olive oil, and mix everything together. Add some ground black pepper to taste. This makes a very big batch of the salad, which is a great thing to take to a potluck dinner – for home use, you should probably halve the entire recipe (one pound of beans, a small diced onion, one tablespoon of vinegar, two garlic cloves, and an eighth of a cup of olive oil).

Beef and Bean Burritos
Cook a pound of ground beef. As the meat is cooking, add half a cup of chopped onion and a minced garlic clove. Stir the meat often to break it up, then when it’s well cooked, drain it, and add to it two teaspoons of chili powder, one teaspoon of oregano, half a teaspoon of cumin, half a teaspoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of brown pepper. Mix it all together and you have the beef part of the recipe. Just fill a large tortilla with this meat, some lettuce, and whatever beans you like – I prefer black beans or pinto beans or even refried beans.

Sixteen Bean Soup
Just follow the cooking directions above with your favorite multi-bean mix, except add half a pound of leftover meat to the soup as it’s cooking. I like to add cubed ham myself, but you can add other meats. Also, add a small minced onion to the soup, too, just as it begins to boil, and also add salt and pepper to taste.

Bean, Ham, and Tomato Casserole
Basically, take the soup you made with the sixteen bean soup recipe and drain off all but a cup of the liquid. Mix into the soup two diced tomatoes, put a bit more pepper on top, and (optionally) put a thin layer of finely ground Cheddar cheese on top (the cheese is highly optional). Bake it at 350 F (160 C) for about ten minutes and it turns out surprisingly well and often very distinct in flavor from the sixteen bean soup.

I recently got a flyer for ING’s Orange Mortgage. They offer incredibly low interest rates. But the structure looks surprisingly like a ARM. What am I missing here?
– Pankaj

It is an adjustable rate mortgage – you’re not missing anything.

An ARM worth its salt starts off with an unbelievably good rate – often 2% below what a comparable fixed rate would be. That gets your attention, of course.

The catch is that in so many years, the rate adjusts upwards, and it often has a ceiling higher than a comparable fixed rate mortgage.

Many people got ARMs because they were seduced by that low rate and they believed their future situation would easily be able to handle the adjustment. Quite often, they were wrong.

Avoid adjustable rate loans. Never believe your future self will be able to handle it.

I find it ironic that a guy who writes a blog that (probably) reaches millions thinks having kids is the best way to advance their cause.
– Kevin

If no one had children, we would all be candles in the wind. In one hundred years, there would be no human race. We would pass nothing on to the future, any of us.

Thus, anyone that chooses not to take on the burden of raising a child is themselves a candle in the wind. They’re relying on others to continue the flame by making the candles. Any flame that they can pass on is passed on to a candle made by someone else, a candle that’s already formed and given flame by the parents of that child (most of the time, of course). Sure, they might make the flame stronger, but they didn’t start the fire. (Yes, I’m using Billy Joel and Elton John metaphors to illustrate the point).

My feeling towards anyone who calls a parent a “breeder” is that they’re completely comfortable with the complete extinguishment of the human race. And that, frankly, makes me personally uncomfortable. If they were not comfortable with this, they would not denigrate those who take on the often thankless work of raising that next generation of people.

For all the good I’ve done in this blog, it does not compare to the impact I have by raising a child to adulthood. I have the unique position to mold that candle so that the flame burns bright, an opportunity I simply don’t have in other avenues in life. No matter how great of a writer I am, it simply pales in comparison to the continued impact and influence I have on the mental, emotional, spiritual, and psychological growth of the two little children in my home. I gave them their genes and now, perhaps more importantly, I’m responsible for the nurture side of the coin.

If I do it right, I can turn out a child that has the potential to cure cancer or breed a better crop that can feed starving children or create art that can truly uplift the human race or, perhaps best of all, find authentic joy in the world and find ways to share it with others. If I do it wrong, I turn out a sociopath.

I’m not saying that others do not have influence. But no matter how enormous that influence, it doesn’t compare to the thousands of hours parents spend with their children, passing on language, beliefs, customs, personality traits, perspectives on the world, personal skills, and countless other little things.

Everyone thinks of Mr. Holland lighting a child’s flame, but forgotten in that shuffle are the parents that drove kids to countless band contests, urged them to practice at night, provided feedback on their play, bought new reeds and dropped them in the instrument case without being asked, showed up for all of the recitals, bought sheet music and audio CDs to help fuel the passion, and all without a dime of compensation. Mr. Holland showed up for work and waved a baton – yes, it was important and it caused a child to change their direction a bit, but that flame rarely takes off without quite a lot of prep work from a good parent.

And, remember, Mr. Holland was a parent, too. One can do both.

What benefit is a child going to get out of having a tutor?
– Johanna

It depends on the child. Some children thrive on individual one-on-one teaching, where they’re much less afraid to ask the “stupid” questions that are plaguing them. I know several kids like this – they didn’t understand the topic in the classroom because they were afraid, for various reasons, to ask, so it was up to a tutor (in this case, me) to help them out.

For other children, it may be that they just have little interest in learning and a tutor is a waste of time and resources.

Often, for a parent, it’s hard to tell which one is the case, especially if they have little confidence in their ability to teach classroom-type lessons. So they’ll hire a tutor or a tutoring service and let them figure it out.

For me, I’d prefer to give my own child my best crack at tutoring so I could at least understand where he or she is coming from.

Would you share with us your recipe for that wonderful sounding au gratin?
– Mike

Take four russet potatoes and slice them into 1/4 inch slices. Slice one onion into rings. Then, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly butter a one and a half to two quart casserole dish.

Put half of the potato slices into the casserole, then the sliced onions, then the rest of the potatoes. Put some salt and pepper on top.

After that, melt three tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add three tablespoons of all purpose flour and stir until it’s a very thick paste, about one minute. Then, stir in two cups of milk. Cook it for about two minutes until it just begins to thicken, stirring regularly. Then, add one and a half cups of grated cheese to the hot milk mixture quickly, stirring it in until you have about four cups of a thick, delicious liquid cheese mixture.

Pour that cheese mixture over the potatoes, breathe in the wonderful aroma deeply, then cover it with aluminum foil and pop it in the oven for one and a half hours. Yum!

What do you think about bankruptcy? While I realize there are sometimes extraordinary circumstances, it seems like many people who declare bankruptcy could handle their debt like you did: by scaling back their lifestyles, living within their means, and committing to debt reduction. Would you ever recommend that someone declare bankruptcy instead of trying to repay their debt?
– Sara

While I understand society’s need for some sort of resolution to a person who is in far too much debt, I feel like society’s penalty for this is actually too lenient today.

Do I advocate a return to debtor’s prisons? No. However, if you’ve mismanaged your finances to the point that you need a court to straighten everything out – and in the process, you escape some of your debt – there needs to be a steeper penalty than just a court-enforced payment plan and a bad credit history.

I’m not sure what that balance is, but I do feel that bankruptcy, even with the recent tougher changes, is still too easy.

You’ve said you’ve used iTunes for years to listen to music. What’s your most listened-to song? Album?
– Kate

My most listened to song since somewhere in mid 2004 is Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley – a cover of the classic Leonard Cohen song for all of you older folks like my friend Heidi, who was slackjawed recently when I identified Hallelujah as a Jeff Buckley song.

I had a harder time actually figuring out which album was the most listened to, but from the best I can determine, that album is Bachelor #2 by Aimee Mann.

If I were guessing without looking, I would have guessed the album right, but I would have guessed the #3 song for most listened – Rangers by A Fine Frenzy.

When you and Ramit had a big “debate” a while back about frugality, was that whole thing a set up or do you guys actually have a personal issue?
– Fred Mac

My father spends $5 every week on lottery tickets. I tell him all the time that it’s a waste of money, but he shrugs it off. What do you think? How should I get him to stop this stupid behavior?
– Carlos

Do you feel that other bloggers are rivals of yours? Do you compete with them?
– Amanda

Not at all. My only rival in blogging – seriously – is myself. My own laziness and willingness to go off the tracks following my own whims and muses is my biggest obstacle.

Almost every blogger out there is not a rival, but a peer. Those people know better than anyone else how difficult – and how rewarding – it can be to blog for a living. They share ideas and thoughts. They link to each other. They support each other. They help each other.

If we were rivals, we would stab each other in the back, not encourage our readers to read those other sites.

The only exception to this are bloggers who never seem to link out or ever mention others. However, I don’t view them as rivals – they’re just loners.

To put it simply, I simply don’t have rivals. I have peers and friends.

Except for J.D., of course. He’s going down.

Got any questions? Ask them in the comments and I’ll use them in future mailbags.

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  1. ally says:

    I enjoy reading your articles, and I certainly recognize that everyone has differences in their belief of family structures and reasons for raising children. However, please give the credit that is due to countless teachers who often act as parents, counselors, and social workers because of the children who need that type of support, based on their lack of it at home. Thank you.

  2. Jonathan says:

    I have a couple of questions/comments.

    First, did you mean to group the lottery ticket question with the rival blogger questions? I read through your response a couple of times to see if you answered the lottery question, but didn’t see anything.

    Second, while I know that your comments regarding parenthood were aimed specifically at the question asked, I wanted to point out that adoption can be an even better option. Adoption provides all of the benefits that you list, as well as giving a child in need a good home, without adding to our ever-increasing population. As long as there are people having kids that they are unable or unwilling to care for, I believe that for those people who are not opposed to it, adoption is the option that most benefits society.

  3. graytham says:

    The recipe for bean and beef burritos calls for half a teaspoon of brown pepper. Is there such a thing as brown pepper, or did you mean black pepper or perhaps brown sugar?

  4. spaces says:

    Candles can be effective at lighting fires, kwim?

    Notwithstanding that most bankruptcies are for medical bills, and most of the people going bankrupt for medical bills have insurance, a good way to stop all those deadbeats from going bankrupt is to make lending to bad risks so incredibly expensive for creditors, specifically credit card companies and banks, that free and easy credit no longer exists.

  5. Wendy says:

    Regarding tutors, I have tutored for kids whose dynamic with one of their parents is not conducive to patience. Both parent and child could be patient and forgiving with others, and they had an otherwise great relationship, but something about homework required a third party.

  6. Nansuelee says:

    I disagree with your advise on Adjustable rate mortgages. We have had an ARM for the better part of 20 years, for two different houses. We work with our local credit union. We currently have a 5 yr adjustment period, and have not ever had even a 2% adjustment up and more adjustments have gone down then up. Our loan is set up with a 2% adjustment cap, meaning it can not adjust more than 2% up or down at the 5 year adjustment time. It does have a floor it will not go below and it also has a total upward ajdustment on 6% so the most our current loan could go to in 11.5%. This would be high but the 10 year history we were given on what rates have been does not indicate this happening in the past. I am comfortable with this, only having a 15 year mortgage we will only adjust twice with the max being 9.5%.

    I think the key is working with a lender you know. We have been members of this credit union for 24 years and know the employees and board of directors. We can make 1/2 of our payments out of each paycheck and if we have any issues we can walk in the door and sit down with the person that can help us out. I feel one of the biggest problems folks make is not knowing their lender. Knowing, trusting and having access to your lender is the key for me.

  7. Lisa says:

    “If no one had children,” Does anyone see this actually happening?

    “Breeder” applies to people who do not nurture their children. It sounds like Trent takes his responsibility seriously so the ‘breeder’ term does not apply to him.

    Trent, how many are you going to have? Do you ever consider the toll on the planet’s resources? Will 10 be enough? 20? You’ve passed your genes to a child and a spare, why did you not decide to start adopting all those unwanted, abused, smooshed bits of wax out there?

  8. Julie says:

    “Breeder?” Is that what the people who use this term think of their own parents?

  9. J.D. says:

    Bwahahahahhahaahha! :)

    Your last line cracked me up, Trent. I wasn’t expecting it…

  10. KC says:

    I think Carlos needs to look at that $5 and see if his father can afford it or not. If this $5 is putting his father in a bind financially then it probably is foolish spending. But if it is money his father can spare then just consider it entertainment – like you would a movie or a ball game. If your father can afford the entertainment then just let him enjoy it. It sounds like it is something he looks forward to each week.

  11. Daniel says:

    I recently started making burritos. Slice up some lettuce, warm up some baked beans, add sour cream, avocado, and salsa, and it’s one of the simplest, most time effective meals.

  12. Lisa says:

    What temperature oven for the au gratin Trent?? I love the simple recipe!

  13. Johanna says:

    I’m not sure how you can simultaneously believe in the “Idiocracy theory” AND be worried about the human race dying out due to people choosing not to have children. Isn’t the whole idea of the Idiocracy theory that some people will have lots of children regardless?

    About those thousands of hours that parents spend driving their children to band practice and whatnot: We non-parents have just as many thousands of hours in our own lives. We spend them with people too, and influence them in our own ways. Believe it or not, we’re not wasting our lives playing World of Warcraft.

  14. Courtney says:

    Thank you for the wonderful bean recipes. I was wondering if you’d share what type(s) of beans you prefer in the Balsamic Salad?


  15. Vicky says:

    “Anyone that chooses not to take on the burden of raising a child is themselves a candle in the wind.”

    Really? Way to make our lives sound meaningless. What about those people who can’t have children?

    Because I choose not to have children, are you really saying everything I do in life is pointless?

    Any art I create, books I may write, all the volunteer work I do at the animal shelter – it’s all for naught?

  16. reulte says:

    Johanna – A tutor can nurture a gift that the child has and the parent recognizes, but lacks talent and/or training.

    Trent – “… continued impact and influence I have on the mental, emotional, spiritual, and psychological growth…”, do remember that your children are not blank slates upon which you can erase your own life’s errors. As you have probably figured out by now, they have their own personalities and sometimes these personalities will be in conflict with your own. Don’t take too much credit or too much blame for how your children turn out.

  17. Johanna says:

    Also, my question about the tutor was taken out of context. This was from Reader Mailbag #81, in response to Trent’s claim that a tutor is “undoubtedly” a better investment in a child’s future than a college education. (I guess Trent’s changed his mind on that now, since he notes that for some children a tutor would be “a waste of time and resources.”) Here’s what I actually said:

    “What benefit is a child who’s not struggling in her classes at school going to get out of a tutor? I suppose that if the child is sufficiently motivated and talented, the tutor could introduce her to material beyond or outside of the normal school curriculum. But so could a pile of books, and I’d think that they’d be a lot less expensive. In fact, I’d argue that the best thing you can give such a child is the opportunity to meet and socialize with other similarly motivated and talented children – and that’s the one thing you’re NOT getting when you pay for one-on-one tutorship.”

  18. Jill says:

    If you can afford it, the $5/week isn’t bad if you count it as an entertainment expense. Isn’t that about what a DVD rental goes for these days?

    I’ll admit that when the payout gets above $100 million, I’ll buy a lottery ticket or two because I know that I’ll never win, but I definitely get $2 worth of entertainment from the couple days of fantasy imagining what I would do with a jackpot.

    For me, the lottery ticket is a lot more satisfying than the occasional $1.25 I spend for a vending machine Coke at work among my occasional small but unnecessary spending moments.

  19. Lissa says:

    Guess I should just go off myself since my flame will just extinguish without children anyway. Ever consider some people just plain don’t LIKE children? Would prefer to have freedom in their lives? Have disabling medical conditions that they’d rather not pass on to another generation? There are a million reasons why one would choose not to have children and it is not ok for you to say their life has no meaning without influencing future generations.

    Sorry, I doubt that the human race will have any problem with a reduction in population. Only a major galactic catastrophe or medical breakthrough that eliminates all sex drive would accomplish that.

    I’ve enjoyed your blog for years, but your views about people who choose not to have children are where I draw a line. Looking down your nose at a growing group of the population by saying their lives have no meaning is downright wrong, and you know it.

  20. valletta says:

    I really do not understand this obsession you have with children and people who choose not to have them. It’s truly bizarre thinking, IMO, lacking logic.
    “Thus, anyone that chooses not to take on the burden of raising a child is themselves a candle in the wind. They’re relying on others to continue the flame by making the candles.” Huh?!
    What about the many, many parents who do not utilize *their* talents BECAUSE they are raising the next “candles”?!
    Think of the progress we may have had centuries ago if women were “allowed” to both raise children AND use their talents, as just one example.

  21. teri says:

    I too am distressed at how condescending this is to people who choose not to have children. What if I’m not called to be a parent? I suspect my call to ministry (I’m a pastor) is not invalidated by my lack of children. What about people who never find a partner? What about people who would be really bad parents? Parenthood is just as much a job as anything else (MORE, in fact, since it’s round-the-clock), and I have a hard time imagining you telling me to take a job I wouldn’t be good at and don’t want because it’s somehow the thing that will make me a more worthwhile human being.

    I’m not less of a person because I’m not a parent. And you’re not more of a person because you are one. We’re both children of God, equally valued and loved, but with different paths. Don’t look down on mine, and I won’t look down on yours.

  22. Lauren says:

    I really enjoy your blog, but your cooking posts annoy me to no end. For example, your instruction for 16 bean soup, include buying a bag of beans and following the recipe printed on the bag. Who couldn’t think of that on their own? That can hardly even be considered a recipe. I also think that your writing style becomes very “elementary” when you write about food. In a au gratin potato recipe, you write “stirring it in until you have about four cups of a thick, delicious liquid cheese mixture” and “breathe in the wonderful aroma deeply”. Those phrases just don’t sound like they should be included in a real recipe. I understand that many of your recipes are for beginning cooks, but I think you should try to write them using cooking terms and standard recipe form. I guess I just don’t like it when you editorialize the recipe — I just comes off “cheesy” (sorry for the pun) and amaturish to me.

  23. teri says:

    PS, I guess Mother Teresa was a waste of space, since she raised no children. too bad. And Jesus too. And Paul. they should have given up and raised kids instead, their impact on the world would have been greater.

  24. R says:

    I agree with reulte. Much of a child’s personality stems from genetics, and sometimes how a child turns out is the sheer randomness of genetics, not necessarily good or bad parenting, although parenting style certainly plays a role. Regardless, the choice to become a parent is a personal one, and there are pros and cons to both having and not having children.

  25. Karen M. says:

    As someone whose life is directly impacted by adoption, I take offense at your parenting remarks. Nowhere in your response to the question did you ever acknowledge that adoptive parents ARE parents, and the adopted children are influenced by those adoptive parents. You seem more concerned with passing on your genes, as if that is the only thing that makes a child “your child.” “Perhaps” nurture is more important than genetics, but only perhaps? Over 90% of adopted children view themselves as similar in behavior to their adopted parents. This is about the same percentage as bio children who see themselves as similar to their bio parents.

    I’m not knocking good parenting. What I am concerned with is your very myopic view that genetics is more important than good parenting (which, by the way, doesn’t always result in a child who can cure cancer).

    Also, was there more to the question that wasn’t printed? I didn’t see anyone refer to people with children as “breeders.” Generally I’ve heard that term used by the homosexual community to refer to the heterosexual community, not parents vs. non-parents.

  26. Shirley P says:

    Trent, what if your child cures cancer (awesome!) but doesn’t have children? Does that negate his or her cancer cure? I personally don’t think so, but what do you think?

  27. Vicky says:

    @ Karen:

    The term ‘breeder’ is used a lot by the childfree community. It usually refers to someone who has a child but is not a parent.

    Like, I mean, you can have children but that doesn’t make you a parent kind of thing. Children who have children at 11 and drop out of school to marry their 19 year old boyfriends. Those are breeders, sometimes called ‘BNP (Breeder, not parent)

    The Childfree community in general is more than grateful for people who have children and raise them properly to be respectable citizens, but tend to look down on the breeders.

  28. Michelle says:

    I’ve asked this before, but in a strange place so you might not have seen it.

    You’ve mentioned your distaste for Craigslist. Why? Is it from a bad experience (a la Aldi) or another reason? I’ve had very good experiences on Craigslist, made quite a bit of money, and found some great deals. I’m curious why you’re so against it.

  29. This really adds the human interest factor to you website. Food is the great equalizer, we all love it.

    John DeFlumeri Jr.

  30. Karen M. says:

    @ Vicky:

    Thank you for your explanation of the term. I gathered from another comment that this was a negative use of the word.

    That makes it even stranger (to me) that the answer included such a negative term. The question didn’t mention “breeder” or call parents names or mudsling. The answer, and its use of the term “breeder” in the negative, makes me think that the author believes that there is one way and ONLY one way to do this thing called life right. There is a lack of nuance and respect for different choices that I’ve noticed here often. You are either one thing or wrong, it seems.

    And Teri: Thank you so much for pointing out that people are not more/ better because they are parents, or less because they aren’t.

  31. Kat says:

    You continue to show such narrow mindedness, it amazes me. People who chose not to have children for whatever reason, contribute to the world in a different way. It isn’t any better or any less than those who have children do. It is just different.
    Since you can’t see this, it worries me that your children will grow up with this narrowmindedness instilled in them. It is bordering the lines of passing along racism.

  32. Rose says:

    Your views of child-making and raising boggle my mind. What are you going to do if neither of your children don’t have children? What if your little candles are not interested or able to get involved in the candle-makin’ business? Then the blessing of your genes and all those thousands of hours of nurturing are down the drain? Your influence on the world only extended for a mere 50ish years?

    I did not make my own candles. I adopted them. I must be at least 50% of a failure, I guess.

    I really have never heard of anyone having views like this.

  33. Tyler says:

    Trent, if there’s one thing I consistently agree with on, it’s your taste in music.

  34. partgypsy says:

    Trent I am a parent of two, and I also found it unsettling terming a person who does not have children as a candle in the wind. For example Abraham Lincoln while he did have children, has no living descendants. Does that somehow negate all the contributions he did to this world? Though I have children and and it is a deeply significant part of my life, I am not going to give my children the burden (which it is) of being responsible for my “signifcance” in the world. Everyone has their own responsibility to figure out what this thing called life is, and make their own contributions to the world in their own lifetime, and not palm it off to the next generation.

  35. JJ says:

    I think it’s far worse to have children and then resenting them than consciously choosing not to have children because you are aware of your limitations.

  36. Emily says:

    Let me preface this by saying I am a biological mother and an adoptive mother…Trent writes “…any flame that they can pass on is passed on to a candle made by someone else, a candle that’s already formed and given flame by the parents of that child (most of the time, of course). Sure, they might make the flame stronger…”

    As a biological parent, I was able to create the candle and flame as an adoptive parent I am able to make that flame (much) stronger. So have the teachers and other mentors my children have.

  37. Nicole says:

    I also have a child (and someday hope to have another) and am disturbed by the comments on having children.

    I don’t think you’re giving your children enough credit. Just like you changed from the environment in which you grew up (re: your epiphany that you needed to have financial security rather than spending money on stuff), your children can change for better or worse or just different from the way you intended. Sure, it seems like we’re having a big impact when they’re little, but even now they’re starting to become their own people. We influence them, but not always in the way we intend.

    I think I have a more direct and predictable impact on the students I teach. Most of them become more rational thinkers by the end of my classes and very few go in opposite directions in protest (and even those who do become better thinkers in the process). It may only be a small part of their lives, but it is much better controlled. I didn’t need to have children to do that.

    A better argument, I think, is that this isn’t a blog about saving the environment, it’s a blog about frugality. Frugality means spending on what you value and not spending on what you don’t. Obviously you value having your own children. Other people have other things in their utility function. There are many ways to make an impact on the world, if that is something you value, and having children of your own is one of them (but just one of them).

  38. It’s way over the top to suggest that anyone deciding not to have children is trying to extinguish the human race.

    I could take that radical stance and argue that anyone who has more than two is trying to destroy the planet.

  39. Shevy says:

    Well, *you’re* not sitting in a basement playing World of Warcraft. There are a lot of folks who are. I understand there are even boards for folks who are withdrawing from playing WoW compulsively. Not all people who choose not to have children spend their time doing things that benefit the world.

    Really, the problem with this whole discussion is that the folks who describe themselves as “childfree” and who call parents (not just bad parents or parents with many children, but anyone who chooses to have kids) “breeders” are generally very defensive and antagonistic towards people who have children. And there is a small segment of the childbearing population that is just as antagonistic towards those who do not have children.

    Most of us parents are happy for certain people to choose *not* to have children, and there are a variety of good reasons to make that decision. What we object to is having people criticize us for having made a different choice.

    Trent doesn’t say that non-parents can’t impact children. He points out that, generally speaking, a teacher, coach or relative is going to have less impact just because of the disparity in the amount of time the child spends with each. Of course, in cases where the child is ignored, neglected or abused even a small amount of time with a positive adult influence can have a disproportionately large effect.

  40. Andrea says:

    Johanna, thank you for saying what I wanted to say. As a never-married woman who would have had kids if I could have (and whose schedule makes single parenting an adopted child extremely difficult), I was saddened by the section on children. Trent’s normally very level headed, but in this case I am saddened to see him reinforcing, albeit implicitly, the stereotypes about the child-free.

    As a child-free woman I am no less committed to the future of humanity just because nobody with my genetics will be there to experience it. I am not more or less selfish than parents with children, nor am I worth more or less than they. As a teacher–of adults, not children–I help parents create stronger, more educated “candles”. And I refuse to accept that children are the only lasting “candles” out there.

  41. BirdDog says:

    This “candle in the wind” has been reading daily for over a year. I take offense to the fact that those of us who are childless are somehow less significant. Society makes me feel this way each day as I am quickly approaching 30 and still unmarried. I enjoy being single and I find my work with 120 students to be quite significant. Trent, you were way off the mark here.

  42. Andrea says:

    Sorry to post twice. I think lauding parents and their influences and achievements and sacrifices is a Very GOod Thing — when done without diminishing the child-free, and of course vice versa.

    I’m not child-free by choice, but I can think of many reasons to be. I have known several people whose daily influence has been far more damaging than helpful to their children. Had they been child-free, those people’s lights could have shone undimmed by anger and resentment on theirs and their children’s part. A more positive reason might be someone who would have made a perfectly good parent, but whose gifts and talents point them toward other forms of contribution.

  43. Hannah says:

    Your opinions about parenting biological children is really offensive. Are you saying adoptive or foster parents are second class? Before you post things like that, you need to really think through what you are saying. Do you really think that children get everything from their biological parents, not from the way they were raised (nature vs. nurture)? I thought you were a bio major, you should understand that that is not the case, I would like to see you revisit this idea after you have given it some more rational thought.

  44. rhymeswithlibrarian says:

    Trent said: “If I do it right, I can turn out a child that has the potential to cure cancer or breed a better crop that can feed starving children or create art that can truly uplift the human race or, perhaps best of all, find authentic joy in the world and find ways to share it with others. ”

    It’s quite telling that in your portrayal of the ideal outcome of parenting, the examples you give are of your children making their own direct contributions to the world rather than building their lives around their own children.

    So let’s say one of your children does become the next Crick or Beethoven or Ghandi, but doesn’t have children of his or her own. Will you call them just a candle in the wind? I’m betting you wouldn’t… so how come non-reproductive accomplishments are of minor importance in your generation and of major importance in their generation? If raising kids is the best contribution you think anyone can make, shouldn’t it be the highest aspiration that you have for your children?

    Oh, and just so you know: devoted parents sometimes “turn out” sociopaths, and crappy parents sometimes turn out geniuses and heroes. Babies aren’t extensions of yourself; they’re strangers, and you never know who you’re going to get.

    Partgypsy said: “Though I have children and and it is a deeply significant part of my life, I am not going to give my children the burden (which it is) of being responsible for my “signifcance” in the world. Everyone has their own responsibility to figure out what this thing called life is, and make their own contributions to the world in their own lifetime, and not palm it off to the next generation.”

    Very well said, thank you.

  45. Anne says:

    I LIKE it when Trent is “cheesy and amaturish”.

  46. Ginger says:

    Lissa, thank you. I agree:
    “I’ve enjoyed your blog for years, but your views about people who choose not to have children are where I draw a line. Looking down your nose at a growing group of the population by saying their lives have no meaning is downright wrong, and you know it.”

    Trent, you must be feeling defensive to have to bring this up AGAIN. After the last post about this.

    Especially since you did get some justly deserved criticism.

    You are entitled to your opinion, valid or not.

    I feel for the people reading this who cannot have children and want them. Imagine how they must feel, being reduced to second-class citizenship.

    Those of us who are childless by choice, we don’t feel “less than.” Because we absolutely know that not everyone can or should have children. Including a huge percent of the population who do.

    Just because you can “breed” doesn’t mean you should. Few people are really good parents and many do absolute harm that a child/adult spends a lifetime dealing with.

    Candle in the wind? I wish you would take the time to sit down and go through history and look at all the folks who did not have children and how they contributed to their communities, society in general and often the world in particular.

    Your remark concerns me on so many levels. It’s beyond you having a huge ego (but that is a part of it). It’s one thing to hold the belief that one should have children. It’s entirely another thing to dismiss those who don’t as being “candles in the wind.”

    You really think that EVERY child who appeared on the planet is this wonderful citizen, every one makes the world BETTER by their sheer presence? Cause seriously. That is beyond naive.

    There are plenty of people who ended up causing pain, misery and utter destruction. Yet these are all “god’s children.” Clearly there is a lot more going on here than just having kids in the hopes that the world doesn’t just disappear.

    You appear in so many ways to be a intelligent and questioning person. I like your work and your blog, but seriously, please leave out your religious beliefs. Or start another blog.

    I avoid any blogs where people use religion of any kind to justify their thoughts and choices on anything.

    TMI, Trent. TMI

    By the way, my life is what it is because of tons of SINGLE PEOPLE who never had children. My biological parents made my brother and I’s life a living hell. We’re still dealing with the aftermath of their abuse.

    Interestingly, it was always the single people (not the parents of anybody else) who reached out all our lives to help us function and recover.

    So frankly, from my perspective, I’m eternally grateful to them and the millions like them who do things daily to improve the life of kids everywhere.

    How could you dismiss a whole segment of the population? Including many religious leaders (who are single) who have contributed to the world (I guess all the ones who broke their vows and had kids with people were OK, cause they were not “candles in the wind.”).

    And yes, wasn’t Jesus single in his earthy incarnation?

    This type of thinking just infuriates me.

  47. Shevy says:

    Reading through the comments left while I was commenting, I’m interested in the number of different understandings there are of the term “breeder”.

    1. Homosexuals referring to heterosexuals
    2. People who choose not to have children referring to people who have children but don’t parent
    3. People who choose not to have children referring to people who are bad parents or have large families (a la Nadia Suleman or the Duggars, which are really the 2 ends of the large family spectrum)
    4. People who choose not to have children referring to people who have children, period.

    I’ve actually seen many vitriolic discussions on various boards using the term to refer to all of the above (although only rarely the first point mentioned).

    I really don’t think that one can compare a parent who is a substance abuser and neglects their many children to a loving, involved family of whatever size.

  48. David says:

    It is true (in fact, it is a tautology) that there exists at least one woman alive today such that if she does not have children, the entire human race will die out within a hundred years.

    But it does not follow from this, as Trent appears to believe, that the woman in question might read this blog. Many of the people who do read this blog will, I hope and trust, provide responsibly for future generations without feeling compelled to be responsible for providing those generations themselves.

  49. Rachel says:

    Seeing as Carlos’ question slipped through unanswered, here’s my take on it.

    I would announce to my father that I was going to start spending the same as he does on the lottery. I wouldn’t buy a ticket, but instead would put the money aside. At the end of a few months I would ask him how he was doing – ahead or behind? By how much? And then mention that I had a great system, no massive wins, but that I was now ‘x’ weeks X $5 ahead, and go ahead and explain how my system works…

    Of course, if he does get a big win during that time, then your point is lost, but the whole reason for being against it are the miniscule odds, so probably worth the chance

  50. marta says:

    While I generally enjoy reading this blog (even if I don’t agree with you on many issues), I find your narrow-mindness to be a huge turn-off. Not just regarding the childfree/less but also anyone who doesn’t quite fit your idea of the “right way to live”. It’s okay to be single, it’s okay to choose not to have kids, it’s okay to be anything other than straight, it’s okay to be atheist/agnostic/non-Christian, and so on.

    Your argument about the childfree not caring about the end of humanity was, frankly, ridiculous. There will always be people passing their genes on, unless there is some sort of catastrophe that turns everyone infertile. I might be off base here, but it kinda seems that the problem is that those people (poor, non-white, or whatever) are more likely to keep having kids.

    I don’t know. Just stop looking down on those who made different life choices, because this is getting pretty tiresome. As others have said, you are no better than anyone else just because you passed your genes on. I don’t have a car, I live in a small apartment, I don’t use A/C, I own a clothesline and I eat very, very little meat. My carbon print is most likely smaller than yours. Does this mean I am better than you? Or that you don’t care about the destruction of the planet? Not necessarily.

    Try to be more open-minded, Trent. Your kids will thank you.

  51. Kevin says:


    “It is true (in fact, it is a tautology) that there exists at least one woman alive today such that if she does not have children, the entire human race will die out within a hundred years.”

    Hmm, I’m not sure I understand. Are you claiming that in just 100 years from now (i.e., 3-4 generations), every living human on the entire planet will share a single, common ancestor? And that ancestor will be a woman who is currently alive today, who has not yet had children?

    Can you explain? I don’t see how this is a “tautology.” I think I might be missing something.

  52. Jenny says:

    Your warning against ARMs shows either a fear, or uncertainty of how the market or finance works. It is sad to advise people on something you don’t have a firm grasp on. There are many investors who only use ARMs and continuously refinance, but it’s worth it from the low interest rates and watching the market carefully and knowing when to refinance. ARMs are not evil, it’s the people who don’t understand how it works before getting this type of mortgage. It’s too bad you endorse this type of fear and stereotype of ARMs.

  53. imelda says:

    Trent, I’m a longtime reader. You know that I’ve enjoyed your posts for years now, even though I most often chime in when I disagree with something you’ve written!

    But I’m not going to be a frequent visitor anymore. Over the past few weeks, since your “idiocracy” discussion, I’ve found myself visiting less because I found that so distasteful and uncomfortable. Today’s comments have tipped the scale. With all due respect, you’re starting to sound like a serious asshole.

    Have you thought about how these comments make some of your readers feel? It’s great that you have kids– do you have to call the childless worthless leeches, as you essentially did? Have you thought about how someone who is infertile might feel reading that? You’ve already received a comment from an adoptive parent–do you feel sorry for how you made her feel?

    If you don’t, as I suspect you don’t, you need to re-examine your moral compass. I know you’ve had to grow thick skin in order to survive as a blogger. Even so, I PLEAD with you to take some of the more level-headed criticisms to heart. You’re a big proponent for self-improvement; if this many intelligent people are telling you that your judgmentalism is a problem, please at least consider it. Because it’s painfully offensive to some of us.

    Not that it matters to me anymore. Peace out, Trent.

    PS: I’ve never heard of people calling parents “breeders” and denigrating parenthood and advocating the end of humanity, but even such extremists exist, try not to lump anyone who doesn’t have children in with them.

  54. Nicole says:

    RE: The lottery.

    A book I read recently, Insufficient Funds, makes the argument that playing the lottery is like putting money in a savings account that charges you for its services. The argument is that if you’re the type of person who has trouble saving large sums (perhaps you can’t not spend, or you have relatives who want your money if you have any), playing the lottery is a way to get a large sum all at once. Although very few people get the big jackpot, many people do win smaller jackpots, which is like having saved a portion of the money spent on lottery tickets. You can then buy that new car, or whatever (similar in rationality to getting too big of a tax return at tax time– it’s an expensive form of saving).

    If you know you have problems saving, playing the lottery might actually be rational.

  55. Sarah says:

    It could be argued that those of us who *don’t* have kids are in some ways even more altruistic than those who do. I don’t have kids, but I pay for public education, my state’s health insurance program for poor kids, and all other social programs directed in part and in whole at children, and I donate regularly to drives for Christmas toys, etc., for kids in various forms of crisis. Since I have no kids to take advantage of any of these programs, I don’t get any direct benefit from any of that, but neither do I complain about it.

    Before people start judging the bankrupt, they would be well-advised to find out what they’re talking about. (You know, in case you have self-respect and would feel bad about being unkind about other people without having all the facts.) This is a major study on medical bankruptcy:


    Now, like any study of this kind, it is definitely open to varying degrees of criticism, but even if you cut their numbers fully in half, you can see that bankruptcies which were significantly contributed to by medical issues are in no way “extraordinary” cases. Unless you’ve ever dealt with a major famiy illness on limited insurance, you are no position to talk.

  56. Adam says:

    Wow. Grossly offensive here to people with reproductive problems, homosexuals, any one whose religious calling prevents them from having children, not to mention those who CHOOSE to be child free because they believe in adoption, saving the planet from overpopulation, or simply enjoy the freedom of not raising children.

    My mother chose to have a child at 59, after my younger brother was killed in an accident. Since it was in the media, I had to endure a lot of negative comments from people about her choice to bring a baby into the world at her age. I find your post just as offensive as I did their comments.

    Up until now, the post I most disagreed with was when you were all keen on how you saved 63 cents by filling up your tank at two different gas stations. We have a new winner! (loser?).

    Btw, JD has yet to post something that I found offensive, so he’s one up on you there in my books.

  57. Sophia says:

    Hmmm…my sister’s been married for 10 years and had two miscarriages…does that make her a bad person? Johanna, thank you for your comments, you have articulated my thoughts much more clearly than I could have. I, too, will not be reading this blog any longer. Trent, please stick to personal finance issues in the future. People who are either infertile, or cannot carry a baby to term for whatever reason, are NOT any less human or any less important than anyone else. FWIW, I am a parent. And I don’t consider my “contribution” to society any greater than anyone else’s. With your wife being a teacher, Trent, I am frankly shocked by your thoughts on this topic. Also, if spending time raising, parenting, and “nurturing” your children is the be-all and end-all of life, why are yours in daycare?

  58. Christina says:

    Hmmm…my sister’s been married for 10 years and had two miscarriages…does that make her a bad person? Johanna, thank you for your comments, you have articulated my thoughts much more clearly than I could have. I, too, will not be reading this blog any longer. Trent, please stick to personal finance issues in the future. People who are either infertile, or cannot carry a baby to term for whatever reason, are NOT any less human or any less important than anyone else. FWIW, I am a parent. And I don’t consider my “contribution” to society any greater than anyone else’s. With your wife being a teacher, Trent, I am frankly shocked by your thoughts on this topic. Also, if spending time raising, parenting, and “nurturing” your children is the be-all and end-all of life, why are yours in daycare?

  59. rhymeswithlibrarian says:

    I’m not sure this what David meant, but this is my interpretation:

    Of all of women of childbearing age alive today: if only 10 of them have children, then humanity can’t last another century. If a billion of them have children, then humanity will be able to continue. There’s some number far above 10 and far below a billion that’s the tipping point between us being a sustainable species or not. Maybe the magic number is 10 thousand. So, if 9999 women have children but the 10 thousandth woman doesn’t, then she is the one who doomed humanity to extinction.

    It’s not all that logical to me – eg., if you win an election by just one vote, whose vote was the one that won it? – but that’s my guess. And personally, I put the blame on her partner, just cause I always blame the man.

  60. Four Pillars says:

    It takes an extreme kind of arrogance to think that a parent can be the difference between a child being a world-class scientist or a sociopath.

  61. Nicole says:

    A thought…

    There are several things in this most recent post that suggest maybe you need to get more sleep (or perhaps accidentally uploaded an earlier draft than the final).

    Could you set up a guest blog week or something to give yourself a break while you work on finishing projects and organize around all the other things that have been causing you stress? Remember… your work may be important, but it isn’t vital.

  62. Jane says:

    “Oh, and just so you know: devoted parents sometimes “turn out” sociopaths, and crappy parents sometimes turn out geniuses and heroes. Babies aren’t extensions of yourself; they’re strangers, and you never know who you’re going to get.”

    I totally agree. I am only at the beginning of parenting (my son is only 17 months and I’m currently pregnant), but I think you have to be very careful about taking credit for any accomplishments that your children might make in life. I get bothered by parents who have such high aspirations for their children. I just want my son to be happy – whether that means he’s successful in life or not is really not my concern. I don’t want to force him to be memorable or to do or create something groundbreaking. I want to raise him to be kind to others, but that’s about it. The rest is up to him.

    One of the most disturbing books I’ve read recently was a book about the Columbine shootings. Based on the author’s research, it was evident that both boys had grown up in intact, caring families. One was a sociopath, the other one was confused and depressed. In neither case could you really blame it on the parents. Yes, even my now darling spawn could one day decide to do something horrible or tragic.

  63. Shannon says:

    Your comments regarding children are extremely offensive for the reasons that many others have pointed out.

    You want to have kids – great! It’s your right and I’m sure you will raise them to be very nice ppl. HOWEVER, you certainly do not have the right to make the universal statements regarding children and parenting that you have made. I would expect an apology, but I know you no longer respond to comments.

  64. Des says:

    “If no one had children, we would all be candles in the wind. In one hundred years, there would be no human race. We would pass nothing on to the future, any of us.

    Thus, anyone that chooses not to take on the burden of raising a child is themselves a candle in the wind. They’re relying on others to continue the flame by making the candles.”

    If no one in the world was a farmer, in much less than 100 years there would be no human race. Thus, anyone that does not take on the burden of growing food is relying on others to continue the human race.

    We are a society. We rely on one another for our existence. There are many decisions that, if chosen by EVERYBODY would result in the end of the human race, but which are perfectly acceptable when not chosen by everyone. Child bearing/rearing is one of them. Are you REALLY concerned that EVERYONE will stop having kids? I find that highly unlikely.

    You think you’re being logical, but frankly it appears you are just trying to justify your own decisions.

  65. Rap says:

    “Really, the problem with this whole discussion is that the folks who describe themselves as “childfree” and who call parents (not just bad parents or parents with many children, but anyone who chooses to have kids) “breeders” are generally very defensive and antagonistic towards people who have children.”

    Perhaps because parents like Trent deem non parents as useless candles who aren’t living right? No kids, no essential humanity, just a destructive force that wants humanity to die out? I’m not a parent, therefore Trent can and does judge me as not living a fulfilling life. I am just a candle in the wind with NO accomplishments and I need to smile, and bow down to his wisdom since he is a PARENT and I am nothing in comparison. His seed has been spread, he is *someone*, he has a *legacy* of genetics! He is creating life and non parents just want the death of the race.

    But hey, he’s a parent and has bred his woman three times now so apparently he’s allowed to say something incredibly judgemental about non parents and of course has the right to be offended at the term “breeder”. Because the people using it? Are unfulfilled dead candles who have failed to spread their genes.

    I mean really, Trent, I respect your views on kids to a point, and that point is when you publicaly state you’re better than non parents simply because you’ve had kids.

  66. Brent says:

    I know everybody got on a bitching session as far as Trent’s “hostile” views about children, but people should consider history before they continue.
    For instance, let us look at the Shakers. The Shakers were a very influencial and popular group over a century ago. Now most people know them as furniture makers. There are only three members left. Why? Easy, they do not have children. There are literally hundreds of groups like them in the last two centuries. The average person does not know about them because they do not care to do the research.
    To all the people who expect an apology, here is a suggestion. Let your decendants duke it out with Trent’s decendants to see who it wins the ideoloical war.
    You must rely on ideoloical conquest.

  67. “Except for J.D., of course. He’s going down.”

    LOL. Sorry, Trent, but I bet J.D.’s Mini Cooper could drive circles around that Prius of yours…. But I’d love to see that anyhow. ;)

    The whole kid thing…. I’m not really gonna touch it. Just don’t think I’m some kind of whacked out, horrible person because I don’t feel like having a child. Honestly, I don’t want to have a child because I don’t want him or her to have to grow up in a world that’s so much worse than what I had to go through…. And it’s only been a few years since I graduated high school.

  68. Kevin M says:

    Wow, I made the mailbag!

    I think you kind of missed the point of my original comment though. I have no doubt you can deeply influence your own children. I was just pointing out that by having such a direct line to so many people you no doubt influence more than you could possibly raise as children. You’re a talented writer, even if you had no kids you could use that to influence a large number of people. Perhaps we’re arguing quality of influence versus quantity.

  69. Carrie says:

    Anyone want to talk about something besides kids? Trent, please stop bringing it up-it’s getting old.
    I wonder if the cheese mixture in the au gratin recipe would work with pasta for mac and cheese.

  70. Gretchen says:

    If everyone was meant to have children, there wouldn’t be so many kids in foster homes/needing adoption. To say nothing of the people who can’t for whatever reason have biological children of their own: what about them?

    childless by choice.

  71. Adam says:

    Another note, JD doesn’t have any kids. I guess he’s a candle in the wind too, except his PF blog gets a lot more traffic.

  72. SP says:

    I just wanted to add yet another comment to say that your candle in the wind section was completely closed minded and offensive. (Even just the implication that all Mr Holland did was show up and wave a baton was insulting!)

    As a point of reference, I’m childfree, but intend to (probably) have children someday.

    It is the cultural norm (in the middle class midwest where I grew up) to go to college, get married fairly young, then have kids. It’s completely unnecessary to defend your choice so harshly against “attacks” from those who don’t have children. The only place that happens is on the internet, not in real life. While it is almost completely acceptable to ask newlyweds “So, when are you going to start a family?!” I really doubt anyone reacted your your news of your third child with anything but positive comments (except on the internet).

    Everyone else (johanna, marta) has articulated it much better. Please, stop with the attitude.

  73. Bill says:

    JD also paid for his car.

  74. Vicky says:

    Also, this is a really huge pet peeve of mine.

    To the commentors:

    If you WANT children, but either do not have them now or can not have them, you are child-LESS.

    If you do NOT want children, now, or ever (this includes adoptions) then you are child-FREE.

  75. Jim says:

    I think Trent’s justification for having children himself is getting twisted into condemnation for people who choose not to have children.

    Having children and having an impact on the world aren’t mutually exclusive nor dependent on one another.

    There are many famous people through history who did not have children yet had lasting meaningful impacts on the world. I could cite a Pope or two.

  76. Rap says:

    Jim – I’m sorry but this:

    “Thus, anyone that chooses not to take on the burden of raising a child is themselves a candle in the wind. ”

    Feels a lot like Trent throwing some condemnation down on people who are childless by choice. Sorry… But as someone childless by choice, I get tired of parents noting how my life is nothing because they have a kid and therefore are better than I. I don’t get get “people who choose not to have children can still possibly be as fulfilled” from anything Trent said. He’s drawn a line in the sand – people who don’t have children by choice simply can never attain the fulfillment Trent has. No kids, no life, no legacy, you’re just a candle in the wind producing nothing while Trent’s genes passing to his children assures him a place in the world.

  77. I just wanted to comment that I haven’t been offended by any of Trent’s comments about children, even though his view doesn’t line up with mine 100%. And I love the food posts and references. And I too cracked up upon reading the last line, especially since it’s not what we usually hear from you, Trent. :>)

  78. Emerson says:

    I agree that having children is a good thing, but your reasoning is incredibly flawed – as many commenters have already pointed out.

    In addition, parents have far less influence than a child’s peers when it comes to a child’s development. You might want to read up on social and/or developmental psychology.

    Great blog by the way!

  79. Mister E says:

    Just the latest in the bi-monthly-ish series of sermons on why having children is The Right Thing To Do.

    I’ve been reading the blog for a couple of years now and for the past several months the tone really seems to be devolving into being extremely self righteous and vaguely insulting.

    And anyone who disagrees with anything is either just being negative for the sake of being negative or obviously just doesn’t get it or isn’t “there” yet.

  80. Jim says:

    Rap, I meant that Trent’s argument started out trying to justify his actions but has ending up condeming others. I don’t think Trent set out to bash other people but thats what he’s doing. I believe trent isn’t intenionally trying to say anyone without kids is useless or something. Basically I think he just shoved his foot in his mouth in 4 paragraphs or less and is probably now mad about everyone misunderstanding him.

  81. Jill #2 says:

    Psychologist you are not. Please stick with financial advice, not your thoughts on parenting.

    Parents definitely do have a certain degree of influence on their children, but ultimately, you cannot mold your child into who you want them to be. This is because they are their own person. There are those parents who’ve done everything right in the aspects of parenting, but still “turn out a sociopath”. And there are those people who obviously had no business being a parent or were horrible parents, but turned out doctors/lawyers, etc. Children are not an extension of you – they are their own persons with their own personalities and traits. They are “molded” by there OWN many experiences (a lot outside of the home, by “non-breeders”), and their own personal choices. And really, are you worried that all people in this world are going to stop pro-creating? C’mon. Absolutely ridiculous.

    I don’t think you intended to come across as narrow-minded in this post (which you most certainly do), which is why you should stick soley to financial advice and tips. I think you may lose some readers after this post – possibly myself included. AND I AM a parent.

  82. SP says:

    “If you WANT children, but either do not have them now or can not have them, you are child-LESS.
    If you do NOT want children, now, or ever (this includes adoptions) then you are child-FREE.”

    Personally, I disagree. Both mean without children. To me, “childless” implies my life is lacking because I don’t have a child. If I have children in a few years, I think I’ll look back on these days as being “childfree”. Currently, I’m enjoying the fact that I don’t have children. For now. Maybe always. Maybe not. But for now, I’m child-free!

  83. cv says:

    I agree with many of the previous commenters about the comments on kids. It’s offensive and misguided.

    Once again, you seem to have trouble seeing the world from vantage points other than your own. It seems like you spent much of your early twenties goofing off and spending money, so you talk about single people as if they don’t contribute to society. You find great personal fulfillment in having children, so anyone who doesn’t must be wasting their lives. Your children are still young enough that you think how your kids turn out is entirely due to the effort of the parents, and anyone who has a difficult and disturbed teenager just didn’t nurture that child properly. The greatest pleasures in your life come from simple things that don’t require spending money, so anyone who takes great pleasure in fine wine, attending concerts, driving nice cars, world travel, or other expensive pursuits must be shallow and less enlightened than you.

    I’ve been reading your blog for years, Trent, and I’ve read some interesting and thought-provoking stuff that’s helped me in my own approach to frugality. I’m losing patience, though, with the judgmental tone of many of your posts. Over and over, you manage to go beyond happiness with your own life and your own decisions to disparaging those who have made different choices.

    I know bloggers have to develop a thick skin and let criticism roll off them, but this thread isn’t a bunch of flames calling you an idiot. This is a number of your regular commenters offering thoughtful feedback that you’re on the wrong track. I hope you listen.

  84. Leia says:

    I’ve found the childfree community to be full of hate as vigorous as the backlash you posted here against them, Trent. Like any group, there are extremes to one side or the other, and I think it’s possible for you to be acknowledged for the worthwhile contribution you’re giving without the negativity seen here.

  85. Noadi says:

    I’ve chosen not to have children as well. I know very well I would not be a great parent, I don’t have patience with young children and I don’t know how to relate to them at all. I adore my younger cousins and now my baby nephew (for a couple hours at a time, then I want them to go away) but I want none of my own. I strongly believe that people who wouldn’t be good parents shouldn’t have kids and that includes myself.

    You chose to have children for your own reasons and I respect them. You should respect the choice of those who don’t have children.

  86. Vicky says:

    @ SP:

    You aren’t childfree if you want children.

    Really, you may enjoy your time without them now, but it’s being childless if you do want them.

    Claiming to be childfree, then wanting children is kind of what makes it hard for those of us who really are childfree to get procedures done to ensure we stay that way.

    Too many people are already telling us ‘you’ll change your mind!’ when we say we are childfree, or when we want to have sterilization procedures done, which is why we have the distinction.

  87. AnnJo says:

    I vacillate between considering myself childless and childfree, but for one thing I’m very thankful:

    I have a healthy enough sense of self and tolerance for the peaceable expression of differing opinions by others that I don’t consider what Trent said offensive at all. Yes, I can see how someone could consider it offensive if they wanted to, but why would I want to?

    Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that Trent really just doesn’t LIKE childless/free people. So what? It’s not like any of these “offended” people depend on him for their livelihood, or that he’s going to reach through their monitors and give their noses a sharp tweak.

    There’s no constitutional right to an offense-free environment, and our degree of offense-taken is largely within our own control, so wouldn’t it be better to focus on getting a grip on our own offense-meter than to pile on Trent for his remarks?

    Or, as they used to say: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I always felt that sentence was lacking four words: “unless I let them.” No one has to surrender that much power over their emotions unless they choose to.

  88. AnnJo says:

    My remark at #72 above isn’t meant to suggest that people should not offer Trent the benefit of their opinions and challenge what he says.

    Disagree all you want, but the claim that you or someone else took offense adds nothing to the rightness or wrongness of Trent’s position – unless you think that all our opinions should be controlled by the emotional fragility of the most thin-skinned person who might hear them.

  89. Lorraine says:

    It sounds like Trent is reacting to comments he may have received when he announced that he has another baby on the way, or perhaps to thoughts he’s been having on that subject. I’m sure it has occurred to him that another child (3 now, more than the replacement number necessary for himself and his wife) will be an additional financial and planetary burden, however much joy the child also adds to his life. And maybe in some way he needs to justify this additional expense to himself/the planet.

    But could he not do this without resorting to some kind of eugenics-type argument? As in, the WRONG PEOPLE are having babies these days, and we’re the RIGHT KIND of people, so we should have more to raise the overall average IQ etc. That makes a lot of people uncomfortable and starts to sound like code for various types of lebensborn programs.

    Trent, if you want to have another baby, go ahead! Do so, and I wish you all well, without judgement! but don’t trash others who cannot or choose not to make those same choices. It really is the height of arrogance to suggest that you are saving the planet by having children, by virtue of your good genes and the upbringing you’re giving your kids. And what a burden to put on them! I hope your kids are perfect, that nothing ever goes wrong, that you never have problems or have kids that are (gasp!) merely ORDINARY. Your life will have been for naught.

    I say this as a woman who wanted to have kids, had several miscarriages, and ended up with an emergency hysterectomy. I’d give anything to have kids. But it’s not going to happen. To suggest that my life is without purpose now is adding a cruel insult to a bitter injury.

  90. Courtney says:

    A lot of you are twisting Trent’s words and attributing statements to him that he did not make.
    Truth of the matter is that from a biological/genetic standpoint, those who don’t have kids are candles in the wind. You are not passing on any of your DNA, therefore your genetic material dies out with you. I believe that’s the point Trent was trying to make.
    I think it’s great that Trent clearly enjoys fatherhood and values his children so much. We need more parents like that!

  91. Sandy says:

    I think your comments about children should be limited to cloth diapers, allowances and college funding. When you go beyond those types of articles, trent, and offer your views about how anyone should live, you are bound to make people upset.
    George Washington never had kids, either. He did ok as far as legacy goes, I think.
    Also, I’ve read that for every American baby born it’s the same as 16 third world children being born, due to all of the stuff that American kids “need” growing up. Congrats…you’ll soon have the world equivalent of 48 kids! With world population as high as it is now, I’m thinking that the world will not run out of kids anytime soon.

  92. Jonathan says:

    While some some comments may just be from people complaining about being offended (we can’t know their intent), others are clearly meant to let Trent know that he runs the risk of alienating a portion of his audience. Some bloggers may write purposely controversial articles to increase traffic, but I don’t think that was Trent’s purpose here. I also do not think he meant to offend so many people, so hopefully the comments are being received as constructive criticism. Obviously Trent is entitled to his opinion, and has the right to express is as he wants. I would hate to see him lose readers, however, because of an anti-childfree/less attitude.

  93. Anne KD says:

    I’m childless and it’s not my choice. I didn’t take offense at Trent’s ‘candles’ thing, but that’s probably because I’m used to hearing that kind of thing. My professional contributions to the world have done a lot of good to thousands of people, and I contribute my time to my extended family- I have been teaching my nieces and nephews about all sorts of stuff simply by helping my sisters-in-law. My nephew who tells me that he got 100% on his science exam, from one 10 minute session; my nieces who now know it’s possible to make blankets; so on and so forth. One Sunday at church, the person preaching said those women who are childless have many contributions to make also, just in a different way. I keep that in mind constantly now when I get upset over the infertility thing. I refuse to let anyone tell me I’m not contributing to the world, for such is not the case.

  94. Nicole says:

    #78 Very well put, Jonathan. I agree 100%.

    This reader’s mailbag post just doesn’t seem as well thought out, on many dimensions, as every other post I’ve read on this site.

  95. Rosa Rugosa says:

    I actually come here for the financial information and useful tips. When Trent gets all self-righteous and starts acting like he thinks he’s a philospoher guru, I do find it a bit off-putting. However, I really couldn’t care less about his opinions on parenthood. My husband and I have a very happy childfree marriage, and nobody else’s opinion about our choices is of any concern to us.

  96. JJ says:

    Trent — looks like you’ve caused a bit of a tizzy with your comments on having children.

    My parents had me — a biological child — and then adopted my brother five years later. Frankly, they shouldn’t have had either of us. My parents are selfish and they resent anything that looks like a demand from either of their children.

    I understand what you’re saying about how having children is the best thing a person can do with their life. At the same time, it would be nice if you recognized that some people just shouldn’t have kids. I really do think that my parents should have never had me.

    I’m now 28, but I’m totally messed up, and I’d be a terrible parent. Can’t you cut some slack for those of us who are still trying to figure out how to love ourselves?

  97. L says:

    I don’t have or want children, but I work in early childhood education and have a comment about the tutor comment/question. What a child learns through experiences (and conventional teaching methods) from infancy through age six basically forms the majority of their personality. I have seen children begin struggling in preschool and kindergarten and never seem to catch up. It may be due to the school system, parents, etc – but my point is, for some children, I definitely think getting the attention they need VERY early in life and school may be more important than a college education. I think all parents should be required to learn about the research about children’s brain activity in the early years before having children – it is so amazing, and is more active than any college student’s! :)

  98. SP says:

    “Claiming to be childfree, then wanting children”

    But I don’t want children. But I suspect I’ll probably (maybe) want them eventually. Do I really have to decide today in order to label myself appropriate? I’m childfree, I get to decide.

    I don’t think me saying that affects your ability to get sterilized. You know you won’t change your mind. I think I might, but I don’t know yet. I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as “childless” though. To me it implies I’m missing something I want.

    People are rude to tell you that you will change your mind. Especially if this is your doctors?

  99. Laura In Atlanta says:

    It’s threads like this one that I wish Trent would jump in and speak up . . . .

  100. teri says:

    @SP–doctors say this all the time. I’ve had at least three tell me that I’ll change my mind when I’m older. I’m 30, single, no prospects of a boyfriend let alone a husband, and have known since I was a child that I didn’t want children. Yet no doctor will allow me to do anything about organs I don’t plan to use but significantly increase my risk of various health issues (and I have family history that would suggest removing them!)…because “you’ll probably change your mind about kids later.”
    probably not.

  101. Jen says:

    There is a heck of a lot I could say and would rather like to say on the kids vs. no kids topic, but for the sake of my sanity I think I’ll stick to two relatively useless points:

    1) It takes a village, as the saying goes.

    2) Mr. Holland was not exactly Father of the Year.

  102. Jen says:

    Wow Trent… ouch!

    I don’t agree 100% with what you’ve said about parenting in this post. Others have posted very good counterpoints. I’d like to think you didn’t mean it exactly as it sounds, but either way I’m not offended.

    I firmly believe that some people’s genes should never be passed on. Unfortunately, many of them do have children. In addition, I commend the people who choose a childfree life, no matter their reasons. Way to know yourselves well!

    I had a daughter with a severe genetic syndrome at age 20. Though her prognosis was 6 months to 2 years, she lived to be seven. I was divorced (a good thing!) and childless by age 28. I always wanted to marry again, and have more children. At age 36, I was beginning to think it wouldn’t happen, and I was ok with that. Previous relationship experience made me unwilling to “settle”.

    Then I met and married my wonderful husband at age 37. We planned to have 2 children beginning immediately… you know… that biological clock. :) We have been blessed with a wonderful son, and we are so happy to have him. He is tons of fun! BUT, it is SO much more work than I ever believed it would be (so much different than my daughter… she was easy). Also, I have come to realize that all those childless, single years made me a bit selfish. I honestly don’t think I want anymore children. We have delayed that plan for 2 children, and it likely will be permanent. I am ok with that too.

  103. Rob says:

    I’ve been enjoying your financial advice for about a year, year and a half now, I think, but the little diatribe on children and child rearing is, honestly, quite off-putting.

    Firstly, the whole “passing on my flame” metaphor smacks of the the self-delusion of immortality some think is afforded by having children. It’s kind of arrogant, short sighted and filled with obfuscation.

    “Breeder” is flip and dismissive, but when viewed in the context the last 20-30 years of the fetishization of child-rearing and the continued nerfing of the harsh edges of reality “for the children,” it becomes more understandable.

    It is, of course, reasonable in that “rationalizing the importance of decisions” sense that parents begin to assume that parenting is the most important thing they do [it’s a genetic and behavorial trick, really, so that the defenseless tykes survive] just as single folks rationalize freedom, etc as more important in the choices they’ve made…

    But the truth of the matter is that studies continue to show that parents have far less impact on their kids than is traditionally thought. Judith Harris’ “The Nurture Assumption” is a solid intro to the subject. A decent summary by Malcolm Gladwell here – http://www.gladwell.com/1998/1998_08_17_a_harris.htm

    …and one [correlative] study here – “Parents’ influence on kids’ behavior: Not much” – http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/2008/05/parents_influence_on_kids_beha.php

  104. Sinthe says:

    I think your little treatise on the necessity of bearing children is, in a word or two, horrible and illogical. For one, your condemnation of people who choose not to have children is mean-spirited, ill-informed, and close to hateful in some places. Regardless of your intentions, that is how it reads.

    More often than not, a person who chooses not to have children simply makes that choice for him/herself, and has no desire to see the end of the human race (this is both ill-informed AND illogical. Seriously, it makes only a little more sense then the argument that gay people are awful because if everyone were gay, humans would cease to exist). Our lives are not hollow for the lack of children (biological, as you implied. Shame on you! Not everybody decides against having children; for some, the decision has already been made, and this is very difficult for them! That was incredibly insensitive of you). If they were, we would have chosen to have children.

    Now, you basically argue that everyone should have children… which is horribly, tragically wrong. No, seriously. Far too many people who should not procreate end up having children… and it’s not the parents who suffer.

    You know what? I am fine with being “a candle in the wind.” I chose this, and frankly? It’s none of your damn business… Just like your choice to have children is none of mine. I don’t make judgmental blog posts featuring dense, neigh-incomprehensible metaphors about your reproductive choices. Please don’t do the same to an entire group of people. Or, at the very least, put a little more thought and research into your words.

  105. As far as I am concerned, I figured out that I don’t enjoy raising children, but I do enjoy raising adults even if we’re not genetically related—we will still be culturally related. It is probably the rare parents, who can keep teaching their kids new things throughout their lives.

    Oh, and don’t worry about everybody just stopping having children. That will never happen; the drive is simply too strong. Worry more about adults dying before they can pass on their knowledge. That would seriously impact the maturity of society.

  106. Jeroen says:

    I’m not going to repeat stuff that has been said above, but let me just say this: Trent’s kids are still very young. So it’s easy to overestimate your impact on them.

    Trent, IMO you are seriously overestimating the influence you will have in ‘molding’ your children. And that way frustration lies, for both yourself as a parent, as for the children themselves.

  107. Lisa says:

    “Comments that don’t contribute to the growth and thoughtfulness of other readers will be deleted”.

    Pity you don’t apply that same measure to your own comments, Trent.

    I am 52 and my husband is almost 60. I was born with a congenital birth defect that I did not want to risk passing on to a child. I was also severely abused as a child and adolescent and, as a result, deal with PTSD, severe clinical depression and panic disorder. I was afraid to risk the mental health of any child I might bring into the world. I met and married a very understanding man. Together, we committed to use the funds we would have spent to raise children of our own, to help and benefit others – including children.

    We have kept our commitment of giving and sharing our finances, as well as investing ourselves in the lives of our 15 nieces and nephews. We were able to provide them with many, many happy memories, desired gifts, and wonderful activities and experiences that their parents were unable to provide due to lack of finances. At this stage in our lives, we are still giving to our church, as well as the six charities we have come to really believe in thru the years – two of them benefiting children specifically. We are also committed to helping our parents in their final years as much as we possibly can – both so that they will not need help from some government agency and also so our nieces and nephews will hopefully be able to enjoy even more happy years with their grandparents.

    Add to that my husband’s four years of military service to our country and twenty-five years of service as a firefighter/paramedic, and my years double-couponing and bargain shopping to provide food and clothing to various food pantries, battered women’s shelters, rescue missions, and animal shelters in the Los Angeles area, and – sorry to disagree with you, Trent, but we don’t feel like mere “candles in the wind”.

    I’m not relating these details because we are unique; just the opposite. There are MANY, MANY people who, individually and with partners, make it a life goal to help, to give, and to serve others … their family members, friends and strangers – anyone who is in need in one way or another. Many who – for one reason or another – do not have children of their own are therefore in a position to give to others far more than those who have children of their own and need most or all of their time and income to raise them.

    BOTH types of people are needed in order for humankind to survive and thrive. Of course, we need adults who desire to have children, and are committed to nurturing, loving, teaching and shaping them to be kind, responsible members of society. We also need those who choose not to be parents (whether by birth or adoption), and instead feel the need to sacrifice of themselves in order to give time, money, effort, energy and support of all kinds to those in need, as well as worthy causes that benefit the environment, animals, and so on.

    For one group of people to look down their noses at the other is nothing short of shortsighted, arrogant, and ignorant. Trent has reacted strongly in the past when he felt that he was being personally attacked. I would like to see him treat his readers – all of them – with the same courtesy he wants for himself. I’ve caught nuances of this same arrogance in a couple of other posts of his regarding having children. This one reeked of judgemental self-righteousness and is most unbecoming.

  108. Andi says:

    I’ve read most of the comments and thought maybe I should go back and reread the post. As a teacher, I think the most disturbing statement is “If I do it right, I can turn out a child that has the potential to cure cancer or breed a better crop that can feed starving children or create art that can truly uplift the human race or, perhaps best of all, find authentic joy in the world and find ways to share it with others. If I do it wrong, I turn out a sociopath.” What kind of pressure does that put on a parent? If my kid screws up, I must not have “done it right.” There are many kids that have very loving parents that did the best they knew how and aren’t finding ways to cure cancer. Kids are autonomous beings that will make choices on their own regardless of what we do right or wrong. Our job is to guide and direct them and help them make good choices.

  109. Lenore says:

    Dearest Trent, you’re probably all hopped up on “gonna be a Dad again” endorphins, but I think you owe your readers without genetic offspring (for whatever reason) an apology. I’m no “candle in the wind” but a childfree-by-choice stick of dynamite! My little spark will burn on long enough for me through my endeavors and the lives I’ve touched. No need for a living legacy.

    Many people love parenting, but I’ve always known I’m not one of them. I don’t tell anyone not to have children, and I’ve never appreciated being told that I should. My tubes are tied, but my tongue is not, so I need to concur that your words were out of line. Disregard my advice if you wish (I’m not biologically relevant anyway), but I really feel you ought to re-examine your stance. Maybe ask yourself why it matters to you what the rest of us do with our eggs or sperm.

  110. littlepitcher says:

    @Lissa–so correct, I have a birth defect and have chosen not to pass it on to the next generation. It is benign, does not affect function, but the bigotry it has elicited will not be passed on to any future generation of my loins. Fundamentalists routinely accuse childless women of abortion, as though we, unlike some of their children, don’t have the intelligence to utilize contraception.
    We contribute to society as we can, or in the case of bigots–if we are allowed to, practicing societal contribution covertly, in end runs around prejudice and through the small gaps, as though productivity and action were subversive and forbidden.

  111. Sharon says:

    I think you made several mistakes here.
    First you tried to get get parenting advice from popular songs.
    Second, you didn’t even interpet the songs properly. Elton John’s song was about Marilyn Monroe (no children) and then Princess Diana (two children). So where is the concept that having children affected their “candle in the wind” status? The songs were more clearly about these young women and their personal legacy, not their children. Read the lyrics. Norma Jean is fighting for her sense of self and the media writing her life and her lagacy. The Princess Diana version is all about the lagacy she left Britain and the world. Nothing about her kids.

    Goodbye England’s rose
    From a country lost without your soul
    Who’ll miss the wings of your compassion
    More than you’ll ever know

    See, the _country_ will miss her.

    Then you threw in Billy Joel. The fire in “We Didn’t the Fire” is somthing to be fought (you could argue evil or just the march of time).
    Again, look at the lyrics:

    We didn’t start the fire
    No we didn’t light it
    But we tried to fight it

    Comments have been made on Mr. Holland’s Opus.

    I’m just amazed at those paragraphs. You are generally more thoughtfull and together.

  112. Kevin says:

    I believe the Baby Boomers have sabotaged our freedom to have children. I believe that my generation, by and large, can only afford two of the following three things:

    1. Children
    2. A financially comfortable retirement
    3. Ample housing

    While the Baby Boomers could afford all 3, I believe their rampant borrowing and spending in government, elimination of corporate pensions (in the name of increased profits and growing their 401(k)’s) and driving up of housing and education costs have eliminated that possibility for their own children. We must now choose which two we value most.

    Trent, I personally feel like you’re suggesting that I’ve chosen wrong and you’ve chosen correctly. That’s the source of my resentment.

  113. Karla says:

    Regarding the ING Orange Mortgage, this is not an ARM loan, it is a balloon loan. The difference is somewhat subtle but they are not the same thing.

    In an ARM, your interest rate resets periodically (say, every five years); however, it is still the same loan.

    In the ING balloon (which I actually have), the payments are based on a 30-year amortization and after five years, the balance of the loan (the balloon) is due. At that time, you either pay off the balance or refinance. If you refinance, you restart the clock on the mortgage (i.e. the payments are now structured on a 30-year amortization of the new starting balance).

  114. Charlotte says:

    Trent’s children are still babies, so it’s easy for him to be judgmental. We all know bad parents who have good children and good parents who have bad children. If it were that simple, why is there still no cure for cancer? Life — and having children — is a crap shoot.

    As for Trent’s recipes — his lack of knowledge about nutrition and the frequent typos all make for good comments, but sometimes bad food.

    I seldom read what he has to say anymore. I go straight to the comments. That’s where the good reading can be found.

  115. Shannon says:

    I think it speaks volumes that despite the hurtful and ignorant nature of Trent’s remarks, he hasn’t as much as made a comment regarding his statements.

  116. Anna says:

    @Lisa: How thankful I am to have taken time out of a busy morning to read all the way down to your comment. You and your husband are an inspiration for a life well lived, and with attitudes and plans and structures well in place to continue enriching your life and the lives of those around you for many years to come.

  117. Sunshine says:

    Well, I’m not gonna touch (too much) on any of the debate raging on above. Perhaps I disagree with Trent, but big deal, I don’t take offense to his comments.

    I am a 30yo woman in a homosexual relationship with no kids (maybe that’s a temp situation, maybe not). Amongst my friends, we use the term “breeders” mostly as a joke for when straight people do something “crazy” or when we see misbehaving kids; we all share a look and say, “damn breeders” and then laugh. We do extend this commentary onto our parents, also.

  118. Sunshine says:

    @ Shannon – Just wanted to add that Trent rarely comments on his posts, particularly raging debates like this one. Whenever he has, it ends up backfiring big time. I imagine that he’ll write a follow-up post after he’s had time to reflect on what exactly caused the flare up and perhaps clarify his position. I recall him doing this several times in the past.

    Also, I love the food posts as well. I have yet to try any, but I appreciate their budget nature and usefulness.

  119. C says:

    The only reason Trent writes this crap is to see how many people will write in and get upset. That’s all it is. This makes it at least 95 now. Are you shooting for 100? Good luck to JD

  120. lurker carl says:

    “I find it ironic that a guy who writes a blog that (probably) reaches millions thinks having kids is the best way to advance their cause.”

    This comment is about as remote as can be from personal finance, along with the post that orginated it.

  121. Kristy says:

    I have been reading this blog for some time. I appreciate much of what is written and appreciate the differing opinions presented by Trent and the regular readers.

    I am ChildFree. I have many reasons for coming to this choice with my husband; i.e. Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorders, Aniexty disorders, as well as heart disease and thyroid problems of both extremes all of these run on my side of the gene pool. I also carry the gene for a disease called MSA that is a slower moving disease that is very similar to ALS (Lou Gerring disease) That is on my side alone and effects males. I also am not a big fan of kids. I like animals better than most humans. I admit I am wired all wrong (babies crying is like nails on a chalk board, sick animals screech and my heart bleeds). I also could never afford to have children and retire or just afford children in general.

    I take offense to you looking down your nose at me Trent only because I am being responsible. I am not passing on crippling diseases and mental illness just so I can have my “genes” stamped on a little me that is my “legacy” to the world. I am assuring I will most likely not need to live off the governement dole out because I had kids I couldn’t afford to support. I pay my taxes to support other people and their children on welfare, as well as shelling out for a public school system that I won’t be sending any children to (and in the case of my area not seeing any benefits from).

    I fully support the right of anyone to have as many children as they CAN SUPPORT. I am all for responsible parents like yourself. I feel no anger or resentment for your choices or the choices of others when made in a rational well thought manner. I am continually subject to that resentment and anger for my choice to not reproduce. I am selfish. I am killing the human race. People tell me without knowing me they are glad my genes will die out. Doctors deny me the chance to become sterilized because “all women eventually want babies” and I to “will change my mind”. I even live in an area where the phamacist can refuse to fill your birth control Rx and then refuse to send it on to another pharmacy because my not wanting children is an abhoration of “God’s will”. It becomes tiring that my contributions to society mean nothing if I haven’t popped out a baby or two to most people. It is worse for women who are often only judged on the status of what their uterus has produced for their man.

    Just remember that there are valid reasons behind many peoples decisions before you discard people who don’t make the same choice as you.

  122. TibetanPeachPie says:

    Blogger’s comments on childbearing & rearing are indeed offensive and somewhat archaic. But I’m pretty sure they’re good for business – this is not the first time the terms ”candle in the wind” and other prehistoric nonsense have been used here, and on every occasion, a record number of comments appear…

    I think The Simple Dollar may have stumbled upon a surefire way to get more clicks.

  123. Susan says:

    I want to thank Trent, and other bloggers who write on similar topics and issues, for positively influencing the way I think about money, material things and what is truly important in life. (Your comment on JD made me giggle – thank you.) While I believe that the money we make is a divine gift which is entrusted to us to use wisely, it does not come close to the importance of our family and loved ones. My family and I travelled east this summer and flew into his grandparents home town which is 1000km from the rest of the family. From a strictly financial point of view, it would have made sense to by-pass this part of the trip and land some place closer to the rest of the extended family. My husband’s grandparents are in their late 80’s however and are ‘failing’. They are coming to the end of their lives and each visit could very well be the last one. Money in the bank cannot replace the experiences of visiting and caring for grandparents, as an example. There truly are some ‘things’ that money cannot replace.

    As an educator and parent of three sons, I would like to thank those individuals who are not inclined to have children for standing firm against peer pressure and choosing to remain childless. Society does not need parents who are ambivilent in this endeavor. I am privileged to meet parents everyday to take on the struggle to raise their children to the best of their ability. For me, having children, was something that I felt compelled or called to do. My sons bring companionship and a quality of life that cannot be bought at the local mall. My husband and I attempt to be good stewarts of our money so that we can meet the immediate needs of our family as well as save for our own needs when the time comes when we can no longer earn a living. We hope that there will be something there once we are gone to make their lives, and those of the families they will have, easier. If this does not happen, however, it will not be a disaster because in the meantime we will have educated them and given them the tools they need to be resilient and productive members of society.

  124. Evangeline says:

    Oh for crying out loud! Children aren’t about ‘breeding’ or not being a ‘candle in the wind.’ My husband and I love each other so very much. We feel blessed to be together as a family. We wanted to share those blessings and that same kind of love by letting our family grow from a family of two to a family of four. You either want to be a parent or you don’t. We don’t need to explain ourselves, let alone criticize others. It’s a personal decision for many and when we look at our children and hold their little hands, we know that for us we made the best decision.

  125. kathryn says:

    I liked your take on Stumbling. In the substance abuse treatment biz, we call a stumble a slip, lapse or relapse. There’s a great tendency to beat oneself up for it, but in fact, it is often a part of recovery, a learning experience, which can lead to getting back on track and eventually, not having to deal with the problem ever again. I know some diehard 12 steppers will disagree with that, but my experience has led me to believe this.

  126. Michelle says:

    We all know that Trent is a big fan of doing what you value most. He’s also human. Just because he said something kind of dumb and a little ignorant doesn’t mean we have to take offense at it. Keep in mind what he says all the time–do what you value, and your life will have meaning. Don’t get upset at what some guy says about your life choices over the internet!

  127. Brian says:

    Oh, those candles in the wind like Ghandi (or Jesus)? What a couple of jerks. I could see how you would be uncomfortable with them.

  128. Brian says:

    oops apparently Gandhi had 4 children but no good relationship with him. I’m an idiot. Well at least not Jesus.

  129. dsz says:

    Well, I’ve gotten two things out of my final visit to The Simple Dollar.

    1) My impression of Trent as immature, myopic and one who has sampled and *enjoyed* the Kool-Aid has proven to be correct, and
    2) A link to JD

    I’ve enjoyed the comments section much more than the postings but by visiting to read your comments I’m supporting this blog and I just can’t do it any more . Take care, guys and gals.

  130. Alex says:

    Is JD Roth a “candle in the wind”, Trent?

  131. pretty mac says:

    Trent—i really like the way you do the cooking posts on your blog. please don’t change a thing because it is very informative.

  132. kristine says:

    “If I do a bad job, I raise a sociopath”. I recommend the book “The Sociopath Next Door”. Sociopaths are mostly formed genetically, with differing brain function, much like warrior ants are different form worker ants. Culture is a secondary influencing element, parenting third, and not necessarily the deciding element.

    By “molding” your candles, it sounds suspiciously like relying on their accomplishments to validate your parenting efforts- a mold well cast. Parenting well is a precious gift you bestow on your tiny DNA-linked humans, with hope and love, not your chance to ink future pages of history by guiding the pen in your progeny’s hand.

    And once children are in school full time- for most of their formative years- they will spend more awake time with teachers than parents. And many of your children’s life-forming experiences will take place in your absence.

    I’ll bet even your own watershed moments that formed your strongest adult opinions, even parts of your character, are a smattering of parental and non-parental influences. Experiences mold us, parents merely guide and prepare.

  133. Phoenix says:


    I have been following your blog for quite some time.

    Today will be the last time I read your blog. I will also refrain from purchasing your book.

    I am beyond insulted by your assumption that my life is without merit simply because I refuse to risk death, loss of thyroid function, severe weight gain, incontinence (fecal and urine), hypertension, eclampsia, gestational diabetes, loss of abdominal muscle tone, breasts sagging down to my knees, clitoral tearing, tooth loss and other such pleasantries associated with carrying a child to term.

    I am insulted because I just spent years cleaning up my finances and you have devalued my hard work by suggesting I (I’m 25) push a 6lb baby out of my vagina ASAP or risk becoming a “candle in the wind” and that I am “comfortable with the extinction of the human race”

    If I was so “comfortable with the extinction of the human race”, I don’t think I would work 10 hour days, as I have today, working to research a disease (cancer) in hopes of finding a cure. Oh, but I may push a child out of my woman hole that can cure it! How very silly of me to forget! I’m a woman, I have no place in science! I had better abandon my research ASAP and devote my life to raising children for the next 18 years or else my life is clearly without value.

    I just spent 4 years clearing debt that I incurred while I was in college, saving and investing. I have a comfy emergency fund, no debt and am living below my means. Apparently I did that wrong too, because my uterus is empty. According to you I need to throw all of that away. I don’t know if you got the memo, but children are EXPENSIVE. I would need to get rid of the modest apartment I live in (in NYC) and either move to the ‘burbs (which including the two to three hour commute from places I can afford to get someplace bigger is considerably more expensive in both my time, assuming I am allowed to work once I birth my Life’s Work, and money) or rent something here FAR out of my comfortable price range. I would have to get a car, as infants can’t walk and I would likely have to move out of the city to have one. Quiet (cheap!)evenings with my husband will turn into money wasted on toys and trinkets from keeping our Most Important Duty from driving us insane while we chase Them around. Also our Great Opus will need to eat, drink, wear clothes, school, diapers and other things. All of these things cost money. Money I just spent 4 years figuring out and getting comfortable with. Seriously?

    I demand an apology. This is completely unacceptable.

    I am happy that you are happy with your children. Other people may choose different paths.

    Best of luck,

  134. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I find this whole controversy kind of funny, actually. I am saying nothing more than this: if you make the choice to not have children, you should not expect to have the same influence on the next generation as those who do have children. Nothing more, nothing less. In no way am I “looking down my nose” at people who choose not to have children.

  135. Nicole says:

    That is pretty sad. I am disappointed.

    I think you were better off not responding in the comments section. The comment sounds even more condescending than the original post did. The original post just sounded poorly thought out with weird mixed references, badly done paraphrasing, and odd editing errors.

  136. Lindsey says:

    Hmm… I don’t fully agree with the parenting comments either, but that’s why this is a money blog, and not a parenting blog. An interjected comment here and there about something that is not the blogger’s forte isn’t going to stop me from reading if the main focus remains valid. We can’t all be good at everything, and we can’t always please everyone.

    That being said, another case in point: your first recipe is not “ovo-vegetarian” as you said. Since it contains milk and cheese, it is “lacto-ovo-vegetarian” or simply “vegetarian.” Small point but it was kinda bugging me. Nice bean recipe ideas though! Def. going to try some out.

  137. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I’ve read through every comment in this thread and I haven’t read a single argument refuting my point – just a lot of hand-wringing.

    Here’s my question – and please answer it as clearly as possible, because I truly don’t understand the answer: given that parents (usually) give their genes to their children and (usually) invest thousands of hours in raising those children, how can it be argued that non-parents have an equal impact in the lives of those children?

    My SOLE argument is that parents have more impact on children’s lives than non-parents do and it caused tons of hand-wringing from non-parents but no rational argument at all.

  138. Rap541 says:

    “if you make the choice to not have children, you should not expect to have the same influence on the next generation as those who do have children. Nothing more, nothing less. In no way am I “looking down my nose” at people who choose not to have children.”

    Trent, honestly, your origanal comment “If no one had children, we would all be candles in the wind. In one hundred years, there would be no human race. We would pass nothing on to the future, any of us.” is incredibly condescending. You are very clearly drawing the line in the sand – people who have children have accomplished something and will pass on something. People without children will pass on nothing to the future.

    If you can’t see that you’ve basically stated nonparents accomplish nothing with their lives, and only having children allows any form of long term legacy, then continue to wonder about the handwringing as you call it.

    I personally appreciate the link to JD since I am a little tired of hearing how I won’t truly accomplish anything in life until I have a baby.

  139. Rob says:

    “In no way am I “looking down my nose” at people who choose not to have children.”

    Sure you are. You’re saying, fundamentally, due to their effect on the “future” that parents have more “meaningful” lives, regardless of the quality or accomplishment of their own lives.

    “I’ve read through every comment in this thread and I haven’t read a single argument refuting my point – just a lot of hand-wringing.

    …how can it be argued that non-parents have an equal impact in the lives of those children?

    My SOLE argument is that parents have more impact on children’s lives than non-parents do and it caused tons of hand-wringing from non-parents but no rational argument at all.”

    You’re shifting the goalposts here – from childless/free folks being candles in the wind with no real effect on the world or the future, to arguing that *obviously* parents have more effects on “those” kids than those who don’t. Clearly two different things, and what you’re saying now you didn’t quite say in the lead off.

    As for rational arguments, in a previous comment, which is still, apparently awaiting moderation for some reason, I made the point, quite rationally I thought, that a lot of studies continue to show that the influence and affect of parents on their children is vastly overrated and rarely an indicator of “success” in life. Again, Judith Harris’ “The Nurture Assumption” is a good jumping off point.

  140. Lila says:

    “I am saying nothing more than this: if you make the choice to not have children, you should not expect to have the same influence on the next generation as those who do have children. Nothing more, nothing less. In no way am I “looking down my nose” at people who choose not to have children.”

    Wow, you should have stopped after the “candle in the wind” analogy. At least that was somewhat open to interpretation. With this statement here however you’ve pretty much confirm what you were being criticized for.

    The worse part? You don’t seem to see, or even want to try to acknowledge your prejudice. “If you make the choice to not have children,” which it isn’t always a choice “you should not expect to have the same [same = equal, no need to play word games after you’ve plainly stated your stance]influence on the next generation as those who do have children.” Whaaatt?

    Of all of the famous and revered figures throughout history, which are remembered because of their children? Do you think electricity would have had any less “influence” today if Mr.Franklin had not had children? Children are NOT the only way to impact or influence this world we live in, future generations or not. We all have different gifts to offer. What if I cure cancer but never have children? By your rationale you would have more influence on future generations than me because you reproduced. Please, please, just please, name one person (and not Dubya Bush or Jon & Kate) who has made their parents more influential by existing. I don’t know about you but I studied Shakespeare’s (hundreds of years old) body of [his]life’s work in school, not his parenting influence, or those of his own parents.

    I’m not a parent and don’t plan to be anytime soon. While I may have gotten some of my morals from my parents (though mostly from my family as a cohesive unit) I am not what they expected me or “molded” me to be. I don’t even think they attempted to mold me. They could only take me so far before I eventually began to interpret my own path.

    I think it is unhealthy (and yes that is just my humble opinion) to place so much self importance on your children, and so much of your childrens’ importance on yourself.

  141. Michelle says:

    Okay Trent, here’s some rational argument:

    In my child development class, we’re learning how scientists have just realized that children are really the ones shaping their own development. Mom’s and Dad’s parenting strategies and the child’s pace of learning (and what she learns) have as much (if not more) to do with the child’s own temperament and desires as the parents’ preferences. You seem to think that your child’s upbringing is all due to your shaping, when in fact many scientists know this is not really the case. It is more accurate to say that you can lead the child, but the child will ultimately decide whom to follow and what to believe.

    if you have built a strong and loving relationship with your children, they are more likely to take what you teach them and integrate it into their world view. If not, they won’t give a damn what you think or do, and they’ll probably do the exact opposite.

    Finally, you already know that there are plenty of childless people who have left indelible marks on the world. Leaving behind genetic material is not the only fulfilling accomplishment people are capable of doing. I know for a fact that Jesus–a man believed by most to be childless–has made a larger impact on the lives of some than their very own parents have made in their lives. Childless people contribute incredible things that can shape our society and change our lives. to believe otherwise is foolishness.

  142. JonFrance says:

    Jesus and George Washington have already been given as examples of childless men whose lives exert a massive influence on the world of children born today (even those who are not American or Christian–they changed the shape of the world we live in). There are many other examples, both good and evil.

    I would also echo what others have said, in that children are individuals far more than the product of their parents. Look at how widely siblings can differ–I’m sure everyone can think of examples in their family or around them. Children are a blessing to their parents but they come with their own personalities and drives which end up meaning more than any parental influence.

    Which is not a bad thing. Otherwise, our lives would already be determined and defined by our parents. And our children’s lives would be bound by our limitations. I am glad that this is not so.

  143. reulte says:

    You know, I have now read every comment here at least twice and I have come to realize something. I have NO IDEA exactly what Trent means by being a “candle in the wind”.

    Trent, you say that people without children have less of an impact on the future, then you redefine that as less of an impact on future generations – and that your candle in the wind is brighter than the childfree/childess. Does that mean your candle is twice as bright as mine? Can you explain – sans metaphor – exactly what you mean ? Your argument may be that parents have more of an impact on children’s lives than non-parents; but in this using metaphor you have accused non-parents of shirking their (hypothetical) duty to the future. Look at your words; “Anyone not choosing to take up the burden…”, “They’re relying on others …”, “no matter how enormous that influence, it doesn’t compare..”. If I heard those words in specific reference to myself, I’d want a better explanation as well as an apology.

  144. Jonathan says:

    Trent, when I first read your post I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. I believed that you really meant not disrespect to all of those people out there who are childfree/less, whether by choice, because they are unable to have children, or because they choose to adopt later in life. I thought that you would drop by and drop a comment or post a follow up that would clear up the misunderstanding. I cannot believe how wrong I was.

    I had a lot of respect for you before this. I fully support your right to have your own view on the topic. I fully support your right to post about it and address it however you see fit on your own website. I expected more from you, however, in terms of addressing the concerns of your readers. I thought that alienating a portion of your audience would concern you enough to generate an apology. Not an apology for your views, but an apology for the insensitive way in which you portray non-parents.

    I really thought that you were better than that Trent. I am just amazed at the disrespect shown to your readers by not only sticking 100% by everything that you said originally, but by claiming that no one has made a rational argument to counter your points.

    I do not want to be one of those readers who threatens to stop reading every time a blogger posts something I do not agree with. In this case, however, it is hard to not at least seriously consider dropping the site from my reading list. It is hard to support someone who insists on showing such little respect for me and others, and who apparently cares so little for maintaining his audience that he is unwilling to show a little humility and offer a heart-felt apology for such offensive comments.

    Obviously, as I am just one reader, me leaving would have very little impact on your traffic or income. I would not expect that to have any impact on your stance on this subject. I would, however, expect you to see that what you said was offensive, and the way in which you responded to the comments was also very offensive. I am sorry that you do not respect me as a person or a reader.

  145. Kevin says:

    I’m a parent and I was turned off by the tone of this blog a few months ago and removed it from my reader. I do occassionally visit the site and it’s always the same. For example, he encourages new readers to go back and review all of his “great material”. He never accepts even polite constructive criticism.

    If you read JD’s personal blog, you’ll find that he has strong opinions on religion and such that would likely anger a lot of people. But none of this ever shows up on his PF blog. He keeps his pf blog about pf. I’m amazed Trent has as many readers as JD. (I know they are friends.)

  146. Kevin says:

    Trent wrote:

    “I’ve read through every comment in this thread and I haven’t read a single argument refuting my point – just a lot of hand-wringing.”

    Really? I thought Des made a great point:

    “If no one in the world was a farmer, in much less than 100 years there would be no human race. Thus, anyone that does not take on the burden of growing food is relying on others to continue the human race.”

    That’s a very apt analogy, in my opinion, and a brilliant illustration of why it’s absurd to deify those who have children / grow our food. If we were ALL busy growing food / raising children, who would staff the hospitals, defend our borders, build our roads, purify our water, keep the lights on, police our streets, and everything else?

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you simply didn’t see Des’ comment.

    Also, numerous posters have pointed out plenty of individuals who have made enormous impacts on society, yet never had children.

  147. Johanna says:

    “it caused tons of hand-wringing from non-parents but no rational argument at all.”

    That is very simply not true.

    Kevin, in his original question, had a great rational argument: What about your blog? With your children, you have a large effect on the lives of a very small number of people. With your blog, you have a small effect on the lives of a much larger number of people. A small effect times a large number equals a large net effect on the world.

    rhymeswithlibrarian, in comment 38, had an excellent rational argument: In presenting the extremes of possible outcomes for your children, you describe them in terms of achievements *outside* of the realm of having children. If your daughter grows up to be a brilliant scientist who cures cancer, you regard that as a good outcome. I agree, and I think it would still be a good outcome if she were a brilliant scientist who cures cancer and doesn’t have any children of her own.

    Des, in comment 52, has a rational argument: If there were no farmers, the human race would die out, but that doesn’t imply that everyone needs to be a farmer, or that people who aren’t farmers aren’t valuable. No one (or almost no one) is completely self sufficient – we all rely on others for something. Even you – you’re relying on people other than you to have children so that your own children can grow up to have non-incestuous marriages and non-inbred children of their own. Aren’t you?

    In my earlier comment, #11, I also asked a question that I thought was pretty rational: If you really believe in the Idiocracy theory, doesn’t that imply that the voluntary extinction of the human race is something that we basically never have to worry about? So doesn’t it make sense that those of us without children aren’t worried about it either?

    While I’m posting, I’ll note that I wasn’t offended by what you said. If I were offended every time someone on the internet said something stupid, I’d never stop being offended. I just think you’re wrong, and I think it’s weird that you keep returning to this topic over and over and over and over again. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to convince people to have children who wouldn’t otherwise have had them? Are you TRYING to make childfree individuals feel bad about themselves? What is it?

  148. Jill #2 says:

    I agree whole-heartedly with Jonathan (comment 113). I’ve only been coming back to this site the last few days, to see if you’d issue some sort of apology or further explanation of what you had written regarding parents and non-parents.

    However, I am very disappointed and hurt by your response. I too, am not asking you to change your views on this whole ideocracy topic, but really, you should consider practicing some more common sense and tact when you respond to comments. To lead off a response with, “I find this whole controversy kind of funny, actually.” Is incredibly insulting. And don’t you think that maybe, just *maybe*, if the majority of the comments to your post were stating that they were either offended, seeking further clarification, or felt that your posting was insensitive, that perhaps some responsibility lies with you?? Probably not… b/c what I’ve gathered from your response is that you simply don’t care, or, you know you are wrong, but are just incredibly stubborn to admit so. I’m unsubscribing to your blog.

  149. Gretchen says:

    Why do I keep thinking of Johanna’s comment about trying to defend the purchase of the Prius by any means possible?

    Do you really think not wanting to pass on defective genes is just hand wringing?

  150. Nicole says:

    100% with Jonathan again. He said exactly what I gave up trying to put into words last night, only he did it much better than I ever could have.

    Now I’m going to take a turn coming off as condescending.

    My DH (who, off topic, is also a big Euro-gamer) and I were discussing this last night and we were reminded of Scott Kurtz (pvp) and Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins (penny arcade) before they (man, this is going to sound bad, and I don’t want to offend, but I guess I’ll take the plunge anyway) grew up.

    You don’t need to rationalize having a third child. It’s ok! Most people think it’s great and want to congratulate you. Some people think having any children kills the planet– their opinions aren’t important. People who choose not to have children are not judging you by their childfreeness. They just have a different utility curve than you do. That is ok too.

    I also thought it was just fine for you to finance the Prius.

    Johanna also makes excellent points. The “what are you trying to accomplish” is something that is taught in business writing courses. What are you trying to accomplish? (And now I’ve got Flagpole sitta stuck in my mind.)

    And I HAVE a kid. I’m one of the blessed ones. You know, making a lasting impact on the planet. How could I possibly be offended? I’m just saddened.

    I really like the way J.D. carefully considers corrections etc. to posts on his site and either non-judgmentally engages a conversation if he disagrees or actually makes the correction if he believes the commenter has a point. It makes what he posts seem more trustworthy somehow, like emotions aren’t getting in the way of thinking clearly.


  151. Sarah says:

    Seriously, Trent, do you actually believe that great writers, thinkers, activists for social justice, scientists, doctors don’t have a huge impact on their world and succeeding generations?

    Your original argument wasn’t that a childrearing parent will almost certainly have more influence on that parent’s child’s life than a non-parent. I doubt anyone would dispute that. Instead, you argued that people who don’t have children are merely ephemeral and don’t make lasting contributions to the world.

    The argument itself is wrong-headed, but it’s a lot more distasteful to start hastily redefining what you said when you realize it’s untenable. Take responsibility for your position or admit that you didn’t express yourself the way you meant to (or that you’ve changed your mind). Anything else is lame.

  152. Johanna says:

    Here is another rational argument:

    There is some limit to the number of people that the Earth can sustainably support. People can disagree about what that limit is – maybe we’ve passed it already, or maybe we’re a long way from doing so – but it is a fact that the human population of this planet cannot increase without bound.

    Trent has recently announced that he and his wife are expecting their third child. Maybe they will have even more children in the future. But if everyone had three or more children, the population would increase by 50% or more in each generation. Such an increase cannot continue forever. Therefore, Trent and his wife are relying on others – now, in the future, or both – to have one or zero children in order to balance out his three or more.

    If everyone has the same number of children as me (0), humanity would be doomed. If everyone had the same number of children as Trent (3+), humanity would be just as doomed. If my choice not to have children means that I don’t care about the future of humanity, doesn’t Trent’s choice to have more than two children mean that he doesn’t care either?

    Fortunately, people are all different and don’t do exactly the same thing. And Trent depends on that fact just as much as I do.

  153. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “Seriously, Trent, do you actually believe that great writers, thinkers, activists for social justice, scientists, doctors don’t have a huge impact on their world and succeeding generations?”

    I never said they didn’t. By saying such things, you’re putting words in my mouth. That’s a big part of the reason I used the candle analogy – “her candle burned out long before her legend ever will.” The entire point is that non-parents do cast an indirect legacy, many of them casting an enormous one.

    However, without parents, that legacy does not matter. If everyone chose to not have children, the human race would be extinct in 100 years. Their legacy relies on parents continuing to have children – without those children, there is no intellectual legacy for such people to pass on.

  154. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “What about your blog? With your children, you have a large effect on the lives of a very small number of people. With your blog, you have a small effect on the lives of a much larger number of people. A small effect times a large number equals a large net effect on the world.”

    I don’t buy this at all. It assumes The Simple Dollar has a positive impact on the world. Given the huge amount of negativity it generates towards me on a daily basis, I don’t necessarily believe that The Simple Dollar contributes a net positive to the world. By existiing, it creates a huge amount of negativity.

    I only keep doing it because I know from emails that it does contribute a positive to some people.

  155. Emily says:

    The more I read Trent’s explanation the more I realize we’re reading WAY too much into his original posting.

    I believe he is just saying that if there were no kids, there would be no future. His wording is more sentimental, but that’s essentially it. And I think we can all agree on that. Children are our future – some of us create them, some of us adopt them, some of us teach them, some do nothing with them…the are the future.

  156. kirstie says:

    There is a difference between deciding not to have children, and wishing that children didn’t exist. I think its the latter group that Trent is addressing his comments at.

  157. Lenore says:

    Trent said: “I find this whole controversy kind of funny, actually. I am saying nothing more than this: if you make the choice to not have children, you should not expect to have the same influence on the next generation as those who do have children.”

    Maybe if you walked in the shoes of someone who is infertile, has a genetic disorder, is homosexual or lacks the desire or resources to raise a child, you wouldn’t be laughing. Most of us have been made to feel inferior time and again by “well-meaning” friends, family and a culture that constantly promotes childbearing, mainly as an adjunct to consumerism.

    That’s not hand-wringing; it’s the reality we’ve experienced. If you cannot exhibit the slightest sensitivity to the often-tough choices non-parents have made, why should any of us care about your perspectives? Backpedal as you may, your original “candle in the wind” analogy was rudely dismissive, and you should apologize.

    Childless individuals from Jesus to Hitler have had tremendous impact (for better or worse) on subsequent generations. Why should childfree folks expect to influence the next generation less than those who have children? If one of your kids is gay or infertile, will you pass on the attitude that he or she is less significant than one who reproduces? I hope not for their sakes. Surely they’ll have more to share with the world than DNA.

  158. valletta says:

    Paging Dr. Freud.

    Trent’s latest comments do not reiterate his initial post no matter how much twisting he’s willing to do now. Remember, there was another post re: idiocracy a few months ago.

    IMO, I think the initial post (and his illogical stance) is his attempt to convince himself of the rightness (and righteousness) of his actions.
    Projection in action.

  159. Lila says:

    I am a newer and somewhat frequent reader of TSD and have posted a few times. My other comment on this topic hasn’t been approved (yet, or otherwise)so I hope that you do post this one as I do want in on the discussion and don’t want you to think I’m just a lurker jumping on the wagon to beat down on you as that’s not my intention at all. I know very little about your personal life (less than what some here apparently know) as I tend to only read your more strictly financial posts. I felt that I needed to share my view as a new reader and how, as a new reader who enjoys PF blogs, I am getting very turned off from wanting to read or support this blog as a result of some of the issues that I will speak about further down this message. I’m not the type of person to log off in a huff if I don’t agree with someone but I do have preferences and right now I’m not really preferring this PF blog (compared to others) frankly because of your attitude that’s been coming across. I say this because I know this is not just your hobby, it’s a business that I’m assuming you would always want to build on; and as a new reader had I not gotten to some of your great articles before coming in on stuff like this I would have clicked that “x” or back-button and never looked back. Ok, for my response now:

    Honestly, it sounds like you keep bringing up statements that are irrelevant to reality to back up your offensive opinion. We know that all people will not stop reproducing voluntarily and for you to suggest continuity of the human race as a reason why parents have more of a “direct impact” on the next generation (whatever that means)implies that we’re arguing that no one should have kids, which nobody has said. I’m sure there’s some type of text-book philosophical term that explains why this is a false argument.

    It would actually be less offensive if you just said “This is my personal opinion; it’s genuinely how I feel based on my perception and life experiences as a parent.”

    But you are going on as if we are silly for not seeing (agreeing with, really)your point of view. I’ve noticed from some of your blogs that veer from black and white, mathematical, and procedural articles, that you tend to latch onto one view and are loyal to that view regardless of any alternative points that are brought up. The way that you take long (and unnecessary)roundabouts to make whatever offensive statement you made seem less offensive shows me that a part of you may agree that you didn’t go about it the right way, or, dare I say, that you might realize that you could be just plain wrong, but instead of giving credit to the other side for setting a possible logical defense you just come at your argument from a completely irrelevant angle.
    It’s like some of us are saying “Aren’t apples and oranges fruit?” and you’re replying “No, because you can buy them at the store and stores sell spatulas, which aren’t fruit.”

    For this reason I can only chalk it up to pride that you would rather twist yourself into a labyrinth or refuse/limit your replies to comments, than to admit that there may be criticism/suggestions that are deserved. All I can say is that if you hope to mold your kids as you seem so keen on accomplishing, I hope that they do not have this know-only-what-I-want-to-know attitude (as kids tend do have). And WHEN they challenge your ideas (because they will) you are humble enough to withstand that.

    I don’t think that you understand that it isn’t so much what you say/said (so you can say it 100 different times) it’s that you seem to have a pre-set will to stand by that statement that makes it kind of pointless to have a comments section. The point of conversation is to get across ideas, not necessarily to change opinions. Just to know that your opinion is acknowledged, out of respect, if not understanding, is enough.

    And here’s a secret *whispers* It’s okay to admit that your original logic might have been incomplete because you lacked a crucial part of the puzzle…another perspective.

    Just remember, for us, as readers, to read blogs and take the author’s suggestions into consideration (even if it grossly conflicts with what we’ve believed) shows humility, respect, and desire to learn from others. It’s as simple as that…as long as you don’t let your ego get in the way.

    I notice people here will defend your comments/ideas even if they don’t agree with them. Usually goes something like “I understand where Trent is coming from even if I don’t agree…” or “Trent does make a good point although I still think….” or “I like the way you explained your position…” etc etc. But one thing I noticed, and you only need look at your (Trent)replies here that you rarely, if ever give props to the opposing side.

  160. Kristin says:

    I think you are wrong, but I think you have every right to your opinion on your blog. What I don’t understand is why you are berating and alienating your readers. What you mean (as per your comments) and what you are said in your initial comment are two very different things. Sure some people are commenting to be jerks, but some of your readers are genuinely hurt by what you are saying.

  161. akb says:

    wait, trent, you continue to write and propagate a blog that you actually believe has a net negative effect on the world? isn’t that the definition of evil?

    either that or you’re just saying anything you can think of to try to get out of the hole you’re digging.

  162. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Valletta, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    (This is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the film “Billy Madison,” because I don’t take very seriously anyone who starts off a comment saying “Paging Dr. Freud…”)

  163. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “wait, trent, you continue to write and propagate a blog that you actually believe has a net negative effect on the world? isn’t that the definition of evil?”

    I think the net effect is roughly neutral. It’s the positive stories that keep me doing it.

  164. teri says:

    Trent, according to your own rules, your comment number 144 needs to be deleted.

    pardon me while I also now delete this blog from my reader and my daily rounds and my browser history. I came here to learn tips for managing finances, not to be put down by yet another person for my choice not to have children (which, by the way, I couldn’t afford if I had them…and, unlike some people, I’m not waiting to have kids to turn my financial life around). that’s right, I’m snarky. but so are you, so I guess we’re even.

  165. teri says:

    (sorry, 162 now that all the comments are approved…)

  166. J says:


    Wow. Just wow.

    I’m done with this blog.

  167. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Let me make this very clear.

    I do not begrudge anyone making the choice not to have children. If that has been taken in any way from my comments, I apologize, because that’s not what I meant.

    Both parents and non-parents have the capacity to pass on cultural, medical, scientific, intellectual, political, and countless other kinds of breakthroughs to make the world a better place for everyone. I made that very clear to begin with by using the “candle in the wind” analogy – if I were not referring to the fact that “her candle burned out long before her legend ever will,” I wouldn’t have used the analogy.

    A parent passes on a lot of things to a child. They pass on genes, for one, and they also pass on sets of behaviors built upon thousands of hours of care.

    A non-parent does not pass along these things.

    Thus, a parent passes along more to a child than a non-parent does. The genes alone ensure this, let alone the thousands of invested hours. This does not say that non-parents do not pass along valuable things as well. But they are not passing along genes, nor are they passing along thousands of diaper changes, thousands of tears wiped, and so on.

    I greatly value my role as a parent. I view it as my responsibility to do all I can to mold them into powerful members of society. I am intimately involved in making their candle. How brightly will that candle burn? It’s impossible for me to say, but I’ll do all I can to ensure that it burns brightly. Those tears wiped and those diapers changed are a big part of that.

    At the same time, I do have the ability to impact people via The Simple Dollar. I do not view the impact that I have on The Simple Dollar as being anywhere near as large as the impact I have on my own children.

    People come here to read what I write. All I can do is give them my honesty and my straightforwardness. If I spent all my time worrying about being PC and concerning myself with the feelings of every single reader, this site stops being me. It starts being something else, generic and bland. I might as well just hire a ghostwriter at that point.

    If that’s what you want, then by all means I’d be happy to provide it. It’d certainly be easier than this. I just don’t believe it would have much value at all.

  168. Lissa says:

    Wow. Trent, I thought you were just insensitive before, but now I see from your response to valletta that you are mean and hateful too.

    Goodbye, you’ve lost another reader.

  169. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    #90 Courtney: “A lot of you are twisting Trent’s words and attributing statements to him that he did not make.
    Truth of the matter is that from a biological/genetic standpoint, those who don’t have kids are candles in the wind. You are not passing on any of your DNA, therefore your genetic material dies out with you.”

    It looks like Courtney understood exactly what I was saying and also what I was not saying. Thank you.

  170. Andi says:

    I would have to agree with teri #164. Early on, I enjoyed the money saving tips and found them helpful. I will always use the laundry soap recipe.

    While there may be several people that disagree with Trent on his beliefs, he has to remember that you’ve put them out there for people to consider and discuss. For the most part, the comments have not been derogatory toward Trent as a person – criticism has been directed more to his statements (and how he phrased ideas) than to who he is as a person.

    However, Trent’s comment in #162 to Valetta has sealed the deal – he no longer kept his attack directed to her comments but it became personal – and ugly. I will no longer be returning to The Simple Dollar and will no longer refer my friends and collegaues to this site.

    I wish you only the best (is that another way to say “may God have mercy on your soul?”) and hope you are able to find ways to better explain yourself without alienating your readers.

  171. stephanie says:

    Wow, these comments are out of control.

    I am one of those childless folks who has chosen not to procreate. I read this post when it first came out, and felt completely unaffected by the “candle in the wind” bit. What I read there (perhaps reading ‘tween the lines) was a defensive reaction to readers’ criticism for Trent’s decision to have kids. Such criticism happens, and I’m sure Trent’s heard it all, from the overpopulation arguments to the environmental arguments to the financial burden arguments of childbearing.

    So what if Trent is defending his beliefs. He’s entitled to do so — it’s his blog. He’s not forcing you to procreate. I’m not sure why everyone is so upset here… Defensiveness can either beget more defensiveness in a never-ending cycle, or it can just be let go.

    Let go, people.

  172. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Valletta said I needed psychotherapy. I responded with a quote from the comedy Billy Madison. Yes, that’s “mean and hateful” all right.

  173. Johanna says:

    And those of us who have not seen Billy Madison were supposed to recognize that how?

  174. Jonathan says:

    Trent, I can’t speak for everyone, but I think that your comments in Post #167 are what most people were waiting to hear. Sure, maybe I could nitpick at a couple of things, but overall it gives me a better idea of where you are coming from and what you meant with your original post.

    I just hope that it wasn’t too little too late. If it had come instead of Comment #162, I have a feeling it would be more well received. After reading Comment #162, though, I just don’t know what to think. It is very disappointing to see such uncalled hateful remarks from someone that I respected.

  175. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    One final thought: if I were so against non-parents as the comments here seem to imply that I am, why did I, just 24 hours later, post this: https://www.thesimpledollar.com/2009/11/03/helping-other-children-learn-about-money/ – which is all about non-parents and the valuable role they play in helping the next generation along?

    I have nothing more to say here.

  176. rothsay says:

    Hi Trent
    I made the au gratin recipe yesterday and it was enjoyed by all, now onto those bean ones….

  177. Kevin says:

    Really? You’re not even going to acknowledge the “farmers” analogy Des brought up in comment #64 and Johanna and I reiterated in #146 and #147? You complained that you “haven’t read a single argument refuting my point,” and multiple people pointed to the “farmers” analogy (which I think is a great comparison), but you haven’t acknowledged it yet. I’d sincerely be interested in reading how you view the comparison. Do you think it’s a valid comparison?

  178. lurker carl says:

    EVERYONE’S specific genetic makeup dies with them. Only 50% of your genes are passed along to offspring, the other 50% comes from your mate. Thus your children are only half yours.

    Chances are almost 100% that nothing about my DNA is unique. It came from my parents, their DNA came from their parents, etc. My siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and on and on and on back through time all share portions of my DNA. All those genes handed down through countless generations makes it unlikely any particular gene sequence would be unique to me alone.

    If a specific sequence is present that enhances my family above all others, chances are far greater that it would have been transmitted to another relative as well. But genetic anomolies are almost always harmful rather than helpful to the resulting embryo. If I do have unique genetic material, a mutation specific to me alone, the odds that it is passed on to the next generation is more likely close to zero.

  179. marta says:

    Re: comment #162

    Quote or not, it was uncalled for and, frankly, unfunny. It’s not a good idea to launch into personal attacks disguised as pop culture quotes.

    I second Kevin and others: you still haven’t addressed the perfectly valid and rational points others have raised above.

  180. Jim says:

    #167 is an OK clarification and apology on Trent’s part. Good. People should read that apology and take it for what it is, a sincere apology.

    #162 is a JOKE by Trent. He even said it was meant as tongue in cheek movie reference to explain it. But it wasn’t a good idea. The joke wasn’t funny and reads as an extremely offensive attack on another person. Obscure jokes that read as offensive attacks aren’t redeemed by explaining that it was just a joke.

  181. Shannon says:

    I’m done with this blog too.

    Good luck being a parent Trent; I make two suggestions: learn to accept your mistakes and not continually dig a bigger hole for yourself defending unconscionable comments and learn to understand and appreciate the perspectives of other people.

  182. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I hope those of you who left find the answers you need in your life elsewhere. Your departure has taught me a valuable lesson and I will miss you all greatly. Good luck!

  183. Paulette says:

    Trent says: “A parent passes on a lot of things to a child. They pass on genes, for one, and they also pass on sets of behaviors built upon thousands of hours of care.

    A non-parent does not pass along these things.”

    Trent, Do you really think that the daycare workers that spends hours and hours with your kids, are NOT passing on sets of behaviors. Those daycare workers are “non-parents” in your world.

    Count me as another lost reader – you can’t really expect to say such horrible things to your readers with regard to their personal decisions on whether to be a parent, and then follow that up with comment #162, and think everything will by honkey-dorey.

  184. Mister E says:

    It’s not even the message itself that bothers me so much as it’s the TONE.

    Tone can be very hard to interpret in the written word and I normally try not to read a lot into it but so much that I read here just comes across as very self righteous without an iota of humility.

    And on every controversial thread, without exception, the rebuttal comments ALWAYS just seem to get ruder and ruder.

    When I read a LOT of posts here I just get a distinct feeling that I’m talking to someone who really, truly believes that they are the smartest person in the room.

    When 133 comments are left and the overwhelming majority of them take offence to something you’ve said I really don’t think that the appropriate first response is “I find this whole controversy kind of funny”.

    I almost hope that the attitude you display on here is a character of sorts that you’re playing to create controversy and generate more blog hits.

    If it is it works to point I suppose. I keep reading every day but more and more for the “wow, did he actually just say that?” factor than any sort of financial advice.

  185. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Or, maybe, “Mister E,” I find that commenting on issues outside of personal finance is a double-edged sword. It has the benefit of letting people see more sides of me than just a dry, boring personal finance writer (good) but it also has the drawback of eliciting controversy once in a while when I express any sort of semi-controversial opinion (bad).

    I cannot be everything to everyone by being “perfect” or PC all the time. I have zero interest in that. If I tried doing that, my passion for producing all of this writing would dissipate almost immediately and it would reflect in every single boring post that says nothing.

    I’d rather speak from my heart. And if I don’t express myself perfectly sometimes, well, I guess I have to suffer the consequences of that. But I think there’s more reward in speaking with honesty and from the heart – even if I make mistakes in doing so – than there would be in not doing so.

    If people want someone who attempts to be everything to everyone and strives for PC perfection all of the time, they should go somewhere else. This is the real world. This entire site is based on the premise that I’ve made some GIGANTIC mistakes in my life. I would think that me making more mistakes would be par for the course.

  186. valletta says:

    I’d like to say a couple of things.
    First, I would like to apologize for my use of snark at #158.
    I did not mean to insult, nor did I suggest you need psychotherapy.
    Tone in the written word is important as #183 said.
    Apparently I am not the only person who finds some comments here, particularly about children and “lifestyle” a tad dogmatic.
    Nothing wrong with differing views but using condescending language toward people who do not share your views is what bugs me. But I am not offended. I’m a big girl, happy with my choices.
    I specifically focused on your word “burden” in your original post, which is where the subconscious angle came from; it stuck out for me like a flashing red light. But I don’t know you any more than your words here, so take that for what it’s worth.

    I am not familiar with the movie Billy Madison so the joke was lost on me:)

    Peace out.

  187. Lenore says:

    Trent, I was about to unsubscribe until I read #182. Although you still have not apologized or responded to some sincere and salient points, at least you seem to be in a more rational and centered place now. Good! We want you to be happy and productive because we all value the work you do. No matter how negative we seem sometimes.

    I suspect Valleta’s comment brought out your worst because it struck too close to home. Perhaps you are projecting some of your feelings (joy, fear, pride, ambivalence, delight?) about having another child or trying to convince yourself you’re up to the challenge. There’s nothing wrong with that, only please try to respect others’ decisions and viewpoints too.

    I have every confidence you will bring this baby up with love and logic because you often reveal what a considerate father you are. I am also certain I would be a terrible mother because kids drive me crazy, even in restaurants. Both of us are torch bearers trying to shine a little light in this world. You do it by blogging and raising young’uns while I spew out an occasional poem and focus on my friends and family of origin. Different strokes, different folks, same vision.

    Why don’t you take this topic that went sour and make some lemonade? Perhaps a cost-benefit analysis of things bought during the pregnancy versus a glimpse into your journal and how kids enrich your life. Maybe a lighthearted guide to shopping for maternity clothes, craved foods, diapers or educational tools. (Apparently “Baby Einstein” isn’t a smart investment.) Many of your readers would find benefits for their families in such articles, and I never mind skimming anything your write for tips I can use or pass along.

    Lastly I’m going to suggest something with absolute care and zero judgment. Please hop onto eBay and look for “light therapy” or “full spectrum lighting” products, or take in the sun for a few minutes a day. It’s November, daylight is waning, and you’ve mentioned before that you’re prone to the winter blahs. A half hour or less of UV-light per day can significantly improve mood and boost energy. Your body needs sunlight to process Vitamin D, so think of it as a drink of milk for your skin. Perhaps your wife would enjoy an endorphin rush too.

  188. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “Although you still have not apologized”

    Please see comment #167.

    “I do not begrudge anyone making the choice not to have children. If that has been taken in any way from my comments, I apologize, because that’s not what I meant.”

    My mistake was writing this mailbag in the middle of the night after submitting my manuscript so that you would all have something to read in the morning. It was my mistake – I was exhausted and I didn’t word what I was trying to say well. I don’t think my actual meaning was controversial at all. I was merely saying that by passing on genes and investing huge amounts of time in their children, parents have an enormous impact on how they turn out, one that isn’t replicated by the actions of non-parents, since they can’t spend such intense time or pass on their genes.

  189. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “Do you really think that the daycare workers that spends hours and hours with your kids, are NOT passing on sets of behaviors. Those daycare workers are “non-parents” in your world.”

    Of course they pass along a lot to a child. I never, ever claimed that non-parents pass along nothing to children. They pass along a lot to children. PLEASE stop putting words/ideas in my mouth.

  190. Lenore says:

    That’s my way of saying that I’m sorry for overlooking your apology and appreciate it very much! I thought there was a “punchdrunk” quality to your writing on this thread, and now I know why. Sorry for all the controversy, and I hope some of the people who dropped off will be drawn back. Everybody has a bad day (or night) now and then, so I hope everyone can forgive and forget. Take care, Trent, and get some sleep. You’re gonna need as much as you can get in a few short months. : )

  191. Courtney says:

    I really wonder what this world is coming to when so many people become unglued and hysterical over something this silly. Really, people, toughen up. It can’t be that fun to spend your life playing the victim and whining over your hurt feelings.

  192. Nancy says:

    So I’m a lesser person by being childless? I’m insulted by the comment that by not having children I am a candle in the wind. Some of us aren’t lucky enough to be married or have a partner with whom to have them, some of us are unable to make them, some of us choose not to. Considering all of the millions of children who are not fed, clothed, educated or live a normal lifespan because their parents can’t or don’t care for them, I think choosing NOT to have them is the more responsible and, if you’ll excuse the expression, GREEN thing to do.

    I may cancel my subscription tomorrow if I wake up still mad.


  193. cv says:

    Trent, I think you finally got to a good spot with the last paragraph of comment #188. You dropped the defensiveness and showed some humanity – it was late, you were tired, and this wasn’t your best bit of writing and was easily misinterpreted. I think if you had jumped in at comment 20ish and said that, you’d have a lot fewer angry and hurt readers. Many of my favorite bloggers admit to that sort of thing regularly, and the willingness to admit imperfection in your writing (as opposed to imperfection in your life, which you freely admit to all the time and which I admire) makes you seem more trustworthy, instead of like you’re laughing at the anger your comments have stirred up or seeming defensive, like everything you said was perfect and we, your readers, are just not getting it. It enhances your interactions with your readers, and blogging becomes a bit more of a conversation and less of a platform for a speech.

    So, thanks for that.

  194. Sarah says:

    Trent, I’m happy to see that you apologized, and sincerely, for not expressing exactly what you meant in a clear manner. I think that is reasonable — stick by what you said, but maybe not the exact choice of words.

    You remind me of one of my good college friends. He was pretty much the nicest guy I’ve met, but if you got into any sort of debate with him, he’d go at any angle to “win” and “be right”, even if it wasn’t completely logical. Because he enjoyed it. It annoyed me, but maybe because I like to be right as well, and he was good at it, and could argue his way to victory at the expense of belittling others perspectives, even when he wasn’t right. (Why were we friends? He genuinely was a nice and fun guy in most cases.) You ignored most logical points and picked at those which were weak.

    PS – I’m not saying your original message was illogical, it’s just your rebuttal style.

    Congrats on book #2!

  195. Rob says:

    Personally, I thought the Billy Madison quote was hilarious, but I’ve heard it before and always thought it a fitting riposte. About the only palatable thing I’ve read from Trent in this ridiculously long commentary.

    That being said, having considered it for a couple days, I’ll be getting financial tips elsewhere on the interwebs. A bit too smug and condescending around these parts.

    That’s right! I’ve drawn my moral line in the sand! Over a blog post!

    See, I’m an idiot, but at least I know it. Unlike the more assured and certain of opinion among us.

    “…the worst are full of passionate intensity” indeed.

  196. ej says:

    Then there are these folks:
    food for thought, anway

  197. Greg says:

    My girlfriend’s car will cost $2000 to repair and it’s only worth around $5000. She will graduate in 7 months and has a $70k/year job lined up with a $6k signing bonus. She also has about $10k saved up but will need a lot of that to live on for the next 7 months. What should she do about the car? Thanks.

  198. HireMe4TheHolidays says:

    So you were tired and wrote a crappy article because you didn’t want to disappoint your readers? I hate to burst your bubble, but our lives can and do go on without a daily sermonette from you.

    Trent, you’ve obviously run out of relevant financial material that others would be interested in. Maybe you should take a day and not write, just as maybe we should all declare a Trent-Free day and boycott you.

  199. Andrea says:

    I was getting more and more disappointed in trent until the last comment in #188. It still isn’t great, but a far less defensive step in the right direction. Trent’s entitled to his views, but he, like everyone else, needs to be aware when expressing those views could be needlessly hurtful. that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t express one’s views, but mindfulness goes a long way to keeping everyone civil. Civility does not mean people always agree; it does mean that they express deep divisions in a mutually respectful way.

  200. kirstie says:

    Has nobody noticed that Trent was responding to a rather hurtful comment when he wrote this post? He didn’t pull the subject out of the air, it was a reply to a reader.

    He was responding not to somebody who had chosen not to have children, nor to somebody who couldn’t have children, but to somebody who was suggesting that because he had committed the error of having children, he was hypocritical to write a blog giving advice to others.

    Frankly, if you suggested to most parents that their entire way of life was invalidated because they had children, (not just by making a general statement that the world is overpopulated, but by singling out an individual) they would respond in the same way.

  201. Johanna says:

    kirstie, what are you talking about? Kevin’s comment doesn’t say any of those things at all.

  202. kirstie says:

    Actually you are right Johanna. On closer inspection I have no idea what Kevin is trying to say. Grammatically it seems that he is saying that Trent’s blog reaches millions of people and his children will advance the cause of those people, but then the irony bit makes no sense. Nope. No clue what he is going on about.

  203. Chris C says:

    BNP = Breeder Not Parent

    BNW = Breeder Not Writer

    Trent, I hope we do not have to hear your complaints about financial difficulties resulting from your decision to replicate.

    On second thought, I hope we hear a lot of them.

  204. kristine says:

    “If I do it right, I can turn out a child that has the potential to cure cancer or breed a better crop that can feed starving children or create art that can truly uplift the human race or, perhaps best of all, find authentic joy in the world and find ways to share it with others. If I do it wrong, I turn out a sociopath.”

    Or- you could BE that person, instead of trying to make one. You could stay childless and devote your life to finding the cure for cancer, instead of doing it once removed. Or you could be a sociopath, instead of raising one. Ironically, things like a cure for cancer require an almost fanatical dedication to the task that might not make one a very good parent.

    Side note- once your kids are in elementary school- their teacher will spend more devoted waking hours with them than most parents do.

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