People Talk About The Reasons They Don't Want Children

It's presented as one of the inevitable stages in life - having children. However, for many, this is not seen as a inevitability but as a choice.

Here, people share the reasons not to have children.

I'm going to talk you out of having kids. 

Before I do, I should mention that I have two beautiful children and feel that I am better at being a father than anything else I've ever done, and there's some stuff I'm pretty good at. Also, everything that happened to me before I had kids seems compressed, to the point where it's still kind of there, but almost like it happened to someone else. And that was only three years ago. 

So anyway, here we go:

Raising two kids costs us about 4k a month. Not counting college, and any savings, etc. That's just childcare, clothes, toys, books, and a swim class or something. You can lease 2 serviceable Mercedes for $1k per month. A pretty good rate on a $700k house with nothing down and a 30 year fixed is like $4k per month. You could fly to Maui two weekends a month, every month, and stay in the a nice hotel, for $3k per month.

If you love your spouse as much as I love mine, you should enjoy the time you have together now, because that decreases at an alarming rate once you have kids. No joke. If your kids aren't talking yet (or if they're just mute I guess) it's not as noticeable, but once they hit about two, your meaningful conversations are relegated to naptime and bedtime.

If you have some hobbies or maybe a job that requires a lot of travel and long hours, you're going to have to choose, every day. You have 18 hours in a day. How much of that time are you spending with your kid? How much is not enough? If you're working 8-5 and their bedtime is 7:30, you've probably got an hour in the morning and maybe two at night. That's three hours a day, minus eating, dressing, bathing, etc. So you have maybe 90 minutes of quality time with your kid. If you have two and they're on different schedules (common when they're young), decrease accordingly. But you have them on weekends, right? Sure, but you're not the only one who wants to see them. And you've got house chores, errands, etc. Your time is no longer your own, and you never have enough for them, much less anything else.

You like traveling? Ever been on a 26 hour flight and been annoyed at the screaming kids in the row behind you? Well now those kids are yours. Traveling with kids in their first years can be without tragedy, but never optimal. And it always requires your normal amount of administration (planning, packing, etc.) times four, not to mention cost and sacrifice of stuff you just can't realistically do anymore. If this is on your bucket list, better start checking them off now.

My oldest kid gets up at 6 am. Every day. She doesn't get up like we get up either, like she needs time to get going or anything. She literally bursts out of her room every morning like sunlight cresting a mountain. She goes from sleeping to full adrenaline in a nanosecond. She wakes up motivated, like a miniature female version of Patton. Whereas later in the day she's polite, in the morning she commands people. "It's time for you to get up and make oatmeal, dad." Like a boss. What time do you get up on weekends? Ever sleep in? I kind of remember sleeping in. It actually hurts to try and remember it. Like if I lost the sense of smell, but could still remember the aroma of fresh baked cookies. 

Remember the first time you had your heart broken? Remember how you wanted to die and nothing ever hurt that much after? Having something happen to one of your kids is many times worse than that. I am blessed, but I had a scare with one of them, and it was the most traumatic thing I've ever been through. If you live a comfortable life where you're insulated from the highs and lows that come with emotional attachment, having a small human that's completely dependent on you for survival and loves you more than you could love anything in your adult life might not be for you.

Having said all of that, I'd give up all the money I ever earned to keep being a dad. My wife and I were happy before kids, but there's no question we're happier now. Going to Disneyland with a toddler is more fun than going to Rome or Hawaii as newlyweds. All of my friends who don't have kids wish they had mine, and every hobby or sport or consulting gig I've given up means nothing to me if it would require giving up a few hours with my kids.

Jonathan Brill

Some humans do not want children because of fear.

There are no guarantees in life. We are not guaranteed happy, healthy children. Even with genetic screening, amniocentesis and ultrasound technologies to determine what the combined outcome of egg and sperm are, and state-of-the-art medical prenatal care, children are too often born with very serious birth defects. 

Fear of the impacts of disability and one's ability to handle a catastrophic lack of sleep and similar physical, emotional and financial impacts can deter even the most maternally/paternally-minded would-be parents from believing there is a logical reason to have children. I know: I gave birth to a child with life-threatening medical issues. The fear is completely justified. Having a child is a medical gamble with a mother's life, because risk is always involved with childbirth, as it is with every other activity in life. 

 A child is a medical gamble with a baby's life, because risk is always involved with childbirth. Medical impacts at birth often have significant, unchangeable effects that can forever alter the course of your life and that of your child. 

The world can be a shockingly dangerous and traumatic place for any child's existence despite our best efforts at risk prevention. Some of us are fearful we may not be up to the task of protecting our children. In an arguably  famous book whose story and author I do not currently recollect, the author speaks of this kind of parental fear as anxiety, manifested in his nightmares by an undertoad ready to steal his kids' lives and his happiness during one summer while watching them swim in deep water. Those without children to care for and protect, while staying at a summer house by the shore, would certainly feel more relaxed.

Some potential parents choose not to have children because of fear that it is too all-encompassing. Parents are independent creatures universally viewed by their dependent children as being the food source, protector, psychologist, policeman, teacher, risk evaluator, rescuer, guide, mother/father, friend, comforter, etc etc etc for our children. Many humans experience fear when they carefully consider the impacts of parenthood and its associated urge to protect our young, and simultaneously consider the state of the world our children will inherit. The demands on a human parent are seemingly without end and require a selflessness that many humans do not want to experience.

Also some humans aren't inclined. I strongly support childlessness for all who do not want children. Although almost anybody can procreate, conscious parenting is a choice that can be considered deeply and planned for over time. There is an art to raising children which has been elevated by many parents I have known. Parenthood can be entered into after research, deep forethought and planning if you don't want to be surprised by unexpected possibilities you had not ever considered. After thinking about the possibilities and weighing the risks and costs, some human beings are, and others just aren't, inclined to become parents.

A Resource for all potential parents: Becoming Parents. To read about the various physical, psychological and emotional impacts of parenthood on human beings, author Sandra Jaffee, (a certified childbirth and breastfeeding expert with experience teaching new parents everything related to parenthood for more than twenty years), wrote a spellbinding book with Jack Vertiel called Becoming Parents. 

Some humans do not want children because they made a personal decision, and made it as a result of their culture. For me, ever since becoming a parent, Life has not been what I envisioned while I was a little girl. As a child I was often clearly imagining my own future motherhood. I knew just how I would treat my own children, I thought. And, --I thought I was going to France when I got on the pregnancy plane, but I ended up in Denmark. Upon arrival, everything was different than expected. The geography, culture and language were not what I ever anticipated--, but despite everything, I love where I ended up; wouldn't change my lot in life for anything.

It was my pleasure as they were growing up to give my children--and, today, also, the children of parents who seek my counsel--every genuine joyous possibility in life, hoping they would take advantage one day of everything our world could offer.
Now my own have grown. I keep being me, waving, blowing kisses, heart beating, beating and a tear slowly melting down my cheek as they walk away from daily life involving me, and travel along their own pathways of Life. I'm looking forward to having grandchildren one day. And lots of celebrations and Thanksgivings. I think I was born this way. Some humans aren't.

Nan Waldman

I have never wanted children. Though, being a woman, I felt that I would have children anyway. As a girl, I played and pretended to be a mother many times. My parents bought me baby dolls which I loved and took care of. It seemed to be in my DNA to want to take care, and the biggest role in doing so is to become a mother.

I think everyone assumes that this is what you will do. You're a woman. You will be a mother. That is still seen as the ultimate form of giving on the planet. Mothers have days. Childless women do not. There is no special occasion for a woman who chooses to become something else, to blossom in a different way, even as she gives to a great number of people- until she becomes a saint. 

In my 20's I remember thinking that I could not have a child, because I wasn't emotionally and financially ready. There were other interests. I wanted to travel. I wanted to meet people and see the world. Writing became very important to me as did my career. 

In my late 20's, my best friend had her first child.  I felt a split in our friendship immediately. Suddenly, she was too busy to dream and talk about the world with me. I saw her slip into an abyss- unavailable. The superiority of that dynamic frightened me. She was a mother now. Her life had been usurped by another being. I fell away from a cold distance that stunned me. We were no longer in the same camp: hers had become clearer, with a purpose and a direction while I still floundered and sought for self-identity. A friendship virtually ended with this dividing line. We had been best friends for two decades.

At 31, I married. Now the window was wide open to have a child. Despite the problems already arising in my new marriage, I began taking my temperature. It was the closest I came to considering motherhood- a whim carried by the culture and not the true me. 

Thirty-three. Divorced. I decided to join a spiritual community and became enticed by living a monastic life. Children seemed like a life's dream that belonged to someone else. I began doubting that this would happen for me, and I was numb to it. I wanted to become enlightened and that seemed like the loftiest goal I could fathom. For me, that had to be pursued with everything I had, and there was no room for doing diapers.

I spent a decade in that pursuit, dedicated to that community. During that time, I found meaning in giving to a higher purpose and a global cause. Becoming aware of the tension that population growth was placing on the planet, I believed that motherhood would best be spent not by having my own children, but by taking care of the world in some other way. This took the form of counseling people, and teaching hundreds of people English from all corners of the world. It also took the form of spiritual practice and experimenting with enlightened communication. As a teacher, I felt the satisfaction of giving to those who were not my kin, not part of my tribe. And through time, I was able to apply my spiritual experience to my work, which only amplified my ability to help uplift people's lives. 

Early on I also had the realization that having children, at least in American culture, can be a form of passing the buck. It can be costly. It can require all kinds of stuff. Materialism seems to be a huge part of it for a lot of people. And it can get people off the hook from really doing anything truly significant themselves. Pouring all of one's love and attention into raising a child may have been a huge value to the world in the past, but given the conditions we live in today, I really think many more of us need to choose to not have kids, to put our attention on other matters.

In America we seem to place such a value on children and the potential they have. But what happens to this potential when they reach their 20's? We begin to wonder when will our kids have kids. How, then, are we valuing our lives in this case? And so, I asked myself, what if I made my life really matter? What if I did everything I could to become fully me, as fully evolved as I could be? 

This is a hard road. As a childless woman, I feel I must make my life meaningful. There is no other option. No child. No excuse. Be something, give something, do something. 

I suppose you could say, I resonated with that calling more. 

Now as I pass into my last stages of fertility, I am sure that motherhood was never right for me.  I often wish I had spent my childhood playing other games, rather than playing with dolls. I wish I had played games that mimicked how my life would actually look and who I would actually be than what biology or culture imposed.

In the end, my passion for being useful and changing the world in my small but not insignificant way far exceeds the biological instinct to bring more folks on board. I will leave no one behind -but the time and attention I will give to sharing my own unique gifts and for connecting to the world on a larger scale will explode out of me in the form of joy and happiness - I will be true to myself, most of all. This is a happier me and the world will like me better for it. 

Jill Uchiyama

1) I don't like to be around other people's kids, and I've never wanted to risk that I'd feel that way about my own children.

2) Selfishness. Raising kids is a 24-hour-a-day commitment for 18 years, or as long as it takes for them to go off to college. They deserve that commitment, and a parent who's going to love them no matter what.

3) There are several genetic medical conditions in my family that I wouldn't wish on anyone, especially not my children. None of them are fatal or crippling, but all of them can make life very unhappy at times.

I believe that you should only have children if you clearly understand what you're getting yourself (and them) into. It should never be an automatic decision, one taken at the spur of the moment, or one taken in order to save a marriage or relationship.

Len Feldman

Because they would take up a huge amount of my time, which I'd have to either give up my job, give up the theatre company I run at night, or have a caregiver look after my kids. 

Even if I could afford that final option, I wouldn't choose it. I would only enjoy having children if I could spend lots of time with them.

If I had a way of giving up my job, I would seriously consider having kids, but I need to work in order to afford food and a roof over my head.

Which leaves theatre. And I guess when push comes to shove, I simply value that more than having kids. Or, at least, I'm not willing to give it up in order to have them. It's been my passion for decades and I've devoted most of my non-working-hours energy to it.

And I don't have a local support system to help out. I have no relatives nearby and my wife's folks are dead.

Marcus Geduld

I don't think all humans want to have kids because of some biological imperative. Here's another possibility: Humans' self-consciousness. 

This question assumes that all organisms consciously want to propagate their species. I disagree. Organisms want to have sex or lay eggs. Both of these activities are instinctual. I doubt a dog thinks about the consequences of mounting a female dog (as far as we can tell).

We, as humans, can think about the consequences and implications of our actions. We are seinent beings and introspective ones at that. We're not slaves to insnict (mostly). So, we can make choices that diverge from a "biological imperative." 

Now that we have multiple contraceptive options, we can satisfy a biological urge (having sex) without the reproduction part. Our self-awareness allows us to have that option. Maybe if penguins were both self-aware and had contraceptives, they would think twice about having children. 

There are also historical and socioeconomic factors: increasing need for higher education for career success, overcrowding, high housing prices, et cetera.


I think a better question is why do some people want children? Most people, even those who have them, can't answer that one. Parents will tell me, "Little Barbara is the best part of my life! She makes me smile every time I see her!" but that doesn't answer why you had her. It justifies the decision, but before you have a kid, you don't know if that kid will love you, will make you happy, or even survive.

There are tons of children in the world already who don't have homes or parents or even enough to eat. Why do people feel compelled to reproduce when you could simply take in an existing child? 

Raising a child is stupidly difficult, and the entire world is out to either tell you your doing it wrong or actually punish you for doing it. When I was a kid, I'd ride my bike around the neighborhood for hours, wait in the car while my folks ran errands in the store, cook dinner, you name it. This kind of behavior is now viewed as negligent and criminal. Why on earth would you want to have a kid if you must raise them in complete captivity? Even if you trust your kid, no one else does and you get blamed. 

The biological purpose to have children is to keep the species going. Based on the current population of the planet, there is no need to have children.

Kate Hutchinson

I had an abusive childhood and started to deal with that history when I was out of college. I learned that abused people have a tendency to become abusers themselves and decided before I met my wife that I didn't want to have kids.  I saw the power of dysfunction inside me and didn't want to pass it off to another generation.

By the time I met my wife at 28, I was even more convinced that I didn't want to have kids. Most of my friends were married with children by then and I saw that their lives were consumed with caring for kids. I saw the vast quantities of time, money and emotional energy that were spent on children and it just wasn't something that was interesting to me. They seemed to enjoy being parents, for the most part, but they often seemed frazzled and exhausted. I just didn't want that kind of life for myself.

I actually enjoy kids. I'm pretty good with them, mostly because I'm a juvenile lurking in an adult's body. But that didn't mean I needed my own.  Since so many of my friends had kids, I got my kid fix with theirs and then happily went home to a quiet, unfrenzied place.  

As we dated, my wife and I talked about kids often because we wanted to make sure we had thought thought through all the angles. We were still in agreement that we wanted life to be just the two of us.  One friend was cynical enough to say that she was lying to me so that I would marry her and then when it was too late for me to get out, she would want kids.  Sixteen years into our marriage, we still have no kids and we haven't argued about one of us wanting kids and the other not. I think our agreement on not having kids has been one of the most significant contributors to the stability of our marriage. In contrast, a lot of marital conflict centers on issues related to kids.

We love the freedom we have. We can focus on each other and our own interests without being constantly impeded by the needs and demands of children. We can travel, we can take a weekend trip on a whim, we can waste days, we can use our resources as we want.

The first few years we were married, some people asked if we thought it was a selfish way to live.  I always found that to be an amazing question because of the underlying assumption that only parents know how to live in a giving, unselfish way.  To my knowledge, none of my single friends has ever been asked if they thought living solo was selfish.

The question whether intentionally childless couples live selfishly assumes that the presence or intentional absence of children in a marriage is the sole factor in determining whether a couple lives generously or selfishly.    So, in the minds of some people, only parents can live generously. Generous living isn't a function of how many kids one has. It's a  function of how well a person connects with other people to give to and  receive from them.  

I was assured by a few people that when I became older, I would regret the decision to not have kids, apparently because I wouldn't have someone to take care of me. This blew my mind because of the huge assumptions that the purpose of children is to care for aging parents, that the children will still like their parents enough to care for them or that that the parents would even want to be cared for by their kids.

I think many people have kids because it's the thing to do. For me and my wife, it's not the thing to do and we are without regret.

Dave Reynolds

Because they don't want to. Yes, it really is that simple. I could give you a long list of reasons why kids would not be a good addition to my life - the cost, the loss of freedom, the disruption to my long-term career goals, the mess, the permanent damage childbirth would probably cause to my body, the fact that the world is overpopulated, etc.

But really, those are justifications, not reasons, because if I wanted kids badly enough I'd find ways to overcome them and/or make the necessary sacrifices.

This doesn't mean I hate kids (although I don't particularly enjoy being around most of them). It's like asking why I don't want a horse. I have nothing against horses but the idea of taking responsibility for one doesn't appeal to me, and why would I take on that responsibility, considering the cost and effort involved, if I didn't really want it?

Not having kids doesn't involve a change to the status quo. Having them does, both for the parents (hopefully) and the new life being created. Considering this, and the fact that the world is overpopulated, I think a better question would be, "Why do some people want to have children?"

Alli Pyrah

Being a woman doesn't mean to want to make babies by default.

She might like babies, but she might not wish to make them.
Having uterus doesn't mean that she has to house somebody in it.
Biology and psychology are sometimes mistaken to be one.
It is our body, our will, our blood and flesh; and hence our choice to procreate or not.
Nobody is supposed to be judged just because they don't want to have babies.
Sometimes we want our career and sometimes our passion to lead our lives. If making a child doesn't fit in that, what's a big deal?
It's high time we start seeing females as human beings first, women later.
Not choosing to have a baby doesn't make femininity any lesser.

So the answer is "because she wants it that way".

Vidushi Rastogi

For some, because it's a lot easier to have the time to optimize for impact when you don't have children, especially since children frequently don't end up in the way that their parents want them to end up.

Children take up lots of time/money, which makes it harder to be continually attentive to the world once you have children - many peoples social circles shrink after having children. Some people enjoy being able to rapidly adapt (or even move in response to) to rapid changes in the world, which is much easier when youre childless and have the collective wisdom accumulated over 30+ years of life. Being able to enjoy freedom while also possessing this type of wisdom is an experience few enjoy.

Some childless people have had the opportunity to mentor generations of students instead. Many younger people lack mentor-ship, and it's possible to have more time to mentor more younger people when you're childless. It's much easier for childless people to be generous to others, especially those who are unusually receptive to said generosity.

For many high-intelligence/potential people, their children will most likely be less intelligent/high-potential than them, simply due to regression to the mean. It may be more rewarding/impactful for them to help other high-intelligence/potential young people.

Also, children are frequently less attached to their parents than their parents are to their children (though I sometimes wonder if they would be more attached to their parents if more parents actually knew how to really be supportive [rather than push their children in directions that ultimately aren't healthy for them, and make them unwilling to share anything with their parents]).

Many studies show that the net effect of children on happiness is negative. For many, life is already hard enough without children - why make it even harder? Why bring new life into this world when there is already so much suffering in it?

Alex K. Chen


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