Most of us childfree adults are used to being asked why we didn’t have kids, but have you ever asked a parent to explain why he or she did? It’s simply not considered polite. As I’ve contemplated writing this blog over the past few days, I actually considered coming right out to parents with the question, but then I realized just how personal and intrusive it would be. Plus, I might be given some of the reasons described below, which in my personal and professional opinion are not legitimate reasons for having a child. Take a look below to see my list of great reasons to not have a child.
I want to have a constant companion: Children are not a means to friendship. I’ve met too many kids whose parents are lonely or otherwise struggling as well as parents who’ve used their child as a sounding board and companion. Children need to have a parent figure that is focused on giving them the tools they will need as an adult rather than someone who’s seeking a playmate or talk therapist.
I want to continue the bloodline/name: Who do these folks think they are to imagine that somehow their genes are so superior that we need to keep them around. If we as a society were to decide that only the brightest and best should survive (as Hitler did), we’d likely not be choosing the folks who make these kinds of inane comments. And regarding names, most women lose their maiden name at marriage and don’t get a bit of sympathy for their loss.
I want to have a “little me”: Here’s another selfish reason for procreating. The focus is all on the parent and not on the child. These potential parents must accept the fact that they’re not so special that the world needs to have another being like them around.
I might get pregnant by accident: Over half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned, a figure that’s astounding considering the access to birth control these days. Getting pregnant with no thought of how this will impact the child is one of the most selfish acts a person can take. These parents are bringing a child into the world with less than a year to ensure that their environment will be emotionally, situationally, and financially stable. We typically spend more time deciding if and where we’ll go to college, what we’ll do for a career, and if we should marry a particular person we’re dating.
I think it will improve my marriage: Wrong, wrong, wrong—marital satisfaction rates actually plummet after the birth of the first child. So, if a couple has the idea that a baby will bring them closer, think again. A child results in less sleep, less sex, less time for the couple to spend together, less money, and less time for friends and hobbies.
It’s what everyone else is doing (or that’s what you do after you grow up. It’s a natural part of being an adult): If all your friends were jumping off of a cliff, would you join along? The decision of whether or not to have a child is the most important one of our life, and thus parenthood shouldn’t be entered into casually. As with other big life decisions, such as whether or not to continue with school following high school, the path most often taken is not the one for everyone.
So, given all the reasons to not have a child, what are legitimate reasons to have a child? Perhaps the only valid reason to become a parent is that a person truly enjoys nurturing and mentoring and views the huge task and responsibility of being a mother or father to be something that will give them joy and that they feel they will do well with. If all parents who chose childrearing did so with this outlook, then those of us who chose to not have kids would have a much more supportive attitude towards them.
What other reasons can you think of for not having kids?Share your thoughts with me and other readers. Also, why not take the plunge and ask a young person who is contemplating life what his or her thoughts are on parenting, and why he or she thinks they want to or don’t want to have children. As a society, we can work together to break the mold of simply flowing from childhood into adulthood and becoming mothers and fathers. Let’s save this job for those who have the passion and are willing to do the planning and hard work it takes to do a super job.
Photo by Phaltoon: Freedigitalphotos.net