The mainstream media just can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to have kids

woman with question marks

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After publishing a long article suggesting that childfree people are destroying America as we know it, Newsweek is now asking childfree people to explain themselves. Share your story, they implore. Subtext: What is this bizarre subclass of people thinking? How might they justify this totally unnatural decision?

Slate did this same thing last year, asking childfree women to “explain themselves.” So did Huffington Post.

It’s nice that childfree people are being invited to express their views publicly, but I wish we could stop being seen as some exotic tribe in need of anthropological examination. After all, nearly 20 percent of American women end up not having kids, and a lot of American men too. We’re really not that rare and peculiar.


4 responses to “The mainstream media just can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to have kids

  1. Here was my response: I am 22 years old and I have made the decision to remain child-free for both selfless and selfish reasons.

    Almost nine billion people will inhabit the earth by the middle of this century. Many ecologists attest that the human population has already surpassed its carrying capacity. National Geographic figures suggest that in his or her lifetime, the average American will: drive 627,000 miles (enough to circle the earth 25 times), drink over 26,000 glasses of milk, eat over a ton of bananas and two tons of bread, use 1.8 million gallons of water and 31,350 gallons of gas, and produce 64 tons of waste. The consequences of this astronomical per-capita consumption—the ecological crises of climate change, unprecedented species extinction, air and water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation and habitat destruction, desertification, and others—are well-known. This consumption is not without social impacts, either; our overconsumption contributes directly to the many social ills and instabilities of the global South.

    Due to the sheer size of the human population, even if we all drastically reduced our consumption patterns (which is unlikely- in fact, the opposite is happening, especially in developing countries), we’d still have an enormous and unsustainable impact on the earth.

    In other words, even if I did my part to reduce the size of my personal ecological footprint (by eating a plant-based diet, driving less, living in an urban area rather than the suburbs, etc.), if I chose to reproduce I would almost certainly multiply my negative impact on the planet and its inhabitants by the number of children I’d have (and further by the number of grandchildren and so on).

    It may seem obvious, but it is important to consider that when a woman gives birth to a baby, she’s not just having a child or creating a family; she’s bringing another adult into an already resource-depleted world.
    While there is a slight chance that any woman’s child could grow up to save the world from the crises listed above, unfortunately it is much more likely that he or she will have a net negative impact, given the unavoidable overconsumption of resources that comes with a first-world lifestyle.

    In my opinion, procreation should no longer be held up as a societal ideal, much less as the pinnacle of selflessness or a “miracle.” In fact, at least in the West, choosing to have children, to add more people to a world in ecological peril, may indeed be an entirely selfish choice. Rather than continue to procreate unthinkingly, citizens of first-world countries need to find ways to gracefully allow our populations—and thus our negative global impacts—to fall. One solution, perhaps, (at least for the short-term) would be to radically decrease restrictions on immigration; this would encourage immigrant families to join industrialized nations’ work forces and help support our aging populations while making better lives for themselves.

    Perhaps the most compelling unselfish reason not to reproduce is the fact that there are millions of orphaned children, as well as homeless pets, whose lives would quite literally be saved if we opened our homes up to them instead. We save no lives when we bring more people into the world.

    My reasons for choosing to remain child-free are also selfish. I will not undergo the perpetual struggle to “have it all” that drains the lives of women who juggle family and career. Instead, I will enjoy more disposable income and more opportunities to travel, pursue my career and personal passions, spend time with the people and animals I love, and volunteer. Above all, I will enjoy my freedom. My life will not be constrained or sapped by soccer practices, snotty noses, sleepless nights, earsplitting screams, smelly diapers, financial troubles, angsty teenagers, or any of the many other ugly aspects of parenting.

    Although my parents and other family members may be disappointed that I have chosen not to reproduce, they respect my choice. The desire to please others, in my opinion, is a terrible justification for having children, so my parents will have only grandkitties to spoil. I am not yet married and do not expect to marry, but whomever I choose to spend my life with will also need to be resolutely child-free. I currently use a form of long-term birth control, and may consider having a tubal litigation in several years when the negative feedback I’ll inevitably receive will be quieter.

  2. A reason for being childfree?? We just never wanted them! We have been married for 21 wonderful years. We married and never even discussed having a child until about 10 years after being married. When my wife asked me if I wanted one we discussed it and decided no. It has never been an issue.

    If someone has an issue with it ….tough sh&t! I don’t care how many kids other people have (although, the more the better to pay my social security in a few years) just keep your opinions to yourself and enjoy life!

  3. Being childless is the default setting. The decision to breed is an active choice. So instead of the child-free being constantly harrassed about their default setting, surely the question should go to those who *choose* to *have* children; “Why are you having children?”
    But NO, we can’t do that, it’s rude and no one else’s business! We must congratulate them on their “miracle”. The “miracle” that all species have done since the beginning of time, AKA “biology”.

    Pity the same respect isn’t given to those who choose to be child-free.

    Why don’t I want children? Well, I could give you my list, but the ultimate concise answer is, “Because I don’t.”
    Why is that never a good enough answer for most people?

  4. I think one of the problems most people have in accepting a woman’s decision not have children is that if she doesn’t want kids, that means your mother may not have wanted YOU. This is especially so among those who were born before the pill, when millions of women gave birth to unwanted children. Denial of the lack of desire for kids ignores the huge number of abortions, the ever in- creasing popularity of birth control, and knocks Freud’s “mother instinct” into a cocked hat. (And truly, think about it, wasn’t everything Freud said about women really an excuse to legitimize his own mysogyny? O-o-o-o-h yeah!)
    When I was growing up, in the 1950s and 60s, the obsession with child- bearing mommies ranged from irritating to down-right scarey. I think I was only about four or five years old when the campaign started, “You’ll have babies too when you grow up! Won’t that be fun!” All my dolls were referred to as babies by the adults around me; I can’t remember EVER pretending that I was a mother, and my dolls were dolls.
    When I was old enough to think about what my adult life might be, I got,
    “Oh no, dear! You don’t want to be a (… pick one: balllet dancer, newspaper reporter, astronomer …); you want to be a MOMMY!”
    All of my adult life I have been asked when I would have a baby, and I’ve been warned, sometimes by complete strangers, that my “biological clock” was ticking away. (Do these jackasses realize how stupid, rude, and insulting they are being, talking to women as if women are some kind of farm animal?)
    Now, I am too old to have a baby, so I’m free at last, right? … Not a chance! Now I get this, “But you did WANT a baby, didn’t you?” No. “Well, but you do sometimes regret not having kids, right?” Never. “And yet, you must feel a strange emptiness … ” No, I tell them. What I feel is a strange content-ment.
    I’ve always wondered why, if child-rearing is supposed to be such a joy, and such a compelling and fulfilling biological necessity for women (oddly enough, no one cares if a man is a father or not … hmmmmmm), and if it is so
    instinctive, why the great campaign? Why the never ending PR about the joys of motherhood? Isn’t it odd? No one campaigns at men about this; no one cross examines men about not being fathers; strangers don’t approach them
    with probing questions about their personal lives. Just wondering.

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