Few things in life are certain. These things are death, taxes, garbage, and the fact that if I come over to your house and you have pets or kids, I will spend more time playing with them than having an adult conversation with you.
I suppose this is why people are so perplexed that I’ve never been too keen on having kids of my own. With my childlike demeanor, boundless energy, and over-the-top level of caring about people’s feelings and crap like that, I’ve been told that I would be an exemplary mother. Oddly enough, I know several other people who’ve been told the same thing, despite proudly aspiring towards a permanently childfree life.
Maybe we’re told it because it’s true. Maybe people tell it to us because they want us to join the (Pokémon or Avengers-themed) party. Some childfree people respond to this with respect, while others have developed a potty mouth specific to retaliating against people who dare suggest that they create another human life. Either way, I’m here to bridge both sides of the child-having vs. childfree argument so that we can all be happy and recognize that no side is better than the other.
Kids are awesome, so it’s no wonder why people want them
Having had significantly younger siblings for most of my life, along with a bevy of nieces, nephews, and cousins, I’m used to a life enriched by kids. Every holiday season, I put on at least one mini-play with them (last year it was a dramedy-biopic of my Stepdad’s life entitled Life of Guy). When I go over to my dad’s house, my nine-year-old brother and I play Wii and soccer till we drop. My fifteen-year-old sister is turning into an amazing young woman, but I still remember admiring her Webkinz collection and gossiping about her very first boyfriend. All of this is just plain fun. Seeing them grow is inspiring and fills me with pride as an aunt, cousin, and sister. Being surrounded by youth gives me life and serves as a means for me to be a better role model.
But there’s one key difference between being an aunt, cousin, or sister versus being a parent.
Parenting vs. Every Other Role
When your brother or sister screws up, you’re most likely going to worry and you might try and fix things to the best of your ability. But unless you legitimately raised that person, you’re not going to feel like you’re responsible for their mistakes. You can continue to live life independently, for you know that there’s only so much you can do. The same goes for your niece, nephew, or any other younger family member: do what you can, but it’s not actually your responsibility and it’s (usually) not your place to sacrifice your own life or goals to fix the problem.
When you become a parent, there is no longer just “you”. Your needs come secondary to those of your child(ren). Whatever they need is more important than what you need, and until they reach 18 (or much later for most people), whatever happens to them is your responsibility to at least some degree.
This is something that people often don’t think about before they have kids. But every person I know who has had kids has assured me that this shift in thinking is unavoidable in order to be a good parent.
What this means is that if you want to have kids, your dreams, future plans, and lifestyle need to be compatible with their well-being. You can’t backpack through Europe for two years when you have toddlers. You can’t buy a new sailboat when you have college tuition to pay. You can’t go out all night every Friday and be hungover every following Saturday anymore. You can’t just quite your job because you hate it when there are mouths to feed. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but every decision you make has to be evaluated based on the impact it will have on your child(ren). For some people – nay, most – this is achievable.
Or maybe it’s not achievable for you and you start to realize that kids might not be an option.
Every Reason is a Legit Reason
Personally speaking, my first reason for not wanting kids is that I don’t foresee a tethered life for myself – at least not until I’m in my 40s or 50s. Even then, I’d like to have spurts of long-range travel and other acts of spontaneity. I want to be able and pick up and go somewhere any time I want with relative ease. While there are still considerations to be had when you’re in a partnership or even when you’re single, it’s a lot easier for two adults to sort out than to coordinate with two adults and a couple of kids.
My second reason is that I’m not working towards a life of great financial wealth. I want a nice life, I want to be healthy, and I want to travel – and that’s a lot easier to afford without children in the mix.
Lastly, I want to find a purpose I’m over-the-moon passionate about and dedicate my life to it, which might end up taking up the vast majority of my day-to-day life someday. If I had children, I would want to spend time with them and I probably couldn’t dedicate enough of my time to make the impact I want, get enough sleep, and have a life at the same time. I’m not saying that nobody can do it – I’m saying I probably can’t.
Other peoples’ reasons are just as valid: the population crisis, a lack of maternal instinct, the physical toll that pregnancy can take, etc. In fact, I have a little bit of those reasons in me too. Some people don’t have a reason. That’s valid, too. In fact, all of the reasons listed above are completely valid.
Let’s all Be Friends
I think the two communities could use a little etiquette guidance, but that’s just me…
People who don’t want kids:
- Don’t tell people you want kids just to make them happy. You’re no better or worse than someone for wanting/not wanting kids.
- Don’t try and convince people not to have kids. You’re free to make your choice and they’re free to make theirs.
- Whether you like kids or not, be respectful. Nobody needs to hear that you “hate kids” – plus, that’s like saying you hate yourself in the past, dumb-dumb (okay, to be fair…I hate my fifteen-year-old self, so never mind).
People who do want/do have kids:
- Don’t try and pressure people to have kids. Don’t assume that everyone wants kids. People having kids or not doesn’t affect your life in any way.
- If someone tells you they don’t want kids, you don’t need to dig for a reason. If you do, be polite about it – and be okay if they don’t have a reason or don’t want to tell you their reason.
- Don’t take the reasons that people don’t have kids to heart. You’re probably an awesome parent and your life is no less awesome because you have kids.
If you guys read any of the above, at least read this section. I’ll be quite happy if you do.
p.s. This article represents my own views as a childfree person. I’m obviously not a parent. I’ve tried to avoid talking out of my butt while writing this article, but please point out to me if I still did. Remember, I’m a 25-year-old neophyte of life-slash-human being, so I’m prone to making mistakes.
p.p.s. I apologize for the lack of pictures in this article, but I think the featured pic makes up for it.