For Aron: Forgoing Children Part Two

>> Saturday, April 18, 2009

Aron said and asked: For full disclosure, I support the childfree movement. Also, i'm only speaking from my experiences in my high school, this might not be a national trend. What do you think?

I think that's a far more complex question than it looks like, for one thing. Bear in mind, also, this is all my opinion and not a condemnation or advocation of any personal choice. There's kind of two aspects of it:

  • What's going on in the world
  • What one wants to do individually
In part one, I opined that, though I thought the childfree movement, i.e. educated individuals forgoing children, would have a negligible effect on world population, I thought the education that accompanied that movement, tied with efforts to increase/retain natural resources and enhance conservation would be a good thing.

But now I'm addressing the second part which I define as "What do you think about me forgoing children personally?" Short answer: I think everyone is entitled to forgo children guilt-free. And, although I have three children of my own and I wouldn't change being a parent for anything, I'd encourage anyone anxious to have children to think about it long and hard.

Why? For the good of the world?

No. Because you shouldn't gamble with children.

Children are work. They are frustrating, heart-breaking, tiring, financially and mentally draining. Having children cramps your style, trashes your schedule, completely rearranges your priorities.

So, why does anyone have them? Because being a parent, a good parent, is the most rewarding, fulfilling, wonderful job in the world. Everything I said before is true, too. It's as frustrating and challenging as I said. It's just worth it. If you don't have children, that likely doesn't make any sense. If you do have children, I didn't need to explain it.

But being a parent isn't for everyone and, unlike many jobs, if you screw it up, you aren't the only one paying for it. There are dozens of good reasons not to have children: you have a genetic disorder you don't want to pass, you have an all-encompassing career, you genuinely don't like children, you don't want to add to the population on principle. All are fine reasons and there are many more. No one, absolutely no one, should have children if it's not what they want to do, if they aren't completely committed to the idea. Being a parent is not something one should do part time or halfway. You shouldn't have children to carry on your name, to get a tax deduction (believe me they're more expensive than a tax deduction could ever justify), to get more from welfare, to make your mom happy, to make your spouse happy, to convince a boyfriend to marry you, to save your marriage (ha!) because you think children will love and admire you (haha!) or because you think having babies would be fun (it IS fun, but it's also a buttload of hard work).

Being a parent is a lifelong commitment to another person, to love them unconditionally and forever and, if you're not willing to do it 100%, you shouldn't. But, if you do want children, you have educated yourself on the responsibility and you have the heart to give it your all, then I don't see any reason not to have children. I would, for the sake of some lonely, orphaned, misused or neglected children, consider adoption before I considered fertility treatments, but that is a matter of principle.

One more thing. I would say not to decide absolutely today. When you're young, the world can look awfully black and white. Go out there, live a little, find out what makes you happy and what gives you fulfillment. Your thoughts on what you want might change drastically with age and seasoning. And, if it makes you feel better, I would give the same advice to someone your age who wanted a family right away.

Take care. And remember, it's just my opinion.

By the way, what do you think of my new template? Pretty slick, isn't it? Thanks, LadyJava!


  • Kathy

    I'm absolutely of the mindset that if you don't want children 100%, it's best not to. I never thought I'd make a good mom. That's not to say that all my friends tell me otherwise, and I'm flattered, but I know in my heart it's not for me. I tip my hat to anyone who does it, though. Hardest job in the world.

    I wanted to ask a question of you, and I'm not sure if this is the right place. But here goes.

    Yesterday a friend and I were admiring some beautiful clouds on a perfectly sunny and lovely day. We noticed that one very large, oblong cloud was surrounded by not one, but two rainbows. It hadn't rained a drop all day. How is this phenomenon possible without rain?

  • Patricia Rockwell

    Yes, I agree with all you say. I would never want my children to have children for any reasons other than the ones you list as the right ones. I would also be thrilled if my children decided to adopt children. Because I love my children so much I just want them to be happy and I can't imagine anything making a person happier than having children (although intellectually I understand that it is possible).

  • Stephanie B

    Kathy, this is a fine place for the question. I'll try to get to it later tonight.

    Patricia, I agree. I think most parents would agree and wouldn't give up their parenthood for anything. But I do believe it isn't for everyone and many of the children up for adoption are the results of some of that. I can't think of a worse fate for a child than being born unwanted.

  • Phyl

    I would also agree with not making a "final decision" while you're so young. Going out and living a little won't merely give you a chance to get older, but you'd acquire skills and maturity that would actually make you a better parent if you decided to become one later.

  • Tim

    As I read these two posts about choosing to be childless, I can't help but be disturbed inside. For starters, do you think any of would be here right now if all of your ancestors had to be 100% certain they were ready for children and could handle the responsibility? Following these guidelines of maturity means eliminating huge amounts of future population, as well as becoming a genetic dead end. I for one am glad that my parents went ahead and had me, even though they sucked as parents and definitely were very irresponsible. If they had read an article such as this, and agreed with it, maybe I would have never existed to be a part of this conversation.
    Although I am not saying this is true in all cases, being 'selfish' might be the underlying motivation to remain childless. Kids cost money, take up time, and really are a huge investment of both of these commodities. And if you really don't want to have kids, then good. Don't. Rationalizing it as 'better for the planet' doesn't necessarily make it a noble sacrifice. It does mean that you won't pass on your life skills, education and genetics. Having enough children to replace yourselves as a couple (ie.: two) can hardly be claimed to be a population explosion.

  • Stephanie B

    Tim, I don't think it's unreasonable to be concerned about overpopulation and overusage of resources on this planet. It's a concern and a pressing one. Just look at the data on world population and it can be sobering. I don't blame Aron and his friends for being concerned.

    Although I'm not necessarily an advocate for waiting until you're completely "ready" - you're never completely ready - I'm a firm believer that having children without being cognizant and willing to shoulder the responsibility is no way to do business and children pay the price. You don't have to agree with me, but that's what I think.

  • Aron Sora

    I'm going to take another look at all my morals and beliefs while in college, this might change. If I were to start a family, I would adopt. This is because my genetic code sucks, I have so many genetic disease and negative aspects my contribution to the gene pool would be a detriment to humanity. But, once again, I'm going to reevaluate my life in college. Thank you for the thoughts. I love the new design and I'm really sorry I couldn't comment on this before now.

  • Stephanie B

    Remember, Aron, there is nothing wrong with eschewing children if that's the path you choose. It is not a reflection of any failure on your part. I agree, if you are facing debilitating genetic concerns, that adoption is an excellent alternative if you someday change your mind.

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