Associate Opinion Editor
I don’t want kids.
You know what, let me back up a bit. Because this is bound to start off with someone going “well you’ll want them eventually.” I don’t and I most likely won’t.
So my girlfriend doesn’t want kids. That answers it, right? Wrong. I am not an indecisive person and I think in the long term for most things. If I had truly wanted a child or thought it was a deal breaker, I would have ended the relationship. But it wasn’t, which made me start analyzing the idea.
Why wasn’t it a deal breaker? The answers led me to some interesting places.
So let me be sure to say I like some kids. They can be cute, funny, and occasionally insightful. I can see how having them can change your perspective on life. But they can also be a messy and unruly nightmare. I’m not even talking about babies and toddlers. I’ve seen plenty of older children, teenagers, and even adults that I stop and think “nope, I want none of that.”
Choices are part of what defines the human experience. My choices lead me to where I am and determine my future. I have goals and desires. Chief among these is freedom. I want to be debt free and to a point burden free.
Children play into this. Once there is a kid in the picture, your priorities change. Where you live not only is about the cost of living or safety, but also the quality of education. Then there is space, clothing, and time to put into it. I applaud those who look at this and go “that is a challenge I want to take.” Some people take it as a given to have kids. Which is where I was. Part of the adult checklist was “have kids”. Once I realized that it wasn’t, it opened things up.
The cost of a child is astronomical, financially and mentally. You are taking charge of an entire other person who you can guide but ultimately have no control over. The responsibility is so heavy for me to even think about. The financials too. I am a bit of a workaholic. I find it hard to sit still and not be tasking myself with some new project or endeavor. I am easily distracted as is.
My goals are high. I want to focus on my writing. I want to start my own businesses. I want to be involved in my community, both personally and politically. Can a parent do this? Absolutely. But it is a division of attention that I know I would struggle to handle. In the words of Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson: “Don’t half-ass two things, whole ass one thing.” I wouldn’t want a potential child to feel like a second fiddle. The responsibility to do that job right would be overwhelming. I didn’t even really touch on the ecological arguments (the carbon footprint of a kid is higher than just about anything else a person can do).
So what was it that appealed to me? Well, the childfree section of Reddit would refer to this as “Kodak moments”. Putting my values into action, trying to guide someone in the way that I think is right. First steps, graduations, teaching them to drive, that kind of jazz. But having a kid is so much bigger than that. To that end, I could join an organization like Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I don’t have to have my own kid to try to be a positive influence on others.
I’ve considered a vasectomy. It’s an option I’m not taking off the table. If in some stable theoretical future that I would want kids, I could always adopt (an expensive feat in itself that really forces you to want kids to get through). I have no tie to this idea of having to pass on my family genes.
You may still dismiss this. There are common reactions. “You’ll want them eventually,” “It’s different when it’s your own kid”, “What if your parents decided not to have kids?” Another common one is “Who will take care of you when you are old?” These fail to acknowledge that people can know their own desires as well as the fact that the person they are creating is wholly independent of themselves. There is no guarantee that my kid will want to or even be able to take care of me when I’m old.
So to those with kids, I want to be completely clear about something. This is not an attack on you. If anything, I hope this reinvigorates you to recognize the immense responsibility you have undertaken. This is meant to make sure that those are on the fence don’t make a choice that is bad for them. No one should feel pressure to have a child they aren’t sure about.
The big difference between having a child you regret or regretting not having a child? The second one only hurts you. The first one hurts you, your partner, and the kid. That’s a gamble I’m not willing to take.