On the Question of Having Children

I am child-free by choice. I’ve never had the desire to have children and for more than 20 years I’ve had the desire to have no children. It’s a position that I’m very comfortable with and have never had any regrets about. I’ve never sat up at night and worried that I haven’t procreated, or wondered what my children would have been like. I’ve never worried that I won’t have created the child that cures cancer or solves some other huge problem that we face. I’m quite certain that if I had any children that they would be quite ordinary and otherwise unremarkable. There are several reasons behind my position and this piece is an attempt to document those should anyone ever be looking to question me on the topic.

The first reason is that I don’t actually like being around children. Even as a child I always preferred the company of adults, or others who were older than me. I simply would rather not spend time with or around children, even if they were my own. I don’t enjoy children and for that reason I’d rather not have them in my home.

Secondly, there are a lot of people who could use my assistance in some way. Given the choice I’d rather spend my time making the lives of other adults better, rather than creating more lives on this planet and dealing with them. I’d feel much better about my contributions to the world if I spent my time mentoring and helping those who are already here, rather than spend it on my children. While I’m sure I could be a good father I can also be a good role model to others who are already here.

But I think the most important reason that I have is that when I look at the environmental impact of having children, one of the biggest decisions I can make to reduce my footprint on this planet is to not have children. Let’s face it, if you live in a Western society you probably have a huge ecological footprint on this planet. The average North American is a consuming machine that spews out around 15-20 tonnes of CO2 per year, and is helping to fill up our landfills with the stuff we feel the need to to have, all in the name of powering our economy. For the environmental reason that reinforced my choice to be vegetarian, the environmental impact of children has strongly reinforced my view of being purposely child-free.

I have no delusions that the world needs my children. My genes don’t need to be propagated and I think the same is true for the vast majority of us. As far as I’m concerned, children are often a glorified vanity experiment where couples go and create little copies of themselves, all while being unconcerned about how that decision affects the future.

Lastly, I don’t see that we, as a species, are going to be able to solve our looming climate crisis. Our planet is only able to support the 7.8 billion people we have today because we borrow so heavily against the future with fossil fuels, but it’s not a sustainable model. Worse, I fear that climate change will only make feeding our world even harder. Even with all of the progress that we achieve it doesn’t seem to be making the situation any better. I don’t see how bringing more children into this world will do anything but exacerbate these crises.

4 thoughts on “On the Question of Having Children”

  1. I have no children either and have never regretted it. I simply was not cut out for it. There world is heading over a cliff and there’s too many people already, not to mention the damage people do through religious fanaticism, greed, corruption and willful ignorance. I don’t need to add to that.

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  2. I don’t have children either, but not for any particular reason other than the women I have loved and lived with over the years have all been unable to reproduce, due to accident, disease, or tied tubes, or whatever. Some might call it fate, I guess. The universe has conspired to not let me have children, it seems. Maybe I am carrying some dangerous gene, I have no idea.
    Did I want children? I would not have thrown them away had any come along, but I never considered it a real choice. For many, children happen. For some they do not. The thing is, I guess, I would rather see people who do not want children become parents, while those who “desire” children I wish could never have them. The reason for 99% of the world’s problems can be found in the nuclear family, and allowing people to “own” their children. While there are some great parents, though I have never actually met any, most families are dysfunctional –especially and including my birth family– and this is how are dysfunctional societies are created.
    The real question is, if we all decided not to have children, how would humanity persist? As we live and breed right now, humans are not worthy of life, and I do not apologize if that statement disturbs anyone. We suck at being responsible beings. But at the same time, as things stand right now, humans are the best chance life has of ever becoming responsible, we just have to make a concerted effort to improve ourselves. This can only happen IF we reproduce. Will we ever get there? That question is almost rhetorical — not the way we are right now. We are as close as we can be to committing species genocide on ourselves, and if that happens, then we deserve our fate. But, if we happen to destroy all life on our planet should we commit species genocide by way of Nuclear Winter or some other human-made catastrophe, then we have failed life utterly. It is our job TO NOT FAIL! And it is the people who respect life enough to not bring children into this world that would probably be the best at creating non-dysfunctional families.
    To my way of thinking, Herald, for you to not have children was an arrogant and selfish thing to do, no insult intended. It is actually denying the life that pervades your being. But that is only my opinion. Just thought I would let you know it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The real question is, if we all decided not to have children, how would humanity persist?”

      I don’t think there’s any risk of that. We have an inherited desire to reproduce. I’m not advocating that nobody has children, only that we need to take a serious look at what it means for the human population to keep growing, and what level of population we can sustain without destroying our home in the process. There’s an important balance to be made there.

      “As we live and breed right now, humans are not worthy of life, and I do not apologize if that statement disturbs anyone. We suck at being responsible beings”

      To an extent, I can agree with your first statement. As to the second, I wholeheartedly agree.

      “To my way of thinking, Herald, for you to not have children was an arrogant and selfish thing to do, no insult intended.”

      None taken. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me all of the time.

      Like

      1. It is not just an inherent desire to reproduce, that is an unwritten “law” of all life, all living things. Life most reproduce to survive. But, yes, willy-nilly human reproduction is now ruining our world, Humans do not generally-speaking have the controls most species in nature have. It the billions of years life has existed on our planet, no one species has ever threatened the continued existence of life as are humans doing right now! I am not saying anything new, but we are nature”s cancer cells. We either need to be excised, or we need to become benign. I prefer the second option, but if the first happens, sobeit!

        Liked by 1 person

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