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The 'Why I don't want to be a parent' thread


Untamed Heart
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Or, the reasons why it really isn't that unreasonable or selfish to not want children if you just... don't thread :P (I hope this is OK in this part of the forum!). Now, this isn't meant to shit on parents and people who do want kids, because people either have that desire/like children or not, and it is a tough job (and as gets pointed out, we do have to keep the population going lol), but rather discuss stuff like the things that society either conveniently brushes under the carpet or plain doesn't want to acknowledge about parenthood that could possibly put some people off, aka covering up the fact it probably isn't as great as it's made out to be, or not everyone enjoys it even though apparently you're supposed to love it.

I was reading a thread on a different forum last night (aimed at and run by parents; I'm child free but sometimes end up there during forays for information/advice via Google. They do have some interesting topics though lol) where someone was saying they hated being a parent, though they still loved their kids, and had tons of replies in general agreement - over 500! 

Reading it further cemented my desire not to have children, because it really sounds like hell to me, but it also got me thinking about how some people say it's selfish and even 'irresponsible' not to have them, which I disagree with on many levels. I think not liking children or not having a maternal or paternal instinct/desire, simple as they come, are good enough reasons on their own. There's not anything wrong with you if you just plain don't like kids. Not to mention the obviously high global population already - there are clearly already enough people parenting in all it's forms out there to give the people who are left cold by the idea some slack. 

The nuclear family model isn't the best for raising children - especially where most/all of the work is left to one parent. 

I had this post planned in my head at work and as usual coming to write it, it hasn't gone how I wanted at all, but they're basically my own reasons for not really wanting to have children myself and justifying it (not that I care if people do think I'm selfish - I just don't see the point and like my life as it is without them). Feel free to add your own and discuss your feelings on the topic :) 

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For me it's not about lacking paternal instinct. In fact, I relate to kids, I've always been comfortable around them, and they've always loved me. The reason why I don't want kids and that's okay is simply put, I don't want them. I love my life as it is, single and childless. Sure, it's a great feeling to raise a human and have them turn out okay, but that's not all there is to life. I could invent a new thing. I could take care of animals at a shelter. I could get a book published. I could feed the homeless. All of these things can foster the same emotions as raising children. Taking care of animals or the homeless? You're taking care of a human. Because of you, they may live another day. Inventing something or writing something? You know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into that? How much time goes into that? How much stress and sleepless nights?

 

They are all methods that give you the same satisfaction of raising a child, with far less money involved and far less of a chance of screwing up royally. Plus I've seen what happens when a parent loses a child, and what if you have to go through that? Not everyone can handle that much emotional baggage.

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Because I really don't want that, I am content with my life as it is.

 

It actually would feel a lot more selfish for me to pick up or give birth to a child while I really don't want to take care of one (I don't really hate children and in fact can get along swimmingly well with most, I simply don't want to share a house with one 7/24 like I don't want with anyone else) because it would end up with child having major emotional problems/other health issues related to stress etc.

 

In fact, that's what bugs me in my community- It is okay if you find meaning in your life by having a baby/adopting one and that's really great and I hope you have enough maturity to take care of one and it all goes well, but when you feel aimless in the life and it is simply pushed down your throat that it should be your aim and you decide to look after one after that, just feels... wrong, for me.

 

Idk I am really worried about placing your life's worth on another person, be it a child or romantic relationship or something else, so I really wouldn't go well with having a power over someone smaller than me with full awareness of how vulnerable they are at the moment and how everything I do could effect them and then expecting them to love me for it because that kind of expectance sounds off to me too.

 

So in short, I would always feel like I am doing something wrong all the time and the emotional baggage it would bring would be a torture to me, not something that would brighten my day up or something. %1000 supporting people who finds it fullfilling. Just not my cup of tea.

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4 hours ago, Untamed Heart said:

but it also got me thinking about how some people say it's selfish and even 'irresponsible' not to have them

 

To me, this is just the most bizzare, logic-breaking opinion ever. And it just baffles me how apparently widely held it is! I presume that people have children because THEY like children and THEY want to have said children? In principle their decision cannot take into account the feelings of their children - as they don't yet exist! So, again, it seems to me that in principle the ONLY reason somebody has children is because THEY want to . Well, how selfish of them! :P 

 

Also, it would be the height of irresponsibility to have children if you weren't pretty sure you wanted them. As you'd be bringing a potentially unwanted child into the world, which would be a lot for that child to have to deal with psychologically growing up. So, again, child-free / childless-by-choice people are actually being very responsible by not having children they aren't sure they would want.

 

4 hours ago, Untamed Heart said:

I was reading a thread on a different forum last night (aimed at and run by parents; I'm child free but sometimes end up there during forays for information/advice via Google. They do have some interesting topics though lol) where someone was saying they hated being a parent, though they still loved their kids, and had tons of replies in general agreement - over 500! 

 

This doesn't surprise me. You can potentially put a lot of it down to cognitive dissonance. Most people might find it rather difficult to reconcile the belief "I love my kids" with the belief "gosh, having kids is really tough, there are often days I wish I hadn't bothered!" Easier to just shrug and go "of course I wanted kids REALLY" (even if I complain about it to you literally all the time xD). I guess it's basically impossible to openly admit that you regret having kids once you've had them. It'd be like admitting to them that you don't love them and you wish they'd never been born. A bit of an ethical taboo, and for some good reasons I suppose.

 

There is also (and I hope you'll forgive me being a bit snarky here!) the flipside of the saying "misery loves company". Which is "misery resents hold-outs" :D 

Could that also go some way towards explaining some of that hostility towards the "child-free" from people stressed-out by their own child-rearing responsibilities?

 

 

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20 minutes ago, NullVector said:

There is also (and I hope you'll forgive me being a bit snarky here!) the flipside of the saying "misery loves company". Which is "misery resent hold-outs" :D 

Could that also go some way towards explaining some of that hostility towards the "child-free" from people stressed-out by their own child-rearing responsibilities?

I'd imagine this is very possible (and all snark is forgiven lol). I think that even if you're really sure about wanting children, there's not a whole lot that can prepare you for it, not even child minding really, because you know you'll get to give them back. I think having other people round who can help, paid or not, would help provide some balance but not everyone's that lucky.

20 minutes ago, NullVector said:

Also, it would be the height of irresponsibility to have children if you weren't pretty sure you wanted them. As you'd be bringing a potentially unwanted child into the world, which would be a lot for that child to have to deal with psychologically growing up. So, again, child-free / childless-by-choice people are actually being very responsible by not having children they aren't sure they would want.

This is what I wanted to get at earlier, before my brain fart 9_9 while it does work out better than some people expected, the stakes are too high for me to feel it's a reasonable risk if you're on the fence. If you really do regret it but also don't feel you can give them up for adoption? It disturbs me a bit to think about how that must feel.

1 hour ago, ApeironStella said:

In fact, that's what bugs me in my community- It is okay if you find meaning in your life by having a baby/adopting one and that's really great and I hope you have enough maturity to take care of one and it all goes well, but when you feel aimless in the life and it is simply pushed down your throat that it should be your aim and you decide to look after one after that, just feels... wrong, for me

I totally agree with you here as well :) I get why it's encouraged, and applaud anyone who does step up to the plate, but it's wrong to imagine everyone should/must aspire to it. 

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58 minutes ago, Untamed Heart said:

I think having other people round who can help, paid or not, would help provide some balance but not everyone's that lucky.

 

I actually feel sorry for a lot of parents, despite what that 'snarky' first post might have implied! xD It seems to me like way too much of the financial and emotional burdens of raising children falls solely on the parents these days (especially if they are single parents). Children should be raised by a wider family/comminuty/tribal network to a much greater extent than they currently are, IMO. I think this would also result in happier, less stressed-out parents who would be able to love and support their kids more effectively. 

 

58 minutes ago, Untamed Heart said:

If you really do regret it but also don't feel you can give them up for adoption? It disturbs me a bit to think about how that must feel.

 

Being an unwanted kid (and knowing it) must really, really suck. I mentioned on @ApeironStella's anime/manga thread that I've been watching the anime Mushi-Shi. There is an episode of that called Lightning's End that is actually about this. It's an INTENSE episode, but a very good one, IMO.

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16 hours ago, Untamed Heart said:

The nuclear family model isn't the best for raising children - especially where most/all of the work is left to one parent. 

Is that not the single parent model? I don't think model has much effect on the upbringing, it would obviously be down to the people bringing up the child. Although it is put on a podium as idyllic which isn't true. Just so long there's someone truly caring and raising and no bad people in the home it's all good.

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6 hours ago, Louis Hypo said:

Is that not the single parent model? I don't think model has much effect on the upbringing, it would obviously be down to the people bringing up the child. Although it is put on a podium as idyllic which isn't true. Just so long there's someone truly caring and raising and no bad people in the home it's all good.

I do agree with you there, and I realise after reading the replies here I'm probably being really biased (since dad wasn't really that hands on and more interested in going down the pub, I feel like my mum was essentially a single parent. I really admire single parents and people who raise kids in non-traditional set-ups, where it works, just don't like it when someone does Easy Street when they could/should be more involved or supportive and grumbles when they get asked for that). 

I'm down with pretty much any family dynamic that works, and that does also depend a lot on who's involved. I saw this documentary a few years ago where a man had something like 8 wives raising their children together and it seemed to really work for them. I really liked the concept of it.

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23 hours ago, NullVector said:

I presume that people have children because THEY like children and THEY want to have said children?

I get the impression that a lot of people just don't actually seriously think about it... they just kinda do it because ... well, that's what people do, right? ... I dunno. Maybe that's how the 'selfishness' comes into play... like "how dare you actually think about things like that and decide for yourself that you want to opt out of this thing that's somehow expected of everyone"... Or maybe they're working from the assumption that you have a partner who wants kids (because everyone wants kids, except you, or whatever), and that you're selfish for depriving them of the kids they want.

I'm just trying to make sense of their nonsense, don't mind me. :P 

 

23 hours ago, NullVector said:

I guess it's basically impossible to openly admit that you regret having kids once you've had them. It'd be like admitting to them that you don't love them and you wish they'd never been born. A bit of an ethical taboo, and for some good reasons I suppose.

Yup. It's also confusing for the kids when their parents keep telling them they love them, but their actions don't match their words... then the kids grow up thinking love is something weird and dysfunctional...

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1 hour ago, SoulWolf said:

I get the impression that a lot of people just don't actually seriously think about it... they just kinda do it because ... well, that's what people do, right? ... I dunno. Maybe that's how the 'selfishness' comes into play... like "how dare you actually think about things like that and decide for yourself that you want to opt out of this thing that's somehow expected of everyone"...

 

Good shout! I missed that one, but definitely agree here. Betrand Russell was hella snarky about this tendency:

 

Quote

We all have a tendency to think that the world must conform to our prejudices. The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and most people would die sooner than think – in fact they do so.

 

Hella. Snarky. xD 

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On 07/06/2017 at 10:59 PM, NullVector said:

To me, this is just the most bizzare, logic-breaking opinion ever

Whilst being expected to justify NOT doing something, whilst no justification is required to do it, is completely anti-logical it dosn't only happen with child free.

 

8 hours ago, SoulWolf said:

I get the impression that a lot of people just don't actually seriously think about it... they just kinda do it because ... well, that's what people do, right? ... I dunno. Maybe that's how the 'selfishness' comes into play... like "how dare you actually think about things like that and decide for yourself that you want to opt out of this thing that's somehow expected of everyone"...

This does seem a sensible explanation. One which can also be applied to other cases where not doing what is normative encounters such attitudes. Even when, by any objective measure, it would be doing the thing which is "selfish",

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On 6/8/2017 at 10:46 PM, SoulWolf said:

Or maybe they're working from the assumption that you have a partner who wants kids (because everyone wants kids, except you, or whatever), and that you're selfish for depriving them of the kids they want.

 

I do wonder to what extent romantic and/or sexual partners just have really poor communication in general. What you wrote could also apply to romantic behaviours. Makes me wonder how many aro-spec people are in convential romantic relationships solely due to poor / lack of communication. Imagine this conversation: 

 

"I don't really like all that romance crap!"

"Oh, really? Me neither! I just went along with it cos I thought you liked it!"

"Really?! Me too! Shall we stop it now?"

"Yeah, let's stop!"

 

Maybe a lot of conventional couples (not all, by any means, or even a majority, but some non-trivial percentage?) could benefit from having that sort of conversation, but never do. People seem often afraid to communicate any desires to their partners that deviate too much from societal norms/expectations? Maybe due to lacking confidence in themselves and the 'validity' of their own needs/desires?

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31 minutes ago, NullVector said:

 

I do wonder to what extent romantic and/or sexual partners just have really poor communication in general. What you wrote could also apply to romantic behaviours. Makes me wonder how many aro-spec people are in convential romantic relationships solely due to poor / lack of communication. Imagine this conversation: 

 

"I don't really like all that romance crap!"

"Oh, really? Me neither! I just went along with it cos I thought you liked it!"

"Really?! Me too! Shall we stop it now?"

"Yeah, let's stop!"

 

Maybe a lot of conventional couples (not all, by any means, or even a majority, but some non-trivial percentage?) could benefit from having that sort of conversation, but never do. People seem often afraid to communicate any desires to their partners that deviate too much from societal norms/expectations? Maybe due to lacking confidence in themselves and the 'validity' of their own needs/desires?

This might also be the case for allo couples. Even between two aro people...
Given that many aros do like romantic coded behaviours it seems reasonable that there might be allos who don't like (certain) romantic coded things.

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22 minutes ago, Mark said:

Even between two aro people...

 

Indeed! That's why I was speculating here that the % of aros, particularly heterosexual aros, could be much higher than what is typically believed to be the case. Due to poor partner communication and/or being unaware of aromantic identities in general as a 'valid' choice.

 

22 minutes ago, Mark said:

Given that many aros do like romantic coded behaviours it seems reasonable that there might be allos who don't like (certain) romantic coded things.

 

Which is where detailed lists like this one can be very useful.

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On 2017-06-07 at 8:17 PM, Thom said:

They are all methods that give you the same satisfaction of raising a child, with far less money involved and far less of a chance of screwing up royally.


Yes and even if you don't screw up, if you're doing as well as you could. The kid might still not turn out well. They could still grow up to be a criminal or die from cancer or depression.

 

I agree with @NullVector that raising a child should involve more people than just the one or two parents. I suppose in general society has a role too though. Like in my country the government is a big part of child raising with subsidized day care for every child from about one and then compulsory school from six (no home schooling allowed). So if one wants to take part in raising children without actually having any there are lots of options for that in work life.

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On 6/11/2017 at 10:41 AM, Holmbo said:

So if one wants to take part in raising children without actually having any there are lots of options for that in work life.

 

I'd like it if there were more options to take part in raising children outside of work life too. I don't work with children, but I did my high school work experience at a primary school and it was fun. Younger kids can actually be pretty interesting to talk to: they haven't already made up their minds about a bunch of stuff (in the way that most adults have) and can be more open to questioning things. But I basically don't interact with kids at all now as part of my day-to-day work and/or social life (which I think is actually a bit weird for a human and would have been pretty atypical throughout human history). I'm not really aware of any socially acceptable avenues for doing so though - other than waiting for some of my friends and family to start having their own kids (which should be fun :) Although I also worry that I will see them less...).

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The United Nations' best estimate for human population growth is at the very least,10 billion by 2100. That's near the estimated carrying capacity of the Earth. Granted, most of that growth will occur in Subsaharan Africa, which will easily be the largest population center by 2050. America, where I live, isn't really having trouble with population growth. However, I'm still not going to make another resource-consuming carbon-emitting job competitor. Many people are going to have kids, and probably enjoy that much more than I do. I don't intend to make their kids' lives even slightly harder by forcing them to compete more than they'll already have to. Just because they aren't in my country doesn't mean they won't compete for the same resources as any prospective children I have. 

 

The moral of the story is to never ask an ecology student about the side effects of reproduction :D

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13 hours ago, James said:

I'm still not going to make another resource-consuming carbon-emitting job competitor. Many people are going to have kids, and probably enjoy that much more than I do. I don't intend to make their kids' lives even slightly harder by forcing them to compete more than they'll already have to.

SING IT. I'm going to copy and paste this to a conversation with my mother

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So many reasons, some of which have already been covered here. Overpopulation, cost, passing on hereditary health problems, can't see myself being close enough with someone to raise a kid with them healthily... I also have serious phobia issues around pregnancy and birth; just sitting too near a pregnant woman on the train can put me into a cold sweat and nausea, so who knows how that would play out if I had to do it myself.

 

I also just... outright don't like kids, awful as it may sound. I find them very frustrating and nonsensical. They're needy and tactile. And sure, that's not their fault! It's not like they do it to piss me off. They're just tiny and vulnerable and need intense care. But in much the same way that I wouldn't buy an exotic pet I didn't have the physical resources to care for right, I'm not gonna create a tiny human that I don't have the patience and calmness to deal with. I know people say "oh but it's different when it's your own", but combined with all the above concerns, that's just not incentive enough for me.

 

If, through some absolutely wild happenstances, I ever found myself willing and able to care full-time long-term for a child, I'd rather adopt one in need. The care system here is grim, and older and nonwhite care kids are stigmatised as hell and left at the bottom of the heap when would-be parents come calling.

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On 2017-06-13 at 8:21 PM, James said:

The United Nations' best estimate for human population growth is at the very least,10 billion by 2100. That's near the estimated carrying capacity of the Earth. Granted, most of that growth will occur in Subsaharan Africa, which will easily be the largest population center by 2050. America, where I live, isn't really having trouble with population growth. However, I'm still not going to make another resource-consuming carbon-emitting job competitor. Many people are going to have kids, and probably enjoy that much more than I do. I don't intend to make their kids' lives even slightly harder by forcing them to compete more than they'll already have to. Just because they aren't in my country doesn't mean they won't compete for the same resources as any prospective children I have. 

 

The moral of the story is to never ask an ecology student about the side effects of reproduction :D


I want to nitpick this though with that further population growth is mainly about the boom generations growing up and replacing the smaller older generations. Birth rate is actually pretty close to stable at 2 children per woman. Hans Rosling desribes it well http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FACK2knC08E&t=19m16s
Carrying capacity has been estimated at much lower numbers before. And number of people doesn't seem to be that closely related to resource consumption, since a vast minority (17%) does a majority of the consumption (80%).

I suppose bringing down world population fast could be our best option since lowering consumption seems impossible. We will have to figure out how to deal with a much larger share of old population then with fewer working people to support them. Hopefully Japan will be forced to figure it out and we can learn from them. 

On 2017-06-12 at 7:54 PM, NullVector said:

 

I'd like it if there were more options to take part in raising children outside of work life too. I don't work with children, but I did my high school work experience at a primary school and it was fun. Younger kids can actually be pretty interesting to talk to: they haven't already made up their minds about a bunch of stuff (in the way that most adults have) and can be more open to questioning things. But I basically don't interact with kids at all now as part of my day-to-day work and/or social life (which I think is actually a bit weird for a human and would have been pretty atypical throughout human history). I'm not really aware of any socially acceptable avenues for doing so though - other than waiting for some of my friends and family to start having their own kids (which should be fun :) Although I also worry that I will see them less...).

 

I don't have the option to involve children in my work either. But I have some options in my free time. I signed up to be language buddy to a new Swede who is married with kids so I get the opportunity to interact with them. And if I wanted to I could join a sport or cultural organization and help out with the kids there.
It would be kinda cool if one could incorporate kids into the work life somehow though. Maybe there could be more mentor programs or field trips for school children.

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True dat @Holmbo. As far as I'm aware, the carrying capacity of ten billion is a loose estimate based on current food and water production rates. If either process becomes more efficient, the capacity will likely increase some anyway. That's assuming climate change doesn't mess too much with the arable land and that the widespread trend of overfishing is halted. However, alternatives may exist that alleviate that food pressure.

 

@Holmbo also noted that a minority of the human population (the sector with comparatively high standards of living) takes up most of the resources. This is the part that actually drove my decision not to have kids. If I had children, I couldn't stand not to give them a high standard of living. They'd take up a disproportionate amount of water, medical attention, food, and basically everything else. Their household appliances would be a constant drain on energy reserves, renewable or otherwise. All because I had to give my kid the best I could get. That's the real reason I'm not going to have any. The term "overpopulation" doesn't fully represent the problem at hand. The problem lies in the unsustainable use of resources by a minority of people. I don't want to be more of an unsustainable consumer than I already am.

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On 6/16/2017 at 5:34 PM, Gingerplume said:

I also just... outright don't like kids, awful as it may sound. I find them very frustrating and nonsensical. They're needy and tactile. And sure, that's not their fault! It's not like they do it to piss me off. They're just tiny and vulnerable and need intense care. But in much the same way that I wouldn't buy an exotic pet I didn't have the physical resources to care for right, I'm not gonna create a tiny human that I don't have the patience and calmness to deal with. I know people say "oh but it's different when it's your own", but combined with all the above concerns, that's just not incentive enough for me.

This, especially the last line. I mean, even a lot of people who say that secretly regret having them at all.

I also dislike that strangers think their opinions on your choice to be child free or not even matter lol. Some of them are really hypocritical/contradictory too. Like, you can't just have no kids but [insert arbitrary number] is "too many" (even though that depends on the parents). If something happens and you're finding it hard to get emergency childcare or something, there's always someone who will look at your situation and say you should have thought about that before having kids. Yup, I'm gonna consider every hypothetical situation and the likelihood of finding my hypothetical family in each one before I decide whether or not to get pregnant or impregnate someone else... 9_9

Glad I only have the "but why don't you want kids?!" BS to deal with.

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