My Five Reasons For Not Having Children

Why don’t my wife Catherine and I have any children, you ask?

Actually, you totally didn‘t ask that. In the past two-and-a-half years, some 15,000 comments have been left on this blog—and not once has anyone asked me why I don’t have kids.

Laggers. You know my life is an open book. I can’t imagine what you could ask me that I wouldn‘t answer.

Wait. Yes, I can.

Yikes. Thank goodness you guys never asked me anything about that.

Anyway, yesterday a fellow did write to ask why my wife and I are sans youngens. And on the very off chance that you, too, are curious about that, here are the reasons that, some thirty years ago, Cat and I decided to fashion our lives in the way that we did.

1. We knew that it was going to take the rest of our lives to understand and (frankly) heal from the unbelievably awful childhoods we each suffered. I’m not generally keen on beginning one thing until I’ve concluded the first.

2. Like Cat, I have no emotional model in my head for Family Togetherness. I know a lot of people are motivated to have a family as a way of perpetuating the good, healthy family relationships they’ve always known. And what a beautifully nurturing thing that is! But for us, that would be like trying to sing along to a distant echo of a song we’ve never heard before. It’s a great song—maybe the great song! We just don’t know it in that personal, build-your-life-around-it kind of way. It’s not what you’d call a natural theme song for our lives.

3. All my life I’ve known that I had to be an artist whose medium is the written word. (I’m not proud of that, and I’m certainly not saying I am an artist with the written word. I’m only saying that I’ve always known that I would spend my life trying to produce art through writing.) Dedicating your life to one thing means not dedicating it to anything else, such as properly raising children. (Plus, I knew that being an artist could very well mean spending my life entirely poor. That had to be okay. And I knew that wouldn’t be okay with me if I were a father.)

4. This’ll sound insane (and insanely negative), but here it is: When I was about ten, I sort of all at once understood (and I’m not saying I was right, just that in my little 10-year-old brain I felt it true) that our planet was doomed. I was walking to school; I looked up at the mountains in the distance; and whooom: I knew we’d clog this earth beyond its capacity to recover itself. Talk about … stopping in your tracks. From that moment until now I’ve watched for evidence of it being Actually True that our race would fail from us destroying our planet. The fact that I’ve always been sure that would happen is why I was okay with not having children. I know it sounds terrible to say, but if our current system hangs together for just another forty years or so, I personally am good. But if I had kids of my own, I wouldn’t be even almost okay with such short-range hopes. Having no children leaves me free to shut the book on this story without really caring how it ends. (I want it to end well, of course! But people need to do whatever they do. And they/we will, as ever. Maybe that’ll involve saving the planet. Maybe it won’t.)

5. Cat and I figured we could always adopt. Why have a kid of your own, when the world’s already filled with perfectly great kids whose parents, for whatever sad reason, had to give them up for adoption?

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • http://www.epcomm.com/ddawson Dennis Dawson

    Two of the better people on the planet decided not to keep their genes in the pool. Meanwhile, less qualified people breed capriciously.

    The fact that you have these concerns is a good argument for your ability to raise children well.

    Many writers have children, and find that the experience of parenting has a positive influence on their writing.

    However, it is your choice to make. I wouldn’t try to sway you one way or the other. Your starting point is your best argument: “Cat and I decided not to have children.”

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Yeah, we would have been good parents. I mean, I love kids; I worked in childcare for years, and once thought to make a career of it. Children are the one kind of person around whom I’m always comfortable. And yes, of course many writers have children. I mean … I’m not saying these are the same reasons for which I’d make the same choice today. I’m just saying that these are the reasons for which I then made the decision I did.

  • smithkov

    Being part of a couple that's wrestling with the question of kids, it's very helpful to read this. (It's interesting how crazy some of our family finds the fact that my wife and I got married without a firm decision in place about kids. We knew we wanted to spend our lives with each other. That's enough.)

    That said, your post made me think of the opening to Mike Judge's Idiocracy:
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2682654/idiocracy_o

  • smithkov

    Apologies for the repeat.

  • http://www.1truebeliever.wordpress.com wickle

    "I can’t imagine what you could ask me that I wouldn‘t answer."

    When I was working in retail, the front-end manager was having a meeting for the cashiers, copy center associates, and such. He told us all to ask lots of questions and recited that mantra, "There's no such thing as a stupid question." He finally acknowledged the fallacy of that statement after he was asked how they stuff Twinkies.

    I've always been wary of making such challenges.

    Anyway … thanks for sharing. I can especially understand reasons 2 and 5 … but since you're not trying to convince me, it doesn't matter what I think, does it? Heck, if you wanted to convince me not to have kids, you're really, really late.

  • Greta Sheppard

    To each his own, John . . . while some see the glass half empty , others see the glass half full…by that I mean that God could 'over -rule' your prevention methods any time He wanted to. However, He loved you enough to honor your desires. How beautifull is that.

    The other side of the coin is this . . . perhaps He put it in your heart in the first place, to be fatherless. You are a warm and caring human being and there's lots of love there to be poured out on others. I bless you and Cat with God's favor!

  • Lisa Scott

    Not to diminish what I have…but man…..I wish I would have thought like that 30 years ago.

  • Laraba

    I used to think the same thing… I grew up in a Christian home but had some serious trauma associated with abuse by a teacher, as well as struggles associated with frequent moves and school problems. I was depressed off and on for years. Not only did I not want kids, I didn’t want a husband either! When I was 25, the Lord brought me a wonderful counselor and I experienced much healing (I am sure my own experiences were far less traumatic than yours– I haven’t followed your blog so don’t know details.) He then firmly brought me into marriage with a new Christian who had come out of a childhood marred by an alcoholic father and divorce. The Lord then firmly led us to open our lives to many children. We have been married 12 + years and have six children now. I think what distresses me a bit about your blog is that you talk about how “you decided” for various reasons. Yes the world is a mess. But we have Christ, and it seems to me that if you choose to block children, you should be down on your knees praying like crazy over such a decision. The Bible seems pretty clear that we are to be fruitful in many ways, and one way is childbearing. We are not incredible people, but we are lovers of Christ and while our kids may go through tremendous difficulty, I believe and hope and trust that God will use our children to bless others. I do understand your reasons, just hope that those in similar situations would seek God’s will through the Bible, not through an emotional response to the trauma of earlier years and fears about the future of this planet. Again, I hope I am not coming across as strongly critical, just encourage all those in a similar boat to ask GOD and not depend on one’s one desires and feelings about having kids. (BTW, we have a fantastic marriage and adore our kids. Nope, we’re not perfect, but very glad at God’s leading to have a bunch of kiddos in the house.)

  • http://namesake.wordpress.com Dale

    Thanks for sharing. Seriously. Interesting how childhood/family/early-life experiences shape us. I actually believe that having children and raising them in a good family, with genuine, passion-driven faith will make a positive impact on where the world goes from here. Of course, that belief system stems from strong family models I’ve been exposed to, and is challenged by less-than-strong family models I’ve been exposed to. Since I really have no idea where it all leads, my backup plan is just to do what I think seems right, i.e. make a decision, and let God sort it out. Either way, I’m glad, after all this time, your story is on the table and part of my picture.

  • Liz Edmundson

    If someone doesn't want children they shouldn't have them, nor should they have to defend why they didn't.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Larab: I’m 51; these are the reasons that I made the decision I did some 30 years ago. (I went back and changed the text to reflect that; I do sometimes forget that I’m not writing only to people who follow this blog. Thanks for the reminder!)

  • eastonfriends

    So very honest John, thanks for putting it out there. Some people just DON'T want children and why does that have to be defended? I had a happy childhood, am with someone who also had a happy childhood, neither of us had major trauma as children and yet neither one of us want children. But boy, is that hard to explain sometimes!

    So thanks for your honesty. Appreciate reading what I've wanted to put into words for years. Like you I've been keeping God on His toes since 1958.

  • Robin

    My husband and I are 36 & 35, and we decided not long after we got married 10 years ago that we didn’t want kids. Some of our reasons were because of messed up families and not wanting to deal with some genetic issues, which always bring the response of, “Oh, well, God will protect,” or “break the generational curse,” or something.

    Other than that, we just straight-up don’t want them. There just isn’t a burning desire for kids, which I think is okay. Why should we do something because we’re “supposed to” if God did not place that desire in our hearts?

    Sure, now that I’m 35, I have a few more instances of, “Oh, but…” as was predicted. But usually, within a short amount of time, one of the reasons we don’t want kids will pop up, and I’m calm again.

    If the burning desire arises and won’t go away- we’ll adopt.

  • Stuart

    Great post. once again. Thisis a very complex issue and I like the way that you have worked through it.

    There is also no doubt that it gives you more time to be the father of this blog and keep some sort of order over the errant kids on here!

  • smithkov

    Being part of a couple that’s wrestling with the question of kids, it’s very helpful to read this. (It’s interesting how crazy some of our family finds the fact the fact that my wife and I got married without a firm decision in place about kids. We knew we wanted to spend our lives with each other. That’s enough.)

    That said, your post made me think of the opening to Mike Judge’s Idiocracy:

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2682654/idiocracy_opening_sequence/

  • texastee

    it must be cool to have a wife named Cat

  • http://larrywho.wordpress.com Larry Who

    Okay, these were your reasons for not having children thirty years ago, have your views changed since then, or are the same?

    For instance, your #4 reason has been held by many believers for various reasons throughout history, who did not want to bring children into such a messed-up world. And yet, the world has continued on and on.

    So, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts? (BTW I believe having children is a personal decision which should be made between husband and wife, and should not be judged by the rest of us.)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hey, all. Thanks for all these wonderful comments. It just … kills me, how thoughtful you all are.

    Larry: Not sure what you're asking. Do you mean would I have children today if I could, or if, knowing what I know now, and I was 23 again, I'd make that same decision.

    Well, either way, I wouldn't have kids today (or … me yesterday via today) for pretty much all of the exact same reasons—except for reason #1, which is no longer relevant. But now I'm actually ENJOYING writing (which for most of my life wasn't much to me but a curse); I STILL have to be okay with being poor; I still don't want to be the environmental activist I know I'd have to be if I had children, and I would still rather adopt. So … yeah. Same.

  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    Chlidren are a great blessing and an honor. It takes much patience and love to help them grow into well balanced adults. It takes courage to know and understand this. There is nothing wrong in deciding to have no children.

    Of course, in some cultures since you have no children of your own that means you are basically parents of all the children in camp.

    Maybe we should call you 'Grandpa'…? ;)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I prefer "Chief." But whatever.

  • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

    As it was told to me long ago; we are an Elder to all younger than us.

    You too, John, are an Elder.

    As such you; we; have a duty and responsiblity to the young. We must learn and show them how to walk in balance, humility and beauty. It is we who they look up to and learn from. Our words and actions have a profound impact on the young. We must be mindfull of what we teach them.

    You may or may not be a 'Chief'' for that is for our Elders to decide, but /you/ are an Elder to those younger than you. As are all of us, parents or not. It is a part of what our walks are about. We should remember this and strive to walk well and in balance.

    May you walk in Beauty,

    Peace.

    ~julia

  • Latoya

    Thank you! I have ALWAYS wanted to ask you this!!! I just thought maybe it's a sensitive issue, so I just waited, hoping someone else would ask, or you would just tell us..as you have :)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Latoya: Seriously? You've EVER thought about why I have no kids? My goodness! I never imagined anyone would … even almost vaguely care.

    You know, for the record, you can ask me ANYTHING. I deeply appreciate your discretion (always a sign of intelligence and class), but never hesitate to ask me anything. I'm not so vain that I imagine the dynamics that define my life are any different than those that define anyone else's. So I'm … comfortable discussing. Ya hear dat, my Jamaican sista?

    God, that was lame. I know you'll forgive me.

    Tell us!! How would you, in Jamiacan patois, say, "Do you understand what I am saying, sister?" Or, "You do understand what I'm saying, do you not, sister?" You know I love this stuff.

  • Laraba

    I know I already commented and don't want to beat a dead horse. But I do think that as a culture we have raised the idea of "my desires" to a height that is not Scriptural. The question isn't whether you (meaning anyone who is married and biologically capable) want kids, but whether GOD wants you to have kids. We're the ones with 6 kids who were born in less than 8 years. There were times when a new baby on the way was a shock and took some getting used to. It took effort for us to stay close in the middle of morning sickness and fatigue and then the exhaustion of a new little one. But our leading from God was to be open to many children. I suppose God could tell a couple he doesn't want them to have children, but to just say "I don't feel like having them." doesn't seem to take the Lord's direction into account. The Biblical picture seems clear that children ARE a blessing from Him, and barrenness is a sad part of Fallen Creation. (Interesting that in Exodus the text seems to say that the Hebrews were BLESSED with many children during a time of slavery. Talk about a difficult time to bring children into the world!) Every child conceived is an eternal soul. God says in Malachi 2 that He desires godly offspring, and what better place for a child to be raised than in a devoted Christian family. For us to decide on our own, without prayer or a humble study of the Word, that we want to block an eternal soul seems like serious business to me. And of course yes, God can circumvent birth control, but He rarely stops us from stepping outside His will like that. We do have free will and if we want to refuse a blessing, than He will generally let us.

    I realize from previous comments that my views are not in line with most reading this blog. I hope you won't take my comments as being critical… I am merely raising the issue in the minds who are still of an age to make this decision. As Christians, I hope we all will go to God and the Word for direction in the big areas of life — who to marry, kids, career, etc. And way up there on the list of important decisions is the question of children.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Laraba: People from across the spectrum of Christianity read this blog. So you never need to wonder whether whatever you're saying meshes with the sensibilities of anyone reading this blog. You can assume it does with at least some of them.

    I'm not going to comment on what you've said. Suffice it to say that I'm extremely comfortable with my reasoning for the decision my wife and I made. I listen to God—and always have. I simply don't hear him saying the same things to me that you've heard him saying to you, at all. But that's fair, and natural. All love and all that, yes?

  • textjunkie

    Married 17 years here and happily childfree, here, and your reasons would echo with mine (barring the childhood one, and you'd have to swap writer for my career).

  • Melissa

    John – I have to say that I always wondered as well but would never dare to ask as it might have been a very painful answer. I had a miserable childhood but I damn well knew I could do a better job than my parents did! I guess some pass on the misery to their children and then others, like myself, are determined to do it right! My parents were the most remote people on the planet – always locked up in their own drama to pay us any mind at all except when they needed an anger outlet. I have always felt this tremendous amount of love inside of myself and when my son was born I loved him instantly and without any reservation. He is my greatest gift. I have to admit I cannot imagine not wanting children – not having that desire – but at the same time having great admiration for knowing exactly what you want and staying on that path despite of what others may have said about it. My only sadness now is I still wonder why they could not have loved me as I love my own child. I was a good kid dammit!

  • onemansbeliefs

    The Mrs and I get asked all the time if we have kids. My response is, "When we got married, I asked if she wanted kids. She said, yes. Just not yours."

    We made the choice to be childless for the first 5 years of our marriage (16 1/2 years now). This was so we could get to know each other better and enjoy some things without the added responsibility of children. After the 5 years was up we just didn't have any. We are happy and do not feel as if we have missed anything in this life as we live vicariously through others where children are concerned.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    I'm in there with Latoya & Melissa…the question crossed my mind but it's one of those questions I don't generally just up & ask, in case it's a sore spot.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing that.

  • Robin

    in response to it being biblical, I’d point out that not everyone has to get married. Paul said that he’d rather people stayed single to focus on God’s work. So- those people are acting on a calling OR desire and they aren’t going to have kids. I think it’s just as valid for a couple to not have kids so they can focus on other things and God will use them in ways that he couldn’t use them if they had kids. I’m in seminary, I work with both the high school and college groups at church, and my husband also works with the high school group. We have oodles of nieces/nephews/cousins, so there are kids that we influence, for sure.

  • Anonymous

    While I relate to numbers 1, 2, and 5, the reality for me is that the desire to have kids just isn't there. It hasn't been since I was 13, I've prayed through it for years, been told by others that "you'll change your mind at 25, 30, etc.", and here I am, 20 years later with no desire at all and a peace from God about it. Had that desire actually emerged, I absolutely would have had kids despite my dysfunctional history or any concerns about my ability and sought counsel/direction to do that. Can God change that in future? Sure, and I'd do it in a hearbeat if He made it apparent.

    To those that said that we childless shouldn't have to defend our stance, you're right, but just look at the offensive posture of the parents who commented here. Nowhere did John attack parents, parenting, or kids, nor did he question those who have decided to become parents.

  • http://privateResident Rebecca Wold

    I applaud your descision….If God wants, or wanted you to have children He would have put that desire in your heart. Rasing children is a "FULLTIME COMMITMENT". God gave us two "Special Needs " children and they are 40 and 42 and still living at home. While I've enjoyed our children there have been some very deep concern about what will happen when we can no longer take care of them. I try to hold on to my Faith and that Our Lord will care for these adult children…….To be very truthfull If I had it to do over again I would have become a NUN with a Nursing Degree and spent my life is complete service to Jesus. Just because one can have children doesn't necessarily mean they should……I am old now and still have these "Kids" to love and care for…….God Bless you for sharing and God Bless me and help me to make the right decisions for my children's future here on Earth. One day we'll all stand before Jesus and these "Traumas" of earth will be gone…….EN'SO LORD JESUS QUICKLY COME………

  • Suzy

    Those of us with children are amused that you only came up with five reasons not to have children. Need more? Just asking.

    I thought I might not have kids when I was young. For selfish reasons, I admit. After all, my life is all about me, me, me! Marriage to a young man with a worse childhood than mine (didn't know it was possible) convinced me otherwise. We would create the family we never had! Brilliant!

    Almost thirty years later, we do, indeed, have created the family we never had. And now our kids get to bemoan their wretched childhoods. (we have the therapy bills to prove it)

    Guess what? Deciding to have children has got to be the most wildly hopeful scheme ever invented.

  • DisneyMom

    John, I stumbled upon this post by a link from somewhere else on your site. First, I want to say that I think it's great that both you and your wife made the decision about whether or not to have children together. I admire people who choose to remain childfree for whatever reason.

    As an adoptive mom, I have worked hard as an adoption advocate for years, so I wanted to comment on #5 on your list. I know you didn't say "all" children waiting for adoption are "unwanted." But, the way your statement is worded surely implys so. Most children, whether they were removed from their parents' custody or placed for adoption through an adoption plan by their birthparents, were WANTED and LOVED. But, these parents were unable to provide for their child's basic needs. Unfortunately, some children do suffer for years before their parents' are found to be incompetent because, as we know, sometimes love just isn't enough. My whole point to this is that I never want people to look at my children and think their birthmother didn't want them because she made an adoption plan for them. Because she did. And she loves them still. Adoptees need to know they weren't just discarded.

  • Deanna

    John, this is a terrific post. It sounds like you've come to a place full of love and acceptance for all viewpoints on the subject — for a long time you could find me at the corner of Bitter and Defensive. I grew up in a Catholic family of 5 kids and while I know my parents loved us, it was a hard road most of the time and "family" just didn't bring warm and fuzzy thoughts to me like it did to most people. I babysat, was a nanny and still never wanted my own kids (my sister is also childless though I don't like that term as it implies less than). After I got married in my late 20s, the pressure was enormous to start a family, but my ex wanted no part of having children. I felt God lead me to that place and I was OK with it; I accepted that I didn't have the right person in my life for a journey that I was only half-hearted about to begin with. But life is full of irony: divorced, at the age of 43, I met a wonderful Catholic man who always wanted a big family, who I think would make a wonderful partner and father, but now we're too old to have one.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Wow! The corner of Bitter and Defensive. How perfect is that? And what a story you tell here. What a journey.

  • http://www.bodysoulblissyoga.com Jamie Brown

    I hear you and I am right there with you, especially regarding the doom of the earth thing (which I also associate with overpopulation). I personally never felt called to have children. I am 48 and very happy that I decided not to procreate. There are too many people having children randomly and without forethought. Bringing a child into the world is a very serious act with many consequences both for the child and the parents, as well as the rest of the world. I wish more people made that decision consciously, whether or not to reproduce. I’m glad you did.

    • Ruby

      You make an excellent point! Just because people are able to reproduce doesn’t mean they should. I’ve seen too many cases of people having children when they can’t even take care of themselves.

  • Ruby

    I’m right there with you. While our reasons are slightly different, my husband and I have agreed that neither one of us have a burning desire to have children. Most people look at us like we are crazy and are completely baffled by the very idea that we wouldn’t want to procreate. It’s a personal choice and no, you can’t talk me into it. Especially after complaining about your own little monsters. I digress. About point number four – have you read “Ishmael”? Great book that touches on that very topic. Also, my husband and I are very much in agreement with point five. My mom did foster care for ten years and was very good at it. So many children need a good, loving home. It broke my heart to see these kids in need. She did adopt three wonderful kids, whom I love. If we decide to have children, we would definitely adopt. Thanks for the posts! I’m a new reader and have been avidly reading the archives :)

    • Mariah

      Ruby, I just want to say, as a mother of 2, I completely respect your decision. This ain’t easy, and if you’re not ridden with that burning desire to raise children, it seems to me that this is a lot of… everything?… to endure. Sure, it’s rewarding beyond words, but it’s just not for everyone. There is so much in this life that is rewarding & fulfilling, and we all have our own path to take. I don’t recall any Bible verses that taught us God demands we all procreate. I just want to say, I’m one mom who totally supports your decision, and anyone else who decides that child rearing is just not for them. :-)

      (This is not a personally embittered post. I LOVE my children, find nothing else in my life has ever compared and I doubt anything else ever will again, and I’m totally supportive of those who decide parenthood is for them, as well. For me, nothing else could be as fulfilling, but I’m not every person!)

  • http://ThymeAndSeasons.biz Anna Thompson

    Today’s initial conversation about “Mary….being pregnant…” as well as this one, reminded me of the award-winning book by Lois Lowry, _The Giver_. It came along way after I was a teen, so when an excited teen said I “had to read it” and gave me a copy, I read it. I put it on a top 5 to 10 books to *absolutely* read (like Fahrenheit 451, the bible all the way through just to know what human history has been arguing all about at the least….._To Kill a Mockingbird_….and a short list of others).

    In any case, if you know the book, you might feel the ‘good aspect’ of that particular ‘culture’ was in knowing each child well, well enough to suit each one to a particular job, or in the protagonist’s case, calling. In this book, “birth mothers” are in fact degraded. But nurturers (of children) are esteemed. I think I had placed in me the ‘stuff’ — or maybe like Oreos, “double-stuff” of being a Nurturer. It’s just the way I was wired. I’ve had traumas galore, but caring for people under 18 just has been in my physical, emotional, mental and whatever other wiring I have.

    I think a lot of life comes down to how we each have our own stories—past ones, and present journeys, and future visions. ….and we’re all ‘wired’ (created?) well, yes, absolutely uniquely.

    If I had the perfect life ;-), I’d have a Phd or 2 or 3 regarding how the brain works, child development, and trauma recovery (I think the white-coats call me an auto-didact on that last one—could have my Phd in recovery ;p), but then I’d just work with toddlers and preschoolers. I feel joy around them. I feel like I sense their brains growing as they process the world around them. It has been amazing for me to observe, sometimes, genius develop (I took care of toddlers of Cornell grad students years back and now all of those kids are in grad school themselves). But ‘disability’ in a child is — not to be disrespectful of the difficulty — in different ways, a joyful relationship as well. Honesty, bluntness, humility, and all of the human feelings fresh …and ready to be treated with dignity, honor, respect, and love. I love children.

    People who don’t know me or my children might say, given how traumatic my first 20 years were—war crimes traumatic—that I shouldn’t have had two children, then, or ever. I have two young adults that ….know how to love, honor and respect other humans and sometimes “preach” (rant) about it, sometimes join organizations for protecting others from bullying, all the time each is ‘that person’ that other students who are hurting and in pain can come to. Sure I am proud of their life-accomplishments. I cry happy tears at their concerts and events. But that they are both grounded in the knowledge that they are loved, and face the world with that, and that they stand out in this community as young men of true character (other teens descriptions to me, and not ‘just’ parents or teachers): that makes me feel …and believe….that having two children was right for me.

    Unfortunately a divorce was ….right… for me, because, though I had a constant, ever-present, pursuit to heal from my past, my ex-husband did not. I could not change that, could not change him, but I could keep molding the good character and talents and traits of my sons in love so that they would keep knowing what is good.

    It’s a crazy journey being a parent, and for me [insert the most profound words]….

    • http://ThymeAndSeasons.biz Anna Thompson

      :-), Oh and they’re environmentalists, good stewards of the earth (that term or sentence sounds more from my fundamentalist background, but I think we live it more in the Native American life-ways).

      *Maybe* they’ll be part of the change that this earth needs…..

    • Mariah

      Everyone copes with a terrible past differently. My father probably should not have had children, but I can’t say I wish he didn’t, because I kinda like being here. He wasn’t a great dad but I do know he loved me, even if he is totally mentally ill and… we’ll not go there.

      Anyway, I had a somewhat tumultuous, at times, upbringing, and it spurred me to be sure my children do not have that. I am dead set to provide the most stable, loving, caring, accepting, and positive home for my children as I can. I have two beautiful babies that I would lay down my life for without hesitation. It’s not for everyone- but parenthood is incredible! It’s not necessarily a healer, but it can be the last application of scar cream, to know you didn’t cycle that abuse one more time. :-)

      I totally respect anyone who decides against having children. It’s important to know yourself and to be able to make good decisions about things like your intent to procreate. Yay for people making informed decisions!

  • Chris

    I’m interested in the amount of defensiveness I see here in both people who identify as parents and those who identify as childless-by-choice. How could a decision as personal as whether or not to devote 20+ years of your life to a single pursuit that could go horribly, horribly wrong despite your best efforts possibly be anyone’s business but your own, whatever you choose? I heard all manner of self-righteous prattle about the importance of having children before I had any, and I’ve heard all manner of self-righteous prattle about why it’s better not to have children since mine were born. And don’t even get me started on people passing judgment on the parenting choices of total strangers… What’s the line? Oh right, fuck ‘em. ;-)

  • Mariah

    The decision TO or NOT to have children is intensely personal and not for others to judge. Curiosity is one thing, but judgment is not needed here. End story.

    • Diana A.

      Yes indeed!

  • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    I can relate to these reasons. The artist one is very interesting! (I feel like I’m trying to justify my existence through art. Kind of failing at it so far…)

    I hope too many people don’t ask you this question. It strikes me as rude. Couples don’t have kids either because of a medical issue or because they’ve made a decision. Both/either should be respected.

    • Donald Rappe

      I can’t justify my existence either. I now feel I should be grateful that I was called out of darkness into this marvelous light. I’ve done my share of procreation, but I don’t feel that justifies anything.

  • CMHValex

    Thank you, John. I appreciate this. While I applaud and respect parents, I have no desire of my own to become one. My husband and I agree on this point. We arrived at this conclusion for several reasons: 1) we both get stressed out when we have responsibility for children, despite the fact that we both think children are adorable; 2) we have neither the energy nor the patience to go into the full-time job of parenting; 3) we would much rather relax and not have to worry about protecting a child, choosing instead to focus on ourselves and each other; 4) we both remember how difficult childhood was, even without specific points of trauma or bad parents; and 5) we simply don’t have the desire to procreate. We both have siblings and lots of nieces and nephews, so our family lines (mixed up as they are) will continue.

    But still, every time we discuss this with someone, they tell us what a blessing parenting is. I’m sure it is. In fact, I know plenty of parents who are wonderful, loving, and overjoyed at having children. Like I said, I respect and applaud these people. But it’s not for me, or for my husband. We’ve been together for five years, married for three. We’ve thought long and hard about this and discussed it at length. We know what we want. But still, I constantly get the “you will change your mind” speech.

  • Allie

    Okay, this is me sticking my tongue out at you for calling ME pessimistic, Mr. “Oh My Gosh the Earth is Doomed.” :P

    (You have a point, though – according to literally every version of the story in every religion everywhere and also in science, this world is doomed. Jesus said that those with children would envy the barren in that day.)

    Anyway. Just wanted to say God bless you for not having children you couldn’t afford. I made the same decision for the same reasons – in America, as a professional artist without health care, I can’t have children. I have a sister-in-law who has had to contemplate explaining to her children why Santa didn’t come to their house. I bailed her out, thankfully I had a big contract that year and was rolling, temporarily, in cash, and I was glad to be Santa for them. But I swore at the time that I would slit my own wrists before I would put a child of mine through the stress of being raised in financial fear.

    And then by the time we were more financially stable, I had health problems which made pregnancy dangerous.

    My husband and I have been foster parents, and I have to say that you would make an awesome foster parent. Unlike normal kids who need parents from sane backgrounds, foster kids need parents who understand what it is to be raped by your dad, kicked down a flight of stairs by mom, locked outside on Christmas morning because dad’s drunk and suddenly decided mom’s an adultress and you’re not his kid. Foster kids need parents with a high level of tolerance for insanity who don’t freak out when the kid steals from your purse, breaks your family heirloom, tries to seduce your best friend, attacks you with both fists, or steals the car and drives it to another state. They need someone who won’t say “I’m out of here, hope they put you in a hole somewhere and fill it in,” but will say, “I know all about doing stupid things because you feel crazy. I still love you, but you don’t get to do that. Here’s what we’re going to do, and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.”

    • Donald Rappe

      Awesome!

  • Erica

    I’ve only read two articles and I already love your site!

    If you had given me this prompt, these would have been the exact points that I made as well! Though I’m sure I would have been no where near as eloquent as you. The only thing that makes me reconsider is, as an intelligent, rational person with an intelligent, rational partner, I almost feel a duty to put more people like ourselves into this world. I always think of the movie “Idiocracy” when I think along these tracks, and I’d really like for that to be prevented when human beings still have so much potential. There are so many crazies out there, what happens when there’s no one left to fight them? But then I think of the point you yourself brought up – since I am an atheist, after about 60-70 more years, I’m gone anyway, so if I don’t have children, I don’t really have to worry about it! They’re two conflicting viewpoints that war in me constantly (good thing I’m still too young to have kids anyway). I guess I’ll have to pick a winner within the next 10-15 years.

  • Erin D.

    The only thing my very, very, VERY Catholic mother ever told me I could ignore about the Church’s teachings was “that whole birth-control thing.” If my very, very, VERY Catholic mother (with whom I have locked lady-antlers with on a multitude of other religious issues, so she is no lightweight) could tell me it was okay to decide if, when, and how many children to have, then I respect the right of everyone else to make their own decisions too.

  • poster

    So much for being’ fruitful and multiplying’. Do your own thing!- everyone at this website is a proponent of setting aside the word of God in order to satisty their own selish agenda’s anyway. You’re in the right place

  • Rebecca Chadwick

    I guess I’m a bit ODD in that I FLIPPED. I spent my whole life, up until age 29 or 30, strongly wanting to be a mother. I played with dolls, played House, wrote out baby name lists during 8th grade algebra, the whole 9.

    I was single for most of my 20′s, because good men are HARD to find. Well… at 29, God FINALLY gave me Mr. Wonderful. Wouldn’t you know it… when you have to wait THAT LONG to find The One… once you get him… you might not want to share him… even with your own potential kid!

    That’s not all though. At age 25 or 26, I started a childcare business. Several years around other people’s kids was enough to give me a REALITY CHECK in that kids are not necessarily going to be the SUNSHINE of your LIFE. You become the slave and they are your owner. That’s what it feels like anyway. Its thankless… which is the worst part. They fight, they whine… they leave messes in whatever room they go into. They don’t help unless you demand it. The bad strongly outweighs the good. Yeah… there are cute or fun moments, but those only make up 3-8% of the time. The rest is DRUDGERY!

    So for these reasons…. I’m out.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Wow! There’s a perspective I’ve never heard before (though I’m guessing not a few people have thought it before).


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