Childfree Without Guilt.

When I was a child, I never felt excited about the prospect of having children. I assumed that it would happen someday because that's just the way it is. It was either have kids or never get married and be lonely forever. I never even considered that another choice existed until I was at least 18. 

People always use the phrase "when you have kids" not "if you have kids." When I met the man who would become my husband, the concept of having children weighed heavily on my mind. I tried to figure why it bothered me. I am a woman. I should want to have children. What was wrong with me? I often think it's because I have Aspergers. But I know other Aspies who have children and seem perfectly happy about it. Still, it might play a role in my case. Maybe it's because I am the oldest and feel burned out from playing a sort of parental role with my siblings. Before my husband proposed, I told him how I felt about having children. I was sure that would be the end of our relationship. He asked me to marry him only minutes after I told him. I thought maybe he didn't hear me or didn't understand. It was like a wave of relief and happiness. 

After we married, we were bombarded with "when are you going to have kids?" and "oh, you'll change your mind." It has been six years now, and finally, most people have stopped with the change-your-mind thing. 

Instead of children, we have dogs and cats. They are better than children to me. Always want to cuddle and always happy to see me. And they don't grow up and move out.

Is choosing to be childfree selfish? Maybe, maybe not. Tell me of one person in the world who doesn't make a few selfish choices. No one is 100% selfless, that is just absurd. The important thing is to contribute as much or more to others as you take for yourself. This can be in the form of holding a meaningful job and doing your best at it, helping others in need, creating beautiful artwork or literature, etc. Bringing a child into the world is not the only way to contribute and, to some extent, is counterintuitive when populations get too high. 

What I think is selfish is desiring children and a career with no care for who will raise the children. Having both is fine so long as at least one spouse wants to stay with the kids. Or, at least, hire a full-time live in nanny so that the children have some sort of dependable constant parental figure. Day care and random babysitters don't count. The saddest thing ever are the number of latch-key kids who have no proper upbringing. Many of then grow up to be criminals or less-than-admirable at best. How is that contributing anything good to the world? (I have full sympathy for the exceptional cases of single parenthood or unplanned circumstances). 
deleted deleted
3 Responses May 21, 2012

I wanted to respond for more than one reason. I agree with what you said about pets. i love my animals. Secondly I often wonder if at some level I have aspergers because I do find social interaction in person very tiring and love my quiet evenings at home. And to rant a bit the first time someone told me I was being selfish(for not having kids) I was flabbergasted, I didnt have a thing to say in fact I wanted to smack them becasue you might as well go around calling me a B--. How dare they!! I really want to emphasize how hurtful and meaningless that is. It is just not sane. I know english and to be selfish you have to be taking away resources from a living being. Since they are referring to a being that does not exist you can not be selfish. there i said it. those are the same people who butcher the english language by saying lyberry or Walmart's any way that is another topic. But just wanted to add I think its the opposite of selfish because we are in an overpopulated world-shouldnt the people with 5 kids be glad they dont have to share their primarily free public school education with your kid? How many students do teachers have in each class now, 35 to 40? Anyhoo my take is live and let live. And dont feel too much pressure to try to volunteer or something "to make up for" not having a kid that doesnt even make sense. Your having or not having a kid doesnt affect anybody except you and your spouse. Feel free to use your free time to do whatever it is you like, even if its just watching tv and sipping on some wine :)

You're an intelligent lady. You have made several excellent points which I would like to expand on. I firmly believe that having children is not the only way a person can make a positive difference in the world. Use whatever interests, talents, or skills you have to help others. If you are a janitor, you help others by keeping the building clean. If you are a fast food worker, you can help others by giving them efficient, polite, accurate service. You don't have to be a mother, you don't have to be a selfless saint, and you don't need to be rich or famous. We all have different skills. It is just ignorant to assume that ALL women have the skills to be good mothers.<br />
There is nothing selfish about not wanting children. The selfish people are the ones who want to have children but don't want to be parents. Don't have kids if you can't and/or won't raise them. Don't have kids and then expect other people to raise them for you. I sometimes wince at this notion of women "having it all" ( prestigious, high-paying, full-time career AND kids ). Motherhood, if you're doing it right, is a full-time job just by itself. It is not for the faint of heart, and it is not for everyone. To be a good parent, you have to be present; you can't do this if you're too preoccupied with work, hobbies, or other activities.<br />
This is a very personal choice; don't let the comments of ignorant busybodies influence you. You should not have to explain or defend your choice to anyone. It is none of their business. Further, if people even need an explanation, it would be lost on them anyway.<br />
I'll get off my soapbox now. I'm glad you wrote this story. You're a good one to articulate the ( perfectly acceptable ) childfree choice. Take care!

You say it is important for a parent to be home, then expand upon motherhood.... what about fatherhood? I am struggling with the "should I have a child" question and I think one issue is I work more than full time with good benefits etc and am driven to contribute to the world in this way. My husband is self-employed and working very little right now. It would be so simple for him to be the caretaker but his family mocks the idea without discussing the fact that I am the one with the resources to support and he is the one dying to be a parent - when work picks up for him it is still not full time and he can bring a child to work until school age and be there at anytime...... Why would we even need to call him Mr Mom?? We once lived in villages and we all had roles based on skill set - so why to we not do this now?

Good for you.I wrote a story about this myself and recieved GOOD feedback. I know it's like people look at you strange when you say you don't have kids. It's a personal choice you made a while ago, just like me.