I Don't Think I Want Kids

As of last week, I officially transitioned from my late mid-twenties to my early late-twenties. By my age, my parents were married. They were both firmly entrenched in their respective career paths. While I do have a career of my own, I’m not close to home ownership or marriage. Neither are many of my friends. While my parents’ generation settled down and started families, my peer group seems more comfortable chasing our dreams while letting our personal lives remain in stasis. We have roommates, not mortgages. We have OKCupid dates, not weddings. Still, lots of my male friends, unsolicited, like to tell me: “Dude, I don’t think I ever want to have kids.”

Okay, guy. Sure. But who’s trying to give you kids? Is this happening? You’re not married or in a relationship. Where is this pressure coming from? Are there people on the street just pawning their children off on you? Are lesbian couples begging you to be a surrogate father? None of these things seem likely.

I understand that it’s not cool to want to be a dad. You’ve got to trade all your belts in for suspenders. You’re legally required to grow a mustache for at least ten years. And, whenever the situation absolutely does not call for it, you have to make the corniest possible pun. (Example: Saying “Ice to meet you!” as you walk by a snowman.) It’s a tough life. But let’s slow these protests down a little bit. Remember fifteen years ago, when you thought you’d never want to kiss a girl? Things change.

Yes, we’re adults now and not preadolescents. But none of the people who walk around telling me how little they want children are even almost in a place where having kids would be remotely possible. They’re all guys who live with six people in a four-bedroom apartment. Everyone shares a single futon. They go out every night and work at jobs they plan to leave as soon as something better comes along. That guy doesn’t want kids? He shouldn’t want kids. In fact, if he had them, the government would take them away. He’d be an unfit parent.

Of course you don’t want children. It’s hard to have kids. Well, getting them isn’t always hard. Sometimes it happens to people by mistake. But keeping kids up and running is tough. You’ve got to spend time with them and buy them diapers. You have to somehow childproof your bong cabinet, dude. Plus, what would you want a kid for? A baby can’t chip in for the rent or play Call of Duty with you. Babies don’t even have the muscle tone to make a beer run. There is no reason you’d want a child. A single guy who’s barely making rent saying he doesn’t want kids is like a horse saying he doesn’t want an iPad. Of course you don’t. Those things are not for you.

I have female friends who say the same thing: “I don’t think I ever want kids.” That I understand too. Adoption is a lengthy and expensive process. Live human birth is horrifying. We’ve all seen The Miracle of Life and Alien. It seems at least slightly uncomfortable to have a living person push itself out of your body. I think if I were every human woman, when I heard what pregnancy and birth entailed, I would just shut it down. “Folks,” I’d say. “Go nuts with those SUVs and disposable plates, because there will not be another human being born on this planet ever. It’s gross, and I will not stand for it.” I can sympathize with the impulse to not want your body treated like the banner a football team runs through before a game.

Personally, I’m not sure whether I’d want to have kids. On one hand, they are expensive and smelly and annoying and slimy. On the other hand, everyone that has them on purpose seems to recommend them. I used to be a teacher. Having a child of my own doesn’t seem like so much of a stretch. And, at one point in my life, I let a girl talk me into eating sushi, which is raw fish. That seems way crazier than raising a child.

I’m not saying that children are for everyone. If you’ll notice, I didn’t even say they are for me. All I’m saying is that when you’re in your 20s, it’s easy to sit in your ivory tower/ seventh story walk-up apartment and talk about what you’ll want in ten years. There are plenty of things I never thought about wanting ten years ago that are very important to me now. Health insurance, for one. That’s a grownup desire. It just seems shortsighted when people are like: “Of course I don’t want kids. I have red wine and/ or Xbox and 1,300 Twitter followers, and that’s all I’ll ever need.” I’m keeping my options open.

I’d say more on the subject, but one of my roommates needs to convert the futon into a bed, so I’ll be making toast and washing my hair in the showeritchen. TC mark

image – Shutterstock

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  • http://twitter.com/iamsubmerged Jordana Bevan

    “Okay, guy. Sure. But who’s trying to give you kids? Is this happening? You’re not married or in a relationship. Where is this pressure coming from? Are there people on the street just pawning their children off on you?”

    lmfao. thanks for being mature and not needing validation for your life choices by going around to everyone and telling him intimate details, like your opinion on having children. also happy belated birthday!

  • ourownurl

    i love you and your writing. i hope you do have kids because someone needs to carry your amazing dna on in the future.  although, if you don’t, i’d settle to just grow old platonically with you :)

  • http://twitter.com/helloabella Karen ☮

    actually, I just don’t want kids because I simply don’t want them to have to go through this messed up generation, let alone having no idea what the next is gonna be like. I mean kids, children, they are amazing, but unless I’m in a place/time/surrounding that I’m happy to live in myself, I wouldn’t want to ruin the kids and have them ruin me.

    • macgyver51

      I know, they’re like cultural parasites that you kind of love.

    • Hoot Scoot

      Every generation thinks that THEIR generation and state of the world is the worst! Nobody knows what the future brings to us and that can be a scary idea. No parent wants to ruin their kids or be “ruined” by them. It’s a good sign to be concerned about ruining them though, that means you care! I  am a woman in my mid 30s and I constantly go back and forth between wanting and not wanting children. I’ve also constantly struggled with the idea of what a living happy and successful life means. As much as I love being independent, I would hate to look back at my life at 70 and regret not having children because I wasn’t sure if I was in ‘the right place’ in my 30s.

  • Rnaglover

    This is funny because you’re in your late 20s, which means in 10 years (when you MIGHT want kids) you’ll be in your late 30s.. your wife will probably need lots of fertility drugs to have a baby at that point.  Better start saving now!

    • http://twitter.com/nicolettebeachx Nicolette Beach

      Because those late 30’s women are sooooo ancient, amirite?! Yes, it can be harder to get pregnant in your late 30’s but I’m not sure “lots of” fertility drugs are necessary for most. 

      Also, adoption exists, you know. 

      • Rnaglover

        It’s not old, it’s just at the tail end of childbearing years.  ”
        A number of different problems characterize the ability to achieve pregnancy over 35. There is a noticeable decline in the fertility rate starting at age 35 to a level of about 10% per month. A woman seeking pregnancy over 35 should consult a fertility specialist after only 6 months of actively attempting to become pregnant. The pregnancy risk over 35 is higher as well as evidenced an increase in the miscarriage rate and the incidence of genetic abnormality in pregnancy. At 35, the miscarriage rate is 25% and the risk of Down syndrome becomes about 1/350. 35 is the age at which genetic testing in pregnancy is first recommended since the chance of picking up an abnormality is greater than the risk of the procedure used to find it.” — from a reproductive medicine website.

      • Rnaglover

        also, adoption’s not all that easy, you know.  amirite?!

  • macgyver51

    I’ve got my first on the way and have a friend that continues to make comments like “Man, I can’t believe you’re actually doing this.” & “You know its going to change your life wayyyy more than you realize.” Bless his heart.

  • Anonymous

    Aww, Josh, I love this! This was wonderful and funny. Bravo.

    However, every time I pass a baby on the street I’m overwhelmed with the desire to steal it, so I can’t say I relate.

  • Guest

    There better be some Call of Duty I can destroy my son (or daughter) in in 2030. That would be sad if somehow they were above playing video games with me. 

  • Johnny Dasein

    This is a fabulous article. Think of the positive environmental impact of your (possible) decision. For every child you or any American chooses not to have, the net Carbon savings for the Earth will be 1600 tons. Keep up the good work!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve known that I don’t want children since I was about 14, for some people it doesn’t depend on their lifestyle at the time, it’s just a fact. (But I did laugh my head off at your comparisons with a horse wanting an iPad).

  • Sesamesnaps

    “everyone that has them on purpose seems to recommend them”, but I would say that it is somewhat taboo to admit that you regret having kids. I bet many feel this way but would never say it.

    I think some people feel that having kids will give some kind of meaning to their life, and I believe this is a mistake and not a good reason for having kids.

    • bee

      Completely agree.  People who don’t want children (especially women who don’t want children) are considered selfish.  And yet there are soooo many people who have children because it will give their life ‘meaning’.. Isn’t that equally (or more) selfish? 

      • Guest

        i’m pretty sure anybody that has kids is having them because they want a family of their. i wouldn’t say that wanting a family is selfish…

    • Kirsten Staggs

      I’ve always thought the same thing. Once one person has said “I didn’t know love until I had my child,” or “He/She is the best thing that ever happened to me,” you’re a jerk if you don’t say it too. I wouldn’t say it’s completely selfish, but a majority of the reasons for having kids are selfish. I can’t think of a way to have a kid without being selfish. The baby clothes you pick out are meant to generate cooing responses from others. You’ll show pictures to people as a way of saying “Look what I can do! Look how beautiful we are and how we’ve passed that along.” It’s annoying to see, especially in this Facebook age where a pregnant woman can’t get morning sickness without posting details of it in her hourly status update. You know they’re so looking forward to the “That’s the most adorable baby ever!!” comments when they post the seemingly obligatory one-year photos. At this point in my life, I think having kids is bananas, but what do I know? My mind could be changed tomorrow. Not likely, though.

  • Andromeda

    I envy the idea that men can say they can always have kids later on in life, while women’s timeframes seem to be a little more limited compared to men’s. That is, if the adoption process is out of the question.

  • Sophia

    I saw the title of this article and assumed you were one of the twenty-something guys you discuss here. Thanks for an interesting (and very reasonable) read.

  • bee

    I’m a woman who doesn’t want children because I really don’t like kids.  I never have.  Sure, sometimes I see a baby on a street and think it’s adorable, but I get so happy to know that I don’t have to go home with it.  I work full-time with elementary students, I’ve been a nanny for a few summers, and I babysat all of the time.  I’m incredibly independent and know I would be an awful mother, and I’m okay with that.  “Cats, not kids.” That’s me :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/richakashelkar Richa Kashelkar

      Love you Bee! I feel so too! I love kids, but when they are others’. I live to play with them sometimes, but you summed it up- I wouldn’t want to go home with it.
      I am fiercely independent too, and would love to do a lot of things in life and not neglect my child (if I have one).

      • http://www.facebook.com/richakashelkar Richa Kashelkar

        I love* to play with them sometimes..

  • Guest

    There are a lot of reasons to have kids
    1. Creating life
     2. Creating a family of your own
     3. when you get older, you will have someone to take care of you (unless they hate you)
     4. they are like you, but smaller and more awesome
    5. they can be pretty entertaining
    6. you get to watch someone grow before your eyes

    • pfffffft

      #4 is the most selfish and horrible reason to have kids. I think that anyone that uses this as a reason to have kids shouldn’t be allowed to have them.

      • pfffffft

        ugh. #3 not #4

      • Guest

        In most cultures of the world (except ours, apparently), #3 is a perfectly legitimate reason for having children. In some ways, aren’t all of the reasons selfish?

  • hrfe

    I know I want kids. Not now, I’m in college and single, now is not a good time for them. But I know I want kids someday. Its very odd; even though I am working towards grad school and a PhD, if I had to choose between a career and kids- I’d pick kids. If I had to pick between a childless relationship and being a single mother, I’d choose kids. The only thing I feel I “need” to accomplish in life is being a parent.

    Ironically, this is probably just the birth control hormones talking though.

  • becky

    I am 18 and I know I want kids someday… I want to be able to pass on my love to a little baby, and share that love with my partner… Who I think will be the person I am with now. I know most people would say I am to young to foster such dreams, and it is unlikely I would be with her for the rest of my life, or for even that long…but I am young and have faith… I believe in love, and that it can last. Plus I won’t have kids for awhile.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe your buddies just don’t want kids. Shocking, huh?

    I never liked or wanted kids from an early age. Like, kindergarten. I couldn’t wait to leave K-12 so I wouldn’t have to be around the under-18 set involuntarily every again. It’s a great taboo for a woman to admit she doesn’t like kids. I don’t care what’s taboo. I don’t like them, and the idea of pregnancy is something I find repulsive. Women aren’t allowed to admit this in polite company. We’re supposed to worship Mother Earth and find our reproductive functions harmonious and beautiful (only men are allowed to be disgusted). This idea is hilarious to me. I suppose I should also worship bowel movements?

    Just like me, my husband has never liked or wanted kids. And, he’s getting a vasectomy this year, so it’ll be extra-fun to disappoint the “You’ll change your mind” brigade when they pry.

    • guest

      this is how i feel exactly. i wish someone would take me seriously and cut my effing tubes already.

  • http://arewestillcool.com/ Eric Corpus

    I’m a happy father of two with no regrets, really. Maybe it’s because we’ve tried to keep following our dreams, kids in tow.

    However, when I think to exactly WHY we had kids, I can’t pinpoint specific reasons or epiphanies. We had just decided to be married for 5 years and then have children, and we were blessed enough to have those hopes fulfilled. I guess it’s a mix of the usual reasons: wanting to raise little versions of ourselves, expand the life and love in our family, experience the adventure of parenting. But if someone stopped me on the street and pressed me to explain why I wanted kids, I don’t think I could’ve given a swift and cohesive argument.

    Or maybe we did have specific reasons and I just forgot them over the last 5 years of changing diapers and watching Elmo. Baby’s crying.

  • guest

    Well put.  I’m a 27 year old woman and up until about a year ago I had absolutely no interest in children and would’ve told anyone who asked that I was never going to have them.  I just felt that I had so many other things I wanted to do and that children would limit my ability to pursue all of the adventures I had in mind.  I wanted to move away from my small town, go to university, be independent, meet new people, travel, have exciting love affairs in foreign countries, volunteer at home and abroad, write, party…etc etc.  And yes, if I’d had a child when I was 18, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do all those things.  But – for some people at least – those things do not take a lifetime to accomplish, and they can get old eventually.  I have a PhD, I’ve traveled to 22 countries, I’ve lived in the most remote jungle and I’ve partied at a club with a thousand people in Ibiza.  I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for the world, but now I’m ready for a new, totally different adventure – creating and raising a child, teaching them everything I know, and watching them develop into their own unique person with something different to contribute to the world.  Not to say that everyone should/will want to follow that path (just as not everyone should/will want to travel or go to university and so on), but I would definitely agree that you should never say never.  Our lives are pretty long, things change, and you change too…and that’s the best part!

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