When I meet people for the first time and they find out that I was 20 when I got married, the first question they ask is how many children we have. It’s rather funny to me that people automatically assume that a young marriage happens only because of pregnancy, but it’s true. However, that’s not always the case. Jerry and I were madly in love then – and still are! Most often, when I reply to these people that we have no children, they go on to ask if we plan on having any (answer: no, but we’re open to changing our minds) and why not. It appalls me that people would even begin to think that the answers to these questions are any of their business.
We have plenty of reasons not to have children. There are medical conditions that we chance passing on to offspring. There’s the fact that we’re trying to end the cycle of abuse, and we can’t be certain of our ability to do that with children in our home. There’s the desire to give our potential children the best life that we can – stability, hard work, values, diverse interests, etc. There are the standard ideas that we can lessen the environmental impact of the world community by not contributing more Americans to it. There’s the fact that our siblings were born after we both entered double-digit ages, enabling us to experience firsthand the effort involved and the challenges faced in parenthood. There’s the recognition that so many children already exist in this world in abject poverty, parent-less, and disease-ridden. Those children need loving homes and guidance more than we need to continue our genetic makeup. And then there’s the fact that the medication I am on would definitely harm any fetus – and going through the process of pregnancy without my medication would be a harrowing experience at best.
With all these reasons not to have children (in addition to the others that I cannot recall at the moment), we see no need or reason to have children. From our perspective (on the outside, I understand) it seems that people have children for one of a very few reasons. These can be “wanting” them, accidental pregnancy, and meeting social expectations. I’m sure there are more, it’s just so hard to gauge people’s reasoning and even more difficult to ask them how they came to the conclusion that having children was the right choice. I can only imagine that from the parents’ perspective that question would seem as a direct challenge to their decisions.
Without wanting to challenge anyone one about their decisions to become parents, I am constantly seeking a reason to have children. And I don’t mean something like having someone to take care of us in our old-age or finding out what combining our genes would do. I’m seeking something concrete. For example, we just decided NOT to get a Blu-Ray player for a Christmas present this year. We used reason in coming to this decision. We looked at our DVD collection and assessed how often we actually watch the DVD’s that we own. We estimated how often we rent DVD’s vs renting video on demand. It turns out that we probably have absolutely no use for a Blu-Ray player, despite the fact that they are cool and we love new gadgets. That money would be more wisely spent elsewhere – or saved. Now that’s the kind of reasoning I’m looking for in making a decision to have children. Something that follows logic and makes sense. So, please, if you can think of a logical reason to have children, please let us know. Leave a comment, send an email, anything.
In the meantime, please enjoy reading this article explaining some additional reasons for choosing to be child-free.