Why I Do Not Want Children

If it’s one thing I’m absolutely rigid on and that I have never wavered on it’s my lack of desire to have children. Actually, it goes farther than that – the idea of being a father just absolutely repulses me, so much I actually ended my last relationship over that very issue. I was put at a crossroads where I had to decide which was worse – being single or having children I don’t really want. Obviously I decided that the latter was a much worse fate. As such, I did the only thing I could do and ended the relationship.

I have a multitude of reasons for not wanting children, but they can broadly be put into two categories: practical and philosophical. We shall take a look at those here.

Practical Reasons:

Concerning my practical reasons for not wanting children, the very first thing to consider is the expense of having children. Kids are not cheap! Doctors visits, increased grocery bills, daycare, school supplies, glasses, braces, sporting equipment, cars/drivers’ education, college, the list goes on! That all adds up.

The second has to due with my internal wiring. I’m one of those autistic people who is incredibly short-tempered. Is that conducive to having children? Absolutely not. I’d likely do them psychological damage with my tendency to meltdown and get frustrated over the slightest thing out-of-whack. That’s not to say all autistic people are incompetent parents. On the contrary, there are many who are quite capable of it. I’m just not.

I also pretty much got the short end of the stick when it comes to genetics, not only with the autism thing but I also have a heart defect (Wolff-Parkinson-White) that has a genetic component and I do not wish to pass that on. I also know I’m a carrier of the gene for Graves’ Disease, an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid. Though I’ve not shown symptoms myself, I do know my biological father does and had to have his thyroid basically killed. I do not want to risk passing that on either.

Lastly is just I’m too much of a free spirit to be held down. Not having children I can pretty much travel unhindered, do what I want as far as nightlife and the like. I’m not held down by family commitments, which would no doubt make me miserable.

Philosophical Reasons: 

Before I discuss my philosophical reasons for not having children, I feel I must say that none of what I discuss here is intended to pass any judgment on anyone regardless of what reproductive decisions they might have made. That is not my intention. The views presented here are not original views, but rather views of academics that make the most raw logical sense to me. Again, this is not meant to be a personal attack on anyone so please do not take it that way.

The first, and strongest argument, is the Benatarian Asymmetry, named after South African philosopher David Benatar. Benatar first proposed this asymmetry in a paper titled “Why It Is Better Never to Come into Existence” and was further expanded upon in a full-blown book titled Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence which was published in 2006. The argument is much too long and detailed to list in a blog post, but the meat and potatoes of it is this: whereas pleasure is good and pain is bad, the absence of pain is good even if there exists nobody to benefit from that good, but the absence of pleasure is not bad unless there already exists someone for which such an absence would be a deprivation. In other words, regardless of the pleasure-to-pain ratio in one’s life, although the pleasures of life make our lives go better than they otherwise would, had we never existed we’d have forgone any and all pain (good), but because we would not “miss out” on anything by never existing (as deprivation requires existence), it is always better not to come into existence.

For more clarity of the asymmetry, consider two people: sick and healthy. Let’s say sick gets sick but has a strong immune system and is able to recover quickly from that sickness, while healthy has a weak immune system but never gets sick. Who is better off? Obviously healthy is better off, even though (s)he has a weak immune system. Everyone would agree that it is better never to get sick, regardless of the strength of one’s immune system. There you have it.

The second argument, which is weaker and not an entirely new argument, is the Pollyanna Principle. The Pollyanna Principle is basically an irrational optimism bias. In other words, we grossly over-estimate the quality of our lives. More or less, none of us realize just how much pain and suffering we endure on a daily basis. For a prime example of this, let’s just step back and think about a few things. What do we spend a vast majority of our waking hours doing? Working, of course. It is a very rare and fortunate person who does not completely loathe his or her job. OK, that alone puts our lives more into the pain category. Combine that with the day-to-day pains and irritants we experience and don’t give much thought to: hunger, thirst, heat, cold, financial woes, the need to urinate and/or defecate, the need to sneeze, sniffle, cough, clear the throat, etc. That’s not even considering the bouts of illness and disease we will all face. Our sleeping hours have their own irritants; namely dreams which more often than not result in painful stimuli – fear, sadness, anger, etc.

Given the above, and combined with the fact that nobody consents to being brought into existence (rather, we were all just kind of forced into it), I feel that it is very difficult to justify bringing new individuals into existence.

Given that, the question I’m sure many of you are wondering is, “Do you wish you had never been born?” The answer to that question is, without any hesitation whatsoever, a resounding yes. I would have preferred never to have been brought into existence. However, that statement shall not be construed as “I want to die.” Once already in existence, most of us have an interest in continuing to exist and it can be very easily argued that death is actually one of the many harms we will face in this life (a position Dr. Benatar also defends at great length). That said, I absolutely do support the right to die so that if one decides his or her life is not worth continuing, that choice must be respected and the government does not have the right to stop anyone from taking his/her own life.

The above are the major reasons I have chosen not to have children. Again, these reasons are personal to me and shall not be intended as a personal attack on anyone. If you disagree with them, I’d like to know why. Please feel free to discuss your own views and engage in a healthy and respectful debate. I promise you I will not shut you down. I feel we can all learn something from the other side, whether you are a pronatalist or an antinatalist, a parent or childless/childfree.

9 thoughts on “Why I Do Not Want Children

  1. Well, you know I have two children, but I completely understand your reasons for not procreating.

    I hope you weren’t looking for a debate, I’m surely disappointing you right now.

    I actually deeply respect people who decide not to have children. It actually works great for those of us who want children (hello population control).

    Good for you for not giving into societal/peer pressure. This is one topic you and your partner must agree upon.

    Great post Lynn, I’m sorry I haven’t been stopping by lately. I’m knee-deep potty training so I actually chuckled at the title of your blog post when it popped up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hah; it’s all good. I understand if you’re not in the right frame of mind for a debate. No offense taken, I swear. Actually, you were one of a few who I was really worried about offending so I’m relieved you weren’t. I consider you a dear friend and I actually in fact have lost friends over this topic.

      Alas, I understand why you’re in and out, and glad you got a little bit of a laugh.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m totally with you on this (sorry if you are looking for people who disagree). Of all the reasons to have a child, it irks me when people say they have a child because this is what you do after you get married, because everyone has a child! In my culture especially, it seems that people still don’t understand that having a child is a decision they have control over! At work, we interviewed over 100 people living below the poverty line, and I lost count of the number of parents who said their quality of life has dropped after having their second or third child, as if their child are to blame for the financial circumstances they find themselves in. It makes my blood boil and I have to control myself not to get mad.

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  3. I’m going to disagree with one point. My own personal spiritual beliefs say we *do* choose to come into existence. My beliefs are a mishmash of many spiritual teachings, so it’s not all about reincarnation, but that is part of it.

    Other than that, I fully support your decision! My ex had a stiff-legged fit when I decided to get my tubes tied after our second daughter was born. I had decided that I didn’t have the time, energy, money…to devote to raising any more than the two children I had. Parenting, done well, takes full commitment. Full commitment.
    Too many people have children and don’t spend the necessary time and energy making sure these children grow into responsible, caring adults.
    You’ve said you don’t want to spend the time, it’s very responsible of you NOT to have children.👏👏

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  4. I felt like this was a really respectful post, very rational and well-thought-out. I agree with so much of it 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. And I think you’re likely to have a lot of company; more and more people are choosing not to have kids these days–both Generations X and Y. I’ve seen some numbers (although I can’t recall where) that claim upwards of 40% of us.

    While I don’t have an issue with (well behaved or otherwise cool) kids in general, I also don’t automatically *like* kids in general (especially if they’re poorly disciplined). I have empathy and sympathy for them, having to grow up in today’s screwed up world. I do not, however, tolerate screaming like banshees or running around like hellions in public places. Kids are hard work and an expensive drain. They’re also a life choice; every decision to make and keep a child in today’s western civilization is absolutely voluntary, and it’s perfectly fine to say “having kids isn’t for me”, just like “being an accountant or a psychologist isn’t for me”. The question everybody has to answer for themselves is, what do I want to do with my life? And if kids aren’t on the list, that does *not* make one cold-hearted, immature, a party animal, a social misfit, a sociopath, or any other insult that some of the more baby-rabid subsect of parents would like to try to lob at us. It’s a decision like many others, and if the answer is no, there’s nothing wrong with that, and anyone who tries to say otherwise (by passing judgment on your life or making assumptions about your character) is likely butthurt about their own decision and taking it out on you. As for me, I’m cat-mom material but not human-mom material, so I’ll take kitties over kiddies of my own any day 😉💗

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