Ten Really Good Reasons Not to Have Kids

Nearly one in four parents (22%) say that if they could do it over they would not have children, according to a Dear Abby poll. Dr. Phil found that 40% of parents “would not have children if they knew the problems in creating a family.” And way back when, a 1970’s Ann Landers column reported that 70% of parents wished they had not had children.

Don’t become one of those people.

I chose not to breed after a lot of self-examination and pausing frequently each day to ask myself “if I had a kid, what would I be doing now? Would it be better than what I actually am doing now?” Many people would go through the same exercise and conclude that they would prefer parenting to the childfree life, and I’m sure their synopses of each of the following would differ substantially. Nevertheless, to help you make a thoughtful decision instead of just getting preggers because that is what folks do, consider my conclusions about the following.

  1. Pregnancy and childbirth: I don’t need to detail how the pros and cons balance out here, even for men – who will, after all, usually have to live with and tend to the ballooning mom-to-be.
  2. Babies: They are often loud, smelly, and damp with fluid or goo of unknown origins. (Spit-up? Snot? Drool? Or something grosser?) Your baby care and maintenance routine will include frequent diaper changing, interrupted sleep, and suctioning snot. Stores actually sell special devices to stick up Junior’s nose and slurp everything out, traumatizing both yourself and your little angel. My husband swears he remembers undergoing this torture even though he was an infant at the time.
  3. Toddlers & Up: Loud, whiny, clutchy, demanding, and destructive, with a penchant for self-injury. Your pastimes with these tots are repeating yourself, being interrogated (“Why? Why? Why? But why?”), suffering tantrums without throwing any yourself, and being the bad cop.
  4. Teenagers: Loud (when in groups or listening to music), sullen, secretive, and disobedient. Your new hobby: finding a balance between respecting their privacy and needing to know whether they are smoking, drinking, having sex, sexting, doing drugs, doing their homework, depressed, or being bullied. Fun bonus automotive obsession: dreading the day they can drive, teaching them to drive, arguing over which car they will drive, and worrying about them when they do drive.
  5. College Students: If you are blessed with charming teens who are a pleasure to live with and treasure their close relationship with you, prepare for heartbreak when they move out and leave you alone and your checking account empty. If, like normal people, you and your children are looking forward to a break from each other, there is still the pecuniary problem.
  6. Adult Children: They live too far away, pursue the wrong career, partner with the wrong person, and botch the job of raising your grandchildren or – gasp – don’t give you any!
  7. Sandwich Generation: When you get old and need help, your children will either (1) boss you around, make you leave your home and move into or near theirs, and butt into everything, including your finances and toileting habits, or (2) live far away and be useless, though likely still bossy.
  8. Nobody Else Will Complete You: Your progeny will not fill the void in your life, shower you with unconditional love, realize your frustrated aspirations, or save your marriage. All that you have to do for yourself.
  9. The Bottom Line: Raising kids will cost you. Numbers vary, but a United States Department of Agriculture calculator offers a conservative estimate of $350,000 per head, including college.
  10. Conventional Wisdom: Contrary to what parents may say, if you decide that you don’t want to be one of them you will not be a lone freak (about 19% of American women aged 40-44 have never had children: see here and here), you will not regret it someday (surveys confirm this – see here and here), you will not be worse off when you are old than people with children are (see #7 above), you will not be depriving the world of the priceless gift that is your DNA (people have actually told me this is why I should breed), and your decision that you do not want children will be no more selfish than others’ decisions that they do.

So think long and hard, and once you have made up your mind, do what you want. They’re your loins.

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40 thoughts on “Ten Really Good Reasons Not to Have Kids

  1. Nicole says:

    This is excellent!!! Just reinforced for me why I don’t want children…ten more times! :) Kudos to you for taking the road less travelled…it’s not an easy one.

    • Laura says:

      It seems that more and more women are choosing not to have children and I think it reflects the emotional and psychological strength of our times.

      I regret having children because I was too young (although I didn’t feel “too young”) and believed it would somehow fill the void I felt within my marriage.

      Needless to say, it didn’t work and we ended up divorcing anyway and ensuing in a long and heart-breaking custody battle.

      Although there have been some fulfilling times with my daughter, much of the relationship has been very challenging and draining, emotionally and financially.

      So I applaud those of you who decide not to conform to societal pressure regarding parenthood and families!

      Laura

      • piperhoffman says:

        Thank you so much for your honesty.

        I am working on a book right now to help people decide whether to have children, which I hope will encourage more people to follow their hearts with clear eyes.

  2. Hollie says:

    This is great!! But after having my own realization of this decision, I have one more to add. It kind of goes along with number 7.
    There are many wonderful things that you can contribute to the world. Period. Being a parent is not the only worthy thing you can call yourself. People who choose not to have kids (or who can’t have them) have TIME and RESOURCES to make other amazing things happen in the world. Art, culture, science, politics, philosophy etc… When busy moms and dads are rushing around chaotically accomplishing an heroic amount of duties, child-free people are (or can be) completely fulfilled with contributing to society in other ways. I love being an aunt and giving my sisters an extra hand when they need it with their growing families. But I love being able to have the freedom with my time and work on endeavors that can help the world, other than being a mom. There is an alternative. I absolutely respect moms soo much (which is why I wrestled with my infertility for a long time) but I’m perfectly fine with the idea of “a village can raise a child” now. I get the fun of being able to take my neices and nephews for the weekend and do fun kid things… then return them :o) But I think I’m also giving them some attention and love in a way, that sometimes they can’t recieve from their mom & dad- day in and day out.

  3. Sarah says:

    worst article i’ve ever read….just ridiculously stupid with no real reason not to have children, this is a bitch fest written by someone who clearly shouldn’t be a parent to begin with.

    • Emily says:

      Wow Sarah – you just made her point for her on multiple levels. And gave the rest of us a good laugh, thanks!

  4. Gina says:

    I’m with Hollie and Nicole – excellent. Sarah do you have children? If so your opinion makes sense.

  5. Abraham says:

    @Sarah : then it’s a good thing that Piper’s decided not to have kids, no?

  6. Cindy says:

    @Sarah

    Ok, here’s my ONE reason not to have kids: I don’t effing want to! Is that a good enough reason for you?

  7. While I respect Piper and Aviv’s decision not to have children, this is the first time I’ve been disappointed with her tone on this topic. It seems terribly unimaginative to only be able to come up with negative associations with every stage of child development. I can’t imagine that clever and thoughtful Piper herself was this miserable as a child. Yes, parenting can be difficult, but even if the figures that Piper quotes are correct, most people DON’T regret doing it. It’s also surprising that someone who has so much compassion for animals can be so stereotypical and harsh in her portrayal of young humans. If you don’t want people to be critical of your decision not to have children, you might try being less critical of other people’s decision to have children.

    • KPax says:

      This isn’t about being negative about having kids, but acknowledging that parenting involves a lot of sacrifice and that there are, in fact, upsides to not having children.

      Too many people have children just because it’s what everyone else is doing, or to fill some void in their life. Not cool. If you really want children and can dedicate the necessary amount of time to the job; good luck to you, but otherwise, I think more people should check out lists like this.

  8. Elena says:

    I’m absolutely agree with you, Piper, and with Hollie. To be childrenfree for me is to be free to do a lot of interesting things in social, cultural, political areas. I’m an activist for feminist, gay and animals right, I read a lot, I write for a lot of newspaper and I do a lot of volunteer service. I don’t want to be a desperate housewife anymore, and not more one of these women that jump stressed between a bad job, husband and children.

  9. Shelly says:

    I’m in absolute agreement with all ten reason of not to have kids! Or as i call them LEECHES! @sarah well childfree couples get YOUR reaction on a daily basis! Yes i am greedy, yes I am stingy, yes I want MY TIME FOR ME AND MY HUSBAND!!! I do not want to sit and argue with a 5 year old that he needs to go to bed or rock a baby to sleep because they are fighting it, or sit up wondering if the teen is going to stay in bed or sneak out, I want to sit with NO WORRIES and enjoy every aspect of the life my husband and I have ALONE!

    • eileen says:

      Amen to your comment!

    • Tina says:

      Whether you have children or not your life will not be perfect. There will be worries. That is the nature of life and to think otherwise is unrealistic. And you are lucky that your parents didn’t view having children the way that you do. If they had the same opinion you would not exist.

  10. DeAnn says:

    Rubbish and onesided. There is only one reason not to have kids. You’re simply not interested in the work and play of being a parent.

    57 CF and happy without the need to bash those who want to do the joy and pains of parenting. Different strokes for different folks.

    • Emily says:

      Pray tell what these joys may be, that are somehow unattainable via any other life choice?

    • Elaine mills says:

      That’s rubbish I work very long hours I can’t afford to stay at home yet if I go back to work part time wouldn’t help as most of my salary we’d go to a childminder we get by now but can’t afford it as in catch 22 situation

  11. Angie says:

    @Elena

    I totally agree and do the same, Elena. Despite substantial pressure from my mother, and the fact that we have *very* few friends left who do not have children, I think we’ve finally agreed not to have kids. I don’t think I’d necessarily REGRET having children, but I know for sure I’d regret not doing the things I want to do with my life.

  12. Santhi VG says:

    Awesome Piper! I completely agree…this planet is already over-crowded anyway and there are so many parent-less children in 3rd world countries who need help..so to all those “yearning-to-be-a-parent” ppl (who in reality are actually just very narcissistic; cos they just want to see lil-thems running ard) go n adopt! and stop badgering the more developed, sophisticated minds of the childless-by-choice couples…Stop giving us grief that we so selfishly want to make our marriages about just our spouses, love and lots of sex! ;D

  13. Santhi VG says:

    hahahaha, i refer to them the same way…also call them viruses ;P @Shelly

  14. Santhi VG says:

    fine, everyone’s entitled to their opinion…so out of curiosity, what would YOU have done with your life if you hadn’t had kids? ;) jus curious thts all..@Sarah

  15. Monte4Amy says:

    My wife and I have an exemplary love affair/marriage/working partnership that’s been ongoing since we moved in together in 1975. Neither of us ever wanted to have children and we didn’t, sufficing with our nephews who grew up next door and who now have toddlers of their own. Kids are cute a lot of the time but having kids was not in the cards for us because we don’t enjoy the role of parents, to give only one reason. We’ve created many, many things, so the creative urge is being satisfied. We know a lot about life and are glad that we have not brought another being into the world of dualities to live, love, suffer and die. I know the last part sounds ridiculous to many people but that’s how we feel. I can tell you that I have PERSONALLY had many fathers tell me that they wish they didn’t have children. I can understand how they feel. I know people want to have someone to love and be loved by. My wife and I satisfy that urge in each other. The world will have to go on without the DNA of me and she and our forefathers and foremothers. Sorry about that, but such is life. I’m sure those who have issues with those of us who are childless by choice will be glad that such “selfish” people as my wife and I have not inflicted ourselves and our beliefs on children and the people our children will interact with the way they have.

  16. DeAnn says:

    Shoot, just not having to dig dead french fries out the back seat is reason enough for me.

  17. anonymous says:

    Cynical, selfish and sad.

  18. Nikki Starz says:

    Seems to me that both sides don’t know what it’s like on the other side. Both have pros and cons. Not too keen on either side bashing the other. Funny thing… that’s childish :)

  19. Renee says:

    My sister and her husband (who has a PhD in child psychology) raised 5 children. They are all over 18 now. Three of them did not manage to graduate from high school. All five have had issues with drugs. One is currently in rehab for heroin addiction. The most successful child did actually make it through college, but currently makes all his money selling drugs. Watching their oldest son shout “Fuck you, Mom!” during my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary was unforgettable. My sister sacrificed a promising career as a classical musician to become a mom. My point — No matter how great a job you think you’ll do as a parent, there’s no way to know for sure that having kids will be “totally worth it” as so many parents claim.

  20. […] wanting them, and wouldn’t prevent them from turning my life upside down in unwelcome ways. Millions of parents regret having children; thanks to contraception I am not one of them. It is the magic pill that has […]

  21. Emily says:

    Just stumbled on your blog and I love it! I used to teach in sub saharan Africa and I can assure you there is nothing more selfish than intentionally having children of your own. If you want to experience the joys of parenting there are millions of beautiful children who would give anything to have a parent to love them.

  22. […] from wanting them, and wouldn’t prevent them from turning my life upside down in unwelcome ways. Millions of parents regret having children; thanks to contraception I am not one of them. It is the magic pill that has […]

  23. Laurel says:

    Thank you so much!!! My husband and I have been child free for 8 years and loving it. At times it becomes a little difficult to defend ourselves when family members ask why we don’t have children, as though something must be wrong with us. I stumbled across this website after a long weekend of being confronted with the “why no kids?” discussion. This reaffirms my decision and I’m so glad to know there are others out there like us. Thanks again!

  24. Bill says:

    Great points here. I am of the belief that it’s fine whatever you decide to do when it comes to this aspect of your life. But if you do decide to procreate, do it with 110% effort for better or worse. Otherwise please stay child free for the good of society. I’ll also add a great read for those on the fence is Joe Sindoni’s “50 reasons not to have kids (and what to do if you have them anyway).”. Funny, straight-talk 150 pg easy read, written by a father.

  25. Gina says:

    I wish this was written before I had a kid. Lol I am part of that percentage that would not do it again. I love my kid and it’s fun to experience these different things, but I would MUCH rather have my money, freedom and only myself to be responsible for. I miss the days when my husband and I could just decide to go to a movie out of the blue. Now, we have to plan it in advance and pray the babysitter doesn’t change her mind! :-)

  26. Elaine mills says:

    I am almost 39 have been married over 6 years and my husband and I have decided not to have children after weighing up pros and cons.we get by but would really struggle financially with huge childcare costs plus I work different shifts which we’d make looking after a baby difficult and my husband leaves for work at 6am every day.

    We have no family members to help out with childcare nearby and I think we we’d go into debt if we had a child due to the costs involved.we also have 2 dogs one of which is scared of kids and worry may had to get rid if we had a child.i feel sad that I may never be a mum but am happy with life now which I see getting very hard if we had one.

  27. nicole says:

    I have kids, three to be exact and I love this post. I love my children, but if I could go back, I would get a dog instead.

  28. mikki says:

    I am grateful to see that the pressures of parenting are no more. If I weren’t too young to get my tubes tied, I would do it in a heartbeat!

  29. Amy Phoenix says:

    Amusing, and definitely based in perspective although I totally agree with #8. Parenting(and life) is what we make of it, nothing more or less. :)

  30. I never wanted children and never felt I needed to justify my choice. People who don’t enjoy being around kids shouldn’t have them and there is no need to explain anymore than any other lifestyle choice. I feel very grateful to live in a time where a woman can make that choice without having to deal with a society taboo. Lucky us!

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