I don't buy the "cannot financially afford to care for them" argument. I've seen too many couples that were quite able to care for their kids at birth, but circumstances changed over the years... and many on the opposite arc as well. It's not a one time decision, but a lifetime process, and you can't return a child to the store, with or without a receipt.
I am in my early 30s; I've never wanted children and do not plan to have them.
Within the past few years most of my friends have started to have children. Very few of them considered the impact their having children will have on the planet (although there are a couple). It is one of my reasons for not wanting children. Many people find it difficult to relate to people that do not want to have children as if that is an odd choice. It is certainly something that has begun to put barriers between my friends and I as our lifestyles are now further diverging.
by Maren edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 2:46:44 PM
Everything in life is part of a zero-sum game and questions like this raise the prisoner's dilemma.
We cannot control what others do by our own actions, or even by national legislation -- as if a limit on children would ever fly in this country. If you don't have children, others will. If you don't use resources, others will. Of all the ways to live and subsist on this planet, people raising families hardly top the list of egregious waste. It's not about how many kids you have, but how many cars, how much you consume and waste, how much carbon and toxins your carrying costs require.
by Dan Knauss edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 2:58:43 PM
I agree with Mike’s comment.
The consequences of overpopulation are major environmental and social destruction. So many people are having children just because they can; and not because they are equipped to raise children to be healthy successful adults. I am now in my sixties.
I grew up in a respectable family, but my parents were abuse. I chose not to have children, until I had a healthy committed marriage and could afford it. That did not happen, and I wish I had a family of my own now, but I think it was for the best. I have a small enviornmental footprint and I have enjoyed my freedom of being childfree.
by Louise edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 3:06:26 PM
I think about the economic/ environmental impact of my 1 year old constantly.
Before deciding to have a child I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I would try to have this conversation with friends and family. People always returned to the idea that my child would "make the world a better place". Ultimately, my desire was so strong to have a child. I see so many thoughtful, well educationed, environmentally aware people around me having children as well. It feels almost like when a tree produces a lot of seedlings before it dies. I know it's dire, but these are my thoughts.
by Sarah edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 3:06:36 PM
People who want to take themselves out of the gene pool probably should. Those who are thinking about future generations because they feel a parental bond are probably our best hope.
by Dan4/30/2012 3:11:32 PM
My husband and I both 31 now and we spent the first 9 years of marriage having long discussions about the implications of having children. The discussions included anything from the social/economic/environmental impact on other life (human and otherwise) to the mental/emotional/lifestyle impact on us personally.
For us, it's definitely been a challenge to reconcile a desire to have kids with a desire to be as conscientious as we can in the lifestyle choices we make. In the end, I think a balance can be made and a final decision on this issue is definitely a personal one. The important thing, in my mind, is that a conversation at least be had. We're 10 years married now and our 4 month old daughter has just woken up. We continue the conversation even as we embrace the joys and challenges of parenthood.
by Jenny edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 3:11:41 PM
I am 53 years old and made the decision to be child-free when I was 15 years old.
This was the right decision for me and I was sure to marry a man who felt the same way. People who choose to be parents should not only consider how their offspring add to the stress of world population and environment but also they should consider if they have the personality and commitment to raise psychologically healthy children.
Each potential parent also needs to be prepared for the possibility of giving birth to a child that may have special needs. I have spent much of my life loving children through my profession, by mentoring children and youth, and by hosting foreign students. There are many ways to have children in your life without giving birth. I don't consider people who have a child or two selfish but I think people who give birth to large families are selfish. The cost to society (education, health care, jobs, etc) is quite large for each additional human being. Want a large family? Adopt, foster, or add to your family other than giving birth!
by Laura edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 3:33:14 PM
Having a child will have different impacts depending where you live. In some societies it might be better for well off parents to adopt children rather than have their own.
by Nick4/30/2012 3:57:06 PM
I chose not to have kids or adopt after marrying in to a wonderful, pre-assembled family.
Over and over, people told me I'd regret that choice. I'd wish I'd had my own, I wouldn't realize until it was too late, not having kids is selfish, I wouldn't feel complete. The constant questioning of what is clearly the right decision for me has been stressful. My parents still hold out that I'll have my own kid, even after I recently became a grandparent. As far as we've come as women, we have a long way to go.
by Don't Tell My Mom edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:16:15 PM
I don't have kids, and I'm not particularly interested in having kids. This is because I know that I do not have the patience for kid issues and don't feel like subjecting a child to that. My father was abusive and I sense a good amount of him in myself, again I don't want to subject a child to that; it's not fair to them.
by Rick4/30/2012 4:17:59 PM
I'm 36, single, and have had a vasectomy. I have never had that great viseral desire to be "dad" and I believe that should be first and foremost. Plenty of people procreate, but few are parents.
by Andrew4/30/2012 4:18:49 PM
.@KerriMPR #dailycircuit doing segment on ppl being "child-free" by choice. Wishing they covered Natl #Infertility Awareness week last wk.
We are in our early 30's and a very happy successful married couple and we do not want to have children because there is too much of this world to experience.
Our plan is to travel the world and experience life together while experiencing other cultures and help people. All too often people believe that getting married and having children go hand in hand so soon after they get married they have kids. The problem is they loose touch with each other in the process because of the kids. The frustrating part is people who think it's selfish. It's not selfish, its our choice.
by Henry edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:22:33 PM
For all of my life I have wanted to have children. I am now 24 years old and I was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
My Fiance has had a lot of stomach problems which has lead us to the decision that we may not have children due to the fact that we do not want to pass one the negative genes that we have. It does not mean we would not adopt but having our own has now become a very loaded decision where we will have to weigh the pros and cons.
by Cassidy edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:22:47 PM
I don't have kids but I'm married to a man who has two from a previous marriage.
Though he loves his kids and would do anything for them, he has told me more than once that he envies the child-free life I had in my twenties and thirties, and often wishes he could have had that. I have two stepchildren, and though I love them and do everything I can for them, they have confirmed for me that this is as close to parenthood as I want to get.
by Anonymous edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:24:18 PM
37 with no children. Work in a female-dominated field and it seems my coworkers spend a lot of time complaining about their children and childcare situations. They also can't seem to make it to work as consistently as those of us without children, which is frustrating at times.
by Joy4/30/2012 4:24:31 PM
I don't have kids because of infertility issues.
However, I've discovered over time that I was probably not a good candidate for parenthood afterall, and have instead enjoyed the advantages that childlessness offers. That is not to say that I don't recognize the joy and privilege of having them, but I've simply chosen not to make that the focus of my life.
by mary edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:24:52 PM
I am 26, married for 4 years. My husband and I were both raised in a realm where having children isn't a decision, it just is the norm. We knew we wanted to wait, but for the last year I have been (and he too, but less) questioning whether to have kids at all. I am not drawn to it. It's not career, it's not travel...I just am not drawn to it. I love my friends' kids and nieces/nephews, but I don't desire to parent.
Thanks for asking the "why do we have kids" question. I have no examples of people in my life for how to make the decision. I found a great book "Two is Enough" that is helping.
Any tips for a couple coming to a decision when we lean different directions?
by Elise4/30/2012 4:25:02 PM
We are in our 40s and made the decision not to have children some years ago.
I'm sure that many assume that we cannot have children. I have no idea. We made the decision due to my own health concerns, as well as financial and career, but primarily due to the health. I have a long history with clinical depression. We decided that the risks to my own mental health were of concern. It saddens me, and I have grieved, but also have chosen to love the other children
by Sarah edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:25:29 PM
life is incredibly rich with children! i am 24, my husband is 26, we have a one-year old and are excited for the next one. we are both passionate about the careers we are pursuing but see children as one of the main reasons we have entered this vocation.
by Steph4/30/2012 4:27:32 PM
I am early 30s and married. not interested in having more than 2 children--one to replace me and one to replace my spouse.
by bridget4/30/2012 4:27:39 PM
I'm encouraged by the thoughtful comments. In my family I have seven brothers and sisters. The eight children had eight children. Those eight grandchildren had seven children. The five adopted children have had ten! and they are not done yet.
by encouraged4/30/2012 4:27:50 PM
I'm reminded of the pseudo-documentary opening to the film "Idiocracy" where a "smart" professional couple winds up without any children while a "dumb" trailer park-trash type man fathers multitudes. I guess the more you care about the societal impact of having children, the better suited you are to actually have children.
by Joe in Minneapolis4/30/2012 4:28:07 PM
I worry about the number of educated people not raising children. Don't we need educated people to be the one's raising children? \
\Also, I take offense to the idea of children to be a sacrifice. It can be one of the most fulfilling achievements in your life. Very hard, yes, but very important and fun!
by Patty edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:28:47 PM
My wife and I have been dealing with fertility issues the last few years. We are 32 and 33. I don't like how it's pushed on us as a society to have kids and if we don't, something is wrong.
I could live without them but my wife has always wanted them. After getting out of the Army and working in the civilian world again, something has changed and I really don't want kids now, I see how other co-workers use their kids as excuses and miss a lot of work. I just think it is also my responsiblity to have some sort of influence on the future population of the world. Everyone around us are having kids of course. The stress I see it causes them, I really has influenced my decision as well. STRESSFUL!
by Trever edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:29:02 PM
I would really like to know why your Dr. Kaplan seems so very committed to convincing us all how awful it is to not have children. His near-strident tone makes it difficult to believe the objectivity of the "research" he says he is citing.
by Anonymous4/30/2012 4:29:11 PM
58 years old, my husband and I raised three kids. I cannot imagine my life without kids. Having kids has given my life so much meaning.
by Jean4/30/2012 4:29:14 PM
The guest seems to believe that people who decide not to have children are necessarily workaholics. Many of us devote time to volunteering in our community and have deep relationships with other children in our lives -- it's not as if we're all working 80 hours a week.
by WentRogue4/30/2012 4:29:23 PM
39 year old male, knew from before I was married that I did not want children of my own.
Unfortunately, my former spouse said she felt the same and changed 3 years into our marriage, and we could not reconcile that. Before marrying again, being confident that my future wife would be able to honor my decision was the most important criteria. We now have many nieces and nephews whom we support financially and with our time, and feel this has been a blessing for all involved.
by MNMike edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:29:39 PM
You have to remember that some people are childless by circumstance not by choice.
Failed fertility treatments or adoption placements that do not work out or both. We need to stop asking whether having children is immoral or not, as that sets up a good and bad dichotomy and too many people's lives are not black/white like that, but rather informed by circumstances of life.
by Dawn in St. Paul edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:30:13 PM
I'm 33 and been married for 10 years, my wife and I have chosen not to have children simply because it will allow us to retire earlier.....possibly as early as our early 50s
by narvo4/30/2012 4:31:26 PM
I wonder if some of the regret people feel is about societal pressure, not their actual choice. I heard growing up that those who didn't have kids were "selfish".
by Don't Tell My Mom4/30/2012 4:31:31 PM
I'm 34. We have one child, and have pretty much decided we're good with one.
I worry if someday I'll regret not having more, and feel like I should figure that out soon before it's "too late" to do anything about it.
by heidi edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:31:47 PM
If Dr. Kaplan would have felt silly going canoeing on his own, I suggest that if he didn't have kids, he could go with some of his child free friends. Seriously? Needing a canoeing partner as a reason to have children?!
by Anonymous4/30/2012 4:31:53 PM
I find it interesting that when I had my vasectomy, both of the nurses asked me how many children I have and both referenced my wife. I am 36, single (never married) , and child-free.
by Andrew4/30/2012 4:32:01 PM
I am a married, 31 year old woman, who has decided not to have children. I do not have a maternal instinct and am fearful that I would regret having a kid...can't exactly return a baby to the hospital. I am always asked when I am going to have kids and when I tell those who are asking that I am not going to, I don't feel like they believe me and they respond to me with doubt.
by Virginia4/30/2012 4:32:07 PM
My partner and I will be 30 this year - and we seem to encounter this question more and more "So, do you have any children/when will you have kids?"
Although we have discussed having children, we haven't decided when we will have children. I'm finishing up my graduate degree, and my husband is also working on his graduate degree; the prospect of student loans, a mortgage, and saving for our future together seems daunting - and the thought of adding another person into the mix seems very overwhelming.
by Alana edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:33:59 PM
Great topic! Incredibly personal choice for every person and family.
We are extremely blessed to have 2 children. We initially wanted more.... but in interest of social responsibility decided to do foster care and possibly adopt. We now have our own 2 plus 2 through foster care.
I also agree with the guest that says many people make raising children harder than it has to be. All the commericalism and helicopter parenting so common today add to the financial and time pressures of parents.
by Rachel Schwenke4/30/2012 4:34:06 PM
I am getting married this weekend! My future husband and I have decided that we will not have chlidren. We love chlidren, but parenting doesn't appeal to either of us. To successfully raise children, one should love both chlidren and parenting.
(Ed note: Congratulations Alison!)
by Alison edited by Stephanie Curtis, MPR News4/30/2012 4:34:32 PM