Childless Couples; To Have Kids or Not To Have Kids
Imagining what it's like to have kids
Can you imagine your life with kids? Well that just takes all the fun out of it. I remember working as a waitress through most of my 20's and the scenes of crying babies, tantrum throwing toddlers, and wiped out parents was enough birth control for me. It was also enough for me to say 'No way' to the kids conundrum. Let's just say my experiences with babies was what I imagined having kids would be like:
- Crying, fussing, tantrums
- Dirty diapers, messy meals, stinky
- Completely reliant on me/dependent
- Tired, lack of sleep
- No free time
- Contributing to an overpopulated world
- Dealing with sick kids, being sick more often myself
- Money spent raising a kid ($241,000 average)
- Job and career derailment
- Tougher to travel: Packing for a 300 mile road trip with kids is comparable to a single person packing for a safari adventure overseas.
- Personally: Not knowing anything about babies. I had no siblings, never babysat a child under 4.
- I have to give up what??!!
- Trouble: The trouble kids get into, the trouble to take care of their every need.
- Raise a child in this cruel world?
- I don't like kids!
- Time: Everything takes longer to do with kids.
This is obviously a list of cons to having kids. There are several pros as well, but realistically this is a mental list that comes to mind for the younger generations and the childless by choice.
The youth today are smart. They can likely imagine what babies and kids would be like without having one of their own. It's not unfeasible to quickly conjure this mental list when they see scenes like what I described above in restaurants, grocery stores, general public places and perhaps some babysitting experience, nieces or nephews, etc. Today's youth are also planning their lives. People are waiting to get married. Some are waiting for kids or opting out. Women are putting careers first while education and travel are increasingly important to them as well.
- Women with higher IQs are less likely to have kids, research suggests - NY Daily News
The more intelligent the woman, the less likely she is to want to become a mother, according to a study.
Me, Myself, and Just Us
Contributing to this child free choice is the shift in society from traditional family values and collective mentality to independent accomplishments (education, wealth, career) and self growth/love (this would be the category for Oprah on her eternal quest for self awareness and spirituality after attaining her unspeakable amount of wealth). That's what' is rewarded. With children, these things are difficult to accomplish, but not entirely impossible of course. One particular attitude is 'anyone can have kids' so that makes it less important. Poverty stricken or lower class families/ areas tend to have more kids therefore irresponsibility to society comes to mind as well.
I would like to add to this list merely my personal opinion (although backed by science) of an increasingly narcissistic (self absorbed) culture. Everyone has the opportunity to feel like a celebrity. "One study found that 30 percent of young people were classified as narcissistic according to a widely used psychological test. That number has doubled in the last 30 years. Another study reported a 40-percent decline among young people in empathy, a personality attribute inversely related to narcissism, since the 1980s." (Dr. Taylor, Jim. 5/28/2011. Narcissism: On The Rise in America). No doubt, self is significant. Narcissism is a fact of life now, and not unusual by any means.
Other studies have found the more talent a celebrity (musician or actor) has, the less self-absorbed they are. This translates to less talent, more narcissism. Add to this the celebrities that are famous for being famous (think Kardashians and reality TV show stars). Self help books are yet another media outlet where self comes across loud and clear. The message is to be concerned with you, and if you choose to add an "us" to your profile page (after you've married or taken a partner), it is less likely to include children.
In addition, there is more money, toys (adult type; tech gadgets, brand name clothes, and pricey vehicles) and possibility for self-made wealth than ever before. So much is available to us, it can become objectionable to give up anything. Kids definitely represent giving a part of our lives up. In some way or fashion your life after kids will not be the same. You simply can't have it all anymore- that was a lie we were sold in the 20th century and the youth today have caught on.
They're smart after all..."A researcher at the London School of Economics weighed in to say that there is a tight correlation between intelligence and childlessness: the smarter you are, it appears, the less likely you are to have children!" However, any proponents of evolution would reason that these intelligent people are the ultimate losers in life. All living creatures are designed to reproduce and that reproductive success is the ultimate end of all biological existence. Needless to say much of the research on this topic has it's fair share of holes in it.
We can assume we know WHY people choose not to have kids, but we don't know whether there is really a correlation to any particular type of people or lifestyle. Most of the data collected are polls and subjective/personal reports. One thing I've noticed among these is the lack of objectivity between the groups of those who want kids and those who don't. But especially in those who don't want kids, there seems to be a strong aversion to them in general. I was flipping through my Facebook newsfeed and noticed a person who was strongly against having children say "Kids are a waste of time and money". My first reaction was they must not think highly of themselves- need I point out we were all once kids. Next, I realized people I knew who opt out of kids were more opinionated about it and really thought others should adopt they're choice as well.
It is a personal choice. The perception of having kids is a one-sided reality.Reproduction at the biological level is a collective desire and today, self comes first. How will this (kids) effect ME? A woman may worry about her body being sacrificed to the child carrying process or her career pushed aside, and independence lost. A man may worry about losing his wife (and attention) to the constant demands of a baby or subtracting from his accomplished wealth and freedom. Both men and women may fret about the strain kids bring to a marriage.
"It's one thing to see that there is a growing number of narcissists in America today. But the real concern is not the individual narcissists among us, but when our society embraces and accepts narcissism as the norm."
"The whole idea is that children are going to keep you from enjoying the kind of life that you really deserve to have."
- Time Magazine Promotes A Childless Lifestyle As The Path To The Good Life For U.S. Coupl
Infowars.com the home of the #1 Internet News Show in the World.
Riding the roller coaster called life
No one can argue with the fact that life can be unpredictable and you can't control everything. We try though and as I discussed above, our society leads us to believe it's possible. Life presents to us a myriad of ups and downs. Kids are a prominent source of these. It can be as rewarding as it is miserable (ups and downs) and often we can't control everything we'd like to, which is scary. Kids test us in ways we're not comfortable with. We become familiar with how far (or not) we've come along our own path in life. For the first time we love something more than ourselves (also scary).
Formerly a devout subscriber to the anti-kid cult, I went from a single 20 something to a married with no kids 30 something. Eventually I had kids beginning in my mid-30's, but I know what it's like on both sides of the fence. I know what it's like to be determined not to go down that disastrous road with kids, a certain train wreck. Right? I know what it's like to defend my choice to my mother (who wanted nothing more than grandchildren), to defend myself to a society who posts their kids on Facebook every millisecond (guilty here). I've identified with (and understand)those who choose not to walk the path paved with dirty diapers, mountains of laundry, messy manners, boogers, backsliding boundaries, and binkies. It truly looks like hell from the outside, but once in, it's a whole new miraculous world (my revised opinion).
The realities of parenthood
Take a look around you
While the signs we see in our everyday lives point toward the effortless decision to abort the idea of having children, there are subtle signs our youth may not be noticing. Do we realize our favorite sitcoms on TV promote a futile existence involving marriage and kids? It's all around us. Hollywood gets divorced every time we refresh the screen on our device of choice.
A new branch of psychology is Media Psychology that deals with the research and applications in our lives within all forms of media. A lot of childless couples claim society favors those who choose to have kids, but the opposite is also true. A lot of our media suggests kids will drag you down and other negative effects fro media could have an impact on something considered a personal choice. Either way your choices are in fact a reflection of surrounding influences. It works both ways, but it's worth a mention.
What to consider when you're still considering
Bet you're dying to know why I FINALLY decided to have children. In August of 2006 I had a cancer scare, a biopsy was performed on a lump on my thyroid. For nearly a week, I had to live with a very uncertain reality. I reflected hard that week. One question we all will likely have a chance to ask is: Do I have any regrets? For some people this question doesn't arise until it's too late.
I was 31 and married at the time. I had always felt there was more to life than my present situation- even though I graduated college and had a career. I had accomplished all I set out to. I was terrified of kids and never gave them a second thought until that week. It kept nagging at me. When I was cleared of the possibility my lump was cancer, I wanted to start a family.
Having children is still a major aspect of life- it's what brought us life. It's why you and I are here which makes it significant enough to consider. I had never considered it- I just had an automatic reaction to children "No way". We need to be careful of those automatic reactions and live life in the here and now...as it unfolds.
- Never say never- any major life decisions can, and should be, consistently revised, not just shoved aside.
- Is it related to past abuse and issues within your own childhood?
- If you don't know anything about babies or they scare you, your own will not and you'll learn real fast. My first child was the first diaper I ever changed (talk about a shocked look on the hospital nurse's face)!
- Give yourself a break. It's an important decision, but it's not the end of the world. Whatever your decision is, don't beat yourself up.
- Is it just the pressure you feel that bogs you down with thoughts of children? I remember a time when I would rather not even think about kids due to all the barrage of thoughts from others I had heard over the years- overwhelming!
- If you're a woman, you do need to think about the future (biological time clock) and make sure any decision is one confident in and certain of. Uncertainty may seem safe, but it's an illusion (biology/age doesn't lie).
- Ask yourself the obvious- Why do, or don't you, want a child? Be honest and review that answer.
- The time to worry about your future is when you're talking about your age (and chances of conceiving), but you shouldn't worry about your future if you're thinking about all the exasperating details of parenthood like college costs/finances, etc. It may seem irresponsible of course- so many resources out there would have you plan every detail of parenthood right now, but it all falls into place. Logically you will make more money as you get older. Fathers make more money than non-fathers.
Children are not on the easy path!
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