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Are you selfish for not wanting children?

Updated on June 5, 2011

The pitter patter of little feet...

Children:The most important decision you'll ever make

We are raised in a society where we are expected to grow up, get an education, find a well paying job, get married and have children. But suppose you don’t have a need to create a miniature you or you lack the desire to nurture another being from infancy to adult-hood (an age range that seems to vary from one individual to another). Are you being selfish or do you simply know yourself very well?

Not long ago I heard a woman jokingly tell a couple that they were being selfish for electing not to have children. Personally I have never thought having children was an altruistic act.

Most people have kids because they want them. Often times giving no thought to the challenges that may lie ahead in providing housing, clothing, food, an education, medical expenses, and other expenses which occur through attending various events and traveling. Rarely does one ask himself the difficult question, “Is my mate/spouse good mother/father material?"

In other words there is a large cross section of people having children without considering the quality of life the child may have. All they really care about is what they want.

Some people not only want kids but also stipulate they have to come from their own loins. They’re willing to spend several thousands of dollars at fertility clinics to accomplish this. Adoption (probably the most unselfish act) is not an option for these people. It would be difficult to call these people altruistic.

Reality Check

The cost of raising a child varies depending on which reports you read $291k up to $300k.

Aside from the financial commitment there is always the unforeseen such as having a child that has special needs. No one ever expects their child will have downs, require several surgeries to correct a physical problem/birth defect, unusual allergies, or mentally unable to ever become an independent functioning adult.

Believe it or not, not every one is going to produce a child that is an “asset” for future mankind. Every year a fresh new crop of future delinquents, drug addicts, teen parents, and criminals are born. In some instances parents end up raising their grandchildren during their planned “golden years.”

If we are to believe what we are told by various “green initiative” alliances not having children may be the most self-less thing a person can do to make the world a better place. According to a recent article which reported Americans throw away 18 Billion disposable diapers a year along with various other forms of pollution all contributing to killing mother earth.

Whether a person chooses to have children or not their decision requires no defense or explanation. With 11 forms of birth control including the morning after pill along with the passage of Roe V Wade, bringing a child into the world is no accident. It’s a woman’s choice. A man cannot force a woman to bear children nor can he force her to terminate a pregnancy. Until there is a birth control pill for men their only options are abstinence, condoms with prayer, or having a vasectomy. Barring those options the final decision as to whether a man becomes a father rests with the woman.

To have a child or not?

There are millions of people that will tell you there is no greater joy in the world than being a parent. They will tell you the most rewarding job in the world is to be a parent. Having grandchildren to share your wisdom while making an historical contribution to extending the family tree gives one a sense in one form or another they will be here for eternity.

People without children will tell you how wonderful it is to be able to pick up and head out of town or attend an adult event at a moment’s notice without having to worry about finding a sitter. The money they would use to raise kids is being spent on lavish vacations, a bigger home, dinning in upscale restaurants, buying expensive clothes,retirement investments, and spoiling one another throughout the year. There are no Parent/Teacher conferences to attend, no worrying about your child having a car accident or some other potential mishap that always seems to befall teenagers. There's no fear of your child getting mixed up with “the wrong crowd”.

By contrast just as there are people who love the pitter patter of little feet when they come home from work there are also those that love to come home to peace and quiet, finding things exactly as they left them.

Unlike any other decision you will make in life, bringing a child into the world is not something you can undo. Good or bad there are repercussions which are here to stay. Whether to have children or not is without a doubt the most important decision you will ever make.

Ultimately it all comes back to knowing yourself.

Do you have the patience required to raise a child? Are you able to control your temper when a child writes on a wall, cries or screams for no apparent reason, turns lights on and off repeatedly, refuses to obey you as he runs through the house slamming doors or throwing toys? Are you up for changing smelly diapers and cleaning up after someone that can’t do it for himself? Can you endure the heartaches your children will surly face as they are socialized into a school setting …without you attacking another child in retaliation?

Are you willing to sacrifice both financially and time wise for your children to have the best possible formative years of their lives? Do you have the discipline required to be a firm parent and avoiding the overwhelming desire to be your child’s “best friend”? Do you have the ability to teach, mentor, and instruct a child in order to prepare him or her to become a self reliant adult contributing positively to our society?

If you answered NO to any of the above questions then maybe you might be a better Uncle or Aunt than a father or a mother. Certainly there will be those who will state how they were able to adapt to changing circumstances in order to become excellent parents.

It goes without saying if someone has to sell you on the idea that you would make a good parent than the odds are you are not ready to be a parent. If you don’t want children the best thing you can do for society at large is not to have them. Too many people have their hands full taking care of their own children without having to take on the direct or indirect responsibility of raising kids that were brought into this world with less than a fighting chance.

Electing not to have kids (you do not want) does not make you selfish.

It means you are conscientious!



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