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Our parenting course is out, so we wanted to make sure all non-parents know that we’re not just about the kids! We have lots of resources for non-parents, singles, and couples. Click here to request a free chapter from the ebook/audiobook version. Aspie Family members will have access to the complete book and video course here.
It seems like as soon as you reach a certain age or a certain number of years in a relationship, you’ll start getting the question, “So when are you thinking about having kids?” Our favorite come back to that one was, “How soon do you need to know?” It’s not downright rude but it makes the person stop and think about what they just asked and why.
If you are going to be offended about all the great reasons to NOT have kids…then stop reading here. Obviously, we went ahead and had children and we love them dearly. But this article is for people who are thinking about or certain in the other decision. Or are involuntarily childless and would like to hear some benefits of their situation.
Indeed, about HALF of women of childbearing age are childless currently and 60% of men of all ages are childless. Certainly some may change their mind later but ultimately about 1 in 7 women and slightly more men will never have children. For comparison, when we hear that 1 in 7 people used Facebook on a given day, it boggles the mind. That’s a lot of people using Facebook. And yet those people who choose to remain childless somehow also remain invisible.
And we could have easily been in that group. The day we met, Robin told Tim that she didn’t have time for dating because she was trying to get into medical school. When other girls she knew were imagining weddings and babies, she was imagining fixing up an old house and running a medical practice. Tim liked the idea of a wife and kids (especially once he met Robin!) but he also liked the idea of being completely solitary, working as a fire lookout or something similarly quiet and isolated. Having children is basically the polar opposite from working as a fire lookout!
We didn’t have Charlie until we’d been married almost 7 years and engaged for almost a year before that…and we’d received a lot of pressure by then. We were aware that raising kids together would be challenging and we were very hesitant to take the plunge. And we had no idea just HOW challenging it would be. Tim just didn’t know if he would be able to cope with the chaos of children and Robin felt uncertainty about kids knowing that she’d likely be the primary parent and the primary breadwinner. These are important conversations to have. They are difficult and honest.
It’s strangely common for other people to leap in with their own judgement if you mention any hesitancy to them. Whether it’s for health, financial, or environmental reasons, a lot of people who are childless have heard an argument about why that decision is wrong. This is awkward for people who are voluntarily childless and can be heartbreaking for people who are involuntarily childless.
Oddly, while we know plenty of people who receive support from friends and family when they choose not to reproduce due to physical health issues, we know just as many people who are judged for choosing not to reproduce due to mental health struggles or different brain wiring that can make parenting more stressful. It’s perfectly fine to decide not to have children because you know it’s better for your mental health. And it’s perfectly fine to have children while having mental health struggles or diverse brain wiring. This is a personal decision.
But there are plenty of other reasons not to have children. We have friends who have chosen to not have children because they want to prioritize their relationship (kids are really hard on relationships!) and friends who want to stop generations of abuse and neglect and aren’t sure they are capable of providing the emotional energy necessary to be there for kids after their own trauma. We know people who watched their own parents die in near-poverty after giving everything they had to care for their children. Not only do they want to avoid what their parents went through, they don’t want to cause their children the kind of guilt that they themselves suffered over not being able to give their parents a comfortable old age.
Statistically speaking, adults with children at home are less happy than those without children. And their happiness goes up when their children leave home. 2/3 of couples have a decrease in relationship satisfaction after the birth of their first child. This eventually improves in most couples. But that’s a year or more of relationship distress…and it’s not every couple that sees improvement.
If sleep is critical for your sanity–know that children cause an average of 2 hours of lost sleep per day as infants and while it can improve as they get older, if you end up with a non-sleeping child like ours, you may have a sleep debt that you can never recover.
And kids are expensive. Studies vary but generally land somewhere around $200,000 to care for a child from birth to 18. If you have a child with special needs, that number can multiply quickly and continue far beyond 18.
Are we trying to talk you out of having kids? No. Please make your own decision on this one! We don’t regret our kids at all. They are truly the best thing that ever happened to us. But if we’d never had them, we would be perfectly fine. FOMO (fear of missing out) is not a good reason to make a huge and permanent life decision!
Today’s printable is all about decision making. Not just this decision but any decision. Our hope is that this will help you feel more confident in whatever decision you make. Because life is full of decisions large and small. If you’re stressing about a small decision, it can help to use this grid to realize that it’s not worth stressing about. And if you’re faced with a large decision with a lot of different factors, this can help you sort out what’s truly important and what you can let go.
We have lots of great printables for our members.
Ultimately, whether or not you have kids is not the defining feature of who you are. You are yourself. You have so much more to bring to the world than your reproductive potential. And if you are interested in helping the next generation, there are many methods other than producing it. In fact, if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, not having a child is one of the most efficient ways of doing so.
Please know that if you don’t have children, you are so welcome here. We have many articles that have nothing to do with kids and we need you in the community!