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May 17, 2006


I agree with you, when my mom was my age she had newborn twins, a house, a business, and husband. All I have is law school debt, and I can't even buy a pet for fear I wont be able to house/feed it.

I've always felt that as we progressed (evolved) from the basic instinct to reproduce to modern day humans, it became a much more psychological reasoning to have children.

Instead of the basic instinct of reproduction, modern day humans reproduce to satisfy a psychological need to care for and leave behind a child which is a legacy of their time on this planet.

It satisfies the need we have, at this evolutionary step, to feel like we are contributing to this planet.

The childlessness you speak about could be the onset of the 'me me me' attitude that is developing through societies which value financial success over anything else. Who cares if i don't leave behind a part of me to continue through the years...as long as I max my household income, buy that great vehicle, and live in the swanky part of town in the shoebox sized condo.

Those that worry about being 'income stable' before having children still have the desire to have children. Those that don't have children have lost that desire to improve the world over their desire to improve their own lives.

^^^ ...then again, maybe it's best that those people don't reproduce. they'll eventually disappear!

"Those that don't have children have lost that desire to improve the world"

Children improve the world?

Hoser, you know what annoys me? people who's greatest accomplishment in life is popping out a kid, maybe one they can't even afford. So they have to spin it as "improving the world" in order to make themselves feel better about being stuck in a boring suburb with a fat wife and drooling/screaming jr.

Sorry, but I'm not sure the world can support our current population levels, much less higher ones, so I'm prone to view a cutback in baby production as a positive development.

I think poorer people (especially those in poorer countries) are more likely to have babies because they are less educated about sex and do not have access to various contraception devices. Fixing that should be a high priority of ours, seeing as burgeoning third world populaces invetibably cost the United States much more than some sex education.

Christy, i bet it annoys you as much as people that make gross assumptions annoys me.

it is truely sad when one's position in this world is determined on whether they live in 'the city' or 'in the suburbs' (i live in the former by the way...maybe that'll change your thoughts toward me?) I also don't have children, yet. But my priorities range above worrying about being 'urban cool' in my city.

greatest accomplishments can be anything people want them to be. when somebody, such as yourself, gets annoyed by what another considers to be their greatest accomplishment, it only serves to show your true insecurities (immaturity?) more than anything else.

[remainder of this post was deleted by Half Sigma--no personal insults are allowed]

Half-Sigma: yes, children improve the world...believe it or not, you were once a child too!

i know it was a tongue in cheek comment, but seriously, stop trying to pass off as 'cold hearted cool'...you're not fooling anybody and your mom is getting annoyed.

A "great accomplishment" is rare or difficult, and it is not especially difficult for a woman to get pregnant.

I think it's more of a "great accomplishment" to be responsible and not have children until you are stable financially and in marriage so that you can have kids who contribute something to society instead of more dependents for the state.

Half Sigma: i think you'll have a few daggers in your back after a comment like that! I would be willing to bet that while the ultimate result is more often getting preganant than not, the journey there is a lot more difficult than you think.

Yes Christy. I agree. But my original point was along the lines of ..even those that don't have children until they are financially ready are still planning on having children. my issue is with the growing number that don't ever plan to have children because all they care about is how fun their life is currently.

i do agree with you that there are wayyyy to many out there having children before they are financially/mentally ready. but i would also side on the group that demands licensing to become a parent!

It's not especially difficult for an 18 year old woman to get pregnant, it doesn't happen so readily for women over the age of 35.

When the population boom was the issue, you could have made a similar evolutionary argument about "resource security" and how moms with this level of food and such would inevitably have as many children as possible. It's a little ad hoc.

Here's an economic argument made by David Blue in an Althouse comment thread: Maybe it's the lack of property security in modern marriage. Your spouse and children can leave/be taken from you at any time, so why invest in a family? Especially when other much more stable investments now exist.

Hoser, when you're attributing the insincere motivation of "cold hearted cool" to Half Sigma, sure you may be reflecting the wisdom of character judgment, but you may also be failing to make the effort to see how a person could sincerely believe what he does.

Half Sig, regarding the deleted insults, I recommend Terese Nielsen Hayden's practice of "disemvowelling": just ctrl-H away all the vowels and people will be able to skim over easily, but if they still want to rd t thy cn jdg fr thmslvs.

Your theory is very interesting! it makes a lot of sense.

I feel uncomfortable with the idea that wanting to have babies is genetically programmed into women.
I think that argument is often used to make women who don't want children seem like monsters, not "real women".It's also used to back up the idea that women's place is in the home, not out competing for jobs with men.
Also, I don't think it would be necessary for survival of the species for women to want babies- they have had to have them whether they wanted them or not for most of human history! All that is necessary is for women to want sex.
After all, no one uses the argument that all men must want babies just because they can create them!

Oops-one other comment- I don't think that the "preperty security" argument can really hold, because women have rarely had property security, yet they have still had children. Back in Victorian times, women could not own property, so they had extremely little security. In fact, they were actually considered to be property! Also, in many devloping nations women have very little security, yet they have a very high birth rate.
I think it all boils down to the fact that when women have more choice, they often choose to have fewer or no children.

Hoser, you seem to imply that the only reason people choose not to have children is because they want to be "cool," want to have a fun lifestyle, and so forth. But there are people who choose not to have children because they don't feel that leaving a biological legacy is meaningful, they don't feel the earth's resources can support additions to the population, they don't want to raise a child in a world they don't feel comfortable in, etc.

I myself am looking forward to having children. But I have never understood the mindset of those who are critical of individuals who choose not to have children. What I'd like to know is:

1. How is choosing not to have children a sign of selfishness? And whom does this supposed selfishness affect?

2. How is choosing not to have children a sign of irresponsibility?

3. What, exactly, is wrong with not wanting to contribute to the gene pool? When there are so many other folks having kids, how is that in any way detrimental to the world?


Unfortunately, the link is expired, and I can't find the article in the Chronicle archives. I agree that a big (and good) reason for postponing or foregoing childbearing in our society is reduced economic security among young people. But, if this is genetic (as you seem to postulate), what about the Third World countries where people have lots of children even in, or because of, poverty and low survival rates? Do they just lack those caution-inducing genes?

I think there is a flip side to the story: Many incentives to having children are gone nowadays due to *better* conditions. Women of prior generations generally had to marry a guy and have his babies in return for economic and social security. It was either that or live with family as an old maid. Shut out of the work force, they had few other outlets for their abilities and energy than reproduction. Men would be looked at suspiciously if they didn't marry and have children fairly young. They also had less access to sex outside of marriage. So, there was heavy pressure on both sides to make do with whatever mate they could attract, early.

Now, neither gender needs a mate and children for either basic economic or social survival. That means the less desirable (or merely unlucky) players can hold out a lot longer or even forever, hoping to satisfy high standards they don't necessarily meet themselves. If they fail, they still have jobs, apartments, friends, blogs, and Internet porn. Many people who do find someone find them later, when one party has already had children, or they have physical difficulties reproducing, or they simply have created a life they like without kids.

My point was that resource insecurity is relative. People in third world countries don't realize they are poor because they are comparing themselves to their parents and neighbors.

Very interesting comments. I myself am a thirty something, college educated female of lower middle class/ not a corporate go getter or a downtown party girl. I love children and do not want them for many reasons. 1) I don't feel I would be a good parent. 2) overpopulation 3) the societal decay of everything decent 4)They are like pets in that there are alot of unwanted/ mistreated ones out there DYING for a good home (why breed when you can adopt?) and 5)They are precious, innocent lives that deserve more than I could give. If that makes me the selfish monster that some would paint me as, then I will wear that face gladly. When I feel secure in our society that I can have a child that won't be raped, murdered, terrorized, or subjected to the ever declining quality of education, morals and laws, then I might feel 'secure' enough to be a parent. I am thankful to live in a time and place that allows me to choose what is right for MY life. God bless the rest of the world and whatever YOU CHOOSE for YOUR LIFE.

I am still waiting for "Never the Bride's" questions to be answered. I'm a 36-year-old single woman who got my tubes tied a couple of years ago. I don't want kids because I'm Just. Not. Interested. And this affects other people ... how?

Not at all, IMO, except some would be disappointed you have taken practical and intelligent genes out of the breeding pool. Of course, this effect should be balanced against the positive to society of not having kids raised by people who don't want to be parents.

I am a 24 year old woman, and I do not EVER want children. Maybe my reasons are selfish, but they are MY reasons, and it is MY CHOICE to make. I enjoy my current lifestyle, my disposable income, my freedom, my nice cars, clothes, and other items, and my happy marriage, and I do not feel like giving all that up, despite what other people think I should do. Besides, I don't even LIKE children, should I have them just because my mom had me? Should we keep on making the same mistakes over and over again, even when WE KNOW BETTER? No, that would be stupid...right? It is a personal decision, and while I cannot understand anyone's reasons for having kids, I can respect their choices. And I would like the exact same consideration in return, not a bunch of BS about how I am a "terrible, unnatural" woman . Personally I think we need to take care of the people who are already here before we bring in more just to satisfy some egotistical need to "have a little version of myself" running around. Now THAT is truly selfish!

I read this to "have or not have children" debates between Hoser, Christy, and Half-Sigma. Judging from the blogosphere, this kind of debate seems to have become quite prevalent in the last few years. I think that having or not having kids is a purely personal choice, providing one is responsible. What I find irritating is the attitude of people like Hoser towards those of us who regard the decision about having kids to be a purely private matter, NOT a subject of public debate. I consider my personal life choices to be purely private, not a subject of public debate.

It is not for another human being, especially one who does not know me personally, to make any judgements (pro or con) about my decision not to have kids, if I choose not to have them. It is not for a total stranger to question my personal life choices. Period. I find this "social conservative" movement that has appeared in the last few years to be quite insulting.

I am not a drug addict, socialpath, or any other kind of screw-up, what so ever. I am actually a sucessful business professional (indeed, I am typing this from my hotel room in Seoul, Korea - I am on a business trip in Asia). Given my situation, I do not consider my personal life choices to be a legitimate subject of political discussion and I consider such a suggestion to be highly insulting.

I think that the people who like kids and enjoy being parents AND who are financially stable should have kids. I think that the people who are not into kids and would not enjoy being parents should not have kids. The notion that we all have to have kids or that we should not have kids is a particularly stupid one. The most idiotic thing that a society can do is to push people who don't want kids into having them. This is most stupid, idiotic thing I have ever heard of and I see absolutely no social benefit in this.

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