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Why Have Kids?

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Guest blogger Brett Berk: As someone who's worked with young kids for 20 years -- as a classroom teacher, preschool director, and youth researcher -- I'm consistently asked to defend my decision not to have children. "You love kids," people say. "You'd be a great dad!" I faithfully explain that I'm far too immersed in my interests, projects, and hedonistic lifestyle to make the necessary time for raising a child. This usually suffices. But strangely, the same need for justification does not seem to apply to the decision to procreate.

Man thinking

Whenever I hear that a friend has begun the trying process of trying, or is considering attempting what I like to call The Ultimate Vanity Project, I often follow up by asking them, "Why?" If they were going to adopt a rescued greyhound, trade in their Civic for an SUV, or even ponder a bright colored accent wall in their living room, they'd be expected have some sort of well-sorted grounds. But the response to this line of inquiry is often nothing more than a blank stare.

I'm not saying I'm looking for some nugget of transcendent genius. But this is a human life that's being brought into the world. "I always wanted one" wouldn't cut it as a rationale for buying an expensive purse, and "My instincts told me to" won't even get you out of a traffic ticket, so why are these good enough for having a child? (And don't even try the whole continuation of the species line; I think we can all agree that the reign of human beings on this earth has been less than glorious.) So people, please tell me, what's your excuse?

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30 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous January 27, 2009, 4:00 PM

I am having a kid because I want to. The same reason I am having spaghetti for dinner.

mary January 28, 2009, 2:54 PM

I don’t know- in this line of logic, to even ask why people should have children,should we all be not vain and decide to not have children and let the human race die out? That would be kind of sad, don’t you think? And yes- the decision, which I believe is a little thing called instinct,
may start as a vanity decision, but it is, like many have already pointed out, a very sacrificial job. 24 hours of responsibility for other helpless human beings, caring for the sick when you yourself are also really ill, so you can’t lie in bed at all, etc. All this work, day in and day out,sacrificing buying that new outfit or computer so you can pay the high cost of insurance, etc. makes parents proud to show off their children, thus making them seem vain. Well, they deserve a little reward for their hard work.

Having children is a gift to parents, because it keeps family lines going,creates companionship, teaches oneself to appreciate and forgive ones own parents,etc. It is a gift to society because it creates people to pay Social Security for the older generation. So, please stop cutting down people who decide to procreate.

Teresa March 5, 2009, 12:51 AM

I wish some men would comment on the subject, it would be nice to know what motivates men to want to be fathers, since it’s generally assumed that women just *want* to be mothers. I’m single and in my 20s and I don’t think I can ever see myself saying, “I want kids.” While for some kids are a blessing, to me, they are just a hassle. Being a parent is a serious responsiblity and I don’t think I’m ready for that or will ever be. I also know of someone who has no children and is in his 40s and says he is very happy. Hopefully I will be just as content without children later on in life.

JG May 8, 2009, 11:34 AM

I’m a woman. Married 10 years, and I have to say: I have no clue. Short of “I want to” which is at best juvenile and at worse irresponsible, there is no reason to procreate really. Though I perfectly understand adoption. Personally I enjoy spending time and money on my husband and myself.

JG May 8, 2009, 11:37 AM

Another point. I think something weird happens when people have kids. They think the rest of us are sad. Most of the coolest, happiest, well rounded people I know are CHILD FREE. the rest seem to wish they were. I feel bad for brainwashed parents. Here’s my list:

5 reasons to:

1. Bored and want something new in life.

2. Would like there to be someone that shares your genes.

3. Would like to provide a life for someone without parents.

4. Would like to impart wisdom to someone who will hopefully make a difference.

5. No reason at all, people just want to. Which I guess is just fine, though not necessarily logical.


5 Not to

1. Your life is your own.

2. Easier to do things, more time to enjoy yourself.

3. You can spend money on things you want.

4. The world is over populated for the resources we currently have available

5. You have the opportunity to spend time making a difference in many people’s lives and not just one.

Bree May 15, 2009, 1:07 AM

I am a 4th grade teacher, married 15 years, and am childless. I have had more people (many of my student’s parents) tell me NOT to have children. I love kids, but it is true that they put a major damper on your freedom, finances, marriage, hobbies, early retirement, socialization with friends, and rest and relaxation.

Also, a recent study (featured on the TV show The Doctors) showed that childless couples are HAPPIER than couples with children.

insanity May 15, 2009, 4:09 PM

You know, how I came upon this page was I searched “why have kids” in Google and this came up. Why was I searching? Because I too am befuddled and utterly perplexed as to why anyone would want a child to put at the mercy of the world. Maybe these people haven’t felt how miserable and long life can be, or maybe I was just hypersensitive to begin with, but I know if I weren’t as unattractive as I already am, I’d have had me a vasectomy a long time ago. But my response to the question is probably similar to JG’s first, and which I find the most despicable: boredom. The more and more I see people with kids, Americans with kids I mean, the more they seem brought into the world from the parents’ ennui, narcissism and lack of any sense of self. Instead of thinking and understanding the world around them, they seem to prefer acting on impulses and then complaining about their situation (and then start to believe they’re entitled to social benefits). It’s a vicious cycle and what keeps people stupid and cruel: the people who are breeding are the only ones who can, and are entirely unaware as to why they do it. I don’t know. The world’s a hell and I’ll do the one good thing in my capacity by not adding another body to the pyre.

Lee January 10, 2010, 7:33 PM

Its simple, if you liked most of your life,(you have money) you pass it on,, if you feel your life sucked, like mine,(very poor) you don’t, simple. Why would I want to pass a sucky life to some poor soul???

Lee January 10, 2010, 7:39 PM

PS, I wish my mother had an abortion with me. I wish I had never been born.

Fatherless April 10, 2010, 6:59 PM

whether or not to have spawn is a personal choice and maybe a biological desire.some people are happy to be childless and some people are happy to have children, regardless of which great care must be taken with children.Two parental units are essential in the development of the young and this is not an antagonization to single parents who lost or chose not to have a partnered relationship.

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