Shuck It: You Don’t Want Kids?

by Greg on March 13, 2011

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Dear TellingDad,

I am a single, yet divorced, 28 year-old woman with no desire to have children. This does NOT mean I hate them by any means! Recently I spoke to my sister-in-law about my wishes. She has two AMAZING children whom I love very much. I also love her niece and nephew.

When I uttered the words: “Oh, I don’t ever want children,” she freaked out. She looked heart broken and with a horrified look croaked, “You don’t want children?”

Why did she respond this way? Should I go forth and find a husband and have lots of children so she has more cousins for her own children? What should I DO!?

Thank you,
Lesley

…………………………………………….

Dear Lesley,

When a person says they don’t ever want something, it typically means they don’t like it. Much like when I say, “I don’t ever want Brussels Sprouts,” or, “I don’t ever want a broken femur.”

But sometimes, you can totally love something without it meaning that you’d sacrifice your life savings just to have one. For example, I love the Circus, but I don’t want clowns of my own. I also love the zoo, but this doesn’t mean I want to raise a monkey. Understand that I’m not saying children are like clowns and monkeys – although they have been known to wear silly clothes, make funny noises, and play in their own feces.

What your sister-in-law needs to realize is that your decision to not harbor humans in your belly for nine months so you can give birth and raise children from slobberhood to parenthood doesn’t mean you hate kids. It means you like your home, bank account, and uterus as they are.

99.7% of pregnancies go exactly as planned and expected. The others are enjoyable. So if you are apprehensive because you fear the pregnancy experience or worry about the pain of childbirth, you aren’t alone. In fact, a recent study concluded that 100% of men find the thought of giving birth absolutely horrifying. This is why it’s safe for me to assume that the grief you get over your decision comes primarily from other women, and not from men.

This is because men know that if gender roles were reversed, and we were responsible for pushing large fussy objects through tiny stubborn orifices, the planet would be seriously underpopulated. Vocalizing ones decision to not have children would be met with understanding nods rather than discerning judgmental eyes.

Women have long been made to feel obligated to have children and I don’t think it’s a compulsion you should feel any shame in suppressing. Consider the plight of Octomom Suleman. When you grow up with a first name like that, your options when it comes to future childbearing are pretty limited. Think how silly it would have looked if she had grown up to have fewer than eight children. So be thankful that your first name is Lesley, and not Millimama, because this naturally deflects a lot of expectations.

I suppose one of the biggest benefits of not having children, which your sister-in-law fails to recognize, is that you get to avoid the tinderbox controversies that seem to consume Twitter and Facebook these days: Home birth vs. hospital birth; breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding; crib vs. crate.

You also won’t have to sit at the park and defend your child’s lack of collegiate development to over-achieving moms living vicariously through their toddlers. Believe me, it’s excruciating to watch other children explain the Pythagorean Theorem while yours is eating wood chips.

And even if you are thinking about having children someday, you might want to reconsider if you haven’t yet placed your unfertilized egg on a waiting list for preschool. If you haven’t already done this, you can expect to support your child well into his mid-70’s.

The thing about kids is that you need to feed them like every single day. Baby food isn’t cheap and it represents only one of roughly 6,000 new expense categories you’d have to add to your budget program.

According to a recent government study, it costs $221,000 to raise a child for 17 years in today’s economy. Assuming you don’t kick your child out of the home on his or her 17th birthday, you can safely tack on an additional $221,000 if you re-enlist for another four years.

My friend @DigitalKadi has seven children. This is not a misprint. Seven. As in: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, SEVEN. Basically, a village.

I only mention this because you asked if you should go forth and have “lots of children” to appease your sister-in-law. What you need to consider in the case of multiple children is that the costs rise exponentially when you have more than the American average of 2.5 kids.

Any number higher than this average requires that you apply what’s called the “Multiple Child Factor”, or MCF. Akin to the Richter scale, the difference between having 4.0 kids and 5.0 kids is 1000 times more intense. Therefore, when you multiply $221,000 times Kadi’s seven kids and then apply the MCF, Kadi and her husband will end up spending roughly $960 million raising their children.

I know you probably feel a tad attacked, judged, or questioned when people ask if you ever want children, but you need to understand something. When someone asks if you want kids, it’s not always meant to be judgmental. For example, when I ask women if they want children, I’m really just putting out feelers to see if they’re willing to take mine.

To be honest, it’s no one’s business but your own why you don’t want children. All that matters is that they know how much you really do love kids and that your personal preference, whether emotional or financial in nature, has no bearing on the affection you show and love you feel for them.

It seems to me that you get the best of both worlds. You get to enjoy her children, hear their laughter, load them up with sweets, and return them to their parents before the sugar high kicks in. It’s a win-win situation. Not only do you get to be the coolest person on the planet, but you aren’t expected to pay for college.

If, by chance, you’re still on the fence about someday having children, perhaps the following test can help:

1. Do you cherish sleep?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then motherhood may not be for you.

I hope this helps! Now go give those children a big squeeze from Aunt Nilmama.

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Laugh a Little or Laugh a Lot « Step Into My World
December 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm

{ 23 comments }

Lesley March 13, 2011 at 12:31 am

As I posed the question I will respond to this amazing answer in full tomorrow. As I just stayed up to watch “Young Victoria” with my visiting uncle. So for now you get this: 1.tellindad…you are AWSOME! 2. My grandparents had 6 children…one less then your friend. 3. I do love sleep! Also…I enjoy giving said children back to their parents after the child has had sugar.

But for now…I am tired due to my man~child but wonderful uncle and therefore will respond fully tomorrow!

<3 you are AMAZING!

Jen-Eighty MPH Mom March 13, 2011 at 12:53 am

ROFLMAO – oh Greg – this is priceless! Large fussy objects through stubborn orifices. Classic.

This is great advice – and so very true. Nobody could tell it like you though. You ARE the man!

Tricia March 13, 2011 at 3:19 am

Jennifer sent a shout on facebook about your must read article and I have to say bawhahahahahahahahaaaaa You made my night. and I only have 4 children to which I might add 1 is adopt and merely just picked up at the hospital with no grunting, groaning or squeezing out of any where before hand lol

Amanda @ Confessions From HouseholdSix March 13, 2011 at 6:06 am

This is all very true, Greg. I have to agree with all of it. There’s nothing wrong with cherishing sleep, sugaring up the niece and nephew, letting them do all the fun stuff their parents won’t, and then returning them to said parents. Especially if said parent was a sibling who tortured you. Call it revenge.

Fabgrandma March 13, 2011 at 9:42 am

This is the most hilarious thing I have read in a while. Don’t forget, though, that those little bundles of joy NEVER go away. You will be required to feed and support them waaaaaay longer than 17 years. For some, that is more like 25 or 30 years.

Kimberly Kinrade March 13, 2011 at 11:07 am

I messed up big time. I LOVE sleep. And enjoyed my uterus and bank account and house, pre-kids. Now I have 3. I’m totally in love with them. I’ve tried selling them on e-bay, but then I think how much I’ll miss em. It’s like when you live on a farm and you start to name the chickens and bunnies, then you can never eat them. Yup, I named em. Now I’m stuck with them! LOL

But seriously, this is funny. And parenthood is great. And so is non-parenthood. No one should be made to feel guilty for the choices they make about having children.

Trill March 13, 2011 at 11:29 am

My aunt had 6 kids in the firm belief that the lack of sleep, privacy and money would be compensated by the fact that they would take care of her/ keep her company when she gets old (y’know, like a family Christmas photo but all year round). Yeah… they couldn’t wait to leave home.
It doesn’t help that whenever they do manage to call, all she does is remind them of how long she was in labor (in years) and how much she gave up to raise them (probably about $42 mill).
I’d feel bad, but she’s always pushing me to have more kids. Honey, really?

Shan @ Last Shreds Of Sanity March 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Before I had my Ro, I wanted five children. Yes, FIVE. Why that particular number? Because, silly, I wanted one less than a Brady Bunch. I had it all planned out, too. I was going to accomplish this in only three pregnancies! How you ask? I was going to have two sets of twins and one single birth.

I’m a planner. God knows this. It’s why he laughed his ethereal Heine off when he heard me say that and gave me first, the diagnosis that I could not have any children, then the miracle/surprise of my one and only pregnancy.

My hormone level was so high on the initial blood tests that they thought I was having twins. Ultrasound showed ONE baby. That ONE baby became the work of triplets. The joke in the family is that she ate her twin.

See what happens when you make plans?

Then a couple of years ago, I met @DigitalKadi via blogging (and now know her in person) and saw what a large family does to a previously only slightly insane woman. I’m rather glad God laughed at me now.

Personally, I liked messing with my SIL’s kids and sending them back. But my SIL is not a nice person and deserves that kind of torture.

And yes, the expense of raising a child is phenomenal, not to mention the fact that I did not register my eggs for preschool, so Ro had to go to a public one. The private pre-K’s were far too expensive. The expenses only get larger from there. And not every woman is cut out for motherhood. I know I still question myself daily on that one. Of course my child is a special case.

PS: Does selling them on e-bay not make you a profit or is it that whole legality thing?

Kadi March 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Thank GOD I plan on being a bazillionaire. And did Shan just thank God that she is not like me? Cuz I happen to think I’m crazy awesome, even if the crazy outweighs the awesome!
To each her own, Lesley. Do your thing and ignore what others try to place upon you.Your purpose on this earth is not the same as anyone else’s. Live YOUR purpose. xo~ Kadi

Shan @ Last Shreds Of Sanity March 14, 2011 at 2:09 am

NO, Kadi, I did not thank God that I am not like you. I thanked God that he did not give me 5 kids. The reason is that I would be completely insane with 5 children and not in the fun way that you are. So I get to live my large family craziness vicariously through you. Doesnโ€™t that make you feel better now?

And yes, you are crazy awesome. Youโ€™re the kind of crazy I want to be when I grow up. ๐Ÿ˜›

Lesley March 13, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Would you like to know what The Bloggess wrote? I have it in my email NOW! ๐Ÿ˜€ *quietly* your’s is more fun!

You are simply amazing. And yes, maybe in the back of my mind I am annoyed by children. Just the ones that scream a lot. But if a child was in danger I would do my best to save them. And I love my brothers children to death. They are amazing!

I guess I may feel a bit guilty about never giving them cousins, but…I’ve talked to my mother and she says she doesn’t care. Which I hope is true. Plus, the way I want to live my life *not sex and drugs btw, going around the world and trying new things* it would be hard with a child.

Also, my x-husband was an ass and left me when I was very sick…and I was raised just by my mother…so I feel if I ever DID have a child…I would want to be a single parent. Which is sad, because I also want true love.

The one GREAT reason I want a child is to name it. I have my children’s names picked out if I ever DO have them. Evelyn for a girl, Adam for a boy. Which is a bit freaky as it would be…Adam and Eve. But thats their problem. Not mine!

Again. Thanks for the FANTASTIC answer. You are amazing! And I am making the cake this week as I just found a mouse in my closet and therefore need the chocolate…

TQND March 14, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Hey Greg,
Thanks for giving the women support in the “children, no thanks” debate. Lots of women get grief for this choice. And you’re right, I doubt that this guff comes from guys.
My train jumped the marriage track after just one kid (and I’m extremely lucky to have my son). My sister has four children. Whenever she complains about any of them, I simply say, “You wanted all of these kids…”
It quiets her immediately.

Mom March 15, 2011 at 1:43 am

Great advice, hon. But I do believe you three kids would have cost us 42 big ones if Dad and I had not made you kids get a job when you turned 6.
Love to all, Mom

Annie @ Mama Dweeb April 20, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I should NOT have read this while my kids were trying to (fight) sleep in the next room. My giggles where fuel to their antsy fire.

LOVE love LOVE this Greg! I want to respond to my favorite parts, but um, that is ALL of it.
Actually, this had me rolling: “99.7% of pregnancies go exactly as planned and expected. The others are enjoyable.” Dead ON! oh my gosh.
And the wood chips? Well, I don’t have lots of those around here, but replace that with dog food? yeah….that’s about right.
Crib vs. crate? oh geez, too funny. How about stroller vs straight jacket? You forgot that one.

Kadi is awesome! After having my third child, I know why she is so fun. You get to a point where sanity and normalcy is just weird and you embrace the chaos. I love her free spirit.

Lynelle July 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Came across your blog yesterday, and today I read this. I’m 33, and I’m looking forward to the day I look old enough that people stop asking me when I’m having children. I suspect my mother has started telling people I CAN’T have children. I’m tempted to tell people the same thing, sometimes, because it’s easier than explaining that while I love children, I don’t plan to have any of my own… for a whole host of reasons that are nobody else’s business. One particularly pushy woman (whom I’d only just met) kept the question up well past my initial three protests of “well, we just don’t plan to”, so I brought out the big guns – “MY SURGEON SAYS that giving birth would cause me severe injury as a result of my PREVIOUS MEDICAL ISSUES and MY HUSBAND AND I DECIDED that having children wasn’t a high priority for us”. At which point she began to wax lyrical about how medicine can do amazing things and caesaerean sections are a breeze… I decided she must have been high and proceeded to ignore everything else she said.

I’d just warn you to be prepared for one thing, Lesley – it gets really, really isolating when your child-rearing friends stop hanging out with you. It’s really, really hurtful when you discover that someone is having a party and invited all the rest of your friendship circle… except you, the only one who has no stated plans to have children. Be ready to forgive your friends when you take time off work to sit with them because they’re nervous about being alone with their new baby, run over at the drop of a hat to bring the washing in off the line or bring the cats in from outside because they don’t want to put the baby down long enough to do it, cancel your own plans to go shopping with them so they can try on bras while you watch the baby… and they still say to your face that you don’t know love because you don’t have a baby of your own. It’s not personal. They don’t mean it. They’re just really busy and tired and stressed and focussed on the zillion concerns at the front of their minds, and eventually some of them will even come to appreciate having friends who don’t have children.

Plus, you get to buy whatever fun children’s toys you like, safe in the knowledge that you’ll never have to clean them up or trip on them or replace the batteries.

Lesley July 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Hi! I’m the Lesley from the question. Thank you for what you said. I only have a couple of friends who have had children and I moved away so we only really speak on Facebook. That has always been my worry that I will drift away from my friends because I have no desire to have children. I’m glad to know that they will eventually come back to me. And I will always be there to help out if needed!

Betty August 3, 2011 at 11:07 am

I only recently discovered your blog & am loving it!
I just wanted to say to Lesley- You are still young! When I was 28 I didn’t want any kids, either! I had my daughter when I was 36, and not on purpose. I still get flack from random people who want to know when I’m going to have another (the torture I’m inflicting by not giving her siblings). She just turned 10 and it has been the best 10 years of my life! Just because you don’t want one now doesn’t mean you’ll never want one (or more)- or that you won’t have any or enjoy them immensely if you do. Just sayin’…

Shenanigans August 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm

First time stumbling upon this blog and I have to say, it is FUNNY!

To the poster who said that Lesley is “still young” and might change her mind, uh, probably not. I too DO NOT NOW or EVER want kids of my own. I have 6 nieces and nephews that I absolutely adore and spoil but I know for sure that I do not want kids of my own. Why is this so hard to understand? Patronizing, much? Just sayin’

came witthout chip August 21, 2011 at 2:00 am

Lesley, right there with you…..I have zero desire for kids, never did. And after seeing friends have them, that probably shouldn’t have, it makes me feel much better that I know myself enough to know BEFORE rather than AFTER. Who is that fair to? not everyone is wired for parenthood…..just turn on the news.

Brandina October 10, 2011 at 9:48 am

Leslie – in all honesty, the people who seem to put pressure on you because of your decision are only doing so because they didn’t have the foresight you do and are insanely jealous of the extra sleep, money and free time you get by not having a kid. Envy is a monster.

I have one child who I love more than I ever thought I was capable of loving. That’s why, when he ruins this or that, leaves a huge mess here or there, refuses to use common sense and chooses to only behave himself for people other than me….well, it’s the reason I don’t totally lose it. But, at the same time, if anyone in this world was capable of making me actually totally lose it….yeah, it’s the kiddo.

I wonder sometimes if I was meant to be a parent. I wouldn’t change it for the world, but sometimes I just feel like maybe I should have at least waited to make sure. That’s a side effect of parenting though, always second guessing yourself. Hold strong in your decision and don’t listen to those who seem completely unable to accept your choices.

Jenn March 23, 2012 at 7:29 am

Awesome post–had me rolling. Lesley–if this post somehow didn’t answer all possible questions about not having kids and people’s responses to that, wander over to babyoffboard.com
It has some great posts on the subject.

Tina Song July 2, 2012 at 6:22 am

Ha ha! And THANK YOU!!!

That’s all ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lynelle July 30, 2011 at 4:28 am

I try to make an effort to keep contact (we also moved countries shortly after my friends started having kids, which makes it easier in some ways and harder in others) – I send little presents for the kids when I find something I think they’ll like (I’ve got no hope of remembering all the birthdays, so I just try to send something nice occasionally), send letters & emails to the mothers & don’t take it personally if I don’t hear back… some women find child-rearing very isolating, and really enjoy having contact with other women that doesn’t revolve around babies and toddlers. And I remember that when I was a kid, the adults in my life who didn’t have their own children were really important to me… so I’d like to be able to offer that kind of relationship to other kids, as well as support their parents.

Good luck – I still worry occasionally that I’m making the wrong choice, but I understand why I’m choosing what I’m choosing (and I don’t think that “not wanting to be left out” is a good reason to have children!).

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