June 09, 2006


1. It’s part of nature.
2. Your parents would love to have grandchildren
3. Somebody has to carry your blood
4. You are a woman (isn’t it natural to you?)
5. You’ll have somebody to take care of you when you’re older
6. The house would feel empty without them
7. Don’t you want to see what they would look like?

I am sorry, but to me, the above are not good reasons to bring children to my life. I would need a more powerful reason. First of all, I would have to want to have children and after wanting to, I would have to find the reasons why I believe I can handle the responsibility of motherhood. Other than that, I am more than happy to watch my friends deal with it.

My husband always says if it was up to him, people would have to apply for a license to have kids only to make sure these people are good for the job. I agree with him. It’d be like a job interview but a lot more intense. If you want to be a parent you have to prove to the committee why you will be good for the job and the above reasons won’t even be considered. You’ll have to prove why the world will be a better place if you had the chance to raise and educate one of its inhabitants. You have to prove why you should be chosen for the job. And you better have a darn good case. You can reapply two years later in case you are rejected the first time and start all over again.

Wouldn’t the world be a more pleasant place if we did that? Only people who can be great parents would actually become parents. Only those who can handle the job will be given the privilege. Only those who are mentally, emotionally, psychologically and financially equipped will procreate. And if you don’t get your license the first time, you will work to excel at the interview next time, so you can too, be a great parent.

Why do I choose to be childfree? I won’t pass the interview. I am just not interested in the job.

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kT said...

#3 and #7 always anger me beyond reason. How selfish! But also, I come from a different perspective than many -- I am adopted and do not share blood or looks with my family. And they are MY family -- family is not about blood.

nomadshan said...

#6 sounds good to me, actually.

Way too many people become parents for #5 and #7.

I told Dave once that I thought a lot of women had children so that they could play dress-up with them, as if they were dolls. Within the week, he came home and said, "You were totally right. You should have heard the women at work going on about their kids' clothes + how cute they were in them + how they plan to dress them for certain upcoming occasions."

I jokingly support the idea of a license to parent, but too many qualities of a good parent can't be measured. That being said, I'd love to have a book of "citations" to hand out whne I see crap parenting in action!

Teri said...

"I won’t pass the interview. I am just not interested in the job."

Put in a businesswoman's terms. This is good. Really good.

Thanks for sharing this post with us Isabel. It was worth the wait!

NikkiJ said...

For something that has such far reaching consequences, as well as being irreversible it's frankly amazing (scary even) that people have such flimsy reasons for having children. More thought goes into buying a car or a house, both of which are reversible decisions.

Add to your list this one that someone once said to me in response to my question as to why have children - "Well, it's what you do once you get married isn't it?"

Tiara Lynn said...
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Tiara Lynn said...

I think you missed one big reason:
"Because my body is telling me I want them."

So few people consider the consquences of how their choice will affect the rest of their lives. I know so many women whose lives became dominated so all-of-a-sudden simply because they got the baby rabies. With a snap of the fingers nothing was more important than having babies -- it didn't matter that for some their marriages were already having BIG problems, or they were in no way financially ready to bring a kid into the world. But because they burst into tears with longing when they saw a pair of tiny baby socks, that was their reason. "My body told me I wanted to be a mother."

There are few things for which I am so thankful as NOT ever having the baby rabies.

As for the parenting license, it's one of our favorite hyptheticals, especially when we see the large family that's clearly having problems paying for everything a large family needs to survive. Of course we all know it would never work in real life, but it's a nice thing to muse about, and a good argument when we bring up the fact that there are just far too many children in this world.

ChrisR said...

My dad used to say you have to get a license to drive because cars can be lethal ... but kids can do WAY more damage and you don't need a license for those.

Not sure he would have got a kid license though. :)

Teri said...

NikkiJ -
"More thought goes into buying a car or a house, both of which are reversible decisions".

I am trying to imagine the look on the person's face if I actually said that to a parent/parent-to-be!

Tiara Lyn - RE: Parenting License
You're right. This is never going to happen. The question I ask is, what can we do? Is this a problem that we are content just to blog/dialogue about the lock-step march toward parenthood, or can or should we do something? What would accomplish this?

ChrisR - RE: Lethal Damage
This thought must strike fear in every new parent's mind. You hear about the overwhelming feelings that new moms and dads get. You don't really know. That's life. At least you can convince yourself that you are up for the task, and make a conscious decision about your options,...

And if you opt out of a family, will you have to defend it your entire adult life? Can you be a happy, fulfilled contributing, completely functional person? I think we have answered that here, but more work is needed, because most people don't seem to know that. More accurate exposure is needed in popular media, as well as books, fiction and non-ficiton, and more published social studies, before others will catch on. This will take time. I hope we are developing our voice here and that we can create a meaningful dialogue that will be hard not to notice!

When the childfree are cast in the light of dysfuctional, it perpetuates the myth that becoming a parent is the end-all and be-all, the assumed goal of adulthood.

M said...

I love this post. Many people think those of us who don't have children don't like or care about them. That often is the furthest thing from the truth.

As your post shows, many of us don't have children because we feel we wouldn't be able to give them all they need and deserve (of course, our needs are taken into account in the decision as well). And as you so eloquently put it in this post, not all parents seem to consider that before having children.

I in particular loved the Sex and the City episode where one character says she is going to have a baby or wants a baby and the character of Samantha responds "Why?"

In our society it seems people usually question why one does not have kids instead of the other way around (which in my opinion is the real question that should be asked). It was so refreshing to have a different view presented in the media for once.

Anyway, great post. I know the licensing thing is not actually possible in reality, but the concept behind it, and the reasons that lead so many to have this same thought, are important issues to discuss and consider.