Philosophy

Be childfree. Don’t have babies.

10 Mins read
Be childfree

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Philip Larkin, “This Be the Verse”

Philip Larkin, in his poem “This Be the Verse” , goes ahead to talk about how children are driven down the path of misery by their parents.

He says, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had and add some extra, just for you. But they were fucked up in their turn by fools in old-style hats and coats,  who half the time were soppy-stern and half at one another’s throats.”

I have never understood why people choose to have kids, I mean, I know why people have kids I just don’t understand why, you get?

I have come to see that most of the reasons why people choose to have kids are based on selfishness and ego, which in my opinion is a terrible reason to do anything at all.

I’m not denying that after having the baby you become selfless, thereby putting the needs of the kids before yours. But the fact still remains – the reason why you had the baby in the first place wasn’t to be selfless.

Most people frown when I tell them I’m not planning on having any kids. “You are young and dumb”, they say. “You just haven’t met the right person”, they say. “Give yourself time, you will want them ASAP”, they say.

But no, those aren’t the reasons why, and I always answer their questions by asking one of my own;

“If you were to be taken back in time before you were born. And then get shown this story of your entire life; your birth, your parents, your childhood, your school life, your dating life and most importantly, all the heartbreak, disappointments, loss, grief and failures that are gonna come with your existence…..would you still choose to be born?”

And more times than most, the answer is always a big NO!

“So then, why would you want to bring a child into such a world that you wouldn’t wanna be in yourself?”

Food for thought….

What being childfree means

Being childfree is the choice that an individual makes, its the choice to not have children or partake in the act of parenthood, childfree is by choice and not bound by infertility or any disability.

Difference between childfree and childless

Being childfree is by choice and not circumstance, it’s the choice to not have any children or partake in the act of parenthood whilst childless living is where a woman isn’t able to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. Not all childless women are happily childfree.

As of 2018, a little less than half of all women in the U.S. were childless. In 2018, 96.9 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 19 years old in the United States were childless — the most out of any age group. In the same year, 15 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 44 years old were childless.

What is the childfree movement

The movement was started in the 1970s, with the establishment of activist groups National Organization for Non-Parents and No Kidding! But the “childfree” phrase is a recent development.

The movement was started to encourage and advocate for voluntary childlessness or childfree lives.

The agenda of the childfree movement is based on economic arguments (career disruption and costs o raising kids), environmental arguments such as overpopulation, health arguments ( for example, inheritance genetic disorders ) . philosophical arguments and other social arguments.

“The child-free have come out of the tributaries of society in the last 10 to 15 years, but the childfree choice is still not totally accepted as an equally valid choice as the choice to have children,” explains Laura Carroll, author of The Baby Matrix (LiveTrue Books 2012), which examines pronatalism, the set of social and cultural beliefs that influence how we think about parenthood.


I don’t know a lot about the childfree movement, but it is clear that not all of its members have the same points of view on leading childfree lives.1

Most people think that, the people who choose to live childfree lives view kids as a burden or inconvenience, which is simply not true. In fact, it has been proven that a lot of childfree individuals love kids way more, they just don’t want to bring a kid into the world to go through all of the complexities that come with life.2

Pop culture and the celebrity media has made many believe that the burden of raising kids is what leads most people into childfree lives.

In reality most people who choose not to have kids are mostly driven by a more “meaningful” en-devour in their lives (this is less so for most men by the way) or other reasons which I will get down to in a minute

The choice of whether or not you are going to chose to have kids is based on a very subjective premise. It varies from individual to individual and as sure as you think am mad for not choosing to have kids, so do we (childfree advocates), see your reasons for having kids.

Reasons for having babies

Babies bring joy and happiness

It’s a common phrase, “Kids bring you happiness”. It is believed that having a baby makes you enjoy the little things in life – which is basically what happiness is all about anyway.

Furthermore, kids are adorable – they are little angels you know.

Watching them grow up, as you care for them selflessly and how they depend on you on almost everything is priceless. Therefore, it has come to be believed that having babies makes you happy.

Wrong!

Contrary to what society believes, having children doesn’t make us any happier. The most recent research on this was by Princeton and Stony Brook Universities, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers say that becoming a parent may increase feelings of joy and stress in your life, but children don’t necessarily make you happier.

“Happiness comes from within but many people look outside to define (their) happiness, so it’s easy for someone to say, let me have a baby and be happy,”

Wandia Maina – a psychologist and lead consultant at Phoenix Training Solutions.

This is why I emphasize on self awareness – this is where happiness begins.

They bring a sense of purpose and meaning

Caring for a kid is one of the hardest and biggest responsibilities that one could ever undertake. There are tons of CEOs of big companies who would rather handle complex logistics in the company rather than take care of a whole human being.

That is why the responsibility that comes with it makes you more fulfilled and satisfied with your life by caring for someone selflessly, being there for them when they need you.

One thing that we gotta realize is that the true meaning of your life isn’t based on someone else. If you can’t find your purpose and meaning before you have a kid, then the chances that the kid will give you that, is very minimal.

Children are an “investment”

The truth is, children are a reliably excellent investment in your long-term personal development and happiness. And you only have about a quarter of your adult life to make that investment. That, in a nutshell, is why, if you are young and married, you should consider having a baby

-(Joy Pullman ,2020)

We all need someone to take care of us when we get older, when we are alone and in need. Family is always the to go in this case. Having a kid as an investment sounds like a weird thing to say but its true.

Kids are going to help you in your finances and health when you get older and can’t help but need help. This is more of a logical reason than an empirical one.

In this video, a father and a handy Youtuber, recounts how having a kid was the best decision and investment he has ever made:

Youtube – Essential Craftsman

Because of culture and religion

I’m a Christian. not a a staunch christian but a christian none the less. Its written,” And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’

Religion and traditions advocate for the continuation of families and procreation as a way of keeping a people together and furthering the beliefs.

As a person who has been raised in a christian background, marriage and having kids is more of an essential and way of life rather than a choice.

Traditions, culture and religion have conditioned us to believe that having babies is more of a necessity rather than a choice that we can choose to make or not to.

Heritage and protege

I believe this is prominent in the African culture. Since the old times, kids have always been raised as heirs and successors to what the parents already own, it was seen as a continuation of their line.

When it comes to wealth and riches, we have been raised to trust in family above anyone else, which makes it hard to brush away the thought of having a baby who would eventually take over what is yours.

This also applies to the reputation and power of a given “name” or family. No one wants to be forgotten by history let alone their accomplishments, that is why some parents will get kids so as to have a protege who will eventually be a bearer to the family name.


Most parents get into the decision of having a baby thinking that they are going to give the kid a better life than the ones they were given. This, for starters is toxic in so many ways, secondly, its a lie to think that you can predict how the kid’s life is gonna go.

Life is full of so many intricate variables, none of us can escape the troubles that come with it.

Reasons not to have babies

Your mental and general well being

Did you know? – Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year (ADAA, 2019).

Most disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

This is just an example of the many mental struggles and problems that we face on our every day basis.

So what am I saying, that people struggling with mental disorders shouldn’t have kids? Of course not! That is just messed up from the sound of it.

What I’m saying is – don’t have a baby if you haven’t taken care of yourself first. Do you remember the first statement of this article? – ” Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf…

If you have kids before you get your mental health at peace, then you are putting them at the risk of being outlets of your anger, regrets and traumas. This is one of the major contributors to domestic violence and sexual abuse.3

Lack of self awareness and self knowledge

As seen, one of the reasons for having babies is that they bring happiness. What is true though is that you can’t get your happiness from someone else or something else. This is where self awareness comes in. You need to be at a point where you have figured out your shit!

You don’t need to have all the answers for you to have a baby. No. You just need to be more knowledgeable on who you are, your dislikes, your passions, your behaviors and most importantly, your emotional maturity.

Emotional intelligence is a big issue when it comes to poor parenting. Especially during their teen years, children are more often confused and destructive, learning how to handle such situations with finesse requires high emotional intelligence. And since you want to do a better job than your parents did, then, emotional maturity should be a big priority for you.

Chances of you being able to understand your kid and connect with him/her are very low if you are struggling with knowing yourself. Don’t do that to your poor kids, figure yourself out.

Infinite Responsibility (Children will depend on you – probably forever)

Most parents have this “plan” at the back of their heads – get kids, raise them till they can earn their own money, and then spend the rest of their lives just chilling and enjoying the luxuries that come from their kids and pension.

What they don’t realize is, as much as your children being financially independent and grown up reduces the burden of dependency, it doesn’t mean that it will always go that way or end there.

Even when your kids are married it is your sole responsibility to make sure they are happy. Therefore, your duty as a parent never ends. You will have to always be there for them no matter what, you gave birth to them, duuuh!

Every decision you make will be based around them and never on what you want for yourself. They come first and you come last. That means less time and energy for your own dreams and pursuits.

To some, this may look selfish, but picture this, do you want to be the parent who says,” I could have done this and this thing that I have always wanted to do but I have kids, so I can’t do it.” Do you really wanna be the parent who makes your kids feel like they are holding you back from living your dream?

The current quality of life & depletion of natural resources

Its clear that these days we live in a concrete jungle. Life is getting expensive everyday and things that could be easily achieved before are becoming harder.

There is some progress, but we can all agree that if you aren’t well situated and set in this day and age your kids won’t be much better either.

Overpopulation & depletion of natural resources

As we can see, growth until the year 1900 was very slow and steady compared to now, only reaching the first 100 million somewhere in the second millennium BCE, and the first billion in the early nineteenth century.

To put that into perspective, the population grew by roughly one billion people every twelve years, between 1975 and 2011 (reaching four, five and six billion at each interval).

Natural resources are limited whilst the population is still increasing, this is one of the major reasons why the childfree movement came to be. If the well being of the entire human and the continuity of this civilization is a major deal to you then this is definitely a big reason not to have babies.

Bottom line

One of the reasons why I advocate for people not to have babies, is the fact that there are millions of orphans who need the kind of care and love that you want to give to this child who isn’t born yet.

According to UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund), there are roughly 153 million orphans worldwide. Every day, an estimated 5,700 more children become orphans. Children are often relinquished due to war, natural disaster, poverty, disease, stigma, and medical needs.

If you want kids of your own, then please think of adopting. They won’t love you less than your own kids, they won’t bring you less joy than your own kids will.

However, don’t adopt a child if:

  1. You are trying to fill a void in your own life.
  2. You are trying to be heroic.
  3. Your family and spouse aren’t on board, this will bring major problems, obviously.
  4. You are doing it for your own convenience and personal dissatisfaction in what you already have.

I’d love to hear from you. Would you prefer living a childfree life or do you really really wanna have babies? How do you feel about adopting, would you rather have your own kids?

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts.


Footnotes

  1. Childfree movement: has the world stopped wanting children?(2019). Retrieved from Rtd.rt
  2. Diana, W. (2016). I Love Kids But I Choose to Be Childfree . Retrieved from Womanitely.com
  3. SafeHorizion. “Domestic Violence: Statistics & Facts.” Accessed March 4, 2015.
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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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