No, we are not having kids; and yes, I am sure

Published February 13, 2017   Posted in How to Think

I don’t think I’ve ever engaged in a more monotonous discussion than one about having kids. And, it all began when I was a wee teenager, then fired up full-bore as I joined the workforce. Apparently, it’s abnormal not to want kids.

For the record, I previously wrote about why my wife and I are DINKs. However, as one of my astute commenters rightly pointed out, it almost came across as apologetic. I wrote that article before I “found my voice” on this blog. Here, I’m talking another stab at it – no apologies offered.

As I grew into a “senior teenager”, talk about life suddenly materialized – mainly, job, wife and kids. Boom, boom, boom – the big three, I guess, that everybody gets to deal with in the United States (and the majority of the world, I would imagine).

The job? Yes – I need to support myself. It’s a natural question to ask a teenager as he or she flirts with college and selecting a major. Inquiring minds want to know.

And the wife? Yup, I guess this is also perfectly natural, though a great many people do go through life single – either by choice or because they are an absolute bear to live with. I was perfectly happy living a single life until I met my wife. I also assumed that I’d get married.

I just didn’t know exactly when. Needless to say, I didn’t rush the process. I got married at 33.

And then, kids.

I never wanted kids

Even as a teenager, I harbored absolutely no desire to raise children. It just did not appeal to me. It’s not in my blood, and I’ve held pretty firm to that throughout my life when people ask me about kids. But as a teenager, it was apparently “just a phase”.

I mean, what teenage boy thinks about raising children? I’ll come around, they said.

The kids discussion became more real as I entered the workforce in my mid 20s. Now, I suppose, was the time that the majority of my co-workers had their kids and, naturally, it was assumed that I’d follow suit. “So, do you think that you’ll have kids?” they would ask.

“No, I’ve never wanted kids”.

Oh, I thought the same thing when I was younger. You’ll change your mind“.

Rinse and repeat – more times than I can possibly count – up to and including a dinner engagement I had just a couple weeks ago. I’m thirty-freaking-five, mind you.

After hearing about our early retirement plans, I was asked, “So, do you guys think that you’ll have kids?

“Nope, we won’t be having children”.

Oh, well you’re still young. There is still time“.

Pardon me, but F-you.

Maybe – just maybe, kids aren’t for everyone. Why is it so tough to believe that someone may not wish to raise children? It feels like I’m required to want kids. I don’t.

I never have. Even through all those years and reassurances that “I’ll come around”, or change my mind, or comforted with the knowledge that there’s still time, look at me now. I’m 35 and still don’t want kids. I haven’t “come around” because there is nothing to come around to.

My wife and I are both strongly agreed – we have no interest in raising children. Sorry mom, you aren’t getting grand kids from me. Ain’t gonna happen.

Why do we assume all people want kids?

I’ve been called selfish and self-absorbed because I don’t want kids. A narcissist.

This blog is about questioning the norm. Go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, spend lots of money and retire around 65 is the norm. Most of us in the personal finance community recognize that the norm doesn’t work well for everyone. Some of us have found better ways to live our lives. For my wife and I, that happens to include a lack of kids.

But, this question has plagued me for many years. I understand that having kids perpetuates the species, and raising children is a part of our DNA. Many of us are born with the innate desire to raise children because, if we weren’t, none of us would be here.

However – A desire to raise kids isn’t in all of us. In fact, I believe this desire is absent from more of us than we care to realize. Many end up having kids anyway because, well, that’s what you do.

It’s okay to choose otherwise. At least…it should be okay.

I admit that this post is part-rant and part-question. I really am tired of people assuming that I’ll eventually come around and want kids. It is not going to happen. It never will happen. Kids aren’t for me, plain and simple.

I will not change my mind. I will not come around.

Why does society steadfastly assume, even though years and years of saying “no”, that people will still suddenly change their minds?

A few ideas:

  • External factors change our minds; ie: we meet someone we love who wants children
  • A powerful event might change our minds (like saving a child’s life, etc)
  • We feel an increasing fear of “being alone” as we grow older?
  • Perhaps we want to feel needed and to nurture?

Honestly, I don’t know.

Challenge the assumption that raising kids is “normal”

Make no mistake about it – there is absolutely nothing wrong with raising kids. After all, it does perpetuate the human race. They carry on the family name. They give us a feeling of immense love, satisfaction and companionship. That’s all great.

Sadly, far too many unfit parents have kids. We’ve all seen examples of this in society. Parents yell and scream at their kids. Some even hit them. Many do not have the financial basis for supporting, nurturing and raising another human being. Others are flat irresponsible.

Child Protective Services protects millions of children nationwide. Millions! Yearly, CPS checks up on more than 3 million children who have been abused or neglected, and these are only the cases that we know about.

Of course – most kids are raised in loving families. I was. But far too many aren’t, and society’s insistence that CHILDREN MUST COME! isn’t helping.

Raising children is a personal choice. It needs to be made independent of societal pressures. After all, it’s a lifelong decision that comes with responsibilities and challenges. Our kids are too important to bare under pressure. That is unfair to the child.

If raising children is right for you, that’s great. But, it’s not for me.

Society – please stop asking me to have them. It won’t happen.

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Comments

109 responses to “No, we are not having kids; and yes, I am sure”

  1. katscratch says:

    Agreed x 1,000,000 to everything you said!

    The part that always bothers me the most, and where I will jump into overheard conversations among complete strangers, is that there is ZERO empathy on the part of the asker — either a couple has made a decision that the asker has no right to question, or that couple could very well be *trying* to have children. I have friends who were asked when they were going to start having kids the day after miscarriages, or after years and years of trying — it’s just not ok to make assumptions about anyone’s personal relationships. And certainly shouldn’t be acceptable to harass someone about it.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Katscratch! That’s true – some people simply cannot have kids even though they may want them. Others, like me, simply don’t want them. There are so many different reasons why someone may or may not have children.

    • Go Finance Yourself says:

      I don’t get this either katscratch. I know several couples who have been trying to have a baby for a while but have been unsuccessful. For a lot of people it’s a very sensitive topic. I never understand why some parents just take a nonchalant attitude about it making assumptions like this. It’s funny what people find appropriate to comment freely about.

  2. ReadyToRetire says:

    You aren’t alone in your desire not to have kids. My wife and I are a little more than a decade ahead of you in age and we had all the same questions. If it is any consolation, the questions do begin to perter out a bit. If I remember, I think for us the questions started subsiding in our mid thirties. Occasionally now people I meet through work may ask if I have kids just as ice-breaker type questions, but that is all. Like you, I have never wanted them. I might have been willing to have one or two had I met and married a woman who really wanted kids. But that didn’t happen. I had the good fortune to meet and marry a fine girl who like me never had a desire for kids. We are about a month a way from hitting our 21st year of wedded childless bliss together.
    I really enjoy your blog and I must say the personal finance universe of blogs has stirred in me a desire to cut out a bit early. My wife and I had always planned on leaving at 55. We figured no kids should buy us at least 10 years off a normal career. We’ve always had a good saving rate. I used to say great and it is great compared to “normal” people but sub par in the financial blog world. But still we are now early in our third decade of having always achieved a savings rate of over 20% and these past couple of years we have bumped it even higher. Plus after 20 odd years of saving, we finally do have a relatively decent nest egg that is beginning to grow with some decent speed. What I need to do now is employ some of those savings tips bandied around on the various blogs. But I’m also fat, lazy and set in my ways. That makes it difficult to change. Who knows – I may get around to it yet!
    Keep up the writing and enjoy your retirement. I’ll keep an eye out for you and your airstream around Texas!

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate your reply – and congrats for meeting someone who was more similar to you in that regard! It is definitely true that the absence of kids can certainly spur on early retirement much more easily. I bet you’ll be retired before 55, but hey, you never know. Retirement, just like having kids, should be a personal decision. 🙂

  3. Great read as always! And I hear you! My wife and I have a daughter and now the same folks tell us how nice it would be to have a little brother for little Ms. ERN. Uhm, no, she’s a handful already! Not really sure how we’d travel as much as we do with 2 kids. So, the requests for more kids will never end, haha!

    • Steve says:

      Ha! Shesh! Okay, looks like the mere absence of kids isn’t quite enough to keep the questions from coming in. That’s okay – we are in this thing for the long haul!

  4. Good on you, knowing so clearly what you want. I know several couples who choose not to have kids… and it doesn’t seem abnormal to me. Personally I used to think I wanted 2 or 3 kids but after having one and fully wrapping my head around how much work and honestly what an extreme responsibility it was, I had no desire to have any more. I don’t regret having a child, mind you, but the responsibilty is incredible. Maybe you and your wife better understand this without actually experiencing it? I’m sure in your travels you will come across more like minded individuals (just be aware where you are – like the ethos in Utah is lots of kids and big families so of course you will get looks of disbelief). In some
    ways I’m curious if that conversation is similar to the one about early retirement? So many people fall into adulthood and never think the question that working until 65 or 70 seems not only to be boring but also quite unhealthy (and all the other reasons we do this).

    • Steve says:

      You’re right, it is an incredibly responsibility – and a lifelong one, too. And to me, that makes it all the more important to REALLY want kids. You gotta be all in. We definitely weren’t. And early retirement is almost never a question until I bring it up. “What do you do?” Oh, I’m retired.

      …”You’re too young to retire!” 😉

      • Lol. I’ve been pretty open with my early retirement plans even with my company so people have started to ask me questions trying to wrap their heads around how I could possibly be making this choice. 4.5 months away from the “I’m retired” response. I’m staying focused and having fun with what I’m doing at work, but looking forward to that moment. 😉

  5. Joe says:

    I think it’s perfectly valid not to have children. Life is way easier without them.
    I’ve always wanted a kid or two, but Mrs. RB40 didn’t. It took a long time to convince her. It worked out for the best, though. We have one kid and we’re happy with that. One is plenty.

  6. I am so sorry that you’re hassled about this so much. It boggles me that people are so judgmental about a very personal choice.

    I was on the fence about kids for a while–I won’t lie. But now that I’m married I feel it’s a great next adventure to have some little ones. But it’s my journey and no one else’s. I have no right to force my expectations on other people.

    And if anything, having kids is selfish in the first place. You’re propagating your DNA/name while consuming far more resources and contributing to overpopulation. It’s not selfish to forgo kids–if anything, I think it’s more generous to the world as a whole.

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate your thoughts, Mrs. Picky Pincher. Exactly right, it’s a personal choice that we all have to make on our own. It’s just a shame that it’s become such a normal thing in our society that people not only *expect it*, but assume that the absence of a desire to raise children is somehow abnormal.

  7. My last boss before I retired was another person that didn’t have kids. I found a picture online of a Porsche (like his) with a license plate that read “NOKIDS”. I sent it to him and he responded with a smile and an additional comment “ONEWIFE”. Later when we talked, he noted that having kids generally happens early in your career – and the cost of raising those kids adds up. In the converse, if a divorce happens late in your career, that certainly would delay your retirement plans, too.

    • Steve says:

      Ha! Funny story, and I like his license plate. But yes, I definitely agree that a divorce can be a significant hit to your financial standing as well. The Big D would probably set me back another 10 years!

  8. Justin says:

    I’ve never understood why there is so much pressure to have kids. It’s not like our global population is at risk of shrinking to some damaging level. We have 3 kids ourselves, so we’ve already done our part and then some. I personally enjoy parenthood (at least 51% of the time lol) but understand it’s not for everyone. And the worst thing you could do is have kids that you don’t want! Too many of those kind of parents out there already.

    • Steve says:

      Spot on, Justin! It’s just not fair to the child to have a kid that you don’t truly want, and I agree – there are too many of those kinds of parents out there already. No sense in adding another one into the mix!

  9. I’m a 43 year old female. Like you, I never had this burning desire to have kids, but when I was young, I did think that eventually that ‘mother’ gene might kick in… but nope! When I was in my 20s and knew I wasn’t going to have children, I did wonder if I might regret it later. But, I always said that if I hit my 40s and decide I want kids, then I could adopt an older child that needs a home (like one of those 3 million you mentioned), or become a foster parent, or something like that. Well, not only do I not regret the decision to not have kids, but I’m like thank god I didn’t fall for that societal trap! I actually dated a guy all through college and as I was getting ready to graduate and explore the world, his mom was pushing me to start having kids already… at 22! I was already unsure about the relationship, so that was my final cue to break up with him. 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Good for you for staying strong and true to your convictions, Primary Prosperity. I’m sure that women get this question much more than men do, so I can only imagine the kinds of questions that you’ve had to deal with. I’m definitely thankful as well that I didn’t let society lead me down a road that I don’t belong on!

  10. Mrs. BITA says:

    I was never interested in kids until I met and married a man who was and came around to having one. I was 35 years old when I had my daughter. I was 34 years old when I got married. The incredible pressure that I faced before that (both to get married and to have kids) was, to put it mildly, annoying (I’m Indian, and by Indian standards I was _extremely_ late to the party). It was so annoying in fact, that it was one of the reasons that I decided to immigrate to this country – I needed to get away from the constant barrage of concerned questions and pressure to toe the line. I find it ironical that after my flight across the ocean I ended up doing exactly what everyone wanted me to do in the first place.

    • Steve says:

      It’s interesting that some cultures are even worse than ours in terms of an expectation of kids. We need to think of raising a child like we do early retirement. If it’s for you, then great! Do it. If not, that’s fine too. Life goes on. 🙂

  11. Kate says:

    I completely agree with and can easily relate to this post. In fact, I think it’s much more prevalent for women to be harassed about having kids. After all, what kind of woman wouldn’t want kids? Aren’t women supposed to be nurturing? I’m curious what sort of things your wife has had to endure from nosy people. The disappointment/disgust is visible when I adamantly tell them that kids are not in my future and I wonder if she’s gone through the same thing.

    Even at 40 (and single), I still get asked about when I’m going to have kids. Time is running out, after all. I keep hoping that the biological factor will put a stop the questions, but then it’s followed up with the suggestion that I can always adopt. Um, no thanks. I’m perfectly fine being the cool auntie to all my friends’ kids. I love those little peanuts but have no desire to raise one!

    What’s funny is that the people asking have kids of their own so they know just how much work it is to raise them. Sometimes I wonder if they just want people to validate their own decisions by making the same choices. Parenthood often seems like a cult where the members are trying to get others to join (I kid…sort of…)

    I’ll fully admit that I’m selfish and value my time alone. But I’m rarely considered responsible for knowing who I am and for making good choices.

    I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at that 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Yeah, “time is running out”…luckily for some of us, that kind of time just doesn’t matter. And I can definitely imagine that it’s worse for women than for men. Also, good question regarding how relentless people have been to my wife. Believe it or not, we’ve never actually discussed that! I’ll bring it up tonight to see what she says. Now you’ve got me curious!

      “Sometimes I wonder if they just want people to validate their own decisions by making the same choices.”

      BINGO. That is my running assumption.

  12. Right on. Both choices are totally fine. Telling people who don’t have kids “you’ll change your mind when you’re older” or “there’s still time” is as rude as telling someone who wants children the exact same things! “Oh, you want to have two or three children? Hm… well, there’s still time to change your mind.”

  13. brian503 says:

    I have worked with several people who have decided not to have kids. To each their own. I would never even think of questioning them on it. We kind of had the opposite happen to us when our twin son and daughter were born. My wife and I would get all kinds of strange comments from complete strangers, like instant family “I guess you’re done having kids” honestly its not of your f-ing business. Like because we had a boy and a girl we hit the kid lottery. Mind your business. Our youngest son was born a few years later, and than we started getting other comments, people just can’t seem to keep their mouths shut.

    • Steve says:

      Totally, Brian. Personal choice…nothing more, nothing less. Just like early retirement, we gotta do whatever is in our best interest. I know a family with seven children…while I can’t possibly imagine living in that situation, they evidently do just fine. Their choice!

  14. Mr. SSC says:

    Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time to come around to the idea of kids, lol. Some people just don’t get it, whether you have kids or don’t have kids. It’s just a different version of the same question. More power to you to not want to have kids and know it.

    I can’t remember what it’s like to wake up on a Saturday after 5 am, or sleep thru the night – yep at 3 and 5 they’re still waking up, or just have only myself to be responsible for. I love them, but man, they’re a lot of work.

    • Steve says:

      Honestly, it is hard enough to be responsible for MYSELF, much less another human being. 🙂

      Right now I’m sitting in a clean and quiet home (except for the sound of the keyboard and one of our dogs breathing in her sleep). It’s peace and quiet. I’m also retired at 35. I like it.

  15. Apathy Ends says:

    Applaud the honesty and straightforwardness Steve

    I feel that people over step their bounds when it comes to decisions like this and don’t even realize it – and until they actually take time to think about how rude/insulting it is to question another persons decision it will likely continue.

    It’s not like you woke up and flipped a coin – you put thought into it and know what’s best for your family.

    • Steve says:

      Yeah – I agree that most people don’t realize it. They don’t INTEND to be a dick about it, but sometimes it comes across that way – especially when you’ve been fielding very similar questions for decades.

  16. People usually lash out at things they don’t understand and many have difficulty seeing an opposite perspective. In their defense though, there are probably more people who say they never want kids and then change their mind than people that remain steadfast in their decision. Most probably mean no offense, they are just reacting to what they observe in others.

    • Steve says:

      Yep, I agree – most people mean no offense by it. And, it is probably true that most people who say that they never want kids end up having them anyway. I guess we are an exception to that particular rule! 😉

  17. Wow, someone must have been really hassling you Steve.

    You know what though — I didn’t have a single person ask me if I wanted kids. Ever. Not one person hassled me. I never felt an ounce of social pressure about it. Maybe it’s just the people you roll with?

    As a parent of two, I can totally understand NOT wanting kids. Some days are tough. Really tough. There’s a lot more responsibility required in your life after kids. It’s not all sunshine and roses.

    There are benefits, but those don’t appeal to everyone. Being child free is way easier.

    • Steve says:

      Honestly, I have no idea about the kinds of people – I’ve fielded these questions from people my entire life and from all walks of life, so I can’t really identify any group of people that might be more prone to asking these questions.

  18. This is a great read! While we want kids in the future, we are asked all the time when it will happen. When I tell people it’s a long time away, I then get lectured on all of the medical problems I’ll have and how I’m being stupid. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m 27 – I have plenty of time!

  19. Go Finance Yourself says:

    I’m in the same boat as you. At 35, most of my family either knows our sentiments towards kids or has stopped asking. I still get it at work though. We’ll be in a meeting and everyone will be talking about how big an a hole their kid is. Then they look at me and say, just wait, you’re next. Nope. Not for me, but thanks for assuming my life is incomplete without kids.

    Most of my friends have kids now and it gets harder and harder to be around them. I get that your kid is a big part of your life and you think he’s great. But please don’t assume I think your kid is the greatest gift to the world and you are the first person to bless the world with a kid. I’m happy for you. But I don’t tell you stories about my dog taking a big crap on our walk so don’t tell me your diaper blow out stories. Thanks for letting me rant Steve 🙂

    • Kate says:

      I love your second paragraph! My pet peeve is the people who talk about potty training on Facebook. It’s the worst.

      • Go Finance Yourself says:

        HA! My wife talks about that all the time. I check Facebook about twice a year and am quickly reminded each time why I stay away from it 🙂

    • Steve says:

      Very well written! I remember reading an entire blog post by a woman who did an awesome job of explaining just how annoying it is to listen to stupid stories of other people’s kids, or how much she disagrees with the notion that a screaming kid is just “expressing themselves”, or that everybody’s kid is god’s gift to mankind – at least in the view of their parents. Perfect little angels.

      It was funny. 🙂

  20. Wade says:

    Throw out finances, experiences, expectations. In general, people want their family tree to continue to grow. Your life would suck if your parents decided to not have kids. (Your wife’s too for that matter).

    I know many single people and married people who emphatically and proudly state they don’t want to have kids. Most fulfill their promise. I get it.

    It is interesting that many financial blogs are about not buying stuff, having experiences over accumulating. Saving over spending on crap that you don’t need. Kids certainly do have a big cost. But they are so much more than that. They are continuing your journey. They are the future you.

    I am not trying to talk you into changing your mind. You likely won’t regret your decision. We only get one tour through this short life. You won’t even know what you are missing. Maybe when you are in your 70s/80s and the end to your family tree is nearing you’ll look back and wonder. You won’t know until you get there I guess. After 5 years of airstreaming and seeing everything for the second or third time you might say “what is next”. Checked those boxes.

    Full disclosure: We have 3 girls. We thought we would stop with 2. I can’t fathom now not having kid #3. These little pieces of you that are so similar yet so different and unique. They are the future us.

    I have a co-worker you was/is very vocal about not having kids. Even got on the front page of the paper extolling the virtues of not having kids. His hatred for people asking about kids seems on the unhealthy side.

    I would say to live your life, expect many more questions about the topic and let it slide off. Most times when I say always or never I’m proven wrong. Sometimes I can change, sometimes not. It sure is an interesting journey…

    • No Thanks Baby says:

      I don’t think the world needs or can handle a “Future Me”, Current Me is plenty enough of a handful, I assure you. Steve and his wife’s lives wouldn’t “suck” if their parents decided not to have kids because, um, they wouldn’t be here to experience the suckage.

      Family trees have many branches, hence the metaphor. They don’t stop growing just because one twig decides not to reproduce – unless you and the entirety of your family die of diphtheria in the same covered wagon in Oregon Trail, in which case, your tree might be actually be dead (and you should also upgrade your computer).

      • Wade says:

        Upgrade my computer? Help. I love this world. My hate is bad. Your hate is good. 🙂

        We agree to disagree. Your life would also be less than stellar if your parents didn’t have kids.

        I personally would like to have many go arounds. Living single, no kids, 3 kids, 8 kids, I want to try them all out. It doesn’t work that way. I have kids but don’t have Facebook. I guess I’m only half an oddball.

        • No Thanks Baby says:

          I guess I would love another chance to do it all differently, but I also guess that’s what makes this one shot so worthwhile. Facebook is toxic so, bravo.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Wade – appreciate your reply! I will say that if my folks decided against having children, I probably wouldn’t know the difference. My ability to judge the suckiness of my life would be hampered by the stubborn limitation of me not existing. 🙂

      In fact, I’ve been asked that question, too. “What if your parents didn’t have kids”?

      My answer is simple: “Then I wouldn’t be here”. They usually don’t have a response.

      Regarding a continuing of your journey – I guess. But, kids are very, very different people than their parents. They lead their own lives. They make their own choices. They do carry on the DNA, true. But, pardon the question: So what? It’s cool of that’s important to you. But, not so much to us.

      I appreciate your perspective on this issue. If everyone believed the exact same thing, this would be an awfully boring world in which to live. 🙂

  21. Hahaha…this is a great read! I completely understand your point and I am fully aware that there is a parental continuum. There are people who hurt or even kill there kids and it goes all the way up to the smothering type parent. I am somewhere in the middle. We have a 7-year old and I love her to death, but she’s a ton of work.

    I never had visions of the white picket fence or the beautiful marriage or the 2.5 children growing up. I had 3 siblings and I had a fun childhood. That prompted me to want children, but I didn’t anticipate the time required to raise them. Although I must admit, we didn’t get an easy one. She wants constant engagement, which is both awesome and exhausting. It’s almost impossible to work full-time and try to write a blog – but sleep is overrated anyway 😉

    My point is, after having my daughter, I have some odd (biological) desire to have another child, but my mind is fighting it. I have friends who have had children just so it wouldn’t become a regret later in life. So yes, I think the big reasons for “everyone” has children is because some don’t put much thought into it, that’s what you do, or their partner really wants it. You pretty much summed it up.

    I think the acceptance of couples choosing not to have children is increasing. Slowly. You guys are helping with that!

    • Steve says:

      “I have friends who have had children just so it wouldn’t become a regret later in life.” – to me, this is extremely sad. I understand that those people can (and do) make very good and loving parents, but man, entering into a huge, lifelong responsibility like that because you might regret it later in life seems both risky and, well, arbitrary. But then again, their life. Their choice.

      And I can only imagine how much work your 7-year-old is, especially if she needs constant attention!

      As always, I appreciate your thoughts, Mrs. MMM.

  22. JD says:

    My wife and I used to receive the question quite a bit before we turned 30. Now that we’re in our mid 30’s the question doesn’t seem to come as often. We have plenty of kids in our family, so I think grandparents on both sides are appeased with what they have. Plus, they have realized it’s probably not going to happen with us.

    My one pet peeve with family members who have kids think that because my wife and I don’t, that we want to watch their kids. While we do it on occasion, they never offer to pay us and since we don’t have kids – the offer can never be accurately reciprocated. We are normally their first call. It can be fun in short spurts, but more than a few hours on a day and I need a break.

    I figure that currently I only get two days off work per week, I don’t want to spend them watching your kids. I am sure not going to use my vacation time to watch your kids….I have been asked. Feel free to ask, but don’t be taken if I turn you down.

    Here in a few years they will quit asking us when we will have kids and start asking us how we accumulated enough money to retire before we were 40! I fully plan to be that weird Aunt/Uncle that roll up to family Christmas in an RV (yes that is a Christmas Vacation reference).

    • Steve says:

      “My one pet peeve with family members who have kids think that because my wife and I don’t, that we want to watch their kids.”

      Haha!

      I actually laughed out loud on that one, so thanks for that. I can totally see that. I’ve made it CLEAR to my entire family that I don’t enjoy time around kids…much less being responsible for watching them. But otherwise, I can see this happening too.

      “Here in a few years they will quit asking us when we will have kids and start asking us how we accumulated enough money to retire before we were 40! I fully plan to be that weird Aunt/Uncle that roll up to family Christmas in an RV (yes that is a Christmas Vacation reference).”

      Niiiiiice. I love that movie, BTW. Watch it every year. 🙂

  23. No Thanks Baby says:

    Thank you for this post. As a child-free woman quickly approaching 30, I am so exhausted by these constant conversations. And I hate the condescending “oh, you have time!” comment. I don’t need time, I already know and have known for a very long time that children aren’t for me. I sometimes like to respond with “it doesn’t matter how much time I have, I’ve made sure it’s impossible” just to make them uncomfortable enough to realize how over the line their intrusive comments are.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for your comment! I can definitely imagine that it’s been worse for you than for me. And I’d pay to see their reaction to your response about making it impossible. Okay, not really “pay” (because I’m cheap), but you know what I mean. 😉

  24. Smart Provisions says:

    Steve, you do you!

    I can totally understand the troubles and pains children can bring to a family. And if you’re in a place that you’re happy with and not having children is fine, then stick to it. There’s no reason to be affected by what other people expect or want of you, as your life is your own and it is up to you to make the most of it, not them.

  25. Wade says:

    I have worked for nearly 20 years with a co-worker. At 25 she was never going to get married or have kids. At 30, same. At 32 she got married and was never going to have kids. At 34 she had kid number 1 and was never ever going to drive a mini-van. At 36 she had kid #2 and got a Toyota Sienna mini-van. At 41 (2 months) ago she had her third boy. She is one of the nicest people I know. In another dimension I hope we are married. 🙂 My point is, she through out a lot of “nevers”. Now, besides people that don’t want kids, there are people that can’t have kids. Some fall into the don’t have kids, some fall into the “adopt kids”. Things change, people change, life changes. Plant your sign firmly in the ground and then change when life changes. Or don’t. You don’t post a post like this to not have a discussion. Discussion is good.

    • Steve says:

      I agree – and thanks for the discussions, Wade. My sign has been firmly planted.

    • Andi Loveall says:

      Sounds like she didn’t really know herself.

      • morgne says:

        It’s funny, as I near 40 I can look back and look at all the ‘nevers’ that I’ve gone through and there have been a lot! Children wasn’t one of them, with me never having shown any interest at all, but there are a lot of things we think when we are young that seem ridiculous as we get older. Who had a crush on the 16 year old boy when they were 7 and thought you’d get married? What about that stint as a vegan, or the atkins diet, or yoga, or … it’s hard to say that not sticking firmly to one car choice is failing to know oneself.

        It does sound like she did not understand how radically we change as we pass through life.

        • Andi Loveall says:

          Totally. I didn’t mean it in a bad way. Just that she didn’t know herself yet, and that’s okay. The issue with this is that no one ever tells a young pregnant couple that they don’t know themselves enough yet to take on such a lifelong responsibility. Yet a young childfree person will be told that they’ll surely change their mind, and many young childfree people are denied sterilization options for this reason. Can’t have it both ways. If a young person can have a baby, then a young person’s childfree stance should be taken seriously as well.

  26. 30 years ago not having kids was reserved for your weird uncle Al that couldn’t find a wife. Nowadays though it’s normal. My sister in law, three cousins, a handful of friends, and at least two coworkers have sworn off kids. The oldest of them is almost fifty. Society will become more accepting of the choice as you get older, and it’s not all that unique anymore. Everyone’s entitled to their decisions and hopefully it makes you happy, which is all that really matters.

    • Steve says:

      Totally, FTF – I agree that it’s becoming more normal now, which is good. It’s a slow process, but hey, gotta start somewhere I suppose! 🙂

  27. Thanks for the perspective, Steve. I never gave pause to think about people who choose to not have kids getting pestered with questions and opinions related to having kids. Good for you for making your decision and remaining steadfast in it. Kids are not for everyone and the decision on whether or not to have them is a personal choice and one which should be respected.

    I can chime in from the other side of the fence. Our experience went something like this:

    – When we were dating – When are you going to get married? (Mind you, we started dating when we were 17)
    – When we got married – When are you going to have a baby? (We even fielded this question a few times at our wedding reception)
    – When we had a baby – Are you going to have more kids? When are you going to have another baby?
    – When we had another baby – Do you guys want a girl next? Are you going to have more kids? When are you going to have another baby?

    Sheesh! Take a break people, it’s exhausting. Moral of the story: people just can’t seem to help themselves. I think a good part of it is them trying to make small talk, but whatever happened to “How ’bout them (insert sports team here)?” or “Man, it sure is hot/cold outside today!”?

    • Steve says:

      Sheesh is right! Maybe those are just conversation starters…not sure. But personally, I’ve *never* asked someone when they are going to have a baby. Maybe that’s because I don’t have kids and don’t naturally think about those things. 🙂

  28. Andi Loveall says:

    What a beautiful blog. I agree completely. While I can’t say I’ve never wanted kids, I didn’t meet the right person in time, and now, single at 34, I’m actually pretty happy. If I wanted children, I’d have to get on a dating site TONIGHT and begin desperately looking for the “right person” so I could date them, marry, and then do everything I could to have a baby before the last of my fertility runs out. Does anything about that sound appealing? Hell no! If I ever fall in love again, I want it to be a beautiful, slow journey. I want to take my time and really get to know a person, not use them to provide the necessary sperm in my babymaking mission. I’ve never set out to not have kids, but some people just don’t meet the right person in time, and that’s okay. Others never wanted kids to begin with, and that’s great! There are way too many people on earth, and I’d love to see even more people stay childfree.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Andi! “If I wanted children, I’d have to get on a dating site TONIGHT and begin desperately looking for the “right person” so I could date them, marry, and then do everything I could to have a baby before the last of my fertility runs out.”

      Well put! I’m 35 and apparently there is “still time” for me, but like you, I am happy. In fact, both my wife and I are very happy with our decision. I’m happy to see people stay childfree as well…not because I want fewer kids in the world, but because that means there are people out there who are also holding firm to their true nature and ignoring societal pressures.

      Early retirement, tiny living, no kids – people doing whatever is in their best interest. Society be damned! 🙂

  29. Definitely know where you are coming from. While I can’t presume what others have gone through, I do agree with another commenter that I think it is worse for women. I know men who say they don’t want kids and there is very little reaction. I say I don’t want kids and there is some sort of weird assumption that I am less of a woman, unnatural.

    I hate the “you’ll change your mind.” I accept I may change my mind, but that is between me and my partner. Absolutely no one else. And often, this “you’ll change your mind” comes from virtual strangers, who have no idea about me, my life circumstances or anything. So frustrating.

    I am only 29 so I feel like I have years of this to endure.

    • Steve says:

      Hey Poopsie! Oh, I have absolutely no doubt that it’s worse for women than for men. Assuming that you’re an unnatural woman because you don’t want kids is incredibly sad and unfortunate.

      And honestly, I think the “You’ll change your mind” bit is really them saying, “But that’s what everybody else is doing. That’s what I did. Surely, you aren’t going to go your own way! You know, ’cause we didn’t!”

  30. Simple Saving says:

    This was an interesting read for me on many levels, but mostly because my wife and I have lived both sides of the coin. For the first 19 years of our marriage we were childless… Full on Dinks who lived frugal lifestyles and lived well below our means. We traveled all over the country and the world and thoroughly enjoyed virtually all aspects of our lives. We reached financial independence around the age of 37, but have continued to work part time off and on since then. At about 10 years into our marriage we tried unsuccessfully to have a child, did the whole in vitro bullshit for a couple years and then stopped. We took a few more years to do just what we always did… Living and loving the lives that we had. To be clear, we were plenty happy without children and more than likely still would be. Like you, we were questioned incessantly about when we would have kids or why we didn’t have kids (try getting that for nearly 20 years… You’ve had it easy 😀). Quite frankly it was none of anyone’s business and it always pissed me off because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to have kids. Anyway, at the young ages of 43 and 42, my wife and I decided to become parents and we adopted our son. We didn’t make this decision to prove anything to anyone or because we felt we had to for societal reasons… that, as you point out is bullshit! We came to the conclusion that we both had a lot of passion and a lot of love to share with someone else in our lives. We wanted to enhance our already great lives and give ourselves the gift of another great experience in life, Parenthood! Four years later and we couldn’t be happier. For us, our lives haven’t changed much really… we’ve just integrated another incredible little mind into our little piece of the world. Our FIRE status hasn’t changed and we pretty much do everything just like we did before, only now we get to experience things all over again as a couple while we watch our son experience those things for his first time. For us, this has been magical. Lastly, and please don’t take this the wrong way, I find this whole topic to be somewhat ironic. You see, someone like you is actually the kind of person who would more than likely make great parent. You make responsible decisions, you live life to the fullest, you understand the complexities of raising a child and frankly you make the world a better place by being a positive thinking person. Those are many attributes that it takes to be a good parent and hopefully we can all understand that those are also great qualities even if you never are a parent. Sorry for the long rambling reply.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks for the reply, Simple Saving – and I definitely appreciate the kind words! I think adoption is GREAT. Not only are you raising a child that you love, but you also removed that child from the care of the state. You are giving him a loving and nurturing home to grow up in. So much good comes from adoption.

      You and us are very much alike. FI in our 30s with plans to travel the U.S. and, eventually, the world. We’ll see what happens as the years pass on by. 🙂

    • Wonderful to hear about your adoption! How was the adoption process? I’ve found it to be quite cumbersome based on a preliminary seminar. Sam

      • Simple saving says:

        Our adoption process went fairly smoothly. No doubt though, it was a daunting task in the beginning. I guess the best advice I could give about adoption of any kind, is to trust the whole process. We figured that the first parenting lesson we received was the adoption process itself. Raising a child is always going to be filled with some level of uncertainty, confusion, excitement and wonderment (pretty much all human emotions really). So, having those feelings while going through the adoption process was completely normal and assured us that we were ready to become parents.

  31. Trilby says:

    I completely agree, and I say that as a parent to three kids. It isn’t for everyone. I would never presume to know what’s best for someone else. It’s hard enough figuring that out for myself :-).

    Also, I have friends who have been trying to have kids for years but haven’t been able to, so I’m pretty cautious about asking people about their procreation choices.

    Hopefully as society becomes more comfortable with different family dynamics and “traditional” nuclear families become less the norm, this kind of questioning will disappear from our social dialogue. After all, variety is the spice of life.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Trilby. I’m sensitive to the notion that there are those of us who want children, but can’t. To me, that makes this question all the more dicey. We choose not to have children, but that is definitely not the case with everyone who doesn’t have kids. And I absolutely agree – “variety is the spice of life”!

  32. TuckerTucker says:

    AMEN. My husband and I have kids and it was a deliberate choice. What is really weird about us though is that almost no one in our group of friends has kids (two had kids as teens and their kids have since flown the coop). My friends are all wildly successful professionals who love travel, love their hobbies, and love their overall DINK lifestyle. So we live in sort of a flipped universe than most parents: we are the minority! In fact, I had to go out and make new friends with kids just to have people to hang out with before 8pm, haha.

    We’ve been really lucky that our group of friends has been super great at including us in things despite our small-people-baggage and understanding when we can’t fly off on a last-minute travel deal with the rest of the group. I guess overall that should be the point: respecting other people’s lifestyle choices and allowing for the fact that we are all different is paramount in friendship. I don’t regret having kids & they don’t regret not having kids and who is ANYONE to tell ANYONE ELSE how to live their lives? I find it all rather weird how invested people are in the reproductive choices of others!

    (and my friends have never watched my kids – and I have never asked them to!)

    • Steve says:

      I’m sure that your friends appreciate the fact that you’ve never asked them to watch your kids. And honestly – I wouldn’t want someone without kids to watch my kids anyway. Unless you’re comfortable with kids, it may not be as straightforward as it sounds! 😉

  33. jb says:

    Until the availability of cheap, reliable & easy contraceptives, there really was very little choice. If you were going to have sex, then more than likely a kid…or nine…would show up at some point in the marriage. So it is only in the the last 3, maybe 4 generations that “childless” has been a genuine choice and not a medical issue in married couples. I think we are starting to catch on that there is another path.

    At it’s worst I think that it is a thoughtless ice breaker question. Thoughtless in both senses, in that it requires very little thought – “how ’bout those local sports teams”, “so what do you do for a living” and thoughtless in that it can be an extremely painful, insensitive question for some people. At it’s best it is an attempt to make a connection with another human, to find something that you both have in common. 90% of the time it is a winner.
    As an unboring icebreaker, maybe try asking them why they chose to have kids. You’ll get some interesting responses.

    Full Disclosure: female, mid 40’s, married 20 years. We revisited the kid question every 2-3 years, to see if our feelings had changed. I didn’t want to get to 45 and have a “d’oh!” moment, nor did I want my feelings to curtail my husbands dreams for children. If either one of us had wanted children, we would have had them. But both of us remained at “meh”. Indifference is not a good attitude for raising kids.
    Well, now I’m 43 and those eggs are very nearly scrambled. No regrets.

    • Steve says:

      Appreciate your thoughts, jb, though I respectfully disagree with the notion that there was “very little choice”. Even before the cheap availability of contraceptives, people had a choice. They made it. I understand it’s easier today than it was in decades past, but the choice was always there. We are in control of our lives, not contraceptives.

      And, I suspect we will feel similarly once we reach your age. 🙂

  34. John Wedding says:

    A couple that we know chose not to have kids; it was mostly a conscious decision much the way yours was. They have more freedom and options than most to pursue what they want to do.

    There was a time when things would have gone south in a hurry had I gotten married and had kids, but things happened at the right time and I’m far easier to get along with on whole than I was unmarried. It’s work but I mellowed out a lot (I was a miserable SOB in my mid 20s haha).

    Not that you need my approval (or anyone else’s for that matter) … but in any case good article!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks John – appreciate your thoughts. You’re right, it’s a very conscious decision for us as well, and one that we definitely didn’t take lightly. 🙂

  35. colinashby says:

    A comment I also hear a lot is:

    “Why don’t you want kids? Who is going to take care of you when you are old?!?”

    My response is always, do you really think your kids are the best ones to take care of you? Really. Seriously?

    As for my personal experience, after monitoring 30+ kids in a classroom, I can safely say I do not want kids.

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Colin! Actually, I’ve heard that too. Last thing that I’d want to be is a burden to my kids, so I’m not sure I’d want them taking care of me when I get older anyway. That’s what retirement communities and nursing homes are for.

      “As for my personal experience, after monitoring 30+ kids in a classroom, I can safely say I do not want kids.”

      Okay, now that’s priceless! 😉

  36. I love watching films. I’m not a film expert, I don’t have especially high standards, and some of my favourite films don’t fit into the category of good films, but I enjoy them. So my assumption was that everyone likes films. They may not like the same films I do, but there must be a genre or a selection of films that each person likes.

    And then I made a friend who doesn’t like films. As in, there’s no single film he likes. Generally, if he does have the optimism to try to start watching a film (twice in the last 5 years ish), he gets half an hour in before he’s had enough.

    I know films and children are completely different but I’ve suffered for a long time with people not understanding my not wanting children. And then I had this realisation that for some people, it is so ingrained in who they are and so important to them, that they can’t fathom someone who doesn’t feel the same.

    I find that, quite often, the people who say you are selfish for not wanting children had children for selfish reasons, whether to create someone to love them unconditionally or to care for them in old age. At the end of the day, we’re all selfish. It’s a survival instinct.

    • Steve says:

      “I find that, quite often, the people who say you are selfish for not wanting children had children for selfish reasons, whether to create someone to love them unconditionally or to care for them in old age. At the end of the day, we’re all selfish. It’s a survival instinct.”

      Wow. Very well said, Sarah, and I think there is a lot of truth in that. We are all selfish people – we have to be to some degree. We need to look out for ourselves first or we put ourselves at disadvantages throughout life. Children are no exception. Though, I may disagree to some of those perceived advantages. 🙂

  37. katrun27 says:

    I do have kids and am glad I do, but it grates on me as well when people make comments like those you mentioned. You’ll change your mind, you’re missing out, you’re selfish… I would argue that one of the most selfish things a person can do is have kids when they don’t really want them. What kind of home life does that create? Stay strong; I’m sure the remarks will lessen as time goes by!

    • katrun27 says:

      One more thing: to the people who insist “you’ll regret not having kids”, I think I’d rather regret NOT having kids than regret HAVING them! It’s way too big a responsibility to take so lightly!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Katrun! You bring up a couple excellent points. It’s tough for me to fathom accepting the responsibility of having and raising children when you don’t really want them – or just want them because you want someone to take care of you when you’re older. It’s tough for me to wrap my head around that one if that’s truly the only reason why someone has kids.

      And your point about regret is a good one. Even if I do regret not having children, I spent my entire life without that responsibility to bare. To me, that’s definitely the lesser evil.

  38. Jef says:

    Hey Steve, kudos to you for putting this out there bud! I 100% agree with you, the only caveat I’d say is where 1 parent wants kids and the other doesn’t.. I’m sure you’ve discussed this with your wife though and is all good..

    It’s actually a damn smart financial move ;), although I want them, perhaps I’m narcissistic for wanting them :)..

    Love your blog man and keep on being open and honest, those make for the best topics!

    • Steve says:

      Hehe, thanks Jef! From a financial perspective, there’s no question that we’re saving a TON of money by not having kids. And my wife had really be on the fence about kids. She assumed that we probably would, but didn’t feel strong enough about it – especially because I was so against the idea. But I agree – if one parent does, but another doesn’t…that can definitely be a problem! 🙂

  39. Marc Hoffman says:

    I’m glad you finally posted on this. I’ve noticed a lot of people over the last year asking if you want kids. I think that’s an extremely personal question, but unfortunately not everyone understands that. Some people like you recognize that they just don’t want kids, which is fine. In this case the question comes across as some kind of accusation. Other people want kids but can’t have them, so these questions can be incredibly insensitive.

    I spent years as part of the latter group and I so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how not to get upset whenever someone asked. So what I told myself was if people are asking about having kids it’s because they feel like you’d be good parents. Too many people who shouldn’t have kids do, so I would try to take it as a compliment that others think that you are people who should.

  40. Divnomics says:

    Great thing to read. I’m a bit in the middle segment. I’m not sure I want kids, but I still leave it open as a possibility. I do get tired of everyone asking when it will happen and indeed, saying that I still have time. I’m a 29 year old woman, and not married. I do have a boyfriend though. I heard my mother say recently that she almost gave up on us getting married… my own mother, and I’m only 29. Sorry, this is my little version of a rant haha.

    I think everybody has to make his and hers own choice in getting married, or having kids. But the option of not having kids is even a more taboo topic than talking about your finances in public.

    Very interested that so many commenters share these same feelings though 🙂

    • Steve says:

      I got married very late in life – I was 33 when I tied the knot, so I’ve never been in a particular hurry for these kinds of decisions. I’m sure my parents thought the same thing about me, though they never actually said anything. Ultimately, you’re right. We need to make our own decisions in life, and there’s no sense in rushing those decisions. Take your time. Mistakes happen when we rush.

      Thanks for your comment!

  41. kemkem says:

    I had a good laugh reading this! Story of my life. I knew since l was a little girl that l had no desire to have kids. None at all, and that did not change as l grew older. My mum thought l was cursed. It’s just unheard of in African households and she thought l had become westernized and regretted sending me to the U.S at such a young age…blah.blah.. She even volunteered to adopt a baby for me and she would raise it..The woman had like 15 grand children at that point already. My husband and I finally started telling people that we hate kids. Absolutely loathe them. It’s not true of course, but you would be surprised how quickly people shut up and move away. Good riddance ;-).

  42. Steve, good on you guys. It’s actually selfish to have kids b/c there are over 140 MILLION orphans in the world! To have a kid while not adopting one who needs a home is a selfish act. There’s no way around it.

    You may change your mind at 40 though. That’s when you might have a mid-life crisis like me right now 🙂

    Sam

  43. weenie says:

    I hope your wife doesn’t have to put up with “your body clock is ticking” type of comments, which is what I endured throughout my 30s.

    Whilst I have a lot of time for children, I never had the desire to have my own – far better to spend time with them and then hand them back at the end of the day! I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

    A couple of my friends have recently married and I don’t mention anything about kids to them as I know they will be getting it from both barrels from well-meaning family members.

    • Steve says:

      I don’t think she’s ever been given advice as unbelievably rude as that. It is truly unfortunate that some people are either that clueless or that careless to offer up such nonsense.

      It’s one thing to just ask about kids…but, it’s quite another to make comments that basically mean “Please do what I did…because that is normal”.

  44. This reminds me of a scene from House of Cards where a mom asks Claire (a main character) if she regrets not having children. Claire’s response was great. She asks in return if the mom ever regrets having her children. Here’s the clip (no spoilers here): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dOd17qUMVo

    By the way, the new layout looks great, Steve.

  45. Mike says:

    The ironic thing? Even if you decided to have a kid, that most certainly would not end the conversation. It would only add six letters to one word of the opening salvo, to wit: “When are you having a(nother) kid?” We decided to have one, for our own selfish reasons. We decided to have exactly one, no more, and no less. She’s literally the best thing that has ever happened to either of us. But, we constantly field the inquiry about when we’re having another one.

  46. Digusted says:

    Surprised you had the “kid’ question so often. I never wanted kids (saw enough starving and destitute people as a child to know the gargantuan selfishness it takes to breed in a planet where millions die of starvation every year). So any time I was ever asked, my answer was an emphatic no. Nobody ever had the gall to say something so banal as “there’s still time” – and nobody ever asked a second time. Wife and I are happily married 23 years – all assets will be donated to charity (with an emphasis on family planning in the 3rd world) upon our demise. Hopefully will prevent a few thousand from being born or dying in misery.

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