Hearing from Childfree Men

Check out Lori Bradley’s recent piece on Bella Online’s Married No Kids Site.  She interviews a childfree colleague, who talks about his decision, relations with friends, workplace issues and more.

The piece brought to mind things I’ve learned from childfree men in developing Families of Two to date. When I’ve asked men about why they chose not to have children, I’ve been surprised at how many tell a similar story.  From an early age they saw their parents’ struggles (their father’s in particular) — having enough money to raise the kids, working two jobs, never home, etc. that they decided then this was not the kind of life they wanted for themselves when they grew up.

While we might think that with couples the woman more often than not drives the decision about having children or not, I was surprised to learn that this is not the case.  Even though more men than not talk about being able to go either way (if she wants them I would, if not, I am fine not having them), some have very strong feelings about not having children, to the point that if his mate wanted them, it would be a deal breaker.

In talking to childfree men I’ve also learned that they tend to have been raised to value their independence, and are comfortable with more egalitarianism in their relationships. Domestics are more evenly split, and his income being more than hers is not a given; it is not so uncommon to see the women making as much or  more than the men…and they are fine with that (research suggests that it is Not fine for a lot of men).

So often men talk about wanting to have kids to carry on the family name and leave a legacy.  Childfree men are less traditional when it comes to family name stuff, and may want to leave a legacy, but do not see reproducing themselves as the only way a person can do this.

While childfree women and men share similar experiences and concerns, they have their own as well.  Kudos to Lori and her friend for letting us hear more from childfree guys…

And we need to hear more. To childfree men out there: tell us your story–how did you decide you did not want to have children? What is the most challenging about having made this choice?

22 thoughts on “Hearing from Childfree Men

  1. Two summers as a day camp counselor made me decide when I was 20 years old that I did not want to ever have children. I was so glad to be able to get away from the kids at the end of the day. The second summer was good for my resume because it included some teaching and computer skills, two things useful for the job I would get after college.

    This position cost me a lot of relationships, as this was ALWAYS a dealbreaker. My family never gave me any grief about it, as they know this is a personal decision they all respect. My younger brother was married for 12 years before he had his first kid 6 years ago.

    I was a quiet loner when I was growing up, so not wanting to have children fits in well. Being around them 24/7 would disturb the kind of life I want to have.

    As I got older, I was able to parlay this into being able to retire at the age of 45 back in 2008 (as Laura mentioned in a recent blog entry). And I was able to find a woman who has an adult child who lives far away and who can’t have any more children (and doesn’t want any more anyway).

    1. Deegee, When you were a camp counselor, what about the experience made you not want to ever have kids? Re this choice being a dealbreaker, you have not been alone….good for you that you have found someone who has an adult child and who now can’t/does not want any more children. There are many people who do not want kids out there; they just have to find each other! Keep you comments coming! ~L

  2. I was a regular camp counselor the first summer. It was for a large group of 7-year-old boys. They were noisy, cried at little things, and were a general pain in the butt.

    The second summer, at a different day camp, I was a regular counselor 3 days a week and a computer specialist counselor two days a week, on alternating days (Tues, Thurs). On my regular days, I was with a group of 6-year-old boys. This group was worse than the prior year’s boys because of one particularly awful boy, one who always acted up and even bit another counselor! On my specialist days, I would have all the age groups except for my regular group visit my computer area (they were too young). It was quite a relief to be rid of those kids for the day. The computer specialist work was more tiring because I was running the show but not as annoying. It did look good on my resume, however.

    Then again, it was an even bigger relief after I dropped off the last kid (I was one of the minibus drivers, as these camp owners did not hire many older people to save money) before getting home. Those bus rides were often noisy and I had to pull over to yell at the kids to get them to quiet down.

    It was during the second summer that I knew I never wanted to be around kids 24/7 because of how much I appreciated being away from them either during the day or after I got back home.

    The following summer, I got a job which kept me away from all kids and paid a lot more, more than both both day camps jobs combined.

    1. Sounds like you did something early in life that many people should do (and many don’t) when they are deciding whether to have kids…spend lots of time with kids! Lots of childfree who did spend lots of time with kids talk about babysitting children when they were younger, and that being the first indicator that having kids of their own was not something they wanted to do. That was the case for me! ~L

  3. Its been months since this was posted, hope its not too late to give my thoughts.

    My reasons are:

    1) I value my independence. I love being able to do what I want, when I want it.
    2) I rather build, and find more joy in building, mature adult relationships.
    3) I dont have 18 years to devote to anything but myself or my partner.
    4) Seeing what several children did to my mother made me question if I wanted kids. She was always stressed and angry. Even though Im the opposite, I saw what children add to a family which is more heartache and stress than good.
    5) As deegee, I too worked for a summer with kids and I hated most of it. The noise, the lack of respect etc turned me off of children forever.

  4. Great. Glad I could add something to this post.

    And I probably shouldnt have used the word “partner”. I should have written girlfriend/wife instead. HA.

    And yes, point 4 is a serious reason why I dont want children. I see this with a lot of parents, not just my mother. Parents are CONSISTENTLY stressed, tired, angry, worn out or whatever adjective you could think of to describe an unpleasant disposition.

    6) I would rather dedicate my life into changing the world in some capacity with my skills and talents, rather than giving so much time and energy to raising a child.

  5. Found this through a Google search for child free men like myself, i guess it is really late but I hope you get my message.
    I am 26 now,and I have known for a long while now that being a daddy isn’t my cup of tea. I have never had any form of paternal instincts and I have always been indifferent about kids.
    It is not that I hate kids but I am just not interested in parenting. I live in a country where being child free is as good as you announcing that you killed jesus…lol. In fact I have never met another child free person except online. At work when people bring their kids to the office and everyone is busy talking about how adorable the kid is, I just join in so as not to seem like the weird one, while deep down inside I am actually indifferent to the kid’s presence.
    I am glad I am able to communicate with other child free people from around the world and is good to know I am not alone.
    I know i would probably never find a child free woman where I live, but I rather remain single forever and be happy than be pressured into having kids. I have never been bored of being alone, so i guess I should be fine until I come across a child free woman (IF EVER!!!).

    1. Bashir, Thanks for writing…never too late too late to write in and join the conversation! Ok this might be a question you may not want to answer but I can’t help but be curious–where do you live? Have you met childfree women on line who are from where you are from? ~Laura

  6. Laura, I live in Nigeria, I doubt I will ever meet a child free woman here and I haven’t met anyone online either. There is strong societal pressure to procreate here, so most people see having kids as something they are suppose to do. This is largely due to the very religious nature of the Nigerian society (Nigeria is mainly Christian and Muslim). Even my mum has started giving me hints about how she cant wait to have her own grand kids in the future (WTF!).
    But I haven’t given up hope completely though. May be somewhere in this country there is a child free woman who is in the closet just like me.

  7. Late, later, latest i think ;)I found this through google aswell but i already found your youtube channel. Im 25 year old and i came to fully realize that i dont want to have children. Ever. I think the feeling was there a long time before i came to that realization though. When i grew up i was a loner and would rather entertain myself then play with other kids. I did have friends but they where few. Even back then i didnt like to be around groups of people. I hated the very first day i went to school. When my dad came pick me up i was in the exact same spot as where he left me. It didnt really came as a surprise to my parents when i told them im going to have a vasectomy. They are supportive (‘if that is your choice its your choice and knowing you it might be the best choice’). In middle school i really wanted to have gf’s but when i thought about relationships my thoughts didnt go further then: 1. meet girl 2. have nice life together. After that everything became foggy. It wasnt until i was in a relationship for 2 years that the topic kids came up. That was 2 years ago and i told my gf that i dont want them. She did so we broke up and i ever felt so relieved that i made this decision for myself! Im not particulary a career person but i value my peace and quiet time (its not optional i need it to ‘recharge’). I never get bored and im always busy thinking. Even my Jung personality-profile was INTP if that means something to you haha..

    1. Thanks for writing! I do know a lot about Jung’s personality profiles, and have talked to many childfree INTPs…however, I have also talked to many E’s, S’, F’s and J’s! Like occupations, lifestyles etc. we have many different personalities. It would very interesting though to do a study of thousands of people with no children by choice to see if there are any correlations…..maybe someday!

  8. I enjoyed reading the comments of guys that think the same way as me. I want to add other reasons for not having kids: 1)I would feel very guilty to bring them to this world we are living right now: and that is:
    1)a world with no real jobs or opportunities (so they struggled 25 years to be unable to have a decent life)
    2)a world full of violence,drugs and crime ,elsewhere!
    3)a world too expensive to live
    4)a world that soon will run out of water! and other natural resources. Not to mention the increase of polution and other big natural disasters
    5)90% of divorces worldwide (not 50%),and very complicated to live with anyone today…Dont see any change in this department either for a kid growing up
    Its a situation in which kids will start saying to their parents: why did you bring me to this world?
    I dont see how could anyone live happy “in here”!
    Am I wrong?

    1. Robert: I don’t think you are wrong at all…kids being brought into the world right now will see some great challenges if those of us who are already here don’t take some serious responsibility for population stabilization and ensuring future generations won’t face dangerous resource depletion…which some experts say have already reached that point. Even if a person has the urge to have a kid, it is time to put adoption first, again, to take care of who is already here, and simultaneously not adding to to a growing population. But these realities fight with long held tenets of pronatalism. It is powerful value systems that needs to change before behavior will change, and those who see this, need to keep speaking out. So thank you for doing so!

  9. I am a 25 year old Nigerian female who lives in Lagos. I was diagnosed with Bipolar affective disorder when I was 18. I know I don’t want to have children, either biological or adopted. In the hospital, the nurses regarded me as crazy when I told them I didn’t want children. I’m much better now, but when I look at how mothers worry over their offspring, I tell myself I don’t want to go through all that. I just wish I could find a fellow Nigerian man who wants to be childfree. It would make me very happy.

    1. Hi Oge, Thanks for writing. The exposure of the idea that parenthood is indeed a Choice is growing and growing…hopefully to increase your chances of finding a childfree partner in life one day!

  10. Hello,
    I am 40 and am married to my wife, 41, for 13 years. We have never had children, nor even a serious discussion about having them. I always viewed this as her way showing she wasn’t 100% on it. She has said she wanted them but never made it a point to put a plan in place. We are both busy professionals and have her mom with us and help my mom financially. What brought me to this sight was a little soul searching after finding out my best friend is having a child after being married almost as long. I have had my friendships change/deteriorate once they’ve started families and am somewhat saddened at the prospect of having it happen again . I realize it sounds selfish but I can’t help thinking this way. It also has me feeling somewhat guilty for not having given my wife a child. It not too late but it would definitely not be ideal to try now. I guess I’d just like to hear someone elses thoughts on what I am feeling at this time. Thanks

    1. Thanks for writing. You sure are not alone when it comes feeling saddened how friendships can change when friends become parents. It is not selfish at all. You are close and want it to stay that way. Friendships really can survive it when one friend’s life changes so dramatically. With regards to your wife, do you know if she has wanted kids, or… ? Maybe if you have not already, have the serious discussion to make sure both of you know how the each of you feel about not having kids to this point.

      Others please don’t hesitate to write your thoughts!

  11. I grew up in a traditional, matriarchal Italian Catholic family, indoctrinated to believe that marriage & kids were the norm and I WOULD be having them (whether I liked it or not, at least… that was implied). I went to private Catholic schools and received only the best education. My father was a good man who provided well for his family. But… he was also a misunderstood alcoholic and late in life, a substance abuser. My mother was a great woman, a strong professional, who taught me to value my independence. My maternal grandmother was a big positive influence as well. My (only) little brother got married and has a young child now – and is now happily considering a second one. Almost all of my friends have children too.

    Reaching all the way back to single-digit age, I have always held a belief that for me, children would be a burden. For many years, even after I achieved personal and professional success, I could not fathom the idea of becoming a father. I married my teenage sweetheart, a gorgeous woman who would have been happy to have my child(ren). When the biological clock became an issue, she threatened to leave. I told her my honest feelings, that it was not in any way a reflection on her. It was me. I have never had any of the usual emotions like joy or anticipation at the idea of a baby; children make me want to flee most situations. Any time I tried to imagine fatherhood, I felt like I was going through the stages of grief, mourning a death – the demise of who I’d rather be, instead of defining myself as a father. It made me feel desperate, sad and confined.

    She decided to stay, though I sense there will always be an element of “what if” with her. I never have those feelings. Every time I think about the child we never had, I’m glad it never happened. I have always believed in being honest with myself, and with what *I* want for my life. I have never compromised that, and I know that a child would be a compromise I could not live with. There has been great pressure by friends, family, and even my wife – but I never gave in. I particularly do not want to raise a child given the invasive society that hovers around children. I do not want to raise a child using the recent, ludicrously ineffective parenting model that generally includes too much safety, too much sanitizing, and a false equity – a “fair playing field” that does not exist. It sets children up for the pain and failure parents are trying to avoid in the first place. I know I lack the desire and patience to be a parent, and I know without a doubt I do not want my self-worth to be identifiable solely by my offspring. My life would have been forced down that path had I become a parent.

    Today, we are both 43, multiple business owners, multiple degree holders, we travel, and own land. We laugh a lot, maintain a few close but personal relationships with friends, and I am happy despite a family that is clearly disappointed with my choices. I could have all the money in the world, but to them, I failed because there are no children. I’d rather live with their disdain than the irrevocable mistake of a child I did not want as much as I believe a parent should when they make that irreversible leap.

    1. Thank you for writing this~may people who are struggling with honoring themselves and what they know is best for themselves read it and gain the courage to do what they know is right, rather than cave to social and cultural norms. It also shows how couples can get to a point where a decision needs to be made about – would I rather have a child or this life partner? Many couples are like you, and choose life partner, and have happy, fulfilling lives together without parenthood as part of their experience.

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