My wife and I are at that age where people expect us to be starting a family, and pressure from family is steadily increasing as we move into our mid-thirties.
There seems to be an attitude amongst many people that having children is a given, not a choice. It is an essential part of adulthood that everyone needs to “go through” unless they have a genuine reason why they cannot. Choosing not to have children is “foolish, immature and above all selfish”.
The problem is that my wife and I don’t want children, at least not right now. And I strongly believe that that is OK. Everyone should have the right to choose and their decision should be respected, but it seems that there is a need to justify a decision to not have children.
So here I go. We both have our own personal reasons and they overlap, but these are mine.
I have actually felt that I didn’t want children since I was in my mid-teens and it occurred to me that the world simply doesn’t need more children and that if I really wanted them, it would be better to adopt than to have my own.
This principle still stands to some extent but my life has moved on and so have my motivations. Sure, there are other reasons such as human overpopulation, not wanting to bring a child into a world where they will not only contribute to but also suffer the hard effects of climate change, the huge financial cost of children and not wanting to the financial pressure, and of committing nearly all of my time for the next two decades when I already don’t have enough time for many of the things that I want to do in my life.
These are all valid reasons, but actually none are the primary reason for my decision. The primary reason is far more simple –
I love my life and I love my wife.
To most people that might not sound like a reason to not have children (it might actually sound like the opposite) but in fact I couldn’t think of a better reason. I love my life with Vinu so much that I genuinely feel no desire or motivation to shake the box in a way that would radically and unpredictably change things. Furthermore, I have seen countless examples of couples who grew apart from each other and lost the magic in their relationship as a result of the stresses of parenthood. Why would I take such a huge risk for something that I am not very interested in doing?
I’ve been told several times that I will regret my decision in a few years time when I realise I’ve missed the boat, and even more in my old age when I have no children by my side to look after me and keep me company. Apart from the fact that most people that I see don’t actually end up with their children by their side in old age anyway (sometimes through their own choice), all of these arguments have one thing in common – they prioritise worries about the future over love for the present. One of the key aspects to living a happy life is the ability to enjoy the present, yet we all too often waste the present worrying about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. I’ll be the first to admit that I think about the past and the future a lot, but when it comes down to it, I have an amazing life and I want to keep enjoying it for what it is and be satisfied with the fact that I am truly happy with what I’ve already got.
As my uncle sometimes reminds me, “happiness is not getting what you want, but wanting what you’ve got“.
Children can be great fun and bring a lot of joy and I have friends and family with children that I care for deeply, but when it comes down to it, I want what I have already got – it is as simple as that.
Nothing in life is set in stone. Things change with time and my feelings might change as my life evolves, but I make my decisions based on what feels right in my gut at any point in time and at present things feel right just the way they are.