Life without kids

As I’m getting older the question about having kids comes up more and more. Not from me, but from my parents, my older brother (already having 3 kids), sometimes from my girlfriend and from society in general. The thing is, that I don’t have the urge to have kids. I’m happy without kids right now and will be happy without kids in the future.

My current view is that kids will rob me of several kinds of freedom (not only financial). I am being selfish? Will I change my views when I’m 35-40 years old? What’s your take on this topic?


Hello Cortana, there is a saying: only have kids if on a scale from 1-10 you want them at least 8. Even if you really wanted to have them, the chances are substantial that your overall level of happiness will decrease in the long term. Just google “childfree by choice” or " children make you unhappy".

You are not selfish at all. Nowadays, having kids should be considered selfish because of environmental reasons. If you sometime really wanted to have children, there is also the option of adoption.


A good reason for sure:

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People with this mindset will exit the gene pool sooner or later, and life and the human species will go on… One cannot address environmental issues with demography, or this is very short term thinking…


Until I see a decent amount of stability in my life (financial and otherwise), I think I cannot justify having kids. Afterwards, I don’t know yet how I and my girlfriend will decide, but she fears that she would copy her parents’ (in some cases serious) mistakes.

The ‘should’ irks me. Could you please elaborate on that?

I don’t agree with that. Infinite growth is simply not possible unless we find ways to improve efficiency into infinity. Because of that, I think this is actually a long term view.

I also don’t think we should only consider environmental issues: The more crowded the world is, the more inequality can arise because there is just so much land and other resources.

I haven’t thought about that too much, so I am interested in supporting reasons as well as counterpoints to that (or my? I’m not sure) view :slight_smile:

I am not denying that infinite growth is not possible, nor saying this is not an issue. I am just saying that “not having kids” is a false solution to a true problem.

Every living being (a plant, an animal or a human) has evolved for only one reason: being able to pass his genes to the next generation. From a biological point of view, you can view your body as a tool for your genes to transmit them to a new carrier (your offsprings).

Let’s have a thought experiment, and divide the world population in two categories:

  • category A is people whose biological construct is such that they have found a reason ( this could be environmental issues, but also something else as well) to not have offsprings, or to limit them severely
  • category B is people whose biological construct is such that their cravings for offsprings takes over any other reason

Over the long term, people from category A will almost not reproduce and have very few offsprings, while people from category B will have many offsprings. As a result, after a few generations, the population is made of more than 90% out of people from category B. Therefore, the population will continue to have offsprings. Genes and life will have it their way, like it or not. Telling people not to reproduce may work in the short term, but it will only be that: a short term effect.

(I am not judging people on their choices here, just stating how it will evolve).

From my experience, people who never had kids have absolutely no idea what it is to have one, even if you really want one (I was for sure one of those). It is like a big jump in the unknown.
Now based on your personality, you will either love being with your kid, or regret not having time anymore for almost anything else (I have seen both types of people). If you are part of the second category, having your family close to you to help take of the kid from time to time is usually a good solution.


I love it that you created this topic. I am older than you (30+) and my gf is even 3 years older than me. In this age your friends are all suddenly getting kids. For my gf it means she can no longer meet her best friends that often, because they are busy with the kid. If they do meet, the kid is always somehow in the foreground.

I have a friend who never wanted kids and now his wife is pregnant with a second child. She was not careful enough with the pill, or maybe it was even a sabotage on her side. My friend, who normally goes crazy about being lied to or manipulated, just kind of goes on with it. I think he’s not super ecstatic about his kid, but he’s also not complaining. He says the kid makes him happier than he would have expected.

For me, having kids is not only an issue of committing to the child, but also to the partner. I’m content with my gf, it’s good not to be alone, life is easy, but I’m absolutely frightened of committing the rest of my life to her. You can try to shape the character of your child, but it’s much harder to change your partner.

The question of having kids is of course less urgent to me, as it is to her. Her biologic clock is ticking, and for men, well, just look at Bernie Ecclestone, soon to be 90 years old, he recently became a father again :slight_smile: . That’s why I made it clear for her that I do not want to have kids and she can do with that knowledge what she wants. But it still remains a source of discomfort for me.

I think you just made me realize what my main issue would be. I’m 29 years old, together with my GF since 4 years and just moved out last week to my own apartment due to relationship problems. I love her, but I can’t really imagine being with this person till my death (~55 years). I learned that I as a person changed a lot in the last 5-6 years. So I don’t know what kind of person I’ll be in 10 years and if this person will still match with my current girlfriend. This is no basis for rising a child.

I really don’t like this old concept of going to school, start working, getting together with your future wife, buy a car, maybe buy a house, start a family with 2-3 kids, work till 65 and then retire. I want to be flexible! Who knows, maybe I’ll live in Australia or Canada in 10 years? Maybe I’ll go on a endless journey and explore the world?

I only got this one life and someday it will all fade away into blackness. I want to make the most of it and enjoy every year of it. Having kids is basically a one-way ticket and commiting the next 25 years (maybe even the rest of your life) to just one thing. The thought of it doesn’t make me happy but rather afraid.


Seeing the historical data of “number of child” per family I find it unlikely that genes have a lot of influence. Therefore I suppose it’s a lot more a cultural thing, which can be communicated in the population.

It probably is better for the environment to have no kid. But I believe that the current ageing population will cause a lot of issues to the way our society is organized.
For instance with a fertility rate of 1.53 child per woman in Switzerland, I see some issues with the “normal” retirements, with the real estate, with the amount of work doable per living person (productive VS non productive).
That’s assuming there is no technological silver bullet to all the planet resource/energy issues.

Personally I am planning 2 children (1 being on the way) for the following reasons:

  • I want them (Maybe the following reasons are just rationalization of this one ; ))
  • I lack more and more meaning in my jobs and my activities
  • I will have to become a better person. Lower my bad habits (procrastination, phone, swearing…)
  • I see a lot of values in having to educate someone from scratch (learning many subject deeply in order to be able to explain it from the start)
  • I see a lot of value in having a deep connection to a few people, and with friends in our current society it is difficult since there is quite a lot of movements.
  • This is also an edge for retirement if our society does indeed goes toward collapse

One big issue with this question is the timing. The biological clock of women is always ticking…
Of course technological solutions are coming, but if you look at the probability of success of a IVF with the age, or the probability of having one chromosome too many after 40 it’s not reassuring.


According to psychology most women want kids in the 1st place and look out for a partner to fulfil that wish. For men it’s the other way around. Most men only get the desire of having kids after getting together with the “perfect” partner.


The number of child per family is decreasing because your conditions of living are much better. I assure you that if you were living in a country with a high child mortality where you lose on average half of your children before they are five years old, you would not try to make two children, but 6 or 7.


Then don’t even think about having kids before fixing your relationships issues. It is not only about you: would you really like to have kids, knowing perfectly in advance that you won’t be able to provide them a stable parental environment?


I’d be curious where in the world you think this is assertion is valid?

I loved this reading on the subject (there is also a nice ted talk from the author)

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Nice topic.

I became a dad a bit earlier than I had bargained for (at 30, while still a PhD student) and we have since added a 2nd one to the mix. Becoming a parent is a hugely life-changing event. I love my kids, but they are a ton of work. And we’ve definitely taken a big hit financially and socially. Add to this being expats and living 1000s of km from our nearest family members (whose help you will learn to appreciate greatly, and maybe be a bit annoyed by, once you have a kid) and it has been quite tough at times.

Kids slowly get more and more awesome. Under 6 months, they are basically a milk-to-shit converter and are frankly not that interesting :laughing:. Once they start walking, talking, getting dressed by themselves, shitting in a toilet, etc. things change for the better. I’m sure that once they get to 10-12 and you can leave them home alone for a bit, another constraint gets lifted (although then they become teenagers, which should be a lot of fun…).

I know a guy 20 years older than me who has kids the same age as mine. While he has a nice flat, good salary, and great job stability, I can see that he and his wife are totally overwhelmed by it. The younger you are, the better equipped you are to improvise, adapt, and succeed…on very little sleep.

I had never thought about when I would actually want to have kids - all I knew was that it was sometime in the future. Now, I am quite happy with it. Being 70 when my kids start uni? Fuck that, I’ll be 50, and in great fucking shape too.

But, of course, everyone’s situation is different and we cannot plan everything (and shouldn’t try to!). Women’s fertility (and men’s to a lesser extent) starts to fall during their 30s, which means that often you can’t just decide, ok, next month is the month whenever you think the stars have aligned for baby-making.


@Cortana you should read about homeschooling. I think you might solve a lot of problems with it. At least if the “freedom” you are talking about is mostly about traveling and living everywhere.

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Sure, we do change, each one in their own individual way. That’s why, since the social pressure has eased a little in the last century, we have seen such a surge in divorces. And it surely sucks for a kid to grow up after the parents have divorced. My parents used to argue a lot, there was cursing and screaming, but somehow they pulled through. It may be very selfish, but I’m happy they never divorced, it would have been even more nerve wrecking to me as a kid than their occasional bursts of emotions.

But surely, as a potential parent, I would like to commit to it with a relative confidence, that I can pull through in this setup for another 20 years. And this I don’t feel right now. I am also in this relationship since over 4 years, and I feel more confident now. I have only been in a relationship once before, as a teenager and then for many years there was nothing. So to me, this relationship has been the first try as an adult. Yet I would be very afraid of the stress that could arise from a potential break-up. It’s maybe irresponsible and escapist, but I’m just content with how things are.

It would be also better for the environment to kill thyself. Of course, I’m not advocating for that, I just try to bring such arguments to an absurd situation. It’s important to understand that the universe doesn’t care about us, or the cute animals and plants that die because of our activity. One could argue, that humans are the form of being which has the most capability of sensing and understanding the universe. It’s all in our head to feel sad because forest are cut down and the seas are polluted. Glorifying nature is a human construct. Literally nobody, except from ourselves, cares or has the capacity to understand it.


We are the universe experiencing itself. Every part of our body, every part of our mind and every part of our planet was created in the same place. Once we were all connected. But this is drifting away from the topic :smiley:

I want to be more than an animal with only one purpose in life (preventing the extinction of my own species by reproducing). There must be much more to life than that.

Yes, but look at how far we have come to understanding the universe in even the last century. Quantum theory, particle accelerators, etc. The stuff gets more and more complex to grasp. And we will probably not be able to figure it all out in our lifetime, but if we don’t have children and go extinct, then we cross out the chance of even getting there. Of course, we have to watch out not to completely screw up our planet on the way there. That’s why I believe in ecology, just not how it is portrayed by the activists.

The problem with overcrowding the Earth is probably gonna solve itself soon. It’s a typical S curve. There was an exponential growth, but now it’s fading and it’s much more possible that we could see the trend reverse in the coming decades. Anyway, I think we should really not pursue this issue within this topic. Let’s leave “not having kids for the sake of ecology” for another thread.

OK, I can’t resist myself to add one more thing. For some people, the goto thing is religion. To me, religion is bullshit. Or maybe, what contemporary religions have to offer is infantile pile of crap. In order to get excited about the future and life, I look to science and technology. I like to track the newest developments and ponder upon some theoretical explanations about the nature of the universe. I am definitely interested to know why and how are we here, I just find the answer given by religions totally disappointing.


We are the same in that regard. Call me crazy, but when they published the 1st picture of a black hole I was overwhelmed. I was filled with more joy than seeing the 1st kid of my brother lol. I think this is the real purpose of our species. Understanding everything about ourselves and the universe we live in. Of course we need kids for that but there are enough humans already. We don’t need 10 billion, 1 billion would be ideal.

I wonder how 40+ people without kids are viewed from general society? Did we stop to look at such individuals as failed existences?

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I will refer to your “robbing several kinds of freedom” and how it feels for me.
We have a toddler and I’m in my 40ies, so an “old” father. I would certainly have had strong FOMO earlier in my life with this thing that you have to be around 24/7 for the next 12 years and then kind of blocked in one place for 10 years more.
In my 20ies, 30ies… I partyied a lot, travelled a lot (privately & for work), had ideas to move to a tropical place to live later (better weather, more crazy society), but it all isn’t the same any more when older (with or without kid). I value other things more now, and the older one gets more and more.
And these exact things that I value more, staying at home more and a stable system outside of the home, warm but not crazy-hot weather, I feel are the ones that kind of go hand-in-hand with having a child.
And I enjoy the child a lot, it is a great “hobby” :wink: so I don’t think I’ll get bored for a while.
Downside is I will be an “old Dad” at all those school-meetings, which feels a bit negative. And the chances that I live to see my grandchildren… lower than younger Dads.
Otherwise I don’t see much negatives.
So, take it easy, in 10 years will be soon enough, and maybe this freedom then will not be as important to you any more going forward into your 40ies.
Men are (mostly) lucky in that sense (fertility-wise).
Most women don’t have a problem dating men 10 years older, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Sorry, I know your separation with your present gf (who is probably your age) has not happened and I’m not suggesting anything, I’m just saying how it worked out for me.