Men Who Don’t Want Children: Do They Feel the Guilt?

Sylvia D. Lucas challenges the gendered double-standard that surrounds the choice to not have children.

This post first appeared on Dink Life, which celebrates the Dual-Income-No-Kids Lifestyle.

Child-free men, whether they’re Dual-Income-No-Kids (DINK) “lifers” or just waiting until later to have kids, haven’t shared the focus of the barrage of attacks their female counterparts have endured since the advent of birth control. How do men without children get off so much easier … or do they?

Whether in magazine articles, blogs, online publications, or in person, women without children are “bingoed” (chastised for not having kids/told why we should have kids—“Oh my god, you’d love it!”) pretty regularly. We’re told—usually indirectly and/or from a safe distance—that we’re cold, we’re freaks, we’re selfish, we’re child-haters, we’re non-nurturers, we’re unnatural. And that’s for starters.

Most insults are actually too absurd to be offensive, so I’ll call them “pesky.” Offensive would be the study oft-repeated in the media that women are apparently at higher risk of developing breast cancer if we don’t produce offspring. How’s that for pressure?


Are men without children made to feel guilty, too?

I recently saw an article online titled “Childless Men May Face Higher Risk of Heart Disease.” So, I guess we’re all screwed. At least we’ll die young together.

A survey conducted by author Laura S. Scott, author of Two is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice, found that men and women’s reasons for choosing blissfully unladen lives are basically the same, and the “why” of it has been covered ad nauseam. So I thought I’d interview a few men who frequent The Childfree Life Internet forum about their experiences simply living as men who choose not to have children.

Have they been pressured to use their semen to procreate the same way we’ve been pressured to use our uteri incubate? Have they had difficulty finding a partner? What word comes to mind when asked to imagine having a child in their lives?

(“NOOOOOOO!” was one word.)

I do, of course, ask them why they don’t want children, because the personal answers are far more interesting and relevant than the overarching psychobabble “there-must-be-something-‘off’-deep-within-you” explanations some are desperately seeking.

The men in this interview, ages 26-53, hail from the U.S., Canada, and Australia, and are identified in this article in keeping with their individual preferences. Their answers below may or may not surprise you, but what they unquestionably do is give you a glimpse of the men’s world in a way you haven’t seen it before.

First, I’m going to ask every child-free person’s favorite question: Why don’t you want kids?

ERICH, 27, CANADA: I want the freedom to travel, to work wherever I want, to come and go as I please. I want the freedom to have freedom. Can’t just pick up and go with a kid.

ALAN SMITH, 53, BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA: I actually find this a difficult question to comprehend. For me, the opposite question applies—“Why on earth would anyone wish to produce children?” I do realise that people have children for all sorts of reasons—they find them endearing, they feel they have a religious or social duty to breed, the vanity of having a copy of themselves, a need to prove their “manhood” or “womanhood”, the financial benefits or simply that they have never thought about it and regarded it as a “default” position to reproduce. None of these applies to me.

JOSH, 36, OKLAHOMA: I like the freedom. I’m the type of person who needs a lot of downtime, and a child would definitely get in the way of that. I also just don’t like being completely responsible for something other than myself. I have no more desire to have a pet than I do to have a kid.

ANONYMOUS, 26, MONTANA: For me, it was a bit of knowing my nature. I can be overly caring and take things a bit personally. If I had a child, I would imagine that I’d feel I let them down greatly if they failed at something. In the same breath, when I put my mind to accomplishing a goal, I block out everything around me till I finish my goal. I didn’t want to live a life that was both unfair to that child and to me. I would probably drive the child nuts and cause a mini hell for myself. Once I add in the fact I’d probably have a partner in the mix, it seems very maddening.

PAUL L., 44, NEW HAMPSHIRE: They are very expensive and time consuming. I don’t make that much money, and I certainly wouldn’t have the house I own if I had kids to support. I like my peace and quiet and the freedom to come and go as I see fit (for instance, I took my bike for a weekend trip this past weekend on a spur of the moment and my partner worked). The cats need no supervision!

E. CARROLL HALE III, 48, VIRGINIA: That’s a very complex issue. A large component to my choice is that I’m the oldest of 6, and it was expected that as soon as I was of sufficient age to do so (we’re talking 8-9 years old), I’d be watching over the rest of the herd, keeping them out of trouble, etc. If they got in trouble, after my Dad gave them theirs, I’d get some too because I was supposed to be keeping them out of trouble. Even early on, I was thinking that I probably didn’t want to have a kid because being a kid sucked and I didn’t want to inflict that on somebody else.

Do you ever feel judged for not wanting children? If so, by whom?

ERICH, 27: Most common judgment is that I’m “selfish” (i.e. just want to be promiscuous). Mostly from people who finished whatever schooling they finished and bought into the white picket fence routine of life and never considered there were alternatives.

ALAN, 53: Frequently—by (a) the media, who seem to regard breeding as a heroic act (b) by politicians, who are obsessed with “the family” and regard childless or childfree adults as “non-people,” (c) by the taxation and economic systems that discriminate against me, (d) by the advertising media that seem to assume everyone is a member of a “mum –dad – 2.3 kids nuclear family,” (e) by the occasional jealous breeder, and (f) by religious fanatics who regard sex when not utilized for procreation as against God’s directive.

JOSH, 36: Definitely. Most people think that I’m a selfish, irresponsible child-hater if I tell them that I don’t want kids. I have a selfish side, as everyone does, but I’m pretty responsible and do like some kids.

ANON, 26: From a random stranger, I have been judged, and from family misunderstood. Sometimes I’ve noticed that if a man does come out and says he doesn’t want to have kids, he can be negatively labeled. These labels can simply be [that a child-free guy is] a guy who likes to sleep around or a guy who is immature and possibly not responsible.

Whether reading men’s magazines or articles online, have you found much literature that represents, discusses, or explores child-free men (before DINKlife of course)?

ERICH, 27: I’ve found there are the occasional articles on fatherhood, and then what a vasectomy is all about once the fathers have had all the kids they want, but nothing for CF guys.

ALAN, 53: Very little. One can find a small amount online by specifically Googling an appropriate phrase, but few articles in hard copy or standard news sites seem to regard it as a viable subject.

ANON, 26: I honestly have not came across anything at all discussing a child-free lifestyle short of maybe one or two articles about men who are infertile or have some other complication that prevents them from having a child. Usually those articles deal with how they may cope or work around the issue, but I’d hardly call that child-free by choice.

PAUL, 44: I’ll have to admit that I’ve NEVER seen an article in any of the magazines I read (Men’s Journal, Men’s Health—which I’ve only been getting 4 months or so) or any of the outdoor magazines I receive. It’s disappointing, to say the least.

What’s it been like to try to find a partner as a child-free man?

ERICH, 27: Am not sure if I’ll ever marry, so I don’t even take an interest in someone until I know they’re child-free. My or her being child-free really hasn’t been an issue with anyone, and it hasn’t been difficult to find anyone. More and more of us all the time.

JOSH, 36: I’ve only been looking again for a few months, but so far I’d classify it as near-impossible.

ANON, 26: Sometimes the partners I would hit it off with would run for the door at the thought of being with a guy on his ranch when confronted with the prospect of no children. I had given up on finding someone till I accidentally met my current girlfriend.

E. CARROLL, 48: Actually, for me, it wasn’t too terribly hard to find a childfree partner. I’d never have seriously dated or married a woman that wanted or already had kids, and I’d always made that clear after a fairly short period of going out.

Imagine your life with a child (your child) in it. What’s the first word that comes to mind?



JOSH, 36: Trapped.

ANON, 26: Panic.

PAUL, 44: Trapped.

E. CARROLL, 48: Miserable.

Is there anything that could change your mind about children? Like a great love of your life?

ERICH, 27: It would be the great love of my life that would make me glad I had a vasectomy.

ALAN, 53: I doubt there would be anything that could change my mind about not wishing to father or adopt children of my own.

JOSH, 36: No, and I’m sterilized, so it can’t happen accidentally, either.

ANON, 26: I’ll admit to being in one particular relationship where I became tempted by the prospect of having a child. Though, the whole time, I felt uncomfortable about it. It stemmed from feeling a bit pressured. The emotional high we all can get being in a new relationship played a big role, as well. Worry of being alone was a feeling that entered my mind, too. Once I sorted through all my feelings, it wasn’t that my choice had changed at all—it was because of the above factors. Down the line, the emotional high would have subsided, the feeling of being pressured would have settled into resentment, and the act of wanting to belong would have isolated me. Not wanting to be alone would have become just that, and I’m certain I would have regretted it.

PAUL, 44: Never. I would never have a kid at 44 years old, anyway. It’s ridiculous.

E. CARROLL, 48: No, my decision about reproducing is mine to make, and stems from reasons that are critically important to me. I want to hold on to what makes me *ME*, and anybody who would want to change that obviously doesn’t care about the real me, they just want me to fit in the idea they have in their head about what they think I should be like.


While these men and many others are certain they never want children, there are just as many men who fully intend to become parents when they find the right partner, the right adoption agency, the right timing, the right number of drinks … But, until that time, men of all types will probably continue to have their testicles scrutinized by strangers (figuratively speaking) who think they shouldn’t be “wasting” all that good sperm. And, as a child-free woman and a DINK, I have to say—awesome! Because we women would like to step back and hang out at the punch-and-brownies table while you figure out what to say to the “What? No kids?” questions, for a change. We really appreciate it.

—Photo by Stephen Sheffield

About Sylvia D. Lucas

Sylvia has also written an ebook called "No Children, No Guilt" for No Children, No Guilt
and Nook. "It is a no-holds-barred must-read for everyone who is thinking about having children, isn't thinking about having children, wants children, doesn't want children, has children, or doesn't have children." -- Jerry Steinberg, Founding Non-Father Emeritus of NO KIDDING! Find out more about Sylvia D. Lucas at


  1. I have been with my husband for 13 yrs. The subject of children was talked about through out or marriage. I had infertility issues. Last year we decided to try foster to adopt. Tests and procedures to get pregnant we not working. For 12 yrs, my husband and I, I thought were on the same page to have children. When he told me he did not kids, our relationship was basically over. He does not want kids, and I do. At times I feel I wasted the past 13 yrs on nothing. I really wish he would have been honest with me when he actually realized he did not want kids. That would have been better than being stung along. Do I blame him, hell ya I do partly. 12 years of conversation were he agreed he wanted kids and play interested in those conversations. I do blame myself, for if there were signs of him not wanting kids I never saw them, I took him for his word. Now I am choosing to become a single parent.

  2. wait… so, is any of this harassment against women to have children coming from MEN?!?!? like ever? at all?!?!? women, quit doing this to each other. And don’t blame this shit on society or men… I would sure love the world a lot more if it wasn’t full of women who go fucking crazy at around 27 years old.

  3. ClassyGlobal says:

    Please let me know where I can find these young handsome responsible financially progressive sensitive men!!!

  4. I was banned from The ChildFree Life message board because some views on children and population I expressed border on antinatalist and offended many people who are significantly younger than me. I also have not succeeded at maintaining friendships with any local child-free people in my area because they saw my autism symptoms and must have been bothered by them. If all the childfree and antinatalist people in my area hate me, that does not change my mind about refusing to bear children.
    I NEVER want the responsibilities that parenting comes with. I KNOW I’ll NEVER be fit to handle those responsibilities. I had a vasectomy & was confirmed sterile earlier this year. I still have yet to find a partner, and I do find it quite hard in my area because I live amongst people who just won’t stop overpopulating the world. Every time I see someone with a kid next to him/her I shy away from him/her. Wanna be my friend? You better NEVER have kids, NOT even just one!

  5. Talen Storla says:

    Guilt? About what? The desire to live financially free? The ability to travel and live abroad easily? The ability to pick up at a moment’s notice and move somewhere else? I have never had a desire for the expense of children and I don’t need to justify my feelings on that issue to anyone!

  6. As a wife I always wanted children, my husband just refused to have kids. He thought they were like rats and when they are older all they want is money for drugs, booze, condoms or birth control pills, tattoos and crappy low rider Honda’s. So needless to say we didn’t have kids, this disappointed all of our family members. He just didn’t care! We only had sex once in 45 years. Hes never slept with me and has made his home in his garage. He worked midnights so he didn’t have to be at home, worked all holidays, weekends never took vacation. He’s content in his garage with his cars ad work shop. We hadn’t talked in years, he does things in the house that I leave a note about. This is about as intimant as it gets. I’ll let you decide if he feels guilty not having kids. I don’t think so !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I can’t believe anyone would open their mouth and call someone selfish if they didn’t want to have children. Like it is a sin and wrong. Better to not have then to have and not take care of. People got some nerve. I had an argument with my dumb cousin when I was in HS about that. I was 16 and she was 17, told her that I didn’t want to have children that I would adopt. She had a conniption, said all kinds of dumb things like why would I want to take care of someone else’s children. Why not. Please, please, please better to not have at all then to have and wish you didn’t. People are some dumb nowadays.

  8. Steven D. Timm says:

    Just finished reading this article and related posts and I must say I think this article is spot on!! I also appreciate the comments and different points of view on the same topic. I feel the same way about children. I am a 35 year old male who is not married and has no children. I am not married, nor do I have a girlfriend nor do I have kids, by choice. I feel that marriage and kids are a call and an office that God calls you to. I have never felt nor received that call. I also have never wished nor desired to be married or have children. As I have grown older, I receive less and less criticism for my decision to remain single and childfree. However, when I was in my late teens and into my early twenties, I received a whole LOT of critique!! Since then, I have learned how to surround myself with people who positively affirm me in the whole of my personhood and I have reciprocated that affirmation of other peoples choices, be it about marriage and family, social values, political belief etc. I made that decision a looong time ago and could not be more comfortable!! I have found in life that when I can relax and be comfortable in my own lifestyle, I can relax and be comfortable and respectful of other’s lifestyle choices!! I have found this works very well!! I also have an extreme amount of respect for others on the opposite side of the spectrum from me on the marriage and children issue. I have an extremely good freind that couldn’t wait to get his family started right out of High School. He is an excellent husband and an excellent father!! He is a person that actually wants to be a husband and a father. He is not henpecked by his wife nor is he annoyed by his children. He is a true family man, excellent at it and I couldn’t be happier for him!!

    Anyway, just my 2 cents on the issue!!

    Thanks for all the good posts guy’s!! Keep it up!!

    Catch you on the web!!

    Steven D. Timm

  9. Jennifer says:

    I have created a page on Facebook, I Don’t Want Kids and That’s OK for those us of who wish to not have kids and would like a place to vent, share stories or feel like your not alone.

  10. Well I must be an alien from mars or something.
    I don’t want children but I’m actually looking for single moms to date. Why? because they already have their own so they (potentially) wont ask for more.
    Yes, I know, I’ll end up being a father figure to the kid(s) but I don’t mind. I don’t dislike children.
    I just don’t want a small Steve that’s all, because if he fails at something I will feel like I failed him in some way. If he’s not tall enough, it’ll be because of me, at least 50% of it (I’m decently tall but no Jordan and I tend to like petite women).
    And quite honestly being a kid sucks, you have to follow all these rules, it took me 21 years to become independent and the master of my own life, 21 years is a long sentence and one time was enough.
    That said, if I meet a woman with kids, that’s perfect, the kids are already there and if I could help in any way, I’m willing to. If they fail in any way, I can be supportive but I don’t have to feel responsible for it, they’re not my blood.

  11. It breaks my heart to read these comments. Not because of your choices but because of the confirmation knowing that I just don’t want children. Reading these comnents confirms i prob will never change my mind. I recently just split up from a 7 year relationship with a woman I want to spent the rest of my life with. But we couldn’t carry on knowing we wanted different paths. I feel so lonely and pressured into believing there is something wrong with me because of my choices.

    • I’m soon in a same kind of situation. 7 years, wonderful time we had with that special one. How has it been for you afterwards? We were going ahead happily together, but “accident” happened, now it seems sure we are going to divorce soon. I went through thinking this child thing over and over in my head, but no – it really isn’t for me either. I love to be with kids sometimes, they like me and so on, but to take care of them thousands and thousands of days in a row limiting your own life in every possible way… No and no.

      If I may ask, how is it going nowadays?

  12. I enjoyed this articles so much. I do not want children because I do not want children. Simple as that.

    I am seriously on a mission to get my tubes permanently blocked.

    I am finding it hard to find a guy who feels the same way I do around here.

    Sometimes I feel the guy says he wants kids to try to get me, which backfires because I won’t date a man who did. It causes a circle of “gettung no where”.

    Sigh … I just wish therer were more men around where I lived that wanted to be child “free” by choice, too.

    = (

    • Mar-Taja… I know exactly where you are coming from. It is very difficult to find a man who feels the same way. I just hope you stay true to you and don’t change how you feel because you feel like you have to in order to have a relationship. I’ve heard of women doing that and in the end they end up paying the price.

  13. Having been married for ten years, going through ivf to have the ONE child I do, and realizing how challenging, expensive and frustrating it can be to raise a child in today’s society…I’m glad I only had the one! I am often told I am selfish for only having ONE. And while I love him and am glad that I have him in my life, I can totally respect how others feel about their decision to NOT have any children. It is a deeply personal decision, and not to be criticized or judged. I have several guy friends who have made no bones about how they do not want children, and yet all of them are interested, and somewhat successful, at maintaining a committed relationship despite their feelings on children. You have the life you choose to have, regardless on whether or not you decide to share that life with offspring.

    • “You have the life you choose to have” I think our lives are based largely on things outside of our control.

      • Bullsh*t. While there are some things we can’t control, we can certainly control whether or not we use birth control, whether or not we discuss the topic of children with potential mates, and whether or not to marry someone with conflicting life choices from ours. I think our lives are largely based on things we can control, but it’s easy for life to throw you a curveball and make it seem otherwise. There is no substitute for personal responsibility.

  14. I’m 28 yrs old and have known since I was a child myself that I never wanted any. I get so tired of people saying the reason why you don’t want kids is because you are selfish or self centered, maybe some of us just don’t want that and have no desire to procreate! And other thing….with society how it is nowadays and it being hard to get by…why would you want to?

  15. Hi everybody,
    I would like to answer the questions posted on the article above and you can drive to your own conclusions.
    A bit of background info: I am a divorced man, just turned 40, raised in Latin America, but living in the US for the past 15 years.

    1. Why don’t you want kids?
    My first reaction to this question is “is it mandatory?”.
    I understand that evolution dictates procreation as a way of maintaining the species, and religion often states procreation is one of the main the purposes of marriage. But living in the 21st century, is this still a “mandatory” result of the adult life of a man or a woman? If we have been able to put aside all other primary instincts in order to live in a civilized society, why do the still linger with this one?

    Personally, I don’t feel the need of having children. That simple.
    It has been said than answering a question with a another question shows stupidity… but why would you want to have kids in today’s world?

    2. Do you ever feel judged for not wanting children? If so, by whom?
    All the time, people on my own demographics. It is unconventional to have this set of mind and people tend to judge. I guess if I don’t produce 3.5 kids as Latino man, I am out of whack…

    3. Whether reading men’s magazines or articles online, have you found much literature that represents, discusses, or explores child-free men (before DINKlife of course)?
    Not really. Child rearing is more focused toward women.

    4. What’s it been like to try to find a partner as a child-free man?
    Can’t really answer this question. I married a girl who agreed with me on this issue. But as time went by (a decade to be precise) she changed her mind, I didn’t. We recently got divorced and I am not looking for a new relationship right away.

    5. Imagine your life with a child (your child) in it. What’s the first word that comes to mind?
    Curve ball. It means that my partner made a one-sided decision and I now I have to face the consequences. I am considering a vasectomy to avoid being put in this situation in the future.

    6. Is there anything that could change your mind about children? Like a great love of your life?
    Never say never, right? But is unlikely. I already found what I believe is the love of my life and this didn’t change the way I feel toward kids.

  16. I enjoyed reading this piece. I’ve never had any desire to have a child, but I run into guys ALL the time who either have children or want children. Ironically enough I prefer guys who have children because they’ve more than likely got the amount they want. It’s the guys without children or the ones who want more who make me extremely nervous because I know eventually the conversation is going to come up about me not wanting kids. I actually had a guy slam the phone down on me for saying I didn’t want kids and him wondering how do I know he wouldn’t change my mind. People with children or those who want children don’t understand that it’s not about YOU. Someone who doesn’t want children has already made the decision not to drink the kool-aid so your peer pressure won’t work either. I’ve found it easier to have that conversation off top so there’s no room for an argument about it later. I like children that can go home.

  17. “I don’t want children”, until you have them of course & you realise that you did want them after all. It’s not a question of wanting/not wanting…that’s a decision women make & men are the conduit. No man says “I want to have children”, because HE CAN’T unless a woman consents to it, whereas women can pursue various avenues to acquire a child.
    More and more men are simply giving up on the whole wife, kids, family choice…it’s a fucking drag let’s face it.

  18. I met a wonderful man w/o kids 8 months ago. He said he was open to dating someone with kids. He doesn’t want any of his own. I respect that. I have two children 5 and 7 I don’t need to have any more. This fellow and I fell in love hard and fast. Our relationship was magic. We met each others families. We traveled. He met my children and saw them from time to time. Things were going smoothly. I always maintained that the children’s father has the responsibility to raise them with me and he is doing so. My boyfriend and I have careers that keep us busy. Every other weekend we had the option of spending time together alone. Every other weekend he had the option of joining me and the kids. Recently we broke up because he feels he just doesn’t want kids. I am sad because I believed we were made for each other. He felt the same. I guess we were wrong. I dont feel like I can mourn the loss of him in my life because my path was chosen 8 years ago. This will never change. But in a life time, ten years until these children get indpendant and go create a life for themselves is not that long. When the kids leave we would have our relationship left and the companion we chose to love and hopefully no less richer life for it. I feel so sad to loose this special man. I didn’t want to move in right now or go on family vacations together. I just wanted to enjoy some of my free time with the man I fell in-love with and felt so adored by. for anyone on the dating scene wanting to “try it out” don’t. If you know you don’t want kids, Stick with it and don’t sway. Be true to yourself as I am true to me for choosing my children. Finding the “girl of your dreams” doesn’t warrant you using her as a guinea pig to see if you can wrap your head around a different kind of life. Set those moms free. Single moms probably have had enough heart break for one lifetime.

  19. dipendra says:

    I dont know if I would like to have children or not. I love to play with children but my reasons at least at the moment for not having children are philosophical. To quote Schopenhaur – “may I never transmit to anyone the boredom of existence”. I think I will be responsible for the pain and suffering and death of my children and I believe that there is more suffering than happiness in life. I am antinatalistic but I belief we should not add more slaves to the kindom of god. I love my children so much that I will not give them birth.

    • Lovely, I feel the same way too. I don’t think life is worth giving to another because it is so ruinous and difficult and always ends in tragedy. But as I am here I might as well make the most of it.

      • Basically, the more intelligent the human being becomes the more sadder life gets. Uncivilized countries like in African continents feel their children are their happiness and parade them around when in europe but look how they are dying in Africa because they are simply not intelligent enough to take birth control.

  20. I am 53 years old married to a asian girl for the past 5 years. I do not have any kids from previous relationships but I was acused of Fathering a child several years ago and it was not me, the women just blackmailed me for money only, I then made a deciesion to have a vasectomy as I did not want to go through that again. Back to my current situation, married a Asian girl who is 29 year of age, explained to her before married I cannot have children and do not want children as I was then around 47 years of age. now her sister is about to have a child and the pressure is on me to produce and i am standing my ground. over the past 5 years i have purchased a house for my wife who rents it as a business, i have purchased a small hote,bar,restaraunt as a inestment for later, meanwhile I am still holding down my normal job. my wife has become increasingly lazy because i will not give her what she wants and that is a child. i like my freedom, i like what wealth i have, i intend to retire early to enjoy my life, i have worked hard to do this, selfish or not, it is my desicion and i am not guilty. women forget that men have feelings also and when we are rejected by women, particualy when we are young, it can have a effect on us for the rest of our lives. life is not a dress rehearsall and i intend to make the best of it how i see fit, the door is always open if women think they can leave and do better for themselves but by crikey it will be shut if you dare come back and say you where wrong. women should understand where there bread is buttered best

    • L. Waters says:

      Why in the world would you marry a young woman if you did not want to have children? Ever hear of biological clocks? Most of them have them. To expect a young person to be able to make such a serious decision about their reproductive life, well, I don’t think it’s fair. Your wife may of agreed at the time to doing things your way, but now she’s reconsidered and simple biology is on her side. We’re wired to reproduce for the survival of the species. I think divorce is in your future. She’s got until her early 40’s to have a child if she wants one. And if she truly does, you’re done.

      • In reply I married my young women because I love her and she loves me, as I said I explained the situation prior, and as for you saying divorce is on the cards you are talking out of your ar””e.
        Again you think some women can change the goal posts to suit themselves, I have seven sister- in -laws who don’t have a mother or father, I have put the youngest one through university at my costs, I have supported the others through difficult times, you don’t have to have a child to make you happy.

      • Perhaps one solution would be for her to father her child from a sperm bank or other. That way both of you could get your wishes.

      • Not all women have biological clocks. Some of us stand our ground to not reproduce…….

  21. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this article!

    I’ve known I want to be child-free since age 10. The reason I do not want children is the same reason I wouldn’t choose to become an accountant–it doesn’t appeal to me*.

    What if couples took all the time and energy it takes to raise children and put it towards their relationships with themselves and each other, and their friends and families? That sounds like a pretty happy life to me. 🙂

    (*Not that there is anything accountants; of course, that is a wonderful profession and I value mine highly–sometimes I WISH I was good enough at math to become one; I am just using that to make a point.)

    • **Not that there is anything wrong with accountants; of course, that is a wonderful profession and I value mine highly–sometimes I WISH I was good enough at math to become one; I am just using that to make a point.)

  22. Anonymous says:

    Also please be honest with yourself what you want and what you feel you could feel trapped with anyone and in situation having child is one of their own not The only one if you can party wlll night and puke after that and clean yourself because you love yourself and care about yourself you can do for someone else as well if you love them you see it’s really how you feel and what you want however I see here the wants and feeling are in much conflict which confuses the idea of main debate or discussion you don’t want to have children because you want to be looked after when you are old you want them because you would love to have them no matter what. I am sure you everyone loves their work and put your best in it sometimes there is reward and sometimes no however after performing the best there is this feeling if satisfaction and content it goes with everything every aspect of life people who want to have children and who do not want to have children must have right and honest reasons there are many people with kids and without kids successful who left their mark on society and history. Blaming child for your lack of freedom is attitude problem and having a child and then resenting and regretting is also a attitude problem child is special I am sure but we humans look after things and people we love and care if your computer is still new after 5 years with your devotion and care am sure you can look after child as well it just you don’t want to and people who have children and when these people call others who don’t want to have children are judgemental why it’s difficult to accept their free will it’s easy anyone can do anything they want with right reasons to themselves please don’t confuse others with choices you make with confused reasons and then think they call us wrong well at the end of the day it’s your choice you can’t certainly love the child and feel very very unhappy that’s funny you say that you love the child but it’s seems to me you remind your self that he or she is mistake by looking at her or him everytime and your attitude projects negativity towards the child which you didn’t wanted make a choice let him think that you don’t want to be around because of you freedom issue otherwise you will raise the child in a harmful atmosphere poor child he or she can’t even understand to make you happy in their innocence

  23. Anonymous says:

    Well I read about people who do not want to have children and they say because they don’t want anything in their way to their freedom and also they say that they are being called selfish well I really don’t think that they are selfish however they can be self-centered they they don’t want anyone along them with them when they do things I am certain that these people love their work and love whatever they do which makes them happy and they definitely have common human lifestyle which is eating sleeping cleaning . Whatever people do it’s their choice made freely and consciously if they don’t want to have children it’s their choice however neither we should judge them nor they should give silly reasons so they are not being portrayed selfish or anyother names whatever as long as you are honest it’s fine please don’t give silly reasons like I am helping world not to get overpopulated well if you dont know what everyone in the world is going through please don’t worry yourself with that concern. And you feel panic with the thought of having a child around to be looked after I can assure you panic is felt by every person in earth so it’s not a foreign feeling and nothing comes in your way of freedom if you really want it that way and also Everywhere in the world there is freedom to do whatever you like not only in US. people are free they have their free will to want what they want. And please if you have children that you never wanted or are expecting a child that you didnt want please don’t raise them in a atmosphere where is filled with resentment and prison sort of place it’s not healthy for a child to be raised in that sort of atmosphere where the innocent child can’t even contemplate the emotions against him or her because of their unwantedness I am none of us want to feel that way

  24. I never wanted a child and have one now. Love the baby more than anything but I’m totally overwhelmed and deeply deeply unhappy about my situation. I feel caged, I have so many plans in my life and so little interest for diaper baby talk. There is not only all the work with the baby, suddenly the whole fucking kin shows an annoying interest in my pathetic little life, calling all the time demanding to see the little brat. Fuck that, divorce is on the horizon. Take this warning from me: never, I repeat NEVER agree to having a baby if you don’t want it, whatever pressure might come from whomever asshole out there, don’t listen to them. Just listen to yourself and if you want to stay free and careless and did I mention FREE by all means say NO! Here’s another thought: if men would really have a say in having babies or not I predict that world population would be 50% smaller. C’mon which guy really thrives on baby birthday parties, baby showers and all that crap, that’s definitely for chicks only. And it’s definitely not for me, I’m sooo stupid that I haven’t really thought about that before.

    • First of all Bart a chick is a baby chicken so get that s**t straight and second of all there are plenty of men that want and have children, that’s why we STILL have a human population. And your wife I can guarantee has done 10x more than you EVER will (she went through 9 months or growing the kid, then childbirth, which is harder than anything a man will EVER do). I feel bad for your kid though. Next time wear a f***king condom and you’ll be okay!

  25. It’s refreshing to read the opinions of men and their status as childfree. It seems to be less taboo for a man not to want kids than it is for a woman not to.

  26. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  27. I’ve gotten many of the same reactions mentioned above. I do however find it difficult to find women in my age bracket that do not want children, and would make a good partner.

  28. It’s totally ignorant to only think of children as things that drain the earth’s resources. Children are our future. They are resources themselves. Get off your high horse and show some imagination, childless people.Children will work for very low wages, their tiny fingers are perfect for delicate sewing, and in a pinch you can eat them.

    • Ha! Good one, Steve.

      “Children are our most precious resource. So I developed an engine that gets thirty miles per child.”
      –Standup comic whose name I can’t remember–

  29. Alan Smith says:

    Black Iris, I am really confused how you equate the duties attendant upon parenthood with maturity or spiritual growth.

    If being a parent is as “rewarding” as parents say, then how can it be a sacrifice? In a world with contraception freely available, surely a lifestyle choice to produce children was one freely made. Presumably the changing of nappies (diapers), driving children to activities, putting up with tantrums etc were things you openly accepted when you made your choice to breed. Can I also claim guru status for emptying my cat’s litter tray?

    It appears to me that many parents stray into Orwellian “doublespeak” when, (usually in the same conversation), they talk about the wonderful experience of parenthood and then claim martyrdom for the “sacrifices” they have to make.

    Claiming kudos for “spiritual awareness” for doing a thing you have chosen to do anyway indicates, if anything, the exact opposite.

  30. Dude Ranch Dressing says:

    Nitpicking hairsplitter here.

    “Child-free men, whether they’re Dual-Income-No-Kids (DINK) “lifers” or just waiting until later to have kids…”

    “Childfree” to me means you’ve chosen not to have children. Postponing parenthood is not quite the same as choosing not to be a parent, so putting it off until maybe later is not strictly childfree. If it’s too late to have kids and you want to have kids, that’s more like being “childless” not “childfree.”

    There are many kinds of childfree men out there besides “DINKs.” You could be a childfree man in a relationship where only one of you has an income. You could be a childfree single man. Fundamentalist CF’s may disagree, but you could also be a childfree man dating a woman with kids. You could have no children of your own, not want any of your own, and surround yourself with children.

  31. Anonymous Male says:

    It’s sort of odd that people would associate being a childfree man with being promiscuous and therefore selfish. First of all, I don’t think having multiple sex partners is morally inferior to having only one, nor is it inherently more selfish, but let’s just say that being “promiscuous” is selfish and bad.

    I doubt becoming a father guarantees much in terms of monogamy. A child is not monogamy insurance. Being a father encourages some increased commitment to your family, but clearly it’s no guarantee, and plenty of men ignore that demand. Becoming a father is not necessarily a clear sign that a man is responsible, loyal, mature, selfless, nurturing, etc. (It demonstrates that he’s fertile, but that requires nothing more than going through puberty.)

    It’s also very telling that many parents would contrast having an active, adventurous sex life with being a parent. And it’s very revealing that childfree men would be accused of “loving their freedom too much.” That last one sounds a little authoritarian to me.

    • Black Iris says:

      Maybe when people say that they’re reacting more to the fact that the guy is single. A woman who never marries might be seen as not having found the right guy, a guy might be seen as preferring sexual freedom.

      I suspect that if someone is a married person without children, people won’t suggest that they’re promiscuous.

  32. Although I am sorry that so much hostility and shame is directed at people who doesn’t have nor want to have children I find it hard to sympathise with those who complain about that while at the same time calls people who has children (whether by choice or not) for breeders and accuses them of ruining the world.

    • Tamen – I understand what you’re saying, and I had a problem with the name-calling, too, which is why I addressed the”childfree” vs. “breeder” conflict here:

      • Dude Ranch Dressing says:

        I don’t like “breeder” as a term for parents either, mostly because it was originally a slang term in the gay and lesbian community for “heterosexual.” It was meant to be counterslang against homophobic language like “fag” and “queer.” When I see it as a reference to parents by nonparents, I get confused. As a slang word for het people it’s pretty flawed anyway. There are plenty of biological parents who are gay!

        • And, if all parents are responsible for ruining the world by having children, then the parents of childfree people are also responsible for ruining the world by having them. Unless some children are more destructive than others, which is what I think….

  33. Eric – I took your post as light/humorous, but yours is a point the child-free have heard pretty often: “Who’ll take care of you when you’re old?”

    There are plenty of people who have children and who still have no one to look out for them. It’s risky business to have kids on the off-chance that they’ll be there when you’re old/an invalid/otherwise incapacitated. (It’s also not very fair to have kids so you can employ them later as caretakers. Talk about selfish.)

    • I never asked “what about when you get old?”

      Nor can I find any statement that people should have children for the purpose of having caretakers.

      There are plenty of people who don’t look out for their children, or end up estranged from them. So they likely end up fending for themselves anyway.

      But, I disagree with your premise, perhaps because I have a large, close family, and to us, looking after elderly family members is an act of love, not a job.

      • I think there’s been a misunderstanding. I didn’t say you asked – I simply read this:

        “They [nieces and nephews] might come in handy later in life, even if you have plenty of money and good insurance.

        In my volunteer work, I come across sick and elderly people who have no one to look out for them. Talk about sad . . .[/quote]

        which led me to conclude that you were saying it can be helpful to have someone younger to be there to help you when you’re older, which then led into my saying that others (not you) have used the “when you’re older” scenario to ask the child-free whether they’ll regret, when they’re older, not having someone there to take care of them.

        Most families to consider it their pleasure/natural family behavior to care for the elders when they get older; however, when people say, “Don’t you want someone to care for you when you’re old?” it sounds like they’re saying, “Don’t you think you should have a child so they can take care of you when you’re old?” And that’s just not a sound reason to have children. If you have a child expressly so you’re not alone when you’re old, that’s a huge burden to place on a child – and all for YOU (not you, but you understood). I didn’t mean to argue with what you were saying – was just touching on a closely related point.

        • Anonymous Male says:

          The way I look at it, when I’m in need of a nursing home, I can have my attorney write the checks out of my retirement money, or I can hope and pray that my children write the checks out of their own income. If being a parent is just some kind of long-term senior care program, it is a MUCH better investment to put all that childraising money into good financial planning. If you have kids in order to take care of you decades later, you are sinking all your money into a roll of the dice.

          Besides, you have to plan for your old age whether you have children or not.

  34. If you don’t have kids, you might want to stay as close to your nieces and nephews as you can.  They might come in handy later in life, even if you have plenty of money and good insurance.

    In my volunteer work, I come across sick and elderly people who have no one to look out for them.  Talk about sad . . .

  35. I’m thankful to people who don’t want (and don’t subsequently have) children, because there are far too many people who have children but don’t act as if they want them, and thus don’t bother to do what children need from their parents: sacrifice their own wants/interests/desires for their children’s (where there is a conflict).
    There are too many men willing to impregnate a woman he has no interest in marrying and coparenthing children with, and too many women willing to be impregnated by some guy they have no intention of being with for more than a brief period, and certainly no assurance of being together with him long enough to raise a child.
    This behavior is one of the main causes of absent fathers and  the social problems that statitically result from the absence of fathers in the home. So, while I have no control (nor want control,) I am 100% in favor of childlessness for all but people who are in stable, loving, happy, and permanent marriages. 
    I am not saying that single parents can’t succeed; they can. 
    Can children succeed without a father?  Yes. 
    Can children succeed without a mother?  Yes. 
    Can children succeed with neither a father nor a mother? Yes.
    Raised by a grandmother only? Yes. 
    Raised in a series of foster homes without any biological or adoptive family?  Yes. 
    However, as parental influence and presence decreases, the challenge of growing up increases, and (statistically) so do social problems. So, kudos to intentionally childless people.  There should be more of you.

  36. Black Iris says:

    Here’s the thing I don’t get. The guys are complaining because their friends think they’re selfish for not wanting to have kids. On the other hand, the reasons they give are pretty much all about it’s more convenient for me to not have kids – I can have more money, a bigger house, vacations, the freedom to go where I please, my career, etc.

    I don’t for one moment think these guys should have kids – that would be a disaster all around. On the other hand, their reasons are ultimately about not wanting to be self-sacrificing.

    I don’t want to be prejudiced against guys who don’t have kids, but on the other hand, I think there is a certain maturity and spiritual growth that comes from making a commitment to your family and doing things you might not always want to. There are other paths for that, but these guys don’t sound like that’s what’s going on in their lives.

    I can’t help wondering about guys whose first thought at the idea of having children is panic, feeling trapped, prison, and misery. It sounds extreme to me.

    The other thing that always comes up in these debates is that it’s very hard to hold one point of view without insulting the other. So comments about people wanting kids only for shallow reasons put my back up and make it hard to be sympathetic.

    • I’ve seldom met people more selfish than parents. They get to disguise their selfishness under the noble banner of “I’m doing this all for my CHILD’S benefit, not mine” but it’s selfishness all the same to demand perks, special treatment, and other types of favoritism for “families” rather than individuals.

      Having kids is not a selfless act or a noble contribution to society–it’s a lifestyle choice, like any other. It deserves neither condemnation nor any particular praise.

      • Not to mention the resource consumption and pollution they generate in their “selfless act of parenting.” Want do the earth a favor? Don’t produce any more little consumers.

      • Seriously, I love my parents, but I detest parents in general. They’re the ones ruining the education system because they feel their little “precious bundles of joy” are perfect in any way, and anything less is the fault of someone else. They also screwed up the band program I was in when I was in high school. These “parents” were obviously living vicariously through their children by being controlling demons during band rehearsals. I am also an adult who started taking ballet at 20, and I can tell you I don’t really like theparents who bring in their children because you can tell just by what they say that these are stage parents pushing their girls into ballet because they think it will make them pretty and feminine. Ick. I just detest parents in general.

    • Black Iris, there you go making the same tired accusations that people without children hear all the time. Parents are not better people than non-parents. Many, many parents are incredibly self-involved and selfish. They have children for narcissistic reasons and they think that because they have children, they deserve constant kudos for their “self-sacrifice.” I just think that’s BS. Sorry to rant but your comment is just so typical of the comments I read from parents whenever the subject comes up. Sometimes, the hostility that people express toward non-parents (particularly toward women, but also toward men) is shocking.

      • Black Iris says:

        But what I don’t see is how in the same article, guys can say, we tell people the reason we don’t have children is because it makes our life easier and then be surprised that their friends think they’re being selfish. What else would their friends think?

        The other thing that is hard to discuss without getting people mad is that as a parent I feel that I have grown and matured because of being a parent. It has not made be a better person than the rest of humanity or anything and I am certainly still selfish many times a day.

        I think many people who’ve had kids would agree. So if you start talking to them about kids and they talk about maturity, they may be trying to get this across.

        I have done things for other people to a more extreme degree than at any other time in my life because I am a parent. I could have done these things in other ways, but I didn’t. I have matured and grown up in my attitude towards my mother and other parents. I am a better, wiser, more mature person than I was before I had kids. As time goes on, the fact that you put in a large effort and did something hard becomes an achievement.

        Do I think other people should have kids just to experience that? No. Kids are great, but the amount of work involved means that no one should have kids unless they feel a pull to do it. It would be like marrying a guy you don’t love just because you think you’re supposed to get married at a certain age.

        • Simply doing what you like to do is not selfishness, Black Iris. Doing something for your benefit that HURTS SOMEONE ELSE is selfishness. That’s a crucial difference.

          If you’re going to suggest that having kids is some sort of selfless act, then a couple with one child is guilty of selfishness for not having two. Jon & Kate Plus Eight were selfish because they COULD have had twelve. And so on.

        • “I am a better, wiser, more mature person than I was before I had kids.”
          Well, that’s your opinion.

    • I can see where you’re coming from, BlackIris, but give people a little more credit. I don’t want kids – for personal reasons and for philosophical reasons to do with population and caring for the planet – and I’ve talked with a few other men and women about this.

      Some personal reasons can be very difficult to admit to. Such reasons are often emotional and not easy to concisely articulate. Referring to freedom or a sense of being trapped is a much easier line that, while it earns derision from those who sacrifice to raise a family, is also digestible. I wouldn’t want to get into an argument on the ethics of having kids with a parent, and I don’t imagine those who decided not to for personal reasons are altogether willing to share, either. This is a discussion where people inherently have stakes in their sides, as it reflects on life choices.

      I’ve also met a few men and women who are capable of self-sacrifice towards other peoples children despite (because of?) not having any of their own. A good friend and a father described children as a conduit through which one could learn to care about the rest of the world. I believe him, I think it’s a noble goal, but I also believe that children of one’s own are not the only way to do that.

      • Black Iris says:

        I wouldn’t be offended if someone said they were trying to prevent overpopulation because I’m comfortable with deciding to have kids. On the other hand, I would figure it wasn’t the full answer since there are many kids who need homes.

        I find the person reasons much more believable – things like I did so much child care when I was growing up that I got tired of it. It’s awkward, because those are things you probably would only say to your close friends. My main response to all this in normal life is to not ask why someone doesn’t have kids. If they are close friends, you usually find out, and it does seem to me to often be something more personal than freedom or concern for the environment.

    • welokaythen says:

      Mostly in response to Black Iris’ post:

      I’m one of those men who is childfree by choice. I will only speak for myself on this. You are right that the reasons given in the article sound selfish. My reasons for being childfree are self-centered. I make no claim to choosing this because I want to help the environment or because the world is too crowded. I don’t think I would be a very good parent to a child, so in that way I am thinking beyond myself, but for the most part it’s just not what I want out of life. If I am being selfish, who is being hurt by my selfishness? My children aren’t being hurt by my selfishness, because they don’t exist. Sometimes the most responsible parenting decision is choosing not to be one.

      Yes, some people like me choose to be childfree for selfish reasons. I admit it. Now, I ask in reply, “How many parents choose to be parents out of truly unselfish reasons?” And, in the category of “unselfish,” I don’t count accidentally getting pregnant, doing it because I never really thought about it much, or because everyone else was doing it. Giving it no real thought is not the same as being selfless. The most common reason is “because I’ve always wanted to,” which is hardly an unselfish reason.

      Most of the arguments used against being childfree are appeals to a person’s self-interest: you’ll regret it later, you’re missing out, no one will take care of you when you’re older, you’ll never find a spouse, etc. I’m too selfish, so I need to start thinking about things that are in my self-interest?

      I also hear all the time that “it’s all worth it,” that basically when you’re a parent the good stuff ultimately outweighs all of the bad stuff. So, if that’s true, that means the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. That means it’s a net gain in your individual self-interest, which means it’s not fundamentally selfless at all. Parents can’t have it both ways – either you gain more than you give or you give more than you gain. If you gain more than you give, then it’s just a good investment, not a noble sacrifice. I don’t get to claim selflessness because I put aside money into a retirement account.

    • Alan Smith says:

      Black Iris, I don’t quite get the point you make here when you say:.

      …certain maturity and spiritual growth that comes from making a commitment to your family and doing things you might not always want to

      In what way does making a lifestyle choice to produce children make you more mature or spiritually aware? If simply doing things one doesn’t like is the path to spiritual awareness, can I then claim guru status for emptying my cat’s litter tray, paying my credit card bill or, for that matter, enduring a screaming child on a bus?

      I have always been amazed by the Orwellian doublespeak that comes from a certain type of parent. On the one hand they talk of the wonders of parenthood and how rewarding it is, and (frequently in the same conversation) we hear of the “sacrifices” involved. In a world where contraception is readily available, surely you can see that having children is a choice. Presumably, the nappy changing, putting up with tantrums, driving children to activities and all the rest were things you knew about before choosing to breed… and were things you accepted before you made your choice.

  37. Black Iris says:

    At the end of the article, I’m still unclear about whether or not men are pressured to have kids the same way women are. It makes it harder to find a partner after you’re 30. That’s just math, most people want kids. If you don’t, you have to seek out someone in the minority. Harder, but not impossible.

    • It’s like being in any other minority, really. If I wanted to only date short blondes, or only marry a woman who shares my religion, my choices would be similarly restricted.

      The great thing about the U.S. is that “what most people do” doesn’t really matter. You’re free to follow your own path and your own preferences.

  38. Hi Sylvia,
    Great idea to tap some childfree guys from The Childfree Life. Surprised that more did not speak to what Lots of guys told me in my interview research for Families of Two, and have told me since. I talked about it earlier this year at The Good Men Project: Definitely need to hear more from cf guys…in my interviews I learned that it was generally assumed that the woman drove the decision to have kids (with couples), but on the ground, that was really not the case. Plenty of guys had strong feelings about not having kids, and was a deal breaker if she did ~Laura

  39. “Why don’t you have one and then you’ll see?”

    Just like trying anchovies on pizza, right?

  40. I’d say this is one area where the societal pressure probably is heavier on the CF woman than the average childfree man. Which is a shame, of course, since there should be no pressure on ANYONE who chooses to be childfree.

    I’ve heard dozens of comments ranging from the patronizing “You’ll change your mind when the right woman comes along” to the deranged “Why don’t you have one and then you’ll see?” But merely asking the question is absurd–the CF choice is not a pathology that needs to be analyzed and explained, any more than a preference for broccoli over lima beans.

  41. My boyfriend and I are both in our 40’s and we don’t have kids, or want them. My boyfriend tells me that he often feels he is judged negatively for failing to live up to his “manly” responsibility to protect and provide for a wife and kids. It’s like somehow he has violated the social contract by pursuing a lifestyle that is perceived as hedonistic. We are both treated a bit like oddities by our friends and family. In some ways, people do not consider us to be fully grown up. We are a childless, unmarried yet committed middle-aged couple. No one knows what to make of that.

  42. I’m sure men are guilted/shamed over not wanting to have children more than most men let on and certainly more than the ones doing the guilting/shaming will admit to. But per the script of being a man we are simply not allowed to talk about those things.

  43. My wife and I are not having children, and we both get harassed and guilted about it by both friends/family and strangers alike, but my wife definitely gets it far more than I do. I have been accused of being “selfish,” but most of the time I get the “but you’d make a great father” whereas my wife gets the “you’d better do it while you’re still young or you’ll regret it,” which has a far more accusing tone to it.

  44. i never thought abouts kids until now when my bro had a baby girl,she is 4 now and we love her,such pride and 48,and left my job take over my life,was very fulfilled,hadnt time think bout kids,i was made redundant and what was it all for.i bitterly regret not making a plan,have a partner,that wasnt the prob,he went along with what ever i i think he regrets our just job filled lives.ive learn from bitter experience,u shoud go with the natural way of life if u meet someone u genuinly get on with,make a plan.any comments,i should have done where u see yourself in 5yrs.


  1. […] their serious relationship is in jeopardy because of a disagreement on one of the most important conversations a couple can […]

  2. […] receive notifications of new comments posted on that article in my in-box. The following comment (posted at The Good Men Project) arrived this morning: I never wanted a child and have one now. Love the baby more than anything […]

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