Ethical Implications of Remaining Childless By Choice

I am childless by choice: female (no known repro issues), hetero, married, mid-30’s.

I have chosen to be childless for a couple of reasons:

  1. I don’t particularly like children (cue assorted gasps of horror). Everyone has always said “its different when its yours” and all I can say is that there are an awful lot of people who kill their own children, therefore you don’t know that “its different when its yours”. Maybe it was for you, but maybe it wouldn’t be for me. As I see it children = 9 months of giving up my supremacy of my body. Once I become pregnant every decision I make from thereon is supposed to be guided by the thoughts of the little sproutling. Then for the next 18 years, I have to raise and care for this child, putting their concerns above my own, and in the meantime generally having to succumb to society’s expectations, or else I will be a bad mom.

  2. I believe I would be a terrible parent, based on the fact that my dogs are mis-behaving monsters, I would likely be the parent with the mis-behaving brats in public and the thought of turning into that nauseates me.

It is nice that the use of my time and money are solely directed by me, but that wasn’t one of the primary reasons, but it is a very nice benefit.

choosing to remain childless is not selfish, its not like there’s a shortage of humans on the planet.

BTW: your grandkids helping me in the nursing home? they already owe me for paying for schools and parks, which I gladly do, as I know that it is an important societal need. :wink:

Everybody dies alone.

My SO and I are childless by choice.

As others have said above, having children is just as much a selfish decision as not having them. Either way, it’s about what I and my partner want. People don’t have kids because of what is good for society. It’s either because they want them, or because they had unprotected sex.

No one owes it to society to have kids. Not now, not ever. I personally feel that I owe it to society to help raise all kids. That’s everything from helping out friends and family with their kids, to supporting the local schools, to supporting global efforts to reduce hunger and increase education. If I have a social obligation to impact future generation, I can do much more good by providing third world education then by raising a couple kids of my own.

As for the “who will take care of me when I’m 90” question, I’m trying to plan things out so I will be taking care of me when I am 90. Even this question is an argument for havin children being a selfish thing. Just as I am responsible for taking care of myself now, I am also responsible for making sure that there will be sufficent funds for me to live out my life.

Please note, selfish isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just states that the reasons for doing something are for your own benefit. Hell, breathing could be seen as selfish, as it’s purpose is to extend my life.

Maybe in a metaphorical sense, but not in a literal one. There are often bystanders–medical people, family, religious officials, fellow soldiers, cops, etc. depending on circumstances. I intend to go out alone in the literal sense–no other human present for the bang/splatter.

Thank you. That usage of selfish as though it’s only negative drives me crazy. Any act which benefits one’s self is selfish. And yes, breathing is selfish. :wink:

I reject this definition of selfish - if choosing to do things in the manner you think will produce an optimal result is itself selfish regardless of the harm or lack thereof it generates, then it’s impossible to be both unselfish and rational at the same time. Merely taking care of onesself is not selfish; it’s rational. Only when you accrue benefit at the expense of a detriment to somebody else is it selfish - and even then, you have to accrue a disproportionate benefit! If you’re splitting a pie between four people, then it’s not selfish to take a quarter of it, even though that deprives the others of the opportunity to divide that fourth among themselves. It’s only selfish if you take more than your share and thus deprive them.

So. The question becomes, how does my failure to have children increase the burden on others disproportionately? Offhand I can’t think of a way it could, unless we were running a severe people shortage - by which I mean, there are literally so few people around that if I don’t have kids, then we wouldn’t have enough hands to bail the ship of society and it would somehow sink or collapse. Short of that situation, it seems impossible to be selfish by not having kids.

(I think you can be selfish by having kids, though, if you are not able to support them properly. But there is no cost to society if you don’t - presuming that you support yourself in your dotage through other means, or support societal institutions to do so in a sufficiently proportionate manner to your means and circumstance.)

Which is indeed what’s happening in parts of Europe, and particularly Japan.

Is it really? I find that a little tough to believe. Maybe they can’t maintian the same standard of comfort or prosperity as they’ve had, or whatever, but I find it hard to believe that they can’t find enough physical people to keep essential services running.

I don’t see the decision to not have children as necessarily selfish, but many people don’t have them for selfish reasons. If you don’t want kids because you think you would be a bad parent, or have hereditary problems, etc, those are not selfish reasons to not have children. Wanting to spend all your money on gee-gaws and nights out on the town, well, those are selfish reasons.

However, I would certainly not want such a person to be a parent. If he or she has selfish reasons for not wanting a baby, then by all means don’t have a baby. The last thing in the world we need are more babies being raised by selfish parents, or ones who would resent the children being there.

My sister and her husband have a son and I think they should have remained childless. They love him, but they clearly are more interested in their careers and are always thinking of ways to have other people care for him as much as possible. Selfish maybe.

But it is better to be selfish and childless than selfish with children.

Palo Verde (mother to 4 children)

I have a lot more respect for the childless by choice than I do for people like the Duggars and their nineteen kids by choice decision. If you recognize that being a parent isn’t for you then good for you. There are many people who don’t realize that fact until after they’ve had children.

It’s more of an issue when the society becomes top heavy, particularly in a welfare state. If too high a proportion of the population is taking from retirement funds, and not enough paying in, then it depletes the coffers. Services of course are relative to the size of a population. As the population determines the needs. But too many old people can indeed hurt a society.

I don’t get it. Why is the choice to remain childless better than the choice to have lots of kids?

Is it culture war aesthetics or is there some other reason?

This sort of thing is a temporary situation, though - eventually the old folks will die off and society will restabilize to some degree. And regardless the problem in question is when people utterly fail to prevent themselves from requiring extra societal support in their old age - having kids is not the only way to do so. Personally I consider paying into social security or the equicalent to be sufficient, morally speaking, if you can live off your promised payments. And if that fund has been pillaged, then there are indeed moral issues - but not necessarily with the old people.

When I hear of that, I generally doubt that they have the means or time to raise all those children properly. Admittedly, people who have lots of kids might be rich, maybe, but being Child#11 of 15 sounds like a sure recepe for parental attention to be spread thin regardless.

By comparison, it’s difficult to neglect a kid you don’t have.

Japan has made their own bed by creating a society where the burden on women of having children is too massive for newly-somewhat-liberated women to consider taking it on. They need some serious societal change to get women back in a child-bearing state of mind again there. Their xenophobia isn’t helping their situation either, I imagine. Canada doesn’t have a fantastically high birth rate, but we have the highest rate of immigration in the world.

I think talking about obligations to continue the human race are somewhat absurd, because humans are so fertile and can hardly help themselves from reproducing wildly. There would have to be a significant change in human fertility for this part of the discussion to become relevant. Like Anaamika, I can see a situation where I would give birth to children if I had to, if it was “have kids or the human race dies,” but we’re nowhere near that (quite the opposite, in fact - it’s more like, “keep having kids and we all die”).

Being childfree by choice doesn’t mean you don’t feel any obligation to society, either. I belong to a childfree by choice social group, and we are a very generous bunch with charities and volunteer work - not to sound too obnoxious, but we have the time and money to do so.

My belief, based on faith, is that the desire of what we call sexuality, is spiritually the longing of the soul to give and bring forth life to a very aspect of their own being. As such is it the desire of our hearts, but we seldom listen to our hearts, and instead we listen to our heads, and build walls of protection around our hearts, which acts to imprison it, and most of the time live by our heads, which perceive the physical, instead of our hearts that perceive the spiritual.

Choosing to be childless, is of the mind as described by the OP, not of the heart, and can not fulfill the longing of one’s heart, but just can serve to distract a person from that longing of their heart by substituting some other activity, such as charity work, which may also sometimes serve as a form of self inflicted punishment over guilt of not having a child.

On the other side of that coin, we’re now seeing our crime rates drop with an aging population.

kanicbird, my belief is that your belief is erroneous.*

*Please feel free to substitute a much stronger opinion here, but I won’t post it because we’re in Great Debates.

Sure 75 years from now Japan can recover. You do understand that social security is a Ponzi scheme that cannot pay out without population growth, or at the very least increase in GDP right?

More along the lines of the choice to do it the way the Duggars do – media whoring, strict gender roles, making the older kids care for the younger ones. The Duggars push it to extremes and deserved to be despised for it.

Most childless people aparently recognize that they aren’t cut out to be parents. As long as you’re not arguing against reducing the funding for my daughter’s school I respect that decision more than I respect someone’s decision to have a lot of children if they clearly cannot parent.

I think all the talk of “selfishness” is a pure red herring.

If you don’t want children, for any reason whatsoever, that’s perfectly fine. Don’t have children.

If you want children, and are willing and able to raise them, then go ahead and have children.

I’ve known people with wonderful, fulfilling lives in both categories.

The people I don’t understand are the hard-core “childfree” who don’t seem to want ANYONE to have children, and are resentful that most people do.