Recently, I decided that I don’t want to have kids.
It came with a huge sense of relief. I’ve been on the fence about it for years so feeling clear has allowed me to look into my future with a renewed sense of conviction and confidence.
It wasn’t an easy decision though. It’s a catch-22.
We can’t know what it’s like until we do it, yet we have to decide if we want it before we can experience it.
Basically, there’s no way to know. Or is there?
Maybe the best we can do is read the signs from our life and make a best guess. While that may sound like a whimsical way to make such a big life decision, I found that in my life there were five big indicators that I don’t want kids.
1. I’ve never wanted kids “now”.
When people ask me if I want kids, I typically say “yeah, but not now”. I can’t recall a single moment when I’ve wanted to be a Dad in the present moment, I’ve always just assumed that I would want that in the future.
This makes sense, because I never really stopped to consider what my life would be like if I didn’t have kids. My parents had kids, all my friend’s parents had kids, so naturally I’d have kids too. I didn’t have any adult role models in my life that had made the choice to not have kids.
Not wanting something “now” but thinking I might want it in the future is usually a sign I don’t want something at all.
2. I’m impeccable when it comes to safer sex.
It always used to boggle my mind when I would hear about men or women having unprotected sex at the risk of getting pregnant if they weren’t trying to have a baby.
Why would they risk something so significant? Looking back, it seemed as though on some level they wanted to have kids, whereas for me, I’m deathly afraid of getting someone pregnant, so I always take the necessary precautions to prevent it.
3. The idea of never having kids is totally ok with me.
Here’s a question I asked myself that helped me realized I didn’t want kids.
How would you feel if you knew for sure that in this life you would never be a Dad?
That’s a better question than “do you want to have kids” because it really puts you face-to-face with the reality of not being a father.
When I considered this question I didn’t have a feeling of missing out or being incomplete. In fact, quite the opposite. When I considered a life without kids I was relieved.
I thought of all the creative projects I’d want to do, I thought of all the traveling I’d want to accomplish and the endless possibilities life would have in store for me.
That’s not to say that all those things aren’t possible with kids, they are, but I noticed that when the choice to have kids was taken away from me, I felt more free and more excited about the possibilities of my life.
4. I love being a mentor.
Eight years ago I joined the Big Brother Big Sister program and it’s easily one of the most rewarding things I do with my time.
Not to say that I couldn’t be a father and a mentor, but when I consider how I’d like to spend my energy I would rather be a mentor to a lot of kids than father to a few.
There is also a sense in me that bringing another child into the world is irresponsible. Why would I birth more children when there are currently millions of kids who don’t even have their basic needs taken care of? If I’ve learned anything from being a Big Brother it’s that I can make a significant difference in someone’s life by seeing them a few times a month.
It’s not that I don’t like kids, I do. But for me I’d rather be involved in their lives from the perspective of a mentor or an uncle, than a father. I like the idea of in-and-out privileges that I couldn’t have as a father.
5. I already know I would be a great Dad.
Parenting is not easy, and I’m sure however hard I think it would be, I’d have to multiply that number by ten, but I know I’d be good at it.
I’ve spent much of my professional life in positions of leadership and responsibility and I handle those situations well. I’m calm and patient, and I’m great at not taking things personally.
The reason I say that is I believe one of the draws of parenting is seeing what you’re made of, getting to witness yourself responsible for someone else’s life. While I certainly would learn a lot from being a Dad, it’s not the area of growth that most excites me right now. In one sense, it feels like my time as a Navy Officer gave me a taste of being “grown up” and these days I’m more interested in freedom, creativity and travel.
The funny thing about this whole decision is while I’m doing my best to project what it would be like to have kids, I will really never know. Since bringing up this subject I’ve had many friends write me and say they never wanted kids but when they had one they instantly changed their mind.
I’m sure that could happen to me as well. Having a kid changes our whole brain chemistry, so how could I ever predict what that would be like?
My intention with this article isn’t to be “right” it’s just to share my thoughts on a subject that’s been brewing in my head for the past four months, in hopes it gives others a sense of clarity in their own life.