Why we don’t want children

Mrs YFG and I don’t have, and don’t want, children. We are unusual among our peers as a married young couple without a plan to create small humans.

We had assumed when we were dating, blindly, that we were going to have children as that’s “what you did“. We didn’t have the “conversation” until we married and people started dropping hints (some less subtle than others). After seeing our friends have children and, frankly, seeing their lives, it wasn’t something we wanted for ourselves. We’ve experienced our own childhoods, and spent enough time with enough children to understand the difficulties – financial and otherwise – in raising them. Also, to be fair, children don’t get a choice in whether they enter the world or not. The choice is made for them, for good or bad reasons. We prefer to help the people already here.

And this is where we receive the following remarks…

Oh but you would make such good parents!

Yes we would, probably. We would also make good landlords or teachers, but we don’t want to do that. Arguably, the most important part of being a parent is wanting to be one, which we don’t.

Surely you want to leave your imprint on the world?

Some people would like to continue their family to remember them, which is a nice notion. This isn’t something that inspires us. Mrs YFG and I want to leave our own positive imprint on the world, we don’t need children to do that.

What if you change your mind? You might want children later on

We might well do. And at that point we can reassess and there are plenty of children already existing in the world who need a home – through adoption or fostering. Time will tell.

But as a woman Mrs YFG won’t fulfill her motherly destiny if she doesn’t have a child?

As Mrs YFG would say: “F*** off“.

Who will look after you in retirement and old age?

The plan is not to depend on anyone else to care for me – the purpose of my birth was not to care for my parents. It’s an incredible responsibility to give to somebody who has no say in the matter, and we don’t feel that sense of duty to our own parents. We love our parents, but neither them nor us would want to be destined to care for the other. We plan to pay for our, and our families’, care later in life and hopefully care for each other. We’re not banking on anyone else.

Do you hate children?

On the contrary, we love children – we just enjoy being able to give them back (especially when toilet trouble happens). We have multiple godchildren and friends’ children and we love them all. Our childfree existence provides babysitting, personal shopping and entertainment services. We give good gifts and can provide a source of pocket money in future.

Won’t it make you jealous seeing other people enjoying their babies and children?

No. Other people are jealous of our lie-ins, weekend brunches and our clean, sharp, flammable objects in our house. We have a beautiful, clean home. We get to do what we want when we want: cooking and reading and generally hanging out. We make decisions which will objectively improve our life. Having a child (or a dog) for that matter will not improve our life right now.

What is your life’s purpose if not to have children?

To be happy human beings, and enjoy our limited time on Earth, preferably helping others throughout our life. If we couldn’t have children at all, this choice would be made for us. Some people don’t get the choice and we are grateful we have the choice.

I know what it’s all about – it’s cost saving – you exclude children so you can get to FI quicker

Well, that’s kind of obvious- children are the most expensive thing in life. But you can still piss away all your money whilst not having children; or you can have children, be frugal and reach FI. It’s a matter of personal choice.

25 thoughts on “Why we don’t want children

  1. 26 is still pretty young

    I’d second your approach of keeping an open mind and your options well and truly open as life has a habit of changing all the time

    As Emile Auguste Chartier once said, “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when you have only one idea.”

  2. Hi. Damn you come across as so level headed for any age. I fully agree with your views on kids, at that age I barely knew myself, so it’d have been grossly irresponsible to breed given the precariousness of my situation. The difference between me back then and the majority is that they were too selfish to even consider that, before trying out having a kid to solve their various issues like something being lacking in their lives. Having grown up perpetually in fear of my parents breaking up and my life falling apart while I was too helpless to do anything about it, I was particularly determined that I had no right to do that to my own kids. (who’re still in the planning stages as a result)

    It never fails to amaze me how others think they have a right to pressure you on this, will they help in any way, let alone pay for these kids? It’s like having 100 friends on facebook, then asking them to come around to help paint your house one day and nobody shows up, so in fact you actually have zero friends in real life. The most common assumption today is that you’re lazy or don’t like kids, but in my case I’m simply terrified of failing a human being that’s totally dependent on me, that I caused. Yes, back in the day we all came into being because everyone took a punt on things just working out, but the world changes and we can choose to be more responsible; only have a child if you’re really sure you can give them a decent life.

    1. Thanks FI Warrior for the kind words. We completely agree with you. Bringing a child into the world, to us, seems like the ultimate responsibility. And we’ve seen how hard it is for people who have children – young and grown-up. I think its a decision you have to take very seriously – and it seems many people just fall into it – barely having time to think if its right for them at all.

  3. All sounds very rationale and reasonable. Unfortunately we are genetically programmed to reproduce and nurture, reason and rational thought is unlikely to lead to fulfillment, we’re not as free from nature as we would like to think. Anyway, your reasons are all admirable, good luck!

    1. Thank you herbie. Its interesting that sometimes when I ask people why they want children they will struggle and fall back to: “because that’s what nature intended”. I am dubious of that argument because we do many things that, by similar logic, are against the “intentions of nature”. Perhaps you are right – we really aren’t as free from nature as we’d like to think. But as the rebel in me would say, maybe this is the opportunity to get one back on old Mother Nature?

    2. @herbie – We are genetically programmed to reproduce, however, as humans, unlike other animals, we have the mental capacity to think things through and make conscious decisions about how we want to live our lives, so I disagree with “…reason and rational thought is unlikely to lead to fulfillment…”

  4. It’s perfectly possible to live an enjoyable and meaningful life if you don’t want children, though it’s a minority sport (~20% of women in the UK never have children, with the most educated least likely according to the Economist).

    However, it does press a lot of buttons 😉 I salute your courage. People will only knock it off saying “ah but you’ll change your mind” after you get into middle age. For all I know you may – good luck either way – we are privileged these days to have the choice.

    1. Thanks Ermine. I think we are very lucky to live in this era and something we overlook is that for the first time in most of history the majority of people do not need children to survive. It wasn’t that long ago that families needed children for working and care needs. And that having children was a necessity for protecting your property rights. Nowadays, in most countries, the government isn’t going to suddenly take your home away from your family if you die heirless. Likewise, in most European countries the government will actually pay for you to have children and will ensure they receive minimum levels of care and education. Like you say we are privileged these days to have the choice.

  5. People with kids and people without kids. They both feel sorry for the others. Don’t let what you see of the downsides – toilet training etc – fool you into thinking that’s all there is. You only really get it after you have them and you actually fall in love with them. It doesn’t happen overnight. Then, all the downsides just don’t matter. I didn’t want kids, my wife did. We had kids, and I couldn’t be happier. I found that it brought much more joy and warmth into my life than I ever thought.Parenting is not just being a slave to a little tyrant, it is your second chance at innocence. No guarantee it’d work like that for you, but never say never!

    1. Thanks for the comment Saudisimon and giving a contrary view point. We always find it perplexing that many of our colleagues and friends spend most of their days moaning about the downsides of child rearing but then are unequivocal that they wouldn’t change a thing. I think it comes down to it being very difficult to put yourself in the shoes of the other situation – it is after all a life changing event. And I’m very glad you that it has worked out much better than you expected!

      1. “many of our colleagues and friends spend most of their days moaning about the downsides of child rearing” – I really don’t get this attitude and I hear it a lot as well. Don’t get me wrong, if I’m with other parents and they ask about how much sleep I’m getting, I am not going to lie about it. But a lot of parents seem only too keen to bitch about their beloved little cherubs.

        And I certainly wouldn’t moan to people who didn’t yet have children, for one it’s probably boring as hell, and for two I think it’s potentially inappropriate because what if, say, that person did want kids and couldn’t have them? How would that make them feel?

        Not to mention the fact that it was your choice to bring that kid into the world and surely everyone knows what that involves and so to moan about those things is a bit idiotic IMHO.

        Anyway, I will give you my perspective in case it helps, I was dead set against having children up until around the age of 30. I could have written all the same points in your article above in fact and then some (you missed out overpopulation as a reason for not having them for example?)

        However I always knew deep down that Mrs TFS would want them at some point so I guess our situations differ slightly in that sense, but anyway as you’ve probably guessed I changed my mind/decided to just “go for it” and the rest is history (and as you’ve heard 1000 times no I wouldn’t change it for the world and blah blah blah).

        So, as others have said, never say never… It sounds like your heads are both totally screwed on the right way anyway so I’m sure whatever you do, have a kid, don’t have one, adopt one, etc…. everything will work out fine!

        I honestly think that deciding to have a child is quite a selfish decision and so don’t listen to people who pretend otherwise, but I am happy to have made that selfish decision as it has bought about maximum happiness in my life and that is what we’re all about in the FI scene… You even said it yourself: “To be happy human beings, and enjoy our limited time on Earth”.

        Obviously your happy and mine may be wildly different so I’m not saying you should reconsider just based on that but I guess that is why many people do have them (like I say… rather selfishly)

        Cheers for the food for thought, I found it very interesting reading.

        Oh and massive kudos for reaching FI before I’d even heard about the concept! 🙂

        1. Hi FIREstarter – I’m so pleased to see you visiting the website! Thank you for the great comment. We’re never saying never but I think over time it becomes less likely, rather than more, that we’d decide to have children. Although that could completely change when both me and Mrs YFG are FI.

          I just wanted to comment on overpopulation. Whilst it’s true that the world’s population will continue to grow that growth is slowing down. By the end of this century its likely that the world’s population will stop growing, perhaps even starting to decline. If you have 5 minutes, have a watch of the late, great Hans Rosling explaining this on Newsnight:

          If anything, the major issue for us is that as the world gets richer, we need the 6 billion non-western people in the world to not live like western people do now. That’s because we (as a collective) use a currently unsustainable about of energy and emit too much carbon dioxide. If they follow in our footsteps, we will probably cause irreversible global warming. And I think the best thing we can do as a society is to live in a way that is less harmful to the planet – leading by example. For me, the principles that underlie this tie very much with the principles of Financial Independence.

          1. In the same vein re population: ‘Population 10 Billion’, by Danny Dorling. Summary is, as you’ve said, population growth has been in decline for some time, and the world probably can sustain, e.g. 10B, as long as we don’t all live like Westerners today.

          2. Yea I have viewed a lot of Rosling’s stuff, very fascinating and it definitely puts you in an optimistic mood with regards to the future of the human race!

            However when I was 18 and first pondering this sort of stuff it was approx. 18 years ago, I was very unaware of his work, and Youtube didn’t exist 🙂

            Although my ‘overpopulation’ and your ‘major issue for us’ are surely both just different sides of the same coin anyway? The problem is one of sustainability and resource depletion, which is a combination of number of people multiplied by the resources that each person uses.

            I have to say I think about this sort of thing a lot less now I have a kid, which you’d think would be the complete opposite given that I really should be thinking about the far flung future now my genes have got skin in the game. Maybe that’s the issue… parents are so f**king tired that they don’t have any head space left to think about being environmentally conscious 🙂
            Anyway, we do try of course, but practicality tends to trump all else.

            Either way, thought it was worth pointing out this counter intuitive attitude shift of thinking about short term (how can I benefit my kid right now) more than long term (how can I benefit the long term survival of my genes now they have a vessel to potentially transfer into the distant future) when you might think it should be the other way round!

            Cheers again

      2. > but then are unequivocal that they wouldn’t change a thing.

        Hmm. Maybe some of them hadn’t had enough to drink 😉 I’ve heard three guys so far (always seems to be the guys) go a little way past that. One said, in the confessional found at the bottom of a few glasses that having a child had totally ***ed up his life. One of the others had been whoopsed. In no way am I saying that it’s a common feeling among parents, but it’s not totally unheard of. It’s just not the sort of thing you say in polite company, and in all fairness all these guys were decent chaps and you’d never know observing them normally.

        1. Good point Mr Ermine – perhaps the truth will come spilling out with some more alcohol. Perhaps I/my acquaintances are just lucky; perhaps it’s because most are still quite young and naive. We will see. I’m sure this will be a topic I’ll come back to again in the future.

  6. I’m almost 69, had been married for 33 years before divorcing my spouse – it was VERY expensive for me, old male judges don’t like childless women. We had agreed before the wedding we didn’t want to have children right then, might later so keep the options open; I’d paid off the mortgage long before 40, yet despite never having never worked in a high-paid profession have always lived intentionally and attained financial independence long ago. I’d make the same reply as Mrs YFG: just how is it your business exactly? It’s perfectly possible that not everyone does feel the biological imperative, and I’m happy to tell anyone that once it becomes irrelevant that liberation is at least as great as that of financial freedom. And yes, my future care needs are funded, by my own efforts; I’ve had an interesting and fulfilling life, thank you for asking, and in single retirement understand that it’s possible to be happy in the moment as well as treasure memories.

    1. Hi Lindsey, Mrs YFG loved your comment! I’m very glad that you have found happiness following your own path. Your story really resonates, my mother was widowed at quite a young age (you can see more in my FI story post) – and since then there has always been a group of people that insist she can’t have a fully fulfilled life without finding a new partner. I think you are spot on saying “it’s possible to be happy in the moment as well as treasure memories”.

  7. When I was in my 20s and 30s, certain people (including complete strangers), upon finding out that I had no children would say ‘Best get to it, your body clock is ticking!’ At first, it used to really annoy me but in the end, I just put it down to the fact that they were jealous of my child-free status where I could have lie-ins every weekend, go out/stay out whenever I wanted, suffer hangovers in peace, go on holidays during off-peak season etc.

    I’ve never felt the urge to produce my own offspring and although I love my nieces and nephews to bits and generally have a lot of time for kids (and kids seem to genuinely like me too for some reason), I don’t wistfully wish I had my own sproglets and don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

    At some point in the near future, my body clock will stop ticking and I’ll be glad that I no longer have to worry about contraception!

    I’ve not had the chance to read the rest of your blog, so I have some catching up to do!

    1. Thanks Weenie – nice to see you commenting. I do love my lie-ins myself, as well as being able to go on holidays where there isn’t kid carnage! Perhaps there is so element of jealousy behind some of the comments Mrs YFG and I get.

  8. Thank you for this honest article.
    My wife and me do not have children and never wanted to. Thank goodness we have reached the point of being physically impossible to procreate so we no longer have all the subtle or not so subtle pressures towards reproduction that we have endured for decades. After all those years the only thing to say is that parenthood is overrated as a source of happiness. I enjoy much the company of nieces, nephews and friends progeny, but one of the best moments in life is when you hand them down to their parents so we can rest and go back to enjoy ourselves. Not everybody is made to be a parent and in my opinion not being a parent of a first world privileged child is the more ecologically conscious decision I have ever made, compensating for all the CO2 emissions of my travels around the globe.

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