Funny how the title of this node is "I don't want children" yet every writeup that precedes this one is about wanting children.
Anyway, on with the show...
I don't want children of my own. I've been saying so since I was old enough to understand how they were made. It seems to me that most people I say this to have trouble believing me; I'm inevitably told that I'll change my mind (I won't), or that I'll be happy when it finally happens (it won't finally happen), or, if the speaker is feeling charitable, will say that s/he didn't want children, either, but when s/he finally had a child of their own, their personality underwent a vast and instantaneous change to allow for the child's existence and that now, s/he couldn't imagine life without children in it (I would be devastated).
I usually answer these interlocutions by saying "I just don't like children." This is a very true statement, but it's not the only answer I could give. There's a multitude of reasons why I don't want to have children:
- I've always been poor, and (let's face it) I probably always will be. Raising a child costs a lot of money.
- The money I've had in my life has been managed poorly. Budgeting for a child is not something I'm capable of doing. I have enough trouble keeping myself alive, nevermind someone else.
Those reasons are given to people with whom I'm not very familiar, like acquaintances or relatives (I have no close family). Friends of mine may hear about more personal reasons:
- Diabetes, heart disease, bipolar disorder, male pattern baldness, depression, attention deficit disorder and socially-crippling shyness all run in my family. I wouldn't wish any of those things on anyone, and were I to have a child, there'd be at most a 50% chance for any or all of these things to be passed on to it. I don't like those odds.
- Having a child requires two people. I don't expect to find a heterosexual woman (or anyone at all, really) that I'd ever love or trust enough to endeavor to reproduce with me. It's true that one can't truly love another without first loving oneself, and I have very poor self-esteem and no real self-confidence to speak of. That kind of rules me out.
- Most if not all major religions expect everyone to marry and have children (and to be heterosexual, but that's neither here nor there). I'm about as non-religious as it's possible to be, and I'm contrarian by nature to boot, adding an extra dimension of unwillingness to how I feel about this.
- And perhaps most importantly: I'm not heterosexual. I'm a non-operative trans person (that is, possessed of gender identity disorder, but not acting on it) that's often loathe to define hir own sexuality in words (I prefer actions; they speak louder than words). On top of that, I'm in a self-enforced period of celibacy, which will most likely be very prolonged. I don't intend to pursue romantic interests with anyone at all until my personality flaws are corrected. To do so before then would be folly.
- The thought of being a father repulses me because I hate being male, and fatherhood only reinforces it.
- I wouldn't wish being male on anyone. There's a 50% chance that any child I'd produce would be male, dooming the child to the possibility of having a life like mine, filled with the type of self-loathing that just won't go away.
I think that to many people, having children is a conceit1, borne of a desire to see oneself in others. While this may or may not be true, it's debatable that many (if not most) people have children for the wrong reasons (or, often, for no reason at all). Were I ever to have a child of my own, it would be because I would want it for who it was/could be, not because it's a miniature version of myself (what a horrible thought!). I'd want to care for it, nurture it and watch it grow into a good person. Given all that could go wrong with this, however, I think it's much safer to simply abstain from reproduction altogether.
The last thing the world needs right now is another unhappy person.
1. I could speak of love here ("Mommy and Daddy love each other very much"), but as I have never experienced love to the point that I would want to have children with someone, I won't speak of it. This perhaps colors my thoughts on this issue. Read whatever you like into it.