The site, Life in a Shoe, recently did a list of reasons to have kids, in response to lists of reasons they have seen out there on why not to have them. It is run by a Christian family that has 12 kids. They make it clear that they think the reasons not to have children are “based in immaturity, materialism, myths, and misconceptions.”
Well we can obviously contest this, but given this month’s On the Ground question re how parents can be selfish (see the On the Ground section to the right), I thought we’d take a look at their list and see how many on it are based in selfishness–a reason that boils down to what having the kid will do for the parent. How many do you count? Here’s the list:
100+ Reasons to Have Children
- Have a happier marriage.
- Pay less income taxes.
- Learn to share, and like it.
- The ultimate diet plan: morning sickness and breastfeeding.
- Enjoy snuggles on demand, around the clock.
- Cuteness abounds.
- Disposable diapers. There. I said it.
- Receive preferential treatment in grocery lines.
- Be seated first (or last, if you prefer) on planes.
- Park in the “stork” space at grocery stores.
- Have an excuse to buy cool toys and cute little outfits.
- Children will love you on your worst day, and…
- they think you’re beautiful, even on bad hair days,
- or when you’re not wearing makeup.
- Free entertainment: kids are hilarious.
- Laughter is good for your health. See above.
- Have family still living when you’re old.
- Have someone to help you when you’re old.
- Have someone to help care for your pets.
- But who needs pets? Kids are way cuter, and they last longer.
- Unlike pets, kids eventually learn to take care of their own poop.
- Get a lollipop every time you go to the bank, along with your children.
- Tone your arms the old-fashioned way: tote a toddler.
- Kids eat free at many restaurants.
- Have an excuse to buy junk food.
- Sharing your junk food means less stays on your own hips.
- Children will eat and appreciate your failed cooking experiments.
- Embarrass your kids. You won’t believe how fun it is. Displays of affection with your spouse work well for this.
- Be better able to encourage other parents during rough times with their children because you’ve been-there-done-that.
- Blow bubbles.
- Give your friends somewhere to send their kids’ hand-me-downs.
- Burn calories: play with your kids.
- Kids will help hone your reactions with obstacle courses on the stairs.
- Save money by not buying birth control.
- Have s*x without worrying about pregnancy. It’s fun.
- Ask anyone who has given birth: the pains of labor are worth it.
- Pregnancy reduces menstrual cramps in subsequent periods.
- Pregnancy lowers your risk of ovarian cancer.
- Breastfeeding lowers your risk of breast cancer,
- and uterine cancer,
- and osteoporosis.
- Not using birth control lowers your risk of ectopic pregnancy.
- Think pregnancy dooms you to getting fat? Take a look at my mom with her 14 kids. Can you even tell which one she is? (from LC: photo omitted–what? Does this mean that pregnancy makes you thin?)
- Pregnancy requires you to eat more. I can appreciate that.
- Be motivated to be a better person. Little eyes are watching.
- Help raise the languishing birth rate.
- Learn alongside your children.
- Read books you never would have discovered on your own.
- Reread your childhood favorites with and to a new generation.
- See the world through new, unjaded eyes.
- See yourself through your baby’s eyes. It’s amazing.
- See yourself through your children’s eyes. You’ll never be the same again.
- See your flaws reflected in your children. It’s enlightening and humbling.
- Kids will make you proud and keep you humble.
- If you make a mess while eating, everyone will assume the kids did it.
- Kid will say what you wish you could say, but can’t.
- Strengthen your relationship with your own parents by becoming a parent yourself.
- Stay physically active. It’s much harder to be lazy when little ones depend on you.
- Improved immune system. It’s a law of nature: Moms never get sick.
- If you do get sick, you have someone to take care of you without your spouse taking time off work.
- Baby smiles.
- Carrying a baby? Strangers will smile at you.
- Babies are also a great conversation starter.
- Learn to delight in everyday occurrences.
- Translate toddler gibberish with ease for puzzled onlookers.
- Your own love for your child gives you a small taste of how much God loves His children.
- Live vicariously: remember that toy you never got as a child, but you’re too old to want it now? Let your kids try it out.
- Relive your childhood: remember the toy you did get as a child? Let your kids try it out.
- Rediscover the joy of crayons.
- Job security: moms have it.
- Learn and believe that happiness really doesn’t come from material wealth…
- …yet be amazed at how much joy you can buy your child with a quarter.
- Kids are cheap.
- Marvel that 2 people can produce children that are better-looking than either parent. Heredity is a strange and wonderful thing.
- Be welcomed home like a returning war hero every time you go grocery shopping or to the post office.
- Be looked at like this: (imagine adorable)
- Soft little fingers and toes. They’re cute on other people’s children, but utterly priceless on your own children.
- The unbearable cuteness of newborn-size diapers. (credit: Deanna)
- Discover your super powers: make milk, and heal mortal wounds with a kiss.
- Ask any parent you know if they regret having kids.
- Learn to appreciate simple pleasures: ice cream cones, a single M&M, homemade cookies.
- Do you love your spouse? Experience a miracle: a new person who looks like both of you.
- After 10 years of children, washing dishes becomes optional. (credit: Deanna)
- Get special treatment on Mother’s Day.
- Breakfast in bed is fun, even when it’s cheerios and multi vitamins. (credit: Becca)
- Experience the triumph of potty training.
- Have the advantage of a youthful memory again: have your kids remind you about important things. (credit: Megan)
- Expand your wardrobe: share clothes with your teens.
- Gather candy from the piñata without getting funny looks.
- Have help cooking.
- Be a safer driver,
- In a safer vehicle.
- Free or cheap manicures and pedicures. I pay a dollar.
- Ditto for back/shoulder rubs.
- Perpetually late? You don’t even have to blame it on the kids. People will assume.
- Vanity? You’ll look at your baby in the mirror instead of yourself.
- Paint your kids’ nails in a color you like but could never wear yourself.
- Have your bed made for $.25/day. Maid service has never been so cheap or cheerful, and there’s no need to report payments to the IRS.
- If you’ve never had a baby fall asleep on your chest, you just don’t know what you’re missing.
- Homemade friends. My children are some of my favorite companions.
- Kids with money ROCK! They buy their own clothes, treat you to Starbucks, and buy you unbelievable birthday/Christmas gifts.
- World domination through militant fecundity! [maniacal laughter]
- Children are part of God’s purpose for creating marriage: But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring. Malachi 2:15
My count: ALL of these seem from a “what my kid does for me” perspective. Ok maybe not the one about the “languishing birthrates” — like there is no population problem–that reason is just outright wrong (as are others based on research). And maybe not the last one — having kids for God–oh but maybe yes, as this will get them through the gates of heaven I guess.
Signs of a selfish parent? A list like this!
Views of the writer on the childfree and this list make me think of how parents and childfree can be such worlds apart–that we may never understand each other. I can accept that. What I find unfair is the continued view that just because you don’t want to experience parenthood in life means you are selfish. Clearly there are many ways to be selfish and a parent, starting with this list.
What is your count? What do you think of these reasons? What are other signs of a selfish parent?
I think it would be easier to count which of these reasons are not selfish, I think there may have been 2 or 3 out of 100. but like you said some of them were just wrong. I could probably come up with something against every single one of these.
Tabatha, Which 2 or 3 do you think are Not selfish? Just curious. ~L
This was turning in to the world’s longest comment, so I published a response on my own blog (with credit to you). This is a really interesting find, thank you for sharing it with us.
I wanted to comment on all too but thought that would be Way too long! I will likely do a follow up post on the most ridiculous ones based on comments I get! ~L
Thanks for posting this. What selfish people. Number 2 makes me think they are proud to suck away government service while paying no income tax by virtue their 12 tax deductions.
I left the following comment. I doubt it will survive moderation, but maybe they will give a little thought to their selfishness
I’m sure this comment will be moderated away, but this list makes me sick! Lower income tax, preferential treatment at the store, early boarding on a plane, better parking, weight loss… and that’s just in the first 10! And you say us childfree people are the selfish ones. I’ve never wanted a vasectomy more in my life. If only I can find a doctor that will do it for a 27 year old with no kids.
Oh, for you thinking kids are a bible command: Jeremiah 16:1, 2: The word of the LORD also came to me saying, “You shall not take a wife for yourself nor have sons or daughters in this place.”
Good for you commenting on their site–! ~L
Gag! Some were kinda funny, but most were, ugh. As a cat-person, I rolled my eyes at this, “Have someone to help care for your pets. But who needs pets? Kids are way cuter, and they last longer. Unlike pets, kids eventually learn to take care of their own poop.” WTF? Like pets are so much harder to take care of than kids! Yes I have to clean the litterbox, but I can leave my cats alone all day (or weekend) without a sitter and I don’t have to deal with backtalk. They also eat way less and have cheaper medical bills. 😛
Agreed–most are either Ugh or …Wrong! No matter what, I could not believe how outright “me-me-me” they are~
From the persepctive of us childfree, I would put these so-called “advantages” into the following categories:
(1) BLECCCCH! I find the alleged benefit disgusting, a negative.
(2) Similar to (1), I say, “Big deal! So what?” to the alleged benefit, meaning that I find it neither beneficial nor negative.
(3) I disagree that the benefit can occur at all by having kids.
(4) I can gain the alleged benefit without having kids.
Furthermore, as others have pointed out here, many of these benefits come at the expense of the childfree, making those with kids the selfish ones, not those without kids.
And finally, I dismiss any of the reasons with a religious angle becausse I am an atheist. Childfree and god-free, what a wonderful combination and way to live! 🙂
Wow, this list has me shaking my head. Definitely selfish reasons, but I can’t imagine any of them being a deciding factor in having children. I think the craziest one is saving money on birth control. The cost of the two can’t even be compared! I am also very bothered by the first one, have a happier marriage. This is not the case for many couples after having children. As far as asking parents if they regret having kids, most would not admit it, there is just too much judgement. This list seems to be a bit defensive, and also comes off as very self righteous.
Agreed–that is why I had to post on it. Some reasons baffle me, others are just plain wrong, others…scary if that is a reason they would have to have kids! But mostly, I want to highlight where I can that selfishness on the part of cf is sure not a given and that many parents can be selfish too..~L
I went back over the list and I could really only find one
“Be better able to encourage other parents during rough times with their children because you’ve been-there-done-that.”
I don’t know what I saw that wasn’t selfish last time i read the list, It might have been some of the religious ones, not sure now, they all seem pretty selfish. I don’t think this is a good reason to have kids though(or any of these, it just didn’t come off as selfish like most of the others.
Hard to describe how stupid I think this list is. Obviously this person has never heard of the numerous studies showing the pill reduces you risk of ovarian and uterine cancer and is ignoring the numerous health risks of pregnancy and birth. I find most of these reasons sound very immature bordering on just plain childish.
Agreed–one of the many reasons I posted it–with these kind of reasons, makes accusing CF as selfish seem ridiculous! ~L
One of the things that I don’t understand is that, if having kids really were a selfless thing to do, isn’t that claim undermined by parents’ comments about how much it improves their lives? Philosophically speaking, is it possible for something to be selfless if you get a large amount of enjoyment from it? Does it matter if that enjoyment is something “deep,” like watching and guiding a person’s development, or if it’s something more inane, like re-reading “The Cat in the Hat” (which of course, you can do even if you aren’t a parent)?
Interesting question–selfless seems to be described in our society as putting someone else first in your life, and kids is the most common way. When you have kids, your life is not about you supposedly. But in reality it is always about us — it s Our life, right? And I agree that it is not selfless when parents talk about how the kids affect their lives. Parenting can be selfless and enjoyable, but does not need to be, like parents who may not like the process of parenting that much (but can’t admit it–that is pretty taboo) and get to be martyrs instead–“how much they do for so many for so little” kind of thing. Either way they get to say they are selfless because their life is not about “them” but about someone else. Funny that we don’t think the same about it our lives seriously involve a family member we are taking care of, taking care of animals, the environment, the poor, etc. elfless seems to be loaded on having kids–other selfless ways of life seem to be a distant second. I sure don’t think it’s right, but does make sense I guess in the context of a pronatal society….~L
The only thing this list did for me was reinforce my decision NOT to have children. I was actually sickened by this – it almost seems like a farce in that the writer was trying to justify their own decision to procreate at an obscene rate. Not one mention of the time, energy, and cost of raising, guiding, mentoring, teaching a young person so that they become a successful, happy, and well-adjusted adult. Parenting doesn’t end when a baby graduates from diapers.
My response to a couple of them:
* learn to share – we all learned that in 1st grade
* buying cool toys and cute outfits – I do that for my niece
* parking in the stork spot – I do that now!
* laughter is good for your health – that’s what my friends are for
* having someone to care for you and your pets – nothing says selfish more than that (the same person will be taking care of both of us in old age — a nice young person in a nursing home)
* grandkids – this is a close 2nd on my selfish list (what if your kids don’t want kids, they’re gay, or god forbid, don’t live long enough to have children)
* blow bubbles – I do that now, too (the day I bought my first house my two best friends came over with pizza, champagne, and bubbles!)
* kids are cheap – what???? unless your last name is Trump, that’s not the case. What’s the current rate for raising a kid to 18, around $300,000? (times 12)
* stay physically active – I do with a gym membership and plenty of time for running, hiking, and biking
* reading books you never would have discovered – this is why I have a library card and time to curl up with a book
* pleasures of ice cream cones, homemade cookies, and breakfast in bed – ummm, do that now, too!
I guess the theme here for me is that I can do almost all of these things without a baby. And the ones I can’t do (disposable diapers, buying junk food, and choosing morning sickness as a diet plan) I’m simply not interested in.
Surely, this is all a joke. Since this was clearly written by a woman, I’d like to hear a man’s “Top 100” list.
PS …. And for the record, I don’t give preferential treatment to parents with kids at the grocery store. They can wait in line along with everyone else. I’ll let a little old lady or gentleman cut in front of me, but that’s it. 🙂
You go! Atr fist I thought it was a joke, as some are a bit tongue and cheek but when you read all of them, she sure seems serious on many of them, as ridiculous as they are! I’d like to see a man’s top 100 list to…….~L
I posted a comment as well, we’ll see if she approves it. I may have gotten a bit long winded… Okay, it’s ridiculously long, I admit it! Oh well. Here’s what I said.
“You claim that you will post “dissenting comments” under the appropriate circumstances. I will be interested to see if you keep your word.
I am a Believer. A Christ-Follower. A Christian. I am also intentionally childless. Or “childfree” to use the term that I prefer.
It is incorrect to label every single childfree individual as “immature” or “materialistic”. Do you know personally anyone that is childfree, have you ever spoken with someone who is? It is not fair or accurate for you to judge me, and all CF people, based off of the opinions of one or two individuals (i.e the creators of the lists you are referencing).
I do not have 100 reasons not to have children, I have 3 and they are more than enough for me.
1) I have a complete lack of desire. I have zero interest in interacting with children, let alone bearing and raising my own. I believe that being a parent is something that you should desire with your whole heart, something that you should have a passion for and feel called to be. And I simply don’t, I never have. I knew when I was just a child myself that being a parent wasn’t God’s plan for my life. It would be very wrong to bring children into the world that are not wanted.
2) We are wholly content and satisfied with our current family dynamic (yes, we believe that husband + wife = family) and have not felt lead or found any reason to alter it. We believe that the foremost purpose of marriage is to be a tangible illustration of Christ’s unconditional, sacrificial love for the Church and a way of bringing glory to God. We strive to be an example of what a God centered union looks like and use that example as a witness. We believe that we are better able to fulfill this purpose by keeping our relationship our first priority. We focus on being a blessing to one another every day.
3) Not having children affords us opportunities to serve others in ways that childed families can’t. We believe that another predominant purpose for marriage is becoming better equipped to serve God by becoming one. For us leaving it at “one” is both natural and essential. We have time to devote and minister to those in need of it, including caring for our parents as they age. We feel so blessed to have the ability to honor them and give back to them at this stage of their life.
I have seen some of the lists that you are talking about, and while I can see those things as being “benefits” of being childfree they are definitely not true deciding factors.
Please understand that the majority of childfree folks (including myself) are NOT trying to convince the world that they shouldn’t have children. We do NOT believe that there is anything fundamentally wrong with choosing to have children. We do NOT hate children or wish them to come to harm. However, we do believe that having children is NOT the right path for every individual and that becoming a parent is NOT the default in life. We must all choose a path that we are suited to and feel called to travel. For us that is a path that does not include becoming parents.
If parents would comprehend 3 things about the childfree I truly believe that the animosity between us would decrease. The first being that we are not attacking you or your choices just because we have chosen something different. Please extend the same courtesy to us. The second is that our existences are no less valid, valuable or fulfilling than yours. Again, we are all different and there’s nothing wrong with that. And third that we are normal average people! We are not cold, bitter or angry. We love, give and have passions just like you do! And we certainly are not selfish or immature just because we are not parents. Are those adjectives that you would use to describe Mother Theresa? Or Jesus Christ? Because neither of them had children. What about Andrea Yates (the mother who drowned her 5 children in the bathtub) does she qualify as selfless and mature just because she was a parent?
I leave this comment with no disrespect and certainly not with the intent of stirring up negativity, but just with sincere hope that you and your readers will not judge so harshly people who have chosen not to have children.”
Leslie, that is a Rockin response! Let’s see if she posts it….~L
Having looked at this site (In a Shoe) before, I’m pretty sure most of that list is tongue in cheek. A lot of those things are ‘fringe benefits’ rather than actual reasons – because of course kids are harder to look after than cats (etc etc)! I’m a Christian along with the folks at In a Shoe (and similar blogs – though I don’t have *quite* that many kids, lol), and I think the basic reason behind all this childbearing malarky is that God says children are a *blessing*. That doesn’t mean they are easy, but that it is worthwhile. I’m so glad I became a believer before I had kids, because I can’t imagine doing it without God’s help and strength!