Friday, April 6, 2012

Sylvia D. Lucas - Men Who Don’t Want Children: Do They Feel the Guilt?

I have never wanted children - this made the potential dating pool (in terms of looking for a real relationship) quite small, especially since I was very upfront about it as soon as there was chemistry. I don't think everyone is born to be a breeder - I certainly was not, and I knew this when I was still a teenager.

I have received a lot of grief for knowing who I am. Most of it falls into two categories: (1) oh, you'll change your mind, having kids is hard-wired into us; or (2) you HAVE to have kids, you'd be such a good father.

Aside from maybe a few days or so in my late 20s (I probably was partying that weekend), I have never changed my mind about wanting kids - and telling me I HAVE to do something triggers my oppositional defiant genes.

Oh yeah, the point of this post . . . . Some people (my mother, and some others) have tried to make me feel guilty for not having or even wanting to have to kids, but I don't. I would have been a terrible father when I was young enough to have kids (see previous paragraph, re: partying), and I never wanted to have them anyway, so why would I bring children into the world who are unwanted?

OK, seriously, I don't think men feel the same social pressure or biological drive to have kids, so even if we do get guilt or pressure, we don't take it on so deeply. Evolution designed us to plant our seed, so to speak, and move on to the next potential womb. We only stuck around for any length of time due to oxytocin and prolactin (hormones that decrease sex drive and/or testosterone levels), and (if Dawkins is to be believed) our selfish genes wanting to be sure our offspring made it past the first crucial year.

We are not those animals anymore (thank Darwin), but we are still animals, and the female of our species carries the majority of the weight of reproductive pressures, whether social or biological.

Men Who Don’t Want Children: Do They Feel the Guilt?

Sylvia D. Lucas challenges the gendered double-standard that surrounds the choice to not have children.

This post first appeared on Dink Life, which celebrates the Dual-Income-No-Kids Lifestyle.

Child-free men, whether they’re Dual-Income-No-Kids (DINK) “lifers” or just waiting until later to have kids, haven’t shared the focus of the barrage of attacks their female counterparts have endured since the advent of birth control. How do men without children get off so much easier … or do they?

Whether in magazine articles, blogs, online publications, or in person, women without children are “bingoed” (chastised for not having kids/told why we should have kids—“Oh my god, you’d love it!”) pretty regularly. We’re told—usually indirectly and/or from a safe distance—that we’re cold, we’re freaks, we’re selfish, we’re child-haters, we’re non-nurturers, we’re unnatural. And that’s for starters.

Most insults are actually too absurd to be offensive, so I’ll call them “pesky.” Offensive would be the study oft-repeated in the media that women are apparently at higher risk of developing breast cancer if we don’t produce offspring. How’s that for pressure?


Are men without children made to feel guilty, too?

I recently saw an article online titled “Childless Men May Face Higher Risk of Heart Disease.” So, I guess we’re all screwed. At least we’ll die young together.

A survey conducted by author Laura S. Scott, author of Two is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice, found that men and women’s reasons for choosing blissfully unladen lives are basically the same, and the “why” of it has been covered ad nauseam. So I thought I’d interview a few men who frequent The Childfree Life Internet forum about their experiences simply living as men who choose not to have children.

Have they been pressured to use their semen to procreate the same way we’ve been pressured to use our uteri incubate? Have they had difficulty finding a partner? What word comes to mind when asked to imagine having a child in their lives?

(“NOOOOOOO!” was one word.)

I do, of course, ask them why they don’t want children, because the personal answers are far more interesting and relevant than the overarching psychobabble “there-must-be-something-‘off’-deep-within-you” explanations some are desperately seeking.

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