On Not Having Children

by Akim Reinhardt

Forgot Children1During your 20s and 30s, when you don't have any children, it is inevitable that people will periodically ask you: “Do you want to have kids?”

It never mattered who asked. Family, friends, or lesser acquaintances, men or women, married or single, parents themselves or not. I always had the same answer.

Yes, just not now.

As I approached my mid-30s, I began to append a caveat: If I didn't have any children by age 40, I probably never would. I didn't want to be an old dad.

But the realization, that I'd rather not be a middle aged gray beard huffing and puffing while I try to keep up with the little rascals, opened a door. Whereas I'd previously assumed I wanted kids, just not now, the 40 year old expiration date I adopted forced me to question my pat answer and ask myself if I really wanted them at all.

After spending a couple of decades saying Yes, but not now, I finally realized something. There was never a “now” because I never actually wanted them. And I probably never would.


The generations that came of age after World War II made divorce mainstream.

As teens, they were still subject to intense social pressure to marry and have kids, which most of them did. But the Boomers became increasingly resentful of their parents as they matured, or in many cases, at least leery of their elders' mistakes. They and the so-called Silent Generation (Depression and War babies) asked themselves: Must I really spend half-a-century and all of my best years in a bad marriage that I jumped into when I was way too young to know better?

As the 1970s unfolded, more and more of them decided the answer was No.

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