"No! I won't bring children into this world!"
I was in my early 20s and in college. Now in my early 80s, I didn't have kids and I'm glad.
I flirted briefly with cynicism. It didn't help.
Okay, my distant ancestors were pond scum. Their offspring came a long way but not far enough.
I now tell people, "On my travels between idealism and cynicism, I slow down and visit realism."
I guess I'm still an idealist.
(If this catches on I'll add some of my story.)
I made the same choice, despite all the: "You'll be so lonely when you're old!" Almost 60 now, and still not lonely.
I'm 82 and occasionally lonely, but not for what kids would have brought me. I shudder when I think of that.
My loneliness disappears when I involve myself with other people, which became fun after I disposed of my early shyness.
I was less a case of not wanting to have kids than I was fearing that I would be a clone of my martinet father. My first wife was determined, though, and long-story-short, we had a daughter ... who was one of the few good things about that marriage. And because I was so conscious of the bad example my father set, I had little trouble in not emulating him as a parent.
So I have my own set of conflicts regarding that business. I hated the marriage and would just as soon it never happened ... but I love my kid.
How can anyone not love kids, before they become teenagers and changeable from one minute to the next?
Loren, your story sounds like one of my son's. His story was a failed contraceptive and both he and his wife were devastated. They called me frequently at the beginning of the pregnancy lamenting their choices; finally decided to bring the child through to birth. My son had struggles, and long-story-short, he is the finest father I know, gentle, kind, compassionate, sets firm boundaries and enforces them with thoughtfulness and tenderness. His sons are now ten and eight and fine, funny, creative, and love to explore and experiment. My son uses mistakes in judgment as teaching opportunities. They have a sense of self-respect, have compassion for others, and when they disagree, they respond thoughtfully and responsibly.
Oh! what joy they bring me.
I never had children either, for a different reason. My mother had type 2 diabetes and a birth defect. I had a younger sister who died from complications of the operation to correct her version of that defect. I decided not to bring children into the world with a genetic handicap. As years passed I too manifested a version of this defect and got diabetes, and decided I'd made the right decision. I think children have the right to be born healthy.
Ruth, you were uncommonly wise.
I was about 70 when a doctor told me I had "designer genes" but by then I had figured out that my parents, and my dad's parents, had a non-genetic problem that resulted in kids becoming passive-aggressive. To a kid brother I spoke of a "family neurosis" and he all but stopped speaking to me. My words had hit home.
Those family secrets are so closely guarded! After my husband and I found out that he suffers from anxiety disorder we delved into his family history - and met with much resistance and angry faces. The whole family had the same or similar complaints, but all they wanted to admit was that the all others were mad.
Chris, another wise decision you and your husband made. I respect your steadfastness.
Ruth, I respect your responsible decision and am sorry to learn of the genetic reality you faced. I know you have been ill, even as you act to manage your health.