SL Letter of the Day: Not Wanting Kids—Your Own, Someone Else's—Doesn't Make Someone an Asshole

Comments

103
I don't hate children. I love some people's children. I love that I can given them back when they stop being entertaining. I don't have -time- for children of my own right now, nor anyone else's. This does mean, generally, that I would shy away from dating someone with kids. There's nothing wrong with that and I definitely agree that it is best you know such things about yourself than that you make people [and yourself] miserable.
104
If you've chosen not to have any kids, AWESOME! Enjoy other people's if you like to, don't if you don't. Being honest ain't a crime and will best serve everyone involved.

If you've chosen to have some, GREAT! Be a good parent, do your best to raise a good human being.

But to all the people who hate flying with other people's children: tough shit. To all the people who hate to hear children scream: tough shit. Maybe if Newt Gingrich gets his moon base going, you can go there, where I'm sure there won't be any children at all.

While certainly there are well- and ill-behaved children everywhere, the fact is children are not defective adults, they are incomplete, undeveloped beings, and ALL OF YOU WERE ONE ONCE! And other people had to put up with you. So shut up about it already! I assure you, as much as you hate hearing the screaming baby or tantrum-throwing toddler, the parents hate being "the lady with the screaming baby" or the "father of that freaking brat" even more.

Parents shouldn't be blamed for children behaving like children (though every parent should do their best to civilize their wee beasties to the best of their abilities and the child's).
105
@88,

Another parent who has traveled all over the world as a family. Books keep ours quiet. I get to sleep in and have all the spontaneous sex I want as well. You install a lock on your door, and teach them to make breakfast and to cook. Cultural events, the ballet, plays, etc., yes. Of course it helps that the "wee" ones play in the youth philharmonic. And, yes, I have my figure as well. Same size as I wore on my 20th birthday. I can thank years of dance training for that. And I never forget that neither gravity or time will show any human mercy. Indeed the 401K could be larger if it were not for those college savings plans. And we do live in a small sized home, and do without some of the latest technology. Parenthood needen't be your nightmare. ;-)

Anyway... If you don't want children then please know that I support your decision. :-)
106
@81, I am not kid-friendly and I would never write you off as a person. I would write you off as a potential partner, but that's as much because I'd be bad for you and your baby as that fact that your baby would be bad for me. It's not just a matter of "eh, don't like kids." Eh, I don't like kids, I've *never* wanted kids, I know nothing about raising kids, I've failed terribly at being a stepmom already, and quite honestly I get sick at the thought of trying it again. Many people should not be brain surgeons. And plenty of people should not be parents or step-parents. I fall into both categories. That's not a reflection on you, that's all me.
107
Matt @96, it was sorely tempting. I will agree not to respond to the drivel if you'll tell me how to block it....please?

I have kids, 3 of them to be exact. They have always understood that there is a certain standard of bahavior that is expected at all times--not just when we're out in public. I love my kids, I wouldn't not have my girls for anything in the world. However, other people's kids piss me off, not because of the child him or herself, but because of the way in which they are allowed to behave. There are exceptions, but not very many. As a collective, parents stopped parenting. No idea why, and we will pay for it in the long run. People who choose not to have children are entitled to that choice--without anyone judging them for that choice. But all of the vociferous "I hate kids of all shapes, sizes, and flavors' come across a whole lot like the smug bastard who drives a Prius, a bit too I'm a trendy hipster, where I'm waiting for the sentiment to be followed by "get off my lawn".
108
I started off wanting kids years ago but now I do not. I can't afford to raise them well and the current trend of parents thinking any sort of discipline is child abuse is a major turn off. I don't really have much patience. I doubt I'd be a very good parent and I don't think most kids are cute or funny. I've always found the statement "I love kids" odd even when I was a child. It's like saying "I love all 40 year olds" or "I love all Senior Citizens". How can you like an entire age group of people? They're not all the same. I like and respect some people but I do not love all of them. Saying you love all of x age group seems weird and false or really naïve.

It's quite annoying for nosy people to constantly pry into your life choices and then disrespect them because they aren't "normal".
109
@ Keekee As an older NON_BREEDER pushing 50 YOA, I am absolutely happy I chose not to reproduce. 7 billion freaking people on the planet, a planet groaning with the multitude of humans, and, should other older people sit around bemoaning their lack of sprog... then they are missing the big picture. Form some connections in your community. My most relied upon are neighbors and friends. People I could call and who would run over to help... none of them blood relations. Community, community, community. Apparently you deal with people so ignorant they think that shitting out more humans is the only way to find someone who loves them. Sad... I will help my neighbors with their children, but shall never regret my decision to refrain from having my own.
110
Depending on my mood and the child(ren) involved, I range from active dislike to mere indifference, up until the kid is about 10-11 and capable of some kind of intelligent thought and a reasonable level of self-control....as in, not having a down on the floor screaming hissy fit. Once they hit that age, it's tolerance to occasional indulgence. I'm not at all interested in being a parent or a step-parent, ever. I like adults. I like being around adults.

Finding out that a guy wants to have children is a break-up level condition for me, because if he wants bio-kids and plans to have them with me, I'm the one doing the hard and dirty labour, putting my health and my financial independence in jeopardy.....AND most of them expect, at least at some point, that they can be The Fun Dad while I'm stuck with the shitty bottoms and the mud and the blood and the endless piles of dirty laundry. One even told me he wanted kids, but point-blank refused to change any diapers. Another told me it was fine, I could have my career and he'd stay home with the kids, plural, completely oblivious to the fact that the physical act of me having kids, plural, would be enough to destroy my career progression entirely (my profession involves a huge amount of travel, and I really love what I do).

That said, I do go out of my way to make sure that the children of my adult friends are well-treated and included, because they ARE going to be adults some day, and if they're well-treated, the likelihood that they'll be well-adjusted adults is a lot higher than if they're neglected or outright treated like crap.

111
@52 I do hate certain people. And I hate that with the rampant over population on this earth people like you should think the norm of having more is a good idea. Do you know what would happen if all the humans disappeared off this planet? Planet would immediately be better off. If all the bees disappear, we're done. Bye-bye. Hurry, have more kids... quick, quick!! There's like a postage stamp of earth without human poo on it in the now thawing arctic.
112
Being upfront off the bat is the difference between being and not being a douche. I was in a seven year relationship that ended, in part, because taking on the responsibility of my child was too much. Yeah. It took seven years to say that out loud, I guess. I had no idea. So by all means, I support those who make it a deal-breaker from the get go.
113
I don't have a problem with kids, its the parents who infuriate me. If your kid is having a tantrum, take the little fucker OUTSIDE until he or she calms down.
114
I hate kids (at least in that when I'm responsible for their actions), but I think it's important to understand that at a certain point in my dad's life he hated kids, his dad hated kids and shockingly enough there was even a time when his dad hated kids, yet they all decided to have kids eventually and not a single fucking one of them regretted any moment of it. I'd like to point out to the kind of people who think the only way to have a meaningful impact on society is to have 1 or 2 of their own DNA running around are kidding themselves. I believe very strongly that even someone like myself, who at this moment in time can't imagine having kids, could make a more positive and meaningful impact than the majority of children if I really wanted. Something like becoming a teacher can, in many very real ways, have a much larger impact on the kind of child that person becomes. It takes a village, even the people who wouldn't ever dream of owning another set of their own DNA, and to deny that and act as if the kid you raised was 100% your doing just because it came from your DNA is denying what humanity is. There's a really big difference between treating your kid as property and treating them as global citizens. It's not to deny the bond of family but DNA doesn't make you kin, it really bothers me that people think that just because you came from a set of humans it means you did good, it's this religious idea that if you make everything on the outside look ok you must be doing ok. Anyone can fire sperm at an egg, nurture it for 9 months and have it live past it's 18th birthday, most people want something more, but a hell of a lot of people settle for it.
115
I find it interesting that people with children feel ostracized for having them, just as those who don't have kids feel left out or misunderstood. Here are two groups of people on opposite sides of the fence and they feel exactly the same! The truth is, it is hard for Everybody. Nobody has it easy. It sucks that we let ourselves feel bad for the choices we have made.

My husband and I have kids. We also had a brief relationship with a third person. When it ended, I felt like one of the big reasons was that for him, our children were a deal breaker. As someone who struggled with becoming a parent in the first place, this was a bitter pill to swallow.

But one of the things I learned is that it is a waste of my life to let anybody make me feel bad about the choices I have made if I am proud of them. And I Am proud of my kids.

It's easy to infer someone is insulting a decision you feel badly about. But your inference isn't the speaker's fault. Own it.
116
@88: Sounds like the kind of list you might recite over and over to yourself to quell the fear that you've missed out on something.
117
Someone may have already said this, but the original writer is mis-charaterizeing Dan's comment on this week's podcast. He told a 20 year old gay guy that he needed to be with someone who wanted to have children because he had had a kid with a girl before he came out. He wasn't bashing people who don't want kids, he just was saying "you need someone who wants kids, not someone who doesn't because you HAVE a kid."

Lady, calm down.
118
#116 seandr, no, it's more like a list made by a person like myself - constantly beset by societal and individual suggestions that by not having/wanting children, I've made a regrettable decision. It's the kind of list made by someone constantly under pressure to explain his/her decision to a "family-oriented", mommy-centric society which routinely condemns it both tacitly and overtly. The pressure is relentless, not only be thoughtless assholes, but also by people who mean well.

Here's the deal: I and several other people who have posted here don't want children. We're adults and presumably have made that choice of our own free will. It's not your place to suggest that we'll change our minds any more than it's my place to tell a parent he/she has made the wrong decision and will change his/her mind one day. To each his own.

Those of us who are child-free by choice do it for ourselves. It has nothing to do with you. It's not an attack on your choice of lifestyle, it's not going to result in the decimation of our species, and it's not your cue to judge us or to force your condemnation upon us. To each his own. Respect our decision, or STFU. The choice is yours.
119
PS it's also a list made by someone with the time and resources to do whatever the hell she wants. Not having children affords that kind of freedom.
120
@98 said:
There's one of my pet peeves! People who say "I hate kids."

Let's be honest, though. Kids under the age of, say, 10 years, are pretty awful as human beings. No empathy whatsoever. No conscience to speak of. Only interested in themselves. Prone to agression and throwing tantrums if they don't get their way. If an adult behaved like that they would be classified as as sociopath. Yes, I was one myself. I'm glad that I'm not anymore.
121
To the poster who said that people on planes need to suck it up when there are screaming children--Yes and no. Certainly we were all children once, and certainly it is rough on children to fly, however, it is also the parents' responsibility to do whatever it takes to shut up their shrieking child.
If you are fly with your child regularly, you have a good idea of when the best times to fly are. I have friends who never flew anywhere as a family because their son flew best at night and their daughter couldn't sleep on the plane and needed to fly during the day. It was an inconvenience for them, but a huge convenience for everyone else on the plane.

And you better be prepared to walk up and down that aisle for three hours if that is what it takes to keep your baby quiet. I think that parents become immune to the sound of their children's crying and don't realize how grating and annoying it is to the rest of us, so bring toys, electronics, snacks, movies, whatever it takes to keep your child entertained and not annoying.

122
seandr@62, Amen! Sometimes I feel like telling those people who claim that they "hate kids" 'right back at ya.'

I was once in exactly the same situation as your wife, except that the place was a supermarket and that the person who told me to 'get my child under control' was an old lady. Gee, with such nice people around, who needs terrorists?
123
@86, even though I understand you were in a difficult situation and I sympathize with your feelings (and I agree with EricaP in saying that it would be all right if you had decided to keep your seat -- screw the other passangers' look, if they're so nice let them give the kids their seats).

Still, talking about "shrieking kids" and "what they can get away with these days" reminds me of those people who protest against gays because "they're too loud" and "they're everywhere today, shouting their lifestyle" and "the world has to cater to their every whim" and whatnot. Doesn't that sound to you like an overgeneralization, and one that misses the point in a borderline bigotted way?

Most kids are OK, and even those who aren't don't throw tantrums all the time, and even those who do are usually kept under control by their parents. Claiming they aren't because of a few experiences disregards all those other people and situations.
124
@88 Confluence - you sound a wee bit insecure there!! But hey, that's cool ;) But yeah, like others have said on here, I too have managed to (gasp) keep up my intellectual development (having a job in research and continuing post-grad studies during school hrs helps), climb mountains, ride our horses, travel...and oh the good spontaneous orgasms with their STEP-DAD! Yuss, I have a child-free, v sexy, YOUNGER man. Been together some years now. He's the bomb. They do exist ;)
125
Twominuteplanck@118, here's the deal. You acknowledge the number of people here (go count them!) who've already said you're of course entitled to decide not to have kids (did you miss seandr's "more power to you" way upthread?) and who support your decision (did you miss kim in portland's support above).

And we acknowledge your right to be angry at those people who do despise your decision.

Because, you know, if you don't have kids, you DO miss on something. But you do miss on it because you've DECIDED to miss on it; because you've thought about it, you did your cost-benefit analysis, and you came to a conclusion. Wonderful!

Now, PLEASE don't confuse those who want to make you suffer (and yes, they are out there) with the rest of us, who simply did also make the same cost-benefit analysis that you did but came to the opposite conclusion. And who, like you, are very happy with the decision they took.

Look at @115 about and think a little about what it means.

We are not trying to make you feel bad. And if you try to make US feel bad about OUR decision, then how are you different from the very assholes you complain about?
126
@120, it seems you haven't spent much time around kids under 10 if that's all you have to say about them -- and you're downplaying the amazing capacity of adults over 20 to also hurt others while feeling self-entitled, selfish, and boring.

Kids under 10 can also be sweet, give you hugs, care about you when you're sad, smile and sing just to see you smile and sing, give you profuse thanks for your help, discuss things with you with an open mind you rarely find among adults, make surprisingly sharp observations about life and others, help you out in ways you didn't know were possible, and even play chess with you.

Yes, all of that happens, too. Please broaden your experience basis.
127
@119, another word that often corresponds to that is "self-entitled" and "arrogant", as in: what I like others also must like.
128
I would also like to state the obvious here to any single parents; never ever settle for someone who sees your kids as a burden or hindrance. I made a deal early on with my partner that he would have minimal input in 'parenting' - that's my job. We do heaps of cool stuff as a family, like tramping, camping, horse riding, mountain biking. He helps them with their home work sometimes, that kinda stuff. But ultimately, I think it's best to not expect a step parent to actually parent. And set clear boundaries around that, and respect (between both kids and step parent). And also, another obvious (hopefully) point here - screen them (partner) first, get to know them really well until the crazy chemical lust stage has passed enough so you can see them flaws and all; you don't want to put your kids at risk. I dated a few nightmares as a single parent, so glad I didn't introduce them to my kids! You gotta be extra careful in the sex and dating scene when you have kids to consider. and you certainly don't want to waste time and energy on someone who sees them as 2nd class citizens. And remember folks, you ALL started out as kids, with parents. Duh. Weird making a blanket thing of 'hating' them in light of that.
129
I'm 25 and gay. I don't want children, and thank goodness I don't have to worry about an accidental pregnancy. I don't hate children, but I will not have any of my own. Looking back, I was such a pill in middle school (and probably at other times too), and I'm really embarrassed and ashamed of who I used to be, and I would never wish for myself or any other adult to be on the 'parent' side of that scenario. Plus, I'd be worried about being disappointed in my child. What if he's not as intelligent as I am? What if I don't have the heart to pick him up when he fails? What if I don't love my child?

There's also a selfish justification for my position. I've waited long enough to get the things I want in life. I don't want a child getting in the way of my hard-earned freedom (i.e. time and money). I have enough stress in my life. And if my parents had chosen not to have children? I'd be fine with that (not that I'd be around to care one way or the other).
130
I agree fully 82. And 72 I find it hard to believe that you never ran into a senior citizen with asshole kids, or kids who won't contact them for numerous reasons.
131
@128 SexEd : I'm right with you.

I've just spent some years with an awesome man (and amazing lover) who just can't understand what childhood is about. I would never have let him move in with us, had he been as honest as the LW about his distate for kids.

But he was, and still is, locked in denial. "He had had partners with children, but alas all of them happened to be insufferable brats, and it didn't work out on the long run" - that was the only sign there could be a problem with kids. Mine were not insufferable brats by my other friends' advice, so I thought it could work out. He was very gentle and kind to animals. We dated for several months before I let him meet them, he was nice and gentle with them, I let him move in.

Fast forward one year and we're having daily arguments about my kids. Whenever one wouldn't finish his plate, he'd become exasperated, already yelling "how can you be so stupid and brainless, when are you gonna act sensible" - yeah, like that approach is likely to work on a 4-year-old... I spent most of my time separately appeasing him, and them - being yelled at for the tinyest reason got on the nerves of the eldest.

And then, he shifted to berating me, as in "would you only listen to me and spank them or slap them anytime they disobey, but no, you listen only to them !". Yes, well, I'm raising human beings not training dogs, and I have other means than mere physical violence to get what I want from them.

He usually added that he had been raised that way and it had never hurt him one bit. But of his own admission he didn't remember any detail from his childhood, except his mother's frequent saying that children were more work than chicken, and her obvious preference of chicken. His sister's memories were not much more enticing : she only remembers "being cold and needing to pee". Neither of them wound up having kids, and no wonder. Well I'm not raising my children your way, thank you very much.

The cup was already filling fast, when one of his friends, a shrink, thought it would be useful to lecture me about how my "being too soft on my children" would only hurt them on the long run. Of course, the well-meaning friend didn't get that "being too soft" is his codeword for "not hitting them constantly", but how could she guess that from her longtime, known for his gentleness, friend ? Next day I told him to move out. Of course he blames the failure of the relationship on "the brats".

Well, there are real decent adults out there who don't understand and don't like childhood, for whatever reason they have, not limited to my lover's example of having been raised by someone who hated kids. Nice for the LW to be open about it ; it saves everybody's time.
132
@126, we all have our unique experiences from which we draw our conclusions about how to live our life. Your experiences with kids led you to different conclusions than my experiences with kids did. As was said earlier, more power to you.
Please broaden your experience basis.

I wasn't planning to, I plan to avoid being around kids as much as possible and to never have my own.
133
My thoughts entirely. Been there, done that. Never again.
134
Amen, sister. I'm tired of getting flak because I don't want to reproduce. I'm tired of spending years and years (I'm 48 now) of listening to "you'll change your mind." I don't like kids and I don't like to be near them. Isn't it better to be honest and up-front about it instead of constantly having to defend myself?
135
Offspring of parents with the "if you won't indulge Junior doing whatever he wants to do, wherever he wants to do it, then you can fuck off" attitude are no doubt many of the kids people hate.

In my neighborhood, there is an ~12 yr old girl who rides her bike across everyone's front yards. With today's attidudes around children, as a single man, I cannot (however nicely) tell her to avoid my yard because I would probably have Dad beating down my door to tell me to stay the hell away from his kid. I just hope one of the women in the neighborhood has a talk with her mother.

That a child can get away with this kind of behavior gets reinforced at an early age when (in my previous example) elementary school aged Junior is allowed take someone else's assigned seat without asking and sing songs and kick seats for the duration of his Seattle to Dallas flight with no regards to the 150+ strangers locked in the aluminum tube with him.
136
Perhaps many people react so strongly to statements like "I hate kids" because they feel that their own kids are being attacked and a deep-seated animal urge to "defend my offspring against enemies and predators" takes over.

I don't actually "hate" any kids and I would never phrase it like that myself. I also don't personally know the kids of any of you here, so this is not about them. It's just that my observations of young kids led me to conclude that most of them are rather annoying, so I prefer to avoid their company until they are older.

If you feel that makes me an asshole, that is your prerogative. Nobody is required to like me.
137
I think I'd be OK with step-parenting, so long as the kids and I got on and they respected me as an adult. And their father didn't hinder my responsibility and authority with them.

Yeah, I'm in that odd group of Too Young To Have Kids and Don't Intend To Breed, But Will Probably Be A Parent Someday Via Adoption, But Not Anytime Soon.

I like kids for about an hour, hate screaming spoiled brats, and won't be altering MY health and body just to keep my DNA in the gene pool. Blood ties don't mean much outside of hereditary health issues and physical characteristics.
138
@41: Childless people are more likely to be able to fund their own retirements, so give that Social Security line a rest.
139
There's a big difference between hating kids, and not wanting to parent them. Someone who doesn't want any kids may be a good friend to other people's children.
140
I get it...surprised that so many of you who are childless have never been on the receiving end of the hate, yes, hate. Many years ago in a land far away, when I was like 25 or something, I did some online dating. I put prominently on my profile that I didn't like children and did not want to be a parent. Men with kids still contacted me. When I politely said to them that I didn't date people with children, I got all manner of nasty screeds thrown at me. I was being open about my preferences in a forum where that's important, and was bashed as a bitch for not giving these guys a "chance."

Nowadays, I have cut off contact with a few friends because EVERY time I talk to them, they require me to explain to them YET AGAIN why I don't want kids (and a few require me to explain why I won't just get legally married, already...their phone calls get ignored, too). By and large they were fine with my choice, until they had kids. Now "you're missing out," "it's a wonderful experience!" blah, blah, blah. I'm sorry, am I supposed to change my mind about this to justify YOUR having a kid? Yes, by and large these folks are deeply unhappy with their lives. Also cut off are the idiots who ask me if I've changed my mind about having kids, and when I say no, laugh at me and tell me that it'll happen some day. I'm not a four-year-old who's decided I don't like pink. The attitude is unbelievable.
141
A-Effing-MEN!!!! I cannot agree enough. I am not exactly the same - I want kids - OF MY OWN - not someone else's. Sorry. I BTDT and you know what? You, as johnny-come-lately, almost inevitably take a back seat to the kids. I was a step-dad to a "kid" barely younger than I. He had a father, and so I got no respect as a parent, though I supported his sorry ass for nearly fifteen years of boomerang child, and still his mother put him ahead of me in the relationship. Fuck that. That was one of the principal reasons we divorced.

Kids are serious, serious baggage. They're nice, but you better be prepared to marry the kids as the parent - you are, in fact, going to be living with them.
142
Didn't want kids as a teenager. Was "pretty sure" I didn't want them in my 20's. Met my (future) wife in my 30's when I was back to "unless something really dramatic changes" I don't want kids. She's got neices and nephews and didn't want them. Snip-job at 40 made it final.

Some pangs occasioanlly, but overall a great decision for us. As my (now) wife says - "We have parties, not kids."
143
@135
Offspring of parents with the "if you won't indulge Junior doing whatever he wants to do, wherever he wants to do it, then you can fuck off" attitude are no doubt many of the kids people hate.


That pretty well gets to the nub of it, IMHO. The thing is, if you are one of the parents, you at least have a chance at having some input or control over how the child-rearing will be conducted.

The anger is not, actually (at least for me), directed at the kids - it's directed at the asshole parents who expect me to live with the consequences of their crappy parenting and yet not have any say whatever in how it plays out. That often takes the form of...

they feel that their own kids are being attacked and a deep-seated animal urge to "defend my offspring against enemies and predators" takes over.


Bingo! And generally, once that emotion takes over, everything else is just fuzzy pink noise. I've just used up my own lifetime supply of patience, understanding and tolerance for dealing with that.

I actually really like kids, enjoy spending time with them (though I need alone- and adult-only time as well), and want to reproduce (though in my 20s and early 30s I did not want to). I will not become a step-parent, period, so no, I don't date people with children.
144
I like children just fine (I spoil my niblings unmercifully) but I have never wanted children of my own nor anyone else's. Thankfully I'm at an age where most people I'm involved with have grown children which is much more workable.

I don't make a big deal of it, though [I'm not saying TESTY does, necessarily] and I've rarely gotten too much shit for it. I just quietly move along if the children situation isn't going to be workable.
145
My partner has 3 children. He said when we met he couldn't believe how I just seemed to take it all in my stride and not be horrified about it or anything. That's because I had never dated anyone with kids before and did not know what I was getting myself into. 3 years later I am still with him. But if I ever broke up with him, I would never again date someone with small kids, or even worse, teenagers! I would really run the other way, knowing what I know now. A completely thankless task. I do not want to live with these kids whom I have no authority over. They put up with me and all that, but there is no lost love between us. I am always, always, always, number 4... And when I end up in a nursing home, they will not come to visit much. I have tried and tried... And this coming from someone who worked as a nanny for years and had plenty of very fulfilling experiences as one! If it happened again, I'd put the whole thing in the too hard basket. The dynamic is just too much for everyone involved when you are the step-parent, no matter how much you love kids.
146
@88 Yeeikes.

If you truly are happy with your choices and your life, you wouldn't feel the need to characterize "the other side" in such caricatured and mean-spirited terms.

And I mean this both for sanctimonious parents who look down on single people as selfish/failed and the equally righteous childless who declare "hating" children and see the process of life as some kind of burden to their social schedule or ever-important "personal journey."

Or worse, a person so fucking shallow that they think the shape of an aging woman's ass has more value than growing and giving birth to a child. Mom jeans, indeed. Like your shit won't sag too, honey.

As someone who IS taking care of her own aging mother with Parkinson's, I think #88 is projecting his/her own callousness onto the children he/she presumes will just idly "dump" their aging parents into homes. Those are heart-wrenching decisions usually made from medical or financial necessity, not callous disregard or lack of love for the parent in question. If you need to believe people are at foundation that wretched, that says more about you than these rotten children you've imagined to justify your bitterness. You're no different than the single person who points to all failed romances as "proof" that love isn't real or meaningful. Pathetic.

As for the broader issue, of course a single parent, if looking for a long-term partner and co-parent, shouldn't waste his or her time dating people that never want any involvement in raising children. I think that it's really selfish and damaging to children to bring said people into their lives. But to demonize either side strikes me as overblown. As others noted, Dan was speaking to compatibility and common-sense parenting, not denigrating those who choose to remain childless.
147
The good point she never made is that it is an entirely ETHICAL CHOICE to not get with someone who has a kid. It's the ethical choice FOR THE KID'S SAKE. She would be miserable, and the kid would be miserable. Who needs that?

Hell, most people SHOULDN'T have kids. Most people have this incredibly STUPID idea in their heads that doing their "best" as a parent is "good enough." No it's not. Kids should have the fucking BEST, not your half-assery. That's why I support gay parents who work their damndest to plan children, not accidentally WHOOPS them like most slobs do.

I don't know if I'd want to inherit a kid. But not everyone SHOULD!
148
Yeah, I'm with those who listened to the podcast and heard no ill-wishing against child-free people. Yes, Dan said something like, "And if he freaks out because you have a kid and ditches, well fuck him," but I really think that's his profane way of saying that Caller didn't need someone in his life who can't deal with kids, so it's best to know that right away. We've had several posters here who regretted being in a step-parent situation, either as the step-parent and felt 'all the responsibility and none of the authority' AND as the bio-parent whose partner never wanted kids and reacted badly when having to deal with them regularly.

I'm child-free and I like my life. I adore my nephew and I love working with kids. I also like giving them all back to their parents.
149
I'm a little surprised by the letter writer's vehemence to the podcast, I think she misheard the advice. I imagine she heard Dan say "Good Riddance" and added the culture's disdain for childless people into the message, and got offended. And the prejudice is strong, and she shouldn't have to feel bad, but she should really think about what's really being said. When, really, I don't think that's what Dan intended at all.

Being an advice columnist, he's focusing on a person's problems in a way that might relate to a general pattern in some relationships, but is tailored to what that person is asking. Rarely does he make a blanket judgement about what to do in every situation that might possibly resemble this one. Every relationship is different, so everybody should develop the tools to negotiate with somebody who they want to fool around or get old and fat with, for maximum happiness of both parties.

It's a formula that's been repeated in varying ways, on varying podcasts, for individuals of different sexual identities, but I think it's a good one. One should make no assumptions about what the other person wants, and be open about your own desires.

If you're a voluntarily childless person, be open about it to your potential romantic partners and seek out people who are cool with dating voluntarily childless people/ other voluntarily childless people.
If you're asexual, be open about it to your potential romantic partners and seek out people who are cool with dating asexuals/other asexuals.
If you're bisexual, be open about it to your potential romantic partners and seek out people who are cool with dating bisexuals/other bisexuals.
If you're kinky, be open about it to your potential romantic partners and seek out people who are cool with dating kinksters/other kinky people.
If you're poly, be open about it to your potential romantic partners and seek out people who are cool with dating polyamourously/other poly people.

Personally, I don't know why this is considered hard or controversial, or some sort of political stance. Or why Dan gets attacked by bi/trans/ace/fat activists for being whateverphobic. (Plus, IMO, their letters are usually overwritten and full of special pleading). I've had to defend my fangirlism of Dan Savage to some of my bi/ace/trans friends who just read snippets of his columns on blogs, and it's tiiiiiresome, especially when those people are consistently in dysfunctional relationships. You can believe what you believe about sexual morality and be an activist for whatever cause you want, but when selecting romantic partners, you should be open about it for your own personal happiness, as well as that of the other person.

It is difficult, it's true, to be open to somebody you really like about the deviant, weird shit that you want, especially knowing that if you are, then that special person that you really like might walk. But wouldn't that be better, if in the long term you cast about and find somebody who clicks with you 80% of the time instead of 45%? And if you have the stones to be open about what you want, you can nut up enough to tell that to your lover(s). The fact that this manifesto of mine (a long time coming!) is so long is probably why Dan Savage doesn't go into it every single week with every single person.

TL:DR; Go after what you want, and disregard the people who don't want it too.
150
I never dated anyone with children because I remember how much I despised the people my own parents dated, as well as four stepmothers and two stepfathers. I would never willingly subject my adult self to my child self. (Shudder.)
151
I don't hate kids either, but I do not enjoy their company. It's that simple. I have a whole gaggle of nieces and nephews and I have always loved, but never truly enjoyed hanging out with until they got older and interesting.

My sister and her two kids lived with me for two years. I have a much younger brother and sister that I was tasked with watching when I was younger. I've probably changed just as many diapers, prepared just as many kids meals, read just as many bedtime stories as many parents. I have a pretty good idea what I am missing and I do not, in fact, miss it.

My life suits me. If I had kids, no matter what I could do, I would have to give up far too much of what I enjoy doing to be happy with it. I have never had any itch to have a kid, and as I get closer to 50 I have no regrets about not having kids.

I'm glad for those people who have kids and love it. But two things. The smug "you don't know what you are missing" thing is just annoying. Just because you would have missed it if you didn't have it doesn't mean every one does.

The other is that not every parent enjoys being a parent when they actually get there. One thing about not having kids and not making any bones about not wanting them is that people with kids will sometimes tell you things they would never tell other parents. Things like, "I love my kids, but if I could go back and do it again I would never have had children." I have heard that or similar things more than a few times.

I think a lot of people don't realize just how pervasive the negativity directed at people who chose not to have kids is. I don't typically go around making a point of not wanting kids. But it comes up all the time because other people always bring it up. "Why don't you have kids, don't you want kids? Do you hate children or something?"

I get that all the time.

The other thing I get all the time is that I just don't want to have kids because I am selfish. Two problems with that. Being selfish is when you don't want to give to another who needs or deserves it so that you can keep for yourself. I am not denying anything to anyone. My kids don't exist. Not creating people who don't exist isn't selfish, it is just a choice. Bringing a kid into existence and then neglecting them is selfish. Not having kids in the first place isn't.

At least no more than having kids is selfish. Because we all make those decisions, to have kids or not, because we feel that decision is what will make us happy. People who have kids do it because they want kids. People who chose not to make that choice because they don't want kids. Each is making the choice because it is what they want and what will make them happy, and both choices are equally selfish if that word can even be put on such a decision.

Yet I get called selfish or immature for choosing not to create another human being that I have no inherent desire to have in my life and would find no satisfaction of pleasure in devoting my life to. So yes, some of us non-childrened people may come off as a bit bitter or harsh at times, but it is a sensitivity developed due to being poked with the condemnation stick all the time for simply making what is the right choice for us.

As for the tone of the original poster, I just listened to the podcast and honestly, while she may be coming on strong the fact is that Dan was very negative about people who wouldn't want to date someone with kids.

Now I may have been willing to write it off as Dan being Dan and saying the most neutral of things in an acerbic manner. He basically said that if a guy wasn't in to it than "good fucking riddance", and "fuck him". Now it may be possible for someone who is very familiar with Dan's style to interpret that as "He just isn't right for you", but lets get real, when 99% of people use those terms they are basically saying the person in question is an asshole. So that the Letter Writer interpreted it that way shouldn't be surprising.

But to take it a step further I don't think she was all that off because Dan also clearly stated his opinion that the guys who wouldn't be interested were "threatened". And I have to agree with the LW that characterization is total bullshit. Not wanting to get involved with someone who has kids because you know you don't want to be a parent is not being threatened. It is called making a rational choice. Interpreting someone basically saying, "fuck him for being threatened by you having a kid" as a negative characterization really isn't wrong.
152
Yeah, 88's an idiot. Moving on ...

I think the whole "have fun with your little shit machines" attitude a lot of childless-by-choice people seem to possess is what really irks parents, since it's a reductive view of thier lives. The thing about kids? They grow up, and pretty quickly too.

@52 -- Agreed. Not wanting kids doesn't make you a bad person. Hating kids or people who have them does.
153
@30: Yeah, there's some serious projection going on in this letter. I've never gotten the impression that Dan does or has condemned people for not wanting children (in fact, as an advocate for sexual and reproductive choice that extends beyond what the mainstream culture finds acceptable, Dan's frequently an advocate for people who don't want to reproduce). I heard the same thing you did in this week's podcast.

TESTY: Those people giving you shit are assholes. In fact, by my reasoning, nothing is more selfish and ethically problematic than reproducing. One makes the single most important decision of someone else's life - their existence - without any possibility for that person's input, and universally in cultural contexts that deny that person agency for a solid decade at least, while simultaneously adding to the strain placed on the resources of the planet by the 7 billion+ people who already exist. Nothing could possibly be more selfish (could be far worse in terms of impact, but I wouldn't call things like genocide "selfish"), which is why I feel that anyone choosing to reproduce owes their offspring and their communities every effort possible to ensure the safe, healthy, responsible maturation of said offspring. I myself do want children at some point, but I have no illusions about the personal strain (physical and psychological) that this will place on another person (my reproductive partner), the violation of agency that this constitutes on the part of my offspring, and the imposition that it will be on the wider world by creating yet another human life, a person who will by necessity impact others, for better or worse. I will spend the rest of my life attempting to make up for these violations and impositions if/when I reproduce, doing everything I can to ensure they have a net positive impact. This is the only approach to reproduction/parenting that I see as anything close to ethical, and I think anyone who simply wishes to avoid the issues by not reproducing is making a responsible, pro-social decision (or anyone who is not reproducing for other reasons - I look at ethics as a matter of impact, not intent).

(NOTE: I don't think everyone who decides to parent is automatically a Bad Person; I think that all parents are making ethically-problematic choices and therefore have a responsibility to both their children and the rest of the human population to do whatever they can to ensure a good life for their children and to mitigate or eliminate the imposition on others that their reproduction entails. I DO think many, many parents fail to live up to or even recognize these ethical responsibilities, and I think they are behaving very badly when they do so. This is also an ethical perspective bounded to a specific historical-cultural context: people reproducing in cultural contexts where children are seen as and raised as part of/by the entire community, not, in most cases in my culture, a single genetic family, will have different ethical responsibilities related to reproduction because of the difference in context. Also, if population strain were not a factor, some of the problems raised by creating another person who needs sustenance would not be issues.)

That said, I've never gotten he impression that Dan is shaming people who don't want children (he's actively affirmed the right of people to make that decision on any number of occasions), and I think you're projecting pretty heavily here, though your reasons for doing so are entirely understandable.
154
Not wanting a kid? I'd find that sad, but it's your choice to make, not mine.

Actively HATING kids? I'm sorry, but there's something wrong with you.

That amount of negative emotional energy hurled at an entire demographic of humanity just because they are who they are is just as bad as homophobia.
155
There's something I find irresistibly attractive about a woman that eschews default choices. There's so much pressure: biological and social to squirt out a kid or two. It's a life-imperative to extend yourself, and having children is the default way to do that.

I have high standards for the women I like to be with, therefore I prefer women who openly state that they don't want kids.
156
Listened to the podcast and I think the letter writer is totally out to lunch. Dan wasn't hard on people who don't have kids and never has been. What he said on the podcast was to tell potential partners up front about kids. If you have a kid and they like kids, great, if not too fucking bad, don't waste your time because you're not compatible. That's called being realistic and open from the get go, not being hard. Instead of jumping to the 'OMG, this fag hates kid haters' why not actually try and listen to what he's saying.
157
@Registered European, who wrote:
I wasn't planning to, I plan to avoid being around kids as much as possible and to never have my own.


Which is entirely your right. By all means, and again quoting seandr, more power to you. You may also be planning to do things that I also want to avoid at all costs, and you are similarly entitled to them. And since you do accept that those who have the exact opposite opinion to yours about kids are also entitled to it, then everything is OK. I wish you happiness in your plans.
158
@155 - See, now you're implying that women who want kids are of a lower standard. That's the kind of condescending attitude that makes a lot of childless-by-choice people look terrible. Not everyone who wants kids is relenting to social pressure. As difficult as it might be for you to believe, some people just genuinely want a different kind of life than you, one that includes having kids.
159
@ 44, check out the discrepancy between how much we spend on benefits for seniors and benefits for children. That shows how much we value chidren.
160
I've managed to neatly straddle both camps. I said, starting when I was five years old, that I would never have kids. Every single person told me, "oh, you'll change your mind when you're older!" Well, I'm 52 now. Still don't have kids. Still don't WANT to have kids. When I was younger, I heard every single line that has been quoted above. "You're selfish" "you don't want kids because you're self-absorbed and irresponsible" "you'll be sorry when you're old" "don't you LIKE children?" "you must be some kind of child-hater" "you don't know what you're missing!" etc., etc., etc. It was CONSTANT. When I was married to my first husband, his family and friends were the worst; they were so inquisitive about WHY WHY WHY and WHEN WHEN WHEN that I finally developed the technique of sniffling and saying "I can't" when they asked, which shut them up completely. Yes, it was disingenuous - I couldn't because I'd had my tubes tied when I was 31, but that really is not the business of anyone one is not in a relationship with, now, is it?

I was up front with every man I had a relationship that kids were not an option. If they wanted children, the relationship had a time limit on it.

Then I fell in love with a man with two children. I became a stepmother. I did my goddamnest never to be a stepmonster: I had stepmonsters myself and did not want to play out that game. I was about as hands-off as a stepparent can be. If the boys needed to be chastised, asked to do something or not do something, given permission for something, etc., that was my HUSBAND's job. He's the one who chose to have children. They were his responsibility, not mine. They had a perfectly good mother (who hated - still hates - me, but that's beside the point).

Some 20 years later, the boys and I are pretty good friends. They now appreciate that I did not try to take over from their mother and interfere in how they were brought up. But given the choice, I wouldn't have fallen in love with a man with kids. That being said, I would never have had the slightest respect for him had he been the sort of man who would abandon his kids for a new woman; my own father did that, and I will have nothing to do with deadbeat dads. They are scum. I don't care what a PITA it is to deal with your ex or pay child support; you married him or her, you chose to reproduce with him or her, and dealing with that person until the kids are functional adults is your job.

I prefer adult company for the most part. Many kids are joys to be around. Many are quite awful. That's true of adults, too, but it's easier to totally ostracize an adult one cannot stand without being apostrophized as a monster of some sort. There are places and venues that I wish were adults-only, just so concessions do not have to be made; we seem to have this mania in our society with making everything family-friendly that sometimes it's hard to just enjoy adult society and entertainment without being snarled at (or told one needs therapy).

The point is, someone else's choice to reproduce or not reproduce is not your business. Yes, there are those who are so bad at it that society has to take a hand, and I think it's a shame we can't prevent those people from reproducing in the future. But that's a slippery slope to all kinds of horrors, so for the most part, seek the company of those who feel as you do and MYOFB. And quit calling people who disagree with your choice names.
161
@104 You win! Couldn't have said it better myself. And I haven't heard this perspective yet, so I'll just throw this out there - if any single moms are wondering if there are ANY men out there willing to date them, try looking into men with other cultural backgrounds. Not to overgeneralize, but in my experience there is a much higher percentage of kid-haters among white American men Then in other demographic groups. Date Latinos! Date Africans! Date people from other parts of the world. You'll find that in many places men are much more accepting if women with children.
162
@14, others have already said it, but you are wrong. There are many reasons people don't have kids other than a lack of desire to be responsible for others (which is a totally legitimate reason). Lack of financial stability, lack of energy to give for work/ medical/ whatever reasons. Personally I have never wanted my own children, but I have worked w/ special needs children (developmental disabilities and mental health issues) for over 7 years. I'm also about to start grad school to go into teaching. I don't think I would be able to successfully teach or do the social work jobs I've done in the past if I came home to a caretaker role. Just fyi, there's rarely only one reason for a decision like that. Also, there's too many people in the world, not having children is just more sustainable.
163
Part of the problem is that most people who have children have gone through a phase where they they did not want children, so they dismiss people who say they don't want children as immature. It is the same reason some don't think asexuals or bisexuals exist.

Personally I think having children will eventually no longer be a societal norm and that is a good thing. I have met too many people who were raised by shitty parents that are not invested in parenting at all. Often they are rich kids who have parents that give them money rather than attention. This type of bad parent does not get the public scrutiny it deserves, because on a superficial level they provide for all of the child's needs. Kids like this can also appear to be spoiled brats which makes people even less sympathetic to the emotional damage they have suffered. I have no problem with children but I have a problem with thoughtless parents.
164
No-one else finds your inbred hellspawn endearing. It's insane to actually like children; it's a sign of great patience merely to tolerate one's own. No-one else should be forced to enjoy your moron children, merely endure them enough not to cause them severe physical harm.

Be happy you get even that. Were we all bears, your children caught unattended could very well be eaten by other bears, fully within their rights.
165
"Kids under 10 can also be sweet, give you hugs, care about you when you're sad, smile and sing just to see you smile and sing, give you profuse thanks for your help, discuss things with you with an open mind you rarely find among adults, make surprisingly sharp observations about life and others, help you out in ways you didn't know were possible, and even play chess with you."

@126 That's because most kids under 10 want attention and everything you mentioned are ploys to get it.

166
Reading all these comments makes me appreciate the people I've been around in my life. When I was in my 20s and said I didn't want kids I too would get some of the "you'll change your mind" comments. I knew I wouldn't, but I was in my 20s, so it was a logical thing for them to say. But those comments stopped by the time I was in my 30s. I've never been around people who grilled me about not having kids/not being married/not dating. If I did have someone in my life like that, I'd end my relationship with them.

Another trick to dealing w/these interrogators is to agree w/them, whatever they say, however negative. "You don't have kids because you're selfish." "Yes, that's probably true." I've seen people stopped in their tracks by that one.
167
Ichneumons are fond of little ichneumons.
And lions of little lions.
But I am not fond of little humans;
I do not believe in scions.

Ogden Nash, 1936
(Some of my best friends are children)
168
I think we need to distinguish from those who say they don't want kids and those who say they hate kids. Before I had kids I used to say I hated them. More truthfully I should have said that I hated other peoples children. But having kids changes you, not from who you are but where your priorities lie. And this has cost me dearly in friends when that shift happened for me. Mainly because sitting on the phone for hours and psychoanalising ourselves to death became a luxury. And also not being able to drop by or go away for the weekend at the drop of a hat. And after having kids my appreciation for the situation when I'm in a restaurant and a kid is crying increased tenfold. No I don't like it either. But now I find myself offering to open a door or hold a shoe while another parent is in a crisis. And I think the non-kidders need think about how they treat other people children who will grow up to either be judgmental bigot douchbags like their parents or self respecting, caring, participating members of society. I'd even go so far as suggest to those that have it in them to go to their local elementary school an give a small amount of time sharing their time or talent. Not on the subject of the caller, but I hope relevant to the discussion. To me it's just about having maturity to remember the golden rule.
169
Amen.
170
I must have missed Dan's pro-child, anti-anti-child rants. Yet another demographic with whom I have been insensitive. Sorry...er... everyone.
171
@28: You're the one who bred the kid, it's your baggage to deal with, not the childless person's.
172
@34 "This society is hostile enough to children"

How so?
173
@52: It's not bigotry. Being a child is not the same as being part of a protected class, as many protections as we offer kids as a society...
174
@72: So about the ones with kids, how often did they visit? Or were the older folks who chose to have kids dumped off there too?
175
@98: Once again, being a child is not the same as being a member of a protected class. One can grow out of being a child. One cannot grow out of being gay or black.
176
@116: You mean a bucket list? Here's a clue-by-four: people with kids keep bucket lists too, retard.
177
@175 -- Yes, the nature of age is different from that of sexual orientation or race. That doesn't make it right to hate children or seniors.
178
I wouldn't want to be with someone who didn't want to have kids around them. I am a parent, therefore, it'd be a deal breaker for me as well. I wouldn't impose on them that responsibility because it's mine, but if I chose to share my life with someone else, I expect to be able to share ALL the main responsibilities, including those of helping me rise my child. I am glad I found someone whom I truly love, who also have children and wants to share the joys and pains of rising them together. Is it for everyone? Not at all.

You are not evil for not liking kids. You would be evil if you hurt them, though.

You are right: Better not get involved whith someone with kids. I hope your heart doesn't trick you and make you fall in love with such a person.
179
not everyone who doesn't want kids had bad childhoods either. my parents were wonderful and completely focused on us, but when i look back at what that entailed, i know i would rather slit my throat than live through those things. they moved us to a boring town because it had the right mix of being affordable enough for us to have a nice yard, but still had good schools. they took us on kids' vacations--disney, theme parks, etc, and not places that adults can enjoy. they endured years of behaving like our pointless, vapid, child-prattling was interesting. my mother gave up her career to raise us; my father allowed his to atrophy for stability over real career advancement or challenge. they mortgaged their lives into oblivion to pay for mulitple kids' worth of clothes and toys and bikes and glasses and braces and speech therapy and music lessons and eventually colleges. yeah, no thanks. my parents made our childhoods wonderful, and having us was their choice, but they paid a high price for it. they were smart, interesting, lively people who could have had really exciting lives if they hadn't been so tied down by us.
180
Hernandez #14 is really wrong here. "But come on, let's be honest. If you don't want kids it's because you don't want to have to be responsible for anyone but yourself. There's nothing inherently wrong with that. Instead of getting defensive, why not just own it?"

I'm a twin. And I pretty much believe my sister got all of my 'mom' genes. Even as a kid, when we played house, she was a mom with tons of dollies. I was a lawyer. We've had a pact since we were ten that she would have my kids and raise them and I would pay for their college education. (I've got funds for both her kids right now.) So Hernandez, having raised two step kids a dog and two cats, I've been responsible for more than myself. I've just NEVER felt the desire to pop one out of me. I know my sister has that mom thing. I don't. Never had, never will (43 now, it's never changed).
181
Pretty lame in at least not apologizing to the woman Dan. You seem to have a problem with people not fulfulling their partners every sexual appetite, however unique, but then damn this woman for not wanting kids in her relationship.
182
#41: Thank you for saying what needs to be said everywhere and often. Parents not only get the free education, school lunches, and such for children, but get both tax deductions AND tax credits per child. Yet they keep harping they need more.

The childless in this country are footing the bill locally through property taxes and federally through income taxes.
183
@182: The childless in this country are footing the bill

By the time you retire, our kids will be footing the bill for your social security. And your medical benefits - whether private insurance or medicare, the young and healthy pay for the old and sick. They'll also be protecting the country in the armed forces, and generally keeping the economy afloat.

See how it works?
184
In my current state (Utah), the men seem to fall into one of two very extreme camps: "Make babies NOW NOW NOW!" or "Hells to the no: I don't belieeeeve in your bourgeois concepts of 'marriage' or 'reproduction.' How quaint."

I feel like I'd like to raise a child or two someday: I'd be very open to adopting older children from foster care, etc. Quite frankly, I feel like the religious nutjobs are outbreeding the areligious, sane, scientifically-minded among us, but "let's create a genetic/cultural legacy together since there's no afterlife anyway!" doesn't seem to be working as a pickup line. ;)

I work with kids aged 9 to 18 every day and they are uniformly charming, funny, and eager to learn (and never yell at you, act like a demanding diva-bitch, or whine about museum tour audio guides the way the more advanced in years have at past jobs of mine). However, neither I nor my mother have ever been that big on infants, and I totally get a "meh" reaction.
185
@120 " Let's be honest, though. Kids under the age of, say, 10 years, are pretty awful as human beings. No empathy whatsoever. No conscience to speak of. Only interested in themselves. Prone to agression and throwing tantrums if they don't get their way. If an adult behaved like that they would be classified as as sociopath. Yes, I was one myself. I'm glad that I'm not anymore."

Ummm, no. You clearly don't know much about child development and have had very little experience with children under ten if this is actually what you think. By age three, children are developing empathetic skills- learning to recognize, care about, and understand their own role in impacting others' emotions. A five year old who was without empathy would be considered developmentally behind and possibly suffering from a developmental disorder. The static concept of right/wrong (I'm not allowed to do this, it's bad, there are consequences; I'm supposed to do this, it's good, doing it will get me treated with approval) starts developing in toddlerhood and most kids have a more refined and value-based concept of right/wrong by age 6-7 (These outcomes/attributes/goals are good because they benefit other people, it's good to help others and make them happy, I should engage in these behaviors for that reason; These outcomes/attributes/goals are bad because they make other people sad/upset/inconvenienced, it's bad to upset or hurt other people, I should try not to behave this way even if I want to for that reason.) and we see prosocial behavior in very young children.

Your assertion that children under ten are only interested in themselves is patently ridiculous. Children at that age are much more interested in other people and the world around them than they ever are in themselves, and indeed, those on the youngest end of your spectrum do not even have a developed sense of themselves as separate beings. Kids under ten are constantly exploring, questioning, and engaging with their environment. Their curiosity (as a group) is unmatched by any other age group.

As far as tantrums go, they occur when kids aren't having their needs met, don't have the ability to express their emotions fluently, or are regularly ignored/neglected until they make a scene that can't be ignored. Tantrums, for the most part, are over with by age four, and often do not even make a sustained appearance in development if the child in question is blessed with parents who encourage introspection, self-soothing, verbal expressions of emotions (and verbal development through real conversation with their children, reading to them, and modeling appropriate communication in their other relationships), and...you guessed it, the development of empathy by promoting questioning and thinking about other people's (but especially other kids') feelings! A child who is regularly having tantrums, or one who is often having tantrums past age five, has been subjected to poor modeling, insufficient linguistic development, neglect, or some other major disadvantage (such as a developmental disability).

I am SO sick of adults who think it's clever or interesting to talk about how "stupid," "irritating," or "obnoxious" children are. It reveals a profound lack of both understanding and empathy which frankly rivals the supposedly unpleasant characteristics of children which they intend to deride. I have no children of my own, but I spend my days working with other people's, and I can tell you that 9/10 times, a child who is really being difficult calms almost immediately when encouraged to express his distress and given the support of an adult saying, "I'm sorry that upset you. What should we do about it?" And 9/10 times, a child acting inappropriately changes her behavior when given a calm and clear explanation of why it's not okay and how, exactly, it needs to change. Kids aren't stupid. When you treat them with disrespect and condescension, they tend to react much like an offended adult, only with less sophistication. When you treat them like people and respect their feelings and agency, they tend to return the favor.
186
Wow, there's a lot of hostility on here! I'm not surprised, it is a powder-keg discussion....

I'm 42, straight female, never married, no kids. I am exactly where I want to be. I don't hate children, just never had any interest in having them. Also no interest in getting married. I date. I'm sexually active. I'm selective. I'm perfectly happy with my unmarried, child-free status.

I had my tubes tied at 23 (not one moment of regret), and I choose to date men that don't have children. This does not make me a monster, or a child hater, selfish, or anti child in any way. I really don't understand how my choices affect anyone but myself, or how my choices are anyone's business.

What I would love though, is to be able to say "never married, no kids, prefer to stay that way", and not have the first reaction be "What's wrong with you??".

There is nothing wrong with me. The things that make me happy in life are just different from what fulfills happy parents.
187
This is just part of the widespread problem of people dividers. Religious/non-religious, foodies/vegans, Democrat/Republican, Mall-shoppers/online shoppers. You get my drift. Share your views with only those who, regardless of their side of a particular fence, don't have paradigms so thick they can't roll with the other side. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people do not take the time to conjure what it might be like to live other than they do. It's not lack of respect, more lack of imagination.
188
@ 178 Better not get involved whith someone with kids. I hope your heart doesn't trick you and make you fall in love with such a person.

You have to spend time with someone to fall in love with them. Like the LW I am not interested in parenting, stepparenting, adopting, Big Brother/sistering, etc. I find out early if a man has or wants kids. If so, game over. No time invested, no risk of falling in love with a parent/potential parent. I have not dated a man with with kids, not even grown ones, that has its own set of issues, since 1982.

Sign me 57 Childfree and Happy
189
I don't like people, so obviously not too crazy about kids either.
190
@Janell8me, do you lack curiosity about why you seem "perfect" but prospective partners are iffy about your child? If you're turning a blind eye to behavior issues, that is a turn-off and doesn't necessarily mean your partner is a bad person. I notice that parents who have divorced sometimes go from being pretty good parents to really crappy parents. They spoil their kids to make up for the guilt, and then of course spoiled kids are never happy (that just gets added to all the uncertainty and lack of structure that goes with living in two homes, etc.)...and no one wants to hang out with a miserable child no matter how "perfect" their parent may be otherwise. That's miserable!

And you're a bit over the top about being asked to "choose" between a partner and your child. If your child is competing for the kind of companionship and intimacy you should be enjoying with another adult, that's a real problem. I can't believe any loving partner would ask you to totally give up custody just to be with them. Unless, as mentioned...the problem is the child with behavior problems that the parent is choosing to ignore. Don't make the person who tells you the truth the villain! They are maybe trying to help you out.

Comparing a parent-child relationship to the one between lovers is a little creepy in my book. Understand the difference and give each relationship its due, and you won't end up alone and hurt so much.