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To Raise, or NOT to Raise: An Internal Dialogue about Living a Child-Free Life

Written By: Lauren Goldberg



This post highlights some of the internal dialogue that happens as influenced heavily by external pressures to have or not have kids, and ultimately listening to the only voice that truly gets the last word on the subject.

 

Every few months or so, the topic of kids will come up in conversation with my spouse. One of us, usually me, asks “So, uh, you still feel the same way about kids?” The other responds, usually him, saying something like “Yes, definitely. I love my life and I wouldn’t do anything to change it.” With relief, “Me too. No kids. I’m cool with that.”


But for a long time, it didn’t keep the internal dialogue in my head from happening on the subject. There was almost always an internal discussion, which has evolved as I’ve gotten older.


It would sound something like this:


Wouldn’t it be fun to meet little versions of my husband and me? That would be pretty freakin’ cute.


That’s not really how it works. No kids are carbon copies of their parents.


Well, in that case, it might be cool to see how unique they turn out from us. Plus, I might regret NOT having kids. Seems like every parent in my life gushes about how raising their kids was the most rewarding and proud experience EVER. People say you don’t know true deep love until you have kids. I don’t want a life of FOMO for the universe’s deepest, most precious love known to humankind.


Isn’t that kind of . . . selfish? AND how about the planet being a literal dumpster, with corporations continuing to pollute for profits, climate change weakening havoc on our environment and forcing people to leave their homes, political divides deepening, pandemics, toxic social media, loneliness epidemic, oppressive power structures traumatizing us and feeling dead on the inside most days? Do you want to bring your kids into the world to enjoy all that?


ALRIGHT, got it, the world is on fire. But what if I raise my kids to help solve the world's problems?


That’s nice and well-intentioned and all . . . but think of the resources it takes to sustain a life in mainstream culture and how every extra human adds to overpopulation and overconsumption of natural resources . . .


FINE. Point made.


Ugh, and raising kids is so expensive! Inflation and the rising cost of diapers, healthcare, childcare, after-school activities, and COLLEGE?


I know it’s expensive but we’d figure it out. We always do.


Yeah, but do you really have the energy for, like, taking care of another human being most waking hours? Ugh and having to deal with them as babies in the middle of the night?!


Ok I know it feels like I can hardly take care of myself most days. But we can get help with the kids. That’s what people do. My parents and his parents live close by and they’d be willing to help. They help with my siblings’ kids. There’s daycare and babysitters.


But like, again, that’s only for a few hours a day. They are still your responsibility.


What are you trying to say?! I’m responsible! We’re responsible. We would be AWESOME parents.


There’s no doubt that we’d be awesome parents. But just because I can do it, doesn’t mean I want to do it. You know, in thinking about my hypothetical kids - they deserve to be really WANTED. Do I even WANT this?


This internal chatter is all fueled by external pressures - questions from our family members, seeing our friends having babies and posting all the cute wonderful moments on social media, and just growing up in mainstream America where nothing is valued higher than the nucleus, heteronormative family (and in the U.S. our political policies reinforce that). But again, in my decision-making, none of that matters comparatively . . .


Deep down, in my bones, I know only one thing matters: a soul-level inner knowing. My intuition. My truth. And that inner knowing tells me the way some people feel called to be a parent, I feel called NOT to be a parent. And I know that truth could change someday because I’ve experienced that. That was the case with getting married. That voice went from “I don’t need to be legally bound to him to love him” to “Yeah, I can’t imagine NOT doing this together.” But I can’t predict that.


So all I can do is honor what that inner knowing voice tells me is my truth right now. After so many internal conversations like the one above, I’m now able to skip the inner back-and-forth and go right to the thing that matters the most - recognizing the voice that truly gets the final word on the matter: Right now, I don’t want this.


So, no kids. I’m cool with that.


This post supports the Hawaii Community Foundation.


 

Meet the Author

Lauren Goldberg

Lauren Goldberg is a social impact entrepreneur, coach, and disability justice advocate. She helps social impact professionals find and pursue what lights them up.



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2 Comments


Amber Hammes
Amber Hammes
Aug 14, 2023

You're real jerks ya know. But I love you anyway. I can't help it. ❤️

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Amber Hammes
Amber Hammes
Aug 14, 2023

TLDR: We should always just do whatever the fuck we want. We miss so much while we are worrying. Life is beautiful. FOR THE LOVE OF HUMANITY.

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