I would be a terrible parent. I am likely way too socially awkward to do a lot of the social situations that being a parent requires, playdates, PTA meetings etc. There was a time in the mid 2000’s when my wife at that time did want to have kids, and I largely played along. Fortunately, nothing ever came of that, and a few years later we got divorced.
My current wife feels similarly to me, one of the thing that initially drew me to her Ok-Cupid profile was the fact that she was openly stating she wants no kids. At that time, both of us were in our 40’s and it was probably realistically a little late for us to have kids anyhow. If I were to have a kid today, I would be 64 by the time they turned 18. I don’t want to be putting up with teenagers at that age. I was a terrible teen, if I had kids, I would be worried karma would be coming for me. in my mid 60’s.
I don’t think I ever really wanted kids, even back in the days over a decade ago when I was trying to have kids, I don’t think I was entirely on board with that. Fortunately, that never happened. If I had gone through hand had kids, I’m sure my life would be different now in many aspects, and not for the better.
Kids are an all consuming 18 year project. Want to have a date night, better line up a sitter. Want to go on vacation, you’re probably going to Disney World, blarg. Additionally, you’re going to have to go during that summer vacation timeframe, when those places are always packed, and everything is hot and miserable, yuck. Not to mention, your vacation transportation cost go up since instead of buying airfare for 2, you’re buying it for 3 to 4.
The Cost of Children
The USDA estimates the cost of raising a child to age 18 in 2015 at $233,610, a figure that would likely be over a quarter million once inflation over the 18 year span is accounted for. Sure, there’s food, clothing, school, sitters, daycare, all the obvious expenses.
These numbers are a national average, the numbers would likely be higher in a high cost location such as Seattle. Also, it assumes you’re using public education. If you have a failing public school system, you should probably shell out for private, assume you want to actually be a good parent, and not raise stupid kids. That can add tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost of raising a child.
There is also housing, likely my current mini-townhouse would be insufficient for a family of 3, yet alone 4 or 5. Housing accounts for 29% of the above $233k.
The above shows the relationship between birth rate and number of children. There is an inverse relationship between income and number of children. In short, those who are having the most children are those who can least afford children. A lot of this is likely because of birth control methods being more available as household income rises, but the trend is still disturbing.
To some extent, society expects us to have kids. For most of my 20’s, when I was single and really showing no interest in dating, my mom would gently pester me on when she would finally get some grandkids. This is a phase, after I got divorced the first time, she had finally given up on me producing offspring for her. Though she did strangely seem to hold out hope for me to remarry into some grandkids for her, which seems weird. Then, I moved thousands of miles away, did get remarried, but, still, not grandkids, such a disapointment.
We are expected to have the nuclear family of two parents (still together of course) and 2.5 children. They want us to create our own Cleaver family from Leave it to Beaver. This has always been a ridiculous fiction, and probably keeps parents together, even if that is not in anyones best interests.
Growing up, my own family tried to create this image of the ideal family. In reality, my dad was having an affair with his secretary, and kept that hidden until the youngest, my sister, moved out and went to college. They succeed in creating that image to the best that they could, but in the end, they were miserable. I wouldn’t wish that life on anyone.
My parents were then separated for the next nearly 25 years, before finally getting a divorce about a year ago, and my mother is still upset whenever she hears word of what my dad is up to. The last time I was in my hometown, both parents wanted to see me, which created a very awkward situation, since the two people clearly couldn’t stand each other.
Children and Early Retirement
Choosing not to have children makes planning for early retirement a lot easier. To a certain extent, I view my early retirement as my reward for not having children. The $582,000 I save by not having my 2.5 ($233K X 2.5) kids is roughly a third of the total I think I would need to finance a comfortable early retirement.
As I mentioned, if I were to have kids now, they would not be out of the house until I’m in my mid 60’s, that would essentially cancel any early retirement plan. Instead, I would likely end up working through my 60’s trying to send kids through college.
The Need for an Estate
Death happens to all of us. When planning any retirement this is when your plan ends. When planning early retirement you need to plan for your piggy bank to last a lot longer than when a person is planning to retire at, say, age 70, as at age 70, you are much closer to death. As much as I would like to spend my last penny on the day I leave this world, that’s probably not going to happen. Who knows, I could get hit on a bus on my first day of retirement, or I could live to be 110. Anyhow, there will probably be a pile of money when I do leave this planet. If my wife outlives me, that is where it would go. If however, I outlive her, or we both die in some fiery plane crash, then what?
If I had children, it would go to them and I would build a ‘legacy’ through that. I do have a niece and nephew from my sister, so they would I would like to give them something, however, being childless, there is no ‘need’ for an estate. Actually, even with kids, there’s no reason for them to expect anything, but I might feel a bit guilty about it if I were to donate everything to the Planned Parenthood and leave the kids with nothing.
Overall Impact of Not Having Kids
If everyone had my approach, we would clearly be in trouble, for no other reason than our economy relies on the next generation creating a bunch of new workers to replace the older ones going off into retirement or death. After all, who is going to pay me my Social Security check. If people stoped having kids, we would run out of workers, and eventually people, and ultimately the extinction of the human race in the most extreme case, not that that would be a bad thing.
This does seem to be the overall direction we are heading, at least within the United States, where birth rates have been below replacement level for some time now. It appears immigration is now the one thing that is keeping our population from falling off a cliff. There seems to be little appetite among our nations leaders to increase that if our birth rate does continue its current decline. This would likely impact me in my later years, post retirement. Less population equals less economic growth equals less return on investment. Which would mean cutting my standard of living in retirement, since I will be living off those returns.
Another possibility is using automation to make us more productive, hence we can have the same productivity with fewer people. Given that I am not going to have any offspring to take care of me in my elder years, could a robot do that job? Possibly.
Medical Robots can already help with tasks such as dispensing food, water, and drugs, as well as provide companionship. Japan, a country that is a bit ahead of the US in their population decline has been using robots in nursing homes for a while. It seems possible that at some point we would be able to provide elder care robots at home as well. Besides, it seems that with the quarter mill per child I am saving, I can buy a whole fleet of robots to take care of me.
Having children I suppose could bring one purpose in life I suppose. So, I can’t entirely blame people for wanting to have them. I have just never been that person, I would rather go out and see the world.