To Parent, or Not to Parent?

Four fears that compel us to have kids — and why I’ve chosen a different path

Michele Koh Morollo
Human Parts
Published in
10 min readMar 25, 2019

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Photo: wundervisuals/E+/Getty Images

II am 41 years old, and I’ve been happily married for nine years. Neither my husband nor I want to have children. In recent years, I’ve met quite a few couples like us, who, though biologically and financially able, have made the decision not to breed. As the childless by choice population increases, the decision not to have children will hopefully become a non-issue. At the moment, however, it’s something I think about often.

I’ve heard that having children is wonderful, rewarding, and occasionally heartbreaking. I tip my proverbial hat to all the parents who’ve risen to the challenge and raised the many amazing humans who populate our planet.

Occasionally, I’ve wondered if my lack of motivation to breed indicated extreme selfishness. I’ve thought hard about what it would mean to have a child in my life, along with what it would mean not to. I’ve never felt any kind of strong maternal pull toward other people’s children, and when I create a mental pros and cons list about whether I should reproduce, the arguments that carry weight are almost always based in fear.

These are the fears that, I believe, contribute to our desire to procreate.

1. Fear of loneliness

When I told a friend I wasn’t interested in having children, she replied, “Then who will look after you when you’re old?”

I’d never really considered this. I responded, “I hope to keep myself as healthy and sharp as possible until I die, and use my savings and insurance to take care of any problems that come up.” Even as I said this, I knew how impossible it is to predict what ills will befall us as we age, and how much care we’ll need.

Though having a child is no guarantee that you’ll have a caregiver when you’re nearing the end of your life, the idea of having someone more able-bodied around when you’re old (whom you don’t have to pay for professional care) can calm a worried mind. We expect that our children — even if for no other reason than obligation and payback for all you sacrificed to give them the gift of life — will keep us company in our latter days.

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