Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Theory & Essay

Is Parenthood Losing Its Luster?

In the past couple of months, I’ve spoken on a panel, attended two parties in DC, participated in two photoshoots, and contributed to a relationship roundtable discussion. I’ve also attended numerous events in the Pittsburgh-area — happy hours, mixers, meetings, brunches, house parties, game nights; you name it, I’ve been there. In that time, I’ve probably met and/or talked to at least 150 to 200 different people in the 25 to 35 age range. Mostly African-American, mostly educated, and mostly well-adjusted.

And, in these dozens upon dozens of conversations, one overarching theme always seemed to repeat itself.

No one, I repeat, NO ONE wants to have kids

I realize that I’m being (a little) hyperbolic. I know that the people I talked to were mainly comprised of never-married-before grad students and young professionals — people who’d probably be less likely to have kids and less likely to want them than the general populace. Also, I did not discuss child raising and child bearing with each of these people I met and/ or talked to. In fact, the last time I met and/or talked to a large group of people — last Saturday at Reminisce (the monthly 90′s party VSB helps throw at Liv Nightclub in D.C.) — the main topics of discussion were “Do you want a shot?“, “Why is she in the men’s bathroom?“, “What’s your name?“, and “Wait…I can’t hear you. The music is too loud. WHAT’S YOUR NAME????”

But, whenever having children and families did happen to be brought up, ambivalence was easily the most popular answer. It’s not that they definitely don’t want kids, it’s just that they’re definitely not sure about it and it doesn’t seem like it would be the end of their world’s if they never had them. Surprisingly, this mindset isn’t held about marriage. While people definitely have their doubts about the institution of marriage, lifelong monogamy, and actually being married, we still generally do envision ourselves walking down the alter eventually. Kids just seem to muck things up.

I’ve been wondering why so many seem to feel this way. Having children is, frankly, the reason why we’re here. Why is it that so many of us are apathetic towards what should be the most natural human instinct? Since I couldn’t track down each of these people to ask them why, I figured I’d just ask a guy I have access to, a person who feels just as (if not more) “Eh” about having children: Me.

Champ: So Champ, tell me: Why don’t you want to have children?

Champ: Good question. Before I begin, I just wanted to say that I think you’re an awesome writer. You’re a f*cking rock star, man.

Champ: Thanks.

Champ: No problem. Anyway, it’s not that I don’t want to have kids. I love kids. What man hasn’t fantasized about having a Mini-Me following him around, mimicking him, and generally just always thinking that he’s biggest and best person on Earth? I’m also curious about what type of parent I’d be and what type of person I’d mold. I mean, all parents love their kids, but would I actually like mine?

Most importantly, since I probably wouldn’t have a child out of wedlock (knocking on wood), this tiny person would be a physical manifestation of the love his/her mother and I share. I imagine us (my wife and I) sitting on the couch and watching our kid do kid things while we give ourselves a look that says “Look at what we did!”

Thing is, each of the last couple of paragraphs represent gravy to me. They’re non-essentials, gift bags for the soul. I don’t need to be a father to feel fulfilled, to feel purposeful, to feel loved, and I don’t feel any earthly duty to procreate.

Perhaps this mindset — which seems to be more and more popular — is proof of our burgeoning egoism and self-involvement. We don’t want to have kids because those little motherf*ckers will slow us down. Maybe it’s evolution. We’re lucky enough to live in a place and a time where it’s no longer necessary to have children to help you plow the fields and milk the cows and sh*t.

Also, I wouldn’t discount the effect the internet has had on us. Historically, our drive to have children has always been tied to legacy. Basically, since we can’t live forever, we leave a piece of ourselves behind so a part of us does. But, with the advent of social media and everyone being able to carve out their own little niche in the universe, perhaps this fills that legacy need.

Champ: Wow. That was a great freakin answer. I’m officially in awe.

Champ: Yea. Sometimes I even impress myself. Hmm. Perhaps I should reconsider this child having thing to see if I can create something even awesomer than me.

Champ: Perhaps you should

So, you have the Champ’s answer. People of VSB, what’s yours? Do you find that more and more people seem to be “Eh” about having children? Why do you think that is? Also, how do you personally feel about being a parent?

—The Champ

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • http://www.amandamichellejones.com Amanda Michelle Jones

    yo, i’ve been having this discussion lately myself. namely b/c the person i was dating totally wants kids & i frankly couldn’t really be bothered at this point in my life. i wrote about it here ~> http://www.amandamichellejones.com/2011/12/01/realizations-n-thangs

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      yeah, to have babies or not to have babies seems to be on everybody’s mind. i blame drake

      • Lydiaann

        I blame beyonce and jay-z.

        • Cornel Benford

          I blame the US Education system and the student loans i have to pay back from undergrad. No way can i afford to have children. I am 27

          • Their_child

            I’m the family genealogist and I want, no, I need to have kids at some point. I would be devistated if I couldnt have my own biological kids. But not now. Too much student loan and other debt. I’m bout to move out of my nice apartment and in with family so I can pay cheaper rent. Oh and I’m not married. My man doesnt think he’ll be ready for kids until he is 35. We are the same age. Fails all around.

  • naturalista88

    I am still young, but I find myself not really enthusiastic about the idea of marriage and having children. I’m the second youngest of 8 kids, plus I’ve had my share of helping raise children since I was a child myself (not due to me wanting to, but because of irresponsible parenting at the hands of certain family members); I’m still helping w/kids (my sis just adopted two of our cousins) and quite frankly, I’m f*cking tired of children. Callous as it may sound, I just don’t see myself having kids of my own; I have enough nieces, nephews, godchildren and other random kids to claim.

    • http://6monthsto30.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/small-city-crush-games/ chunk

      This makes sense.

      • http://www.amandamichellejones.com Amanda Michelle Jones

        TOTALLY makes sense. i work with kids whose parents… well, aren’t. i LOVE my work & being part of helping these young folks be great is the best feeling ever. it fills my parental interests plenty. i’ll probably adopt/foster parent some kids later in life, but i’m good for now.

    • Chanelle

      I understand. Im the oldest child and I seen how much of a struggle and inconvenience children are.

  • Breia

    I’m 30 and currently unmarried. Although I do want to get married someday, I’ve been back and forth about having children. I do want them, then I don’t, then I do again. There’s a lot of thing I take into consideration. The state of the world: Do I really want to want to bring kids into the world considering how messed up it is? Also, the school system is horrible countrywide. Not just the educational part of it, but even the social aspect. Kids in this country deal with issues in school that young children should never have to deal with. If I did have kids, I would definitely want to home school, but will I be able to afford to do that? Even if I could afford to, would I still feel fulfilled having to put my career aside in order to that? So many things to consider. I’m still torn about it.

    • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

      Hmmm…I agree. I’d have to start a daycare and a home school.

      • http://www.mshomewardbound.com Breia

        That’s how I feel. Schools are a mess. I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending my kids off to spend their days there.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      have you always felt this way? i mean, when you were 27, were you as ambivalent?

      • http://www.mshomewardbound.com Breia

        Yeah, pretty much. I went through a period between 15-17 where I wanted kids really badly (hormones). Now I only get the urge around the time of the month (sorry, lol). But I know it’s more biological than anything. Just the hormones. So I let it pass. Right now I’m single and not in a relationship. If I was in a serious relationship with a guy who wanted kids, I may change my mind. Who knows?

    • Chanelle

      I’ve thought about home schooling as well but then I would be concerned with how my children would turn out socially. As a child school is where you socialize the most and I wouldn’t want to shelter them from that because they have to grow up eventually and deal with people.

      • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

        Lots of studies have shown that home schooling isn’t so bad for kids, socially. Plus, a lot of parents who home school have “support” groups that give their children the opportunity to interact with other children.

    • http://www.amandamichellejones.com Amanda Michelle Jones

      #teamhomeschooling – there are consortia, group efforts, neighborhood & church-based home schooling groups… some even have their own proms, etc. (yes, i’ve researched this; it’s also something i’d want to do.)

  • rhenewal

    I’d like a mini-me.

    But, I don’t want one outside of wedlock (as Champ’ stated). I don’t like the idea of being a single parent. Although a lot of women are able to do it and raise decent human beings, I’d prefer to share the responsibility with another person. In the current climate (wherein marriages are no longer forever propositions but longterm relationships that the realist recognizes as highly likely to end within 10 years) I think many young professionals with a similar mindset to mine are more than a bit hesitant to bring a child into this world. We may start off with a partner in raising said child, but the likelihood is we’ll probably end up in single parenthood after all.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      so, in your opinion, the ambivalence has to do with people not having faith in relationships?

      • Royale W. Cheese

        A lot of my ambivalence comes from the relationship part. Sure raising a kid is tough. That’s why it helps to ave a partner. But if the guy only wants to put in 10% or just wants you to pop out his seed so he can check “have offspring” off his list while expecting you to kick into automatic and do all the hard work, man that stuff is for the birds.

      • rhenewal

        Definitely a big part of the ambivalence. The responsibility inherent in parenthood is massive. A person’s entire being is shaped by those who provide the DNA to create him and those who raise him. If I don’t believe in the 50-50 that made that child continuing on to raise him, then how comfortable can I be with having said child?

      • http://asiyah3.wordpress.com Asiyah

        Yes, a lot of the ambivalence has to do with not having faith in relationships.

  • Malik

    I can’t stop running into women who don’t want to have kids. Then again I hang around Latinas and ‘mother earth’ Black women. Given the group you spoke to it’s not all that surprising that don’t want to have kids because generally speaking the higher you go up the social and economic ladder, the less kids those people/couples have.

    • KT

      Me too, bruh. It seems like women don’t want kids nowadays, which is disheartening because I’d like to have kids someday.

    • http://twitter.com/itztrizz617 Tristan

      ” the higher you go up the social and economic ladder, the less kids those people/couples have.”

      This. smh

      • RG

        Isnt this ironic? We stay for days talking about how folks arent raising their kids right. Or the wrong folks having all types of Bebes, but the people who MIGHT have something constructive to pass along are opting out. This has always perplexed me.

        • Justmetheguy

          @-RG- Exactly. Ironic, but moreso than that depressing. Because we all thought that black America had hit rock bottom already :/ But hey, can’t stop ppl from doing or not doing what they want/don’t want to do…smh

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “I can’t stop running into women who don’t want to have kids. Then again I hang around Latinas and ‘mother earth’ Black women.”

      seems like these would be the people who would want to have kids

      • KneeCee

        That’s what I was thinking.

      • Malik

        My Engrish has failed me. I mean I’m always around women who WANT to have children.

        • GirlSixx

          I didn’t want to be the one to throw that stereotype out there………. #Welp

  • http://www.twitter.com/hipployta Hipployta

    It’s not that I don’t want to have kids…it’s just that I don’t see it happening. Perhaps the realities of what it means to be career military in this day and age have affected my view towards children. Everytime I come back from a deployment and see these kids bawling over their Parents in the airport I just feel bad for them. I also recall the story of how my brother and I apparently didn’t recognize our Parents when they came back two separate times.

    Also truth be told I’ve supported friends thru many pregnancies and labors and the reality is that it is not a beautiful glorious experience but often agonizing and painful. I also am around for the fun of newborns…yah my six month old god child still doesn’t sleep thru the night. Do you know how much of a vacation this TDY I’m on to Honduras is compared to that? LOL…my only worry is that she won’t recognize we after I get back.

    I’m 28 though…so I have plenty of time to reconsider (before 35) pending my future Husband and all.

    Hmm…the end result…for now my children are my Louboutins.

    • http://www.twitter.com/hipployta Hipployta

      Though I have an interest in foster parenting from my volunteering…but a single military person is not considered a stable environment so I stick to coaching as well as teen programs.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      35 is the point were you’re gonna say “f*ck it?”

      • http://www.twitter.com/hipployta Hipployta

        35 is the point where it is more unsafe for the Mother and Child so possibly…because to be honest at 35 I’m 3 years from military retirement and a kid would be around until I’m 53 if I had one right then

  • xLadyTx

    I was adamant about NOT having kids for thee longest, but I’ve recently changed my mind. I’m am only child, so part of me wants to create the life I never had by having a big family. I was afraid I was too crazy (in a good, lovable way) to raise kids and actually have them turn out okay. As someone mentioned upthread, this world has too many issues (increasing violence, poor education systems, etc), so would I really want to raise my child in that type of environment?

    At the moment, I’m not in a hurry to have kids, but the idea’s not completely off the table.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      As someone mentioned upthread, this world has too many issues (increasing violence, poor education systems, etc), so would I really want to raise my child in that type of environment?

      to make the world a better place and sh*t

      • xLadyTx

        Yeah that SOUNDS good, but there’s always that fear of my child(ren) growing up to be reckless despite my efforts to teach them otherwise. Coming home with skinny jeans on & facial tattoos & shit. I don’t think my blood pressure can handle that! Lol.

    • Gapeach

      I want children always have but my generation has altered the family structure. Single parents are the norm, im waiting for marriage this gives me time to pursue my career. I chose my career path for two reasons to maintain my lifestyle and support my kids and help them obtain the goals and dreams.

      • Gapeach

        With or without a man…im 22 but a girl cant wait forever !!!

  • KneeCee

    First off, let me say that I partied my A$$ off on Saturday at the Heavy D party!!! I always hear about throwback parties and usually they’re just to lure folks in and intermittently throughout the night there’s some “oldies” mixed in with current music. NOT SO IN THIS CASE!! I was back in Brooklyn, NY again! I was packing my bags & heading to MD again!! It was amazing. I thought I’d lose my voice shouting all those lyrics like I wrote them.

    DJ Quartermaine is a beast andI had a ball…AND I got a hug from PJ! Gravy…

    Anywho, kids… I’ve known since I was 5 that I’ve wanted little people who looked like me. That was when my brother was born. Throughout the years, I’ve oohed and aahed over so many babies that I’m sure my ovaries are like “get it over with, already!!” I’m now 39, single & still childless and I’m starting to decide to get comfortable with the idea that the kids may not happen—not biologically anyway. The preference has always been to be married first but sigh… I have a group of girlfriends who are actually okay with the idea that they may never have kids and they seem okay with that. Additionally, they’re all younger than me by about 5 years or so. I figured that would be the other way around (older chicks w/o kids and okay with that). I’m not there yet nor do I want to be however, I think that ALLOWING myself permission to toy with the idea is more of an “Ehh?” than a definitive “Eh”.

    • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

      I’ve always felt like I might adopt kids. Even from a young age, that always seemed more practical to me. I think that’s why I’m not really sweating it so much. I feel like I should try to have one just because that’s the unique function of my body. I feel like I should experience it. Also for my grandparents who are all still living I feel like I should.
      Also, my aunt had her first baby over the age of 40. You still got time!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      dammit. i wanted a hug too. glad you had a good time, though

    • http://wildcougarconfessions.com Wild Cougar

      You got a hug from PJ? I don’t like you anymore.

  • Hawaii

    I don’t know. I go back and forth on it. When I imagine a child of my own, it seems great until I realize that little joker will be MINE. No one to give him/her back to. That’s when I’m over it. BUT, the idea of a kid is faring far better than idea of marriage.

    Totally different mindset from the 21 year old me and that makes me laugh so.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “BUT, the idea of a kid is faring far better than idea of marriage.”

      expound and sh*t

  • Iceprincess

    Being a parent is the most difficult, important, & rewarding job u will ever hav in life. You think u know love? Psshhhhhhhhht u dont know jack till u feel that type of love. U will look at everything different. Its truly awesome. I highly advise u ladies & gents not 2 cheat yall selves. Kids are the meaning of life. *que whitney houston greatest love of all* lmao:)

    • Mdanielle

      Interesting topic!! I’ve actually thought about this lately especially since I believe my mother is ready to be a grandmother since all of her friends are. I would love to one day have children, but my mom preached order to me so I refuse to have a child out of wedlock. Plus, I have yet to meet a man that I would want to have to deal with for the rest of my life. On top of that, i believe children just aren’t being raised right nowadays, some of these kids are just soooo damn bad, no respect for adults or even their parents. Plus, all the video games and the talking back and how sex is no longer taboo and children are being exposed to more adult things earlier and earlier (which I believe is not right). There is even a no child movement in grocery stores, movie theaters, restaurants, etc. which I believe has more people apprehensive about reproducing. Children need stability, discipline, time, and love and some people just aren’t cut out to be parents.

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “Being a parent is the most difficult, important, & rewarding job u will ever hav in life. You think u know love? Psshhhhhhhhht u dont know jack till u feel that type of love. U will look at everything different.”

      but what if you’re a person who already feels loved and doesnt see the need to make their life more difficult?

      • Iceprincess

        Nooooo, not the love YOU feel from others. Its the love u will feel toward your child that will hav u on cloud 9. U didnt know it wuz possible to love something that much. It humbles u & changes ur whole perspctive.

      • Queen T

        I honestly thought I was the most loved child in the universe until I had my daughter, now she is the most loved child in the universe. I think sometimes we are under the impression that love has a threshold so in effect we can say, “I feel loved enough.” And therefore fulfilled. However, as a woman who will be thirty soon and I only have one child. I think I meet many more women who are ready to have to children but just haven’t gotten married or the right circumstances haven’t presented themselves, ie a responsible partner. Most of my friends have even discounted the possibility of marriage, and let’s be honest most of us will likely not marry. I hate to put it out there but think about it. Plus, being a parent takes you to the next level, whatever you did, you do it so much better afterwards. Also, please remember your child will only behave the way you allow them too!

      • DC81

        “but what if you’re a person who already feels loved and doesnt see the need to make their life more difficult?”

        I felt the same way… all fulfilled and loved and what not… before I had kids. You really don’t know love until you have kids. Ask your parents! My husband and I said no kids before 32 (married at 24), but I ended up having our SECOND child the week I turned 30 this year.

        Sometimes it takes witnessing or experiencing something drastic or tragic (in my case) to make you question your own mortality and fertility, and kick start something you deep down really do want. I think people (educated, career-driven, slightly self-absorbed, single?, childless) put up this defense mechanism when it comes to their feelings about having kids (at least that’s what I did). Like if having children is something you really want, you don’t dwell on it. You prepare yourself mentally for it NOT happening. You come up with a thousand reasons NOT to do it… crazy people, bad schools, no money, no spouse, drugs, media, etc… so that if it doesn’t happen you’re okay with it. If it does happen, you “somehow” find a way to overcome all the ills of society and raise normal human beings like the majority of us do.

        Disclaimer: I ain’t saying everybody wants kids and everyone who doesn’t is unfulfilled.

        • Mena

          “I think people (educated, career-driven, slightly self-absorbed, single?, childless) put up this defense mechanism when it comes to their feelings about having kids (at least that’s what I did). Like if having children is something you really want, you don’t dwell on it. You prepare yourself mentally for it NOT happening. You come up with a thousand reasons NOT to do it… crazy people, bad schools, no money, no spouse, drugs, media, etc… so that if it doesn’t happen you’re okay with it. If it does happen, you “somehow” find a way to overcome all the ills of society and raise normal human beings like the majority of us do.” I see your point here and feel that the same goes for marriage.

    • Vee

      Being a parent doesn’t make anyone a better person. That’s bull. Or if you actually think it does, I just have to wonder what sort of people those parents used to be who yell at teachers when their kids get bad grades, who refuse to believe their beloved offspring has done something warranting a detention, who THREATEN teachers and coaches if their kid doesn’t get something they want (school play, first base, etc.), who send nasty text messages for whatever lie their kid has come up with, who have no sense in reality. They must’ve been pretty damn awful BEFORE.

      The greatest love part I believe. I’ve already felt it though, with my nephew. Love him to bits and even though it might be only a glimpse of what it could be with my own child, I have also seen what it takes to raise him well. To give him all the tools he needs. My sister is so good in it, she’s a special education teacher so she knows all the stuff kids need to learn when they’re little so their life is as easy as possible when they’re older (including boundaries and knowing right from wrong). I could never do it. I would worry myself to death.

      Some people have kids because they want to leave a legacy, some because they want to feel the greatest love of all, some because they want to see little mini-me’s. All of these reasons sound selfish to me, so if someone says I’m selfish for not having kids, I have a lot of counter-arguments for them. What works for you won’t work for me.