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. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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”.

  • 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.

  • 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:)

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