A richer life with no kids

Adriene Hill: Now economics do seem to matter when it comes to having kids in a big way.The number of babies born in the U.S. has fallen since the 2008 financial crisis.

Commentator Joe McManus explains how going kid-free has made life richer.

Joe McManus: Having kids just never made sense to me. Think of the responsibility, the time required, the sheer expensive. Having kids would mean giving up the life I've known. I really like my life, so why would I trade it in?

My life hasn't been perfect. I did feel that ever present pang of emptiness, which is, I think the real reason most people would choose to have kids. It's just that I was drawn to fill that void with a mate. You know, a partner.

Sure, children are supposed to love you in spite of your flaws. And I know there are no guarantees in the dating scene or marriage. But children are not really partners. They're more like cherished subordinates.

When I met Lara 12 years ago, my search was over. If she'd wanted kids I might have agreed, just to keep her. But luckily for me, she's adamantly against it and so I get all her affection.

I'll be 50 in a couple of years, and so far, no regrets. We have family and friends all over the world and our lives are the richer for being able to travel whenever we want. Last year, Lara and I drove around the world on a whim. This year, it's summer in London, a Trans-Sahara expedition and an archaeological dig in southern Egypt -- just for fun. Ironically, we tend to spend most of our time visiting family and friends who have kids, and now, seldom get out.

It has always seemed to me that raising children is like having an extra full-time job; the reward for which is, a much delayed retirement. You may call me selfish for not having children, and in all truth, I couldn't disagree.

Adriene Hill: Joe McManus is a small business owner in Los Angeles.

About the author

Joe McManus is a small business owner in Los Angeles.
Log in to post14 Comments


People should allow other people to choose what kind of life they want for themselves be it with children or without. Who are we to say what is best for someone? For people who think having kids is good for their lives and society, bravo to them and they should have more kids.

My life is not richer without children. That said, it was the authors choice not to have children, which is valid. This kind of decision should be up to the individual, with no wrong or right answer. I am a 51 year old male and did not have the opportunity to marry until I was 37 to a woman one year older than me, and who did not and still does not admit she did not want children. The consequence is I did not have the opportunity to have children, and it is my most painful regret. I do not blame her for I have to live with the decisions I have made. I could end our relationship. But this would be the wrong thing to do and would not guarantee finding someone else who is willing to have children with me. Frankly, the reasons listed for not having children could also answer the question, why bother growing up.

I'm sorry but McManus' comments fall into the category of "look at all the cool stuff I can do or own because I didn't burden myself with kids."

If you don't want kids, don't have them.

But I'm more envious of people who have kids than your ability to drive around the world. The ability to see them grow and learn - the opportunity to interact with them as they discover butterflies or middle school envy - that's the kind of deep relationship which I find far more rewarding than dropping in on other people's lives.

And no, you don't know how they're going to turn out. But they're not machines you preprogram either and part of the fun of watching them even just as an aunt and a godmother is watching them go places you couldn't imagine.

But I'm all for people who don't want kids not to have kids. It's much better for the kids.

great article, Marketplace Money!
have two children, an arabian yearling and a 2 year old swiss mountain bitch. i am on top of the hill, age wise, and retired. had i had human child or children, there is no way i could have retired early. i travel when i want, for as long as i want, whenever i want. with greater financial and time freedom to give i help others

would disagree, Joe, that most people "decide" to have children to fill that pang of longing. i believe, or guess, that most people who reproduce do so mostly as an unintentional consequence of sex; that is, most human reproduction is a result of physical desire fulfilled. to create a human is a very powerful thing. is too bad that the vast majority of humans do not take it seriously

there are so many reasons not to reproduce: financial cost of rearing, establishing and maintaining a proper nuclear environment, the hours a day in time and emotional cost of upbringing for 18+ years, the legal responsibility, the cost to the environment particularly in an industrialized country, the risk that a child will be born with a genetic defect, the time and life otherwise to be given to a partner which now must be given to another, the effort it takes to improve society to make it a better place by obligation for one whom a parent imposed existence upon, etc

i would also disagree, Joe, that the selfishness is on your part not to reproduce. there is significant selfishness on the part of anyone who reproduces. despite the impossibility of consent and the fallacy in logic, it is nonetheless true that life, existence is foisted upon the next generation

Claiming that most reproduction is unintentional is, to be charitable, silly .And please, please three times please don't call your animals your children.As the late,great comic Greg Giraldo observed:" No guy has ever had a dog cause he was too drunk to pull out ".If you're ever in need of hospital level medical care,don't forget to thank your lucky stars that your care givers were born.Just be a stand up person and admit that you can't handle REAL parenthood.That's perfectly fine.

The only problem with that mentality is that one of the "partners" essentially becomes a kid. I say if your not going to have children, having a partner ultimately can have no real meaning. Go without either and your better off; I laugh when I see someone call a marriage without having children "real love." I then observe one of them living like a King or Queen only due to the other "partners" earnings. "Yeah, he's fat and stupid, but he makes good money."

Gosh, I must have forgotten to have kids... while investing lifelong in an amazing international career, engagement in the arts and culture, world travel, healthy adult relationships, mentoring youth, community service and civic responsibility, a wholesome healthy lifestyle, a beautiful home and gorgeous garden, stretching toward serenity and dodging stress. Sigh. Maybe "next time."

Oh I see. Mentoring youth, community service (not court orderd I hope) and civic resposibilty .Gee, they all sound like the works of a person with
the heart of a parent.

Oh, yeah, because only people that would make suitable parents can ever do anything good. If you don't have the makings of a parent, you must be an evil, selfish, reckless person. Having the heart of a parent doesn't make someone do good things and doing good things doesn't give someone the heart of a parent. The two are totally unrelated.


With Generous Support From...