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Does having children make us happy?

From Saturday's Globe and Mail

Children bring meaning and joy to our otherwise narrow, selfish, little lives, right? Too bad science doesn't back that up ...Read the full article

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  1. Franklin Carter from Toronto, Canada writes: Small children are like little zen masters. Their behaviour challenges parents to become better people.
  2. Mark H from United States writes: Wow, children aren't sources of unending joy and mirth, what a freakin' concept.

    Show me one thing in life worth doing that is easy. Again, our generation perpetuates the sterotype of the petulant, self-absorbed 'child-trapped-in-the-body-of-an-adult' with this kind of drivel. Pretty ironic given the topic of the article.
  3. Jesse Wootton from Canada writes: 'Too bad science doesn't back it up.'

    Science? Really? A survey of happiness is what constitutes science these days. From this horribly poor choice of words, to the rest of this fluff piece, one wonders what it takes to write in a nationally published newspaper. I don't know when this came to be news. I wonder if they gave 50 to 60 year olds the same quiz to find out their happiness level having or not having children.
  4. V Smith from Canada writes: Franklin Carter, you've got it exactly right. As the mother of four kids, who are all now adults I can be proud of & friends with, & gran to two terrific little guys, I can attest to the truth of your statement.
  5. alma gita from toronto, United States writes: The best holiday my husband I have is when we leave the kid at home (we're parents of a 5 year old). Our pregnancy was unexpected (contraception isn't 100%). We had been married just a year, and out of school and starting professions. The timing wasn't appropriate. The lack of sleep, stress at our jobs, the repayment of extraordinarily high student loans, and the perpetual wail and shrieks of our newborn, then baby, then toddler, now young boy, has not exactly been the harbinger of further romanticism in our home. If you aren't ready, you won't enjoy the experience. If you're too 'selfish' (as some older people who idealize parenthood believe we in our 30's to be) to be a parent because you want to experience life outside your home, rather than in a nursery on a rocking chair nursing, then don't have kids. This will make me unpopular, and I don't care. Parenthood is hard, much harder than being a spouse and a lover. If you want individualism, time alone, time in a fancy restaurant, time to sleep, time to vacation, time to make love (not the quicky stuff you do when the kid is crying and you have to finish expeditiously), time to watch movies (not Dora the Explorer), time to enjoy a drive on a Saturday to Niagara on the Lake, time to work long hours and stay out late, etc., hold off on having children. Leah, you may never decide to have children. And that's okay, too. We aren't disappointed or disatisfied parents. We love our son and provide him everything and more, including our time and our adoration. But we are enchained to parenthood, the shackles of which are never unlocked. Parenthood defines you once you become a mother or a father. You become the 'good mother' or the 'doting father'. Your identity as you know it becomes lost in the muck of a diaper.
  6. Ballin Munson from toronto, Canada writes: As someone hinted at earlier, talk to people later in life, and how happy they are relative to the childless.
    The study quoted was debunked by several academics for exactly that reason. Its’ lack of scope, non comparative of different points in life etc.
  7. getting by from Canada writes: As someone in my late thirties with an elevnth-month old in the house, I am loving it. But I also think that Leah is being smart in seriously weighing the pros and cons. Even if it is sort of the primary point of our existance, it is also - strangely - not for everyone. Clearly, lots of people have kids for all the wrong reasons (like personal joy or just because they thought they should) and it is probably these same people that bring the happiness totals way down.
  8. Vee 007 from Canada writes: Oh boy, here we go. Women are 'selfish' if they think hard about such a huge decision and are realistic about what they can and want to bring to the table, or even...GASP...realize they are not suited to raising children. I work in child psychology, and I can assure you that there are more than enough parents out there who absolutely need to be a bit more 'selfish' and 'self-centred' before reproducing because they are definitely selfish and unprepared after their children are born. Thank you, Leah, for voicing the thoughts and doubts that many women have (and/or SHOULD think about more before bringing children into the world).
  9. Guy - from Ontario, Canada writes: One thing I know for sure: if you are not ready to have kids you should not have them. If you see your kids as the ones that are robbing your freedom, you are in for a rough ride. Peolple that are not sure about their feelings on this matter should wait until they are at 30 years old.

    I think the problem today is that people expect everything to be like a product that they buy to fulfil their every wish. When they are bored with the product they go ahead and discard it. I'm afraid no engineer can make this happen (or marketing department get you to believe on that).

    For sure parenting can be difficult, but it can be really rewarding too. I guess I would be bored to death at 35 without kids. Not that there is anything wrong with my marriage, my job and my hobbies (I have plenty of those even as a dedicated father). It is like when I go on a business trip for a week. You have five nights 'free' in my hands, but nothing that REALLY matters to do.
  10. Julian Demkiw from Saskatoon, Canada writes: Yes, I appreciate the view that science is a survey asking if people are happy. Good work G&M.
  11. Ed Long from Canada writes: I know many a childless woman friend who goes through a bit of remorse at menopause and the reality of no children hits home.

    However, they adjust and life goes on.

    The author does not discuss the big impact of smaller or no families .... the economy.

    Sherry Cooper, BMO economist, has projected that Boomers bank on their home equity to fund retirement will be hooped because there will not be enough people to buy the homes. Pension plans, CPP is well funded, will be a thing of the past because there are not enough participants.

    It is curious that the author only speaks of the implications for self as opposed to societal changes .... and they are coming.
  12. K H from Canada writes: The author of the piece sounds disturbingly like she's still going to allow herself to be talked into parenthood by family and society, in spite of her realization that her life will be more enjoyable sans kids.

    It's really important that people -- particularly women, who receive the lion's share of the pressure -- who don't want children stand their ground and refuse to be bullied into joining the 'cult of parenthood' just because 'everybody's doing it.'

    In my case, I've known I've never want children since I myself was a young child. My 'maternal feelings' have only ever been called forth by non-human companions, and I personally just can't fathom the attraction some people feel to human babies, whom I just find ugly and repellent. But to each her own. I do, though, find the behaviour of the very vocal 'oh-everyone-loves-babies' gang highly suspect -- methinks they doth extol too much.
  13. Ed Tracey from New Hampshire, United States writes: As an unmarried man in his early 50's, I'm lucky to have an extended family that has never once asked me the 'when are you getting married?' and - should I do so - 'When are you having kids?'

    Some old friends were asked those questions before they turned age thirty (and not just once) and I'm convinced there are more than a few unhappy marriages that came about solely to get the relatives off their backs.

    I very much like kids; am the oldest of five siblings and enjoy being an uncle to five nieces and nephews. Still, let people find their way to parenthood without any more angst than is necessary.
  14. Hugh Jass from cambridge, Canada writes: Ahh Leah!!

    I look forward to reading your articles!!

    Great work - it's somewhat true.

    I am a mid 30's first time father (i have 3 step kids....recently married 2 years ago). Who is experiencing just what you have written about.

    The concept of child-rearing is glossed over to make it seem clean and wonderful. This is in fact true some of the time. However as you mentioned in the article it is the lows that people forget about.

    Don't get me wrong i love my little girl with all my heart and look forward to watching her grow and learn. What i don't enjoy is negatives that nobody warned us about. The sleepless nights (people talk about this but you never really know the depths of sleep deprevation until your baby wakes up every 20 mins for months on end!!!). Nor do you learn about what a baby does to your relationship. Some people say that it brings two people closer together. However from what i noticed it does the opposite. Myself and the other recent fathers in our social circle have spent more than our far share of nights on the couch or weasel our way out of the house just for a few hours of sanity at the pub!!!.

    Potential parents beware - parenthood is not as simple and easy as they say!!!! There are highs but there are deep lows.

    I don't regret having a baby, it is hard work. It is dirty work. It is tiring work.

    I know that in the end the joy will be enjoying the mature things that i enjoyed doing pre-parenthood. The dinners, debates and discussions;only the difference is that I will be joined by my daughter. I am hoping that this is the light at the end of the tunnel.

    We'll see.

    Till then keep writing the great article that you do and perhaps you will one day write about joining the darkside (parenthood!!).
  15. Michelle Moon from Toronto, Canada writes: 'Ed Long from Canada writes: The author does not discuss the big impact of smaller or no families .... the economy. Sherry Cooper, BMO economist, has projected that Boomers bank on their home equity to fund retirement will be hooped because there will not be enough people to buy the homes. Pension plans, CPP is well funded, will be a thing of the past because there are not enough participants. It is curious that the author only speaks of the implications for self as opposed to societal changes .... and they are coming.' So, Ed Long, should we keep having children to keep capitalism on the road and BMO solvent? No denial here that capitalism is now the only social fabric we have, none intended. But there are always immigrants, isn't that what a country like Canada relies on in the name of efficiency and economic solvency? Why should it invest in creating healthy conditions for having and raising children when it can always entice and trap immigrants, make a mess of their psyches subjecting them to opposing discourses - work and family - robs them of a fulfilling life and the most productive years of their lives, and then leaves them to fend for themselves in their old age in the name of self-sufficiency. Certainly this is an inclusive policy, not only immigrants, newer or older are subjected to economic trends called social needs.
  16. Denis Pakkala from St. Catharines, Canada writes: I am surprised by the honesty of this article.

    “She got pregnant soon after marrying my father because she hated her job”

    Apparently she was much happier not working for a living.
  17. Aretha Franklin from Soul City, Canada writes: Why do folks in general think it is selfish to choose not to have children: to know yourself sufficiently well, that parenting is not for you? I wish more people were as honest and as resistant to peer pressure as this. I sadly know far too many adults whose parents should not have had children, and those people suffer a lifetime of hurt.

    For myself, mothering was something I have always known I wanted to do and now have 3 sons, the eldest graduating university this year. In fact, our children are so important to my husband and I, that when we had the opportunity to have a romantic vacation a deux to celebrate our silver wedding last year, we chose instead to take all of them with us. Why? We knew we'd miss them too much to enjoy ourselves!

    However, I fully realise that this is not a desire for many couples, and I urge them, that if they are not prepared to devote their lives to children, please don't have them.
  18. p d from Canada writes: I appreciate the honesty in this article. I find that conversations surrounding the difficulties of parenting aren't commonly well-received - as if only the positive truth is socially permissible.

    What is missing, from my perspective, is awareness of what is difficult about parenting. Of course, from the perspective of someone whom has not yet ventured into parenthood, it is restrictions of 'freedom' and diaper changes. But what is evident to me, as a parent for 13yrs now, is the difficulties centre around navigating our way through societal needs and pressures while also meeting the needs of our children, families, and ourselves as individuals.

    The first set of needs refer to practical things (making money, providing shelter etc, societal obligations), the second to holistic matters (related to physical health, psychological and emotional needs). Our societal construct prioritizes and values the first above all else, and is not constructed in such a way as to reflect a value for the second. The way we live, generally, does not provide for nor well-support parenthood or families. It is quite a bit easier, for eg, to pursue a career of any sort, than it is to consistently meet the needs of our loved ones (and they for ourselves). Most of our gathering spaces (with exception perhaps of parks), for eg, are not comfortable environments for families with children. Most of our past-times, are divided into age-groups, for eg. Adult economic productivity is highly prioritized in the construction of our social lives, our cities and towns, our social values.
  19. Mary Ellen Breckenridge from Victoria, Canada writes: I once thought I would like to have many children. Since I was only blessed with one at the age of 38, one has been most fulfilling. My son, now 12 has enough talent and energy of five children. He plays musical instruments, has been tap dancing since the age of 3, loves school, people, is a goaltender in hockey, plays baseball in the spring and summer, excels in all sports, he is a great kid. He also deals with cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease, my husband and I didn't know we both carried. Thankfully he is very healthy and can do all the things that life has to offer. Children are far from boring, and he has been my greatest teacher for personal development.
  20. Ken Richardson from Ottawa, Canada writes: Leah McLaren may or may not be selfish, I have no idea. But the decision to not have children is not 'selfish' per se.

    If you are a parent who chose to have children then likely you did so because you wanted to - to make yourselves happy, in other words. By the casual definition being employed in some of these comments, that is 'selfish' too.

    Don't be so judgmental, we all make decisions and choices that are ultimately rooted in self-interest.
  21. Snowed in in Barrie from Canada writes: Ken Richardson, excellent comment.
  22. Chrissy Simon from Canada writes: If having children is truly a miserable, joy-sapping experience as the 'scientific' evidence presented in this article suggests, then why do so many people have second and third children? Surely any sane person would go to extraordinary lengths to avoid making the same misery-inducing mistake a second or third time.

    I don't believe anyone should be pressured to have children. If you don't want children, don't have them. For good or bad, becoming a parent is life-changing and once that baby arrives, there's no sending it back if you're not impressed with the parenting experience. However, I was disturbed by the poster who states human babies are ugly and repellent. Those are really strong words. From a biological point of view, is it normal for any animal to be repelled by the young of its species?
  23. Susan Rogan from Canada writes: It's funny to read the comments that villify Leah for mentioning that parenthood isn't neccessarily the road to self-fulfillment and happiness! Why the sensitivity? Sounds like a little anger that someone else might not get stuck in their shoes with all the expense and responsibility and lack of freedom. But no, these posters violently exclaim that Leah is 'selfish' and 'childish' to question whether to have a child.

    Regarding the study that measured happiness and self-fulfillment, is it not possible that people who are already satisfied with their lives and not vulnerable to societal pressure are often the same people who choose not to have children? Therefore it's not a matter of not having kids per se that made them happier, it's the fact that they had it together already before making the decision.
  24. p d from Canada writes: To follow up... re: the conflicting demands of our societal roles and those associated to parenting...

    Going to a restaurant to meet friends for dinner can be substituted with hosting a bbq in an environment that is safe for children. Going to the theatre could be instead a public festival or a play in the park. Enjoying sports, a band, going dancing... Such things resonate as losses to individuals considering parenthood. Having financial freedom or achieving financial security rings at the top of most folks list of reasons to not have or to delay having children. These are usually the kinds of concerns that describe 'selfishness', when one explains why they or another are not childrearing. If such constructed barriers were removed from our consideration, the word 'selfish' would take on an entirely different meaning, it would describe instead a manner in which we engage with each other.

    It is not 'selfish' to not have children, anymore often than it would be selfish to embark upon parenthood. It is either practical or impractical. And but for a fortunate few, I think, it isn't ever really a practical choice to make. It is considered a sacrifice, a compromise, instead. For very many, to have children is to remove oneself from the greater social fabric; to suspend one's status in society, to halt one's career, to lower one's quality of life (in material contexts), to take up ever more obligations and responsibilities, et al. The merits and beauty and profound journey inherit to parenthood can at times be drown out by stress, pressure, and unharmonious demands.

    These, to me, are symptoms of a society that does not prioritize nor value parenthood (along side most social matters) and describes the difficulties of parenthood.

    OK; I'll stop now!
  25. epoxy patch from Canada writes: How can there be a 'scientific answer' to this question. This is silly. It would also help if the author had the experience of parenthood to balance her ideas accordingly.
  26. afewacres ofsnow from Ferrara, Italy writes: Don't forget too that they aren't babies for ever. It might seem never-ending at the time, but it is surprising how quickly time goes. They grow up and become increasingly independent, and suddenly you have a choice of doing things with your kids, or without. I used to think I didn't want kids, but one day it didn't seem such a bad idea. I certainly have no regrets (and two great kids).
  27. M Moss from Canada writes: Nothing good ever came easy. What can be better than creating a legacy, continuing the line and making a blood link to your partner through kids? Certainly that must bring you closer and grow your love in a whole new, rich way (to the naysayers in that regard).

    While kids may not be right for some it is our biological calling, our sole use in the genetic order. It is really all that matters in the end. I question the results of this one, solitary, study. Of course the question is very complex and I wouldn't be to hasty to jump to conclusions as seems to have been done here.

    While I anticipate many challenges, nothing could over-ride the intrinsic joy of raising, caring for and loving one of your own. When you're old and grey and looking back on life it's not the late nights out or the bbqs with the boys you'll remember, it's the fond memories of your kids, if you're lucky.
  28. hippie mama from Canada writes: Franklin Carter, this is one of the most apt descriptions of parenting I have ever seen.
  29. Samantha Normandin from Canada writes: Leah writes that our main reason for having children is to bring meaning, joy and personal fulfillment to our lives. I think she is forgetting that without procreation our species would be extinct. It is a relatively recent concept that we have children for reasons of brining happiness to one`s life. Having children is a necessity, albeit not for everyone but at least some of the world`s population must continue to have children regardless of whether or not their lives are personally enhanced by those children in order to maintain its own existence.
  30. R B from Canada writes: alma gita from toronto, United States writes: .

    Excellent advice. Perhaps you should write this down and show it to 'the kid' when s/he is older. It will probably explain a lot of things to him or her.
  31. Christine Solosky from Newmarket, Canada writes: Great article Leah! Don't let anyone pressure you into having a child -unless it's something you really want to do. Since my teens, I always said 'one or none, preferably a girl, in my late-thirties or early- forties.' I had a wonderful daughter when I was almost forty and I have no regrets. I am also a happily single parent - by choice.
  32. Sarah Bee from Canada writes: If don't want kids, don't have kids. The world doesn't need more unwanted babies. Better not to have them than to have them, realize that your life is less 'happy' than it was when you were childless and then spend 16 - 20 years being a lousy, resentful parent.
  33. Kari (at from Canada writes: To Franklin Carter: perfect post. I will show it to my son. I am who I am because of my son. He was born when I was 20, he is now 21. It was not easy, sometimes very-very challenging, but those 21 years are the best years of my life.
  34. Gerald Olchowy from Canada writes: Is having children supposed to make you happy?

    If one isn't producing future 'taxpayers', who is going to pay for all the public services, the pensions, the health care, and the long term care that is required when one gets old.

    So you siaved? Who is going to pay for the legal system and the police forces to protect your wealth?

    Unless the vast majority of men and women become parents and raise children, society isn't sustainable.

    There is nothing wrong with self-actualization. But Leah should perhaps do a thought experiment and imagine herself old and alone. At that point, all ones needs are provided for directly or indirectly by ones children. We've abstracted that to the notion that the government is providing these services, which blinds one to the reality that it is reallly one's children that are providing these services.

    Does one have an obligation to act in such a way so as to promote the sustainability of the commons?
  35. Jah Nee Kah Sun from Canada writes: Hey the planet a favour and don't have kids. And children are a pain sometimes...before the age of 3, and between 14 and 18. Any other age and they're a blast...I've got a bunch of them.
  36. Farm Boy from The Burbs, Canada writes: Before having children you should remember that insanity is hereditary - it is passed on to us by our offspring.
  37. Pat Ferland from Canada writes: Of the decisions a person faces, the decision with probably the most consequence to the environment is whether or not to produce a child.

    Leah, for the sake of the planet and happiness of existing people, I hope you continue to manage your instincts and further develop yourself so that you can find lasting and reliable fulfillment that isn't built upon children and grandchildren. Keep helping to make the world a better place. There are already enough humans -- our expansion is pushing species into extinction, and resources can only support so many with quality lives.

    (Your mother says grandchildren are the reward for enduring the misery of raising children -- she's confirming what others tell you and what happiness studies say, that raising children on balance isn't fun.)
  38. The Trudeau Salute from Canada writes: The headline and entire article are one straw man argument, compounded with endless false dichotomies. I am surprised that a paid writer has not acquired better rhetorical skills at some point in their career. A shallow, vapid, superficial piece of writing from someone now entering their third decade of protracted adolescence.
    All of her friends 'desperately clambering on board' the Bratty Express? Their choice, as is hers. But these friends may soon discover that they no longer have time for McLaren's snotty attitude.
    Insulting? So are the sentiments expressed in the article.
  39. Mr. STAN from Canada writes: There comes a point where you just 'know' whether having kids is right or not. If it isn't or if that moment never comes, more the power to you. However, my two kids are my pride and joy. They are the only thing of significance that will be left of me in 50 or 60 years when I'm gone. They also enrich tremendously the lives of their grandparents, whom we've never seen happier. And kids are not always a long serenade of wails, tears and screams. There are some excessively well-behaved, brilliant and entertaining kids that really can make your mouth drop when they make connections or just make you proud. Plus, if you have the financial means to raise kids, more the reason to do so.
  40. M E from Canada writes: Having or not having having kids is ones own business. But McLaren, like other childless people I know, feels the need to insist that not having kids is somehow the more rational choice to make. People don't coldly regard their own children as 'small restless people with limited reasoning skills' which makes her test pointless.
  41. Unabashed Opinion from Toronto, Canada writes: Looking back on the whole enterprise - I have a 20-year-old and a 25-year-old - I marvel at these wonderful two people who will contribute to this difficult world. Sure it was a challenge. It was a tremendous education for me, and improved me as a person in innumerable ways. Parenthood meant putting some of 'my' priorities on hold for a while, which means that now, I can both reflect on, and focus on, what is truly important for me relative to my place in the world. You see, asking whether children make us happy is not the right question, unless you are a libertine and hedonist. And, by the way, the pride and joy that I feel when I see what my kids have, and can yet, contribute create an awful lot of happiness.

    Yes, parenthood is* about maturity and the maturation process. It *is about learning to be less self-centred and self-absorbed. Perhaps you will have the opportunity to experience this extended life lesson. But please, do your as-yet unborn children a favour: do not bear children until you learn that there is more to this world than you and your mostly petty concerns.
  42. all canadian all american from USA sector of, Canada writes:
    'Children bring meaning and joy to our otherwise narrow, selfish, little lives, right? Too bad science doesn't back this up'

    Exactly, without children the world will be a better place, this has been proven by science without a doubt. Can we expect the columnist to never have children then, science dictates that she doesnt.
  43. Dave Metcalfe from Nanaimo, Canada writes: Once you do have children you will learn what the term 'unconditional love' really means. We judge everyone around us, even our spouse, yet you will never judge your son/daughter. Yes your life goes in a different direction and it can be rough at times but I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
  44. Ed Long from Canada writes: Michelle Moon writes:

    'So, Ed Long, should we keep having children to keep capitalism on the road and BMO solvent? No denial here that capitalism is now the only social fabric we have, none intended. But there are always immigrants, isn't that what a country like Canada relies on in the name of efficiency and economic solvency? '

    Michelle, you are making my point. Everything we have in Canada from roads to schools to Medi-Care to CPP and on and on comes from taxes at some level. Furthermore we need a labour pool to keep our economy working to provide those taxes.

    We are a sparsely populated huge country. Therefore if the birthrate toilets, the people must come from immigration. And because they come from less prosperous, for now, societies, we pay them at low rates. That means lower taxes yet the load on the system, above, is the same.

    Furthermore, we cannibalize our own jobs that once provided the means to raise a family.

    You can see where this is going. Low quality jobs and people without the finances to raise a family in the traditional sense.

    We are seeing the end of the 'golden age' in North America where a house, a 2.5 child family were easily supported on one income.

    The child decision is now mainly economic. And the counterpoint, for the author and my children, is to spend the time and any extra money on diversions.

    The future .... who knows.

    But when I do see a young family with four or five kids, rare, I say thank you.
  45. Trevor Fischer from Canada writes: I'm the father of a two year and we have another baby on the way. I recently turned forty and in my life I've had plenty of evenings at my favorite restaurant. I entertained the opposite of Leah's game and thought about all of things that would be less enjoyable without my son. It was a long list indeed.
  46. garth mckenzie from Canada writes: susan rogan writes: ' it not possible that people who are already satisfied with their lives and not vulnerable to societal pressure are often the same people who choose not to have children? Therefore it's not a matter of not having kids per se that made them happier, it's the fact that they had it together already before making the decision.'

    Exactly. I see a lot of people on this board desperately justifying the spawning of another ingrate the world does not need.

    If all of you genius parents are so good at pro-creating and raising functioning humans, why are so many of them drifting down through my neighbourhood at all hours of the night, drunk and causing property damage. They can't ALL be 'other people's kids.'

    Most parents I know are self-absorbed, lousy parents who expect me to pay for their spawn's education, health care, criminal defence attorney, etc.

    That makes parents, quite opposite from Ed Long's 19th-century viewpoint, the biggest sponges of all.
  47. garth mckenzie from Canada writes: I'm actually surprised nobody's submitted the comment: 'Well, you should be glad your parents didn't feel the way you did about kids.'

    That one always cracks me up.
  48. C. C. from Calgary, Canada writes: Before I had children, I thought 'If we do, fine, if we don't, that's ok too...' We tried for many years to have children, and our first didn't come until we were in our 40's (by adoption). Oh, what we were missing! We've done the spontaneous holidays, the up and go things that we as childless did so easily. But I wouldn't trade my children for the world. The author states that every parent she has talked to has spoken most of the rewards, and they far out weigh the costs. Sure there are sleepless nights, poop on the floor, crying kids in the car. But the sweetest word I have ever heard is 'Daddy!' from my daughter as she runs into my arms when I come home from work. We have two now, and aren't finished yet. Sorry science, in this realm, for me at least, you're way off the mark. Having children is by far, the absolutely best thing we have ever done.
  49. North Star from Canada writes: Having children for the sake of learning about yourself sure sounds like the ultimate selfish act.
  50. Canadian in USA from United States writes: I love kids, LOVE kids. However, being an environmentalist, I highly suggest adopting. Every environmental problem could be helped with fewer people in the world, and so many children are in need of a good home (especially, in the US where the teen-preggers rate keeps escalating!) So if you're thinking of having kids, think about adoption!
  51. JN Smith from Canada writes: I like the honesty of the article. If you don't want children, don't have them. There are lots of parents who don't have time for their children. My favourite complaint from parents is that society (government) should provide them child care. My question is why did you have children if you didn't plan to take care of them? What is the point of having children if you can only see them a few hours a week because you work 60 hours a week? Those are the real questions we should be asking. I think that is a reflection of our current society. Somehow the concept of being a stay-at-home parent became unappealing and unvalued.
  52. SouthAlberta 403 from Canada writes: I am a women (oldest of 9 in original step family) closing in on 50 and my husband (oldest of 3 in original family) is almost 58.

    We do not regret having children at all. I wasn't and am still not attracted to children with the exception of a totally unexpected, irrational and fierce protective loyalty to my nieces through my biological sister. Perhaps they are close enough to being my own?
  53. Dom Pegau from Vancouver, Canada writes: You are already a geriatric pregnancy at 28. If you are going to do this. Now would be a good time to set aside the few years of life that require a little extra effort. Happiness is not because you have a kid. The kid shows you how to be happy again. I find this article a little sad. Justification of self importance is satisfying I guess.
  54. james cyr from Balmertown, Canada writes: Yet another example of a meaningless statistical study. The decision to have children should be consensual from both parents. It should not be based on what other people or 'society' thinks. If there is any doubt about having children, then don't!
  55. Joanna G from Toronto, Canada writes: It is my humble opinion that couples who don't have children are more devoted to one another. But I have also observed that couples into their early 50's often realize that 'something is missing' after they devoted all of their earlier years to study, careers, travel etc. But, once you have them, they are yours for life and sometimes like me, it means raising THEIR offspring because they are not capable for many legitimate reasons. But that can also have it's own joys provided you are healthy and willing. In any event, there is nothing like the contentment of having an extended family around in your old age.
  56. Ontario Man from Canada writes: Raising children is a difficult task. I am glad to see some people put serious thought into this life changing decision. Not everyone is fit to be a parent. It appears the author of this article should certainly not have children.
  57. Akbar M from Saskatchewan, Canada writes: Of course, having children so you can be happy is the very essence of self-indulgence. Children are a natural occurrence of marriage (common law or otherwise) unless you get yourself broken (fixed has always seemed the wrong term to me).

    This strange way of speaking about children as though they are something other than ourselves is off-putting as well. A weird nihilism seemingly. Children are humans and we're humans that used to be children. You can't divide us up anymore than it makes sense in dividing up male and female. Without males and females and children you don't have a human race.
  58. Sgt. Pepper from Whoville, Canada writes: Children aren't for everyone. A self-absorbed columnist is probably not parent material. For me, I wish I had 6 instead of 3. My life would have been much poorer and emptier without kids.
  59. Dick Garneau from Canada writes: First let me say I love kids. I raised eight of them and don't reget a moment.

    #1 Before you marry you should agree on kids or now kids and how many. If you don't agree don't marry.

    #2 Conditions change each child additoion must be agreed before hand by both parties.

    #3 Unrealistic expectations leads to unhappiness.

    #4 Realistaic expectations leads to happiness.

    #5 Geed, lack of morality & unrealistic expectations have put us into the present economic situation and present state of unhappiness.
  60. Okanagan Man from Beautiful Vernon, Canada writes: Having children does enrich your life. But it is not a dice roll. It is a well thought out decision as they take both time and money. Your life will change dramatically forever. Be ready for it. There is tons of laughter with it and there is also times you will want to be your childless 40 year old friend. Life is not without risk but chose wisely as there is no going back from the choice. If your not sure? Buy a dog. They are a lot of fun and you can give them away if it doesnt work out.
  61. G Pot from Canada writes: Face it: If you have children, you will never know what it's like not having them in your older years. And if you don't have children, you will never know what it's like having them. So you cannot have it both ways, you simply have to make a decision. Either way doesn't make you a bad person. And it has to be your decision. The science will not make the decision for you.

    But you have to decide one way or the other. The worse thing is to be half in half out. Having children and not really wanting them. Or not having children and regretting your choice.
  62. Alber Tan from Calgary, Canada writes:
    On the positive side it would give you something interesting to write about.

    I'm so catty sometimes, its just not right.
  63. Liliana la torre from Mississauga, Canada writes: The highest highs and the lowest lows.
    If all goes well, your children are happy, adjusted etc. wonderful.. if the opposite is true.... there is an expression.. you are as happy as your unhappiest child.
  64. Dr. Sartor from Canada writes: C. C. from Calgary, you get it exactly right. '...the sweetest word I have ever heard is 'Daddy!' from my daughter as she runs into my arms when I come home from work.' Studies that try to measure parental happiness in terms of sleepless nights, worrying, financial resources, etc. are nonsense. The proper measure of happiness here is what the ancient Greeks called 'eudaimonia', or living a full and flourishing human life. (That isn't to say that one must necessarily have children to achieve eudaimonia.)

    Having a child means stepping through a door into a parallel universe from which there is no possibility of return. Those who have any serious doubts about stepping through that door should not risk it. In any event, someone who consistently thinks of their partner as a 'boyfriend' or a 'girlfriend' (Nattavudh Powdthavee, author of the study McLaren refers to, is 30 years old, childless, and has a 'girlfriend') is probably not in a mature relationship and should not have a child unless willing to be a single parent.
  65. Peter North from van, Canada writes: Sgt. Pepper from Whoville, Canada writes: Children aren't for everyone. A self-absorbed columnist is probably not parent material. For me, I wish I had 6 instead of 3. My life would have been much poorer and emptier without kids.

    pretty sad when you procreate to ease your empty life. a self-absorbed s. pepper in not parent material. poor kids.
  66. Ingrid Philipp from Canada writes: Being a mother is an art that science cannot quantify or measure. I am not however encouraging you to have a child for yourself or for your mother. I'm not even sure you should have a dog, but you might want to try that first and see if your lifestyle can handle the focus on another living creature.
  67. Steve I'm Not an Alberta Redneck from Calgary, Canada writes: Lots of hysterical posts arguing that children are essential for happiness. Somehow, I can't see this. Fewer and fewer walk the walk and there has to be a reason for this. Looking at the massive problems with adolescents, I can't believe that a significant number aren't questioning their decision.

    If there is a point of 'regret' when does it happen? People have warned me that I will grow old lonely but having a brood, doesn't seem to help when few will visit their aging parents.
  68. Sandy G. from Canada writes: I can offer reassurance to the women out there who are wondering if they should have a child in their 30's because 'your biological clock will be shrieking in your 40s and will refuse to be ignored'. I never believed that there is room for ambivalence in the decision to have a child. The idea of having one 'in case' you will later regret not doing so, or having one 'hoping' that you'll magically be happy with the decision later is irresponsible. If you're going to have one now, you had better want want one now because it's what a child deserves, and there's no going back. As for me, I waited for the biological lightning bolt of baby need to hit me, as it did all my friends. Never happened. I'm 47 now, no baby, no regrets. Parenthood is not for everyone.
  69. Susan Rogan from Canada writes: Okay, for all those altruistic people out there having kids, why not adopt a bunch of kids who need homes?
  70. Freelance Wordsmith from Toronto, Canada writes: Yes, Franklin Carter coined a beautiful phrase. But what if a parent, a mother in particular, doesn't meet the challenge?
    One may also chose not to become a parent to spare a child an experience oneself has gone through.
    My relationship with my mother has been for the most part so difficult and unhappy that I did not want to run the risk of repeating the pattern. Mind you, I probably also wanted to protect myself from even more misery: I have often said that the only thing more difficult than being who I am in this relationship must be, especially now, in our later years, living it from my mother's side of the equation. And she herself would have to agree with the conclusions of that study: she once commented on my being childless by saying 'at least you didn't make the mistake I made'.
  71. Erin Scott from Moncton, Canada writes: When my son was born, one of the strongest emotions I experienced was am 'Ahhhh.... now I understand what the fuss is all about.' I was 37 years old and had never had any intention of having kids. They were expensive, noisy and annoying. Rationally, no adult could possibly make a reasonable argument in favour of having children.

    Getting pregnant was a huge shock and I struggled a lot with impending motherhood. My husband shrugged it off... lots of people do this so we can do it too. But I know he had a lot of doubts also.

    And all of those horror stories about kids are true. You won't go to good restaurants. You won't go on adventurous trips. You won't sleep until noon on Saturday morning and then drink coffee and read the paper in bed. You will be insanely sleep deprived and grouchy. You will question your parenting skills on a weekly basis. Everything about your life will change.

    And you know what. It will be just as good as your old life Saturday morning cuddles with everyone piled into the bed are awesome. Sitting in the sun, chatting with other parents while watching your kid play soccer is fun. Backyard BBQ's with a pile of kids and their parents in your backyard are a perfect way to end the weekend.

    And the time will pass so quickly that eighteen years will pass and you will wonder what happened and why they are gone. And you will go back to Sunday afternoons at the coffee shop and Friday evenings at good restaurants with adult conversation. And you will miss your kids. Badly.

  72. IS N from Canada writes: Dave Metcalfe, you write 'Once you do have children you will learn what the term 'unconditional love' really means. We judge everyone around us, even our spouse, yet you will never judge your son/daughter.' If that's true for you, congratulations! But there are plenty of us who have a wholly different experience with our parents. And whose decision not to have children was greatly (if not mainly) influenced by the poor parenting we received. My mother knew how to love unconditionally; not my father: to this day, he plays 'favorites' among us. My mother loved and accepted us as we were; my father judged everything, from the clothes we wore to the type of music we listened to to how we looked or spoke or expressed ourselves and especially, what we believed. I got the best and the worst from that one parental unit - and in the end, I chose against having children of my own. Yet even though I'm not a parent, I know how to love unconditionally. Children don't teach you how to do that: life does, if you let it.
  73. Matt of the North from Canada writes: 'One of us. One of us. One of us'.
  74. Lovely Rita from Canada writes: Let's stop talking about parenthood like it's the most selfless thing you can possibly do with your life. People have kids in the hope that their OWN LIVES will be enriched, more exciting, more meaningful. You're not selfish if you opt out of parenthood; you're simply seeking your own fulfillment elsewhere. And good on you for having the imagination to do so.
  75. Bunny Laroque from Toronto, Canada writes: Please don't fall for this posing. Just wait: She will have a second career as a wry, if belated, mommy blogger, once the (already tired) urban chick schtick is under threat of cancellation.
  76. G N from Canada writes: Having children and raising them does not make you happier. In fact it makes you more tired and stressed. However once you have raised children to adulthood you are happier than your childless counterparts and those who are raising children. This is why being a grandparent is so fun.
  77. Smug Grandparent from Canada writes: G N - Some of us are smart. We skipped the parent thing, got married to someone with grown-up kids, and THEN got to experience the whole grandparent thing when those kids started having kids of their own!!! It's a lot of fun, trust me. And I don't think I could love blood grandchildren anymore than I love those I have through marriage.
  78. Leslie Symes from Canada writes: I do not want children, and I do not need to justify that. People in the comments are telling us (women) that we're selfish if we do not choose to have children. I am anything but selfish, and I choose to contribute to the betterment of our world and society in other ways. I have an awesome nephew who is super cool and I love hanging out with (just turned 1!!), but that does not convince me I want children. I have no responsibility to justify my own personal decisions to anyone. The 'she's so selfish' crowd need to realize that they are 'so judgemental.' One makes choices according to their own lives circumstances and preferences etc. I am exceedingly happy for friends when they get preggers and are so excited, I think it's wonderful - it is, however, not for me. And that is okay.

    (And I would like to agree with the several posters out there indicating the NEED for adoptive parents - there are so many innocent, wonderful kids who need parents (of ANY sexual orientation), so I hope those of you who do want kids will consider adoption an option, I imagine it would be intensely rewarding).
  79. R Catchick from Canada writes: We decided not to have children and after 10-years of marriage I can only say, thank goodness. We know many people with children who tell us how they envy parts of our lifetstyle but interesting, there isn't a single thing about there choice that I envy. What is it about people, who don't understand the fulfillment that comes from a perfect marriage with no stress of any kind. I truly feel that a lot of people who have children do so because they are unfulfilled themselves and need the unconditional love of a child to feel fulfillment. How sad. I know you breeders don't get it but I will be in Paris in 3-weeks with my soul mate having another incredible life experience. What will you be doing? The opportunjity cost is far too high to breed. By the way, most of you are probably considering this selfish, but who pays a negative price for our lifestayle choice? Isn't that the defintiion of selfishness? You breed while children around the world starve to death every day (we sponsor 4 children currently in third world countries). What do you do? Selfishness is having children in an unstable marriage and getting divorced; having children in poverty; having children without basic lifeskills etc. Our lifestyle choice is much less selfish than your own. When your anger subsides, be honest with yourself. Gotta go, have to start packing for europe.
  80. Jimmy D from Toronto, Canada writes: Bunny Laroque from Toronto, Canada writes: Please don't fall for this posing. Just wait: She will have a second career as a wry, if belated, mommy blogger, once the (already tired) urban chick schtick is under threat of cancellation

    Beautiful Bunny. Perfect.

    Leah continues to serve herself up as the luckless 30 something who, despite her intelligence and wit, never seems to catch a break from the society to which she longs to be a part. Children as potential commodity is one of the worst claims she could ever admit to - like thinking you deserve the BMW but shouldn't have to deal with the price tag. Know thyself, sure. But if you're going to be really honest with yourself, Leah, know that you don't really know what you're talking about.

    Thank's for reminding me what a great mother I have and for ruining my Saturday morning coffee.
  81. johnyboy frolix from Canada writes: Happiness....hmmm. After reading and avoiding and reading leah mclaren for years now i have to say good luck to her ever finding happiness. She is now over the hill and is so completely self absorbed that she will never never be able to find happiness especially with having childred because then she would actually have to think about somebody else besides herself. She now goes after one of the truly amazing fountains of happiness---our kids, based on some lame study that she calls'science.' Having kids means sharing life and sharing life again and again with little guys who are like and unlike you and like and unlike your life partner. The pain and the joy again and again. Life. Happiness.....hmmm. Leah its not too late give up this job and stop thinking about yourself so much. Your mom's right.
  82. non believer from Calgary, Canada writes: The wonderful thing that has changed is choice. If you aren't 100% sure you want to be a parent, don't. always knew I wanted to have a child, and I have never been happier. My life is complete, more balanced. I also have friends who have chosen the opposite. I think he study will change when it only people who dearly wan children have them.
  83. Montreal Resident from Canada writes: 'Sorry, Mum, better luck next year. This Mother's Day, a card and phone call will have to suffice.'

    Well, I hope the card and phone call suffice. At least I hope the message in the card and phone call is more pleasant than the content of this article.
  84. Andre W from Toronto, Canada writes: Kids aren't for everybody. I'm in the no-kids bandwagon also.
  85. Graeme Dempster from Canada writes: Thank you for an unapologetic piece. I have always despised the suggestion that the child-free are living selfish, unfulfilled existences. There are so many fulfilling experiences that can be had (or even enhanced) with the absence of offspring.

    Embedded in cultures both traditional and popular is the value of breeding as a responsibility or god-given duty. Successful parents are admirable, but in no way less selfish than the rest of us.

    To create a child is to create a human being in need which you get to enjoy nurturing. One benefits from the experience. In fact, it is often said that that children enrich lives of the creators, and so I fail to see how procreating is not selfish in its own way.

    A staple in the discussions about procreation is the dry argument that children are necessary for survival of the human race, the nation, or even more selfishly, the survival of pensions. But I cannot imagine Canada without seeing an industrious, educated, workforce continuously immigrating from countries where birthrates are unmanageably high. Canada's population growth is fueled by immigration, which in turn fuels, our innovation, industry, pensions, markets, and evolving culture. I question if there is not a tone of xenophobia when I hear Europeans and North Americans lamenting the lack of fertility in their own country, for the obvious solution to population decline is immigration.

    Parenting is quaint, but by no means necessary in a late industrial society. There are options (fun options).
  86. A H from Canada writes: i think she was pretty bang on and I enjoyed the article... all of those situations that would seem less fun, *are* less fun with a baby. I guess you have a baby when you're ready to drastically cut back on those things...the thing is you trade in those happy fun things for different happy fun things... far less leisurely nice dinners, but in exchange a 2.5 year old who suggests 'maybe a stepstool' to reach up to the moon, or being instructed to 'kriss, kross, applesauce, on the mat' so she can lead us in a session of 'show and share'. but for a good long time when she was a baby I mostly found it really draining and pretty thankless...I began to wonder if all these stories of how 'rewarding and fulfilling' it is, are a conspiracy to sucker you. I would say it took ~1.5 years in before I could say that overall my life had changed for the better. I think that people are afraid to be honest about this aspect because people have a hard time separating out loving your kid from loving 'the job'... this is why people who are complaining about cracked nipples and sleeplessness in the next breath gush about 'oh but it's wonderful' because they're afraid that it will sound like they are selfish or whatever and don't love their kid. So the question, why do people go on to have 2 or 3? several reasons: 1) a lot of people are really inept at birth control. 2) a lot have 2 just so that their one will not be an 'only'. 3) a lot have the 3rd, see reason number 1. and the flip side - if it's so darn wonderful, why do so many emphatically stop at 2, why not have 5 or 10 like we used to? Personally, I have a lovely 2 year old who I look forward to seeing grow up and see who she becomes but I feel no need to repeat the process, and I also know that if i had been unable to have kids, I'm confident that I still would have had a good meaningful life. This is not to say that I regret the parenthood decision, just that my life would have been rewarding and happy in a different way.
  87. A H from Canada writes: and to add - Lovely Rita - you said it better than i could....I never understood the whole 'not having children is selfish' argument as if people choose to have them for selfless reasons. sure there are sacrifices that come with having children but obvioiusly, when people choose to have children they think the benefits will outweigh the costs and do so because they think they're going to enjoy it and that their life is going to be enhanced and changed for the better...and to all you self congratulatory ' selfless sacrificers' out there - nobody wants a martyr for a parent...
  88. Expat Teacher from Shanghai, China writes: I for one support Leah's arguments here. She definitely should not have kids if only because I could not bear to be reading for the next several years in her column about the agony she would experience as a mother, the loss of her personal freedom, and how terribly undervalued motherhood is in general
  89. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: A H from Canada writes:

    Question. Was you life enhanced because your parents decided to have kids? Are you this shallow in real life or just online?
  90. Kevin Cochrane from Middle Earth, Canada writes: I gotta say that not having kids for us has been really great in that we have had a tremendous amount of freedom in terms of our careers and our opportunities. I don't know if anyone can seriously say that a person is selfish because they don't want to be tied down to the 40 hour Mon-Fri 2 weeks holidays per year existence.
  91. Shawn Mckone from Calgary, Canada writes: This isn't surprising at all. The desire to have kids is evolutionarily programmed into us in order for us to pass our genes into the next generation. Joy doesn't even factor into the equation once the deed is done. While you may care for your offspring and find it somewhat rewarding, even that is programmed to encourage you to raise the kids, which is more of an obligation then anything else. People just fail to think about these things deep enough.
  92. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: As a parent of two teenage boys I can't imagine how bland my life would be without them. People talk as if you are chained to them for life and can't enjoy an evening out or a holiday or any of the 'good things' in life. Guess what, we still went on holidays and went out for supper and all the 'good things' in life, but we did it as a family. As kids grow up some of the pressure eases as they don't need 24/7 maintenance. Then all of a sudden they are grown up and your left going 'where the heck did the time go?' I always get a kick out of an opinion piece by someone with absolutely ZERO for experience on the topic at hand. I am thinking Erma Bombeck would disagree with you Leah. You haven't lived life until your toddler's diaper falls off in the playpen full of balls at McDonalds. Not exactly the most appetizing experience, but I can guarantee that memory will get dusted off at his wedding..:) So many things. What will you talk about when you get to the old folks home, that great meal you had back in '04 with a guy who's name you can't even remember? Kids are not for everybody thats for sure, but I am a better man on account of mine. You can't BS a kid, they can see through that with an uncanny abilty.
  93. Chris S from Canada writes: While 'happiness' might come less frequently to parents - though 'happiness' is hardly empirical - the MOMENTS of happiness I have experienced as a father are colossal. The first step, the first words, the 'Daddy, you're my best friend' before she falls asleep, the songs she sings with me, the Christmas mornings... all these are moments of happiness so far exceeding the fleeting, largely consumerist 'happiness' of the non-parent set that it seems baffling to compare them.

    It's like comparing the collective heights of sand dunes to the grandeur of Everest.
  94. Richard Taylor from Toronto, Canada writes: I just wish society was a little more truthful about babies. The stork motif and bundle of joy business is way overdone, the truth hidden. Why is that? Everyone can agree babies are a PITA, certainly a worthwhile PITA, but a PITA nonetheless. If we just let couples considering kids know the truth, maybe the sleepless nights and diapers wouldn't come as such a surprise. Do your childless friends a favour, give it to 'em straight, let them make up their own minds.
  95. Cousin Voltaire from Canada writes: There is no one blueprint for leading a productive, fulfilled, satisfying life. There are so many ways to BE in this world... I chose not to be a parent. It isn't that I didn't feel the need to (pro)create; the thing is that I chose to satisfy that need though artistic endeavours. Another friend of mine, also childless, fulfilled it through teaching and other major contributions to the community at large. Fact is, there are countless childless people out there who lead full, productive, rich lives. Why others should be branded as 'selfish' for chosing to live their lives the way they best see fit is beyond me.
  96. Chris S from Canada writes: Cousin Voltaire, that was actually in another part of my response and I'm sorry I took it out. There are lots of ways to contribute to the well-being of a society and not procreate (arts and education being highest on the list, in my opinion). That 'happiness' is quite comparable to a parent's version of 'happiness' in my experience, working as I do in both those areas and being a parent.
  97. Claudia Leopold from Canada writes: My husband and I waited 10 years to have our little girl. Mostly we were scared, my Mom and my mother-in-law actually recommended against it...yikes! As I got closer to the magic number 35 I thought it is now or never, so I did it. I had a 6.6 lb girl, it was hard, really hard sometimes, especially when the first come home and you don't know what you are doing. Now that she is older I found she is the spice of our lives, before our lives (though I didn't know it) was rather flat, my daughter bought a newness to snow, flowers, bugs, Halloween, rocks, etc. When i put her to bed she lightly touches my face and tells me I am beautiful. She looks to me when she is frightened and happy. She humms the nutcracker as she plays with a woodbug.

    Maybe I expected it to be horrible and was pleasantly surprised, what I found was love in the shape of the worlds worst ballerina.
  98. Lorraine Singer from Canada writes: Been there. Done that, and if I had to do it again, I WOULDN'T.
  99. Nathalie Barbeau from Canada writes: All my respects for the author of this article. It was a great pleasure reading the article. I appreciate that she brought a subject that is so sensitive. I have been through the same mixed feelings throughout my thirthies. It was hard to never get the much awaited desire to become a mother. Considering not having children also meant that my parents would not become grandparents (they would have adored grandchildren). It also meant going against typical society values (as seen in some comments above). As I was reaching the end of my thirties, I had to listen to my instinct: In my deepest core I felt a strong feeling of suffocation at the idea of becoming a mother. I had to accept that I was not the person to have children. Now in my mid-forties I experience an immense relief on a daily basis to have chosen not to have children. It has been the most important decision of my life and I know it was the right one for me. I feel lucky that my husband of twenty years shares this choice. I want to say to Leah: Follow your true self. Have children if you feel like it, have not if you feel it is not in you. It is your life. It could be a long ride to take the wrong route. My point is that it is important to respect individuals in their decision process about having children as well as any other life decisions (ex: same sex couples, single-parenting, etc). I believe that to some degree we don't really choose who we are, or what we are made of. It is deep inside us and we need to live according to what we turn out to be. I truly hope our society keeps opening itself to welcome all life choices. Note:I also want to mention in answer to a comment above that I agree that as a specie we need to get some breeding going. I believe that there will always be more people wanting children than people not attracted to children. Our planet being over-populated actually makes me wonder if we should even worry about breeding sufficiently.
  100. Graeme Dempster from Canada writes: 40 reasons not to have kids are listed in Corinne Maier's book No Kid. She is a mother and psychoanalyst and she expresses regret about having children. If you can read French it's fun to read.
  101. Graeme Dempster from Canada writes: We all like hearing stories about other peoples' kids. If for nothing else, you should have kids so that you have stories to tell.
  102. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: Funny thing though. Childless/free people need 2,000 words to explain themselves.

    Explaining not having kids to a person with kids is an uphill battle, simply because you haven't been there.
  103. Crystal C from Canada writes: 'Canadian in USA from United States writes: I love kids, LOVE kids. However, being an environmentalist, I highly suggest adopting. Every environmental problem could be helped with fewer people in the world, and so many children are in need of a good home (especially, in the US where the teen-preggers rate keeps escalating!) So if you're thinking of having kids, think about adoption! '

    'Susan Rogan from Canada writes: Okay, for all those altruistic people out there having kids, why not adopt a bunch of kids who need homes?'

    Raising a child is already a very expensive undertaking. Not all of us can afford $20,000-$40,000 per child adoption fees to adopt a healthy infant. Not all of us are able to rise to the challenge of adoption a special needs child from the provincial government (at little to no cost). Adoption is unattainable for many of us who would be happy to do it.
  104. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: Lets hear the stories from people without kids then Graeme.
  105. kimberley gibson from ottawa, Canada writes: Last time I checked G&M, I did not violate any one of the following terms and conditions for posting: The following types of comments are not permitted: comments that include personal attacks on Globe journalists or other participants in these forums; comments that make obviously false or unsubstantiated allegations; comments that purport to quote people or reports where the purported quote or fact is not publicly known; or comments that include vulgar language or libellous statements.

    Please post my comment as I wrote those words myself, applied no personal attacks aimed at anyone in particular. If the ideas expressed in my post were really that revolutionary, than I suggest that you (and your editorial staff) re-read and consider giving it a go.
  106. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: CRystal C:

    I can understand what your saying. Adoption is definately an option for some, but not everyone. But in a way, when push comes to shove all kids are 'special needs' (any parent will get that joke). It seems many wait to long on the kids thing, whether adoptingor natural. It helps to be young yourself when you start. For one you might like the same music. I don't mean like 15 years old young, but certainly not over 30. You just can't keep up. Parenting is a big job, its the biggest, longest lasting career you could ever imagine. Its not done when they are 18, or 20, or 40, or 60. But it sure beats the heckof being 60 and trying to recall that great dinner you had 40 years ago with some guy you thought you liked.

    Sorry, but this subject just facsinates me some.
  107. King Byng from Canada writes: I have four of them..... wait.... actually, I didn't have them, so much as it was my DNA that created me on its behalf so that it could reproduce itself.... yeah.... I think I read that in a Carl Sagan book.

    The whole article and conversation is simply entertainment. We can debate individual opinions on the matter from now to eternity with no productive result. Children are not optional in society.
  108. Graeme Dempster from Canada writes: Life stories of childfree people can be quite amazing... as can those of people with children... Generally, though, I (and many others) more interested in the parts of the peoples' lives that don't involve their kids.
  109. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: Well said King Byng. Without kids we would be in some sorry state in a few decades....or less.
  110. Carl W from Canada writes: I am amazed at some of the 'sensitivities' being expressed by some on this list. I will also mention that I'm very impressed with some of the comments. My feelings, it is way beyond doubt that many adults should not be parents, for many different reasons. For me, the considerable effort of being a parent has so far been re-payed a million or so times, but....'it ain't over til it's over', and it ain't over!
  111. Jenna R from Canada writes: Crystal C from Canada writes: 'Raising a child is already a very expensive undertaking. Not all of us can afford $20,000-$40,000 per child adoption fees to adopt a healthy infant. Not all of us are able to rise to the challenge of adoption a special needs child from the provincial government (at little to no cost). Adoption is unattainable for many of us who would be happy to do it. '


    I hear this argument all the time and it's nonsense. There are all kinds of kids in foster care right in this country who need loving, supportive homes and it does not cost $20-40,000 to provide them with that environment.

    And then there's the 'special needs' argument - well guess what, it is only by the grace of God that a birth child may not have special needs and parents may not know that until the kid enters this world. To use that as an excuse not to adopt is awful. If you would have the strength to love and nurture your own special needs birth child how can you not have the fortitude to do it for a child that didn't spring from your loins?
  112. Jade Dragon from Ottawa, Canada writes: Not true, King Byng!! On a collective scale, you are right to say that children are not optional. But at the individual level, they are entirely optional. Personally, I never wanted kids but my wife did. So I raised three of them. All in their 20s now. If I had it to do all over again, I would pass. Twenty five years of hard slogging when I could have been playing golf, skiiing or spending money on my Viper instead of on my kids orthodontist.
  113. Jenna R from Canada writes: mike hunt from Canada writes: 'the thing is, this woman is in her 30s.. thats at the end of her reproductive usefulness. in ten years when her old man decides he wants kids, it will be easy to trade her in for a newer, younger more sensible model. '


    Wow. Glad to see you value women so highly that you think it is justifiable for a man to 'trade her in' because he's suddenly decided he'd like a legacy.

    I certainly hope you aren't teaching your children these valuable life lessons.
  114. M E from Canada writes: Look at at this way, Jade Dragon--now you can be sure that there will be someone to visit you in the nursing home besides Salvation Army do-gooders.
  115. Mike A from Canada writes: I'm astonished by the number of corespondents who seem to have absolutely no sense of humour. Not getting enough sleep are we? Kids keeping you up?
  116. Jade Dragon from Ottawa, Canada writes: Yes, ME, they will visit me in the nursing home and they will smile at me with their perfect teeth. And when they do, I will think: 'Damn, I should have bought that Viper!'
  117. Mark Spence from Bolton, Ontario, Canada writes: What a sad commentary on the human condition. If you don't want children, don't have any. Don't bore your audience with your superficial self absorbed drivel.
  118. Ian Victor from Victoria, Canada writes: Children are hereditary - if your parents don't have any, you won't either.
  119. That's Not My Baby from Canada writes: D Peters, you are really judgmental when you have no right to be. I, like several others who have commented on this board, am perfectly content with my decision not to have children. This isn't to say that I don't like them - I do, and they like me a lot as well. I'm always the most popular adult at gatherings (my one friend calls me the Pied Piper because the kids tend to follow me around) but I'm absolutely happy to leave them with their parents and return to my full and rich adult life at the end of a visit.

    That doesn't make me a bad person, it just makes me a person who enjoys a different way of life from you. I'm happy for you that having children has been the best thing that's happened to you, especially because not all parents can say the same, but please don't condemn those of us who have chosen a different path, or those who haven't found the parenting experience all it's cracked up to be.

    Different strokes for different folks. Nobody's better or worse.
  120. buzz barry from Melbourne Aus., Canada writes: ha
  121. That's Not My Baby from Canada writes: M E from Canada writes: Look at at this way, Jade Dragon--now you can be sure that there will be someone to visit you in the nursing home besides Salvation Army do-gooders.


    My grandmother had two regular family visitors in the 8 years she was in a nursing home with Alzheimer's - my mother and me. She had 5 kids, 11 grandkids and 3 great-grandkids, most living within a 30 minute radius, and yet no one ever had the time to see her (they were sure there when the will was read though).

    There are no guarantees in life, my friend. At least you can count on the Salvation Army.
  122. Frank Johnston from Goodwood, Canada writes: I believe that the sampling may be tainted by the fact that if you ask young self indulgent people that don't think about the fact that they are mortal will see the aspect of having something taking away their fun resources repugnant.

    Regardless of what pleasures may or not be altered by having children, the reality is that the only thing that makes 'life' different from a rock is that it can reproduce. Support of reproduction is the only appropriate course for a life form because to do anything else is suicidal.
  123. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: That's Not My Baby from Canada writes:

    I have an uncle who is much the same as you, where is he now, living in my spare room hoping to die fast as to not be a burden. No kids to take care of him, no one to even try and get him to eat a wee bit. Is it my job, no, not really, but I will do it because I understand what a bitof sacrifice means. If you think your not going to be a burden in your old age your sadly mistaken.

    All of us have experienced life with no children. But some of us have experienced it with. Aren't you glad you parents didn't take that route though?
  124. That's Not My Baby from Canada writes: LOL, D Peters please don't presume you know anything about me. And trust me, I will be well taken care of in my old(er) age.

    There will always be children and young adults in my life - they just won't share my DNA.
  125. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: Good thing someone else had kids to take care of you though.
  126. King Byng from Canada writes: That's Not My Baby from Canada writes:
    There will always be children and young adults in my life - they just won't share my DNA.

    Our DNA is too smart for it's own good, I'm convinced. It contributed to the development of birth control, an excess of self awareness, and Leah McLaren articles.
  127. Alice B from Langley, Canada writes: Those who say that we can solve any future labour shortages with wholesale immigration from other countries are overlooking the fact that these people will have been socialized in different societies and will have different values and priorities than native-born Canadians. They will remake Canada to reflect those things. This may be positive or negative, but those who think everyone should be childless should be prepared for some big changes.

    (Full disclosure: I have 2 kids under 5 and I enjoy it about 70% of the time)
  128. Cousin Voltaire from Canada writes: We're so good at reproducing that there are over 7 billion of us on this planet, and the numbers are only going up up up. The demands from such a large population are already causing great stress on our environment: shouldn't we think of that too?
  129. Thinkingman FromCanada from Canada writes: I think it is odd that some people will question the decisions of other people. I think people who do this think they know everything.
    With empathy to the judged. Kevin.
  130. King Byng from Canada writes: Cousin Voltaire from Canada writes: We're so good at reproducing ....

    Our ability to reproduce is exactly the same as it has been for eternity. Our ability to stay alive longer has certainly improved.

    I recall reading an article about the growth in global population occurring in this, our, era. It was expected to max out at about 10 billion people. Growth doesn't continue ad infinitum. We are converging on a new collective equilibrium. I don't have a reference. Google tells all....
  131. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: Alice missed the topic completely
  132. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: *LMAO* Carol....:) Thats mean, kinda like a poke in the eye with a well aimed dull stick....GO GIRL!!! Make ya wonder about the apple not falling far from the tree though...Darwin at work.
  133. Alice B from Langley, Canada writes: Sorry D Peters, Thanks for taking the time to show me the error of my ways.

  134. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: No prob Alice...just kinda bored ad....ummm....say...what are ya doing next Saturday..??
  135. Emilio Garazgos from Kanata, Canada writes: Selfish question with a predictable answer.

    The person/couple asking this question would probably best NOT have children .

    In fact, I would go one step further and suggest that the couple asking the question , will not be a couple for much longer.
  136. Doug H. from Saskatoon, Canada writes: There areover 6 billion people on this earth all consuming to various different degrees. It is not reasonable to think that a person in China should not be able to consume as much as me in the developed country. So what is the option. Less people is the only option.

    People are saying that someone is selfish because they do not want children. I say that is the ultimate sacrifice for the future of this earth.
  137. Doug H. from Saskatoon, Canada writes: There areover 6 billion people on this earth all consuming to various different degrees. It is not reasonable to think that a person in China should not be able to consume as much as me in the developed country. So what is the option. Less people is the only option.

    People are saying that someone is selfish because they do not want children. I say that is the ultimate sacrifice for the future of this earth.
  138. Doug H. from Saskatoon, Canada writes: There areover 6 billion people on this earth all consuming to various different degrees. It is not reasonable to think that a person in China should not be able to consume as much as me in the developed country. So what is the option. Less people is the only option.

    People are saying that someone is selfish because they do not want children. I say that is the ultimate sacrifice for the future of this earth.
  139. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: Well Doug, Thank you for your sacrifice, but I am NOT changing your daiper in the old folks home.
  140. jeff from the cheap seats from Sweden writes: Leah, I think I had a freudian slip. The line 'negatives - screaming toddlers flinging fecal matter' horrifyingly became 'negatives - supporting toddlers financial comittments'...which made me shake my head and double take. You can see how this would happen! Anyway, glad my kids are Swedes, as university is still free here for them....

    My biggest worry if you and your boyfriend have kids is that it will water down your articles. You'll find the same stuff that used to get you upset on a daily basis enough to pontificate on won't matter so much when you've got to feed the screamers, or you just won't have time to put coherent thoughts together on 2 hours sleep a night.

    And we will all be worse off for that.

    Hopefully you'll get your boyfriend to take paternity leave or hire some of Ruby Dhalla's now-unemployed caregivers when you take the plunge so you can stay focused on what you do best ;-)

    Good luck!
  141. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: I a way...this is 3 billion years of evolution at work.

    Go Darwin!!!!
  142. Canadian Pom from London, United Kingdom writes: I'm liking this thread - after the initial posts, which were straightforward indignant rage, many of the parents in this thread settled in to post comments that start off sounding reasonable, but end with a bitter little jab like 'do not bear children until you learn that there is more to this world than you and your mostly petty concerns.' Oh deary me - you people need more sleep. And now, I shall book my holiday! Off back to Canada for a few conferences, and then possibly back via Spain to see some friends. Happy to say I can afford business class - no screaming kids...
  143. Joel Parkes from Peterborough, Canada writes: We didn't have children until we were in our 30's, myself in my late 30's, and it's easily the best thing that has ever happened to us both. I think people whould have some experience of the world first, though, before plowing into the commitment of parenthood. Being a Dad has made me a better person but I think I'm a better Dad because I expereinced a lot of life before becoming a parent.
  144. Ya Basta! from Canada writes: Julian Demkiw from Saskatoon, Canada writes: 'Yes, I appreciate the view that science is a survey asking if people are happy. ' That statement is nothing more than a kneejerk response. Julian, it just happens that happiness research has become quite respectable in the sense of having predictive value with respect to health, personal and workplace effectiveness, etc. That doesn't mean this survey was necessarily valid; neither can you summarily dismiss it.
  145. True Patriot from Canada writes: People who have children tend to be selfish, immature and insecure. They procreate either without intention or with the intention of overcoming some problem in their lives (eg. marriage, hatred of their job, feelings of powerlessness). It is hardly surprising that children do not bring them the happiness they seek.
  146. Robert G from Ottawa, Canada writes: One of my goals in life is to understand the world a little bit better everyday. This can be done through books, travels... and definitively by spending time with my two kids. It's a fantastic and fascinating experience to see them grow up and progressively make sense of the world around them.

    And having kids doesn't mean that you can't live an adventurous life. That's up to you. We spent three years in Africa as a family and we wouldn't mind moving to Europe for a few years.

    If I was to be surveyed at the different points in time surely the 1 to 3 years period would get mixed reviews (I insist on 'mixed', there are some great moments as well). But that's just a phase and I find it sad that some people get stuck with the image of a screaming two year old as their only image of 'parenthood'.
  147. Peter Brown from Geelong, Canada writes: I had a very footloose and globetrotting prolonged adolescence, and had my first kid at 34. (We have three now, and I'm 40). It's hard work, and not always fun, but I can tell you, it's what being an adult is really all about.

    I'll hear hissy-fits about this, but while I'm prepared to like anyone for who they are, I quietly view anyone deliberately childless at my age in the way a grad-student looks at frosh. Nice people, but got a lot to learn about the way things really work. (And don't even try to tell me you're busy. You don't know what busy means.)

    Besides, someone has to stay home and raise the next generation of transgendered performance artists. We can't all be taking watercolour lessons in San Miguel, or hatha yoga six nights a week.
  148. True Patriot from Canada writes: 'Peter Brown from Geelong, Canada writes:I'll hear hissy-fits about this, but while I'm prepared to like anyone for who they are, I quietly view anyone deliberately childless at my age in the way a grad-student looks at frosh. Nice people, but got a lot to learn about the way things really work. (And don't even try to tell me you're busy. You don't know what busy means.)'

    And those who are childless probably don't think of you at all because they are too busy enjoying the many things life has to offer to spend time bothering about what people should be doing at the age of 40
  149. Fire Woman from Toronto, Canada writes: Having Children isn't about you, society, your parents, unconditional love (If parenthood leads to unconditional love, wouldn't the offspring pick up on that and carry it through life?) it is about THE CHILD. Your decision to have children, should be made and based on the child you plan on creating. Not everyone is cut out to be a parent. Proof of this would be the children up for adoption, abandoned, abused and neglected.

    In this society, staying at home to raise a child is considered taboo, and the government only cuts a tax break of $6000.00 a year. That's all this prized position of 'Parent' is worth. So we have children that we have no time to raise, feed, etc. etc. etc. Far too many experience the guilt of having to go to work while their children are raised by caregivers, who may or may not share your values. This is who ends up raising your children.

    I think that the decision to have children is a personal one. No-one should have to right to call you self centered or selfish for your choice. As for the Christian Warrior chap who commented on the author, or shall I say passed some very religious as well as psychological judgment, I say to you that you must have missed the section of the Bible that said 'Judge not lest ye be judged' I wonder what God would have to say about your comment. I think he would be concerned over the behavior of the beings that have already been created, before worrying about those who have yet to be.
  150. J Planet from Everywhere, Canada writes: There's an assumption snaking its way through many of these posts that there are only two choices in this world: to reproduce your own biological children, or to remain childless/childfree. That's nonsense. I knew when I was young I never wanted to reproduce--the idea of bringing more human beings into the world as long as there were millions of unwanted and abandoned children was abhorrent. But my role isn't childless: I'm available to all my friends who are parents to spell them off in their childrearing and to provide another extra role model to their kids. (And kids can't have enough positive role models). I sponsor a child overseas. And I'm interested in becoming a foster parent or adopting. For all the progress we're making in accepting that to not to reproduce our own biological children is a valid chioce, there's still very little recognition that there are many ways to be a parent and a role model to children that don't involve reproducing.
  151. Jacques Shellac from Montreal, QC, Canada writes: There is one thing that you do as a human that makes it (one's meaningless little life) worthwhile and that is reproducing and spreading around your genes.

    BTW, my son is the single most important thing to me, hands down. And the next impending sprog, due in August, will no doubt give my existence just as much meaning as number one son.

    If you don't like your kids after popping them out, give them up for adoption ... it's win-win baby!
  152. Zoe Gavsie from United Kingdom writes: I think the author will be mortified by the content of this article when a few years have passed.
  153. Fire Woman from Toronto, Canada writes: J Planet from Everywhere...... They say it takes a village to raise a child.

  154. Josh Taylor from Dublin, writes: A well written and honest piece meets anger from the married, monogamous (well mostly celibate), miserable mothers (and fathers).

    I think many of the comments attacking the author reek of self justification and only further prove her point.
  155. diana diana from Toronto, Canada writes: It is not selfish to not have children it is selfless. I work in a school and see many unwanted children - parents that are overwhelmed that these children take up 100 percent of their time. We are very lucky we live in a society that gives people the personal choice of reproducing or not. There are people who should not be having children and I admire the ones that realize that fact. There are lots of children in this nation that need loving homes you don't have to give birth to give love.
  156. H B from Canada writes: What McLaren and other writers of this ilk miss is that parenting is really only hard in the way she describes it for about 4 years. That's not a long time. After that, they're pretty freakin' reasonable little people. I'm amazed at how fast they develop from that point on, and now that my kid's 8, I definitely see how important it is to work on the bond - he's not going to be under my roof much longer! Every day he seems to develop some new independence. The hard part now is making sure that we're living as a family instead of a bunch of individuals, which is sometimes tempting.

    Really, toddlerhood is a basically insignificant period of time in the context of your whole life. The best thing you can do for your kid is to live as good a life as you can during and after that, filled with friends, volunteering, learning, fun, and love. Once the kid is in school, there's very little reason not to live well. To do otherwise is no favor to your children. And if you are living well, it's a joy to include your kids in as much of it as you can.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that all the best-rounded people I know are parents. Kids teach you that time is precious, and the time to train for a marathon, learn a skill, help a service organization, enjoy the company of friends, travel to the extent you can afford or write a book isn't later. It's now. Once the kids are out of diapers, there's really nothing stopping you.

    I found it very tough when my kid was an infant and toddler - it was hard. But what these articles never seem to acknowledge is that life resumes even more full-bore after just a couple of years. And your kids are both a shelter from the storm when that's what you need, and a reason to go out running in the rain.

    Kudos to the poster who noted that at thirty-something he can only imagine how bored he'd be without kids. Not a week goes by that I don't imagine exactly the same thing.
  157. john sorensen from algonquin park, Canada writes: Yes, there is much to be said about the work required to have children. My wife and I looked at the alternatives after we were married to either A) have no children or B) add a good 20 to 30 years of chaos into our Lives. We could have continued with the partying and entertaining and hot romance of A) but instead we choose the unknowing and faith to have B). Never having looked back we know that we will still have many years later of partying and entertaining and hot romance, but we will have gained significantly for going through the years of Chaos / child rearing. To think of life as just me now is not only detrimental to oneself, I think it is detrimental to society. However, I am not a fool and respect all decisions that make oneself content.
  158. Angelie Lomoljo from Mississauga, Canada writes: There seems to be an incredible amount of judgement and maybe even anger, surrounding someone's declaration of wanting to be childless or - like Leah - sharing the perception that parenthood is difficult and at times, unpleasant.

    I have read several posts which use the words 'selfish' and 'self-centred'; as if parenthood only takes 'getting over one's self.' I am a woman in my early 30's, and I see the sacrifices some of my friends have made for their children. From what I've seen, being a parent takes a great deal of physical and emotional dedication.....and rightfully so.

    I do not wish to have children, and my dedication to my own personal pursuits should not be belittled or judged in comparison to those who chose to be parents. Deciding not to be a parent shouldn't subject me to comments such as, 'You'll change your mind' or 'You just haven't met the right man' and my favourite, 'Every woman wants to be a mother.'

    Children are amazing little beings and my decision to not bear any doesn't make me love them any less. I can be the best auntie in the world, and I'm okay with that.
  159. M Smith from Canada, Canada writes: My grandmother had 4 children, and spent her entire time surrounded by children, grandchildren, dogs, cats, birds, crafts, making jams etc.; in other words, the quintessential 'grandmother'. I sat down with her for a quiet chat in my 20s when I was struggling with the decision of whether or not to have children (I did not want them but couldn't reconcile those feelings with the societal expectations of having them - I remember asking my doctor at what age I could expect to have this compelling maternal 'urge' kick in) and asked her if she could turn back the clock would she have had her children. To my profound shock, she, the posterchild for grandmothers, whom I always assumed loved the role of mother and grandmother as she played the part so well, said an emphatic 'no'. She told me how lucky I was to live in a day and age where having children could be a choice, vs. a case of lack of adequate birth control. I am in my 40s, childless by choice, and can honestly say that I have no regrets. And if that 'urge' does kick in one day, I can always adopt (no sign of it yet though).
  160. stephen r. charbonneau from rural ontario, Canada writes: Having children is one of the great joys in life and all things plant and animal have one ultimate goal... to procreate. In early societies the most tragic of circumstance for a woman was being barren. Have our lives become so far removed form the simple truths of life ? However everything in moderation.
  161. Denis Pakkala from St. Catharines, Canada writes: Fire Woman from Toronto, Canada writes: Having Children isn't about you….it is about THE CHILD. “ ….”In this society, staying at home to raise a child is considered taboo, and the government only cuts a tax break of $6000.00 a year. That's all this prized position of 'Parent' is worth.”

    It sounds like you are contradicting yourself by focusing on the MONEY. Providing financial income is every parent’s responsibility. If you stay at home, that is a luxury. If you want more money, get a job!
  162. D Scully from Canada writes: I just LOVED the honesty of Alma's comment - right on! It's simply a matter of choice: if you want and have kids, great. If you don't want and don't have kids, that's great too. For me (f), I simply don't hear the calling and I'm fine with it. The thought of having children doesn't appeal to me although of course I've thought about it. Interestingly, those who know themselves well enough to not have children, and are centred about this decision and un-defensive about it - ironically, would have made good parents. At any rate, I'd rather live a child-free life. I'd rather have sex than babies. It's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
  163. Ted Harrison from Canada writes: There are 7 billion of us on this planet and growing. While I suspect that later in life not having had a child may be a cause for regret, it would be a personal regret. The planetary population at large will have no such regrets on this score (unless all of us remain childless - not too bl--dy likely). Far from being selfish, choosing to remain childless may be a noble self-sacrifice.
  164. C R from Canada writes:

    I suppose its true that children are not for everyone - and not every person is right for children.

    For me - got em, LOVE em and couldn't live without them!!!

    What an amazing gift from GOD!
  165. epoxy patch from Canada writes: Leah, if you're trying to answer this question 'scientifically' - this is what you need to do :

    Go have a child and raise it, preferably for at least 18years
    Then revisit this question that you have raised, and write a new piece on it
    Compare this new piece to the one you have written
    Analyze the difference

    And you will find your 'answer' - which so many on this board already know...

    The question of individual happiness is moot after having children - but it may be worth 18yrs of your life to find that one out...

    good luck with your experiment!
  166. johanna jensen from val marie, Canada writes: Leah is asking the wrong question. It should be 'do parents make children happy?' All things being equal, children are simply like fish in the sea, responding to their environment. They are acute in their ability to recognize ambivalence in parents. If detected, children respond in their anxiety for
    attachment, with 'problem' behaviour. Similar to pet owners,
    the pet is not the problem, the parent is.
  167. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: I fail to see how the 'not having kids' crowd justify the 'selflessness' of thier desire. Its selfish. Plain and simple. Lets call a spade a spade. You think you have to give up something to be a parent, and yes you do, but you also get back much more than you gave.

    But explaining kids to a person without them is like trying to describe the colour blue to a blind person.
  168. Robert G from Ottawa, Canada writes: It is really a personal decision and I can't say anything negative to childless couples. Well, almost nothing. Parents, especially those who had kids in their 30s, can have a comparative perspective while childless couples simply can't. Social expectations have changed. Women are not expected now to forget about going to university and to start having babies early. In our case we spent our 20s and early 30s without kids. We established our careers (all the way to a PhD and postdoc) and then decided to have kids. Two very different decades. No regrets at all. Au contraire. It's not all about personal sacrifices. We didn't let go of our personal dreams, they have become family dreams. The journey is often more important than reaching the destination. Making it a collective journey is just a lot more fun. I have to say that I find it difficult to understand how people without kids can be 100% sure about their decision since they don't know what it's like to raise a family. I certainly had some anxieties about being a parent while in my 20s when I was around screaming kids in their terrible twos phase in planes and restaurants. But that is not a very long period of time at all and I'm glad that it didn't stop me from having kids. I may well be wrong but I feel like many childless couples are basing their decision on their perceptions of the toddler years. However, couples often wonder, before starting a family, about work-life balance, and rightly so. This is the conclusion of the author of that paper that Leah is referring to: 'People ought to understand where this unhappiness comes from... 'I would say it's not from their kids per se, I would say that it comes from the social conditions in which contemporary parents parent.' Parents, says Simon, are far too often left on their own and have very few support systems. 'We don't have family friendly policies,' she says. 'We don't allow people, I believe, as a society to reap the full joys of parenthood.'
  169. Nature Lover from Canada writes: We all have the choice to have children or not. One is not more right than the other. Can't we just respect that? I have kids, and I have a circumstance that I can raise them the way I want. Not everyone has that, and shouldn't be expected to raise them. It's none of my business how many kids people have or don't have. I made the choice for me and I like the choice I made. Am I happier than Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt? Probably! They appear to have it all, but that's not what I would want.
  170. Fire Woman from Toronto, Canada writes: David Pakkala from St Catherines...... I do have a job. A good one as a matter of fact, but the other fact remains.... Raising children in poverty is detrimental for their health and well being. And you're missing my point. Get a job, or stay at home and raise your kids. There is the issue of moral well being and monetary well being. One parent staying at home shouldn't be a luxury and raising children is a job.... actually, I believe that they say it is equivalent to 3 full time jobs.

    I was raised in poverty by working class parents. The worked VERY hard. My Mother has worked so hard, that she had internal bleeding. It breaks my heart to know that she had to work so hard to be everything to us and for us.
  171. Mark Miele from Victoria, Canada writes: I'm nearly certain that if I was part of an Eastern culture where several generations of my family lived together and where my kids could play outside without bringing about irrational worries propagated by mainstream media, I would gladly have children. Instead, I'm part of a culture of isolationism and fear, where children have to be watched for every second of every day, and where both parents need to work to support their kids because the extended family rarely partakes in child rearing. It is our whole way of living that makes parenting much more difficult than it needs to be, and for that reason, for as long as I live in Canada, the USA, or Western Europe, I shall not have children.
  172. Jean Baillargeon from Toronto, Canada writes: This was an honest and thought-provoking article. My wife and I had a son in our late 30's, and yes, it was a shock to the system. Much of what the author says here about the impact of raising a child is true: your life as you knew it is over. But this is not just because it is harder- and make no mistake, it really is harder-, but mainly because of the wonders you witness in the company of your child as h/she grows up. That is an important truth about having children.

    And as some have said, the first 3-4 years are the most time-consuming and difficult. Though it is also true that one is a parent for life, and that the teenager years bring their share of challenges.

    At the end of the day, you have to make your own decision, and it's a good thing that people are openly discussing this kind of question. Because if your considered view is that having children will ruin your life, it's probably a good idea not to have any.
  173. Leon Russell from Gatineau, Qc, Canada writes: A fun article. I don't think you have time to be happy or sad once you have kids. As the author says, it's a biological itch we have to scratch and whether it makes us ultimately happier or unhappier is moot. But the most important line is (paraphrased) ' you sure do get attached to the little anklebiters'.
  174. Craig Cooper from Toronto, writes: Of course, children are worth it.

    That are also the biggest responsibility one will ever have.

    And responsibility always brings some level of stress.

    But the rewards far outstrip the work that goes into it.

    Which is the exact opposite of what most (all) people experience at their jobs.

    Time to grow up and have a kid!
  175. Cousin Voltaire from Canada writes: Can it be that some posters are still equating having children with selflessness and maturity and NOT having children with selfishness and lack of maturity? Really. I don't want to state the obvious, but the 'octomom' mentality is alive and well and kicking fiercely out there (Sidney Poitier refers to it in slightly differently terms in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner): that to me is the epitomy of selfishness and immaturity. At the other end of the scale we have the Jean Vanier type of mentality: no children, yet the epitomy of selflessness and valuable contribution to society. Having children or not having children is a matter of personal choice, period. Leah -- thanks for a great article.
  176. Bobby the K from Dreadnaught, ON, Canada writes: ~

    Really though, we have enough people.
  177. IS ZEN from Canada writes: Ivan Wilson and r s from Mission -- are you guys for real??? I notice your fictitious names rhyme, too. So let me get this straight -- you both have children? Wow. I wish I could extend my sympathy to them.
  178. Lili Von Shtupp from Calgary, Canada writes: Ivan

    You must have a very small circle of friends with an attitude like that.
  179. Fire Woman from Toronto, Canada writes: I would invite everyone here who has judged people as selfish for having/not having kids to look at your own lives. Are you perfect? I doubt it. None of us are. So who are we to judge. I have read comments of people calling others A$$hole$ etc. etc. etc. with a world full of this, no wonder some don't want children!

    What about Parents who abuse drugs, alcohol, their spouses, their children? Are they not selfish? Oh wait! They must not be, they had kids. What kind of things do we want to say with the type of society that WE ALL have created? If it was such a great society, we would have lower crime rates, children wouldn't be shooting each other in the streets, we would have no war, no pollution no problem.

    For me, I have no children. Why? I worry if there will be water for them to drink in 20 years, will they be able to go out in to the sun? Will there be food? What kind of world are we bringing these children into?

    The decision to have/not have children is personal. I just don't understand why some people think that you are selfish if you opt out of having children. To those who would say the childless are selfish, I ask you, how does my decision affect your life in any way shape or form? And I in turn cannot call those with children selfish.... and your having children does affect me. I pay taxes for schooling, group homes, shelters and I am very happy to do so. We should all stand together instead of picking each other apart for our different choices. Perhaps then we will have a world worth bringing children in to. Quality overrides quantity in my mind. Just my opinion in this life. Some may not agree, and they don't have to, but there should be a modicum of respect. This board could be such a constructive tool, if it wasn't for the intolerance, judgment and name calling...... I think that behavior led to the incident in Keswick. Someone not respecting that someone else happens to be different and reacting in judgment and anger
  180. oldgal 67 from London, Canada writes: What's missing from childless lives is the astonishing discovery that, with luck, a family is rather like the Musketeers - possessed of a 'one for all and all for one' attitude that is a tower of strength in dark times. If one half of a couple is in distress, the entire onus of help, comfort and support falls onto the other member. In a family, that supporting member has other shoulders to lean on, other hands to call on for aid and other hearts to rely on. Having children is not about putting up with toddler tantrums, diapers, sleepless nights - how trivial that all is and it passes in no time. It's about creating a strong community within the community; a community bound together in ways capable of overcoming the greatest obstacles and griefs life can throw at us. Eventually one member of a childless couple will be called on to deal with the problems that come with old age with no strong, loving, closely attached men or women to do what needs to be done - emotionally and physically. I am at that old age now and cannot imagine facing it without the support I have daily from my strong, adult sons. Is that selfish? No - because I lent them my strength when they needed it as babies, little boys and teenagers and they have grown to learn that families matter and are happy to ease my old age now in return for teaching them to be good, happy, caring men. If you really don't want kids, do us all a favour and don't have them. Much better than having them when you don't truly want them, putting them out to the care of paid minders as soon as possible and ending up in senior care oneself as a result because the family hasn't coalesced properly into a supportive unit fit to care for its own. We have now reached a chronic situation where few families seems to feel responsible for the tender care of individual members so the fewer children we bring into this selfish society the better.
  181. mike hunt from Canada writes: jenna.. you think im the only pragmatic man like that? i hope you aren't teaching your kids that its ok to make stupid choices early in life, and when they do, its someone elses' fault that they have to live with those descisions. i am teaching my kids. our family line must continue, and any woman not interested in having kids, should be little more than weekend fun... certainly not marriage material or someone to waste much time being 'serious' about. women are free to chose whatever they like. and men are free to chose whatever women they like. women who don't want kids are perfect for fun when we are young, but once a man gets older and looks to settle down, its a different kind of woman that becomes much more valuable as a person and to the family. thats the bottom line. and the reality of life is men have until they are 75 to sire offspring, women do not.
  182. My 2 Cents from Canada writes: I would happily give less time on this earth, due to the stress of raising children and that stress, lessening my life expectancy, than to have lived longer without them.

    The only thing that childless people have, are dogs.

    I should add;

    Dogs that they believe are children.
  183. My 2 Cents from Canada writes: I really must add, that we should rejoice that those who do not have the innate, biological and evolutionary instinct to pass on their genes, through reproduction, we only have to put up with their uber pseudo and so very urban opinions for a short period of time. :)

    So, those with a dead reproductive instinct;

  184. A H from Canada writes: I did it! I managed to illicit the 'well what if your parents had decided not to have kids' question. well if i didn't exist, i wouldn't know any difference, would I? D Peters - Remind me again, what were your deeply profound and selfless reasons for having kids? to paraphrase - I have fond memories to reminisce about in the old folks home..... I'm a better person for the experience....I will have someone to take care of Me when I'm old...I got back much more than I gave.... I, me, me, I , I me....I don't know many people who when asked why they had children respond by saying 'well I get nothing out of it personally, mainly I did it so that society wouldn't collapse...' how altruistic...Why does it matter so much to people if another person chooses to not have children. it's their lives. doesn't affect you one others have said, most people are still going to choose to have children. it's a biological imperative. the few who choose not to are probably doing a good thing in not contributing to overpopulation. last i checked there's no shortage of people around this planet...
  185. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: Excellent analogy there OldGal67. The Musketeers. When push comes to shove you make a phone call or two and the rallying cry is answered. Man the ramparts the family is under attack.

    Blood is thicker than water.
  186. My 2 Cents from Canada writes: AH, seriously, it concerns us, only because it is evidence that they are missing or have deadened evolutionary desires to procreate.

    Which means, they are people who likely have defficient genes.
  187. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: That true A H...some people are notmean'tto have children and we are probably better off without them. Darwin always has his way.
  188. mike hunt from Canada writes: i would have to agree, it has to be defective genes that impair normal biological impulses, and defective genes should not procreate anyways. i might also suggest years of anti-teen pregnancy commercials have taken their toll on north american populations as well. either way, those who ignore their responsibilities and live their lives only for themselves and run their family lines into extinction are simply fewer competitors for finite resources... there is however a neat experiment called 'the career girl experiment', where generations of fruit flies were raised and only allowed to procreate at the very end of their reproductive usefulness.. the results did show that after 20 generations or so, the lifespand of these flies were extended something like 30%... but that did not take into consideration all the mutant freak flies that hatched in a defective state and died along the way. good thing they didnt have public health care to pay for... as for reasons to have kids other than my own pleasures.. 1, i owe it to my father, and his father and our ancestors to continue the good fight. its honouring your family heritage and name.. doesn't matter to ppl without honour i suppose. 2, i really dig life.. i mean, i hope my kids enjoy it as much as i have and do. its a gift freely given. 3, curiosity.. evolution is like a really great movie and we missed out on the first part, and we have to go home before its over.. we may as well leave someone close behind to find out how it all ends...
  189. mike hunt from Canada writes: sorry that was 'career woman' experiment.
  190. Darren X3 from Toronto, Canada writes: alma gita: 'If you want individualism, time alone, time in a fancy restaurant, time to sleep, time to vacation, time to make love (not the quicky stuff you do when the kid is crying and you have to finish expeditiously), time to watch movies (not Dora the Explorer), time to enjoy a drive on a Saturday to Niagara on the Lake, time to work long hours and stay out late, etc., hold off on having children.'
    I think the real distinction between people who want to have children and people who don't is not whether they like kids, but whether they really like all the things they'll have to GIVE UP when they have kids.
    I saw a few comments here along the lines of 'what would I do if I didn't have kids? I'd be bored'. Well, speaking as a childless 40 year old man, I don't have children, don't want them, and am not bored in the slightest. I love having long, adult conversations with my wife, and I love all the stuff that alma gita mentions above. I frankly detest visiting my friends with children, and being unable to get more than two minutes of conversation in before some noisy and ill-mannered rug rat wants to show me her doll, in which I have not the slightest interest. These people are my friends, and their kids are important to them, and I respect that, but ... my God are their kids ever BORING.
    If that makes me 'selfish' then I guess I'm selfish.
  191. Darren X3 from Toronto, Canada writes: M Moss: 'Nothing good ever came easy. '

    And I suppose the corollary to that must be: 'if it isn't easy, it must be good.'

    People who think that nothing good ever came easy have plainly not enjoyed the easy and good things that life has to offer :)
  192. Canadian Pom from London, United Kingdom writes: So many angry, snarky comments from parents. You're all sneering and jeering at the people who've elected to not have children, but bringing things back to the article - you're not coming across as being happy in this forum! In terms of the comment regarding being bored if you didn't have children, I have to say between running my own business and limited hobbies, I'm already sleep-deprived. Even dropping the hobbies, I think I'd never be home enough with the business to make a good father. If I were to drop the job to have children, I suppose I'd be judged selfish by businessmen, and having the job instead of children, I'm judged by the parents to be selfish. Sod you all - I'm doing what works for me!
  193. Not Withstanding from Canada writes: Having children should not be about giving into social pressure, nor about self-actualization or 'happiness'.

    Having kids should be about the kids. You have them for the sake of their existence, not yours.

    I have 4, but waited until later in life to start (I was 33). Everyone's reasons for having/not having kids are their own, so I don't presume to judge, but if they base having/not having kids on trying to maximize self-actualization and happiness they'll be in for a huge disappointment either way. Kids (or the absence of kids) can't make you happy....that's under your control, not theirs.

    I do agree with the comments that from a happiness perspective, the biggest bonus of kids is as we get older, they give us a certain contentment, knowing that part of us will go on. But again, that's not the reason you have them, it's just a nice bonus.
  194. Job of the book from Toronto, Canada writes: Having kids is about furthering your genes, it isn't about your happiness. And if you were thinking of bringing a child into the world for your personal happiness factor... please don't. You'll be a lazy parent.

    This is why Western populations are in decline. We're taking longer to get around to having kids (thus having fewer) and more and more women (and men, though men are less important to this equation) are deciding not to bother with children at all. I'm not sure if it's what comes with better education and job prospects/opportunities, or if it's the result of this individualistic and selfish culture we've fashioned for ourselves... but it's why our society is in decline. At least in terms of population if nothing else... but I think many of you out there would disagree with me on that one.
  195. Darren X3 from Toronto, Canada writes: I think it's a lot nobler to realize that you don't want children, and therefore don't have them, rather than to know you don't want them but have them anyway because of lousy arguments like: 'if I don't have them now I won't be able to in the future', 'who will wipe my butt in the old folks home?'

    The world is full of families headed by ambivalent parents (who are understandably reluctant to admit that) doing a lousy job. I greatly admire people who know they want kids and have them, but there are quite a few parents out there who don't fit into that category.
  196. D N M from Canada writes: mike hunt: Since it is Mother's day and all, let me ask you a serious question. You said: ' 1, i owe it to my father, and his father and our ancestors to continue the good fight. its honouring your family heritage and name.. doesn't matter to ppl without honour i suppose' Really? And no thanks to your Mom, the one who actually gave her blood to give you birth? Then my question to you is this: Why would any woman today want children when 1) especially sons, grow up to be ungrateful sexists who don't even acknowledge their existence and value them only as a necessary obstacle to procreation? - and - 2)parenthood is so devalued, motherhood in particular, that our society makes raising a family a burden rather than a goal? I'm being quite serious here. Don't insult my character, I would like an honest answer to my 2 questions. In other words, give me a good reason in today's society, why women in the prime of their career life should offer men the privilege of a family lineage (other than biology, we're not 'just' animals anymore, and don't quote the bible's 'wifely duty' bs because it is just that, bs)? In essence, the benefit for the male is a family line that doesn't and never has interfered with his career aspirations, but what exactly is the benefit for the female again?
  197. B. Brown from Courtenay, Canada writes: There are all sorts of reasons people don't become parents. My three siblings and I, like Leah, had a mother who disliked being one. She was bored with us when we were small, appalled at us when we were teenagers, and disappointed in us as adults. Two of us chose not to become parents because we couldn't bear the possibility that we would make our own children feel like burdens. You never know, the attitude could be genetic! At least my childless brother and I will have our partners and each other to lean on in our old age.
  198. Nature Lover from Canada writes: Why are people predicting Leah will be unhappy in 20 years for not having kids? That's not really a given, if people make informed choices they can live with forever. Her life may just get more exciting, with less time to worry about kids or not. If I had no kids I would hope it was nobody elses business. I promise I'll never pin the hope and burden of my wanting grandchildren on my kids. Their kids will impact their lives way more than they will impact mine, and for longer. My kids have been a lot of work and I love them to bits, but I can see how someone might not want that.
  199. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: Darren X3 wrote: 'I frankly detest visiting my friends with children, and being unable to get more than two minutes of conversation in before some noisy and ill-mannered rug rat wants to show me her doll, in which I have not the slightest interest. These people are my friends, and their kids are important to them, and I respect that, but ... my God are their kids ever BORING. If that makes me 'selfish' then I guess I'm selfish.' >>> Words with such self serving interest and with total disregard to the needs of a child, and yes, you are 'selfish' to say the least. For your information, this is normal for children between the ages of 1-3, they get more interesting as they get older and if parents do their jobs right, children later can become noble men/women that will make a difference in our world, bringing honour and becoming good friends of their aging parents. Frankly, your friends' children can sense your dislike of them right through your fake smiles and clichés, when they found out this piece you wrote about them in 30 years, they are going to 'kick-your-butt', both intellectually and physically. Just to give you another angle that children are not only good for 'wiping butts for aging parents'. Darren, grow up. A quick and simple model will make you become more 'aware' of where you are in life. It is the Maslow's model of 'hierarchy of Needs'. Modern psychology has refined the original 5 steps to 8 steps, to insert 3 extra steps; Cognitive, Aesthetic, and Transcendence needs. Once you get a chance to educate yourself a little bit on what life is about from a modern secular psychology perspective, maybe you would realize what you said was horrible.
  200. Brian Dell from Alberta, Canada writes: Read between the lines of this article and one gets the impression that the author´s male partner is not keen on the idea of kids (or marriage?) and the author is rationalizing this to herself.

    A tipoff is that the author claims that a long term relationship with an adult brings happiness. That is not necessarily so. If the author can see the upside of a relationship with an adult she could see the upside of a relationship with a child if it were just her vision that mattered.
  201. Moose Head from Toronto, Canada writes: My wife and I are early on in our marriage and we're waiting to have our first child, a little earlier than we had planned on. We're both at critical points in our careers and some pretty incredible opportunities have arisen for both of us. It's like many really great and interesting things are coming together. A child in our lives will certainly make these developments difficult - if not impossible - to make happen. We're looking at some major compromises.

    So much of our society is about self-actualization and -satisfaction. Leah explains much of this very well. Child-rearing is thrilling (I'm told) in it's own way, but doesn't have the lustre of romantic dinners at exclusive restaurants or trips to exotic places. Actually, domestic business is pretty darned banal by comparison. It's why the boss dates the sexy young receptionist.

    In the end neither side is right, and both sides, as expressed in the comments, are equally in need of self-affirmation. In the end we must all live with our decisions. At least in our country we more or less all have a choice.
  202. mike hunt from Canada writes: dnm, society is what we allow it to be. the woman's movement has done its share to the family unit. as to why a woman would want to, it would be to carry on her family line as well. you women are free to do as you please. burn your bras, be liberated, and career orientated if you like. but in the end, we men decide what we value in women, not women. as for mothers, if you read my posts, i hold mothers in great value compared to non-mothers. so, 1, having kids garantees your genetic lineage -which has a 100% garantee compared to men, we never have certainty our kids are really ours, only faith. our best bet is in siring many kids, then at least we can bet some are really ours-, and 2, the women's movement has fostered the devaluation of family and natural order of things. the female gains stability for her offspring, as well as physical protection of the mail she partners with, as well as the fruits of his labour. you can believe whatever you like if you want. but you'll wind up either alone one day once your looks have gone and your man has left you, and a career whose material gains will go to no one, or you will wind up with a girly man that lets you wear the pants, whom you will have no respect for and only run around on because he's useless as a man... it comes down to personal choice. i would not run a household with a female competitor, i need a reliable copilot, not competing interests. i and men should be wise in whom they chose. so you can have your career, no one is stopping you if that is what you want. such a woman would be of considerably less value to myself tho, and most men once they reach their late 20s to 30s. so, in short, moms are invaluable, career girls are just entertainment.
  203. Bunny Laroque from Toronto, Canada writes: Ah, we are all merely cogs in the machine of Leah's career (esp. me--I've commented twice now). The avalanche of comments here will simply confirm her editors' opinion that she has really 'touched a nerve' and she will be awarded tenure. She will never go away. Whether she has children or not, we are all going to be seeing her byline to infinity...and beyond (to steal a phrase).
  204. mike hunt from Canada writes: perhaps.. i don't think it has to do with her writing or opinions pes se tho, i suspect its just the subject matter. and in the public forums, theres always some jerk willing to post a dose of unpopular reality.
  205. M F from Canada writes: So for Mother's Day the best you guys could do for a column is a non parent talking about how parenting is not that great?

    I don't care if you don't want kids, just stop constantly talking about it. I am saving the planet, I am more rational, I get to go on fancy overnight trips.... okay who cares. You might not like the comparison but you sound like the mums who are always on about types of peanut butter and the colour of bowel movements.

    If your columnist actually listened to her breeder (reclaiming the term) friends she would know that if you are happy with your kids then you are happy to spend your vacations and weekends with your little screamers.

    However (my bitter statement moment) don't expect your siblings kids to take care of you. I have relatives who wanted nothing to do with my generation of screamers who suddenly wanted to become friends once my siblings and I became grownups. Now they find my little ones appealing - sorry my kids have grandparents.

    Make sure you have iron clad plans for your older years when you actually do require an advocate and all of your friends are dribbling along with you in the home.

    G&M maybe tomorrow could you have something nice to say about families? Because conservative or liberal most of us have them and it would have been nice to read a happy story instead of an obnoxious snarkfest on the day when we honor our mothers.
  206. globefan Eh from Canada writes: I thought it an interesting article.

    I do know I loved my mother very much and I also know that some women are not equipped to have children. It requires sacrifices of all kinds, I don't think that's a secret. Some families are functional, some are not, I do think the writer is entitled to write her column, I don't feel she is out of line at all no matter which day she writes about it..that's her job.
  207. Great Southwest from Essex, Canada writes: Heaven forbid Leah should write about soul-searching regarding whether or not to have children. She should just automatically pop 'em out and not give any consideration to whether she or her situation is suited to having children, or whether the obviously overpopulated earth really needs the added burden of even more people, courtesy of her.
  208. Major Pain from Canada writes: I have children. I love them dearly. And I agree with this article.
  209. Hank Moody from Canada writes:
    Raising children - and trying to do a good job of it - is the hardest thing that anyone will ever do.

    It very, very easy to do a bad job of it.

    As much as I hope for the best for my kids, I worry for them. Canada, England and other western nations seem to be competing with each other to dismantle every institution of common sense to 'accomodate' and 'not offend.'

    There won't be any place for them in their own country one day.
  210. Denise Loomenberg from Toronto, Canada writes: I agree with many others here that self-happiness should not be a consideration when deciding to have children. Having children is rather to achieve fulfillment of life.

    This article only focused on early stage of child development, which is only a small part of the whole picture. The early years of a child's life is without a doubt the toughest phase to handle. However, it is worth considering that as the child grows, they are easier to handle and they will give many feelings that nothing else in the world can provide - completeness, happiness, sense of achievement, among other things.

    As the parents become old to the point that they can no longer do things themselves, a child will be a great help, companion and blessing. Comparing this to the loneliness in the old age of not having a child, one will eventually realize that having a child worth every sacrifice that comes along with it.
  211. Grampa Canuck from Belleville, ON, Canada writes: To have kids or not to have kids, that is the question. Well, I can only speak from my own experience. My wife and I have 5 kids and 8 grandkids between us. Our children have brought so much joy and satisfaction into my life, I couldn't imagine them not existing. Yes, there were challenging times. The teen years and a stepdaughter blessing us with a grandchild (that's now 18 and living with us) when she was 16. Wonderfully, she blessed us with 3 more grandkids.

    Regarding 'a test of whether parenthood would suit us, my boyfriend and I have taken to playing a little game. In it, we take whatever situation we happen to be in and add a child to the equation.' Yup, you're half way up rock climbing a 1000m cliff in the Selkirk Mountains and imagine adding a child to the situation. Well, the trick here is that when you have children, you tailor your situations to the reality of having children. For example, go to a child-safe beach with another family with children of similar ages. The parents sit around and yak and keep an eye on the kids. If you've got a parenting disposition, accommodating, watching our for and caring for kids is just part of the routine you choose, And often, it just seems to come naturally.
  212. Ivan Wilson from Canada writes: I am not judgemental about couples who choose to not have children - I fully respect their decision. Invariably it is a good decision as they appear to have few admirable qualities to pass on.

    I also happen to notice that they are all sad, self-centred a$$holes who do not volunteer for their community or make social contributions.
  213. gerri jones from vancouver, Canada writes: This pointless argument is like trying to explain the inside of the Sistine Chapel to someone who has never been there. For the record, Leah, many of us continue to travel, pursue interesting and fulfilling careers, love our spouses, do regular exercise, go out for nice dinners, and occasionally get to sleep in on weekends.

    My children have provided me more focus in my career, a greater degree of concern for my community and the events of the world, and have made me stronger to deal with lifes challenges. They have also made me more human and able to laugh at myself. Yes, they have looked less than appealing to a few of my childless friends by not always behaving perfectly or by having dirty diapers. What those friends miss in that snapshot of child-rearing is that kids are generally kind, decent, loving humans that make for pretty great people to live with. They also make you laugh on a surprisingly regular basis.

    This is a tough mother's day for me--My mother died this year. She spent her final weeks on several different wards in the hospital and while my siblings and I stayed with her we all noticed a glaring reality; Many people in the final hours of their lives were alone. Visitors were almost always family members (not their interesting, fashionable and Martini-swilling friends).

    So Leah, try taking it easy on parents. Most of us love our children unequivocally and couldn't imagine a life without them. And how about next mothers day you write an article about some of the things your poor mother did right? She'll been gone before you know it...
  214. Ivan Wilson from Canada writes: IS ZEN from Canada writes: Ivan Wilson and r s from Mission -- are you guys for real??? So let me get this straight -- you both have children? Wow. I wish I could extend my sympathy to them.

    I cannot speak for rs but my name really is, unlike yours, what is written.

    And whether or not I have children is actually none of your f@cking business. Save your sympathy for your family numbnuts.
  215. Ivan Wilson from Canada writes: Lili Von Shtupp from Calgary, Canada writes: Ivan - You must have a very small circle of friends with an attitude like that.

    Oh must I? Calgarians are so knowledgeable. You must be one of the even smarter ones I guess.
  216. Just Wondering from Canada writes: 233 posts relating to something that Leah wrote?

    Don't we all have something better to do with our time?
    (including me)
  217. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: I guess for some Mother's Day rings pretty hollow. For others it reminds of a task yet to complete. For others it is a reminder of sons and daughters that didn't live life on the natural curve. But for some it is a day of celebration in the giving of life.

    You will never truly appreciate your mother until you have children of your own. Its a wonder we all didn't get drowned in a chamberpot...LOL
  218. Fidel Vila from Vancouver, Canada writes: I found this article quite entertaining as a shallow provocative piece of writing (it worked quite effectively judging by the amount of posts it has generated).
    However, I would have loved a more in-depth reflection on the exact same topic.
    For instance, it is very unclear to me what the author of the article (and maybe the author of the scientific paper as well) considers is happiness. What is more, I am not clear if the pursue of happiness is the solely reason why [some?/ most?] people decide to have children (assuming that that is a reason at all in the first place).
  219. Robin Giesbrecht from Montreal, Canada writes: I find this point of view rather are obviously not cut out to be a parent...and there are lot's of people like you...fine see you later, have fun...
  220. peter san from palookaville, writes: I think it makes women happier then men. Basically pop one out and you are set for life, you the family court system if need be its easier then winning a lottery.
  221. J M from Dublin, Ireland writes: I find the subtext of this article completely offensive. Essentially you have boiled children down to a fashion accessory that you don't want to wear because they clash with your shoes.

    Having children is hard work. Being a father of 2 active young boys, I can't think of anything in my life that is easier as a result of having children. And as for my wife, as a stay at home mother, she is definitely getting it in the neck in terms of the work involved.

    Having children is not about the litle picture. Its about the big pcture. You are taking responsibility for bringing new life to the world and teaching them to survive and contribute to world as a whole.

    Having kids is about giving back to the world. If you are asking what's in it for you then you are missing the point. I'm not saying having kids isn't rewarding, but it is also a sacrifice of personal freedom. If you are making a decision to have or not have children based on whether or not you will be able to enjoy a latte at starbucks on a Saturday.... there is not much point in writing any more as you obviously will never get it anyway.
  222. David Snider from Nairobi, Kenya writes: Certainly an interesting discussion. I don't begrudge people from refraining on having kids - I know several people like that. Can't imagine what life would be like, though, without them. I do wonder a few things though:

    Those who talk about wanting to enjoy the finer things in life without kids ... my kids have lived in France, Switzerland and Kenya and have visited several more countries. We've travelled, seen sights, met people, etc. etc., all with our kids. Who says your life is limited?

    I noted a few posts saying along the lines of 'my childhood wasn't great so I'm not going to inflict that on other kids'. Seems to me that not having a great childhood is a good reason to have your own kids, doesn't it?

    Que sera sera. If you don't want 'em, don't have 'em. It's neither limiting nor liberating to have kids, it just 'is'. For my part, I'd never change a thing.

    Oh, and loved the post about diapers falling off in the McD ball pool. Only a parent can laugh (and usually only several months/years after the fact).
  223. D N M from Canada writes: mike hunt:

    'i hold mothers in great value compared to non-mothers'

    Really? Then why didn't you thank your mother for your existence when you thanked your father?

    'having kids garantees your genetic lineage -which has a 100% garantee compared to men, we never have certainty our kids are really ours, only faith.'

    I can't dispute this which is why it is essentially absurd to carry the male family name down the line. Honestly, most of us today are probably carrying the wrong ancestral name around. I mean whose to know who great-great-great-great-....-grandma dillied around with?

    'the female gains stability for her offspring,'

    That benefits the offspring, not the mother.

    'as well as physical protection of the mail she partners with, as well as the fruits of his labour. '

    A smart woman today knows self-defense, carries pepper spray and makes her own money so this point is moot. Men aren't needed for protection or financial stability anymore. Myself, I've chosen mine for companionship, not as my 'surrogate daddy'.

  224. D N M from Canada writes: mike hunt tbc:

    'you'll wind up either alone one day once your looks have gone and your man has left you,'

    I don't live with this fear. If that's the kind of man my partner turns out to be, he wasn't good enough for me. A good man knows the value of growing old with a life long companion because there will come a time where he will lose his looks too.

    'i would not run a household with a female competitor'

    Oh I pity you mike. Women, homemakers or breadwinners, are your partners, mike, not competitors.

    I can see that you really just want all women to fit in your little box when individuality makes that impossible. You haven't answered my questions at all. Am I to take it that means there are NO benefits to the female in producing offspring other than genetics? And you wonder why the birthrate is so low.

    You're also assuming all men want kids and that simply isn't true. Again, individuality. Different strokes for different folks, man or woman.
  225. Valkyrie 23 from Guelph, Canada writes: mike hunt has mommy issues! That pretty much sums up his post. No need to actually respond to it. Poor guy. Hopefully his psychologist can help him out.

    Having kids is a sacrifice. It's good that people recognize that they will have to sacrifice something when they have kids, and if they're not the kind of person who has the patience for raising children, then good for them for not choosing to do so. Breeding is a choice today, and the sooner would-be grandparents accept this, the happier THEY will be as well. To each their own!
  226. Steve F from Canada writes: I am in my early 30's and a lot of my friends have either had kids or are in the midst of having kids and the pressure my wife and I were under was unbelievable from pressuring peers to unrelenting relatives. I must admit that she felt it much more than I did but when we decided that we were ready to have our first baby it was great! I was a little indifferent to having kids but once we made up our minds that we were ready to take the plunge it has been a great experience.

    My main motivating factor has been cited many times already - the thought of growing old and having no kids or grandkids around was depressing. I was forward-thinking enough to realize that I might not feel the same way as I do right now and that my life at that moment was just a series of events - save money, travel; save money, buy expensive crap. Although there are plenty of struggles (less sleep, less money, less time for me) the upside is far better than I thought it would be.
  227. L SP from Childresn should be a PERSONAL choice and not social influence, Canada writes: In reading this article, I began reflecting on many recent conversations I've had with my husband. Why has social influence taken such a toll on society? What we mean by toll are expensive objects and gadgets which we often hear friends and family quote 'I have to have', in spite of their financial situation.
    I would not have considered social influence as a factor in having children. Children are a lifelong investment and responsibility, and in my opinion, only when (a) parent(s) find themselves ready for this journey should they personally choose to have a child. I respect friends who have chosen not to have children because they personally have chosen not to have them, without listing all the things in life which are more important....for now. Now expecting our first little one, I can honestly report that this was a choice my husband and I were both ready for, with no external influence. As for headaches, crying and sleepless nights and mornings, here's a wakeup call for you!: You do not need children to have these. These are a part of many North American lives fighting their way to work in the morning through traffic or transit, dealing with the angry boss, competing with co-workers, working all-nighters on projects, meeting deadlines, early morning meetings, and now losing sleep over our jobs, the economy, the flu, etc, etc, ...
    Every Mother's day I watch my grandmother happily smiling at us during our usual Brunch and have often questioned her thoughts at that moment. Perhaps it's simply the fact that she is remembered and loved by her children and grandchildren surrounding her. Or, perhaps the fact that her life has slowed down in her older age with health problems as many face, and though her work, travelling, and meeting with friends on a regular basis have almost ceased, one thing remains: her family.
  228. Sue City from Canada writes: To have or not have children. That is the question. But let's not kid ourselves. They are both a selfish decisions...

    It is narcissistic to want a child. A smaller version of you that will carry on your family name and love you unconditionally - well, at least until its a teenager. Or, choose not to have a child because you love yourself unconditionally and don't want the rhythm of your life interrupted.

    So I guess we're all self-involved. And, is anyone really surprised by that? ha
  229. Irresponsible and Unpredictible from Canada writes: My mother should never have had children.
    Likewise, I would not wish any of my attributes onto any human being.
  230. AG Bear from Canada writes: All you sleep-deprived zombies touting the countless joys of having kids ... me thinks thou doth protest too much.

    Every sane parent I know says the same thing to me: 'It was a wonderful experience, but I wouldn't do it again.'
  231. The Work Farce from Canada writes: Franklin Carter from Toronto, Canada writes: Small children are like little zen masters. Their behaviour challenges parents to become better people.
    That's a hoot! Small children challenge parents to become better dogcatchers. Well, OK...Thank heaven for little girls, eh? Better than an SUV belching exhaust in your face. But little boys are noisy bundles of wandering desires demanding and daring fulfillment in stark conflict with the fulfillment of their mother's dreams and illusions. Zen masters, on the other hand, are forever trying to free us from the suffering of birth and rebirth together with the pesky desires that cycle always inflicts.

    And guess what, little Grasshopper? All that conflict and pain is all the fault of the baby boomers. When you see that, you will be a warrrior. An intergenerational warrior defending your ever-present bundle of wandering desires against those of your mother and grandfather.

    Life's a baby - then you cry.

    For me the best thing about babies is they don't jump on you and slobber all over you; they don't bark; and they don't dump on the bicycle trail.
  232. rita guigon from Canada writes: Any choice is bound to open the question of whether it was the right one and whether having made a different decision would result in more happiness. And sometimes having children or being childless is not an actual decision--it's what life doles out. Not every child is planned and not every childless person intended that to happen. Dealing with fate with honor and dignity involves giving kindness and love wherever the opportunities and need make themselves known to you. Making the best of what you have, not blaming others for choosing different paths, and giving of yourself, are attitudes which work whether you have children or not. No choice or decision is 100% guaranteed to be regret-free. Cutting down people who have made a different choice telegraphs a person's own insecurities.
  233. plain joe . from Canada writes: I am a very handsome 39 year old male. For better or for worse, I am a ladies man in every sense. I am certain that having kids would throw a wrench in my lifestyle. I just love women too much. No, this post is not a joke.
  234. kat i from Whitby, Canada writes: Darren X3, the truth hurts, doesn't it? Please refrain from describing children in such a manner. This is exactly what a few posts above have addressed... showing a blind man the ocean.
  235. Anony Mouse from Canada writes: I was just reading the article "I regret having children" where the comments are closed, and was surprised by the vitriole against a woman for admitting she regrets having children.

    I am aware of several woman in my life whom have expressed they do love their children - but if they could do it all over again, they would of likely chosen differently. I admire that honesty precisely due to the reactions such honest confessions seem to attract. Even my mother has confessed the same, and guess what - rather than being angry or maladjusted about it, I accept that as her reality and truth and admire her for being truthful and yes, also appreciate more her individuality. By the way, she was a superb, very loving mother.

    I am sure there are many people out there who do get great fulfillment and joy out of their children - great for them - but to come down hard on those whom either choose not to have them, or whom realize later after they have had them it was not all it was cracked up to be and they regret the impact on their lives, is overly defensive (maybe there is some truth in the comments that hits hard?).

    I do not have children. My partner and I have discussed it and can imagine having children one day, but can also imagine not having them - we do want children in our lives in some capacity, but it is not imperative they come from our loins, and we often talk about not just the possible joys of parenthood, but also the downs - and that dialogue has been very important for us both in our own intimacy. I have no doubt if we DO choose to have children, we will also be able to support one another through those pains and be honest about it.

    Both of us realize children are not the "meaning of life" and don't put all our eggs in one basket to think it is....nor do we devalue the responsibility of raising healthy (emotionally and physically) children as whole individuals - not future caretakers for us or for narcissism.
  236. D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: Plain Joe

    How did you head fit into this subject? I am sure your handsome in your own mind, but that will fade with time. I am handsome also and have two sons that have called me to task on nearly everything I have said to them. Walk the walk.

    Call me in 30 years and let me know how its going.
  237. A H from Canada writes: I was going to add, before everything got sidetracked by the whole "selfishness" debate, that for those interested in learning more about the scientific studies that the author doesn't go into detail about, the issue is addressed in Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. It is a highly enjoyable and intriguing book and specifically addresses this issue pages 220 to 222. He is a harvard professor who specializes in studying 'happiness' in laymans terms. Here is a link to Dan Gilbert's bio on (one of my favourite websites). Here is a quote from the book. "Couples generally start out quite happy in their marriages and then become progressively less satisfied over the course of their lives together, getting close to their original levels of satisfaction only when their children leave home...Careful studies of how women feel as they go about their daily activities show that they are less happy when taking care of their children than when eating, exercising, shopping, napping or watching television. Indeed looking after the kids appears to be only slightly more pleasant than doing housework...... The belief -transmission game is rigged so that we *must* believe that children and money bring happiness, regardless of whether such beliefs are true...while we believe we are raising children and earning paychecks to increase our share of happiness, we are actually doing these things for reasons beyond our ken." In the references he cites 4 studies - C. Walker "Some Variations in Marital Satisfaction", D. Myers "The Pursuit of Happiness: Discovering the Pathway to Fulfillment, Well-Being and Enduring Personal Joy", J. A. Feeney "Attachment Styles, Communication Patterns and Satisfaction Across the Life Cycle of Marriage" and D. Kahneman et al. "A Survey Method for Characterizing Daily Life Experience: The Day Reconstruction Method"
  238. A H from Canada writes: and by the way, how do other people get nicely separated paragraphs and my comments always come out as a big clump? what is the secret?
  239. Red Black from Down home, Canada writes: oldgal 67 from London, Canada writes: What's missing from childless lives is the astonishing discovery that, with luck, a family is rather like the Musketeers - possessed of a 'one for all and all for one' attitude that is a tower of strength in dark times. If one half of a couple is in distress, the entire onus of help, comfort and support falls onto the other member. In a family, that supporting member has other shoulders to lean on, other hands to call on for aid and other hearts to rely on. Having children is not about putting up with toddler tantrums, diapers, sleepless nights ========================== I am so full of admiration for delusional preachers of your ilk... NOT! Our children have brought us some hapiness, but many a fight and argument between the two of us; about the only argumetns we have involve one of both children. The comforting that falls onto the other members of the family? Are you kidding me? They litterally have measuring sticks to ensure that we do not give more to one than the other, even retroactively, going back to when they were even 4 or 5 if they have to claim that they are and have always been receiving less than the other. Pity those who need children to fill their life and make it a happy one.
  240. Not Withstanding from Canada writes: AH

    To get spacing between paragraphs you need to double space.

    Then it will appear as a single space when you post.

    Don't know why. It's just how it works. Obviously built in Ontario.:)
  241. kat i from Whitby, Canada writes: D Peters from Alberta, Canada writes: Plain Joe

    How did you head fit into this subject? I am sure your handsome in your own mind, but that will fade with time. I am handsome also and have two sons that have called me to task on nearly everything I have said to them. Walk the walk.

    Call me in 30 years and let me know how its going.


    Good call! That is worth repeating.
  242. R Wolovet from New York, United States writes: We waited a bit too long so our children had no grandparent experiences. The early months were tough with lack of sleep, and we had no natural baby sitters. We moved to a house from an apartment. When the first one was two, we found a baby sitter we could trust and went out by ourselves. First vacations were mostly at the beach where they could play with the sand, and we could get food and milk we could trust. Then came Disney World, but we also visited the places with international flavor there. Then it was time for the national parks. Our children love the outdoors, became great photographers like their father and learned to love our country and yours. Skiing brought us to lovely mountain scenery - ours and yours. There were museums and plays we all could enjoy. Tennis was a sport we all enjoyed. We played geography, talked about politics and the economy as well as their school events at dinner. Teen age years were as tough as advertised. When the older one got to college, both asked to see other countries on vacation. One chose London, the other Paris. We got charter flights and went. Today we have two adult children, who are great to be with. They visit us as often as they can. Our daughter came home from a project in Brazil when her dad was having surgery. Both came when I was. They come and do the barbeque on July 4th and frequently on Mothers' Day. Our daughter plants the annuals on that day, and we enjoy her gift all summer. I cannot imagine a life without them. Looking beyond our own rewards, we have given the world two concerned, informed, hard working people. For those who think there are too many people in the world, did you know that western democracies are reproducing at a rate where the population of all of western Europe is declining as is Japan. Only the US' is not because of immigration. Underdeveloped and Moslem countries' are increasing geometrically. I leave those implications to y'all.
  243. Zoe Morrow from Canada writes: No, I don't think you HAVE to have children in order to be happy.

    By saying that you have to have kids in order to be happy, it sort of makes it seem that the childless by choice or circumstances are in some way less able to experience the best in life - happiness - and that is simply untrue and unfair.
  244. kat i from Whitby, Canada writes: We were put on earth to procreate. If you don't that is because biologically you are not able or have mental issues such as commitment. It is as simple as that.
  245. chanel turner from Canada writes: Kat- i you are a freak! It is people like you that feel that is their only purpose and have too many kids- hence too many people without common sense! Maybe YOUR only purpose on earth is to &uck-- not mine! I have other reasons to be here, learn, care for others, live life......
    You are yukky!
  246. kat i from Whitby, Canada writes: Chanel, it is not our only purpose but it is a healthy choice.

    You write: Maybe YOUR only purpose on earth is to &uck. *** that sounds good, too.
  247. Rett Fuhrman from United States writes: It's not quantity in live it is quality of life we have to many people as it is hear.Parents hat have 3 or 4 kids are dragging us all down.Most of the time they they suck off the government to support themselves.We have plenty of people and plenty of people that don't have jobs.We are pushing close to 7billion people on this planet.People have kids to bring meaning to their lives.How about instead helping out buy volunteering or adopt plenty of kids don't have parents.

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