This artice was written and published in greek, three months ago, with the occasion of the World Childfree Day (1/8) which was founded in 1973 in the United States by the National Alliance for Optional Parenthood, at the time the National Organisation for Non-Parents (N.O.N.), under the name of Non-Parents’ Day.
I personally am against procreation for environmental and ethical reasons (you can read more through some publications here and here) since many years ago. However, I was already not interested in having kids so it was not hard for me to decide that I will live child free. Women are not inherently mothers, it’s a choice and the society must realize it at last. We are not child-less, we are child-free, we don’t miss children, we just have decided not to have any. And we should not have to explain ourselves for that decision, it should be automatically respected, not even a conversation subject
I am not going to analyze my personal reasons that led me to that decision because the following testimonies are expressing my views too. I would only just like to add that during this year, I have been interviewed by 3 different students from 3 different countries (Australia, USA, Czech republic) so far, and one more from Norway will interview me as well, as part of their researches on that subject (deciding to live child free for envionrmental reasons / as part of environmental activism) as well as a British newspaper came to interview me too, for their relevant documentary which is soon to be released so it’s a subject that at last is getting the recognizion that it deserves! By now there were no researches on that topic, it’s only something tha people share as a common view and talk about it on facebook or something you can learn about through instagram accounts who promote this lifstyle (and specifically for the environment and the ethics of it).
There was also the Birthstrike movement:
But it didn’t last long time because they have been accused as ecofascists and the founders were not able to keep up under these accusations. There was a group with that name with aroun 1000 people in it and you could there read testimonies of many women who really wanted to have kids but decided not to, because of the current state of our planet…I feel deep respect for these women because they put their ego aside and realize that it’s unethical and unfair to bring a kid into this doomed world during the 6th mass species extintion.
Then, there is antinatalism, which historically, has almost exclusively been a critique of human existence, and as such against human procreation; this, however, changed after the publication of David Benatar’s seminal antinatalist work ‘Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence’ in which Benatar – arguably for the first time – assigned a more sentiocentric view to the idea. Antinatalism, in general, argues that creating life is unethical because of the existence of suffering and that the best outcome is extinction (source: Antinatalism international). On the website of the just founded NGO Antinatalism International, you can also read more about the voluntary human extinction movement (VHEM) and about the childfree movement.
Below, you can read some testimonies of young people living in Greece, monstly Greeks but not only, who have decided not to procreate:
“Imagine a world where there is hunger, misery, doubt about tomorrow, the environment is being destroyed, the planet is overheating year by year, forests are burning, marine life is dying, there are wars, people are being forced to leave their homes and their countries to escape death, to have violence everywhere, to not feel safe anywhere, to have a financial crisis and not knowing if you will have money for your basic needs, to have to live to work instead of working to live, to get depressed with what you experience and listen. Imagine for a second that you were transposed into this world. Would you bring your child into such a world?
The reason for all the above is human species and our planet cannot fit anymore!
So, I am against procreation for all these reasons but mostly the reason I am against it is philosophical. To procreate is the most selfish action I could ever think of. Why would I do this to someone? Why would I bring someone in the position of having to confront all the above and then having to confront their own death? Why would I do this to my kid?
I would rather give them the best gift: Let them in peace in oblivion ”
~ Christos Papadakis, 35 years old, married to a woman who shares the same views.
“At a time when we are rushing the planet’s resources to its limits, most people will only be able to put the last nail in the coffin of the earth. “Humanity has failed and as much time as I have left I prefer to spend it with my four paws family.”
~ Vassilis P., 36 years old.
“The reasons I’ve decided not to have children are the following:
To be able to support them financially, I need to work from morning till night.
There is no way I can sacrifice my life just to raise 2 people, ignoring the fact that – according to the WHO – more than 150 million children currently have nothing to eat.
Even if there were plenty of money, children need a lot of time to be raised properly.
I prefer to dedicate all this time to the spread of veganism and the zero waste lifestyle that will benefit everyone (fellow human beings, animals and the Earth), and not just to my children.
Even if I had that time, many scientists claim that humanity has surpassed the point of no return and in 10 years there will be no human civilization as we know it. So, what’s the fault of these souls for bringing them into such a world?
Even if these scientists were prove wrong, the air, the water, the soil, the seas, the food will be even more polluted than today. In such a toxic environment, even following a whole food plant based diet, the risk of premature death and disease remains high.
Even if all the above will be solved, and everything becomes organic and pure, our society still has a long way to go to be able to apply in its daily life concepts and virtues such as altruism, love, justice, education.
If all the above get solved, then yes I will have children!
I am not against procreation, I am against unconscious procreation (which unfortunately is the rule), which leads to many of the illnessess of our society.
P.S: Regarding the argument of losing my “precious” DNA… I do not think my DNA is different, rare and special. If it will get lost, humanity will not be harmed. But, even if I was so conceited in believing that “my DNA should not be lost,” I am completely overwhelmed by Socrates’ view: When Aspasia, Perikli’s wife was trying to convince Socrates to get married, he was sure that he would not be able anymore to offer anything to fellow human beings. In order to convince him, Aspasia told him: “since you are so interested in your work, you need to have children who will keep it going”. Then, he gave her many examples of Athenians who had kids that in no way became like their parents and he concluded by saying, “I have no guarantee that my children will become like me.” Eventually, Socrates was convinced, and had children. And, he was right. His children did not become like him, even though they had his DNA… ”
~ Giannis L., 36 years old.
“There are various reasons why I have chosen not to have biological children, the main reason has to be overpopulation. Overpopulation is an issue that we are all fully aware of but nobody seems to do anything to try and solve it, we don’t hear about solutions, it’s kind of like the monster in the closet that we chose not to address.
The responsibility of bringing a new life into this planet is something that needs to be well thought about. First of all, what are the reasons for wanting a child? This is an important step in any relationship in my opinion. Secondly, are the parents able to raise a child? Financially, emotionally and intelectually. Then, looking at the circumstances and all the uncertainty that we are experiencing, do we really want to bring someone into this world we currently live in?
In my case, I do not… And I understand that this could change over time (a pandemic may rip half of the current population for example or an application for adoption to get denied). We are humans after all, constantly evolving. Some of the personal beliefs I share today are not the same as 5 or 10 years ago.
Something that interests me is the possibility of adopting. So many children looking for an opportunity to be loved and to have a family, they deserve to get a better chance at life.”
~ P.T, man, 29 years old
“I am 44 years old, from Athens but living abroad. I grew up in an environment that was quite normal, being a member of a middle class family of 4. A typical, religious, traditional family, with a relatively good childhood and principles that many would consider common, at least where I was.
In other words, it was normal for me (and of course expected by everyone), that when I reach the right age, I will get married and have at least two children, if not more. I always had a lot of patience but also love for children, and I generally considered a family “complete” if it only included children.
I also thought that when I will grow up and start a family, I want toraise my own children, who would be a smaller version of myself. From my adolescence I was the “black” sheep (who are incredibly sweet creatures): Metalhead, long-haired, non-smoker and other such evils. Many saw this as a phase, and that when I grow up and after I go to the army I will get serious. So at some point I grew up, went to the army, came back, got a job, so the expected event that I would become a parent, was coming closer and closer. But the path of my life was leading me farther and farther from that, than expected.
My wife, back then my girlfriend, lived abroad, and I did the incomprehensible: I became an immigrant and moved about 2,000 km further north.
However, I still thought that after I get married I will have children. The problem was that I had never challenged this thought. Leaving the closed-minded environment of Greece though allowed me to see life from a different perspective. And the following thoughts led me to the conclusion that I do not want to bring anyone into this world:
– At some point after that, I started to question the art of being a parent. I started to think that it is a very big responsibility, and that I am probably not suitable to be someone’s parent.
– Then I began to see the pain and injustice that exists in our world. I began to think, “Why bring someone into this world, whose dominant elements are injustice and pain, when the joys are few and cannot justify the creation of a new life?”
– Later I started realizing as well the environmental impact that each of us has on the planet. Every new person is a burden on the environment, to the point that the best thing we can do for our planet and all its inhabitants is not to have children.
Taking into account the above, I have come to the conclusion and my final decision is not to burden someone with the burden of existence in a world where pain, injustice, and so many other bad things prevail.”
~ Nikos B. 44 years old, married and his wife also did not want children.
“There are so many of us on this planet. Why would we want to be more? So many people everywhere around us, it’s endless. If at some point we want to start a family with children, we will adopt. The orphanages are full. No, we don’t want a human being with our own characteristics. We find this selfish.
We do not feel the need to become more than two people. We are great the two of us and we are having a very good time. We can simply think of something we want to do and just do it, without considering where we should leave a child. Why wanting extra responsibilities on our backs?
We cannot follow this Marriage-Family style stereotype. It does not suit us, it does not even cross our minds to have a house with children inside. “
~ A.I & S.F, couple of 27 and 34 years old.
“The reasons why I chose not to have children:
I do not feel much love for children.
I’m not interested in perpetrating my species. I am interested for as long as I live, to have done the least harm in the world, to nature.
I do not want to bring other people into a world like this.
I consider it a moral choice and the greatest responsibility a person can have, which I do not want to have at all.
I believe that my mental health will be affected by the weight of a person’s absolute dependence on me for many years.
I prefer my sleep.
The economic factor. “
~ P.G., woman aged 37, her partner shares the same views.
“I never felt the desire to have children. I didn’t have what some women stereotypically claim to have – the maternal instinct, which in humans I am not sure is an instinct or a conceptual construction.
Also stereotypically, some people think that I don’t want to have children because I am disabled. They are wrong. I have accomplished incredible things in my life, perhaps more than the average person, and in practice, raising a child does not seem particularly difficult to me. But I also think about my freedom. Whichever way I look at it, over time, a child will cause me an imbalance. I will be unhappy and the kid will be too. Also, I could never bear the idea of committing to any family of any prospective father.
I don’t need to experience love through my own genes. I have given and I have received, the supreme love from women and men with whom, we seemed completely different but in the end we were soulmates. I have received and given love, from my favorite dogs. If some people laugh when reading this sentence, I remind them that love is not calculated by measures and weights, e.g “I love him / her more, just because he / she is my blood”. And that only when one feels a deep love for a non-human creature will understand what love really is. It takes a very deep understanding of things and intuition for this to happen. But most of all, you need humility.
I used to say that if I didm’t want to reproduce, I would adopt a child. Now I don’t want that either. Over the years, I realized that I just didn’t want to coexist with a child, whether we had similar DNA or not.
I work in a hospital with children. I don’t want to say more on the fact that many people bring children into the world just to inherit their own problems, even though this is a reality. I find it very challenging to work with children because we need special skills to interact with them. I read somewhere that the most adaptable and simple people who get along well with themselves are those who can “get down” to the level of a child. This is me. And it honors me that children tend to trust me. I have also worked with hundreds of children in my activist role as I believe that if children get acquainted with disability early on, they will not consider us so “different”. It is unbelievable how children immediately feel a situation – in this case, my situation and how quickly they “break down walls”.
In my personal life, however, I chose to be childfree.
This is my personal view. I will not expand on the moral, psychiatric and environmental implications of having a child. I insist, however, on the inalienable right of women to choose not to have children. “
~ Ioanna G., 41 years old.
“From a young age in my life I chose to remain a childfree, later embracing anti-nalianism. As I began to educate myself more on environmental issues, I realized that antinatalism is / should be the only option. First of all, this mother instinct, never appeared to me.
My biological clock -if we want to name it that way- is fine, without mother alarms ringing. So, biologically, I never felt the need or the desire to procreate. Regarding this decision, I have never received a disappointed reaction or critical glances and discussions from my family. It was not a big deal for them. It is my choice and my dad never made it a point to be a grandfather (my mom died of cancer years ago). He respects my decision and he is OK with it.
I mention this because I have received some terrifying / frustrating reactions from acquaintances, colleagues and distant relatives. And that makes me very angry. When I keep hearing that I will change my mind and it will be too late, or “who will take care of you”, or even worse the sad look. The look people give you when they think you can’t have children…it just makes me angry because I may be strong enough as a person to support my position and support my choice, however there are thousands of women out there who are pressured by other women to have children: The subtle or not so subtle hint of something that is not going well inside you because you do not want children. The attempt to impose the fear of not being “fit in” if you do not comply with these deeply (badly) rooted social rules. The guilt begins with those who try to impose by characterizing these individuals as shallow, irresponsible, selfish and cowards and all this just to validate themselves which I believe that applies to the vast majority of parents who want to convince themselves that they have made the right decision. Thus they can dispel any sense of doubt and sorrow.
I think children are cute, smart and funny. I like children. However, I do not think I would be a good mother or I just don’t want to be a mother. And as far as I know, noone was ever good at something they did not want to do.
Also, I can’t support them financially neither can I provide to a kid the care, love and attention that they need.
I know for a fact that I would be unhappy if I had to change or change my lifestyle in order to have children. I want to move somewhere in the countryside and have a farm of rescued animals. I would also like to spend a year in a shelter with elephants…but children? No, it’s not for me.
Besides, the planet no longer needs other people of our kind. We have destroyed and we continue to destroy the ecosystem so I believe I do a favour to earth and to all the children I could / can bring to the world by not bringing them into existence.
Another issue is the supposed increased rate of our value. I don’t need a child to feel self-sufficient. Being a mother does not automatically increase your “value”. Becoming a parent does not make you a special or better person. If you really love children and the planet and you have thought about it with absolute seriousness, then you adopt. There is nothing special about my DNA to feel obsessed with it. I’m just a part of the humanity.
Last but not least, I would like to have the choice to explore the things I want in life. Maybe I will be able to do it, but maybe not…Now I have the choice. If I had children, it would be impossible for me to go and live in the Amazon for a year. It would be very difficult for a kid to spend 2 months in the jungle with me “
~ Angelika Verrios, 40, her partner shares the same views.
There is also a relevant documentary: