I turn 50 next year. As I approach that milestone, I figured the most common question would be, “How does it feel to be more than halfway to death?”
Instead, I’ve repeatedly had the “no children argument,” which always goes something like this…
1. Don’t you regret not having children?
Don’t you regret not going out for sushi dinners on Tuesdays, wine tastings on Thursdays, and sleeping till noon on weekends? Don’t you regret saving less for retirement?
2. How can you be so self-centered?
How can you? I can’t think of anything more egocentric than assuming the world will be a better place because you sired a child and raised it in your own image.
3. But they would’ve graduated from college already! Wouldn’t you want freedom and children?
What freedom? Chances are, they’d still be living at home. A few years ago, TIME reported, “85 percent of new college grads move back in with mom and dad.”
4. But who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?
Since it now costs $245,000 to raise a child, I’ll use those savings to hire the best home-care nurses to wipe my elderly ass with $100 bills. It’ll still be cheaper.
And are you sure your children will dote on you in your declining years? Seems like an expensive (and self-centered) gamble.
5. What’s your legacy going to be?
About the same as yours: nothing. Fifty years after we die, no one will remember us. Be honest: How much do you know about your great-grandparents? Unless you’re famous or infamous, you’ll be nothing more than an entry on Ancestry.com.
6. Don’t you want to influence the next generation?
Yes. That’s why I volunteer as an adviser for the student newspaper at my local university and my wife mentors underprivileged women. I’ve also volunteered for Covenant House and a Big Brother-like child abuse prevention program.
7. What if everyone was like you? We’d have no one left on Earth!
What if everyone was like you? We’d have no room left on Earth. And everyone would be really self-righteous.
As a boss, I don’t hire people like me, because I realize the business is better off with a variety of views. I believe the world works the same way — it’s a more interesting place, even with sanctimonious and self-involved parents.
8. What happens if you realize too late you made a mistake?
What happens if you realize you made a mistake? I’ll just be a little lonely and empty, and I’ll fill that hole in my soul with food, booze, travel, and other distractions I can easily afford. You’ll have to kill your kids and go on trial for murder.
9. Aren’t you cutting yourself off from most of the adult world? You can’t relate to them!
True. I’ve been stunned into silence as parents of newborns talk about what baby poop should look like — and where to find helpful photos.
I’ve never had to tolerate a play date with parents I can’t stand because my kid likes their kid. And I can only provide moral support as parents complain about their under-achieving teens.
Then my wife and I dine with unmarried couples and talk about the rest of the world. Thankfully, it’s a big place with lots going on.
10. You got an answer for everything, don’t you?
I wish. I’m not smart enough to answer the tough questions. But I can field dumb ones from narrow-minded parents who refuse to accept adults who live differently than they do.
Michael Koretzky is editor of Debt.com. To avoid this protracted conversation in the future, he’s promised to simply tell parents he suffers from lazy sperm. End of discussion.