One in Five Adults Are Choosing Not To Have Children— Here’s Why

There are many reasons why someone may not want to have children. Some may feel that they do not have the financial resources or lifestyle to provide for a child.

Adults Who Don’t Want Kids

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In contrast, others may simply feel that having kids is too much of a commitment — both in terms of time and energy — and prefer to maintain their independence instead.

Many People Are Choosing Not to Have Children

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A recent study by Michigan State University revealed that one in five adults in the state of Michigan do not want children (source).

This equates to approximately 1.6 million people who are currently child-free. Professor Jennifer Watling Neal, a co-author of the study, believes that Michigan is demographically reflective of the United States as a whole.

This suggests that as many as 50-60 million Americans could also be child-free in the United States.

Why Do People Not Want Children?

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To uncover the core causes of why people do not want to become parents, we delved into social media and gathered the most popular reasons. Here is a summary of what we discovered.

1. They Cannot Take Care Of Themselves; Let Alone Another Human (23,800 upvotes)

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This response reflects an individual’s lack of confidence in their own ability to care for another person. This could be due to health issues, financial instability, or any other number of reasons that make someone feel not ready — or not willing — to take on the responsibility of raising a child.

2. Wouldn’t Want to Raise a Child The Way They Were Raised (18,700 Upvotes)

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This response originates from an individual’s apprehension in their parenting skills, possibly due to financial or psychological instability. They may also have had negative experiences or feelings when they were growing up — leaving them with the impression that they would not make a good parent themselves.

3. No Guarantee How The Child Will Turn Out (18,500 Upvotes)

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“Those kids who have parents that are perfectly normal but still somehow act like mini serial killers,” one user said.

One person from a big family who had two children themselves said that personalities are “a dice roll.”

3. No Guarantee How The Child Will Turn Out (18,500 Upvotes)


Another person reminisced about her nephew. “Watching my sister’s kid get kicked out of daycare for slamming a kid’s face into a table and hitting a teacher. He’s 3 and the most difficult kid I’ve met.”

“I don’t wanna have the responsibility to raise something that will end up like me,” another person said.

4. It’s Irreversible— Sort Of (17,300 Upvotes)

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One user commented on the irreversibility of parenthood, stating that when you have doubts and fears about being a good parent, it is hard to take the plunge.

“You can unhave them, but it is generally frowned upon,” one person responded smartly, and the comment quickly gained traction with more than 17,500 upvotes.

4. It’s Irreversible— Sort Of (17,300 Upvotes)

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Another person recounted disturbing experiences in wilderness search and rescue, where they had encountered parents who dressed their children in earth tones or actual camouflage, making them difficult to find if they got lost. This raised the question of whether this was done on purpose, even subconsciously.

5. No Big Desire (15,600 Upvotes)

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‘The fact that nothing really makes me WANT to have them,’ one user said. “I feel like you should have an overwhelming desire to become a parent— I don’t, so why would I have a kid?”

“As a child of a parent who didn’t actively want them, thank you for thinking about what this does to a kid,” one commented.

The idea that parenting isn’t for everyone and that children should only be brought into this world if the parents can provide a stable, loving home resonated with many people.

6. They Know They’d Make a Terrible Parent (13,500 Upvotes)

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One person commented that they had a very low opinion of their own parenting ability and didn’t believe they could ever be the kind of parent they needed to be.

After the experiences of being an uncle and aunt, many Redditors have come to the conclusion that they are only in a good mood around kids when they know they are going home at the end of the day. Otherwise, the whole experience is “exhausting,” and they “couldn’t put up with it.”

7. Pregnancy and Childbirth Fear (10,600 Upvotes)

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This response is mostly related to the physical side of parenting — pregnancy and childbirth. Many people fear it because they don’t know what to expect or if their health will hold up afterward.

“I’m 34, and the thought of being pregnant still freaks me out to no end. I’d love to adopt, but I don’t think I ever want to be pregnant,” one person commented.

7. Pregnancy and Childbirth Fear (10,600 Upvotes)

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“I’ve been clinically depressed for almost a decade,” one person said. “Postpartum depression is one of the things that terrifies me about the prospect of having kids. Also, I am in no way mentally stable enough to be a parent.”

8. Ruin Their Life (1,900 Upvotes)

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One commenter reflected a fear of becoming pregnant or having children as it could have a major impact on their life, both financially and emotionally. The individual may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising a child and consequently would resent them for “ruining” their life.

This person also expresses their desire to abort in the event that they were to become pregnant against their will. The individual may feel that unless they are willing and able to take on the responsibility of parenthood, any child would be better off not being brought into the world.

9. Everything (34,700 upvotes)

why do you not want to have kids

The most popular response on Reddit is “everything.” This response encompasses a variety of reasons that people may be hesitant about having children, such as the current state of the world, not wanting to commit to the financial and emotional obligations of parenthood, or feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility.

Will They Regret Not Having Children?

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There are concerns that people who choose not to have children may regret their decision later in life. However, according to Watling Neal’s research on the study meaning earlier, there is no evidence to support this concern.

In fact, the study found that older parents were slightly more likely to express regret and desire to change something about their life.


listening child

Ultimately, it is up to each individual to determine if and when they are ready for parenthood. In the end, it comes down to personal values, lifestyle choices, and financial stability. While there are a variety of reasons why someone might not want to have kids, it’s important to recognize that this is a valid choice and should be respected.

What is your take on the issue? What do you want to say to those who don’t want to have children?

This post called What Makes You Not Want To Have Kids? was syndicated and produced by TPR Teaching. Our article has been inspired by Reddit and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of TPR Teaching.

I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.

I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!

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