Comments about ‘Linda & Richard Eyre: Is choosing not to have children selfish?’

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Published: Tuesday, Aug. 13 2013 4:55 p.m. MDT

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Dave D
Spring Creek, NV

"For us, choosing not to have children is, clearly, a spiritually selfish choice."

Do I belong to the same Church as you? Because I thought my church teaches that such choices are a private matter between the couple and God.

Salt Lake City, UT

It's always funny how people interpret things. For Latter-day Saints, leaders have counciled us to pray about when we are to have children and how many: those that do not want to have children take that council as if they are free to make the choice on their own. Remember, we have been instructed to pray and seek Heavenly Fathers will. Without being too rigid, it's safe to say many selfish couples don't understand the doctrine and don't seek Heavenly Father on this ever important subject. If we sincerely ask, don't you think a wise Father will respond with the answer that will further His eternal purposes? Once again, there are exceptions but they are just that, exceptions.

CHS 85
Sandy, UT

There's an acronym that my wife teaches her 5-year-old students on the first day of school every year - MYOB.

Always something
Salt Lake City, Utah

I agree with David D....isn't it between us and the Lord? Being a member of the church and "only" two children, I've had more than pity looks & questions of why I don't have more or even the daring "Isn't that a little selfish?" remarks. Disheartening to say the least. I have had my own PERSONAL reasons for not having more than two & it's really no ones business. Also, many women in the church now know their limit both physically & mentally. They don't want to be less than because they are told to have more...then they can realistically handle. My mom had that issue. Kept being told to multiply and replenish. All have mental,relationship and other issues. Tired,depressed....I know what you'll say...you can't blame that on just having 6 kids. But I can draw strong inferences and it adds up. Are there other variables..sure, but my mom did not have time for 3 kids, let alone 6 and was tired before the morning began. More power to those who want many kids, but for those who can't, or don't...please don't judge their happiness level either.

Provo, UT

Is not having children selfish. Well, not if one is a lousy parent. And not on a planet of 7 billion plus population where we have no idea what the resource limit is. Ultimately, having children is about the children, not in validating the character of the parents.

Far East USA, SC

I wonder if someone smarter than I can tell me exactly how many kids I, or others should have.

Obviously, 0 is wrong. So, is the right answer 1? 2?

Is 5 enough? There sure seem to be lots of opinions as to how many kids OTHER people should have.

I never understood why it matters to you. How does it affect you one bit?

Hyde Park, UT

The idea that I should commit a "sacrifice" in order to "contribute to the workforce" is a thoroughly depressing argument for having children.

Tucson, AZ

Most of the comments miss the point, and while coming close, do not really answer the question: Is *choosing* to not have children selfish? Not *ability*, not *quantity*, not *when*--*choosing NOT*. That's the issue. The Time article was glorifying materialism and secularism "gained" by choosing a life style of not having children.

Of course it is your business to have or not to have children. Of course it is between you and the Lord about the issue. Of course it is your choice as to how many children to have. Of course it is your choice when to have children. Of course it is nobody else's business. But that is not the point of the Time article nor of this article.

And the answer is inherently, "Yes!" It is selfish by very definition. The reason to actively choose not to have children is so that you do not have to share, give up or diminish your resources on children and have them all for yourself. Plain and simple. Whether that choice is right or wrong is a different question, but that is not what this article is about.

Austin Coug
Pflugerville, TX

It is unfortunate that so many people are judged based on the # of kids they have (or don't have). I still remember my mom condemning my brother for not having any kids for 7 years. Obviously, she had no idea that his wife had struggled to get pregnant or she may have been more tolerant and understanding for their situation. There are many valid reasons why someone may choose to have few children. Tough pregnancies, depression, struggles as a parent, health problems, etc... Most of the times, these reasons are only known to the couple and that is how it should be. I think we can all be more tolerant of choices people make and let God decide what is really in their heart.

Salt Lake City, UT

It's not about a specific number and it most assuredly isn't about judging your neighbor but the point the Eyre's were making is that many people do act in in a selfish way for selfish reasons in the one of the most important of life's decisions. Anyone that takes offense to that has some issues.

Cedar Hills, UT

Is "choosing" to not have children selfish? Yes.

CHS 85
Sandy, UT


Try living in the LDS culture without kids (biological reasons) and come back and say it isn't about judging your neighbors. "When are you going to start a family?" was so commonly asked of us that my canned answer was that I thought my wife and I were a family.

You may not judge your neighbors for the lack of or the number of kids they have, but my personal experience is that you are the minority. My in-laws were absolutely brutal to us, and started asking us about "starting a family" after a year of marriage. We adopted a daughter after five years and she is the light of my eye and my second true love - not just a notch in the birthrate.

I know this article was about the "selfish" decision to not have children - as if it is any of our business, but why do we get to judge what is selfish? There are a lot of reasons why couples don't have children. To you the reasons are selfish. Until you've walked in their shoes, have had the same life experiences, then MYOB.

I know it. I Live it. I Love it.
Salt Lake City, UT

Is not marrying a bad thing?

Well look at D&C 131:2

It may not make someone a "bad person", but that doesn't mean it's ever a "good thing" to abstain from marriage either. Perhaps it could be, but the plan is for all human beings to enter into marriage, etc.

In that same sense, it may not make someone a "bad person" to not want children, but it certainly isn't great. And in light of why most people choose not to, it's most commonly a selfish motivation, and not one of selflessness. Is the choice automatically selfish? Maybe not. But it is pure selfishness for many, if not most, who make that choice.

Look in a mirror, recognize where you came from, and if you have any appreciation for your own life you surely must appreciate the compelling nature of procreation.

If you cannot, I understand completely. If you will not, then I fail to see a motivation outside of extra-ordinary circumstances that wouldn't be selfish.

All the offended people on here are missing the "choosing" replies. Get a grip people. No one is criticizing physical limitation, only selfish CHOICES.

J P McKeown
England, 00

> "the U.S. birthrate"

Surely that has to be considered alongside the death rate, which is also low.

For example in 2011 (latest year with death data) in the U.S.A. there were:

3.95 million births, and

2.51 million deaths,

True, births are slightly decreasing, and deaths slightly increasing,
but there is still each year a big net “natural increase” in population -
despite a low birth rate since the 1970s.

SLC gal
Salt Lake City, UT

It's true that a lot of people who don't choose children have selfish reasons. They like their lives as is,they don't want to sacrafice, etc... Some reasons aren't selfish, but let's get real. Most anti-children reasons ARE. I used to be one of them, and then I had my son.

The authors aren't telling anyone how to live their lives. Of course, they're going to be pro children when they had a bunch of their own, and have written numerous books on parenting.

Not everyone can churn out a bakers dozen, and some people should NOT have even a single child, but coming from both perspectives, I think people that don't have kids conciously and on purpose are really missing out.

mid-state, TN

@I know it --

"It may not make someone a "bad person", but that doesn't mean it's ever a "good thing" to abstain from marriage either. Perhaps it could be, but the plan is for all human beings to enter into marriage, etc."

Paul tells us that it is better to remain single than to marry.

Many religious people have told me that Paul was a prophet of God.

Was Paul lying? Was he wrong?

Was he a prophet, or not?

Columbus, OH

The low birthrate can be easily offset by the effects of immigration. The advantage to immigration is that the US has the ability (right now) to pick and choose the best and brightest from other countries, and offer them the opportunity to come to America. Simply having a child in no way guarantees another productive member of society.

As to the tax issue, I absolutely believe in the tax breaks for having children. What I don't believe in is leaving that without a ceiling. Give tax breaks for the first 4 children, and then either give a diminishing return, or cut it off. If people want more kids, they're welcome to have them. But 4 is more than replacing the parents for things like SS, etc. If that causes a population decline, see my first paragraph.

Mesa, AZ

I think @bw00ds is the only one who gets it here. Well said.

Salt Lake City, UT

To Dave D: it is not just between the couple and Heavenly Father - when they are married in the temple they acknowledge that they are making the covenant in front of not only Heavenly Father but all those who are there. It is the responsibility of those present to encourage the couple to at least try to live up to the promises they made. Remember when we don't fulfill our end of a covenant Heavenly Father does not have to fulfill his.

Salt Lake City, UT

@CHS 85

Dear Brother, I empathize with your personal circumstances and understand (at least on some level) your frustrations. I agree completely with you about "MYOB" when it comes to anyone's specific situation...AMEN! We do not have the right to judge anyone's circumstances; we don't have all the facts and we don't need to!

I wish to not be misunderstood however. I was referring to the general principles that were highlighted in this article. Way too often, people get on message boards and quickly get away from the point being made. The Eyre's were not advocating for anyone to start judging people without children; and they aren't wrong for stating that, way too often not having children is a decision based off of selfish motives. The Brethren have taught this repeatedly and recently. It is with that in mind that I stand firm in defending the principle where it applies (not unlike the Eyre's). You are right, I don't get to declare what is selfish and what is not, but I feel it is my responsibility as a disciple to defend truth whenever and however it applies.

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