Linda & Richard Eyre: Is choosing not to have children selfish?

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  • Chieftess Ivins, UT
    Aug. 19, 2013 3:47 p.m.

    @ Contrarius: The apostle Paul was taking to a specific group in this letter, men who had been called to serve as messengers/missionaries far from home and some were engaged to be married and were wondering if they should marry before leaving or after returning. Paul himself was probably a widower by this time and felt they might be able to more fully commit themselves if they were like him and didn't have to be "careful" or anxious about family at home. You can read more of his approval of marriage in his many letters to the believers, such as Ephesians 5:21-6:4 and Colossians 8:3-21 and in fact he sees it as a duty: Corinthians 11:11

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    Aug. 19, 2013 12:38 p.m.

    I hate taking a complex issue and trying to divided it neatly down the middle, as many seem to be doing. "Is it selfish or choose not to have children"? is a nonsense question because selfishness is a motivation, not an observable, measurable characteristic. You either produce children or you don't, but the reasons for choosing not to are probably complicated.

    For many it may be as simple as "I want to be able to go out to bar whenever I want without getting a sitter," I suspect in most cases that's far down the list. If your own experience included disinterested, absent, or abusiv parenting, for example, why would you think having kids is a good idea? If your only frame of reference is filled with pain and sadness, wouldn't a selfless person decide not to bring a new person into that frame of reference?

    This is just one example. I don't suggest that only people with bad upbringings can rationally choose not to have kids, but I do suggest that making assumptions about people's motivation requires arrogance in the extreme.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Aug. 15, 2013 8:58 a.m.

    I'm a pretty selfish person... by nature, always have been. I can attest that having children and then actually rising to the level of fulfilling my parental responsibilities is annoyingly unselfish.

    There are folks who choose not to have children (I had a boss who chose this and openly admitted it) hide behind couple who struggle with health issues that proclude them from having children. My boss if pressed would also probably admit at some level that he was being selfish by not having kids, yet he is okay with that, as being selfish had no real consequences (other than getting him what he wanted). He has a very nice boat.

    So in an effort to be compassionate to those who would love children IF ONLY THEY COULD, we as a society throw a blanket over the whole group. I have dear friends who married young, but due to the health troubles of one, ache for the opportunity to be parents but know they will never be able to do so. One struggles physically, the other with mental illness, both wish, but can't have.

  • Bob01 Layton, Utah
    Aug. 14, 2013 8:04 p.m.

    I 100% agree w/GZE. It would be more selfish to have children that you cannot support. At that point, you're only thinking about yourself & how you want kids, not how others in society are going to have to pick up your slack. I know MANY parents who are just as, if not more, selfish than couples without kids or even single people! There's so many absolutely horrid parents out there clearly not doing their jobs, that I applaud those with the intelligence to realize they might not be able to support children.

  • LRenayHawk La Vegrne, TN
    Aug. 14, 2013 6:45 p.m.

    No, it is not selfish. If the couple feels that not having kids is the right thing to do then that is their choice and their choice alone. I don't have kids -- I have cousins. Lots of cousins of various ages whom I love. Soon another cousin will be welcomed into the brood and I have volunteered to babysit. The possibility of me having a child (with or without a hubby) is next to nil and I'm okay with that. Did I choose that, no, but that's what it is and I deal with it. It is really none of anyone's business if the Eyre's has a family or not except for the Eyre's. I'm not seeing the point in publicly debating this couples private decision.

    Aug. 14, 2013 4:20 p.m.

    Wouldn't it be more selfish to have children that you know you cannot support emotionally, logistically, or financially?

    Aug. 14, 2013 1:20 p.m.

    Sqweebie--the covenant was made between the couple and God; it's a lovely thought that all who witness it are therefore required to encourage the couple to fulfill their promises, but that also presumes all the witnesses know everything that's going on in the couple's life. Am I really supposed to share intimate details about my faulty reproductive system with fifty people in order to escape their painful "encouragement"?

    And if someone capable of having children is an "exception" to the rule of "have kids or you're selfish," having counciled with God and received a definite direction to abstain from kids, I can't think of a quicker way to drive them from the church than fifty witnesses nagging them about not keeping their covenants properly.

    Nagging--whether lovingly or judgmentally--is not going to effect positive change on a "selfish" couple or push them closer to God. It might, however, alienate a perfectly nice couple who is already grieving their childlessness, or who knows God has other plans for them besides children.

    Aug. 14, 2013 1:09 p.m.

    Danite--you say that in most cases, if couples council honestly with God then God will respond with the answer that furthers His eternal purposes. I've found in my experience that God usually gives me the answer that will further MY eternal purposes. His plan is to mold/guide each of His children into who they're supposed to be--if they'll let Him. And He--and only He--knows what is best for each. That's why I get very uncomfortable when articles like this one universally deem a type of choice as inherently selfish or sinful.
    Know/live/love--"No one is criticizing physical limitation, only selfish CHOICES." This sounds lovely, but encourages judgment. How often is someone going to tell you straight out what's going on with their reproductive system? I think a problem within this culture is that it's automatically presumed a couple who chooses to wait for kids (or permanently abstain) is perfectly able, unless proven otherwise. I can't ovulate. Do I tell people that? No, because it's really none of their business why I'm not having kids.

  • kkodey Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 14, 2013 1:00 p.m.

    We need more articles and speeches geared toward singles who have chosen that lifestyle by choice, enduring complete abstinence and celibacy. It takes will powar, and those who accomplish that thru their lives should get commendations for their stamina and willpower.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Aug. 14, 2013 12:13 p.m.

    Choosing to not have children can be an unselfish act too. Imagine that you or your spouse has a hereditary defect that will be passed along to any child that you may have. Some may choose to not have children because they do not wish to have a child suffer because of a genetic defect that they would pass on.

    How about this. A couple gets married for the first time when they are 40 years old or older. They may decide to not have children because the are not confident that their health will be sufficient to handle a teenage child while in their 50s.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    Aug. 14, 2013 11:33 a.m.

    1. I believe having children should be something people do because they want to, not because society is pushing them to do it. We all ready have too many children being raised by those who are not really serious about being parents.

    2. I think you should write your article about the "Abundant Life" and send it to Time Magazine. If they won't print it, I'm sure this newspaper will. I think a lot of people would be interested in your perspective on why raising children is fulfilling and worth the sacrifice.

  • Danite Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 14, 2013 11:18 a.m.

    @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.

  • Sqweebie Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 14, 2013 11:06 a.m.

    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.

  • BigLebowski Mesa, AZ
    Aug. 14, 2013 10:55 a.m.

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

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Aug. 14, 2013 10:38 a.m.

    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.

  • Contrarius mid-state, TN
    Aug. 14, 2013 9:30 a.m.

    @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?

  • SLC gal Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 14, 2013 12:57 a.m.

    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.

  • J P McKeown England, 00
    Aug. 14, 2013 12:41 a.m.

    > "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.

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2013 11:06 p.m.

    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.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    Aug. 13, 2013 10:50 p.m.


    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.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    Aug. 13, 2013 10:14 p.m.

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

  • Danite Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2013 10:10 p.m.

    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.

  • Austin Coug Pflugerville, TX
    Aug. 13, 2013 10:09 p.m.

    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.

  • bw00ds Tucson, AZ
    Aug. 13, 2013 10:00 p.m.

    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.

  • RJL Hyde Park, UT
    Aug. 13, 2013 9:49 p.m.

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

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 13, 2013 9:43 p.m.

    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?

  • rightascension Provo, UT
    Aug. 13, 2013 9:06 p.m.

    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.

  • Always something Salt Lake City, Utah
    Aug. 13, 2013 8:32 p.m.

    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 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.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    Aug. 13, 2013 8:22 p.m.

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

  • Danite Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 13, 2013 6:15 p.m.

    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.

  • Dave D Spring Creek, NV
    Aug. 13, 2013 5:07 p.m.

    "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.