Having recently turned thirty evoked in many respects a sense of unfinishedness, of urgency, of fuck-me-I'm-old. In a conversation I had recently I was made aware of one aspect that I still stand as firm behind as I did years ago: I don't want children of my own.
I can still imagine to surrogate, adopt, or other patchwork constellations, but I don't feel any particular need to keep my lineage afloat. And with friends and family working on their progeny, my perspective hasn't really changed.
This isn't about not liking children, which is something some peers tell me barrs them from reproduction; I don't have problems with kids, on the opposite, I enjoy the kids I encounter, be it at work or through the aforementioned friends. And it is also not that I feel I wasn't ready: from what I conclude, there might not even be such a thing anyway.
In the same spirit I also don't think that I wouldn't have found the right partner: I don't share the view that children categorically need a quasi-Victorian family structure to prosper, and know from many sources that a) traditional families can fuck up just as well and b) patched up families seem to produce equally competent adults that need therapy just as much — indeed often to a lesser extent— as their hetero married undivorced counterparts.
I live a somewhat sustainable life that I'm somewhat happy with. I know how to unclog a toilet, and my brain is filled with cheap jokes and puns. I feel comfortable enough with myself to notice that this point in my life would be where having kids should perhaps come up, but apart from it reoccurring as a topic of conversation it isn't even on any of my lists.
While I held for the longest time that I'd categorically be opposed to the idea of having children, I can today imagine a point in my life where this is different, but I think I'd still not have the need to pass on my own genes, unless for the pseudoeconomic reason of it being less regulated than adoption that feels like a point best left disregarded immediately.
But having it brought up (ha!), I don't see this as an ecological/sustainability issue either: while true that current economics couldn't – and don't – feed as many people as live on the world, I doubt the impact of my personal decision on that. If I resolved to have children, I wouldn't aim for my own sports team. Again, I don't see anything wrong with that — apart from obvious emancipatory arguments — and I am quite certain that the problem with overpopulation should be solved by allocation rather than restriction: allocation of health care, sustenation, education, education, education.
There's some other ethical problems that I do see, though. Having a declining birth rate in a society evokes the need for a change in social security systems. Again not something that my decision seems to influence, and a topic that is currently ignored, or where the proposals (such as stocking up the population through immigration) seem like childish (ha!) attempts to postpone the inevitable. Not that global migration is not something that should be a proud achievement of a global society rather than a result of war and excuse for disgusting rhethorics, as the spineless European policy makers imply to please their acardiac voters, but if our society should have a problem in the fact that the women are too educated to thwomp out baby after baby, having more people come in to adopt that same lifestyle that leads to women thwomping out less babies isn't going to fix anything, apart from some farcial election.
So it isn't about having to many kids in society. Which I would hold only for the sake of argument. What is it about, then?
There is a joke I casually slip in when talking about this topic, that since I now have a dog i have concluded my family planning, but there is more to that than just that joke. The feeling of responsibility for other beings – and of course also human beings – doesn't scare me that much. It's in part a matter of mattering. You can't abolish all responsibility and then cry because there is no one around you. If you don't care about anything, nothing cares about you. Which is why I still hold that people who say that they don't care about or for anyone are deceiving themselves.
Ultimately, I do believe that we survive death only in our children, just as everyone alive is the successor of life on Earth. But my ethics have me convinced that my personal offspring is not a necessity: while it's hard to wrap my head around the idea of the collective kinship with everything alive, as biology has taught us, at the very least humanity is one people, and children don't belong to their parents, and maybe not even the other way around. Not having children of my own doesn't make me less or more responsible for the acts of my generation. I can't cop out of responsibility by arguing that I have a responsibility only to my own offspring. So the question of whether I want children of my own or not fades to the point where it isn't something I feel strongly about one way or the other.