Unpopular opinion, even for the child-free: I don’t like kids

Guest post by Elle
By: doctorow – CC BY 2.0
By: doctorowCC BY 2.0

I don’t like kids. No, not even your kids. Not even good kids who mind their Ps and Qs, and put away all their toys. I don’t like any of them.

I’m part of a growing group of people who like to call ourselves “child-free” rather than “childless.” For me, the distinction is in the desire: someone who is childless might want children, but for various reasons doesn’t have any, or had children that were taken too soon from them. Someone who is child-free never wants children.

Yes, I am married, and I am still within childbearing age, but I don’t want kids. Not next year, not when we get a house, not ever.

Still, there seems to be some importance placed in the child-free movement to stress “I like kids, they’re just not for me.” “Kids are great as long as I can give them back to their parents.”

I used to be the same way. I’d occasionally babysit and even enjoy sweet moments with friends’ children. But the older I get and the older their kids get, the more I realize kids just get on my nerves.

I’m not even talking about those bad moments all kids have — those meltdowns or tantrums that make even their parents’ skin crawl. I’m talking just regular kid stuff — normal behaviors that any child psychologist would tell you are healthy. I’d say once a kid gets old enough to become their own person, that’s when that kid starts to annoy me.

As more of my friends start reproducing, I grit my teeth with the realization that it means forcing myself through more interminably tiresome growing pains, things that parents embrace as typical childhood milestones. I’m fully aware that I went through these same phases when I was growing up, but that doesn’t stop me from being aggravated.


I know even reading this, some of you are judging me. That’s okay. I’m not using my real name, and I keep this well-hidden from my friends with children — fully recognizing that it’s my problem, not theirs. I’m not outwardly rude to children, but in my heart I am counting down the moments till I get to have adult-conversations rather than humoring a child.

I’ll fully go against the “good” child-free grain and say it: I’m child-free because I don’t like kids. It might make me a bad person, but I think it’s better for me to realize my aversion now than after having kids out of some misguided attempt to like them.

You can tell me all you want “it’s different when they’re your own,” but I’ll just take your word for it.

Note from Megan: As Offbeat Home’s editor, I’ve written before about being child free. But I’m also one of the rare “child free because I don’t like kids AT ALL” people. Now I’m wondering… anyone else out there part of this under-represented sect of the child-free?

Comments on Unpopular opinion, even for the child-free: I don’t like kids

  1. Here’s a fun game: take the comments on this article, and replace “children/kids” with “disabled people” or “black people”.

    Enjoy discovering just how terrible everyone sounds when they think it’s okay to categorically dislike X group of people.

    • As I stated above, that is really not a valid comparison. Children are not discriminated against in our society the same way disabled people and racial minorities are. Additionally, children will eventually stop being children and become adults, whereas disabled people and racial minorities will not.

        • Yeah, sure. Like Sarah Elizabeth said above,

          “Not liking =/= discriminating against or believing yourself to be superior

          Not liking = My personal preference is not this thing”

          An argument could be made that there is a greater spectrum of differences with elderly people. For example, a 90 year old could be perfectly lucid and able to hold a conversation, or they could be completely in the grips of dementia. No one month old is going to be able to have a conversation, ever. So saying “I don’t like elderly people,” is a little bit different in that respect; elderly people can be a lot of different ways.

          • You don’t even realize how ageist and ablist you sound, do you? Someone is only worthy of your approval if they are lucid and able to hold a conversation? So a deaf person, or someone with an intellectual disability, is below you and not worthy of consideration?

      • I don’t agree that children are not discriminated against in our society. The prevalence of child abuse and neglect speaks to our culture’s failure to respect children’s rights. Also, people are literally making arguments that children should not be permitted to occupy public space. Tell me that’s not prejudice against children…

        I’m not sure what the relevance of your second point is. It’s okay to discriminate against children because the state of childhood is temporary?

        • Children are not discriminated against in our society in the same way that racial minorities or disabled people are, is what I actually said. Additionally, not one single person in this post is saying that children should not be permitted to occupy public space.

          My point was that childhood is temporary, while race and disability tend to be permanent. Therefore, the two situations are not really comparable.

          • So if a black person could change their race, or a disabled person could somehow be cured of their disability, it would make it okay to discriminate against black or disabled people?

          • Yes, discrimination against children looks different than discrimination against disabled people, which looks different than that against black people, which looks different than that against fat people, which looks different than that against the elderly,and so on and so forth. That doesn’t mean we dismiss the seriousness of any of those forms of discrimination, and in no case would it be okay to say “I don’t like X people” about any vulnerable or oppressed group.

            Okay, there aren’t any of the no-children-on-planes-or-restaurants people in the comments here, but there are a few in the comments on the FB post, and look at any article on how much air travel sucks and you’ll see them out in droves, and for some reason this is socially acceptable, where you’d rarely see people condoning that argument about any other oppressed or vulnerable population.

            Re. the temporariness of childhood. Is it okay to discriminate against a depressed person because someday they may not be depressed? A person who’s temporarily in a wheelchair? I don’t get your point.

        • For me, part of the confusion in the posts is a result of not clearly defining “discrimination.” The author of the original post is, I think, “discriminating” in the sense of recognizing “and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.” (In this case, the difference between adult and childhood behaviors. She is not advocating “unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.” In other words, she is not saying that children as a class deserve to be treated badly. She is just saying she prefers adult company to the company of children. To Jennifer R, I’d say she is in no way indicating that it’s OK, for instance, to euthanize children because she doesn’t enjoy them.

          About the comparison to disliking the elderly, personally I don’t find that necessarily advocating that the elderly are less than, worthy of euthanizing, or denying rights. I work doing elder care. There are a set of behavior traits and developmental stages that are common to the elderly. I happen to like older adults and enjoy my work, while recognizing some things in my work can drive me crazy. (I’m sure I annoy my clients hugely, too, sometimes.) If someone told me they don’t like being around elderly people because they do not handle their behavior well, I’d say it’s good you recognize your boundaries. Please don’t feel obliged to work for or do primary care for older adults. The frustration it will bring is not good for either you or them. Better to leave it to people like me who are happy to be with older people.

          Why on earth would you want to force someone who doesn’t deal well with kids to be in frequent contact with your own kids? Why on earth would you want to pressure them to have children? We really don’t need to go back to a culture that just demands everyone become a parent and the good possibility that created more resentful, impatient parents.

          It strikes me as overly dramatic to accuse someone who knows he or she doesn’t mix well with children of being a child racist or a eugenicist. Sheesh.

          The comparison to

      • @STB
        Such as?

        Some kids are loud; some are quiet. Some are forward; some are shy. Some are polite; some are rude. Some are energetic; some are lethargic. Some are highly observant & intuitive; some are oblivious & dense.

        The problem I have with this article is that it treats all kids as being essentially equivalent to one another, when the repeated failures of standardization show that to be patently untrue.

        If you say you don’t like kids, that’s fine; it’s an opinion.
        If you say all kids are the same, that’s not fine; it’s a falsehood.

        • Jennifer, no one ever said children are Borg. Of COURSE they are all unique, they just share some basic traits inherent to the stage of development. No one is born potty trained, or with full language skills. It’s learned. All children lack knowledge of the world and how it works, and cannot engage in complex, adult conversation – until they learn to. It’s part and parcel of being still in the midst of basic development. Not their fault, it comes with the territory, but if you’ve no desire to be the one to impart that knowledge, it’s very much a tedious undertaking to try to interact. I hate ‘dumbing down’ my conversation, so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of adults fit into this same boat, but with kids it’s all of them, because they are still in the human equivalent of ‘puppy phase’. They can have different quirks and personalities and characteristics, but they are all still in basic learning. Most will grow out of it, and at that point I have no qualms interacting with them. Some won’t, and well … you can’t like everyone.

          • Lacking knowledge =/= Behavioral trait.

            Kids who learn very quickly = Still kids, even though you can now tolerate being around them because they’ve acquired the prerequisite knowledge, so it’s *still* not “all of them”.

            Al =/= Jennifer.

      • Mickey Mouse is a fictional character who doesn’t have rights! Children are REAL PEOPLE AND PEOPLE HAVE RIGHTS!!! How is this so hard to understand???

        It’s comparable to saying you hate the elderly or disabled people because children are PEOPLE, not dogs, not fictional characters, not bugs, not snakes. Not only are they people, with rights, but they are particularly vulnerable to abuse because they are new people with limited bodily autonomy, motor skills, and ability to defend themselves.

        • Ok, since joking doesn’t work apparently, then just realize that this isn’t about ageism or ableism or any sort of discrimination — it’s just as the OP wrote it: one reason not to have children is because you don’t like children.


          • Except it is about discrimination because people have been defending their dislike of children by saying it’s different than disliking disabled people or the elderly because children don’t experience discrimination the same way (and myself and others have replied to this point elsewhere).

            Not wanting to have kids and disliking kids are two separate issues! I have no problem with people being child-free if that’s what they want, but categorically disliking children is problematic, just like it’s problematic to categorically dislike disabled people or the elderly.

          • (No more nested replies, bummer.)

            “Not wanting to have kids and disliking kids are two separate issues!” — Except they’re not. Read the post. It’s the very topic of this post. It’s crucial to the post & this whole discussion.

            YOU & others taking this into a free-for-all about ppl hating kids is what’s making this crazy.

  2. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much for this post. This is what I’ve been waiting to see at Offbeat! I really enjoyed reading these comments, because I can finally see that I am not the only one who feels this way.

  3. THIS POST ALL THE WAY. No shame in disliking children. They’ll be adults eventually so it’s very fluid; children by nature will continue changing demographics so it’s kind of ridiculous so many people here are making assumptions about “people groups” as if kids stay kids forever. Kids will be kids? NO, KIDS WILL BE ADULTS.
    I also happen to think that too many people are raising children when they should be raising competent adults, but that’s another rant.
    For me the general rule is the younger the kid the more I dislike them. My friends who have kids haven’t convinced me otherwise. I can stand being around teenagers sometimes, so I think there’s something about having an intelligent conversation for a period of time that makes people OK. Ironically in this instance I’m just like my mom: she hates babies & although she thought we were cute kids, she likes my brother & me a lot more now that we’re grown up.
    The tough part of my disliking kids is that my spouse really wants to adopt in the far-off-ish future [thank goodness he doesn’t want bio kids, either]. I’m giving myself time to warm up to the idea, since I like the idea of adopting even though I don’t want to parent now. It could happen, as 3 years ago I was gung-ho about being single forever and now I’m all conjugally matrimonified.

    • If you do decide to adopt, have you considered adopting older kids/teens? Or maybe being a foster parent to older kids/teens? I know there’s a great need out there for homes for older minors and it might alleviate some of the stresses you would feel as a parent to a younger child. Best wishes, whatever path you take 🙂

  4. I’m actually really concerned about how this topic will effect my friendships in the future. I’m on the opposite end wherein I not only love kids, but I plan to have several of them, and I’m really concerned that by fulfilling that lifelong desire I’ll be alienating myself from friends that I love, but they don’t love kids.

    • Personally I wouldn’t bother to remain close friends with people who were not supportive of my big life decisions. I would not remain friends with someone who didn’t support my marriage, my sexuality or anything else like that, so why would I want to keep being friends with someone who sees my family (in whatever configuration it is) as at best an inconvenience, at worst something they actively dislike/despise?

      I mean…I see quite a few “if only these people would stop doing something they love and really want to do, my life would be so much better!”comments. As someone who has several disabilities, both long-term permanent and shorter term fixable once, this is something I’ve dealt with on a different level, more like, ” it would be much easier and better for everyone around you if you’d just stop being broken.” “your disability is such an inconvenience to me”

      Those people don’t get to be a part of my life because quite clearly they don’t like me for who I am, they like me for the imaginary fully-able person I’m not, or in this case the childless/childfree friend that you don’t want to be. In my opinion they can be friends with the nice imaginary version of me and I’ll mourn the loss of a friendship that was maybe never what I thought it was.

      • Would you refuse to see your friends without bringing your children? I have plenty of friends with kids who know I don’t like kids. They hire a babysitter or leave them with family when we hang out, the same way if one of my friends didn’t like dogs, we’d hang out at their place vs mine, or go somewhere separate and I would leave my dog with my mom for the night/weekend. The same way if I don’t get along with my spouse’s parents, he interacts with them and me separately. The only friends I lost when they had kids were the friends who lost themselves when they had kids. It’s not unhealthy to take time now and then away from your kids, to keep in touch with yourself as an individual (vs ‘mommy and nothing else’), it’s easy to spend some of that time with those friends who don’t like children. The kids *will* grow up.

        In my experience, friendship is a two-way street and requires understanding – especially the understanding that you are not your kids, nor your spouse, nor your parents. You are your own person. If you are willing to ditch a friendship because someone doesn’t want to hang out with your kids (or just doesn’t like kids), I doubt it was ever a true friendship to start with.

          • And some friends aren’t worth the expense.

            Just like when ppl move across the country or the world. Travel is expensive — are friendships worth the cost? Babysitter, plane ticket, if the relationships matter, you’ll figure out a way. If not, oh well.

          • I guess it depends on the value you place on your friendships. My friends are just family without the DNA, and if one of them needed help I’d drop everything to be there for them, and vice versa. We can go years without contact and pick right up where we left off without issue. To me, that’s just part of what friendship is all about. If it wasn’t, I probably would refer to them as acquaintances, and not friends.

            You sound to me like someone who would drop a friend without hesitation if maintaining the friendship became inconvenient for you. That’s your prerogative, it’s just not how it works in my circles.

          • Wow Jennifer, are you seriously having this much difficulty with reading comprehension?You are the EXACT reason as to why I don’t like kids. You specifically, are the parent that refuses to teach your child how to be a gracious loser, you insist they deserve a trophy regardless. YOU refuse to see the big picture and realize the world doesn’t, nor will it ever, revolve around you or your kids.
            YOU are the type of parent who refuses to discipline your kid because it’s “cruel” YOU perpetuate the very behavior that makes people dislike kids!
            Even if I liked kids, I can tell you that, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, I would definitely not like your kids.

        • I am currently not a parent but I have many friends who are parents and do not have the cash or local support network to send their children or pets off to a babysitter or parents for even a few hours and I don’t blame them for not being willing to spend cash on something like that for someone else and I wouldn’t expect them to. What a family chooses to spend money on in regards to their kids, I would argue out of home childcare is probably not a priority unless it is a necessity. My friends are (mostly) very wonderful independent people who (mostly) don’t define themselves by their roles as parents but they value their ability to afford formula and diapers and gas for the car over other optional expenses. Those who do choose to define themselves that way are people who have, for as long as I’ve known them put huge pressure on themselves to be parents and it’s just a part of who they are, again that is their choice even if I don’t understand it.

          Going off the dog comment: To be honest I’m of the mind that if you don’t like my dogs, or they don’t like you, we’re probably not super compatible people. But again I don’t have local family to pet sit, I don’t trust other people to care for my dogs because they are special needs rescue cases and even if I did I don’t generally have cash handy to pay for someone to come over to care for them. I made a conscious choice going into pet ownership that it would be a priority for me and I own that choice even if it means not taking that girls trip to Cuba with everyone or leaving every single engagement super early to make sure my pets are cared for properly.

          I may not be my spouse or my dogs or my hypothetical kids but I am a person who makes decisions for my own life and while I can take into consideration other people their personal likes and dislikes do not necessarily triumph over the daily needs of my personal responsibilities.

          Besides if I’m shelling out cash for a pet or baby sitter, plus whatever activity, plus gas etc every time someone who doesn’t like my dogs/kids wants to hang out…and they don’t want to even hear about some of the most important/recent/relevant parts of my life…I feel like that is significantly unequal as well. That is literally that person trying to pretend I’m not who I am, living the life that I’m living. Might as well call up that old ex-friend who feels that my disability is a personal insult to her and invite her to play rugby.

          I have dropped friendships over how people treat their pets and talk to/about other people, I wouldn’t hesitate to drop a friendship that wasn’t at least accepting of the major parts of my life. I don’t expect my friends to love everything I do, and I don’t love all of their choices but I do respect that they are doing what is best for themselves and their families for the most part and we all do our best to work around each others needs, even if it means we rarely actually hang out.

    • I think it’s worth being optimistic that they’ll sympathize with the complexities of your new life with kids, but there may be a few friends who just don’t get it. I have a couple friends who have the best of intentions (i.e. still want to hang out) but who don’t get why I sometimes have to place restrictions on hanging out (not too late, can’t always go to bars, sometimes can’t be on time or have to cancel at last minute) and get frustrated. It’s not on you if they feel alienated. We all have life circumstances that change, and some friends just aren’t up to weathering that. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that some of my friendships, with people who’ve expressed lukewarm feelings about kids in the past, have stayed just as strong as ever after having a kid. Hopefully, if your friends see you living your life the way that makes you happy, they’ll try to be supportive of that!

      • As the childfree friend who (I imagine) sometimes does not get my friends with children’s limitations, please don’t be shy about telling us what doesn’t work! Sometimes I feel like I’m flailing with my friends with kids, and have no idea what activities will or won’t work for them and their kid at their current age. Sometimes I am afraid of sounding clueless for suggesting activities that are inappropriate, and sometimes I am afraid that I’m not initiating enough or am underestimating what my friends would be interested in doing. Sometimes friends who seem to have checked out will bounce back with some guidance!

        • Yes! Planning around kids if tough but possible. Sometimes it means hanging out in a messy house near the baby monitor. Sometimes brunch works. I am still trying to figure out how to see my parent friends regularly.

        • You rock JC! Being a parent is terrifying at first, and it’s those friends who kept inviting us places, even if it didn’t ultimately work out, who helped get me out of the house when doing so was really daunting. I’ve gotten better at expressing what works and what doesn’t, and it’s great having friends who are willing to roll with all the new (often-changing) constraints.

        • JC – You sound like a true friend and a really considerate person!

          And this folks is the difference: a positive attitude. Is that so hard? Kids are actually part of our society.

          If you are negative, as I said UP post, you just come across unhappy and insecure.

    • You probably will see a lot of friends disappear. But those people are dead weight and you will be better off without them. The good people (whether child free or with kids) will stick around because they love you and want to share your life with you even when it looks different than their own. The ones who are all “Eww, gross, she had kids? I can’t stand how she talks about shit I can’t relate to sometimes now.”, you will be much better off without them anyhow.
      Those who choose to stay child free probably experience something similar in reverse, I imagine.
      In a way, making a final choice on kids, whether yes or no, is a way to weed out the intolerant assholes in your life.

  5. This post and many of the comments have made me very uncomfortable. Children can’t control their age or abilities, and both ableism and ageism are very real problems in the USA. I’m willing to take it a step further, though, and say: Not liking children merely because they are children is straight-up bigotry.

    Anyone is within their rights to say, “Well, I just don’t like black people/short people/disabled people/gay people/old people/fat people.” Of course you can think that, and even say it. You may or may not be able to act on it, depending on the circumstances, but you have a right to dislike anyone you choose. However, we shouldn’t act like it’s no big deal to dislike someone because they belong to a “type” of human being, even if you haven’t met them personally yet.

    If you think I’m being harsh… well, I don’t know. I’m not sorry. If you have a strong, universal dislike of a group of people for reasons outside of their control, that’s bigotry. Even if you “tolerate” them. You may not be ACTING like a bigot, but you’re THINKING like one. And you’re probably acting on it more than you think.

    To me, this isn’t “offbeat.” It’s mean.

    I’ve read in the comments that children and their caregivers aren’t discriminated against in our society, so calling it bigotry is invalid. As a person from a low-income and unstable family background, however, I can tell you that those commenters are wrong about that. Children have very few rights in this country. They have no control at all over their own lives, and their “best interests” are often decided for them by people they have never met. Their education and their health care can be hijacked by lawmakers and voters who are only trying to make a political point. As their guardian, you can legally hit a child hard enough to make them cry. You can do it as often as you want, as long as you don’t leave a mark. In some states, caregivers can legally withhold lifesaving medical treatment for religious reasons. Children are indoctrinated freely, with no ability to agree and no repercussions for the caregiver if it ends up damaging the child. Their families–even their siblings–can be separated without their consent, even when they beg to stay together, and their caregivers can withhold even phone contact. They can be placed by the state in dangerous and scary care situations with absolutely no recourse to help themselves. They can be publicly shamed when they make a mistake, on the internet or on the street, by caregivers who are nothing more than bullies. These could be parents, or other family members, or legal guardians, or even coaches and teachers. In most cases, the only way for a child to live safely and justly is by luck of the draw–the right caregivers with the right intentions.

    And as for caregivers… ask the caregiver of a child who needs subsidized lunch whether they are degraded and discriminated against. Ask the caregiver of a child who screams on a plane. Ask the caregiver of a toddler who needs to breastfeed in a public place. I dare you.

    I’ve also read in comments that people think it doesn’t equate because children will eventually grow up, whereas a disabled person can’t become “abled” in later life. Actually, they CAN in some cases, and I wonder where that leaves this argument? Is it okay to universally dislike people who are temporarily disabled? Or is it okay to dislike all Japanese people in Japan, but not in the US? I also wonder how this will shift for the writer as he/she ages, especially because he/she already stated that this dislike has grown over time. Plenty of older people see 20- and then 30-year-olds as “children” as they age and their ability to relate to that generation diminishes. I suppose it is technically okay to say, “Well, I just don’t like people in their twenties. They’re all so annoying. I don’t have much contact with them, and I wish I didn’t have to spend time around them at all. I don’t want to get to know them as individuals because they’re all the same. I just force myself to tolerate them.”

    You can say that, sure, but it doesn’t make you a very nice person.

    The writer, and many of the commenters, are making a universal statement of dislike about an entire class of people. Human people. That’s your right, but it isn’t cool. And it really isn’t kind.

    (This got rant-y. But ageism and ableism drive me CRAZY.)

    • Add to that that you can’t bring your child to work with you, so you are forced to pay money for care for them unless you happen to have an understanding family member who is willing to trade with you. Also, children cannot work except as babysitters (they used to be able to do yard work but that’s too dangerous now) until 16, and even then their work hours are severely restricted (and they money they earn and anything they buy with it can be confiscated by the parents with no repercussions).

    • Thanks for writing such a comprehensive post! Children are an extremely vulnerable population, and it really disturbs me to see so many people who either don’t realize that or just don’t care.

      • Of course children are vulnerable, but you don’t see the child free or the child haters doing the abusing. Approx 1600 children in the US alone are murdered by their parents every year, and what about the abuse statistics ? 2.9 million reports a year and 80% of those are committed by parents.

        So while you want to put the people who dislike children into some category that we are the cause of their vulnerability simply because we dislike them, when in fact people who dislike kids tend to stay clear of them while is the people that “love” them that are taking advantage of their innocence.

        So again, it’s about I don’t want kids because I don’t like them. And not liking children is not exploration of vulnerability as you seem to think it is.

        • The vulnerability discussion is trying to address the point made by people saying it’s okay to dislike kids because they’re not discriminated against in the same way that other vulnerable groups are. Nobody is trying to accuse all people who dislike kids of being child abusers.

          The same way that it’s still problematic to say you dislike all, say, autistic people even if you’d never physically hurt them or actively try to support ableist norms, it’s still problematic to dislike all kids even if you’d never actively try to hurt them. I don’t know if you’d argue that categorically disliking all autistic people is inherently problematic, but if you’d agree, I hope you see the point I’m trying to make about disliking all children.

    • Bigotry: Stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bigotry

      Kinda what’s going on here. Not a discrimination against any particular group. But a stubborn intolerance for a different opinion (that of being childfree because you actually do not like children), yeah I sense that.

      No-one said they were working on anti-child, anti-parent laws & policies in government or workplaces. Nobody said they were banning your children from public places. All that was said & continues to be said is that here’s one reason to not have kids: because you don’t like them yourself. Sounds pretty simple — why would you have something you don’t like? If other ppl like it, fine, enjoy, have at it. Kids aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. (That’s a metaphor, btw, I’m not suggesting literally steeping children in hot water & drinking them; please don’t read things in that aren’t here!)

      • But it’s these opinions that lead to negative views that lead to bigotry that lead to all that….look at history for some groups of people..just saying

        • No, the opinion that “I don’t want to have kids bec. I don’t like kids” isn’t leading anywhere (other than this endless discussion). As has been repeated ad nasueum, nobody wants to talk away ANYTHING from kids or parents. I’ve pointed out how I always vote for local school bonds (even tho a lot of ppl statistically don’t; meaning, a lot of parents must not be, since more ppl have kids than don’t), & I support pro-child/pro-woman legislation 100x over. But being around children annoys me. Dichotomy to you? Yeah, well, newsflash, the world is not black & white.

          “Not liking kids” doesn’t mean “I hate kids & discriminate against them in every way, all my life, in everything I do / say / think / feel / action I take.”

          There is no slippery slope from “I don’t like kids” to “I will eat children for breakfast, yum.”

      • The reason the discussion of bigotry came up is because people have been justifying saying they don’t like children by saying it’s okay because they’re not discriminated against (or not as discriminated against, or something) as other groups. Thus, people are responding with reasons children are a vulnerable group that experiences discrimination and rights violations.

        Sure you’re legally allowed to dislike kids or old people or the disabled or whomever you want, but don’t expect to not get called out for it. I’m not being intolerant for thinking it’s not okay, I’m being a decent human being.

          • I’m trying to be a decent human being by calling out ageism/childism is what I meant. Wasn’t trying to accuse you of not being one.

      • If someone says they don’t like dogs, as a species no one melts down. There could be all kinds of reason why people don’t like to be around dogs – they smell, they drool, they shed, make noise, are needy, always touching you, make you feel unclean there could be hundreds of reasons why a person doesn’t like a dog or feels uncomfortable around them.

        Dogs do not bother me at all, but like people that have reasons for not liking dogs, I feel that way about children. They make me uncomfortable. They smell, are sticky, wet, I don’t like how they dart around aimlessly, they cry, they are needy, they make me feel unclean to be around them. I always reach for the hand sanitizer when I’m in the presence of a child. Whatever it is, I don’t like them for a host of reasons and I’m not alone. Sure not every child is coughing at me, or screeching in my presence, but the majority are doing something near me that makes me uncomfortable and I don’t like it. Therefore I don’t like children.

        No one questions why people might not like an entire species like a dog or cat and yet people will not accept that many of us do not like children for whatever reason. Sure I tolerate them, I have to because they are everywhere, but like flying in a plane, I don’t have to like it, I just have to get through it.

        There’s no reason to judge people that don’t like kids. I don’t judge people that don’t like pets, they have their reasons and I accept their reasons are valid for them even if I don’t agree.

        • Dogs are not people. Kids are people. As has been argued above, you probably wouldn’t (at least I hope not) go around proudly proclaiming that you don’t like disabled people or the elderly, so why would you do so about kids?

          • Because I have a choice about having children. I can say “I don’t want to reproduce.” I can proclaim that loudly — while it’s not totally acceptable in all places (& as a woman, I will get crap for it), at least I can say it. And if I need to or feel like giving a reason why, I can be honest & say “because I don’t like kids.”

            That’s an entirely different thing than someone saying they don’t like the elderly or disabled. A world of difference.

          • As I just said in another reply, not wanting to have kids and not liking kids are two separate issues here. One is not problematic, and the other is! Many people have already addressed the issue of why not liking kids is problematic.

          • Dog lovers tend to love dogs as much as people and maybe even more so, so I don’t get your point.

            Elderly or disabled people aren’t even the same as children, so it’s no comparison. 99% of children act the same way, elderly and disabled do not. However if 99% of those 2 categories acted like children, then no, I would have no problem saying I was uncomfortable around them either and didn’t like them.

            However I am not uncomfortable around disabled people or the elderly because they aren’t children so what’s your point

          • And as I said up-thread, tho’ we’ve run out of nested replies, this discussion is INHERENTLY about why to be childfree + not liking kids. Reproduction / reproductive choice is the context for this discussion from the very start — it’s right there in the original post. Go read it.

            This was never just some loony rant about hating kids & wanting to get rid of them from everywhere. That’s not the issue at all.

          • There’s nothing problematic with not liking kids. So you don’t like kids. What’s the problem ?

          • I don’t have kids for the same reason I don’t drive a 4 door sedan, have a neck tattoo, or a pet spider – because I don’t like them. It is that simple. People are allowed to not like something.

          • SuzyQ, I don’t know what to say if you can’t be bothered to read all the comments about why not liking kids is different to not liking dogs, cars, rocks, whatever.

          • Here, try this: It’s okay for someone to not want to work at a nursing home, but it’s not okay for them to say they don’t want to work at a nursing home because they hate old people. Do you get the distinction I’m trying to make?

          • Gillian, I can’t reply to your later post about working in a nursing home. But for me, there is a huge difference between ‘not liking’ and ‘hating’. I don’t ‘like’ children. There’s nothing about non-adult humans that makes me want to be around them. In fact, I’m uncomfortable around them, so I try to avoid them. Doesn’t mean I hate them.

            I don’t ‘dislike’ or ‘hate’ old people. But I don’t like them right now either. Spending time around them makes me sad and resentful about losing someone before she had a chance to be one. Neither of these situations means I’m being hateful or ageist. I’m avoiding situations where I feel discomfort, not trying to take away their rights or ban them from public spaces. I don’t feel that either group are any lesser, or deserve oppression or abuse.

            I find it much more wrong to say “you’re allowed to make a decision (I don’t want to work in a nursing home), but not to have an opinion (I don’t want to work in a nursing home because I don’t like being around senior citizens)”

            Not actively ‘liking’ something is vastly different from actively ‘disliking’ something. Not liking means it doesn’t bring you pleasure or enjoyment. Not that you actively hate the group in question.

          • oh I’ve read your comments about how people aren’t the same as dogs and that’s YOUR opinion. What you fail to even attempt to comprehend is that someone just wouldn’t like children, that not liking children has to mean something other than just not liking them. You are looking for meaning where there is none. You are trying to equate it to hating other groups of people and it’s not even remotely the same. So I can’t use dogs as an example but you can use the elderly as though they are the same. Okayyyy then. Carry on.

        • Suzy Q: For the record, I think people who say they don’t like dogs or cats (as a whole species) should probably take the time to get to know a few. And then a few more. Because we know they are not all the same, right? The right animal really can change someone’s mind.

          However–and I know my fellow animal lovers hate to hear this–the reality is that animals and humans are not equivalent when it comes to our moral obligations. A dog is not obligated to love and care for his human companion in the same way that he does his dog pack, and studies show that they do not. If he is hungry, and you are the only source of food, a dog will eat your dead body. They’d eat each other, too, if it came to that. If you’re starving and you have no choice, you’ll eat your dog’s dead body. There’s no moral issue at play in that scenario, because the creature in question is a dog. You are far less likely to do that to a human being– and if you do, you are far more likely to never recover psychologically. There is evidence from the historical record to support this. I’m not trying to be gross, but to outline the reality that humans and dogs are not equivalent in issues of humane treatment. What’s “right” for a dog isn’t always ethical for a human. I think that should be obvious.

          It doesn’t mean we don’t love them like crazy, or that we shouldn’t treat them with respect. It means that we are not dogs, and they are not humans, and acting like we’re all the same creature confuses the issue.

          You love dogs. Message received. I think people should give your dog a fair shot, and not just assume they won’t like him/her because they “don’t like dogs.” And I definitely think we should extend that courtesy–and a whole lot more–to our fellow human beings.

          • But here’s the thing. I don’t care if someone doesn’t like my pets. They have every right not to and their reasons are valid for them. I accept their feelings and I have no hard feelings if the don’t like my pets.

            Be it an animal, broccoli, motorcycles or a child, people are within their right to dislike things and other people.

            I can’t fathom not liking broccoli, but I accept that people don’t and I won’t try to force them to change their views ” here try it, maybe you’ll like THIS piece” and berate them for their choice because it’s different from mine.

            So many people here just refuse to acknowledge that disliking children is valid. Yes I compared broccoli to children because it IS that simple. People don’t like either one. There’s nothing wrong with not liking something for whatever reason you have because it’s a valid reason to you.

            No clue why people are making it out to be a such a big deal because it isn’t.

            Not everyone, even those that like children will all like your precious snewflaques either. So many people need to get over it.

      • Bigot: a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group) [Merriam-Webster]

        I’d say that children qualify as “members of a particular group.” They also qualify as “other people.” Let’s not play the semantics game, eh?

        Look, lots of people are bigots, for lots of reasons. Most of us struggle with some degree of unease around people who are different from ourselves. It doesn’t make you bad person, but it is a bad thing to be. It’s an impulse that I believe we should try to fight, so that we can see each other for who we truly are. Most people (even children) are pretty amazing.

        Being willing to accept and work on our own prejudices is important. Maybe the most important thing we can do with ourselves. I will call out prejudice and bigotry when I see it–wherever I see it, including in myself. I won’t apologize for speaking up when we try to justify why it’s okay to “strongly dislike” (I won’t use the word “hate” because, again, semantics) an entire class of people.

        It’s not bigotry to call out prejudice.

        • I would like to play the semantics game, for one.

          The OP never said she “hates” or “refuses to accept” children. She said she doesn’t like them. She didn’t even say she doesn’t tolerate them and she certainly didn’t say she discriminates against them – she just doesn’t like them. That just doesn’t qualify as bigotry.

          And I can see how that is different from disliking everyone from one race or “all the elderly” etc. (which is true bigotry) because, honestly, although children are all different people, a necessary function of their development is that they will all hit certain developmental milestones that will influence behaviors that cannot be said to be true of any other group of people.

          And she simply does not like the behaviors associated with those milestones that all children, regardless of their individual personalities, go through.

          I really don’t think it comes close to “bigotry” or “discrimination” to feel that way – that blows the whole issue out of proportion.

          I also find it somewhat condescending to say one “feels sorry” for her. Why should they? She hasn’t done anything wrong.

    • You realize using the word crazy (or insane, loony, etc.) is an example of ableism?

      Not trying to knock you in a holier-than-thou kinda way, cause I also use those words all the time. But the irony was too rich for me not to say something.

  6. I must say, this is a very enlightening conversation. A lot of comments here have expressed concepts and ideas that I’m really not familiar with (ageism and ableism are NOT part of public discussions where I grew up, lemme tell you).
    This really gives me food for thoughts as regards my own dislike for children. And I love nothing more than challenging my own assumptions. Thank you guys.

    • Yes! I second this.

      It’s interesting… when I got the submission, I was so overjoyed. Here is the one person who’s not qualifying their choice to not have children with “but I like kids! I’m a great aunt!”

      I… am not a great aunt. I’ve barely seen my nieces, and a lot of that is by choice (the other part of that is they live in a different state). The thing is I feel love for them. I care about them. I just don’t like hanging out with them. For now… Assuming they turn into kick-ass teenagers in 10 years, I’ll be the “cool aunt” then.

      ANYWAY! So I was happy to read this article. Happy to publish it so that others who feel similarly don’t feel alone. But the comments have blown my mind! I totally didn’t even think about some of the concepts that some people have brought up. It’s definitely made me think even deeper about my dislike of children, it’s challenged me in a good and bad way. And it’s made me love our readers even more.

      For the most part this discussion has been AWESOME. Even though not everyone agrees, and there have definitely been a lot of emotional reactions on both sides, I am constantly floored by how well everyone is communicating.

      Love you guys!

      • I so hate to pee on your parade, but I have relevant personal experience that might be generally valuable to other people in this situation.

        My mother’s sister also never had kids and did not like being around kids. She would avoid seeing my brother and I when we were younger as much as possible and never invited us over to her home. And my mother actively tried to hide this from us. She did not want us to know that her sister didn’t like being around us. But kids aren’t stupid and they pick up on things. I knew my aunt didn’t like being around me when I was younger.

        And you know what? When she tried to suddenly become part of my life in my later teens, I wanted nothing to do with her. I basically told her to go scratch. It was not okay with me that she ignored us for so many years and then all of a sudden wanted to be pals.

        It is totally okay for people to not want kids and not like kids and not like being around them. But remember, kids are people. Kids are perceptive. Kids can sense your distaste for them.

        So if you (anyone) is planning to avoid someone during their childhood and then enter their life when they get to a more enjoyable age, you better be prepared for that young person to shut you out. You need to be prepared for them to not be okay with the fact that you used to avoid them and now are willing to tolerate them because they’re older. There is no way to make that not personal. If you don’t want to be around me when I’m little, cool, but don’t expect me to be around you when I’m older.

        • My uncle didnt like kids. We knew, and were uncomfortable around him. BUT in my late teen years (probs from the first time i asked him for a smoke/drink) we developed a great relationship that continues to this day. So it can go both ways. My Dad never tried to hide my uncles uncomfortableness around kids though, i think he told me straight out one day that “he’s wary of kids”.

        • This, exactly.

          My brother was like this. I have 10-20 years between myself and my siblings. My brother honestly waited until my mid-teens to have a conversation with me longer than “what grade are you in now”.

          I get that he’s just not a kid person, but I had about 16 years of rejection from members of my family who “don’t like kids”. For some of them, that’s absolutely true. Others realized earlier on that for the most part, I COULD relate to them on an adult level.

          But to hear from my family that “You’re older and worth my time now” feels pretty shitty. I used to dream that I’d find out I was actually adopted, and not just rejected for no real reason. I’m in my 20s now, and my oldest sibling STILL resents me for being born. As for the brother I mentioned… I went through some pretty big stuff growing up, and when he found out over ten years later, he felt pretty shitty about it too. He missed out on a huge part of my life, a bond we could have had, and had to come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t there when his little sister needed him because “Ew, kids”.

  7. Ok, I didn’t read all the comments. And I can’t say I agree entirely with the OP. But…

    I really, really don’t like babies.

    Once a child hits age 2, I’m ok with them. But before that, they’re… not my cup of tea. Everyone else is free to reproduce, and love their babies, and dote on other people’s babies, and share baby-stories and baby-pictures and such, and that’s cool. Rock on, parents of babies. But I don’t want to hold them, or smell them, or sit around for endless hours watching the baby eat, puke, sleep, and poop. When somebody puts me in a situation where that is our only activity, I want to weep.
    Luckily, most of my friends know this and they’re cool with it. They know I don’t dislike their babies personally. I’m just waiting until that kid can hold a crayon and not cry because they scratched their own face with their own dang fingernails.

    Also, in case y’all are worried, I’m childfree and will remain that way, forever. So I’m not about to go neglecting a baby or anything.

    • I could have written this!!! I am in my early 30’s, so so many friends are having babies! People share baby pictures and I greet them with indifference. When my nephew was born, I didn’t want to hold him or have anything to do with him. Now that he’s 2 and has a personality, I enjoy playing with him, and am happy to have him in my life.

      I decided long ago that if I even want to be a mother, I will adopt, because babies do nothing for me.

    • You’ll find plenty of parents of babies who aren’t mad keen on them.

      I liked my kid as a baby, she had some awesome moments. And they sure are cute, but they’re cute for a reason. It’s difficult to keep your santiy while having a small imperious person scream at you for unexpected reasons, at unexpected times, and torturing you with sleep deprivation. Being cute is an evolutionary trait, a defense mechanism.

      But, wile I didn’t hate babyhood cknstantly, I far preferred my kid once she got to the walking and talking stage. 1.5 was pretty cool, and two was fantastic! My favourite age by far. Every parent has their not-so-favourite stages. And for a fair few of us babyhood isn’t it.

    • Ha ha ha, I love this. I totally get you on not liking babies. Babies are gross. Really, really gross. I happen to adore them, but there is really no getting around the projectile fluids (unless you have fantastic reflexes).

  8. It is nice to see articles like these. I don’t agree 100% (but what blog do you ever agree 100% with??) but I myself am child-free. By choice for the first 35 years of my life and not by choice due to a medical issue since then. When people ask me when I’m going to have children (which I find rude… is it really my duty as a woman??) I say “I can’t have children” and they feel PITY for me. They pat me on the shoulder and say “It’s ok, you can always adopt.” I could never tell them I DON’T WANT CHILDREN because the get offended and it’s not worth the discussion that always ensues. I didn’t feel I was robbed of something when they shut my factory down, I was elated!

    Now some people on this thread have expressed dislike for children. This I understand. I don’t really like being in places with lots of children or spending lots of time with people that have children but that’s just me. Most kids are annoying to me, there are a few that are my family that I enjoy seeing occasionally but really I’d rather not hang out where kids hang out. If people want to have kids, more power to them. I’d rather not.

  9. I don’t think being misanthropic would make you a bad person either, fwiw. I don’t know why some people tie internal feelings so tightly to behaviour. You can feel all kinds of nasty stuff and still be an exceptionally good person, if you choose not to turn those negative feelings into abusive actions.

    And the more people are able to admit to themselves that they feel the negative things, the better placed they are to make that choice. Destigmatisation, partly by free discussion, will only help that. With appropriate trigger warnings that allow people to make an informed choice as to whether they read that kind of content, perhaps.

    There can be a real culture of compulsory positivity even in alternative cultural spaces and it can be very alienating to people who are already excluded from representation in the mainstream.

    • Sure, but children are a very vulnerable population, and I tend to feel that normalizing dislike of children as a group is just going to make people feel more justified when they do things to harm children (see above for detailed descriptions of discrimination against children). Should we be patting people on the back for talking about how they just can’t stand people who aren’t white, who have autism, who are old, who are blind, etc.? We usually see that as problematic because it helps normalize racism, ableism, ageism, etc.

      • TW for mentions of violence and child abuse.

        As a victim of abuse throughout my childhood, by both adult and child perpetrators, I cannot agree.

        Firstly because the unacceptability of admitting to not liking children frequently leads to the negativity coming out in other, more destructive and less ethical, ways.

        Secondly because the refusal to acknowledge that people who were abused by other children have a very good reason to be averse to the presence of children even once they reach adulthood is itself ableist, and discriminatory towards adult survivors, who are already profoundly marginalised. Any suggestion that such an aversion on its own makes someone a bad person is nothing more than continued victimisation. Again, *as long as the person who dislikes children does not mistreat anyone*.

        If we were talking about those people who make jokes about beating children up for being annoying, for example, I would probably agree. But we aren’t.

      • Conflating VERY different things here. Childfree people are not automatically child abusers. I don’t think I should even have to say that, & I can’t believe someone even went there in this discussion.

        People, we are talking about a reason not to have children (bec. you don’t like them). NOT extrapolating that into all kinds of horrible accusations about others.

        • Thanks for your input Jan. I certainly wouldn’t argue that someone who dislikes children is necessarily a terrible person, the same way that someone who is ableist isn’t necessarily a terrible person, but as with ableism it’s worth addressing that childism is problematic and unpacking why, rather than just applauding it or letting it go unquestioned.

          Trystan, where did I say childfree people are abusers??? When have I ever implied that being childfree is itself a problem? I have only been addressing the dislike of children and why I think it’s problematic.

          • “I tend to feel that normalizing dislike of children as a group is just going to make people feel more justified when they do things to harm children” — your words.

            So much wrong with this. First, this post was hardly “normalizing dislike of children as a group.” The OP stated that she didn’t have kids bec. she doesn’t like them — it’s normalizing BEING CHILDFREE bec. you don’t like kids. Maybe that’s too subtle for you catch upon first reading, but it’s a huge & important difference. I’ve read all these comments & don’t see anyone saying “it’s great to hate on kids! let’s all make hating kids the new thing!”

            Second, you right there with your words connected dislike of children with abusing children. That was unnecessary & completely unsupported by this discussion.

            This idea that ‘disliking children as a group = discrimination’ is patently silly & downright offensive. It’s making wild generalizations about ppl’s beliefs & actions, & it really goes against what was originally written here (bec. frankly, the OP had to come out w/an “unpopular opinion” since she’s far more discriminated against for thinking that).

            Just bec. a person dislikes children doesn’t mean they hurt them, act against them, even think bad thoughts about them. They simply do not want to spend time with them or have children in their own lives — and each person should have the right to determine that for themselves.

          • When I say “people” I mean to say people who harm children (and that includes people who ostensibly “love” them but hurt them anyway). I’m sorry if I was unclear in my writing.

            You may hear people talk about how microaggressions contribute to things like racism, sexism and ableism, and that’s what I’m trying to get at here by connecting bigoted language with the larger problem of ageism. If you write an article about how you don’t like people with autism, that doesn’t mean you’d ever touch a hair on an autistic person’s head, or actively do anything to harm them, but a lot of people would call you out on being an ableist and a bigot and say that you’re contributing to a culture that thinks ableism is okay, even though you’re not actually harming anyone directly. Does that make sense?

            The article is in fact titled “Unpopular opinion, even for the child-free: I don’t like kids.” What people are objecting to is the not-liking-kids part. You can’t really say the article isn’t about not liking kids–it’s in the title.

            I have not seen anyone successfully explain why not liking children is not comparable to not liking other marginalized groups of people. The idea that children are all the same has been refuted. The idea that dislike of all children is okay because of the perceived behaviors they have in common (as with not liking frat boys or the KKK…) has been refuted (kids don’t have control of their behavior the way). The idea that they’re not marginalized has been refuted.

          • “What people are objecting to is the not-liking-kids part. You can’t really say the article isn’t about not liking kids–it’s in the title. ” — which means they’re taking it out of context & getting it wrong.

      • Normalization is an interesting word choice. I think the discussion is trying to un-normalize the idea that everyone enjoys being around children. People, especially women, who choose not to have children are (arguably) more marginalized by our society than children are. It’s less about normalization and more about removing the taboo of honestly and openly discussing one’s choice not to have children and the reasons for it (if you choose to share).

        As a parent myself, I’d like to see more discussions of the times when it’s hard for even the parents of said children to enjoy the company of their kids. Sometimes having kids sucks. I find it easier to discuss this with my child-free friends than with parent friends – parent friends are pressured to portray parenthood as 100% rainbows and unicorns, which isn’t fair to ourselves, the child-free, or people who are considering their options.

  10. It’s probably best, if you don’t like kids, not to have any. An alarming number of people who don’t like children actually have children anyway, which rarely leads to excellence in parenting. However, I’ve noticed that a lot of the comments here aren’t about not liking children at all, they’re about not liking the parents of children.

    One question I do have for the people who are happy to make a blanket statement about not liking children: When does a ‘child’ become a ‘person’? Does somebody become suddenly tolerable at 18? 16? 12? 25?
    I’m not crazy about ‘children’ as a faceless collective. However, as individuals I very much like most people who happen to be children. In fact, I frequently prefer them to people who happen to be adults. Although, admittedly, my tolerance for anybody of any age is limited – and this extends even to my own child (who, at 19, is no longer a child most days).

    • Considering most people’s objection to children seems to be how they act at certain developmental stages, and each child progresses differently and passes through stages and behaviours at different times, it’s clear that there is no universal age at which one stops being a child. Furthermore, a child can seem to reach an adult developmental stage but then regress to more childish behaviours. It’s more a spectrum of adulthood than a clear cut-off point.

  11. I can’t see any way that you could have anything approaching s strong relationship with your parent friends.

    If my friend just ‘tolerated’ a big part of my life, such as my husband, we just wouldn’t be able to be close to each other. I would know that if I ever talked to her about my marriage that she would have a very biased. We wouldn’t be able to spend couple time as I would feel like I was forcing someone unwanted on her. And, well, I would just intrinsically think she had bad taste, my husband is my favourite person in the world, I married him because I don’t think a person can really get any better than him.

    Now, not absoloutely adoring my kid is ok. She’s a fantastic four, but she is four. But actively disliking her, and just tolerating her? I could tell, and it would hurt. And we would not be spending much time together. Much of my life is spent around my kid, I think she’s awesome. Why would I waste our awesomeness on someone who actively doesn’t want to participate in it?

    • See, it makes me sad when old friendships need to end because new important people (spouses, children) enter your life. I have old friends that I knew long before either of us were married, where my husband really doesn’t fit into our relationship well—maybe Old Friend and I like to talk about conversation topics my husband doesn’t care for, maybe our husbands aren’t the best of friends. Having my husband around when we hang out changes the dynamics. But even though these friends don’t fit neatly into my relationship with my husband, I still love these friends and find ways to make our relationship work.

      I imagine many people commenting here feel the same way about their friends’ children. Their relationship with the friend predates the relationship with this child, and having the child around changes the dynamic. Children are obviously different than a spouse, since you of course can’t just leave them at home easily to hang out with friends. But it still makes total sense to me that a friend can love you and appreciate that your child is an important part of your life without loving the dynamic of your friendship when your child is also in the room.

    • When you give the example of a friend not liking your child as being the same as them not liking your husband, neither means your friendship would have to be over. It would depend on the reasons, but the closest analogy to not liking your child would be a simple personality clash with your husband, or them having nothing in common and nothing to talk about. They wouldn’t choose to spend time together under normal circumstances.

      It wouldn’t mean either your friend or husband were bad people, or that they were any less awesome, or that your friend thought you had bad taste. It would simply mean they didn’t “click”, and that sometimes people just don’t get on through no fault of their own. Not everyone likes everyone, no matter how wonderful both people are.

      You could still talk to your friend about your husband and marriage, just as you could about your child. But you wouldn’t talk about just those things – no matter how awesome, you wouldn’t want to talk about only one topic all the time! Obviously not every circumstance is the same, but people with children can still be friends with those who don’t like children.

  12. Mummy drama. I like to think on the old OBH the OP would be disagreed with without the drama. Not anymore. Now the OP is a bigot, a racist and it is assumed, despite her claims otherwise that she obviously treats all children as badly as she can. Not to mention the talk of eugenics and banning children from public which were never mentioned. Drama, it’s like Facebook, very disappointing.

  13. I have a kid, and I think he’s the most awesome thing since sliced bread (most other kids are pretty cool too), but I don’t think you’re a bad person for not liking kids and I applaud you for standing up for yourself and people like you. You recognize that it’s just the way you are and you don’t take it out on the kids. That’s respectable.

  14. I really want to echo what was said so eloquently about this being an issue of ableism and ageism. Saying “I don’t like kids” is actually pretty common – I hear people say it a LOT. I find it odd and as others have mentioned, like saying “I don’t like human beings.” I just don’t buy the “behavioral/development/can’t have complex conversations” reasoning given by some supporters of this article above, and if I *did* buy it, then I would expect you to follow it up and say you don’t enjoy spending time with people with significant cognitive disabilities. I mean – really, that’s the next logical step, right? Many children don’t communicate with the speed and dexterity at which you do, in the way that you do, so you find them annoying. Which makes me sad because – and*yes* I’m going to be condescending here- I think you’re missing out. Kids are incredibly varied, perhaps more so than adults because they haven’t all yet learned how to conform to expectations. I talk to kids I’m not related to a LOT in my day-to-day life, though I’m an adult-ed teacher. Some of the things they say have blown. me. away. Some of their approaches to the world have made me interact with my world completely differently. I have certain things I notice in my neighborhood now because of one little neighbor girl’s incredibly sharp attention to detail . My niece taught me how to be wacky again because of the charming (and loopy :)) way her brain works. I live in Baltimore and had a more layered/complex conversation post-riots with a 10 year old on my street – a boy who’s seen and lived through a lot- than I did with any adult. Some people in their 90s speak more slowly, with more backtracking, than the way I’m used to speaking in my work and social life, but if I stop being frustrated by THEIR “inability” to adhere to MY “normal”, I can really listen and experience so much more. Kids feel the same to me. It’s not enough to say, “it’s ok because they’ll change and be adults soon enough” – because what does that mean about the kids who *remain* childlike in their conversations and worldview as they become adults? Spending time with them isn’t worthwhile? You can’t gain anything from them? I think I knew something was off when you said you didn’t want to “humor a child”. Neither do I. Perhaps next time, don’t *try* to do anything, especially since that’s what you find most frustrating – the “acting” part. Just listen and watch. It’s a big world out there, with a lot of different ways to be.

    • ‘ I would expect you to follow it up and say you don’t enjoy spending time with people with significant cognitive disabilities’

      I don’t. I guess that makes me a bad person. So be it. Some people enjoy it, I’m not going to lie and pretend I am one of them. I don’t like being a parent/teacher/mentor/caregiver to others in any faculty. If it is someone I know and love already (eg if my mother got Alzheimer’s, etc), I would still do so, because she’s my mom and I would just be glad she is around for the lucid moments she *does* have. But for random strangers in general? Nope.

      I know that’s a very unpopular opinion, but I also know that not everyone works or volunteers with people with special needs for a reason, and that nursing homes tend to be full of people whose children suddenly don’t enjoy spending time with them anymore and visit rarely (or never). There is a massive difference between tolerating something, genuinely enjoying it, and claiming to enjoy it for social approval. I don’t ‘enjoy’ being responsible for taking care of other people, regardless of their age.

      • I think your opinion is a common one and I’m glad you expressed it so honestly. But importantly, I don’t think spending time with someone/having a conversation with someone with significant cognitive disabilities = caregiving. Caregiving is super, super hard. Responsibility for someone else is super, super hard. I’d also say that instead of thinking of “bad” vs. “good” when we talk about this, I’d talking about “limiting.” I think people who like to spend time ONLY with people who operate in their same mode of “normal” limit themselves and their ways of seeing the world. I don’t think it’s in any way “virtuous” to spend time with people who aren’t neurotypical, or who are children, or who are elderly – I think it’s expanding. I think it makes my world bigger. 🙂

  15. In complete agreement with this article. I catch myself having to lie about it all the time too. “I don’t like kids… Uh, except yours of course friend, yours are delightful” and “children are just great, I’m too selfish to be a good parent though” yeah, no. It’s because babies are ugly goblin wormy looking parasites (yes, even your adorable little Susie or Johnny) and older children are selfish and cruel (yeah, still yours too, just probably when you’re not around). Kids are terrible creatures learning how to be competent adults. Some succeed and some don’t. Sorry, not sorry.

  16. Thank you, OP, for putting this out there.

    The crazy discussion that has ensued is proof that being a woman, especially in the child bearing age range, and not liking children (in pretty much any capacity) is widely unpopular and will put others on the defensive.

    I could say much more on the subject, but I think we’re in “beating a dead horse” territory. All I really wanted to do was comment so others in this small demographic can note the existence of another one of their own.

  17. Yeah, I HATE kids. I don’t feel the need to beat around the bush and “be nice” for my friends sake. I feel it’s rude for them to say things like “you’ll want them someday” or “it’s different when they’re yours” or the ever so popular “You’ll regret not having them”. In regards to it being different when they’re yours, no duh, of course you love them once they’re here, that’s no reason to have them, love isn’t enough. Kids don’t eat love! I am one of five kids, I am pro choice, I strongly believe that this world is heavily over populated and I just HATE kids! Good or bad! That’s my opinion. Sure, I wonder what my fiancé and I’s kids would look like and be like, but that is not a reason to have kids. I want to live my life, leave the house when I want without needed a baby sitter or having to worry about kids. I want to go on vacation and not have to spend the entire time do “kid friendly activities”. I want to be free and live my life with as little stress as possible. Kids would ruin my life -.- Buuuuut, that is my personal opinion and what is best for me. If you want to have kids and that makes you happy, go for it! Enjoy your life and enjoy your human kids 🙂 as for me, my kids have paws and fur and they are all the children I need 🙂

  18. I don’t like kids, I don’t want them and I preferably avoid them whenever I can. It is the same as someone who doesn’t like cats, doesn’t want them and actively avoids them..
    I understand that it’s part of human life and the continuation of our race, but kids are not my thing and it annoys the hell out of me when someone has the opinion I’m an asshole for saying it out loud.
    At 30 I know I won’t change my mind about this, I’ve had this feeling since I was like 15 years old.
    Don’t get me started on the lovely opinions my GP and the gynecologists seem to have when I request a sterilization and get denied. Fudge off with the idea that I might change my mind when I’m 40. It’s funny how kids are a choice for everyone these days with medical options, but as soon as you explain that you don’t like/want/need kids it’s suddenly a problem for them.
    Maybe it’s just me, but it’s rude as fudge to say you don’t accept the reasoning behind not wanting kids when the answer is the person doesn’t like them. Kids, just like pets or food or climates or whatever the fudge, are not for everyone. It’s about time people accept this.. I mean, the world is crowded enough as it is and the few women that decide not to have kids should be applauded as much as the ones that do.
    Meh, I just wanted to vent. It seems like I wasn’t the only one 🙂

  19. I’ve been asked and condescended to and pushed and prodded so many times over the years, that I’m pretty much on par with this in terms of response now. I don’t intend to be, but after 30+ years of people refusing to just accept ‘don’t want kids’ at face value and insisting on prying as to WHY and feeling the need to try to convince you otherwise, it just comes out.


  20. wish this had any specificity. it is so vague it doesn’t really seem to mean anything. i’m not feeling judgmental about the author’s decision, i’d just like to know something about their actual thought process.

    • I don’t mind the vagueness, because I feel like the point is that not why she doesn’t like kids, but that not all child-free people need or can qualify their choice with “…but that doesn’t mean I don’t like kids! I’m a fantastic aunt!” or whatever. There are those of us out there who aren’t the “good aunt” types. 😉

      But I’m now thinking about writing a bit more, over on my personal blog, about why *I* particularly don’t like kids. I’ve talked it over in therapy a lot, and really ripped it apart. There’s some interesting things there having to do a LOT with my relationships with my siblings, a long-term unhealthy relationship in high school, and my over-all control issues. Which lead my therapist to being like, “yeah, with all that, it totally makes sense why you wouldn’t be comfortable around kids and would not want to become a parent.”

      Hmmmm… *gets writing fingers limbered up*

      • I’d be interested to read that. However, I don’t think that not liking to be around children has to stem from any particular issues with past relationships or our own childhood (although it certainly can, of course). Sometimes, it’s just who and how people are.
        I don’t like to be around loud self-centered adults with no filter, little consideration for others and very different priorities than mine. It doesn’t mean I don’t bear with it when I have to, but I’m not actively seeking it. The fact that the other person is 5 instead of 35 doesn’t make much of a difference in how I’m not having that great a time hanging out with them. Of course it’s all normal behaviour for a child, but again that won’t change my experience much. That means a lot of things like: I won’t rush over to see your new-born child. Other people are much more interested in that than me and they’ll be happy to do it. If I’m inviting you for my birthday party, children are not invited (and my house is not child-proof at all). If I’m over to your place for your party? Then I am aware the children will be there and that’s fine; I just won’t seek them out.

        Can’t talk for the OP, but as a person who doesn’t like children much, all I want is for people to stop trying to “turn me”. Forcing me to spend time with children, dropping a babe in my arms, won’t make me like those experiences more.

        Honestly, I’m a bit put off by the hard-core negative reactions to this post. And I am greatly missing Scalzi’s Mallet of Loving Correction right now, because there was a lot of off-topic and repetitive stuff thrown in there (and dare I say a bit insane?).
        There’s also this “oh but you’re going to be so unhappy” comments…I mean WHAT? Believe me, I don’t need anyone being concerned about me “missing out” on life because children aren’t a big part of it. I think that is intensely condescending and would encourage anyone tempted by that form of pity to use their energy elsewhere. Everyone’s experience is different for everyone else’s. Someone found their bliss in being around kids/parenting a kid? Great! That’s not how mine came along. They don’t need to share mine and I don’t need to share theirs; it’s fine, everyone found “it” in the end anyway.

      • I totally respect your choice and it probably makes sense, however, I’ve always been a bit bummed knowing that you’re childfree because you’re so pretty, and your kids would look so cute and, judging by your bathrooms, you would do the best themed nurserys! <3 🙂

        • HA!!!! Your comment made me actually laugh out loud. I have *actually* had a moment of going being sad and going, “aw man, I’d design a kick-ass kids room.”

          Also thank you for calling me pretty. 🙂

  21. Correct me if I’m wrong. I feel like what the OP means to say, different than that they do not like all children, is that they do not like the implicit responsibility to parent that comes with being around children.

    I am child-free by choice, and I think I would be sad/annoyed if all my friends had children and I never, ever got to just hang out with my friends, the adults. For me now, it’s not even disliking kids so much as feeling like the responsibility (of setting the right example, of making sure Jimmy doesn’t eat things he shouldn’t, of not swearing in the room) is weird for me. It’s not that I won’t do it. I’m not a dick. But I don’t like it. I don’t think I’d be a good parent, so being put in that role around other people’s children to some extent–just because I am a fellow adult–is icky.

    Again–not because I hate them. Not really. But because I’m no good at that stuff, I’m not, and no one should assume that I am just because I have a job and stuff. Maybe that’s not the point here. But maybe that’d be a good way to re-think about it, even for the OP.

    Maybe it’s a bit much to say you hate all children, but rather that you hate the expectations of you around children?

    • I really like this comment, and I’m one of the people who is unhappy with this article and stated how it smacks of ageism and ableism above. I think you’re reading the article with a generous eye, but perhaps it does, in fact, better reflect the heart of the matter in this case. I hope so! Personally, I enjoy getting to know/talking with some children, and others not so much – depending on the child, since they’re all different, but also depending on the family/situation. I’ve lived in a couple of other countries and I think there is something that goes on with *some* families in the U.S. where everything is made super precious, and you feel constrained from being yourself the second you’re around the child. Some things are easy enough – not swearing is a good example – but there is *something* I can’t quite fully articulate yet that often doesn’t feel quite as…natural. I feel like in the other places I lived 1) children were always around – rarely segregated from anything adults did and often running around, then coming back in, then running around again but 2) adults felt very little obligation to directly interact with them at any given moment, much like being at a cocktail party where you get to choose to talk to whomever you feel like. Things felt more fluid and less , “look what so-and-so is doing!”, “So-and-so, tell Auntie X about how you feel about doing Y”. There was less of an effort to entertain children. I really enjoy being around my closest friends and their kids precisely because the kids are SO incorporated into everything that they feel like one of many parts of our experience, rather than the main show. (I hope that makes sense.) Interestingly, I’ve always found – both as a nanny when I was younger and now just as the “auntie” to my niece and nephew and friends’ kids, that many children tend to respond much better to you if you’re just yourself – relaxed, kind of uninterested until they say something cool, and perhaps throwing in a funny comment once in awhile. Faking it/humoring people = exhausting, and I avoid it at all costs – with both kids and adults.

  22. Hmm, I didn’t realise this was going to provoke such a discussion, I’m now feeling pretty naive! It has sent me off thinking a lot though…

    I had a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy session this morning and we were looking at my behavioural responses to overwhelming situations and interactions. One tactic I use is avoidance and we were trying to rationalise the fact that sometimes avoidance is a healthy way of dealing with issues and sometimes its not, depending on the circumstances and motivation. I’m working through anxiety and depression and there are some circumstances that I know will really trigger the symptons and make life difficult, but I think for most levels of mental and physical health there are going to be things that test you to your limits. Sometimes, at this point in recovery, my short-term solution is to avoid the situation and exit myself from it. In some cases that’s the healthy response however I’m doing mentally (like when I was being physically threatened by guys on the tram the other day) but for a lot of things that only deals with the short-term issue and can even compound the long-term underlying problems.

    Honestly this will now start seeming relevant to not liking children. I know there are some situations and social interactions that I find very difficult and really pressure me even when I’m not dealing with any anxiety/depression issues. I’m very aware of sound and where people are in a space. I can try to build up my tolerance levels to these stimuli but they’re things that will always be problematic for me because that’s part of how I physically function. I could completely understand someone finding being around children as being really draining and difficult and something they actively dislike. Children tend to have less control over themselves than most adults (depending where they’re at developmentally), for some of them their main means of communication is simply crying, they are less aware of social norms so are more likely to break them in ways someone could find uncomfortable. I don’t think any of those tendancies are ‘bad’ at all, but I know they create behaviours that could cause people (including other children) difficulties. And if you know that being around children is going to actively drain you, discomfort you and possibly just drive you up the wall because all the children you’ve experienced push all of your buttons, is it wise to keep putting yourself in that situation? Through no fault of the children themselves I can easily imagine it being repeatedly problematic for someone to be around them.

    Back to the avoidance issue, I think if you’ve examined yourself and realised that that is part of how you function, and as part of your self-care you’ve decided not to enter into those situations, I think that should be seen as a valid choice. It’s more complicated than when I’m using avoidance to deal with things that trigger depressive mindsets because while I know that I’m trying to ‘fix’ some thinking that has turned self-destructive there’s nothing actually wrong with not liking people running about all over the place, crying, not understanding how they relate to others etc. etc. I don’t know if avoidance is the most effective way to manage it in the long-run because it doesn’t teach you to effectively deal with the problematic situation but I can fully understand why people would chose it. Ariel’s comment about children being an element of life that simply isn’t going to go away is very pertinent I think, as there needs to be some coping strategy that doesn’t create a lot of grief for the person dealing with it, but I think there also needs to be the space to admit that it’s a real issue. To be able to say that ‘I don’t like being round children’ and that not be seen as something ‘broken’ in a person that has to be fixed. Although I would expect the person claiming that to be working out ways for them to manage that effectively, in a way that’s healthy for themselves and those around them. I don’t expect my autistic relation to ever come to love uncertainty and disrupted plans, and I’m learning not to expect myself to be positively enthusiastic about certain behaviour’s in other people that I actually find really difficult but for some reason there seems to be a general impression that people who don’t enjoy being around kids should make it imperative to change that. I’m not really convinced, I don’t think some people are ever going to enjoy being around children and personally I don’t see that as a problem, although it may prove difficult for them.

    This comment thread has made me really think about the idea of ‘children’ as a demographic though. I think it is a really odd group because it’s the only one I can think of that actually does have near univeral similarities and yet also contains massive diversity within that. I feel it is reasonably fair to say that children will tend towards certain behaviours because of their experiences of learning and developing, whereas I would be incredibly wary of making blanket statements about, for example, people with a disability, apart from the fact that they probably identify as being disabled. It’s really complex. Through reading the comments I’ve also realised that I personally feel ok with the ‘not being a pet person’ comparison because I don’t expect children to take responsibility for the actions that people might find difficult. Dogs are going to bark because that’s part of how they work, and though some people will find that difficult I don’t blame dogs for doing it because they’re not choosing to do so it’s just how they are. In a similar way babies and toddlers are going to cry and children are likely to exhibit some behaviours that people might find difficult but I don’t expect them to change that because that’s part of how they function as children, they’re not deliberately choosing that. So I can see the similarities of a friend deciding to meet you outside of your house because they find they dislike how dogs behave and a friend trying to meet you in a not so child focused place because they dislike/find it difficult to be around kids. I think there’s an important differentiation to be made between children and their behaviour, I don’t have to hate a child to dislike sitting next to a screaming toddler, but neither should I have to justify that dislike by saying I really like the child either. But is that me just playing with semantics, and would I feel differently as a parent of a small child? And if I felt differently would that matter anyway, as this isn’t really about the parents’ views of the matter? Still have too many questions!

    Btw has there been a deliberately lighter moderating approach to this thread to enable different people to express views? There’s some bits, like how much people are accusing and almost attacking each other and the random link spamming someone’s doing to a particular article, that have left it feeling a lot less life an Offbeat Empire conversation that usual, which is sad surrounding this sort of topic. I appreciate it must be a difficult call to make though!

    • Wow! I have to bookmark this comment and come back and really dive into it. SO much meatiness! I love it.

      But I want to address this: Btw has there been a deliberately lighter moderating approach to this thread to enable different people to express views?

      Not lighter moderation, but this is definitely a more intense discussion than Offbeat Home usually hosts. (This was more of an Offbeat Families comment thread, and those were way harder to moderate, as is this.) We’ve deleted a few comments, but the ones that remain are ones that don’t exactly violate our comment policy (even if some of them made me squidgy) AND I’ve kept some iffies up because y’all are so smart that the discussion that ensued was FASCINATING.

      • I’ve just realised how flippin long my comment was, glad you found something interesting in the middle of it all 😉 There has been some really interesting discussion coming out of this; at least on Offbeat you know that if the drama levels are starting to rise there’s usually a reason it’s being let through. The response is probably a sign that we’ve still got a lot of thinking/working through these issues to do, so a good thing that the post got us doing so 🙂

    • Your “children as a demographic” paragraph is really spot on. There are behaviors that are inherent to a growing, developing brain that are no fault of the child, and to some people those behaviors are really difficult to be around. After all of these comments, I’m still not sure why that’s so controversial.

  23. I’m of the belief that you should never have to apologize for not liking something or explain why you don’t like it. If someone can’t respect your ‘no’, they certainly won’t respect your reasoning- screw ’em. If you’re distantly polite to friends with kids, and you don’t go around condemning everyone who has kids (because they have kids), it’s not anybody’s business.

    There have been years of my life where being around kids weirded me out, stressed me out, and put me on edge. There have been years where I couldn’t stop holding other people’s babies. I won’t be having kids of my own (unless we’re talking goats) because I don’t think I’d enjoy being a parent, and I’m not willing to be responsible for that if I’m proved right.

    But after being pressed for years by my mother on the ‘why’ (and her not accepting ANY of the multitude of honest answers I gave), my response now is a smile and a firm ‘No’ (and if someone continues asking ‘why not?’, I say “it’s private”; if they assert that I’ll change my mind or don’t know what I’m missing, I shrug and ignore their remarks).

  24. I too belong to this group. I do not like children at all and haven’t since I was a child myself. I was about 9 and was forced to hang out with my 5 year old second cousin and every minute was torture. I attribute my kid aversion somewhat to my only child status. I wasn’t raised around other children as my cousins are all either way older so I never learned how to “deal” with them. I find it hard to communicate on a kid level, I don’t find playing with them fun, and their little voices just grate on my nerves. The cry of a baby is like the cry of a mandrake to me (except that I’m still alive.)
    I recognized a long time ago that I would never have children and thankfully found a husband to be who shares my views but for his own reasons, he actually likes children. I know that I would feel very resentful if I couldn’t, for example, audition for a show because I couldn’t find childcare for rehearsals. I would be annoyed if I had to decline invitations to parties or other adult themed activities. Not to mention the cost, the stress, and my crippling migraines that would make taking care of a crying child way more difficult than it would be normally.
    I also hate the way that having children changes people. All my friends who have had children in the last few years have become obsessed helicopter parents who can’t have a conversation about anything other than their kids. My one friend explained it to me that it does bother her that she has nothing else to talk about but since she’s with her kids 24/7 that’s literally IS all she has to talk about. I understand that and that’s her choice. If I liked children then I’d probably be a lot closer to her because I’d go over and hang out. But I don’t, so until her youngest reaches an age where I can have an adult conversation with him we’ll remain texting / facebooking friends who hang out when she needs to get away. That’s cool, and it works for her. It wouldn’t work for me. I wouldn’t be happy with that life.
    Our child free decision has of course ruffled some feathers. My MIL loves children, wants more grandchildren, and can’t accept that her only son won’t be passing along the family name (he’s a IV). But, it’s our decision to make, and we do not feel that our lives will be less fulfilling because there won’t be any children in them.

  25. I’m super late to the party on this, but what strikes me is that everyone seems to have been weighed down by semantics. I would have loved to see the discussion that would have been generated if this post had been worded “I dislike loud noises, sticky fingers, snotty noses, whining, crying, etc, and as such have yet to find a child whose company I enjoy” instead of “dislike children”. It appears as though most dissenting arguments are centred around it being bigoted to dislike a group of people because said group is not homogeneous, and I would have loved to see what those commenters would have said if the OP had been centred around common behaviours rather than a quick and dirty classification like “children”.

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