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When I think about whether or not to have kids the two biggest arguments that come to mind are "no, don't add 59 more tons of CO2 to the planet each year" and "yes, we need more kids in the next generation to care for older generations as they age." It's confusing. And it's not simple. In addition to these reasons there are hundreds more -- emotional, cultural, economic and so on. Research shows that the more educated a person is the less likely they are to have children and this is often brought up to encourage people who intellectually prevent pregnancy to have children for the sake of society. There's social pressure, tradition, wanting independence, and adventure.

What I hope to do in this episode is to share some of the most common arguments for and against having kids while offering a third option to the debate -- fostering and adoption. I don't know what is right for any one person (though I do judge) and there's a lot of factors to consider (some I don't know of or understand).

As I share in this video, I have parented 12 kids as a foster and or adoptive parent. I started when I was 27 and it's now been a 10 year experience. Recently someone asked me to talk about this in a video so this is an effort to do that. It's certainly not everything I have to say on the topic including everything I've learned about sexuality from parenting. I chose not to go into a lot of detail because I"m still trying to sort out how to describe my experiences while preserving the anonymity and or confidentiality of my kids. What I can tell you is that I'm thinking a lot about how and if there's still interest, I will do my best to share more in the future.

Stay curious.

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I'd like to argue that deciding whether or not to have children makes a larger impact on your life and the world at large than any decision you'll ever make.  Pay attention.  In my teens, I would fantasize about getting pregnant, having a little girl to take care of, someone to love me unconditionally and give me a reason to live.  I learned later that this is called emotional incest and it's not healthy.  

In my early 20s, I had it all planned out.  Master's degree by 25 and two kids by 28.  The idea of not having kids didn't even occur to me.  I had my kids' names picked out and themes for their bedrooms.  You just have kids.  Then, I started working with pregnant and parenting teenagers.  I learned from them that raising kids is very hard and very expensive, even with social services and community support.  But I wasn't convinced that I shouldn't have these difficulties or costs in my life.  Instead, I avoided seafood to keep uterus low in mercury for some future pregnancy and I dated people who were pro-kids so that someday...

UNICEF, the United Nations International Childrens Emergency Fund estimates that more than 350,000 babies are born each day.  That's over 1,000 new kiddos in the time it takes to watch this video.  Lots of people are having kids.  Should we?  The Pew Research Center found nearly 1 in 5 American women end their childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s.  So fewer people are having kids.  Should we join them?

Environmentally, not having kids reduces your contribution to climate change more than energy efficient lightbulbs, hang drying your clothes, recycling, cutting meat out of your diet, driving an electric car, and/or getting rid of your car altogether.  This is according to researchers at Lund University.  Not having kids or having fewer means that you prevent an entire life of carbon footprints and potentially what could have been their offspring's carbon footprints and so on and so on.  

Historically, the reasons to have children were about reproduction, labor, and lineage.  This is made very clear by Dr. Max Gerson's medical opinion from 1898 discouraging women from vigorous exercise because it might "cause a shift in the position and loosening of the uterus as well as prolapse and bleeding with resulting sterility, thus defeating a woman's true purpose in life, the bringing forth of strong children."  Not my purpose!

But survival of the species, it's a biological imperative to reproduce.  We need kids to help hunt and gather and work the fields and raise our other kids.  Someone we can give our property and wealth to, if there is any.  Economically, the cost to raise a child in the US is nearly a quarter of a million dollars, $233,000.  I put a link in the description to a questioner that will calculate the expenses more accurately for your lifestyle, but it's all pretty close to $20,000 a year for 17 years.

Labor and delivery averages $3,000 but goes up from there quickly.  Childcare varies, but I'd estimate that per month, it's similar to rent or a mortgage payment.  Add clothing, food, medicine, transportation, the increase in housing bills to accommodate another person, and then all those miscellaneous things, haircuts, toys, school materials, eventually a cell phone and a calling plan, more clothes, more food.  

On one hand, you're investing in someone.  That's priceless.  A family.  The experience of parenting.  Those are't really quantifiable, but on the other hand, choosing not to have a child means not paying a quarter of a million dollars to raise one. 

That's all practical reasoning.  Not all decisions are based in logic.  Have you ever gone through a breakup?  A really bad breakup?  If everything was thought out and based in logic, you'd never get back into a relationship and risk another breakup.  Yet people date again and again because of their emotions.

Emotionally, people have kids because they love kids, because they want to hold a baby, because they want to build their own family, to have a sense of purpose, a reason to get out of bed.  Because they're afraid that they'd regret not having kids.  People have kids to give love, to receive love, to experience that ineffable bond, to physically create a human being, to raise a good person, to make their parents or their partner happy or because they're afraid of being alone.

Some of the emotional reasons people don't have kids, they're like kids themselves.  They want to do whatever they want.  They're not emotionally stable or emotionally available.  They don't want to pass on their health issues to another generation.  Mental illness, genetic problems, et cetera.  Having kids is very, very stressful.  They may not want to sacrifice their time.  They might not want to lose intimacy with their partner.  They don't have a strong support system or know how to raise kids, or they're afraid of doing harm, but these still aren't all the factors that contribute to the decision. 

There are social and cultural reasons, religious reasons, biological reasons.  It isn't always simple.  When I was 27, my partner at the time worked as a counselor in a group home for children.  There were six kiddos in his home, but I knew there were hundreds more on waiting lists.  Hundreds in my small city, who needed homes, a safe adult who could teach them how to tie their shoes, help them make friends, take them camping, comfort them after nightmares or bullying at school.  I had a spare room in my home, extra time, all this love.  So I called up a local foster and adoption agency to learn more about the process of having kids.

I decided I would sign up for their training course and if I didn't want to continue after the first class, I would stop.  I finished the course, which was three hours in the evening twice a week for four weeks, then completed what is called a home study, where social workers interviewed me in detail and inspected my house to make sure that a kiddo would be safe there.  My first kid was a 17 year old, one of the strongest, most talented young women I know.  After her, I took in 11 other kiddos, mostly teenagers, but I have changed diapers, installed car seats, cut up food for five year old and washed tiny little clothes.  It wasn't planned.  It wasn't a should or shouldn't have kids.  I gathered information for a long time and I explored my emotions around that information.

I'm committed to not having a human being come out of my vagina, which I manage with birth control, but having kids, I've had 12 of them.  The state helps with the cost of their care.  A team supports me and my kids with countless resources, and I'm not increasing the population.  If anything, my kids learn about contraception and prevent pregnancies they might not have otherwise.  It's still expensive and the hardest thing I have ever done, but undoubtedly the right decision for me.

For you?  You'll know.  Stay curious.

Hey, if you're using prescription birth control or considering it, I highly recommend SimpleHealth.  You don't have to go to the doctor's office or wait at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription.  Instead, licensed doctors will coach you through hundreds of trusted brands to recommend the best for you.  Birth control is free with most insurance plans, but for those who don't have it, something like the pill starts at $15 a month and delivery is free for everyone.  SimpleHealth does charge a $20 prescription fee, but if you use the code 'sexplanations' at, you'll get the fee waived.  It's convenient, affordable, it's reliable, and personalized.  Having control of your reproduction is now as easy as checking your e-mail.  Just remember, the service is not a replacement for routine evaluations by primary care physician or your gynecologist.  SimpleHealth and I want people to get pap smears and check ups, but there's no medical reason to link those visits to contraception.