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Tom’s Story: Fatherhood isn’t for me

Tom James - Your children are boringI think it’s fair to say that the experience of most men is very different to that of women when it comes to being childfree. In fact, if I’m honest, until I reflected on it in any meaningful way recently in writing Your Children Are Boring, I didn’t realise quite how different it was.

For me, it wasn’t something that often came up with friends, despite all of them having had kids and, for some reason, chosen me as a godparent a couple of times. It might have been an idle wonder every now and then on my side, but I mainly had the attitude that, unless it was something I was intensely drawn or driven to do, being a parent wasn’t for me. Seems like a fairly big decision to take on a whim or via social pressure.

But I can testify through experience that, when I was with a female partner, she was quizzed far more on her maternal plans. The question usually emanated from a well-meaning, but cultish friend who just happens to be a shiny new parent with baby in tow. An awkward silence usually ensued, before a muddled, reluctant and non-committal answer came forth.

Speaking for myself, at times when I was younger, I would deal with any question regarding procreation by using the well-used trope of ‘being too selfish’ to have kids. Because it was something I’d heard and that somehow, one imagines through magic, you become a Dalai Lama-esque selfless individual as soon as you have a kid. Obviously, the more experience of parents you have, the more you realise that simply isn’t true. In fact, aside from the falling in love with your child sensation many mothers have, if you throw in the environmental impact that bringing a new human into the world has, the claim that it makes you less selfish rests on shaky ground.

Again, before I wrote the book I didn’t realise there was even a ‘community’ (perhaps you could even say, ‘movement’?) for the ‘Childfree’. I can see why and, I can obviously see why (at least in my experience), it’s predominantly female-led.

I don’t think I’m the best advert for or against being childfree, but it’s not always easy to tell. Would I have been able to be as flighty in my career as I have been, to try things, including people, and test myself, to take risks? And is that a good thing?

Would I have been able to explore the voluntary and more altruistic expeditions I am taking? Would I have been able to write when I want? I doubt it. Many of my friends find no time or mental capacity to read anything but a headline. That’s not to say I have always made the most of this spare time and access to a surplus of sleep, but I have never looked on in envy at my friends with kids, admiration yes at the largely excellent fist they are making of things, but never envy.

My book, Your Children Are Boring, was partly a missive to certain modern parents and the hideous behaviours and traits some are bestowing on a generation. Entitlement, mums and dads as friends, plastering your children’s identity all over your social media accounts, and a disregard for those around you. But it is also an exercise in puncturing and dispelling the myths that support society’s obsession with parents.

There’s so much that can go awry when raising kids and, with a society that in my view is all at once demonstrating narcissistic qualities and a propensity to shame others, the stakes are high.

Not having kids means I feel I can remain relatively uncompromised in many ways, in my views and how I form them. It’s never been something I’ve regretted, in fact I’ll be honest, there’s a few times where I have thought, ‘Phew, imagine if we’d had kids…”

I love (some) kids, and I’m surrounded by parents, in work and in my private life and I can safely say that, I get the best of both worlds. Most weekends I get a sensation that very few parents get to have for a good few years. That sensation is, ‘What shall I do today?’ And it’s pretty marvellous. My biggest challenge is making sure I don’t waste it.

Tom James is the author of “Your Children Are Boring: or How Modern Parents Ruin Everything“. You can buy his book on Amazon:
US www.amazon.com
UK www.amazon.co.uk
CA www.amazon.ca
You can read more about his work on his website. You can also follow him on social media: Twitter @tomjayauthor – Instagram @instatomjames

Would you like to share your story? Send it to: [email protected]

Tom James - Your children are boring

Comments

  1. Hi Tom, thanks for sharing your experience of being childfree. It is good to hear a man confirm what most of us always knew, namely that women without children are treated differently compared to their male counterparts. I wish you all the best with your book.

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