Married Without Children

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 11 2011 @ 10:07am

Brian Frazer defends childless couples:

For Heather McGhinnis, a married 35-year-old marketing specialist in Elgin, Illinois, motherhood is simply a lifestyle choice that's not for her. "The job of being a parent doesn't interest me," she explains. "Just like I don't want to be an accountant, I don't want to be a parent." According to Laura S. Scott, who surveyed 171 subjects for her book Two Is Enough: A Couple's Guide to Living Childless by Choice, that kind of attitude is linked to a specific personality component. "A lot of introverts, thinkers, judgers—these are people who think before they act," she says. "They're planners, and they're not the kind of people who can be easily led into a conventional life just because everyone else is doing it."

I'm in the first generation of gay men to confront this dilemma. Almost the first thing our relatives and friends asked us after our marriage was, "So are you going to have children?" My answer is that it has never really occurred to me. I'm lucky Aaron feels the same way.

There are times when one sees what one is missing. I spent Saturday with a couple who are newly parents. Seeing their infant son explore the world for the first time was as mind-blowing as it usually is. His smiles and eyebrows, his tiny hands reaching out to touch utterly new things, his occasional recourse to his mother's arms or his father's trousers, the excitement of a simple peek-a-boo are simply priceless. But I got to leave and merely enjoy this kid after a few hours, not stay and take care of him, or to endure a week of his sickness, or a minute of his nightly cries.

I guess I have too much respect for parenting to want to do it myself. Being an uncle is such a blessedly free way of loving the young.