Having children a selfish act?

Boy at beach

Saturday, when my blog was down, my husband and I read this incredibly
sad and disturbing article, and I’ve been mulling over a post about it
ever since. Here are some of the “highlights”:

Had Toni Vernelli gone ahead with her pregnancy ten years ago, she
would know at first hand what it is like to cradle her own baby, to
have a pair of innocent eyes gazing up at her with unconditional love,
to feel a little hand slipping into hers – and a voice calling her

But the very thought makes her shudder with horror.

Because when Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet…

While some might think it strange to celebrate the reversal of
nature and denial of motherhood, Toni relishes her decision with an
almost religious zeal.

“Having children is selfish. It’s all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet,” says Toni, 35.


“Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land,
more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more
pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of

To read the whole article, click here.

I read this article with my mouth hanging open, unable to believe
the deception that these women and their partners have bought into. To
believe that saving the world at any cost is an honorable and worthy
pursuit, even at the cost of killing your own child, is deception

If we are not re-evaluating our current lifestyles and seeking to be
more ecologically friendly for the hope of a future generation, then
why do it at all? What good are clean and pure ocean waters without
someone to swim, fish or sail in them? Of what value is it to renew the
soil we have stripped through poor farming practices and begin to once
again grow nutrient-dense and pesticide free produce, if there is no
one to eat it?

I saw a dark vein running through the article, perhaps somewhat
subtle, but it stood out to me so obviously. These women claim that
having children and “over-populating” the earth is the ultimate selfish
act (please, don’t go there with me about the myth of over population).
And yet, as I read about their decisions and their lifestyles
(particularly Toni), I detect a selfishness far greater.

Our culture has bought the lie that we ought to have comfortable,
even luxurious lives, full of the pleasures we believe we deserve. It
has also taught us that children are an affront to this indulgent
lifestyle that we are owed. It begins with choosing to have only one or
two, or even no children, because they come at too great of a cost (but
how will we buy a 4000 sq ft home, and travel the world, and eat out 3
nights a week, and own a plasma tv?). And now this selfishness is being
cloaked in self-righteousness. It’s not because I am selfish– it’s because I am so altruistic that I couldn’t possibly burden this planet with another child.

In defense of our children, I see a much longer lasting legacy than
preventing the use of more water, land and oil. I see the legacy of
children being raised to care for and take dominion over the earth in a
responsible, God-honoring way. Children who will learn from their
parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents mistakes, and be the
leaders who will make the necessary transformation to a society that
treads too heavily upon the earth. Children who will value the creation
that has been given to us, value clean air, pure water, and healthy
bodies, and lead revolutionary lives.

I look into my sweet baby’s eyes, and I do not see cost, burden or
destruction- I see the future, and I believe that if we are diligent in
raising the next generation, that future is bright.

Originally published November 2007

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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  1. Yes having children is the epitome of selfishness. How can you be selfish for not having something that does not exist?

  2. The selfishness of the act of having a child can be exemplified by one of the phrases used to describe a baby, “bundle of joy”. People have children so they can have that little “bundle of joy”, soy they can carry on their family line, and so that they can have someone to take care of. I had a vasectomy at the age of 28 because I know there are those out there that will have 2, 3, or more kids. Every child born over replacement rate is making the world a worse place for every other child. One day, I may choose to take in a child that for some reason or other does not have anyone to raise them which seems like the more responsible thing than to have another child.

  3. Steven Macleod says:

    Me and my wife decided not to have kids mostly because we don’t like them but I believe the only thing wrong with this planet is the people imagine the world with out us in it it would be beautiful, are lives what we say and do mean nothing in the long run, a spec of nothing in the universe

  4. Zem & E, I say Amen!

  5. “If we are not re-evaluating our current lifestyles and seeking to be
    more ecologically friendly for the hope of a future generation, then
    why do it at all?”

    That ONE sentence pretty much sums up the shallowness of your “rebuttal” to the rationale behind Toni’s choice.

    Gee, if we ain’t doin’ it for the benefit of humans, then who gives a damn what we do to the planet, right?

    What an absolutely marvelous attitude. Justification of selfishness with MORE selfishness.

  6. Man, your words make me cringe. Overpopulation a myth? Seriously? Six billion and counting, most of them without basic amenities, not enough for you or something?

    This blog left me with my mouth open. Why don’t you people who bash the childless ones stop and think for one second?
    They are not suggesting that the entirety of the human race stops reproducing this instant, as anyone can realise this is unreasonable as well as impossible.

    They are simply saying (quite accurately) that reproduction is no longer a necessity for the continuation of the human race. Half the fertile population in the world today could drop dead right now and humanity would go on without a hitch in terms of surviving as a species.

    So they have decided not to further burden the planet or maybe just earn more money, what’s it to you? It’s not as if they are telling YOU to stop having children. In fact, by not having children themselves, they are creating better opportunities for yours…you should probably thank them.

    Lay off couples who decide to not have children, regardless of their reasons. It’s their choice and absolutely none of your business.
    And pardon me if I scoff at the idea that this society is very accepting of these people. Even in this 21st century in first-world, developed countries, women get A LOT of pressure to have babies in their fertile years, especially they are married.

    Since humanity is not in danger of extinction, no one has any obligation to reproduce. So let it go.

  7. It is indeed very unselfish to not have children. Having children, in its very essence, is selfish. It does not make it wrong however. All of our actions are basically selfish. All animals act this way. But we have been gifted with the foresight and past-tense thinking to help other animals and plants survive. Having children is great, but it is an even greater accomplishment to make a choice to not have them so that others can (because we know they will) in order for the planet to (maybe) prosper. We need to halt our take-over of the planet. Because what good are our efforts, our compassion, if there is nothing left?