WASHINGTON — I awoke from a deep sleep to hear a low, snoring roar. As I opened my eyes, the indescript noise was coming from my six month old pitbull, Toby, as he lay in between myself and my wife, Monika. As I got my bearings, I looked to my left to the night stand to see what time it was. The alarm clock read 2:37 a.m. The next hour consisted of Toby twitching while snoring quite loudly.
I wake up each morning at 6 a.m. to take the dogs out, thus freeing Monika up to ready herself for the day. Toby had never woken me up overnight in this fashion, and while it was a tad frustrating, I wasn’t upset. I view Toby as my child, and this is as much fatherhood that I am prepared to voluntarily undertake. This stance obviously sets me apart from about 90 percent of society, which tells adult males and females that you are expected to reproduce, and raise human children.
My stance on this topic, I feel is enhanced by my upbringing. My parents divorced when I was five years old, so not living with both parents was normal for me. Of course, both parents remarried, and this had a profound effect on my views on things such as parenthood.
My stepmother, Julie, a lawyer specializing in family law, didn’t have children and had zero interest in raising any of her own. Julie and my father were married in Jan. 2001, I was 14. She was the first adult I had ever come in contact with that wasn’t over the top in love with the idea of children. She is one of the most intelligent people I have ever come in contact with, she holds a nursing degree from Michigan State University, and a law degree from Depaul University. She didn’t need children to validate her life as I believe a lot of society does, for one reason or another.
My father, Dennis Sr., was very affectionate towards myself, and my brother, Sean, who is two and a half years my junior. Our relationships was enhanced by the numerous custody battles between himself and my mother. Despite the love he has for his children he has no issues with my stance on not wanting children, which is a breath of fresh air. My mother on the other hand, doesn’t understand. When I wrote my first column in this space, as I displayed the parental relationship Monika and I have with our dogs and cats. Her initial response to reading that column online told me all I needed to know about her feelings on the subject.
“Did they really let you print that in the newspaper,” she told me over phone.
She remarried in 1994 to my stepfather, Tim. I believe that how children are treated by their parents on a daily basis has an impact on how they develop as adults.
Tim’s father was U.S. Marine, who served in World War II. From stories I have heard his parenting style wasn’t overly affectionate. This was passed on to his son. To say Tim and I got along would be a great understatement. He wasn’t physically abusive whatsoever, but he did use intimidation as part of his child rearing strategy. This obviously was a great contrast to the laid back approach my father displayed.
To reproduce for the simple reason that society expects you to, seems incredibly irresponsible to me. As with most things that are expected in adulthood, responsibility should be required, but often times is not. That’s precisely where my views on this topic come in.
I don’t want or need children to feel as if my life has been complete. To be honest, having that much control over another human life doesn’t interest me. Raising our three dogs is completely fine with me. Maybe this means I haven’t grown into adulthood, maybe it means I’m irresponsible, or just maybe Monika and I have figured out children aren’t the key to ultimate happiness.