On Men Who Don’t Want Kids, Difficult Relationships, Boys Going Through Puberty, and the Desire to Grow Up

by on March 7th, 2011
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Question

Last week my boyfriend of four years dropped a bombshell and told me didn’t want kids. He said he wouldn’t be a good father, and that it would be negligent and irresponsible to bring another child into the world. He worries about global problems such as the environment and world hunger, and because he’s really good with kids, I guess I deluded myself into thinking he would want kids of his own. When I try to change his mind, he says “To have a child is to say to all the other children starving, ‘You’re not my child, therefore you don’t deserve my resources.’” I’m banking that he might feel the need for purpose in life when he grows up. Any advice? I’m angry at my boyfriend for leading me on for so long.

Answer

In college I met some people with philosophies like that of your boyfriend. Back then, we never really knew how to refer to such soliloquies. But these days, they have a phrase for statements like his: humble brags. If you cite a sufficiently altruistic motive, you can make a purely personal decision sound like a boon to all mankind.

I can find fault with your boyfriend’s philosophy and with his facts. I can even make a compelling argument that he is deluding himself. But when I dig down through the high-minded philosophy, I’m left with one point you can take to the bank. When this man says he would be a bad father, he is telling the truth. Might he change his mind when he get older? Possibly. But don’t count on it. He has plenty of purpose in his life. That purpose, however, does not involve children.

This guy didn’t lead you on. Did he ever tell you he wanted kids? Did he ever promise you a family? I doubt it. You led yourself on. This guy doesn’t want to be a father. And if by some miracle you manage to trick or bully him into having a child with you, the simple presence of an infant in the house will not make him a dad. He might stay with you and provide for the child. And he might not. But even if he steps up and honors his responsibilities, don’t expect much in the way of nurturing or training or loving of that child.

In the South they have a saying: “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” Your boyfriend is perfectly content with the way he has it now. Why on earth would he change things? Your letter mentioned several reasons why you decided to stay with this man. The word “love” didn’t make the cut. Can you be happy with this man – and without children – for the rest of your life? If you cannot answer “Yes,” this relationship will not end up anywhere good.

Question

Is it normal for a 14-year-old boy going through puberty to still look like a kid?

Answer

Most children keep growing until they reach their late teens, and some boys will continue to gain height even in their 20s. Boys’ frames tend to fill out as they age, and it may take several years into adulthood before your body reaches an equilibrium.

While most children begin to develop signs of physical maturity during puberty, that stage begins at different ages for different kids. And regardless of when puberty begins, every boy will see a different rate of growth in his stature, amount of body hair, and muscular development.

You can’t speed up the process, so don’t waste your time trying. Just remember that at 14 you are still technically a kid, so you have no reason to be embarrassed about looking like one.

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