Seth Rogen and his wife Lauren Miller don't want children, a mutual choice to preserve "fun" in their lives.
During a recent appearance on The Howard Stern Show, the 39-year-old actor claimed that children might hold him back. "I wouldn't be able to do all this work that I like," he told Stern. "People are always like — it's something I think I was uncomfortable answering this before — but they were like, 'How do you do so much?' It's that I don't have kids … I have nothing else to do."
And Miller, 38, shares her husband's feelings. "I would say she wants kids less than I do," said Rogen. "I could probably be talked into it. She's like, no.'" He adds. "We have so much fun. I don't know anyone who gets as much happiness out of their kids as we get out of our non-kids. Like, we're fucking psyched all the time. We're laying in bed on Saturday mornings smoking weed, watching movies naked. If we had kids, we could not be fucking doing this."
"It's not an easy haul having kids," admitted Stern, a father of three. "You can't be narcissistic. You have to give yourself over to parenting and they've got to be the priority."
"Yeah, I don't want that," asserted Rogen. "That does not sound fun to me. And why? There's enough kids out there. We need more people? Who looks at the planet right now and thinks, 'You know what we need right now? More fuckin' people.' That is truly a confounding thing to me."
On Facebook, the Knocked Up star had support from both parents and non-parents. "Honestly, I appreciate that not having kids is becoming normalized …parents don't get naps," someone wrote. "Seth Rogen is living his best life. You don't have to have kids to have a great life." Another agreed: "Kids aren't for everyone, and it's better to know that before you have them."
"I am so happy that people are feeling brave enough to say this sort of thing," someone wrote with others adding, "Everyone is wired differently" and "There is literally, absolutely, nothing wrong with not wanting to have kids."
That's the credo of the child-free movement composed of individuals who opt out of parenthood for personal, financial or eco-conscious reasons. According to a 2018 New York Times/Morning Consult survey, adults who didn't want children or weren't sure they wanted children revealed they wanted more leisure time (a luxury among those parent of children below the age of 18), hadn't found the right partner, feared childcare costs and a lack of mandated maternity leave — or simply had "no desire" for kids.
All that could justify the plummeting U.S. birth rate, currently at its lowest since 1979, according to a May report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The results showed a four percent dip in babies born between 2019 and 2020, nudging the United States toward "below replacement fertility levels" at which the population cannot sustain itself. Experts credit the decline to delays in marriage and parenthood, the absence of federal maternity leave, childcare and housing costs and women prioritizing education and career over babies.
Still, due to adaptations that predispose humans to parenthood— the cry of a baby, an evolutionary signal of survival — and the hormone oxytocin, which bonds parents, particularly women, to their infants, going child-free is sometimes shunned for being some sort of a biological betrayal.
In 2018, friends of Rogen and Miller tried to "convince" them to procreate "because they seem to like their kids,” he told Dax Shepard on the Armchair Expert podcast, adding, of his lifestyle, "I’m pretty at peace.” Chelsea Handler, Jennifer Aniston and Sarah Silverman have all, at one point, defended their own child-free lives. "I have no maternal instincts whatsoever. I am barren. I am bone-dry. When I see children, I feel nothing. I ovulate sand," Margaret Cho once said.
That "maternal instinct," used to describe a warm and protective bond between a child and a mother, is mostly a social construct, according to Noam Shpancer, a professor of psychology at Otterbein University. "It's not a good way to frame human behavior," he tells Yahoo Life. "Humans are not instinctive but rather learning animals." Parenthood is also a learned skill, through observation or cultural influence. "A lot of it is practice through trial and error," he says. "Once you have a child, you typically fall back on what you learned from your own parents or through movies and television."
Shpancer also points to a cultural context of "good parenting" — take corporal punishment, a commonplace and legal method of punishment, even among parents who believe spanking enforces discipline, despite the evidence to the contrary. "Spanking is considered child abuse in dozens of other countries," he says. Likewise, American parents don't typically allow babies in strollers to nap outside in cold weather, but those in Denmark and Sweden do, believing that cold air helps sleep and reduces illness.
There is no scientific ruling on whether parents or non-parents lead happier lives. "People without children are generally happier than people with children, as they have personal freedoms and resources," notes Shpancer. And research from Princeton University and Stony Brook University found that parents experience "more daily joy and more daily stress" than non-parents.
"The rewards of parenting are iffy and it's rational for people to not gamble on their happiness," says Shpancer. "But the experience of having kids has no substitute, in the sense that there is nothing like it. And if you don't have kids, you forgo that, for better or worse."
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