When Chips Off the Old Block are Potato Chips

30-pack of Old Dutch potato chips

My general disdain for billionaires who stay billionaires is well documented on this site. It’s not the accumulation of wealth that bothers me. It’s hanging onto that wealth while so many suffer. We’re all spinning on this big blue ball together. If we have the means, and don’t bother to help each other, then what’s it all about?

Yes, there are exceptions. But Elon Musk isn’t one of them. And comments the father of ten made this week hit many childlesss people where we live.

“There is an awful morality to those who deliberately have no kids: they are effectively demanding that other people’s kids take care of them in their old age. That’s messed up.”

Elon Musk on X

Musk brings up a valid concern although I think his opinion that it’s “awful morality” is wrong. I’ve given thought to what my old age might be like in light of the fact that I’m childless. Should I – God forbid, touch wood, hope it doesn’t happen – end up old and alone, how would the future look? I am stepmother to Derek’s adult daughter, but in my view, she’s under no obligation to look after me. There are many nieces and nephews and – same. It’s up to me to figure out how to look after myself.

But is that why people have children? So someone will look after them when they’re old? I recall one Mom years ago saying it was one of her prime motivations for reproducing but I assumed she was the exception, not the rule. I’m guessing there’s a whole range of reasons for having kids including, it’s what people do. Just like there’s a long list of reasons why people don’t have kids, including health, genetics, finances, and, yes, selfishness. But immorality? I think not.

Having children of my own wasn’t in the cards for me. Necessary surgery decades ago made it a certainty. After that, wanting a child in my life, I became a Big Sister. That little waif is now a thirty-something mother of two whom I adore as chosen family. They might feel responsible if I become unable to care for myself, but I hope I’ll have taken steps to avoid that before anything happens. However, in the words of our late friend Carol, “Life gets lifey”, and you can’t prepare for every possible outcome.

Every parent, aunt, sibling and friend who has asked a couple, “when are you having children?”, deserves a face slap with a silk glove. It’s no one’s business. In fact, I believe it’s selfish to push someone to give you grandchildren. Instead of asking about future babies, why not ask someone with ten kids why they had so many? Or, ask an anti-abortion activist how many unwanted kids they plan to adopt?

But I digress.

Musk felt the need to comment on some viral videos by young DINKs: Dual Income No Kids. The couples bragged about their disposable income and freedom to be spontaneous. How they didn’t burden their own parents with requests for financial help. That they could buy snacks in bulk and never have to worry that someone else ate their fave chips. But they attracted comments that called them, “genetic dead ends”, living a “meaningless existence.”

One of my cousins told me years ago that if he were in my position – unable to have kids – he wouldn’t see a reason to keep living. (His motivational speaking career never took off – can’t imagine why!!) Today, I find it hilarious that he is older than me and has never had children. I guess the fact that he could if he wanted to was enough to keep him going. (Insert eyeroll here)

Last year, upon the birth of his twins, Musk tweeted: “Doing my best to help the under population crisis. A collapsing birth rate is the biggest danger civilization faces by far.”

Sorry Elon, population decline will make the world better, not worse. As Scientific American noted, “Population decline is only a threat to an economy based on growth.” In every other way, it’s beneficial for humans who are competing for depleting resources. We need more animals and trees, not more people.

One definition of family isn’t better than another. Having children is the norm, but not having children is also valid, for whatever reasons. None of us knows what our far-off future will look like. We plan and Fate says “HA!” We’re all just doing our best out here. It’s not a moral failure to choose not to reproduce, no matter what the billionaire father of ten – that we know of – says. Besides, he doesn’t need ten to look after him in his old age. Surely he could loan some out for an aging childless couple or two. Or eight.

9 thoughts on “When Chips Off the Old Block are Potato Chips”

  1. This blog hit home for me. I have never had children. In my 30s when I’d be hanging out with my closest friend, parents of her kids’ friends would ask me the usual questions, what do you do for a living and how many kids do you have? I’d reply no kids and immediately I could see THE look and know they no longer were interested in me. This same friend I’m sure expects her children to be “there” for her in her elder years but she hardly called or visited her aging parents. Just because you had kids does not mean they’ll help look after you, do good for the world, etc etc.

    1. You make a great point, Jennifer. There’s no guarantee. Maybe Musk has made looking after him a condition to receive their inheritance.

  2. Every family unit does what is right for them, not society, and Musk is a prime example. He is indiscriminately adding to the western world population, and not helping to solve the starvation and drought conditions of most of the world. I’m sure he is simply worried about being overrun by people who don’t look, think, or act like him. He is the epitome of selfish and egocentric.

  3. Great post. Why have children to please someone else? I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a mother. It was in the cards for me, I am fortunate that I could. I don’t think we were all put on this earth to have children. People feel it is their place to ask why – none of your f’en business. Never mind if it was a choice. Think about how the person may feel if it was not their choice, like you….
    I do not expect my children to look after me when I am old, I do expect them to come visit though, or at least call. It is my responsibility to have something in place.

  4. Elon Musk is no expert in this particular field especially when he didn’t birth them. He enjoyed himself for a few minutes and the woman got stuck with the rest of the process. Elon Musk should shut up. Men need to stay out of the conversation unless they are invited.

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