real life

"It's a skill set I don't have." Benjamin Law on why he doesn't want kids.

Benjamin Law and his partner, Scott Spark, are in their mid 30s; “Prime breeding age”, as Ben puts it. Many of their friends are now married, several “exploding with kids”, and he’s starting to cop questions about when he’ll do the same.

Part of him is glad to be included in that conversation; not that long ago, it wouldn’t have been a typical one to have with a same-sex couple. The rest is a little irritated by the pressure.

The truth is, neither he nor Scott are interested in exchanging vows. Speaking to Mamamia‘s No Filter podcast, the journalist and critically acclaimed writer behind The Family Law book- and TV series, said he “loves” being part of the ritual and ceremony of weddings and thinks its important milestone for a lot of couples. But he and Scott, who’ve been together for half their lives, just aren’t sure it’s for them.

Mia Freedman chats to Benjamin Law on No Filter. Post continues after podcast. 

“I kind of feel like you have to renew your vows daily, in a way, internally. We’re not bound together by marriage, so [we question] what are the other things that bind us, and are they still important? You know you make an active effort to do that,” he said. “And I’m not saying that married people are just lying back on marriage — there is always an escape hatch. But I think, for us, not having had that option has meant that we’ve had to actively think about what is keeping us together, and is it worth it? I think that’s a really healthy thing.”

Kids aren’t for them either. Ben and Scott relish in their role as “gay uncles” to their friends’ children, who mean the world to them. But they’ve also taught Ben two things:

“One is I love kids, and I need them in my life. And it’s so important for me to be around the kids who are important to me,” he said. “Like if I go a week without seeing certain kids in my life, it feels wrong.

“The second thing that’s reaffirmed is I don’t want them. Because my love for them is so strong, I don’t feel that urge to have any of my own, because I feel invested in these kids lives.

“Also, the responsibility. I don’t think it’s the level of responsibility, but it’s a completely different kind of responsibility to the responsibilities I feel capable of. And that’s not putting myself down; I feel like we’re all capable of different kinds of things. It’s a skill set that I don’t have, and it’s a skill set that I’m not sure I could develop either.”

 

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Big privilege watching these boys grow up from babies to the rolled-gold dorks they were destined to be. _____ (1st ????: @theqza)

A post shared by Benjamin Law (@mrbenjaminlaw) on

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Part of it is rooted in his now-famous childhood. Growing up in a family of five children, Ben witnessed what his mum endured to raise them.

“She did such a good job, and so did my dad. But it’s a slog, you know?” he said. “So I saw firsthand, because my sister’s a significantly younger than me, what it takes to like raise a really, really young child, and I don’t think I really romanticised it. I’m just like, ‘that thing poops. A lot.'”

Though Scott was an only child, Ben said watching their friends wrestle with parenting has brought him to the same headspace.

“My heart just grows when I see him around our mate’s kids, because he’s so good at being there for them and being this really nourishing figure in their lives,” he said. “And I don’t want to compromise that role in a way.”

Yes, for now they’re content watching families ‘explode’ around them, helping contain the fallout when they can.

“I just love seeing my friends — straight and queer — just making these kind of daily miracles with their children. It’s really gratifying.”

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