real life

'Having kids is too hard on low income earners. So I got a vasectomy at 22.'

Jye Lawton is 25. He is a delivery driver from Melbourne who has been in a committed long-term relationship with partner Solarah Jupp for almost six years now.

The young couple has already opted not to have children. And for his 22nd birthday, Jye and Solarah decided to split the cost of a vasectomy

As for why Jye decided on the vasectomy, it comes down to one major reason: the financial burden of having kids.

As parents know all too well, having kids is expensive. For parents who are low income earners. taking care of the day-to-day living expenses can be incredibly stressful and in some cases unachievable. Both Jye and Solarah know this first-hand, given they each grew up in homes with little money

"My brother and I grew up poor, so we definitely know what it's like to be young kids growing up without a lot of money. I didn't want to sort of push that upon more children, if I can avoid it," Jye told Mamamia.

Watch: Dax Shepard on his vasectomy. Post continues below.


And from a young age, Jye knew he didn't want to have kids. Influenced by his own low socioeconomic upbringing, Jye believes his mother shouldn't have had kids, even though she did the best she could raising him. 

"Even as early in my young teen years, I knew I didn't want children," Jye said. "I didn't want the responsibility and to be a father. I was really just happy being me. We have friends who have kids, and we've seen just how financially challenging it can be. Plus, given my own upbringing. It's very hard if you start in the lower class and it's a hard time getting out."

Solarah felt the exact same way. 

"We both grew up very poor. There are so many families living on Centrelink who are still struggling, just like what Jye and I experienced," she said to Mamamia. "We didn't have a lot of things and it was really tough. And in an ideal world, that wouldn't exist, kids would have everything they need."

As young adults living in a big city on small incomes - not to mention the rising cost of living throughout Australia - money is tight for the couple. 

ADVERTISEMENT

And so just before Jye's 22nd birthday, the couple starting discussing the idea of a vasectomy. Birth control was getting expensive, and they both knew having children wasn't something they wanted now or in the future. 

"It was very early on in the relationship that we told one another our perspective on kids. I'd say within the first few months we had the conversation. I guess we wanted to be upfront with each other and make sure we understood what we wanted in that regard," Solarah explained. 

"Plus, I knew his birthday was coming up and figured it would make sense on his 'special day', as I would be spending money on him anyway!"

Jye said about the vasectomy conversation: "It's a one-off payment effectively and it will save heaps of money on any kind of contraceptives, or medical issues further down the line. So we figured the smart thing to do was to go ahead with the procedure - especially because we're not well off with money." 

Jye and Solarah. Image: Supplied.

After making the decision and going ahead with the procedure, Jye and Solarah then shared the news with their loved ones. 

"Luckily there wasn't a whole lot of judgment, especially from the majority of our friend group. We have both been very vocal about not wanting kids, so I'm sure our friends just considered it the next logical step for us to make. Honestly, they were more interested in the vasectomy itself, like 'how does it feel' or 'is it painful'," Jye said.

There were some in their immediate family that weren't thrilled with the news. But as Jye and Solarah explained, the decision ultimately laid with them to make, and not anyone else. 

"It was nice, my grandma was completely understanding. Her son actually also had a vasectomy when he was very young, so she didn't hold any bias in that regard. There were one or two people that were vocally upset about the decision, especially because they weren't told beforehand. And, you know, certain people feel entitled to that sort of knowledge," Jye said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

And interestingly, it's often acquaintances or complete strangers that express more judgment than those in the inner circle, the couple noted.

"A lot of people have this idea of following 'a life script': that means you're going to have kids, you're going to get married, you're going to buy a house and then you're going to die. And if you don't do that, some question you a lot," Solarah said.

"Thankfully, most people do sort of just back off straight away when we tell them. But I mean, I've gone to the hairdresser, and they have just assumed that I have kids or I'm going to have kids and then more assumptions come."

Some may say it's not wise to make such huge decisions at such a young age, or say Jye and Solarah are too young to make their own informed decisions. And people are entitled to that opinion. But in response, the couple simply say "Good for you, not for me."

Of course there are other ways for Jye and Solarah to have kids if - and that's a big if - they want to have kids later on, such as adoption and foster parenting. They told Mamamia they are open to the idea, but once again, money and finances will be the deciding factor. 

"We're pretty aligned in the idea that having biological kids is something we don't want. We can see the positives in fostering or adoption. If we were to change our minds - which I don't think we will - then there is that route, and you can see the benefit in helping a young kid who needs a home. But we would need to be able to substantially afford it in order to make it a good experience for all."

Jye and Solarah on their travels. Image: Supplied.

ADVERTISEMENT

Perhaps something that some people may not agree with is Jye's belief that many people have kids purely for selfish reasons such as keeping the relationship together or their own narcissism.

Unpacking this feeling, Jye said to Mamamia:

"I find that a lot of the time, the reasons that people give for wanting to have kids are selfish. 'I want kids for me and my partner' or 'to have something that I've created/that's come from me' or 'to leave my mark on the world'. It just seems a bit narcissistic. Not everyone has to have kids, and it feels like some people just have them for the sake of it," Jye said.

Explaining the theory further, Solarah said: "A lot of the time you also hear people say to those who are childfree: 'Who is going to take care you when you get older?' Now I find that's the most selfish reason to have a kid. It can lead to resentment, stress and more."

Listen to The Quicky. Childfree by choice: Why are we so judgemental? Post continues after audio.


Understandably, there is a conversation to be had about the need for low income families to have greater assistance from a government level.

"If the financial system isn't applicable to have a kid and you can't afford it, nor can you afford to look after yourself comfortably, then it realistically shouldn't even be an option," Solarah said.

"More support is needed, and we just didn't get that growing up."

As for what a childfree future looks like for Jye and Solarah, they feel really optimistic.

"Since we've always grown up not having a lot, the fact we can grow a life together and do the things we want to do is amazing. We can travel, we can rescue animals, do anything we want and not have that responsibility to have to wake up at 6am with kids. We can sleep in, we can go on little trips," Solarah shared.

As for Jye, after his vasectomy he feels "really legitimately excited about the future now".

"When I used to think I would have to have kids in my future, there weren't any real feelings about it. But now it's just exciting. And there's a lot of fun things ahead."

Jye Lawton will be sharing more of his thoughts and experiences on SBS's Insight on Tuesday night April 5 at 8:30pm. The topic is all about "Forgetting Fatherhood: The men leaving fatherhood behind. Why and how do they feel and what are the implications?"

Feature Image: Supplied.

Looking forward to a brighter future? Complete this survey now and go in the running to win one of six $100 gift vouchers!