So… why have kids?

Posted by
Why? (by: Emran KassimCC BY 2.0)
I am at the point in my life that I want to decide whether to have kids.

In a logical sense, I am able and capable of having children. My husband and I are in the fortunate position that we are both healthy, and fertile, and have good careers, and supportive families. But I’m not completely satisfied with having kids merely because I can.

When I asked my OB/GYN about it, her advice was to start taking a prenatal vitamin.

So I am curious how people, who had the luxury of deciding, decided on having kids? Any good books on the subject? Why should I grow my family? -Cass

OMG THIS QUESTION! Truth time: I had even thought of asking this question to the Homies, myself.

I know that I don’t want to have kids. On a daily basis I seem to come up with so many wonderful wonderful reasons to not have them. But I haven’t really ever come up with, well, any reason to go ahead and have them. I am extremely curious about the motivations behind having/birthing/adopting/raising children.

All that being said, I’m really excited to present this question to all y’all and to read your answers. So guys… why have kids?

Comments on So… why have kids?

  1. Years and years ago, I read this satirical book called The Hipster Handbook. On children, they wrote it would be a pretty tough world if everybody had to grow up with lame, super conservative parents.

    Personally, the thing that swayed me to the have kids camp was I realized that after I created a pretty sweet life for me and my dude (and our dog Zoe), despite all of the down times, I could handle having little humans to chill with. There’s this weird attitude out there that having children will be so hard that it robs you of something. But if we can still have a good time working around all of our other responsibilities and add love and happiness to our little communities, why not?

    • I have a very similar answer. I want to share my awesome love and life with more people. I’m torn though, between adopting and having our own. I feel like it would mean so much more to give that to someone who is already alive and doesn’t have it, as opposed to creating someone to experience it.

        • I should have said “making our own.” Good point. I have a stepdaughter and I don’t introduce her as such. She’s my daughter, she has a bio mom that she lives with most of the time, but she’s a huge part of our life and most times there is no reason to differentiate. So, i would never call an adopted kid such and would never treat them as anything but my own. πŸ˜‰

      • I feel very strongly myself towards adopting for the above reason. My sister always said, “You’ll feel differently when you get to be my age.” I’m just one year shy of the age she was when she conceived her first child and I still feel that there are too many children without a loving family for multitudes of reasons. I want to give someone the chance they never thought they had.

        I’ve been told before though that it’s selfish to not want biological children. I get slightly offended when it’s directed at me but for some points of view it does seem selfish. Don’t want to “wreck” your body to give birth. Denying parents and grandparents a legacy (especially true of only children or multiples that all can’t or will not have kids). Want to live lavish lives/travel/have no “chains” tying them down/just don’t want to spend the money it costs to raise children. In the end though the flip side is true that it can be selfish to want biological children.

        It’s really a personal thing. I take no sides, but I do see children as a wonderful and weird way to leave a lasting impact on the planet, even if only a new little hippie living in the sticks is the result ;P

  2. Hmmm. I’m going to think about this so I can give a more through answer. But my gut reaction is: I simply can’t imagine never being a mom. I never thought I’d get marred but for years my plan was to adopt at thirty hire a nanny and call it a day.
    For me the desire to be a mom is something I can’t explain…I just know its something I desperately want to do.

    • This is exactly how I feel. When I was younger, I wanted kids because having kids sounded like just The Done Thing. Then I got older, and realised I could choose to be childless…but I still wanted kids. I want to be someone’s mum.

      I’m in my mid-twenties, and neither my partner or I are ready for kids, even though we both want them. I’m wondering whether I’ll ever consider myself ready for kids, so I’ve told my partner that in about three years, we have to definitely make the final decision on whether we are going to have kids or not.

      If we ultimately decide not to have kids, I know I will always be surrounded by my friends children and the next generation of my family. I’m sure I’ll make my life fulfilling and exciting. But I still hope to one day be a mum.

      • Please don’t set a deadline. I did and it made my life a living hell, because I knew I “had to” make a choice. My life went upside down, I ended up divorced, and then decided five years later that I did want kids. Ok, so being an “old” mom has some drawbacks, but it also has some fabulous advantages!

        • Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I wonder if your timeline and the pending decision played a role in the breakdown of your marriage?

          Because I’ve often seen relationships that went well as long as there was no talk about the future, but when levels of commitment, timelines and general life planning were discussed, people discovered that they had different ideas of what kind of life they wanted to live or that they actually weren’t THAT satisfied with their relationship and simply couldn’t imagine staying with their current partner in the long term.

          That hurts and I’m sorry for everyone going through this.
          However, though I don’t want to interpret you personal experience, IN GENERAL I think it can be a good thing to discover that you and your partner have differing life plans – and the “procreation talk” can trigger realizations like that.

          I would like to hear your perspective!

          • the thing with those life plans though is that they rarely work out how you think they will. How can you know what you will really want in 5 or ten years– everything I thought I wanted 5 years ago is completely different now. I talked so much about the future that my partner freaked out and left (obviously it is more complicated than that)– but I really wish in hindsight I had focused more on the present.

    • see it being a soul-deep desire is a good reason. in the same way that you can’t explain WHY you might have a yearning to travel or become a doctor or juggle flaming swords. there’s practical and fun and interesting things involved of course, but when it comes down to it, you just WANT some things.
      that said, i think that you really should feel that soul-deep desire if you’re going to have kids. it’s irresponsible and cold to do so because “meh, why not?” or “that’s just what you do at that age”. every child should be really wanted, not there by default.

      • I like the “soul-deep” idea, but for me it was VERY biological. I thought for a long time I never wanted kids, but once that clock kicked in, that was it for me. I physically feel the need to raise kids. It’s kind of a weird ache.

        • As a young feminist I smugly informed everyone that a “biological clock” was nothing more than a campaign of societial pressure used to coerce women into having children before they wanted them. Then I turned 28. Hahaha! Oh, naive baby-self! How very, very wrong you were.

  3. My boyfriend and I spent years declaring with no doubt that we never wanted to have a kid and therefore had no reason to get married (having a kid while not married is fine, but our personal feeling was that we’d want to be married if having a kid). We’d been living together for almost 5 years when we both coincidentally changed our minds. I’m really not sure how that happened, it doesn’t even sound possible. Well, we were engaged that year, married the next year, and along came baby the year after that.

    I can’t speak for my husband, but for me, I started loving the idea of bringing a life into this world with a fresh slate. We’d have a new member of the family to help discover and learn EVERYTHING. It’s overwhelming but really awesome. Each day has excitement, and I am definitely better at appreciating the little things in my life now. I watch him and can’t fathom how I spent years not wanting this.

    That being said, I think it’s fine if people choose to not have children. You can still have a full and satisfying life. I just chose to add a kid to mine.

  4. I don’t have rose-colored glasses on toward the idea of motherhood, but I had a truly amazing conversation with a friend who is one of the smartest women I know, and wanted to share her insight.

    At the time, I was pregnant (didn’t work out then and hasn’t worked since) and was really, really fucking scared. We had tried, the baby was “on purpose,” but I was freaking the fuck out. What she said to me was that the desire to have children is simply not rational. It’s just not. We know it’s a massive life change. We understand that it will be hugely stressful- on our bodies, on our relationship, on our finances, and on our self-identities. But the desire is still there, and sometimes that is enough (for the people who feel it.)

    I’m sure other people here will cover all the joy of motherhood, but for me, understanding that it isn’t, and doesn’t have to be, rational gave me the freedom to admit that my heart wants it even if my brain is scared shitless. And my heart is obviously committed. We wouldn’t have been trying for 18 months and counting otherwise.

    • Hang in there, hon. I had miscarriages before both of my successful pregnancies. (Um. Yay, PCOS.)
      I had a baby at 26, got a divorce, then a new fiance, and had a baby at 38. I don’t know your situation, but I know it is heartbreaking to lose a pregnancy you want.
      But don’t give up, because when it DOES finally work for you, it will be so worth it and all of that pain will melt away.
      Hugs and luck and baby dust to you!

    • This is really it for me. I never “decided” I wanted kids. I NEEDED a child. I had always known I wanted kids, but by the time we were trying I was crying myself to sleep with every period. There was a big gaping void in my life. I’m not saying that it isn’t possible to have a complete life with out children, but it sure as hell wasn’t possible for me. The need for a second is similar, if not quite as painfully strong.

      It’s not rational. It doesn’t need to be.

  5. I think there are a myriad of reasons I chose to. But, from the other side, one thing I didn’t fully realize before is that parenting is the greatest personal growth experience imaginable. Marathon training, college, grad school, challenging but fulfilling work…. None of these even touches parenthood in regards to helping me grow. It’s a daily look at who you really are and constant opportunity for reflection on who you really want to be. It has changed me at my core for the better.

    • This.
      Just to expand, having that ‘blank slate’ really made us/me think about what we/I really want in life and what is truly important to us. What important things do we want to teach him? What values are important that we’d like to impart? Even seemingly little things that we value; do we put him in catholic school like mom, or french immersion? (Canadian here) While I would bare a child for someone else just so I could have a full nights’ sleep sometime, my son has been a wonderful addition to our family.

  6. I had a big family which I adore so I always knew I wanted kids, but when it came down to deciding when to have them I found myself looking for REASONS and didn’t really find them. I went for it anyways. I just had my second, 22 months after my first while halfway through my PhD (so not what any one else might call ideal timing). I still don’t have a REASON, except that my boys are SO FUN. I was afraid I would have to put everything else on hold, but kids are surprisingly flexible. Also, like any other role you play as an adult, you get to pick how you play your part. Don’t let other ppl’s stupidity stop you from being an awesome parent.

    • So fun. I really think that’s plenty of reason right there! Because it really is. And it’s okay to make huge life decisions based on fun. I think in our society you’re expected to make so much more of it. How it changes you into this glorious, life-giving being. But all of that stuff is intangible and it also gives you a terrible sense of how it should be. When you’re cleaning up puke, you’re supposed to feel great about the all-powerful being you’ve become? No. You just get it over with and get back to having fun. Like so many other things in life. It’s simple, but wonderful.

  7. I’ve been asking people this question for the past couple years. The problem for me is that I need a rational reason. “I want one” isn’t good enough (at least not right now) because there are lots of things I want. And the want for babies is influenced alot by hormones and pictures of my friends kids plastered all over Facebook (love it!)

    Maybe rational and kids doesn’t go together. I really appreciate all of the answers everyone is giving, it’s great to have perspectives I wouldn’t otherwise see.

    • My brain has a firm grasp on knowing that I don’t want kids. I am not responsible enough, I am too selfish of my time, I can’t even handle cleaning up after my dog’s messes without fighting back barf…the reasons go on and on. My uterus, however, hasn’t gotten the message. I find myself sometimes overwhelmed with the desire to have a kid and guide it. I feel like I have some pretty awesome things to pass on to a kid. I think that I could turn out a pretty great person that would add to society. But I know this hormone based want is not enough of a reason for me to have kids, man it gets tough sometimes though.

      Last year my sister thought she was going to have a kid. Long story full of many questionable decisions that I kept getting thrown in the middle of. It was a high stress and anxiety time for me (I have a weird family). In the middle of it all, I found myself being over the moon about being an aunt. I instantly started looking at all the great books I could share with kid and all the music and being able to crochet the cute baby shit that would be weird for me to make now. She ended up not having a kid and it crushed me. I didn’t expect it to have such a big impact on me, after all it was her and her possible kid. My baby brain went into over drive. With time this has faded thankfully.

      My husband is firmly in the no kids camp. He hates all kids because they are messy and sticky and loud. We were talking about it just last week. We got our 2nd dog in the middle of one of my baby crazed brain episodes and he has been a great addition to the family. He joked that he’d let me have a zoo if that’s what it took. We’re probably going to end up with that zoo πŸ˜‰

      Interesting side note though…even with the baby brain, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt no kid will ever be coming out of me. That shit is just weird (to me at least). Even if my husband and I both someday miraculously change our minds and decide to go for kids, it ain’t coming out of my body. No way I could handle that inherit invasion of personal space.

      • Hubs and I are the same way. We’ve set a time to re assess the desire for kids in 5 years because things might change. We seem to like other people’s kids (though he doesn’t really like parents, that’s another story) but right now we’re more sold with having a zoo.
        My friends and family with kids all live far away, so I’m not sure if we lived closer would be more or less helpful.

      • I have your situation, totally flipped. Kids, I got this. They make sense to me. I really want a dog. Or any animal. But I feel like I’m too irresponsible! I feel like I wouldn’t know what to do! A lot of my Child Free friends have pets and say they couldn’t handle a kid, and I always think “But you have a dog! That’s much harder!” πŸ™‚

      • Pets are also messy, sticky, and loud and they don’t grow out of it. Your husband’s rationale confuses me.

        Also, pregnancy and birthing are not weird. They are processes as essential to human beings as — well any other human function. There are plenty of valid reasons not to want your own kids, even just not wanting them is perfectly valid. I do think we can take fear of dirt and pain to extremes and make otherwise total normal, healthy, essential human things into huge deals that they just aren’t.

        • Pets are messy, sticky and loud things that you can train to not be so messy, sticky and loud quite easily, and are also much easier to give to other people if they’re too messy, sticky and loud for your tastes and if they don’t grow out of it. And you can also leave them at home during the day while you work. And you can get other people to look after them easily if you go away for a weekend. Pet’s messiness, stickiness, and loudness, is tempered by the fact that they are much easier to look after in that regard.

          Pregnancy and birthing are a very personal experience, and I don’t think you can really tell anyone that their experience of them (or anticipated experience of them) is wrong. I know plenty of people that do not want to have their own children because of fear of the birthing/pregnancy experience, and they are more than welcome to have that as a valid reason.

        • Your rationale confuses me. For me, pets are no comparison to the chaos that follow kids….for me. I think that’s an important detail that you glazed over. It is very bothersome when people try to obliterate my reasons to not have kids and write them off like I am being overly dramatic about the messes that come with kids. I realize to people that want kids, these messes aren’t necessarily looked on as messes. But, to me, they are.

          Ultimately it comes down to the fact that every person is different and looks at the various parts of life differently. We should all be allowed to look at the variously parts of life differently without being made to feel shamed for our viewpoint. That’s what makes the world interesting.

  8. I need this article. I’m 29, and my husband and I have been married for two years, and recently bought a house. We keep talking about “when we have kids…” and that’s all fine as long as it’s *someday*, somewhere off in the vague future. But when I truly internalize and think about being pregnant and holding my own baby….I feel nothing. I don’t seem to NOT want kids, but I don’t seem to WANT them either.

    While I feel like I would be totally fine never having children, I want my husband to be a father…if that makes sense. I don’t feel any desire to hold babies, but I do get the slightest, teensiest feeling of something when I imagine HIM holding a baby or putting barrettes in someone’s hair.

    So, I feel like I WANT to want to have kids, and I just need a bit of a push to get that desire.

    • This is actually what pushed me over the edge from ‘babies are ok, I guess,’ to ‘BABIES NOW.’ My husband is awesome with kids, and watching him with his nieces and nephews over the years we were together eventually made my hormones go insane. I blame him πŸ˜‰

      I was definitely one of the women who didn’t like kids or babies before she had one, and now… I still don’t like most kids, if I’m honest, but my own kid? Totally rad, and I can’t wait to make another one. Having babies is pretty dang irrational, and my super-ordered brain has a hard time accepting that, but I’m glad I made the leap to being a parent.

      • I babysit for friends sometimes. I think I’m an ok babysitter, I can handle kids, I don’t panic, I know how to deal with them, but I am not fond of kids. I often think that I hope I will love my kids a lot more than the kids I know so far (I know it’s an odd comparison, but I love every cat, why don’t I love every kid?).

        Well, I am sure I will love them and be a good mum and all, but so far there aren’t any clues of that happening.

      • I felt this exact same way. I was never one of those girls/women who just DREAMED about having kids and being a mom. I didn’t dislike kids, but I wasn’t like OMG BABIIIIIIES!!! either. Truth is, after the hubs and I got married, the thought of getting pregnant terrified me. We were broke as a joke and I was still in college. What’s more, I knew I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to handle children. But I graduated, and we both got better jobs, and we kept growing up. And one day it hit me that my dream job was being a mom. If you have to find reasons for having kids, my advice would be, at least for now, don’t. I’m sure you know this, but having children and being a mother does not complete you or make you any more of a person. It’s a decision you have to come to personally and with your partner, and if you don’t feel like it’s right for you or you’re emotionally ready yet, tell yourself that, at least for now, you won’t be having kids. Say that to yourself, and see how it feels. If that’s okay, then IT’S OKAY and don’t let anyone tell you anything different. If the thought of not having kids isn’t okay with you, then you can just figure it out from there.

    • I kind of have the same feelings- I’m pretty apathetic towards kids in general and the idea of kids but I knew I wanted one theoretically. What changes you is when you get pregnant. The hormonal and spiritual changes are profound. I got pregnant- I was over the moon. I miscarried And was sad but I figured it would happen again. Two years later I’m still trying and still fairly apathetic to it but I know that the process is what changes you. It’s a shamanistic journey that will rock your spiritual world and it freaks people out because it is completely unknowable until you’ve done it and hold that baby in your arms. I’ve been to 5 births of first time mothers. It’s always a transformation that you can’t even grasp right now.

      • I never felt that. I, too, had a miscarriage and it sent me into a horrible depression. A year later I had my twins. When they arrived, I was like “YES THESE GUYS ARE AWESOME”, but never did I feel transformed. I feel like the same person I was before. Sure, I’ve changed in the past few years, but I haven’t changed at any higher pace than I did before children.

        • Thank you for writing this.

          I’m 8 months pregnant, and everyone wants to play “welcome to the mommy club” with me, but I really don’t want to focus on kid-and-body-related stuff but rather have regular, ‘normal’ conversations. Everyone seems to think I should be magically chaaaaaanging already, but I’m the same old me, just bigger.

          I don’t think I’ll change that much after the kid is here, and in the light of the ever present “YOU’LL SEEEEEEE”, I’m really happy about your comment.

          Is that age-related, maybe? I’m 35 already. Really wondering here. Normally I don’t give a flying fuck about numbers and have true friends of all ages. But maybe your personality is already more defined when you’re an older mum, so you aren’t as susceptible to kid-induced character changes?

          • We were young parents (18 + 23) but the only changes that our munchkins have caused were positive ones*, and not the “I’m a parent now, I must behave in a certain way!” type. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re both stubborn people or if it’s because we always intended to have kids. I also think that for me, the lack of change might be due to the fact that I can’t remember a time where I haven’t been a mother because I raised my siblings from when I was 7, they’ve turned out awesomely and I am incredibly proud of them. (They are amazing people despite my muddling along).

            (* My dude and I were raised to be racist/homophobic/transphobic. Having kids made us look at our beliefs and realise that we didn’t want to pass the hate on, nor did we want to miss out on relationships with our kids due to holding those views. So we changed and it has made us much happier people.)

          • My best friend’s little one is almost a year old, and her experience sounds similar to yours. For the longest time, she didn’t even want kids, and then she did (while I used to want them and now don’t). But she’s gone to things with other new moms and her general feeling of it was “these b*tches are crazy!!!” Her son is of course hugely important to her and her main focus, but she doesn’t want to talk all baby all the time and she really did not enjoy being pregnant. When I see her, which is relatively frequently as I’m happy just hanging out at the house, playing with the baby and talking to her, we talk about her kid, but we also talk about the same stuff we always have, such as very long conversations about out cats. πŸ™‚

          • Totally agree – I’m basically in the same boat as you, Miss Megaphon (also about 8 months along). My friend was like, “feeling it kick was the most amazing feeling EVER” and was somehow soaking it all in. I mean, it’s cool to feel the little guy kick and I’m happy in my pregnancy and all, but it doesn’t feel life-changing, soul-crazy transcendent. Glad to hear it’s not just me!

        • Hmmm…. I wanted to weigh in on this. I took a very rational decision to have a child. Partner and I weren’t particularly emotional about it, we just decided to do it. While I was pregnant I was determined not to change, and I shot down any baby talk and insisted I was still the same me. After I had the baby, I felt like I was transformed into a different person, against my will. It wasn’t a pleasant, blossoming, transformation. I no longer felt like myself and it made me depressed. I was totally unprepared for that feeling. Everyone around me said I hadn’t changed, but I felt like I had. I think what happened to me is pretty normal, as is what happened to you. Just a heads up to potential parents-to-be that you don’t always get to choose whether you are transformed by becoming a parent or not.
          Also want to add that I’m an older mom too, with a successful career and feel pretty established in my life. Sometimes things just knock you for six.

          • Wow. Thanks for the heads-up!

            You say that you no longer felt like yourself and that this made you depressed. Do you think you suffered from postpartum depression? Are you better now? Did you seek help or did you just wait it out? Any tips for people (like me) who might find themselves in a similar situation at one point?

            I hope I’m not too nosy, I’m just trying to prepare mentally for what might be ahead.
            Thanks for replying, your perspective is really interesting!

          • Yup, can totally resonate with this. The identity shift was really hard for me, too. While I loved my son from the moment he popped out of me, it has taken close to 3 years for me to really settle into this whole mother/mama/mommy/mom identity.

            And for awhile I took that identity shift being slow as a BAD THING, but I realized…dang, it took my like 12 years of schooling to feel like a ‘student’ and I still don’t feel like a great yogi after 1 year of doing it 3-4 times a week, and even after so many years working I still feel like I’m so new in being a career or working woman. Meh, sometimes it takes awhile to get used to new things, ESPECIALLY identity shifts.

    • Wanting to want to have kids really resonates with me. In my case, I’ve never been particularly interested in having kids, but my partner REALLY wants them. This has been and continues to be a real emotional journey for me. Prior to this relationship, I had a 10 year relationship during which I transitioned from ‘definitely never want kids’ to ‘maybe someday, not too bothered’. That relationship broke down just before I turned 28, and then I had several years single. In that time, I felt like having kids might be off the table – I think during the previous relationship I had always felt like if I suddenly decided it was a priority then the option was there, and turning 30 single made me realise that was no longer the case.

      Now I am with someone who really wants children, I am realising that it really ISN’T important to me. I love kids but I don’t have a burning desire to have any of my own. But I do want to see my partner become a father and to bear his children, and I can definitely imagine growing our family and enjoying it. I don’t think I would be having children solely ‘for’ him (he’s not pushing me into it or anything). But it is super scary not to have that strong personal desire for it, and sometimes I lie awake at night worrying that we will have a kid, it will be hard (because it is!) and I will resent having made that choice. I am also so happy with my partner just the two of us that it feels like a terrifying risk to change the dynamic.

      One of the things I find hard is that without that personal desire, a lot of the ‘pros’ parents cite sound a lot like cons. I don’t want it to be the most fulfilling and life-changing thing I ever do, for example. I think my resistance to this is a lot to do with having lived through years of pressure from other people (especially my mum) to have kids – those conversations often tend to position parenthood as somehow better than other life achievements. The rational part of my brain knows that it’s possible for it to be valuable and wonderful without that making everything else less valuable, but there are still some negative associations there.

      I’d love to hear from other people who were ambivalent about having children but went ahead, and whether they were glad they did or regretted it. (I know most people love their children when they have them and wouldn’t not want those individuals in their lives, but do people sometimes feel like they could have been just as fulfilled if they had gone in another direction?)

      • I’m on the other side of this question, in that I get the baby-wants, and my husband just doesn’t. He knows how important having kids is to me, and he pretty much accepted early on in our relationship that marrying me would mean someday having kids, so he’s open to the idea of having kids in a few years (neither of us feels that this would be a good time), but I’m scared that if we do have kids, he’ll regret that, or that I’ll be stuck with more of the crummy parts of parenting (midnight wake-ups, diaper-changing, dealing with obstreperous toddlers, etc.), or that it’ll come up in an argument (“this was your idea!”), even though I know he’s not like that (he’s basically the most easygoing person in existence…). And logically, there’s no reason that having kids actually seems like a good idea. We already feel like we don’t have enough time to do everything we want to. We really like getting enough sleep. It’s also super-nice to not have as many people giving us random advice as I know will probably happen when we have kids (planning a wedding was bad enough on the random advice…). And yet, when the baby-wants set in, all of that logic goes out the window, and Uterus Wants Baby Now.

      • I had the same issues with the whole “most fulfilling thing you’ll ever do” aspect. Possibly because my mom treated motherhood like the only important thing in her life. But I’ve found that it really doesn’t have to be that way. And I fight people a lot on it, too. It isn’t the most important thing a person can do, and it isn’t the only fulfilling thing in my life. With anything else, you need balance. I have a career I’m really proud of, fulfilling hobbies, a rewarding marriage, a house I’m quite pleased with, and a wildly incomplete spiritual/identity journey. My kids fit in, but I won’t let them take over. It wouldn’t be healthy.

        • THANK YOU for this comment. I’m basically in the same bat as the OP (though I occasionally go through the baby fever flare ups), but my fears about this “transformation” that all my baby making friends and family keep touting are really causing some hesitation. Your comment is delightful and really, really helpful for someone who’s terrified of turning into A Mom, as opposed to a mom, a wife, a writer, a hobbyist, a person, herself.

      • I can help with this! The thing that Totally convinced me was that I wanted to have my husband’s babies! Little tiny versions of him, sounded the best thing ever. But at the same time I was Terrified that I would hate having a baby, resent it and that it would ruin our wonderful soulmate perfect life together. When I found out I was pregnant, I went and hid in bed and tried not to think about it.

        I didn’t find pregnancy remotely spiritually transformative. I actually had to make myself be a bit more into it, as it seemed mean to be indifferent. Having the baby was godawful (specifically our problem, her leg got stuck so we ended up with an emergency c section, the whole thing messed us both up for a while). And I wasn’t particularly OMG BABY once the baby arrived…

        She had reflux, screamed a lot consequently and woke up every two hours for more than a year. Which was awful and hard. But if you guys love each other and talk and cut each other slack, you can survive that if it happens. It probably won’t πŸ˜‰

        Anyway, 16 months in and yeah, it’s good. We both find her such fun and she’s this happy tiny person who chatters and bounces around our house. We still get to snuggle and go have fun on her nursery afternoons. She looks like my hb which is fab! We haven’t got to go away alone yet which sucks, but won’t be a problem if you have willing babysitters. During the really hard first year, i did totally regret it Tons. But that has gone now (probably sleeping more helps) and we survived it πŸ™‚

        so. Ambivalent and now keen, yep, even after a Horrendous start.

        reasons to have children:
        they really are awesome fun.

        but whilst i think if you had them, chances are you would end up finding them awesome (because they really Are such cool tiny humans), being super happy in your relationship minus children is perfectly fab too.

        but yeah, worked for us, and i was Totally where you are!

        • That’s so encouraging to hear! Especially that you had a really rough time early on and still ended up in a good place with it. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    • This! I am indifferent to having kids and could take it or leave it. My husband is amazing with kids and he’s so excited to have his own and I want him to have that. We often joke that he’ll be a stay at home dad and I’ll keep working πŸ™‚

    • I absolutely understand. I am 100% on the fence about kids–after getting married in March, and living together for sometime before that, knowing we are both plenty old enough with decent-paying, stable careers–I have been thinking about it, and just can’t seem to want them any more than I don’t want them.

      But my husband kind of wants them. His parents, and my parents, would love for us to have them.

      My husband is agnostic, but I’m Christian, so I told him what we could do is take some time where we are NTNC (I think that’s the right acronym for basically just going on prenatals and throwing the Pill away?). He’s willing to let me “let God decide.” During this time I’ll be doing a lot of praying that, if I am meant to be a parent, we wind up pregnant, and if I’d be a crappy one or somehow regret my decision, then we don’t. But after seeing my brother and his wife go through YEARS of trying everything in the book, only to end up with a miscarriage late in the second trimester, I told him I certainly will not be willing to go to great lengths to have them. I need to be able to stay in the place I am in now, where I am fine either way, and if I invest a ton of emotion (and money!) intro trying to make it happen, I’m afraid that won’t be the case.

    • response to Jamie, re “But when I truly internalize and think about being pregnant and holding my own baby….I feel nothing.”

      Our current potential solution to this issue is to skip the baby bit (because it doesn’t attract us, nor does pregnancy) and adopt a child who is 3 years plus. Just a thought, in case that appeals to you πŸ™‚

    • As an adult I have realized that my mom and both of my grandmothers didn’t (and don’t) really like kids. They were all great with me but have a very short fuse for other people’s kids. Its a weird realization but I don’t think its that uncommon. I turned out fine.

  9. Full disclosure: I am not yet a parent, but we’re working on it.

    For me, there’s a bunch of irrational reasons that stem around desire and whatnot.

    For the rational side of things, I know I want to have some sort of impact, however small, in the world. I know there are people who’ve been impacted by me, but I think of the ways in which my own parents influenced me and my world view. I want to know I can pass the curious, strange and loving parts of me onto someone else in a direct and tangible way when I have children, making sure that those traits live on. I don’t want to make a clone of myself, but I do want to get the best parts of me out there into the cosmos to help make the world a better place.

    That sounds uber hippy all at the same time, but there’s really only a small group of people in the world that you directly get to influence how it is they see the world and that’s your children.

  10. I had a kid mostly just because I wanted to. I thought a lot about when the right time to have kids would be, but it was never a question of if, always when. It’s just something that I sort of longed for and honestly, I didn’t see any of the downsides outweighing my biological desire for children. I don’t particularly like other kids, but I felt strongly that having and caring for my own child was something that I wanted. I knew it would be hard (it turned out to be way harder than I imagined) and I knew it would be life changing (not always in a good way,) but I wanted to do it anyway. And it’s been awesome. Sure, there are challenges, but overall, having a kid has brought me a great amount of joy. Of course, I don’t think that children bring everyone joy and I think it’s absolutely something that should only be done if you really, really want to, but if you have that desire and are looking for some logical reason, I’m not sure you’ll find it. I’m of the go-with-your-gut camp when it comes to procreating.

  11. Before our daughter was born, our life was pretty full and fun. A great group of friends, great family, and our hobbies and interests kept us pretty busy.

    We didn’t think we could have a baby, but when we had a surprise natural pregnancy, life all changed. The friends and family are still there, the hobbies and interests are still there, but then there’s this neat spark that puts those aside a little. The bright, curious looks from this little being who is discovering and learning and exploring the world. We see things so differently as she grows, and the laughter and hugs and silly expressions and messes make life so much more… differently… interesting! Exhausting at times, frustrating at others, but the smile on her face and the love in our hearts makes those times worthwhile.

    J, I don’t know that rational and kids go together. I knew I wanted to be a mom, and really couldn’t say why beyond a vague “I want a baby/child.”

  12. I agree with the other ladies that I didn’t sit down with a list of reasons to have a baby – it was a gut desire to make a new person that was part of me and my husband (and my second husband).

    Now, if you want the pros and cons of having kids, I can give you that to a degree.
    Cons: it’s expensive, exhausting, heartbreaking, and permanent.
    Pros: You have never experienced love like the love you have for your own kids. (No, not even when you really love your dog like he’s your kid… you don’t , I promise. I was one of those people, too, and when I had my son, I was like – Oh yeah, that dog thing.) It is the most beautiful, fulfilling, sometimes lots of fun, and utterly amazing things you could ever do. It’s a legacy you leave to future humanity to raise a human to show compassion and be a good citizen. You can’t see it on paper, but unless you have some severe emotional issues you haven’t dealt with yet, you won’t regret having a kid.

    • See, for me, i love my husband and the kid the same. It used to freak me out when people said you’d love your kid Most and i am glad it is equal for me. And different equal too. I love hb completely and utterly and always. I love kid cos she is tiny and awesome and i will crush anyone who upsets her.

    • I don’t know, I think that the population of people who NEVER wanted children and ONLY EVER wanted dogs might love their dogs as much as other people love their kids. I guess we just can’t know unless we’re in their shoes.

      • *hand raised*

        I’m not saying I wouldn’t develop a certain fondness for a kid if I had one, but I think I would resent it too much to ever give it the love it needs and deserves. Hence, no babies.

        Meanwhile my mothering instincts are definitely warped towards dogs. Documentary on starving children? “Oh, huh, that’s really sad.” Literally any book with a dog on the cover that looks like it might be even remotely sad, joyful, or sentimental? Instant tearing up. Heart explosion. And I’m not even talking about picking the book up, let alone reading it. There’s a book with a pitt on the cover that I’ve only ever seen on Amazon called “I’m a Good Dog” … Literally got misty just typing that. And yet I gag whenever anyone waxes sentimental about, like, the birth of their child and how it was the best moment of their life or something.

        Ah well- my head’s all wonky but might as well embrace it.

        • Those suffering children things never really moved me (well, they moved me as much as suffering people or animals always do, which is actually quite a lot, but the point is it was proportionally all the same) until after I had kids. Now? I can barely stand to hear/watch about horrific things happening to kids with out a panic attack. SVU was one of my husband and I’s favorite shows when we were dating and we just viewed the kid episodes as less interesting than the sexual ones. Since the kid, though, I can’t watch the show at all because if it even mentions the kids stuff … I just can’t.

          I assume that you HAVE a dog you love dearly. Thus, when you see the dog stuff you imagine your pup suffering. Not having a kid, you have no chubby cheeked, kiss giving, hugging, happy little child you instinctively imagine being destroyed by the horrors you’re hearing about. That makes a huge difference.

          • Ditto. Couldn’t and still can’t handle dog stuff. Wasn’t remotely bothered by kid stuff until i had one. Now omg, it’s just soul destroying watching the news, kids in peril in films, anything!

        • Yeah I haven’t even seen the book you’re refering too and I got a bit misty just reading that.

          Seriously, I love my dogs so much sometimes it makes me cry a bit. Pretty sure I love them like they’re my kids.

    • I have real issues with the idea that you should just go ahead and have kids. No way you’d regret them. That just isn’t true. I’ve known parents who not only regretted their children, they resented the kids. Even if you don’t intend to, you’ll do some serious damage to kids if you don’t WANT them. I’m not taking the risk. I’m not against kids, but I’m not for either. I like some kids, and detest others. I’m not going to bring a child into the world if there’s a chance I’ll be indifferent to their well being because I’m ambivalent now.

  13. I’m not sure I ever had a real reason for wanting kids. It’s just always been in my heart that I wanted to be a mom. I’ve always just had this urge. So when our first came along as a surprise I was so scared but thrilled as well. The same thing is happening right now in the last few weeks of my second pregnancy. I’m glad I get this chance to experience motherhood, but I can totally understand how others may not be into it. For me it is fulfilling and I do feel more complete, but that’s just me and not a general feeling that everyone feels.

  14. I’m happily childfree, so much so that I even consider tubal ligation when my IUD expires. I’m much with you Megan about all the reasons not to have kids.

    After having some conversations with moms and would-be moms, it seems that, all hormones and irrational desires aside, one of the most convincing reasons I’ve heard is when you are convinced having a kid is going to be a life experience that will make you grow instead of holding you back.

    • “… one of the most convincing reasons I’ve heard is when you are convinced having a kid is going to be a life experience that will make you grow instead of holding you back.”

      I love this. That’s such a fantastic reason, and one that I can’t say I would have thought of when we decided we wanted to have kids. But that’s so true!

      • Have you considered adopting? I am in a similar boat as you. When I sat down and realized that I had no attachments to birthing biological children with my matching DNA, I realized that fostering and adopting would be a great path for me. So many people are attached to the idea of their children having the same genes as themselves, but there are still so many children that need to be adopted by loving, healthy, supportive parents.

        So, here’s your reason: adopt kids, because they are already out there and they already need you. Do it because you can where others will not or cannot, and because they will matter to you and enrich your life.

        • It is important to know, though, that adopting kids is often a different ball game than having your own, especially in the emotional department. It’s easy to say ‘there are a lot of kids out there,’ but if you examine the infant adoption business (yes, business) that myth of lots of infants out there is really not the case. And there are a lot of kids in foster care, but not are all available for adoption, especially in states that are focused on reuniting with biological families. I think it can be a wonderful thing to do, but in some ways raising an older kid from foster care comes with a different set of challenges than raising your own biological child from infancy. It can amazing and rewarding, but in my work as a crisis counselor I get jaded meeting with predominately adoptive/foster parents who went into it with great intentions but had a hard time adjusting to an 8 year old with their abandonment and other emotional needs. Ya know? πŸ™‚

          • This is my worry about adoption (of especially older children). I saw my aunt & uncle go through a difficult adoption with a child who had a severe emotional deficit. It got to the point where the parents’ safety was endangered. He is now 17 and living in an assisted living-type situation because they honestly could not be a family with their adoptive son. It’s a shocking reality that has put me off of the idea of setting out to adopt (or “save”) an older child.

        • As an adoptee, I struggle with this mentality. I truly believe that adopting children should never be done as a favour to them. It should always be done for selfish reasons. Sounds weird, but abandonment issues are huge with many adopted kids, but I have seen way less of that when the adopted parents have adopted because they desperately want children. It is a great feeling to know you are wanted, rather than someone giving you a home and family out of pity or a desire to “better the world “.

          • As someone who works with children with trauma backgrounds, I agree that the child absolutely has to be wanted. However, I’ve also seen lots of times that adoptions have fallen over because the child doesn’t match what they “wanted” in their mind. Before adopting a child (especially an older child), please please please do your research and make sure you have a lot of support around you. They need A LOT of emotional, physical, mental and financial resource.

        • This part of the thread is more interesting to me….

          Even as a little kid, I never pictured myself having “my own” children, I only ever saw myself – if I were going to have children in my life at all – adopting an older child, maybe 8 or 10 years old.

          I have no use for babies; I’m plenty fatigued enough as it is without getting up every hour during the night, I’m the sort of person who puts my car keys in the fridge and searches for my mobile phone while I’m talking on it, so I would definitely forget about the baby in the back seat of the car, and someone told me they can’t wipe their own asses till they’re 5 years old!

          I don’t have many very admirable qualities, but the one thing I do have in abundance is patience. 3 hours to clip a neurotic spoodle? No problem. 6 months to house-train my not-so-bright puppy? easy. And I will listen to your problems all day.

          I’m also quite good at moral support and encouraging people to try things they would be good at. And I feel like I’m pretty accepting as well…

          I feel like with an older kid, you don’t have to have that awkward “well actually, you’re adopted” conversaiton… and I think it would be easier with an adopted kid to make decisions and work through situations together more easily than with a bio-kid, because you don’t have the temptation to go “because I’m your mother and I said so.” that always gave me the shits with my mum, cuz “because I said so” is not a reason.

          And yet generally, I don’t like other peoples kids (there are a few exceptions). But I don’t feel like if I adopted a kid it would be someone else’s kid. It would be my kid, but I wouldn’t nessicarily be it’s parent.

          A while ago, there was an incident with a friend of my in-laws’ where they took in a kid who was having family issues, and my MIL commented that she didn’t know how they could do that, and she couldn’t love an adopted child or grandchild, and I found that really offensive. I didn’t say anything, but I just thought “well if that’s how you feel, you needn’t have anything to do with our children” as if it was all sorted and that’s what was happening.

          Is this a thing? I’ve never really tried to explain this feeling in so much depth before. Anyone?

          • Yes! This is me! I’ve always, always wanted to adopt – I have no idea when I first got this into my head, but I must have been pretty young because I don’t remember feeling any other way. I have no desire to be pregnant or give birth, but I do want children, and I want to adopt them.
            Then I met my husband, who really wants biological children. Before we were married we were in a make-or-break situation where I didn’t know if I wanted to give birth at all, and he really did. We worked through it, and have agreed that we will have biological children and adopted children.
            I’ve heard horror stories about mixed bio and adoptive families, but I’ve heard some lovely stories too, so I know it can work if we work hard at it and are intentional about making sure everyone feels 100% loved. When we’re in a more stable financial position (and possibly feeling a little more grown up!) we’ll be really to bring out first child into the family, one way or another!

  15. I grew up in a home daycare, so my mum was a work-from-home mum and I was always surrounded by little kids. Taking care of babies and kids was a huge part of my development, and I got to learn firsthand all the awesomeness of children: the creativity, the problem-solving, all the “firsts”, the humour…along with all the hard stuff. I knew from a young age that motherhood was going to be part of my life. I can still remember walking with my husband and the two girls I was nannying after the end of university, and my uterus aching because I saw him holding hands with one of the little girls…the physical need to have a kid was very very strong. I can also remember our minister in marriage prep talking about how couples needed to create, not necessarily children, but to make something with their lives. I knew that would involve teaching as well as having my own children.

    Other reason: it’s fun and a bit like having a second childhood. Watching my daughter’s reactions to things like going in a canoe or ferris wheel for the first time, getting to bake muffins, listening to her as she plays with her dollhouse…it’s awesome. It’s hard work, but the moments of pure joy make it worthwhile for me.

  16. Looking forward to reading these responses. I am happy that more and more I am finding others who are not sure whether or not to have children. I know that for some people, it’s a thunderbolt of certainty, either DEFINITELY YES or DEFINITELY NO, but society makes it seem like this thunderbolt always strikes and up until now really hasn’t offered much rhetoric for those of us that aren’t sure. I have been waiting 30 something years for the thunderbolt to hit me one way or another but it hasn’t. My husband and I are getting to an age where we should probably think about childrearing sooner rather than later, but the ambivalence has yet to resolve…

    • Ugh, yeah, I wish I could just know one way or the other. I assumed for most of my life that I wouldn’t have them, and that was fine up until some point last year when I suddenly started wanting a kid for no reason. It subsided (and might have had to do with adjusting to new birth control) and was fine for a while. Now it’s happening again.

      Ovaries: Ooh, babies are really cute you know! We could-

      I think it is confusing because it’s not a rational desire. And it’s a really hard decision because there’s no halfway about it. I hope you and I both work it out in ways we’re happy with!

    • My husband and I went into our marriage openly honest with each other about being undecided. It’s such a huge deal! And for people like us, we have to play out a bunch of different scenarios in our heads and consider a million alternatives before settling on a decision. He actually guessed that I wanted them BEFORE I even knew. And I was sensing his reluctance, so I had to coax it out of him WHY he was reluctant. He had some legitimate fears, some of which I also share and was relieved to address. The more we talk about the concept of having a child and parenting, the more we find that we’re on the same page. If we had talked about it more and more and came up against disagreement upon disagreement, I can’t say that I would still want children because our relationship trumps that for me.

  17. When I was younger, I was not at all sure about having kids. By my late twenties, after being married a couple years, my husband and I felt like we wanted something more than just the two of us. We wanted to raise some decent humans and share our love with them. We had three kids who are all now intelligent, thoughtful, independent adults. Raising kids is definitely the hardest, but most worthwhile thing I’ve ever done.

  18. What else are you going to do? haha. Lot’s of people have perfectly great reasons not to have kids, but personally I’ve never been able to understand it. Travelling is fun, having nice things is fun, having money is fun…. but not by yourself! Not having children to me is equal to not having a partner or friends. We have children in our life for companionship and love. There are all sorts of families. You don’t need to physically have children or adopt them. Maybe you have nieces and nephews or close friends with babies. Maybe you volunteer with kids. Kids are the coolest people I know; they are genuine and honest.

    Nothing in life worth having is easy.

    Kids are not pets, so this might be a poor example. Why do people own dogs? They are only work, they cost money, you have to clean them and feed them and walk them. I know a lot of people who don’t like dogs, I’m just not one of them. I just love puppies!

    • “Travelling is fun, having nice things is fun, having money is fun…. but not by yourself!”

      I disagree with this. I find all those things to be very fun by myself. I understand it might not be fun to you… but it is to me.

      • Also “with my husband” isn’t alone πŸ˜‰ It’s a lot cheaper and easier to travel (or do almost anything, really) with a partner or friend than to bring a whole family!

    • “What else are you going to do?” – Oh, maybe cure cancer, achieve peace in the Middle East, write a best-selling novel or blockbuster screenplay, explore your inner mind, start the next Fortune 100 company, teach the world to sing, etc. etc.

      Simone De Beauvoir (French feminist author), Katharine Hepburn, & Rachel Carson (who wrote “Silent Spring,” pretty much starting the environmental movement in the U.S.) are just a few of the hugely influential women who chose not to have kids. They found plenty else to do.

    • While I get what you’re pulling at here, I think, I find that it’s dismissive to those who choose or who are destined to be childfree.

      There are plenty of options in life that don’t even involve being married or in a relationship, let alone having children.

      It may not be the choices either of us would like to make with our own lives, but I’m not going to drink up the haterade on someone else’s choices.

      • Whoa, I really seem to have hit a nerve here!

        There are all sorts of families, and I support them all. I try to understand why people don’t want kids, or pets, or living with other people… I just don’t get it cause I’m not one of those people. What I’m trying to say (and obviously doing a bad job at) is… life is a long time to spend alone. We all need family of one kind or another; friends, significant others, parents, siblings, pets, pen pals, birds, and/or kids. I choose kids, cause I think they are funny, cute, and I like ’em. You know they can eat for free at most places!

        I’m an engineer, I draw and paint, and I volunteer as chair of a steering committee. To assume that I cannot have a rewarding life outside being a mother is dismissive of my lifestyle. In my opinion, it’s more offbeat to have kids, then not to have them.

    • I am going to agree with the original commenter in this thread. I am biased, because I always wanted kids in the irrational way. But I didn’t meet the right man until I was 39. By my late 30’s, I was already bored.

      Seriously, what am I going to do with my time? I had ridden out the learning curve on all the things that interested me. What, I am going to go to another Ultimate tournament? There is nothing about a house party in SF that is new to me. Take up a new sport? Remodel my house? I traveled and came home and that was lovely but travel is extremely self-absorbed time. Unless I proposed a serious change of life-style (switch to farmer, become a religious alcolyte, move to a very different kind of country), I had run down the options that appealed to me. I was bored.

      I have a theory that any hobby/vocation is good for about 10 years, maybe 15 if you are lucky. After that, the learning curve is done and new gains are just too hard for almost all casual interest. Most people just switch to something adjacent.

      Having kids is a constantly moving, engrossing project for about 15 years. Those are actually hard to come by. Sure, learn textiles if that interests you more (in year 8, switch to dyes!). But if you start that at 25, by 35 you’ll start looking around for something new. If you like ’em, kids are a good way to spend a couple decades of your life. You get eight or nine such projects in your fourscore, and kids could be two of them.

      • Speaking of ultimate… one of things that convinced me that having kids could be ok was seeing female ultimate players have kids, take a season off, and then come back continuing to play. I also love the parents who bring their kids with them to the games and say things like “Tonight, you’re watching mommy and daddy play frisbee, but tomorrow we’re watching YOU play soccer!”

      • I relate to this a lot. There are so many things I want to do and experience before I have kids (if I have them, also undecided here), but I do sort of have the “but then, what?” mentality as well. However, I chalk this up to my personality and tendencies, rather than to the idea that “what would ANYONE do with ALL that time?!?”

        There are many people who are way more wrapped up in and consumed by their hobbies and interests than I am – I mostly consider those things time-killers between the moments when I get to be with the people I love. So the idea of creating more people for me to spend more time loving is not wholly unappealing.

        I sometimes think, aside from a personality thing, it also might be about the kind of hobbies and interests you fill your life with – mine are all kind of similar (reading, puzzling, dining out, cooking, etc.) and very much the type of sedentary activities you can sneak in here and there even when you’re really busy. Maybe if I was an avid parasailor or ultra-marathoner or global nomad, I would feel like potentially losing out on some of these things would be more of a, well, loss.

        I also agree with what some commentors have said about feeling like you want to have a baby with your partner in particular – to see him parent and share that experience with him. Also, my family is very close and I love being a part of that and want to continue it so that I can still enjoy it as I age. But, I know you can create a chosen family and that is certainly what I will continue to do if I don’t have kids.

        It’s encouraging to hear so many of you say that, although it is challenging, parenting is not your be-all, end-all and can be fulfilling and fun without being all-consuming. I think loss of identity is more of a concern for me than the actual loss of free-time, sleep, etc.

  19. The only ‘logical’ positive reason I can really come up with to have a kid is that you’ll have someone who loves you and will visit you when you’re old; but that’s a lot of sacrifice for a handful of weekend visits… Three of our siblings have kids, and if I don’t have a kid, I may be able to afford to send the nieces and nephews (4 so far) to college (none of our siblings will be able to help their kids financially) but then again I still have the feeling of wanting to try it (unfortunately once you have the kid, you’re stuck, no rewind button) I get overwhelmed trying to decide what I want my life to be like in the next 2, 5, 10, 30 years, and I have to decide within the next 5 because I turn 30 in a few months; I’ve thought of doing IVF to freeze embryos just in case I decide when I’m 40 to take the plunge. Should I to add more wiener dogs to I our family, or a human?!?!

    • Yeah, the “someone to look out for you when you’re old” argument was one thing I thought of when my guy and I were talking through the possibility of kids, but the truth is there’s no guarantee your children will have the means or the desire to visit, or pay for a nursing home, or come over and clean out your gutters. It’s a comforting thought but it doesn’t always work out that way. You’re right: it’s a ton of sacrifice for just the possibility of security in old age.

      • Yup, not a guarantee at all–my dad is no longer on speaking terms with my grandma, though my uncle and I am. Having a kid so that they can take care of you later or to keep you company just seems like a lot of pressure, too, if that’s your main motivation. I myself moved across the country from my parents after college, and while I know they miss me, they’re also very proud of the life I’ve built as an adult and don’t feel like I owe them anything but phone calls and the occasional visit.

      • I was never sure how serious my parents really were, but basically they told me growing up that the reason they wanted so many kids was so that there was enough labor on “the farm” to keep everything up.
        And I just thought: that’s a terrible reason to have kids, you should downsize your living situation if you can’t take care of it yourself.

        • It is my understanding that that’s how is was on farms back in the day. And the kids had to drop out of school at a certain age to help or at least during planting and harvesting seasons. I was joking about using your children to care for dogs πŸ™‚ My younger sister is just as obsessed with dogs as my parents are, so for them it is a family thing.

          I am kind of curious if the editors are going to post the opposite question- why NOT to have kids. (Labor, pet care, child care, living dolls, etc.)

  20. Because when I close my eyes and build a family in my mind, it includes my children, and the only real choice for me after realizing that was timing. For me, “reasons” barely came in to play. More than the changes it brings to your life, having a child is bringing a whole new person into the world (even if your child isn’t biologically related to you, your choice to bring up this person fundamentally shapes who they will be)– there’s no pro and con list that could possibly encompass the magnitude of that.

  21. Full disclosure – I’m sitting here 41 weeks pregnant today, (impatiently) waiting for our first little one to make her arrival.

    For a very long time as a teenager and young adult, i swore i would never have children. I think this was mostly a defense mechanism and reaction for the difficulty i had navigating my somewhat dysfunctional family. I always cared deeply for children, and went into a field where I was an advocate for abused and neglected children. But for me, the thought of the responsibility of making a loving, stable home for kiddos seemed overwhelming, and like a huge risk.

    I have friends who are still in that camp. The world is too evil and too hard of a place to willingly bring children into. And i respect that position. Somewhere along the way, however, i found friends, family, and community that have convinced me that it can all be done and done well.

    When my husband and i started to have the “kids” conversation, to be completely honest, the single biggest reason i can point to (aside from all the fuzzy, irrational, nebulous feelings) was that i can’t imagine my life without them. But i don’t even mean my life right now. I’m somewhat terrified of how my immediate life is about to change. But when i think about it, i cannot imagine my life, when i’m 60 years old, without having children and a family. Maybe that is a little short-sighted and un-creative, but i just feel like i don’t want to get to 60 years old and have no children to continue sharing the joys and pains of youth and excitement and exploration with.

    When it came down to the question of biological or adopted children, my husband would have been completely happy with no biological children, however, i felt like growing a human is something my body is capable of, and i would really like to experience it. So, here we are. This may be my first and only pregnancy, as both my husband and I are also very committed to adoption for a number of reasons. And for now i’m excited about the prospect of growing our family, and figuring out what that means for our adult lives too.

    • ” I think this was mostly a defense mechanism and reaction for the difficulty i had navigating my somewhat dysfunctional family.”

      I never thought about it that way, but yes, this is exactly why I swore as a teenager that I wasn’t going to have kids.

      My partner and I have been having the kids convo since we started dating 7 years ago, and so far have only figured out that when we picture the far-off future, it involves having children (or rather, involves having adult children and maybe grandchildren). He wants that to happen biologically if possible. I’m entirely ambivalent. I think the clock is ticking for him more than meβ€”our age gap (4 years) puts him in his 30s now, so I think “I have plenty of time” yet he’s thinking “if I have kids, I want them while I’m young,” and to hit brain, 32 is not exactly spring-chicken territory.

      I think maybe we’ll hit a point (after the wedding in two weeks) of not not trying, and see what happens until something convinces us one way or another.

      When I think about raising kids, though, there’s definitely a huge factor of a.) realizing that while there may not be a “right” way, I won’t do it like my parents did, and b.) just wanting the chance to guide future responsible adults through their childhood.

    • Well said! I am 14 weeks pregnant and still ambivalent about whether I really want a baby. This was even a planned pregnancy. I was charting my cycle to determine fertile periods, and yet, actually getting pregnant was still a shock. But I think you hit the nail on the head for me with your comment about not wanting to be 60 years old with no children. Somehow I can’t imagine changing my life to add a baby now, but I also can’t imagine being 60 and having no children in my life. I’m scared to have children right now but I also know I don’t want to miss my chance to have them. And at age 35, I don’t have a lot more time to wait to “feel ready.” So baby is on it’s way and I am working on changing my inner narrative toward babies in general. I’ve been surrounded by messages my whole life that babies ruin your life but I look around and for lots of people that is simply not true! I’m looking forward to a new narrative.

      • I love the piece about changing the narrative. I’ve definitely gotten the message that babies are life-ruiners, and it’s so concerning, but then, looking around – it doesn’t seem to actually be true, which is encouraging.

  22. I’ve always wanted kids, so there wasn’t really a time when I “decided” that I would have them. We are trying but don’t have any yet, and I’m jealous of my friends every time someone posts a pregnancy announcement on Facebook. For me, it’s a desire to help another person learn about and explore the world. I want to be able to influence at least one (or two or three) little people to be caring, contentious, open-minded adult people. I know that my future kids might take a path that is different than the one I idealized for them, but I want the chance to try. I want to pass on my knowledge, tests some of my theories, and experience love like that. Part of me also deeply wants to be “mother” to another human being. That’s a strong bond, a huge role in someone’s life, and I want to be that person. Also, I just think it will be fun. Kids are fun to be around, they’re funny, they see the world differently and I think that’s cool. So, not really a “rational” reason at all, but a bunch of really strong emotional needs and desires would be filled by procreating.

  23. Here’s the most compelling reason I’ve found so far:

    To have someone around who loves you when you’re so old that most of the people your age are gone.

    People of baby-making age rarely think about the end-of-life stage – usually the word “kids” evokes toddlers and school children. But grown kids are the other half of the bargain, there to help you out when you’re suddenly the one who is not very independent. My mother’s parents moved in with Mom and Dad so that they could spend their last days surrounded by people they knew and loved, and we’re all so glad they did. And my dad’s mother is a wonderfully intellectual, energetic senior who at 85 has outlived her husband and most of her friends. My dad calls her every night after “Jeopardy!” to discuss whether or not they each got the final answer, my uncles and aunts make sure someone is dropping in every weekend to help her out in the garden, and my husband and I truly enjoy phoning her up and exchanging emails. She may very well have another ten years in her of living it up and if so, they will be spent almost solely with people who are 20+ years younger than she is.

    I find myself hoping for the same sort of network of loved ones if I ever get to be her age, especially if I end up outliving everyone I know and love right now.

    • I hate that reason. A lot of parents do think of that. I know mine did and frequently brought it up to me ever since I was a kid. I resent the idea that I was created to be their nurse someday — the very idea meant that they didn’t see a future for me where I was adventuring or following my heart or having a big important career… only that I would be in their same area forever with enough free time to take care of “less independent” parents. Better to save the money and just hire a geriatric nurse if that’s what you need. It seems really selfish to birth a child knowing that your dream is for them to limit their life to accommodate you.

  24. I think the only real answer to this question is “because you want to.” But I think that manifests differently for everyone.

    I definitely want kids, and so does my husband. For me, it’s currently manifesting two ways. On the biological side, every cell in my body is telling me to FUCKING PROCREATE ALREADY. Otherwise known as the “biological clock,” though I’ve always found it to be more like the biological Jehovah’s Witnesses (“Hello, do you have a moment to talk about BABIES?”). But that’s nothing new. We’re all slaves to our very horny DNA.

    On the emotional side, things have recently changed. Before we got married my desire for kids just manifested as daydreaming. We would talk about the things we’d do with kids, what values we’d raise them with, etc. But recently, I’ve started to feel like our family is incomplete without them. Not ALL families – it only takes two, after all – but mine. For holidays and vacations, especially, I miss the kids who don’t exist yet. I love sharing Christmas with my husband, but I really look forward to the day we can light the Advent candles with a squirming toddler or watch a 7-year-old who’s hopped up on chocolate open a Lego set. My family of two is fantastic, but the whole family hasn’t arrived yet.

  25. TLDR comments; The decision to have a baby is at most a 5% rational decision. The remaining 95% is completely irrational, because nobody ever is really prepared for parenthood. And there’s only one end of the pool to jump into…. the deep end.

    I think if the decision to have children was a purely rational one, most people would never have children at all.

Read more comments

Join the Conversation