I’ll admit it, I’m a fairly young mom. I got married at 22 and had a baby by 26. I’m not suggesting that there is a “perfect” age to have kids. I have friends young and old, with and without children.
In Western culture, where independence is especially valued, it’s become more common for young people to put off having kids. There are plenty of good reasons to do so—taking on the responsibility of caring for another human life is certainly not something to be taken lightly. But I’ve realized that the heart and motivation between some of the reasons we delay having kids is not always entirely valid.
Just to be clear: Some couples don’t want to have children, and some struggle with being able to, and neither of those make them any less of a family. But for those who want children—biologically or through adoption—here are three common reasons for waiting to have kids, and why it might be time to rethink them:
1. “We’re Just Not Ready Financially.”
OK. I get it. Finances play a major role when it comes to having a baby.
I used to work as a social worker for a foster care agency. I’ve heard of, seen, and interacted with plenty of people who should not have become parents when they did, one reason being neglect.
There are times when it might be financially unwise to have a baby—if you’re having extreme difficulty providing for your own needs financially it would probably be wise to wait until you’re in a better place. But many of us get to a point where we are able to provide for ourselves have some financial stability, and yet still worry that we won’t have enough.
Yes, it is wise to be a good steward and to plan accordingly, but for many, finances are never going to be right where we want them to be . Babies are expensive, but not as expensive as one may think. The problem is that too many of us would rather try and achieve the “American Dream”—drive the fancy car(s), buy the cute house with the picket fence—and then have a baby.
But the reality is you may never really feel like your life is in the perfect spot to have a baby and that you’re ready financially. There will always be expenses and setbacks. As one of my mentors so wisely put it, “If you wait for all of your ducks to be in a row, it (having a baby) will never happen.”
2. “We are Focusing on Our Careers Right Now.”
It seems that the message sent to the younger generation in America goes something like this, “Have careless fun and freedom in your twenties, be self/career focused and driven to become utterly successful in the prime of your thirties, and settle down a little, maybe get married, and hey why not have a child or two to carry on your legacy in your forties.”
This timeline may be true for some, but it discounts a few things. For example, how much more difficult it can be to have a child once you enter your thirties, both biologically and logistically. It is hard enough keeping up with a small child in your twenties let alone in your forties!
This will vary from person to person, but when does one really achieve the pinnacle of their career? When will you decide that you’ve achieved the level of success you need to start a family?
Also, having a career and having a family don’t have to be mutually exclusive. There are plenty of working moms and dads who are very successful in their careers. No, it won’t be easy, especially with sleep deprivation, but when did anything “easy” become the epitome of fulfillment? Isn’t it the blood, sweat, and tears that make the work worthwhile? Is that not the essence of being successful?
3. “We Just Want to Enjoy Being Married as Long as We Can Because Our Lives Will Be Over Once We Have Kids.”
It’s true that having a kid can be stressful to a marriage. In fact, I encourage couples to wait at least a year before adding kids to the mix because marriage itself is a big adjustment.
The problem here is with the latter portion of this statement. Pretty much every couple who becomes pregnant or who is adopting for the first time will hear this: “Enjoy it now, because your life will never be the same!” I know that most of the people who say this mean well, but the underlying meaning is that, “Your life is over. No more sleeping in, no more time to yourself, no more … you fill in the blank.”
It is no secret that raising a child has responsibilities, but it is even more so an honor, a privilege and a joy. Fundamentally what this kind of statement seems to be saying is that children are more of a curse than a blessing, which is simply not true.
So obviously, there are lots of things to consider before you start having children, but if these three reasons are the only reasons holding you back, maybe you should reconsider. Everyone is afraid to make that big leap into parenthood, and that is OK. You learn as you go, because no one is ever completely ready to become a parent, but let me tell you the truth; your life will most certainly not be over with once you start having children. In fact quite the opposite will happen. Your heart will come alive in ways that you never knew possible.
Paige is a Certified Social Worker, holding a Master of Social Work and B.A. in Christian Ministries from Asbury University. She enjoys being a wife, mother, counselor and writer, blogging at paigeturner87.blogspot.com.