October 16, 2015

Why Have Children?

Why, as a society, are we expected to fall in love, get married, and then have children?

Well there is the obvious, biological reason: In order to keep our species going, we must reproduce.

However, the world is already overpopulated as it is (this is debatable, but I personally believe we could benefit from a population decline), so the need to reproduce isn't as strong anymore. Sure some people need to procreate in order to keep our species going, but not as many as before.

So why have kids? Well the decision is personal and varies for everyone. My husband and I just recently started trying. We have been married for three years now, been together for a total of six years. We have a home, we have enough in savings, we don't expect any big changes, so why not add a baby?

We want a child for the experience, and it would also be a strong bond between us. We created this life together and we will have to raise it and take care of it together. We also have pretty good genes, are well educated, and make a decent amount of money, so we are able to support a child. The world could also benefit from our child since we'll be able to provide them a good start in life.

However, we also understand babies are a lot of work so we plan on just having one for now. Plans may change depending on how things go, but for the moment we will stick with one, unless somehow we end up with twins, triplets, etc naturally. We are prepared to handle that as well.

Having children also introduces us to a new social life. We will become part of the parent club! Most of our friends and family have already joined this club and we can't wait to join! Apparently two cats and a dog don't count for entry into this club, although I think they should, they can act like toddlers sometimes.

Now there was a time where I was pretty adamant about never having kids (my husband knew this when we got married, it wasn't a deal breaker for him), but after being married for a year to the love of my life, things began to change. I began to feel differently. Maybe the reasons I didn't want kids were wrong? Just maybe I really did want to have one.

I think to claim that my childhood was unhappy is a bit harsh, but it wasn't a childhood I would want for my children. My parents fought a lot. It was full of yelling, spankings, threats, etc. It is hard to think of good things without remembering a bad thing that goes with it. But the thing that probably hurt me the most was that they would blame us. They would say things like "you kids make us fight" or "if it wasn't for the kids" etc.

So I grew up with this notion that kids cause unhappiness and broken marriages (though threats of divorce were common, it never happened, my parents are still together and seem happier now that we are out of the house). That is a pretty good reason not to have kids in my opinion.

Finally, a year ago, I began to do research on having children and read every book available in the library about having kids, not having kids, how to baby proof your marriage, etc. I looked at articles online and read opinions on forums. I had many talks with my husband, asking him why he would like one, if we should have one, etc.

What I discovered was having children is a lot of work and many couples go in without this realization. They aren't prepared (blame society for this, they love to sugar coat raising children). Couples blame each other. They forget about the marriage and focus on the kids, and that is a huge problem.

Your marriage should always come before your kids. Your spouse is going to be with you till death, your child will leave you and move on with their life, sometime between age 18-30 (hopefully by 30!). By putting your marriage first, you show your children what a good marriage is and hopefully they learn from your example and go on to have great marriages as well. Your children will also give you more respect and learn that they can't pit one against the other, no "but dad said I could" or "but mom said it was okay" etc. You should also the avoid the "go ask your mom/dad" scenario as well, because then the kid will come back with "mom/dad said to ask you" and that's just asking for trouble. All decisions should be made together or you should plan ahead on what is and is not okay to avoid this kind of situation.

You should also never fight in front of your children. Arguing is fine, you can't sugar coat everything; they need to learn how to deal with confrontation, but yelling, screaming, hitting, crying, etc is not okay. My parents got this wrong. My husband and I luckily never fight and rarely argue. Now a baby might disrupt that, but we plan to work as a team and set time aside to talk it out. It's us against the baby and that is the way it should be.

And that leads to my next fear. That I'll end up like my parents. Everyone's worst nightmare right? I guess if you had really awesome parents, this might not apply to you, but I know plenty of people who fear they'll end up just like their mom or dad. I want to do things differently, but whether or not that happens, will take a lot of will power. We tend to do things the way we were taught, hence why child abuse is a vicious cycle. I grew up in a time where spanking and hitting your child was okay, but I feel that is wrong. There are better ways to deal with disobedient children. It's the 21st Century after all! My husband had a better childhood, in my opinion, so I think with him on my team, we can do things the right way and avoid my parents' mistakes.

Doing the research also gave me more confidence and realized that I was only hurting myself, because the truth is I would love to have a baby with my husband, to have that special connection. I would love to experience being a parent, to watch our child grow, to experience childhood from a different point of view. And so that is how I changed my mind and why we would love to have a baby, hopefully sometime next year!