Why we waited to have kids and why we DON’T regret it
It was inevitable that the subject of children would come up while The Husband and I were engaged. When we initially discussed having children we knew that wanted them, but we also knew we needed to wait until we finished school. We were poor college students who could barely afford ourselves let alone another human being. We didn’t even consider having children until we graduated college, settled into employment, and felt financially stable enough to add to our family.
We were quite content without children, but we often encountered people who couldn’t comprehend how we could be happy without kids. I had many conversations with well-meaning people about our lack of children that usually consisted of them asking if I was pregnant, when I was going to get pregnant, pearl clutching subsequent to me saying that we weren’t ready/didn’t want to/were waiting to have children, and them trying to convince me that we should have children.
I don’t regret the fact that we waited several years into our marriage to even consider having kids. In fact, I think that there’s wisdom in waiting to procreate. It certainly isn’t my aim to make anyone feel as if they have to defend their choices, but I feel like this is a perspective that isn’t often explored. It seems like the only idea that is ever given a platform is that married couples should immediately start having kids. I don’t feel that is the case, and I hope that my words may in some small way help someone else feel validated in their decisions.
Delaying procreation gave The Husband and I time to really get to know and understand ourselves as a couple. We were able to focus time and energy on our marriage in a way that would not have been possible with little ones running around. I feel that this was of great benefit to us when we started getting (through foster care) and having children.
One benefit is having a good understanding of one another’s needs. The Husband knows that there are times when I push myself too hard and that I often feel like I need permission to rest and take care of myself. As a result, he generally takes over child care when he gets home from work which gives me time to rest. I know that he needs time to himself to recharge his batteries. This usually involves developing his programming skills or gaming. I make sure to plan time for him to engage in these pursuits.
Another reason I don’t regret waiting to have kids is that it gave us time to develop individually. I’ve always had a very good understanding of myself. With that said, I recognize that I needed time to grow as a person. I think that I would have been an awesome parent at 20, but I’m glad I waited until I was 26 to become a parent for the first time [through foster care]. At 26, I was much more willing to admit that I didn’t have all of the answers which is a pretty important aspect of parenthood.
I could probably ramble on about several other points, but I’ll make a short list of reasons instead. You’ll have to use your common sense/imagination to develop the why:
Why I don’t regret waiting to have children:
- It gave The Husband and I more time to develop and progress in our chosen careers.
- We were able to take full advantage of different opportunities that were good for us that would have been hard/impossible with children.
- We were able to buy a house that we probably wouldn’t have been able to afford if we had a kid. That house has now become a source of income that allows us to live comfortably with our child.
- We were able to build our savings in a way that wouldn’t have been possible with having a kid.
- We started getting/having children at a time when we were well off financially and were able to provide for our children without having to depend on others.
Of course, this list and these ideas are unique to me and my life. There are plenty of people who have been perfectly happy with having kids early in a marriage, before a marriage, and even without being married or in a long term relationship. I recognize that there are some people who get married later in life and feel the need to have children right away. My experience is by no means the end all be all, but I feel that the topic of delaying procreation should be part of every couple’s dialogue and should be part of our culture’s dialogue about marriage and child rearing.
Kids are a blessing, but not everyone is ready to handle the responsibility it takes to raise them. If every one who had children was fit to raise them we wouldn’t have a foster care system and there would be few adoptions.
We’ve created cultural expectations around having kids, and people have the audacity to shame those who don’t live up to those expectations (and women are usually on both ends of the shaming). Why?
The next time you feel the need to offer up an opinion about a couple’s childlessness or to badger them about when they’re going to have children: Don’t do it; it’s none of your business (unless someone is being done harm). Not everyone who is childless wants to be, and those who do usually don’t want to have to explain themselves. In either case, you could be doing damage by offering your opinions/inquiries.
Reach out with tact if you think there could be a problem, but the couple is too proud/scared/hurt/etc. to say anything or seek help.
Ultimately, the decision to have children or not lies with the couple.
You may have different reasons for delaying procreation. You might even seriously disagree with my reasons. My goal in sharing my experience isn’t to convert you to my way of thinking, but rather to put forth another line of thinking.