When it comes to the question of having kids, question you should be asking isn’t really “Do I want kids?” – since that often only offers a perspective in which children are something the parent gains, or benefits from. And that’s often a problematic approach.Instead, ask yourself if you would find genuine joy in devoting yourself, your knowledge, skills, time, money and energy to caring for another independent human being with no guarantees and no returns of investment, in all kinds of situations.
Above all, when you envision having kids, it’s important to be realistic about it – which means thinking about the worst possible scenario, not just the fun moments. What if your kid is born with a physical birth defect, making them unable to walk or move normally? What if they are completely non-verbal? Even if you choose to adopt instead, there are things to consider in this regard; what if they have an accident later in life and lose their mobility then? What if they develop mental health issues, anything from “simple” depression or anxiety to eating disorders or panic attacks or worse?
What if they don’t share any of your interests and just plain don’t feel like you’re someone they can connect with as they grows older? What if they pick a career you don’t understand or care about? What if they turn out to be gay, bi or something else from the queer umbrella? Perhaps even trans or genderfluid or non-binary? What if they end up with moral or political beliefs you don’t support? What if they pick a religion that’s different from what you believe in? What if they make friends you don’t like? What if they don’t do well in school, get into drugs, have partners you don’t approve of? Have kids of their own and expect you to babysit or support them financially even once they’re long past the point of legal adulthood?
And of course, at a glance, you’re going to say yes to all of this, because of course, no one would have an issue with any of this, right? Wrong. People often forget to properly plan for these things all the time, and trying to figure them out after the fact can have grave consequences. Take your time and imagine as many scenarios as possible, and make concrete plans for what you’d do in that situation. How much would therapy cost you, if your kid needs it? What are your local school’s regulation against bullying? How would you address that if it happens? Can you wake up multiple times per night to soothe a baby and not go insane? Set up alarms with baby screams 3 times per night and test it out for 3 months, and see if you can take a year of that, and so on.
And since people usually don’t have kids alone, you also gotta think about how that would affect the relationship with your partner. From changes in dynamic, because you’re now parents with a kid, to a myriad of possible health issues, from post-partum depression to death in childbirth, even. Would you still love your kid if you had to parent them alone for the first year or so, while also having to help your partner get through post-partum depression? Or if your partner unfortunately died in childbirth, or had some other long-term irreparable health consequences due to having a kid?
But even if all goes well and you, your partner and your kid are all healthy, by having kids, any relationship will fundamentally change, so are you willing to happily accept that your partner will just not be the same person ever again after having kids? That your relationship won’t be the same? Is your common goal, to change into a joint parenting unit, or do you just wanna stay partners and you see kids as an addition to that rather than a fundamental change?
And that’s on top of finances, childcare costs in both time and money, the mental load of running a household, the logistics of having a kid, etc. What parenting style would you use? How would the division of work go between you and your partner? How would you arrange time for yourselves? What religion/politics/values would you want your kids to have? What school will you send them to? Will you be able to afford proper housing in an area that will enable them to have access to good education and social resources?
And there are social and environmental issues to consider as well – especially if you plan to have biological kids instead of fostering or adopting. Do some research into population numbers, global warming predictions, the socio-economic standards in your area, the political climate, etc. and factor that into your decision of whether creating new life is what you believe is a good choice.
If you want to be a parent and if all those scenarios sound good to you, then you might be up to the task of being a good parent – this is the point where you now start hoarding all the parenting books to read over and over again, start taking child development classes, calling to book appointments with a financial advisor to plan out a future in which you can be sure your kid will be provided for, etc.
But if any part of this makes you uncomfortable or unsure, if you’ve read any part of this and thought “no, no, no, that won’t happen to me, my kid will not have autism and my partner won’t change after we have a kid” – then no, you’re not 100% willing to be a parent. And in that case, I definitely don’t suggest having kids. Because having kids when you’re not 100% up to the task is essentially playing Russian roulette with 3 human lives – your own, your partner’s, and your hypothetical kid’s life. I don’t think that’s a risk anyone should be taking. At the end of the day, it’s really simple. If it’s not a 100% yes, it’s a no. Kids are human beings, and an entire human existence deserves much better than being based on a maybe, I guess, or a “Hope it all turns out well.”
An informative piece, I came across in one of the corners of the world wide web some time back, sadly, I cant find it for attribution. I hope it helps you in making the right decision.