An easier big question: are there right and wrong reasons…

… for wanting to have kids?

Yea, hi, I’m one of those twenty/thirty-something bloggers blogging about the whole whether-to-have-kids thing.  Much as I fight being one of the crowd, I’m one of the crowd.  It’s freaking biological.

{Defensive, much?}


Seriously, though, are there right and wrong reasons for wanting to have kids?  Or, more specifically, right and wrong reasons for wanting to have kids now?

Is “because I want my life to be bigger, brighter, and more interesting by experiencing it with — and for — someone else who is my kid” a good reason?

Is that the same as, “I don’t like my life and think having a kid will magically fix everything?”

What about, “Because life is seeming like a stupid endless cycle of stupidity and I think that means I’m ready for the next crazy thing”?

Or, “I want to have a child who looks and acts like my husband — infuriating and awesome all at once — and can’t help but be like me, too, so I can be with her* through everything good and awful and wonderful and scary”?

I’ve always wanted to have kids – someday.  When I got married the first time, I was twenty one.  Despite my young age, (crazy) people asked when we’d have kids, to which I’d reply, “We have two decades to decide.”  Fast forward ten years, and I know two things: 1) it wasn’t nearly as funny a comment as I thought it was at the time, and 2) the decades are flying by.

One of Gretchen Rubin’s four splendid truths is, “The days are long, but the years are short.”  Yes, yes, YES.

Soon I’ll be thirty one, an age I’ve always wanted to be (31 and 34 were always my favorite ages, can’t really tell you why), and I’m looking forward to the next year.  But.  But!  My biological clock is suddenly ticking and I’m fighting off the monsters that tell me I’m ridiculous (or wrong or silly or ridiculous – they like to repeat themselves).


Me: I think I’m ready to start thinking about when to have kids.

Monster: Crazy woman, it doesn’t count if you qualify every word with a qualifier word.

Me: I’m ready to have kids. Except, not this second.  Well, maybe.

Monster: Silly woman, how can you be grown-up enough to have kids when you can’t even say the words?  Actually, forget saying the words; you can’t even think them without twisting yourself into a pretzel.

Me: I’m ready to have kids. *gulp*

Monster: Why?  Is this because the neighbor and the friend are thinking about having a kid?  Are you just trying to fit in? You weren’t actively considering the kid thing until then, after all, figuring another year was a fine amount of time to put the whole thing off.

Me: Does it matter why I started thinking about it?  I did, sure, because they were, but now I can’t shake it.  In thirty minutes of thinking, virtually every thought came back to my kids: I want my kids to play there, I want to take my kids to that place, this steep drop-off will be dangerous for my kids.  And it wasn’t even in an obsessive way (I know obsession), more like a simple statement of fact.

Monster: I don’t know, we all know you can obsess.  Remember the camera extravaganza?  Or the basement thing?  Or the kitchen remodel meltdown?

Me: Yes.  I obsess.  But now that I think of it, the camera extravaganza started because I wanted to get good enough at photography to share my children with my long-distance family.  And the basement extravaganza was because I wanted a non-creepy guest suite so my family could visit — and stay with us while having their own space — when we have kids.  And the kitchen remodel meltdown was so we wouldn’t have to deal with a kitchen remodel with kids to take care of… and they wouldn’t crawl on that nasty (and probably freaking asbestos-laden) floor.

Monster: Gotcha.  Okay.  I hear you.  But I’m a monster, so I have a few arguments left.  You know, the important ones you can’t shake.  Ready?  You’re not old enough.

Me: HAHAHAHAHAHA.  I’m officially not “too young” for anything anymore.  For once.  And definitely not to exercise my state- and God-supported right to procreate.

Monster: You’re not grown-up enough.

Me: Fair point.  And I might not ever be, but I do suspect that being someone’s mom will be the nudge I’m looking for.  I grew up a bit while being single and alone, then more while being engaged, then a ton during our first year of marriage.  I’m as grown up as one person with responsibility for and to other adult creatures will be… and I’m not getting another puppy.

Monster: He’s not grown-up enough.

Me: His deal, not mine.  I’m here to support, not pester or facilitate or guide, not him, anyway.  He should be allowed to grow up as his life path leads him. (Hello, hippie comment, but true.)

Monster: You’re not solid enough as a couple.

Me: Fair point, yet again.  I don’t have an answer for this, but I acknowledge the need to deal.

Monster: Your people live across the country.

Me: Yes, true, but unless I’m planning to move back there, seriously (um, no), this is fact, not decision-point.  Time to mourn and move on.  And I’ll keep working on the basement non-creepiness and photography skills, talk with my parents about how they’d imagine staying in touch once there are spawn to share, and make real plans for get-togethers.  My kids won’t get to stay with their (maternal) grandparents just because, but they will get the experiences I missed – traveling cross-country for a holiday, spending the summer in the company of people who let you have cookies for dinner, Skype.

Monster: I’m tired.  Let’s pick this up another day.

Me: Me, too.  But I feel better, so thanks for the chat.  My husband and I need to strategize on shoring up our relationship, finishing up house projects, and timing, but I think I know where I stand. You’re pretty cute, monster o’ mine.


*I’d never, ever, EVAH wanted to have a girl. Girls were scary and b*tchy and horrible creatures… but then I met Jen and made girlfriends and realized we’re pretty freaking awesome, us chicks, and now I’d like one – who can’t shut up and giggles like a fool and is prone to bouts of discontent, even.  Boys would be cool, too, though, since they’re all boy-ish and awesome.  So, yea, boy or girl would be great, and I’ll keep defaulting to girl just because it terrifies my husband (mostly because he was once — still? — a teenage boy and therefore knows the dirtiness of a teenage boy’s mind… and, ahem, of teenage girls’, too).


16 thoughts on “An easier big question: are there right and wrong reasons…

  1. i discussed this question, of why we have kids, the other day with some friends… i came to the conclusion that i want to have kids because i want to pass “me” on. i want my story, my scandinavian heritage, my traditions, my habits, my hobbies to live on. i don’t want my values and my perspective to die with me, which sounds selfish but i don’t mean it that way. i have shared my world with my husband, and that’s been wonderful, but i want to share with my child(ren). i could do the same thing with a close niece or nephew, and i think i’d be okay… but knowing my brothers that ain’t happening any time soon, so i’d better do it myself!

    i don’t know if that’s a good or a bad reason… or if there are good and bad reasons. still debating that one myself.

    • @stacey, I think the reasons end up being beyond logic. You either feel the urge/ need/ desire to be a parent or you don’t… but I still find it impossible to avoid trying to name my reasons!

      I get the sense that you’re where I am: struggling to describe in logical words something that’s not logical. I’m so glad you commented!

  2. My reason is no where near as philosophical. When you asked me what I wanted to be as a 13 year old it was a ‘mom’. It’s always been my deepest desire. I feel like i was born to be a ‘mom’. Even thinking about the reality of it in the past couple years makes my eyes well up. I can not wait to love and nurture this little one. To teach and encourage. To learn from them. To bring them into our family and share our wonderful life with them. To share our passions, to explore new passions, to show them the world 🙂 (As pretty or ugly as it may be at times).

    I do think there can be wrong reasons – but that doesn’t necessarily mean the results will be devestating/negative. If there’s an ‘expectation’ on the child to be – that reason needs to be evaluated. Like ‘this baby will fix our marriage’. For unmarried’s ‘this baby will make him (partner) love me forever’. For teenagers ‘this baby will bring me the attention I crave’. When the reasons are selfishly about something else and not about the love for a child 🙂 Eh – but I hate to tell someone else what is right and wrong for their lives 🙂

    • @Jilian, I adore you! That is a great answer… and I’m so super-excited for you. You’re absolutely right about expectations. Maybe it’s not about WHY you want to have kids that’s important, but what you expect from the whole thing. “Why” get lost pretty quickly after the decision was made, but expectations stick around. That’s certainly been true in my marriage. The reasons we’re together (got together?) don’t matter as much now that we are, but the expectations for that togetherness persist.

      Huh. Now you’ve got me thinking. Thanks.

      • @Marisa,
        So true about Reasons vs. Expectations. So true in any big decision, be it relationships, career, or children. Reasons may or may not prove to be realistic or accurate, and expectations are what determine our perceptions of our lives (or so it seems to me). Perceptions influence attitude, and as you know, attitude shapes our relationships and decisions.

        My husband and I recently decided to make that leap (into hopeful parenthood), and we had a lot of good reasons why this was a good time to go for it. The most undeniable being that we just *wanted* to. Now that I’m pregnant, the reasons why we decided to take this path don’t really seem all that relevant. The fact is, we’re here, and, God willing, we will come out the other side with a baby. Our expectations for the pregnancy, the arrival of our child, and future choices in parenting are what weighs on my mind now. That and the screaming tantrums that I seem to encounter in every public place these days. Terrifying.

      • @Austyn, LOL. There’s a theory (study?) that couples find their satisfaction in their relationship plummets upon engagement, because suddenly you’re considering the other person through a different lens. “Can I really live with that thing he does FOREVER?”

        I think there’s a similar transition from being around other people’s kids to seriously considering a situation with your own kids. That only happened to me recently, my husband a little before that. Rather than “Hey, fun kid!” we started talking about how we’d do things and what our kid might be like and how we’d handle ________.

        I’d imagine that gets even more clear when you’re actually pregnant.

        Ah, biology. So good at helping us along with our transitions!

  3. There are likely good and bad reasons to have kids, but I agree that a lot of it is instinctive. I used to feel like having children would be wrong for me because I didn’t want to bring them into a messed up world. Then my awesome nephews came along and changed everything, and I KNEW I would have kids someday. We’re still enjoying the newlywed no kid life right now, but knowing kids are in the future makes me happy.

    • @BB, I had the same experience with my favorite neighbor baby. Suddenly I was like, DUDE, that kid is awesome. I want him to be mine! Except really mine! And look like me! And you! And not have to give him back!

      The fact that I had these thoughts while he was throwing a fit and refusing to play nice gave me a nice clue that it was more than baby lust.

      Also, my husband got a chance to see how cool kids really are, having not been around them much before.

  4. I keep typing things and deleting them because they seem too cliche’ – but the fact is that you know they are waiting for you, and you are waiting for them. An easy, perfect schedule for becoming a parent is non-existent. You can talk about it all you want, but in the end you take the leap, and suddenly you are in the deep end of the pool. The water is challenging to swim through, but it is the best thing you’ve ever done.
    I have five. Every minute better than the next, and still scary.

    • @Sharon, Funny. I was going to comment on another commenter’s comment that if my experience is at all typical, going from Not Sure to Sure is a clearly defined change. From one day to the next, I went from Not Sure to Sure I wanted to have kids. Done. Like learning, it doesn’t feel like it can be undone. All of the curiosity I had about whether my Not Sure was really a Sure was silly, because it’s clear that when you know, you know.

      That said, I’m now certain that I’m not yet at Now. Sure, but not sure when. I’m feeling good about it all, actually. If the clarity around Now is anything like Sure, when it happens, I’ll know, and then we’ll deal with that.

  5. I get the impression that you want kids because you are ready for the next step. Because you are good at what you have now with your life and you are ready for what most people feel is “the next step”. And who cares if you want kids not for selfish reasons, it’s your life, and at least you want them (as opposed to having htem and not wanting them).

    • @Emilee, What a great “get some perspective, woman!” comment. You are absolutely right.

      I’m definitely one of those people who wants to keep moving toward something, but I’ve found that if I do that too quickly — for the sake of movement, not just natural growth — things get miserable for me and everyone around me. So, I’m trying to learn that lesson here by accepting what I feel and not feeling the need to act right away. We’ll see how long that lasts.

      I do know that I feel a sense of peace about it all. Where last week there was some angst deep-down, now I’m a little lighter and freer. So, that’s something.

  6. I’m in the fence, but more towards yes then no. I want to have kids to experience it all. I love doing things with my niece. I loved my childhood and think it would be a good. I think I would be good at it. But I worry about all the craziness in the world. How can I prevent my child from becoming a drug addict, child mother, etc.? It’s a scary thought. I think you’ll know when you’re ready.

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