The Big Decision: On Having A Kid

No, my husband and I are not thinking of adding to our family.  I’ve had this topic on mind ever since reading a post on A Cup of Jo about a woman’s indecision regarding having children or not.  What struck me about that discussion was that several people commented that if you’re not 100% sure, don’t do it.  I totally disagree and here’s why:

People tend to fall into three camps when it comes to having kids — 1) the 100% yes,  2) the 100% no way, and 3) the ambivalent.  However, this doesn’t mean that the 100% sure ones end up loving parenthood, while the ambivalent ones are destined to hate it.  I know many people, and have read enough anonymous parenting blogs/forums, to know that some people end up regretting the decision to have kids for a host of reasons, even if they were 100% sure beforehand.   Parenting is tough and can’t live up to the fantasy.  Maybe your fantasy about kids ended at the cute baby stage, and toddlerhood on is a whole other story.  Your partner and family isn’t supportive enough.  You and your child have clashing personalities.  You’re not as patient as you thought you’d be. The list of reasons go on.

I also know, and have read about, parents who were ambivalent about the whole parenting thing yet ended up loving it.  Or at least liking it as much as the ones who were certain about parenthood.  I can definitely say that my husband and I were ambivalent for a long time and even contemplated not having kids at all.  We didn’t really love other people’s kids unless that kid was especially cute or polite.   However, I am happy to report that I have discovered a vast reserve of patience and true unconditional love.  There are huge trade-offs and sacrifices, some of which I anticipated and some not, but I don’t think my previous ambivalence was a sign of not being right or ready for parenthood, or makes me a worse parent today.

I do get that it’s simpler if you really want kids in the first place.  Not having doubts is a great advantage.  However, if you’re in doubt, I wouldn’t take the advice of those who say you have to be sure before taking the plunge (even though I would feel very bad if you do take the plunge and realize your gut feeling of “no” was right..)  In short, there’s no easy answer.

Were you absolutely sure you wanted kids before having one? If you were ambivalent, what pushed you to procreate?

8 responses to “The Big Decision: On Having A Kid

  1. I waited until I was sure, but I can see how other personalities might never get to a place where they are ever totally sure. Some folks can’t tolerate the risk, and I sympathize. I agree with you that they should do it anyway if they have the means.

    The logic of “doubt means don’t” makes the most sense in the case of the decision to get married – where most of my divorced friends had the distinct sense that things would fail before they got hitched, but for various reasons they ignored those thoughts and went ahead with the weddings.

    • Personality types definitely can come into play in terms of having kids. Some people are just more risk-adverse or focus on negatives too much.
      Good point, however, about trusting that doubt instinct when it comes to marriage though!

  2. We were just having this conversation at work the other day. I was in the 100% yes camp, so for me it was easy. I had always known I wanted a family. Like you O&G, I had never been clucky and other people’s kids did nothing for me (except for my niece and nephews). I know of two couples who had made the choice to remain child free and they accidentally fell pregnant- both couples ended up loving it and both even had a second child. For me the scary thought on both sides is that once you have made the decision you can not change your mind. You can’t give children back and you can’t decide at 50 that you really do want to give birth. It certainly is a tricky one and one that requires alot of thought.

    • You know, I always thought that people who adore all kids were the ones who “should” have kids. I felt like I was missing that maternal gene, which I apparently did have, only buried deep inside and only surfacing for my own kids. I admit that I’m not even very crazy about some nieces/nephews!

  3. So, answer your own question – what pushed you to procreate despite early feelings of ambivilance?

    I know i want kids, but I’d say I’m in the 80% yes camp. I have some doubts, and it is clearly a risk, but i still want to do it.

    • My husband went to the “100% sure” camp, so that eventually pushed me from the fence to the other side! We didn’t have heated discussions really but I guess his desire / hopes & dreams of having kids made me “go for it”. Now if he had gone the other way and pushed travel/child-free life, I think I might have gone that way, too. In my case, the partner’s desires also make a HUGE difference. And I probably would have been happy since I wouldn’t have really known what I missed out on.

  4. I caught baby-fever hardcore with DC1. Otherwise I definitely would have waited, and maybe not had any at all. I don’t particularly like kids except my own. (DC2… we were in a place in which we could have another, and there’s this picture of DH holding his new baby niece on a family trip, and my heart melted, of course we could have a second. And she’s adorable.)

    • It’s definitely a harder decision for those of us who don’t particularly like kids except our own. I worried a little that my indifference would continue with my own kids! Of course that wasn’t the case at all but you don’t know until you have them.

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