Babies will help you ignore your problems
Now that Stacie and I are both over 30 years old, we’re both getting barraged almost daily with “Do you have kids?”, “Why not?“, “You only have a few years left!”, “You’re not getting any younger!”, and any of a myriad of other rude and even insulting statements and questions.
But rather than helping to nudge us towards parenthood, these questions/statements are making us even less fond of birthing or adopting our own child. So for any of you out there who know us personally, keep your lips tight when you want to ask when we’re having our own kids. We’ll continue to examine our motives for having kids, and if the time is right, we’ll decide on our own about kids, and then let you know.
Now, talking about motives for having kids, I’d like to share with you a rather disturbing thought shared with Stacie by one of her coworkers this past week. First, I’ll set the stage:
Unsure of Our Career Paths
Both Stacie and I have come to a crossroads in our lives where neither of us are sure we want to continue working in our respective fields, or at least our current career tracks. She still loves nutrition, but she’s not sure she wants to stick with clinical work (i.e. working in hospitals). It’s stressful, underpaid work, but she does see the rewards of helping her patients directly. It’s a tough decision.
For me, I’m an IT consultant (generically), but I’ve never quite enjoyed my jobs. Instead, I’ve enjoyed educating others as soon as I learn something, and helping them to do their jobs better. I’ve normally become the subject matter expert in my jobs, mainly through my nosiness, but I’m tired of government contracting, and perhaps even IT. Unfortunately, I seem best suited to working in IT as it comes to me rather easily (although I’m not a programmer or engineer), but I haven’t really taken the time to see what else is out there for me.
Babies are the Answer!
So while discussing our displeasure with our jobs with her coworker, Stacie received the following response:
Have kids. Kids are a great distraction from your other problems. You’ll forget all about your problems and HAVE to focus on the kids.
Wow. I never thought to have kids to avoid my other problems. Is it that easy? Don’t kids introduce an enormous number of their own difficulties? Wouldn’t I then be juggling my job AND kids, rather than just my job?
I wouldn’t even be writing this article if the coworker said this in jest. However, she said it to Stacie in all seriousness.
Don’t Find an Escape!
In short, the point of examining your motives before embarking on any major purchase or life decision is to be sure you’re making the decision for the right reasons. Having kids to make you forget about your problems, whether career, financial, marital, etc., is the completely wrong thing to do! Your problems don’t go away. You can’t ignore those bills, or think fights with your spouse will go away because you have a new baby in the house. They’ll probably even escalate. Your bills will grow larger; if you couldn’t pay them before, how can you afford your new baby? As for fighting, you now have one more issue to bring into the fight, and the child is on the losing end every time.
For us, we’ll wait on having kids until we work through figuring out our own desired paths. If we know we’re having career problems now, then we can more easily change our path now when we’re childless than if we had a child.
Some people would call our reasoning for not having kids yet as being “selfish”, but I’m not going to accept that reason. If you haven’t caught on yet, we’re making sure that IF we decide to have kids, we’re doing it for the right reasons and that we’re bringing the kids into a stable, healthy household (as best as we can manage). We recognize that we’ll never be perfect in our relationship, finances or careers, but if we go into parenthood unprepared for the challenges that kids bring, then it’s not fair for the kids or for us.
So rather than using kids as an escape from our problems, we’ll go ahead and just try to fix the issues first (if we can). We won’t try to be debt free, but we will try to be financially stable and secure.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.
I feel for you. My wife an I are about your age and just found out that we’re expecting our first, so finally, the comments and questions have ended! You sound like you’re pretty patient with people about them, but I also sense some building irritation. I wouldn’t waste my energy getting frustrated when you hear them because they’re probably not going to go away. It’s not worth your time or energy.
We were pretty close-lipped about when we were going to have a baby and you just have to be comfortable telling people, “Yeah, we’re just not quite ready yet.” If that’s not good enough for them, too bad. Be nice about it, but don’t give an inch.
As for your reasons…they’re the right ones. Why? Because they’re right for YOU. It doen’st matter what anyone else thinks. If they say you’re selfish, then screw them. It’s none of their business. Nobody else has to live with your decision. I think THEY’RE being selfish. They want you to have kids because it will make THEM happy. Sorry if I’m ranting a little bit here.
I was like you guys. I wanted to wait until our finances were in a little bit better shape, but my wife was ready and honestly, I’m so happy that she’s pregnant. Do be careful, because time will get away from you and as you mentioned, your finances will never be perfect.
I’ve not much to add other than you don’t want to be an ‘old’ dad. Sounds like your letting life pass you by until your 120% really really sure kind of thing. There is never a good time to have kids 🙂 Don’t over think things, don’t overanalyse. If you want kids great, if you don’t, great. Kids are not for everyone, and unfortunately there is no license test for valid parents or that…
If your going through some kind of mid life crisis thing and want to do career backflips, I have no advice.
I do know I’d not trade in my boy for anything, even tho I moan to my wife about no time for my hobbies etc. neither of us would trade it in. Until they are school age, its a BIG time impact (our boy is 14 months).
I wouldn’t say kids are a distraction from other problems, but they do become a focal point and driver for a lot of decisions.
My wife went back to work a few weeks after the baby, so it had no impact on her job or impinged on any opportunities.
Quite frankly, some people have no business having children. If you can’t take care of yourself, and you don’t want to take care of someone else, why the devil would you bring something into the world that is totally dependent on others for its care? Next I suppose your coworkers will be asking me to foot the bill for their health care, day care, and eventually to send them on a caribbean cruise…
I can’t tell you how much I admire you for electing to have children when you are ready. While I know people who use that as an excuse, I know plenty of children who have legal parents who can hardly really be called parents in the true sense of that mantle of responsibility.
I would very much like to have children, but only at the right time and in the right way.
Don’t let other people project their wills on you. Godspeed, and good on you.
Mr Chiots and I have decided not to have children (for personal & environmental reasons). We have received much grief about our decision over the years, people telling us we’re selfish and we aren’t real adults. I applaud you for being responsible about this decision. Too many people just do it because it seems like the next logical stage in their relationship or because they are having problems and they think this will fix it. I think people try to convince us to have kids because they want us to share the misery.
We have had a few friends be completely honest with us and say, “You know, you made a great decision. If I had it to do over again I probably would choose the same. Not that I don’t love my children, but it is really hard work and takes a lot out you.”
Perhaps instead of having your own children you could just be great influences in the lives of other children around you at your church or other social clubs. It’s also a great influence for young people to see older mature couples choosing not to have kids. We have too many kids in this country that are not cared for and live in terrible conditions because too many people just do it.
Hold Strong! Don’t have kids till you know you’re 100% sure you’re ready.
I would have to agree that your wife’s coworker clearly is not thinking straight if she can make a comment like that “in all seriousness”. I just found out I am pregnant with my second and trust me, the child/children don’t make me forget other problems, or let me rephrase, the child does make me forget things, but not because I want to, but because I am a full-time employee and a mother and young, so I’m still trying to be social here and there and its all tooo much some days. I used to experience that same pressure from others about having kids, getting married, etc. DON’T SUCCUMB TO THE PRESSURE. It’s a lot of work. Having a child now is fun, but no doubt, its a lot of work. Take your time 🙂
Clever Dude says
@All, thanks for the encouragement. The one thing is that we haven’t ruled out fostering children. And we also recognize that we don’t need to start with a baby. We’re willing to try older child adoption. Yes, foster kids and older adoptees come with “problems”, but they’re in need of love just like babies.
I commend you and Stacie for making a conscious decision on whether or not to have kids. I wish more people did. When I tell people I am doing the same for my future they look at me weird, because having kids (and at a certain time) is just expected.
Personally, I would really like to adopt. I grew up in a non-traditional family and I owe who I am today to the fact other people stepped up to be a guiding light/parent in my life. This depends on finding a life partner that shares my views.
You will almost certainly make great parents, if and when that’s what you want to do. As far as I’m concerned, 30 is the new young, and you’ve got a few years before age starts to become an issue. And nothing adds to problems like kids anyway.
Four Pillars says
I really don’t see how not having kids is “selfish”? Bizarre thinking if you ask me!
As far as your co-worker goes – I think that sometimes people concentrate on their careers to the point where it is the main part of their life (I used to be like that at one time). Getting married, having kids, getting bored with your career allows you to diminish the work influence to the point where it’s just a job and that’s ok.
And don’t worry about the age thing – my wife and I are WAY older than you guys so…you have tons of time if you need it.
Kudos to you two for setting the bar high. Waiting to decide whether or not to bring a child into your lives (by birth, foster care, or adoption) until you feel ready to fully embrace the adventure sounds like a really sane and positive thing to do.
As for the co-worker … I can’t begin to understand such a thought, much less comment on it.
Jon Kepler says
I’m probably several years younger than you, but my girlfriend and I get harassed constantly with the “when are you getting married?” question. I assume the landslide of “kid questions” will come shortly after, though we’re already getting some of those too!
Whenever I get asked about kids, I respond by reminding the person how expensive kids are. “It’s like buying a Bentley”, I always say. “Two kids are like TWO Bentleys!” “Maybe we’ll have one Bentley, then one kid after that; ask me again when we buy the Arnage.”
My response is usually followed by complete silence. Problem solved! Rarely do we get asked twice. What do you think? Good answer?
Using the excuse of having children to forget your problems is about as stupid as breaking light bulbs to turn off the lights. It just doesn’t make sense. What would end up happening is you stay in your situation of uncertainty but now you have added pressure and responsibility of a child to bring up. I’m about to have a child and I’m in a similar position to you (career and disolusion). But the child made sense when we decided on it and it had nothing to do with our careers or people telling us what to do. Will it make it harder for me to gain focus in my work situation? Yes but again I factored that into my choice.
Good on you for choosing to be responsible about parenting and your lives. They are your lives after all not the people who make their rude and insulting comments.
LOL! I’m with the co-worker. We had three children and things were running pretty smoothly…so we adopted three more! We have never been so gazelle-intense or so successful! 6 personalities is a lot to handle, but even one takes you outside of your wants and redefines your needs in ways you don’t expect.
If you don’t want children, don’t have them. We have three who have suffered because their parents weren’t wise enough to chose NOT to have children. But waiting to have children you really want because the stars aren’t all aligned is a very false sense of economy. The opportunities for success expand and you’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of.
Obviously, we all for adoption! Ours were 4,9 and 10 when they joined us. Great kids!!
I know CD has mentioned it before, but I want to put it out there that it isn’t like we don’t LIKE kids. I love kids! Several friends and family members are having kids and I love seeing them and spending time with them. I also counsel kids in the hospital, and they mean the world to me (anyone who knows me can attest to that). However, why can’t that be enough right now? Why can’t I spoil my nieces and nephew and our friends’ children?
Sometimes I think that I can still positively affect a child’s life without having the title of “parent” and “mother”. That to me is more important than needing to be a parent or having to answer the “when are you having kids” question. Who I am and how I affect the lives of those around me should not be contingent on my answer to one simple question. I can still be a good role model without having to be a parent, right?
For all readers who are parents, I commend you greatly. May you be awesome role models to your children! You as parents are not an island raising your children alone. So, therefore, are we all teachers to children–may you be that primary role model and accept help from people like CD and me who can help shape your children into amazing people (and be like aunts and uncles to them)…I think that’s all the responsibility I’m ready for right now–that secondary role of “godparent” or “aunt”!
Sorry for my rant…
I suppose some of these people mean well. But it has to be really annoying for you to have to deal with these questions and comments. Deciding whether or not to have kids is not just an intensely personal decision, it is one of the most “life-impacting” decisions you will make. And you have the right to make it for yourselves, for whatever reasons you want. I have to say that when I hear comments like “it’s selfish” or “you must not like kids” I just laugh. Even if those are the reasons someone chooses not to have kids, who cares? I readily admit that I don’t like kids and am too selfish to have them myself. People can criticize me for that if they want, but I’m happy with the choices I’ve made. I know there are lots of things I can afford to do – and have time to do – because I don’t have kids.
CleverDudette – your value as a person has zero to do with whether you have kids now, later or never. Just tell people that you and CD have settled this issue of kids for now, and it’s not open for discussion – you have no need to justify yourself to others.
Apologies if the comments, especially anything I said, are hitting a nerve. I’m in my mid 40’s with a string of friends suffering the regrets of having “waited too long” to have children or of only having one.
We may have misunderstood Clever Dude’s “Iâ€™d like to hear your thoughts on this” at the end of his post.
All the best!!
Jon Kepler says
We won’t be having children for a long time, and it is primarily for selfish reasons. However, I also feel that the majority of parents can’t afford the kids they have. I alluded to this above with my Bentley comment. Law school costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Starting or buying a business can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’d prefer to wait until I can give my kids the foundation they need rather than force them to accumulate debt the moment they turn 18.
Wow, posts about kids get SO much more comment traffic, as I found when I was planning my wedding, Weddings and children are 2 things that almost everyone has gone through in some form or another. Everyone knows someone with kids or someone that has gotten married and everyone has strong opinions! I apologize in advance for this Looonnngg comment and take it with a grain of salt!
I hit 30 last year and that is also the year I got married. My husband is dealing with issues about the future, our money, what it means for his job, my job, his earning potential, my earning potential…
But none of that would make me want children any less, or make me want to delay having children any longer. It doesn’t always happen smoothly and on the first try… we decided to start trying earlier this year and it does take some time for birth control to get out of your system, and many other things more intimate than should be brought up here.
I have heard from a few people (some women, some men) who say that having children intensified their focus at work, caused them to evaluate if they were getting paid what they were worth and in some cases to seek out a job with more satisfaction, pay, or both! Its possible Dudette’s co-worker was alluding to this, although without the tact or insight to see that is not a distraction, but a sharpening of focus. Just deciding to start having children has had this same effect on me.
For a GREAT laugh about this topic, see the movie “Idiocracy”, about a distant future Earth where all the people with means and education stop having children (because they are waiting for X) and those who can’t afford them or emotionally take care of them have them in droves, with multiple partners and don’t take care of any of em!
I especially love when the lead character (Played by Luke Wilson) goes to the doctor in this distant future.(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/)
Some adoption advice for anyone… hope this is not my state specific…. from a foster mom I knew: There is a waiver form you can get when adopting a child who potentially will have abandonment issues (especially true of older children) that can help cover some of the costs of psychiatry or medication that a child might need. Children with ongoing problems related to this might prove to be more of a financial draw than you expected. She said this form had to be obtained before the adoption was finalized.
My main thoughts for CD and Dudette –
1) All the pressure you get can make many personalities backlash against parental and societal expectations and delay having children even longer than they would under no pressure. If you know you tend to rebel against the norm, make sure your desire for a delay is coming from inside yourself, and not just a negative reaction to the pressure.
2) When you think of the “do we want to have kids” question don’t think of it as just an abstract thing, quantify it with numbers, costs, descriptions of expectations related to used/borrowed clothes toys, will someone stay home with the child from birth to kindergarten, learning and skills you will need to raise a child, public or private school etc, all tangible things. There are also the intangibles for example continuing family traditions of your youth (for us it is technical savvy, camping, hunting, having a garden, harvesting and preserving, cooking, financial savvy), contributing to the world in the most lasting way by raising another human being with your values, pride in their accomplishments, identifying areas of parenthood that scare you, things your parents did that you would NOT want to do,
The world needs all of us, Mothers, Fathers, Aunts, Uncles, Godparents, advisers, counselors…