Having Children Is a Highly Personal Decision
No One Should Debate Children in Someone's Marriage
A husband and wife make up a family. Adding children to this equation may complicate life for a couple, thus, should never be up for debate by anyone but that husband and wife.
I hold no degrees or certifications in marriage counseling. However, several years ago, my husband and I took special training to help lead Michigan Interfaith Marriage Encounter weekends.
We were involved with this wonderful group of people for over ten years. We had the support of a Rabbi, Priest, and Christian Clergy on scheduled weekends. We all worked together to help problematic marriages find solutions, and help make good marriages become even better.
We learned a lot and countless couples came to these weekends sharing with us their hopes and dreams for the future. These same couples also shared their disappointments and challenges in their marriages.
We had numerous couples who were on the brink of divorce and entered into a Marriage Encounter Weekend as a last resort. Most of the time these couples on the brink of divorce found each other in a new light and went away new people. Other couples came for a weekend to enrich their already spectacular marriage.
Our weekends entailed many subject matters. A few of the subjects we spoke on were money, children, sexuality, death and dying. Most of what I write about is through some of our personal experiences.
My Personal Perspective on Children
From the time when I was a child, I always dreamed of being a mom. I was an only child, as my brother a few years older died in childbirth. Growing up I always longed for a brother or sister.
When I got married, I was eager to have children. I never wanted one child because I knew how lonely life could get. We now have three lovely children who are well into their adult years. We have two grandchildren as well.
It is of my personal belief that our children would be our legacy, with God at the center of our family unit. The choice to add children made our marriage even better. For us, this was the right decision, but for someone else, it may not be an ideal decision.
In most circumstances, no person, parents or otherwise, should try to sway a husband and wife to have children or not have children. We had challenges all through our child-rearing years, and all of these challenges were well-learned lessons of life.
Two Long-Time Friends Who Did Not Want Children
I have two wonderful long-time female friends who mentioned to me years ago they did not plan to have children, and they never did. This decision was theirs only.
In the 1970s, few women made a choice not to marry and not have children. At that time, it was an opinion of mine that a woman who made this decision just disliked kids and I could not understand their reasoning.
My friend expressed to me her desires to be a professional, and she would have no time for kids or a husband in her life. I believed that she did not know how to balance her time.
My other friend wanted to get married, and she did many years later. However, she could not have children and did not want to adopt if she could not have her own child.
Both friends told me that they would enjoy the children of other family members and friends on their terms.
It is OK to disagree with choices such as these, but I feel this disagreement needs to be a silent disagreement, unless your view is asked.
Children Come When the Bills Are All Paid?
I heard this excuse so many times. Although, this is a good excuse, it is not logical for many couples, because unless the couple is wealthy there will always be bills.
I can have a good laugh about this type of reasoning because for all intents and purposes, most couples never see this day come. In the real world, everyone is always going to have bills. You get one debt paid off and two more bills wait in line.
For couples to wait to have children when all the bills are paid off is, in essence, saying we do not want to have children. This choice is an OK decision, but I feel you must be honest with yourself. This is a poor excuse to use for not wanting children in your life.
My husband and I have never been debt free or economically stable in our life. It is of my opinion that if couples feel they must wait until they are financially stable, they will never have children. Things that happened to us as a family that kept us from being financially stable are as follows.
- Job layoffs
- Maternity leaves times three
- Health crisis
- Home repair crisis
- Automobile crisis
- Poor money management
- Priorities wrongly set
- Family deaths
- Educational loans — the list is endless
When you meet your crisis and feel things are going well, you find yourself in a spiral downward once again.
Crap happens all the time; this is just the way life is for most couples. Life is like a big roller-coaster ride whether couples have children or they do not. You find yourself sitting on top of a mountain, enjoying life to its fullest and then all of sudden you are falling into a deep abyss. Hopefully the valleys in life are short-term. I do know that no one can sit on a mountaintop forever because crap is sure to happen sooner or later.
Neither situation stays for long until things begin to change once again. Granted, hard times are better when you do not have to worry about the children. However, I feel that the blessings a child gives to parents help moms and dads through these valleys.
Especially in these days and times when so many people have lost jobs and cannot find work and corporations are downsizing, it is rare indeed if people ever become financially stable with all debts paid off.
This roller-coaster ride is because unplanned crap happens to all families and obligations keep coming for one reason or another. Some couples tell me they decide never to have children because it is too expensive, and they are right. Many couples are well aware of this, but, in spite of this truth, they take a deep breath and forge on.
Some couples are happy with each other.
Some married couples have such an excellent relationship where each is so enthralled with the other that there is no room for children in their life. Frequently, I think that these couples are afraid that when children enter their life, they will lose something in the relationship. This slant is just my personal thought. Couples who think on this level could indeed be right.
During the process of raising a family the husband and wife frequently grow further apart, so when the children leave home for good, this couple is like strangers. The parents are thrown back together in this dyad stage of life, and they do not know what to do. The focus they had for so long on the kids no longer exists. Many ask, "Now what?"
Careers and Travel Come Before Children
Some people have a focus on a career and travel. Some of the women I spoke with who opt not to have children want to see the world, the United States, and International countries. New cultures and societies are of immense interest to them, and they say they would not be able to reach this goal to its fullest if they have children. It is of my opinion that this reasoning may also be correct.
I often think of couples who have been together for several years and both work full-time. These couples enjoy spending time traveling. Do these couples feel that children will change their lifestyle, behaviors, and attitudes to such a degree that they will no longer be happy in the marriage?
Do these couples believe they would no longer be able to get up and do whatever their hearts desire because of the kids? These women will not be able to meet personal goals. These couples may also be correct.
Children can mess up a woman's figure and a picture perfect home.
Some women have expressed to me they will never have kids because they would never want to lose their shape or figure. They could not go to the gym, and exercise anytime they desire.
One woman told me that she saw pictures of her mother before she had children and her mother was beautiful. She went on to explain to me that after her mother had her and her brothers, her mom aged quickly and put on a lot of weight. This woman did not want to become her mother in that aspect. I felt this woman was very selfish.
A woman I spoke with lived in a picture perfect home and did a lot of entertaining, and she shuddered at the thought of children messing up her house.
This woman said she would never become the picture of her mother. In my opinion, this woman should never have children unless she changes her attitude and becomes a more loving human being. Her reaction was the worse, I heard. This woman sounded genuinely selfish.
If a woman wants to be selfish with her money, time, and home that is her personal decision and no one should try to change her mind no matter how much we disagree. This woman should not be a mother unless she did a lot of soul-searching.
This woman never gave her mother one ounce of credit for all her mother did for her in her life. All this woman could see was her mother's outward appearance. Most mothers sacrifice time, money, and personal enjoyments in their life for the sake of the children. Mothers and fathers give up so much for their children. A lot of children do not realize how much parents give up for them until they have children.
In my opinion, this woman's decision is up to her. However, she was very wrong to criticize the choices her mother made in regards to having a family. This woman should thank her mother for having her and nurturing her into adulthood.
Never give your input unless asked.
No Debate Here, Not Up for Discussion
As I have gotten older, I do not care anymore if a woman decides to have children or not. No one has the right to debate some other woman's decision to have children or not to have children.
Their decision not to have children is a decision-requiring acceptance by all their family and friends and should not be open for discussion. No one should pressure a couple into having children when they decide not to have a family or visa versa.
My daughter did not think she wanted children, but after seven years of marriage she changed her mind. Her first child, a daughter is the light of this couple's life. Her second child, a son lit up their life even more which they did not think possible.
My daughter was not sure if she wanted any more children after her first child, and I do remember saying to her and her husband,
"I was raised an only child and it gets pretty lonely. The only advice I can offer is, not to raise your daughter alone. I always yearned for a brother or sister as I got older. Give her a sister or brother to love and share life. They will support each other as they become adults and grow older."
I was like a lot of mothers with married children, who asked at intervals,
"When are you going to make me a grandma?"
This question I feel is whimsical and non-threatening. This is as far as I go in giving my input and I think this comment was taken with a grain of salt.
My focus in this article is not about abortion, but is about the decision of women who decide to have children versus the choice they make not to have children.
*I do strongly feel that this decision needs making before conception and not after.
All of these decisions are highly personal between the husband and wife and is of no concern to anyone else, not even their parents. The decision to have children or not have children needs to be respected by all of their family and friends and should not be up for debate.