The pros and cons of having kids

Once upon a time we were a young, married couple.

Young, married couples in the 18th century knew that a decision to get married meant you were signing up for the marriage -> sex -> children package. The three came together.

But these days, the decision to get married, the decision to have sex and the decision to have kids seem to be regarded as three separate (and not necessarily related) decisions.

Being in the Christian camp, we knew that marriage and sex ought to go together. But what about whether to have kids?

And so this young, married couple did what we had been taught to do when making hard decisions: we made a pro and con list.

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The con list looked something like this:

* we haven’t been married for very long.

* we have almost no money.

* we know nothing about raising kids.

* what if I don’t LIKE my children?

* what if that means we won’t be able to do ‘ministry’ anymore?

It was a scary list of cons. Looking at the list, it seemed that perhaps all we had heard from other lets-wait-to-have-kids couples was right: to have children would be irresponsible and unwise.

But as we thought and prayed and thought and prayed, this one thing appeared in the list of “pros”: God says children are a blessing.

“Children are a blessing and a gift from the LORD.” – Psalm 127:3 (CEV)

I was undone.  Who was I to be making lists of pros and cons, when God had directly said they were a “pro”?

When I revisited my list of pros and cons, it began to look suspiciously like a “fear” and “faith” decision:

Cons (i.e. Fears):

* A fear that we would have less fun and miss out as a married couple (i.e. an underlying belief that children DETRACT from fun and fulfillment)

* A fear that we wouldn’t have enough and that God would not provide.

* A fear that we wouldn’t know what to do and that God would not give wisdom.

* A fear that ‘ministry’ as I saw and valued it, would be lost…

Pros (i.e. Faith):

* Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord.

As I stared at my list again, Mark 4:40 came to mind:

“He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

We scrapped the list, took a deep breath, and threw away the birth control pills.

And you know what? Six years down the line we could fill that “pro” list up with 500 things and still keep counting. Children are a blessing. Indeed.

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15 thoughts on “The pros and cons of having kids

  1. An awesome perspective! This comes as a great encouragement, as I am only weeks away from parenthood myself, and AFRAID because we are moving at the same time. I need to have more FAITH that God is blessing us with this child during this time for a reason, and that He will provide for us the home/job/support that we need in Oregon. This is just what I needed to read today!

  2. When I was pregnant with my first child a co-worker with young children gave me a piece of wisdom that I’ve never forgotten: “You life will be more full…” He was exactly correct. Children bring more life, more joy and more sorrow, more need and more provision, more challenge and more grace, and ultimately more love. Yes, they are a great gift from the Lord. Thanks for reminding me of that even as our youngest (at age 21 and just home from his summer job) sits in the kitchen with his fiancé eating lunch 1.5, 1.7 and 2.0. To be soon followed by dinner, dinner 1.5 and dinner 2.0. Our kitchen is very full!

  3. This is just the best thing to hear. While we’re not planning to have kids in the next year or 2, I’m working more and more through my fears about having kids so I can be emotionally ready when the time comes. We keep talking about the future and realize that so much of ministry is ENHANCED by having kids–you guys and the Gibsons taught us that! A part of me is excited by the idea of a family.
    But I’m afraid of drudgery and having no fun. When I was a nanny, it was agonizing. It detracted from what I wanted to do: write (incidentally, that was what God was asking me to do, instead of worrying about money and jumping into the nanny job in the 1st place). Having kids is different than getting a new job. They’re yours and God gives you the grace to love them. Even more than that, they had a spice to life you can’t get from your spouse, because they are PEOPLE and they affect the world in their unique way.
    Thanks for being an awesome cool mom and a role model for the rest of us pre-moms. 🙂

    • Liz, I have never considered myself to be someone who was “good with children”. I never wanted to hold other people’s babies, never gravitated to the kids at parties (even as a 6 year old I sought out adult company). This fact of “not particularly liking kids” was one of my big fears about being a parent, but I often recalled my dad’s words: I don’t really like other people’s kids but it’s different with your own…. He was right, you are right. The love and fun with ones own is completely different to ones experience with others’ kids. I 100% know that I am 100% biased towards my kids. I can’t tell you, objectively, whether they are good looking or smart or well behaved…. Everything is skewed (for good) by the bond. As I said… A blessing 🙂

  4. Good points here that some young couples need to hear, but the Christian community also needs to be sure it is not accusatory towards those without kids. Just because a couple does not have kids does not mean it is fear or lack of faith. It may be, but Christian couples may not have kids for a variety of different reasons. God may have a different plan or call on their life. While it is true that children are a blessing, I do not think that the opposite is true – that if you don’t have kids you are not blessed. Unfortunately I think that can be the inference. None of this is personal towards your post Bronwyn, and I don’t think you are accusatory – I am replying in a more general way.

    While marriage and parenthood are good things and ordained by God, I think the Christian community can be guilty of making an idol out of both marriage and parenthood. Yet marriage and/or parenthood is not God’s plan for everyone. Instead of encouraging people to look to Christ and rest in their identity in Christ, the church often inadvertently (?) encourages women to find their identity in their role as wife or mother. The “idolization” of marriage and/or parenthood does not encourage Godly contentment with our circumstances either, and can make people feel desperate and perhaps even lead them into making poor life choices.

    Singles and married without kids can feel very alienated and ostracized by the church and Christian people…made to feel like they are less, or incomplete, or in a holding pattern waiting for that spouse or child to come along and until then they are purposeless. Believe me, I know, as a woman married for almost 21 years, in my 40’s, and without kids. I’m a member of a Christian group for those without kids, and many have suffered terrible alienation from the church. It is a support group really…

    By the way, my story briefly…Me and my spouse have infertility yet this was never a crisis for either of us. We have just been totally content without kids. I thought that maybe as I got older some “mother urge” would kick in, but it has not and I am approaching my mid-40’s. I’ve never been very “motherly” either. We have never sought fertility treatment nor adoption – because – well, as emphasized we have zero desire to have kids. (I was once told that is was sinful for us not to have kids and that we MUST adopt or seek fertility treatment. Sorry – Jesus did not have kids and I know he was sinless. haha.) With no urge to be a mother, my infertility is really a blessing to me. A huge relief actually. We are different, I know that, but I don’t think we are defective – God made us just as we are and we rest in our identity in Him.

    I hope you don’t mind me sharing all this Bronwyn. None of it was attacking your post! Some young married couples may indeed be holding back on God’s plan for them to have kids because of fear or lack of faith. But at the same time the Christian subculture has somehow got to approach this issue in a more balanced way…Thanks for letting me vent. : )

    • Laura, I am SO GLAD you said what you did. Thank you.
      One day I will write a blog post about one of my great pet peeves: the “you complete me” mentality I often hear at Christian weddings: where spouses are viewed as some kind of reward for righteousness or having “learned to be content with singleness”. It makes my blood boil – it is so insensitive to single people (as if God were withholding good from them because they weren’t content enough, loved enough etc)… And now having being married some years, it makes my blood Boil because it is so naive about the realities of learning to love someone different from you!
      I completely agree that the church (and our culture in general) is in danger of idolizing the family. I read this article yesterday which I thought was very thorough and thought-provoking on exactly this topic: http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2013/07/gods-gift-of-parenting/
      I am so sorry for the hurt you and others have experienced at the hands of enthusiastic but insensitive people. If I ever do gravitate towards the “God’s best for your life is to be a wife and mom” rather than “God’s best for your life is Jesus”, please call me on it!

      • Hi Bronwyn! Thanks for taking my reply the right way. After I clicked submit, I thought “oh dear maybe I shouldn’t have posted that!” I read the first half of that link, and skimmed the second half – it is excellent! “the wise Christian will give God the glory when their first child is born, and not let their own life be taken over in an unhealthily obsessive manner by the newborn.” Yes, I’ve observed this unhealthy obsession. A post on the “complete me” issue sounds like a good one!

    • Good idea! dad, do you think it is a good idea to have kids? Even if you “don’t like other people’s children”? Wait a minute… I think I know the answer to that one…. 🙂 love you.

  5. You’re probably a little young for this, but don’t forget the grandchildren!!

    I’m afraid, after four children and 6 grandchildren, that I don’t understand the comment about the “unhealthily obsessive manner” of a newborn. Would it be better if they became self-sufficient in just a few months, instead of taking years for that? Don’t mean to be difficult; I just don’t understand the comment.

  6. Pingback: Help, I’m newly married and pregnant | bronwyn's corner

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