Having children is easily one of the most transformative events of a person’s life. It alters the way we think, the way we live and the decisions we make about virtually everything. For many of us, it is the biggest and most life-changing decision we will ever make, which is why it’s so crucial to spend the time figuring out if it’s something you desire for your future and if in the present.
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Unfortunately, pregnancy becomes harder after a certain age — though fertility supplements and scientific intervention can help greatly — so it may be something you need to explore sooner rather than later. In this article, we will go over a few key things to consider before deciding whether or not to have children. Remember that there is no right or wrong answer to this topic. If you and your body are prepared for pregnancy, having kids is an excellent decision. Though, it may not be the right choice for others. Both are equally valid. Here are some things to think about and questions to ask to arrive at a decision that is right for you and for your family’s future.
Things to Consider Before Having (or Not Having) Kids
Some people just know whether they want kids or not, but for many others, there is no easy way to determine whether or not children are right for you, but there are some general things to consider that may help:
- Either Way, You May Have Regrets – For many people, the decision to have or not have kids triggers worries about If you opt not to, you may miss out on the experience of parenting. If you decide to, you may miss out on things like disposable income, free time or spontaneous travel. However, it can be comforting to remember that either decision you make will come with a sacrifice and, in turn, a small bit of regret, whether it is the regret of missing out on certain excitements of life or the regret of missing out on parenthood.
- Your Life Satisfaction is the Same Either Way – While life satisfaction is a hard thing to measure, there has been some research showing that childless women are as satisfied and happy with their lives as mothers who had children after the age of 19. The most depressed and least satisfied group of women in the study were women who became mothers early in life. This means that, as long as you are well prepared when you start trying, your odds at happiness are as good as they are if you opt not to have children at all and vice
- People Take Both Routes –Remember that regardless of which road you take, it is one that many couples have traversed before. While only about 15 percent of women over the age of 40 currently do not have children, Americans are indeed having fewer and fewer children. Over time, the social expectation to have children will probably become even less, which can come as a comfort for some couples who are not entirely sure parenthood is in the cards.
- Having an “Only Child” is Becoming More Common – You may think parenthood must be all — that is, multiple children — or nothing. In reality, more and more people are choosing to have just one child. In fact, just 11 percent of mothers only had one child in 1976, while 22 percent had only one child in 2015. There are many ways to be a family, and with these changing trends, society has become much more open toward all forms of families.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Having (or Not Having) Kids
Need to get the conversation started with your partner but not sure where to start? This list of questions to ask yourself will be a starting point:
- What Do You Value the Most in Life? Having children can be incompatible with certain life goals and freedoms. If you value your career, the ability to travel on a whim and alone-time more than anything else, you may find more satisfaction living a life without kids. However, if you value family, time at home and helping children grow into full-fledged humans more than most other things, then parenthood may be what brings you the most joy. Take the time to list out your top five goals and desires in life to help you get a better idea of where you want to be in 10 or 15 years.
- What Does Your Partner Want? If your decision involves a partner, you will want to make 100 percent sure the two of you are on the same page. Pressuring a person into parenthood will only breed resentment, but that doesn’t mean you cannot help the other person come to a decision. What’s more, it’s important to take a good, hard look at your relationship and be realistic with yourself about whether or not to have kids with them.
- Have You Spent Enough Time with Kids? You probably should like children and children-related things before deciding to have kids. And there is no better way to determine whether this is something you enjoy than hanging out with kids! Consider offering to babysit for your friends’ kids or nieces and nephews, but remember to try to spend prolonged periods of time with them around their parents as well. Kids may act differently with a babysitter or in certain environments than they do with their parents or at home.
- Have You Talked It Out? Did you know there are professionals out there known as “parenthood clarity therapists” or “parenthood-indecision therapists” who can help you decide? In fact, virtually all mental health therapists are trained to handle worry and indecision on some level, so do not rule out counseling if you still find yourself perpetually on the fence.
Ultimately, you need to make your decision and trust yourself. Happiness is not automatically obtained through parenthood or child-free life, but the choice you make will certainly affect the way your life plays out in both the near and distant future. Think it through and trust yourself no matter which choice you make!