Why do we have children?
January 29, 2008 9:49 PM   Subscribe

My significant other said this to me today: "over the next 5 years or so you should build an argument for kids," but I can't think of where to start.

We are both in our mid-twenties and were discussing today whether or not to have children as part of our long term relationship. First we have to get married, travel the world, etc. But after that... who knows?

My SO, who is a single child, doesn't seem to like children. She claims that she was an "oops" child. She worries about hating her kid, what would happen if she drops it, the changes her body would go through, the stress it would put on our lives, getting poked with needles...the list goes on.

She seems to have such a negative perception about kids, but what can I do to build a positive argument for having kids at some point in the future? Why did you have or not have kids? We hear a lot about what happens after a kid is conceived or born, but what about the decision process that goes on before-hand? What did you think about?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Many of the happiest times of my life have been with my children. We didn't have any decisions to have kids, they just happened, and living with them really has been the most wonderful experience.
posted by anadem at 10:01 PM on January 29, 2008

It seems like you are neutral about kids at this time in your life. Why should you build your argument for something you are currently neither for or against? When you are at the point where you do want kids, I think that is when you should bring up the conversation with your SO.

Just remember that when you do decide that you want children, that your SO has been upfront, consistent and honest with you from the start. Don't bring up possible building resentment because you might have wanted kids all along and she "wasted your time" when it was you that did that by choosing to continue to be with her.
posted by spec80 at 10:01 PM on January 29, 2008

Oops, pressed post too soon ... our kids were 'oops' children, like your SO. Maybe it depends whether you make lemonade or not from the lemons you get in life, or maybe it depends on how your parents felt about having you. Anyway, my only regret is that I contributed to overpopulation, otherwise I'd have loved to have more than the five we had (three mine, two hers). For a long time I told my kids not to have kids -- they would be hostages to fortune, a ball and chain, a responsibility. Now my grandkids are teenagers and I've got a longer perspective: I've been privileged to have such wonderful company through my life.
posted by anadem at 10:06 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Can you place yourself around children? Not at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but actively babysitting for young kids? I was in the "I hate kids," camp until I was more or less forced into being a man-nanny. I hate kids in formal situations, but when it is just you and a kid, and he has peanut butter all over his face and laughing his ass off because you build blocks as high as you can and knock them down, well you either fall for it or you don't. Yeah they can be a pain the ass, but it is not like owning a car. They grow, they change and then you begin to realize that you have an actual impact on their life and then that someone who can barely string together a sentence brings up a topic you brought up 3 months ago and you yourself cannot even remember, but it it apparently made a big enough impact on their life that even though they have trouble counting to 10 they remember what you said and what you told them, well that's something that clicks with your doesn't.

So try to babysit on a consistent basis and in a couple of months you'll either find it exhilarating and something you look forward to or a pain in the ass obligation. Then you'll know your answer.
posted by geoff. at 10:08 PM on January 29, 2008 [5 favorites]

I didn't really have my kids for a reason. I don't know if I know anybody that does...it really can be a maddening and immensely rewarding experience at the same time, which when combined with a regular lack of sleep feels crazy! I never had expected I would be able to have children, much less want to have children, until I met my SO. It was just the way things progressed for us after we met. I know it's not like that for everybody.

Maybe your SO doesn't want to have to share you with kids yet, so she feels like five years is a reasonable amount of 'together alone time' with you. It is good she is being honest with you about her feelings.
posted by mamaraks at 10:12 PM on January 29, 2008

what can I do to build a positive argument for having kids at some point in the future?

Tell her you love her.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:29 PM on January 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

the changes her body would go through

Surrogate wombs are becoming affordable these days, due to the vast income gap between developed and developing nations. I think there are now companies that sell the service, but I don't know much about it.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:31 PM on January 29, 2008

You don't say how long you've been together or whether YOU want kids as part of the plan or not. So, all I can give is personal experience.

Like your SO, I was an "oops" child and an only child. Just as an aside, my parents are still married and have been mostly happy with each other for as long as I can remember. They were good friends first and that's the basis for their relationship even now.

I never much liked other people's children as a general rule. Tried some babysitting as a teen and absolutely hated it. Graduated college and had a pretty good career underway. My plan was to be the crazy cat lady who scared all the neighborhood kids and told them to get off my lawn. I didn't think I'd be a good mom, so I figured why bother.

And then I had my son a few months before I turned 28. Fifteen months later, I had my daughter. I didn't plan either of them, but that's really neither here nor there, really. I feel like I've been a good mom. I love my kids more than anything and they know it. I give them love and discipline and understanding and education, I hope every single day that they will turn out to be very fine people. They changed my entire life and I don't resent it one bit.

Get your world traveling done first, for certain. Maybe even before you get married. Traveling is one thing I've never gotten to do much, and, yes, I do regret that. I may get the opportunity later on, but right now, it's simply impossible at this point.

I hope all this wasn't too much of a non-answer. I don't feel that children are something a person can be argued for or against. I'm biased that way. You two don't have to decide right now, do you? Get the traveling done. Get to know each other for a bit longer. See what happens. It sounds like you both have the time to form your opinions and desires for later on.
posted by lilywing13 at 10:32 PM on January 29, 2008

what about the decision process that goes on before-hand? What did you think about?

I think the reality of it is that couples who 'decide' without an 'oops' prompting get bored with their day-to-day and hope children will save them that boredom / restlessness. So they create a life hoping to improve or validate their own. Another large factor is the natural urge to live societal norms without deep contemplation. This is no sort of moral judgment since I'm unqualified to make any of this subject not having been there.

Not much help in forming your 'argument', that. If those are the actual words she used you can counter-point with this:

"Babe, the fact that your asking me for an 'argument' lets me know you recognize the value in having kids deep down, especially the long term phrasing of the request. I love you, you love me, I don't think I can make a 'case' for us wanting to share that love by raising children we will also love, but honestly I can see it happening."
posted by oblio_one at 10:40 PM on January 29, 2008

You should build an argument for kids? It sounds to me kind of like she's asking to be convinced/have help changing her mind but doesn't want to admit outright that she's curious (or not, but that's one possible interpretation). Second, having kids is a really personal decision. Sure it's shared too, but... I don't think until I decided I wanted kids that any amount of "arguments for" would have changed my mind. I might just be stubborn that way though.

Geoff up there kinda nailed it with "when it is just you and a kid, and he has peanut butter all over his face and laughing his ass off because you build blocks as high as you can and knock them down, well you either fall for it or you don't." And sometimes you never know until you just do it. I'm still not particularly fond of other kids, but dang, at the end of a day, I sure love my own like nothing else on this planet...
posted by susanbeeswax at 10:45 PM on January 29, 2008

Or kinda what oblio_one said except the part about the 'oops' stuff, though I can only speak to my experience. Both of ours were planned, the first after I realized that despite prior extreme apprehension, I did actually want a kid, and the second when we realized we really wanted another one (and I'm ever so glad we did). I'm done with babies now though. So very done. It was short & sweet (and while it was going on seemed to last forever & I don't miss the diapers, but I do miss the sweet milky baby sleeping in my arms).

K. I'm getting kinda goopy here. We just registered my youngest baby for k'garten today & I'm clearly sentimental at the moment.
posted by susanbeeswax at 10:53 PM on January 29, 2008

Parents have first dibs on their child's extra kidney, should they ever need a kidney replacement. Same goes for free access to their bone marrow, platelets, blood, and other biological products.
posted by HotPatatta at 12:26 AM on January 30, 2008 [5 favorites]

Just a little more input, my son is 10 and my daughter is 9, so I'm quite biased at this point.

I'm about to be 40 this summer and had my tubes tied when my daughter was born, so having more is really not an option for me now. I'm kind of glad about that because I know lots of new moms and pregnant ladies who are almost my age right now, and it has been making my ovaries throb. Like the last gonging of my biological clock. The nicest part for me is that I can play with new babies and hand them back, and my kids are fairly self-sufficient at this point. My two can get a shower themselves and make their own sandwiches, etc. It's such a relief when they can look after themselves, honestly.

My point is that you have quite a bit of time to decide about kids.


Also, yeah, who can complain about a possible spare kidney? Thanks HotPatatta :)
posted by lilywing13 at 12:38 AM on January 30, 2008

i don't have kids nor am i in a relationship but…

in my 20s, i had no desire to have children. i had a crappy childhood, with mainly my father to thank for that. he and i have a similar make-up so i thought that if i had children, i'd turn out to be as horrible as him. i'm now in my mid-30s and i know that if i met the right person (i recently got out of a relationship with someone i thought was him), i would want a kid or some with him.

some people change. some people don't. you have some time yet, but whoever you end up with, make sure you're on the same page about kids.
posted by violetk at 1:11 AM on January 30, 2008

I have two. Twins even. Boys.
And I still don't like kids. But my kids: I cant get enough of them. Really: everything everyone says who're parents-- that's it's transformative, amazing, incredible-- is 100% true. And in that sense you either get it because you have kids or you don't. I don't mean to say that non-parents can't find kids transformative, because obviously they can. I've met a bunch of them. But I'm not one of them. I (personally) had to have kids to understand.

I'll give a simple analogy: I never had a dog as a kid- my dad was terribly allergic. But I got a dog 2 years ago, and discovered that I had NO IDEA how amazing the love of a dog could be. ( I also saw it's significant effect upon my kids)
Having kids was just like that. Multiplied by 1000. It's exhausting, confusing, exasperating. It's the worst roommate greek chorus living IN YOUR HOUSE. It's all your worst qualities (and your best) being played out in front of you.

I've achieved a fair bit at this point in my life that I'm happy with. My kids are, without qualification, at the very tippy top of that list. I love them, and I love the father that I am with them. Having kids makes me a better man.

It's a deep and important spiritual practice. You have to get past yourself, you have to lift your head above the din, in order to deal with kids. You'll fail. But you'll also succeed. Mine are just turning 9 in a few weeks, and I can finally see real glimpses of the men they will become. That thrills me.

It's possible to be pissed as hell at your kids. But you can't hate them. Or: I don't think it's genetically possible. My mom, before her first kid, was terrified about having them, because she hated them, and worried about the same stuff as you SO. But all that went away the INSTANT she met her first. And second. Etc. (she had 4 total)

The moment I saw my kids being born changed everything (I know that this has been said, in roughly the same format, a kajillion times before, but fuck it: it's true)
posted by asavage at 1:23 AM on January 30, 2008 [12 favorites]

Your best "argument" is to be consistently responsible, loving, patient, selfless, and good-humored - basically to demonstrate the qualities that most of us would consider to be characteristic of a good father. She'll need a feeling of security from you that balances out her anxieties about pregnancy.

To some extent though, I think broodiness is something that just happens. I'm 31 and it's only in the last couple of years that I've changed from being generally in favor of having kids to actually noticing them everywhere, really wanting to pick them up and play with them and all of that.
posted by teleskiving at 2:35 AM on January 30, 2008

To me this is less an issue of whether to have kids and more an issue of how your SO is dealing with you. She has put you into a reactive and defensive role by telling you that you have to create some logical, critically sound, airtight "argument" for having kids. Even more controlling--er, convenient--she's given you a time frame in which you must do your work. Over the next five years.

You fell for it because it sounds so...reasonable. But I'm sorry, that's not life. Or love. I'm all for toting up the logical pros and cons to things, but with topics like having kids together, I think the best conversations are mutual, generous, loving, evolving, and with the element of compromise - not dictatorial. And five years? I'm assuming you're a guy so your time-sense might be different regarding kids, but do you really want to spend five years trying to convince someone of something you're either 1) not sure of yourself yet or 2) sure of and watching time fritter away while you "convince" her?

I think she's projecting (blah, blah, therapy-speak, blah) her own fears and indecision on you. Mid-twenties? It's ok not to know. But it's one of those big life topics you need to figure out both for yourself and as a couple. Figure out what you want. Encourage her to do the same in her own way. And be prepared to have a conversation as loving equals when you want/need to.

As for your question: Why did you have or not have kids? I decided to have kids after I'd reached a point in my life where I felt like I was prepared to love in a new way. I actually had a kid when I found a someone I loved and who was willing to take on the adventure with me.
posted by cocoagirl at 2:52 AM on January 30, 2008 [3 favorites]

Your SO’s fears are all valid to some extent but they do seem to be focused on her, and her reaction to having kids. So you might be able to argue against them by focusing on your feelings – why you want kids (if you do), what you want for them, how you think you will be when she’s pregnant, how you would look after em when they’re little and droppable. Many women, perhaps instinctively, don’t always automatically consider the partner’s role in bringing up kids – so if you tell her what yours will be, she’s more likely to get a more rounded view of the situation.

BTW I’m sure there’s loads of literature out there about only children having kids – it’s getting more common these days. And every woman, I think, worries about hating her child.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 2:57 AM on January 30, 2008

My significant other said this to me today: "over the next 5 years or so you should build an argument for kids," but I can't think of where to start.

You start with "Having kids isn't rational. I love you." Repeat as needed. Do NOT attempt to "build an argument" 'cause either she wants kids or she doesn't, it's just that simple.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:27 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

I (female) love kids, and have found great joy in being a regular caretaker/secondary-parent to a kid, and have zero desire to *permanently* have a kid. It's not something every woman will develop a desire for. And it's something every woman will feel various degrees of pressure, from various directions, to develop a desire for.

I can't possibly read her mind but, since others have said she might be getting curious about having a baby, I will say it's also possible she's reacting to collecting those messages that she *should* be curious, especially that her biological clock is ticking and she should be planning for kids "before it's too late" -- the implication being that she should want them at some point, and she shouldn't wait "too long" to want them, even if she doesn't want them now... We get those messages constantly enough that we almost have to make a conscious decision not to want kids. She might well make that decision.
posted by sparrows at 3:59 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I didn't even know I wanted a child, but my wife needed to have one, to the point of undergoing several cycles of IVF. (Painful, expensive, intrusive, humiliating.) Now we have adopted one and I can't even remember what my life was like without her.*

It's a cool thing to do, and gives you an entirely different perspective on your own life.** You'll never be ready, so don't worry about perfect preparation.

*drooling dad

**experience this beautiful selfless love (not that you don't get a ton of stuff from it!) before you die. Best thing you can ever do, provided your situation is up to handling it. Easier than you think.
posted by Wolof at 4:06 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

With a comment from her like that, I'm guessing she's building the argument and is asking for help.
posted by ewkpates at 4:22 AM on January 30, 2008

I never thought I wanted kids. My husband's family has loads, and my sister wanted to have plenty, so I figured all the genetic stuff was taken care of. Then my sister had her first, and I was SOOOO smitten. And when the 2nd one came along, I was sold. If I could fall this deeply in love with my niece & nephew, how much more love would I have for my own? Now we're 19 weeks pregnant with our first (and I'm 35, so it's not necessarily bad to wait a few years).

Basically, it came down to the fact that my husband and I have SO much love for each other and our family that we wanted to share that with another human.
posted by tigerjade at 4:57 AM on January 30, 2008

So many people here are spending a lot of time talking about how great it is to be a parent (mostly dads). I'm going to go in a different direction and point out that one reason many women may hesitate to have kids is that even today, even in the most apparently egalitarian marriage, the majority of the burden of childcare and housework falls on women. Even if it doesn't now, she may be worried that it will if y'all add a kid to the house. For someone who is somewhat indifferent to having kids, who likes their life the way it is, the thought of sacrificing work and fun and life to raising a kid is not very appealing.

If you really want to have kids, you should spend the next 5 years telling her how this will not happen. Namely, you will take paternity leave. You will be the one who gets up in the middle of the night. You will be the one who leaves work early for doctor's appointments and piano lessons. You will be the one who gives up evening fun and weekend hobbies. You will cook dinner and run load after load of laundry. You will never refer to housework you do as "helping out" or taking care of your own child as "babysitting". And, if things are just too hard with two working parents, you will be the one who quits his job and stays home. If this is something you really want, that's the planning and decision making you need to be doing now.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:34 AM on January 30, 2008 [24 favorites]

But after that... who knows?

I think that's the answer you need to give her. You don't need to pull an all nighter on this homework assignment, it's something that will present itself when you've already accomplished other goals and you both come to realize it's the ultimate and final expression of your biological and spiritual unity.
posted by prostyle at 7:09 AM on January 30, 2008

Sometimes it's not a rational argument-based decision. See: baby lust.

Also, what hydropsyche said.
posted by heatherann at 7:12 AM on January 30, 2008

What Hydropsyche said. Bigtime. One of the reasons I never had kids was the fact that I never had a partner I could trust to make any sacrifices. I sure as heck didn't want to be the one left holding the entire parenting bag. I never had much of a maternal instinct anyway (though, oddly enough, kids LOVE me - go figure), so I'm not boo-hooing over the children I will never have, but the knowledge that, as a woman, I was the one who was going to be called on to do all the hard work and sacrificing, played a MAJOR part in why I never had kids.

Assure your SO that you will be a dad, not just the "fun" parent, and you aren't going to stick her with all the scutwork and sacrifice while you soak up the joyful Kodak moments. And stick to it. And reassure her that you will love her and remain sexually attracted to her no matter what happens to her body during and after pregnancy.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:31 AM on January 30, 2008 [6 favorites]

It's possible to be pissed as hell at your kids. But you can't hate them. Or: I don't think it's genetically possible.

Many abused children would beg to differ.

The phrasing of your question concerns me. You haven't talked about this with your SO? Your SO doesn't seem to like or want children, which is totally valid. She is probing YOUR desires to have or not have kids so she'll know if you'll want them down the road. Do you? If you do, you need to figure that out - no anecdotes about child-rearing are going to persuade you if you don't want them, and if you do, it's possible this is a deal-breaker for your SO. Instead of hearing a bunch of stories here, it would be far more valuable to talk about this more with your SO - only you two, by communicating with each other about what you want in life, can decide for yourselves what you want and what you find important.
posted by agregoli at 8:15 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

(Personally, my husband and I have decided not to ever have kids. We are both artists, we enjoy our freedom, and look forward to traveling and exploring the world as much as possible. We don't want the financial burden of kids, either. The tedium, the responsibility of caring for another human - no. I have all I have ever wanted in life - my husband. Our love for each other feels like more than I could ever need, and children just sound like a chore to me.)
posted by agregoli at 8:18 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure I want kids. My partner is certain he doesn't want to have kids. For me, if I was in a relationship with someone who agreed to be the primary care-giver (e.g. stay at home parent) that might tip me over into convincing me to have kids. Though amazing and special and unique, it seems like kids close as many doors as they open. Either you're an absentee parent (like a good friend who is a professional and very slightly famous jazz musician) or you have to set aside some of the things you love to do, to be. Personally, I'm not sure I want that- I love to travel, I like my freedom, and I want to devote my time to other things.

I agree with agregoli- you need to talk to her. Don't try to talk her into something that she doesn't want, but if this is about fear that she might be a bad parent, love her and help her through that fear- there are classes, there are plenty of parenting books, there are plenty of resources for people who want to find help. Only by understanding her rationale for this statement can you be most appropriate in being there for her.

And who knows? Maybe she really doesn't want kids and maybe that's a deal breaker for you. I know it has been in the past for my partner with others. The sooner you're both honest about what you need and want you want the better.
posted by arnicae at 8:45 AM on January 30, 2008

First you need to decide if you want kids. Not if you want them because society tells you to, but because you think that you and your partner could contribute something genetically and/or emotionally special to the world. If you can't come up with this, don't have kids.

Personally, I've never wanted kids. I've been told over and over again I'll change my mind when I get older, but from the age of 15 to 33 (now) I haven't. I got my tubes tied at 21 because I was so very adament about not having kids. I know I'm selfish, I like my life the way it is, I don't want to give up my entire and hard won identity to be "Mommy", and while I think I might be able to enjoy teaching children some things, I don't want it to be a full time gig.

I was planned and an only, not abused or anything like that; but I did see just how much of their personal selves my parents gave up for me. I was first in their world and I still am, even though I'm an adult. They never made a single decision that wasn't affected by my existence. And while I'm a little sad for them, I know they were and are wonderful parents. If she doesn't want kids and has even the slightest doubts I strongly encourage you both to consider them.

Basically, the simple answer is to not assume that having kids is the default. Many of us have chosen a life without them and enjoy it a great deal.
posted by teleri025 at 9:12 AM on January 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm indifferent to having kids, like my life the way it is, and definitely do not want to get saddled with being a primary caregiver. But I would never say "over the next 5 years or so you should build an argument for kids." That sounds like a bizarre, manipulative approach. And people who talk about what bad parents they would be, well, I'm not so sure it's a great idea to "convince" them to have kids.

I think the reality of it is that couples who 'decide' without an 'oops' prompting get bored with their day-to-day and hope children will save them that boredom / restlessness.

This, however, is just nasty. There are plenty of people out there who just love kids and are excited to go on the journey of raising them - and disciplined enough to do some planning so they can give a child the best possible start in life.
posted by caitlinb at 9:49 AM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

How can I prepare myself for being a daddy? might be helpful here.
posted by philomathoholic at 10:12 AM on January 30, 2008

If you can't build an argument for having kids, then maybe you shouldn't have kids.

Sure, if you get an oops kid, you two might immediately fall in love with that kid, but what about regrets over the new life circumstances that you now find yourself in. Kids are expensive, and if you hope to have a reminder of a life of your own; babysitters don't grow on trees.

Having adopted a sibling trio a bit over a month ago, life before kids, and life with kids are *nothing* alike. Granted, in a few months/years our lives should settle a bit, as at this point we still can't get through a day without at least two of them erupting into hysterical tears.

Granted, we expected it to be nothing like life without kids, and we're having far less problems/issues than we were expecting worst case. But it really is not a decision that one should tackle lightly. Regarding "oops" children, I personally feel that if there were perfectly reversible sterility options, that everyone should have it performed at birth, and only reversed upon reflection and personal choice.

If you want to contribute to overpopulation breed your own, there's a whole host of issues that your female SO will have to deal with. With several of my wife's friends and my sister being preggers, it's not all "glow" and "awww, he's moving. Feel!". Maybe your SO knows about this, and isn't keen on gestational diabetes, hemorrhoids or pissing herself. Even more important, not all issues related to pregnancy go away when the baby comes out. If you live in the US, how's your medical insurance? A c-section with minimal complications runs about 25K.

If you want to adopt, you have your private life invaded a bit to make sure you're fit parents (don't worry, the kids will "invade" it more). If you adopt foreign, you pay a lot of money. If you go local, you worry about a potentially homeless addict mother finding where you live. If you want an infant, you mayb have to wait for years. If you are willing to take on older kids you have to work through the emotional trauma and attachment issues that they will have.

Someone who was in our parenting class required to adopt locally was denied, and ms. nobeagle met her in a grocery store. She was livid about being denied (we hadn't been approved yet, so it wasn't too awkward), but rather than deal with the issues that caused her and her spouse to be denied, they're saving up for more fertility treatments. She "just wants" kids.
posted by nobeagle at 10:18 AM on January 30, 2008

In my mid 20s there was no way in hell I was ever going to have kids. I babysat for tons of children, starting when I was 9 til about 17. That was enough kid exposure for me to last at least a decade. This didn't change 'til I turned 30 -- damn hormones. In the meantime I've enjoyed my freedom -- traveled tons and tons, stayed out all night with friends, picked up and moved to a new city just because I felt like it, went to grad school, did a bunch of volunteer work, etc. These things would have been really difficult if not impossible with children in the mix.

She might do a similar 180 on the idea of kids in a few years, or she might not. Is your love for her enough that never having kids would be OK with you?
posted by medeine at 11:09 AM on January 30, 2008

Caution: I am a parent of teenagers, so what I am about to say is colored by that experience.

Parenting is hard. Good, thoughtful, responsible parenting is really hard. It takes sacrifice, teamwork, and commitment to do it well. If you are not both "sold" on becoming parents, then I think that you shouldn't be parents, at least not yet. You can't take it back once it starts, and it lasts a very long time.

That indescribable passion that people get to have kids is useful, because it allows them to survive the brutal first year of babyhood with a smile. Some people inexplicably get that passion without warning, and want kids when they never wanted them before. Maybe it's biology, who knows. Your SO may come to want kids through discussions with you, or osmosis through being with other people's kids, but I don't think that it's possible to convince her to have kids.
posted by Flakypastry at 12:19 PM on January 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

My introduction to parenthood was also my introduction to parenting a child with Down syndrome. She's only four, but I keep finding the necessity of pulling out items from the far reaches of the breadth of my education and having to apply them. It has been a process that challenges me and my spouse and has subsequently paid off in spades. The return is the joy of her accomplishments, her perseverance, her unconditional and honest love for us.

There is an adage about having kids about wondering if there's room in you for enough love for them, and it is true: your heart makes room. I fell in love with my daughter and I felt very similar feelings when I fell in love with Mrs. Plinth. That feeling only happens so often in your life - how nice that it comes along with each child.
posted by plinth at 1:45 PM on January 30, 2008

Short Answer for where do you start. ENTERTAINMENT Every day you will awaken with something to do that is really important to you and to someone else. It keeps you going long after the children have gone.
posted by ptm at 2:29 PM on January 30, 2008

I think it's irresponsible to reassure a woman that once she has a child she will be happy and in love with it and nothing else will matter. Not everyone feels that way. Parenting an infant can be frustrating and confusing. Doubly so if she ends up injured by the birthing process, or becomes depressed, or her baby is high-needs and cries all the time and just won't stop, or if she's weak because she spent her entire pregnancy puking. The list goes on and on.

And, as much as dad helps, he will never be able to take on the major physical and emotional burden that is pregnancy. He will never be able to breastfeed. There will be times when the child will vastly prefer mom for largely biological reasons. He doesn't have to deal with the bigotry that assaults women in all stages of their life.

I don't think having children is all that great of an idea for women. I don't know how you could convince her rational mind otherwise. The process of wanting and having children is irrational.
posted by sondrialiac at 8:07 AM on January 31, 2008

I think the decision to have kids can also depends on the idea of who you're having those kids with. An ex-girlfriend and I had a discussion about the future and the subject of kids came up. I mistakenly told her "I don't want kids."

What I meant to say was "I don't want kids with you."
posted by sambosambo at 1:28 PM on January 31, 2008

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