I don't actually think I want to have a family for a while
February 23, 2008 12:06 AM   Subscribe

I am 28. I am a man. I am broody.

For the last year or so, I have been having rather intense and conflicting feelings about wanting to have a child. Last week, my brother wrote to tell me that my nephew said, "Do you remember that Uncle John is tall and runs fast?" That just broke my heart.

How do men deal with feelings of wanting a kid?
posted by parmanparman to Human Relations (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
We find nice women and persuade them to have our babies.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:14 AM on February 23, 2008 [9 favorites]

I recommend reading this and this.
posted by phrontist at 12:22 AM on February 23, 2008

Are you going to stay in the same city for the foreseeable future? If so, maybe you could be a Big Brother or something.
posted by amtho at 12:41 AM on February 23, 2008

Phrontist: I interviewed Richard Dawkins last year for The God Delusion. Incredibly interesting guy, although I think "The Selfish Gene" applies to him as much as anyone. I don't know if this is an issue of selfishness or emotion. I do not yet really want to have a kid. It's more I am looking for ideas of how others of my sex deal with the occasional feelings of wanting to have a child, but like me are clearly unprepared. But, thanks for your comment.
posted by parmanparman at 12:43 AM on February 23, 2008

I think almost every man is unprepared. I'm heading toward that place in the next year or two, completely planned, and I'm scared out of my mind. I think you'll find that if you ask your Dad or any other guy with a kid he felt the same.

It's a biological drive. That doesn't mean it shouldn't scare the pants off you, but I think thats a natural reaction.
posted by sanka at 12:49 AM on February 23, 2008

as you get older, the idea of making a family becomes less and less scary, and more and more appealing. it's biology verses your rational mind reminding you of all the things you wont be able to do once you have a kid. just accept that it's a natural feeling. and maybe be extra careful about using precautions when you're having sex! both women and men's biological urges can subvert our rational thought processes in the heat of the moment, and i have a few friends who are raising babies with questionably-chosen partners because of this!

however, once you reach a certain age, the idea of not being able to go to nightclubs, chase women, move to bora-bora at a moments whim etc becomes less interesting than the idea of follwing those biological urges. this is a probably a much better time to have a kid than during your early 20's, when many of us were scared to death of getting our girlfriends pregnant.

so you're 28, right? well, no hurry then, but as they say in the wedding crashers, you're not THAT young. is it so bad to want a kid?
posted by messiahwannabe at 2:56 AM on February 23, 2008

I suppose you deal with those feelings by having a child. Your post implies some great obstacle to this. Yes, you will need to meet the right woman, commit and work hard on the relationship. That's the price you pay, generally, in a civilised society, for the privilege and joy of having a family of your own. If (as I infer) this woman is not in your life, maybe not even on the horizon, then adopt strategies that will maximise your chances of finding her. So going to work, going to a social event is understood as part of the greater plan: to find a partner and create a family. This isn't always intuitive to a man, although it is more so to women.
posted by londongeezer at 3:17 AM on February 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

If the time isn't right for you to actually have your own (but is it ever the right time, really?), then you can do what a lot of women do with their feelings of wanting a child:

1) Find ways to spend more time with nephews and nieces. Either travel a lot to see them or figure out ways where they can spend time with you. Help to plan trips that you can go on with their families and offer to take them while the parents just relax. Beach, Disney World, family camp, dude ranch, etc.

2) If you can't be there in person, interact with them more through letters, videos or a webcam.

3) Coach sports for kids, volunteer at Boys and Girls Club or Big Brothers, volunteer at a Children's Hospital.

4) Hang out with local friends who have kids.
posted by jeanmari at 4:42 AM on February 23, 2008

As far as being ready to be a father goes: I wasn't ready and no one I have ever known was ready. You don't need to be ready, you need to be willing to learn (and do) what's needed as each need arises. In the meantime, what jeanmari said.
posted by RussHy at 4:55 AM on February 23, 2008

for what it's worth, a lot of women want babies too, but worry that they'll never be ready. 28 isn't too young at all--and really, you have plenty of time. say you meet a nice girl this year. you probably want to date her for a year before getting hitched or moving in together. then you want a year or two just to yourselves. by the time your relationship is ready for procreation, you're pushing 32.

in the meantime, you can make yourself feel a little more ready by socking away money. seriously. invest it and let it grow. it'll give you some peace of mind in case the blessed event comes a little sooner than planned.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:34 AM on February 23, 2008

I dealt with the feelings of wanting a kid by watching my friend's and siblings become parents. I noticed how many people seem to have kids because it allows them to go on a kind of autopilot for 20 years, accept a crappy job and a high mortgage and only dream of travel or going back to school for a degree, whatever. Of course they get lots of love and joy out of it, but give any parent a glass of wine and you'll start to hear the regrets. Such is life.

Also, I thought long and hard about whether I could make a kids' life better than mine. Whether I trusted the future to be better than the past, and whether the world needs another North American. For me, the answer was no. I met and married a woman with similar feelings and I don't think about kids much anymore. The feeling does pass.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 6:49 AM on February 23, 2008 [9 favorites]

2nding big brothers, or any other mentoring program that requires a part-time, but serious commitment on your part.

For a more significant commitment, become a foster father. It is incredibly rewarding, and will help you understand the consequences suffered by kids born to ambivalent parents.
posted by headnsouth at 7:12 AM on February 23, 2008

You are lucky: as a man, you can wait a frankly ridiculous amount of time to have a child. Want to have kids when you're 50? You can! But even then I don't think you'll feel ready. Does anyone?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:32 AM on February 23, 2008

Also, there are a bajillion women out there who want kids, so your odds of finding someone you like who also wants babies pretty soon are good, rather than the other way around.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:08 AM on February 23, 2008

parmanparman wrote...
I don't actually think I want to have a family for a while

I'm in the same boat at 38.

Yesterday I took the day off work to help my best friend assemble a new bedroom set as a surprise for his 8 year old. It was time very well spent, as has been all of the time I've spent doing things for and with the various kids who know me as "Uncle Tim".

If they haven't arrived in your life already, friends with kids become an inevitability has you get older. Get involved with the kids. Cherish them. Play with them. It will help with your general broodiness as well -- the unabashed enthusiasm children bring to life is something that we forget as we get older.

Occasionally, usually late at night when I'm driving back from some event with one of them asleep in the back seat of my car, it still breaks my heart that I don't have children of my own. However, the vast bulk of the time I find that itch is very nicely scratched by just being Uncle Tim.
posted by tkolar at 9:40 AM on February 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

I feel like this occasionally. I mitigate it by spending time with children, especially young ones, as that tends to remind me that I don't actually like kids all that much.
posted by klangklangston at 12:03 PM on February 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

It took me a lonnnng time to feel "as ready as I was ever going to get" to have a kid. At the point where my wife and I had been in a relationship for 15+ years, we had traveled, experienced working hard for long hours at our careers, bought and fixed up a house, got a dog, I played in a band for a while and basically for my 20s and early 30s just goofed around and did what I wanted.

(Luckily at around the same time) my wife and I both realized that we didn't want to go through our whole lives without ever experiencing what it is like to raise a kid and find out who that person would eventually be. The thought of hitting 60 and going "Holy Christ, there's no way (biologically or sensibly for us) to start a family now" was even more terrifying than the unknown of the responsibilities of having a child. We then still waited another year and a half before starting seriously trying (just to make sure we were as ready as we were going to get).

That said (blah blah blah) the kid is awesome, but a total consumer of time, attention and (to some degree) money. I can totally imagine how some dudes would resent being a father if they didn't feel (again) as prepared as you can get beforehand.
posted by Overzealous at 11:40 AM on February 24, 2008

Not ready? Who the heck is ready?

As mentioned above you will need someone to take this ride with. This is vitally important, as unconscious parental modelling has in my view a ton more impact than anything you consciously profess. As in your deeds will speak louder than your acts.

Anyway, most fascinating thing you can do. Really!
posted by Wolof at 10:55 PM on February 24, 2008

As in your deeds will speak louder than your acts.

Good lord! I mean your words!

I was distracted by a small child!
posted by Wolof at 10:58 PM on February 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

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