(9/13) Updated again to note: People often land on this post after Googling "Reasons to Have Kids." If you're looking for serious discussion about that question, this is not the post you're hoping for, as it was not a serious exploration of the issue.
(6/10) Updated again -- More discussion, in which I begin to tackle the real questions:
Thinking About Having Children, Part 1
Thinking About Having Children, Part 2
Updated to note:
People often land on this post after Googling "Reasons to Have Kids." But many don't read the back story about how this post came about, so here it is.
My original post on this subject is here. It offers more detail on the book No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children. Based on what the author says about her own reasons for having kids, I thought she clearly had them for the wrong reasons, and that she then projected those feelings (and her own failings) onto her children and the world. Her regrets about her children made me cringe. Not because I think everyone should have children, but because I genuinely felt bad for her kids (who were still young and vulnerable when she wrote her book.)
By way of contrast, my list was written in the spirit of love. In spite of all the challenges of parenting (and I was once part of the "I'll remain child-free forever" contingent), I wouldn't change a thing. My "40 Reasons to Have Kids" was a quick counterpoint to an unhappy, mean-spirited book. (An article about the book -- and the original list of "40 Reasons for Not Having Children" on which I based my list -- is here.)
Let's be clear. The author of No Kids is not "childfree by choice." Hers is not the case of someone saying, "I've chosen not to reproduce for the following reasons." She has two kids. They'll one day read her words, if they haven't already. And though I'm sure she meant to be clever and funny, I feel sorry for her children, the targets of her cleverness.
I mentioned in a comment below that kids have a way of "not getting it" regarding their parents' humor, especially when it's about wishing them out of existence.
So, perhaps this post sprang from a maternal instinct to protect children in general, even hers.
The real irony is that there was at time when I didn't think I even had a maternal instinct; I vowed to never reproduce.
By age 19, I was firmly convinced I would never want children -- never, ever, no room for argument. I inquired about sterilization, but my doctor wouldn't consider it, given my age. I was outraged at the him for making such a decision for me.
I was 30 years old before my views on children significantly changed, so I've certainly been on both sides of this issue.
Please keep all of the above in mind when you read this list, which was my spontaneous reaction to a list of 40 silly, petty reasons not to have children. I offer, instead, an account of the completely unpredictable and unbelievable discoveries of parenthood.
At one time in my life, I wouldn't have believed them either.
So, yesterday I mentioned this woman. She wrote a book detailing her "40 Reasons Not to Have Kids."
Today, I present:
40 Reasons to Have Kids
(based on her reasons not to ....)
1. Desiring children with the man you love is as natural as breathing.
2. The experience of delivering a new life to the world is singularly exhilarating. If you fear pain, there's this lovely thing called an epidural.
3. Breastfeeding: it's not only economical, efficient, and good for the baby, but it releases hormones that relax and calm both mother and child, lulling both of you to sleep. Who wouldn't want a natural nap-inducer?
4. The world doesn't revolve around me and my daily desires.
5. Every human being has dignity and worth.
6. A child is an unbreakable bond between husband and wife. Love breeds love. And more love. And more. There's nothing more desirable than the father of your children.
7. A couple becomes a family -- the whole becomes greater than its parts.
8. Having a child is a cooperation with the sacred.
9. Children are some of the most charming little people I know: full of wonder, curiosity and innate kindness. Properly nurtured, they become equally charming adults.
10. You get to read all the favorite books of your childhood all over again.
11. Children naturally grasp the lesson that people are more important than things.
12. Children teach us the freedom that comes with self-discipline and self-sacrifice.
13. The biggest drudgery is facing no one but myself day after day.
14. I am not ideal ... why should I expect my children to be? Kids teach us the joy of unconditional love and acceptance.
15. I will inevitably disappoint my children because I am not perfect. But, along the way, I'll be able to teach them that -- while nothing on this side of heaven is perfect -- the journey and the perfection that awaits us are worth every moment of trial on earth.
16. To remain or become a self-centered, self-enclosed egotist: what horror!
17. Taking time to care for the gifts I've been given ... yes, thank you.
18. Motherhood is a vocation: fulfilling, rewarding, and full of unpredictable surprises.
19. Families: they are a reflection of the Trinity.
20. Relive childhood and all of its innocent wonder and mirth.
21. To persist in saying "me first" is a sign of immaturity.
22. A child will ignite the fond memories of your own childhood.
23. While you cannot ensure that your child will be happy 100% of the time, the desire for her happiness is a good, admirable and unselfish thing.
24. The enchantment of being with one's children outweighs any and all other difficulties.
25. If you worry about sending them off to school, homeschooling is a delightful, intellectually stimulating option.
26. Do something to change the world. Have a child. Raise a saint.
27. Revel in the simplicity of a child's unconditional love and trust.
28. Parenting will soften your hard edges and sharpen your compassion and empathy.
29. Motherhood is an insight into one's soul. It's better than analysis.
30. Success is not defined only in terms of what one does for money. To succeed as a mother is beyond worldly success.
31. When your husband becomes the father of your children, a new man appears: fiercely loving but practical and still-logical, nurturing but fiercely strong and protective. You will fall in love with him all over again.
32. The child to whom you give life may be the one to fight the culture of death and the notion of a brave new world.
33. "How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers." -- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
34. Children whittle away your time in ways that are ultimately beneficial: they have an uncanny knack for getting rid of the meaningless hobbies that used to consume you.
35. Watching a child grow into a caring, sensitive soul is a reward that cannot be measured in book sales.
36. It's an awe-inspiring thing to have a child and the experience of feeling, "I didn't think I could ever love anyone that much."
37. Already have a child? Have another. Siblings are the best birthday presents, Christmas presents, Father's Day presents, Arbor Day presents ....
38. Baby toes. Need I say more?
39. Okay, I'll say more. Watching your baby sleep: You didn't know that angels could be held in your arms.
40. Worried about money? What's worth more than a soul?