Monday, October 08, 2007

40 Reasons to Have Kids

(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.

**********

original post:


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?

187 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Great post. Agreed!

Christine M said...

well put!

Liz said...

Children can grow up to be such interesting adults. It's so great to raise people who can be your friends as you head into fifties and sixties. My own kids are some of the most interesting adults I know and as a bonus they bring home other interesting adults.

Maryan said...

I love this post, Karen.

Anonymous said...

God bless you. This post is terrific.

Joannof10 said...

Wonderfully said!! Thank-You.

Beth said...

This is beautiful :-)

Mary Ellen Barrett said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Karen! You are so eloquent!

MaryM said...

Beautifully stated.

Spinneretta said...

Hear, hear!! Well said :)

Momto5Minnies said...

I think this list should get to this woman ... somehow ;)

Wonderfully spoken!

Theresa said...

Well, done, Karen! I am so glad there are people in the world like you to balance out the people in the world like her.

Sarah said...

To which I would add...your body never looked so beautiful as when it housed another human being...

Sarah said...

Though I did fail to say (sorry - I clicked publish too soon!) - WELL SAID! HEAR HEAR! :)

Suzanne Temple said...

Terrific post, Karen.

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...

Karen,

Very, very beautiful. Thank you!

God bless,
Donna

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Well, I'm sorry but I just have to disagree.

I think there are at least 100 reasons to have kids. ;)

PS. Ditto what Elaine said.

The Bookworm said...

A wonderful list, Karen. Yours resonates with life and hope; the other list with dull misery. The contrast couldn't be greater.

Alice Gunther said...

Fantastic list, Karen! You are great!

Diane said...

Thank you, Karen, for taking the time to put in your ever-so-eloquent words exactly what many of us have experienced and believe with all of our hearts. I hearby appoint you our Spokeswoman for True Motherhood.

We really should FedEx a copy of this list to that sad woman. Not that it would mean much to her, but she should be reminded of all that she is missing. I too will pray for her and her poor kids.

Melissa Wiley said...

Hear, hear! Beautiful and oh so true!

Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Well done!

Lenetta said...

Thank you, Karen. After I read that article, I felt sick to my stomach. This restores some balance.

Meredith said...

Perfect!

Mary B said...

Thank You! I needed to hear that. Its been a hard week.

Ruth said...

Absolutely perfect, Karen!!!

Beck said...

This list is beautiful and a wonderful rebuttal to that awful child-hating woman. Good job.

Activities Coordinator said...

I love my kiddos. They bring me joy.

I wish the woman who wrote that OTHER list could feel joy, too. How sad for her that she obviously doesn't.

Jane Ramsey said...

Perfect, Karen! and beautiful! Beautifully perfect and perfectly beautiful! Thank you.

mike said...

You should write a book.

Karen E. said...

:-)

Ebeth said...

Yipee!! I love children and all the reasons to have em!!

Love your 40 reasons!!!! You put into words reasons I have felt all three times I delivered another of God's masterpieces!

Ebeth

Colleen said...

Amen!

Mary Beth P said...

Wonderful, I agree wholeheartedly. I love that I am part of God's eternal plan, and love to see His plan unfold each day as my sons grow!

nina said...

Karen, you are amazing. It is a wonderful response to a dreadful book.

Denise said...

beautiful-

Lillian said...

What a beautiful list! I LOVE IT!! Thank you for the antidote. After reading the "other list" I was truly saddened that anyone would feel so strongly against kids to actually write a book about it.

Your list was like a soothing balm to my heart.

Eileen said...

I wish I had your gift for words--and the guts to use them!!!

There's really nothing to add, except thank you.

Warmly,
Eileen

Karen E. said...

Thank you all, so much, for your terrific comments and support!

Just a few days ago, I was feeling so comment-deprived that I almost wrote a post begging for delurking and comments, but that seemed too pitiful. Now I see the truth: I just have to write something worth commenting on. :-)

Thanks again for taking the time to share in the fun and joy of this post. All of you kid-loving people are treasures and are the source of hope and inspiration for our tired world.

Jennifer F. said...

Thank you so much for this post. Beautiful! Also, we should keep that author's children in our prayers. Surely they're aware of her feelings. I just can't imagine knowing that one of your parents -- *especially* your mother -- feels that way.

Dan and Janet Brungardt said...

Now that my children have "blocked my professional path" and "trapped" me into my "domestic prison," I will just have to go curl up and cuddle with them and continue to watch as my parenting makes me "soft!" Not soft enough yet - need a few more kids to finish the job!

Janet

Mojo said...

Just can't resist adding my appreciative response to all the others, Karen.

There is no denying that being a parent is the most difficult job (if done correctly and well), but my husband and I say all the time, "What would we have done without our three gifts?" Do they test me? Do they disappoint me? Yes and YES! But, oh how my love for them causes tears to sting my eyes so often, mine are given to saying quite frequently, "There goes Mom - crying AGAIN!"

Pame said...

Thank you for this post!

annemcd said...

It really strikes me how sad and bitter she sounds behind her list, and how truly joyful you sound behind yours. How about a quick Ave for all women who have been misled?

Crafty Mom said...

That was absolutely beautiful!

Matthew S said...

Got my 40 bounced up. . .
http://playthedad.blogspot.com/2007/10/40-reasons-to-have-child.html

Jamie said...

I am so glad you are still taking comments on this, yes, you should write a book...I'm sure you are by the smile face, right? Great post, thank you!!

Abigail said...

This was a lovely read! Thanks for making my night!

montessori_lori said...

Hmm, I wonder if it ever occurred to this French woman that her children are unpleasant to be with because she is so loathsome herself? Just a thought.

I had read a list years ago on some forum that gave 75 reasons not to have kids - so I came up with 75 reasons to have kids. They're mostly lighthearted, but fun:

75 Reasons to Have a Child

Christine the Soccer Mom said...

I wrote up a list, too, and am asking for others who did the same to submit them so they can be cross-linked in one big post.

My list is here, and if you leave a link to new lists (Karen's is linked already), I'll add yours to the growing list at the bottom of the post.

Karen, thanks for starting something great!

KaleJ said...

Hey, I figured the list could use a little testosterone. So I added mine.

Courageous Grace said...

Great post. It occurred to me that the average pregnancy lasts 40 weeks (I'm beginning week 28)....so this works as a list for 1 reason per week ;)

Sharon said...

This is so beautiful! Thank you for posting this. I hadn't heard of the other woman, but what a sad way to spend time. Does she not remember that at one time, she, too, was a child?

If you don't mind, I would also like to link to this on my blog. It's just too good to not share.

Karen E. said...

Of course I don't mind, Sharon! Thanks for stopping by, and please feel free to link!

UltraCrepidarian said...

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing that.

My favourite little line on kids is from the movie "Lost in translation". One character calls his kids, "the most interesting people I've ever met".

As a dad to two little boys, I think My two boys certainly qualify as the most "interesting people I'll ever meet". I just love them to bits, but also, they're the most interesting people, and watching them grow from infancy up into sweet little boys, and now onwards into adolescence, is the most beautiful experience of my life.

Thanks for sharing!

W

Karen E. said...

"My favourite little line on kids is from the movie 'Lost in translation'. One character calls his kids, 'the most interesting people I've ever met'
***********************

Oh, yes! Atticus and I loved that line. And Bill Murray delivered it so perfectly, conveying both his surprise and utter delight at what his children meant to him.

Anonymous said...

..and I could find a counter argument for every one of the reasons :)

anchor said...

Having children brought out in me talents, that I did not suspect that I had.

Nick said...

I must say these forty reason to have children are the most self-serving, self-centered, ego centric load of dribble I have the displeasure of reading. You have cemented my reasons for never having children and why I hate god.

Karen E. said...

You know, Anonymous, I could find counter arguments, too ... but I find the beauty outweighs the beast. :-)

Nick, I'm so sorry to hear you feel that way. Funny thing is, I once felt exactly the way you do.

Anonymous said...

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."

So the love is still there, even though 60% of all marriages end in divorce. Of those 83% have children. Plus 78% percent of divorces are due to infidelity.

Anonymous said...

I am a father of two young children. If I look at my current life and the life before I had children it makes me sad to realize how much I lost. Children do give some pleasure and rewards, but overall I find the balance negative. Sorry ladies, why put more people on this overcrowded earth. I feel the hardship of raising children is the world's best kept secret !

Karen E. said...

Anonymous said:
"So the love is still there, even though 60% of all marriages end in divorce. Of those 83% have children. Plus 78% percent of divorces are due to infidelity."

Anon,
Actually, yes, I think often the love is still there, but the forest is lost for the trees. The challenges of young children (the loss of romance and glamour?) might drive some to seek happiness outside the marriage. But I don't believe marriages simply end. Love is a choice. And the unbreakable bond -- the child -- certainly still exists. It's sad that so many people leave their marriages at such a critical time (when the children are young.) It's probably the hardest time in a marriage, and too many don't stick around to fight their way through that toughest time.

Dear Father of two young children,

When the children are young is *certainly* the hardest time, in so many ways. Your comment makes me so very sad. As I said above, I think so many marriages fall apart when the children are young precisely because it *is* hard. I'd never deny that it's hard. But it's a hardship that's ultimately worth it. My kids are now 14, 11 and 5, and it's not the same as it was when they were younger. There is such beauty in raising these amazing people.

Atticus and I have fought our way through some very rocky times in our marriage. That's been worth it, too. I hope you'll hang in there and one day will breathe the sigh of relief that you stayed, and will swell with love and satisfaction at the two amazing people you raised.

As for an overcrowded planet, most countries are not even reproducing at a replacement rate, and so the population will eventually decline if we continue at the current pace.

Anonymous said...

"As for an overcrowded planet, most countries are not even reproducing at a replacement rate, and so the population will eventually decline if we continue at the current pace."

This statement is ridiculous! Our population is not in any danger of declining! Unbelievable-the ignorance here...

I think that no matter what you choose to do, whether it be to have children or to not have them, it is your prerogative. Some people have children to fill a void in their life, some people don't feel a void in their life. I say, do what makes you happy. Not having children is NOT selfish, it's simply a choice. Why follow the herd?

Karen E. said...

Thanks for commenting, Anonymous. You said, "Our population is not in any danger of declining!"

Read a bit more widely to see what it might mean for our planet if so many nations continue to reproduce below replacement rates. This article from The Atlantic, for example.

I suppose some people do have children to fill a "void" but I don't think that's usually the reason. The most common reason seems to be love. :-)

Regarding selfishness, I don't want to accuse people who choose not to have children of consciously making a selfish choice. At one time in my life I did not want kids at all, and I did not think of it as a selfish choice. In comparing my life before and after children, though, I do have to say that raising kids requires a level of self-sacrifice that has been educational and beneficial in every way to me. I could not have predicted that.

Anonymous said...

Having kids is fine. The world is not in danger of not having enough people. Perhaps a more responsible post would be reasons to not have children, such as poverty, economics, lack of education, lack of maturity, selfishness, and the overall divorce rate in general.

The facts are that real life isn't some idealistic utopia where "breast feeding" should EVER be a reason to have a child. It's cold, and it's hard out there. A child will only make it moreso in all but the very best of cases.

I find this "list" to be irresponsible and overly idealistic, which in turn is potentially quite harmful.

Anonymous said...

I love kids. I just don't want any of my own. Most of the things you posted are still things you can enjoy with the children in your life. The other points you bring up are that they save you from selfishness, help you make the world a better place and bring you closer to the man you love. To that I must ask...how much more can you help the world than by being a teacher, a police officer, a firefighter, a doctor, a nurse, or an engineer? If I dedicate myself to a cause that helps a number of people, how am I being selfish? As for being close to the man I love, we are united in the fight to make the world a better place. We have seen some of the evils of the world and nothing makes you closer than coming home together at the end of the day and being grateful for having another who can understand. And may I add...what about those people who desire children but cannot have them? Does the stigma of selfish and unfulfilled apply to them too, or is it only to those people who choose not to have children?

Karen E. said...

Dear July 13 Anonymous,
I always hope it's clear that the list was written in the lighthearted, joyful spirit of countering a generally mean-spirited book. Obviously, the reasons for having children go beyond breastfeeding. :-) That one, by the way, was a direct counter to "40 Reasons Not to" list. The author had said breastfeeding was a reason *not* to have children.

The reasons you named for not having children are interesting, and at one time such things were exactly why I didn't want children myself. (My husband and I married with the agreement that we did not want kids.) But I'd take your reasons a step further back. I'd say those are all things to consider before getting married. And, for a great discussion that ties into all of this, see Jennifer Fulwiler's A Sexual Revolution which perfectly describes the metamorphosis I experienced years ago in reevaluating sex and reproduction.

Thanks for stopping by!

Karen E. said...

Dear July 15 Anonymous,

Thank you, too, for stopping by. You ask some excellent questions! Some of them do sound familiar, very similar to my thinking about 20 years ago.

You said:
"how much more can you help the world than by being a teacher, a police officer, a firefighter, a doctor, a nurse, or an engineer?"

Yes, all of those things are beautiful ways of giving oneself sacrificially to the world.

You said:
"If I dedicate myself to a cause that helps a number of people, how am I being selfish?"

I very much doubt that you are a selfish person, based on what you say here. :-) When I talk about motherhood making one unselfish, it doesn't necessarily follow, logically speaking, that "everyone who is not a mother is selfish." Motherhood has certainly opened me up in ways I couldn't have predicted, but that doesn't mean that everyone who isn't me is a selfish oaf. ;-)

You said:
"As for being close to the man I love ... nothing makes you closer than coming home together at the end of the day and being grateful for having another who can understand."

Yes, that is an incredible feeling. Haivng been on both sides of the kid fence (as mentioned in my response above, we didn't want children for a number of years) I can say that there is something about being a parent that we simply don't understand until we experience it. I truly don't mean for that to sound/feel to you like a smug pat on the head, with a dismissive, "You'll get it someday, dearie." But, having been in both positions, I can honestly say that some of the beauty of parenting simply can't be explained until you've been there. I didn't think I could love my husband any more than I already did, but our children truly do bring a different dimension to the relationship. Similarly, the love one feels for one's child is a new kind of love, also nigh impossible to express until you peer into that newborn face.

You said: "And may I add...what about those people who desire children but cannot have them? Does the stigma of selfish and unfulfilled apply to them too, or is it only to those people who choose not to have children?"

This, too, is an excellent question. First, let me address the "stigma" component. Again, I think it's an error in basic logic to say, "Mothering makes one unselfish, therefore, everyone who is not a mother is selfish." No, not necessarily, and I don't think that's what I said. I also didn't say that motherhood was the *only* fulfilling vocation.

I don't advocate stigmatizing everyone who's not a parent. :-) I hope you might read my article "A Good Catholic Family" (linked on the home page) and see that I try never to judge people based on the number of children they have. With a number of miscarriages in my past, I know that what's in one's heart and what's visible are sometimes two different things.

Someone I love very much was unable to have children, and it's the heartache of her life. I don't judge her. I sympathize and I love her. Her life has been different from mine because she was, through no fault of her own, unable to experience having children.

No ... an impromptu listing of "40 Reasons to Have Kids" done in the spirit of the joy of parenting (and in response to a sad book in which a mother of two children openly tells the world she'd rather not have had them) is not an automatic condemnation of all those who are not parents. :-) I would never want it to be taken that way. It is perhaps, a condemnation of the words of Corinne Maier. She didn't choose not to have children, or experience infertility. She had children, and now wishes she didn't. She means it to be clever and funny, but I feel sorry for her poor kids. Maybe I wrote this post out of a maternal instinct to protect children, even hers. :-)

Thanks very much for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I'm one of the anonymouses.. or, however you say that, that wrote a fairly negative response to your post. I wanted to apologize for not taking the time to read your entire post, namely, the first two sentences. Heh.

I had no idea you based this list on someone elses list and that it was written in the spirit of someone loving their children, rather than whatever that other womans problem is.

With that, I apologize for my words -- as a father myself, and rereading your list in that light, I absolutely agree that baby toes are not to be missed. :)

Yvonnejm said...

Hi Karen!

I just found your blog yesterday and really enjoy it.

Your 40 reasons are very inspiring, even though I do not have any children; married late, fertility gone, you know the story.

However, I found a different spin on the French author's 40 Reasons Not to Have Children.
To me, her book appears to be an attempt at satire, albeit very mean-sprirted. Also, perhaps she wanted to help her children understand they are NOT the center of the universe.

Blessings to you and your family.
I look forward to more from you.

Karen E. said...

Dear Anonymous Father of July 19,
Forgive me for taking so long to respond ... and, thank you for your kindness in stopping back here and offering an apology re. not knowing what the list was based on. I'm touched and it was kind of you to take the time to leave another comment.

Yvonne,
Thanks for your kind words, too! Yes, I agree -- I do think the author meant to be funny and/or satirical, but I still feel for her children. Children have a way of not getting their parents' humor, esp. when it's about them! :-) Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the amusement on a long car ride!

Bill said...

I would like to post a differing opinion. I do not want children. No, I don't hate children, nor do I hate those who have them. If I ever had a child by accident I would be a responsible loving father and raise the child as best I can. I understand that your post is a response to Corinne Maier's book "40 Reasons Not To Have Children," and while I feel that she comes across as cynical, (I also definitely don't like her saying this after her already having children) I myself would prefer to be without child.

Here are my reasons:

1) Responsibility. Being completely responsible for a child would be quite an
albatross. I don't want that kind of responsiblity. I don't want to have to make
difficult decisions about how to raise a child (morals, discipline, etc.) and
have to bear responsibility for their well-being. This does not end when they
are adults either as you will still worry about them. I don't want to make a
mistake raising a child. You already have enough responsibility with a job, why would you want
a second job (although, aside from the screaming, diaper changing, tantrums, etc. the fun of playing with them and watching them grow up could be more fun than work) of being a parent that you can't ever quit if it becomes too arduous (well you can if you want to be a moralless jerk)

2) Relationship with wife. A child would hinder my relationship with my wife (if
I ever have one) because my (and her) efforts would be concentrated towards
raising the child. Raising the child would (or at least should be) a joint
effort (a "bonding experience if you will") but our efforts of myself would not
be directed towards our relationship.
We wouldn't get to spend nearly as much time together.

3) Free time. When you have a child you no longer have any free time. If you are
not at work (which takes up enough free time) you will be watching your child.
You can't just decide to go do something because it must always be planned. Some
people might say the desire to have free time and try to enjoy yourself through
your hobbies is selfish, but you know what, there is absolutely nothing wrong
with wanting to enjoy your life as long as it isn't done at the expense of other
people.

4) Money. Children are expensive and monetary issues are one of the biggest
problems within marriages. Unless you are loaded this will be an issue. What
happens if you lose your job, or something else happens? Your child will have to
live through the difficult period just as you will. With all the money you spend
on a child, think of how much of that you could donate to help children that are
already alive that don't have fathers or mothers or who are poverty stricken,
abused, or have a number of other problems.

5) The problems with this world. This world isn't always a fun place. People get sick. People have disabilities. People have depression. People are exceedingly lonely. People have jobs they hate. People can't get jobs. Some people would say that there is more good than bad in the world, and that the negative experiences in life let the positive ones look better by comparison, but having been suffering from an almost complete lack of direction, loneliness, feelings of purposelessness, etc. I disagree. I feel that while we would not know what positive experiences are without negative ones, that we do not need near as many negative ones as there are to help us to realize a positive experience when we have one. A positive attitude can be helpful in some cases ("even though I hate my job there are some people without them") but I don't feel that, after a certain point, there are levels of "badness" in life. Sure, some things are worse than others, but if something bad is happening to you it is still bad regardless of how bad it is. Having a child and seeing them be hurt by the problems with this world would be hard to bear.

6)Your children, even if you raise them with good morals will eventually think for themselves and be their own people. There is a possibility they will dislike (or hate) you, and that they will ignore you as soon as they are old enough to be able. Ever seen a nursing home? Not everyone looks after their parents. I am not saying that is right (in fact, it is despicable) but it does happen.

7) This isn't nearly as big of a reason as the others, but the idea of being "daddy" and reaching down and saying "hey there son" in Mr. Cleaver fashion doesn't seem like something I want to be.

I do have reasons in favor of having children however:

1) Children can be funny, fun to play with, etc.
2) teaching your child morals and seeing them act on them is very rewarding
3) watching them grow up, learn, play, etc. is very rewarding
4) you (or you should) have unconditional love for a child
5) Someone to take care of you when you are older and to keep you from being lonely

To be honest, I do struggle with being a cynical individual, but I try to not complain around others and accept the hand that I have been dealt in bothersome situations. That being said I have tried to evaluate this issue in an objective manner.

Bill said...

Also, I did not add this because it doesn't apply directly to me, but why would any woman ever want to go through 9 months of morning sickness, etc., have a painful birth (well there is an epidural), suffer from post-natal depression, weight gain, and low self-esteem? I do not think it at all selfish to look after your own interests (as long as it is not at the expense of anyone else), especially when they are that of not inflicting yourself with sickness, pain, depression, weight gain, etc.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, I am woman, and although having kids might seem like fun at times, I still cant see why would any woman want to go through that. Maybe I don't really understad that and that varies from person to person. but another reason to consider is

1) exesive world population, I am sorry to disagree with mother Teressa, but there ARE too many people in the world, the birth rates are ridiculously high compared to death rates in some countries like mine (Guatemala)

so if you want a kid I suggest you adopt, because there are many children that need a loving and carring individual to take care of them

2) wantingto enjoy life, hobbies, is NOT being selfish. Woman today have more options than being a house wife, why not fight for yor right because many woman faught for YOU to be able to have an option so dont just waist it

Anonymous said...

I respect your ideas, although it is clear you don´t accept people have other values. Your 40 reasons to have kids were great to me. They are soooo weak that you proved I should not have kids. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

If having children were so great, as you say, couples would never divorce...Why almost every couple divorces after having children??? Coincidence???

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that the only way you feel you can realize that the world does not revolve around you, or that toexperience the "simplicity of unconditional love" is by reproducing. If you need to create a child in order to turn a couple into a family you have much more to think about than whether or not you should add another child to the world.
I feel as though it is much more egotistical to believe that the child you raise will be a saint. If you need a child in order to "sharpen your compassion and empathy" then I feel saddened by the parenting you received. Hmmmmm..... case and point.

Skysaw said...

Karen, of course your "Reasons" are right on. I briefly became very angry reading the article about that spiritually impoverished French woman and some of the attacks against you - especially the most recent "anonymous" post and the three before it. There sure is a lot of psychic suffering in this world, not to mention plenty of evil, when the skill of articulating soul-killing selfishness is greeted with admiration or embraced as good. I'm not sweating these particular manifestations, however, as I am sure you are praying for the individuals.

With specific regard to smug "having children breeds divorce" comments, only if the couple doesn't 1) have a pre-existing ironclad commitment to the bond, and 2) put their couple relationship first in moral priority (as opposed to time, which is rarely possible) for the very sake of the children and their need to see and be raised in a situation of a communion of life and love.

I'm not sure how many more "people" or "children" in general the world needs, but I have the moral certitude that it needs a lot more good people. When good people have multiple children, it makes the world an exponentially better place.

Karen E. said...

Skysaw, thank you for your kind and gracious comment. And thanks for the lovely words about marriage and commitment, and about how they bond a couple through the child-rearing years. Beautiful.

Bill, I hope I don't sound condescending if I say you sound young. :-) At age 19, I was firmly convinced I would never want children, and I even inquired about sterilization (but the doctor wouldn't even consider it, given my age.) Some of your reasons may change over time, and actually, some of your reasons (you sound like you want to be a devoted, loving husband if you ever marry) are the very things that might lead you to be a great dad. :-)

To the other anonymous commenters I haven't yet had time to address: Most of the things you've said I've addressed in other comments/responses. I'll just repeat this:

This list was written in the lighthearted, joyful spirit of countering a generally mean-spirited book, as noted in the opening of the post. An article about the book, and the original list of "40 Reasons for Not Having Children" is here.

The author is not childless. She has two children who will one day read her words, if they haven't already. I'm sure she meant to be clever and funny, but I feel for her poor kids, who are the targets of her cleverness.

I mentioned in a previous comment that children have a way of not "getting" their parents' humor, esp. when it's about them (and maybe, especially, when it's about wishing them out of existence.) I also mentioned in a previous comment that perhaps I wrote this post out of a maternal instinct to protect children, even hers. :-)

And, isn't it the ultimate irony that, at one time, I didn't even think I *had* a maternal instinct? :-)

As always, I appreciate the conversations, and thank everyone for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

For every "reason" to have kids, I can list five to not have them. Most of the reasons aren't even valid...

Britani said...

1. Desiring children with the man you love is as natural as breathing.

So is taking a humongous dump whenever and wherever, but I don't inflict that on others.

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.

Same with tearing the perineum and having to where urine pads. I just love the idea of peeing whenever I laugh or sneeze.

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?

Until the newborn starts screaming in agony after you dropped it during your sleep.

4. The world doesn't revolve around me and my daily desires.

Society claims else wise.

5. Every human being has dignity and worth.

Damn, :) I never knew that about Hitler!

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.

Unless the man, or woman, thought bringing the baby into an already broken relationship would fix every single thing.

WHOA!

7. A couple becomes a family -- the whole becomes greater than its parts.

I'm sure childfree, childless, and infertile couples appreciate this sentiment.

8. Having a child is a cooperation with the sacred.

So, angels are always the baby's father? ..................... creepy.

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.

Someone has not read Lord Of The Flies. Hm?

10. You get to read all the favorite books of your childhood all over again.

OH YES, the PERFECT REASON to have children. As if you couldn't volunteer at the Library to do this.

11. Children naturally grasp the lesson that people are more important than things.

Instead of the frothing, selfish, and cruel little beasts they can be. Bullies, remember? Basic human instincts? Social mores still have not sunken in, nor has the brain even near finishing it's, that is development until early adulthood.

12. Children teach us the freedom that comes with self-discipline and self-sacrifice.

Oh yeah, being slave to one for the next 18 years, if you're even remotely lucky. The children will be with you for the rest of your life, whether if you liked them or not.

13. The biggest drudgery is facing no one but myself day after day.

Instead of a spouse you married just for the CHILDREN, or your children that you honestly did not want nor even prepared for.

14. I am not ideal ... why should I expect my children to be? Kids teach us the joy of unconditional love and acceptance.

Why not try learning it for yourself instead of projecting this onto another living being?

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.

Look above.

16. To remain or become a self-centered, self-enclosed egotist: what horror!

YESSSSS, because having children is the MOST SELF-LESS THING ON EARTH! Damn them! Damn those people who don't want children! Damn those who are parents and are STILL LIKE THIS, EVEN AFTER HAVING CHILDREN.

17. Taking time to care for the gifts I've been given ... yes, thank you.

I've always enjoyed being vomited upon and having snot wiped all over my clothing.

Oh.

Can't forget the drool and macaroni sculptures.

18. Motherhood is a vocation: fulfilling, rewarding, and full of unpredictable surprises.

Instead of fulfilling your identity beforehand and not projecting your wants on them.

19. Families: they are a reflection of the Trinity.

.......... what? Are you claiming that every parent is God and Jesus? ................. huh?

20. Relive childhood and all of its innocent wonder and mirth.

THAT LITTLE BASTARD BETTER MAKE IT TO BASEBALL CAPTAIN AND EARN STRAIGHT A'S, BECAUSE I AM STILL INSECURE AND IMMATURE TO WORK ON MY PERSONAL SHORTCOMINGS!

21. To persist in saying "me first" is a sign of immaturity.

And somehow children aren't immature? Wow, mind blow.

22. A child will ignite the fond memories of your own childhood.

Getting the shit beaten outta you by bullies, physically and emotionally abused, and can't forget that neglect!

Wow, how could any one forget fond memories as those!?

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.

How about wanting this for others?

24. The enchantment of being with one's children outweighs any and all other difficulties.

Children can pay bills? Debt? Solve the economy crisis? World hunger? Cancer?

WHOA! CALL PANACEA!

25. If you worry about sending them off to school, homeschooling is a delightful, intellectually stimulating option.

This can be true, BUT if it is done properly. I'm sure being blinded and brainwashed by fanatic religious dogma isn't what most people deem as 'intellectually stimulating'.

26. Do something to change the world. Have a child. Raise a saint.

AGAIN, why not do this YOURSELF? Or adopt. There are plenty of children in the system that crave a home, a family.

Oh wait, no one wants those BROWN babies, or those retarded ones. We're trying to keep an image here!

27. Revel in the simplicity of a child's unconditional love and trust.

Until the first time it screams 'I HATE YOU'.

28. Parenting will soften your hard edges and sharpen your compassion and empathy.

Someone should have informed Andrea Yates about this aspect.

29. Motherhood is an insight into one's soul. It's better than analysis.

Better than a professionally trained psychotherapist?

MOM'S KNOW EVERYTHING.

30. Success is not defined only in terms of what one does for money. To succeed as a mother is beyond worldly success.

How YOU cured any pestilence yet? Hunger?

Call me once you do.

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.

A fiercely beating but enraged and still abusive but fiercely cruel and terrible. You will regret having a child sired into a loveless, abusive relationship.

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.

WHY AREN'T YOU ALREADY DOING THIS INSTEAD OF PROJECTING IT ONTO A CLUELESS CHILD.

33. "How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers." -- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

7 billion people. Enough said.

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.

Soon enough you'll become a brainless, naive, insecure, and identity-less person once dropping EVERYTHING to become YOUR CHILD.

35. Watching a child grow into a caring, sensitive soul is a reward that cannot be measured in book sales.

Watching a child grow into a raging sociopath with histrionic tendencies is a reward that cannot be measure in jail time.

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."

I'm sure your spouse, friends, and other family members appreciate that sentiment.

37. Already have a child? Have another. Siblings are the best birthday presents, Christmas presents, Father's Day presents, Arbor Day presents ....

I'd be pissed if I received a sibling for my birthday.

Someone has surely forgotten about sibling rivalry. And the matter of fact that the siblings might hate once another with a burning passion.

Just because you share blood it does not guarantee that you will LOVE your family, or even LIKE them for that matter.

38. Baby toes. Need I say more?

............. you sniff baby toes? Or eat them? Easily break them since they're so frail and watch the child writhe in agony? I fail to see the picture here.

39. Okay, I'll say more. Watching your baby sleep: You didn't know that angels could be held in your arms.

I'm sure you can get some Risperdal for that.

40. Worried about money? What's worth more than a soul?

The soul might appreciate food, warmth, and shelter.

Humans are kinda peculiar about that sort of thing.

Karen E. said...

Thanks for your comments, Britani. I feel as if I know you now.

Britani said...

I understand the personal drive, passion, and desire to have children, if one wishes to have them, but please, most of the reasons here are naively optimistic, ignorant, and downright judgmental about whether people decide to have children or not.

A personal childfree decision to never have children is just as valid and well-put together as much as a personal, THOUGHT OUT decision whether to have children, adopt, or foster.

Thank you for your time.

Theresa said...

Karen, you are one class act. Your response to these idiotic, heartless, ugly comments is beyond generous.The world is certainly a better place for you and your children being here.

Karen E. said...

"but please, most of the reasons here are naively optimistic, ignorant, and downright judgmental" --
---
Britani, I hope you'll read the reasons behind the post. I'm all for thoughtful discourse, and will happily engage in it, but let's start on a level playing field. This lighthearted post -- born of happiness -- was never meant to be a serious, definitive argument about having children.

And, seriously, I'd happily discuss Lord of the Flies (or Brave New World), or any other literature with you. :) I wish you all the happiness I've been fortunate enough to find, however and wherever you may find it.

--

Theresa, I don't know about class, but *I'm* sure glad my children are here. :) They sweeten everything in life, including the sting of negative comments. But, how interesting would a blog be with only cheerleaders around? :)

Anonymous said...

Karen,
now that I've finished reading your blog, I've had my full sugar intake for the day.

Have a lighthearted day!

Anonymous said...

Guess you didn't say they were going to be good reasons.

johnna said...

Karen,
Your reasons are beautiful! You are a very gracius woman to take the time to kindly repond to those who are outright rude to you.

This world is a better place with you in it! :O)

Anonymous said...

Lists like this are usually extremely shortsighted and full of selfishness. This 40 is not different. Many of the reasons stated are purely selfish of the parents. Take #38, baby toes. You have got to be kidding me that you believe a good reason to have a kid is to look at their toes! That is possibly one of the worst reasons to have a kid. Nothing in this list addresses anything about the kids, it is all about the parents. KIDS ARE NOT ABOUT FULFILLING THE PARENTS.

1. Desiring children with the man you love is as natural as breathing.

Not every desire is something that should be acted on.

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.

One fleeting moment for one of the parents involved is NOT a reason to have a kid.

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?

Have some chamomile tea.

4. The world doesn't revolve around me and my daily desires.

Having a kid does not mean someone will change their attitude, we all know plenty of self-centered adults.

5. Every human being has dignity and worth.

Filler?

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.

Fanciful, to say the least.

7. A couple becomes a family -- the whole becomes greater than its parts.

What post about having kids would be complete without a nice slap across the face to people who can't have kids.

8. Having a child is a cooperation with the sacred.

You presume everyone believes as you do.

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.

SOME kids are. Some kids are assholes. Because of the parents you say? Perhaps, but perhaps they should not have had kids in the first place.

10. You get to read all the favorite books of your childhood all over again.

Are these books off limits without kids? Filler imo.

11. Children naturally grasp the lesson that people are more important than things.

Again with the presumptions. SOME kids do, but not all, and it would not be a reason to have kids regardless.

12. Children teach us the freedom that comes with self-discipline and self-sacrifice.

If you need a kid to teach you self discipline you probably shouldn't have kids.

13. The biggest drudgery is facing no one but myself day after day.

Kids are not meant to be entertainment for bored parents.

14. I am not ideal ... why should I expect my children to be? Kids teach us the joy of unconditional love and acceptance.

Your statement is true however it is not something that could not be learned or experienced elsewhere, not a reason to have kids.

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.

A bit fanciful if you ask me, but again not something that is solely experienced through children and not a reason to have kids.

16. To remain or become a self-centered, self-enclosed egotist: what horror!

Sigh... this is getting tiresome. Not having kids does not equal become self centered. Using kids as the means to stave off the parents shortcomings is not justifiable.

17. Taking time to care for the gifts I've been given ... yes, thank you.

Ok fine.

18. Motherhood is a vocation: fulfilling, rewarding, and full of unpredictable surprises.

As are many other vocations. As with other 'reasons' kids should not be used as a means to fulfill parents.

19. Families: they are a reflection of the Trinity.

I just threw up in my mouth a little.

20. Relive childhood and all of its innocent wonder and mirth.

Selfish of the parents.

21. To persist in saying "me first" is a sign of immaturity.

More presumptions that people without kids operate in this fashion.

22. A child will ignite the fond memories of your own childhood.

Same as #20 (filler?) and again is selfish of the parents.

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.

Again, you do not need a child for this, and a child should not be used as the means of realizing this.

24. The enchantment of being with one's children outweighs any and all other difficulties.

Children should not be had as a means of escaping your other difficulties.

25. If you worry about sending them off to school, homeschooling is a delightful, intellectually stimulating option.

This is not a reason to have kids, it addresses the anxiety some parents have.

26. Do something to change the world. Have a child. Raise a saint.

Don't need kid to change the world.

27. Revel in the simplicity of a child's unconditional love and trust.

Fine and well but as a reason it is selfish.

28. Parenting will soften your hard edges and sharpen your compassion and empathy.

Perhaps but it is not the only means of doing this. Kids are not meant to be tools.

29. Motherhood is an insight into one's soul. It's better than analysis.

Again with the having kids so they can be a tool of the parents... THAT is selfish.

30. Success is not defined only in terms of what one does for money. To succeed as a mother is beyond worldly success.

More kids fulfilling parents shortcomings... you don't need a kid to realize this and if you're having a kid for this purpose it is again selfish.

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.

Presumptions... and more having a kid for the purpose of them being a tool.

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.

Or they could perpetuate it.

33. "How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers." -- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Not a reason to have kids... you were running out of reasons huh?

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.

I repeat... kids are not to be had to alleviate the boredom of adults.

35. Watching a child grow into a caring, sensitive soul is a reward that cannot be measured in book sales.

Repeat after me... kids should not be had to fulfill the wishes of the parents.

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."

Perhaps, but a selfish reason to have a kid don't you think?

37. Already have a child? Have another. Siblings are the best birthday presents, Christmas presents, Father's Day presents, Arbor Day presents ....

Awesome, tell your second child you had them to be a present for their older sibling to play with and see how that goes over.

38. Baby toes. Need I say more?

Yes you do need to say more, you haven't had one good actual reason that is beneficial to the kid yet, only the parents.

39. Okay, I'll say more. Watching your baby sleep: You didn't know that angels could be held in your arms.

Stop it already.

40. Worried about money? What's worth more than a soul?

Give me a break, kids require a lot of money, a real honest concern for many people. Sloughing it off is both shortsighted and elitist.

Karen E. said...

Hi, latest Anonymous,

I think I've already addressed most of what you said in above comments, including the fact that I do not seriously advocate reproduction purely for the intention of gazing on baby toes.

About being financially elitist in reason #40, we are a one-income family and my husband is a public school teacher. You can do the math. :-)

Thanks for stopping by.

StaZ said...

Karen,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I realize that you are saying these things are joys that you have personally experienced and appreciate where they come from. I hope that some of your commenters will come to realize the same. :)

Be blessed!

Mrs. T said...

I wish that these anonymous posters could hear their own voices, and see the advertising for their position which their posts provide. Among other things, I wonder why the expression of a view counter to their own provokes such violent response in people who I'm sure consider themselves to be open-minded.

I'm interested in and saddened by the fact that the last anonymous poster can't understand joy as anything other than selfish wish-fulfillment. To grow up knowing, innately, that you brought your parents joy is a tremendous gift. To know that your life is satisfying to someone else, that someone loved watching you grow, found you delicious and gorgeous and intellectually fulfilling -- who wouldn't want that? It's the easiest thing in the world to give -- not sacrifice-free, but as efforts go, it's not that hard if you're disposed to love in the first place. If you're not, well, have fun with that.

Karen is ennumerating gifts, from child to parent and from parent to child. None of these things are one way. And to ridicule these reasons is to ridicule the nature of love itself, which is a feast around a common table.

As for why a woman would choose the physical depredations of childbearing: because she knows what beauty really is, that's why. Do people really think they're not going to get old anyway? Do they really think the body doesn't change? Do they really think there's only one way to be beautiful and deserving of another person's love and admiration? At the end of the day it all returns to dust, ladies and gentlemen. Might as well use it for something other than a display model.

Karen, I appreciated this post when it first appeared, and I appreciate it all the more now. Thanks for your generosity and graciousness.

Karen E. said...

Mrs. T., what a beautiful comment, and thank *you* for your gracious words.

fiona said...

Mrs T, you may be wondering why those of us who choose to remain childless get angry "when faced with a differing opinion to ones own". The reason is that most of the time mothers are extremely smug, which I'm sorry Karen E, this also includes you.

There is this ridiculous societal prescription that life must follow this banal, linear path:
Step 1=meet the man of you're dreams
Step2=Get married
Step 3= spawn

Perhaps that woman's book is an attempt at parodying this, and quite frankly, we need to look outside the box, because our society has so far only headed us toward destroying the world that sustains us. Looking at it from this perspective, breeding even more humans in the hope that one of them will be some kind of saint that saves everything is completely counter productive.

Mothers are adept at at putting themselves in a smug little clique just because they pushed one out. Those of us who choose not to have children need to constantly fight against this mindless tide of bovine following.

The reason why us purposefully childless people get riled up, is because there exists this ridiculous idea that motherhood is an unselfish thing, and remaining childless by choice is "selfish". The real irony is that the desire to replicate you're own DNA is actually bloody selfish in itself. I find it completely laughable that every reason for having kids is actually a selfish one.

Before you get all patronizing again Karen E, I'd like to add that I am actually not "young" I am well beyond the 19 years of age that you keep referring to as being the time that you didn't want kids. I am 27, at an age where all of my friends are having children, and I still don't want them. I believe I can help the world far more without being encumbered by screaming infants and tantrum creating small humans, who lets face it, are...there's that word again: selfish.

I applaud my bra burning feminist predecessors, I love that I can have a career. My life partner of 7 years is more than enough of a man as he is without kids, and we have the most fantastic relationship, full of freedom and independence. The kind that my motherly friends chained to the stove and cleaning nappies will only ever have once their kids leave home, when they are too old to enjoy it.

So when I am faced with a dumbfounded look at my announcements to remain childless, and when I am asked the (selfish) question of "oh but then what are you going to do with you're life, whats your purpose?" I simply reply "to live".

Karen E. said...

Hi, Fiona,
I'm afraid this will sound patronizing to you, but I still didn't want children when I was 27, and, wow, I could have written this comment at that time in my life.

I hated being around mothers -- I felt they acted as if they were in a secret and superior club, so I may understand your position better than you think, though that probably sounds patronizing, too. I'm 49, so I practically am one of your bra-burning, feminist predecessors ... I never literally burned a bra, but eschewed them for years based on my feminist principles ....

I guess one of my points with this whole string of comments is to say that life can hold a lot of surprises and we sometimes become things we used to despise. That holds the potential to be horrible, but at other times, in some lives, it's a gift.

A different Elizabeth said...

Karen, Thank you for giving someone that knows that children can be both wonderful and horrifying some things to think about. I always thought that I would have children when I got married. It seemed like something that I would want to do. I like children, most of the time. In fact, as a teacher I have devoted my career to spending time with them. However, I found that after I got married I came up with all kinds of excuses on why I didn't want to have children yet. All of them completely valid and important. First my husband needed to finish school, then I wanted to get a couple of years of teaching under my belt (I am not saying that a woman has to stay home once they have children, I am simply saying that I wanted some occupational experience before complicating my life with a child), then I wanted to finish my Master's degree, then I wanted to live closer to family, then we wanted to buy a house. Now that my husband and I have accomplished all those things, I am finding that its not the reasons not to have a child that were stopping me from doing so, but that I just wasn't sure that I wanted to have children anymore. Granted, a large portion of this has to do with spending 8 hours a day with adolscents. Becoming a parent is a huge, scary decision. I can come up with a lot of reasons not to. It is good to hear some of the reasons to have children. Especially when taken in context with the purpose for making the list. {Why anyone in their right mind would honestly think that you would have children simply to look a baby toes I have no idea.) I appreciate your list of the joys of being a mother. Raising children is a difficult job that many people struggle with. It is very easy to focus on the negatives in life, and there are plenty when dealing with other people. It is good to focus on the positives.

Thanks and God's blessings.

Also, when you orginally wrote this post did you have any idea that there would still be controversy and discussion almost three years later?

Karen E. said...

Elizabeth, thanks so much for this lovely comment.

It's funny that you asked if I had any idea there would still be controversy and discussion three years later. I just mentioned the irony of that to my husband this morning.

On the day I wrote this post, I remember thinking that I had nothing to blog about, then I read the link, which my husband had sent, about the 40 Reasons book, and I tossed off this post. So, you can see how much thought went into it, lol!

Thanks for stopping by!

fiona said...

Hi Karen,
I appreciate you're reply to my comment, I do find it interesting! Also, I agree with my fellow secondary school teacher Elizabeth, it is good that you actually have got a forum here for this discussion, to view either side.

There was a movie I watched recently, called "The Women", with Meg Ryan. In it one of the characters is a 40 something career woman, and she said the most awesome quote, something like: "Being a woman and saying that you don't want children is the last taboo at a dinner party." And it is true. I once had a drunk woman at my partner's work do shouting at me because I said I didn't want kids.

It is great Karen, that you understand both sides of the coin, but I really do wish that there could be more accepting of other peoples' choices. Yes, in a way, I am eschewing the idea of having kids by choosing not to have my own. However, I accept other people's decision to do so, after all, it is their lives! Many of those people, do however, see it as a personal affront to their choice, because I choose not to do what they chose.

Perhaps all mothers that read this thread can take this thought away; that not everybody has to do as you did, and that other people's decisions on how to live their lives are up to them, as long as it isn't hurting anybody else. After all, a couple having a child because society pressured them to, when they didn't want it, could only lead to disaster for all involved.

Karen E. said...

Fiona, I'm glad you stopped back, thank you. I think it's the sad, fallen condition of humans that we will often lash out at each other for differences, but at least one-on-one -- (as in comment boxes! :) -- we can try to discuss differences calmly, and try to really understand other people's choices.

I do understand your frustration. I think that mothers can too easily fall into judging other (childless) women as selfish, and I remember being viewed that way when I didn't want kids. Many women looked at me as if I were an alien species.

Mothering is certainly an extremely time-consuming thing, and we moms have all looked back on the pre-mother days and thought, "What on earth did I do with all my time back then?" :) But, hindsight is 20-20, and I find time to be like closet space. I think we fill what we have.

I have a friend who says, "Before I had children, I had loads of time, I just didn't know it. I should have written three novels and won the Nobel prize!"

BUT, even though mothering *does* take a lot of time and self-giving, it doesn't follow ipso-facto that anyone who is not a mother is selfish. Unfortunately, it's sometimes expressed that way by some people.

And, focusing on the negative of the time factor can be harmful to everyone -- I don't want my fantastic kids to think they're a time-suck on my life. They're not. I get tired just as everyone else does, but my goal is to serve them, in the best sense of that word, with love, and without counting the cost. They're worth that.


For me, the desire to have children began to grow in relation to my spiritual conversion, and about the time I was 30 (actually just after I was baptized at that age), I had decided I wanted to have a baby. My husband eventually came to agree, but that was a huge change for both of us, as we'd married with the agreement that we would not have children.

We first had miscarriages, and then we had our oldest daughter when I was 33, but we thought we'd stop at one. It wasn't until I was received into the Catholic Church, and wanted to follow the Church's teachings that we abandoned birth control and opened ourselves to the possibility of more children. There were more heartbreaks, more miscarriages, but there have also been two more amazing gifts, two more daughters.

So, ultimately I guess I'm saying that for *me* decisions about children were "spiritual" decisions, in a certain sense.

That is *not* to say that I am judging the spiritual condition of anyone else! :) I only mean it to be explanatory. I think one of the reasons that I can understand why you and Elizabeth, among others, feel as you do is that had I not converted to Catholicism, I might have remained childless, as I would have had a different understanding of and belief in the place of children in my life. Does that make sense?

We took a leap that I would NEVER have predicted we would take (atheist + agnostic marry, agree not to have children, and end up with three daughters, several others in heaven due to miscarriage, and now we're both Catholic ....) Never saw it coming .... :)

It's been the best adventure of my life and sometimes in sharing that exhilaration, it sounds like a judgment on others, but I'm equally exhilarated by the chance to simply discuss this calmly with others.

Thanks again for stopping by, and for coming back to talk.

Amy said...

Hi!

I'm not sure how I got here, I think I Googled the ornaments that go on a Jesse Tree?

My two-cents. (Well, okay, probably more than that.)
I understand that this list is item for item a response to the other one, but- it's just as bad. It's just as "all about me" and offensive to people whose experiences have given them a different point of view. More so, actually, since I assumed the other list was tongue-in-cheek, and you appear to be serious. Adding a disclaimer about what it's in reference to doesn't make it less insensitive.

People who present the childless as Selfish Centers of the Universe (vague reference to #4) come as across as self-righteous and simpleminded.

You're happy being a mom. I'm happy for you.

I'm not a mom, but not for any of the stupid reasons that the french woman suggested. Neither am I swayed by anything on your sweet, sappy list, because it isn't really true. (Children naturally grasp the lesson that people are more important than things? Seriously?)

If it's real for you, I'm happy for you. You are blessed.

It's insulting to hear that I need a child to learn self-discipline and self-sacrifice, and that without one I'm a "self-centered, self-enclosed egotist." If that's the case, why bother quoting "Blessed Teresa of Calcutta"? What could SHE possibly know about children! (since you seem to be unfamiliar with sarcasm- that was an example.)

Better example- the way I read the Bible, my life should reflect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. JESUS is the model for that, and he never had a baby. (Unless you're into the whole Da Vinci Code thing...)

It's insulting to suggest that couples without children aren't real Families. (#7)

22. A child will ignite the fond memories of your own childhood.
IF you HAVE fond memories of your own childhood.
Memories of my own childhood are the #1 thing that convinces me that I'm doing the right thing by not having kids. I DO love children. So much that I don't want them to EVER have to go through what I did. Until I'm convinced that I can do a better job than my parents did, I'm going to spare them (potential offspring) from that. Since I'm going to be 40 soon, it prob'ly ain't gonna happen. and that's okay. Somehow, God still has a purpose for my life even if you can't imagine how it could possibly be worthwhile.

I've forgiven them (my parents. I'm not as bitter as I probably sound) perhaps they did the best they could. That realization, however, is NOT encouraging! that means I could do my very best for MY kids and still be just as clueless that my teenage daughter is suicidally depressed.

37. Already have a child? Have another.
My #2 reason for not having kids is that my dad is the youngest of 14 siblings. What I've witnessed of his family, well- it's not the utopia you describe.
Having a bigger family does not make anyone a better parent. With some people, there really is less love to go around. it can get spread pretty thin.

I'm just sayin' I've put a little more thought (and PRAYER) into this decision than -ooh! I don't want my boobs to get saggy!

I'm guessing this list was written as a morale boost for all the other moms out there, but keep in mind that it's there for EVERYONE to read. As a newcomer to your blog, this didn't lead me to believe that you have a lot of insight that's worth my time. (ain't gonna make you one of the many "meaningless hobbies" that consume me.)

Thanks for including my contrary point of view-
Amy

Gina said...

wow. nothing said here convinced me to have a kid.

Lauren said...

This is the thing . . . you anonymouses and others who responded negatively took Mrs. Edmisten's list way out of context. Mrs. Edmisten didn't say children are the ONLY way to be unselfish, or to learn virtues like patience, gentleness, and kindness. She implied that they are just one of the ways to learn them. More often than not, children just strengthen these virtues.

The way you respond so viciously makes me think you want your view to be seen, and only your view. Mrs. Edmisten has been the picture of love and respect and patience to you, and what do you do? You spit and fume and rage. It's just my personal opinion, but I think people like these may not know the great Lord Jesus Christ, or are not mature in their faith yet. Mrs. Edmisten is just as entitled to her calm, well-written view as you are to your harsh, bitter ones. So please stop freaking out about this, okay? It only makes you look as immature as the children you are bashing.

Karen E. said...

Amy, I am so sorry about your negative childhood experiences. I hope you've been able to overcome them. Thanks for your comments.

Gina, no problem on not convincing you ... the list wasn't really meant to. :)

Lauren -- thank you for your very kind remarks.

Anonymous said...

40 reasons to have kids, yes. They are 40 reasons indeed. Are they GOOD reasons though? Hardly.

I don't see what's wrong with being selfish either. Humans always do things out of selfishness. Anything you have ever done for yourself is selfish.

For example, the desire to have and want children is completely selfish in itself. In fact name me one reason to have a child that ISN'T selfish. I mean c'mon.

If you want to have children fine go ahead. That's your right, just like it's my right NOT to have children. EVER. =)

leta said...

1. Desiring children with the man you love is as natural as breathing.

--

No. It's not. I'm sorry, I do not have any maternal instinct, nor do I want children. Funny enough, it's something both my husband and I agree on. It's one of the reasons we love each other.

Also, a child of divorce would probably take issues with some of these. Like #6 and 7. Love between two people does not always survive having a child, and sometimes a family is complete at two.

The fact is, I do not have children, I have never wanted to have them. It does not make me less of a woman for this. I can read my favorite childhood book, without having children. I can go for a walk in the woods - on my schedule - and be awed by nature. My husband and I can volunteer and leave the world a better place.

Having children isn't the end all be all of the world. I have just as much worth as you do, even though I don't have children.

Karen E. said...

"I have just as much worth as you do, even though I don't have children."

Of course you do. I would never say otherwise. This list was a specific response to a specific list written by a specific woman. That's all. :)

Funny enough, my husband and I also agreed on not having children when we married. We were adamant, so I understand that side of the coin as well.

I wish you peace and all good.

Anonymous said...

My .02 follow.

While I think those lists of reasons not to have a kid tend to be superficial, this list is similarly so.

Personally, I mostly stopped reading after #4, because a ton of your reasons seem to self-serve in a way that contradicts #4. And I'm not too interested in taking seriously a list from somebody who can't even make sense of her own thoughts.

Creating another life to feel dutiful and fulfill one's life is one of the most recursively retarded schools of thought I've ever heard. People should first learn how to be successful in their own right before attempting to bring into the world an adult that is 21 years premature.

In that sense, the whole "having a kid" line is as overhyped as the "owning a home" line. Change it to "owning a house" and fewer people are mesmerized by all the governmental and commercial rhetoric (i.e. HGTv). If only people stopped talking about "having a kid" and started talking about "raising an adult from 21 years premature"...

Finally, these parting words: Why not change it from "40 Reasons to Have Kids" to "40 Reasons to Adopt a Kid"? It's HILARIOUSLY DESPICABLE the kind of b.s. I hear from mothers and fathers that ooh and aah and say how they think kids are so cute and how happy they are, but the second they are challenged to ADOPT a kid, they can't handle it.

"40 Reasons to Have Kids", indeed!

Signed,
32-year-old University Professor

Karen E. said...

Thanks for your comments. And credentials. Names are always welcome, too. :)

Anonymous said...

C.M. Hsieh.

Not like it matters. And not like any of the children-thumpers can possibly debate my initiating post dated 31 December. Give it a shot though, folks, I welcome it. But my points are all pretty airtight.

As far as I'm concerned, there are probably only 2 possibly *truly* legitimate reasons to have a kid, reasons that are UNIQUE and EXCLUSIVE to having a kid (none of this "joy" crap that you children-thumpers got goin' on here). One is that you believe that you have been successful and that you know how to raise somebody to become a successful person (well, adult ultimately) in life, and thus a positive contributor to the world. You stop making money or buying things for yourself or making a name for yourself so that you can (fully and completely) guide somebody else to be fulfilled and successful. That's an arguably noble reason -- be a caretaker of the world's future! And the other reason is that you need reassurance that somebody will really genuinely care for you in your old age. Give the kid all the fun he deserves when he's little so that he'll be thankful enough to be willing to change a bedpan or two when he grows up?

Instead we've got people running around that think the only way to have a successful life is to create a new one, and then Oops! These proud ("I changed my first diaper!") but ill-prepared moms and dads can't handle it and another child is potentially raised in a broken family. Stupid!

And if you think my 2nd reason up there seems a bit selfish, cull through your big fat premature "Glorified List of 40" first. Then realize that many people these days aren't having kids because medical technological advance has reached a point where many elderly will be able to get by just fine without their own kid, thank you very much. In other words, many people aren't having kids precisely because they realize that the abovementioned 2nd reason no longer applies.

(There were very practical reasons to have kids back in the 1800s and 1900s. Mainly, it had to do with having grown-up kids available to help tend the family farm or sustain the family business when proverbial Papa's knees and Mama's back started getting creaky. Today's world filled with corporations and internet distance learning is obviously very different.)

Anyways, if you're thinking that my own notion of adoption of a baby can satisfy my two abovementioned reasons, you're perfectly correct. Too bad most humans and people are too busy feeding their ego for 50% clones and mindlessly following their now-pregnant classmate's footsteps to think twice. (Refer now to my paragraph above about people who think a successful life necessitates creating one!)

I'm not saying that births and babies THEMSELVES are a bad or evil or useless thing, far from it! I'm just saying that the vast majority of people -- when you challenge them to think DEEPLY -- really have NO DAMN CLUE why they're having a kid. When they think they do, they give reasons oddly similar to the ones that 1st grade girls give when asked what they like about their "Baby-farts-a-lot" dolls. Hint, hint! ;) ;)

32-year-old Professor.

Anonymous said...

Wow I've finally read through a good chunk of these past disagreeing responses, and some are absolutely rude.

Two notes now: (1) Others are making the same comment about adoption. However, they didn't begin to address why people are so willing to "have kids" and not to adopt them. (2) It appears that your list would be more appropriately titled "40 outcomes after having kids" (and even that's pushing it). These aren't really reasons, only optimistic (if not merely possible) outcomes.

32-year-old Professor.

Karen E. said...

Thanks again for your comments.

Adoption's a complex issue ... I don't think it's ever quite as simple as "Why don't you just adopt?" We were actually looking into adopting before I became pregnant with our youngest. We were 41 and 44 years old, and we were finding out that for many routes to adoption, we were considered too old.

Anyway, I'm not sure there's a debate in all this -- this was simply a post I threw together one morning in response to a silly, nasty list. I never intended for it to be the basis of serious debate, but thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

You seemed to enjoy thanking people who thank you for the list, as if your list were serious! ;)

Cheers! Keep ALL your readers' valid points in mind (pros and cons) whenever you encounter somebody who is unsure whether to have kids or not. Anything less would be a disservice.

-32 yr old Professor

Karen E. said...

Anon wrote: "You seemed to enjoy thanking people who thank you for the list, as if your list were serious! ;)"


And for someone who quit reading after Reason #4, you seem to enjoy coming back to read and comment. ;)

I'm going to assert that there's a difference between "sincere" and "serious." My list was and is sincere -- and yes, I did sincerely thank those who offered kind comments, and have just as sincerely thanked others for their contributions. But, if I were to sit down and have a "serious" conversation about this, I would not begin with Corinne Maier's book, or my own response to it.

I have truly been surprised by the vehement and ongoing reaction to this post. In all honesty, I sat down that day with nothing to blog about, and this is what came out.

That's what I mean about "seriousness" -- this post was not the result of any forethought, or a desire to begin a genuine debate. It was just a post by a mom on a random day. :)

Anon wrote: "Cheers! Keep ALL your readers' valid points in mind (pros and cons) whenever you encounter somebody who is unsure whether to have kids or not. Anything less would be a disservice."


When it comes to *real* conversations (which I don't think usually happen in comboxes, which I why I tend to avoid debate here) I certainly do consider all sides ... I was once on the "No Kids Ever For Me" side of this. I've journeyed from Child-Free Atheist to Catholic Mom, so I mean it when I say that I can see more than one side of this coin.

Thanks again for stopping by -- I enjoyed the conversation.

-- 49 yr old Mom Who Honestly Experiences This Joy Crap With Her Kids :)

Karen E. said...

And speaking of adoption, here's a great story.

Anonymous said...

I am on the fence about having kids. This confirms why not to have kids. It is filled with BS! Childfree people are not selfish. Selfish and Ego is having kids. You contribute to pollution, require more natural resources (by the way we are running out). Its Ego to think your so great to bring another (great or NOT great) person in the world. I would love to hear one logical reason to have kids....really I have been looking. People can tell you all day long WHY they drive the car they drive but NOT WHY they have kids...

Elizabeth said...

Most of these made me roll my eyes. The original Reasons Not to Have Kids may have been bitter and jaded, but this list is saccharine and overly romanticized to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a veritable cavalcade of greeting-card sentimentality, and not a kernel of substance in sight.

Anonymous said...

Lady, you are deluded. Most children I have encountered are self-interested, spoilt and materialistic little ankle-biters who couldn't give a toss about the parent who provides for them.

Also, you cannot garauntee that you'll raise the next Mother Teresa, for all you know they could develop into the next Charles Manson.

Egotistic and selfish are we? And how isn't this little list of yours egotistic? You openly branded people whoe choose to remain childfree as egostic and selfish.

One could say that the desire in itself to procreate is selfish, because when there's a foster home chocked full of children needing parents you just go right ahead and have your own anyway.

Anonymous said...

So far the list is nothing but contrived emotional bullcrap. There is absolutely NOTHING practical and logical about it. Having children is an EMOTIONAL choice not a logical one. Yes it was MANY YEARS AGO when the world wasn’t as populated and suffering from pollution and global warming (caused by humans. Humans who decide to keep breeding and breeding). People who have kids nowadays should do it because they really want to not because it’s what everyone else expects. Women aren’t baby making machines. They can do WHATEVER THEY WANT with their lives and it IS NOT SELFISH. A person who can admit they don’t want kids and stick to it is far less selfish than someone who has kids to say keep a man or give into societies wants. They may say ‘Oh well I can get over not having a life anymore. I love my kids’ but people who do that resent their children. Even if they will deny it, it’s the truth. They resent that they had to give up their dreams to spend their entire life taking care of a child. They are miserable. I know this from personal experience. Well not my own, but my mothers.

Karen E. said...

I'm so sorry your mother felt that way.

Wishing you peace and happiness,
Karen

Teighan's PE12 Blog said...

very god oriented, but still good. As some one who doesn't believe in God i disagree with all the God sentiments but i still think what you wrote is beautiful. write more?

Anonymous said...

having read this post and the titles of the chapters in the book 40 reasons not to have children, i have decided that not having children is far more beneficial than having children. i was looking for a reason to have a child and you did not offer any ligitimate reasons. i suggest you revise your list. perhaps make it a little less sarcastic and a little more credible.
was an interesting read at the least.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I disagree with 100% of these reasons, but that is my opinion.

Anonymous said...

this is ridiculous...these reasons are terrible!!!

Anonymous said...

The words "Sheltered" and "Selfish" come to mind.

You're a fool for assuming that every child grows up in a happy family - there are so many sad childhoods these days, and there are far too many people on this world anyway. If anything, we need less births, less stupidity and less ignorance.

TA said...

Wow, Karen, what a bummer that you have gotten so many angry comments. The hostility really surprises me. I think not having kids can be a great thing for many people, although having kids has been the best thing for me. I don't think one size fits all. I'm not religious, but your religion obviously suits you. Whatever gets you through the night, as John Lennon would say.

I would think that childfree people would be happy that other people WANT to raise children joyfully. Those joyfully-raised children will make a great contribution to society. And will be running things when the childfree people are old.

Karen E. said...

Thanks, TA.

mary said...

oh goodness I just love the picture of you kids with your mom. Beautiful family hun..= -)

Childfree by Conscience said...

WOW. I'm still shocked at the number of people who didn't bother to read the background on what this "40 Reasons to Have Kids" list was about - let alone the numerous posts that reference the background or explain it all over again - before spouting off. Seriously people?

That being said, I came here for perspective. I've been on a few, maybe several sites on both sides of the kids/no kids issue for that reason.

One thing I don't get - would it really be such a bad thing if we didn't reproduce? Humans have caused more change and destruction to this planet than any other creature, it seems (well, some pretty industrious beavers seem to be having a go at it - http://news.discovery.com/animals/beaver-dam-canada-space.html). While it may be natural and instinctive to reproduce, with our "higher intelligence", shouldn't we ask and consider whether we should?

I once had a mother tell me we need to have kids to take care of the previous generation(s). Can she guarantee her children will become nurses, doctors, lawyers, physical therapists, pharmacists, or anything else we might need in our old age? I certainly wouldn't want to force a child into a career path they may not be interested in or suited for, nor should we expect this of them. They will be who and what they will be, a benefit to society, burden on it, or some combination.

There are times when I would have liked a family, but perhaps more conceptually (no pun intended) than realistically. As much as I ever might have wanted a child or two, it doesn't mean I should have them. Just because I can, doesn't mean I should. If only people would think about that more, before intentionally becoming parents!

The older I get, both the harder and easier it becomes. Easier, because in my mid-30's, I know my clock is ticking. Harder, because there's no going back to trying to be, and eventually becoming, the kind of person I would have wanted to be before starting the family I'll now never have. And with some dark thoughts shadowing my life, particularly in the past year, I don't see that any agency would ever place a child with us for adoption, which would have been part of my plan.

So this list, and some of these posts, is helpful as I search for ways to make peace with the way my life has gone and still find it in me to be happy for those who were the "mommy type" and did/do have families. It may not have been right for me, it may be right for others, and no matter the reasons, isn't that realization and choice what it comes down to in the end?

Thank you for this forum, your time and allowing me the opportunity to share my thoughts here.

Karen E. said...

Thanks very much for your kind and thoughtful comments.

You asked: "One thing I don't get - would it really be such a bad thing if we didn't reproduce?"

That's at the heart of the debate, isn't it? Answers vary according to worldviews. As a Catholic, I believe that marriage and children are gifts (gifts that require sacrifice, but gifts nonetheless.) But, before my conversion, I shared your question. For me, having children is tied up with my spirituality. And, I believe what my faith teaches -- that every human being has worth, because we are children of God. (That doesn't mean, of course, that we all act in a worthy fashion.) But of course I know that not everyone shares this belief.

You said, "I certainly wouldn't want to force a child into a career path they may not be interested in or suited for, nor should we expect this of them. They will be who and what they will be, a benefit to society, burden on it, or some combination."

I agree -- they will be who they will be. Children are not clay to be molded or robots to be programmed. They are souls with free wills.

"So this list, and some of these posts, is helpful as I search for ways to make peace with the way my life has gone and still find it in me to be happy for those who were the "mommy type" and did/do have families."

I wish you success in that search, and peace. An irony: when we were young, my sister wanted so much to marry and have a family. It was truly the main thing she wanted out of life. I didn't understand that. I rebelled, and rejected marriage and kids for a long, long time. Now, here I am, a homeschooling mom, and my sister (though she's very happily married) was never able to have children. We both went through some painful years, getting to where we are now but we share this in common: spiritual peace, and happiness with our unexpected destinations. I wish the same for you!

Thanks again for your contribution to the discussion!

Anonymous said...

I hoped to find a serious discussion about the decision to have children or not, which is a legitimate question. Instead, I found this list to be very superficial. "So that you can re-read all your favorite children's books"? I realize that the author is trying to be cute, but please! That is NOT a reason to have kids. You can re-read your favorite kids' books on your own. Again, same with the item on "baby toes". Having a baby because they're cute is a huge mistake. I was very disappointed by this article.

Sunfire said...

I have been in a battled debate within myself to either one day procreate or not to have children ever, but while reading your amazing post something inside of me was touched and I cried, and the way you talk about children and having them just makes me think that everything you have to sacrifice for it is worth it in the end. One day maybe I will know. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I came across this post via a childfree blog. I have read all the comments. Quite frankly, I am shocked by how many negative comments you received. I certainly don't want children, but I don't condemn those who do. And I also don't read too much into lists like yours.

I just wanted to let you know that not all childfree people are upset by this list. You have your reasons and I have mine. I don't see why we can't co-exist. I am glad you are at peace with your decision and feel blessed by your children. Best of luck!

Karen E. said...

You're very kind -- thanks, and best of luck to you, too!

Abby said...

I came across this blog after reading the blog "The top 100 reasons not to have children". While the latter was cynical and bitter (and shallow)...I was relieved to find your blog. I have been married for three years and hope to have a family someday soon. About a year ago my husband flipped and said he no longer wanted children, so I have been trying to convince myself that I don't want children either, but all I find are more reasons to have a family.

Thank you for your blog.

Abby

Karen E. said...

Thank you, Abby. I wish you peace and everything good, and pray that you and your husband can be united in your wishes for a family ....

Alice said...

Karen,
I want to thank you for your beautiful post. It's always hard to receive extremely negative comments, and I have been impressed by your graciousness.
People who are bitter and will not let themselves be changed by another perspective cannot be harmed by a post like this; but it is for the sake of those like "Sunfire" that it is worth all the criticism. Thank you for your joyful acceptance of childbearing and giving me something positive to read after Dr Maier's poison. I pray that she will have a change of heart.

Blessings and peace on you,
Alice

Karen E. said...

Alice, thank you for your very kind comment.

(And, I'm surprised to see that I don't have a response up to Sunfire -- I thought I had answered her. Not sure what happened there.)

Thanks for taking the time to leave a note!

Anonymous said...

Oh, gosh, I tell you that it is absolutely disturbing to see the level of hatred people will aim at a list. A list of cutesy adorable reasons to have a child, a list born out of complete spontaneity!

I do wish the "I HATE CHILDREN DON'T YOU JUDGE ME I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU WROTE THIS LIST I WILL BITE YOU FOR WRITING THIS LIST THAT DISAGREES WITH MY VIEW" could see how ridiculous they look. It's perfectly fine to not want kids if you're scared of labor, or if you're worried about being a bad parent, or if you don't want them to "suffer" the injustices of the world. It's another matter entirely to blow up at such a beautiful and innocent list - all because this list disagrees with them.

Anyhow, lovely list - so glad that there are people like you who realize that life is not handed to one on a silver platter. Raising kids may be tough, but what isn't in this life? I've been so depressed seeing articles calling parents "delusional" (http://healthland.time.com/2011/03/04/why-having-kids-is-foolish/?xid=yahoo-feat), and the bitter comments that follow - I'm a young teen and it just makes me feel worthless sometimes, even though I know better. But people like you remind me that I am worth something, that I'm not a burden and inconvenience to my parents or anyone else (for the most part, anyway XD) Thank you.

Rom. 8:28: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."

Randy said...

I am the Executive Director of Loreto House and in our mission we work with women dealing with unplanned pregnancy. I enjoyed your post and would like to share my short video which takes some of your ideas in a whimsical look at the Top reasons for having children. I hope you enjoy it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4ns0WBwBkU
God Bless,

Randy

Karen E. said...

Thank you for letting me know, Randy -- very cute -- and may God bless your work!

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Very cute article. I love kids, but I have to say that I personally appreciated the "40 reasons not to have kids" book just because, quite honestly, almost nobody ever talks about the difficulties or disappointments of having children.
In our society, if you're a mom or dad and express ANY kind of regret over the impact that having children had on your life, you get looked at like you're some kind of unfit, horrific-Freddie Krueger like monster, but I know that it can't be all smiles, rainbows and angel-twinkle toes for everyone, everyday, all day long, can it?

I think it's natural to have some days when you might miss some of your old freedoms (like being able to sleep, or take a nice-loooooong hot shower, go out with your partner whenever you want for as long as you want, etc.) I mean, unless you can totally dissociate yourself from your own needs and wants and become some kind of super "parental robot" or something and make your only function in life to please your child? (I'm not able to do this! I may be unfit? There are some days when I just get so tired!)
Kids are wonderful, but they can be a handful, can be disappointing and are a sacrifice.
I don't mean to be a downer, but our prisons are full of people who were somebody's little baby at one point, you know? You are raising a little human being and that human being will probably make mistakes sometimes and be, well, a human being. They'll probably have good days and bad, and make good choices and bad ones, just like their parents. Nobody is perfect.
So, while I'm not anti-child, I do appreciate people being able to say what has to be one of the most taboo things to say in our society-that having kids does make a change in your life and it isn't always sunshine and smiles and hearts and flowers. Parenthood is some really hard work and a sacrifice and I think any normal person with their own wants and needs might feel a little twinge of regret for everything they had to give up, every now and then.

Karen E. said...

Thanks for your comment. I agree that parenthood involves sacrifice. I wrote more about that in this post, where I talk about kids being both a gift and a sacrifice.

Viewing motherhood through the lens of my faith has made it all make much more sense to me -- yes, it is a sacrifice to give oneself up to another, but in the end, it's usually a sacrifice worth making. At least, it has been in my case. But I also agree with you that it's normal and natural to long for some of the things that "went away" with parenthood. That's why spouses, friends, family are there ... to help us find time for a long shower, some quiet time, and a NAP! :) We do have to take care of ourselves and recharge our batteries in order to keep giving.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the gentle response! (It's me again.) Yes, I think I'd have to say that the 40 reasons book didn't offend me because it is 40 good reasons not to have kids for people who may not be "parent material." I think the book served a purpose and had never seen anything like it before, and found a little comfort that someone else was finally saying things that no other mother would ever have the nerve to say out loud.
I never had anyone tell me anything other than good things about having kids, and it left me and my partner feeling a little "duped" sometimes. For instance, nobody ever told me about colossal diaper failures and the fact that you become a proficient "wiper" of orifices and the lack of sleep and drastic changes in your body (I had a traumatic delivery and ended up with fistula), breastfeeding hurts, the loss of social life and feeling of isolation and the impact on our love life and our careers and finances. All we were ever told (before we got pregnant) were good, glowing reports from all of our friends and family, and only heard "complaints" after we joined the club. It's all worth it, but we still felt a little unprepared for the reality, I guess?
So, it is kind of nice that there are books out there that can talk about the negatives of having kids. I don't think the author ever said that she doesn't love her kids in the book, but rather I got the message from the book that her life has been impacted and she warns that if you're not prepared to give stuff up, maybe parenthood isn't for you?
I have also been left feeling impacted by the loss of my personal freedom, sometimes.
So, I think her book was full of good reasons not to have kids for people who may not be good parent material. If you read the book and still want kids after reading it, then you know you're going into parenthood with both eyes open, a realistic picture of how your life can change, and will be a good parent because you know what is in store and you don't care. You are prepared and want that baby anyway.
So, I just thought I'd add my two cents.
Great post! Thanks for answering and for the gentle replies to people. Take care!

Karen E. said...

I understand what you're saying.

"For instance, nobody ever told me about colossal diaper failures"

Lol! I can relate. I have a story about one of mine when she was six months old and we were in the grocery store. Ack! It was awful! :) Funny now, though.


"and the lack of sleep and drastic changes in your body"

The lack of sleep is a huge thing. And -- this is getting into a whole new area of discussion, but oh, well -- that's why I get frustrated with the world's message to women that we can have it all. It's very hard to have it all when you've had an hour and a half of sleep. :) So, rather than get the message that we can have a perfect baby, a perfect job, a perfect life, I'd love to see the world value the work of motherhood more, and see society contribute to that end (to be supportive of women being home with the kids, because it IS hard but hugely worthwhile work!)

"(I had a traumatic delivery and ended up with fistula),"

Oh, my gosh, you poor thing! I had a horrendously long and difficult first labor, but not the trauma you experienced. My sympathies!

"breastfeeding hurts,"

It does, at first, but it got better for me quickly. Did it for you?

" the loss of social life and feeling of isolation"

I have been involved in attending or leading "moms' groups" over the years, and this kind of support is, I think, vital. It has been to me, anyway. So many of us these days do not have the extended family relationships that used to make family life a different story.

"and the impact on our love life and our careers and finances."

This kind of gets back to the "having it all" myth, don't you think? ... I think it's unfair to us women (and to men) for us to act as if having a child is just another thing we do, like buying a car, buying a house, getting settled into a job ... Having children is indeed life-changing, but those new lives are so important. They're worth having us treat them as precious gifts.

My husband and I used to teach a baptism class at our parish, and one of the things we did was to talk about how enormous the changes are when a child comes along. We have to be honest about parenthood before we can honestly talk about helpful and healthy ways to cope with the changes.

You also might get a kick out of this article I wrote a few years ago about how it took me awhile to grasp the fact that "I'm the mom" ... and I also talk about how we're perpetually a "new mom" because every phase of life and motherhood brings something new.

Thanks again for your comments!

Anonymous said...

Dear Karen,

I'm 19 & my boyfriend of 2yrs is 25. We are both mad about kids! Having lots of young nephews and neices & i work in child care with babies all day long. I have been getting broody for a while but i'm finding it really hard lately & i actually set out 2 find reasons 'not' to have kuds because my bf won't try for a baby yet as he thinks we will struggle financially. We both have stable full time jobs but truthfully probably would struggle abit. That being said we hav fantastic families that would help out. After reading your post im even more desperate for a baby how do i convince my bf to start a family with me!
Please help me

Karen E. said...

Hi, Anonymous,

My best advice is to hold on to that love for children but wait to act on it until you two are married and you both know you're committed to your marriage and your children-to-be for the rest of your lives.

God bless!

Anonymous said...

I think your reasons are funny. I am 50 and do not regret not having children. When someone ask why I don't have children, I ask why do you? The reasons given are selfish to me. To leave a piece of myself behind, someone to love me, someone to take care of me when I am old. My parents want grandchildren but that is not my job. They think I am to care for them when they are old. They have never been very nice to me. I think they should not have had me.

I do hate working with mothers. They like to use their children against non-mothers. I have to be out more because of my kids. I can't be here in snow because I can't endanger my kids. I need off all of the holidays and summers to be with my kids. Why do you need off? Because I have a life and you are not special because you chose to give birth. It is a choice. If you don't like how it interferes with your life, don't have them. They are not my problem and if I want to be off at Christmas bite me!

Everyone has the right to chose to have kids. If you do, don't think you are special! You are not!

Anonymous said...

Oh man I could have posted that last comment. I am 55 with no children. All my life I have dealt with people calling me selfish for not wanting children and mothers at my jobs expecting me to cater to them because they popped one out. My boss even called me selfish because I called dibs on the week of Christmas to just stay home. I should let a mother stay home with her kids. They are her kids not mine. What? You have to have kids to enjoy Christmas????

I agree. You have kids. Great for you. Don't judge people who don't want the lifetime job and don't expect the childless to help you out. Birthing a baby does not make you special. Animals do it all the time. Children are like animals. They interfere with your activities and if that bothers you then don't have them. Expecting others to help you out is insulting.

Amanda said...

Children are wonderful, and how can any one say having kids is selfish? I understand that not every one wants or needs that in their life but to accuse us(moms) of being selfish is out of line. I always put my kids first, I make sure I do what ever I can to keep them safe, happy and healthy and I love watching and teaching them as much as I can. No where am I saying it's not hard or that I am perfect but my children make life worth living!

Karen E. said...

I agree, Amanda -- being a mom has demanded more of me than anything else in my life, so when I think of motherhood, selfishness isn't one of the things that comes to my mind.

Anonymous said...

I think what people are saying is that if done correctly, being a mother is not selfish. The reasons people say they become parents are usually selfish. A selfish person would put their own wants and needs ahead of a child they bring into the world. If you put your child's needs first, then you are a responsible and unselfish parent. After all, you did decide to bring this person here. They had no choice in the matter.

My question is not after the birth but before. Why did you choose to have kids? Is it for the reasons that the writer put above? Someone to love me, someone to care for me when I am old, someone to keep me from being lonely, or someone to carry on my name. Me, Me, and me are in the above reasons. What reason has nothing to do with your wants and needs?

I don't think anyone says you shouldn't have children. People just wonder why you chose to do so. They also don't want to be treated as though they are not as worthy because they chose not to give birth. They also want the same rights at a job that mothers get.

That is the opinion of a 35 year old woman who has never had the desire to be a mother. That doesn't make me less of a woman or selfish. That doesn't mean I should be treated different at my job because I can't use a kid to get my way.

Ramona Edmisten said...

"Someone to love me, someone to care for me when I am old, someone to keep me from being lonely, or someone to carry on my name."

Granted -- when I was childless by choice I also thought of such reasons as selfish. It did appear to be more about the adult than the child to me.

I also agree that no one should be treated badly, differently or unfairly in the workplace due to their status re. children, and certainly a childless person is not any less worthy than one with children.

I also tried to address some of those concerns in this comment.

Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

No offense to people with kids but I think misery loves company. I have friends with kids who constantly tell me what I am missing but when I talk about my activities they get mad and tell me how selfish I am. I think it would be selfish to have a child when I don't want one. I think they regret it but don't want to admit it.

Pets are the same way. My neighbor constantly says you will enjoy a pet so much but they never go anywhere because of their dog and cat. I tell them I don't want the expense or trouble of a pet and they call me selfish. Again, I think misery loves company.

I don't change my plans to babysit animals or children. I don't let mothers at work make me feel guilty because I won't cater to their lifestyle.

Am I selfish? Maybe! Or are they selfish for having children and pets and then resenting the fact that they can't come and go as they please.

Don't whine about your limited freedom when you made the choice to bring children or pets into your life.

45, happily married, love my life!! Don't need kids or animals to make it better. If you do, your choice. Good luck with it. Don't judge me. I won't judge you.

Anonymous said...

You posted that when you were childless the reasons seemed about the adult not the child.

If those were your reasons to give birth, how did those reasons go from being about the adult not the child after you became a mother?

Giving birth still makes the reasons about you?

Anonymous said...

I posted a comment yesterday asking why she thought the reasons were selfish before she had kids. If the reasons are selfish, how do they change after giving birth? The reasons remain the same??

I would appreciate a response. I am curious as to her way of thinking.

Thanks.

Ramona Edmisten said...

Are you addressing me or a commenter?

If you're addressing me:

When I said that in the past, as a childless-by-choice person, the reasons you listed (I'm assuming you're the same Anonymous ... it's hard to know sometimes) -- which were, ""Someone to love me, someone to care for me when I am old, someone to keep me from being lonely, or someone to carry on my name," -- seemed selfish to me, too, I meant that I understood what you were saying.

I didn't mean that those later became *my* reasons.

If you're asking why I chose to have children, I can't say that the "pro" list finally outweighed the "con" list -- more about that in this post. It's not that simple. I don't think love can be reduced to lists of reasons.

I also wrote a little more about that here.

It was a journey for me, not a single reason or list of reasons. I still don't care for reasons such as "Someone to take care of me when I'm old, someone to love me or carry on my name." Things like that were not my reasons.

My reasons were tied into my faith/conversion, and sometimes such changes are subtle and slow in coming, so it's hard to point to one, simple moment at which I said, "Ok. I'll have a baby." :)

Ramona Edmisten said...

Oops. I'm Karen, not Ramona. :)

girlfight said...

You are a wonderfully smart, thoughtful woman. Your grace in the face of an influx of negativity from people who didn't understand the intent of this post is inspiring :) And your reasons are spot-on!

Heather said...

I am 23 and pregnant with my first child. I came across this article because I was fearful about the future and literally Googled, "Reasons to have children." I needed a little encouragement, because whether I feel up to the task or not, I believe God has given me this little child as a gift, and I'm choosing to move forward in spite of my fears and welcome him or her with joy. Thank you very much for your encouraging post, along with your steadfast peace and warmth throughout these discussions. God bless you abundantly, and all who have come here to read.

Anonymous said...

From reading this I get the feeling of religion wrapped into this article, which bothers me.

I've never wanted kids. I don't see any positives in reproducing only pain & suffering. Now I do have a child on the way & I'm having an extremely difficult time accepting that. No matter how much I try to spin it in my head, I have NO interest in children & never have. I do not wish them harm or anything of that nature, I'm just not interested. It's hard to create interest in something you never had interest in.

People state you get to relive your live through your kids ect.. I'm not interested in reliving anything I've already done. That's why it's 'Done'. So the idea of reliving some portions of life through a child are not appealing to me at all. As a matter of fact, that sounds horrible quite frankly.

I'm reminded of marriage also, which I don't believe in. I don't believe in ANY form of religion nor socialist created ideas like marriage. That doesn't mean I'm coming from a place of disloyalty or cheating, ect... I'm very loyal & committed but I do not believe in people created crap like marriage. My view is, it's a contract of recourse should something not work out. To me, thats just a business contract.

We've now moved into together & the baby is due soon. I'm unhappy & don't know what to do. I love my significant other more than anything but not enough to father a kid or more.

Reading your 40 reasons doesn't change anything for me. At his point, I'm just hoping for a heart attack sometime soon.

Karen Edmisten said...

Girlfight, thanks. :)

Heather, you said, "I believe God has given me this little child as a gift, and I'm choosing to move forward in spite of my fears and welcome him or her with joy." Hang on to that beautiful truth, and may God bless you abundantly, too. Thanks.

Anon, I'm so sorry. I hope that things will change for you. I can't promise that you'll instantly feel different once you hold your child -- certainly not everyone does. But you wouldn't be the first person to be stunned byb feelings you didn't know were there. If you truly love your significant other that much, you might be among those who find a new dimension to love after having a child.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, reading this confirmed what deep down I already knew. Not only do I want to be a mom, but I'm ready to start trying now.

Anonymous said...

I think most of the childfree people posting here have just about captured my response but I just want to ask one question: Can you please stop talking about the childfree mentality, which you claim you had for many years, as an abstract state and casting doubt on other people's assertions? It is incredibly patronizing to tell people that they will change their minds. Google 'regret having children' and you will find many who wish they'd changed their minds and not had children: nobody tells them they will change their minds when they announce they are pregnant, as that would be cruel. Childfree people are people who will never, ever have children. People who change their minds were childless: clearly, something was missing. At 57, I can confidently declare that I am childfree. You do not know both sides of the coin: your 'childfree' life was completely different from the childfree lives of others. It is not an abstract state. Childfree people are as various as mothers: maybe you didn't do many of the things that many childfree people do? Perhaps you didn't feel as intoxicated as childfree people do by freedom? Perhaps you just didn't appreciate your 'childfree' life as much as we do? Would you have gone on to do all kinds of selfless, wonderful things had you not had children? You'll never know.

Karen Edmisten said...

Thanks for your comment. I've tried to keep this discussion subjective -- that is, to be clear that it's about *my own experience,* not about a universal "should" for everyone. Clearly, I did not succeed at that in your eyes, although perhaps it's equally patronizing for you to assume that I was not steadfastly childfree? :) That is the very phrase I used to use (as opposed to childless.) Sharing the fact that I experienced a change is not ipso facto a declaration that everyone else will one day change, too.

Several commenters along the way have expressed ambiguous feelings -- in many of those cases, I did wish those commenters peace and resolution, but that's not equivalent to wishing them a pregnancy. :)

You said: "Would you have gone on to do all kinds of selfless, wonderful things had you not had children? You'll never know."

You're right -- we'll never know what I would have been had I not had children. I do know that being a mom has forced some selflessness on me that I didn't necessarily want or anticipate ... it's not the kind of selfless stuff that the world cheers one for, but it is the stuff that has made a difference to three people in the world. I hope my daughters will be able to look back and call me selfless, but who knows?

Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

Childfree might be the 'very phrase that you used to use' but that doesn't mean that you used it correctly: childfree means knowing that you will never, ever have children. You might have walked around saying that you were childfree but if you changed you mind, you weren't: childfree is a very specific state of mind which means absolute certainty that you will never have children. You said that you thought about getting sterilized but you didn't: so there must have been some ambivalence to stop you. It's very important that we get the terminology right. It might just stop those, 'Oh I used to feel exactly like you' comments that mothers love to direct towards the childfree.

Karen Edmisten said...

"but that doesn't mean that you used it correctly:"

Given your terminology, I was incorrect. But I meant it at the time. :)


"You said that you thought about getting sterilized but you didn't: so there must have been some ambivalence to stop you."

No, I said I specifically asked a doctor to do it, but it was 1980 and there were *doctors* to stop me, not my own ambivalence. They said no. :) No one that I knew even used the phrase childfree back then, though I did at that time. And again, I realize you think I used it incorrectly ... I can only reiterate that I fully meant it. But, I am a human being with free will, and I believe we are all free to fully believe and embrace something but we are also free to later change our minds.

I also realize that you never changed your mind and never will, and that's fine, too. I'm just saying it's possible, and that possibility became my reality.

"It's very important that we get the terminology right. It might just stop those, 'Oh I used to feel exactly like you' comments that mothers love to direct towards the childfree."

I know -- I used to hate that. And I don't say that facetiously or patronizingly. I mean, I *really* used to hate that. (I'm *not* saying that someday you'll also be saying, "Oh, yeah, I used to hate that." I get what your saying.) And I understand the condescending tone you're talking about. I heard it a *lot.* It presumes that *everyone* will change her mind and then join the club, and then we'll all be in on this little secret together, right?

I'm just saying that because someone was once childfree by choice, but then changed her mind, that doesn't negate the authenticity of her first choice. Or the later choice.

As far as the terminology, I agree with you that "child free" denotes a clear choice not to have children, a rejection of having children, whereas "childless" means "without children," but isn't necessarily by choice. I just don't agree with your premise that a person in the deliberately childfree camp might not change her mind someday. It doesn't logically follow that a change of mind negates a previous position. But again, I do know exactly the condescending, patronizing tone you're referring to.

Anonymous said...

Karen,

I ran across your blog while researching, for personal reasons, the pros and cons of having children. I am fairly certain I do not want children, but as I reach my late 30s, I want to make sure I am certain of my decision. Hence, my recent research on the subject.

I feel your list does not provide reasons to have children. I feel the arguments you provide fall into the following categories:
* Reasons to accept/love/enjoy the children you already have or the pregnancy you have already started (e.g., #4, 5, 14, and 30)
* Arguments that psychologists, sociologists, and other scientists have repeatedly debunked (e.g., #6, 7, 13, 21, and 33)
* Tips and advice for making childrearing less onerous and expensive (e.g., #3 and 12)

As someone who has been mulling this choice for many years, with input from my husband, I must say I also feel slighted by some of your arguments, such as number 16 or 21. One of the reasons I have not had children is because I wanted to make sure I had the time and disposable income to care for my mother; I hardly think that makes me selfish. My husband, who also does not desire children, was very caring and helpful after I had a major medical procedure last year. Again, I think the selfish or immature label does not apply to him.

I encourage you to come up with other reasons to justify children, as well as less polarizing ones. I know that I would find much joy in the laugh of my child or in hearing “I love you, mom.” But, (for me) emotional appeals do not overrule the enormous sacrifices and costs of having children. As someone who is trying to find reasons to have children (but does not want to broach the subject with friends or family), I would like to find thought-provoking, rational reasons that justify childbearing, labor, and child rearing.

Karen Edmisten said...

Oh, so much to respond to here, and so little time to respond today!

I do want to get back to this comment this weekend ....

In the meantime, all the things you mentioned are probably covered in the comments section here, and in the updated links at the top of the post ....

Anonymous said...

I came here from Google trying to really find reasons to have children. Nothing you wrote here helped me. Nothing. This isn't about "me first" this about the cold hard fact of there are millions of children in this world without anything and choosing to turn your back on them and create one for your own gratification is contrary to logic. "How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers." -- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta...how about stop creating new ones until the ones that are already on this earth have a food in their bellies and love in their lives? "Motherhood is better than analysis" I will wager a few nights in ICU with your husband on a ventilator and being told he was only a couple hours away from complete organ failure so they did emergency surgery kicks a little motherhood butt in terms or taking stock of your life. "What's worth more than a soul" nothing...so adopt. Your entry was a list of really pathetic reasons to create a child. I have no idea how caring anyone can be to decide the children that already exists are not good enough for them and that one made from them selves is worth more. That is what sounds selfish to me.

Joseph said...

that list is bull**** !

Anonymous said...

This list is total crap! from the mind of a woman.

Anonymous said...

I am a 40 year old woman who leads a very blessed life. My husband and I have been together for 20 years and are more in love now than when we first met. We are crazy happy and try to live good, generous lives. We decided not to have children. The way we see it, we just never had the CALLING. Some people have a calling to be a firefighter, a soldier, a nurse, a police officer, or even a nun. Those people don't judge the rest of us because we did not share THEIR calling, do they? Those of us who are childless on purpose get very tired of those with children looking down upon us. That is why you find some people lash out and say ugly things. The holier-than-thou attitude comes across like scratchy nails on the chalkboard. We respect your decision and right to have kids; all we want is to be respected back, not looked upon with a condescending or patronizing attitude. BTW, I was given a dolly when I turned 3 years old. I cried. (Now the stuffed animals I had - I loved those!) :)

Karen Edmisten said...

Thanks for your comment -- blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

I think most of these are great reasons not to have a baby. This is a terrifying list to anyone even close to sitting on the fence.

Karen Edmisten said...

Fortunately, Anonymous, as I've mentioned numerous times in follow-up posts and in the comments, this post wasn't written to either convince or deter anyone.
:)
Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I call BS on a lot of this crap. The decision not to have children does not = selfishness at all: that misguided viewpoint assumes that the good, natural, and right thing to do is to have children in the first place. I have more time to develop myself & my talents because I'm choosing not to have kids. I have met more people on this planet who lack any purpose in life, so they make up for it by having babies but ultimately stay vapid or unfulfilled as they don't develop themselves or realize their own potential

Anonymous said...

I can tell you've put a little bit of effort into this, yet I can't help but disagree with... all your reasons.

Terribly sorry.

Karen Edmisten said...

Actually, if you'll read the additional notes and my comments, you'll see that I *didn't* originally put any real effort into it. :)

Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

I've been doing some shoddy research to determine why all of the unhappy mothers around me continue to manufacture new babies and why people my age are well past their first, second, and third kids. I don't envy any mothers, and I wanted to hear the other side in the spirit of fairness.

This list is like all of the others I've seen; at best, as helpful as nonsense from a fortune cookie. At worst, offensive for declaring authority on what is natural or purposeful in life. If becoming a mother drains women of intelligence and replaces the remaining cavities with sentimental goo, I'll have none of it.

Thanks for fortifying my certainty. Despite my critical tone, I mean this with the most sincere gratitude.

Anonymous said...

I think the list of 40 reasons to have kids is very naive, children won't patch up a marriage. Its not a glamous job, to be a mother as a vocation means you have no ambition. There is a religious undertone

jennyeileen said...

I understand what you were trying to do Karen. The problem is many people my age trying to tip the feather on the decision to procreate or not are finding this site in the upper ten google search. Your reasons aren't what I was looking for. Most of your positives do not make me want children. I like children the same as I don't like them. I'm currently neutral but as I get older I feel I may be missing out on something by not having one. I was hoping for some mystical mother hood advice, but received the generic cash register paperback version. I will say the only reason that struck a chord was watching them grow with many of my husbands and my values. I like Bill's reasons much better. He doesn't sound young at all. He sounds educated. I'm sorry you think that everyone who comments is being negative. I came looking for sage advice for choosing to have or start having children and I'm getting my positive reasons from commenters not liking yours. I guess to each his/her own.

Karen Edmisten said...

Hi, Jenny,
You're right that the problem is that this post pops up in the upper 10 Google results. It was never meant to be a serious or in-depth exploration. Thus the cheap paperback feel for someone like you who's seriously looking for ideas, answers, discussion, feedback....

I did start to explore the issue a little more, including the idea that children are both gift and sacrifice, in these posts:
Thinking About Having Children and
Thinking About Having Children, Part 2.


But, as usual, I got sidetracked (by kids and writing books) and haven't furthered the discussion.

Anyway, I do hope to write more about it. It's a huge issue, and omnipresent, and, there's that little problem of Google ....

Re. Bill sounding young to me ... I'm 53 years old, so nearly everyone sounds young to me. :) A couple of things that struck me particularly (as youngish about him) were that he's not yet married, and so his reasons are projection/prediction about a possible future relationship, and his second comment. With 53 years under my belt, I can't imagine making a life decision based on the discomfort and pain of a nine-month period, which feels like a blip to me.

I'm sorry I came across as sounding like everyone who comments is negative. I don't think they're all negative -- many commenters are sincere seekers, and I hope my return comments reflect my openness to this discussion. Some of the comments are objectively negative, but that's fine, and some are objectively positive, some are just trying to talk, vent, etc.

Anyway, the thing I want to explore in future posts is the idea you brought up:

"I'm currently neutral but as I get older I feel I may be missing out on something by not having one."

This is where it gets tricky. Now that I have children (and have had them for 20 years) I can look back and say not only do I not regret having them, but that these people have enriched my life immeasurably. But, what if I hadn't had them? There would be no way I could objectively assess which way was better. But, the same thing would be true if I had never had children. If I was looking back on a life without children, and felt no regret, I still couldn't objectively know which life was the better life.

Okay, enough rambling. Need to write another post. :)

Thanks for commenting! You've got me thinking about updates.

Anonymous said...

My favorite item is how it brings you freedom. The truth couldn't be further from the truth. Children make you more of a slave to money and work as you need to support them. Freedom comes from being financially independent. The only truly free people in the world don't have to work. That's my goal, kids aren't part of it. Most of the rest of the list is just sentimental nonsense. To each their own though. It's just not for me.

Khalid Kamal said...

I arrived at this site in the usual manner. I see no seniors meandering about this site, so I am going to join in. There are no good reasons for having or not having kids. Having children is in the realm of instinct and emotion. It is something you feel. If you feel it, you should and if you don't you shouldn't. Of course there are many undesirable reasons for having kids just avoid those. Yes at age 25 I also thought kids were an unnecessary consequence of sex, now that I am a senior I think otherwise. Another lesson learned. Great diversion this has been.