Although I almost never ask, I am usually curious about why people choose to have children. I don’t know how many people would have a good answer for that question (maybe a lot of people have reasons – I don’t know). To some extent it’s the next step after getting married, and most people have always imagined themselves having kids when they are adults. I’m guilty of the same thing, of course – sometimes I’ve made big decisions without considering all the possible alternatives, just out of inertia (e.g., I didn’t really consider if actually getting married was the best way to stay in a relationship – I was in love with someone, he asked me to marry him, and I said yes).
Here are some reasons I’ve heard for people having kids, either from people I know or from the interwebs:
– to have someone to take care of me when I get old
– to carry on the family name
– it’s the only way to make a difference in this world
– to stay young
– to have someone to play role-playing games with
– to watch a child develop over time (yes, this person was a scientist)
– because being a mother is the most important thing you will EVER do with your life
– for the good of our country and society at large (I’ve never actually heard someone say this when they’re planning to have kids, but I’ve definitely heard it afterwards in other contexts)
Obviously, I can’t pass judgment on other people’s lives. I don’t have kids myself and I don’t plan to, so I probably don’t understand the deep need that some people feel to reproduce. (We can talk about this more in a future post, but this is something that is unrelated to my career – I’ve known I didn’t want kids since I was in junior high, back when my career goal was to be a writer.) However, I do find it fascinating that people will admit that they are having kids, even if they aren’t sure that they really want them, just in case they want them later. I guess I understand the fear of missing out due to biological cut-offs, but do these people consider the cost/benefit analysis here? As in, what if you have a kid and you never really like being a parent? Don’t tell me that doesn’t happen – we all know that it does.
There are a lot of things I will do “just in case”, even if I’m not completely sold on them at the time. These include things like:
– buying an extra six-pack of beer if my favorite brand is on sale
– snorkeling in a cenote in Mexico, even though I am afraid of both water and caves
– trying some crazy unknown raw fish in a sushi restaurant in Japan
– karaoke at a bar in New York City
There are also a lot of things that I will not do “just in case”. They include things like:
– getting a tattoo
– buying a house
– joining the military
– growing another person inside of me, being legally responsible for it for 18 years, and emotionally entangled with it until I die
All of these things are great things to do if you are really committed and excited about them (and ready for any consequences). I just don’t think they should fall into the “just in case” category.
So, I don’t know, maybe a lot of people have had kids “just in case” and have found that it was wonderful and they love it. Maybe it’s not such a good idea after all. Probably people won’t really want to say one way or the other. The only thing that’s certain is that the decision to have a child or not is a personal one and not something that anyone else should have a say in, even if they opine about it on their blogs.