Author Topic: reconsidering having a child  (Read 3738 times)

Case

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reconsidering having a child
« on: November 13, 2017, 05:02:10 AM »
I have generally been on the fence about whether or not to have children.  In the past my wife has been more strongly against it.  However, a few months ago she changed her mind and wants one (as long as I do to).  She is not a flippant person, she typically makes sound not-to-be-regretted decisions.  Therefore we have been planning to consider things for a few months and then make a firm choice.

I'm needing to reconsider how having a child will impact my/our future life, and I'd appreciate any general comments people have.  I could even use help thinking of what questions to ask myself.  I'm quite naive in regards to the realities of raising a child.  I'm trying to understand how child-raising will impact the things I wanted to do in retirement (FIRE is ~5 years away).  I originally was like many people on this forum: wanting to retire from a conventional job so that I could go on more fulfilling adventures in retirement, travel internationally, pursue all of these things that I find hard to focus on when my life revolves around a conventional corporate job.  Does a child compromise all of that?

There are some things that I think would not be very much affected, such as learning new hobbies (playing musical instrument, learning a martial art, etc...).  Other things like travel (especially international) and backpacking seem like they would be significantly affected... to some degree could only be enabled by sending the child to grandma's/grandpa's for on occasion.  Certainly our independence is impacted, right?  I guess when the child becomes old enough, they can join in on the trips?
Certainly raising a child will be a new fulfilling activity in its own regards... these are just all very new thoughts to me.

nobody123

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2017, 08:09:39 AM »
Please don't have a child if you don't want one.  Your life COMPLETELY CHANGES in ways you can't possibly fathom.  If you're actually worried about how a child will affect your ability to backpack or learn to play the piano, you're not in the right state of mind.  What happens if the child is born with a chronic medical condition and your life now revolves around the care of that child, and ensuring that care can continue after you and your wife have passed away?

I would spend time trying to figure out why your wife has had a change of heart and now wants a child.


jezebel

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2017, 08:31:58 AM »
You can definitely travel with a child, internationally or otherwise.  I know many people that travel internationally with a baby or young child(ren).  I probably wouldn't backpack with a toddler but, again, I know people who do it.  We were much more mobile with one easy going child then we are with two but we still travel regularly.

rubybeth

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2017, 08:46:12 AM »
When you say that you've been "on the fence," I think you need to articulate for yourself (not necessarily here) why you were on the fence. Maybe journaling or talking to a trusted friend who can be neutral but also ask you probing questions could help. Or a therapist, honestly--maybe for both of you, to facilitate this conversation. It's a huge shift to make, and can greatly affect your marriage, depending on what you each decide and how that decision is made.

For me, I've been pretty set on being childfree, my husband is more of a fence sitter, but we've always said if there was a birth control failure, we'd be okay with that. Everyone tells us what great parents we'd be, though I think some of that is just cultural and a thing that people say in our area (midwest) since having kids is the norm.

A child will definitely totally change your life, but if you're a pretty relaxed person and can go with the flow and enjoy it, I think having a kid can be a great adventure--they will surprise, delight, frustrate, engage, etc. as they grow up, and take a huge amount of time and energy, but you get the joy of their presence as long as both you and they exist on this planet (assuming you don't irreparably damage your relationship with them somehow!). How is your relationship with your own parents? How was your childhood? If both of those are good and positive, you likely have a good chance of repeating that success. Even if the answers to those are bad and bad, you can be aware of that and try not to repeat those mistakes. You need to be aware of your own shortcomings because they WILL be tested by being in charge of another human being's care and wellbeing for a number of years (and, as another poster pointed out, that number of years could be the child's whole life if there are medical issues). You also never stop being a parent, even if your kid grows up successfully--you'll likely always want to know they are doing well, want to support them in tough times, etc.

I'd also suggest spending time with kids--either relatives or friends' kids, maybe for an evening of babysitting so you and your wife can get a taste for kids at various ages. Everyone says you feel different about your own kids vs. other people's, but it's a good test of your abilities to at least try changing diapers, run after toddlers, engage with preschoolers, and hang out with school aged kids or teens.
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MsSindy

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2017, 09:32:19 AM »
These are one of those moments that if you're not saying, "fuck yeah!".... then it's no.

I think it's an interesting tell that all your concerns are about what happens to YOU and YOUR lifestyle.  In full transparency, we decided to not have children for the very reasons that you point out.  We knew ourselves enough to know that we weren't willing to give up certain things/lifestyle/stress-less to have children - they're a huge commitment....and you can't give them back  :)

I fully enjoy being around children (most times), but I think it's a whole different ball game when you are fully responsible for them.  In fairness to the children, you need to be 100% all-in -- this is not something you do half-ass.

Nick_Miller

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2017, 09:38:28 AM »
Kids change EVERYTHING.

To the extent that, if you end up having kids, you will look back and think, "Damn, what the hell did we do with all the free time we used to have?"  Your independence is GONE. Yes, you can still do fun things, but you have to consider tons of factors you didn't have to consider before.

Having to think about the welfare of a totally dependent child (or children!) is mentally exhausting, but it becomes the new reality and you get accustomed to it.

My kiddos are smart, funny, and pretty well behaved, so I feel like I sorta hit the lottery when I look at parents with wild children, but still I do thought experiments all the time about how much "me" time I would have had with no kids. Or just how much less stress I'd have. I can't imagine laying on the beach with my wife and not having to worry about anyone else right that minute.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 09:40:37 AM by Nick_Miller »

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2017, 09:46:49 AM »
Having kids is exhausting.  Some days I hate parenting; some days are just ....perfect.   

If you don't have kids and don't spend a ton of time with them, then it's normal to be wondering mostly about how they would affect YOUR life.  You don't know anything else to think about.

The first 12 months were hardest for me - I had trouble managing the infant, the house, my job, and my marriage.   My husband got the short end of the stick, and he needed a lot of my attention to feel loved.  Our marriage made it through the first kid, but not infancy of the second.  If I had it to do all over again .... I'd still have both of my kids, because they are awesome little people who drive me crazy and force me to confront my own issues (hard to be a control freak when raising an incredibly strong-willed child) and I don't want to imagine life without them. 

Most small kids are infinitely portable.  I hiked around the Canadian Rockies with a 6-month-old strapped to my front (and passed a woman hiking with an 8-week old in a sling).   (We did sleep at a hotel at night rather than go backcountry.  I don't camp.)  I hiked the Ozarks with a 3-year-year-old in a backpack.  After that, she was too heavy for me to carry, and her little legs got tired after 2 miles, so we left her with grandparents when we wanted to hike, until she got bigger.

Toddler years were hardest FOR ME, because they need SO MUCH and can be SO STUBBORN.  I felt like I had very limited free time, and most of my hobbies went on hold.  Now that they are all in school, we have time to ourselves again!  Not a lot, but more than we did.

I finally figured out that the key to parenting (at least my brood) is to be flexible and look for the joy in everything, even the setbacks.  (Except 6-hour karate tournaments; I'm still working on finding the joy in that.)  Plus we taught them to enjoy the same things that we enjoy, so we can all do those things together.  We spend a lot of time outdoors, a lot of time with books and video games, and the youngest is even fascinated with his stepdad's woodworking projects.
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Acastus

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2017, 09:54:33 AM »
Having a child changes your life in a similar way to getting married. You go to the store, hand in your old life, and get a completely new life in return. Your new life will have both wonders to behold and struggles to overcome. You will hardly see some of your old friends. You will become closer to some new ones. It is not necessarily better or worse.

If you decide you want kids, have them by age 35 if you can. The early stages of parenting are physically tiring. After a few years, it becomes more of a mental, psychological exercise. I waited until almost age 40, and those early years are a blur.

Cranky

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2017, 11:45:34 AM »
Kids change everything, including *you* and your priorities. What I wanted before I had kids and afterwards really were not the same.

If you want to have a kid, you will still be able to travel and backpack if those things are important to you. Just be aware that your priorities may shift in ways you can't predict at this point.

But if you really don't want kids, you really shouldn't have them. Kids deserve to be longed for, IMO.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2017, 12:05:22 PM »
Iíd ask yourself: whatís motivating you to have kids? Do you or your wife feel like something is missing? Do you feel youíre not adult enough? Do you feel left out of the conversations with friends?

Kids are a commitment and too many people have kids who frankly shouldnít and that comes out at some point. Yes, lots of people make do, itís not easy. Itís ok to not want them.  If you do, your current plans will change, they have to. That doesnít mean it will get worse, just not the same.

My only strong recommendation is for you and your wife to go get tested, make sure everything is working, and freeze some eggs and sperm. That way, if you decide to FIRE and then change your mind and want kids, youíll have more options if youíre a bit olderóage matters for conceiving, not parenting.

Case

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2017, 05:37:59 PM »
Please don't have a child if you don't want one.  Your life COMPLETELY CHANGES in ways you can't possibly fathom.  If you're actually worried about how a child will affect your ability to backpack or learn to play the piano, you're not in the right state of mind.  What happens if the child is born with a chronic medical condition and your life now revolves around the care of that child, and ensuring that care can continue after you and your wife have passed away?

I would spend time trying to figure out why your wife has had a change of heart and now wants a child.

A child having a condition like that seems like it is something that just ruins your life.  It's one of my chief concerns.  We did have genetic testing done to make sure we weren't carriers of certain genes.  But of course that isn't a guarantee.

Case

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2017, 05:45:39 PM »
Iíd ask yourself: whatís motivating you to have kids? Do you or your wife feel like something is missing? Do you feel youíre not adult enough? Do you feel left out of the conversations with friends?

Kids are a commitment and too many people have kids who frankly shouldnít and that comes out at some point. Yes, lots of people make do, itís not easy. Itís ok to not want them.  If you do, your current plans will change, they have to. That doesnít mean it will get worse, just not the same.

My only strong recommendation is for you and your wife to go get tested, make sure everything is working, and freeze some eggs and sperm. That way, if you decide to FIRE and then change your mind and want kids, youíll have more options if youíre a bit olderóage matters for conceiving, not parenting.

The motivation is the possibility of a very fulfilling/satisfying experience of getting to know/shape/teach someone, etc...  I'm not really one of those persons who sees a baby and gets all giddy.  I don't really have a deep yearning to care for infant.  It's more about forming a long term bond and getting to teach all the life lessons as I see them, watching someone grow from zero, etc...  I don't feel that something is missing in my life, per se... I'm not trying to fill a void with a child.  I don't feel left out of conversations with my friends, even though a lot of my good friends have kids.  Rather, I'm more trying to fill a void with all of the stuff I want to do when I FIRE.  Because of the career path I chose, which involved going to grad school, and now living in a very boring midwestern town, there are lots of things I'd like to go do and places I'd like to see.  This is more the motivation not to have kids, though I wonder if there are hybrid scenarios where I can have the best of both worlds.

We are early/mid 30s now, so timing is becoming a factor.

GuitarStv

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2017, 06:01:40 PM »
I originally was like many people on this forum: wanting to retire from a conventional job so that I could go on more fulfilling adventures in retirement, travel internationally, pursue all of these things that I find hard to focus on when my life revolves around a conventional corporate job.  Does a child compromise all of that?

Absolutely, yes.  All that will be compromised.  Any plan that you have for yourself, and your current expectations and accustomed norms regarding free time will be completely compromised.

CanuckExpat

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #13 on: November 13, 2017, 06:05:17 PM »
I'm needing to reconsider how having a child will impact my/our future life, and I'd appreciate any general comments people have.  I could even use help thinking of what questions to ask myself.  I'm quite naive in regards to the realities of raising a child.  I'm trying to understand how child-raising will impact the things I wanted to do in retirement (FIRE is ~5 years away).  I originally was like many people on this forum: wanting to retire from a conventional job so that I could go on more fulfilling adventures in retirement, travel internationally, pursue all of these things that I find hard to focus on when my life revolves around a conventional corporate job.  Does a child compromise all of that?

There are some things that I think would not be very much affected, such as learning new hobbies (playing musical instrument, learning a martial art, etc...).  Other things like travel (especially international) and backpacking seem like they would be significantly affected... to some degree could only be enabled by sending the child to grandma's/grandpa's for on occasion.  Certainly our independence is impacted, right?  I guess when the child becomes old enough, they can join in on the trips?

I'm actually not sure how to answer your question without sounding flippant and bitter, but we also currently have a toddler.
I'd almost say you have it flipped. Nothing about having a kid stops you from travelling if you really want to, but in regards to the other stuff, kids seem to be ernormous time sinks (and energy, physically and mentally). So much more than I thought before. But I naively had no experience with kids, so perhaps I hadn't set my expectations low enough.

As for fulfilling? I'm still on the fence about that, but waiting to see if it changes
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ejacobson

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2017, 06:18:37 PM »
One way to view having children is they are a very intensive investment. You expend a lot of energy (and money) before you get the ROI. Certainly that point is different for everyone. If you don't absolutely adore infants, it will be several years until you can have a fulfilling conversation with them. Not to forget, you would need to recalculate your FIRE date. Another thing to check is whether your wife and your grandparents are indeed willing to put in the necessary effort you think they are willing to provide.

Juslookin

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #15 on: November 13, 2017, 06:27:31 PM »
For me the mental investment is much bigger than the financial investment. Don't get me wrong, the financial investment is big, but the responsibility of being in charge of another human being for years and years and years is challenging to say the least. There are great times and some very NOT great times.  We are in a not great time right now and I love my children, but the stress and anxiety is high. If I wasn't 200% on this journey I don't know if I could stick it out and cope. Saying it's a big commitment doesn't even scratch the surface sometimes.

« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 06:30:16 PM by Juslookin »

mustachepungoeshere

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2017, 06:57:57 PM »
PTF

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2017, 09:49:32 PM »
Iíd ask yourself: whatís motivating you to have kids? Do you or your wife feel like something is missing? Do you feel youíre not adult enough? Do you feel left out of the conversations with friends?

Kids are a commitment and too many people have kids who frankly shouldnít and that comes out at some point. Yes, lots of people make do, itís not easy. Itís ok to not want them.  If you do, your current plans will change, they have to. That doesnít mean it will get worse, just not the same.

My only strong recommendation is for you and your wife to go get tested, make sure everything is working, and freeze some eggs and sperm. That way, if you decide to FIRE and then change your mind and want kids, youíll have more options if youíre a bit olderóage matters for conceiving, not parenting.

The motivation is the possibility of a very fulfilling/satisfying experience of getting to know/shape/teach someone, etc...  I'm not really one of those persons who sees a baby and gets all giddy.  I don't really have a deep yearning to care for infant.  It's more about forming a long term bond and getting to teach all the life lessons as I see them, watching someone grow from zero, etc...  I don't feel that something is missing in my life, per se... I'm not trying to fill a void with a child.  I don't feel left out of conversations with my friends, even though a lot of my good friends have kids.  Rather, I'm more trying to fill a void with all of the stuff I want to do when I FIRE.  Because of the career path I chose, which involved going to grad school, and now living in a very boring midwestern town, there are lots of things I'd like to go do and places I'd like to see.  This is more the motivation not to have kids, though I wonder if there are hybrid scenarios where I can have the best of both worlds.

We are early/mid 30s now, so timing is becoming a factor.

There are so many other ways to pass on your teaching and wisdom without having kids. Volunteer for an organization like Big Brother/Sister, foster kids, coach a sport.  You could travel to places and work with disadvantaged kids. You can definitely have the best of both worlds without having a child. The one thing you donít want is to have a child and then feel resentful.

surfhb

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2017, 10:41:51 PM »
Please don't have a child if you don't want one.  Your life COMPLETELY CHANGES in ways you can't possibly fathom.  If you're actually worried about how a child will affect your ability to backpack or learn to play the piano, you're not in the right state of mind.  What happens if the child is born with a chronic medical condition and your life now revolves around the care of that child, and ensuring that care can continue after you and your wife have passed away?

I would spend time trying to figure out why your wife has had a change of heart and now wants a child.

A child having a condition like that seems like it is something that just ruins your life.  It's one of my chief concerns.  We did have genetic testing done to make sure we weren't carriers of certain genes.  But of course that isn't a guarantee.

Just my opinion, but I do you really want kids?    You sound like you are more concerned how it will affect your life.    My opinion doesn't mean jack since I have none, but I always assumed that the life you're used to comes a close second to the well being of the child?      Kids got a test on Monday?  No hiking this weekend....kid has to study!    Kid needs new clothes?    Oops....that martial arts class is out of the budget.   ect, ect.

Many of my surfing buddies flat out stopped surfing when the kids were born.   It take a commitment to get to the beach early for a surf and accomplish what needs to be done during the day.   Many grew fat and now ride longboards when the kids grew up. ;)

However, I doubt anyone of these men would trade it for anything else.   Parenthood must be a very rewarding experience I'm sure
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 11:03:19 PM by surfhb »

Lanthiriel

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2017, 10:50:02 PM »
As a childfree person, can I just say thank you for all the thoughtful replies. On other sites I click on threads like this because itís like a train wreck and I canít look away from all the people dismissing very valid concerns. Raising children is HARD, and itís nice to see the less than joyous parts recognized. I have a sneaking suspicion that those of you who have kids and are willing to recognize and share your challenges are excellent parents raising thoughtful kids. Better you than me :)

koshtra

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2017, 12:20:29 AM »
Having kids:

1) Totally derailed my life and all my plans for it, and

2) is the most worthwhile thing I ever did.

middo

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2017, 12:54:59 AM »
Having kids:

1) Totally derailed my life and all my plans for it, and

2) is the most worthwhile thing I ever did.

Quoted for the truth.

(Except I had three)

okits

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2017, 01:12:34 AM »
Oh man.  Don't have a kid if you aren't ready to give up almost all the selfishness in your life.  It's okay to want your life to be only about you and your spouse.  It's not okay to have a kid but not want to do the endless work of raising them and putting them first most of the time.

+1 to earlier commenters who suggested counselling to understand your wife's change of heart.  Also find out what each of you has as a mental picture of life with a child.  For the first decade, someone will always need to be watching the kid, and fantasies of grandparents happily providing regular free babysitting shouldn't figure heavily into your plan.  Ask yourself how you'll feel if you are both raising a child and taking care of infirm grandparents. 
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Linda_Norway

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2017, 01:59:53 AM »
It varies a lot what people still do when they have a child. Some very outdoorsy people go on hiking/camping trips with their infant a few weeks after birth. Others think hikes and camping should wait until the children are much older. So it is up to you. Those who start young will get children that are very used to the outdoor life. I personally think it is good to start when they are young, as I have seen some good examples. But there is a difference between a hard and long hike and just an overnight trip close to home.

International travel (long plane trips) is quite hard on a small child. I think you want to adapt all your plans to something that the child will enjoy.

You should take into account to be a parent for 18 years. Are you up to that? Your child will be more and more responsible when it gets older, but you cannot live your own live on your own terms during those years. You'll need to compromise to make it a family vacation. And you risk getting a child that needs extensive care for all it's life.

In matters of cost: in Norway they say a child will cost you approx 1 million norwegian crowns, about 110.000 USD.
In the US you might need more of you are going to finance your child's expensive education.

It is completely natural to suddenly start thinking about this when you are in your 30ies. If you don't do it now, you will be too late. Some people also hesitate for such a long time, that all of the sudden they are above 40 and it is too late. My DH and I thought about it very well during our 30ies and decided that even though children can be really nice, we valued or childfree life a bit more.

In matters of environmental impact, not having a child if the biggest measure a person in the western world can do for the environment.

Bee21

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2017, 02:28:37 AM »
Parenting is hard. Kids are cute but noisy, messy and annoying. Sometimes disgusting. Can also be extremely funny and entertaining. You never know who you get.

Your also react differently to your own kids. Ya know, other people have little monsters, but yours might be absolutely perfect.

We travel a lot with them, crazy camping trips, boat trips, 24 hr long haul flights... you name it. It can be done. It is more expensive to pay for 4 plane tickets, but we are saving on accomodation (hotels are out), fancy restaurants, bars....They restrict what you can visit and when, but once you accept the fact that travelling with kids has a different dynamics, you can have a great time.

It is ok not to like kids. It is also ok to choose not to have kids.

nobody123

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #25 on: November 14, 2017, 07:15:33 AM »
Please don't have a child if you don't want one.  Your life COMPLETELY CHANGES in ways you can't possibly fathom.  If you're actually worried about how a child will affect your ability to backpack or learn to play the piano, you're not in the right state of mind.  What happens if the child is born with a chronic medical condition and your life now revolves around the care of that child, and ensuring that care can continue after you and your wife have passed away?

I would spend time trying to figure out why your wife has had a change of heart and now wants a child.

A child having a condition like that seems like it is something that just ruins your life.  It's one of my chief concerns.  We did have genetic testing done to make sure we weren't carriers of certain genes.  But of course that isn't a guarantee.

You're missing the point.  Once you have kids, the life you used to have is GONE.  It can't be ruined because it no longer exists.  If you're not willing to accept that, don't have kids.

As other posters have said, your new life will be a series of small sacrifices that you will have to make for 18+ years.  Case Jr. has a cold and can't go to school, so who stays home with him/her and misses an important meeting at work?  Oh, you don't feel like cooking tonight so you'll just skip dinner?  Can't do that with a kid.  Want to use the bathroom with the door closed?  Good luck!  Want to take a vacation the last week of June?  Oops, can't, because Case Jr.'s baseball league is still playing and they'd miss 3 games.  Guess how it feels to turn down a promotion / raise / awesome career opportunity because you're in a great school district and don't want to disrupt Junior's education mid-year by moving.

I love my kids unconditionally but they are a total PITA.  I felt like I won the lottery the first Sunday I could sleep in because the older one could make the both of them breakfast.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2017, 08:10:42 AM »
I love my kids unconditionally but they are a total PITA.  I felt like I won the lottery the first Sunday I could sleep in because the older one could make the both of them breakfast.

YES!  We actually taught the youngest to make his own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when he was 3 because we were tired of hearing "MAMA, I's HUNGRY". 

As for kids with disabilities - that's a complete crapshoot.  My oldest was born 8 weeks early and had to be on a machine to monitor her breathing for 6 months.  She's now almost 12 and is bigger, stronger, and healthier than I am.  My youngest was born 5 weeks early with the cord wrapped around his neck and had no oxygen for 60 seconds; he had to be life-flighted to a better hospital (worst moment of my life, seeing the infant I'd just met take off in a helicopter without me).  He's now 8 years old and has inherited all my genetic health issues (defective eyes and ears) but is otherwise healthy as a horse and way too bright. 

In both cases, other kids born at the same hospital on the same day ended up with disabilities.  Why them and not my kids?  I don't know.  The pediatrician did threaten to send all preemies to our house, because apparently something we were doing worked to grow healthy infants.

My husband and I talked very candidly before becoming pregnant.  We discussed under what circumstances we might agree to terminate a pregnancy.  Because of that, we chose not to even test for Downs' Syndrome (which runs in my family), because it wouldn't change our choices.  It might change other people's.  You must be on the same page for that.
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purple monkey

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #27 on: November 14, 2017, 08:12:36 AM »
Having a child changes your life in a similar way to getting married. You go to the store, hand in your old life, and get a completely new life in return. Your new life will have both wonders to behold and struggles to overcome. You will hardly see some of your old friends. You will become closer to some new ones. It is not necessarily better or worse.

If you decide you want kids, have them by age 35 if you can. The early stages of parenting are physically tiring. After a few years, it becomes more of a mental, psychological exercise. I waited until almost age 40, and those early years are a blur.

+1

Carrie

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #28 on: November 14, 2017, 08:18:29 AM »
I haven't slept a full night in 11 years. But, I love them. It's so cool to watch our little people grow, learn, explore the world.  As with everything, there are tradeoffs, there are good days and bad days. I miss some things from the first 11 childless married years, but these past 11 yrs / 3 kids have been fun too.

Money wise the biggest expense so far was giving up 1 salary so we could do a SAHP and avoid daycare & extra stress of two full time working parents. It's worked out, though, with careful planning.

Case

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #29 on: November 14, 2017, 09:10:22 AM »
I have generally been on the fence about whether or not to have children.  In the past my wife has been more strongly against it.  However, a few months ago she changed her mind and wants one (as long as I do to).  She is not a flippant person, she typically makes sound not-to-be-regretted decisions.  Therefore we have been planning to consider things for a few months and then make a firm choice.

I'm needing to reconsider how having a child will impact my/our future life, and I'd appreciate any general comments people have.  I could even use help thinking of what questions to ask myself.  I'm quite naive in regards to the realities of raising a child.  I'm trying to understand how child-raising will impact the things I wanted to do in retirement (FIRE is ~5 years away).  I originally was like many people on this forum: wanting to retire from a conventional job so that I could go on more fulfilling adventures in retirement, travel internationally, pursue all of these things that I find hard to focus on when my life revolves around a conventional corporate job.  Does a child compromise all of that?

There are some things that I think would not be very much affected, such as learning new hobbies (playing musical instrument, learning a martial art, etc...).  Other things like travel (especially international) and backpacking seem like they would be significantly affected... to some degree could only be enabled by sending the child to grandma's/grandpa's for on occasion.  Certainly our independence is impacted, right?  I guess when the child becomes old enough, they can join in on the trips?
Certainly raising a child will be a new fulfilling activity in its own regards... these are just all very new thoughts to me.

Thanks all for the opinions.  I think another aspect I would be interested in is the impact of raising kids while retired-early vs not retired.  Any thoughts?

rubybeth

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #30 on: November 14, 2017, 10:53:43 AM »
I have generally been on the fence about whether or not to have children.  In the past my wife has been more strongly against it.  However, a few months ago she changed her mind and wants one (as long as I do to).  She is not a flippant person, she typically makes sound not-to-be-regretted decisions.  Therefore we have been planning to consider things for a few months and then make a firm choice.

I'm needing to reconsider how having a child will impact my/our future life, and I'd appreciate any general comments people have.  I could even use help thinking of what questions to ask myself.  I'm quite naive in regards to the realities of raising a child.  I'm trying to understand how child-raising will impact the things I wanted to do in retirement (FIRE is ~5 years away).  I originally was like many people on this forum: wanting to retire from a conventional job so that I could go on more fulfilling adventures in retirement, travel internationally, pursue all of these things that I find hard to focus on when my life revolves around a conventional corporate job.  Does a child compromise all of that?

There are some things that I think would not be very much affected, such as learning new hobbies (playing musical instrument, learning a martial art, etc...).  Other things like travel (especially international) and backpacking seem like they would be significantly affected... to some degree could only be enabled by sending the child to grandma's/grandpa's for on occasion.  Certainly our independence is impacted, right?  I guess when the child becomes old enough, they can join in on the trips?
Certainly raising a child will be a new fulfilling activity in its own regards... these are just all very new thoughts to me.

Thanks all for the opinions.  I think another aspect I would be interested in is the impact of raising kids while retired-early vs not retired.  Any thoughts?

For that, look to MMM himself--retired before having kids. For the other thing, look at everyone else (working, juggling childcare, one parent staying home while one works, etc.). It might work to do a hybrid--maybe your wife stops working once baby is born, and you work a little longer to reach FIRE, and then you both get to stay home.
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Linda_Norway

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #31 on: November 14, 2017, 10:57:48 AM »
I have the impression that having a child with two fulltime working parent, or one fulltime working single parent is very stressful. Getting a child after young retirement, or with the option of one or two parents working less than fulltime would be a much better solution.

Misstachian

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #32 on: November 14, 2017, 11:11:52 AM »
I have generally been on the fence about whether or not to have children.  In the past my wife has been more strongly against it.  However, a few months ago she changed her mind and wants one (as long as I do to).  She is not a flippant person, she typically makes sound not-to-be-regretted decisions.  Therefore we have been planning to consider things for a few months and then make a firm choice.

I'm needing to reconsider how having a child will impact my/our future life, and I'd appreciate any general comments people have.  I could even use help thinking of what questions to ask myself.  I'm quite naive in regards to the realities of raising a child.  I'm trying to understand how child-raising will impact the things I wanted to do in retirement (FIRE is ~5 years away).  I originally was like many people on this forum: wanting to retire from a conventional job so that I could go on more fulfilling adventures in retirement, travel internationally, pursue all of these things that I find hard to focus on when my life revolves around a conventional corporate job.  Does a child compromise all of that?

There are some things that I think would not be very much affected, such as learning new hobbies (playing musical instrument, learning a martial art, etc...).  Other things like travel (especially international) and backpacking seem like they would be significantly affected... to some degree could only be enabled by sending the child to grandma's/grandpa's for on occasion.  Certainly our independence is impacted, right?  I guess when the child becomes old enough, they can join in on the trips?
Certainly raising a child will be a new fulfilling activity in its own regards... these are just all very new thoughts to me.

Thanks all for the opinions.  I think another aspect I would be interested in is the impact of raising kids while retired-early vs not retired.  Any thoughts?

I wanted a baby more than anything else. (Fertility treatments, etc.) My SO felt the same. We were SURE.

Parenting is by far the hardest thing I have ever done.

It's also awesome! And YMMV depending on if your kid sleeps and eats without issues, which ours did not. But when nobody123 says your former life is gone, that's how it was for us, too. My SO had the hardest time with the little things - you can't just go read a book for an hour because you feel like it, or sleep in on a snow day. I had the hardest time with bigger things, like working in my dream job but having days I barely saw the baby. Everything is a spousal negotiation and for the first year literally everything was hard.

Pre-kids I thought that people on the fence should probably go for it. I don't anymore. Now I think it's better to really, really want it, so some part of you is still grateful & joyful the ninth month you haven't slept through the night, the twentieth time you're spit up on, the 7836th time you wash a bottle. Personally we felt like we needed kids to fully feel the human experience, and we're so, so glad we did, but I'm also a little bit glad we had to work so hard to get pregnant, because I'm glad I had to be so sure.

We aren't FIREd but I dropped to part-time this week because I needed more time with the baby. (Boring, dirty, repetitive, frustrating, joyful, exciting, amazing time!) Watching kids while ERed means no/fewer adult breaks unless you can schedule (and possibly pay for) them; some people are desperate to get back to work and some appreciate every minute of time. Hard to know which until you've figured out if and how you want to parent!

Lady SA

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #33 on: November 14, 2017, 11:50:35 AM »
I have generally been on the fence about whether or not to have children.  In the past my wife has been more strongly against it.  However, a few months ago she changed her mind and wants one (as long as I do to).  She is not a flippant person, she typically makes sound not-to-be-regretted decisions.  Therefore we have been planning to consider things for a few months and then make a firm choice.

I'm needing to reconsider how having a child will impact my/our future life, and I'd appreciate any general comments people have.  I could even use help thinking of what questions to ask myself.  I'm quite naive in regards to the realities of raising a child.  I'm trying to understand how child-raising will impact the things I wanted to do in retirement (FIRE is ~5 years away).  I originally was like many people on this forum: wanting to retire from a conventional job so that I could go on more fulfilling adventures in retirement, travel internationally, pursue all of these things that I find hard to focus on when my life revolves around a conventional corporate job.  Does a child compromise all of that?

There are some things that I think would not be very much affected, such as learning new hobbies (playing musical instrument, learning a martial art, etc...).  Other things like travel (especially international) and backpacking seem like they would be significantly affected... to some degree could only be enabled by sending the child to grandma's/grandpa's for on occasion.  Certainly our independence is impacted, right?  I guess when the child becomes old enough, they can join in on the trips?
Certainly raising a child will be a new fulfilling activity in its own regards... these are just all very new thoughts to me.

Thanks all for the opinions.  I think another aspect I would be interested in is the impact of raising kids while retired-early vs not retired.  Any thoughts?

Caveat: I don't have kids, but DH and I desperately want to start a family in the next few years. Here's our plan (financially).

At 30, we will have accumulated 60% of our FIRE number, which is plenty of FU money for us. We will then have our first child, and because of said FU money, I'll have the leverage to ask for a year sabbatical and then return on a part-time schedule. If my employer doesn't go for it, then I'll become a SAHM, while DH supports us on just his salary. After our second child, even DH will drop to part-time, which will bring in enough to cover living expenses but not much to actively save.

Over 10 years, our investments should grow to our FIRE number naturally even if we don't add in any extra savings. But as an extra buffer, when our children are older and in school, we both plan to ramp back up to more hours and pad our stash. I'll get a job at a garden center if I have to just for some adult interaction :)

So to answer your question, we will not be fully retired yet when we have children, but have a plan in place to have our investments grow naturally to our FIRE number over time while lessening the pressure to juggle work and family. Yes, it significantly pushes back our FIRE date (by approx 5-7 years), but it is worth it to us to first build enough FU money and then have a less stressful home life and more time with our children. We will always be able to make enough money to cover living expenses because we keep them so low and DH is in a high-paying field.

We came up with this plan because we very much want to have children, but a bit earlier than would be optimal for FIRE (my family has a history of infertility issues). So while we won't be retired while raising kids, our jobs will have few hours and more time to spend with our family, and in the end we will still hit our target FIRE number.
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Louisville

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #34 on: November 14, 2017, 12:21:09 PM »
Wow.
I'm just not understanding all these responses about "you old life will be over" and "don't do it if you're not 1000% crazy about the idea", etc.
Having a kid or two will change things, and yes it's difficult. But, god damn, it's not like doing 20 in prison or being confined to a wheelchair.
For every person you see walking around, someone had a kid. In most cases they lived through it.
You'll have challenges to overcome that you wouldn't have without kids, and rewards and regrets to reap, but you'll still be you.
Both of my kids were unplanned, childish mistakes. "I'm pregnant" was not good news. We had no money and few prospects. But we turned all that around. And with kids now in their mid-twenties and living good lives, I'm super glad I had them. A deeper love you cannot imagine.
So, ease up. Pump out some kids. Again, parenthood is not a prison sentence, a death sentence, or a one-way ticket to Mars. It's just parenthood. Goes on all over the place all the time.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #35 on: November 14, 2017, 12:24:06 PM »
From a non-financial perspective...

Honestly, I would have paid someone to let me go back to work when the kids were toddlers.  I was a SAHM for 9 months and I was miserable.  There are people who thrive when surrounded by small children.  Then there are those who want to run away screaming.  I am one of the latter; I love them best in small doses.  (The sad thing is that 3 years old is really my favorite age - they are AWESOME then, but still too much for 100% at home with mom.)

Once they started school (and were therefore gone for multiple hours per day), I wanted to be home with them.  My husband was a part-time SAHD for the last 3 years, and it worked out great for our family.  I hope to have the chance to work part-time in a few years to be home with them more.

My kids are more expensive than I thought; having them will likely adjust the amount you think you need for FIRE.
Boldly leading a blended family into (future) financial independence

GettingClose

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #36 on: November 14, 2017, 12:31:50 PM »
Another thought on this issue in general:  If you assign "points" to the amount of change a child brings to your life, the first one is 100.  In my experience, though, the second one is about 30, and subsequent ones about 20.

Literally everything changes - you reach heights of joy and love that are previously incomprehensible.  You also reach lows of frustration and despair that make you question your entire worth as a human being.  You grow and change along with the child (although in completely different areas), and I think if you make every effort to be a good parent you will be a better, richer person at the end.  It's very hard at times, though, no denying that.

Louisville

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #37 on: November 14, 2017, 12:38:08 PM »
Another thought on this issue in general:  If you assign "points" to the amount of change a child brings to your life, the first one is 100.  In my experience, though, the second one is about 30, and subsequent ones about 20.

Literally everything changes - you reach heights of joy and love that are previously incomprehensible.  You also reach lows of frustration and despair that make you question your entire worth as a human being.  You grow and change along with the child (although in completely different areas), and I think if you make every effort to be a good parent you will be a better, richer person at the end.  It's very hard at times, though, no denying that.
+100 to this post.
Except the sentence I've bolded. Really? Are sure that's not hyperbole? I'm hesitant to doubt someone else's experience, but damn, take it easy on yourself. I do have pretty regrets about some of what went on during my parenting phase, but nothing that intense.

GettingClose

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #38 on: November 14, 2017, 12:50:39 PM »
Quote
Really? Are sure that's not hyperbole?

Not hyperbole.  When you haven't slept more than a couple of hours for three nights, and the baby is colicky and still crying, and you have to go to work where people are counting on your contribution ... bad thoughts can go through your head, and you start to wonder what kind of person you are.   Of course it all goes away with a good night's sleep and the baby's smiles :-)

This is not even touching the late teen years.

I can see how some people might have a great partner and an easy baby, or just more self-confidence, and it might not be so bad.  I'm betting every parent has had some pretty low points, though.

wenchsenior

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #39 on: November 14, 2017, 01:26:42 PM »
Wow.
I'm just not understanding all these responses about "you old life will be over" and "don't do it if you're not 1000% crazy about the idea", etc.
Having a kid or two will change things, and yes it's difficult. But, god damn, it's not like doing 20 in prison or being confined to a wheelchair.
For every person you see walking around, someone had a kid. In most cases they lived through it.
You'll have challenges to overcome that you wouldn't have without kids, and rewards and regrets to reap, but you'll still be you.
Both of my kids were unplanned, childish mistakes. "I'm pregnant" was not good news. We had no money and few prospects. But we turned all that around. And with kids now in their mid-twenties and living good lives, I'm super glad I had them. A deeper love you cannot imagine.
So, ease up. Pump out some kids. Again, parenthood is not a prison sentence, a death sentence, or a one-way ticket to Mars. It's just parenthood. Goes on all over the place all the time.

Ugh.

Lanthiriel

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #40 on: November 14, 2017, 02:16:59 PM »
Wow.
I'm just not understanding all these responses about "you old life will be over" and "don't do it if you're not 1000% crazy about the idea", etc.
Having a kid or two will change things, and yes it's difficult. But, god damn, it's not like doing 20 in prison or being confined to a wheelchair.
For every person you see walking around, someone had a kid. In most cases they lived through it.
You'll have challenges to overcome that you wouldn't have without kids, and rewards and regrets to reap, but you'll still be you.
Both of my kids were unplanned, childish mistakes. "I'm pregnant" was not good news. We had no money and few prospects. But we turned all that around. And with kids now in their mid-twenties and living good lives, I'm super glad I had them. A deeper love you cannot imagine.
So, ease up. Pump out some kids. Again, parenthood is not a prison sentence, a death sentence, or a one-way ticket to Mars. It's just parenthood. Goes on all over the place all the time.

Ugh.

It was only a matter of time, really.

bw1985

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #41 on: November 14, 2017, 03:38:13 PM »
Please don't have a child if you don't want one.  Your life COMPLETELY CHANGES in ways you can't possibly fathom.  If you're actually worried about how a child will affect your ability to backpack or learn to play the piano, you're not in the right state of mind.  What happens if the child is born with a chronic medical condition and your life now revolves around the care of that child, and ensuring that care can continue after you and your wife have passed away?

I would spend time trying to figure out why your wife has had a change of heart and now wants a child.

A child having a condition like that seems like it is something that just ruins your life.  It's one of my chief concerns.  We did have genetic testing done to make sure we weren't carriers of certain genes.  But of course that isn't a guarantee.

We're the same age, struggling with the same question and this is also one of my chief concerns.  Where did you have the genetic testing done?  Was there a name for this?

gaja

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #42 on: November 14, 2017, 03:46:56 PM »
Please don't have a child if you don't want one.  Your life COMPLETELY CHANGES in ways you can't possibly fathom.  If you're actually worried about how a child will affect your ability to backpack or learn to play the piano, you're not in the right state of mind.  What happens if the child is born with a chronic medical condition and your life now revolves around the care of that child, and ensuring that care can continue after you and your wife have passed away?

I would spend time trying to figure out why your wife has had a change of heart and now wants a child.

A child having a condition like that seems like it is something that just ruins your life.  It's one of my chief concerns.  We did have genetic testing done to make sure we weren't carriers of certain genes.  But of course that isn't a guarantee.

I know you don't mean it like I read it, but as a mother of two disabled kids, this sounds rather harsh.

Kids are small humans. There is something different with everyone. The baby that looks like doll, with its 10 perfect toes, can in a few years show symptoms of autism. The lovely, sweet, well behaved little girl, can be caught up in a deep depression even before she hits puberty. Accidents happen all the time, leaving kids in wheelchairs or with brain damage. None of this will really matter: they are still really cool people that you will love with your entire being.

You can't test for everything, or even prepare for most things. Part of being a parent is playing with the cards you are dealt, and loving your kids for what they are. That includes changing plans at the blink of an eye, and adapting to the needs of the kid.

Can you spend time playing music? Probably, but it might happen that the best time for practicing is at 4 o'clock in the night when the baby is awake and thinks everything is funny. Can you travel with the kid? Sure, but you have to find the type of travel that suits the entire family. For some, airplanes are torture, but camping in the wilderness is great fun. For other families, it is the other way around. If you try to make those plans and decisions  before you have met the little person, you will be disappointed.
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big_owl

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #43 on: November 14, 2017, 05:39:58 PM »
Wow.
I'm just not understanding all these responses about "you old life will be over" and "don't do it if you're not 1000% crazy about the idea", etc.
Having a kid or two will change things, and yes it's difficult. But, god damn, it's not like doing 20 in prison or being confined to a wheelchair.
For every person you see walking around, someone had a kid. In most cases they lived through it.
You'll have challenges to overcome that you wouldn't have without kids, and rewards and regrets to reap, but you'll still be you.
Both of my kids were unplanned, childish mistakes. "I'm pregnant" was not good news. We had no money and few prospects. But we turned all that around. And with kids now in their mid-twenties and living good lives, I'm super glad I had them. A deeper love you cannot imagine.
So, ease up. Pump out some kids. Again, parenthood is not a prison sentence, a death sentence, or a one-way ticket to Mars. It's just parenthood. Goes on all over the place all the time.

Ugh.

LMAO.  Back when my wife's parents still held the dream of us giving them grandkids, my mother-in-law took my wife aside one day and literally told her she should just "push out a kid" and promised to do the heavy lifting in taking care of it for her. 

My wife and I can't stand kids, nor the idea of every having one.  Unbeknownst to anybody else in either of our families I was snipped over five years ago...but the dream lives on lol....

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #44 on: November 14, 2017, 06:33:56 PM »
Lots of strong reactions here. Kids do change everything. Any addition to your life changes everything. How much it changes depends on how your life is structured now. If you have a home centered life, with maybe pet or livestock responsibilities, and you have a partner to help, good family support and financial stability? Kids will fit right into the chaos, with their very own brand of it! If you live in an immaculate apartment in the city center, with money problems, too little time, and you've never even raised a plant? You're going to go through hell, my friend. If I were you, I'd think long and hard about whether you want children, completely apart from the question of whether or not they'll change stuff. Just be aware that at a certain point there is no longer a choice. So make the right one.

firelight

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #45 on: November 14, 2017, 07:01:51 PM »
Haven't read all the responses. But, with two kids, I can say kids make a huge difference in our lives. It will be one of the hardest things you've done (it is a lifelong deal - you never stop being a parent) and one of the most satisfying, wonderful things in life. It's truly amazing to see a tiny baby grow up to be a toddler that can understand and communicate who becomes a kid who can do everything himself to a full fledged adult who contributes to the society.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

reformingSucka

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #46 on: November 14, 2017, 11:27:59 PM »
I am a strong believer in that the questions that we are most seeking an answer for - we already have or know within ourselves.

Hopefully, reading the MMM community members' perspectives continues to give you additional insights into your own thoughts. maybe some responses felt viscerally agreeable and others not? If so, that may give you more clues into what it is you're already thinking.

I have no stats to back me up on this - but I have a hunch that if you're an MMMer, asking these questions, and thinking through this decision, and having these discussions with your wife respectfully and honestly, AND with your demonstrated willingness to ask for help when you need it...it means [insert answer that comes to mind immediately here]

wishing you the best of luck!


Goldielocks

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #47 on: November 15, 2017, 12:59:46 AM »
You should have a positive yes in your gut before planning to have kids.

Kids don't ruin a life, and you can do a lot of things with them, some things so much better (like going swimming or to the beach is way more fun with your own kids).   But man, it has gotta be a clear "YES!".    You need to put the kids first for just about everything, for a long time.

That said, many wonderful parents out there had surprise kids, so it is possible to make a wonderful opportunity out of it, but for planning in advance, yeah.   It's got to be all in or nothing.

Linda_Norway

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #48 on: November 15, 2017, 01:14:50 AM »
I do not have children. I think having children would make it easier to belong to most of society, as having children is the norm. Some events are probably more natural/more fun to visit with children than without.
You will notice when you get older that most of your friends will get children and that you will grow apart. You can still keep in touch with friends without children, but they will get fewer and fewer. You might get interested in getting older friends, who have children that have moved out. They are more back into your situation.

GuitarStv

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Re: reconsidering having a child
« Reply #49 on: November 15, 2017, 07:47:29 AM »
How much it changes depends on how your life is structured now. If you have a home centered life, with maybe pet or livestock responsibilities, and you have a partner to help, good family support and financial stability? Kids will fit right into the chaos, with their very own brand of it!

I lived a home centered life, with a dog to take care of, a great partner to help, good family support and financial stability.  My kid has not fit right in, but required radical (and occasionally painful) changes to every aspect of my life.  :P