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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: erae on December 28, 2016, 08:33:41 AM

Title: on the fence re: kids
Post by: erae on December 28, 2016, 08:33:41 AM
End-of-year reflections are fertile ground for an existential crisis. Here are the headlines:
It doesn't show up on this list, but I swear we'd be kick-ass parents. I've read every think piece out there about parenthood and happiness and childfree couples, and I'm ready for some face punches and reality checks from the incredible folks on this forum. Appreciate your time and perspectives.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Fireball on December 28, 2016, 08:50:35 AM
Hi erae,

That's an awesome summary up there. I don't want to get too long winded on the topic of kids(because I can), but I want to give you my experience with having kids in a couple short sentences.

We had kids when I was 28 years old and I thought I had a pretty good grasp on what happiness was and what it meant. I was wrong. I never experienced the absolute joy that my kids give every single day.  I miss my free time, multiple vacations a year, and my sanity but I got so much more in return. And you will too I bet.

Family dynamics - This is where we struggled. Old school gender roles clash with today's reality, especially in the South. We had to feel our way on whose responsibility it was to do what and it stung a bit. Much easier to recognize this beforehand and develop a plan. Soinds like you already recognize this(kudos).
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: KCM5 on December 28, 2016, 09:01:49 AM
This isn't about kids, but about your partner's attention to the household: you say you make a list and everything on the list gets done. Have you divided up regular household chores in this manner? Or is it that your partner doesn't want to do household chores when he's worked that day? Say, you cook dinner, he cleans up. Or you take care of dinner/cleanup on Mon, Wed, Fri, he does Tues, Thurs.

If  you really want a kid, the nanny/house cleaner might be a reasonable option.

I once thought I didn't want kids. I changed my mind and have a kid that is awesome. It was the right choice. But that doesn't mean it's the right choice for you.

Also, if you do decide to have a kid, make sure you're caring for yourself and depression before/during/after pregnancy. It's a vulnerable time.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: mskyle on December 28, 2016, 09:27:48 AM
I have never known an opposite-sex couple where the gender dynamics improved when they had kids. Kids seem to exacerbate that kind of stuff even in egalitarian, feminist relationships and it's one of the reasons I've decided not to have kids (I'm a straight woman).

My feelings about having kids have waxed and waned over the years - when I was 30 I wanted kids (but had no partner and wasn't in a career position where I could make it work on my own). Now I'm 38 (with a partner who would be a great dad) and I am firmly on the "no thanks!" side of the fence. I love my nieces and nephews (biological and friend-wise) but I don't want kids for myself. I think if I had had kids five or ten years ago I'd be happy about it and a good parent. But I'm good at lots of things, that doesn't mean I need to commit the rest of my life to doing them.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: MrsDinero on December 28, 2016, 09:58:59 AM
I'm going to go with "don't have kids".

There is nothing romantic about children.  They are taxing, demanding, loud, messy, and yours.  I have 3 kids with 2 under the age of 2.  While they are all of these things, I delight in the messiness of our life.  If you are already feeling depressed about your situation, adding a baby that will deprive you of your sleep will not help.

It sounds like you have no desire to be a mom because you phrased it "outsourcing motherhood".  You didn't phrase it, having a caregiver or daycare, you phrased it "outsourcing motherhood". 

I find this interesting (and offensive).  Not because you want to continue to work and have a nanny.  I have continued to work and I have live-out nanny, but because you think motherhood is something that CAN be outsourced.  It is not.  Motherhood is there for all its beauty and ugliness.  It is not just about picking the right person who is going to keep your kid from sticking its finger in a light socket while you are working, it is the the good (laughing and playing), the bad (keeping  your cool through tantrums) and the ugly (wearing vomit smeared clothes at 3am while cleaning up your kid, not going back to sleep because you kid wants you to hold them all night long, and still making your 9am conference calls).  It is all of these thing wrapped up in a not so neat little ball. 

Theres is nothing wrong with not wanting kids.  I know people who have chosen to not have kids for many reasons.  Most of these people love kids, they have simply decided that having kids is not for them.  I applaud that decision.

I think it is better to not have kids than to have them and regret it later.  I have a friend right now whose husband regrets having their second child because he realized (too late) he doesn't have the patience the second needs but the first child didn't.  She feels constant dismay and anger because it is clear the husband prefers interacting with the older child and leaves all the care the younger child to my friend.  While she doesn't regret having both children she admits their marriage would have been better if they only had one or even none. She thought it would get better with time, but the younger is now 7 and the older is 10 and has begun to notice the difference.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: historienne on December 28, 2016, 10:18:51 AM
I have never known an opposite-sex couple where the gender dynamics improved when they had kids. Kids seem to exacerbate that kind of stuff even in egalitarian, feminist relationships and it's one of the reasons I've decided not to have kids (I'm a straight woman).


I agree with this.  My husband and I have worked our way to an egalitarian division of labor, but we definitely had to swim upstream to get there.  To start off, there is no way to split the burden of pregnancy and childbirth.  Or breastfeeding, if that's important to you.  Especially if your partner earns more, it is VERY easy to get into the habit of prioritizing his career over yours, and those decisions then snowball. 

Your therapist is indeed onto something, by which I mean that if you have kids I think you absolutely should throw as much money at the problem as necessary.  Have the nanny, the housekeeper, the meal service.  Be aware, though, that you can only throw money at maybe 60% of the problem before you start to get into uncomfortable territory (full time plus daycare is fine, even great; literally never seeing your kids on weekdays is actually not ok for them).  Even then, the nanny will get sick and one of you will need to either stay home or find a last minute replacement.  The nanny isn't going to book the pediatrician appointments, or tour schools when the time comes. 

My husband and I don't have your incomes, but we have a tremendous amount of help from my family. My parents do full time childcare for our infant (we also have a preschooler who is in full time care), and they also do most of our laundry and meal preparation.  Parenting is still exhausting.  You say your husband would do all of the night stuff...but what if your kid literally wakes up every hour all night long, so he really needs you to do some of them in order to stay sane?  Not a hypothetical question, that was my night last night, and the only reason I'm awake at all today is that my husband and I each spent half of the night sleeping in the guest room while the other one of us dealt with the wakeups. 

I love my kids intensely and am happy to deal with the work because they bring such joy to my life...but it is a lot of work, even if you have a lot of help.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: marielle on December 28, 2016, 10:20:12 AM
This is probably a stupid question as I'm sure you've considered all options...but have you /seriously/ considered adopting? Your husband wants to give a child opportunities, and with your income and lifestyle you could truly change the life of a child who's been in foster care for years. Neither of you seem interested in actually being a parent of a baby/toddler, so is adopting an older child the best route to go? I don't really see the point of outsourcing parenting, what's the point of even having a kid if you don't bond with them fully?

I have no kids so take this comment with a grain of salt.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: little_brown_dog on December 28, 2016, 10:41:54 AM
While I love being a parent and usually advocate for people to have kids if they want them, you have a few major red flags here that suggest to me that parenthood really may not be for you.

1. It sounds like you dont really want kids (or full responsibility for them). Yes you can use money to get out of things like daily child care or housekeeping but you cant buy your way out of parenthood. There is a big difference between "I want to be a parent and will use daycare and housekeeper to help me maintain my career and be the best parent I can be" and "I dont think I really want the responsibility of being a parent but eh I guess if it gets too stressful I can just outsource as much of parenting as possible to deal with it." Make sure you are number 1 not number 2 because even if you do outsource alot of childcare and domestic responsibilities parenting is still a 24/7 job for decades and if you dont actually want kids, no amount of money will fix that. Worse parenting is a huge stress on even the best relationships and if you resent it then it will make any marital problems a million times worse.

2. Your health. You are not in ideal shape to be pregnant which means you could be at increased risk of having physical andmental issues like gestational diabetes and postnatal depression. Again these risks would be worth it if you really want kids, but if you are just meh about it, they can make pregnancy and new parenting far harder and more stressful which will further impact your enjoyment of parenthood.

At the end of the day you should have kids because you want to be a parent...including all the tough stuff about parenting. If you are going into parenting already trying to figure out how to minimize how much it is going to suck then thats not a good sign. If you are already trying to figure out how you can try to be a "part time" parent and avoid any major day to day responsibility that is even worse.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Lagom on December 28, 2016, 10:48:20 AM
I have never known an opposite-sex couple where the gender dynamics improved when they had kids. Kids seem to exacerbate that kind of stuff even in egalitarian, feminist relationships and it's one of the reasons I've decided not to have kids (I'm a straight woman).

My feelings about having kids have waxed and waned over the years - when I was 30 I wanted kids (but had no partner and wasn't in a career position where I could make it work on my own). Now I'm 38 (with a partner who would be a great dad) and I am firmly on the "no thanks!" side of the fence. I love my nieces and nephews (biological and friend-wise) but I don't want kids for myself. I think if I had had kids five or ten years ago I'd be happy about it and a good parent. But I'm good at lots of things, that doesn't mean I need to commit the rest of my life to doing them.

Now you know one. I was OK but not great pre-kids, but I am confident my wife would agree that I have shouldered much more of the load post kid (still definitely less than 50%, alas, but I'm actively working on getting there!). In my opinion, this is one of those situations where shared values and mutual respect is critically important. I wanted to be an amazing father, and that absolutely meant taking responsibility for the increased household workload associated with a baby. To me, "being a man" is about taking care of the family and I see no reason why doing extra loads of laundry or watching the baby so my wife can have some time for herself doesn't fit into that obligation. I feel more motivated and more manly the more that I do to contribute around the house.

Traditionally, taking care of the family (from the husband's perspective) mostly refers to making money, but I firmly believe that's just a bullshit excuse for the husband to be lazy. Making money is not hard. I'll sing the praises of a stay at home spouse any day over a 70 hour/week executive who doesn't do anything when they get home. I'm not going to say your husbands or your friend's husbands are terrible spouses/fathers, but let it be known that in a strong marriage it is absolutely possible for the husband to become a better partner because of his children. 

All of that said, I think if you have realistic fears that your relationship might deteriorate due to a child that is definitely a warning sign that needs to be seriously considered. Having a child is by far one of the best things that ever happened to me, but I don't doubt it's not for everyone.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: sol on December 28, 2016, 10:51:35 AM
If you're not sure you want kids, I would advise against it.  They suck.  Only in retrospect have I realized how totally I had to abandon my old life to have kids.  It's like I'm a totally different person, and not in a good way.  Everything that I once thought made my life interesting or worthwhile is gone, replaced with stress and obligation.

Having said that, I firmly believe everyone should have kids.  We are biologically programmed to like sex and parenthood, it's like they fulfill some deep seated instinctual urge that we can repress but not ignore.  Reproduction actualizes your evolutionarily instilled biological imperative, and will bring you joy like no other.  Also heartache and pain like no other.  Evolution is a harsh mistress.

Lots of people are happy without kids.  I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm saying that it takes a certain kind of person, one who can successfully transfer those desires elsewhere.  I think of it just like people who live happy and fulfilling lives without sex, or dessert, or emotional intimacy, or music.  Like parenthood, these things are in your DNA whether you like it or not.  They aren't absolutely necessary for happiness, but they are the easy way that your brain prefers.

I have three kids, two that I acquired and one that I made.  My wife was just months shy of 40 when she had the last one.  For people in your income bracket, the risks of advanced maternal age pregnancies are significantly reduced by good prenatal care and diagnostic screening.  Talk it through with your partner, but don't feel rushed to make a decision this month.  Plan on three to six months to conceive, nine to gestate, and at least one more to recover.  You'll be out of commission for a while, so you have to plan it around the rest of your life or be prepared to upset the rest of your life plans..

Also, if you do end up having a kid, be sure to check back in with us so we can laugh at/with you.  Commiseration seems to help ease the pain and suffering.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: mozar on December 28, 2016, 11:24:22 AM
First I think you should freeze your eggs. That way you can kick the can a few years. I think you should also read up on emotional labor. It's fine to outsource cleaning, cooking, and daycare, but at the end of the day your child needs someone to kiss their boo-boos, and scare away the monsters under the bed. If your husband wants you to do all that, manage their lives, be the person who is pregnant and give birth and you are just meh about kids, that's not going to be good. Your husband just wants to help someone with opportunities, he can volunteer for an after school program. If he doesn't have time for that, why does he think he has time for a child?
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Mariposa on December 28, 2016, 11:36:29 AM
Unlike some others, when I read through the OP's post, I get the sense that she and her partner do want a kid. She says DH is getting "the fever;" he can talk about wanting to give a child the opportunities he never had etc etc, but there's really no other way to describe it other than a "fever" when someone truly wants to have a kid. Also, I don't read the OP's desire to "outsource motherhood" as a signal that she doesn't want a kid. Motherhood in our day and age seems to be this impossible ideal; I am a mother, and when I read about it in books / magazines / blogs, I want to have nothing to do with it, either. Fatherhood seems a much more reasonable alternative. Except maybe for 2 people who are already FI, caretaking is such a huge job that some of it has to be out-sourced. If not to friends / family, then nanny / sitters / daycare.

OP: If you are closer to 33 than 34, I think you can consider waiting 1 more year to get your health / finances / other stuff in order before trying. Your OB is looking at things from a medical / biological point of view exclusively. But in 1 year, you will have at least 400k in savings and be 2/3 through the contract that, while giving you the high income, is making both of you unhappy in other ways. If neither of you has any fertility issues, you have an 80% chance of getting pregnant within 3 months. So chances are you would still have your child at <35yo even if you wait a year.

70k spend is high for two people with no kids who want to reach FI ASAP, unless you are in an extremely HCOL area and spend 50k or something for housing and health care. We live in a HCOL area (NYC), and excluding daycare, we spend less than than 70k for the three of us, including ~5 plane trips and ~35k each year for housing. Of course, the cost of daycare here blows almost everything else out of the water. For two people, it would be pretty easy to spend no more than $20-25k in addition to housing costs. Any reduction in spending right now might seem trivial with your current huge salaries, but if you're able to live on a lower budget now, you'd have more options when you have a kid, including: 1) one or both of you going part-time, and 2) quitting the high-paying contract jobs and moving somewhere with friends and family.

My husband and I were truly on the fence. We were together for 10 years and waited until I was 38 before having our kid. We made this decision with the full knowledge that fertility for women starts going down significantly at 35, and the risk of genetic problems such as Down syndrome starts going up significantly. We took that gamble because our lives were also pretty great before we had our kid, and we would truly have been OK if pregnancy didn't work out for us. We would have maybe adopted a 4-5yo kid. I consider 38 to be the outside limit for women if they are serious about having biological kids. I know people who waited until their later 30s and were not able to have biological kids, so I would not recommend this path to you unless you truly, truly are on the fence.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: meghan88 on December 28, 2016, 11:52:33 AM
As the female half of a happy childless couple, I wouldn't trade the freedom we enjoy for anything in the world.

I know a lot of single parents and only a few families that survived to see the kids reach adulthood.  Kids can go a long way toward ruining marriages (intentionally or unintentionally) and it is ugly what happens when parents split up.  What if a parent wants to move away after the split, or has to move away in order to work?

In-laws will either interfere way too much or stay way too distant.  Family and social obligations become trickier.  Then there's dealing with the actual kid, and kids can be savages - whether it's your child ("heavens no - my child is an angel!") or another's child.

Plus this planet is such a mess these days that the thought of checking out in about 30 years and not leaving anyone behind is actually quite comforting.  While Mustachians are generally easier on the planet than most who are born into developed nations, we still have a large carbon footprint.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: mskyle on December 28, 2016, 11:59:38 AM
Don't most of us already know how to be happy without kids? I've done it for most of my adult life. I know I'm giving something up by not having kids - I also don't have a PhD in Molecular Biology and I've never lived anywhere besides the US East Coast and I'm never going to be a ballerina or a concert pianist. We don't all get to experience everything and I'm OK with that. There are lots of ways to be happy.

Kids are wonderful and a source of a immense joy (just this weekend I got to see a three-year-old meet his newborn baby sister for the first time and when he held her on his lap he spontaneously exclaimed "I'm so happy we have a new baby sister!" and it was possibly the sweetest thing I have ever seen and that is a memory I will treasure). But even easy kids are a lot of work, and there are a million ways kids can break your heart. There is no guarantee your kids will share your values as they grow up. They might not even like you. Kids can be sad (or even truly depressed) for months or years for reasons and in ways that their parents cannot fix. I mean, not to go too dark, but sometimes kids *die* (this is on my brain because it happened to someone I know this year).

The main reason I think it's a bad idea to have kids if you're not sure, though, is that kids are pretty much the only decision you can't take back. You can get divorced. You can sell your house or buy it back. You can become a doctor after a 20 year career as a plumber or vice versa. But you can't stop being a parent, ever, and you can't even really say out loud that you regret having kids without being kind of a shitty parent (well I guess you can tell your therapist).

I have never known an opposite-sex couple where the gender dynamics improved when they had kids. Kids seem to exacerbate that kind of stuff even in egalitarian, feminist relationships and it's one of the reasons I've decided not to have kids (I'm a straight woman).

My feelings about having kids have waxed and waned over the years - when I was 30 I wanted kids (but had no partner and wasn't in a career position where I could make it work on my own). Now I'm 38 (with a partner who would be a great dad) and I am firmly on the "no thanks!" side of the fence. I love my nieces and nephews (biological and friend-wise) but I don't want kids for myself. I think if I had had kids five or ten years ago I'd be happy about it and a good parent. But I'm good at lots of things, that doesn't mean I need to commit the rest of my life to doing them.

Now you know one. I was OK but not great pre-kids, but I am confident my wife would agree that I have shouldered much more of the load post kid (still definitely less than 50%, alas, but I'm actively working on getting there!). In my opinion, this is one of those situations where shared values and mutual respect is critically important. I wanted to be an amazing father, and that absolutely meant taking responsibility for the increased household workload associated with a baby. To me, "being a man" is about taking care of the family and I see no reason why doing extra loads of laundry or watching the baby so my wife can have some time for herself doesn't fit into that obligation. I feel more motivated and more manly the more that I do to contribute around the house.

Traditionally, taking care of the family (from the husband's perspective) mostly refers to making money, but I firmly believe that's just a bullshit excuse for the husband to be lazy. Making money is not hard. I'll sing the praises of a stay at home spouse any day over a 70 hour/week executive who doesn't do anything when they get home. I'm not going to say your husbands or your friend's husbands are terrible spouses/fathers, but let it be known that in a strong marriage it is absolutely possible for the husband to become a better partner because of his children. 

All of that said, I think if you have realistic fears that your relationship might deteriorate due to a child that is definitely a warning sign that needs to be seriously considered. Having a child is by far one of the best things that ever happened to me, but I don't doubt it's not for everyone.

I'm not knocking you, and I'm sure you're great, and I know loads of fathers who *are* great. I guess I shouldn't have said no-one *improved* - more just that parenthood never *fixed* the gender issues. I've seen a lot of flaky behavior from fathers, I suspect because they are not taught from a young age that parenting/housekeeping is going to be their job the way girls/women are. The best example I can think of is a stay-at-home dad I knew who didn't realize that being the sole caretaker of a toddler was a reason for getting out of jury duty and ended up on a week-long trial. He was doing the *physical labor* of being the primary parent but he couldn't quite acquire the mindset; in most parenting couples I know, the division of labor problems aren't so much about who's doing the laundry or changing the diapers as they are about who takes on the mental load of keeping track of parenting stuff. It's also about outsiders' expectations: doctors, teachers, coaches, grandparents all tend to expect more from the mother than they do from the father, and it's a lot of work to push back against that.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Mariposa on December 28, 2016, 12:22:27 PM
Parenting is still exhausting.  You say your husband would do all of the night stuff...but what if your kid literally wakes up every hour all night long, so he really needs you to do some of them in order to stay sane?  Not a hypothetical question, that was my night last night, and the only reason I'm awake at all today is that my husband and I each spent half of the night sleeping in the guest room while the other one of us dealt with the wakeups. 

This is all true. I've heard of other people also successfully divided the night like that, but what if your baby, like mine, wakes up every hour or more often and only wants to be nursed back to sleep? We tried paci / bottle / finger / letting him cry for ~20min. My husband would maybe wake up 1-2x a night to change a poopy diaper, but I had to deal with all the other wakenings all night long every night. It was an extremely difficult time, since I'm a poor sleeper myself and could not always fall back asleep, no matter how tired I was. All I can say is: that period was temporary. We had a difficult newborn, but he is a pretty good 16-month-old now. It has gotten easier. That's not to say I'm not expecting other challenges in the future . . .

But, OP: don't listen. If we had known how much work it was going to be taking care of a baby, we could never have made the decision to have one. We marshalled up our resources to deal with things as they came up, and so far we've survived and even been happy. Before having a kid, I thought I would have all this time to watch movies and work on other projects during maternity leave. Was I ever wrong. I've heard about those mythical babies: they either sleep or entertain themselves most of the time, are easily soothed, and start sleeping 12 hours straight at night at 6 weeks. We didn't get one of those, but maybe you will?
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: human on December 28, 2016, 12:27:55 PM
I don't have kids and have no plans to have them. People with kids may not like my response. I personally think if you need to see a therapist and then ask a bunch of strangers what they think, you are not ready.

I personally think that it's not a decision that should be difficult. What I mean by that is that if you really wanted kids you'd have them already (with this partner) or would already know that "I want them".

It should be a strong passionate feeling not some pro and con analysis or economic consideration leading to filling out a spreadsheet and then saying "I guess I'm having kids".

Sent from my SGH-I747M using Tapatalk

Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: lbmustache on December 28, 2016, 12:47:40 PM
This is probably a stupid question as I'm sure you've considered all options...but have you /seriously/ considered adopting? Your husband wants to give a child opportunities, and with your income and lifestyle you could truly change the life of a child who's been in foster care for years. Neither of you seem interested in actually being a parent of a baby/toddler, so is adopting an older child the best route to go? I don't really see the point of outsourcing parenting, what's the point of even having a kid if you don't bond with them fully?

I have no kids so take this comment with a grain of salt.

I agree with all of this but also don't have a child.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: sol on December 28, 2016, 01:53:18 PM
It should be a strong passionate feeling not some pro and con analysis or economic consideration leading to filling out a spreadsheet and then saying "I guess I'm having kids".

I disagree with this assessment.  Everything in your life should be a carefully considered choice, especially things as life altering as parenthood.  Living by the seat of your pants is a sure way to end up unhappy and in debt.

And modern society is very good at masking your biological urges.  We have myriad distractions to keep us busy, to occupy our lives with the trivial and meaningless.  Who has time for a family, when you need to upgrade your base in Clash of Clans?
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: human on December 28, 2016, 03:34:18 PM
It should be a strong passionate feeling not some pro and con analysis or economic consideration leading to filling out a spreadsheet and then saying "I guess I'm having kids".

I disagree with this assessment.  Everything in your life should be a carefully considered choice, especially things as life altering as parenthood.  Living by the seat of your pants is a sure way to end up unhappy and in debt.

And modern society is very good at masking your biological urges.  We have myriad distractions to keep us busy, to occupy our lives with the trivial and meaningless.  Who has time for a family, when you need to upgrade your base in Clash of Clans?

I agree to a certain extent but I don't think it's a good idea to make this assessment just because your partner wants kids and then if all the boxes are checked yes go and do it. It's not buying a car but raising a kid.

So to restate my position, don't bother with this whole rigmarole assessment if you do not feel this "passion", and it seems to me the OP does not. If you are unsure and then make this big assessment and decide you're going to go for it, well then good luck to you.

Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: COlady on December 28, 2016, 08:25:41 PM
My husband and I kept saying that we would talk about having kids next year. Then next year, then next year. I had a, hard time finally deciding it was time. I never felt like I wanted children at this very moment in time, but when I looked at my life and future I knew I wanted kids and grandkids. If I wanted those things...I was 31 and it was time for us too make a decision. I stopped taking my pills and got pregnant with twins the first month. I cried and cried in the OBs office. I blacked out and hardly remember the appt. It was God saying, you've so got this. Now I wouldn't change a darn thing. My twins are 2 and hilarious little mischievous boys.

In summary, I guess my advice is look at your life as a whole, not just today but 20 years from now. What does it look like? Hopefully it brings you dinner clarity like it did ne.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: COlady on December 28, 2016, 08:26:45 PM
Orry for typos...on phone.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Retire-Canada on December 28, 2016, 08:50:33 PM
I don't have kids and have no plans to have them. People with kids may not like my response. I personally think if you need to see a therapist and then ask a bunch of strangers what they think, you are not ready.

I don't disagree with this ^^^.

No kids here. Not going to have them. When I look around the planet doesn't need more people. So unless you conclude in no uncertain terms that you absolutely want to have kids don't have them.

About half my friends are having kids and half are not.

If the age thing is a big hang up I have several friends who were adopted and a couple of friends in their late 40's who just adopted. They are all happy with their situations. At least if you are uncertain and adopt you are helping out a child who needs it vs. creating a new life.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: simplified on December 28, 2016, 09:28:01 PM
Did you have loving & caring parents yourself? How was your family life growing up? Do you appreciate the sacrifices your parents made so that you will have a better life? Have your parents been your role models? Are they still involved in your life?

If your answers are mostly negative, you may have a hard time raising kids. If you have to ask, you should not have kids. Its hard enough even if you love kids and are passionate about them. Kids do take over your life. Kids are reserved only for special people!






Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: okits on December 28, 2016, 09:50:06 PM
erae, when I read your OP the message I get isn't "we would have difficulty providing for a child", it's that a child would be too much work, too costly, too detrimental to your marital harmony, etc.  You think that you'll be great parents; will you have the endless love and self-sacrifice that children often need?  If your child has special needs or a crisis of some kind, are you both willing to prioritize him/her over your big money jobs, leisure time, FIRE, your own wellbeing?  It's okay to put these things first.  Just don't also have a child who, when s/he needs you, is secondary to them.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: azure975 on December 28, 2016, 10:05:17 PM

Lots of people are happy without kids.  I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm saying that it takes a certain kind of person, one who can successfully transfer those desires elsewhere.  I think of it just like people who live happy and fulfilling lives without sex, or dessert, or emotional intimacy, or music.  Like parenthood, these things are in your DNA whether you like it or not.  They aren't absolutely necessary for happiness, but they are the easy way that your brain prefers.


I am childfree and have never regretted it (am 41 now), but it does take more work to carve out a path in life than just going along with what the societal norm is (kinda like FIRE). I find that it is hard being different. Some people are used to being countercultural or actually strive to be countercultural so they are used to it, but up until my 30s I generally followed the typical lifescript so departing from that did require some soul-searching and fortitude. However, I feel that I am stronger for it and also have been able to develop a community of other childfree folks that I met through meetup which has been very rewarding. I also did have to intentionally find ways to make my life meaningful, whereas that seems automatic if you have kids. Ultimately my rescue animals have fulfilled that purpose in my life as well as the work I do in the animal rescue community. Overall I'm very happy with my decision.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Mariposa on December 28, 2016, 10:46:51 PM
erae, when I read your OP the message I get isn't "we would have difficulty providing for a child", it's that a child would be too much work, too costly, too detrimental to your marital harmony, etc.  You think that you'll be great parents; will you have the endless love and self-sacrifice that children often need?  If your child has special needs or a crisis of some kind, are you both willing to prioritize him/her over your big money jobs, leisure time, FIRE, your own wellbeing?  It's okay to put these things first.  Just don't also have a child who, when s/he needs you, is secondary to them.

Agree with the endless love part, not so much the endless sacrifice. There are times your child needs to be prioritized over everything else, certainly, but you also need to take care of yourself and be happy in order to raise happy children. I believe in setting reasonable limits and encouraging the kid to do things himself, whenever possible. For example: yesterday, the kid learned to unretract a ballpoint pen and proceeded to scribble all over the couch when I wasn't looking. Today, when he found the pen again, I grabbed it out of his little hand: nevermore. Yes, he bawled for about a minute. But I refuse to live in a house with scribbles all over the furniture and walls. He also needs to learn to tolerate some amount of frustration and to be a civilized human being. (No: you can't eat that dead bug.)

I think the OP's concerns: the work, the cost, the effect of a child on marital harmony, are entirely reasonable ones when making the decision to have a child. I certainly thought about all those things and decided to have a child anyway.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on December 29, 2016, 12:32:29 AM
I have never known an opposite-sex couple where the gender dynamics improved when they had kids. Kids seem to exacerbate that kind of stuff even in egalitarian, feminist relationships and it's one of the reasons I've decided not to have kids (I'm a straight woman).

Now you know one. I was OK but not great pre-kids, but I am confident my wife would agree that I have shouldered much more of the load post kid (still definitely less than 50%, alas, but I'm actively working on getting there!). In my opinion, this is one of those situations where shared values and mutual respect is critically important. I wanted to be an amazing father, and that absolutely meant taking responsibility for the increased household workload associated with a baby. To me, "being a man" is about taking care of the family and I see no reason why doing extra loads of laundry or watching the baby so my wife can have some time for herself doesn't fit into that obligation. I feel more motivated and more manly the more that I do to contribute around the house.

Traditionally, taking care of the family (from the husband's perspective) mostly refers to making money, but I firmly believe that's just a bullshit excuse for the husband to be lazy. Making money is not hard. I'll sing the praises of a stay at home spouse any day over a 70 hour/week executive who doesn't do anything when they get home. I'm not going to say your husbands or your friend's husbands are terrible spouses/fathers, but let it be known that in a strong marriage it is absolutely possible for the husband to become a better partner because of his children. 

All of that said, I think if you have realistic fears that your relationship might deteriorate due to a child that is definitely a warning sign that needs to be seriously considered. Having a child is by far one of the best things that ever happened to me, but I don't doubt it's not for everyone.

This is interesting and inspiring stuff. Can you identify what led to you stepping up rather than ducking out. My friends are newly expecting and he has been trying to step up this year but not doing as well as he hoped (his words).
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on December 29, 2016, 01:10:31 AM
...
I know my husband would handle all the direct care (late night feedings, diapers) of the baby, but I'd be on my own handling the increased logistical load of the house with a child. Both of our mothers were stay at home parents and devoted their working years to running a well-oiled and loving household. I am not a good candidate for SAH parenthood and my husband is our primary earner.
...
He's getting the fever and I wax romantic occasionally. He's told me that he knew going into this marriage that neither one of us wanted kids and it's not on me to accommodate his changed mind. As we've talked (and talked and talked) about parenting, I've come to the conclusion that I'd be interested in fatherhood but not motherhood. I can see a path to joint "fatherhood" if we allocate my salary to outsourcing "motherhood" through nannies, cleaning services, grocery delivery, etc (maybe that therapist was on to something...). Husband balks at spending so much money, but I think I could get him on board with a more detailed budget. He's assured me that he'll be fine if we don't have kids, but this pregnancy purgatory of being off the pill but not actively trying to conceive is a drag.
...

This is my read of this. He wants to be a parent more than you, but there is nothing here that makes me think he wants to be a primary parent (what you call 'motherhood').

In your thoughts about making this work, you seem to be putting all the emotional labour on yourself. If it is your salary and your plan to make this work then all the weight will still fall on you even if you have an extended team.

I'm not trying to judge you and your partner, some couples aren't cut out for parenthood (me and my partner aren't). If there is no-one that wants children enough to be a primary caregiver, I don't think children are a good idea. Just because he makes the higher salary doesn't mean he can't be a SAH or primary carer; you are spending less than your salary, you could make this work.

Finally, (and somewhat conversely), if you want it enough, you can make this work. Your post comes across as bright and articulate. You have an insight into your relationship and you've found ways of making the household tasks work by putting in more effort on your part. BUT, if you do this, you should be prepared that you may have to give up your idea of equal division of labour. Your partner hasn't shown you that he can step up and actually take responsibility for household tasks (you are in charge of the email list). Is this the example that you want to set for your child?

If you want kids enough to be a primary parent, do it. This isn't a gender thing, this is a personality and status quo of your relationship thing. Only go into this if you are willing to take the risk that your husband won't step up.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: okits on December 29, 2016, 02:20:01 AM
erae, when I read your OP the message I get isn't "we would have difficulty providing for a child", it's that a child would be too much work, too costly, too detrimental to your marital harmony, etc.  You think that you'll be great parents; will you have the endless love and self-sacrifice that children often need?  If your child has special needs or a crisis of some kind, are you both willing to prioritize him/her over your big money jobs, leisure time, FIRE, your own wellbeing?  It's okay to put these things first.  Just don't also have a child who, when s/he needs you, is secondary to them.

Agree with the endless love part, not so much the endless sacrifice. There are times your child needs to be prioritized over everything else, certainly, but you also need to take care of yourself and be happy in order to raise happy children. I believe in setting reasonable limits and encouraging the kid to do things himself, whenever possible. For example: yesterday, the kid learned to unretract a ballpoint pen and proceeded to scribble all over the couch when I wasn't looking. Today, when he found the pen again, I grabbed it out of his little hand: nevermore. Yes, he bawled for about a minute. But I refuse to live in a house with scribbles all over the furniture and walls. He also needs to learn to tolerate some amount of frustration and to be a civilized human being. (No: you can't eat that dead bug.)

I asked the OP about special needs (disabilities, if that was unclear) or crises.  No one gets a guarantee that their child will have no congenital conditions, never become seriously ill, never suffer an accident or trauma, never experience violence or aggression, never struggle developmentally, never develop behavioural or psychological issues.  If you don't have a perfectly issue-free child then you're looking at an increased logistical load of parenting and household management when kiddo is having a rough time, and possibly a lot more caregiving.  OP is already concerned about these aspects in a scenario that doesn't mention any consideration for extra challenges.

While parents certainly should have their own interests and resources for self-care, they're still on the hook for ensuring their kid has (at a minimum) food, shelter, safety, attention, and physical/mental development.  There is no break from those responsibilities, and they will consume time, money, and energy previously available exclusively for the parents' careers, leisure activities, and relationship.  That's the self-sacrifice that goes on and on.  If you have a sick or troubled child then there's even more of it.

Quote
I think the OP's concerns: the work, the cost, the effect of a child on marital harmony, are entirely reasonable ones when making the decision to have a child. I certainly thought about all those things and decided to have a child anyway.

Sure, think about them, but if you keep coming to "I don't want to do the work or sacrifice X or spend Y" then accept that the two people in question don't want a child enough to do what's involved in raising one.  Playing with Fire UK's post above describes this extremely well.  Neither wants a kid enough to be the primary parent (with all the work and responsibility that goes with that).
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: RelaxedGal on December 29, 2016, 08:40:40 AM
My experience:
Husband wanted one kid, I wanted two.  It took a year to get pregnant.  After seeing a fertility specialist we decided we didn't want kids badly enough to do fertility treatments or adopt.  Conceived the next day. 

All of our family is a plane ride away.  Our parents and siblings all came to visit in the first month and saw firsthand how fussy/colicky/crying/needy this baby was.  We were miserable because of the lack of sleep and the screaming, and doubly so when the extra hands flew back home.  I went back to work 7 weeks postpartum and it was so wonderful to be around people who don't scream at me, people who can communicate their needs, and meet most of them on their own.  I went to the cubicle of each of my childless coworkers and warned them to never, EVER have children.  My husband got a vasectomy.

Things have gotten progressively better.  The pediatrician confirmed whet my husband suspected all along: the baby had acid reflux.  We got a prescription for Ranitidine and things got much better.  She was also sensitive to milk protein (passed through breastmilk) so I went dairy-free and things got even better.  Around 8 weeks she was sleeping for a couple of hours at a time and I was getting at least 5 total hours of sleep/night.  Bliss!  No, actually still miserable because that's not enough sleep, but it was much better.  By 4 months I was getting actual sleep (two 4 hour blocks) and then she started teething which meant more wake-ups, more screaming in the night, more time needing cuddles (and ibuprofen).  Between the exhaustion and having a little one in daycare I've never been so sick as that first year.  I got strep throat twice (and the antibiotics are almost worse than the disease), pink eye twice, norovirus hit our house, plus head colds and the little one got ear infections after the head colds which meant she had to stay home from daycare because of the fever until the Dr confirmed it was ear only.  I was pumping at the office mid-morning, on my lunch, and mid-afternoon which meant I had no time for office socialization.  I got pretty glum around 8 months and dropped the lunchtime pumping.  Adding lunchtime socialization did wonderful things for my mood but horrible things to my supply and trying to bring that up added a new dimension of stress.

She's nearly 6, and in Kindergarten.  Moving from a big daycare (only closed on the major holidays) to public schools (teacher in-service?  Snow days?  Half days?  April Vacation?) is taking some juggling.  It used to be that I had MLK day off and my husband had President's day, so we'd either take the day off and make it a date day (VERY needed when you have kids) or at least the one with the day off would meet the working one for lunch.  Now the one with the holiday off is staying home with our daughter.  And hopefully still meeting the working one for lunch, but it's definitely not a date.

If you're moving back near family in 2 years I recommend waiting a bit. I think nearby family would have helped us juggle things.  Maybe an extra adult to stay home with a sick baby once every few months so we didn't use all of our sick time.  Or an extra set of hands on a Saturday afternoon so I could use my own for something other than cradling the (needy, fussy) baby.  If you don't wait (or get surprised) it's OK to throw money at it.  We had a standing date night every week.  We used those two hours to do pedestrian things like go grocery shopping an embarrassing number of times.  It was worthwhile, though, to have 2 hours together as adults and reconnect.  Now that she has dropped afternoon nap and goes to bed an hour before us it's almost like a date night every night, and it is so nice.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Scandium on December 29, 2016, 09:21:52 AM
I've come to the conclusion that I'd be interested in fatherhood but not motherhood. I can see a path to joint "fatherhood" if we allocate my salary to outsourcing "motherhood" through nannies, cleaning services, grocery delivery, etc

This is BS. The only difference is mothers carry the baby, give birth and breastfeed. Everything else can (and should) equally be done by both men and women. As a father I'm 90% of the time the one getting up when our son wake up at night. I change majority of diapers, clean the house at least half the time, get groceries, drop off at daycare, stay home when he's sick every other time etc. We both take the kid to the doctor together. Having male organs in no way prevent me from doing these things. (I'm the only one mowing the lawn though for some reason). I don't see this work as a "favor" I'm doing to my family because I'm special, it's simply what's minimum required and to be expected.

We work about the same amount, both desk jobs, fairly demanding. If the father works a ton and don't have the time to do this that's one thing. But "I'm the father" is not a valid reason to avoid anything that doesn't absolutely require a vagina.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: mm1970 on December 29, 2016, 10:54:33 AM
I've come to the conclusion that I'd be interested in fatherhood but not motherhood. I can see a path to joint "fatherhood" if we allocate my salary to outsourcing "motherhood" through nannies, cleaning services, grocery delivery, etc

This is BS. The only difference is mothers carry the baby, give birth and breastfeed. Everything else can (and should) equally be done by both men and women. As a father I'm 90% of the time the one getting up when our son wake up at night. I change majority of diapers, clean the house at least half the time, get groceries, drop off at daycare, stay home when he's sick every other time etc. We both take the kid to the doctor together. Having male organs in no way prevent me from doing these things. (I'm the only one mowing the lawn though for some reason). I don't see this work as a "favor" I'm doing to my family because I'm special, it's simply what's minimum required and to be expected.

We work about the same amount, both desk jobs, fairly demanding. If the father works a ton and don't have the time to do this that's one thing. But "I'm the father" is not a valid reason to avoid anything that doesn't absolutely require a vagina.

Yeah, but statistically, it's not that even.  (It's totally even in my house!)

And her husband being from a developing country - I'm guessing he's even more "traditional" than the US.  Just guessing though.  Plus the mention of both their parents being SAHMs with smoothly running households.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Lagom on December 29, 2016, 11:08:57 AM
This is interesting and inspiring stuff. Can you identify what led to you stepping up rather than ducking out. My friends are newly expecting and he has been trying to step up this year but not doing as well as he hoped (his words).

Hmm, not sure what I can offer other than he should reflect on his relationship and how much he values his wife's happiness and well-being. It sounds a bit trite maybe, but that's mostly what motivated me. My ex was an extremely selfish person while my wife is giving to a fault. Knowing what it feels like to be the spouse who is expected to do everything, I can't bear to do that to my wife, even when she openly offers to take on more of the load. She is so thoughtful and wonderful that I would feel like a total ass taking advantage just because I want to sleep more and dislike doing certain chores. Also, I feel like a badass for voluntarily taking on extra work (beyond what's expected) in the name of helping my family. As I said, to me that defines manliness.

I also want to feel like I am actively parenting. It's important to me to have a strong role in my child's development and going to work has exactly zero to do with any of that. Why wouldn't I want to participate in feedings, play time, late night soothing, etc.? In my opinion, if you actually want kids, all of these things shouldn't be seen as drawbacks or challenges any more than, say, the physical labor involved in building something. With the right mindset (a mustachian mindset, one might say!), the labor itself can be quite satisfying and either way, the reward is always worth it in the end.

Note that I agree with all of you mentioning that there is a cultural/statistical issue with fathers as a group not doing their fair share. My only response is that they are not acting in a manly fashion. If they are mustachian, at least there is some chance they might recognize that fact (maybe don't word it that way!) and embrace hedonistic adaptation and the satisfaction to be found in working hard to create something wonderful.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Cpa Cat on December 29, 2016, 11:39:23 AM
I identify with just about every single thing in your post. Seriously. The gender dynamics, the ambivalence about children and the reasons for it - I could have written this post.

I got married when I was 20 and we weren't sure if we wanted children. Now I'm 34 and I'm sure I don't want children. My husband continues to be ambivalent, and as he gets older he sometimes ruminates on the idea that we're not leaving anything behind.

I've told him that we could have a child if he wants, and I wouldn't object to it. I would grow the baby in my own womb, even. But once it was born, I would rent an office outside our home and work full time. I do not want to be a stay at home mother. The idea that I would be the person who is 100% responsible for making doctor's appointments and going to them and meeting with teachers and staying up late with a sick kid - ack. It might be different if I was the person who was 25% responsible for those things, or if my husband decided to take on being a stay at home father. But that's not what would happen. In fact, I feel like I would resent it if I did 25% and my nanny did 74% while my husband did 1%. Oh sure, he'd play games with our kid - but clean up vomit and poopy diapers? Guess when he last cleaned the cat litter.

I think this is what you mean by outsourcing motherhood. It's not that you wouldn't love your child and nurture your child, it's that there is a traditional job of "motherhood" that involves taking on the majority - or all - of the labor tasks, and you do not want that job.

I don't know how to advise you. We are making the childless-by-choice decision and I do feel that I'm happier than if we had a kid. I am not 100% sure that my husband is happier. But then, I would probably be more inclined to have children if he was "mommy" and I got to be "daddy". I understand that for some parents, they feel that there should be no difference in those two roles - but there would be in my relationship.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: erae on December 29, 2016, 02:29:54 PM
Thanks to all who have taken the time to leave their two cents on this thread. You're a thoughtful group and each post brings up great points that I'm still digesting. A few initial themes I'm taking away so far:


Division of Responsibility/Gender Dynamics
Props to the men who have worked to equalize housekeeping + caregiving duties in their own marriages. Most marriages - mine included - will never look like that. I called it mommyhood because I have yet to see a truly egalitarian marriage when kids are involved, but defusing the gender bit with less-loaded terms like primary/secondary parent works too. Either way, my take-away from this thread is that a precondition for baby-making is that I need to let go of any ideas I'm holding onto about fairness - whether it's a lack of egalitarian marriage models, love languages (for those familiar, I'm all Acts of Service + Quality Time and he's Physical Touch + Quality Time) or just that my husband is an awesome partner but a shitty roommate - the burden of a child would fall disproportionately on me, just as the household management has. So I would need to accept that reality and THEN unapologetically throw money at outsourcing the logistical support I would no longer expect from a partner. Appreciate historienne and Cpa Cat ballparking that percentage at 60-75% and for the parents whose graphic illustrations of late night parenthood and bodily fluids (RelaxedGal, Mrs.Dinero) helped to sketch out that remaining 25-40% that we would need to embrace as parents.
Okits hit a nerve, too, citing how strong these parental responsibilities can become if our kid has special needs. Part of the caregiving I did in my 20's was in a residential program for kids with autism. I think some of the gravity I feel around parenthood comes from (too-deeply?) understanding the care special needs kids require, and the strained marriages I saw in that role.

Zooming Out
I had read/heard/picked up from some dubious source (these forums?) a formula for figuring out how many kids to have: take the average of (1) the number of babies you want (2) the number of school kids you want (3) the number of adult children you want = the "right" number of kids. It sounded ridiculous, but it does help me zoom out from fixating on a super needy baby/toddler years. I have a lot of girlfriends going through the baby and toddler years and from where I'm sitting they look brutal: women leaving jobs b/c they can't find childcare, insane hours trying to balance everything, constant exhaustion. But a few of you brought up a long-game approach to thinking about family: the happiness (Fireball, KCM5), the evolution of parenting through a kids' life, the biological component, that I don't get to see very often from where I sit right now in my own life.

Life as a Non-Romantic
I'm also grateful for the stories of others who also lacked the rose-colored glasses so many seem to have around parenting, too - COlady, dca, and sol. I'm not one to get "fever" about anything - kids, marriage, careers - so the biological clock and baby fever paradigms just don't resonate. Maybe that means parenting isn't for me? I think it's more likely to indicate, as others mentioned, that I could go either way and be happy either way. Azure975, msklye, and CPA cat are all models for well-considered childfree lives. I'm very community oriented and could easily direct my energy into projects and non-parenting relationships. My husband is more of a homebody and introvert, but he has said he could "feed" other interests and expectations about his future if we decide against kids.

Thanks, again, for all of your comments





Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: astvilla on December 29, 2016, 03:42:22 PM
I don't know if Mustachians as a subset group attract more DINKs than the general population since Mustachians value freedom, independence.  Goals of FIRE and enjoying life, not about being tethered to one or more children.

FWIW, as mentioned before, humans are "supposed" to reproduce and it's how we evolved.  Your brain does change when and after you have kids. 

And just to scare childless women lol, your risk of breast cancer actually goes down if you get pregnant.  And actually, the younger you are when pregnant, the lower the breast cancer risk.  FYI

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/hormones/reproductive-history-fact-sheet

So I'd be inclined to say from a purely biological, evolutionary, and health beneficial standpoint, having kids is probably a good thing. And I think there's a good reason biologically for the pressure to have kids (we would die out).  The division of responsibilities also has deep roots in biology as there are similarities/stereotypes in many cultures regarding child rearing and womens' role in society. Also, having kids offers caretakers (if the kids are raised right) so in the long run, there's a good benefit to having kids, granted if the kids are raised well to love their parents.

That plus the work-life balance in our culture and family culture of kicking our parents out of our lives when we are 18 (or 30 now? lol) makes raising kids on 2 parents more difficult.  I imagine if laws mandated maternity leave for both parents, prevented discrimination, protected job security, reduced stress from job and finances, and made having+ raising kids much easier, more people would actually have kids.  I hear in Germany or other countries with low birth rates, there are more incentives and accommodations to have kids?  But in the US we don't have that problem in part cause of immigration? If new policies and laws are adopted to help have kids, probably more would consider it.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on December 30, 2016, 02:00:07 AM
And just to scare childless women lol, your risk of breast cancer actually goes down if you get pregnant.  And actually, the younger you are when pregnant, the lower the breast cancer risk.  FYI

I see your risk of breast cancer and raise you obstetric fistula.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: GilbertB on December 30, 2016, 04:09:21 AM
Kids are great, but you must really want them, have the desire to love etc.

I've had to give up things, yeah, but teaching STEM to a 4 year old girl that's sitting on your knees is all king of awesome (yeah for Khan Academy's "early math" games), that beats beer pong everyday.
And now we can go running together (she's on her bike), tickling fights, drawing or trying to explain why the physics of Paw Patrol does not make sense...

Or just cleaning the kitchen with her doing a cuddly "Alien Facehugger" to my head/shoulders.

I'll be teaching her welding in a few years so she can out boy the boys :)
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: soccerluvof4 on December 30, 2016, 07:26:10 AM
I have 4 kids and we wanted them and thought we had it all figured out and planned financially to have them. Bam....WRONG! but still best decision we ever made. Sol's first post was laughable but to point and I agree totally with him. I will say in your case and with some of the problems you are having there is no way I would consider having kids. You guys need to take care of the health of your relationship and some issues before taking on more. I have always had respect for people that were honest about reason not having kids then just having them to have them. I am not saying thats your case but as others have said a lot of red flags in you initial post.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: DirtDiva on December 30, 2016, 07:26:39 AM
We are one of those couples who were ambivalent about having kids, but "took the plunge" and had a son after we had been married 8 years.

The gender imbalance was very real in my life.  DH did not step up as a father or as a roommate.  Paying a once-weekly cleaning person made things better but as you can imagine, there were many, many other obligations that fell to me.

Additionally, the son had oppositional defiant tendencies from an early age.  Very intelligent, and very determined to do his own thing.  Not a people-pleaser.  It was a tough 18 years.

It's not possible to say I wish he had never been born.  We both love him and we three have a fairly close, though complicated, relationship with him.  He and his Dad are currently reading and and discussing Martha Nussbaum's book Anger and Forgiveness.  They are both philosophers at heart.

But his presence in our lives nearly ended what was before and has become again a very close, loving, and rewarding marriage.

I once revealed on the now-defunct Simple Living forum that if I had to do it again I would not have had a child.  There was a shitstorm of anger and criticism toward me.  Llhamo was a voice in the wilderness, defending my honesty. 
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: rockstache on December 30, 2016, 07:41:36 AM

I once revealed on the now-defunct Simple Living forum that if I had to do it again I would not have had a child.  There was a shitstorm of anger and criticism toward me.

I'm really sorry to hear that. I greatly appreciate your perspective and honesty.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: acroy on December 30, 2016, 07:59:46 AM
Do it! Commit to it and do it well!
Seriously, it helps give purpose, direction, meaning to life. Put something into the world instead of just taking. Best of luck!
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Typhoid Mary on December 30, 2016, 08:19:58 AM
I'm not going to try to talk you out of kids, I for one am a person who found my life's purpose in motherhood.  I stayed at home with my two daughters until the youngest started kindergarten (both husband and I wanted this) and I recently returned to full time work (both husband and I wanted this).  I did all the child care and housework from 8-5 when I was home (the length of his work day) and we split all the chores/cares after 5 and on weekends.  When I returned to work, now everything is split 50/50, but I am still usually the "default" parent when the kids are hurt or sick.  They want mommy, they just do, even though daddy would help them in a heartbeat. It's been great for us, and equal and fair and all that other fun stuff.
THAT BEING SAID........

When everyone talks about having kids, they always assume a healthy child.
That isn't always the case.

Our first born son had Down Syndrome and multiple medical fragilities that would have required life long care and expensive treatments had he not passed away when he was a few weeks old from his heart defect and brain hemorrhage.  Some of you have read my journal to know that his 19 days of life cost over $250,000 (pre Obama-care crappy health insurance) and that we were on the hook for a large portion of that.  Again, money is not something we considered important when held against the importance of our son. Son>$$.  Always. 

Why do I bring this up? Because nothing in life is guaranteed.  Your child could have medical conditions that required one of you to leave your careers and be a full time caregiver.  You could need 24 hour in home nursing care.  You could have a perfectly healthy baby.  You just never know. 

If you are on the fence about a healthy baby, I would encourage you to explore your feelings about the possibility of an unhealthy baby and rethink some more. 

Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: lizzzi on December 30, 2016, 08:44:58 AM
Taking a much longer view on the subject...I loved having my two children for the first 17 years. Then they got old enough to more or less go out into the world and do what they wanted. (We did pay for college for both of them.) Now that both adult children are at middle age and I guess I am almost a senior citizen, I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money. Shouldn't have bothered. Neither has much in common with me or cares much about me, except when they want something. I'm not being negative or critical--I certainly want both of them to have the lives they want. But I find that close friendships and a second, very happy marriage have given me a far better life than relationships with my adult children have. Good families are golden, but not all families are like the Waltons or families on the Disney channel...and there's really no way to know how your kids are going to turn out in the long haul. Just saying.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: limeandpepper on December 30, 2016, 09:18:56 AM
If you are on the fence about a healthy baby, I would encourage you to explore your feelings about the possibility of an unhealthy baby and rethink some more.

This. So much this. Yes, these days you have advanced medical technology and screening yadda yadda yadda, but nothing is ever guaranteed. And even if the child is born healthy, something could happen afterwards to turn your worlds upside down.

OP, read this thread:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/sl93q/get_out_the_throwaways_dear_parents_of_disabled/

And I'll contribute a story, too:

I work at a restaurant. Every week this nice older man comes in with his grown-up daughter. She can walk and eat only with his assistance. I think she might be able to say a few words, max. He orders her meal and drink first, and feeds her. Only after she's done, he orders his own meal and eats. If he has a wife, I've never seen her. I wouldn't be surprised if he did have a marriage that ended because of all the incredible difficulties involved in raising this special needs child.

There is no way I can cope with something like this. Sure, the chances are small, but if you're one of the unlucky ones, that's it. You've signed off on your freedom in an awfully major way, indefinitely... and you can really only mitigate this by being rich enough to hire people to help you deal with it. I think for people who really, really, really want kids, the desire is so strong that they can read stories like that and still be willing to take the risk. Are you one of them?

---

P.S. Though I am not the OP, I want to give huge thanks to the people who dare to be honest about regretting having kids, in this thread or anywhere else. Thanks to you, there might be fewer regretted children out there. I have personally always felt indifferent about the whole kids thing (I don't find the idea repulsive, but I'm not enthusiastic about it either), and probably the main thing that sways me is the massive chorus that says "you'll regret not having kids" and "it's different when it's your own, it's incredible like nothing else and it's always worth it". But because of voices like yours, I know that there are all sorts of possibilities and I can make a more educated decision.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Poundwise on December 30, 2016, 09:41:13 AM
Two more cents for your bucket of pennies:
- Are you or your husband the types of people who nurse regret?  I have read that in a comparison between taking an action vs. not taking an action, people most often regret not taking an action. If this is the case, you may want to consider having a child.

- How flexible are you? Becoming a parent means embracing uncertainty.  You don't know what kind of child you will get. You don't know what kind of mother you will be, what kind of father your spouse will be.  You don't know if the baby will spit up on your blouse just as you are about to go to work, or where your toddler will have hidden your cell phone, or whether you'll get an email from an irate teacher because your child got into a fight at school.  You don't know if they will grow up to be adults that you respect or even like. You can influence the outcomes some, but there is no real control.

For me, it worked out pretty well.  I never thought I liked children much, even as a kid, but when I was 33 I had an annoying stomach bug which turned out to be pregnancy.  And I turned out to love babies and children.  My kids are so far healthy and happy. And my husband, who previously had a laissez-faire attitude towards housework, has developed over the years into a meticulous housekeeper. On the other hand, I surprised myself by abandoning my career as a scientist to stay at home with the kids. I have some regret there, but am still hopeful that I can pick up again after they grow up, even if I can't be a superstar academic. I feel that my husband and I went through the fire and have emerged as better humans as a result of parenting.

For an opposing outcome, a relative struggled for years to have children, spending tens of thousands on IVF.  I am sorry to say that she seems to be miserable still. On the other hand, I doubt she would say she is sorry that she had her kids, who are also generally healthy and happy.

Maybe it comes down to this: are you and your husband basically happy, contented people already? Or is your happiness very fragile? How easy is it to knock you off balance?  I feel that having kids usually makes a person more of who they are already.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on December 30, 2016, 10:20:01 AM
P.S. Though I am not the OP, I want to give huge thanks to the people who dare to be honest about regretting having kids, in this thread or anywhere else. Thanks to you, there might be fewer regretted children out there. I have personally always felt indifferent about the whole kids thing (I don't find the idea repulsive, but I'm not enthusiastic about it either), and probably the main thing that sways me is the massive chorus that says "you'll regret not having kids" and "it's different when it's your own, it's incredible like nothing else and it's always worth it". But because of voices like yours, I know that there are all sorts of possibilities and I can make a more educated decision.

This. Thanks for being so brave. I am the person IRL that people tell that they (either in a desperate moment or in general) wouldn't have children again. Every single one thinks that they are the only one. This is not a helpful situation. I know that you love your kid(s).

I'm also the person that needs to hear some balance instead of this permanent stream of pro-baby parents telling me that child rearing is 100% sunshine and no shit.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on December 30, 2016, 10:26:52 AM
Found this relevant link

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38145118 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38145118)

Quote
It's good to know I'm not the only one who has felt empty being a mom. While I love my two children very much, I feel today I should never have had them. Not only are they expensive, but to raise children comes at a cost to career advancement unless women wait until they are over 35. There are so many reasons to feel joy in being a mom, but I feel exhausted and unfulfilled.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: pachnik on December 30, 2016, 10:41:34 AM
I don't have any kids.  I honestly was never very interested in having them.  probably no maternal bone in my entire body. 

Also, my childhood wasn't great - i really struggled in many ways.   I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to help my kids if I had any and that they would have to struggle too. 
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: sol on December 30, 2016, 10:54:26 AM
Don't you worry, baby haters.  Immigrants will keep our country alive and healthy even as our first world birth rate drops below replacement levels.

Fortunately, our government is so very accepting of all of those incoming optimistic immigrants, seeking a better life in America! 
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: SilveradoBojangles on December 30, 2016, 11:00:02 AM
You really struck a chord with something I've been feeling with the "fatherhood" vs "motherhood" thing. I'm a woman, and while fatherhood sounds ideal, motherhood sounds like too much: too much anxiety, too much worry, too much responsibility, too much of the logistics of running a household with small people in it. I don't want to be the primary care giver. I don't want to be the point person for everything. And my partner really does try to do his fare share! But there are things that he just doesn't think about, and I know that would be compounded with kids.

But it's mostly the biological/hormonal stuff that worries me. Every one of my female friends has turned slightly crazy after having kids. They feel anxious and guilty all the time. The ones who work feel they should be spending more time with their kids. The ones who stay home feel they should be doing more with their lives, or miss adult interaction. Some moms I know can't leave their baby for more than a few hours, even with their own spouse, because they don't trust their husband to take care of the baby the way they would. Their husbands, on the other hand, feel nothing but freedom when they are away from their children, probably because they are confident that their mom has got this. These dads aren't bad parents, they are great parents, it's just that hormones make moms kind of crazy, and I'm not sure I want to sign up for that.

I want to be able to love and nurture and take care of a child without feeling like it is part of me. And I don't think that is possible for moms.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Bracken_Joy on December 30, 2016, 11:26:30 AM
You really struck a chord with something I've been feeling with the "fatherhood" vs "motherhood" thing. I'm a woman, and while fatherhood sounds ideal, motherhood sounds like too much: too much anxiety, too much worry, too much responsibility, too much of the logistics of running a household with small people in it. I don't want to be the primary care giver. I don't want to be the point person for everything. And my partner really does try to do his fare share! But there are things that he just doesn't think about, and I know that would be compounded with kids.

But it's mostly the biological/hormonal stuff that worries me. Every one of my female friends has turned slightly crazy after having kids. They feel anxious and guilty all the time. The ones who work feel they should be spending more time with their kids. The ones who stay home feel they should be doing more with their lives, or miss adult interaction. Some moms I know can't leave their baby for more than a few hours, even with their own spouse, because they don't trust their husband to take care of the baby the way they would. Their husbands, on the other hand, feel nothing but freedom when they are away from their children, probably because they are confident that their mom has got this. These dads aren't bad parents, they are great parents, it's just that hormones make moms kind of crazy, and I'm not sure I want to sign up for that.

I want to be able to love and nurture and take care of a child without feeling like it is part of me. And I don't think that is possible for moms.

You sound to me like the prime candidate for fostering or adopting then. Not getting the direct hormonal changes that way then.

Also, I've met an older nurse like that through my job. We do Home Health Nursing of medically fragile kids. She has had one of her patients for 13 years. Raised this child, in so many ways. Never had kids of her own. She gets that fulfillment through work.

There's are multiple ways to be a part of a child's life. Big Brother/Big Sister is another possibility. Having your own biological children isn't the only way to help shape a young life.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Lagom on December 30, 2016, 11:48:23 AM
P.S. Though I am not the OP, I want to give huge thanks to the people who dare to be honest about regretting having kids, in this thread or anywhere else. Thanks to you, there might be fewer regretted children out there. I have personally always felt indifferent about the whole kids thing (I don't find the idea repulsive, but I'm not enthusiastic about it either), and probably the main thing that sways me is the massive chorus that says "you'll regret not having kids" and "it's different when it's your own, it's incredible like nothing else and it's always worth it". But because of voices like yours, I know that there are all sorts of possibilities and I can make a more educated decision.

This. Thanks for being so brave. I am the person IRL that people tell that they (either in a desperate moment or in general) wouldn't have children again. Every single one thinks that they are the only one. This is not a helpful situation. I know that you love your kid(s).

I'm also the person that needs to hear some balance instead of this permanent stream of pro-baby parents telling me that child rearing is 100% sunshine and no shit.

I know there are a lot of people out there saying this sort of stuff. These people are liars. That said, assuming you are confident in your choice to become a parent and have a good attitude about the drawbacks (of which there are many, obviously), raising kids is like investing in the stock market. Lots of down days, and potentially even quite lengthy periods of depression and uncertainty, and yet in the end your happiness portfolio inexorably marches upward.

I know it's an imperfect analogy (special needs/BD kids, random "I don't know how they could have turned out that way" outcomes, etc.), but those are a small minority of cases (when we are talking also about parents who wanted kids in the first place and well prepared for it), and also many of them still don't preclude a happy and fulfilling life. But I do agree you should be prepared to accept those possibilities before committing to children in the first place.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: iris lily on December 30, 2016, 12:04:00 PM
I am 62 years old, dont have children, have never regretted it. I never had the yen for kids.i think it is important for those on the fence to hear from people lile me with NO regrets.

At my age I think occasional grandchildren would be fun, but seeing a couple of people our age who are stuck raising grandchildren as well as funding their grown children, uh, no. I will take a pass on that.

There was a brief period, about six months, when I halfheartedly explored adoption from China. I love Asia and have always liked little Chinese girls I see. But I lost interest. See? Not cut out for it, cant retain that desire for even a year. Haha.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: skeptic on December 30, 2016, 12:24:30 PM
Erae,

First, I'm sorry to hear about you feeling down lately. I hope you are able to make the best of it and enjoy the upswing when the time is right.

Regarding kids, it sounds like, although you can appreciate the positives and sometimes feel interested in having kids, you don't have a strong and consistent desire for children. So my thoughts is: don't have them. And your spouse has already said he'll be ok with that, so all the bases seem covered.

I will say that most of the negatives you have listed (things like the stress about taking responsibility for the household and child) I do not consider deal-breakers or even near deal-breakers. I think of those kind of difficulties can be overcome... and even more easily in your case where, as you have noticed, you can hire out a lot of the labor.

Nevertheless, having a kid will probably take more time and energy than anything else in your life, ever, even if you were splitting the effort 50-50, and there's no going back once you're a parent. So... no. I think you should focus your energies elsewhere, on things you REALLY want to do and not just, on a good day, think would be nice.

On the off chance you and your spouse decide this turned out to be the wrong decision, there is always adoption, even after your own fertility has passed. But it seems unlikely you'll need that fallback.

(And: not that you should feel any pressure to do any nurturing, but if ever feel the need, the world needs many more devoted Aunts, neighbors, babysitters, after-school reading mentors, temporary foster parents, coaches, volunteers, godmothers, tutors, merit badge counselors, etc. )

Given how thorough and multifaceted your own appraisal of the situation was, I have no doubt you will make the best decision for you regardless of how it matches with anything we commenters come up with. Cheers!
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: golden1 on December 30, 2016, 01:24:33 PM
Quote
If you're not sure you want kids, I would advise against it.  They suck.  Only in retrospect have I realized how totally I had to abandon my old life to have kids.  It's like I'm a totally different person, and not in a good way.  Everything that I once thought made my life interesting or worthwhile is gone, replaced with stress and obligation.

Having said that, I firmly believe everyone should have kids.  We are biologically programmed to like sex and parenthood, it's like they fulfill some deep seated instinctual urge that we can repress but not ignore.  Reproduction actualizes your evolutionarily instilled biological imperative, and will bring you joy like no other.  Also heartache and pain like no other.  Evolution is a harsh mistress.

This made me giggle a bit.  It really does sum up the paradox of having children.  I think it taught me, in the truest sense, that joy does not come from luxury or material and physical comfort or even just contentment.  That something incredibly hard and grueling can be absolutely wonderful.  If you have a good partner, it makes you appreciate them in new ways. 

One thing to keep in mind.  You can't really "plan" children or how parenthood will affect you, you just can't.  You can make your best guess, but there are just too many variables.  I have a child with special needs, and a child with mental illness.  It's goddamned hard.  Would I trade them to childless?  No way.  Would I trade them for different children?  Nope.  Each of their struggles has and is making me grow as a person in ways I know I would not have otherwise.  To have children is often to deliberately seek pain in search of joy.  But there are really no guarantees.  It's a gamble. 
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on January 02, 2017, 03:58:14 AM
P.S. Though I am not the OP, I want to give huge thanks to the people who dare to be honest about regretting having kids, in this thread or anywhere else. Thanks to you, there might be fewer regretted children out there. I have personally always felt indifferent about the whole kids thing (I don't find the idea repulsive, but I'm not enthusiastic about it either), and probably the main thing that sways me is the massive chorus that says "you'll regret not having kids" and "it's different when it's your own, it's incredible like nothing else and it's always worth it". But because of voices like yours, I know that there are all sorts of possibilities and I can make a more educated decision.

This. Thanks for being so brave. I am the person IRL that people tell that they (either in a desperate moment or in general) wouldn't have children again. Every single one thinks that they are the only one. This is not a helpful situation. I know that you love your kid(s).

I'm also the person that needs to hear some balance instead of this permanent stream of pro-baby parents telling me that child rearing is 100% sunshine and no shit.

I know there are a lot of people out there saying this sort of stuff. These people are liars. That said, assuming you are confident in your choice to become a parent and have a good attitude about the drawbacks (of which there are many, obviously), raising kids is like investing in the stock market. Lots of down days, and potentially even quite lengthy periods of depression and uncertainty, and yet in the end your happiness portfolio inexorably marches upward.

I know it's an imperfect analogy (special needs/BD kids, random "I don't know how they could have turned out that way" outcomes, etc.), but those are a small minority of cases (when we are talking also about parents who wanted kids in the first place and well prepared for it), and also many of them still don't preclude a happy and fulfilling life. But I do agree you should be prepared to accept those possibilities before committing to children in the first place.

What makes you so certain that all other people's experiences are the same as yours?
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Etihwdivadnai on January 02, 2017, 07:04:25 AM
A subtly different perspective:
When I got married my spouse and I already knew that having children was unlikely but not completely impossible. This meant that we were prepared to accept a child-free life despite quite liking the idea of having at least one child. So after 4 years of marriage we tried, for about 8 years, unsuccessfully, to conceive with the attitude of: if it happens, it happens but if not then never mind.
During these 8 years we strove to live off just one person's income (and save/invest the other income) such that, in the event of having a child, one of us could give up work to be a stay at home parent. We did consider adoption but were not sufficiently desireous of children to go down this route. When I discovered this forum, I began to think that early-ish retirement was therefore a possibility.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Mariposa on January 02, 2017, 09:27:26 AM
I asked the OP about special needs (disabilities, if that was unclear) or crises.  No one gets a guarantee that their child will have no congenital conditions, never become seriously ill, never suffer an accident or trauma, never experience violence or aggression, never struggle developmentally, never develop behavioural or psychological issues.  If you don't have a perfectly issue-free child then you're looking at an increased logistical load of parenting and household management when kiddo is having a rough time, and possibly a lot more caregiving.  OP is already concerned about these aspects in a scenario that doesn't mention any consideration for extra challenges.

While parents certainly should have their own interests and resources for self-care, they're still on the hook for ensuring their kid has (at a minimum) food, shelter, safety, attention, and physical/mental development.  There is no break from those responsibilities, and they will consume time, money, and energy previously available exclusively for the parents' careers, leisure activities, and relationship.  That's the self-sacrifice that goes on and on.  If you have a sick or troubled child then there's even more of it.

There are families with profoundly disabled children who provide 24/7 care themselves and others whose disabled children essentially live in nursing homes. People do what they can, and I have no judgement for the choices that parents make. I don't know any parent, including my own, who hasn't had to deal with a child's crisis at some point or other. I'm not doubting that those healthy, issue-free kids exist; I just don't know them. We have mental illness, addiction, and suicide running through both of our families, and embracing those possibilities is part of why we were on the fence ourselves for such a long time.

I just want to point out that there are many ways to be a parent. One of my closest friends chose to stay home with her two children and is finally looking to go back to work now that her kids are 9 and 11. I was not one of those people who immediately found meaning and direction when my son was born, and I was ready to go back to work when he was about 6 months old. So we "outsource" a large part of the caregiving in the form of daycare. I agree with the posters who said you have to embrace uncertainty to be a parent; you don't necessarily know how you're going to feel or what kind of parent you're going to be ahead of time. You can do you, and that's ok.

Your spouse or parent can get hit by a bus tomorrow, or get Alzheimer's / a stroke / cancer, and you can find yourself in the unexpected and possibly unwanted role of caregiver. While this is categorically different from choosing to bring new life into the world and have a child, life itself is full of uncertainty. I do think you need a certain level of optimism to choose kids.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Lagom on January 02, 2017, 11:26:16 AM
P.S. Though I am not the OP, I want to give huge thanks to the people who dare to be honest about regretting having kids, in this thread or anywhere else. Thanks to you, there might be fewer regretted children out there. I have personally always felt indifferent about the whole kids thing (I don't find the idea repulsive, but I'm not enthusiastic about it either), and probably the main thing that sways me is the massive chorus that says "you'll regret not having kids" and "it's different when it's your own, it's incredible like nothing else and it's always worth it". But because of voices like yours, I know that there are all sorts of possibilities and I can make a more educated decision.

This. Thanks for being so brave. I am the person IRL that people tell that they (either in a desperate moment or in general) wouldn't have children again. Every single one thinks that they are the only one. This is not a helpful situation. I know that you love your kid(s).

I'm also the person that needs to hear some balance instead of this permanent stream of pro-baby parents telling me that child rearing is 100% sunshine and no shit.

I know there are a lot of people out there saying this sort of stuff. These people are liars. That said, assuming you are confident in your choice to become a parent and have a good attitude about the drawbacks (of which there are many, obviously), raising kids is like investing in the stock market. Lots of down days, and potentially even quite lengthy periods of depression and uncertainty, and yet in the end your happiness portfolio inexorably marches upward.

I know it's an imperfect analogy (special needs/BD kids, random "I don't know how they could have turned out that way" outcomes, etc.), but those are a small minority of cases (when we are talking also about parents who wanted kids in the first place and well prepared for it), and also many of them still don't preclude a happy and fulfilling life. But I do agree you should be prepared to accept those possibilities before committing to children in the first place.

What makes you so certain that all other people's experiences are the same as yours?

Where the hell did I say that? All of those who regret their choice to become a parent want their say and seem to think those of us who wouldn't trade the experience for anything are full of crap when we wax poetic about it. I actually agree with that to some extent (which I specifically stated), but for the purpose of this thread wouldn't you still agree that it's useful to hear from happy parents as well as unhappy parents?
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on January 02, 2017, 12:08:06 PM
Lagom,

100% agree that it is valuable to hear from happy parents. My question was how you can be certain that other people are lying about their experiences.

I wasn't entirely sure whether you were saying the happy waxing lyrical sunshine people or the people saying they wouldn't choose to have kids again were the ones that were lying.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Lagom on January 02, 2017, 12:23:48 PM
Lagom,

100% agree that it is valuable to hear from happy parents. My question was how you can be certain that other people are lying about their experiences.

I wasn't entirely sure whether you were saying the happy waxing lyrical sunshine people or the people saying they wouldn't choose to have kids again were the ones that were lying.

Ah, apologies. I meant the puppies and sunshine folks are the liars. Even the happiest, most loving situations still have plenty of challenges, as I can attest! :)
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: NeonPegasus on January 02, 2017, 01:01:12 PM
I've got 3 kids. Some days, I 100% regret having them. Other days, I can't imagine my life without them. Most days, it's much more of the latter than the former. This is basically how I feel about my husband as well. I don't think there is any sort of meaningful human experience that is all joy or even 80% joy and to believe that parenthood or marriage is supposed to be 100% wonderful just sets you up for failure and disappointment.

If you want kids, have them. You make quite enough money, not only to pay for a cleaner but also for childcare so you can continue working if you want. You have enough money to do all of that and still have a kick ass savings rate. And hiring help is not outsourcing motherhood. Anyone who tells you otherwise is an idiot and believes that parenthood should be an exercise in masochism. For generations, mothers have had a close network of family members to help them shoulder the responsibilities of the home and it's only recently that we've lost that. So hire some help and be glad that you can.

Children will not fix a marriage or depression or a shitty job. They can put those things into perspective rather quickly, though. They can make your prior troubles and worries seem vapid and silly. They can highlight that you've got a great partner (or a crappy one). They can make you realize that you don't need to earn as much money and still be happy and therefore, you might as well leave that horrid job.

I am not the same person I was before kids, in some good ways and some bad ways. I have been tested by fire and hardened stronger. I have been the rock in the middle of the stream that has my edges softened by constant flow of water. I can get more shit done than ever before and have become much more unflappable. Except on the days when I've been pecked near to death by chickens and lose my mind at the top of my lungs. It's like that - good and bad all together.

So, keep thinking about it. If you start feeling you're moving from "do I want to have kids" to "how can I make this work" I think you'll know you're ready.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Mezzie on January 02, 2017, 01:15:15 PM
I'm another one without kids to whom people feel comfortable telling me they regret having kids. Most the parents in my life are quite happy, but they always wanted kids and get real joy out of parenthood. A few had unplanned pregnancies and all worked out. The ones who caved to spousal pressure (or in one case, got caught up in baby fever when all her friends had kids) tend to be the ones who regret it.

Kids are awesome. I adore them in small doses, but I've never felt the desire to have any of my own.

Do you spend much time with children? Does it wear you out or excite you if you do? Do you have a support system where you are (you mentioned family is far away, but friends?).

I don't know... based in your first post, if I were going to choose for you (and I know I can't), I'd say don't do it. If your husband wants to help kids have more opportunities than he had, you are both in the perfect situation to do so. He could be a Big Brother, as someone mentioned, help fund a Boys and Girls Club or a local public preschool.

Just some thoughts. I'm a teacher, so people having kids keeps me employed, but I think it's important that parents really want their kids.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: GuitarStv on January 02, 2017, 01:26:28 PM
Our son is:
- The biggest problem we've had to deal in 10+ years as a couple.
- A constant energy, money, and time drain.
- Something that has disrupted my (or my wife's sleep) about 70% of all nights since he was born, with no end in sight.
- Occasionally pretty awesome/funny/cool (this point did not apply for the first 6 months or so - fuck babies entirely).

We were on the fence about having a kid and chose to have one.  A little over three years later, given the chance to do it all over again . . . I think that we would still be on the fence.  Your life changes an awful lot having a kid.  I'm not completely sold that it's for the better or the worse, but it is certainly different.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Lanthiriel on January 02, 2017, 04:05:36 PM
I identify with just about every single thing in your post. Seriously. The gender dynamics, the ambivalence about children and the reasons for it - I could have written this post.

I got married when I was 20 and we weren't sure if we wanted children. Now I'm 34 and I'm sure I don't want children. My husband continues to be ambivalent, and as he gets older he sometimes ruminates on the idea that we're not leaving anything behind.

I've told him that we could have a child if he wants, and I wouldn't object to it. I would grow the baby in my own womb, even. But once it was born, I would rent an office outside our home and work full time. I do not want to be a stay at home mother. The idea that I would be the person who is 100% responsible for making doctor's appointments and going to them and meeting with teachers and staying up late with a sick kid - ack. It might be different if I was the person who was 25% responsible for those things, or if my husband decided to take on being a stay at home father. But that's not what would happen. In fact, I feel like I would resent it if I did 25% and my nanny did 74% while my husband did 1%. Oh sure, he'd play games with our kid - but clean up vomit and poopy diapers? Guess when he last cleaned the cat litter.

I think this is what you mean by outsourcing motherhood. It's not that you wouldn't love your child and nurture your child, it's that there is a traditional job of "motherhood" that involves taking on the majority - or all - of the labor tasks, and you do not want that job.

I don't know how to advise you. We are making the childless-by-choice decision and I do feel that I'm happier than if we had a kid. I am not 100% sure that my husband is happier. But then, I would probably be more inclined to have children if he was "mommy" and I got to be "daddy". I understand that for some parents, they feel that there should be no difference in those two roles - but there would be in my relationship.

This is me too. Married at 21, currently 29, and finally admitted that I don't want children and never have. I always assumed we'd have one because it's what you do, right? But my husband can barely work and do 25% of our household chores. It's not totally his fault; I'm pretty sure he's on the autism spectrum. I knew I'd be the primary parent for any kids with him being reliable for fun activities but for a limited amount of the hard stuff. This is just not something that appeals to me at all.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Cassie on January 02, 2017, 05:13:00 PM
I have 3 adult kids and none of them want to have kids.  I have never pressed them to have kids because it is such a huge decision and tons of work. It is not over at 18 either. Young adults can hit hard times and need to move back in with parents, etc. You also never stop worrying about them to some point. I really enjoyed the journey of raising my kids but for 2 of them the teen years were pure hell. I wanted kids badly so it was the right choice for me but certainly not for everyone. From your post I don't really think you want them. My sister never had kids and does not regret it at 70.  Some men are equals or more in kids/chores, etc but most are not. 
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: CanuckExpat on January 02, 2017, 11:16:26 PM
Hi OP, while you consider your choices, here is a book you might be interested in: All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood (http://amzn.to/2isD2m5)

The title comes from the reams of social science data that seems to show parents less happy overall, though they respond to experience more joy/fulfillment (this is location/time specific).

A good read overall, if a bit rose tinted :)
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: azure975 on January 02, 2017, 11:45:33 PM
Taking a much longer view on the subject...I loved having my two children for the first 17 years. Then they got old enough to more or less go out into the world and do what they wanted. (We did pay for college for both of them.) Now that both adult children are at middle age and I guess I am almost a senior citizen, I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money. Shouldn't have bothered. Neither has much in common with me or cares much about me, except when they want something. I'm not being negative or critical--I certainly want both of them to have the lives they want. But I find that close friendships and a second, very happy marriage have given me a far better life than relationships with my adult children have. Good families are golden, but not all families are like the Waltons or families on the Disney channel...and there's really no way to know how your kids are going to turn out in the long haul. Just saying.

Interesting.....I'm childfree by choice but have often said that I would like to have the end result of kids (grown, adult children) but am not willing to go through the labor intensive first 18 years. Thanks for giving me a different perspective.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: damyst on January 03, 2017, 02:15:14 AM
It's amusing how discussions about "having kids" tend to refer to them in plural automatically, like "having lice". As if the exact number doesn't matter.
Granted, the change from having zero children to having one is the biggest shift in lifestyle, but when it comes to financials and other practicalities, having the second sometimes makes an even bigger difference.
MMM has reflected on this topic in a blog post (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/09/10/great-news-youre-allowed-to-have-only-one-kid/), by the way.

My wife and I are raising one child, and have no plans for more. We sat on the fence for about a decade. We weren't anti-kids (see, I'm doing it too!), but seeing friends of ours virtually cease to exist as independent human beings upon becoming parents was a huge turn-off. We vowed to never let that happen to us, and so far it hasn't.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Poundwise on January 03, 2017, 07:36:50 AM

Granted, the change from having zero children to having one is the biggest shift in lifestyle, but when it comes to financials and other practicalities, having the second sometimes makes an even bigger difference.
MMM has reflected on this topic in a blog post (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/09/10/great-news-youre-allowed-to-have-only-one-kid/), by the way.

The good thing is usually (unless you have multiples) you can phase in.  If one child is enough or too much, you can stop right there. I will agree that in the five years that I had only one child, I still had it together and the main downside was that I had a tendency to hover and spoil my (now) oldest; those of my friends and family who had a single child seem to to be thriving, have successful careers, travel lots with their child, etc.  When I had two kids, things were chaotic at first but I soon had enough left over to volunteer in the community and be a bigwig in the PTA.  With three, I am hanging on by my fingertips, but since I was always the type who liked to over schedule and live on the edge, this is not bad for me.

Here is another thought: it's better to have kids if you feel like you are overflowing with excess time, money, and fun that you'd like to share.  It''s a bad idea to have kids to fill a hole you feel in yourself or your relationship.

Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Case on January 03, 2017, 07:38:20 AM
End-of-year reflections are fertile ground for an existential crisis. Here are the headlines:
  • Money: Spouse and I pull in almost 300k annually - he's earning roughly 2/3 of that and I'm earning the other 1/3. We live off of 70k, gift around 20k a year, and invest 100k. While our income will dip in the next few years as one of us heads back to school, our combined income should stay above six-figures for the foreseeable future. I start with financials b/c they're the most comfortable part of this conversation. We haven't been earning this money for long, but are closing in on 300k net worth
  • Biology + Health: I'm a 33 year old female. Spouse is 34. We're approaching shit-or-get-off-the-pot territory for procreation. I've also put on 40 pounds in the last few years with a demanding desk job and have only recently begun to seriously address the weight through a better diet and exercise. Asked my Ob/Gyn in my last appointment if I'd be better off waiting a year to conceive to get my weight down or starting now and increasing our likelihood of getting that baby out by 35. She recommended youth over a healthy BMI
  • Family dynamics: Been married almost 3 years. Marriage is healthy overall, though there is an ongoing tension around some of the gender dynamics. We've got our current situation sorted out, but a baby would put pressure on a big nerve of mine.  I work from home and handle the vast majority of household management. He works for a bunch of consecutive days then has 6+ days off at a time. None of that downtime was spent on household stuff, so I've begun sending him weekly emails with to do lists for his days off. Anything that is on the list gets done.  He's an incredibly attentive partner emotionally and would rather spend time together than clean a bathtub that hasn't been cleaned in four months. We rent, have no pets and no kids, so it's do-able, though I have sacrificed some things I liked (shared dinners) because I got resentful about the work required on the back end. He eats frozen dinners now and I cook for myself as I did when I was single. He doesn't mind. We went to a therapist a few months ago to talk about this - specifically my concerns about adding more responsibilities to the household through having a child -  and the therapist just laughed when he figured out our ballpark income and told us to get a cleaning service + a nanny. We mumbled something about our savings rate and wanting to retire early and never went back. I know my husband would handle all the direct care (late night feedings, diapers) of the baby, but I'd be on my own handling the increased logistical load of the house with a child. Both of our mothers were stay at home parents and devoted their working years to running a well-oiled and loving household. I am not a good candidate for SAH parenthood and my husband is our primary earner.
  • Desire for kids: When we got married, we didn't think we were going to have kids. I worked with kids in my 20's and that seems to have met my caregiver needs (though I hear a lot of "it's different when they're YOUR kids"). He's an immigrant to the US and his desire for kids seems to stem largely from a desire to give a child access to the opportunities he didn't have growing up middle class in an under-developed country. He's getting the fever and I wax romantic occasionally. He's told me that he knew going into this marriage that neither one of us wanted kids and it's not on me to accommodate his changed mind. As we've talked (and talked and talked) about parenting, I've come to the conclusion that I'd be interested in fatherhood but not motherhood. I can see a path to joint "fatherhood" if we allocate my salary to outsourcing "motherhood" through nannies, cleaning services, grocery delivery, etc (maybe that therapist was on to something...). Husband balks at spending so much money, but I think I could get him on board with a more detailed budget. He's assured me that he'll be fine if we don't have kids, but this pregnancy purgatory of being off the pill but not actively trying to conceive is a drag
  • Living situation: We're in the middle of a 3 year contract in a part of the country where we have no family and don't have much in common with the people around us. We've got almost 2 years to go before we can move, and are both showing some signs of depression, so we're low on optimism and energy. On my best days, I feel excited to grow our family. Most days, I just want to put my head down and drive our savings rate as high as possible with this fat contract we've got. I suspect a kid would both stress us further when we're already down and give us a little much-needed sunshine and perspective.
It doesn't show up on this list, but I swear we'd be kick-ass parents. I've read every think piece out there about parenthood and happiness and childfree couples, and I'm ready for some face punches and reality checks from the incredible folks on this forum. Appreciate your time and perspectives.

Overall, your post does not make me think you are the right people to have children right now.  You remind me of myself (and my wife).  Listing pros and cons, debating over details, trying to make rational choices on something that I think is largely and emotional choice (e.g. the desire the have children).  All the people I know that have children all just knew they wanted to do it, it wasn't a large deliberation.  I am somewhat young (early 30s) but these people do not regret having children; they are all happy with their choice.  Maybe this is will change with time.  There are a lot of ways that having children can go wrong and is out of your control; if you aren't whole-heartedly into it, it may be a sign that you don't really want to have children but rather are worried about missing out on something that you don't necessarily want due to vicarious living.

Your last point, about temporarily living in a place you don't like, causing you to consider having children, worries me.  It is a temporary situation (2 years is not very long), while a child is very much long term.  A child might make you more stressed, or also fill in the emptiness in your life.  But this is not he purpose of a child, to help deal with temporary problems.  I'm guessing you didn't mean it exactly this way...

Since you listed family dynamics being enough of an issue to be a factor in your post, might I recommend trying to take care of that first?  If have children and the your relationship with your husband goes to shit (due to him not pulling his weight or whatever), it's going to rapidly become a very bad situation.

Some points I have not yet seen on this thread:
-Not pushing one way or the other here.  Just consider the following:  how will having children impact your social life and friendships?  Do all of your friends have children?  Do none?  Do some?  Will your friendships go to the back burner?  Is this ok with you?
-Of my friends, most of them have young children and I am the main one who doesn't.  For some friends, it doesn't matter.  For others, I feel like they are moving onto a different stage of life.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Easye418 on January 03, 2017, 10:31:38 AM
Based on the responses I have read, I am definitely on MMM forums. 

To the OP, this is something you need to figure out on your own, I don't think this is the right place for this question... at all.


Do it! Commit to it and do it well!
Seriously, it helps give purpose, direction, meaning to life. Put something into the world instead of just taking. Best of luck!

Really like this post.  Thanks.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: KBecks on January 03, 2017, 10:38:31 AM
* Have a baby and enjoy the fun of the mechanics.
* Spend date time together and enjoy that time before baby disrupts everything
* Hire a cleaning service to help take a load off both of you.
* Have you tried Zumba?

Happy New Year!!

Note:  Kids are messy, sticky, icky little things, and they are wonderful.  Just be aware.  I am sure you can handle it. 
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: golden1 on January 03, 2017, 11:19:54 AM
Quote
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god. 
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: COlady on January 03, 2017, 11:41:25 AM
Quote
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

I second that. Maybe the kids don't come around because you have a bad attitude about life so they're distancing themselves?
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: limeandpepper on January 03, 2017, 11:49:10 AM
Do it! Commit to it and do it well!
Seriously, it helps give purpose, direction, meaning to life. Put something into the world instead of just taking. Best of luck!

Really like this post.  Thanks.

I don't.

Because:

- The insinuation that child-free people only take and don't give.
- Conveniently forgetting that creating a child means creating another being that will be doing a whole lotta taking.
- Let's face it, people generally have children because they want to, which is great! But the point is, it's not to "put something into the world instead of just taking".

However, people who choose to adopt otherwise unwanted children even though they are capable of having biological kids - that really does deserve serious kudos.

For the most part, I believe people should have kids if they want (subject to the ability to care for them), and not have kids if they don't want any. Just don't kid yourself (pun intended) that you're doing it for some noble reason. The whole "it's for the greater good" argument comes up from both sides (e.g. "they'll be paying taxes [not necessarily] and they might cure cancer [probably not]" vs. "the planet is overpopulated and resources are finite"), which is funny, because at the end of the day the real reason is because you wanted them enough or you didn't want them enough, or sometimes for other reasons e.g. because you just thought it was what people do, etc. But very, very rarely is it actually for a truly magnanimous reason.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: mrsnamemustache on January 03, 2017, 12:00:51 PM
You really struck a chord with something I've been feeling with the "fatherhood" vs "motherhood" thing. I'm a woman, and while fatherhood sounds ideal, motherhood sounds like too much: too much anxiety, too much worry, too much responsibility, too much of the logistics of running a household with small people in it. I don't want to be the primary care giver. I don't want to be the point person for everything. And my partner really does try to do his fare share! But there are things that he just doesn't think about, and I know that would be compounded with kids.

But it's mostly the biological/hormonal stuff that worries me. Every one of my female friends has turned slightly crazy after having kids. They feel anxious and guilty all the time. The ones who work feel they should be spending more time with their kids. The ones who stay home feel they should be doing more with their lives, or miss adult interaction. Some moms I know can't leave their baby for more than a few hours, even with their own spouse, because they don't trust their husband to take care of the baby the way they would. Their husbands, on the other hand, feel nothing but freedom when they are away from their children, probably because they are confident that their mom has got this. These dads aren't bad parents, they are great parents, it's just that hormones make moms kind of crazy, and I'm not sure I want to sign up for that.

I want to be able to love and nurture and take care of a child without feeling like it is part of me. And I don't think that is possible for moms.

Motherhood doesn't have to be that way. I'll admit that I see some of these tendencies in many mothers I know, but it isn't my personal experience. I work without guilt, enjoy time with my kid, and trust my husband with my kid for days at a time. I think in additional to possible hormonal contributions, to the extent that this happens, it is a product of culture and personality. I think there is a recent cultural phenomena around motherhood that involves it having to be full of excessive sacrifice, but I think mothers can and should resist the guilt around these things when it doesn't makes sense. But I do think it is almost always true that the mother becomes the "point person" for most things.

I'd also like to add that my husband and I were on the fence about having a kid but decided to go for it. About 16 months in, we are ridiculously pleased with our decision. So I am not sure if being on the fence has much bearing on how much you will enjoy parenthood. Good luck!
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: okits on January 03, 2017, 12:12:27 PM
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

I second that. Maybe the kids don't come around because you have a bad attitude about life so they're distancing themselves?

Yeah, depressing, but I appreciate the honesty.  There are many facets to family situations, so a pat explanation (if the parents have a bad attitude the kids will stay away) can't capture the complexities of many real life situations.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Lanthiriel on January 03, 2017, 12:17:26 PM
Based on the responses I have read, I am definitely on MMM forums. 

To the OP, this is something you need to figure out on your own, I don't think this is the right place for this question... at all.


Do it! Commit to it and do it well!
Seriously, it helps give purpose, direction, meaning to life. Put something into the world instead of just taking. Best of luck!

Really like this post.  Thanks.

Serious non accusatory question(s) as there seem to be many folks here who feel that having kids is a biological and evolutionary imperative: Why shouldn't logic and quantitative reasoning be applied to having children? Why is having kids the one thing in life that we're somehow not allowed to question? Isn't Mustachianism about finding what makes you happiest and pursuing it? Why are we allowed to opt out of consumerism, which, let's be honest, makes the US economy go 'round, but we can't opt out of having children?

Quote
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god. 

The cult of having children feels a lot like religion to me. For people in it, who really believe in it, it seems almost impossible to see how something that brings you so much meaning could be a burden to someone else. For those on the outside, you're confused why everyone is involved in this ritual that has no meaning for you. Both sides would argue that they're the ones with their eyes open and know what really matters, but in the end can you really prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach for everyone?

The person who sees raising children as a waste of time and money is not saying that her children are a waste of time and money. It's completely reasonable to find other aspects of your life more fulfilling and acknowledge that you would not make the same choice again without it meaning that you wish your children had never been born. For me, it's a huge burden that so much of my own mother's identity is wrapped up in me and my sisters. Our lives and our relationship with her would be much easier if she didn't see our every move as a reflection upon her, and if she was able to have an identity outside of being a mother.

OP, a lot of other people have said it, but the only good reason to have kids is that you really want kids. If you can't look yourself in the mirror and say, "this is what I want," then why do it? Would you do that with any other decision in your life?
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: azure975 on January 03, 2017, 12:32:01 PM
Quote
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

I second that. Maybe the kids don't come around because you have a bad attitude about life so they're distancing themselves?

I find these responses pretty judgemental. I appreciate the poster's honesty. Your reactions are probably why people with kids don't feel comfortable being honest about their experiences and feel the need to "evangelize" everyone else.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: pbkmaine on January 03, 2017, 12:32:44 PM
With the world teeming with people, along with the general availability of reliable birth control, shouldn't the default mode be "no children"?
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Easye418 on January 03, 2017, 12:39:12 PM
Serious non accusatory question(s) as there seem to be many folks here who feel that having kids is a biological and evolutionary imperative: Why shouldn't logic and quantitative reasoning be applied to having children? Why is having kids the one thing in life that we're somehow not allowed to question? Isn't Mustachianism about finding what makes you happiest and pursuing it? Why are we allowed to opt out of consumerism, which, let's be honest, makes the US economy go 'round, but we can't opt out of having children?

To answer your serious non accusatory question, there isn't anything set in stone to tell me how I should live my life.  In all seriousness, I just like the quote, I like the idea of expanding my family and parenting, I feel it is the next step in our life.  If someone wants to opt out, by all means, opt out.  Whatever makes you the best you.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: pachnik on January 03, 2017, 12:43:20 PM
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

I second that. Maybe the kids don't come around because you have a bad attitude about life so they're distancing themselves?

Yeah, depressing, but I appreciate the honesty.  There are many facets to family situations, so a pat explanation (if the parents have a bad attitude the kids will stay away) can't capture the complexities of many real life situations.

+1 My husband has a great attitude but his daughter from his previous marriage stays away.    No guarantees whatsoever.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Imustacheyouaquestion on January 03, 2017, 12:48:33 PM
http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/09/not-wanting-kids-is-entirely-normal/262367/
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Lagom on January 03, 2017, 12:56:02 PM
Some of you who don't want kids are being too touchy about it. I get it, a lot of people judge your choice, but I don't think there has been much judgement in this thread other than the comments related to lizzzi's post, I suppose. Just because some of us derive great joy from our children doesn't mean we have any issue with those who choose not to have them. In some ways I wish I didn't want kids. Much of my life would be so much more straightforward and I envy the FIRE advantages of DINKs, not to mention their flexibility to live as they please without worrying about a little one. But I was wired to procreate, it seems, and I don't regret it whatsoever :)

With the world teeming with people, along with the general availability of reliable birth control, shouldn't the default mode be "no children"?

This doesn't really apply to pretty much any first world country, the majority of which are peaking, or even declining in population, especially if you take immigration out of the equation. See Japan as exhibit A why we don't want a population decline. Plus from all recent accounts I've read, the world as a whole is slowing in growth and heading towards a stable population that should be sustainable as long as we actually do something about global warming and other ecological threats (which is entirely possible with current technology).

Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Lanthiriel on January 03, 2017, 01:09:57 PM
Some of you who don't want kids are being too touchy about it. I get it, a lot of people judge your choice, but I don't think there has been much judgement in this thread other than the comments related to lizzzi's post, I suppose.

The only part I take issue with is people saying "Just do it. It will be fine." I think it's awesome to share your experience bringing up kids and its challenges and rewards. That's helpful! But I think it's dangerous to discount someone's concerns, especially in light of OP's ongoing issues with distribution of domestic duties and ambivalence about motherhood, and say "You'll love it. I promise."
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: nobody123 on January 03, 2017, 01:12:17 PM
If you're not sure you want kids, I would advise against it.  They suck.  Only in retrospect have I realized how totally I had to abandon my old life to have kids.  It's like I'm a totally different person, and not in a good way.  Everything that I once thought made my life interesting or worthwhile is gone, replaced with stress and obligation.

+1.  It's not like 150 years ago where you had to pop out 10 kids to make sure at least a couple would survive and help you out on the farm.  If you aren't sure, don't have them.  Kids are a total PITA.  At times I envy my divorced friends because they get to send their kids to their exes and can live the child-free lifestyle a few days every week.  Even "perfect" kids add a huge amount of stress to a marriage, limit your career choices (good luck selling a move to your family mid-school year, or away from the grandparents, etc.), and suck up pretty much all of your free time.  I'm the "good husband, shitty roommate" type, and if my wife wasn't a SAHM and willing to do a disproportionate amount of the housework, we would probably have had to hire a housekeeper.  I love my kids fiercely and would do just about anything for them, but they are challenging.  I always liked the Wanda Sykes joke that your friends with kids always say "They're a lot of work, ...but they're worth it" but they can't look you in the eyes when they're saying it.  Kids completely turn your world upside down, and unfortunately there's no way to know what it is going to look like before having them and you see how you and your spouse adapt to the new reality.  If both of you aren't completely open to doing what is best for the family as a whole once the child arrives, it will be tough sledding.

Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: limeandpepper on January 03, 2017, 01:13:03 PM
Quote
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

I second that. Maybe the kids don't come around because you have a bad attitude about life so they're distancing themselves?

I find these responses pretty judgemental. I appreciate the poster's honesty. Your reactions are probably why people with kids don't feel comfortable being honest about their experiences and feel the need to "evangelize" everyone else.

+1

Maybe the world would be a better place if people can talk about these things without other people immediately assuming the worst about them? Why is there immediately the assumption that the parent must have done something wrong or have a bad attitude? Maybe the person with the bad attitude is not the one who admits to regretting kids, but the one who tries to make them feel awful for it?

To me, the poster quoted sounds like someone who enjoyed raising kids, and hoped to have a good relationship with their kids throughout their lives, and felt disappointed because that didn't quite happen, which is kind of an understandable/reasonable situation to me? There are no guarantees for these things, there could be a reason for it, there may not be, seems unkind to assume it must be the parent's fault.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: KCM5 on January 03, 2017, 01:13:56 PM
With the world teeming with people, along with the general availability of reliable birth control, shouldn't the default mode be "no children"?

For me, as a childless 20 something, that absolutely was the default. The act of deciding to have a child was active - stopping birth control, and in our case, actually taking fertility meds.

I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

I second that. Maybe the kids don't come around because you have a bad attitude about life so they're distancing themselves?

Yeah, depressing, but I appreciate the honesty.  There are many facets to family situations, so a pat explanation (if the parents have a bad attitude the kids will stay away) can't capture the complexities of many real life situations.

I appreciate the honesty as well. Also, I think the negative reaction to that story really has more to do with the person reacting than the reality of the situation. If you have a child that you enjoy right now, you don't want to think that your relationship could sour in the future. So you think it must have been something the parent did, and that you won't do.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: wenchsenior on January 03, 2017, 02:16:45 PM
Quote
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

I second that. Maybe the kids don't come around because you have a bad attitude about life so they're distancing themselves?

I find these responses pretty judgemental. I appreciate the poster's honesty. Your reactions are probably why people with kids don't feel comfortable being honest about their experiences and feel the need to "evangelize" everyone else.

+1

Maybe the world would be a better place if people can talk about these things without other people immediately assuming the worst about them? Why is there immediately the assumption that the parent must have done something wrong or have a bad attitude? Maybe the person with the bad attitude is not the one who admits to regretting kids, but the one who tries to make them feel awful for it?

To me, the poster quoted sounds like someone who enjoyed raising kids, and hoped to have a good relationship with their kids throughout their lives, and felt disappointed because that didn't quite happen, which is kind of an understandable/reasonable situation to me? There are no guarantees for these things, there could be a reason for it, there may not be, seems unkind to assume it must be the parent's fault.

+ 1000.  Plenty of parent/child relationships are perfectly fine when the offspring are young and dependent, and gradually become more of an obligatory thing as the kid grows up. Kids don't always take on traits a parent might wish they had, regardless of parental effort and quality of parenting skills. There's a very distinct possibility that as adults, you would not necessarily ever hang out with each other if you weren't blood relatives. I know lots of people who rarely have contact with their parents and don't really care that much that they don't.  I know a few parents who feel the same way.  Generally speaking, it's not uncommon for relatives to actively dislike or simply not relate to each other; why should parent/kid relationships be any different?

No one is necessarily at fault for this. .. I don't understand why being honest about it is so upsetting to people.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Case on January 03, 2017, 03:34:59 PM
Do it! Commit to it and do it well!
Seriously, it helps give purpose, direction, meaning to life. Put something into the world instead of just taking. Best of luck!

Really like this post.  Thanks.

I don't.

Because:

- The insinuation that child-free people only take and don't give.
- Conveniently forgetting that creating a child means creating another being that will be doing a whole lotta taking.
- Let's face it, people generally have children because they want to, which is great! But the point is, it's not to "put something into the world instead of just taking".

However, people who choose to adopt otherwise unwanted children even though they are capable of having biological kids - that really does deserve serious kudos.

For the most part, I believe people should have kids if they want (subject to the ability to care for them), and not have kids if they don't want any. Just don't kid yourself (pun intended) that you're doing it for some noble reason. The whole "it's for the greater good" argument comes up from both sides (e.g. "they'll be paying taxes [not necessarily] and they might cure cancer [probably not]" vs. "the planet is overpopulated and resources are finite"), which is funny, because at the end of the day the real reason is because you wanted them enough or you didn't want them enough, or sometimes for other reasons e.g. because you just thought it was what people do, etc. But very, very rarely is it actually for a truly magnanimous reason.

Very much agree.  A much better way to give to the world in the truest sense is to adopt or be a bigger brother/sister or help educate the less-fortunate.  All of these options help disadvantaged people who are here already (like it or not) and are more likely to consume.

There's also not much of a guarantee that everyone's child here will become a perfect little mustachian.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: HappierAtHome on January 03, 2017, 11:10:54 PM
Do it! Commit to it and do it well!
Seriously, it helps give purpose, direction, meaning to life. Put something into the world instead of just taking. Best of luck!

Really like this post.  Thanks.

I don't.

Because:

- The insinuation that child-free people only take and don't give.
- Conveniently forgetting that creating a child means creating another being that will be doing a whole lotta taking.
- Let's face it, people generally have children because they want to, which is great! But the point is, it's not to "put something into the world instead of just taking".

(snipped)

For the most part, I believe people should have kids if they want (subject to the ability to care for them), and not have kids if they don't want any. Just don't kid yourself (pun intended) that you're doing it for some noble reason. The whole "it's for the greater good" argument comes up from both sides (e.g. "they'll be paying taxes [not necessarily] and they might cure cancer [probably not]" vs. "the planet is overpopulated and resources are finite"), which is funny, because at the end of the day the real reason is because you wanted them enough or you didn't want them enough, or sometimes for other reasons e.g. because you just thought it was what people do, etc. But very, very rarely is it actually for a truly magnanimous reason.

THIS TIMES A MILLION.

There is no guarantee that a child you create will be of net benefit to the world.

I want kids (I'm pregnant right now) but that doesn't somehow make me a better person than my childfree friends. They're not selfish. They wanted something different from life, so that's what they're doing - that's very, very rational.

I'm not "giving something back" by having kids. I'm creating human beings who will require a huge quantity of time and resources for at least the first few decades of their lives. And because I sadly do not have a time machine or crystal ball, I have no guarantee (or indeed, any belief that it is even vaguely likely) that any child of mine will be the one in a billion who cures cancer or solves climate change. I still believe that it's worth having kids, but it's worth it to ME because I WANT them. It's not a selfless act by any stretch.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on January 04, 2017, 02:54:13 AM
Some of you who don't want kids are being too touchy about it. I get it, a lot of people judge your choice, but I don't think there has been much judgement in this thread other than the comments related to lizzzi's post, I suppose. Just because some of us derive great joy from our children doesn't mean we have any issue with those who choose not to have them. In some ways I wish I didn't want kids. Much of my life would be so much more straightforward and I envy the FIRE advantages of DINKs, not to mention their flexibility to live as they please without worrying about a little one. But I was wired to procreate, it seems, and I don't regret it whatsoever :)

I like this. In the (or at least my) wider world then the child-free do get a lot of judgement. I've found the MMM boards in general more accepting of the child-free.

I won't have kids, hearing the viewpoints of people who are super-committed and enthusiastic about their kid(s) actually reinforces my belief that they are wrong for me. I think the different opinions are useful data for the OP.

Having kid(s) is a little like following MMM, or starting Crossfit, or finding a new religion. It has such a positive impact on one person's life that there can be a tendency to assume that it will have a similar positive experience on everyone else's life. There can also be a bit of backlash against people who tried [Crossfit] and said that it wasn't really for them. It is easier to suppose that the person should have done [Crossfit] better or differently rather than accept that what is life-affirming for me isn't for everyone.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Cowardly Toaster on January 04, 2017, 10:52:05 AM
New father here (4 month old son).

I feel like anything I say will just sound like me trying to justify having kids, but I don't want it to sound that way.

I LOVE IT, and my DW loves it too. It's been fun so far and we are already talking about our next child, hopefully a daughter!

From the mustachian perspective, the kid hasn't been super expensive.  A few bills insurance didn't cover, diapers, and some second hand stuff.

It hasn't changed our lifestyle much either. We bundle the kid up and carry him hiking and snowshoeing. We visit friends, and go out to eat occasionally. When he was just 4 weeks old we carried him out to my friend's remote cabin for a a night. So far it seems having kids is like the rest of life: it's what you make of it.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: little_brown_dog on January 04, 2017, 10:54:17 AM
Was thinking about this thread the other day….specifically the psychology of being a parent and the extreme emotional toll it can take on people (lots of highs, lots of lows). It’s another factor to consider, and I’m not just talking about the general exhaustion of parenting, or the unending responsibility…I’m talking about that saying “having a child is like having your heart walk around outside of your body.” I think for many parents, this statement is absolutely true, and it goes way beyond just YOUR kid too.

Before I had kids, I was still a very empathetic person but I have seen some tough sh*t through my work (poverty, drug addiction, homelessness, dying children in PICUs, and that’s just the tough stuff that didn’t happen to me!) so I wasn’t the type to get really emotional about news stories, the state of the world, etc. I’m pretty even keeled. After having my daughter, that changed. I’m still really resilient and optimistic, but I can’t seem to get stories (even made up ones!) of child endangerment or whatnot out of my head when I see them. They bother me more deeply. They unsettle me in a way they never would have before. I can’t see a news story about a dad who beat his baby to death and just forget about it like I used to. Or the other night we watched a movie with a scene with a plane crash…there was one brief second they flashed to a mom comforting her crying baby on the doomed flight as the plane was going down…can’t get it out of my head. REALLY bothered me. Or the time the Newtown shooting happened, and I walked into the living room to find my 60yr old parents crying on the couch watching the news flash pictures of agonized parents on their knees in the road. They didn’t know any of these kids or these people, but a small part of them was dying inside too.

This was something no one really told me about, but I think it is an important consideration, especially if people already have struggles with anxiety and depression.

On a lighter note...this Family Guy clip sums this up nicely :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOP2aaWUwzI
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: money beard on January 04, 2017, 11:20:44 AM
Like others have suggested, you should make your decision on kids vs. no kids based on your personal preferences.  FI doesn't really play into it too much. 

I will add that I have two children, three and one.  They are at a really expensive stage right now because both attend day care (my wife and I both work full time) and diapers, formula, and all the medical care is very costly.  Plus we are trying to front load some 529s so they can get some compounding growth.  They will get a little cheaper when they get potty trained, a lot cheaper when they can attend public school instead of day care out of my pocket.  At that point, I think they get steadily more expensive (but never as bad as the day care / diaper / formula costs) until college when obviously if you are paying for that its worse than day care.  They do cause you to become even more frugal on restaurants, alcohol, and entertainment because taking care of them uses so much of your free time. 

That being said, I have figured out what portion of our expenses are kid-related, and ran it through my FI/RE spreadsheets to see when we would have retired if we had invested everything we spent on the kids.  My kids cost us around 7 years on our path to FI.  I would have retired at age 43 without them, and with them, I will be around fifty.  And I might work an extra year or two if one of my girls gets into Harvard or something and our adequately funded 529s can't cut it. 

For me, the seven/eight years difference is worth it; obviously your mileage may vary based on your thoughts about kids and also on your savings rate.  If kids were going to tack on twenty years instead of seven maybe I would feel differently, but overall I still think I would have them.  I really enjoy being a father and it is an experience unlike anything else I have ever done.  Sure there are days I question what the hell we were thinking but I also have moments where my three year old does something funny or says something sweet and I think to myself that I would not trade my decisions for anything in the world. 

The other thing you should take into consideration in deciding whether or not to have kids is how much you like your spouse.  Your kids will bring out new sides in both of you, you will get to see him/her at their very best and at their worst.  For some couples that stress is a good thing, for others its bad.  But something to consider.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: golden1 on January 04, 2017, 01:03:03 PM
Quote
Quote from: okits on January 03, 2017, 12:12:27 PM
Quote from: COlady on January 03, 2017, 11:41:25 AM
Quote from: golden1 on January 03, 2017, 11:19:54 AM
Quote from: lizzzi on December 30, 2016, 08:44:58 AM
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

I second that. Maybe the kids don't come around because you have a bad attitude about life so they're distancing themselves?

Yeah, depressing, but I appreciate the honesty.  There are many facets to family situations, so a pat explanation (if the parents have a bad attitude the kids will stay away) can't capture the complexities of many real life situations.

I appreciate the honesty as well. Also, I think the negative reaction to that story really has more to do with the person reacting than the reality of the situation. If you have a child that you enjoy right now, you don't want to think that your relationship could sour in the future. So you think it must have been something the parent did, and that you won't do.

Quote
The cult of having children feels a lot like religion to me. For people in it, who really believe in it, it seems almost impossible to see how something that brings you so much meaning could be a burden to someone else. For those on the outside, you're confused why everyone is involved in this ritual that has no meaning for you. Both sides would argue that they're the ones with their eyes open and know what really matters, but in the end can you really prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach for everyone?

I didn't say that that statement was depressing to be judgemental.  It was a gut emotional reaction to a very strong statement about LIVING children that this person spent 18 years with and has apparently no emotional attachment.  Child-loving or child-free, that is just a sad, sad thing to read.  Imagine being told, or just knowing that your parents consider you a "waste of time and money".  It just took my breath away to read, that's all.   And yes, as a parent of a teenager, I would be heartbroken to think that I could ever feel this way.  Even if my teen ended up being a horrible adult, I am as certain as I can be that I would not view raising the child as "a waste of time and money". 

Personally I am all for people not having children if they choose not to.  We have over seven million, we don't need more.  So don't think this is some sort of judgement on people who responsibly choose not to have children. 
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Snow White on January 04, 2017, 04:04:04 PM
I've been thinking about OP's dilemma and thought I'd share my story...maybe helpful? I absolutely, positively did not want or plan to have children. Period. No ambivalence. Three years into a five year marriage I got pregnant while on the pill. I couldn't face abortion so I had a daughter and shortly thereafter, a divorce. I had a tubal ligation before she was a year old so as to never make that "mistake" again.

Now I shudder to think what my life would have been without her or the two granddaughters she gave me. Truly, it strikes a cold fear in my heart to know what I could have missed. I remarried and never regretted not having more children and I firmly believe we don't all have the interest, disposition or spousal support to have children and we should NOT feel a moment of guilt about it.  Somehow I rose to the occasion though and managed to be a reasonably good mom despite my lack of initial interest.

I am not sure what the message is in this story except that you really can't know how you are going to feel before you get there.  I am sure I would have had a lovely life without a child but I know that I had a better one because I did. Not everyone has the same experience but it worked out for me.  I wish OP the best of luck as this is such a momentous decision.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: GilbertB on January 04, 2017, 04:42:26 PM
Had a hard day digging out broken sewage pipes in the garden.
Moving more the three tons of earth to find an elusive fault in a 1965 system.
After diner I my 4 year old, sensing my tired frustration gave me a very long cuddle to cheer me up and generally was very sweet to me.

Theses moment make all the poop smeared diapers worth it.

I get frustrated with parents complaining about their teen being the worst, yet when I spend time with them, they are generally quite with me, probably because I listen, don't judge, and remember that I was an awkward one too. Only rarely do you actually met someone that is really bad, prevented or sick.
If your kids voluntarily infuriate you, then distance themselves, I'm no psychologist, but it seems that they were asking for something then got tired of getting no answers.

But, hey, I could be wrong, y'all are perfect and it's all the fault those closely genetically related ungrateful  leeches :)

And if your spouse and yourself are asking yourselves about kids, life and consequences, you probably have a far higher IQ than those who are asking themselves the same questions at around kid no5... so please procreate for the good of the human gene pool!
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: wenchsenior on January 04, 2017, 04:48:31 PM
Quote
Quote from: okits on January 03, 2017, 12:12:27 PM
Quote from: COlady on January 03, 2017, 11:41:25 AM
Quote from: golden1 on January 03, 2017, 11:19:54 AM
Quote from: lizzzi on December 30, 2016, 08:44:58 AM
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

I second that. Maybe the kids don't come around because you have a bad attitude about life so they're distancing themselves?

Yeah, depressing, but I appreciate the honesty.  There are many facets to family situations, so a pat explanation (if the parents have a bad attitude the kids will stay away) can't capture the complexities of many real life situations.

I appreciate the honesty as well. Also, I think the negative reaction to that story really has more to do with the person reacting than the reality of the situation. If you have a child that you enjoy right now, you don't want to think that your relationship could sour in the future. So you think it must have been something the parent did, and that you won't do.

Quote
The cult of having children feels a lot like religion to me. For people in it, who really believe in it, it seems almost impossible to see how something that brings you so much meaning could be a burden to someone else. For those on the outside, you're confused why everyone is involved in this ritual that has no meaning for you. Both sides would argue that they're the ones with their eyes open and know what really matters, but in the end can you really prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach for everyone?

I didn't say that that statement was depressing to be judgemental.  It was a gut emotional reaction to a very strong statement about LIVING children that this person spent 18 years with and has apparently no emotional attachment.  Child-loving or child-free, that is just a sad, sad thing to read.  Imagine being told, or just knowing that your parents consider you a "waste of time and money".  It just took my breath away to read, that's all.   And yes, as a parent of a teenager, I would be heartbroken to think that I could ever feel this way.  Even if my teen ended up being a horrible adult, I am as certain as I can be that I would not view raising the child as "a waste of time and money". 



Well, I guess 'waste of time and money' definitely depends on what you expected to get out of child-rearing, right?    I mean, if you go into it hoping/expecting that you will end up really liking your children as adults (as well as just reflexively loving them just because...that's what hormones wire you to do) and that you will be close to them as adults, and that they will grow into people you admire or are proud to have raised...Don't you think it's pretty common for those things to not pan out?  My impression is it that it is quite common, certainly among people of my acquaintance. It's not the majority, but it isn't rare. 

And as for the reverse, where the grown kids end up feeling only mild attachment/fondness or just indifference to parents once they are independent, is even more common, I'm pretty sure.  Depending on what your expectations were as a parent, that could suck a lot and you could end up considering all your effort and hopes a waste, I guess.

Anyway, I think benign indifference or mild fondness shouldn't be that surprising.

Note: This doesn't even include all the actively resentful or hostile relationships going one way or the other, which are pretty common as well, but usually result from some kind of familial dysfunction.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Lagom on January 04, 2017, 04:55:14 PM
As a former teacher who has in various capacities worked with kids from pre-school through college, I do think it's worth stressing that if your kid has a negative relationship with you that is not related to some kind of disability or trauma, most of the time (certainly not always) it's at least partially your fault. For example, when I taught middle school I had kids cussing and saying all kinds of nasty stuff straight to my face. Boundary pushing, hormones, etc. And it didn't bother me at all because it was normal and also they were 12. Why should I care if a 12 year old wants to insult me? If anything, it was hard not to laugh at them. And guess what, the kids loved me (even the rebels). I respected them and listened to them, and failed to take the bait when they tried to get a rise out of me. I was a consistent supportive presence, which made classroom management quite easy in the end. Other teachers I knew punished, even suspended the trouble makers, or worse, yelled back at them. They never had their student's respect (at best they were feared) and some of them probably ended up posting a lot of negative comments on some forum thread titled "on the fence re: becoming a teacher."

I have found the above approach is the same when parenting. Be your kid's advocate and adviser first and foremost. Realize that their bad attitude is almost certainly temporary and completely normative, as are their mistakes. If you find yourself getting angry, put yourself on timeout and cool off. They are kids and you are an adult. Nothing they do should phase you.* Adult children on the other hand... well hopefully a lifetime of consistency will make them a joy as well, but you can't control everything :)

*Note I am, of course, not referring to extreme cases (kids committing major crimes or whatever), but those situations are way to rare to be worth worrying about as a perspective parent and still usually a result of an avoidable series of events.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: totoro on January 04, 2017, 05:05:25 PM
Didn't read through the debate but to the OP I'd say either way is okay.   

The choice you make will radically change how your life functions and your close relationships, but you will adjust and be pretty happy either way I'd bet.   Just google "the psychology of human adjustment" and read up :)

I didn't want kids, and then at 30 I suddenly did.  Adds work, expense and stress, but also brings a lot of joy and close connectedness. 

I'm grateful for them and I look forward to grandchildren.  I prefer this to not having kids by far now, but have close friends and family who are perfectly happy without them even if they wanted to have kids initially and couldn't.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Pigeon on January 04, 2017, 05:13:39 PM
This is probably a stupid question as I'm sure you've considered all options...but have you /seriously/ considered adopting? Your husband wants to give a child opportunities, and with your income and lifestyle you could truly change the life of a child who's been in foster care for years. Neither of you seem interested in actually being a parent of a baby/toddler, so is adopting an older child the best route to go? I don't really see the point of outsourcing parenting, what's the point of even having a kid if you don't bond with them fully?

I have no kids so take this comment with a grain of salt.


I agree with all of this but also don't have a child.

I very strongly disagree.  Adopted older children frequently have a variety of issues that can be extremely time and labor intensive.  They need more parental effort, not less.  There are many good reasons to adopt older children, but that they will be easy is not one of them.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Meowmalade on January 04, 2017, 05:53:38 PM
I'm also at the age where if I want to have kids, I need to start trying now.  A few years ago, we were planning to have kids, and I was tremendously stressed about all the decisions.  At the time, I was working full-time with a side business and my life was like working two full-time jobs, and something was going to have to give.  I also didn't know whether I wanted to stay home or find a daycare, and was worrying about how I would handle the first few years of raising a baby as I don't deal well with lack of sleep and stress.  To make a long story short, my husband felt that there are too many people in the world, and he asked me if I would be okay not having a kid (we had previously discussed adoption but I came to the conclusion that it wasn't for me).  I was initially upset, but then after some thought, decided that it was okay, and figured that I still had time to try if I changed my mind.  I started off feeling like I might be making the wrong decision and missing some huge part of life, but as the weeks passed, I felt like a weight had been lifted off me.  We wouldn't add the environmental impact of another human (plus future generations) to the planet.  I did not have to make all the decisions that I had been stressing about.  I can sleep through the night, and when I am sick with allergies and can barely take care of myself, I do not have to take care of a baby as well.  I don't have to worry that our child will have a disability or a terrible personality or that something will happen to them.  We hear about scary things from our friends (open-heart surgery for my friend's little girl!), see all the things on the news, and I constantly say "thank god we don't have kids".  I have a lovely little niece, so I can still be the doting aunt.

I didn't find MMM until after, but that's when we first realized that maybe we could FIRE!  We were worried about being laid off earlier this year, but knew we would be okay and could keep our house even if it happened.  If we had kids, we'd have been ready to pick up and move to another city for work.  We have so much freedom right now, and the future looks bright!

Just another viewpoint from someone who's been on the fence :)
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: CanuckExpat on January 04, 2017, 07:36:17 PM
this pregnancy purgatory of being off the pill but not actively trying to conceive is a drag

A bit of a sidenote, doesn't the quoted part above mean that you are simply having sex? What's the drag.. you get to have sex :)
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: CanuckExpat on January 04, 2017, 07:40:22 PM
Quote
I have to say that other than those first, fulfilling, child-raising years, it's been a huge waste of time and money.

This is the single most depressing thing I have read on these forums.  Without question.  My god.

Perhaps I'm reading your sentiment wrong. Are you implying the poster shouldn't have those feelings, shouldn't share those feelings out-loud, or that it's unfortunate that the poster had that experience?

I can understand the last reason, but couldn't support the first two. I'd like to thank the poster for being honest about his/her feelings, it's not something people get to talk about often probably because of certain reactions. In anonymous surveys, and most rigorous research, lots of feelings similar to the posters comes up, but it is not always something people feel comfortable discussing with others, because they are told they shouldn't feel that way.

I thank the poster for being honest, and encourage others to do the same when possible. Especially since OP was asking for honest opinions.

Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: pbkmaine on January 04, 2017, 08:13:45 PM
As a person who has always been childless by choice, I have had many people express regrets about having children to me. I assume they felt it was "safe" to to tell me. One woman, hearing a mutual friend extoll the virtues of parenthood, took me aside and fiercely told me to stick to my guns. "Huge waste of time and energy" is far more common than you think.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: sonjak on January 04, 2017, 08:39:08 PM
I've enjoyed reading the thread and appreciate everyone's input.  I'm CF and am very happy about it.  I've become more sure the older I get.  But I also love my nieces and nephews and am selfishly grateful for my siblings who chose to have kids and are great parents so that I really enjoy the people my nieces/nephews are and continue to grow into.

I wanted to share this link though as I think it's funny and insightful and written by a parent who sees both sides (Why You should Never, Ever Get a Tattoo but Having a Baby is Fine):

http://www.theuglyvolvo.com/why-you-should-never-ever-ever-get-a-tattoo-but-having-a-baby-is-fine/

Here's a recent post about having a second child: funny/painful/touching:
http://www.theuglyvolvo.com/the-33-step-extremely-fun-board-game-of-having-a-second-child/
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Lagom on January 04, 2017, 09:00:05 PM
I've enjoyed reading the thread and appreciate everyone's input.  I'm CF and am very happy about it.  I've become more sure the older I get.  But I also love my nieces and nephews and am selfishly grateful for my siblings who chose to have kids and are great parents so that I really enjoy the people my nieces/nephews are and continue to grow into.

I wanted to share this link though as I think it's funny and insightful and written by a parent who sees both sides (Why You should Never, Ever Get a Tattoo but Having a Baby is Fine):

http://www.theuglyvolvo.com/why-you-should-never-ever-ever-get-a-tattoo-but-having-a-baby-is-fine/

Here's a recent post about having a second child: funny/painful/touching:
http://www.theuglyvolvo.com/the-33-step-extremely-fun-board-game-of-having-a-second-child/

Uh oh, what have I done? I have both! :O
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: totoro on January 04, 2017, 09:43:14 PM
As a person who has always been childless by choice, I have had many people express regrets about having children to me. I assume they felt it was "safe" to to tell me. One woman, hearing a mutual friend extoll the virtues of parenthood, took me aside and fiercely told me to stick to my guns. "Huge waste of time and energy" is far more common than you think.

Totally respect the choice and agree there will be some that regret but anecdotal evidence is not the same as stats.  There are stats based on widescale surveys. I'll dig up the links later but 97 percent of mothers were happy with having kids in one carried out by the us health department.  A large percent who did not have kids were happy with this too although regret rate was higher.  I personally believe people have a wide adjustment margin.  Have kids - odds are you'll be happy with it.  Don't have kids?  Same. 

The only part I find difficult is when people push one side or another on someone who has decided one way or the other and they don't let it go when asked to. Usually the person who has chosen no kids.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: totoro on January 05, 2017, 01:57:58 AM
Here is the survey:

97% of mothers said rewards are worth the costs
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_026.pdf

The 3% or so who did not agree are still a significant cohort. 

Here is a gallop poll on the desire to have children.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/9091/Desire-Children-Alive-Well-America.aspx

"What about the third of Americans who don't have children and are over 40? The majority of these people say that, if they had it to do over again, they would have at least one child."

About 4% did not want children at all.

And yet when you look at how happy people are, the fact that they may or may not regret having children (or not) doesn't seem to impact life satisfaction too much over the long-term.  Studies found that satisfaction varied for parents and that:

(a) parenthood by itself has substantial and enduring positive effects on life satisfaction;
(b) these positive effects are offset by financial and time costs of parenthood; and
(c) the impact of these costs varies considerably with family factors, such as the age and number of children, marital status, and the parents' employment arrangements.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jomf.12095/abstract
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: GuitarStv on January 05, 2017, 06:46:53 AM
Here is the survey:

97% of mothers said rewards are worth the costs
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_026.pdf

The 3% or so who did not agree are still a significant cohort. 

Here is a gallop poll on the desire to have children.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/9091/Desire-Children-Alive-Well-America.aspx

"What about the third of Americans who don't have children and are over 40? The majority of these people say that, if they had it to do over again, they would have at least one child."

About 4% did not want children at all.

And yet when you look at how happy people are, the fact that they may or may not regret having children (or not) doesn't seem to impact life satisfaction too much over the long-term.  Studies found that satisfaction varied for parents and that:

(a) parenthood by itself has substantial and enduring positive effects on life satisfaction;
(b) these positive effects are offset by financial and time costs of parenthood; and
(c) the impact of these costs varies considerably with family factors, such as the age and number of children, marital status, and the parents' employment arrangements.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jomf.12095/abstract

Of course most people will say that the rewards are worth the costs.

- There's a huge stigma (particularly for mothers) against saying anything bad about your kid.
- Once you have a kid, that's the end of the conversation.  The only coping mechanism easily available to you is to work really hard to convince yourself that having the kid will all be worth it some day.  Your other options are murder, adoption (which becomes a virtual non-starter again because of social pressure), and suicide.


That's why the seemingly conflicting reports.  People will say that there's 'satisfaction' in having kids, but study after study shows that (in North America) they are measurably less happy with children than without.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: sjc0816 on January 05, 2017, 07:26:25 AM
End-of-year reflections are fertile ground for an existential crisis. Here are the headlines:
  • Money: Spouse and I pull in almost 300k annually - he's earning roughly 2/3 of that and I'm earning the other 1/3. We live off of 70k, gift around 20k a year, and invest 100k. While our income will dip in the next few years as one of us heads back to school, our combined income should stay above six-figures for the foreseeable future. I start with financials b/c they're the most comfortable part of this conversation. We haven't been earning this money for long, but are closing in on 300k net worth
  • Biology + Health: I'm a 33 year old female. Spouse is 34. We're approaching shit-or-get-off-the-pot territory for procreation. I've also put on 40 pounds in the last few years with a demanding desk job and have only recently begun to seriously address the weight through a better diet and exercise. Asked my Ob/Gyn in my last appointment if I'd be better off waiting a year to conceive to get my weight down or starting now and increasing our likelihood of getting that baby out by 35. She recommended youth over a healthy BMI
  • Family dynamics: Been married almost 3 years. Marriage is healthy overall, though there is an ongoing tension around some of the gender dynamics. We've got our current situation sorted out, but a baby would put pressure on a big nerve of mine.  I work from home and handle the vast majority of household management. He works for a bunch of consecutive days then has 6+ days off at a time. None of that downtime was spent on household stuff, so I've begun sending him weekly emails with to do lists for his days off. Anything that is on the list gets done.  He's an incredibly attentive partner emotionally and would rather spend time together than clean a bathtub that hasn't been cleaned in four months. We rent, have no pets and no kids, so it's do-able, though I have sacrificed some things I liked (shared dinners) because I got resentful about the work required on the back end. He eats frozen dinners now and I cook for myself as I did when I was single. He doesn't mind. We went to a therapist a few months ago to talk about this - specifically my concerns about adding more responsibilities to the household through having a child -  and the therapist just laughed when he figured out our ballpark income and told us to get a cleaning service + a nanny. We mumbled something about our savings rate and wanting to retire early and never went back. I know my husband would handle all the direct care (late night feedings, diapers) of the baby, but I'd be on my own handling the increased logistical load of the house with a child. Both of our mothers were stay at home parents and devoted their working years to running a well-oiled and loving household. I am not a good candidate for SAH parenthood and my husband is our primary earner.
  • Desire for kids: When we got married, we didn't think we were going to have kids. I worked with kids in my 20's and that seems to have met my caregiver needs (though I hear a lot of "it's different when they're YOUR kids"). He's an immigrant to the US and his desire for kids seems to stem largely from a desire to give a child access to the opportunities he didn't have growing up middle class in an under-developed country. He's getting the fever and I wax romantic occasionally. He's told me that he knew going into this marriage that neither one of us wanted kids and it's not on me to accommodate his changed mind. As we've talked (and talked and talked) about parenting, I've come to the conclusion that I'd be interested in fatherhood but not motherhood. I can see a path to joint "fatherhood" if we allocate my salary to outsourcing "motherhood" through nannies, cleaning services, grocery delivery, etc (maybe that therapist was on to something...). Husband balks at spending so much money, but I think I could get him on board with a more detailed budget. He's assured me that he'll be fine if we don't have kids, but this pregnancy purgatory of being off the pill but not actively trying to conceive is a drag
  • Living situation: We're in the middle of a 3 year contract in a part of the country where we have no family and don't have much in common with the people around us. We've got almost 2 years to go before we can move, and are both showing some signs of depression, so we're low on optimism and energy. On my best days, I feel excited to grow our family. Most days, I just want to put my head down and drive our savings rate as high as possible with this fat contract we've got. I suspect a kid would both stress us further when we're already down and give us a little much-needed sunshine and perspective.
It doesn't show up on this list, but I swear we'd be kick-ass parents. I've read every think piece out there about parenthood and happiness and childfree couples, and I'm ready for some face punches and reality checks from the incredible folks on this forum. Appreciate your time and perspectives.


If you resent your husband enough that you only cook for yourself and not both of you....I'd say you are probably not in the best mind set for parenting (that just really stood out to me). Just being honest. Parenting (and marriage, frankly) has a lot of compromise and sacrifice involved. It's never "perfect" in regards to equally split duties...and it never will be. We divide and conquer based on our time and abilities and we give each other some grace in the areas where we might be weak. My husband also needs lists to get things done. So? I'm a better cook, so I do the cooking. He cleans the bathrooms more thoroughly than I do...so he does those. I still carry most of the housework because I work at home. I don't resent him for that. He wasn't the best parent of an infant...I wasn't the best parent of a 3 year old. He's the BEST dad to our elementary age boys. Much better than me. Did I know as an infant that he would be so great with 10 year olds? No....but I gave him grace and we just worked our way through it all.

I don't live in a fantasy world about parenting. It has not been easy. I did have to quit my full-time job when my oldest was born because he had health problems his first year that required physical therapy 3x per week...and we couldn't make that happen both working 10-12 hour days. We rolled with it.

If you don't have the personality to handle the unexpected....or to bend and flex with your partner through parenting....it's not for you. Your income is great but that doesn't mean much in regards to parenting or keeping a healthy relationship with your spouse through it.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: totoro on January 05, 2017, 09:57:20 AM
Of course most people will say that the rewards are worth the costs.

- There's a huge stigma (particularly for mothers) against saying anything bad about your kid.
- Once you have a kid, that's the end of the conversation.  The only coping mechanism easily available to you is to work really hard to convince yourself that having the kid will all be worth it some day.  Your other options are murder, adoption (which becomes a virtual non-starter again because of social pressure), and suicide.

That's why the seemingly conflicting reports.  People will say that there's 'satisfaction' in having kids, but study after study shows that (in North America) they are measurably less happy with children than without.

Surveys are anonymous.  If you are not responding to multiple choice questions which bear no repercussions honestly then I guess what you are saying is that parents can't admit to themselves how they feel.  I would disagree with this as a widespread phenomena.
I'd agree there probably are some parents who dislike being parents and don't verbalize this due to social pressure. 

I think what you also have working against you in your theory of social pressure stopping a bunch of people from saying how terrible parenthood is also attachment and adjustment.  People get attached and bond with their children and this is part of a normal human response.  People also adjust.  This means that even if there are bad things about parenthood, the response might not be hatred or rejection, but adjustment of expectations and return to a level of happiness.   Changing diapers is not fun, but you get over the grossness pretty quick and carry on.

I think it also comes down to choice.  If you felt you did not want to have children and it happened anyway you might have greater regret.  If you wanted children and could not have them - ditto.  This is where adjustment comes in and good news - you will probably still end up pretty happy.

And the studies about being less happy as a parent show that you will likely be less happy than childless couples when your children are small IF you are struggling to cope because of work/money/single parenthood/lack of support.  There is definitely a financial and emotional cost to parenthood that can create stress if not supported and impact happiness.  The measure changes for those with more support and parents also tend to become happier as their kids become less dependent ie. older.  The biggest impact on happiness as a parent when looked at between countries is government policies that support parents paid employment.  Long-term parenthood is positively correlated with life satisfaction.   

If you plan to FI prior to having kids and not have work-parent pressures this will likely positively impact happiness.   My take from the data is that set up your work-life well if you want to be happier as a parent.  I went part-time and worked from home and was happier with that.  Plan for it if you can or look at whether you have other family supports or enough money to assist.

https://contemporaryfamilies.org/brief-parenting-happiness/

Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: rubybeth on January 05, 2017, 10:13:21 AM
As we've talked (and talked and talked) about parenting, I've come to the conclusion that I'd be interested in fatherhood but not motherhood. I can see a path to joint "fatherhood" if we allocate my salary to outsourcing "motherhood" through nannies, cleaning services, grocery delivery, etc (maybe that therapist was on to something...).

Haven't read the other comments yet, but I want to really question this part of what you wrote. I don't have a child but my husband is a therapist who workes with families/kids and studied attachment theory extensively, and the damage that can be done to a child who has less than totally involved parents can be incredibly negative.

You can outsource some of the work of parenting (daycare/nanny, hire help for housework), but parenthood (really GOOD parents) are as involved as possible with their kids--spending LOTS of time with them, teaching them things, playing with them, taking them places, talking to them, singing songs, reading books, etc. Look at MMM himself as a guide--he and his wife freed up themselves to BOTH be involved as parents, encouraging their son's interests, sharing responsibilities for his care, and loving/teaching/guiding him 100% of the time. Frankly, I wish more parents did this.

If those are the things that you want to do (actually spend time with your kid), then I think you'd be okay, but your other comments about resenting your workload as a work-at-home wife don't bode well for you being happy as a parent. Being a parent (especially being a mother, unfortunately) means you are 100% on, 100% of the time, with no vacations/breaks.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: sol on January 05, 2017, 10:30:03 AM
Being a parent (especially being a mother, unfortunately) means you are 100% on, 100% of the time, with no vacations/breaks.

Well that's just false.  Maybe for a single parent with no family and no job?  With a kid who is not yet in school or daycare?

My wife and I both get lots of time off.  We sleep.  We go to work.  We cook.  One of us can read sometimes while the other one plays.

I agree that a (single) parent has to be available 100% of the time, willing to drop whatever else you are doing, but that's not the same as actually parenting 100% of the time.

With two parents, this job is easy!  My wife and I both get to disappear for a few days at a time with some regularity, leaving the other parent with 100% of the duties for a while.  I wouldn't want to live like that all the time, but for a few days or a week at a stretch it's totally fine.

Heck, my kids love it when one parent is gone for a while.  That usually means pizza for dinner at least once, and nobody asks them to clean their rooms.  The rules get significantly relaxed with only one of us around.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: rubybeth on January 05, 2017, 10:43:20 AM
Being a parent (especially being a mother, unfortunately) means you are 100% on, 100% of the time, with no vacations/breaks.

Well that's just false.  Maybe for a single parent with no family and no job?  With a kid who is not yet in school or daycare?

My wife and I both get lots of time off.  We sleep.  We go to work.  We cook.  One of us can read sometimes while the other one plays.

I agree that a (single) parent has to be available 100% of the time, willing to drop whatever else you are doing, but that's not the same as actually parenting 100% of the time.

With two parents, this job is easy!  My wife and I both get to disappear for a few days at a time with some regularity, leaving the other parent with 100% of the duties for a while.  I wouldn't want to live like that all the time, but for a few days or a week at a stretch it's totally fine.

Heck, my kids love it when one parent is gone for a while.  That usually means pizza for dinner at least once, and nobody asks them to clean their rooms.  The rules get significantly relaxed with only one of us around.

You may not be the active/in-charge (sometimes called "lead) parent 100% of the time, but you are still a parent 100% of the time. If an emergency happened and your kid had to go to the ER, you'd probably both want to be there. If their school went on lockdown because of an active shooter, you'd both want to find out WTF is happening. The concern/worry/caring for your kids is 100% of the time, even if you can tag team some of the daily work. You sound like you're probably a good father, but some fathers (and mothers) aren't so great and the mother (or sometimes father) ends up doing 90-100% of everything day-to-day. It sounded like what the OP was describing with her DH, which is why I wanted to caution her that you can't just "phone in" being a mom or dad. Loving your kids and being active in their lives is a 100% effort kind of job.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: charis on January 05, 2017, 10:43:35 AM
I agree with sol.  I'm not teaching/guiding my kids 100% of the time.  For one, my oldest is in elementary school for a large chunk of the day and the youngest is in preschool.  Occasionally we hire a babysitter or they have an overnight at the grandparents.  This morning I let my kid play on the kindle for a bit so I could pay some bills without him hanging from my neck like a monkey.  Apparently, I'm out of the "really good" parent club.

Also, vacations and breaks still exist, they are just different from the pre-child era.  If I'm being honest with myself, other than the lack of sleeping in on the weekends, taking a nap whenever I feel like it, or traveling slightly more, my today-to-day life hasn't changed dramatically.  My pre-kid life wasn't terribly exciting I guess.  And I was a responsible, risk-averse person who would also get to the ER if a family member or good friend landed there. 
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: totoro on January 05, 2017, 10:52:17 AM
Being a parent (especially being a mother, unfortunately) means you are 100% on, 100% of the time, with no vacations/breaks.

....
You may not be the active/in-charge (sometimes called "lead) parent 100% of the time, but you are still a parent 100% of the time.

I think what you might be saying is that you get attached and care and so you are involved in another beings life for good or bad.  It is not like a job where you are working and then you are not. Like being married in a way but more so because you are the responsible adult.  Not everyone wants that and it does impact how much free time you'll have.

The question to ask is whether you enjoy being attached and responsible for another being and will it be worth it for the benefits.  The research suggests it is for most parents, but not all.  Three or four percent do not like being parents and regret the choice according to the study.

I'd say setting up supports like childcare, house cleaning and a reduced work schedule can go a long way if you can afford to do this.  And having a compatible life partner makes it much easier. This is what I would consider.   



Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: limeandpepper on January 05, 2017, 11:34:07 AM
Surveys are anonymous.  If you are not responding to multiple choice questions which bear no repercussions honestly then I guess what you are saying is that parents can't admit to themselves how they feel.  I would disagree with this as a widespread phenomena.

It's not that unusual for people to lie on surveys even if they are anonymous, scientists call it the social desirability bias.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21601880
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: totoro on January 05, 2017, 12:38:55 PM
I agree social desirability bias can be an issue in surveys.  I disagree that this is something that invalidates all surveys as:

1. This bias is reduced when a survey is anonymous. 
2. Properly designed surveys will adjust for this partly through the types of questions asked and options for response or how data is correlated and analyzed. Ie. not questioning directly on whether or not having children makes you happier but asking other types of questions about life satisfaction and then correlating the responses with the presence or absence of children and then correlating this to other social conditions.  This is the approach taken in many of the large scale surveys, including the one I linked that looks pretty well designed to me: https://contemporaryfamilies.org/brief-parenting-happiness/
3. There are measures that can be applied to adjust for dis/honesty like the Crown-Marlowe Social Desirability Scale.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: rubybeth on January 05, 2017, 01:47:11 PM
Being a parent (especially being a mother, unfortunately) means you are 100% on, 100% of the time, with no vacations/breaks.

....
You may not be the active/in-charge (sometimes called "lead) parent 100% of the time, but you are still a parent 100% of the time.

I think what you might be saying is that you get attached and care and so you are involved in another beings life for good or bad.  It is not like a job where you are working and then you are not. Like being married in a way but more so because you are the responsible adult.  Not everyone wants that and it does impact how much free time you'll have.

The question to ask is whether you enjoy being attached and responsible for another being and will it be worth it for the benefits.  The research suggests it is for most parents, but not all.  Three or four percent do not like being parents and regret the choice according to the study.

I'd say setting up supports like childcare, house cleaning and a reduced work schedule can go a long way if you can afford to do this.  And having a compatible life partner makes it much easier. This is what I would consider.

Yes, exactly. Thanks for clarifying that for me, totoro! :)
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: CanuckExpat on January 05, 2017, 08:16:20 PM
If you plan to FI prior to having kids and not have work-parent pressures this will likely positively impact happiness.   My take from the data is that set up your work-life well if you want to be happier as a parent.

Based on personal experience, I'd agree with the first part, not sure about the first.

We had son in daycare from about 8 months to 20 months while wife and I worked full time. We both had cushy white collar jobs, with employers who supported good work life balances, flexible schedules, etc. There were mMaybe some annoyances here and there when he got sick, but generally with a good work life balance, things were good and I enjoyed spending time with son on the evenings and weekends.
We took him out of daycare at about 20 months when wife and I both quit our jobs. Not working is fun, but spending all day with a toddler, not so sure about..

It's hard to compare, since the ages were different (toddlers might just be terrible compared to infants), but I think I enjoyed evening and weekend parenting better thank this full time thing now that we are FIREd..

If I had realized this earlier, I would have budgeted for him to stay in daycare while were were retired, or something along those lines (thinking out loud)
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: ck25 on January 05, 2017, 09:00:38 PM
I'm in the same camp as Meowmalade where the environmental impact weighs heavily on my decision, plus the thought that the Earth might not be such a great place within our lifetimes.

Not going to lie, pregnancy also seems super uncomfortable.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Playing with Fire UK on January 06, 2017, 01:45:06 AM
I agree social desirability bias can be an issue in surveys.  I disagree that this is something that invalidates all surveys as:

1. This bias is reduced when a survey is anonymous. 

If I got a survey from the Health Department asking whether I was happy that I had kids, I'd be concerned about anonymity and whether I was going to have my kids taken away if I answered less than enthusiastically. There is a difference between a survey being anonymous and the participant believing that it is anonymous.

For example if someone had answered 'I hate my child and intend to harm them' is a participant going to think there is nothing that the HD could or would do to identify the child at risk. If they could then it isn't an anonymous survey. For the avoidance of doubt; saying that you were happier before child(ren) is totally different to wishing them harm or being an unsuitable parent.

I agree that well designed questionnaires/studies are a useful data set in this discussion.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: Case on January 06, 2017, 07:07:38 AM
Of course most people will say that the rewards are worth the costs.

- There's a huge stigma (particularly for mothers) against saying anything bad about your kid.
- Once you have a kid, that's the end of the conversation.  The only coping mechanism easily available to you is to work really hard to convince yourself that having the kid will all be worth it some day.  Your other options are murder, adoption (which becomes a virtual non-starter again because of social pressure), and suicide.

That's why the seemingly conflicting reports.  People will say that there's 'satisfaction' in having kids, but study after study shows that (in North America) they are measurably less happy with children than without.

Surveys are anonymous.  If you are not responding to multiple choice questions which bear no repercussions honestly then I guess what you are saying is that parents can't admit to themselves how they feel.  I would disagree with this as a widespread phenomena.
I'd agree there probably are some parents who dislike being parents and don't verbalize this due to social pressure. 

I think what you also have working against you in your theory of social pressure stopping a bunch of people from saying how terrible parenthood is also attachment and adjustment.  People get attached and bond with their children and this is part of a normal human response.  People also adjust.  This means that even if there are bad things about parenthood, the response might not be hatred or rejection, but adjustment of expectations and return to a level of happiness.   Changing diapers is not fun, but you get over the grossness pretty quick and carry on.

I think it also comes down to choice.  If you felt you did not want to have children and it happened anyway you might have greater regret.  If you wanted children and could not have them - ditto.  This is where adjustment comes in and good news - you will probably still end up pretty happy.

And the studies about being less happy as a parent show that you will likely be less happy than childless couples when your children are small IF you are struggling to cope because of work/money/single parenthood/lack of support.  There is definitely a financial and emotional cost to parenthood that can create stress if not supported and impact happiness.  The measure changes for those with more support and parents also tend to become happier as their kids become less dependent ie. older.  The biggest impact on happiness as a parent when looked at between countries is government policies that support parents paid employment.  Long-term parenthood is positively correlated with life satisfaction.   

If you plan to FI prior to having kids and not have work-parent pressures this will likely positively impact happiness.   My take from the data is that set up your work-life well if you want to be happier as a parent.  I went part-time and worked from home and was happier with that.  Plan for it if you can or look at whether you have other family supports or enough money to assist.

https://contemporaryfamilies.org/brief-parenting-happiness/

It's not just social pressure.  It's pressure on yourself, as well as generally a good way to act for the child.  Who wants a parent who admits they would rather not have had children?  Who wants a parent who wont admit it but actually feels that way.  It's a complex situation at best.  I don't think there is going to be any easy way to poll this accurately.  I'm not sure of the ways to objectively determine quality of life, but simply asking people their opinions is probably highly prone to human error.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: golden1 on January 06, 2017, 08:03:29 AM
Quote
Well, I guess 'waste of time and money' definitely depends on what you expected to get out of child-rearing, right?

Ah, there's the rub, and I think that aspect of the post is part of what bothered me the most.  Child-rearing isn't a purely self serving enterprise in my eyes.  Sure, you do get things out of it from time to time, like appreciation and love, but a lot of the time, you put more in than you get out.  It isn't a put x input = get y output scenario.  Even if my kids for whatever reason want nothing to do with me as an adult, I would never consider the years spent with them a "waste of time and money".  It's bizarre to me.  I do appreciate the posters honesty, but it definitely was depressing. 
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: totoro on January 06, 2017, 08:44:53 AM
I agree social desirability bias can be an issue in surveys.  I disagree that this is something that invalidates all surveys as:

1. This bias is reduced when a survey is anonymous. 
.....
There is a difference between a survey being anonymous and the participant believing that it is anonymous.

There are no shortage of studies on this.  Anonymity reduces the impact of social desirability bias.  If you don't believe a survey is anonymous I guess it may depend on the rational basis for this belief as to how widespread this phenomena is.  Question design and data collection method does far more to address this issue.

I'd agree if you are suddenly home ft with a toddler without additional care because you have RE it could be less enjoyable than working and having a toddler.

I'm not sure of the ways to objectively determine quality of life, but simply asking people their opinions is probably highly prone to human error.
[/quote]

There is a whole field of survey design that is pretty well developed and addresses data collection and analysis techniques that control for all sorts of error and bias.  There is a widescale study on parental "happiness" linked above. 

This particular study did not ask people how they felt about being parents.  The study examined comparative data from 22 European and English-speaking countries.  They utilized two well-respected surveys (the International Social Surveys of 2007 and 2008 and the European Social Surveys of 2006 and 2008), confining themselves to data prior to the global recession in order to avoid confusing reports of happiness in a period of relative prosperity with reports taken in a period of economic stress.  The study focused on the differences between parents and non-parents in the same country, or the relative effects of parenting. 

It then correlated these differences with other factors like government support programs. They gathered this policy information for all 22 of the countries, along with their Gross Domestic Product and their fertility rate, to make sure that the findings were not simply reflecting the effects of living in a richer country versus a poorer one.

What they found was that the negative effects of parenthood on happiness were highly correlated and entirely explained by the presence or absence of social policies allowing parents to better combine paid work with family obligations. And this was true for both mothers and fathers. Countries with better family policy “packages” had no happiness gap between parents and non-parents.

Fathers’ happiness was slightly more sensitive to money policies (child care costs, specifically), and mothers’ happiness was slightly more sensitive to time policies (especially paid sick and vacation days). But these differences were minor. The most important predictor of higher relative levels of happiness for parents was the presence of family policies making it less stressful and less costly combine childrearing with paid work.

The US did not do very well on this study.  It had the largest happiness gap between parents and non-parents. In some countries like Hungary and Denmark parents have higher happiness.

My take on this is that if you are going to have a child in the US the impact on work-life balance is high without mitigating social policies and programs.  You will need to address this yourself if you'd like to mitigate the negative impact on well-being that working and caring for a child brings when you don't have enough time off or are financially stressed by high unsubsidized childcare costs.

The paper on this study is here: http://epc2014.princeton.edu/papers/140098
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: charis on January 06, 2017, 08:55:32 AM
Quote
Well, I guess 'waste of time and money' definitely depends on what you expected to get out of child-rearing, right?

Ah, there's the rub, and I think that aspect of the post is part of what bothered me the most.  Child-rearing isn't a purely self serving enterprise in my eyes.  Sure, you do get things out of it from time to time, like appreciation and love, but a lot of the time, you put more in than you get out.  It isn't a put x input = get y output scenario.  Even if my kids for whatever reason want nothing to do with me as an adult, I would never consider the years spent with them a "waste of time and money".  It's bizarre to me.  I do appreciate the posters honesty, but it definitely was depressing.

I agree, but I think the waste of time and money aspect goes along with ultimately regretting having children.  If you regret having children, you may look at it as a waste of your time and money.

But I am more interested in the poster's comment that their grown children have "nothing in common" with the parent.  Are children supposed to have things in common with their parents?  Why should we expect that of them?  How is that an indicator of whether having children is worth it?  This sounds more like expectations not lining up with reality.  My sister and I don't have much in common with my mother, and I know it bothers her.  But she seems to treat it like a shortcoming of ours, as if we are at fault for not choosing to be more like her.  And that just pushes us further apart.  I will be pleasantly surprised if I have stuff in common with my grown children.

Back to the topic, for me parenting is hard and sometimes grueling, but it is almost separate from how I feel about my children.  I love them so blindly (I am not blind to their faults, but my love is, if that makes sense) and so fiercely that the question of whether it's rewarding or worth it doesn't mean the same thing as it used to.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: use2betrix on January 06, 2017, 08:58:56 AM
To me it sounds like you guys struggle with the dynamics of a relationship and "who does what" far too much to start throwing kids into the mix.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: tthree on January 06, 2017, 12:45:15 PM
this pregnancy purgatory of being off the pill but not actively trying to conceive is a drag

A bit of a sidenote, doesn't the quoted part above mean that you are simply having sex? What's the drag.. you get to have sex :)
The way I read it, the purgatory would be NOT having sex. 

IMO if you are abstaining from contraception, but not abstaining from sex you are trying. I mean they're not not trying, y'know?  This coming from someone who had sex once while off birth control and has a seven year, and then had sex twice while off birth control and has a three year old.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: tthree on January 06, 2017, 01:07:59 PM
If you resent your husband enough that you only cook for yourself and not both of you....I'd say you are probably not in the best mind set for parenting (that just really stood out to me). Just being honest. Parenting (and marriage, frankly) has a lot of compromise and sacrifice involved.
The not cooking for the husband because of "back end work" (grocery shopping, planning and cleaning??) really stood out to me too.  To be honest most of the parenting to date has been back end work.

I agreed with the other posters that have mentioned a lot of parenting is dealing with the hand you are dealt, and adapting according.  Truth be told, I thought DH would be a much better parent; turns out he is a really awesome fun uncle, but a really shitty co-parent.  Case in point: he just had the opportunity to be the primary parent over the holidays while I was at work.  Caveat: his "primary  parenting" still involved me grocery shopping, cooking supper, cleaning the kitchen, playing with the kids and putting the children to bed, while he watched TV and drank beer.  By day three, he asked if he could go back to work.  By the last day when I asked him how it was going, his response was, "he kept the children alive".  Because of his negative experience I thought he might appreciate the "work" I do when he is not around.  Nope.  Turns out because he didn't enjoy being at home with the kids his time equals work.  Because I enjoy being home with the kids my time does NOT equal work.  Whatever.  If he wants to be miserable so be it.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: azure975 on January 06, 2017, 02:07:54 PM
But I am more interested in the poster's comment that their grown children have "nothing in common" with the parent.  Are children supposed to have things in common with their parents?  Why should we expect that of them?  How is that an indicator of whether having children is worth it?  This sounds more like expectations not lining up with reality.  My sister and I don't have much in common with my mother, and I know it bothers her.  But she seems to treat it like a shortcoming of ours, as if we are at fault for not choosing to be more like her.  And that just pushes us further apart.  I will be pleasantly surprised if I have stuff in common with my grown children.

I wonder if my dad feels this way too. I know he's disappointed that we haven't followed the path he wanted for us--ie, white picket fence, marriage and children. I am married but childfree by choice, and my brother is a free spirit who shows no intention of settling down. He feels that these lifestyles are not "normal" and I know it is a cause of heartache for him (he is an old-school Asian who does not really understand deviating from the lifescript). So another tip to add is--think how you will feel if your children make decisions that are very different from what you would hope for them.

Additionally, I feel that my calling in life is animal advocacy/rescue, and that is what I intend to do full time after I FIRE. My father feels that this is a waste and says it's embarrassing that his friends are talking about their grandchildren when all he has is grandcats. We also want to leave most of our assets to animal charities after we die, which to him is an even bigger waste. He doesn't really see the point of charity in general and says that he might as well dump his money into the ocean.

Sorry, this has turned into a mini-therapy session. I don't think he regrets having us but I think he wishes we turned out differently.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: pachnik on January 06, 2017, 02:15:50 PM
But I am more interested in the poster's comment that their grown children have "nothing in common" with the parent.  Are children supposed to have things in common with their parents?  Why should we expect that of them?  How is that an indicator of whether having children is worth it?  This sounds more like expectations not lining up with reality.  My sister and I don't have much in common with my mother, and I know it bothers her.  But she seems to treat it like a shortcoming of ours, as if we are at fault for not choosing to be more like her.  And that just pushes us further apart.  I will be pleasantly surprised if I have stuff in common with my grown children.

I wonder if my dad feels this way too. I know he's disappointed that we haven't followed the path he wanted for us--ie, white picket fence, marriage and children. I am married but childfree by choice, and my brother is a free spirit who shows no intention of settling down. He feels that these lifestyles are not "normal" and I know it is a cause of heartache for him (he is an old-school Asian who does not really understand deviating from the lifescript). So another tip to add is--think how you will feel if your children make decisions that are very different from what you would hope for them.

I've wondered too if my parents feel this way about me. 

I don't have children and I don't have a career.  I have had a series of steady pink-collar jobs though and I usually really like my work.  I also belong to two 12-step programs + have a mental illness.   I can't imagine these are things parents can really use when comparing their kids to other people's kids.   :)   

This all sounds kind of awful when written out but I am happy with my life and have a successful marriage now.   I guess due to how I am, I am happier with a 'smaller' life and have a lot of gratitude for  it.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: totoro on January 06, 2017, 10:41:27 PM
I looked briefly at the first study you mentioned from the CDC. The interviews were conducted in person by female interviewers. Check our the methodology section on page four.

If you read a bit further you'll see that respondents used a computer to record responses and, "Some of the more sensitive questions were asked using Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interviewing, or ACASI. The ACASI mode of interviewing is a more private mode of data collection because it allows the respondent to hear the questions and response choices over headphones or read them on the screen and enter a response into the computer without the interviewer, or anyone else, knowing what the response was."

I'd agree the correlation of other data like in the other study I quoted in detail seems a better method.  Do you have alternate reliable stats for that study's finding that the vast majority of parents find that the benefits outweigh the costs?  There sure are a lot of studies on this!  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13524-014-0321-x

My view is that this is likely true, just as it is likely true that the vast majority of those who choose not to have children will end up happy with this choice.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: FINate on January 06, 2017, 10:46:39 PM
DW and I got married young and waited 9 years before having kids. We loved being DINKs and made the most of it, saving for FIRE and doing a fair bit of travel and other experiences. That said, we always knew we wanted kids and were ready for them when we finally had them.

Kids change everything, are a lot of work and can be extremely frustrating at times, but also hugely rewarding. It's difficult to describe the joy they bring to our lives as they grow and their little personalities emerge  - there's no one big thing to put my finger on - it's a bunch of sweet little snapshots in time: that funny or insightful thing they said, the faces they make, the questions they ask, wanting me to "get them", watching their faces light up when I share stories of my childhood, sharing what for them is a new experience, dancing together in the living room, the picture they drew for/of me, or the time they got the giggles which gave me the giggles which made them giggle more and then we were all rolling on the floor laughing... With kids I think the reward is in appreciating the many beautiful small things and the wonder of experiencing life through the freshness of a child's eyes. But it's also a huge amount of work and personal sacrifice, financially and timewise - IMO you have to go into it with that mindset otherwise it's difficult to enjoy those little things.

I think it's also important to point out that some people are "baby people" whereas others aren't. This has little bearing on whether or not to have kids - the baby phase is gruelling but passes quickly. DW and I are NOT baby people. Don't get me wrong, we loved our babies and cherished them, and I have many fond memories of cuddling them and filed away memories that I still love (such as staring into the eyes of my 3 month old at 3am one night). But we actually enjoy being parents more now that they are a little older and we look forward to guiding and teaching them as they grow into adolescence and young adulthood, knowing full well that each phase brings unique challenges.  So my recommendation here is to take this into account when listening to parents talk about their experience - is it a story from a parent just needing to vent about the impossibilities of caring full time for a fussy infant while getting little to no sleep? Or is this a parent with an unusually easy baby that eats well and sleeps through the night (these are rare, but they do exist) and the parent is enthralled at how much fun and easy it is to just have a sleeping baby to cuddle all the time? IMO, the baby phase passes so quickly that you really need to think about all phases into adulthood in making this decision - how are you going to discipline, how will the shuttling kids to/from school/playdates, will you pay for college and how, etc.

(For the record: we are both FIRE and split the household stuff about equally, though we each have different specialities. I do dishes and yard work and home repairs, she does laundry and most of the cooking. We split everything else pretty evenly.)

If you do decide to have kids then I'll also like to suggest that parenting blogs, for the most part, are pure evil that will rob you of your joy. Stay away, far away! At the core most are really about 'style' and style is primarily about making people feel inadequate so that they'll buy shit they don't need.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: MrsCoolCat on January 07, 2017, 02:14:53 AM
I wish you and ur husband the best bc it's not as simple as yes, or no plus ppl can change their mind though that doesn't mean that both of u will, either for better or for worse.

I am 36 wks & 4 days pregnant. I am currently on the other thread with a shit situation where I don't qualify for FMLA & my employer is being unreasonably inflexible by offering me a nearly impossible two weeks of vacation, separation & rehire within 30 days, giving me a lovely maybe 6 wks of uncertain maternity leave. Ironically, I already discussed with my husband & ha, well, if I wasn't a woman, pregnant, waited, etc. this shit wouldn't even be an issue or stress. We'll be ok though.

He wanted kids more than I did esp with the stigma that I'd be the one pregnant with all its miserable symptoms & my other main issue was also the chores, & we make a lot less combined income than you. Under & less than 1/2 of urs. I did a lovely post about the gender divide & chores lol. It's quite popular though controversal bc of my bitter wording at the time.

Anyways, I am 32 going on 33 this year. I enjoyed my travels and lived my life well without kids, but I was never against kids. So many of my childless gfs complained about the same issue with chores. Can u friggin imagine adding a damn child?! While the other 40 yr old moms pretty much verified kinda "hating" their teenagers but loved them when they were little & less stressful. Lol, I know it's not exactly a short walk in the park seeing that I'm gonna birth a human with her own free will to say no & disagree with me, etc.

Ultimately I chose to have a kid bc I one day concluded that despite my "selfish" ways that I was ready to try & love someone else other than & more than myself. I was also never really against kids and I turned an unknowing blind eye to the chore issue that I know I will still have. I just didn't want to wait & try to figure everything out as time slipped away. Some things u can't take back.

Though at this point I may not have any other option besides SAHM for a bit bc of my work situation. My SO is handling it well. And I always concluded that the few ppl that I interacted with that didn't have kids they seemed to caregive in other ways to other ppl. I just didn't want to regret it by waiting. I figured it was either now or literally never bc I have a personal view of not wanting to be a 40 yr old mom to a newborn. I just don't wanna be. So instead of possibly regretting not having kid(s) or waiting until I was too old yet had the chore thing figured out (& outsourced) I said yes, to kid(s).

It took us almost 10 months on & off to get pregnant. At some point I was almost like well, I wasn't sure about kids but now mother nature is taking the option away from me completely? And my pregnancy has been miraculously easy. Minimal morning sickness, no nausea, no swelling. How about what I do have is occasional back pain, occasional leg cramps, the constant use of the bathroom & having to propel myself to get up along with 29 lbs of weight gain. Oh & it's getting cramped in my belly so everytime my daughter moves it's uncomfortable & annoying to say the least.

But I could go on about all the excitement, gender reveals, parties, how much stuff (adorable clothes) I got for her for Xmas & none for me (lol it's fine), feeling actually quite loved that even my single childless gfs gave my daughter stuff. Her first ultrasound, first kicks, seeing her cute chubby cheeks in 3-D, etc. I don't know what to expect & it hasn't been entirely easy, but I still wouldn't change my choice.

Everyone is so different & well, I haven't birthed her yet, but I personally enjoy it overall despite the bad times/stress. Good luck as no one can tell u yes or no, or predict ur happiness on the matter. You won't even know.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: LadyStache in Baja on January 07, 2017, 08:54:12 AM
If you resent your husband enough that you only cook for yourself and not both of you....I'd say you are probably not in the best mind set for parenting (that just really stood out to me). Just being honest. Parenting (and marriage, frankly) has a lot of compromise and sacrifice involved.
The not cooking for the husband because of "back end work" (grocery shopping, planning and cleaning??) really stood out to me too.  To be honest most of the parenting to date has been back end work.



Um yes.  I can't believe only two posters have mentioned this.  This is totally crazy to me.

I mean, also, you said your husband makes 2/3 of the income, and you 1/3 (if i remember correctly).  So unless you have separate bank accounts, you're getting all this free money you wouldn't otherwise have, and yet you can't possibly just throw double the amount of food in the pan?  It's almost zero extra work to make double-dinner vs single-dinner.  This just blows my mind.  You're a team.

So let me tell you right now, having a kid is going to bring approximately 1000 more issues just like this one to the table.  If you want a happy marriage, there's going to be give and take, and you can not just open a spreadsheet and tally up who's doing what and who owes who what, and "no, I changed the diaper this morning, so you have to prepare the bottle" (because lord i hope you don't plan on breastfeeding with this attitude).

On the other hand, I was a bit like you, where if I was washing the dishes, I wanted my husband to sweep the floor.  Tit for tat.  If I'm working, you should work too, and then we can relax together.

And having kids changed that for me, slowly but surely.  They gave me the lesson I needed to learn.  Now, I just do what needs to be done.  And so does he.  And I don't try to balance the equation, to make sure that what I do is equal in value to what he does, because you have to look at people with grace.  All the people in your life: kids, husband, whatever, you need to assume they're doing the best they can, and you need to accept them as they are.  Yes, look for solutions, yes, state your needs, but always with grace.

So yes, maybe you should have a kid, so you can learn to be graceful.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: iris lily on January 07, 2017, 10:54:58 AM
I've been thinking about OP's dilemma and thought I'd share my story...maybe helpful? I absolutely, positively did not want or plan to have children. Period. No ambivalence. Three years into a five year marriage I got pregnant while on the pill. I couldn't face abortion so I had a daughter and shortly thereafter, a divorce. I had a tubal ligation before she was a year old so as to never make that "mistake" again.

Now I shudder to think what my life would have been without her or the two granddaughters she gave me. Truly, it strikes a cold fear in my heart to know what I could have missed. I remarried and never regretted not having more children and I firmly believe we don't all have the interest, disposition or spousal support to have children and we should NOT feel a moment of guilt about it.  Somehow I rose to the occasion though and managed to be a reasonably good mom despite my lack of initial interest.

I am not sure what the message is in this story except that you really can't know how you are going to feel before you get there.  I am sure I would have had a lovely life without a child but I know that I had a better one because I did. Not everyone has the same experience but it worked out for me.  I wish OP the best of luck as this is such a momentous decision.

Oh, I think some of us CAN REALLY KNOW how we are gong to feel before we get there.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: charis on January 07, 2017, 02:06:49 PM
I've been thinking about OP's dilemma and thought I'd share my story...maybe helpful? I absolutely, positively did not want or plan to have children. Period. No ambivalence. Three years into a five year marriage I got pregnant while on the pill. I couldn't face abortion so I had a daughter and shortly thereafter, a divorce. I had a tubal ligation before she was a year old so as to never make that "mistake" again.

Now I shudder to think what my life would have been without her or the two granddaughters she gave me. Truly, it strikes a cold fear in my heart to know what I could have missed. I remarried and never regretted not having more children and I firmly believe we don't all have the interest, disposition or spousal support to have children and we should NOT feel a moment of guilt about it.  Somehow I rose to the occasion though and managed to be a reasonably good mom despite my lack of initial interest.

I am not sure what the message is in this story except that you really can't know how you are going to feel before you get there.  I am sure I would have had a lovely life without a child but I know that I had a better one because I did. Not everyone has the same experience but it worked out for me.  I wish OP the best of luck as this is such a momentous decision.

Oh, I think some of us CAN REALLY KNOW how we are gong to feel before we get there.

You can certainly know how you feel now, before getting there.  But no one can really know how he/she will feel after the fact, which is true for having a child, having a second, etc.  One truly cannot know whether they will regret having or not having a child.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: totoro on January 07, 2017, 02:24:14 PM
You can certainly know how you feel now, before getting there.  But no one can really know how he/she will feel after the fact, which is true for having a child, having a second, etc.  One truly cannot know whether they will regret having or not having a child.

No, but you can look at the research and evaluate your personality and current wishes and hopes for the future - just like any big decision. 

As far as regret goes, regret can generally be overcome and older people are better at this than younger.  Maybe because they see that moving on is the way to go when you can't change something more easily.

And what is one of the things older people regret?  Spending a lot of time pointlessly worrying about things.

The research shows people regret missed opportunity the most, not the choices made.  Why is this?  It seems because humans rationalize and reframe choices and look for the good/silver lining.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: rubybeth on January 07, 2017, 04:02:44 PM
If you resent your husband enough that you only cook for yourself and not both of you....I'd say you are probably not in the best mind set for parenting (that just really stood out to me). Just being honest. Parenting (and marriage, frankly) has a lot of compromise and sacrifice involved.
The not cooking for the husband because of "back end work" (grocery shopping, planning and cleaning??) really stood out to me too.  To be honest most of the parenting to date has been back end work.



Um yes.  I can't believe only two posters have mentioned this.  This is totally crazy to me.

I mean, also, you said your husband makes 2/3 of the income, and you 1/3 (if i remember correctly).  So unless you have separate bank accounts, you're getting all this free money you wouldn't otherwise have, and yet you can't possibly just throw double the amount of food in the pan?  It's almost zero extra work to make double-dinner vs single-dinner.  This just blows my mind.  You're a team.

So let me tell you right now, having a kid is going to bring approximately 1000 more issues just like this one to the table.  If you want a happy marriage, there's going to be give and take, and you can not just open a spreadsheet and tally up who's doing what and who owes who what, and "no, I changed the diaper this morning, so you have to prepare the bottle" (because lord i hope you don't plan on breastfeeding with this attitude).

On the other hand, I was a bit like you, where if I was washing the dishes, I wanted my husband to sweep the floor.  Tit for tat.  If I'm working, you should work too, and then we can relax together.

And having kids changed that for me, slowly but surely.  They gave me the lesson I needed to learn.  Now, I just do what needs to be done.  And so does he.  And I don't try to balance the equation, to make sure that what I do is equal in value to what he does, because you have to look at people with grace.  All the people in your life: kids, husband, whatever, you need to assume they're doing the best they can, and you need to accept them as they are.  Yes, look for solutions, yes, state your needs, but always with grace.

So yes, maybe you should have a kid, so you can learn to be graceful.

I also noticed this but felt it was kind of obvious--you can't "keep score" as a parent, and you could practice by not keeping score now and just cooking/cleaning for both of you. Keeping score is very detrimental to positive feelings in a relationship. I really wonder how much of the conflict in this marriage is manufactured--like, how much of it really matters, if you can just let go of some of this. Make some to-do lists for him, but stop trying to parent your spouse in this way--housework ultimately doesn't matter that much, you can live in a dusty house and not die. You need something clean to wear to work and something to eat, but other than that, a messy house isn't a big deal. Houses with kids in them get even messier. ;)

I know I sometimes get frustrated that my husband doesn't do much in the way of housework without being asked, and I out-earn him pretty significantly. But my job is more flexible, and I can set my own hours and flex time much more easily than he can, so I'm home in time to relax for a while and then cook dinner each day--which he greatly appreciates. His job is also approximately 1000% more stressful than mine (me? I sit in a quiet office in front of my computer 5 days a week, him? he works with kids with serious mental health/family issues and is often "on call" for crisis situations). Quite frankly, even if he earned more than I did, I would still pretty happily shoulder the housework/cooking because it just makes more sense and I'm better at it. :D I have a LOT of patience when he's stressed out/crabby/isn't sleeping well, because I love him and think his work is pretty darn important.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: mrssavesalot on January 09, 2017, 11:33:44 AM
I would strongly recommend against having children.

Outsourcing motherhood would only make your kids feel rejected while you pursue your career. Your husband may want kids, but if you don't really want them (and the work and financial issues they bring), then you as a couple are not ready for kids.

The reality is that most of the time, the mom ends up doing most of the work raising her kids. Part of this is simple biology- mom's have the breasts, and the hips for carrying them. Also, women tend to be able to handle the actual crying and screaming a lot better than men can- there were studies on this.

Are you prepared to foot the bill for motherhood- this includes birth, enrichment activities, clothes, school trips. prom, college education (perhaps all the way up to master's degree and PhD?), AND the reality that after college, they may STILL have to move back in with you while they build their careers?

I don't know if you've been keeping up on the news, but the millinials (recent college grads), are finding it harder than ever to break into their fields and stabilize their careers after graduation.

If you're not prepared for this reality (that they might not be successful right away as "grown-ups"), then parenting is going to be a hard thing for you.
Title: Re: on the fence re: kids
Post by: mm1970 on January 09, 2017, 02:43:52 PM
I would strongly recommend against having children.

Outsourcing motherhood would only make your kids feel rejected while you pursue your career. Your husband may want kids, but if you don't really want them (and the work and financial issues they bring), then you as a couple are not ready for kids.

The reality is that most of the time, the mom ends up doing most of the work raising her kids. Part of this is simple biology- mom's have the breasts, and the hips for carrying them. Also, women tend to be able to handle the actual crying and screaming a lot better than men can- there were studies on this.

Are you prepared to foot the bill for motherhood- this includes birth, enrichment activities, clothes, school trips. prom, college education (perhaps all the way up to master's degree and PhD?), AND the reality that after college, they may STILL have to move back in with you while they build their careers?

I don't know if you've been keeping up on the news, but the millinials (recent college grads), are finding it harder than ever to break into their fields and stabilize their careers after graduation.

If you're not prepared for this reality (that they might not be successful right away as "grown-ups"), then parenting is going to be a hard thing for you.

But come on, that's not much time, really.  Yeah, I did the breastfeeding, but my kids are 4 and 10 now.  Breastfeeding lasted a year (x2), my husband does half now and has since.

(That said, you don't want kids, don't have them!  To second iris lily - yeah, you may not REALLY know how you will feel after you have kids, but in my opinion it's MUCH less risky to NOT have kids.  It would be WAY worse to have them and realize later "nope, this was a bad idea!")