Married couples aren’t asked if they’re going to have kids; they get asked when they’re going to have kids. Quite frankly, I abhor that. Children, even if they’re not necessarily planned, can be the greatest blessing. However, the outspoken truth is that having kids just isn’t (and shouldn’t be) for everyone. Expanding one’s family is a huge responsibility that some people may never be ready to take on. Real talk — it’s time that we as a society erase the social stigma surrounding being childless.
Every two minutes in the United States, a child enters the foster care system. This adds up to over 415,000 total children in the system. Nearly half of these children were placed in the foster care system due to abuse. Other children are placed in the system because their parents/ guardians cannot simply afford to feed and shelter them. According to the USDA, the typical American family spends $234,000 to raise a child for seventeen years (which averages out to over seventeen grand a year!) With statistics like these, why are we encouraging couples to have kids that they aren’t emotionally or financially ready for them?
Children are obviously a huge time commitment. Parents must teach their youngsters all the basics they need to function in the world. This requires many sacrifices on behalf of the parents, which can hold them back from pursuing their goals and dreams, especially if the child is unplanned. Also, that child will directly reflect those who raised him or her. Your kids will mimic the adults they are surrounded by, including you. Say goodbye to all your bad habits, unless you want your little shadow to be sharing their favorite new curse word with Grandma!
Even if a couple wants kids, having them can still put much strain on their relationship. Parenthood affects relationships no matter how much children are wanted. Couples are more likely to argue and are less likely to spend quality time together once they are parents. Also, adults with children are less likely to go out and often lose touch with friends, especially when those friends are single and/or childless.
I’m tired of seeing newlywed couples asked about when they’re going to have kids. First of all, I can’t fathom how people think it’s okay to ask such a personal question. Perhaps they don’t want kids, or just aren’t ready for them yet. The couple could also be struggling with conceiving or be completely unable to have their own children, yet they’re constantly pestered with this intimate question. Even if you’re dead-set on having kids, it’s okay to wait a few years to have them. You should be able to wait without feeling as if people are breathing down your neck and waiting on you to reproduce. When couples finally have their first child, it seems as though they’re being pestered about having another before the little one is a month old. No, your kids do not need to be close in age and you shouldn’t feel obligated to give your child a sibling.
No one should feel pressured to have children. We should all be able to enjoy our lives to the fullest before we have kids, so we can be happy and ready to settle down and start a family. If you want to start having kids in your first year of marriage, that’s great! However, there’s nothing stopping you from adopting your very first kid when you’re fifty. If you’re intent on never having children, that’s perfectly okay too. The point is, nobody should be pressured into having children that they don’t want. It’s insane that in 2016 society is still shaming those who are childless. It’s time that we rid ourselves of this old mindset and look at the bigger picture.