Should I Have Children?

I recently had a conversation with a friend who has been thinking about starting a family.  A part of her is excited and expectant about what this new stage of life would bring and another part of her….well, just isn’t so sure about it all.

“Should I really have children when the world is so screwed up?”  

Read the news, watch the headlines, listen and grieve the heart-breaking stories of friends and acquaintances and quite quickly the weight of what it is to have a child really can feel too much.  There are natural disasters and diseases.  There are accidents and those willing to harm.  There are devastating acts of rebellion and unrelenting bullying.  Is it worth it when the cost, the worry, the fear, the loss, the heartache is so high?

When we were family planning, The Native and I honestly never weighed the decision in those terms.  Our questions and fears were more centred on whether we were ready physically and emotionally to give so much to this little person and whether we wanted to “give up” the lifestyle we had built for ourselves.  A life that we really did enjoy.

It wasn’t until she was here and I felt the uninhibited love I had for her that I began to fear the reality of seeing her hurt, of feeling her reject me, and worst of all – of losing her.  Even thinking about the possibility is unbearable.

So, are we being careless by bringing children into a world that is so full of hurt, hate, disease, crime, and disaster?

Some would say yes and have made a very personal decision not to have children for this exact reason.  I do respect that.

Here is why we have had a child and may have more –

Love is an investment of the soul.

When you love ANYONE you risk having your heart broken.  Really loving someone requires you to give yourself over to them.  Love your parents, love your spouse,  or love your child – and you will experience a joy and fullness that is almost incomprehensible.  Love them and you also risk experiencing disappointment and sorrow like you have never known.  The problem with investing your heart into someone is that you cannot do it without making yourself vulnerable.  There is no way around it.

I feel that vulnerability every day.  Right now, she is full of life.  No one has bullied her, no one has hurt her feelings, no one has physically harmed her (Intentionally! Sorry about that time I elbowed  you in the nose, sweetheart.  It was the result of a series of unfortunate incidents).  Here’s the thing – that day is coming and it hurts like hell to think of it and I cannot spend too much time thinking of any of the rest without spiralling into a totally anxious state.  I could speak of hope, protection, how to raise her, and praying that the world gets better, but what it boils down to is this: having her in the world is better than having a world that her little life will never touch.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. LewisThe Four Loves

I would love to hear what you think:  Do you think it is unwise or too scary to bring children into the world?    If you have children – what influenced your decision?  Did you think about this before you got pregnant?

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8 thoughts on “Should I Have Children?

  1. samanthamcgarry

    It crossed my mind fleetingly, but I had known forever that I was born to be a mother. Now that I am one, yes that terror is there every day. But, I feel my duty is to raise good people who can contribute to making this world a better place. Surely this is why we do this thing called parenthood? To keep us moving forward?

    Reply
  2. Zeta

    I’ve heard this a lot, and though I’m not a mother yet, I definitely plan on becoming one. For me, the state of the world IS the reason I want to build a family. I know there are really awful things happening every day, and people who are selfish, hurtful, bullies, ignorant, or just plain unpleasant. For me, the issue is not whether I want to submit my future children to the realities of this world, but whether or not I can create a family, and individuals, who can help make the world a nicer place. Call me arrogant, but I really believe that my husband and I have what it takes to raise children who will grow into loving, helpful, trustworthy adults and who might just help make the world a little less awful. And I can’t wait to start.

    Reply
  3. Chelsea Wellington

    Just recently found your blog through WordPress and am enjoying looking at some of your older posts! In response to your question: I don’t think the world is so scary that people shouldn’t have children. I don’t think fear should keep us from doing anything, actually. I honestly believe there is at least as much, if not more, love and hope and good in the world as there is fear and hate and evil. I think you said it perfectly: “having her in the world is better than having a world that her little life will never touch.” I feel just the same about my girls….but I was also lucky enough to have that feeling about my baby brother when I was 8, and the babies I babysat in high school and the kids I was a nanny for in college….and random, adorable babies I would see in a shop or cafe. What good is world where we aren’t trying harder for our children or raising the children who can and will change things for the better? Maybe that’s a bit starry-eyed of me, but so be it!

    Reply
    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Chelsea and for saying hello! I couldn’t agree more. I worried more about whether I’d be a good enough Mom and love her enough than about bringing her into this world.

      Are you an expat as well or simply a fellow blogger? Will have to pop over to yours to have a read!

      Reply
  4. Chelsea Wellington

    Fellow expat here! We moved from the Chicago area to Abu Dhabi, UAE in June 2012. So, I’m still fairly new to expat life and blogging alike but enjoying the day to day “adventure” of it all.

    Reply
    1. Living Life as an Expat Parent Post author

      Brilliant. Always love to see fellow expats stopping by although my experience of UAE is little (….none), hope you will at least relate to the challenges of the expat life. Have stopped by your blog and although I would happily welcome weather over 60* here, I’m not sure how we’d cope with the heat in Abu Dhabi! You are brave.

      Reply

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