The “common” response I get when asking a young couple, or married man or woman, about when they plan on having kids is remarkably consistent. Yes, some say they don’t want children and I totally support that choice. Absolutely do not have ‘em if you don’t want ‘em! But, for the rest, their answers tend to follow this scene:
Me: Are you and your husband (or wife) planning on having children?
Them: Yes, eventually.
Me:Oh, when is that, exactly?
Them: We don’t have enough money to have children yet, plus I want to move my career further along.
Me: I see. And what is the magic money number you need before you can have children?
Them: I don’t know, but we absolutely can’t afford it now.
At this point, I struggle to put my I’m-older-and-wiser-than-you hat away and just graciously say, “Best of luck.”
Excuse me! Money determines whether you can have children or not? Your career determines whether you can have children or not? Hmm, you should have a good house, too. Finish that bucket-list of places to go, things to do, adventures to experience! Yeah, getting those VP stripes absolutely must precede parenthood. So glad your priorities are in the right order and place.
Let’s consider a few basic facts. Having children is NOT like ordering a new car. Being “ready” is irrelevant. There may be a little remembered fact at play? Have you thought that you could have fertility issues? Or, that you may have issues with keeping a baby once you do get pregnant? Remember Jackie Kennedy? Of course not, that’s waaayyyy tooooo long ago!
Excuse me! You don’t have children as simply as making vacation plans! There may be a little luck, a little biology, a little matter of the birds and the bees at play.
In my case, the mother of my boys got pregnant if I looked at her too carefully. But, I knew she had had miscarriages and was able to conceive easily since she’d been married before and wasn’t able to carry to term.
We agreed that we were not getting any younger and began practicing the month before we got married. Our first son was conceived on our honeymoon. Our second son was created over Valentine’s Day, when I specifically returned home for that purpose. I wasn’t taking anything for granted, however, and we talked about this in great detail and we were both aware of the conception calendar. After all, women are only able to conceive during a limited period of time each month.
I wonder if young couples think about some of these considerations? Obviously, many do. But, I know of so many women that were in my generation who waited too long and could not or did not become the mother they had planned on being. Many delayed having relationships in pursuit of the higher calling of their careers. And, many have regretted that decision the rest of their lives.
Thankfully, my generation has helped pave the way for subsequent generations of men and women to have the option of career and parenthood. Women today don’t feel the same pressure to achieve that so many women did in the seventies and eighties. If a woman chooses to stay at home, that choice doesn’t get the black mark from feminists and peers that it used to. Even men can stay home, though I continue to assert that dads are the last group that popular culture can denigrate with impunity.
How much money do you need to have children, I ask again? What did our parents do and their parents and beyond? Was their timing tied to their IRAs? Did dad or mom need to climb the corporate or entrepreneurial ladder before they considered having a family? I think not.
But, yes, getting a new BMW is much more important than building a family. And, you must have a separate room for the baby and your mother-in-law. Let’s not even consider the issues of being an older parent and the stresses that can bring. As an older parent myself, I wonder about the Tony Randall’s of the world and how they’ll feel looking like Grandpa at back-to-school night? Frankly, I think that is completely selfish.
Kids deserve your time and attention. Whether you can provide them with the latest toy or gadget is so much less important. Whether you’ve got that corner office or have taken your company public doesn’t matter to them. What matters is you being there, caring for and loving them.
Think about it.
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