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Benefits of Having Kids

"What's the Upside of Having Children?"

This question is from a Group Therapy post in our TrèsSugar Community. Add your advice in the comments!

My fiancé and I are getting married in a few months. I feel that it’s important to decide if you want kids before you’re married (one of my good friends went through a painful divorce over this issue). He’s relatively certain that he wants two. I’m so scared and unsure about having children. We had a long conversation about this the other day and I was talking about what a sacrifice children are, how study after study proves that parents are less happy than their counterparts, and how I constantly hear how difficult and sad being a parent is. He said something that really resonated with me, “I don’t think you understand why people have children.” And I really don’t.

When I see a baby I don’t get all “Oooohhh, a baby can I hold him?” I just get nervous watching him and making sure he’s OK and trying not to get too close because I can’t remember if I washed my hands after I went to the grocery store or whatever.

But, then, when I see my fiancé with kids, he’s so fun and gentle but responsible, and our relationship is very stable and healthy, I feel like we should have kids because it would be such an ideal life for a child. We also both come from loving and supportive homes, and while neither of our parents is pressuring us, I’m sure they would love to be grandparents someday.

But the awful thing is that I can see how badly my fiancé wants this. And I would just feel terrible marrying him if there’s a possibility that doing so would mean he won’t get to experience something so important in his life.

So, what I’m asking, I’m beyond aware that becoming a parent is a huge financial and personal sacrifice, your personality gets supplanted by “mom," I read they’re about $40,000 a year to raise, and that they will create significant conflict in a marriage. But what are the good parts? What about being a parent makes you happy or fulfilled?

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jessstam jessstam 4 years
Please spare that poor guy. Don't marry him. Life is so unfair that, although he may be in love with you, you don't want kids, and he does. There are women out there just waiting to have kids with someone, breaking their back trying to find someone, but haven't found a person. Dang life is so unfair though.
pallatini pallatini 4 years
I totally understand your position - I am very much like you.  I never wanted kids for all the reasons you mention and having a child would have been a complete disaster for most of my life.  I am completely lacking the fussing-over-everbody's-baby gene, I still don't pat pregnant women's tummies and hold other kids/babies only occassionally and never snatch them out their mothers arms screaming "oh, how cute!" Now I have a son, he is almost 8 and I only had him when I was 39.  I love him more than life and the only way I can imagine life without him is in a nightmare.  What I learned from all of that is two main things: don't do it if you aren't ready.  if you still want to travel the world, make a stellar career or go out 4 nights a week don't have a child (yet).  You know when you are ready.  Secondly, and it is not a contradiction - don't forever wait for the perfect opportunity.  A child will be disruptive, always, you will have to improvise, there will never be the perfect time.  Two more things, I find it rather easy to deal with one child - two I am not sure I could handle.  That's why I have only one and am happy with it, despite the fact that 2 seems to be the expected number.  You'll hear all sorts of prejudice against single children - forget it,  do your own thing.  And, as somebody already pointed out, having a child doesn't mean your brain gets mushy.  I still have the same friends (mostly single and childless, we only occassionally talk about children - actually dogs seem to be the topic these days ....), we travel, a lot, we took my son to Europe when he was 8 months old and every year since, to India and Mexico when he was three, etc.  Just resolve to stay who you are and not let yourself get sucked into that pink-and -baby blue-overly-cute craziness.
BettyBlue22 BettyBlue22 4 years
Thank you for this... I am not alone in thinking the same exact thing!!  I think the best advice anyone can give you is to talk it out with your own therapist to kind of narrow down the reasons why you don't want to have children.  It could be a number of things and talking it out with someone unbiased could make things clearer for you.     Know that you are not a bad person for thinking you're life is going to be over, because it won't be.  Having kids means that you and your husband will have different priorities and a different focus on your life together than you do now.  Before taking the leap with marriage or kids, you should seriously strengthen your relationship with your husband-to-be.   It'll probably be the most important relationship you have, even more so than the relationship you have with your kids, but not as much as the relationship you have with yourself.  I wish you the best of luck! 
pax4pax pax4pax 4 years
Thank you, Henna Red for such a thoughtful response. Gives us all a moment of pause ...
steph1234 steph1234 4 years
I am a mother of 2 and have been married for nearly 10 years. I can honestly say, those 3 days(wedding and 2 births) were the best of my life. I am married to my very best friend, and have two precious gifts who, although require a lot of sacrifice, are worth it. I can tell you so many things about being a mom that is wonderful, but I can also tell you so many things that are not wonderful..everyone mentions the financial sacrifice and the lack of sleep, but there's more to it. You worry, constantly, about their health, safety, mental and emotional well-being...if you are disciplining them properly and teaching them how to be a good person, your house stays messy, unless you are constantly cleaning,which then means you aren't spending enough time with them, etc. I appreciate all of the thought you are putting in to this, but part of me thinks you are asking us to talk you into the idea of having kids just so you can justify marrying this guy. Don't do that! You want what you want and he wants what he wants...if those things don't mesh, then maybe it's a good idea to hold off on getting married. Your desires may change down the road, but don't try to talk yourself into wanting kids just so you can marry him...because you or him, or both of you could end up very disappointed and miserable later in life.
kimmieb124 kimmieb124 4 years
Kids are expensive and parenting is a 24/7 job.  Literally.  I have two kids and if one of them is up at 3am throwing up, I'm up too even though I have to be up again 2 hours later to go to work. I don't see my friends as much and I can't make spontaneous plans to do anything anymore.  But all of these things are so worth the sacrifice.  I cannot imagine my life without them.  I agree whole-heartedly with enigmatiscstatic.  The love I have for my children is unlike any other love I have ever experienced.  Watching them grow and learn and become their own people is a beautiful privilege.  Seeing glimpses of myself and my husband reflected in them is fun (and sometimes scary), too.  There are upsides and downsides to everything in life, and having children is definitely not something you should enter into lightly. 
henna-red henna-red 4 years
I would say that a 50% divorce rate may mean that we, as people and a society have lost the ability to make apropriate boundaries, good, self discerning judgments, and the ability of conflict resolution. I would say that those losses are showing up in more that the divorce rate, but also in the vast amounts of bullying we're seeing in our kids and ourselves as adults. We have found, as a society, that it's easier to throw things away, and start over, than it is to figure out how to keep something that is mostly good. We have lost a lot of our ability to compromise, and our sense of reality is being taken over by pop culture in the form of tv, and movies where the happy beginning, the difficult middle and happy ending happen in and hour and a half. The fact that people are still getting married proves, I think, that we want to have the same values, the same central familial core, the same stability, but we have lost a lot of our ability to work through issues, and work for that stability. Also, it's just not a stigma so much any more, to leave an unworkable situation. We don't have to live in misery because we've lost the ability to fix our behaviors within our relationships. And I agree that not everyone wants to part of a forever couple, but some do and just don't know how and don't work to learn. Marriage is work, kids are work, life is work :) What work do you want to do? I totaly agree that the point is to figure out what we want and how to get there. I totaly agree that it's important to face your fears and deal with your concerns as much as possible before committing. I also think, that at the heart of this issue about having kids, you have to throw away the statistics and look at your heart, look within yourself to what you want, not what you are hearing you should want, and make a solid judgement about whether or not you can compromise what you want with a partners desires, particularly when they are so different. OP, remember, in this disposable society, the fact that you don't want kids and he does, doesn't mean he won't have kids. Having kids, for a lot of people is an emotional and physical imperative. Be very, very sure of yourself before you marry this man you love, who loves you. And again, physical, hands on experience with kids will help you know whether this is a challenge, a life that you do or don't want. That's what I believe, anyway. I love spending time with small friends and family, but I'm happy to not have the responsibility of raising them to be great people 24/7 for the next 18 to 21 years.
BiWife BiWife 4 years
I would say that the 50% divorce rate proves that half of people really shouldn't be married. Not everyone can handle being part of a marital couple. Not everyone wants to be part of a forever-couple. Not everyone is monogamous/serial-monogamous. The point is to figure out what you want from life and how you're going to get there. If all you do is look at the positives, it's easy to get in over your head. teenage girls that see just the positives of being a mommy throw away school, careers, family, friends, and relationships in their pursuit to make their own 'nuclear family' before they're legally adults. it's important to face your fears and deal with your concerns and get a reality check *before* getting committed.
enigmaticstatic enigmaticstatic 4 years
I can't believe only one person has commented on this. I can totally see your position here, and you are smart to take this situation seriously. Reproduction is nothing to take lightly. Yes kids are expensive. I can tell you would be a good parent as it is something you are already putting serious and intelligent thought in to. Good for you. I am a mother, and I am still the same person. The children have not taken over my brain and turned me in to some face book monster who constantly posts about every thing the baby is doing or eating at every second. Not all mothers are like that, and some of us have enough respect for others to spare them the minuet to minuet up dates on how the baby loves peas, is getting teeth, and has diareah. Sure I have changed as a parent sense having children. I don't go out any more, my car is disgusting, and expensive shampoo and clothing is a thing of the past, so is sleep. I don't care though because it was worth it. The best things in life aren't things, or getting plastered at a night club, they are the people you love. Having a child is challenging. It is some times painful (not just physically but emotionally too). It is however the strongest love I have ever felt tword another human being in my life. I feel I am so lucky that I have got to experience that love, You will never find it any where else. Love and knowledge are the meaning of life. I experience them both more as a parent than in any other avenue of life. Take your time and don't rush into anything. It is ok to be conflicted.
GTCB GTCB 4 years
Oh boy... you are TOTALLY looking at this the wrong way.  What if I turn this around on you - what's the good parts of getting married?  It can be a huge financial and personal burden, and your personality gets supplanted by "spouse".  Study after study proves that single people are happier than married people, and with the American divorce rate over 50% you can bet that being married is constantly difficult and sad.
missmaryb missmaryb 4 years
My kids are a bit older (still living home, but not babies or toddlers) and I love having them in my life. I admit, I wasn't really a baby person and I didn't get much enjoyment out of that phase of their lives...but what I wouldn't give for one day to have them each back as precious little newborns. I'd hold them all day long! But I digress. Once they got to be a bit older and turned into real little people, I really started getting into my role as a mom. I love sitting at baseball practices and swim meets and school plays and awards ceremonies. I feel like I have done a great thing by putting 2 wonderful people on this earth and I am so proud of them every single day. I love talking with them, and seeing the world through their eyes. I love helping them with their homework and playing Uno with them and baking their endless clay projects in the oven. They make me laugh every single day. Sometimes they make me cry, whether with pride or sadness or worry. Sometimes they exhaust me and demand my time when I need to be alone. Sometimes they fight with each other or with me. I know that having kids isn't for everyone. It is a hard job and you're always second guessing yourself and you have to give yourself up to the greater cause of raising them, but I wouldn't trade any of it, ever. Hope that helped some.
Bubbles12 Bubbles12 4 years
I don't have kids. When I was 18 I thought that's all I'd do with my life -- be a stay at home mom -- and that would be the best thing ever. However something strange happened, when I was with a guy who'd be a good father I just couldn't follow through. I didn't want to sign up for that huge responsibility, the 'whole suburban life thing'. I'd see the identical cars, the houses, the kids in the cars and houses and thought: ick, I don't want to be a slave to a mortgage and a man that may turn out to not love me and there I am with kids to raise! My parents hated their lives as parents, think Don and Betty Draper. That fear I might share their dissatisfaction embedded itself deeply I realize now. I realize I'm not them. By the time I found Mr. Right though I was 40...and he was infertile and didn't want to adopt! He was so wonderful (and still is 10 years later) and I was on my last fertility legs, I gave in to no kids. It's a loss for sure. But I am so very satisfied with my life and my marriage and my career and my house and my animals and the kids that belong to my friends and relatives. I was waiting for the Big Regret. It is a small regret. Here's a secret too. Moms of toddlers and young children can be fierce to non-mothers. I'd get a lot of hostility from them about my selfishness and what not. What is wrong with you kinds of conversation. Really weird. They go on and on about how great it is and what I was missing. But...mothers of children older than 15? Just the opposite. When they decide to spontaneously share it's to tell me how lucky I am, many tried to talk me out of adopting after I married "just enjoy the wonderful life you have, have fun". There are a lot of emotions around family, you won't avoid it. I would stand by the feelings you have today and be honest with your fiancee so if your ambivalence doesn't go away, he isn't surprised. The challenge is a lot of people think "oh he or she will change their mind about kids and want them too" Be sure to have that conversation with him. You may truly not want to have kids forever. Maybe you want to take on foster kids as a couple and figure it out. The point is: you don't know anything for sure now but marry someone that will be happy with you either way.
pax4pax pax4pax 4 years
Everyone is different and have different needs and desires. However, before I had kids, I never thought of how they would affect, but, I would have to say that they changed me for the better. For one, having a child gives you a love that is beyond what you feel for your fiancee', different. It gives you a connection to someone else that is unique. There are sacrifices, but, it's like sacrificing for yourself, so, you don't have second thoughts. It's also a chance to help a life grow and avoid the problems you had. And, in that way, it is therapy for you. If your fiancee' and you disagree on this matter, let him go and know completely the aspect of life that he only desires now. However, I hope you give it a chance.
BiWife BiWife 4 years
lol, no, no one in my relationships has ever used the "let's make something that's a part of both of us". It is, however, one of the most common arguments I hear from people I know that think one is not an adult until they have had kids (cousins, aunts, etc), which is followed closely by the argument that birth control is a sin and we need to hurry up and pop out more kids for Christ, since the Muslims are out-breeding us in recent decades. *rolls eyes* It's simply a common argument for having kids, whether you're ready for them or not, and I figured I would give my full explanation when bringing it up. This isn't the only thread we've had on this site over the kids issue.
henna-red henna-red 4 years
Hi BiWife, I don't believe either of us said there's "an innate desire to breed as part of being truly in love." Didn't even intimate it. "Love is not defined by whether or not you want to breed with someone..." neither of us has said that, or believes that. I chose not to have kids, Raynne also doesn't..... I suspect this is a strong reaction to something someone has said to you in your own life and relationship?
Raynne413 Raynne413 4 years
I didn't say that you are only "TRULY" in love if you want to have kids. I said I could see how PART of it COULD be. I truly love my boyfriend, but I honestly don't want children.
BiWife BiWife 4 years
Not everyone is fulfilled by the same goals in life. Not all women find children "fun" or "desirable". Roughly half of all children born in the US are unplanned/accidents. Most people getting into parenthood are thrust into it without it being their choice (aside from choosing to engage in sexual intercourse with/without contraception). So, it's good that you're considering this seriously before marriage. It is a BFD for a marriage. What are your goals for life? Do you have career, volunteering, or other goals that would take you away from home/kids? If so, make sure you take care of those goals BEFORE getting pregnant and make it a later-in-life development rather than hurrying to have kids while you're young. I struggled with dueling desires in my mid-twenties, feeling like everyone around me was doing the mommy thing and I was the only one still pursuing other goals. Ultimately, I'm so very glad I chose not to have children. Maybe someday I'll adopt kids, but I'm definitely not the kind of person who wants to spend their days surrounded by kids. Once you go with kids, you can't go back, you can't change your mind, you're stuck. No matter what you do with your career, there's always ways to change things and get out of a rut. I disagree with above posters that there's an innate desire to breed as part of being "truly" in love. Love is not defined by whether or not you want to breed with someone, that's primal survival-of-the-species genetics kicking in - not love. Love is what creates monogamy/fidelity, which is completely antithetical to that primal breeding desire. Did you know that depending on the level of hormones in your system during various parts of your menstrual cycle, you're more attracted to certain types of men based on perceived virility? Hormonal urges =/= love.
henna-red henna-red 4 years
Oh, and i beg your pardon, you ARE having the conversation with him. Still, why do you think being a parent is sad? From reading about it? What experience from life? Your life, your parents, your family? We live this parent child thing, most of us. Is there something in your life that is making you think parenting is a sad thing?
henna-red henna-red 4 years
I'm not a mom, haven't had kids, but. I have to admit that I was taken aback by the title of your post. I don't regret not having kids, I made that choice concsiously in my late twenties, for a lot of reasons; but being around them, the kids of friends and family, is a tremendous joy for me. A great friend of mine decided to home birth, and I was one of six who was there with them when she delivered, spent the first couple of days with them, cooking a bit, and lending moral support. I also got to be the first babysitter, (mom had been given a salon coupon for a massage for after the birth). I got to be the first person to put little miss A into a swing, I got to watch her face light up with joy when I walked into the house to visit, or share a meal, or babysit. It's an experience unlike any other experience on earth. It's amazing how intense the emotions can be when you're connected to a child! (and I'm just a friend and "auntie") It's also a genetic safeguard for our species, that connection. I have a suggestion for you. I suggest that you make an effort to spend time with kids, and with their parents as a family unit. That's the only way to really answer your question, on a physical, viseral level. No matter how many people describe the joy, happiness, fear, worry, heartbreak, and satisfaction of having kids, you won't understand it without some real, hands on time spent with some. Does anyone in your family have kids? Friends? Find some way to spend time, to really understand what their parents are experiencing, and to start to see how kids experience the world. Also, talk to your boyfriend about this. Big time. Absolutely don't marry him without this conversation, and not just as a one time thing! This needs to be an ongoing conversation. You said your friend had a bitter divorce over this issue. You're right, this is a deal breaker for a lot of people. If you don't want kids, you shouldn't have them. But denying them to a partner who does will destroy a relationship. It is much better to not go there in the first place if you are so seperate on this issue, you're right about that. Babies are incredibly fragile, and incredibly resilient and strong all at the same time. Learning to be confident around them and with them is something that can only be learned hands on. You won't find any of the answers you're looking for here in books, or statistics. I think that looking at the stats is something you do after you've examined your heart and made a decision. Kind of old fashioned I guess. My family always said you're never ready to have kids, emotionaly or financialy. Some people put off starting a family until they meet a monetary goal of some security, stability. But some who do that end up having great difficulty conceiving, because women't bodies are designed to have babies most easily and healthily in their twenties. That's biology. Lots of people these days want to be more mature, more experienced, more prepared before they take on that most important job in the world. That's a great goal, I think, until it ends up backfiring from the biological/genetic perspective. There are plenty of people who have kids later in life, but you don't always know if you'll be able to until you get to that later age and try. It's a risk. OK, I've gone on. I hope you get lots of response from the parents on this forum, and I hope you sit down with your boyfriend and say everything to him that you've said here. Best of luck to you with this very important issue.
Raynne413 Raynne413 4 years
I'm curious to see the answers to this. I feel the same way. I think babies are adorable, and I love holding them, but I'm not too fond of children, teens, or pre-teens. I'm like, what do you DO with them? I just can't see myself PLAYING, and they are only cute and cuddly for so long. However, I think my boyfriend wants them, and when I see him interacting with his neice and nephew, I can see that he would make a wonderful father. I worry that this will end up causing the end of our relationship. But I know that the worst thing to do is have kids because the OTHER person wants them. I just don't want to give up my freedom. I like being able to get up, workout, go to work, come home, workout, cook dinner, do what I want to do, and then go to bed. I like being able to easily decide on a weekend getaway, and GO. But I think part of it is that when you REALLY love someone, the idea of having a little human being that is part of you BOTH is very appealing. The idea of something happening to my boyfriend, scares me. But with a child, you'd always have a part of them. *sigh*
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