Is there a right time to have children?
If you know me or if you've read my little presentation, you know I was still very young when I had my first child. I have a few friends who are also parents, but the majority of them are still "only" husband and wife (not that there is anything wrong with that, and it's great that they get to enjoy being together!) But we are getting at the age now when most are thinking about starting a family and it is a subject that oftens comes up in conversation. This got me thinking - is there a right time to have children?
Couples today tend to have children much later than past generations. This is mainly due to the fact that it is taking longer to complete a degree, and that it is becoming increasingly harder to find a job. It used to be common for the wife to stay at home while the husband was going to work, but now most women are starting careers too. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is money, of course. When both (future) parents work, the household income is higher. Now, as Christians, we shouldn't focus on money; but that doesn't mean it's wrong to earn a good wage! God likes to bless His children and I praise Him for the families than get more than enough and are able to spend money on things that they like. It's true that babies can be expensive. Therefore, financially, it might seem like a good idea to have children slightly later in life. Once one or both parents are working, it certainly lightens the burden of buying all the necessities - not to mention the expenses that come when the children get older. This is why I can understand why some people would want to be settled financially before thinking about getting pregnant. From this point of view, it certainly does seem like a wise decision!
Biologically, however, our bodies are meant to have children at a young age. I don't mean as a teenager, but it is a known fact that fertility reduces with time. I find it ironic that nowadays couples start wanting to build a family around age 30 when it is at this age that fertility starts to reduce considerably. Many studies suggest that the best time to conceive is around age 20-25, when the odds of getting pregnant are about 25% each month. In our mid 30s, the odds are already half as much, and keep decreasing as time goes on. It's important to note that it isn't just the time it takes to get pregnant that worsens, but also the number of miscarriages and stillbirths. Indeed, nature seems to indicate it is better to have children at a young age.
So... is there a right time to have children?
I don't think there is one good answer to this question. Every couple is different; what will work for one family will not necessarily work for another. I can only speak for myself and explain why Mat and I have chosen to start a family in our early 20s. Aside from the biological side of things, there was also a calling upon our lives. We knew since our teenage years that God would make us parents and we both had the same vision of a large family. Sure, things haven't always been easy financially. But God has provided for us and we've learnt to live on little money, so it isn't a worry in our lives. Plus, being parents doesn't have to be as expensive as people make it out to be. And although I do understand the idea of wanting to be financially secure before having babies, it doesn't seem like a strong enough reason for me. You could be going to uni, but once you graduate, will you take a job? Once you have a job, will you go for the promotion? Once you are promoted, will you want to buy a bigger house? A bigger car? Move again for a bigger garden? By the time we've ticked all the boxes, it might be too late to have children... Besides, in 50 years from now, I want to look back on my life and be happy with my choices. Will I regret not getting a job earlier? I don't think so. But I know I will remember the days when my children were young and growing and all the memories we will have built together. This, to me, is what matters. Not the material possessions that we can't keep in Heaven, but the children we will strive to spend eternity with.
(I really like this verse :)
"Children are a heritage from the Lord, offsping a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth." - Psalm 127:2-4
Mat and I are hoping to add to our family in the future and we have a million reasons for wanting to pursue our parenting calling. However, I realise that it might not be the right thing to do for other couples. I think the best thing to do for people trying to decide when to start a family is ask God - you really can't go wrong when you're doing what He wants!
Tags: when to start a family, having children, young parents, mature parents, when to have children
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