I went to a cookout recently at a friend’s house. There were probably about 13 other guys there. I think 6 of the guys were married. All brought their wives.
Five of the six couples had a child under a year old with them; the other was 8 months pregnant.
Being surrounded by all those kids really got me wondering: what is it that makes people want to have children?
I’m not asking this rhetorically so I can go off on some rant about how I don’t like children, because that’s not the case. I ask this with genuine curiosity, from the point of view of someone who has never had the urge to be a father.
(I don’t know that this is especially rare for a guy. I think my fiancée gets far more dog-hearing-high-pitched-noise looks when she talks about not wanting kids. And I will readily admit that I’ve started to get rather mean when people (women) start insinuating that my fiancée is waiting until she can trap me into marriage then go bait-and-switch, biological-clock-ticking, demanding bitch on me. Great. Glad you give your gender so much credit.)
I feel like I lead a full life. I enjoy the things I do in my free time, and I love the lifestyle I have with my soon-to-be wife. We love our freedom and all the little spontaneous things we can do.
We’re also not the most traditional people in the world, in the sense that we’ve never seen parenthood as a given.
Here’s what I worry about, because I’ve seen it all too often: Life becomes 90% about the kids. The husband-wife relationship takes a back seat to the parent-child relationship for many, many years. Sometimes it never recovers. The things you loved doing together just become too inconvenient. Every venture outside the house turns into a test of patience and nerve.
I don’t want any of that to happen. I love my fiancée. She’s my favorite person in the world. I don’t want anything to get in the way of us enjoying our relationship.
To be fair, most people do not complain about being parents. My guess, though, is that it’s partly because they’d be lambasted by other parents for daring to suggest that parenthood is not the best, special-est thing EVARRRR.
So I ask again—what is it that makes people want to have children? Do people’s hearts melt when they hold a baby? Do children fill some sort of void? Is having kids something people simply feel like they’re supposed to do at a certain point in their lives? Is it societal pressure? Evolutionary pressure? Grandparental pressure?
Most people say parenthood is a wonderful feeling…that they don’t mind giving up their old life because they love their kids THAT MUCH. But I also think most of these same people wanted kids to begin with. Bully for them that it turned out even better than they hoped.
I will readily admit that I’m curious about how our kids would turn out. Frankly, I think we'd be solid assets for the gene pool. I’m not worried that we wouldn’t be good parents. I think we’d be attentive and loving (but not so competitive as to have pissing matches over how the Montessori school/classical music/gluten-free diet we chose make us better parents than THOSE people). And, yes, I concede that there is a possibility that years down the road we might regret not having children.
It’s just that those reasons aren’t enough.