I was never one of those guys who wanted a big family.
I know there are some dudes out there who are natural with kids and volunteer at their church's VBS. But that just wasn't me. I enjoy conversation more than play and it's tough to engage in a deep conversation with kids. So I used to avoid them or awkwardly pat them on the head as if they were the family dog.
Don't get me wrong. I always planned to have children one day, but only because I felt like I had to. I mean, you're supposed to have kids, right? But once I got married, I no longer wanted to have any kids. I mean, marriage was so much fun. Why ruin it? I was content living life with just me and my wife.
Then my son was born and everything changed. Words can't describe how amazing it is to be a dad. Now looking back, I can't believe I didn't want children and I can't believe I waited so long to get them. What was I thinking? Yet I think there are lot of young couples out there who have a similar mentality.
Young Married Couples Tend to Wait
In the beginning God tells mankind, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" (Gen 1:28). But these days, mankind tends to delay that command for about 3-5 years after marriage. You see like my younger self, most married couples don't want to be fruitful and multiply. At least not in the beginning of marriage. Why so?
Well, most married couples want to take time to enjoy their marriages. They want to try different restaurants and hang out with friends. They want to travel to different countries and enjoy as many adventures as possible. And they want to spend quality time together, whether it be going out or having late-night talks. Kids will ruin all of this, so couples want to maximize their marriage before their arrival.
Married couples also see how tired parents look. I mean just look at the parents in your church. They look exhausted. And after service is over, they're always chasing their kids around. When you visit their homes, toys are scattered everywhere. Cartoons are playing in the background. Dinner is filled with screaming. Young couples see this and think, "Nah." So they wait to have kids.
And it's true. Children are tiring. But should a couple wait 3-5 years before trying to have one? Personally, I think that's a mistake. Why so? Well, let me explain.
Children Are a Blessing
Most people would agree that owning a home is a blessing. Sure, it's a stressful endeavor and it takes a lot of time and money to get one. But in the end, you know it'll be worth it. So a lot of young couples will be proactive in saving and will get excited about owning their own property. That's because owning a home is seen as a blessing.
Just know children are supposed to be seen as a blessing too. Why so? Well, the Bible describes them as a gift from the Lord. Solomon writes, "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward" (Ps 127:3). We don't delay blessings. Nobody receives a gift and says, "Wait - can you give this to me 3-5 years later?" No. We want to open gifts as soon as we can because we see gifts as a blessing. And if this is the case with kids, we should want them sooner rather than later.
The problem though is that a lot of us don't see children as a blessing; instead they're seen as a burden. They're like root canals. We know we should eventually get one, but we we dread it. I know I used to see kids this way. But I've come to realize this a very worldly, How I Met Your Mother, "I-want-my-freedom" mentality. Having kids is a blessing from the Lord, which means they're good for us. To delay them as long as possible may mean you don't really see them this way.
The Later You Start, The Less You Can Have
If children are a blessing, then that means the more the better. And this is also why I think couples should try having kids a bit sooner. But do the math. On average, women get married between the ages 26-28. So let's say you get married at 27 and wait 3-5 years to have kids. That means you'll start "trying" around age 30. But it's not like you'll get pregnant right away - the average couple takes about 3-6 months. And that's if you don't suffer from any complications or miscarriages.
But let's say you don't suffer from any setbacks and you get pregnant around the six-month mark. After nine months, you'll be giving birth at age 31. Then you'll be recovering for at least a year before trying for baby #2. So now you're 32. You try (3-6 months), get pregnant (9 months), and give birth (age 33). Then you're recovering for another year and now you're 34.
That means if you want baby #3, you'll be 35 - an age where getting pregnant will be more complicated. So most couples will stop at two kids. And there's nothing wrong with having only two kids. But what sucks is that because you waited so long, you have no choice but to have only two kids. I remember a friend of mine who's older saying that when he was my age, a lot of his friends wanted only 1-2 kids. But now that they're older, they regret not having more.
Who knows, maybe you'll want to stop after 1-2 kids. But if you wait 3-5 years, you'll have no choice but to stop. And that may come with regret because you'll realize what a blessing children are.
Children Actually Enhance the Quality of Life
I remember when I was a newly-wed, I'd feel bad for young parents. They seemed so old and restricted. So later when my wife got pregnant, I remember thinking to myself, "My life is now over." No more late night hangouts with the boys. No more traveling. No more NBA 2k. I lamented the end of my life. But now after having two kids, I realized something. My life didn't end when I had children. My life had actually just begun.
How so? Well, with kids you're able to see life outside your self-absorbed bubble. As human beings, we're naturally self-absorbed and often think only about ourselves. Even in marriage, our love tends to be selfish. That's why we get upset when we feel like we're giving to our spouse more than we're receiving. But with kids? For the first time, you experience unconditional love. You give to your kids and you don't care if you get nothing in return because it's not about you. It's about them. And something about this makes life more beautiful.
In a recent interview, singer Michael Buble shared a similar sentiment. He says
"[Kids] gave me perspective on life that I very badly needed. It's hard to be able to quantify that level of love. I didn't even know that there was that color in the spectrum. I didn't know that level of love existed. But it makes me better at everything. It allows me to pull more emotion and be more honest."
In other words, having kids colors the way you view life. It makes you notice things that you never noticed before. It draws something out of you that you never knew existed. It grows you in ways you never knew was possible. And life now looks a little more beautiful because you have something beautiful in your life. You see, having kids doesn't just change your life - it enhances it.
Don't get me wrong - I do think there are legitimate reasons for couples to wait a bit to have kids. It's probably a good thing to take a little bit of time to adjust to marriage life and enjoy one another as a couple. If you're financially struggling, it might be wise to save a bit for child expenses. If your marriage is difficult, it might be helpful to work on that before starting family.
But waiting 3-5 years so you can enjoy marriage before children? Personally, I think this is misguided thinking. It comes from a perspective that children are a burden rather than a blessing and a view that they're a detriment rather than an enhancement. No parent looks at their kids and thinks, "I really regret having you." And neither will you.
If there is a regret I have about having children, it's this: I wish I had them a lot sooner. I had no idea how much I loved being a dad. If I did, I wouldn't have waited as long as I had.