Although I’m clearly neurotic when it comes to the decision of whether to procreate, I’m probably going to make this decision the way most people do: emotionally. Sure, I will justify the decision intellectually, but ultimately it will be a heart-based one.
I’ve spent a lot of time soul-searching the kid question. I’ve asked myself why not? What am I so afraid of? Will I regret missing out on the experience of a kid and grandkids when I’m older? Does having a kid align with my purpose? Will my life be meaningful without a kid? What is the meaning of life anyway?
Despite my best efforts, these meditations on the kid question have rarely been clarifying. Sometimes this soul-searching ends in an existential dilemma bigger than the kid problem. Clearly, I have issues, but my intentions are sound. People should be more thoughtful about the implications of creating offspring and what drives them to do it.
As a sophisticated species, there is more than the biological urge at play here. We desire connectedness through loving relationships and need a sense of purpose, and being parents gives our lives meaning. We are all striving to reach our potential in life, and having kids helps us grow. For some people, the greatest inspiration to become a better person stems from the desire to be a good parent and role model to their children. Having a kid challenges you to grow up, be patient, be present, and care more.
I think having a kid would make me a better person, and that’s why I’m warming up to it. Here are some of the ways a kid would be good for me:
It Would Orient Me
Mythology and religion were stories invented by humans to answer one question: what is our place in this vast mysterious universe? I often feel disconnected from the world like I don’t belong (or care to belong). I vacillate between wanting to create art that reaches people and wanting to live alone in the woods to create art only for myself. But I don’t think I was meant to be a hermit in this life, and it would be foolish to give into that tendency.
Right now, I have one foot in and one foot out. But I think my life would be better if I became more invested in society, and a kid can fix that. Having children makes you care about the world because your child’s future depends on it. Having a kid means you belong because now you belong to this child and a child needs to interact with the world.
Yes but . . . there are other ways to grow and deepen your connection to the world. Obviously, I need to focus on what I can do to contribute to society and be an active participant in my community, but I can be more proactive about doing that with my art.
It Would Open My Heart
My father is a reclusive curmudgeon and I can see glimpses of that developing in myself. I often find people disappointing and out for themselves. I have very few friends, and I rarely meet people I like. I’m not sure I even like myself that much. You could say that I’m becoming increasingly closed off with age, and my ability for compassion is getting rusty.
It’s such a rare gift to bear witness to a miracle, and when you do, it changes you. Creating life is a miracle that busts open your heart irreversibly. Parents I’ve known describe the overwhelming love they feel for their child as life-altering. It doesn’t stop there. All of a sudden, you relate to mothers with painful empathy. You don’t let people get to you as much, and you remember that they too are somebody’s child. Your road rage subsides, you cry at the news, and you begin to think it might be a good idea to get to know your neighbors. I better get on the compassion train before I turn 40 going on grumpy 60.
Yes but . . . having a kid doesn’t make you a saint, and kid or not, we should all be working harder to develop more compassion.
I Want My Husband To Have This
My husband used to be agnostic about kids, but now he definitely wants a kid. And he should have a kid. It is the natural next step for him and it seems obvious to me that it would be a beneficial part of his evolution as a man. He is ready to be a father and I believe he would be a good one. I love my husband and desperately want to give him this. He is not pressuring me in the least and reassures me that he will be fine without a kid. But still, I feel I would be denying him of something he was meant to have.
Yes but . . . having a child for your partner when you don’t want one is a big mistake. You both have to be in all the way, or you’re going to resent each other.
Read the next part: “Why I Decided Not To Have Kids”