July 23, 2024

How Long Should I Wait to Have Children?

There is a movement in both Christian and non-Christian circles that suggests that couples are better off if they wait to have children.  The logic goes something like this:

  1. Children are a lot of work.
  2. The couple needs time without the work to get to know each other.
  3. Children benefit from couples with strong relationships.
  4. Therefore: You should wait to have children until the two of you have an identity together.

The problem is that this feeds exactly into the current mantra repeated by the pro-choice movement: That children are work that can be avoided– and you want to avoid them because they mess up your life.

So, we subconsciously tell our young married couples that they should wait to have kids.  Wait until they don’t have as much energy.  Wait until they have more of a career and they’ve bonded around that.  Wait until they’re getting old, and some of the best years of their children’s life will be spent with aging grandparents.

You see, it fits into the society’s view that you have to live for yourself, and have everything now.  Don’t plan for the future.  Don’t do things that may be difficult now so that you can reap later on.

It takes great faith to be like Anna and trust God to control how many children they have and when.  It may be that God wants you to have more children or sooner than you have planned– but if you’re looking at kids as a burden or as something that you are trying to put off having until they are more convenient, then you are actually conditioning yourself with the wrong view.

Children are a blessing from God.  They’re a maturing influence.  They add more to your life than you’ll even imagine.

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20 thoughts on “How Long Should I Wait to Have Children?

  1. I think I might have shared this before, but when Meg and I were going to get married about half the people in our church came up to us and said, “Whatever you do, make sure you wait until you have kids!”. The other half of the church came up to us and said, “Make sure you have kids right away, you don’t want to wait until you’re older”. The more I kept hearing the absolute opposite points of view back and forth the more I became interested and I started asking “What did you do?”

    As a general rule those who had waited wished that they had their kids earlier and those who had kids right away wished they had waited. The handful of people that were neutral had their kids soon after getting married. As a result I deduced that it really didn’t mater that much. If anything is was better not to wait.

  2. Every time we’ve gone to have a child, part of my calculus is “how old will I be when…” and I fill in the blank with “graduate high school”, “graduate college”, “get married”, “have grandchildren”, etc. I don’t want to be so old that I can’t enjoy these milestones because of (and I’m going to be blunt here) my selfishness.

    Children are a blessing, not a curse.

  3. We’ve been getting the opposite kinds of questions. For instance, “Sooo…when are you two going to have babies?” We’ve been married a year and have done little to prevent such an occurrence. We’re not too concerned.

    Maybe the questions are a little more urgent because we are an “older” couple of late twenties and early thirties. All in God’s good time. 🙂

  4. HA! MIn you crack me up. (At least you can admit that you too suffer from selfishness in this area…. Me TOO! but not in the same way)

    “I don’t want to be so old that I can’t enjoy these milestones…”

    How do you know that when you are XX age you will be “too old to enjoy” something? Then, here is the other funny part…

    You know… after kids, come grandkids. And being a grandparent is poorly understood in this culture. Grandparents are MORE than spoilers. They also have to DO stuff in the lives of their grandkids, including training them up to love the Lord, rebuking them, and leading them in the way that they should go. Wow, grandparenthood looks a lot like parenthood, with a few perks, like: in general the parenting part is part time! LOL…

    For me, the selfishness comes in on a day to day basis, not on a future plan thing… I don’t “long for the days of empty nesting”…. I do however wish (more often than I like to admit) that kids were quieter… or less needy… or less of an “interruption”… I frequently find myself asking myself “when do *I* get a vacation/??” and complaining to myself (and I hate to admit others) that “I never get a vacation, my kids are my job and they are with me all the time.” I am working on renewing my mind in this area, and walking in the truth:

    “Children are a blessing, not a curse.”

    Mrs. Meg Logan

  5. I guess I meant “my selfishness” in the collective my sense. Not in the MIn’s got a selfishness problem (though we all do to some degree). Hence why we’ve had children while we’re relatively young instead of being selfish with our time.

    In any case, you’re right Meg, they’re very real struggles, and we have lots to do.

    Anna, I can imagine that it’s a difficult situation you’re in. Wondering when God will bless– and with how many! Be of good cheer, He’s waiting for the perfect time and has a perfect plan.

  6. Thanks for speaking up on a hot-button issue. This is one I’ve not yet tackled on my own blog, but keep thinking I ought to.
    Hubby and I came to a conviction against birth control back when we had 4 children, 4yo and under. We were stretched thin and sorely tempted to – er, do something permanent, but instead we realized that any reason to actively prevent children seems to come down to either selfishness or a lack of faith in God’s providence.
    Even worse, nearly every form of birth control on the market causes the abortion of a fertilized egg. Some use early abortion as a primary mechanism of “preventing pregnancy” while others only do it when they fail to prevent fertilization. Doctors may deny it, but you can often find the info on the package inserts.
    Many Christians practice birth control, blissfully unaware of the horrible truth: they are murdering their own children.

  7. Such a good post and so many interesting comments. I’ve shared before here that we were advised to wait, and we did…4 years into marriage before we had our firstborn. Those 4 years flew by, and though I don’t advocate birth control any more than MIn does, I don’t really have any regrets. Perhaps it’s God’s grace helping me to not dwell on what children might have been, b/c dh certainly has never been of a quiverfull mindset!

    Mrs. Meg Logan, thank you for sharing so honestly the struggles you face and are trying to overcome. I’ve felt the exact same way, and hate how selfish it feels. I look at these dear children and remember what a short time ago they were just babies and I almost can’t breathe. While I’m wishing for a little peace and quiet they are growing up and out of my home in a heartbeat. I just wanted to send hugs your way from a sympathetic mama!

  8. Hi everybody! It’s good to be back from … here and there. Hi Kim, I don’t know that I’ve ever bumped into you here! 🙂

    Why do we think we need to be in control of when we have children? And why is it such a huge thing that everybody thinks it’s their business to advise young couples on? Frankly, and I realize this isn’t a popular view, I believe that birth control of any sort should be reserved for the most extreme circumstances. (I’d like to say ‘never’, but recognize there may be exceptions I wouldn’t think of.)

    Meg, I’m glad you aren’t longing for the days of empty-nesting. As one who is almost there, I assure you they are over-rated.

  9. Hey Rebecca– nice to have you back from your “wanderings.” 🙂

    Why do we need to be in control of having children? Good question. I would think that it has to stem from our desire to run our own lives. Just like in every other area of our lives we have this tendency to want to control how things turn out. As far as children specifically– I think there are a number of reasons we want to control the number we have.

    1. What our preconceptions are about large numbers of them.
    2. How involved the external family will be in raising them (will we have enough help?).
    3. What we believe our life should be like– expectations vs. reality.

    Just to name a few.

    Why does everyone think that they should advise couples on this? Simple: They think they know best. They believe that they have the best formula for success, and they’re trying to share their wisdom. That’s the problem, though, their wisdom vs. God’s.

  10. “How involved the external family will be in raising them”

    That’s an interesting connection. I’m not certain about young couples today, but certainly when I was growing up the expectation was that you didn’t need anybody else. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other extended family became marginalized, primarily due to distance. I mean, if you can make more money thousands of miles away, you must go – right? There’s always the phone.

    And, of course, whether or not your extended family shares your spiritual beliefs makes a huge difference in how much help you want from them.

  11. Well, I think the small size of families and the distance from family/friends/home is a big correlation. The more help you have, the easier it is to have a bigger family. Family and close friends are the only ones that will (usually) be there no matter what. So, what happens if you throw a new family into a new location with little friends– they’re not going to have the support they would have with their family close by and would think that they could not manage a large group of kids.

    I also think that the family has an impact on what size family you think that you should have. People tend to compare sizes to what they know rather than what can be. If you came from a family of four, four doesn’t seem so bad, etc.

    And lastly, you’re right about values.

  12. Uh, Gee. I have no opinions on this. 🙂 (Working on baby number 8 here, myself.)

    God has led us, gently, to rely on Him for the timing and number of children. And we’ve received a LOT of grief from other Christians for it. It is an interesting thing.

    I, too, find myself frustrated by the perpetual advice from within the church that says to a new couple…”Wait.” When my husband was pastoring (up until last week…) he did a fair amount of marriage counseling. He was very hard pressed to find any marriage books that did not cover the different methods of birth control and that did not include the precaution to “wait,” to have children. Mostly, I think he just shared, kindly, how God has led us on this incredible journey and how he has taught us through our children.

    I am even more frustrated within the church when I hear the older people who surround a young couple. They act as if it would be the most horrible thing of all for the young newlywed couple to have a child! Why, it might be the end of their lives! ACK! That encourages them toward self centeredness, makes them mourn the end of their freedom when the first child DOES come along.

    It’s all backwards.

  13. Holly, nice to see you around again.

    You’re right. I think that a lot of the “it’ll end your life” talk must come from those that do not manage their house well, i.e. spend time together as a couple alone from the kids. I admit, this has been a struggle in my family as well (need to do a better job getting babysitters!). The point is, I believe that more people miss out on the blessing of children while they are young, and may regret it later on. Or else, they just will not know the blessings and think that their life was full when it was really missing one of the most enjoyable parts.

  14. I honestly can’t understand why anyone would act like it’s completely up to you anyway.

    We all know people who have gotten pregnant while on any number of forms of birth control… and we all know people who have waited and are “trying” and can’t get pregnant. I can’t for the life of me figure out why people think and talk and act as if they actually have control over this anyhow.

    Regardless of where one comes down, a couple ought not get married unless they are ready for the possibility of children. The possibility of children comes with the entrance of the sexual relationship, regardless of what kinds of birth control you opt for… (which by my advice would be none) but no matter what, sex CAN equal children. And any couple truly contemplating marriage ought not say “I do” without realizing that God is the one who opens and closes the womb.

    Good discussion!

  15. Jess, you’re right– regardless of whether you’re trying to get pregnant or not, God is ultimately in control. It is He that opens and shuts the womb. It is He that controls whether or not we get the blessings of children.

    We need to live our faith more and actually believe what we say we believe!

  16. I often recommend to couples that they give themselves a year to be married and get used to that life change before embarking on pregnancy and parenting, but honestly you really have to do what’s best for you.

    For me that was waiting till I was 28 and had been married 6 1/2 years. Sure we dealt with some flack, but I needed to wait till I was ready, till things were right for my husband and I. Things still aren’t “ideal”, especially financially, but emotionally I was ready. I’m perfectly glad I waited. I also know that for some couples having kids right away makes perfect sense for them. SO while I’ll tell people it’s good to wait a year to be pregnant and have kids I surely don’t condemn them if they don’t listen … I had enough dealing with everyone who thought we did not like kids simply because we waited to have them a while.

    It all comes down to judging others and their choices. We just shouldn’t do it. Besides, what if a couple has been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant or doesn’t want kids. Why make them feel worse. Sometimes it’s just good to keep our nosey noses to ourselves!

  17. I think that you’re right to some extent, Angela. What a couple does as far as children is between them and God. Now, what would God want us to do and what does our choice say about what we think of children and God’s control over the womb is definitely what’s being discussed here in the comments.

    Obviously people have different opinions. People can come up with many reasons or excuses for why to wait to have children. People can have children in their 40s and 50s. The question that is underlying here is, if I’m delaying having children, what does that say about me? Does it say that I’m more worried about myself? It’s different for every person. And yet, it’s interesting to think through what our actions say about who we are and what we value.

  18. Well….things have been a little busy, MIn. 🙂

    The problem with waiting until we feel like we have everything under control is that…
    it implies that we are in control of our lives.

    Who is supposed to be in control of the Christian’s life? Not themselves….but God.

    Is anyone ever ready for spit up or blow out diapers? One can not possibly know how that little child will mature them or change them.

  19. Just a little? New house, new church, new job, new child … you just keep going, Holly– it’s inspiring.

    You’re right, I can’t argue that God is supposed to be the one that controls our lives– and yet how often do we try to take that control back.

  20. Minthegap said:
    if I’m delaying having children, what does that say about me? Does it say that I’m more worried about myself? It’s different for every person. And yet, it’s interesting to think through what our actions say about who we are and what we value.

    Maybe it says that the person who is delaying had an abusive childhood. Perhaps it is saying that both parents of the potential parent were alcoholics. Perhaps also, the potential parent was the daughter of a teenage mother and learned early on that pregnancy was a shameful thing. When said person got married, it didn’t instantly become “A-okay” to have a baby…maybe that person is human, had undergone some trauma and wanted to deal with it before passing all of the families tendencies to struggle with alcohol and drug addictions onto their potential children. Perhaps that person was having the best possible interest for a “future” child by delaying their arrival so that they could allow God to heal them. Maybe that takes time, maybe it takes more than 9 months after an young 20 something marriage began.

    Maybe it took 6+ years, or longer to be emotionally prepared to deal with the thought of even being pregnant and being able to enjoy the process and not feel like a ‘whore’ like some church folks made her mom feel like 15+ years ago.

    Yes Min, It *is* interesting to think through what our actions say about who we are and what we value.

    Why don’t you and others lay off women who weren’t as ready as you were? Why don’t you just accept the fact that our decision to wait doesn’t devalue your choice to not wait. Why can’t we all make the decisions that are best for us as opposed to feeling not “Christian” enough if we know we can not bring an innocent child into a healthy environment and based on that we choose to wait…I think we all can agree that’s pretty kind and not the least bit selfish.

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