Ask Sheila: I Don’t Want to Have Kids with My Husband!

by | Oct 15, 2018 | Uncategorized | 99 comments

Is it fair if someone refuses to have children with their spouse? Here are some thoughts on marriage and parenting and what you can expect from your spouse!
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What if you just don’t want to have kids with your husband?

On Mondays I like to post a reader question and take a stab at answering it, and lately I’ve started doing that through video, with links for even more posts that you can read on the same subject!

This one I thought I’d tackle with Rebecca, since she was home while we were getting ready for my in-laws’ 50th anniversary party.

It’s a long question (and we read it all in the video), but here’s the gist of it:

 

Reader Question

I’ve never wanted to be a mother. I was clear about this with my husband while we were dating, and he accepted it.
Three years later, he now has a strong desire to have a child, but God still hasn’t placed that desire in me.
We tried to conceive, but I stopped it when I saw he was continuing unhealthy behaviors like being really controlling and saying that he would kill himself if he didn’t have a child.
He has shown no desire or initiative to work through either his issues with God or his suicidal thoughts.
I told him I’m willing to try to have a child if he goes to counselling. He is offended by any implication that he’s unfit to be a father. 
Am I being unreasonable to ask sacrifices of my husband in return for my own? Am I just trying to justify a divorce in order to get out of becoming a mom?

That’s a big question! And I think there are two big issues here: Dealing with the fact that he is controlling and emotionally unfit to parent; and finding agreement on whether or not to have a child.

Rebecca and I tackle both of those here, in a really great discussion!

Okay, a few thoughts for those of you who don’t want to watch the whole video:

Don’t marry someone who isn’t emotionally able to raise a child.

No birth control method is 100% effective (we’ll be talking about that in the Wednesdays in October!), and even if you’d prefer to not have kids, you shouldn’t assume that you won’t. Sex causes pregnancy. If you’re going to have sex, you need to be mature enough and responsible enough to raise a child.

Marrying someone who doesn’t feel that they want kids yet or are ready for kids yet is different–someone may be emotionally healthy, but prefer to wait, and 9 months is enough time to get someone emotionally ready. But if they’re not emotionally able because of emotional trauma or other issues, that’s not a good situation. And someone who is controlling or abusive? Definitely not okay!

More posts that can help:

I don’t think refusing to have any children at all is fair to your spouse

Honestly, having kids is probably the biggest part of my identity, other than my walk with Christ. It’s so much a part of who I am. I think our culture needs to bring back more of an appreciation for children!

I say some (potentially) controversial things in the video about this, but it does make me sad when a spouse’s instincts is to say, “no kids!” even if a spouse wants kids. That’s asking a lot. And kids should not be seen as a huge sacrifice.

More posts that can help:

I know this is a controversial topic, but let’s talk about it: Why do you think so many are reluctant to have kids today? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

If you don't think he'd be a good dad--then don't marry him. Why we should choose better when we marry.

Do you have a hard time asking for what you want?

You can change the dynamic in your marriage and make talking about your own needs easier!

If your marriage is in a communication rut, it’s time for some change.

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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99 Comments

  1. Srkind

    I had one child when I started dating my husband. I wanted a sibling for my child to grow up with and my husband agreed to that although he didn’t really want kids. Problem was by the time our second child was born our oldest was six years old. Our second child is special needs and with the age difference, the two kids didn’t really grow up together. We went on to have a third child with a learning disability a few years later. My hubby is a very responsible man, and I love all my kids, but I wish that we would have never had the last two kids. I know that sounds awful, but honestly, we spend so much money, time, and stress on them. And because of the age difference with our oldest, it’s like we have two completely different family’s. I’m that one person that although I love my kids more than words, I never really wanted to be a mom, I have never liked taking them to the park, or giving lots of hugs ect., so please if you dont want kids… dont have them. I often feel resentment towards my kids and feel guilty when I’m with other moms that dote over there kids, it’s something I have to ask God to help me work through every day.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry. That is so difficult to navigate with two children with such high needs. I am very sorry, and I do hope that you find ways to get some rejuvenation yourself in your life.
      I think if two people genuinely don’t want kids, that’s really okay. But it is so hard to ask a spouse to give up their dream of having kids. That’s a huge ask. If two people agree, okay. But I just think it’s a big thing to ask of someone when they’re young.

      Reply
    • Ruby

      I’m a 22 year old woman, and I get really disgusted at the idea of having children that biologically come from me. I have no problem being nurturing, or loving to a child. I have a niece, and I love everything that comes with that experience. Raising a child is something I always wanted, but when it comes to dating… the men I grow interest in want children already, and for me to have them biologically. I tell them I don’t want children rn because I feel too young to be a mother. Yet, the real reason is that the idea of something growing inside of me, messing with my insides, the pain, potential symptoms of pregnancy, and I guess my shallowness in how it will alter my body makes me repulsed by the thought. I feel inclined to lie that I’m infertile, so they can be open to adoption. A baby doesn’t have to be mine for me to love it, but for most men they want to have biological children. I also dread the idea of seeing a gynecologist because anything with tools down there, or feeling up inside of me triggers me. Idk, why. Even physically examines as a kid, would leave me feeling awful afterwards. I have no interest in carrying my own baby, and a part of me feels like I would want to kill something growing inside of me. I’m aware it’s my baby, but a part of me feel like it’s a parasite growing inside of me month by month. I feel like something is wrong with me for thinking like this, but I can’t help it. I had an abusive childhood growing up, so I have no idea if that has something to do with it. I just know I never thought about hurting a child unless it’s growing inside of me. This whole time, I’ve been saying I’m not ready for a child, but how do I tell a potential future partner this without sounding insane? To me, I don’t see it really as bad because I can take a child and love it in ways it probably wouldn’t have been in an orphanage. I’m unsure if it’s just a current mindset that will change when I get older, so I don’t want to date a guy who doesn’t want children at all. I’m really confused with what to do, think, or respond to my current thoughyd

      Reply
  2. Danielle

    So this was a difficult one, I got married young and I didn’t want to have kids, I made that clear that although I understand that people change and I was young that I wasn’t sure if the desire to have kids would ever be something I had. My husband understood and agreed. Throughout the years I can tell that he sometimes has a small desire to have them, in the sense of a different life path that we might not take and he’s curious about but I have even less of a desire to have kids than ever before. We have lots of open communication and overall still agree that it’s not for us. Even though he would be 100% ok if I decided I did want kids after all. I’ve had lots of health issues, etc and I am not willing to put my body through pregnancy and birth. I’ve given it to God and I felt like he said no kids. I think it’s unfair to basically say, if you get married you have to want kids or to say in a round about way that having kids is how YOU feel fulfilled so I should feel that way too? Sometimes people just don’t and that’s ok. Also I can’t have kids out of anxiety of what my senior years will be like, what if my kids become drug addicts and abandon me? What if they pass away before me? Don’t ever have kids to secure your future, that’s so unhealthy. Also I don’t think kids are so much talked down about as motherhood is. I see SO many Facebook posts of moms talking about how lonely they are, and depressed, and dirty, and tired, and constantly struggling, and judged, that doesn’t exactly make me want to have kids and it definitely sounds like a sacrifice. Also if his desire to have kids is that strong then he most likely had that desire long before they were married, therefore he lied to her which is manipulation to get married anyways. We don’t know if he was an unhealthy person or showed it before marriage so just saying that she shouldn’t have married him isn’t necessarily helpful if she didn’t know. That’s on him, not her. And if she’s leaning towards divorce because of his abusive behavior then she definitely should not be having kids with him. I know you come to these questions from a good heart but please understand that not everyone is the same and their desires are not the same and that can also be from God. I truly feel like I have a different purpose in life than being a mom and it will be just as important and fulfilling.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Danielle, I totally agree with you that this particular woman should not be having kids with someone who is abusive and narcissistic. Exactly. I was just trying to generically deal with the other half of the equation–is it fair to marry someone when you’re young and expect them to be okay forever with not having kids?
      I just do think that’s a big ask. That’s really huge. I get it if there are health issues (although you can adopt in that situation, and I know many who have). I get not wanting to put your body through that when there are health issues. And again, if he genuinely doesn’t want kids either, that’s fine. I just know that this is a huge, huge thing to ask of someone, that’s all. And I do think that people often change in their twenties.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Danielle,
      I’m in the same boat as you. I’ve never wanted to have biological children. I have several chronic health problems and am on a lot of medications (some of them for asthma), and i would be very afraid to havefo stop taking all of them or change them during pregnancy. For me, physically, it could be extremely detrimental to my health to be pregnant and give birth.
      My heart has always been drawn more towards adoption. There’s no age limit or health risks so I could continue in my long fought for (and hopefully by then consistent) stability health wise, and would therefore also be more mentally fit to be a parent.
      My husband has changed after three years of marriage, and feels a little sad at the idea of not having biological children (even though he used to say it didn’t matter to him). So I have been struggling with that lately. But I don’t feel like I can have a child without resenting them for destroying what little health stability I have.
      It would be much healthier of a relationship parent to child if we adopted.
      It’s a hard road to walk. I often wish I had not been born a woman and had all these expectations placed on me. But I can’t really do anything about that 😅 I’ve never felt like I fit, and i’ve never wanted what i’m ‘supposed’ to want…I love my business that i’m building and would rather think about kids later on. It’s hard to deal with feeling so different as a woman. I hope that you find peace Danielle💙🙏🏽

      Reply
      • Danielle

        I totally hear that, having chronic health issues can be very difficult and risky with pregnancy too! I think it’s always important to take care of your body and if having children through it will harm rather than help then adoption is a great alternative for you!
        I’ve always said, if I could be a Dad I would consider it lol. It is very difficult when the decision kind of ultimately comes down to you if you are going to have them biologically. I do feel like it’s a lot to take on especially if you are hesitant about it to begin with. Yes being a woman that is not driven by the need to have kids is very different but there are plenty of us and it’s ok to feel that way 😊
        Thank you! I definitely have peace about my decision, I think that there’s a reason God hasn’t put that desire on my heart and why he directed me to the man he has for our marriage. If God changes my mind then great but I just don’t think he will.

        Reply
  3. Phil

    Hey Shiela and Becca – I did not get a chance to view the video yet but I read this bible verse this morning before your post and was wondering if you could clarify for me with all the disclaimers – yes it is only 2 verses of the bible and yes there are some people who can not have children and there are some people who should have to take a test before they have children! Proverbs 30 vrs 15-16 cev: Greed has twins each named GIVE ME. There are 3- 4 things that are never satisfied: The world of the dead and a childless wife. The thirsty earth and a flaming fire.
    To me this woman is 100% right. She is giving enough to consider having a child but realizes the man has issues. Maybe I am off topic today not sure – but I believe that there is a selfishness to some women and men who choose not to have children. How does this verse apply to that? I am sure there are other verses that say other I just don’t know where they are. I know Paul suggests not even getting married unless you can’t keep it in your pants. Not getting married could be viewed as selfish too. Obviously on top of the man’s issues he exhibits selfishness too. Maybe he is the flaming fire.
    This woman is not selfish. She is smart. What do you think of my thoughts and this verse? What do others think? Thanks

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Phil,
      I’m having a little trouble following what you’re saying. A childless wife is never satisfied–meaning that wanting to have kids is a natural drive, and it is very fierce. And I think that choosing not to have kids when your spouse wants kids is asking a lot of a spouse.
      I do think it’s wise to not have kids with someone who is narcissistic and abusive. What I’m less sure about is this drive in our culture to minimize childrearing. I wonder how to bring God back into the discussion. I don’t want to be shaming, but I do hope that we can realize that we need to be living for something more than ourselves. I don’t know what that will look like for everyone. It won’t always look like parenthood. But our main goal in life should be to spread God’s kingdom, to bring more of God’s kingdom into earth. We can do that with kids; we can do that with ministry and with reaching out. But we can’t do that when our main goal is our own happiness. And I don’t think people realize how much intense satisfaction you get when you live for something greater than yourself, and when you see Jesus work through you.
      I mean, I understand that some will choose not to have kids. But I hope that the reasoning that we use, in everything, is Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God.” If we’re asking, how can I find the kingdom of God and bring it here on earth, then we may all choose different things. But sometimes I’m not sure that’s the starting point with some of the letters I get, and that does make me sad.

      Reply
      • Phil

        You followed me Sheila – thanks – and the other discussions were helpful too.

        Reply
  4. Michelle

    This particular response makes me cringe a little. I understand that for the vast majority of couples, children are a huge party of their lives (especially in the church culture). But that’s definitely not the call for everyone. I knew fairly young (late teens early 20s) that I did not want children. I’ve never felt called to be a mom. I was raised in an incredibly dysfunctional household, and I have no desire to pass that along to children. I love having nieces, but having children is not for me. I don’t think it’s fair to say that this woman is in the wrong. She was upfront with her husband, HE changed his mind, and she’s been willing to compromise. My husband didn’t want children either, and we are able to do things in the church and volunteering that would be impossible if we had kids. Good has different plans for some people. From the question that was posed, I think she has gone about this as well as she could, and it’s unfair to say that she’s being unreasonable.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I hear what you’re saying, Michelle, and I don’t think this particular reader is being unreasonable, because I don’t think that someone should have kids with someone who is narcissistic and abusive. But I do think that asking someone not to ever have children is a really big ask.
      Like I said to Phil, I just hope that we all are wondering, “how can we spread God’s kingdom?” It sounds like you and your husband are totally doing that, being super involved in ministry, and that’s great. But when our concerns are simply about being fulfilled and making our lives as easy as possible, then I wonder if we’re missing something. Jesus did call us to a life of service, and that will look different for everyone. But often what I hear from people who don’t want kids is this idea that they have so many other things in their lives they want to do, and kids will mess it up. And that does scare me. If you feel called to not have kids because you want to serve in other ways, that’s great. As long as we keep service as the main goal, then I think we’ll do fine. But when our own fulfillment becomes the goal–I do think we miss out on something bigger. I hope that makes sense.

      Reply
      • Michelle

        Yes, what you’re saying absolutely makes sense, and I apologize if I seemed harsh in my first comment. I just think that because our culture is starting to go in the direction of being almost anti-children, when people in the church see fellow believers that do not have or want children, they are very quick to assume it’s because of what Rebecca called the “mommy needs her wine” mentality.
        Not too long after my husband and I got married, I had to have an emergency hysterectomy, so obviously our option for children is gone. But it gets under my skin a bit when people (especially other Christians) are condescending and outright rude when they find out we don’t have children. I’m not at all trying to infer that parenthood is anything other than an amazing blessing and ministry opportunity, but it’s obvious even in the comments here that people are bothered by what I said (or at the very least, the mentality); I don’t think people consider it a possibility to be called to something other than children. And while I know they mean well, it’s frustrating to have other women pray over my non-existent uterus (this happens more than you’d think) because they think they know how I should best serve God.
        I really hope it doesn’t seem as though I am attacking anyone on here. I have such a respect and appreciation for the ministry you have, and the things you have written over the years have been monumental in my spiritual life, marriage, and with my family. But to everyone reading this: I just think we as the Body of Christ need to remember that we all serve as different parts. I don’t believe that God brings us to situations to leave us cold and alone, He is not partially sovereign. My husband and I both felt that we were not supposed to have children, even before we met. And years later, in our medically-flourishing society, I was rendered barren. I believe God prepared us both for that long before we saw it on the horizon, and we are supposed to serve Him in different ways.

        Reply
        • Ashley

          Michelle,
          I totally get what you are saying, although my experience is different from yours. I’ve also never particularly wanted to have kids. Then, my marriage fell apart and now I’m divorced. Like you, I’ve wondered if God mercifully allowed me to not have the longing for children, since I wouldn’t experience motherhood. I’ve had enough heartbreak; I’m so thankful I don’t have to mourn my lack of children on top of everything else.

          Reply
      • Mila

        I think asking someone who doesn’t want children to have children is an even bigger ask.

        Reply
        • Anna

          I agree. Especially when it’s a man asking a woman to have children when she doesn’t feel it’s right for her.

          Reply
  5. Kay

    First, DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT bring children into the picture with a man this abusive and unstable. Kids bring out ALL of your flaws and past “demons” a million times more than marriage, so if these issues are this hard now, adding kids will make it worse. He absolutely must get help for his abusive behavior first. It sounds to me like he has years to go before kids would be a good idea. If he isn’t willing to seek help, then he IS unfit to be a father right now.
    Ah, my heart just aches for this reader! I wish I could hug you. I’m so sorry.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I know! What hurts for me when I read this letter was just, “why oh why can’t we teach people to recognize this kind of bad character BEFORE they get married?” That’s really what it comes down to for me. We need to teach people how to choose better. Some people do not have a strong enough character to marry, and you will end up with heartache. No, you shouldn’t have kids with someone who is abusive and narcissistic. But even more fundamentally, you shouldn’t marry someone like that. It’s so sad.

      Reply
      • Lyndall Cave

        It’s good to say we shouldn’t marry abusive or emotionally unstable people. Yet I would like to mention that narcissistic abusers can be very good actors. An experienced or skillfull abuser can fool even wise people, especially if they don’t understand the tactics of abuse, and are willing to believe the best of people. Unfortunately, the teachings of grace and forgiveness and a desire to only see the good often blinds us to the abuser, who will use those desires fully to their advantage.
        Yes, I agree it’s best to avoid marriage to abusive people. But even well-intentioned and smart people can be duped by a skilled abuser.
        That’s why it’s important to learn the tactics of abusers. “How He Gets Into Her Head” by Don Hennessy is a good resource, for those interested.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That’s very true, Lyndall, tragically. I do agree. I also think, though, that we don’t do a good enough job in teaching people (especially young women) to see warning signs. Often the things that are warning signs are even turned into good things (he’s a strong leader; he’s sure of what he wants; he knows the Bible well). Many controlling men (and controlling women) know what they want, quote the Bible constantly to justify themselves, and lead others. But it isn’t always done in the right spirit. And we need to be taught how to discern the spirits.
          Thanks for the suggestion about Don Hennessy. I thoroughly second it, and recommend all of his writings on abuse.

          Reply
      • Barb

        I’m really shocked and frustrated by this comment. I can’t believe you would tell someone that has just been abused by their spouse that you are sorry they didn’t choose better. If the shock and fear they feel isn’t bad enough, here’s someone telling an entire community of people, they should have chosen better. That is so hurtful.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’m sorry, Barb, that you see it that way. On the other hand, I see so many women who are in dire situations, and so many have said, over and over again, I wish I had paid attention to the red flags beforehand. I really think this is the only way to deal with abuse, because you cannot change an abusive person. We simply must teach our young women to recognize signs of bad character. We must. And the only way to do that is to talk about it. If we make it off limits to talk about because it may make people feel badly, then we prevent women from making that mistake in the first place.
          I’d point you to Natalie from Emotional Abuse Survivor’s amazing post on the red flags of an abuser. She’s taken it upon herself to try to educate people on the red flags that she saw when they were dating, but she didn’t recognize them at the time. My mother says the same thing–she saw red flags before she married my dad, too, but she didn’t pay attention or understand what they meant. We have to talk about this, because we can’t stop abuse after the marriage. We can really only stop it by preventing those marriages in the first place.

          Reply
          • Samantha

            I totally agree with everything you’re saying here, Sheila. This is such an important issue. The only thing I’d add is that we also need encourage young men to look for good and bad character in the women they are dating as well. Women aren’t the only ones finding themselves married to truly toxic people. And with the truly toxic and dangerous wave of feminism on the rise young men (and men in general) need more help than ever when it comes to navigating the world of women, dating and ultimately choosing potential future spouses wisely. Sadly a lot of young men are giving up altogether. Not sure if you’ve heard of the MGTOW movement but it is truly disheartening (but at the same time understandable) to see so many men forgoing relationships with women altogether despite the fact that we’re not all malicious nut jobs.
            Like I said, totally agree with what you are saying! I just think we should be trying to help young men too and help point them to other great resources so they don’t give up hope.

          • Barb

            Yes I agree with teaching people how to recognize warning signs beforehand but it seemed really harsh to tell someone who was in the middle of a situation like this that they should have chosen better. Even though it may be true I just don’t see how that’s helpful.

  6. Kay

    Second, I am struggling with the fact that the wife was open about not wanting children before they got married. If he wanted children, he should not have married her. Or perhaps he married her assuming she would change her mind, which is also a very bad plan. Don’t marry someone assuming they will change. (I mean, they *will* change, but not necessarily in the way you want them to.) But the fact is they DID get married, so whether they should have gotten married is irrelevant at this point. What do they do *now* that they are?
    I guess I feel having kids with a spouse (whether the husband or wife) who does not want kids is a bad plan. This is absolutely one of those things that you ought to be united on. (A surprise pregnancy is a whole ‘nother matter, since it’s a little too that for that. Haha.) But thinking on your other posts on submission, only one of them is hearing from God if they can’t agree on this issue. Just as some people are called to be single, so I think some couples are called to be childless. They need to be seeking God as a couple on this issue.
    Or perhaps neither the husband or the wife is being faithful to God’s call right now; I can’t be certain. All I know is that having kids you don’t really want with a man who is abusive, controlling, and manipulative gets a big fat NOPE from me. He must get help, find some healing, and then they can revisit the issue. She may find that she feels differently about children if/when she is married to a man who is healthy and whole. Or she may not. In which case they probably will need marital counseling until they can come to an agreement that this is (or is not) God’s call for them as a couple.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I think the problem I have with this “if I said I didn’t want kids at 23 when we got married and you agreed, you have no right at 34 to ask me to have kids” mentality is that we have no idea who we will become 10 years down the road. Really silly example, I know, but when most kids first learn about sex when they’re 10 or so, they hate the thought of it and DEFINITELY don’t want it. But 11 years down the road at 21? It’s suddenly pretty darn high on the priority list.
      So why do we expect that we will be the same people when we are first married as we are 15 years down the road?
      There are definitely situations where it’s clear kids should not be part of the plan (abusive/controlling spouse being top of that list) but I just feel very uncomfortable with how many people seem to refuse to have kids simply because it would inconvenience them–if your only reason for not wanting kids is because it would mean you’d have to sacrifice some things but your spouse is longing to have a child from the depths of his/her heart, I just think that it’s frankly kind of selfish especially since maybe the spouse had no idea that he/she would want to have kids some day when they told you originally they didn’t want any.
      Does that make sense? I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe we need a whole cultural shift around parenting–I do agree with some people who are writing here that our culture is totally against motherhood (the “mommy needs her wine” memes and all of the facebook posts about how tired, exhausted, anxious and depressed everyone is as soon as they have kids to name a few. Maybe we need a cultural overhaul when it comes to parenting/family) But it breaks my heart to think of someone in a marriage where their spouse is against having kids and it’s killing them because they want so badly to have children. It seems really really unfair to take that from your spouse.

      Reply
  7. Amanda H

    I’m the oldest daughter of 9 and my husband is the oldest of 7. When we got married, we agreed that we wouldn’t take any steps to prevent children. We would accept the number God gave us as the perfect amount for our family. So we have a beautiful little one year old girl and I’m expecting our second, all before our second anniversary, and we’re happy and thankful. The honest truth about me though, is that I really don’t enjoy the baby stage. Pregnancy is really hard and painful for me physically, and I need a full night’s sleep WAY too much! Lol! However, I’m not focusing on how I feel now, because time goes by soo fast! The older my daughter gets, the more I adore her little personality and can’t wait to help her grow and mature into a godly woman one day.
    The thing is, we seem to forget that children aren’t just like pets that we decide if we want to deal with the inconvenience of. You know – the pros of having a cute fluffy lapdog to play with vs the shedding hair, muddy footprints, and poop-scooping the yard. Heaven forbid having more than 2 or 3 or you’ll look like a hoarder! Each child is a soul to be loved, nurtured, and tenderly pointed to Jesus. God didn’t call me right now to the mission field in foreign countries like others – He gave me little hearts to teach in my own home – whether it will be just 2, or 15!
    I’m not arguing against birth control here, because I believe certain forms of it may be wise in different situations. What I’d love to point out, is that we all make sacrifices for the things we value. Even our dream careers involve doing things we don’t really enjoy. If as Christians, we are to follow in Christ’s footsteps, who made the ultimate sacrifice of love for us, shouldn’t we make sure we value the things that are lasting and heavenly, and not focus on our own personal goals in this short earthly life?
    God doesn’t call every couple to serve him by having children, and many are serving Him wonderfully in so many different ways. But I believe every couple wanting to serve God needs to first identify and put aside any selfish desires and motives before determining whether they are being called (or not) to the ministry of parenthood. Besides marriage, parenting is the next best thing to reveal your own heart’s sin, and drive you closer to God! 😀

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I absolutely love your last paragraph! Yes, this is what I’ve been trying to say. I’m going to repeat it again:

      God doesn’t call every couple to serve him by having children, and many are serving Him wonderfully in so many different ways. But I believe every couple wanting to serve God needs to first identify and put aside any selfish desires and motives before determining whether they are being called (or not) to the ministry of parenthood. Besides marriage, parenting is the next best thing to reveal your own heart’s sin, and drive you closer to God! 😀

      Reply
      • Barb

        I strongly disagree with having children with reckless abandon. Raising up a new life is a major thing and should be taken very seriously. Anymore there is so much interference from sources outside the family unit that makes it even more of a terrifying experience for parents, especially ones who are initially nervous about it. To say everyone is selfish for not wanting kids is really hurtful and judgmental. I strongly disagree too with using kids as a way to identify sin in our heart. What the heck?? If we want to identify sin in our life, pray! I have 2 biological kids and adopted 1. My husband now also has 3 of his own from a previous marriage so I’m not opposed to having kids and this still grates my nerves to have women called selfish for deciding not to have kids of their own. That is wrong and unfair. Parenting is not easy and I strongly believe people should exercise more caution before leaping into parenthood. Not everyone gets to have the fairytale life of having plenty of money and the ability to homeschool their children so that means most of us have to be ok with releasing our little beings into the world and to the mercy of others for most of the day. And frankly as society and standards decline I don’t blame women for saying no kids.

        Reply
        • Samantha

          Barb, Amanda H wasn’t implying that you should USE children to identify sins in your heart. She was saying that marriage and parenthood are often God’s way of revealing our heart sins to us. For instance, they can help us to realize that we really need to work on issues such as patience, selfishness, kindness, laziness and so on. Those are just some examples that came to mind. And in my own experience prayer will not always(and often doesn’t) result in an instant “light-bulb” moment where God immediately reveals the answers to what we are asking Him whether it’s to reveal our heart sins or something else. In my own life the answer has often come after the prayer and revealed in a seemingly “random” moment. We shouldn’t USE others as a way to develop into more godly people, but God very often uses the people in our lives to help mold us and teach us valuable lessons that will lead us to becoming more like Him (if we pay attention and take those opportunities to change and learn).
          And no one is saying it is outright selfish to decide not to have children. There are plenty of unselfish reasons to decide along with your spouse that you both feel that God is leading you in another direction. But that is just the thing. When two people marry they need to accept the fact that they as individuals don’t have the luxury to consider their own desires or plans any longer. If a man and woman are in TOTAL agreement that children are not for them, that is different. If either person is on the fence even slightly, then it is better for them not to marry. I still believe that anyone entering into marriage should at least be comfortable with the POSSIBILITY of children since marriage involves sex and sex can sometimes lead to a pregnancy even when certain measures are taken to prevent it.

          Reply
        • Samantha

          The other thing that I’m noticing is that a lot of people talk about the major responsibility of raising a child, but no one seems to consider marriage as being an equally major decision and responsibility. You have women here saying what a huge request it is for a man to ask his wife to have children when she has previously expressed not wanting them. That it’s even more extreme than a woman denying her husband children. The thing that people don’t seem to grasp is that when you make the CHOICE to get married you need to realize that the choices you would have made when you were single and only had yourself to consider are no longer relevant. When you get married you are required to consider the feelings, needs, and even desires of the person you married (assuming you want the marriage to not only survive but thrive). Not saying that the other person should always get what they want, but the couple has to be comfortable with sacrificing their own desires and opinions on things in order to do what is best for the marriage as a whole. That is where praying together, talking, and truly seeking God’s will TOGETHER comes into play. A woman who has freely entered into a marriage with a man doesn’t really have the right to say, “we are never having children and you have absolutely no say in that.” A man is free to marry a woman like that, but unless he is totally sure of that decision himself, he is being incredibly unwise. The same can be said if the roles in that situation were reversed. It is never a good idea to marry a person who is dead set on never changing their mind (or themselves) about anything. You say people should exercise more caution before leaping into parenthood, but I believe people need to exercise equal, if not abundantly more, caution before leaping into marriage.

          Reply
        • Samantha

          When it comes down to it yes, SOME people have very selfish reasons for not having children. And the solution to that isn’t to somehow convince them to have children so they can maybe see the light and become less selfish. A truly selfish person (who doesn’t see anything wrong with being selfish) should not become a parent and quite frankly they shouldn’t get married either. Yes, we are all a little selfish at times, but God definitely uses marriage and parenthood to help us to become less selfish if we are open to changing that part of ourselves. So when a person freely admits, “I don’t want to have kids because I am too selfish to give up this or this or this,” they aren’t doing themselves any favors. The problem isn’t that they have decided children aren’t for them. The problem is that they have selfish motives behind their decision.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I think you’re right on here. There really shouldn’t be any pride in saying, “I don’t have the character to be a parent.” That should be a warning sign that maybe we should develop better character–and run after God’s heart!

          • Barb

            Ok that helps a lot! It was all the selfish statements and the “mommy needs a glass of wine” statements that threw me. I love wine but I love my kids too, and I will admit some days for a flicker of a minute I wish I waited a lot longer to have kids so I could have stabilized myself better financially or so I could have traveled a little bit. I don’t think I’m selfish.

    • Samantha

      I really love that last paragraph as well! So well said! I feel the exact same way!

      Reply
    • Phil

      Amanda – thank you for writing this. I have been struggling trying to find the right format to tell my story and spread the word of Jesus for something around a year or so. I thought I needed some platform or something. Several doors have been closed or I haven’t felt the pull if you will to head in any one direction. Something I said to some about probably a year ago was that maybe my family was my ministry. Friday I was talking to a friend of mine who is actually part of my story and we talked for about an hour. Near the end she said “I found it interesting that you said your family was your ministry.” Through the course of this weekend I have unofficially officially decided that my family is my ministry. No web site, no Blog, no facebook, no twitter. Just us and the Bible and our Church and Jesus as our guide with the help of folks like people here and my Christian circle and my secular friends who we talk about principles and even sometimes Jesus too. Where it goes I don’t know. I do know this. I have 3 kids that need Jesus. That is my goal. I am certain I will screw it up along the way. But I am going to put forth my best effort. So there you have it. I am unofficially officially announcing my ministry. lol. My Family – Grace, Tucker, Addison, Cole (also known as TAC) Amen – Thank you Amanda

      Reply
  8. Samantha

    Sheila, I so totally and completely agree with everything you and Rebecca say here. And I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to hear you talk so positively about children and motherhood yet again! You always do and I just think that is so wonderful! One thing Rebecca said in particular that I really agree with is that a lot of women (and people in general) in our current generation are very “me-centered”. I actually find it quite disturbing that people (specifically those who are Christians) are deciding that they don’t want children because they are too selfish to sacrifice their own desires in order to raise children. And I’m going to say something pretty harsh here that may land me in some hot water, but here it is: I truly believe that if you have that mindset about children and raising them (meaning you view it as an inconceivable sacrifice to have to take care of another person and give up your own desires for the sake of that other person) then you probably shouldn’t get married at all. You probably aren’t going to make a good spouse to someone if you are that self-centered. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a husband and wife deciding together that children aren’t for them because they feel that God is calling them towards other plans that would be difficult to accomplish if they had children. I think there are truly legitimate reasons to either put off or bypass children altogether. HOWEVER, I TOTALLY agree with you guys that if you are going to get married, then you MUST accept the fact that having a child together might happen (unless it is medically impossible for some reason) and you have to be mature enough to welcome that child with love and not resentment.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, Samantha! I think we just have to get to Matthew 6:33–Seek first the kingdom of God. It all comes down to that.

      Reply
    • Mila

      Or I could just get married and get my tubes tied.
      No one is selfish for not wanting children. It’s literally their choice. Anyone who gets that upset about other people not having kids is just jealous because they felt like they had to have kids.

      Reply
      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        Hey, Mila–
        I see your point in that yes, having kids IS a choice. But the blanket statements of “No one is selfish for not wanting children” doesn’t take into considerations times when, yes, the person is being selfish.
        There are definitely cases where it can be the right decision. Medical issues and ministry callings come to mind. But the issue being raised right now is what if you get married to someone and then 14 years later they decide they want kids? When they got married they honestly said they didn’t want kids, but that has changed because people DO change. Is it fair to them to not have kids if the only reasons their spouse doesn’t want kids are because they’ve grown accustomed to a certain lifestyle? Again, we’re not talking about medical issues, ministry questions, or the like. We’re talking about a husband and wife where one spouse has a deep desire and need for something incredibly and innately human–wanting to have a child. And the spouse who doesn’t want to have kids says no–but then takes away all possibility of that person having a child of his/her own unless he/she leaves and has a kid with someone else.
        I have a hard time accepting that someone making a choice for themselves purely because they aren’t willing to give up certain lifestyles and, as a result, stealing any chance of having children from their spouse is ever the “not-selfish” choice. It’s difficult, yes, but let’s acknowledge that there are grey areas here. Same as how a husband asking a wife to have kids when she has severe medical issues that make that incredibly dangerous is selfish, a spouse of either sex refusing to give kids to his/her spouse simply because it would mean they’d have to life a less self-centered lifestyle is also selfish (again, not talking about ministry and the like here).

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yes, I’d agree. Wanting to have a child is an innately human need. Wanting to NOT have a child isn’t really. That’s a choice. You can’t really compare wanting to have a child with wanting to not have a child as equal choices, because reproducing is something that is deeply wired into us. It’s very, very harsh to take that away from someone who truly wants it, when you’re the only one who can give it to them.
          Again, we’re not talking about cases of God calling you to other things, or medical conditions (we have friends with genetic conditions who chose to adopt instead). We’re just talking about lifestyle choices. And that’s where things get tricky.

          Reply
          • Mila

            But what if the need is not wired into us? What if the woman is just repulsed by reproduction in general?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            It may not be wired into you; but it may be wired into your husband.
            Just think about it this way: We all rely on the next generation. Humanity couldn’t function if people didn’t have kids. So if you choose not to have kids, you’re essentially relying on other people having kids and going through childbirth and doing the work of childrearing. You are going to need the next generation one day. And that’s why the need is hardwired into most of us. I know that not all of us feel that, but most do. To reproduce is a basic human drive.
            And so I think if the woman is repulsed by reproduction, maybe there’s an issue there that needs to be looked into? Like maybe that’s actually a problem that’s holding her back from life? I know many people who don’t want kids because they were so abused as children themselves, for instance. But in that case, perhaps the better choice is to work at getting healing from the wounds of your childhood, rather than allowing those wounds to dictate your choices as an adult. Does that make sense?

        • Mila

          I don’t think it’s fair if the guy wants to have kids to ask his wife to put her body through that if she doesn’t want any.
          If I marry someone who suddenly wants kids 14 years later I’d tell them that they knew what they were getting into and that they shouldn’t have expected me to change my mind.

          Reply
          • Mila

            But see it’s not like underpopulation is an issue. In fact, overpopulation is, there are many kids who are waiting to be adopted. But somehow it’s selfish to not make more babies? To me it’s more selfish to have tons of kids and contribute to this overpopulation

          • Ashley

            I do think it’s asking a whole lot, maybe too much of a wife, depending on her reasons for not wanting to. Let’s face it, men don’t have to endure the pregnancy or birth. Women still die in childbirth. I read that about 700 women die from pregnancy and birth each year in the United States.
            There is a woman in my church who didn’t want anymore kids because each birth has been so hard on her physically. Her husband is younger than her and really wanted a baby (his first). She quit using birth control and left the outcome up to God. She had a little girl. She had complications and had to spend a lot of time in the hospital, and a lot more time in bed at home. I didn’t live here at the time, so I don’t know a lot of details, but it was truly harrowing.
            Someone else I know is sick every time she is pregnant. In the hospital several times, migraines so much of the time, her whole body hurting, other symptoms. For the entire pregnancy. It’s just heartbreaking.
            I know some people don’t want kids for selfish reasons. But the ones who don’t want to have kids because of these physical reasons? I just can’t say that’s selfish.

      • Samantha

        Mila, I actually said that I believed that there are truly legitimate reasons for a couple to decide (TOGETHER) not to have children. I don’t believe that a couple should simply have kids because they feel like they have to for some reason. If you’re going to actively try for kids (or aren’t going to do anything to prevent it) then you should absolutely WANT to have children and should be ready and willing to take on that responsibility 100% with your spouse. If a couple has truly wrestled with whether or not parenthood is their calling and decided together that it isn’t, more power to them. But if they are married and happen to get pregnant anyway (you can still get pregnant with your tubes tied. I personally know a woman who did.), then they should be prepared to welcome that child into their lives with open arms and plenty of love because they chose to get married and have sex. We live in a world filled with very entitled people. People who think they can choose which responsibilities they want to take on even when those responsibilities are direct consequences of their choices. If a person is not willing to take on the responsibility of conceiving and raising a child then they should not have sex. Period. Sex is not a human right. It is a gift given to us by God to be enjoyed within the covenant of marriage. Marriage and sex often, but not always leads to having children. If you get married and have sex you should be willing to accept that children may be a result of those life CHOICES you FREELY made. If, however, you consider yourself too selfish to even entertain the POSSIBILITY of sacrificing your own desires in order to raise a child that may be conceived even if you are taking measures to prevent it, then I stand by what I said. You should not get married and you should not have sex. Marriage, along with sex, is not a human right. It is a privilege. A gift. And marriage itself comes with plenty of sacrifices and hard work. If a person considers the thought of sacrificing their own desires for a child to be the end of the world, then they probably aren’t going to like sacrificing their own selfish desires for the good of their marriage any better.

        Reply
        • Phil

          Amen sister!

          Reply
        • Mila

          Don’t worry I won’t only be relying on getting my tubes tied. I’ll combine it with birth control and a condom. My husband is also thinking about getting a vasectomy. Sex is a gift reserved for marriage and it’s not just for making babies. So I’ll continue to have lots of sex with my husband regardless of what anyone says

          Reply
  9. Ashley

    Sheila, I think it was in a comment you left to someone else that we need to do a better job of teaching girls how to select a mate. YES! I sooo wish I could have read some of your material when I was still single. I got suckered in and married a “good Christian guy” that I had no business marrying. I know you know my story.
    When we were dating in our late 20’s I told my ex I didn’t want kids biologically, but I was open to adoption. I’ve always been afraid of pregnancy and childbirth. I’m also not great with kids, and I’ve never really wanted them. There was no conflict, because he pretty much can’t stand kids. As it turns out, I would have been a much better parent.
    Later, I discovered his cheating. He was also emotionally abusive. I made up my mind I wasn’t bringing innocent babies into our marriage if I had the choice. If there was a surprise, that would be God’s doing, but I would not plan a pregnancy. No pregnancy occurred.
    We are divorced now, and I’m past the age of wanting to have kids. So if I remarry, I’ll be saying no biological kids again.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I really do think we need a much bigger emphasis on teaching people to recognize good character. I should likely devote a whole month of Wednesdays to it, maybe in the winter leading up to wedding season or something. This is really serious, and it isn’t taught enough. I think we think that if someone can spout Bible verses, then they must be a good guy (when actually many abusers are very good at using the Bible to justify bad behaviour). And then there are those who can be so smooth, but if you never do life together, you don’t understand how they will react when you don’t like something they do. This needs to be more widely talked about!

      Reply
      • Flo

        Yes, at least recognizing dark triad people should be something everybody learns! Could save so many people from conjugal abuse!

        Reply
      • Ashley

        A series would be awesome!

        Reply
  10. Noel

    Deciding not to have children in order to better serve God is basically the same concept as a nun/monk who is not celibate. I don’t necessarily think it’s wrong, though it is historically and biblically unprecedented. And I certainly understand not bringing children into abuse. However, I have heard Christian people say they were too selfish to have kids, so they refrained(in those words.) I don’t get that. It’s okay to be selfish? And even indulge your selfishness?
    There is a strong anti-child bias in modern culture, and it is so very sad. Jesus loved the children. He called us to be like little children. His strongest warning given was not to hurt the little ones. Children are precious to God. I am not Catholic, but I agree with conservative Catholic thinkers that the emphasis on birth control has contributed to the thought that children are a nuisance and expendable. (And I say this having used various forms of birth control.)
    Our thinking about our basic purpose in life has been twisted by the culture around us. What if we look at life from heaven’s perspective? Will our values change? We will all die, if Christ doesn’t come back first. “Making the most of the time we’ve got” should have a different meaning for Christians. It shouldn’t mean making sure we saw the great wall of China, it should mean serving as many people as possible, and trying to bring more souls to God. Children are both ministries and ministers; they are a field of evangelization, as well as a call to sanctification. But most importantly, they are beloved by God, and He calls them a blessing.
    There are (limited) reasons one may not be able to have children (I have health issues that have limited how many children I can have), but it should be sad thing.

    Reply
    • Noel

      Oops. That should say beloved by God, not sliced.

      Reply
  11. Samantha

    I really like what Noel said in regards to our cultures current attitude towards children. Sheila and Rebecca talked about it too in the video. Children are talked about as though they stop life from happening, cause marriages to lose their spark, and generally wreak havoc on a person’s personal, emotional and social wellbeing. I cannot tell you how many resources and blogs I have stumbled across since becoming a mother (4 years ago) that encourage new mothers to get away from their infants occasionally so they can have some “me-time”, take a mommy vacation, get away with their spouse or whatever. And what probably irks me the most is when they tack on the very tacky proclamation that “Grandma will love to have some time to bond with the baby too!” Pregnant women get messages such as “it’s ok to be selfish”, shoved down their throats before they have even held their baby in their arms. I don’t think a new mother should ever be told that it’s ok to be selfish. Yes, a mother should take care of herself, ask for help if she finds herself struggling, overwhelmed and/or depressed (especially if she is feeling depressed!). But none of those things are selfish, they are simply necessities. And no, I don’t think going out with your girlfriends for a night on the town when your child is only a few weeks old is a necessity. I am not against formula AT ALL even though I am a HUGE advocate for breastfeeding when possible. But I do believe formula is a valuable resource that has been abused by some mothers who simply want a way to leave their babies with someone else whenever they feel like it.

    Reply
    • Samantha

      To sum it up, I am very staunchly against “me-time”, “date night” concepts. I think new parents should be encouraged to keep their small children with them at all times except when it is impossible to do so (when you need to work and in emergencies for example). The whole, “you NEED to get out with just your spouse from time to time in order to have a healthy marriage” mentality needs to be thrown out the window. How in the world have we gotten to this point? Children are supposed to be a PART of marriage. Why on earth should it be necessary to offload your children in order to focus on marriage? I think all of these things are symptoms of the much larger issue that people are getting more selfish and less capable and willing to sacrifice their own desires for the sake of something far greater than simply living just for yourself. I truly believe it’s a large contributor to the divorce rate and pretty much the sole contributor of the abortion rate.
      There truly are people out there who should NEVER be parents. But in my honest opinion, if a person is truly unfit to be a parent they are also unfit to be a spouse. Marriage and parenthood are very serious undertakings and they both involve self-sacrifice and a full-time commitment. You are not entitled to breaks from either commitment. Having said that, they are the most profound roles and relationships you can take on in a lifetime. They have the potential to bring you incredible joy and bring out the very best in you if you allow them to. It’s about time we start taking both marriage and parenthood more seriously and this includes being very intentional and intelligent about choosing a spouse.

      Reply
  12. Samantha

    And Sheila, I also love the fact that you are going to focus on encouraging people to be smarter when choosing a future spouse. I’m pretty sure I have expressed my frustration about that very thing on a couple occasions. 😉 I saw a comment up above that brought up the issue of skillful abusers which I think is a very real problem in some cases. I think part of the solution to that problem is being very cautious and observant when you start to date someone you have not known for a significant amount of time first. I don’t think many people actually take the time to become friends first these days either. And yes, you can actually focus on establishing a friendship WHILE dating. And with the number of young couples jumping from a few dates straight to sex it’s really no wonder the process of truly getting to know a person and becoming friends gets put on the back burner. There is no real intimacy in place, no true confidence in one another established before sex is thrown into the mix giving the relationship a sense of seriousness, maturity and intimacy where those things don’t really exist. Sex isn’t taken seriously, yet because of the emotional bonds it inevitably forms, young couples (and older couples too) end up tricking themselves into believing their relationship is serious because they have done it. I don’t think premarital sex is the only problem by a long shot, but I think it is a BIG problem. I also don’t think couples talk enough about serious things (that will inevitably come up during marriage) before marriage. What they do talk about, I will never know. I’m sure some of them use sex as a way to not have to talk at all. Anyway, I really do struggle to understand it when so many people seem blindsided by the personality of the person they chose to dedicate the rest of their life to. I mean, shouldn’t it be a pretty high priority to know a person as well as you possibly can BEFORE you marry them? Shouldn’t you have already discussed your feelings and expectations about sex BEFORE the wedding night, the honeymoon, and the rest of your married life?!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It’s amazing how many people actually don’t discuss these things! But I think it’s also true that many people get married thinking that they do know the other person, when they really don’t. That’s why I think it’s so important to do life together before you marry (grocery shop together; cook a meal together; clean the apartment together; volunteer at church together). See how the person acts in real life, not just on a date when they’re at their best behaviour. Most of marriage is spent just doing life, and yet we don’t always do that beforehand. And then we don’t realize that he is super messy or never works or plays video games 6 hours a day; or he doesn’t realize the same thing about her. And when you don’t see how someone acts in real life, you don’t always realize if they are controlling or not. It’s so important!

      Reply
      • Ashley

        How do you “do life” with someone when you are dating long-distance? I didn’t have a super long -distance relationship with my ex, but we did live at opposite ends of the state and only saw each other about once each month during our dating period. I suppose we could have done more “real life” things together and fewer “fun” things, but still, we just didn’t see each other often. Whenever you do write again about choosing a mate, maybe you could write a post about long-distance relationships and how to navigate them wisely? They are so much more prevalent now then they used to be.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          That’s a great idea, Ashley! I did write about Long Distance Dates you could take, but it is hard to do life. I think that’s when you have to get really intentional about the kinds of things you talk about–and get really intentional, when you do see each other, about spending time on their home turf–getting to know their family, their friends, seeing them in their work/church situation, etc. It just can’t all be about dates.

          Reply
  13. Bethany

    It’s unshocking to me that may people think they are not cut out to have kids – the pressure on mothers in our current culture is immense and honestly, bonkers. There is not a lot of cultural clarity on what good parenting is, but there are a lot of contradictory ideas about it bombarding people, especially mothers. The standards are immensely high and unclear, but the cultural support (in work, family, socially and governmentally) is nearly nonexistent. You are bad for not wanting children, but the good of them, and the real enjoyment is rarely talked about – only the difficulty and the love. Not the fun. Not how to manage on a level that is sane and sustainable. It is also heavily implied that if you do have kids as a woman you are the one responsible for full time childcare, so if you are not planning to take 5 or 15 years off to raise kids, then it really does not seem feasible. (If you can’t tell, I find this super frustrating. Standards for parenting that are clear and possible to accomplish for men and women who want a variety of things out of their lives are the most helpful thing I can think of for encouraging people to consider parenthood.)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s very, very true, Bethany! I look at what a lot of parents go through and I think, “How do they manage? I would never do all of those things!” We really do need more of a community again, and we also need a whole lot less pressure to have a huge house, all the latest of everything, our kids in every activity, yearly vacations to Disney, etc.

      Reply
    • Madeline

      Bethany, I totally agree! I’ve thought that it must be hard to be a mom and know people will disapprove of how you’re raising your kids no matter what you do! And parenting seems to be one of those things EVERYONE has an opinion on, but few know your unique situation and your own kids. Not to mention, there seems like a lot that can really go wrong. I was having a conversation with one of my friends the other day that we both came from pretty solid homes but we both probably still need therapy.

      Reply
  14. Madeline

    I have to push back a little Sheila…I understand that for you, having children is wonderful and that children really are such blessings. But to be a good parent you *do* have to make sacrifices. I feel that there’s a lot of pressure in this culture (I’m in the United States, so its possible there’s a difference there?) to have children. I don’t think you should have children just because that’s what is expected of you. I personally have never had the strong desire to be a mother. Of course if my husband and I did have an unplanned child at this time, we would love our child, but it really may interfere with someone of my own ambitions and I think its okay to be more career-oriented than family-oriented. I just have to say that when older adults ask me about my plans and I don’t bring up kids in the near future, they act like my own dreams and desires aren’t legitimate, like nothing I ever do could compare to having children. Obviously, I try to just let this roll off my back, but its still a little insulting.
    And I realize you have said that its perfectly fine if both spouses agree that they do not want kids, its just a lot to ask someone to never have kids. I also think its also a lot to ask someone to have kids. Its just true that kids require a lot of time and effort, at least if you’re going to be an involved parent, which I would want to be. I was primarily raised by my Mom, who was just born to be a mom, but my Dad really wasn’t very involved when I was a kid. I often felt like I was bothering him. I think that happens a lot with parents who didn’t really consider if they wanted/were ready for a child before agreeing to have children with their spouse.
    I love your blog Sheila, and I really respect Rebecca’s opinions also. I thought that there was another side to this issue is all.

    Reply
    • Madeline

      some of my ambitions*
      not someone of my ambitions…that doesn’t make any sense.

      Reply
  15. Madeline

    To follow up a little bit (sorry to be so wordy, this just really struck a chord with me because of recent events in my own life), I understand that wanting children is innate for a lot of people, so telling a spouse who is absolutely dying to have children “no” is really a lot. But asking someone who doesn’t deeply desire kids to have them is also huge. They really are two different lifestyles and I don’t think that’s selfish to recognize that.
    Again, I don’t think a child should ever be treated like a tragedy, and if my husband and I have a child outside of our plan, then we both know God had a different plan and it’ll be great. I just think there’s a lot of pressure to have children whether you even feel called to do so or not, because being a parent is the lifestyle others have chosen. Christians should encourage couples to pray about what God has for them, not just tell them incessantly that children are great and they should have children.

    Reply
    • M

      I whole heartedly agree. I don’t see why everyone acts like women were put on this earth to be a whole for men to fill then eject a bunch of kids into without ever having a life of our own. Why aren’t we demanding men to be primary caregivers or at the very least as involved as possible? Why is it treated as if nothing we’ll ever do except pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childcare matters when men get the prestige of having exciting careers, friends, adventures and were left with a bunch of snotty brats?
      My parents waited until they were old to have me and my brother and I never saw them do anything that suggested they e joyed life just constantly watching TV and eating. I will never live that life. I’d rather be dead.

      Reply
      • Samantha

        Wow… first of all you have a very bleak opinion of human reproduction especially considering you wouldn’t even have your life without it. Child bearing is a biological function of women. That doesn’t mean all women need to or will have children, but like it or not, it is a part of the biology of women. I assume you are totally free to abstain from sex in order to not get pregnant if you don’t want children and are also free to remain unmarried to avoid the possibility of having a husband who will want children in the future. If I am correct in assuming you have those freedoms, then you have absolutely nothing to complain about even if you believe that there is some sort of “social pressure” telling you that having children is fulfilling for a lot of women (fact: a lot of women do find motherhood fulfilling). You can simply ignore the big bad social pressure and have that life of your own with a career, friends and adventure. Now there are some women in our world who do not have that luxury. That is truly a tragedy, but the tragedy isn’t that they were born a woman with the ability to conceive children because I’m sure if they had a choice at least some of those women would actually want to get married and have children with the man of their choice.
        Also, men are more involved in their children’s lives than they ever have been. And that includes childcare. Every younger father I know is very involved and helps care for their kids. It wasn’t like that when I was growing up. So given the trend of fathers becoming more and more involved, modern women don’t really have anything to complain about given they choose a husband/future father of their children wisely.

        Reply
    • Ashley

      I totally get what you are saying about the pressure to have kids. I have felt very judged because of my choice not to have any. Of course those judging didn’t know the whole reason mehind my choice. I do kind of feel that the pressure to have kids is in the church, rather than in secular circles. It’s probably more the opposite outside the church, or at least more neutral.

      Reply
  16. Julie

    Great response Sheila and Rebecca – I agree with all you said!
    Just one question: what would you advise this woman to do right now about her unwise decision to marry this clearly mentally-unfit-to-be-a-dad guy? She’s married to him now, although it would have been better had she found out sooner about his issues and not married him.
    (I ask this out of curiosity, not personal interest: I’m very happily married to a great man and we have been blessed with three lovely children together. I say this to merely give context, not to offend anyone who may not want children – that’s their decision to make.)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’d definitely say get some counselling with a counsellor who is familiar with emotional abuse and believes in boundaries; surround herself with good mentors who can help her; and then start making some tough decisions. I can’t say for sure what she should do because I don’t really know the dynamics of her marriage. But I would hope that she would take some major steps to deal with the fact that her husband is obviously emotionally unstable, and poses a danger to both himself and perhaps her. I don’t know what those steps would look like, but that’s why I would hope she’d get some help in real life, too!

      Reply
  17. Lydia Purple

    I love what you wrote about if all coming down to seek the kingdom of God first. Reading through some of the comments it seems like selfishness is really getting a hold of many believers. Our lives should be a giving of ourselves for the sake of Christ, we should be living sacrifices laying our lives down daily, we should die to ourselves, take our cross upon us, etc. there is many ways the Bible points this out. If you don‘t have children you should still lead a life of sacrifice and service. We are not called to pursue our own life plan and accept Jesus as a mere bonus ticket into heaven. Our life should be one of giving and serving regardless of having children. Our choices should be a reflection of and surrender to God‘s perfect will for our life. Only if we loose our life we will find it. We have no idea what we miss when we hold so tightly on to our own plans and ideas. I was thinking about Mary the mother of Jesus while reading the comments, and she did not choose to have a child when she got pregnant with Jesus. But she accepted it with a heart of full surrender towards God. And she sacrificed a lot, being pregnant before marriage made her a social outcast, giving birth in a stinking barn, fleeing with a newborn to Egypt, later witnessing her sons death. Yet the miracles and blessings she witnessed because of it far outweigh the sacrifice she made. We have no clue what we‘re missing when we reject God‘s way because it is too much or too hard or to inconvenient.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love this, Lydia! Exactly! And this especially: “If you don‘t have children you should still lead a life of sacrifice and service.” Yes. It’s not about what kind of life we decide we want to have. It really is about listening to God and laying down your life daily and asking how you can best serve. If we were all doing this, there wouldn’t be an issue. Now, I don’t think that everyone who is a parent does this either! But I do think that often the way we word our choices does make it sound like we can be leaving God out of the equation, and then we end up equating our own personal desires with the best for our lives, which is really not the case at all.
      I have often found in my life that God’s plans for my me made me so much happier than my own plans would have (though I don’t like Rascal Flatt’s sound, that whole “God bless the broken road” idea). And you can never know that ahead of time. It’s just deciding to live a life of surrender.

      Reply
  18. Alice

    I want to second what Noel and Samantha have pointed out: many commenters have said “having children is a choice.” Really, it isn’t. God created an intrinsic link between sex and babies, and it’s repeated over and over in the Bible, God is the one who opens or closes the womb. The fruit of the womb is a gift from God – and the women who were barren in the Bible understood that that was an act of God. When Rachel complained to Jacob, he said, “Am I God, to give you children?” It’s only in the modern world, with readily available contraception, that we’ve developed this bizarre idea that childbearing can be separated from sexual activity.
    You have a choice about whether you have sex, and you have a choice about whether you get married. If you are certain you have been called to serve without having children (missions in a dangerous location, for example), it’s quite possible that you should remain single to do that. And if you have health issues that make it wiser or essential to avoid pregnancy, that’s another thing; and certainly if you’re married to an abusive or unstable spouse, I would agree with doing everything possible to avoid bringing children into that situation.
    But for the average believer in the average marriage – sex was *designed* to lead to babies. If you can’t accept that possibility, you shouldn’t be having sex.
    “Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.” Malachi 2:15

    Reply
  19. Kimberly

    Whoa. There are some flawed premises being proffered here:
    1) There are ways to have sex that create NO prospect of pregnancy. An individual view that one way of having sex is inherently superior to all others does not mean that other ways do not exist and cannot be satisfying. I never thought that I would be slut-shamed as a married woman – being told that I “shouldn’t be having sex” if I don’t want to get pregnant.
    2) Having children is not the default calling of every human being. Yes, there is an animal instinct to reproduce. It is one of many base instincts that we generally possess, most of which we view as needing to be reigned in and even suppressed in order to be human, let alone a follower of Christ. The arguments about the over-riding biological imperative to reproduce are the same ones that are trotted out as arguments against monogamy. They are as specious in that context as they are here.
    3) Having children is not the highest calling of every human being. Whatever you do with your life means that you are not doing everything else you could possibly do. It is a zero-sum game. To say that you do not want to have children is no more selfish than saying you want 2 children but not 4. It is no more selfish than being a mother means you are not a doctor, or a missionary, or the myriad of other things that God can purpose for people can do with the limited time that they have on this earth.
    4) This is not a question from a married woman asking what to do with an unwanted pregnancy. To date, she has succeeded in not getting pregnant. To argue that she should agree to intentionally get pregnant because there’s a risk that she could end up that way anyhow is no more convincing an argument than saying that you should careen your car into on-coming traffic because anytime you drive there’s a chance you could be in a fatal accident.
    5) Having children so that you won’t be alone in your senior years is no less selfish than not having children because you prioritize other things for your life. In all likelihood, it is more selfish. It is also somewhat irrational, because there is no guarantee that your children will be there for you in your senior years. I have been at too many funerals where parents buried their children. Even if the children are still alive when you are a senior, the relationship can be strained or non-existent, especially if the parent never wanted to be a parent in the first place. Even if the relationship is good, they could be living halfway across the country or the globe.
    6) This poor woman was clear about what she wanted when she went into the marriage. She is clearly still of that mind. Women who do not want to have children are entitled to be married. Women who do not want to have children are entitled to have that wish respected. If there is a “big ask” in that marriage, it is from the husband who asked a woman who did not want to have children to be his wife. She did not change the rules, he did. He is entitled to respectfully ask her to reconsider. Beyond that, he must respect her decision. For clarity, my position would be no different if it were the woman, not the man, who changed the rules.
    There is a saying in aviation circles – it is better to be on the ground wishing you were flying, than flying wishing you were on the ground. It is as true, if not more so, of parenthood.

    Reply
    • Marlee

      THANK YOU, KIMBERLY. You said it so perfectly.

      Reply
    • Samantha

      Kimberly, no one on here implied that a married woman was a slut for having sex (of any kind) and not wanting to get pregnant. Yes there are other of ways to have sex, but I would assume it is rare for a couple to never engage in traditional sex. My husband and I have sex even when we’re not trying to conceive and we use condoms. HOWEVER, had we gotten pregnant while using a condom we would have accepted the fact that God designed sex to SOMETIMES lead to pregnancy and we would count ourselves blessed by God’s plan for us and our marriage. The problem I see with some of the attitudes on here is that some people are totally unwilling to accept the reality that sex (involving the penis entering the vagina) can potentially lead to pregnancy unless extreme measures are taken to alter the bodies of the man and/or woman involved. Even then there is a very slim chance of a vasectomy and tubal ligation not being effective. Regardless of your personal stance on those types of surgery you really have to ask yourself as a Christian, “am I running from God’s will in order to chase after my own will or do I truly feel that God’s will was involved in my choice?” Yes, God gave us free will, but sometimes the way we exercise that free will is not wise and it’s not always what is truly best for us. This is really my point. If we have to go to such extreme measures to totally obliterate our chances of conceiving a child, why are so many people under the impression that they have an inherent right to have sex without ever even considering the possibility of a child being a result of it? To me it is incredibly irresponsible and arrogant to separate sex and the conception of a child with such certainly of us getting our own way. So yes, I stand by what I said, if you are not mature enough to consider the possibility and willing to take on the responsibility of “accidentally” getting pregnant as a result of marital sex even when measures are taken to prevent it, then you probably should refrain from sex altogether.

      Reply
    • Samantha

      If a woman has truly serious or even fatal medical conditions where pregnancy could lead to severe complications or death of course she should take the more drastic measures to ensure she won’t get pregnant. But are those measures really necessary for the average healthy woman who simply doesn’t want to put her dreams on hold for a kid? I don’t really think so.
      I agree with my whole heart that not everyone is called to have children. Many are not and for good and godly reasons. But when we point that out whose calling are we talking about? God’s calling for our life or the calling we create for ourselves where we call all the shots? Having children is not the highest calling for all human beings, but it is still a very high and important calling. Some women truly think of it as an oppressive situation of the most undesirable sort and that kind of attitude is just plain sad and wrong. It is one thing to say, “my husband and I feel God calling us in a different direction than having children.” It a totally different thing to say, “this is what I want, and no one, not even God Himself, has any right to ask me to change my mind about it.” That is pure selfishness and arrogance and why should we coddle believers or anyone else into thinking that kind of attitude is acceptable? ESPECIALLY a person who intends to be or already is married. What kind of person says, “when we get married we have to do this my way and you have absolutely no right to ever have any say in something that will affect the rest of your life too because I believe I have absolute power to make this very important decision for both of us.” Yes, a person is free to marry someone with this attitude and will likely suffer the consequences of that choice and they have no one to blame but themselves. But that doesn’t justify the controlling behavior of the other person or make it healthy. That kind of behavior is unhealthy for a marriage no matter what the decision is.

      Reply
    • Samantha

      Marriage isn’t a game of picking and choosing which person gets their own way on one thing or another. If it were, married couples would resort to the behavior of two spoiled children who have never been taught how to get along or resolve a conflict. And as a matter of fact, this is how a lot of married couples behave. God intended marriage to be as intimate as two people becoming one. That doesn’t mean you automatically want all the same things, but it does mean you wrestle with one another and with God to figure out what is truly best for the marriage as a whole and which direction you both feel God is calling you in. In this way two people can begin to think more alike as they work together to make decisions that are truly best for the marriage. That can’t happen when you have one person or both people going into marriage thinking their plans and desires should outweigh the others. In a lot of ways, this discussion is about so much more than the decision to have children or not. It’s about the attitude and character people have when preparing to enter and are already within a marriage. People need to take marriage a lot more seriously than they do. If a person is under the assumption that they will or should have absolute power over any decision that will directly affect both people’s lives, that seems to be a pretty big indicator that they aren’t really prepared for marriage. A woman who doesn’t want kids is absolutely entitled to be married. But does that mean she then carries all the power to make that decision in the future regardless of the feelings of her husband? Of course not. And why should she expect to? Married couples should make important decisions like that together. If you aren’t prepared to consider the feelings of someone other than yourself, then stay by yourself.

      Reply
  20. Sarah

    “I don’t think refusing to have any children at all is fair to your spouse”
    It’s completely fair if it was something you’ve both discussed before marriage and agreed on. What’s unfair is agreeing to one thing and then changing your mind and expecting your spouse to jump onboard with this sudden change.

    Reply
    • MW

      Yes!
      My husband grew up as a Christian and presented himself all throughout our dating relationship, and then 3 months into our marriage dropped a bomb that he is now an agnostic and had been along that line of thinking for several months before we started dating. You better bet that I’m holding his feet to the fire about raising our children as Christians, per his agreement before marriage. If he didn’t want that, (and he agrees with me) he shouldn’t have married me. I don’t see much of a difference here.

      Reply
    • Samantha

      Yes, it’s unfair to automatically expect someone to immediately change their mind about something simply because you did. HOWEVER, people change their minds about things constantly. If you willingly sign up to commit the rest of your life to another person and expect them to never change their mind about something they may or may not have agreed upon before the marriage, then that is incredibly foolish. That’s why the traditional marriage vows stick to promising and agreeing on the basics. The important and crucial things like promising to love one another, to stay true and faithful and to care for one another in sickness and in health and through good times and bad. If you threw in things like where you’re going to live, what roles or careers you will both have, whether or not you would have children, or anything else that can possibly change either through a change of mind or simply because of life throwing surprises at you, then what marriage would possibly stand a chance of ever holding up to the original agreement? You have to be flexible in a marriage. You have to be open to the possibility of change and especially open to the possibility of not getting your own way all the time. It’s not about his way or her way. It’s about which way is truly best for both and which path God is calling them down.

      Reply
      • MW

        Whether or not you have kids is not an equal decision to where you’re going to live or what career you’re going to have. It’s one of the deal breakers you’re supposed to talk about before marriage, in fact, it’s one of the first ones counselors generally list.

        Reply
        • Samantha

          I never said it was equal. What I did say is that it is a decision that has the potential to change. Especially as a person gets older and matures if they happen to marry in the age range of 20-40. That’s a lot of time to ask someone not to change their mind about something as important as whether they have children or not.
          You can talk about every single life situation before you get married and how you feel about it and agree on everything. But life very often does not go according to our plans and people do change their minds about some things they thought they knew for certain. I read your comment up above. In you situation I totally agree with you. He should be held to the agreement. He deceived you and that was so incredibly messed up. Especially since he knew for quite some time that he felt that way. However, I don’t think it is an equal situation to someone deciding years down the road that they may want children afterall. That is not the same AT ALL as a person being outright dishonest and deceptive. Now I think based on the original question asked here, the man was obviously withholding some serious emotional and mental instability and the woman is perfectly within her rights to not want to bring a child into that environment. But if it were a perfectly stable, loving husband who would make an incredible, involved, and loving father, then I think it is pretty messed up to say that he should suffer because he agreed to it and the wife shouldn’t even have to consider it. It’s not like he’s asking her to become swingers or something else outrageous or destructive. Lol but based on some of these comments you’d think that’s what he would be asking. Married couples have been having children since Adam and Eve. Before the wide range of birth control we have available now it was pretty near impossible for a married couple to have sex and not have any children at all as a result. Children were considered a natural and normal part of marriage. So why are people treating the act of having a child within marriage as an absolutely outrageous request?

          Reply
          • sarah forshaw

            No one is saying having children is akin to asking your spouse to be a swinger. But having a child is a huge responsibility and not something to be taken lightly. If you discuss it before marriage and it has been made clear that it is not an option, someone changing their mind down the road and expecting their spouse to change their mind too is indeed unfair. I’m going to say it’s especially unfair if its the man who changes his mind because he’s not the one who has to carry the baby. There are deal breakers in a marriage and having or not having kids is one of them. It’s not a little issue its a big one that goes beyond two people. I would never want to subject a child to a situation where both parents weren’t thrilled to have them. Even when you want kids there are days you don’t now can you imagine what those days would be like if you never wanted them to begin with?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I think the issue, Sarah, that Samantha is trying to get at is WHY we don’t want kids. That’s really the most fundamental thing. I just worry that there’s a lot of emphasis today on doing what most gives us pleasure, and we forget about bigger picture things like living our life to give to others, or thinking about what God has called us to.
            Again, as Samantha has said, if God has clearly called someone to something else, like a big ministry, that’s absolutely fine. But when our considerations about something as big as having kids are totally dependent on what we think we want for our lives, then perhaps the way we look at our lives is off? That’s really the issue.
            There’s a big focus on creating the life you want in our culture. In so doing, I think we can miss out on bigger things like purpose, meaning, love, sacrifice. And we especially can miss out on God. And that’s what so many of us find worrying about this topic. It’s really more about what people’s starting point is.

  21. Marlee

    She made is blatantly clear to him while they were dating she did not want kids. HE knew that when he ask her to marry him. Women that state something like that up front don’t change their mind later. He is not respecting her wishes. Yet she is willing to sacrifice her life and her body so that he can get what he wants, yet he is not willing to make his own sacrifices to do what she has request. He is selfish, not her. He’s the one with the “big ask” not her. That is not a man that is prepared to be a father. I feel so bad for her. To the writer of the question. You are strong. Stand your ground. Don’t let yourself be manipulated into doing something you’re not comfortable with. It’s you that will be making a huge sacrifice. Make sure that you that IF you decide to have a baby with him, that he will be there every step of the way, that he will make those same sacrifice that you will. You deserve a partner that honors and respects you. Wish you all the best.

    Reply
  22. Jess

    What would you say to someone who has anxiety about having children around how their husband will handle it? For example, my father in law went to work THE SAME DAY his child was born, less than 24 hours later, and didn’t see a problem with that. Neither did my husband. He was a coach and said he needed to go to practice, a practice that probably lasted less than 5 hours, but still. It makes me so nervous to have children with my husband because I can just see him doing the exact same thing and to me that is wrong. Unless your boss looks you in the eye and says you are fired for not coming in (but then you should probably look for another job). In their world, nothing comes before work because it is how you take care of your family. Not even your family comes before work because you have to go to work in order to take care of them. I admire their hard work and desire to take care of their family (it really isn’t about the prestige or whatever from the job, its about taking care of family and helping people) but I just can’t help but feel uneasy about the whole thing. I realize people communicate love in different ways, but going to work the same day your wife had a c-section for YOUR CHILD just seems wrong. Especially when you probably didn’t absolutely have to. And my husband says he had to not because he actually knows but he just thinks you always have to go to work. It causes problems with us because I think his dad did the wrong thing and I will bring it up to him. He says 1. I am judging a situation I know nothing about and 2. it isn’t us, it is his parents. I see his points but he is just like his dad and thinks his dad can do no wrong, and even though I wasn’t a part of that situation, like I said unless he was for sure going to get fired, I think it was wrong (his dad worked for a great Christian man too that they are still friends with, so I highly doubt this guy would have minded him being with his family). I just don’t know what to do. This topic had me in tears today because it just upsets me so much thinking about it and makes me so angry and scared and I want to talk to my husband about it but it will just make him frustrated. What do I do?

    Reply
  23. FeatheredFriend

    “Why do you think so many are reluctant to have kids today?“
    I don’t think this has been mentioned, but it’s something I’ve considered greatly when thinking of future generations…the world is so, so broken. On days when it seems humans are just bent on hurting each other, I want to gather up my family and friends and shield them from it all. The idea of having a child that I would love with my whole heart and then sending them to school and praying there’s not a shooter, or a bully, or a sexual predator. Oh man…Mommas out there I pray for your hearts because my breaks for you.
    Personally, it sometimes seems crazy to bring a child into such a dangerous world. Or to have my own children when so many others are homeless. Or to have kids because it’s expected, only to resent them and make them miserable.
    HOWEVER. Before you all stone me… 😉 We serve a God of love and his ways sometimes seem reckless. If someone feels called to be a parent, no one other than God should take that away. If the spouse isn’t on board, then I think only prayer can resolve it but I don’t think the prayer should be “make them want kids”. It should be “what is your will?”
    I feel that God prepared my heart long ago to not have my own kids. I haven’t tried but I’ve since learned that medical problems might make it impossible. I weep with my friends struggling with infertility and I thank God I don’t have the desire.
    This was a conversation my fiancé and I had early on. Neither of us feel compelled to have kids. As others have said, we get to serve in cool ways, sometimes giving our parent friends a break! But we also discussed the possibility that one or both of us might change. We agreed that the lines of communication had to stay open and we would give it serious thought if the situation arises.
    So far, we are sticking with cats 🐈😁

    Reply
    • Samantha

      “But we also discussed the possibility that one or both of us might change. We agreed that the lines of communication had to stay open and we would give it serious thought if the situation arises.”
      Discussing the possibility of change as a marriage and the individuals in it grow and mature and agreeing to communicate with one another no matter what is a heck of a lot more important, mature and realistic than making a flat out agreement to never have children, never have to discuss the possibility of having children in the future and demanding the power to automatically shut down the desire for children your spouse may develop in the future.
      “If someone feels called to be a parent, no one other than God should take that away. If the spouse isn’t on board, then I think only prayer can resolve it but I don’t think the prayer should be “make them want kids”. It should be “what is your will?””
      God’s will. A phrase I am not seeing enough of in these responses.
      This is one of the most mature, level-headed, and Christian-like responses I have seen on here regarding the possibility of a spouse changing their mind. God Bless you and your marriage.

      Reply
  24. Officiant

    Marriage is hard enough, but having kids makes it tougher. You really can’t have doubts because you both have to be on the same team. And you both have to tough it out. We weren’t sure if we wanted to have kids when we got married. But three kids later, our marriage is stronger because we didn’t give up on each other in those hard times.

    Reply
  25. Sara

    I only got about half way through the comments, but at that point, no one had brought up something I think it really important to address: if someone truly doesn’t want kids, but ends up with them anyways, the chances are HIGH that those kids won’t grow up in a healthy situation. I know of waaaay too many accounts of kids who weren’t wanted by one/both parents and it resulted in emotional or physical abuse. Kids who were neglected or maltreated because the parent had no interest in doing the work of parenting, or learning to be a good parent, and no interest in the child. Or they resented the child and punished them for existing. So, I think one needs to be very careful about what kind of advise is given here, because it’s much better to not have kids than to have them out of some sense of obligation or coercion, and the child suffers for it. No one sets out planning to be an abusive parent, but situations like this set the stage.

    Reply
    • Samantha

      Sara, there is huge flaw in that line of thinking. By making a statement like, “no one sets out to be an abusive parent,” you (and anyone else who shares this line of thinking) are blaming the children for causing the parents to become abusive when in reality it is the parent or parents who are TOTALLY responsible for the way they treat their children regardless of whether they planned on having those children, felt pressured into having them or had them on “accident”. The flawed character that causes resentful and abusive behavior towards an innocent child exists long before the child comes into existence. If we are strictly talking about married couples having children, then there is another crucial point to be made here. If an individual or couple would truly make such a mess of raising a child, then are they really fit for marriage? No, they aren’t. Marriage itself requires sacrifice, hard work, and accepting the fact that you no longer have a right to think only about yourself and your own needs and wants. That seems to be a reality a lot of people seem unwilling to grasp here. Marriage IS NOT ABOUT YOU. Life itself wasn’t designed to be about the individual, but what the individual can do for God and for others. And that’s why marriage and parenthood have the potential to be so very good for us selfish beings. It forces us to face that reality about why we are really here better than just about anything else on this earth. We are here to love, serve, sacrifice (for God and for others), and guide others to Christ.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Completely agree here, Samantha. Abuse is ALWAYS the parent’s fault, and is a huge character flaw. And if people have that kind of character flaw, then they shouldn’t be married, either.

        Reply
    • Samantha

      So the real issue here isn’t whether an individual prefers to have children or not. The issue is why would so many people make such lousy, resentful, and unwilling parents if they would happen to conceive an unplanned child? And if a person or couple is so immature and arrogant that they think they have the power to determine which part of sex they want to be involved with (pleasure but not procreation), then are they really mature enough for sex? No, they aren’t. The problem here isn’t children or whether or not people should have them. It’s the fact that an awful lot of people who are getting married and having sex aren’t even mature enough for those things. To put it very bluntly, an awful lot of adults out there are no better than a bunch of spoiled rotten children themselves. And spoiled rotten adult children won’t make good parents to actual children. My point is this: a couple can have children or remain childless but they should still have the good heart and strength of character to love and care for a child if one would happen to be born. If a person doesn’t have the capacity to love and care for a child (at least potentially), they are simply lousy human beings.

      Reply
  26. Officiant Guy

    I got married 26 years ago. Marriage is tough already, but you really have to be on the same page with your spouse about having kids. It’s a great responsibility. I always advise anyone to approach it with great wisdom and humor. My wife and I have three kids. We agreed to have one more child after our first. But fate would give us twins. Talk about stress.

    Reply

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