Convince me that I should have children.

How to explain ERE, arranging family matters
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C40
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Convince me that I should have children.

Postby C40 » Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:19 pm

Convince me that I should have children.

I’m a male in my early 30s. I don't think I want to have children. I'm not 100% certain. I'd like to make up my mind more completely. I’m specifically looking for arguments and reasons FOR having children (NOT asking whether I should or shouldn’t). I already feel I shouldn’t, but it is an important subject and one where, if my opinion is going to change, it’s better for it to happen now than in 25 years. This is an important decision and not the type I’d make just based off forum recommendations. I’m looking for questions I should be asking myself, things I should considering, etc.

I value the opinions and suggestions from forum members here. There are many with similar personalities and thought processes - who might be more convincing for me or at least help lead my thoughts well. (My girlfriend, for example, is an ENFP and wants children very badly. Her reasons aren't convincing for me: broad things like "it's so special".. "It's the best thing in life"… “it will make you happier”.. etc..).



I’m not sure how much I should add about my own stance at the moment. (I don’t want to limit the scope of the thread or lead it down a specific path). The information below is not complete, it’s not an argument to refute, but just some background info on my current opinions.

1. My own family relationships (Which are pretty good.. I get along with my parents and siblings well, though we are not extremely close. My parents got divorced when I was a teenager, which was not particularly painful)

2. My experiences helping take care of children (a fair amount. My mom did daycare out of our home for many years. Not much here except that I am familiar with children and don’t have some kind of baby/child fear)

3. My experiences in relationships (fairly limited.. haven’t had a S.O. that I really expected to be with for a very long time)

4. My opinion that there are plenty / too many people on earth already

5. I do not default to following common norms or expectations… and I am very deliberate with my life. For most people, having children is the obvious path and a deviation from that happens only with a major decision. For me, having children only happens with a major and deliberate decision. (Others need reasons NOT to have children…. I need reasons TO have them)

6. I do worry about the likelihood of being alone in my later years, and not having anyone to help/take care of me when needed. I don’t think this is something you can count on, and I don’t think it should be a reason to have kids.

7. I do ask myself if my desire to retire early may be influencing my opinion. Children would certainly increase my spending and require me to work longer. There is also the risk of a child becoming a great expense (extensive medical care, financial support as adults, etc.) This has some influence, but I certainly don’t think it is a primary cause… And, barring long term medical needs, I would likely be able to limit the costs. I don’t think money is having much influence on me here – I certainly don’t think that wanting to retire early should/would cause me to decide not to have children – I see money and retirement more as a way to achieve the things that I already want to do.

8 - It may be more that children could prevent or interfere with some of the things I think about doing after retiring (van touring, hiking, travel). To me it would limit options in the future.

9 - When I imagine the future (next 10-20 years), here is what is in it:
~50% of the time: a girlfriend/wife
~ 10% of the time: children
I don’t often imagine further into the future (into and past my 70s..)

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bigato
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby bigato » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:07 pm

It could help you grow as a person by making your life harder ;-)

But seriously. Think about some forum members that related to be bored after having achieved most of their goals. Having children would keep them busy and with a sense or purpose for a while.

You can't count on children to take care of you in your later years, and I agree that you shouldn't let this one be the reason for your decision. That said, having children certainly improves your chances that they will want to help you if/when you need. While it shouldn't be your only reason, I don't see why you shouldn't take it into account.

Having personalities like ours, we want to believe that we will never be a burden to nobody. That we will never depend on anyone. In my opinion that is just arrogance. We can't be sure that we will not need someone's help some day. Why not build some social capital instead of only focusing on financial capital. There's always the chance that they would not only help you but also turn into a burden to you. But I choose to believe that I will be able to raise decent human beings and I will take my risks.

I respect, understand and even admire the people who consciously decide not to have children. Despite that, we should also be careful not to fall the trap of being afraid to compromise with people and relationships. We should never let our fear compromise our freedom to choose. Just to be clear, I am not under the impression that C40 is afraid of something; but we never know ourselves well enough, and maybe fear is a factor in some level. It is an important enough decision that we *should* have some level of fear.

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby jacob » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:14 pm

It will move your entire focus away from yourself for better or worse. It can be a source of personal growth, especially for an INTJ who values independence, to have people depending on you. I don't want to go so far as to say you will now be living for their sake because I think that's a modern idea and certainly not all parents feel that way anyway. In any case it means that the next many years will be subject to constraints. Even pets can constrain though.

It can be a meaningful experience (but so can many other things) although research/surveys suggest that children increases meaning while reducing happiness. (Changing diapers is meaningful but not fun.)

I guess the primary reason to have children is that you enjoy parenting enough to sign up for the next twenty years. You already know what you're getting into given (2). It's the only thing that's within your control---your joy of parenting. The rest is guideable but ultimately random, e.g. your kids might disown you in old age, or leave the country never to return, they might turn out to be jerks or criminals, etc. Blood can be thinner than water.

ohcanada
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby ohcanada » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:35 pm

Ask jennypenny

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C40
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby C40 » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:39 pm

I'm hoping she will chime in

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dot_com_vet
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby dot_com_vet » Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:57 pm

I was in your boat before, two kids now.

- Ability to relive your childhood. I find the neighborhood park a great place to relax with the family.

- Your older family will die. Kids helps offset that.

- Kids could really complement an ERE lifestyle. Look at MMM.

I know childless people older than me, and they are living a full life. There's pros and cons to both.

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Dragline
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby Dragline » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:03 pm

If you need to be convinced, you probably shouldn't go there.

Many people prefer animals these days.

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C40
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby C40 » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:12 pm

Dragline wrote:If you need to be convinced, you probably shouldn't go there.

Many people prefer animals these days.


Good and succinct point.

To add to my original post, I haven't actually thought about children very much. This has to to with being single most of the time. I've generally expected it was something I would think about later on.. (when in more serious relationships).. and kept on thinking this... and maybe eventually just assumed I wasn't going to because I wasn't progressing closer in relationships or wasn't thinking about it very much? (It may be that I have actually thought about it just as much as most people do, but not as much as I would think about something like this)

chipmunk
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby chipmunk » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:17 pm

There's a certain "circle of life" aspect to having kids. You were once a kid and had parents and grandparents. If you have (grand)kids then you would get to experience life as a (grand)parent. You can have similar experiences with kids that are not your direct offspring but it might not be the same.

billc
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby billc » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:26 pm

Currently have a 6 month old. I can't come up with a reason why you should have a kid. Frankly I'm having a hard time remembering why I thought it was a good idea in the first place.

Obviously 6 months is a short time to evaluate such a thing - but so far there are moments that are funny/enjoyable. It's mostly dumb stuff like funny sounds or faces. On the net - the loss of freedom is extremely painful and not worth the enjoyable moments (though perhaps compounded by the miserable winter).

Unless things improve drastically - I'm not inclined to have another.

JamesR
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby JamesR » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:37 pm

Sebastian Marshall sort of argues that "You owe it to your ancestors"

I'm really, really grateful to the scientists and engineers and inventors and builders and artists that came before us. We'd be living in forests and jungles and caves if it weren't for them. And I'm grateful for the long line of my ancestors that survived and thrived to lead to me. I figure some of them must have lived under really desperate circumstances, gone through all sorts of struggle and strife and misery, but they still were able to have and raise their children that eventually became my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents, and so on. If one link in that chain isn't there, I'm not here. So, wow, I'm so grateful for my ancestors doing that.

So I'd like to pay it forwards. I'll build some stuff that will be used in our lifetimes, and then will help all generations henceforth. I'll have some children and help build the next line of humanity, and all lines after that.

(http://www.sebastianmarshall.com/why-bu ... e-humanity)

I do feel some gratitude and a bit of a debt to all those who came before, and part of that debt is continuing the line of life forwards. Y'know how hard it was for people to have and raise kids throughout history? When I hear people saying they don't want kids, not because they're working on world-changing stuff like Albert Einstein, but just because they think they'd be happier without kids... I don't know man, it shocks me. There's been a chain of people brutally struggling and striving forwards throughout history, and you're comfortable breaking that chain? That's... that's... well, that's something I'm not comfortable doing.

(http://sebastianmarshall.com/determine- ... to-live-by)

However, I think anyone planning to be a parent should have the right kind of expectations. First and foremost, your kid does not owe you anything! (I detest parents that expect love or old age support, and use emotional guilt and other tactics to get that)

Personally I eventually want kids because I think I'd be a great teacher, and help my kids reach their full potential, and because I'm interested in seeing what they'll achieve.
Last edited by JamesR on Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

workathome
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby workathome » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:45 pm

How about you find a woman you truly love and want to make a family first? THEN you can worry about whether or not you want to have kids :D
Last edited by workathome on Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

George the original one
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby George the original one » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:49 pm

> To add to my original post, I haven't actually thought about children very much.

Go spend time with children before you make a decision. Volunteer at daycare or coaching or church or something like that. Take nieces & nephews on a trip.

I know that I enjoy happy, alert children, but can't tolerate the ugly periods. And babies/toddlers are totally uninteresting to me because I can't communicate with them... to me, they're harder than pets!

Some will say that shaping the child into an adult is very rewarding and I get that. Unfortunately the same people never talk about how unrewarding it is when there's a fail or how much your life changes in unpleasureable ways if the child comes with extra challenges (example: high functioning autism spectrum).

George the original one
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby George the original one » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:52 pm

workathome wrote:Modern liberal atheism is net destructive for intelligent people.


Don't go down this discussion route, please. Us atheists have a strongly different opinion.

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby workathome » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:54 pm

George the original one wrote:>
Go spend time with children before you make a decision. Volunteer at daycare or coaching or church or something like that. Take nieces & nephews on a trip.


That's bad advice, men don't tend to really enjoy spending a lot of time with other people's offspring, but still retain a strong desire for their own.

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby George the original one » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:58 pm

workathome wrote:
George the original one wrote:>
Go spend time with children before you make a decision. Volunteer at daycare or coaching or church or something like that. Take nieces & nephews on a trip.


That's bad advice, men don't tend to really enjoy spending a lot of time with other people's offspring, but still retain a strong desire for their own.


So you're saying he should go into parenthood with no practical experience?!? LOL, yeah, that will work.

steelerfan
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby steelerfan » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:59 pm

I am older with 2 sons. My wife and I wouldn't trade anything to not have them in our lives. That said they cost a bundle. While I read here about raising kids in an ERE lifesyle I think you need to be aware that your kids will eventually have friends and peers that will be doing things/taking trips and they will want to live that lifestyle. And you will want to provide it to them. We have priceless memories of Disneyland and Universal Studios and trips to Yellowstone and the beach. Daycare if needed is also very expensive. We spent over 20K one year for newborn daycare and probably well over 100K for the the daycare, camps sports. Anybody not on board with this will be dismayed.

My best friend and his wife (same age as us) are childless by choice. Its a lot easier to be selfish when you are not tied down and it is alot easier to travel and accumulate money. He would not trade places with me and I would not trade places with him. He has total freedom. I am staying younger by living through the lives of my kids.

Neither is better but if you have to ask the question then as people have said you already know your best move...

I hear people saying it is possible but I wouldn't be raising my kids in a tiny apartment. A lot of people grew up poor and never knew how consumerism deprived they were though so I could be full of shit. At the end of the day I would not scale back their lives for my idea of a dream life.

workathome
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby workathome » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:01 pm

George the original one wrote:So you're saying he should go into parenthood with no practical experience?!? LOL, yeah, that will work.


Well, usually grandparents tend to offer to help out, but yeah... that's how it works dude. No bachelors required to change diapers and play with blocks.

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby lilacorchid » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:24 pm

Two things I'll add:

1. If you need to be convinced to have children, it's probably not a great idea. Get a dog or a fish.

2. You don't have to have more than one.

I always knew I wanted to be a mother, and that's what got us through years of infertility and had us spending thousands of dollars on a dream. That being said, even if I could just have a few shots of vodka and whip up a kid, I don't think I would. One has been plenty for us.

And edit to add: When we were facing a child free life, it was much easier to avoid the consumer machine. 99% of ads that were out there when we watched something were targeted at people with kids (mini vans, disney vacations, diapers, etc) and they just didn't apply. Also, we now have a little human who triggers the pleasure part of your brain when you make them smile. It's easier to make them smile with shinies! ;)

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby jacob » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:41 pm

Maybe you can also google a list of reasons NOT to have children, read through them, and see if you strongly disagree with any of the line items. If you find one---better more than one---maybe that would be a good reason for you to have them?

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby General Snoopy » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:59 pm

Whether to have children will be a decision made by your wife (and I don’t mean girlfriend). You need to have this discussion before you get married and not after. If your wife wants children, then have children. If she doesn’t, then don’t. If it’s a question where she won’t marry you because you don’t want children, then you have a decision to make and the answer will depend on whether you want to marry the girl. Even with all this she may decide to marry you regardless (even though you said you don’t want children) and then she may change her mind. At which point it is either divorce or children.

You don’t seem to be ready for children. So, for you when you have the discussion make it clear that you do not want children. If it comes down to whether the girl will leave you or not based on the decision then base your decision on the girl. She could very easily walk out on you.

Benefits:
(1) Married men are happier than singles.
(2) Married men live longer than singles.
(3) Chance of divorce is reduced when there are children involved.
Last edited by General Snoopy on Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby rube » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:02 am

you are never 'ready' to have kids (for males at least). Not being sure about it does not mean per se you shouldn't have them.

practicing with children of others really won't work. A child of your own is *completely* different.

When they get a bit older, start to talk etc. it is much more fun then the first period of only feeding, sleeping and changing diapers.

They enrich your live (can be both good and bad..hahaha). I can be very proud of them. They help me to see others sides of issues, experiences etc. It makes me feeling vulnarable sometimes. The idea of loosing them is unbearable. Even alone typing this is creating tears in my eyes. I think that says enough about the special bond.

There are pros and cons, there is no perfect decision. And you will never know how it would have been with (if you don't have them) or without (if you have them)

I don't believe you 'take' children, you 'get' them (if you want). There are plenty of couples who can't have them. This could happen to you as well.

From a parent of a 6 and 8 years old.

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby SilverElephant » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:25 am

From what I gather from older friends who have kids (and my personal experience), the focus should be on identifying a woman you'd want to have children with. A partner who has similar goals and values with whom you want to share your life might heavily influence your decision (not through coersion or similar, but through being there) and probably make the whole thing much easier too. It's not as if you're expected to go through it alone.

henrik
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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby henrik » Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:58 am

There are some negatives that people tend to overestimate compared to my experience:

- Loss of freedom is really a matter of conforming to the normal. I think pets can be a lot more restricting in that sense (very hard to take a dog on an international flight, for example). People travel in a van full time, get FI and do all sorts of things while having and raising kids. I travel a lot less for work now than I used to, but I get around a lot more outside of work.

- "Kids are boring cause you can't really communicate with them".. really? Maybe this is specific to my personality, but have you ever actually seriously talked to a 3-year-old? My guess is people find talking to kids boring because they talk to them like kids. The intellectual curiosity and honesty that a kid can have when you take them seriously has been literally very educating.
The straightforwardness and honesty is also what makes my kid way less exhausting for me to socialise with, as an introvert, than any adult in my life, no matter how close.

- Diapers! Come on, it's a very short time and the modern ones are very easy, even if a little expensive:)

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Re: Convince me that I should have children.

Postby saving-10-years » Wed Mar 05, 2014 6:34 am

Parenthood is not a journey from which you can turn back so consider carefully. In terms of the stats you are more likely to have a long-term relationship with your child(ren) than with the person you have them with. Sad but true.

Having a child brings unpredictability into your life on an on-going basis. The child may have small or large special needs that you have to adapt to. In our case a special diet because of food allergy meant that for the first decade we avoided having certain foods in the house and didn't eat in some restaurants with him as part of the party. We also became adept at whole body bandaging/moisturising for severe eczema to the extent that we later offered respite care for parents with children with severe food allergies and eczema.

Even without such curveballs there will be change. Its the changes (big and small) that have made the experience rewarding. We waited until DH was ready to have children (which was not until he was mid-30s and then took some time to achieve) and we stopped at one because DH felt that that was enough of a challenge. You really do have to agree with each other on what the broad principles are before you start.

'On-going' is the key word here. Children will transform your future (you expect them to outlive you) so that no matter how far into the future you look they will always be a consideration. Moving abroad? Selling the house (aka family home) to downsize? Planning a holiday? You'll be making decisons for different reasons in the future. The whole of your future.

Its easier to give reasons why not than why do it. The latter tend to be personal and pretty tied to emotion/feelings. Logically its a huge risk, and I am not sure that you can make it on those grounds.


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