why do we want to have babies
"Why have kids? " That's a question couples are increasingly prone to ask. If you were to ask your grandparents or great-grandparents why they had children, they would probably give you a baffled look and say, "That's just what married couples did. " Today's couples, however, stop to ask, "Why? "
We don't just do things out of tradition or expectation. We don't just have kids because that's what's expected or because it's what our parents did. We are more likely to have kids as a statement, as a lifestyle choice. But the choice to have children now sits on a shelf in a growing supermarket of options, prompting couples to ask why that particular choice is better than any other. Couples weighing the decision to start a family are increasingly surrounded by books, articles and websites spotlighting the costs and sacrifices ahead of them. Those messages encourage couples to think long and hard about the world they'd be bringing children into, and remind them to count all the costs before making such a monumental decision. Caution and preparation are helpful, but sometimes it seems that's all couples can find on the topic of having kids these days. Churches, as well as some pro-family organizations, often have little to offer on this subject. Even friends with strong families and children of their own seem unable to articulate why young couples should pursue what they have. Plenty of people have started their families without some sort of great vision. Increasingly, though, it takes vision for "why" to overcome the growing and often compelling arguments for "why not. " To that end, here are four positive reasons why when it comes to starting a family: Babies require a great investment from parents. The expense of their care, as well as the opportunity costs resulting from lost income, can be daunting even for marriages in a strong financial position.
Those costs can seem more overwhelming for couples struggling through an economic downturn. Starting a family requires couples to show good economic stewardship, but raising a child need not be out of reach even in tight times. Unlike many of the depreciating assets people take on, babies are a source of wealth, delivering a return on investment that is beyond measure. No cost/benefit analysis can capture the true value of a new little person. Children are truly priceless. One of the few welcome side effects of the economic crunch that hit in late 2008 was that people became more likely to look beyond their wallets in order to experience the truly good things in life. After getting the message for so long that children stand in the way of exotic vacations and a catalog house filled with cool gadgets, many couples discovered that it's those (often disappointing) pursuits that stand in the way of experiencing the joys of parenthood. The Bible tells us that children are a blessing, but that message seems at odds with the headaches our culture insists children bring. Yet new life continues to offer the wonder and goodness that often eludes us. It gives us a chance to see the world through fresh eyes restoring the magic and innocence that tend to fade with age. It teaches us more about the "life of love" that God calls us to as His "dearly loved children" (Ephesians 5:1-2). And it gives mere mortals an opportunity to touch the divine to participate with God in making a new creation in His image. Babies require great care especially as they transition from toddlers to teenagers. Parenting is not for the faint of heart.
It is grueling at many levels, and this can be intimidating for many couples who don't feel particularly mature. But it's when committing to the needs of a new life that couples are stretched into greater maturity. Children shape our souls like few other things in life, conditioning us to be more other-centered and to take a longer view of life. The demands of children that frighten so many would-be parents are in fact a crucible that can bring out the person God designed them to be. Many couples reading today's headlines are convinced that this world is too unstable how can you subject children to such a place? And you can hardly blame them. Trying to raise a child in our current culture can feel like trying to raise a flower in the crack of a New York City sidewalk. But while fear and anxiety are natural emotions for would-be parents, the choice to be fruitful is an enduring and courageous encounter with hope. In his book The Mystery of Children, Mike Mason describes babies as "renewers, groundbreakers and world-shakers, bearers of new seed, heralds of a new age. " Instead of letting the problems around us frighten us away from having children, we should recognize God's pattern of using new life to fix those problems, to bring renewal and fresh hope. Birth rates may be in these economic times, but it's not stopping a phenomenon that happens to women in particular -- the time that comes in every woman's life when an uncontrollable "urge" comes over her and she feels a calling from deep within to become a mother. This phenomenon has commonly been called the "biological urge," and it's seen as part of women's biological instinct to have children. We're taught that it's something that's supposed to happen to women at some point in their lives, but what do we really know about the biology at work that creates this "urge"?
We know that biology is at play when women are pregnant. Estrogen and progesterone kick in at conception and continue through pregnancy, along with the neurohormone oxytocin, which fires at the time of delivery. Research also tells us that biology is at work once the baby is born, including how the mother's brain responds differently to different baby behaviors. While we typically don't talk about men having the same kind of "urge," there are biological factors at work for them as well. According to at Johns Hopkins, we do know that "the bottom line is as men age, the percentage of damaged sperm they carry in their testes tend to increase," and the greater the risk of having a baby with a birth defect. But for both sexes, what are the hard-wired biological processes that create the desire for a child? Here's the truth that's not talked about -- For women, there is And the same for men; there's no real evidence linking biology to the creation of parental desire. So what's behind the "urge" if it's not biological? Similar to the origins of what I call "Fulfillment Assumption" in, the answer first goes back to pronatalist notions that were created about parenthood generations ago, when society needed to encourage people to have lots of children. In addition to pushing the idea that parenthood was, another had to do with the idea that "normal" women experience an instinctual longing from within to have a child, and if they didn't there was something wrong with them. This belief is part of the larger pronatal "Destiny Assumption" that was created many years ago, that, like the Fulfillment Assumption, has stuck long after its usefulness.
The deep feelings of wanting to have a child have their roots in a learned desire from strong, long-standing social and cultural pronatal influences -- not biological ones. And we've been influenced so strongly for so long that it just feels "innate. " Early feminist Lena Hollingsworth gets to the heart of why it isn't:, she argues -- and we don't. If it were instinctive, there would have been no need to introduce social messaging to encourage and influence reproduction. If it were instinctive, there would be no need for social and cultural pressures to have children. When it comes to the "biological urge," it's time to shift our thinking to reflect what is real. Realizing that the "longing" is not something that will automatically descend upon us allows us to better explore its origins within us. Researcher and psychoanalyst puts it this way: "When a woman says with feeling she craved her baby from within, she is putting biological language to what is psychological. " When we can't just chalk up the longing to biological instinct, we can better reflect on the craving from within and ask ourselves questions like, "What is at the essence of this feeling of longing? Is it truly to raise a child, or is it another yearning I think a child will fill for me in my life? " Realizing that a yearning for parenthood is not a biological imperative allows us to look harder at why we think we want children and ferret out how much of it comes from external conditioning. Seeing the truth about the "biological urge" ultimately helps us make the best parenthood choices for ourselves, our families and our world. is the author of WATCH: HuffPost Live Discusses The 'Biological Clock'
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