We live in a world today that views children with more and more skepticism. Not children themselves, but the act of actually having children. While nationally a large portion of people still want children, the age at which women are having children has been increasing for decades and more and more couples are deciding to simply not have children at all.
And while I personally know a good number of people who desire children and have had children while they are young, the older I get the more I find myself the odd one out when it comes to people my age. And for that reason I wanted to set out some general reasons as to why I want kids, why my wife and I are currently planning on four, and why we decided to start having them when we did.
Just a disclaimer, though. In the general statements that I made before and may make later on, I am not considering those who have had difficulty in bearing children or for medical or relational reasons have not been able to conceive. My heart goes out to those who have been through such things and I hope nothing in this piece offends you as I am mainly writing these things with those in mind who are able to have kids and yet knowingly decide not to.
So with these things in mind, let’s start off.
Why Do I Want kids?
Let’s be honest. Whenever we want something, that means that we value whatever it is. So my short answer to this first question is simple: I want children because I value children. Now of course someone could say that they value children even if they don’t have any, but at that point we’re talking about degrees.
For people who postpone or decide to avoid having kids altogether, they may value children but only up to a certain point. They are effectively saying that they value children, but for the moment at least (fill in the blank) is more important (i.e. career, stability, freedom, etc.). For me, though, I value children and I think their value transcends that of my career or relative freedom at this time.
Children are Valuable
Out of all that, though, why do I value children? In broad strokes, the Bible gives a clear picture of the blessedness of children and their worth in the kingdom. God showers us with many blessings in this life, and though any one of them can become an idol in our hearts when we value them above God, ultimately God wants us to work towards these blessings in his name.
I want to be careful here because I do not want it to sound like the only thing God wants for us is to have a “fulfilling life” and that’s all. God’s ultimate goal for our lives is for us to grow up into the fullness of Christ to bring him glory. This maturing process, though, involves any number of tools which He has at His disposal. He may encourage us to take risks and build a business which will ultimately be a blessing. As we are in the midst of pursuing the business, we do not consider it faulty because you know that the business will be a blessing to yourself and others. You are only faulted when you seek to turn the business to your own ends and to soak up all the benefits for yourself.
All this to say that it is a worthwhile thing to pursue children knowing their value. And I say that I value children because I know they can be a blessing and because I know God can use them to bless myself and others. God works in us and through us especially as we interact with those we are close to, those with whom we spend the most time. And who do we spend more time with than our immediate family members? In essence, by having children, you are partnering with God to create a relationship in your life that will dramatically impact your life (even though obviously this is not the only way to enter into this type of relationship).
Children are Difficult
Talking about impacting your life, in a similar vein marriage is said to be a mirror that shows us our own faults and having children is just as potent if not even more so. Go up to any parent and even if they say their children were super easy, they mean this only in a relative kind of sense of which single people may have very little knowledge. No matter how easy or difficult, the act of raising children requires hard work, sacrifice, and a good deal of grit. It is no easy thing.
I know I am sounding like a great sponsor for children right now, but in all honesty there are no things in this life that are worthwhile that do not require work on our part. If you want a garden, you have to put in the sweat. I value children because they are hard. Because I know that through the blood, sweat, and tears (from both myself and my children probably) God will be using each of us to work in the other’s life and to shape us into his image.
Children are Images
Which leads to the third reason I value children. This is something that I cannot say should be the case for everyone, but ever since I was young I have found in myself the desire to image-forth. Is this something that has been placed within us? That we should want to put our literal mark on something in this world? I don’t know, but it makes sense to me. We have a Creator who was willing to lay upon us His image. Why would we not also want to spread that same image? Yes, I do believe that we can do so by great works and systems and such. But the most intimate way we can accomplish this image-production is through procreation, partnering with God to create new life made in His image and ours.
Children are Disciples
And though the image-creating-desire may only be a theory/personal thing, my final reason that I want to put forth is something a little more clear cut and should not only apply to people who are married but also those who are single. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and then commanded man to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). We are meant to fill and to form. Many may disregard this command due to it being in the Old Testament, but the heart of this command, spreading His image, is the exact spirit that is communicated in what we call the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20). God calls us to go out into all the world and to make disciples, people who are following after Christ, spreading His image.
This obviously can and probably should be realized largely outside of having children, but we also should not neglect the stewardship of this relationship. Tying back into a previous point, the longer we can spend with someone the more able we are to transfer Christ’s DNA (to the degree that it is in us of course) into that other person. And in most circumstances what closer, long term relationship do we have, apart from our spouse, than with our children whom we are raising?
And so those are my four reasons that I want children. As I sit and type this more reasons come to mind (the fact that they teach us so much or even that they are truly a joy to play with, especially the older they get), but I wanted to keep this succinct and top-level and I hope I have done that.
If you have other reasons why you want children, I would be glad to hear about them! Also, I will be continuing this line of thought in two other posts later explaining my reasons for having kids young as well as why my wife and I want four specifically. Hope you will read on!