Thinking About Having Kids? Let's Chat About This Big Decision
I want to be a mom!
…or do I?
If that’s the question that’s on your mind, you’re in the right place. This post will help you think through different aspects of your decision, so you can figure out if becoming a mom is the right choice for you.
A little bit about what I do with Kids or Childfree
If we haven’t met yet, I’m Keltie Maguire — a clarity coach who helps women get clear on whether having kids or staying childfree is the right path for them.
I started Kids or Childfree because, through my own experience trying to figure out if I wanted to become a mom or stay childfree, I realized just how few resources there were to navigate this decision. I also saw first hand how much of society believes that all women want to have kids in the first place. (Luckily I now know that this couldn’t be further from the truth). I now offer coaching, share blog posts like this one, and provide other support (i.e. workshops on the topic) to help women like you get clear on if they want to have kids or stay childfree.
Why People Choose to Have Kids
Exploring various motivations behind the decision
For a long time, motherhood was virtually synonymous with womanhood. Like other so-called adulthood “rites of passage”, women were expected to find a partner, get married, and have babies. Nowadays, while there are plenty of people who might try and tell you otherwise, motherhood isn’t a must. So, why do people choose to have kids? It’s a fantastic question, and one I encourage you to ask the parents that you know. Through my own conversations, I can tell you that there are many parents who aren’t fully sure why they had kids (yes, really). Sure, some folks had them because they really wanted to, and entered into parenthood by consciously and deliberately opting in. But many other people had children simply because they saw it as a life milestone that should unquestioningly be met. While the motivation to have children has historically been, and still often is, a by-product of what we’re told we have to do — there are many other reasons why a person might have kids, and we’ll explore a number of these, later in this post.
Exploring emotional, practical, and societal factors
At the end of the day, the factors that go into wanting to become a parent are multiple. There are emotional factors — like the innate desire for a child that one may feel, or the need to feel accepted and loved by one’s partner, friends, or family.
There are practical factors — like wanting someone to be there for companionship or to help care for you when you’re old. (As any childfree person will tell you, they inevitably get questions like, Who will take care of you when you’re old?)
Lastly, there are massive societal factors that play into a person’s decision to have kids. For many, having kids is what is deemed “normal” and “acceptable” and may help a person better fit into their community, culture, and/or religion.
The Big Question: Should I Become a Mom?
So is motherhood the right path for you? Let’s take a closer look at what choosing motherhood actually entails, and how society and our personal lives help shape this decision.
What it really means to choose motherhood
As a society, we have a lot of romantic notions of what motherhood entails. While we are fortunately witnessing a shift towards more open and frank discussions around the many challenges that moms face (whether that be post-partum depression, mom guilt, or sleep deprivation), many of us still hold a very idealized view of being a mom. Yes, having a child can certainly be a beautiful and fulfilling experience. But as a woman considering motherhood, it’s important that you fully consider and explore what choosing motherhood really means. First and foremost, know that when you choose motherhood, you’re not only choosing to have a baby, but to raise a human. Saying yes to motherhood, means a minimum 18-year commitment to do your very best to ensure the well-being of a whole, separate person — and everything that comes with that. If you become pregnant with and birth your own child, you’re putting your body, mind, and spirit through what can be an immensely taxing process. In becoming a mom, your relationship with your partner, other family members, friends, and yourself, will shift and change. These changes need not be negative, but your world order, if you will, gets turned on it’s head to make room for this new life, which will become your key focus and priority. Your work life changes (talk to any mom about the struggles and inequities they face juggling motherhood and work). Your personal life changes (dedicated time for the things that you want will naturally shift toward your child). Your day-to-day changes drastically as keeping said human alive and well becomes your number one priority. If it weren’t already abundantly clear, motherhood is a complete game-changer, and it’s a choice that should be made, as much as is possible, with eyes wide open.
How society and our personal lives shape this decision
How well- or ill-equipped you feel to make this decision — and whether you choose motherhood at all — is largely influenced by society and your own unique set of circumstances. Did you grow up believing and being told that “someday you’ll be a mom too”? Are you worried you might disappoint your loved ones if you don’t have kids? How is your mental and physical health? Are you well-supported in your choice by your community, employer, partner — heck, your country, for that matter? Moms in the U.S., for example, face pitiful social support, that can make having kids an even more challenging experience than it already often is (think: just 6 weeks maternity leave and childcare costs that often run in the thousands, monthly). Women in Germany, on the otherhand, are able to take up to 3 years leave per child (yes, 3!) and can receive highly subsidized childcare. Having a child as a woman in a low income household is vastly different than having one if you are affluent. The same goes for having a partner who partakes equally (or as best as circumstances allow, because, let’s face it: moms face unique responsibilities and pressures) versus one who contributes very little. Ultimately, your own situation (ranging from your beliefs and upbringing to your emotionall well-being and finances) will hugely shape your desire for and experience of motherhood.
Why & When Do We Decide To Have Kids?
We’ve talked about some of the factors (i.e. emotional, societal, practical) why people have kids. Now let’s get into some of the specific reasons why women do so.
The many reasons why women choose to have kids
The reasons women have kids are as varied as the women themselves who have them. We’ve already explored that motherhood is something that many of us are brought up believing we must do, and even if we have the intellectual understanding that we can opt-out of having kids, so many women I talk to feel like it’s still not really an option. My own experience of trying to decide if I want kids (and feeling very little desire to have them), left me feeling entirely alien, alone, and shameful, because the narrative around motherhood being what “good” and “normal” women do felt so prevalent to me. We could argue then, that many women have kids to fit in with the rest of society and the narratives we subscribe to, and because they feel an emotional burden when they consider being childfree. Of course, some women have children because they truly want to have them. They believe that having kids will be fun (or rewarding, or meaningful…) and that’s something they want to experience in their lives. Some women are motivated by a love of children — their curiosity, their playfulness, how they develop and grow — and it excites them to think about having their own. Other women still, had their own happy upbringing, and want to continue that legacy or experience that in their own homes. And on the flip side, some had challenging or traumatic upbringings, and want to create the loving family environment that they didn’t get to experience. Other reasons women have kids include the fear of what may happen later in life if you don’t have kids; a biological urge or drive to have babies (though it may interest you to know, the idea of the “ticking biological clock” is a sexist concept created by a man in the 1970’s); the desire to carry on the family name or leave a legacy after you’re gone. The myriad of different reasons for having kids aside, the really important thing I want to stress is that if you’re considering becoming a mom yourself, it’s important to become aware of your own intrinsic drivers. Do you know why you want kids — and does that feel like a good reason to you? It’s important we’re honest with ourselves about what is motivating us to have kids. Is it a fear of missing out? To try and salvage a rocky marriage? Because we truly long for the experience and believe it will bring us the kind of joy and fulfillment we’re seeking in life? There are no right or wrong answers here (though I’d argue some reasons will lead to better outcomes than others), but it’s important we’re in touch with our motivation in order to make a decision we can feel good about.
When to have kids
Is the timing ever “right” when it comes to having kids? Many parents would argue not. Yet, especially as women, time often plays a large role in our decision, especially when we take our biology into account. While I can’t tell you there is any one best time for you personally to have kids (science would dictate having them as young as possible, which we know is probably not, in fact, the best time to become a mom) — I can offer some considerations I’d encourage you to make if you’re thinking about motherhood.
Some specific questions for you to explore include:
How supported do I feel to become a mom? For example, by your partner, workplace, financially-speaking, and/or community. Having the right support systems in place is an important factor to consider before having children, and feeling well-equipped and set-up, so to speak, can make a world of difference to the experience of having and raising kids. Am I in a good position health-wise to have children? This may entail a doctor’s visit, not only to see where things are at in terms of your reproductive health (if you’re planning to have biological children), but also to check-up on other areas of your health (including mental and emotional health) where you may wish to get support before embarking on motherhood. Are my partner and I on the same page about having kids? Do you both want kids? Do you feel ready for everything parenthood entails? Have you discussed topics including, but not limited to, your finances, expectations around household duties, work outside the home, and child-rearing? Do I feel ready for this major life change? Are there experiences that you still wish to have before becoming a parent — for example, to spend a year living abroad or to train for your first marathon? Do you feel like you’re well-positioned in your career, and that you’d be comfortable shifting a large part of your focus to motherhood? This doesn’t mean you can’t have unique experiences and work towards personal and professional goals once you have kids, but it’s important to recognize that some things may not be as feasible (or even, desirable) once you do. When considering when to have children, it can be important to think about things you might still want to accomplish beforehand. Do I even want to become a mom? Some women hope that once they have a child, the desire to be a parent will follow, but I’ve got to level with you: this feels like a big gamble — and not exactly fair to your future child. If being a mom is something you’re not sure you want, I would strongly suggest getting more clarity on this before having kids.
How our emotions, practical life situations, and society play into this choice
As you can probably tell by now, there are many different factors that will play into your own unique and individual choice of whether or not to have kids. From the way you feel about becoming a mom, to what you believe raising kids will be like; from your own upbringing, to your relationship with your partner — all of these things (and many more) play into both your desire, or lack of desire, to have kids, and ultimately, the decision of whether you do so.
It’s All About You
At the end of the day, deciding whether or not to have kids is a highly personal choice. Despite the fact that society often tells us that all women should be moms, motherhood isn’t a must. The factors that play into this life-changing decision range from the practical to the emotional to the societal, and while no single reason for having kids is inherently good or bad, it’s important to make this choice from a place of intention and deep consideration. I hope this post has encouraged you to consider some aspects of motherhood and child-rearing that you may not have previously pondered, and has you thinking about the reasons why you want children. If you are stuck on your decision, and unclear about whether or not you in fact want to have kids, working with a coach such as myself can be a powerful way to reflect on and gain support in your decision-making process.
Do you have questions on this topic, or are you interested in getting further help with your decision of Kids or Childfree? Book a complimentary discovery call where we can chat all about the coaching offers and other resources I have available.