Should I Have a Baby
One of the clients that I work with on a regular basis is autistic. This is a curse and a blessing. The curse is that for him, life is difficult. He can’t relate to other people in a typical fashion and this fact makes it hard to develop a relationship with him. The blessing is that he will always, without flinching, tell me his opinion. I know that I always get the truth when he shares his thoughts with me no matter how ugly, intrusive, or offensive it is.
The other day, we were in the car together and I was talking with him about moving to Scotland to earn a degree at a university over there. He quickly told me that I shouldn’t start having children until I was done. This of course, wasn’t his business, but what I find funny about this story is that it’s one of many.
I can’t even count how many people had opinions about when I should have children after I got married. I can honestly say that I always looked forward to marriage, but not necessarily to having children – although I always thought I would have children – and I was shocked when I realized how connected these two life steps were. So many people assumed that being married meant having children, and this is a concept I have been wrapping my mind around lately. This reflection happened, and continues to happen, alongside the unsolicited opinions of others.
My conversation with my client has set my mind on some of the issues that I wrestle with as I think about the prospect of children. He doesn’t tell me to wait for children because he actually has thought it through, weighed the pros and cons, and made a thoughtful, reasoned decision. He tells me to wait because it is what his mother or father or teacher told him. And they told him that because our culture has a pervasive problem. Children are burdens and not blessings. They are financial risks, accidents, and hitches in plans.
It may seem hypocritical of me – having been married for three years with no children – to make those statements, but it is part of the process that I need to think through in considering parenthood.
If my decision to wait for children is motivated out of a misunderstanding of the blessing that they are, then it is a bad decision. I don’t want to be selfish, or materialistic, or overly committed to my plans and miss out on something that could be far greater.
On the other hand, I’m not willing to say that it is wrong to wait for children after marriage. I don’t think there are any Biblical mandates one can use to argue that case and in many situations, it may be prudent.
But, I want to live an examined life and don’t want to contribute to what may be a severe misstep in our cultural ethos.
Illustration © Kelly McNutt – used by permission
Andrew Kelley is a life-long member of Hope Chapel and has spent much of his life there in ministry. For nearly ten years he both volunteered for and was employed by Special Ministries Disability Outreach, a ministry designed for persons with developmental disabilities. After that he spent two years serving as Hope Chapel’s High School Youth Pastor. He completed a BA from a Biola University in Southern California and an MA in New Testament Theology from Talbot seminary. He and his wife are moving to Edinburgh this fall so that he can pursue a PhD in Divinity. His personal areas of interest are Early Christian Origins, Theology, the cultural relevance of Christian ideas, and theological integration. He lives with his wife in Torrance, CA. His best friend is his wife and his worst enemy is Time Warner Cable. You can follow him on Twitter at@drosjk.