Most of us find ourselves facing it sooner or later – the big question of whether to have kids or not. And it’s one of the most significant and life-changing choices a couple can make.
No wonder, you're torn – in fact, that's actually a good sign. Family planning comes with a lot of responsibility and requires careful consideration. So you're on the right path!
To guide you through this important decision, we at Lovelane compiled 6 tips that can help you with this big step.
Tip 1: Make the decision alone
"So, when will you have kids?" Ever heard that question? Most people don't think much about it, but the topic of having kids is actually not a small talk topic. Unfortunately, women, in particular, are often confronted with the expectation that having kids is an essential part of a fulfilling life. These expectations can create a lot of pressure. Some women even ask themselves: Is it normal to not want a child? Or to be childfree by choice and happy with it? The short answer is: Yes.
But let's elaborate a bit: Sometimes, we hide our true feelings or thoughts (unconsciously) to please others or avoid conflict. However, when it comes to the big questions in our lives, it's important to only listen to what you want and accept it as it is. Because no matter how you decide on the question "Do I want children or not?", every thought and life plan is valuable and valid. In the end, this life-changing decision of having kids lies only with you and your partner. After all, you are the ones who will ultimately be responsible for the child.
A little exercise: It might help to write down your wishes and future plans just for yourself on a piece of paper and let the thoughts flow without being judged by anyone. Now, it's really all about what YOU want.
Tip 2: The right conditions for having kids
Raising a child is a wonderful but significant challenge that challenges us emotionally, mentally, and physically. Kids need loving, supportive parents who can handle various situations that life presents. It's not about being perfect, but it's important that you take a look around and see where you currently stand in life and whether a child would fit in or not.
A stable partnership
A stable and long-lasting partnership definitely plays a role in the well-being of a potential child. A loving relationship forms the foundation on which a healthy family dynamic can be built. Therefore, take a close look at your relationship before taking the next step. Are there unresolved conflicts or relationship questions?
Ideally, both of you have already completed a degree and are established in your careers. A solid professional foundation allows you to ensure financial security and adequately meet the child's needs. Of course, unforeseen life circumstances can sometimes disrupt your plans, but at least one of you should have a steady income to secure financial stability for the family.
As parents, we are responsible not only for fulfilling our kids' physical needs but also for supporting their emotional development. A consistent, loving environment helps our child develop a healthy self-esteem, build relationships, and cope with challenging situations. Therefore, it's crucial that we, as parents, bring mental health and emotional stability. By addressing our own emotions and issues early on, we lay the foundation for a strong base as prospective parents.
Financial security often goes hand in hand with completing your education. It can be in the form of savings or family financial support. This is very helpful, since having kids costs a lot. According to statistics from the German Federal Statistical Office, in 2018, couples spent an average of €763 per month on their offspring.
However, expenses depend on various factors, such as the child's age: the costs for a baby can be about €200 less than for teenagers. Furthermore, families with higher income naturally spend more on their children. It's clear that kids cost a substantial amount of money, but don't forget that, besides a good financial foundation, money isn't the most crucial factor – your child primarily needs loving parents! Here, you’ll find a list for the costs of children in Germany.
Tip 3: Pros and cons of having kids
What are the arguments for and against having kids? Arguments vary for all of us and often carry emotional weight. Such a significant decision should not be solely based on a pros and cons list.
However, weighing reasons of having kids or not, can help bring more clarity to your desires and perspectives. We're listing a few pros and cons of having kids, but we strongly recommend creating your own list!
- The experience of having kids is something unique and often described as life changing.
- A child can fill our lives with laughter, joy, and moments of happiness.
- Values, family traditions (and genes) can be passed down.
- Having kids can teach us to see things from a different point of view.
- Kids can provide parents with a special sense of purpose in life.
- Climate change could mean a life of crises and disasters for future children.
- Kids require a significant amount of money and time.
- Kids involve a substantial limitation in personal autonomy; life becomes very externally controlled for several years until the child becomes independent.
- Having kids can bring us into contact with our own (difficult) childhood experiences, which can potentially feel very burdensome.
- Balancing work and family can be challenging and will influence at least one parent's career prospects.
Tip 4: Reflect on the impact of having kids
Before deciding to have kids, it makes sense to take a closer look at the potential impacts. Parenthood brings new challenges and possible consequences that might not be easy to estimate. Here's a brief insight…
A future child means taking lifelong responsibility for another person. Especially in the first few months, the newborn will need you 24/7 – literally. Most parents suffer from severe sleep deprivation months after birth. Of course, as the child grows older, they become more independent, and by the age of 18, they're responsible for their own actions. However, that's not the end of it.
Parents are obligated to guide their kids through their initial education, whether it's college or vocational training. And aside from legal and financial considerations, as a parent, you'd always want to be there to lend an ear to your kids, even when they're adults, right?
Having kids means that the woman in the relationship will be required to take maternity leave for a few months, time she could otherwise invest in her career – motherhood penalty is definitely a topic for a lot of women. Even after childbirth, discussions need to take place about who will sacrifice part of their work time to care for the child. Dedication at work often requires a lot of energy and focus, while on the other hand, having a needy child can certainly be an obstacle. Thankfully, there are many forms of support available, such as daycares and kindergardens, to facilitate your planning.
Political factors should also be considered when asking the question of having kids. Climate change, war, and economic uncertainties are themes that define our era and pose significant problems for our future – particularly for younger and upcoming generations. There are now many people who, for political reasons, choose not to have children, as they don't want to take the responsibility of bringing a child into the future world, or simply to reduce CO2 emissions. Ultimately, this decision also lies solely with you.
Tip 5: Spend time with children
Occasionally babysitting for friends isn't quite the same as having kids as your own, but it does give you a sense of what it's like to have children around, take responsibility, and how you envision interacting with children as a couple. If you're lucky, there might already be kids in your circle of friends and family, making it easy to occasionally engage with them.
At the very least, you should spend a few hours alone with the children and preferably on several days, not just one afternoon. It's different to be responsible for a child in the long term compared to chasing it around the playground during a family gathering.
Tip 6: These 10 questions can help
Here are some thought-provoking questions that can help you with the decision on having kids, and might open up new perspectives through dialogue with your partner.
- Why do I (don’t) want to have kids?
- How important is my career to me?
- How do I imagine our future?
- Am I ready to care for another person for the next approximate 20 years?
- Do I enjoy taking on responsibilities? How do responsibilities feel to me?
- Which tasks am I willing to undertake (work, household, childcare)?
- How would we handle having a child with health limitations or disabilities?
- Are there still things I want to achieve before potentially starting a family?
- What do I believe a child needs? Can I meet these requirements?
- Do I enjoy spending time with kids from family and friends?
If your partner doesn't want kids
The topic of having kids is highly emotional and can carry a lot of conflict potential. Especially when couples don't agree and the desire of having kids is one-sided, it poses a significant challenge. It's crucial to engage in open conversations with each other, explain the desire for children or the decision to live a childfree life, and try to understand each other's perspectives. It's also important here that both of you listen to your own intuition and not let yourselves be overruled. Allowing yourself to be persuaded in this decision can have far-reaching consequences and strain the relationship.
If you get frustrated and feel like conflict patterns arise that you can't escape from, it might be helpful to discuss this in the safe space of couples therapy. This way, you get the chance to talk about this difficult topic in a professional setting, better understand each other, and work towards a solution in a safe environment.
If you reach a point where both of you want completely different things and compromises can't be reached, you should consider potentially breaking up, as painful as it might be. Only through a break up do both of you have a chance to live your life paths according to your personal ideals.
In the end, the decision is yours
The decision on having kids is an extremely personal and complex one, shaped by individual values, life circumstances and visions. There's no universal answer, as both parenthood and a childfree life have their pros and cons.
This decision should be based on self-reflection, open communication, and a realistic assessment of your own capabilities and desires. Regardless of your choice, it should align with your values and goals, leading to a fulfilling and authentic life. We wish you all the best on your journey, your Lovelane Team.
Have you already made your decision on having kids and are on the path to parenthood? Then feel free to check out this link: Becoming Parents - Staying a Couple