A Female Millennial’s Perspective On Having Children
This is Part One of a two part series where Ivan and I debate the pros and cons of having children. For a response to this serious issue from a millennial guy’s perspective, please read Ivan’s post here.
Ivan and I are hitting that inevitable point in our marriage where we start talking about whether or not we want to have children. We’re both 28 this year, going on 29. We're on the same page for the most part, and feel like we can swing in either direction. Naturally, no actual family planning will be taking place until after we get back from our round-the-world trip in 2018/2019.
Even though we're at least 2-3 years away from making a serious commitment, I still find myself weighing the pros and cons:
6 Reasons Why Having a Child Could Ruin My Life
1. Lost [career] opportunities and guilt.
According to PayScale.com, a woman’s pay peaks at age 39. Based on the same data, men’s salaries continue to grow until age 48, and top out at a median of $95,000. That's fucking bullshit. Not only do I have to juggle being a parent by my early to mid 30's, this also coincides with my highest potential earning years of my career. I worry that having a child would be settling, and that it might come at the cost of my career growth.
2. Children may not fit in with our desired lifestyle.
Sure, I understand children are resilient, but what if after our round-the-world trip we decide to just keep going and not come back? Is it feasible or reasonable to continue on our nomadic and location-independent way of life and have a child? I worry our kid might grow up to resent us for an unstable childhood.
3. My life won't be my own.
When you raise a child, your interests become mixed up with theirs. Doesn’t having children mean your life and choices are altered forever? That’s a scary thought; because I know myself -- I can already foresee the frustrations that comes with that.
4. Rising cost of childcare.
The average middle class income household spends more than $230,000 on one child from birth to the age of 17. That’s ridiculous. How do families manage to save for themselves and their child? Realistically, it will cost more with the skyrocketing costs of childcare and education. Prices for child care range between $3,582 to $18,773 a year (or $300 to $1,564 monthly).
5. The physical cost of pregnancy and postpartum.
Sure, let’s go there. Whenever I think of childbirth I think of the movie Alien. I am terrified of the pain I will have to endure during pregnancy and post-labor. FYI, I’m extremely petite and just shy of 5 feet (152.4 cm). Just imagining this makes me want to walk across the room and punch Ivan in the face. It’s not fair. Not only will I be responsible for nurturing a child, I will also endure hormonally tough days with no sleep. I’ve seen friends go through it and I don't know if I'll have the patience or the stamina for such a trying experience.
6. Fear of reliving my childhood.
My parents love me, but they struggled in a lot of ways and it really gave my siblings and me a lot of grief. I can remember moments I still resent or feel anxious over and I worry I could impart the same stress onto my own child. While Ivan and I are taking the right financial precautions, nothing is ever guaranteed. Life comes at you fast.
2 Reasons Why Having Children Might Not be a Total Trainwreck
1. A way to continue our story and legacy.
I grew up in tough family conditions but my parents lived through the Vietnam war and were refugees in America -- they built the initial foundations of success for my life and future generations of my family. Frankly, there’s nowhere to go but up now. Sometimes, I imagine that one day Ivan and I will have a child and he or she will be able to continue our life’s journey through our values and stories; he or she will eventually become an independent human being that can make a positive contribution to society.
2. I’ll learn a lot more about myself.
I’ve always prided myself on being able to learn more and try new things, and I think that becoming a mother is no different. I honestly think becoming a mother could teach me more about patience, letting things go, and coping with emotional issues a lot better. After you become a mom, everything else (even the big decisions) become insignificant because you can handle anything.
My Verdict in 2017
Based on how I’m feeling at 28, I’m leaning more towards not having children. However, I am a little suspicious of the assumptions I’m making. Perhaps I’m being too naive, but I think there’s a huge misconception that once you have children, you MUST lock yourself down and put your entire life on hold for 18 years until they head off to college. There has got to be some sort of work-around. If we can plan our whole life around a twelve month round the world trip, why can’t I learn to adapt to one little squirt?