Question: I’m in an orthodox Jewish girls high school and I had made a decision that I really don’t want to have kids. I’ve worked with kids a lot and I have a lot of experience with babies and young kids and I know what its like. I’m terrified by the idea of labour and childbirth as well. Once I do have kids I know I will never have time to myself, my money to myself etc. I know this is Selfish. I’ve thought A LOT about this and even though I know everyone says you’ll change your mind etc., I know I’m just a teen, but I did consider it.
Answer: Dear Bas Yisroel, You are right, kids are a lot of work, childbirth is difficult and many people find life easier without children. Easier is not the same as richer or more fulfilling, however. I am sure that you have given the matter careful consideration given the exposure and experience you have had to date and I am guessing that you will consider it again and yet again as you mature.
I can tell you that while my own children have been quite a challenge to raise, with many bumps along the way, and even with days I wished I could roll back the clock and be “free” again, I wouldn’t trade in the experience and more importantly, I wouldn’t trade in the relationships I now have with them for anything in the universe. Without our kids, without tuitions, without medical bills etc, we could have had a nicer house, better cars, fancier clothes, great vacations, much more time as a couple, but we’d be much smaller people with much poorer lives, and far less to look forward to as we age. Our first children are now getting married and having children of their own. Life is getting more and more delicious as parents and as grandparents, and even as a married couple. We both learned so much through raising our children that helped us to be better spouses. Our marriage is for sure stronger because of all we shared and all we went through in raising our brood. And our individual lives are richer as well.
You are currently in an age and stage where you are supposed to be focusing on yourself and your own development. In a way, you are supposed to be selfish right now, even as you struggle with becoming less selfish as you mature. Give yourself a chance to grow, and think about children again later. It is not a decision you have to make right now and even if you have decided for now, it is a decision you can, and most likely will, revisit again over the next couple of decades.
I hope that as you grow, you will choose to open the door to the world of parenthood for yourself, with all the difficulties that it entails, because the difficulties are, in the end, a fair price for the richness, warmth and meaning you can find only in that world.
Please feel free to write to me again, I am happy to discuss this further if you would like to.
All the Best,
Mrs. A. Bulow