These Four Things Can Keep You from Discerning a Future Family

As your relationship continues to grow and become more serious, you’ll begin asking each other questions about your future together.

Will this relationship lead to marriage?

Do we want kids? How many?

How will we be able to afford a family?

Those are only a few of the questions that you’ll have to ask each other as a couple as you continue to grow closer to each other and plan your lives together. But discussing the future with your partner can be intimidating. After all, letting your partner know about your dreams can be daunting and requires a lot of vulnerability.

If the topic of a future family comes up in your conversation, it can be tempting to let fear and nervousness stop the discernment of future kids together. Here are four fears that may be on your heart and in your mind—and why you shouldn’t let them stop you from talking about future kids with your partner.

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Finances: Fulfilling the Wants and Needs

Children are expensive. Prenatal checkups, hospital bills, medication, diapers, school supplies, daycare, tuition, and they eat a lot!

But if we wait until we’re ‘rich’ to have children, we’ll never have children. There will always be something more we think we need to ‘fulfill us’—a bigger house, a better car, a nicer credit card statement at the end of the month. But if we keep waiting for the perfect budget to have a child, we can excuse away children ’til the cows come home.

Because life happens—it’ll never be perfect. In the end, we’ll find that those material things we had to have before we start a family (money, house, car, etc.) didn’t fill our hearts, either.

Children are priceless. You cannot put a price tag on snuggling with your newborn, or pillow fights with your three-year-old. You cannot say it wasn’t worth the money when your five-year-old asks you to hang a painting on the refrigerator, or your high schooler starts looking at colleges and thinking about their own future.

Careers: Taking Up the Other Half (?!) of the Time

Today’s society encourages us to look towards our jobs their only option for satisfaction and self-fulfillment.

Elizabeth Corey writes in her article No Happy Harmony:

“The problem is not that this work is time-consuming or that it reduces or eliminates a woman’s ability to do other things. The problem is that the serious pursuit of excellence requires a self-culture. The excellence is within us and must be developed: my musical potential brought to fulfillment, my academic aptitude developed and realized through education…Parenting requires ignoring for a time the individual quest for self-perfection and excellence and focusing instead on the needs of another person.”

Granted, a whole new set of excellences can be produced through child-rearing–we are given the opportunity to become excellent parents, excellent teachers, etc.

Parenting requires us to go out of our comfort zones and out of ourselves—to love another for their good, even if that means putting our desires for self-fulfillment on hold. Children need their parents’ non-divided attention; they need their whole parent. This is not to say that parenting is easy and oh-so-perfect.

Corey continues her thoughts on mothers, saying:

“Although the rewards of caring for children are great, motherhood can also be tiring and frustrating, not to mention lonely. A woman must be extraordinarily self-assured to withstand the self-doubt that might cause her to wonder at times whether she has done the right thing.”

Ultimately, we’re human beings who cannot be two places at once. If God is calling us to parenthood, we’ll have to admit there are certain things we cannot do 100 percent, and some things we will have to say no to. But that sacrifice isn’t fruitless, and the lives of loved children are the witness to that.

The Hard Choices—Fear of Sacrifice

Our human, first gut reaction to something that makes us suffer or sacrifice something (including the physical shape of our body as women) is to run for the hills screaming ‘heck, no!’ or look for things we can do to prevent suffering.

For women especially, parenthood requires sacrifice. But labor and motherhood actually offers us the opportunity to cherish, protect and love the human being who is causing our bodies to stretch and our internal organs to rearrange themselves.

Then, after child birth, parents are called to be present with their mini-me for the rest of their lives. Granted, that relationship shifts when the child reaches adulthood, but the ultimate goal of a parent is to prepare their child for the beauty of heaven.

The reality of the situation is that our bodies are fleeting. Give someone another fifty years and most things about their physical appearance will change. Hair will go grey or go away. Medical conditions will come up. That slim figure may not be so slim.

But if you and your spouse were attracted to each other by common goals, faith, and an appreciation for the whole person, a woman’s body during and after pregnancy will not kill your marital love life.

The Fear That You’ll Be a Bad Parent

Peter DeVries once said:

“The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults.” The beautiful reality of having children is that childbirth and child raising have the ability to transform parents into the best version of themselves—and biology and psychology are helping prove that.

Saint John Chrysostom, in his homily on Ephesians, said:

“Let everything take second place to our care of our children, our bringing them up to the discipline and instruction of the Lord. If from the beginning we teach them to love true wisdom, they will have great wealth and glory than riches can provide. If a child learns a trade, or is highly educated for a lucrative profession, all this is nothing compared to the art of detachment from riches; if you want to make your child rich, teach him this. He is truly rich who does not desire great possessions, or surround himself with wealth, but who requires nothing…don’t think that only monks need to learn the Bible; children about to go our into the world stand in greater need of Scriptural knowledge.”

Through marriage we learn about loving a spouse and the sacrifice it requires. Similarly, when we haven’t become parents yet, the challenges and joys of loving a child are unknown.

It is only when we learn to love the child God gives that we can learn to reflect the immense love God has already shown us as His children.