Joy Pullman writes in The Federalist that she wants young people to know how fulfilling having children was for her and, therefore, will also be for them.
She believes women are choosing not to have children as a result of having been given pessimistic narratives about parenting, even though the analysis she cites shows the fertility rate isn’t what it used to be for more nuanced reasons, including delayed marriage and less in-person sexual activity.
To correct this pessimistic narrative she has created out of thin air, Pullman shares a list of nine reasons young married women–in particular those with just enough money to be able to put something away in savings–should have children right now. For that list, please click here.
For something a little more realistic, read on for our nine reasons young women, married or not, should think hard before having a baby this year–or any year.
1. Your Future Self Isn’t Begging For Anything
Your future self has seen the results of hasty, fear-based procreation. Your future self wants you to enjoy the journey that is your life. Your future self wants you to invest in your dreams and speculate less about “what-if” and regrets.
2. There Is No Way To Loneliness-Proof Your Life
Having children doesn’t guarantee life-long companionship or care. You cannot control the destiny or desires of your children. Children do not owe you anything. Meaningful, face-to-face social interaction is available to everyone, with effort on your part. This is not exclusive to parents. Why not expand beyond your bubble? Create something of value that inspires you to share with the world and watch a community open itself to you.
3. There Are Many Children In Need Of Homes
You don’t have to birth your own children to be a parent. Being a parent is not the only way to have a positive effect and contribute to younger generations. Kids crave quality, safe, adult interactions. They need mentors and friends. They need a non-judgemental listening ear. Often times, this support comes from someone who isn’t their parent.
4. Having Kids Is Not One Of Those Things You Can Figure Out On The Fly
You are not buying a house plant. It’s not like you’re going to have a kid, take it home, and then figure out how much you need to water it and for how long it needs to sit in the sun. A child is a huge responsibility and it takes careful consideration to know if it will fit in a couple’s lives, not only in financial terms but also in terms of changing your routines, giving up things you won’t be able to do anymore, the time you will be able to dedicate to the kid, and whether you are truly mentally and spiritually prepared to have a tiny human being depend 100% on you, among other things.
5. Parenting Is Not Easier At Any Given Age
Parenting is not easy, period. But generalizing that it is “easier” at a certain age is ignoring the fact that every situation, every kid, and every parent is different. Just because you started having children in your 20s and found it worked for you it doesn’t mean that it will be the right time for everyone else to do it.
6. Kids Don’t Necessarily Make You Happier
A study published in 2016 conducted by sociologists Jennifer Glass, Robin W. Simon, and Matthew A. Andersson, found that nowhere among the 22 OECD countries that were analyzed is the parental happiness gap larger than in the United States. Even more interesting than the results is the finding that there is nothing intrinsic to parenthood that makes people more or less happy. Indeed, the Glass study explains that “work-family conflict can explain why parents are less happy” than adults who have no children.
As Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Professor of Family and Consumer Studies and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah, puts so eloquently: “parents will always be quick to proclaim the gifts and blessings their children provide, but a more detached appraisal calls into question this conventional wisdom.”
7. Kids Are An Expense
It costs $14,000/year on average “on average for a middle-income couple with two children to raise a child,” which is a bit more than Pullman’s estimated $3,000-$4,000 per year for her children. Regardless, if you can’t afford the expense and don’t want to over-stress yourself and your potential child, it’s probably a good idea to wait. And if you have the money and don’t want to spend it on a child, *shrug*, don’t have a child.
8. Kids May Be More Adorable Than The Best Instagram Feed, But They’re People, Not Images
“They’re cute!” isn’t a sound reason to invite a living being into your life or your home. As the wise Ogden Nash once wrote,
The trouble with a kitten is that
Eventually it becomes a cat.
A baby might be cute, but it’s also a person with all the financial, emotional, and physical needs of a person. If you want cute, buy a stuffed animal or a baby Yoda. They arrive cute and stay cute forever.
9. Having a Child Will Not Make You A Much Better Person
You are who you are, with or without a child. Having a child in your care doesn’t elevate your levels of compassion and empathy or make you suddenly and inherently more responsible. Ellen Walker, Ph.D, writes that in her role as a psychologist she has evaluated mothers and fathers “who have had their children removed from their care due to abuse, neglect, or failing to protect their kids from dangerous people.” We are who we are. But–as Walker writes–many of us do tend to mature as we get older, and maturing, regardless of whether you’re a parent, usually goes hand in hand with becoming a more responsible and conscientious person.
Pullman writes, “You can either be the person who chooses to love more deeply, or the person who shrinks from that because you’re scared and unwilling to endure discomfort to become better.” In other words, you can have a child and be the kind of brave, emotionally fulfilled person only someone with a child can be, or you can decide the “discomfort” of parenting isn’t for you, not have a child, and consequently never know deeply love and never become a better person than you are now. A superior person. A parent.
It’s up to you to decide whether scare tactics and baseless attacks on your character have the power to dictate the direction your life takes. We hope you trust yourself and your instincts more than you trust a pronatalist bully.