I have debated writing this post for quite some time, because I try to keep this blog very positive. However, I've been thinking about it for several weeks now, and reading this post and several others inspired me to go forward with it.
Andrew and I just celebrated our third wedding anniversary on August 6, which is why we went on our giant road trip to the Pacific Northwest (pictures are still coming, I promise). With every passing year, we are inevitably asked the big question: When are you having kids?
I remember the first time someone asked that question. Andrew and I had been married for less than a year, and I was at a family gathering without him (he had to work Saturdays at the time, and it was the first big event we'd spent apart). It caught me off guard, and I think I mumbled something about how Andrew was still in school and hated his job and was hoping to find something more stable before we had children — all of which was true. But what I was really thinking was that I wasn't ready to have a baby yet, and I knew Andrew wasn't either.
Please don't misunderstand. Sometimes asking a couple about having kids is appropriate, especially if you know them really well and are talking to them alone. However, you might want to think about the following before asking that question:
- Some couples are not ready to have a baby right after getting married. Our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) puts a big focus on families, which is a great thing. Unfortunately, some people misinterpret this focus to mean that all couples should immediately have children after getting married — and if they don't, the questions start coming. Putting pressure on someone to have a child is insensitive and short-sighted. The decision to have children is deeply personal and depends on a lot of different factors, and asking the question can make a couple feel upset or even guilty.
- Some couples struggle with infertility, something they may not be willing to talk about. I am often surprised to hear women talk about their miscarriages or stillborn children, simply because it is so common. I have several friends who have struggled to have children, and one of them overcompensates by pretending children are irritating and a burden she doesn't want to carry — though I watch the way she interacts with them and know how much she longs to have one of her own. When you ask a couple when they plan to have children, you may be reminding them that they're unable to and bringing up a touchy subject.
- Some couples have health problems or other issues that make having children a challenge. When I was diagnosed with cancer at age 16 and then treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, I resigned myself to the fact that I might never be able to have children. Ten years later, I am still dealing with other problems like depression and anxiety. While I am still hopeful that I can have kids, I continue to pursue my career, to sing and to do the things I feel I'm meant to do until Heavenly Father blesses me with a child — if He decides to. So many people struggle with other health issues that can contribute to infertility, and asking about children can be hurtful.
Andrew and I have been married three years, and they've been absolutely wonderful years. I know that having a baby will bring us even more joy, and I look forward to that day. But I also know that the Lord has His own timing — and that every couple is different and knows when the right time for them is.
Thanks for wading through that. Please share your thoughts! I'd love to hear what you think.