I am very pro-children. I love mine, of course – I have three, and am often a little jealous of families with even more. But I am also what people call “good with kids” in general, which usually just means my patience level is much higher than the average. Truth be told, I love the antics and adventures of kids and pretty much never tire of them. Even the burdensome chores are mostly a source of quiet pride and simple joy for me.
Not everyone feels this way, and that’s just fine. I think children are the great gift you can give to the world, but there are many ways to give that gift. Here are a few:
- If you want kids, have them. Have many. They are joyous. Many people have one kid and the change of becoming a parent sort of scares them off from having another, but I promise you – the first is absolutely the hardest. The change from 0 kids to 1 kid is the single biggest change you will ever experience. The change from 1 kids to 2 is nothing in comparison, and the change from 2 kids to 3 is barely noticable in terms of lifestyle adjustment. I had my third child less than two years after my second – in terms of “total time” as a parent, that means I added less than 2 years total before all of my kids are adults, yet I got to add an entire extra wonderful person’s worth of joy to my life. That’s a great deal.
- If you’re not sure if you want kids – or more accurately, you do want them but you’re nervous about the costs or responsibilities – have them. Kids are great, the costs are overblown, and the benefits are massively understated. Most of what people think are the “costs” of having kids are actually the costs of posting on social media and keeping up with the joneses. You don’t have to do that stuff. The actual cost of rearing children is much less than you imagine, once you realize how unimportant many things are. They need food, but even nutritious food is very cheap if you don’t care about name brands and stuff like that. They need clothes, but they don’t need new clothes (and buying new anything for people who change size every six months is really foolish). There are a few pieces of safety equipment that you’ll need (like car seats) that are not very expensive nor frequent. Beyond that, they just need a ton of your love.
- If you don’t want kids – don’t have them. Don’t! I will never be one of those people who tries to change folks’ minds about having kids if they actually don’t want them. But if you don’t want kids, you can still absolutely help create a world that embraces them. Be the awesome crazy aunt that steals away your sibling’s kids for a day for adventures. Be the incredible friend that remembers their friends’ kids’ birthdays and gives them a small trinket. When you go somewhere with a parking lot, deliberately park farther away than you need to if you’re a childless, able-bodied adult. Don’t roll your eyes and complain when you hear a kid making noise in a restaurant. Smile at kids when you see them. Smile at their parents. Help build communities where children are welcome additions, whether you want to have them yourself or not.
Someday, when you are old, there will only be two possible categories of people to take care of you: your children, or other people’s children. Either way, the kid crying on the airplane now is the kid that will give you your meds someday. The world will turn on the next generation, so invest a little kindness in them now, no matter how you choose to be related to them.