General Dating Questions/Do I want kids?
Hello, Mike, I am a 22-year-old college male, I have a 23-year-old girlfriend (graduated last year), and we have been together for 2.5 years.
My girlfriend definitely wants to have children some day. I, however, have been fluctuating between a tentative "yes", and a definite "no" for the past 1.5 years, and I'm uncomfortable with this uncertainty; I don't want to waste her time and mine in a dead-end relationship when we could be looking for people who share our long-term goals.
Essentially, my problem is: I don't know if I will want kids in the future, so what can/should I do right now? Should I wait it out and see how I feel once I graduate and have a job for a few years? And if I decide that I don't want kids (in the future or in the next few months), how do I talk to my girlfriend about it?
Unfortunately, most online resources on this subject aren't aimed at fence-sitting young men, so I've had little insight on this subject. Is this a common problem for young, dating men? What usually happens to men in my shoes?
Thank-you for your question, and it is a great question to be asking at your age. I applaud you for reaching out to obtain new information before making such a big decision. Keep seeking knowledge your whole life, and you will thrive. Now, on to your question.
It is very interesting that you would pose this question to me and let me tell you why. I am 31. My wife and I have been married almost 2 years now and together for nearly 4. While my wife always wanted children, I was not so sure. In fact, shortly before we got married, we both agreed that we were on the fence about having kids and decided to wait until we were married for at least 3-5 years before even considering having kids. This was to ensure we could travel and enjoy our time together as a married couple before even considering bringing a child into the picture, if at all. And then it happened…
My wife missed her period, took a pregnancy test, and BAM…we were having a child. This just happened actually as she is now 5 months pregnant. I’m sure you’re wondering how both she and I reacted to the pregnancy? Well, she was crying and not tears of joy. I was at a loss for words. That lasted all of 30 seconds. As a man, there are times in your life when you know you have to step up to the plate and show strength. This was one of those times for me. I knew we would not abort this baby because that is something that neither my wife nor I were comfortable doing. So I stood up, looked her in the eye, and told her that everything was going to work out just fine. We are having this baby now even though we didn’t plan on having children until years later, if at all! And you know what? We are both now genuinely excited to bring this baby into the world. Anxious and uncertain? Yes. But excited for this new chapter of our lives nonetheless. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that there are no accidents or coincidences. With all that said, let’s go back to where are currently in your life.
The first thing I would advise you to do that served me enormously well is to wait until you are AT LEAST 25 years old before making any major life decisions, i.e. marriage, children, mortgage, etc. There is actually quite a bit of validated scientific research to back up this premise. Here is a link to an article highlighting this if interested: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=141164708
The key to remember is that the male brain is not fully matured until the age of 25. By not fully mature, I mean difficult or incapable of making major life decisions that will last. This should not be overlooked in your situation. You are only 22 which means you have a good 3 years before you should be making an major life decisions either way. What I’m saying is that currently, you may feel confused or even against the idea of having children, but once you turn 25, you will at least have the proper brain power to make such a huge decision. I am not trying to call you an idiot here. This is pretty universal among all males, including myself. I waited until I was 29 to get married and I’m sure glad I did! Otherwise, I would have been married and likely divorced to the wrong girl by now. That is a whole different subject entirely.
The point is to not think you are wasting your time with your current girlfriend just because you are on the fence about having children. Your mind literally is not capable of making a final decision on such an important matter for at least another 3 years. Feel free to share the article and the research with your girlfriend if you’d like. This is not science fiction remember. And keep in mind that women almost always want to have children. There are exceptions to every rule, but by and large, women are born with a drive to procreate, simple as that.
If you are unhappy in your current relationship or it is unhealthy, that is one thing. However, if you are in a happy, healthy relationship with your girlfriend, my advice is to wait it out until you graduate and get some real life experience under your belt. Again, I would wait until you were at least 25. That’s only a few years away. Men always ask me how they should go about talking with women about heavy subjects. There really is no one “good” way to go about it in my opinion. Every person is different. What I can tell you is that the conversation needs to be CALM, OPEN and HONEST. This is not the time to sugar coat things or beat around the bush. The two of you need to sit down when you are both in good moods and have an open, honest, calm discussion about your future and children. You need to know if this is a deal-breaker for your girlfriend. In other words, if you decide not to have children after waiting until after 25, will your girlfriend still want to be with you? Sounds like a tough question and it is. But better to open the lines of communication now rather than wasting years of your life and your girlfriend’s life if the two of you cannot agree to that. Before I married my wife, I left no stone unturned…do you want children? If so, how many? How do you want to raise them? Discipline style? Religion? Who handles the finances? How do we share our finances? Etc, etc. These are all things you will want to discuss with your girlfriend before marriage (and children). If she is not able to handle such a serious, adult discussion now, how will the two of you fare if/when the road gets rocky in the future?
In summary, learn to listen to and follow your gut instinct. Allow yourself time (25 or older) to acquire more knowledge about life in general. Open the lines of communication with your girlfriend in an open, honest and respectful manner. Let me know if I can be of any more help. Take care and Happy Holidays!