“So, when are you going to have kids?” It’s the classic question that for some can conjure up smiles, hope, excitement, and lead to glorious conversations of “trying” and “expecting.” For others, it’s a question that can sting and ring through the ears like leftover bass from an overcharged techno party. As young professionals (YPs), we are in a fairly precarious period, the staging area of our lives, laying the foundation for our future in a variety of ways. Not only are we building our careers, we are creating who we are, who we want to be, and seeking out who we want to share it all with (if just ourselves). As young adults, we are also at a time when biology, and thus society, have deemed us perfect for procreation. If you are feeling the weight of family and friends, of that biological ticker, or of society as a whole, to start having kids before you may feel ready or interested, we’ve come up with a few words of wisdom to help ease the pressure:
Family and Friends
They all mean well. Your best friend wants you to share the joys of parenting along with them. Your parents think that you and your partner will make the world’s best baby. And your grandfather just wants to hold a grandchild before he passes. But what many of our loved ones often forget with their cavalier questioning is that having a baby, for both men and women, is an incredibly personal decision, and one that can only be made by the person or pair doing the baby making. Sure, the ideas of having a new baby in the family or of attending “Mommy and Me” classes with your BFF sound lovely, but our lives are not fuzzy rom-coms. Having a child is an incredibly big deal, and is one of the most important events in a person’s life. For many YPs, starting a family can mean making huge changes in our current lifestyle, perhaps changing the course of our careers, and thus requires a whole lot of consideration. It’s important that we remind our well-intentioned family and friends that as much as we appreciate their enthusiasm, we may or may not feel the same way, have the same vision for our future, or are as ready to move onto that chapter as they think (or wish) we are.
While our family and friends may be reasoned with when it comes to us having children, biology cannot. Age is probably the most powerful of the procreation pressures because there is a proven (albeit not always known) window in which females are physically able to get pregnant. And when it’s closed, it’s closed. For both women and their partners, this can be a terrifying fact. That said, though important, should we allow that noisy ticking clock to dictate what we do with our bodies and our lives? Though we may be of the “ideal” age to reproduce right now, does it mean we must? The notion of being “ready” to have children is a tricky one, whether we are talking mentally, emotionally, financially, etc. Some YP parents we’ve talked to say that one may never feel ready, and that taking the opportunity to have kids when we are physically able is more like a leap than a deeply pondered decision. No one wants to look back ten years from now with regret, so many people do just that: recognize the open window and jump. This may be the right move for you, or it may not. Thankfully, we live in an age where other options are available, from adoption to the many wonders of modern science (hello Halle Berry!). So while it’s certainly important to take age into account when considering having kids, know that it need not be your only deciding factor. Leap or lay back…it’s completely your (and only your) call.
In general, society has a pretty storybook guide as to how we are supposed to lay out our lives: go to school, get a job, find a partner, start a family, live happily ever after. As we all know, however, this is not the way it works for everyone. As YPs, many of us have a somewhat different schedule, with many other versions of “happily ever after.” For example, just because you are newly married does not mean your next automatic step is to have kids; just as much as being newly single doesn’t mean it can’t be. You may not even wish to have children, or at least that’s how you feel today. You may want to make your profession, your partner, your pet, or yourself your number one priority, and that is A-Okay. Families come in all different hues and dimensions, and society has no hold on you or your happiness. The beauty of being Canadian YPs in this day and age is that we have an incredible amount of options, and the freedom and intellect to make whatever decision is best for us. So, if you’re feeling the pressure, tell the world to chill out and you just worry about you.