I’m afraid that I can’t speak for everyone when it comes to children and having them. I can’t say for sure that everyone should want them, and I can definitely say not everyone should have them.

It should be noted that “parents” can be replaced with “guardian”, “adopted parents”, and “caretakers”. For simplicity’s sake, I will be using the word “parents” and be implying both mother and father are present. It should also be noted that I have no children of my own, but I have raised two autistic children from around birth to age five.

If you value your freedom, you should not have children. If you want to travel the world or party all of the time, you should not have children. You also shouldn’t have children if you aren’t willing to deal with the responsibilities that come with them. Lastly and most obviously, you shouldn’t have children if you hate children.

Children are gifts from the Gods. They are pure and innocent, knowing initially only of three things: Hunger, Comfort, and Love. To successfully be a parent, on the most basic level, you must fulfill these three basic needs for your children. Hunger is taken care of by feeding your children, for they need to eat just like you do.

Comfort and Love, though, are a bit on the fuzzy side. To be simple, you must let your children know that you care for them. This can be done by listening to them and helping them take care of their needs. When children are babies, you need to do the actions required to quench your baby’s needs. They cannot gather food on their own or even manage to hold food correctly. While they can go to the bathroom on their own, they can’t clean themselves up.

It is fundamental to understand that babies are helpless. They rely on their parents for everything. Their parents are their world. As such, to minimize the level of stress a baby has and to maximize a baby’s comfort, they should always be near at least one of their parents. This will make the baby happier overall and produce a child that is confident and able to love themselves, because they are sure their parents love them.

As a younger child, children will understand that you love them if you fulfill their needs of hunger and comfort. However, as children approach puberty and tweenage years, they’ll demand more of you. Mainly they’ll demand more comfort, in the form of shiny new things (phones, mp3 players, video games, pets, siblings, etc.) or vacations.  This is when children learn of disappointment. You tell your child you can’t get them this or that because it costs too much money or because you don’t believe what they want is the right age for them. Then the dreaded words come, “I hate you”.

Don’t take these words to heart. This is your child’s way of expressing they dislike something you needed to do, and that they dislike the emotion of disappointment. It’s not that they hate you; it’s that they hate not getting what they want. This is important to keep in your mind so that your child’s statement is understood correctly. Remember: children are actually people, they have emotions and feelings just like you do. However, they are still pure in their tweenage years and just do not understand what they have done when it comes to the things they say, and even some of their actual actions.

As a parent, it is your job to instruct a child of the right and the wrong things to do. Children, for a while, strive to be like their parents. But because younger children do not know the difference between right and wrong a good deal of the time, they will want to pick up all of your habits. This includes things like drinking and smoking. If you want to be a good parent, then you’ll be aware that these things are not only bad for your child, but bad for yourself. You cannot preach to be straight-edge (that is, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, don’t drink) if you yourself are not straight-edge. Well, you could, but then you’d be a hypocrite which isn’t something you want to do. If your children realize that you’re a hypocrite earlier on in their lives, when it comes to issues later in their lives they may dislike you a great deal. Furthermore, they may be compelled to go against what you’ve said simply because, “Well my parents do x, so screw them, I’m going to do x too!”

Children are a lot of work. They’re not easy to take care of. There’s a whole course in college dedicated to child psychology for this reason. You might be asking yourself, why would anyone want a child if there is so much work involved?

Their love is boundless. They love wholly and unconditionally when they do love. There is no bond stronger than the bond between a child and their parents. Some may say that this is only something you would want if you were missing love from your parents in your childhood, but I beg to differ. This is something anyone could want. But as with all things, it comes at a price. You have to be willing to love that child boundlessly and unconditionally in return. If you aren’t willing to give that, then you shouldn’t bother with a child.

Face the inevitable. Children will cause you stress. They will cry more times than you can count for longer than you want to count. They’ll get sick and act like they’re dying and be bloody good actors to make you question just how sick they may or may not be. They’re going to get hurt. They’re going to make mistakes. They’re going to get into trouble. This is true of all children. You can’t prevent it. Trying will cause your child to be over sheltered and unable to function in normal society because they won’t understand how to deal with various problems and issues that come their way.

While you can’t prevent these things from occurring, you CAN teach your children how to avoid getting into sticky situations. This isn’t the same as sheltering your child. It’s important, when your child gets into one of these bad situations, to calm them down and gently hint at the direction they should be heading. Not guide them. Hint it to them. Allow them to make mistakes and to learn from their mistakes. If you don’t let your children make mistakes, they won’t be able to handle mistakes on their own in the future. And then you’ll be getting a phone call at three in the morning begging for your help when they’re in their forties, which you don’t want.

There are a lot of new experiences that come with children. They are life changing. It’s impossible to have a child and to remain the same person. Even the second, or third (or fourth, or fifth!) time around, children will manage to show you new things and change who you are. As a parent, you will need to carefully balance any relationship you may be in with your partner and balance taking care of your child. If you are not in a happy relationship, you are not happy. If you are not happy, you are not healthy. If you are not healthy, you can’t take care of others well. If you cannot take care of others well, dealing with your child will be a difficult thing.

Do not hold onto a relationship “for the sake of the child”. They will grow up knowing that you dislike your partner and will become sad or depressed when they see other families with happy parents. Talk to your partner and child both in a calm and mature manner and set up an agreement for how the parents are going to split, who gets custody, so on and so forth. Your child may see this as, a battle for who loves them more, but it’s important to let the child know that you both love them with your whole heart. Talk about your needs in front of your child. Children often forget that parents have needs at all, and that they’re just these autonomous robots that exist purely for their happiness.

If you are the parent of a child who divorced your now ex-partner, it would be wise to keep your child close to you always. Do not force your child to call your new partner Mommy or Daddy. Do not leave your child alone with your new partner for more than five minutes initially. Do have your partner get involved in your child’s life with you. If your partner doesn’t like your child, then they don’t like you enough to be a keeper.

Children are complex beings that require a great deal of care. They come with many benefits which I have left for you to discover on your own. They also come with many stresses. It is your call to make the correct decision on whether or not you should have children. Just realize what you’re getting into if you do and what children need.

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