I just gave birth to a sweet baby girl (thus the hiatus in blog post production—my apologies). Our little one is a blessing, but she is also my biggest challenge yet.
I never thought I would be one to get married so quickly (click to read about that story), and I had similar expectations with having my first baby.
But here we are with our first baby, months away from our second anniversary. We’re waiting for my husband to finish his bachelor’s program and living in a tiny on-campus apartment. And frankly, we’re dirt poor.
The arrival of our sweet little one in what might be considered untimely circumstances has inspired many to ask us: “How did you decide it was time to have kids?” Most of the people who have asked this question are also young couples; many are openly considering having children and wanted to pick our brains as they are asking themselves the same question.
Well, I’ll tell you, but in order to give a proper answer, I must first address the bigger question: When is it God’s time for you to have kids? What does He say about it?
When Does God Say Is the Right Time to Have Children?
For your convenience, I have accumulated some of the most important words of divine counsel that impacted me when I asked myself this same question. I endorse these sources as recommended reading for anyone, but particularly for married couples who have not yet decided to begin trying to have children.
I do not intend to place guilt on those who are already trying unsuccessfully, thus far, to have children.
It is essential to first remember that the “first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. [Modern prophets and apostles] declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
I have heard many say that people (especially women) need to achieve certain personal goals before having children. (E.g., claims that one must achieve X level of education before having children, or attitudes of superiority over a parent who went straight to full-time parenting.) That manner of thinking might indicate that you prioritize other, worldly things before family and God’s command, and that you have fallen for Satan’s lies:
Satan seeks… to discourage childbearing (especially by parents who will raise children in righteousness).Elder Oaks, October 1993 General Conference
But wait!, you might ask, when is waiting or choosing to not have children a good idea? Surely there are times when it’s best to not have children (besides out of wedlock, of course)!
I actually discovered the best answer to this question in the Gospel Topics essay titled, “Birth Control:”
Those who are physically able have the blessing, joy, and obligation to bear children and to raise a family. This blessing should not be postponed for selfish reasons. …
Husband and wife are encouraged to pray and counsel together as they plan their families. Issues to consider include the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life for their children.
Decisions about birth control and the consequences of those decisions rest solely with each married couple. Elective abortion as a method of birth control, however, is contrary to the commandments of God.”Birth Control”, Gospel Topics
The part that stands out to me is “selfish reasons.” Ask yourself: is your reason to postpone childbearing actually a reflection of a selfish desire?
Most importantly, I wish to reiterate the words of Elder Anderson:
Ultimately, the decision is personal, between you and the Lord. It is not my job (or anyone else’s!) to say when you should have children—nor is it any of your business to know why we decided to have a baby when we did.
On that note, I’ll tell you my story! (Okay, at least a little slice of the story.)
How Did We Know It Was the Right Time to Have Kids?
For both Matt and me, it was a gradual decision. We already knew we wanted some number of children at some time. However, we also had concerns about adding to our family so soon, and we had to address each of them thoughtfully, as a couple and individually, and in prayer.
We analyzed each concern one by one, asking ourselves questions like the following:
- What are my reasons to wait?
- For each reason to wait, what is at its root: faith or fear? Is it a concern I have because I don’t trust God, or because I’m really trying to do what He wants?
- Is this reason a rationalization?
- If this reason is not rooted in fear, and it is not a rationalization, what can I do to resolve this concern? How can I begin now to remove or diminish it as a valid concern?
After answering these questions, we could then place each concern into one of the following categories:
- Not a valid reason to wait
- A valid reason to wait
- If a concern fell into this category, we had to ask ourselves: can it be resolved? How can we begin now to resolve that concern?
For instance: Money
For example, money was a concern for us. We were both paying for school and working part-time. We worked hard to budget our money, but our expenses were very high, especially with diabetes costs.
How would we be able to afford a child?
However, with prayer, study, and reflection, we decided that this concern was, for us, not a valid reason to wait.
We had already learned that money was something we could trust the Lord to figure out. We remembered that He had cared for us when we couldn’t afford a place to live for several weeks between our wedding and when we moved back to school; He had blessed us with a cheaper situation and nicer place to live than we ever could have imagined.
Of course, we knew there were things we could and should do to be financially prepared; we worked hard at our jobs to ensure maximum income, practiced self-control in our spending, and tried to put aside just a little each month into savings.
It took some time to come to this conclusion. It took even more time to come to—and accept—conclusions about other concerns we had.
Most of the concerns we had required little or nothing to be resolved, other than to acknowledge that we could move forward with faith, not fear. There were a couple things we needed to address to prepare us to have children. We gained the faith to tackle these concerns and actively prepare ourselves.
Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.Doctrine and Covenants 88:63
I can’t tell you when to have children or how many. You can’t tell me, either!
But I feel confident in testifying that, no matter who you are, in whatever walk of life, wherever you are in readiness to have children, the most important thing is to stay close and get closer to God at all times. As you immerse yourself in His word and in prayer, He will have greater power in your life, and you will have greater ability to understand what He wishes for you and your family.
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