One way of doing this is to start by listing your own values and beliefs related to having children or remaining child-free. For example, do you believe that having children is necessary for a meaningful life? Do you believe that becoming a parent will make you a better person? Do you believe that having children will ensure that you aren’t lonely when you’re older? Perhaps you believe that the world is already overpopulated and that it is irresponsible to add more children to the world? And what do you believe about people who don’t have children? Do you believe they are selfish? Do you believe that they will be lonely when they are older? Or do you believe that choosing not to have children is a socially and environmentally responsible decision?
Keep writing down all of your beliefs about the importance of having children and your beliefs about people who remain child-free. When you’re done, go back over the list and ask yourself where those beliefs came from. Which beliefs come from your family? Which ones come from your culture? Which ones do you actually believe are true – for you?
Sorting out what you personally value in terms of children, nurturing, and what you believe is important in creating a meaningful life is one important step in this process.
And if you are in a relationship, sorting out your partner’s values and beliefs about having children is also critical in this decision. If you and your partner don’t value the same things in life – if your beliefs and values about the importance of having children are discrepant – you will have a very difficult time reconciling whether or not to have children. Over the long haul, it will also be challenging to create a life together that is meaningful and satisfying and fulfilling to you both.
I think I want to be a parent, but I love my independent lifestyle. I’m not sure I can deal with the loss of freedom. How do I decide what is more important to me?
Generally, there is one area that rises above the other. Now ask yourself, what is it about an independent lifestyle and/or parenthood that is really important to me? Perhaps you love travelling. If that is something that is very important to you, is it still possible to make travelling a priority once you have a child? Or maybe you value teaching children, but do you have to become a parent to do this – or are there other ways to teach children while still maintaining your independent lifestyle?
Hopefully this exercise has helped you begin to unpack what is more important to you. If you find yourself still uncertain, you may want to see a counsellor who can help you work through this decision.