I have five living kids at home, and would have an additonal six year old girl with Down Syndrome had she not died after a failed heart surgery. I also have a pretty odd mix of friends, most of whom don’t have a family anywhere near my size, so I get asked a lot of questions about raising a large family. The most common questions come from younger couples asking about when the right, perfect time is to start a family.
And well…there isn’t one.
Someone might tell you to at least wait till after high school, which sounds like pretty good advice. After all, you probably aren’t married in high school, need to finish your diploma, and let’s be honest, most high schoolers don’t think through such life altering choices as having a baby.
Yet I know a few families that were high school sweethearts that married in or pretty near to high school graduation. My mom was one of them. She was married at 18 to my dad (who was graduating college and 4 years her senior) and somehow managed to successfully raise three kids while traveling the world with a Marine Corps officer. Compare that with too many of today’s graduates that can barely write English papers and brag about doing their laundry only a few days late with hashtag adulting on social media. Perhaps that says more about the current state of education than family planning though.
We could pick more times: after you finish your degree, after to start your first job, after you “settle down” (whatever that means), or after you are “ready” (seriously, what the heck does that mean??). But every time you try to nail down a right time, you’ll find lots of counter examples of people starting families that don’t follow that logic that come out just fine.
Which is why there isn’t a perfect time to start a family. Sadly, I see too many good, family-oriented couples searching for the perfect time to start a family. Many of them pray over it, but their prayers revolve around asking God to tell them when to start a family, like they expect some booming voice to emanate from the clouds declaring “Have intercourse at 6:35 pm on July 12th!” or some other nonsense like that. This delay and worry is part of the reason people are waiting later and later to start families, which makes it harder to have children as your biological clock only runs at full tilt for so long.
The recent SCOTUS decision is likely making many couples revisit this question. Abortion and contraception make it appear to give us control of when we have children. Neither does, or certainly doesn’t without consequences. Accepting the challenges, and the joys, of having a family will mean accepting it on the timeline that it comes to you.
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