Aside from choosing the right person to marry, having children is the greatest decision you will make in your life. It's an important decision with more factors and variables involved than can be put into an article. This is by no means a definitive guide, but here are three reasons you shouldn't have children balanced with three reasons why you should.

Three reasons why you shouldn't...

Because you feel pressure from others

In every birth, there are only three decision makers: you, your spouse and God. No one else should be involved. No one else's opinions matter. Deciding to have children is an extremely personal matter to keep within the sacred relationship of a marriage. As someone once told me, "No one can tell you how, when, where or why to have a baby." This includes your friends, your parents, etc.

You shouldn't use this reason as an excuse to get offended by those who toss light-hearted baby jokes your way. They're going to come no matter what. Laugh them off, and remember the three important people here.

You. Your spouse. God. That's it.

Because it's part of your culture

Traditions are a wonderful part of life. They're what create a sense of belonging and connecting with everyone around us.

But there are times when cultural traditions shouldn't rule personal decisions; e.g. having children. This decision is too important to be ruled by cultural traditions that shift from decade to decade or from year to year.

Because you're bored

You're at home. You're unemployed. You have nothing going on at the moment. Whatever's happening - or not happening - you may be tempted to think, "Hey, why not make a baby?"

This kind of boredom-induced thinking works with getting a puppy; not with making a human. Having nothing going on in life is not a good enough reason to bring a child into the world. Creating life is so much more serious than picking up a hobby. It's beautiful; it's sacred; it's serious. And it should be treated as such.

Three reasons why you should...

Because you're prepared

First, a disclaimer: When I first married my husband, my father gave me this advice: "You will never be fully prepared to have children. Keep that in mind." He wasn't discouraging me. If anything, he was encouraging me to start a family. He was saying that preparation is essential, but perfection in preparation is not.

While it's true that you'll never be fully prepared, you can come close. Preparation comes in many forms: financial stability, emotional maturity, spiritual solidity, etc. Having a child requires a tremendous amount of responsibility, much of which you can prepare for.

Because it feels right

Ultimately, the decision of when to have children hinges on how you and your spouse feel. How you come to that feeling is, like everything else, personal and between you, your spouse and God. It may come through late-night conversations, innumerable sincere prayers, or a shared simple and knowing look. The feeling may be calm, exciting or inspirational. Whatever it is, you'll know it when you feel it.

Because you have love

Parenthood without love is like cookies without chocolate chips. It's possible, but it isn't nearly as pleasant. The best parents have love. It's a special kind of love; an unlimited, unconditional love full of bedtime stories, boo-boo kisses, dating advice, empathy tears and infinite hugs. Children need this love.

They need preparation. They need surety. Above all, they need love.

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