Why Are People My Age Having Kids?

I’m doing this thing lately where I try to be less judgmental of other people’s choices. I’m realizing that the things that make ME happy aren’t necessarily the same things that make others happy. It seems fairly obvious but when you’re seeing people you went to high school with currently working at the movie theatre in your hometown, you can’t help but wonder how they could ever be happy doing such a thing. Don’t they want more? Don’t they want success and money and all of the things that would ordinarily make someone jealous when they look at your Facebook?

The answer is, of course, no, they don’t. Not everybody wants a career and to live in a “cool” metropolitan city. Some are just content with never moving away from where they grew up and taking a steady 9-5 job. And that’s great, that’s nothing to be ashamed about if it’s what you really want. One of my best friends still lives in our hometown and has a Big Girl job (she makes more money than me!) and you know what? She’s one of the happiest people I know. She’s satisfied, certainly more so than me. She won the post grad happiness game.

But one thing I will never understand and will always struggle with trying not to be a Judge Judy about is people my age having babies.

WHY? Why do you feel compelled to have children now? I’m 25 so it’s less alarming and ridiculous when I see an acquaintance with a pregnant belly but even when I was 22, I knew people who were getting knocked up. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m gay and don’t really have a strong desire to have children myself. I wouldn’t rule it out but it’s just not a part of my plan. But I think my being uncomfortable with it stems beyond my homosexuality. When I think of babies, I think of one thing: MONEY, HONEY. Babies are soooooo expensive. They just TAKE your money. They come out of your vagina and immediately crawl over to your purse and take fifty dollars from it. BYE. I feel like if you want to bring another life into this world, you must have your finances worked out. You must know that you can realistically provide for another human being. Otherwise, I think that your desire to have a child is sort of selfish. Don’t you want to make sure your baby has the best life possible? What’s the harm in just waiting for a few years until you get to a more stable place financially?

After stealing your money, the next thing a baby does is steal your life. “Oh, did you drop your life on the ground?” your baby asks you, innocently. “Well, too bad ’cause it’s mine now!” If someone has a baby at a young age, they’re sacrificing a large piece of their personal freedom. I guess this is the hardest thing for me to fathom, this willingness to give up your freedom so early in exchange for a child. What I love most about being in my 20s is my ability to do whatever I want, whenever I want. It’s my time to be totally selfish and I’m taking full advantage. I feel like everyone needs this time to be free. If you immediately get married and have a child, you miss out on getting to know yourself. I’ve had so much self-discovery in the past few years just by being totally lost, by having no ties to anything but myself. This is going to sound super freaky cheesy, I’m gagging as I type this, but I think you can only truly know yourself after NOT KNOWING YOURSELF, after you go through a period where you don’t have YOU figured out. Skipping this crucial period and going straight into dedicating your life to a child seems unwise. Shouldn’t I have my crap figured out before I can expect to know how to raise someone?

I feel like a giant jerk for even caring so much. it doesn’t matter that I can’t comprehend why people are popping out babies. It’s their life, it’s their choice to make. Projecting your own values on to other people is remarkably immature and that’s something I’m quickly figuring out for myself. After all, it’s not MY vagina. Who cares what other people do with their lives? Why does it bother me so much? Just let them live their life and I’ll live mine. (This is so hard to do with the internet though. Jesus, is it hard! There are just so many people’s life decisions laid out for you to pass judgement on!)

Okay, deep breaths. It’s going to be okay. Having a baby doesn’t mean you’re ruining your life. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid. It just means you want to have a baby. Right? TC Mark

image – Shutterstock

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • Aj

    LOL. I’m not gay, but hey I am so in this phase right now. My friends are popping one after the other.

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/07/why-are-people-my-age-having-kids/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] Thought Catalog » Life Add a comment […]

  • Guest

    Your articles become more and more vapid at an alarmingly exponential rate.

    • Casey

      I’d actually say that this article was incredibly insightful. For anyone who has hit their early-mid twenties and said to him/herself “what the *&!$ do I do now?” while watching everyone else seemingly have it figured out, this really hits home. Thanks Ryan, for saying what a lot of people won’t.

    • http://gravatar.com/nishantjn nishantjn

      Yes. :| This is now just Ryan’s personal blog space. He seems to have abandoned all pretenses of pre-screening/editing/being selective about content.

      • kelly

        I agree. Written in anger and loneliness. We’ve all been there, but fortunately we didn’t all have a populated public forum to share it on.

      • Bob Kellerack

        Preach.

  • Naomi

    Women are at the peak of their fertility in their mid twenties…its just biology.

  • P. Stevens

    I feel like I read somewhere that you are statistically more likely to contract pregnancy than chlamydia/gonorrhea/hiv/aids

  • Evvy

    I totally get this! It sums up my thoughts exactly. Every time I look up, another of my friends have had a kid (or 3). Then they inundate the Internet with photos of their child’s daily activities for the next 5 years, including bath photos (that used to get hidden and stowed in the attic in a shoebox back in the day) with no consideration for their child, who will eventually grow up and have naked baby photos of them come up in a google search when they are trying to get a job. I routinely hide these people from my Internet feed. I honestky think people forget that when having kids, this is at the LEAST an 18-25 year financial, emotional, and primary care commitment with no breaks!

  • Megan

    This is exactly how I feel (except I’m much younger)! My best friend from high school is 19, married, and is having her planned baby in a month. I’m the Godmother. *facepalm*

  • http://twitter.com/dafnyduck Daphne (Zeros&Fives) (@dafnyduck)

    Gosh Ryan, this is such a great post. We actually share the same sentiments! I’m 23 and quite a number of my friends/schoolmates are either with child or married. For some reason I feel bad for them because they surely missed a lot. I think it’s very necessary to learn how to live alone first and figure one’s self out before entering to such commitment.

  • Ashley

    Can’t agree more, and feel like this could apply to marriage as well. We’re only 25, whyyy the rush to settle down?

    • Grace

      Because some people want to settle down? Not everybody dreams of gallivanting around having drunken or coked up sex through out their twenties. In fact I bet most people complaining about settling down early have parents that got married in their twenties. Its not early. Biologically its the best time to have children. It may seem antiquated and something out of the nineteen fifties, but there are people out there who want a quiet life with a spouse and children and maybe a dog and that white picket fence. Who are you to say what is ultimately satisfying to another person? If you don’t want to get married young, don’t. But don’t get all condescending on me because I’ve already figured out what I want out of life.

      • JS

        “Don’t be condescending”? What exactly is “not everyone wants to run around having drunken and coked up sex” then if it’s not condescending? All he was saying is there no rush, you’ve gone from that to “if you don’t want to get married and have children right now you obviously only want to do drugs and have sex with everyone in sight”. Take your own advice and stop being presumptuous and condescending.

  • Nana

    Accidents and religion happens..

    All joking aside, I’m 26/f and I don’t know anybody my age go wanted kids that has them.

  • Monique

    As a 20 something who has a kid and was always pro abortion, sometimes shit happens and you get knocked up. Pretty much everyone I know who has a kid young doesn’t plan it. But you were pretty correct about the whole No money, no freedom thing. But I will just be one of those old people who try to relive their 20s when they’re 40. What am I really missing out on besides getting fucked up and traveling and buying things I want to and saving money and… Oh yeah. Hey here’s a pointer: always use birth control !!!

    • http://gravatar.com/scenefromahat jessica

      i guess you really regret your kid :(

      • Monique

        Well it’s a big adjustment but I wouldn’t change it he’s really smart and adorable and perfect I just miss going out and being reckless but in all honesty I’d prob be doing some crazy shit… But having him also gave me direction that I once lacked and motivation that I’ve never had before ! I guess I am more responsible now.

      • http://scenefromahat.wordpress.com scenefromahat

        fair enough :)
        this is the previous commenter btw

  • LeahF

    I’ll be 27 at the end of the summer. I live in the Midwest. It seems I’m the only person I know that DOESN’T have a kid. Well, besides my neckbeard little brother.

  • Ria

    Knowing what an absolute unpleasant little shit my nephew is, I couldn’t do anything but strongly advise people NOT to have children at any age, let alone in their 20s.

  • http://harrisonwilder.com Harrison Wilder

    I would say I’ve been confronted with a lot more of my true self since having children. Before it was pretty easy to tell myself anything I wanted about who I was. My children see right through my cover-ups, though. It’s like having a spouse that doesn’t know better than to be honest all the time!

    • Naomi

      I completely agree. I have 2 children myself and I feel like I’ve gotten to “know myself” better through the parenting experience. It’s a challenge but a good one and life in general feels more meaningful.

      • KC

        Life feels more meaningful? That’s sad.

    • Naomi

      KC why do you think that is sad? I have lived the childfree lifestyle too so I know what I’m supposedly missing out on, according to the current cultural narrative.

      • KC

        Of course you’ve lived the childless life, everyone has. No one said you were missing out on anything…you brought that up.

    • Naomi

      Do you have a point? Or just feel like being a troll? How sad.

  • Ronnell

    I am thinking the exact same thing and I also think 99% of those people who are popping babies at this age are by accident. So actually, they WERE embracing their youth, thinking that they’re invincible, which includes not getting pregnant. And more so, when they do get pregnant, that “invincible youth” mentality has them thinking that they can do it all even with a baby. Then when they’re proven wrong, they’re like oh well, might as well be happy with what I sown and they’re the love of my life. Well…they BETTER be the love of your life!

    • Thamsa

      I agree with you Ronnell. All the girls I know who are pregnant or who’ve recently given birth in their early 20s did not plan to do so. Sadly, in every case but one, they failed to use any type of contraceptive method. Condoms and birth control, even sex-education have been available to all of us, yet they believed they were some how invincible and chose to be spontaneous on more than one occasion. In only two cases are the fathers present and in all cases, the mothers are available to basically raise their grandchildren. Because I know these girls, when they say their child or children are the best thing to happen to them or that they are so happy, I find it extremely hard to believe that.

      • Sara

        Agreed 100%! Except for your last point, they probably are happy because they don’t know any better.

      • Ronnell

        Exactly Thamsa, the lack of contraception is the same for the girls that I know. So the real question is, why are teens and young adults not using protection? And more so, Why do they think it’s okay to have a baby when they’re a baby?

        I 110% agree with you about not believing that the children are the best thing to happen to them. I think they say that because they obviously can’t say the opposite.

      • http://gravatar.com/joshuaperkins Joshua Perkins

        As a counterpoint, all of the women I know who had children in their early twenties planned to do so.

  • Ashley

    I completely agree. Glad someone said it! Seeing those baby photos on Facebook just makes my ovaries shrivel up.

  • tarte tatin

    I agree with most of this article because I feel the same way about having babies before you know yourself, can afford having a family, etc etc; but at the same time I can’t stop thinking, somehow our parents had us when they were our age, and everything turned out okay. How is it that they had their crap figured out by their mid-twenties, and why can’t our generation?

    • Jalie

      Because every generation is different. Each one wants more than the last. Having a bunch of kids is no longer the be all and end all for most people.

    • http://www.facebook.com/matt.decuir Matt Decuir

      I think part of it has to do with the state of the economy. When our parents went to college mostly in a very strong and prosperous economy, they walked off the stage and right into an office. With our shit economy, you’d be lucky to find a job making the same amount they made, BEFORE you adjust for inflation. And while salaries may not have increased, cost of living has. It’s a lot easier to figure things out when you have money.

  • Maya

    Gah! I live in Ohio, and I’m 23 almost 24. The fact that I have no interest in getting married or having children for quite a while is considered absurd by many of my peers and it freaks me out and makes me want to live in a bigger city so badly, where I won’t be judged for enjoying MY life and not wanting the whole family and kids lifestyle just yet, if ever. In the Midwest everyone wants to pair up and raise a family, I don’t get it at all, but like you said, the things that make us happy are not necessarily what make other people happy.

    Thanks Ryan, on point as always.

  • kgb

    I had my daughter at 27 & it was planned, not an accident. I don’t think that’s a young age at all. I’m now 40 and my daughter is 14. Having kids in your 20’s is completely normal. Given the state of employment and housing today, I can understand why you guys in your 20’s look at marriage and kids as an unattainable thing. Hell, I’ve never been able to buy a house & probably never will. You’re NEVER financially ‘ready’ to have kids, EVER. You just don’t have kids if you’re making $7/hour and living with your parents. That’s just common sense. You really won’t be broke all the time just because you have a kid either. You don’t have kids for ‘something to do’ or ‘someone to love me’. Having a kid is a step in life that you can choose or not choose to take. There’s a thing called birth control & Planned Parenthood, so there really isn’t any reason that kids are having kids.
    If you’re not ready or just don’t want kids, congrats on your decision. Just don’t think people with kids are stupid freaks who just don’t know any better.
    It’s a choice.

    • Katy

      Well, actually it’s not always a choice is it?

      • Sarah

        I agree with you, KGB. The notion that people in their 20s are ignorant for having children is actually quite elitist. It’s not everyone’s dream to living in a “cool” city and have a glamorous social life and live the single life for years. Some people genuinely do want to settle down, start a family, and work as a means to enjoy that family. Maybe you’re right–maybe a lot of young people who get married and have children young still have some maturing to do–no argument there. But it’s unfair to assume that they all are uneducated or ignorant just because they choose a different path than you have. And, quite frankly, based on some of the things you have posted on here about yourself, you are in no place to judge anyone else for what they choose to do with their 20s. And this is coming from a 20-something who is unmarried with no children.

  • FENESTELLA

    love ya, ry ry!

  • KC

    I had twins at 16, so…

  • http://gravatar.com/rosiemccapp rosiemccapp

    I think sometimes young people choose to have kids because they need to fill some kind of void in their lives…you know, their job might suck, their lives are at a standstill, but a baby would be exciting! I mean some people are just naturally maternal and that’s their lot in life. It is kind of weird though – I don’t think a lot of young people really know what goes into raising a family. So it can be overwhelming. But people find a way. Better them and not you, right?

  • Stranded

    human beings are so dumb, and they are dumber in the suburbs/ midwest.

    • http://howlingvenus.wordpress.com howlingvenus

      How’s the view from your high horse?

    • Ashley

      Ignorant and judgmental. What a treat.

  • http://drnikkiblog.wordpress.com DrNikkiBlog

    Word
    Couldn’t have said it better, myself.
    Although I try pretty hard in my blog.
    :)

  • sarah

    If someone is financially stable, mature, and really wants a child—they should. I hate that you say a baby just takes your life and money because to some, a child is a gift. I agree that no one should have a child if he/she isn’t ready, but a lot of people want children starting in their later twenties. Not to mention most women are the most fertile at this point in their lives and the longer you wait, the more complications can arise during your pregnancy.

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