When I was in college, I would have never thought of myself as a future mother. Children seemed like such an interruption to life. I also wasn’t a Christian, which may have exasperated my negative view of children. It wasn’t until after becoming a Christian and watching new friends interact with their children that I began to view them as a gift. But even as I believed they were a gift, I was slightly terrified at the thought of raising another human being.
My husband and I pushed past these fears and began to try to have children. Now that I’ve been a mom for a little while (as in 13 years…not long!), I’ve listened to many couples agonize over their own fears. Here are five common fears and my best efforts to help you wrestle with these thoughts.
1. “I’m not equipped.”
Let this be a comfort to you: no one is fully equipped at parenting. I’ve never met a perfect parent or a parent who knew exactly what to do 100 percent of the time. I haven’t met a parent who did the exact same thing with every child—that’s right, each child is different so approaches in caring for that child might be different too.
Parents are given the assignment to raise up our children in the way they should go (Prov 22:6). There are a few things in the Scriptures to help guide us (the book of Proverbs, Matt. 28:19-20, Eph 6:4, etc.) but unfortunately, we don’t have an instruction manual or set of rules that we can check off. The good news is, we are all in the same boat. The better news is God is available to help us navigate the rough and confusing waters. We are not alone in our parenting adventures.
2. “My family was broken growing up.”
My family wasn’t broken growing up in the sense of the brokenness that most who say this mean. In other words, my parents were married until my father passed away. My mother and father were present and engaged with their daughters. It wasn’t perfect, by any means, but there wasn’t abuse, neglect, divorce, or the typical “brokenness” that is often associated with families. But even with all of the things that were great about my upbringing, we were definitely broken and in need of much grace.
God redeems situations and people. Just because you experienced something hard or terrible growing up does not mean you are doomed to repeat it (just as someone who had a perfectly normal upbringing can experience extreme trials in their own family). This is a fear of a future that you have not entered. You can’t fear what hasn’t happened—God hasn’t given you the grace for it. So, instead, we learn to rest in the Savior and put away anxiety—do not be anxious about tomorrow (Matt 6:34).
3. “Kids will ruin my life.”
This is likely one of the greatest fears that I’ve heard from potential parents. This isn’t as much a fear that needs general correction as it is a heart that needs transformation. I say this as a sister in Christ and not to condemn you. I needed the same transformation. God’s word tells us that children are a gift (Psalm 127:3). If children are a gift then the idea of them ruining your life is faulty at best. Children are also people made in the image of God, who are valuable to the Lord. If they are valuable to the Lord they should be valuable to us. That isn’t a mandate to have children, it’s rather a call to transform our thinking about children.
4. “What if I lose the child?”
As the beginning of this post, I mentioned that my husband and I began trying to have children. It took two years to get pregnant and then we lost the first two through miscarriage. It was shocking and jarring for us. No one had told me that miscarriage was a possibility so I was ill prepared for this particular trial. But once I did experience it, women from all over shared their own stories and sorrows over the loss of a child.
The truth is, you may lose a child. This is possible, but as one who has experienced not two, but in the end, four miscarriages, I can also attest to the faithfulness of God. What we cannot do is dwell on a future that has not happened. So, if this is your fear, ask the Lord to guard your heart and mind. Take captive every thought and submit it to the Lord who longs to give you peace.
5. “I don’t know if I can afford it.”
There are arguments and articles written arguing for the benefit of having fewer children. Children are expensive. At the most basic level children must be fed and clothed. But in our American culture, there’s often also extra-curricular activities, schooling and school supplies, birthday parties, and on and on. And let’s not even begin with college. But there are also great arguments for the benefits of family on society. Regardless of what statistics, sociology or other research has to say, the question we must ask is are we trusting God with our future? Do we believe that if He cares for the lilies, He will surely care for those whom He gave His image? If we can trust Him, then we can also seek Him as we pursue a family.
When you have a child or whether you pursue having children isn’t something I can or should determine. But don’t let these fears hinder you. The Lord enabled us to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28); He will surely give us the grace to do it in His timing and how He sees fit. We need only to rest in Him as we step out in faith in this area and all areas of our lives.