1. Travel – Our culture loves to talk about travel! We are obsessed with desiring “personally enriching experiences”. The common belief is that you have to get all your traveling out, before you have children. You never hear people saying things like “I’m not going to get a job, because then I might not be able to travel as much.” Kids or no kids you have to work hard and plan well, if traveling is to be a reality. We also know that “enriching experiences” aren’t worth much, unless you have people to share it with. When I travel, I see lots and lots of kids. Go to any museum, beach, park, historical sight, or tourist attraction. Chances are, you are going to see lots of children! There are usually even discounts for kids! Many children travel. And so can yours.
2. Social life – You will be amazed by how many different people you meet, because of your children. It’s true that the settings may be a soccer field, church nursery, or dance class, but you will have a growing group of friends. Children will help you prioritize your relationships, and find quality lasting friendships, rather than a large Facebook friend list. However, you’ll probably have a large Facebook list anyways. (You’ll be stalking all your kid’s potential boyfriends and girlfriends!) Don’t discredit hanging out with your own children. Many people act as though their children do not count as real socialization. We are so worried about our preschoolers getting out with other preschoolers, but are we as concerned about socializing with them ourselves?
3. Romance – They might ruin a moment, but they cannot be blamed for the lack of fire in your relationship. Children are a symbol that things (in the very least) were romantic. They are reminders of your unity and they inspire you to be more creative. They teach you how to be deliberate in your romantic gestures. You’ll have to plan your date ahead of time, think about it all day, talk about it, get excited about it, and be sneaky in the process. It’s not all planning though, because spontaneity is the hallmark of children. You’ll be constantly on the lookout for those secret opportunities…kisses, holding hands..etc. The romance isn’t gone…it’s just different. What is more romantic than seeing your spouse hold your baby for the first time? What is more love-inspiring then seeing your spouse care for your child? What’s more exciting than a secret mid-night romp?
4. Finances – Before I had children I was warned by many people that “children are expensive”. They certainly aren’t free, but they aren’t necessarily budget breakers. They are excellent accountability for keeping a budget, organizing priorities, and inspiring hard work. They keep us responsible – but they also help us to enjoy what resources we have. Most parents agree that watching children excitedly consume ice cream on a special occasion, is much more gratifying that getting to eat it yourself, every day.
5. Happiness – You may hear people talking about the drudgery of parenting, but that is only one side of the story. Raising children does require more energy, more sacrifice, more cleaning, more cooking, more teaching, and more embarrassing moments. However, it also brings purpose, hope, and perspective. We know that those things are more satisfying than momentary and monetary bliss. A lot of things in life are exhausting, difficult, expensive, and time-consuming, but we do them gladly, because we value them. You could be a surfer, professional dancer, executive, author, or parent. All of these require great sacrifice, but they don’t ruin happiness. If your heart and your values are invested in your children, then they will add to your happiness, instead of take away from it.