27 February 2012


Paul and I go back and forth about having kids. I am at the age where most of my friends in America are having children. The vast majority of my friends have at least one child, some as many as three. With 30 approaching, I sometimes wonder if I am still on track or if I am beginning to fall behind.

My mom was 32 when she had me and 34 when she had my brother so that makes me feel O.K. I remember a time in high school when I decided that I did not want to wait to be my mom’s age before having kids.

Even from a young age I knew that my parents were a bit older than my friends’ parents. I used to take pride in knowing that any time we played the “how old are your parents” game, I was obviously going to win. And, more often than not, I did.

As I got older, I saw my parents’ age from a different perspective. I saw where they were in their careers at the time, what they had accomplished and what they had put on hold in order to care for the family they so loved.

Genius that I was at the time, I decided that I was going to have four children – no multiples and none less than two years apart – and I was to be done giving birth by the time I turned 27. My reason? I did not want to be 50 when my first child graduated high school like my mom.

Well, then I went to college and got smart. My mom’s constant pestering – college, then career, then maybe dating – made its way into my brain. I thought my friends who were engaged senior year were nuts. When I had a solid relationship, I freaked out at the thought of marriage because I had things I wanted to accomplish on my own before becoming one with another.

I wanted to make something of myself and be proud of who I was before I thought I would be good enough for someone else. That took a few years.

The closer I got to 27, the more I realized how crazy I was as a teenager. If I started having kids at 30, that would be good enough for me, I decided. So, a few months before my 27th birthday, I married, and kids became some far off dream of “some day.”

It’s amazing how I really study parents in every surrounding and truly observe what works and what does not in their own lives. I want to see what everyone else is doing and then figure out if those things will work in my situation if I ever have children.

I even came up with my own set of rules:
  1. Date night, a current tradition, will be even more important once children enter the house. Therefore, date night must continue. One evening per month, minimum, will be dedicated to Paul and me without children.
  2. I will never breast feed in public. I will pump and use bottles.
  3. Babies can cry themselves to sleep.
  4. I will have help because I do not believe that I can have a career and a family and sanity all at the same time.
  5. Children would not be allowed in restaurants until they are able to properly behave themselves.
  6. Children will never accompany me to the grocery store unless they are old enough to calmly and quietly assist me with the shopping.

I realized Friday while having lunch with a great friend and her 5-month-old baby that parents teach their children from birth that when children cry, the parents will give the child whatever he or she wants in order to make the child stop crying. If the child does not want the first, second or fifth item thrown in their face, he or she will continue to cry until the child receives some sort of satisfaction.

Maybe it’s because I work with children with disabilities such as autism but I suddenly realized that I do not support this policy. I think if a child wants to cry, sometimes the child should just cry. Yes, I am aware that having my own newborn cry for hours will certainly change my stance on this subject and, yes, I realize that sometimes I will do anything to shut up that baby but this is my stance for now since I have no children of my own.


I this morning had a fabulous conversation with a long-time friend. She advised me of a book by Pamela Druckerman entitled, Bringing Up Bebe. She laughed as she explained that Druckerman’s book claims that French children are better behaved than American children because the cultures raise their children differently. Her perspective is her own as she is an American raising her family in France.

According to my friend, this book explains that in American culture, children are the center of everything and I completely agree with this statement. Children are wanted and celebrated, they draw eyes to them from the moment they are presented into a room. People tend to focus on children, change their speaking habits and tone, bend down to a child’s level.

Parents work to provide for their children. They change jobs for their children; they quit jobs for their children. They make sacrifices so that their children can have opportunities that they did not.

This book explains that in French culture, children are brought up knowing that they have a place in the family and it is not in the center. Children are taught that when they are at a table, they are to be seen and not heard unless spoken to – a philosophy to which most American children are not familiar.

My friend, who lived in France for two years, told me that all French children know four words: please, thank you, hello and good-bye.

The book sounds really interesting and, since the author is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, I believe the writing will be fantastic. And, I think I can learn a lot from an American blending into a new culture. I think it will be a great read. 


Anonymous said...

Did you ever maybe assume that your friends with children shove food down their screaming child's throat so that you, the friend without children might still enjoy their self?

Anonymous said...

Just read your blog for the first time. I do not think you can ever say what kind of parent you are or are not going to be. Your life changes in ways you cannot even imagine, even through observing other parents. I too went to college, had a career, married at 29, and worked with children with autism. I had my first child at 31 and my second at 34. All of the parents I know are disciplining and teaching their children manners from day 1. If you are going to wait for your children to be "perfect" before you go anywhere with them, you won't be going anywhere ever. My first son has never thrown a temper tantrum in public and he is almost four. He can sit through long dinners with adults in restaurants and be well behaved with good manners. Is it good parenting or his personality? I think both. I am doing the same things with my second child who is now one but he has a different personality so I don't know if I will be so lucky. If you decide to have children, you will need to throw away your rules because their is no manual with children. You can use them as guidelines but not absolute rules. My children are the most important people in my lives because it is my first job to raise them as well behaved, independent, kind adults. They are a part of our family, not the center of it or in charge of it. At the same point, they are kids and kids need a lot of love and attention. Your life cannot stay the same as it was before kids. They require time and sacrifice on your part. Parenthood is something you can talk to others about, babysit for others, have nephews and nieces, but never fully understand until you do it yourself. Good luck in your decision.