Monday, February 7, 2011

Reasons to Have Children

I had promised everyone that I would publish my list of reasons to have children. You may remember a couple of years ago that a therapist and mother of two published a book in Europe entitled "No Kids: 40 Reasons Not to Have Children." I would like to congratulate her on helping her colleagues. I am certain that her children, roughly the age of my older two, will certainly not think she meant them specifically. And just think - she was on the bestseller list too. I bet she made lots of money. I wonder what her name was.

Over summer 2009, the book "No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children" was a bestseller in North America. The author wastes over 100 pages of ink to give all of the reasons - her reasons - we should avoid having children.

This decision is very personal for most couples, and has numerous factors involved - economy, past experiences, fertility, etc. In no way do I criticize those who have chosen a different path. Neither do I mean any insult towards those who have had such a different path thrust upon them.

After reading this book, I spent some time on line finding lists of reasons that people should have children. Many websites exist, each giving numerous reasons, and each castigating the author of the book in question. The lists on these websites were all very good. However, virtually every website I found was Catholic.

Jewish families are not Catholic families. Some of our reasons as Jews are different from those of our Catholic neighbors. I thus present to you 40 reasons that Jewish families should have children. Please note that some of the reasons are in direct response to the spurious waste of paper mentioned in the first paragraph.

1. I do not require a reason. Some truths are self-evident, with no need for justification.
2. Very often, the phrase "I do not want to have children" really means "I do not want to have children with you."
3. A large part of the marital counseling I do centers around the inability to do so.
4. I live with the constant reminder that there is more to the world than the ability to be spontaneous with my spouse.
5. Biblical obligation (Genesis 1:28).
6. I remember with clarity my son staring at me endlessly on the day he was born.
7. I remember with clarity my second son coming out to join me for breakfast at 6:30 every morning when he was a toddler.
8. I remember with clarity my just-learning-to-walk daughter turning on the radio and dancing in the living room. You cannot get such memories from the cat. You also cannot get them from having the author's suggested "overnight guests" just because there are no kids in the way.
9. The requirement of the morning wrestling match to get one of them out of bed.
10. It has certainly made my wife and me much closer, if not a little more exhausted.
11. Watching my children's triumphs with joy, pride, and even a little jealousy.
12. Knowing that my children could write this list.
13. I regard replacing 6,000,000 of my immediate ancestors as a personal obligation.
14. Advancing professionally is not on the same scale as advancing personally.
15. My children will always know how to care for others.
16. Making the special "cupcake hallah" with my kids.
17. Watching the delight of learning something new.
18. Trips to the ice cream parlor are much more fun with them than they are solo.
19. Who knew that macaroni and cheese is its own food group?
20. Calzone night
21. Losing at chess and Othello to kids I should defeat.
22. Shabbat afternoon Monopoly games
23. Wintertime and the wooden trains (which are mostly mine)
24. Listening in wonder and amazement while someone talks for so long without taking a breath.
25. Trying to deliver a sermon with a kid standing between me and a bimah.
26. My wife and I go out as adults way more now than we ever did before we had kids.
27. One child has asked for his own candle-sticks, because his sister has them, and he does not want to be left out.
28. The raucous Shabbat table.
29. My kids will go to the book store over the movie theater.
30. I have no clue what the problem is for the author of the book. Our sex life is fine thank you very much. That is how Jennifer and I had these children. By the way, get a lock for the bedroom door.
31. We have plenty of friends. They all have children about the age of our own.
32. Watching one of the kids do a 20-kilometer charity ride on a bicycle with one training wheel.
33. Watching one of my kids teach two friends to read Torah, and then organize the Torah readers for the family service.
34. Gaining respect for my parents, as well as a sense of relief that I never said "I will never say that to my kids."
35. Being aware of their needs helps me to be aware of the needs of others as well, and not to focus only on my own.
36. Having a world-renowned expert on dinosaurs living in my basement.
37. The first frog they brought home.
38. Learning a fair amount about myself.
39. Hearing the story of how my eldest organized his brother and sister for their first bus ride from karate to home.
40. The pocketful of acorns that I put through the laundry.

I am adding in one more reason, as I believe that this is not an equal choice. The reasons to have children not only outweigh the author's reasons not to have children. They also outnumber the author's reasons.

41. Marital intimacy is far more fun and spontaneous when one is hopeful about the results instead of worried about the results.

Rav Sean Gorman, with help from Rav Jennifer Gorman

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