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Rated: 13+ · Letter/Memo · Family · #1975394
Stop telling me I don't know what it's like to have kids...My rebuttal.
Stop Telling Me I Don't Know What It's Like To Have Kids...

This is something I have heard countless times over the past several years. I am in my late twenties, in a long term relationship, and as of yet child free. Would I like to have children? Absolutely! Is there a reason I haven’t had any yet? YES! Growing up, I watched the majority of girls I knew get pregnant between 18-21. I then had to watch as their relationships crumbled, and family stepped in to help them raise their child(ren). I have watched friends turn to government assistance in order to be able to feed their children, and I have watched friends become distant acquaintances as they lose themselves to their children. All this has not in the slightest put me off having my own, only given me time to reflect on the situation I want to bring my own child(ren) into. Other couples situations are none of my business, but I will not lie. I have watched and learned from many people in my generation. As much as I have yearned for a child since I was 18 years old, and I truly believed then that I was ready, as an adult I have the ability to look back and see what a good decision it was FOR ME to wait. There is no use telling my 18 year old self she wasn’t ready to have a baby. Maybe emotionally I was, maybe even physically. Financially, and relationship-wise, I was not – as the majority of teenagers aren’t – and that is not something you can fully understand at 18.
Being the person watching other people raise their children has been difficult at times and enlightening at times. I have a gaggle of nieces and nephews, almost a dozen under ten, and watching them grow has been one of the most joyful experiences of my life to this point. I worked with children professionally for many years, and so I have had the opportunity to understand children on a different level than some people do. This does not make me an expert, only someone who has experience. Let me tell you that this experience is a blessing and a curse. At times I run into people who are so intimidated by childless people with childcare experience, it is almost laughable! I have never claimed that I know everything about raising a child! I’m not sure there is a person on the planet, no matter how much schooling or hands on experience they have, who could possibly know everything in that regard. I do not offer unsolicited advice about sleeping habits, or how to get your child to eat vegetables, though if you’d ask, I’d be more than happy to help! I do not go around attempting to ‘coach’ the parents that I know, yet I feel that this is something they suspect I am doing internally.
Relax. In all honesty, I could care less how you raise your child! They are your child! Raise them with your beliefs and traditions. Raise them to be little members of society that reflect you! I am only asking that you allow me the ability to speak on my future plans with the same lack of judgment.

It is incredible how the energy in a room full of parents (particularly moms) changes when a childless person speaks of how they intend to raise their children. Immediately defenses spring up like inflatable air rafts in an emergency. A simple comment even in response to a question can be taken as an attack on everyone in the room’s parenting style, which is absolutely ridiculous! Why can’t someone who doesn’t have kids yet have an opinion on how they intend to raise theirs in the future?

“Because you haven’t been there.”
“Because you don’t have kids yet.”
“You’ll understand when you have children.”

Let me tell you what I understand about children that gives me the right to my opinion.

In over ten years working with children, I have cared for approximately 100-150 infants (and older children) for 5 days per week, on average 9 hours per day. That equals out to an average of 45 hours per week. In comparison, in my experience, several of these children spent less than an hour with their parents each morning, and maybe about 3-4 hours with them in the evenings Monday-Friday. This is not a calculation to show that whoever spends more time with a child knows them better, this is simply to help people understand that when you spend this much time with a child over the course of several months you form a bond with them. Maybe I do not know how it is to raise a child on only a few hours sleep, or how it feels to have them with you 24/7 (although if your child is at daycare for 45 hours a week, I’m not sure this claim really works for either of us). What I do understand is the love you can feel for a tiny little person. The joy in watching their many ‘firsts’. I have cried tears of joy and pride over first steps, first words, and the first successful trip to the potty. I have laughed at reactions to first foods and new textures. I have cried in frustration over spit up and poopy messes. I have brainstormed ideas to help a child who is developing slower than some, and often spent much of my free time researching ways to ensure they get where they need to be in order to thrive! I have helped create plans to develop better sleeping habits, and get even the pickiest children to eat their veggies. I have had the opportunity to help raise so many different children that I understand on a wide level how different all kids are, and I've had the opportunity to test certain techniques and see what works for many kids!
Even after all the years I spent in daycare centers, nothing could have prepared me for the love I felt for my nieces and nephews when they were born. Seeing those little people who resemble people you care about most in this world is indescribable. I cannot even fathom how strongly it feels when you look at your own child. I admit this freely, but do not think it completely cancels out my understanding of what it is to love a child. My favourite days of all time are the ones spent with sticky little toddlers and messy haired preschoolers. There is nothing I love more in this world than getting a phone call and hearing “I love you Auntie” come across the line. I would without hesitation give up my life for any one of the children in it.
I understand that I don’t know what it is like to be a parent. I cannot claim that I do until I am one. I do, however, understand certain things that might make it easier for me to form an opinion than some, and therefore have ideas about how I want to raise my own children in the future. I am by no means saying that everything will work out as I plan it - every idiot on the planet understands that things are never what you plan! All I am saying is that I am entitled to my opinion, so let me have it! And hey, if your baby won’t stop crying all night or won’t touch the veggies on their plate, and you are at a complete loss of what to do, maybe asking someone who doesn’t have kids but might just have experience and a plausible solution could be worth it…

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