What’s so great about children?

The Cafeteria is Closed plays devil’s advocate to ask the question.

If one looks at some of the facts, however, children can seem not-all-too-appealing
– giving birth, for many that’s horrid (such as my mother, she suffered 29 hours)
– they keep you up all night
– they crap themselves and you have to clean it up (I’d need a pin on my nose, I can’t clean the cat litter without retching)
– there is no more “alone time” or “couple time” unless you got relatives around or hire a sitter
– after they stop pooping and peeing themselves, the terrible twos come (in German: Trotzalter)
– then, until puberty, they’re pretty nice (I asked Erin the same thing I asked re: our cats (when they were little) – can we make them smoke so they’ll stay little ?)
– once puberty hits, good night and good luck. I disliked teenagers when I was one (same for 80s music)
– around 25, they hopefully have returned to their senses (took me longer, heh!). I once said, why can’t we give birth to a 25 year old college graduate with a lot of money and even more love for his parents ;o)

plus of course
– endless amounts of money (although I’d be confident that our children would get scholarships, at least if they get Erin’s sense of duty – she has degrees in two fields – a doctorate in psychology and a bachelor in history, the latter part I hadn’t been aware of. Unlike me, she’s very modest. In Austria, her business card would start like this: “Dir. Mag. Dr.”
– endless amounts of worry
– lack of free time for oneself

I put all these objections in two categories: money, and ease.

Yes, children are expensive, but the cliche that money doesn’t buy happiness is proved true everyday. Look at the homosexual lifestyle. I’ve read on more than one study that shows homosexual people in the U.S. have higher average incomes than heterosexuals. This is because they generally do not have families with children and they are able to devote more time to work. Yet the push for adoption by homosexuals tells me that many of them have discovered that fulfillment is not found in that higher income.

As for ease, life isn’t meant to be easy. Rewards come from work. The idea that life should be easy is pervasive in American culture, but it is a myth we willingly fool ourselves into believing. What the devil’s advocate position ignores is the rewards that come from having a child.

After only six months of fatherhood, I can’t believe how attached I am to my daughter. Yes, the times of getting up at 2:00 a.m. can be hard, but there are no words to describe how it feels to see her watching me while she is taking her bottle or to hold her while she snuggles into my arms and falls back asleep. The bright smile she has when she sees me walk into her room has prompted the nickname “Sunshine.” That makes it all worthwhile.

Perhaps that is why the devil’s advocate position can sound so convincing. It is easy to list the negative, but the positive is so overwhelming, it can’t be described. As one commenter on his post said, “you have to have children to understand how much your parents love you.” That is absolutely true.

Why have children? We have children to make us happy.