October 8, 2012

When (if ever) are you ready for kids?

by Clint Archer

To obtain a gun license in South Africa, you need to…

  • Be over 18
  • Pay an exorbitant non-refundable application fee
  • Attend a series of (expensive) classes
  • Pass a theory test on gun laws
  • Take a practical target-shoot test
  • Install a gun safe, mounted to two walls
  • Pass an on-site inspection of said gun safe by Police officer
  • Pass an in-person interview with Police
  • Provide two references who will be interviewed telephonically by the Police
  • Obtain your spouse’s written approval
  • Write an essay explaining why you need the gun
  • Pay for a specific gun
  • Wait over a year for your application to be processed
  • Repeat most of the process every five years for renewalYuppie couple

To have a baby you need to…

Well, you get the picture. Anyone can have a baby, and yet I bet most would agree that you can do at least as much damage to society by being an irresponsible and ignorant parent, than you could by being a gun owner.

Last week we looked a the importance of preparing spiritually and practically to maximize your spiritual growth. This week let’s explore the preparation needed for parenting.

On one extreme you have the blithe naiveté of some who figure that raising kids is done intuitively, like navigating by following your nose. These parents have no goals for their parenting, and it tends to show. If you don’t plan your garden, you will have a bumper crop of weeds. If you do establish a goal, it will require constant planting, tending, weeding, pruning, fertilizing, and other exertions of TLC. Parents with no intentionality in their parenting may produce a gang of hoodlums that society label as “problem kids” while the parents prefer the moniker, “self-expressive.”

This works until the little batch of self-expressive misfits end up in a Police line-up, or worse, unemployed and living at home, mooching of mom’s laundry facilities and gas money. When moms cry “Where did I go wrong??” Solomon answers bluntly, you went wrong round about the same time you thought your kid would raise himself.

LineupProverbs says “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Prov 29:15).

The alternative extreme is the yuppy couple who insists that they won’t have kids until they’re ready. This sounds prudent, except if they define “ready” as first attaining a state of both parents having completed studies, established a pair of lucrative careers, paid off their first home, and have travelled the world enough times to get their wanderlust out their system.

This dream of “doing everything I wanted to do, so now it’s time to be shackled to the inescapable responsibility of offspring,” is a misunderstanding of what really brings joy in life and the place of God’s grace in childrearing.

The balance is to be found in realizing that you will never be fully ready for children, but you also can’t think that producing progeny needs no planning.

Kids are a beautiful explosion of messy unpredictability. This fact is cause for celebration and preparation.


Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • Some good thoughts this mornig. “shackled to the inescapable responsibility of offspring” brings to mind a thought that I’ve had hammered a lot into me when first married, and it was the oft-repeated mantra of “well, you’re going to wait a few years before having kids, right?” – as if there was an assumed timeframe to “enjoy life” prior to having children. As if life could not be enjoyed as husband and wife with children.
    I’ve long thought this not only preposterous, but almost like a lie of the spirit of the age, that you should hold off and live it up for a few years (or ten years) and then allow ourselves to be “inconvenienced” with children. We both agreed to nix that thinking early on and proceeded into the “fruitful and multiply”, and a decade or so later, I’m convinved we were doing what the Bible ninstructed (Ge. 1:28)

    • pastorarcher

      Yup, many think that you need to enjoy life before kids, when in actual fact kids bring a type of enjoyment that cannot be known before having them.

  • Alissa

    I think your article has some good points, but I would be careful with some of your wording. I am a strong Christian woman in her 30’s who is career-oriented. To me, a big problem for Christians like me in Christian culture is this incessant pressure to have the “Christian” lifestyle of getting married and having kids, otherwise your life as a woman is unfulfilled and therefore you are not doing God’s work. I have the exact attitude as listed above and don’t feel the usage of “yuppy” is accurate at all. Also, just because my career choice makes it almost impossible to raise children, does not mean I (or others live me) view children as negatively as you portray (“shackled” “inescapable”). I understand that this is an article about parenting and you are showing “extremes” but please don’t be offensive in the process- elaborate more to explain. Besides, in the 21st century is career-oriented that extreme? I more argue that this type of personality might have been designed never to have children and that is okay! I think the quote of import to focus and expand on is “The balance is to be found in realizing that you will never be fully ready for children, but you also can’t think that producing progeny needs no planning.” The point for me is that if God places a desire in your heart to have children you will never feel “ready” and that’s normal, but not planning for it is irresponsible. But there are a minority of us out there that don’t want children and there is nothing wrong with that either. Each person needs to follow Christ and seek Him to decide what is right for his/her life.

    • Michael

      …encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

    • Heather

      I like Clint’s humor in this article. On a serious note, though, I’d actually like to hear a more on the subject, especially through Scripture. I, too, am a Christian woman, except I’m in my 20’s and am unmarried. I have no desire to have children, but I don’t think that is wrong, actually, I am thankful for that and think it is good and right for me right now; I trust if the Lord desires me to be married, and desires us to have children, that desire will be given when His timing is right. On the other hand, I, in no way, view children as negative, a burden, an inconvenience, or an end to freedom. My hearts desire and goal is actually to raise Godly, Christ-like, happy children that are orphans in a third-world Islamic country. I am at a loss as to why children, in America, are so often viewed as a burden. I know an endless amount of people that say, hands down, they will wait 5-10 years to “enjoy life” before they have children. Clint, in his humor, points out a more serious truth. When God tells us children are a gift, some parents act as if they are a curse (sorry for the extremity, and not to be unfair, but…I can only go by what I see and hear). Does Psalm 127:3 mean nothing to us today?

      Perhaps if we were more Gospel-oriented rather than career-oriented, more children in this world would know the love and joy of Christ. And, I’m not just saying women, I’m talking about men, too. There is a looming cloak of a lie resting over the eyes of millions of Christians who think their career will be worth something in eternity. PRAISE the Lord for housewives raising Godly children! PRAISE the Lord for women and men who still have to work to make a living, but centralize their priority on raising Christ-like children!! And PRAISE the Lord for people who adopt, and people who commit their life to loving children who have NO one in this miserable world to love them, and then showing them the light of eternity they can have with our compassionate and loving God who loved us first. We’ve been bought at a price to do something that is far beyond the value of a career, money, or an “enjoyable life” we vainly grasp for. “…do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” Rom 13:11

      Approx 143 million children in the world are orphans.

      An estimated 150 million children live on the world’s streets.

      More than 10 million children under the age of 5 die each year.

      53% of child deaths in the world is due to malnutrition.

      “Let the little children come to Me…” Mark 10:14

      • pastorarcher

        Excellent insights Heather, thanks for sharing. Just a comment on your comment… I think it is perfectly normal to have no desire for kids while you are single, and then discover a new desire once you are married. God often only gives desires and grace and provision, when they are appropriate, not in advance.

    • pastorarcher

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Alissa. Just clarify something, I am addressing couples who do want children, but mistakenly feel that they cannot yet because of their financial status. Single people will naturally be focussed on other priorities, hopefully including the many unique ways they can serve the Lord in their singleness (1 Cor 7).

  • Michael

    The Bible says a lot about how to raise kids, but says nothing about “when” to have them. This is because it is assumed throughout human history, in every culture, that if you’re ready to be married then you’re ready to have kids. Until the invention of modern birth control this was a no-brainer (and not even an option.)

    I’m not trying to start the birth control debate, but simply saying that certain assumptions were made based on logic and natural revelation. Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 7 deals with marriage being a distraction to ministry, but he says nothing about kids. That’s because he assumes if you are getting married you are going to have kids, so they both go together.

    • pastorarcher

      Thanks for your comments Michael. Interesting insights.

  • Missedthepoint

    If you need a gun in S. Africa, I know a guy…

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