Many couples find themselves trying to decide whether or not to have children. When speaking to couples that have children most will hear “It’s hard, but it’s worth it.” Derry-Williams, director of research for Northwest Environmental Watch says, “In the short term, if you look at the dollar value you lose, it can be substantial — but at the same time, it’s like an ongoing, lifelong investment in happiness.”
Here is my list of the ten top benefits of having children.
1. Having children turns a couple into a family. My son was born when I was 23. It was a conscious choice. My husband and I had both finished college and were ready to start a family. Both of us feel that our lives were incomplete before we had children.
2. You learn to be unselfish. Being a parent is a twenty-four hour job. You are at the beck and call of another person that you are responsible for. Because of this being a parent requires that you put the needs of your child before your own. Yet it is when I am serving my children that I realize I love them the most.
3. Children enrich your life. Children approach the world with such wonder. Everything is new to them. Children allow you to experience some of that wonder. “Though dads [and moms] may initially moan about the loss of freedom that parenthood brings, most ultimately find that being a [parent] gives them a richer and fuller life. Raising kids forces [parents] to look beyond themselves, which is very good for their mental well-being,” Waite says, coauthor of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier and Better Off Financially.
4. Children are the world’s best teachers. I have an education degree and consequently took many child development, discipline, and education classes. But my children have taught me more than any teacher ever did. Because of them I have learned how to actually apply discipline. I know the different stages of development first hand. I also am constantly having to learn new things like why the sky is blue, how a hurricane develops, or the names of every dinosaur (or at least the cool ones).
5. Being a parent improves your health. Parents are more likely to take care of themselves health wise, because they realize that they are responsible for the care of another individual. “Fatherhood comes with a lot of great health perks, ” says Marcus Goldman, M.D., author of The Joy of Fatherhood: The First Twelve Months. “Not only does it inspire men to take better care of themselves physically, but it also fills them with a sense of purpose that genuinely enhances their psychological well-being.”
6. You learn about yourself. Being a parent has taught me more about myself than anything else. It has increased my patience and love. I know what bothers me as well as what brings me the greatest joy. I have had to search myself to discover what is truly important to me. And in doing so have found that my husband and children are what matters.
7. Having children increases your self-esteem. There is nothing quite like having your child look up at you and say, “You’re the best mom in the whole world,” or “Daddy, I want to be just like you when I grow up.” Dr. Gold man says, “To be an integral part of your child’s life, you may have to give up a few things that once seemed important. But once a man makes that commitment to his family, there are enormous rewards: You see the positive effect you have on your kids, and that, in turn, affects how you feel about yourself and your success as a parent–and as a person.”
8. You get to be a kid again. Having children allows you to do childish things. You don’t see many childless couples going to Disneyland or playing at the park. Because these are activities that parents and children do. You can watch your favorite cartoons, play games, and throw around a ball with your child.
9. Parents laugh more. I’m not talking about the polite laugh that you give after someone tells a joke but the genuine laughter that comes from being a parent. Kids are funny. They are constantly doing things that are humorous and as parents we get to enjoy those moments.
10. Children equal love. It is a proven fact that when you serve someone you grow to love them. Having children means that you experience more love in your life. It also adds people to your world that love you. Your child won’t always love you, because there are times when they will say they hate you. But those moments are greatly outweighed by a spontaneous hug and genuine “I love you.”