Help! Converting, but don't want children


#1

I'm going through the RCIA process and I could use some help. I'm converting for my fiance, who wants to get married in the Church. He wants to have children because he feels it's a duty, but he doesn't like being around them and only seems enthusiastic about kids because he thinks they'll turn into little copies of me (yeah, right). I'm flattered, but I not only do I not want children, but I strongly dislike them. My biggest difficulty is with despair, based on observation--good people have awful children, children destroy marriages, and good people end up alone in nursing homes. Obviously we end up alone, children or no children, but a life of drudgery in diapers and soccer matches versus a life serving people who really deserve it (and I have no reason to think that time allows for both of those and a full-time career) is really not a difficult choice for me. My faith is simply not strong enough to think I, alone, will be the exception.

So, in the interest of saying "I tried," I'm here to ask you to talk me into it. I'm praying for someone to show me good reasons to want to have children, because the love of my life can't do it. Does it really come down to children being a duty to God, even if you don't love them? I'm at a point of despair, where I can't see a single benefit to having children, my dear fiance won't let up even though he doesn't seem to really want them either, and it's putting a real strain not only on our relationship, but also on the sincerity of my conversion, which is already shaky at best.


#2

I think the whole issue boils done to trusting in God. But, I'll do my best to elaborate. :)

Firstly, there's never a guarantee about anything in life. No one can say what will happen to any of us, so it's pointless to try to ward off disaster by avoiding participating in life.

Secondly, why would your own children not be "deserving" while other people's would be? God does not see rich and poor, he sees people. Everyone has needs no matter their circumstances in life. And while it's laudable to want to aid those in need, marriage is a vocation not a sideline. The reason for marriage is for couples to help each other and their children to attain to eternal life, which ought to be everyone's goal, once again, no matter their life's circumstances.

Thirdly, yes children can be a hassle. What in life isn't a hassle? All of us have difficulties dealing with the ups and downs of everyday life. There's no escape from living life. As John Lennon once wrote: "Life is what happened to us while we were making other plans". As a wise Catholic once put it, "If you want to make God laugh try telling him your plans". We cannot make nice, neat little plans for ourselves. When we do that we only set ourselves up for disappointment and frustration. Trust this 62 year old woman when I say these aren't just truisms these are truths. This is the voice of experience.

Children aren't an alien species--they're people at various stages of development just like the rest of us. No one stays the same throughout his life. We all are changing into new beings every day. Now you are strong and vigorous, but one day, if you live long enough, you will be the one drooling and dribbling and needing others to care for you. Life is messy. That's the truth. If we don't embrace life as it is, we will never really partake in its fullness.

While the Church does expect people to be open to having children it does not tell us that we must have them nor how many we should have. Each couple must decide that according to their ability to care for children properly. You aren't expect to pop out a baby every year of your fertile years. ;) You and your fiance need to talk to your priest about this issue. He will be helpful and understanding. Becoming a Catholic isn't for wimps, it's true, but it isn't an onerous burden, either. It's life lived as God wills us to--which is the best way to live because it is the truest and wisest, coming as it does from the one who made us and understands us better than we do ourselves.

All the best to you and your fiance. God bless you in your life together in Christ. :)


#3

From what you just wrote…I would ADVISE AGAINST HAVING KIDS!

if you are already feeling negative …you could feel WORSE after they are here.


#4

[quote="ChrisCrop, post:3, topic:224046"]
From what you just wrote...I would ADVISE AGAINST HAVING KIDS!

if you are already feeling negative ....you could feel WORSE after they are here.

[/quote]

Feelings can change and God can help us see how making little sacrifices for our children are the most beneficial ones. Saying that we are stuck in one negative position for the whole of our lives is to say that God cannot work with us to transform us into Christ. And I don't think that's what you mean to say. ;)


#5

I would suggest therapy and/or spiritual direction. I think this is too serious for internet advice. It's not clear to me whether your issues come from unhappiness in life or really not wanting kids or both. Then your fiance feeling it is his duty to have them does not sound good. If that is how he feels now you may essentially be a single parent in a few years should he not find fatherhood fulfilling. You say he wants to get married in the Church - is his faith important to him? I am wondering if he does things b/c he feels he should.

This sounds like a difficult situation with your conversion making it harder and I'd suggest someone IRL to talk to.


#6

Yes, they both need a “sea change” in their thinking here, which is why they need to talk to their priest ASAP about all this. And while our attitudes are set by prior circumstances in our lives, they can be changed through counsel, prayer, and the willingness to understand why we think the way we do and finding ways to change it. Most often such attitudes are based in some fear. Once the fear is eliminated the uncertainty and dislike goes with it. So, I definitely second the need for counseling, not just to come around to the idea that children aren’t a bad thing, but to discover those fears that are holding them both back from embracing the difficulties of life.


#7

[quote="Doeadeer, post:1, topic:224046"]
I'm going through the RCIA process and I could use some help. I'm converting for my fiance, who wants to get married in the Church. He wants to have children because he feels it's a duty, but he doesn't like being around them and only seems enthusiastic about kids because he thinks they'll turn into little copies of me (yeah, right). I'm flattered, but I not only do I not want children, but I strongly dislike them. My biggest difficulty is with despair, based on observation--good people have awful children, children destroy marriages, and good people end up alone in nursing homes. Obviously we end up alone, children or no children, but a life of drudgery in diapers and soccer matches versus a life serving people who really deserve it (and I have no reason to think that time allows for both of those and a full-time career) is really not a difficult choice for me. My faith is simply not strong enough to think I, alone, will be the exception.

So, in the interest of saying "I tried," I'm here to ask you to talk me into it. I'm praying for someone to show me good reasons to want to have children, because the love of my life can't do it. Does it really come down to children being a duty to God, even if you don't love them? I'm at a point of despair, where I can't see a single benefit to having children, my dear fiance won't let up even though he doesn't seem to really want them either, and it's putting a real strain not only on our relationship, but also on the sincerity of my conversion, which is already shaky at best.

[/quote]

First of all, you are converting for the wrong reason. Secondly, if you don't want to have children, you have no business getting married. Your marriage, if you really believe that, wouldn't be a sacramental one, since you wouldn't include God's will, but yours, in it.

Forgive me if that sounds a bit harsh, but it's the truth, straight up, between your eyes. :)

Think about this for a moment. Today, or tonight, at a hospital near you, there's going to be a little baby born. The life of that little baby began about nine months ago. Some day, that hospital won't be there. Neither will the city, state, country, or maybe even the earth. But that little person will still exist...forever! What you are doing when you have children, is cooperating with God in the creation of a person who will live forever. THAT is the primary purpose of sex and marriage. If you get "married" and refuse to have children (using artificial birth control), what you are telling God is this: "I know, that by this act, we could create a person who would live forever. And I know that that might be Your will. But WE won't let You do it! WE want to have and do what WE want to have and do, and have an easy life with lots of fun things that we couldn't afford if we had children!" How sad. :(


#8

#1 - You are converting for the wrong reason.

#2 - Marriage is for raising children. Your ‘fiance’ ‘doesn’t like being around them’ and you ‘strongly dislike them’. Do the children a favor and do not get married.


#9

Wondering:
Why do you want to get married?

If you say, "Because we love each other", I would say you can love each other without marrying. I love a lot of people, but I am married to only one man.

If you say, "Because then we can have sex", I would say you can certainly have sex without being married. "But that would be a sin, wouldn't it?" you ask. Yes - but only if you are a committed Catholic Christian, and if you are, you would not be in a state of confusion about marriage, conversion and children.

I am not trying to make you angry...I just wondered if you had thought of it in that way.


#10

As stated, yes, I would agree. But, God can work with anyone who is willing to be led by him, even if they start out with the wrong intention that is surface only. We cannot say what is in anyone’s heart or soul. Only God can know that. As she goes through the RCIA process she will discern if she is wanting to enter the Church for the right reasons.

#2 - Marriage is for raising children. Your ‘fiance’ ‘doesn’t like being around them’ and you ‘strongly dislike them’. Do the children a favor and do not get married.

Once again, I think you are being a bit overly zealous. Marriage certainly is for rearing children but that’s not all it’s for. If it were older people who are no longer fertile or infertile people would be barred from the sacrament, which they aren’t. Let’s let this couple come to see what their commitments ought to be through discussing it with their priest and going through discernment for both marriage and being reconciled to the Church. :slight_smile:


#11

[quote="Della, post:6, topic:224046"]
Yes, they both need a "sea change" in their thinking here, which is why they need to talk to their priest ASAP about all this. And while our attitudes are set by prior circumstances in our lives, they can be changed through counsel, prayer, and the willingness to understand why we think the way we do and finding ways to change it. *Most often such attitudes are based in some fear. Once the fear is eliminated the uncertainty and dislike goes with it. * So, I definitely second the need for counseling, not just to come around to the idea that children aren't a bad thing, but to discover those fears that are holding them both back from embracing the difficulties of life.

[/quote]

This was what struck me too. I'll give a little background on my situation. When I was young (and I grew up as an only child wanting siblings badly), I couldn't wait to have a family with at least 4 children, maybe more.

I had a hard time getting dates, though, and had one bad relationship in my undergrad years (ironically this guy wanted to marry me - so we could have sex - :rolleyes: - whatever). Then in the first semester of grad school I fell for a guy and we were dating but he never wanted to get married or have kids. It took 2 years to find out (and accept that my worst fears were true) and break up with him.

But at around the time I started dating, I was being treated for PCOS to preserve my potential fertility. I also had the first panic attacks around this time, which I have been dealing with for 2-1/2 decades. I began to fear having children, feared that with my anxiety problems I'd be a bad mom, yet I still wanted to overcome the fears and get married and have some.

Well, it never happened. And then, for awhile, I would see badly-behaved children (whose parents weren't guiding them, just letting them run wild) and even got to dislike children. I felt guilty about this and have prayed and asked the Lord for the grace to overcome it. And some progress has been made. In the meantime, I got older, in my 40s and wondered if it was getting too risky. Then the Lord resolved that question by the fact that I was at risk for cancer and had to have a hysterectomy.

So now, the only chance I'd get to be a parent would be as a stepmom, if that were in God's plan. But now I feel like I'm getting more relaxed about things and whatever His will is I will accept either way.

I grew up with a certain amount of conflict in the home, with some parenting that was good and some that was not. So this may be part of my ambivalence and shifting back and forth.

Guess what I'm saying is things can change. I'd like to make a simple suggestion, OP, that you spend some time practicing being around children, if for no other reason than they are God's creation too. You don't have to decide about your own views, but I found that if I avoided them during my depressed and negative times, the bad feelings toward them got worse. And I didn't want that.

Another idea would be to check out some various parenting books from your library or listen to EWTN parenting shows and meditate on what kind of parent you would be if you did become a parent. Again, as a mental brainstorming exercise - no commitment or decision required.

But maybe thinking about how you would like to parent might help you realize that there are many options and alternatives out there. So your kids, if you did have some, wouldn't have to be like all the other kids you've seen up till now. Nor would your lifestyle have to be a certain way, either.

For instance, my ideal, after all this confusion, would be to parent kids in a small town or rural setting, rather than to be a "soccer mom" and have an overly busy schedule. To enjoy the simple pleasures of family life without the unnecessary stress.

I'm not trying to "sell" you on the idea of having kids, but rather to help you see that you may be focusing on certain aspects about the idea and not seeing some other possibilities that need to go into discernment. God bless! :) Hope things work out the very best for you according to God's holy will.:thumbsup:


#12

I’m a tad worried that no one has even attempted to give me some good reasons for having children.

The suggestion for IRL help is spot on, but I’m at a loss right now. I’ve spoken to the RCIA chaplain and he’s most unhelpful on this issue (“it’s different when they’re yours–how can anyone not want a child???”); my sponsor is only a year older than I am and has admitted she’s not really prepared to give good advice. As far as unhappiness in life, I would say it’s quite the opposite, and Della’s post hit it on the head: I love my life. I have a fantastic career, I help people in need on a daily basis, and my worry is that children will end that. I’m 30, and my of my friends have children, and while they say they love it, they don’t make it look very enjoyable and they have little time to do anything else.

As for converting for the wrong reasons: I don’t believe I’ve shared those reasons. I’ve admitted that I struggle with doubt, and that I’m honestly looking for guidance on how to obey the Church’s teachings. I’m not talking about contraception; neither my fiance nor I are against celibacy, at least until we figure the child issue out. I’m asking for help since both of us feel strongly called to a vocation in marriage but neither of us–though I think he’s growing on it–likes the idea of having children we resent for the rest of our lives “because we should.” A child’s life, not to mention an immortal soul, seems like too big of a gamble. We’re praying on it, but I could use some more concrete reasons.


#13

[quote="Scoobyshme, post:7, topic:224046"]
First of all, you are converting for the wrong reason. Secondly, if you don't want to have children, you have no business getting married. Your marriage, if you really believe that, wouldn't be a sacramental one, since you wouldn't include God's will, but yours, in it.

Forgive me if that sounds a bit harsh, but it's the truth, straight up, between your eyes. :)

Think about this for a moment. Today, or tonight, at a hospital near you, there's going to be a little baby born. The life of that little baby began about nine months ago. Some day, that hospital won't be there. Neither will the city, state, country, or maybe even the earth. But that little person will still exist...forever! What you are doing when you have children, is cooperating with God in the creation of a person who will live forever. THAT is the primary purpose of sex and marriage. If you get "married" and refuse to have children (using artificial birth control), what you are telling God is this: "I know, that by this act, we could create a person who would live forever. And I know that that might be Your will. But WE won't let You do it! WE want to have and do what WE want to have and do, and have an easy life with lots of fun things that we couldn't afford if we had children!" How sad. :(

[/quote]

I have to rise in defense of Doeadeer against your accusation of just wanting to have fun in life. According to her own words she wants to be able to serve those who might need her more. That is a laudable intention, but she is making it an either/or proposition by excluding the idea that her own potential children might need her just as much if not more. I believe fear is what is blocking these young people, not selfishness. They need our prayers more than to be scolded, don't you think? :)


#14

[quote="3DOCTORS, post:11, topic:224046"]

Guess what I'm saying is things can change. I'd like to make a simple suggestion, OP, that you spend some time practicing being around children, if for no other reason than they are God's creation too. You don't have to decide about your own views, but I found that if I avoided them during my depressed and negative times, the bad feelings toward them got worse. And I didn't want that.

Another idea would be to check out some various parenting books from your library or listen to EWTN parenting shows and meditate on what kind of parent you would be if you did become a parent. Again, as a mental brainstorming exercise - no commitment or decision required.

But maybe thinking about how you would like to parent might help you realize that there are many options and alternatives out there. So your kids, if you did have some, wouldn't have to be like all the other kids you've seen up till now. Nor would your lifestyle have to be a certain way, either.

For instance, my ideal, after all this confusion, would be to parent kids in a small town or rural setting, rather than to be a "soccer mom" and have an overly busy schedule. To enjoy the simple pleasures of family life without the unnecessary stress.

I'm not trying to "sell" you on the idea of having kids, but rather to help you see that you may be focusing on certain aspects about the idea and not seeing some other possibilities that need to go into discernment. God bless! :) Hope things work out the very best for you according to God's holy will.:thumbsup:

[/quote]

Forgive me for quoting myself. My first post was to have gone under the one in which I quoted Della, but others got in the queue ahead of me. I just want to emphasize something which I forgot - perhaps if you decide to do the ideas above, your fiance and you could do them together - it would be a chance for each to look deeply into their hearts plus plenty of food for thought to share with each other as you sort things out. And with a priest who can help you sort through it! ;)


#15

Thanks, Della and Doc! That’s actually helpful. I think part of my anxiety is that Dear Fiance wants to be a very authoritarian parent, as he was raised, while I would prefer to be much more laid back, as I was raised, and we both know that we personally would have done very badly under the other person’s parenting style. I have a lot of worry that I’d get it wrong, and (like most families I know), screw up one or more of the kids.


#16

Well, I think two of the spiritual works of mercy is to admonish the sinner and instruct the ignorant. Not sure exactly where she falls in those two categories, but she’s in the neighborhood. But, yes, they do need our prayers. Many souls have been lost merely because no one prayed for them. :slight_smile:

If she just wants to serve others, then she should consider life as a lay missionary or a nun, not as a wife. She isn’t of the right mindset to get married. If, and until, she is, then I have to nix the marriage idea. I’m pretty sure most priests would refuse to marry such a couple if they told him this information. Most people these days really don’t know what love is. They think it’s mere affection, or “a good feeling.” It’s not. The ultimate act of love was Jesus dying on the Cross for us. No warm gushy feelings there, I guarantee you! :slight_smile:


#17

I really don’t think you need good reasons for having children. Having children is natural, after all, not artificial. When a couple gets married and enjoys the marital embrace, the natural result is children. What I’m saying is you cannot know ahead of time what having children would mean for you and your fiance until you have them. Trying to work it all out ahead of time really doesn’t solve the issue. It’s been said that 99% of our fears never come true. I suppose it’s the same for our hopes and dreams. Children will definitely change your life, but life is all about changes. In our modern life we think we have everything all tagged and planned. No matter what we do or plan, though, life will throw us loops that we didn’t expect. Knowing that is what you need to understand not how will you deal with hypothetical situations that don’t yet exist.

Having children might actually help you understand the needs of those you are serving all the more because you will be able to relate better to their needs and concerns. Don’t limit yourself by what you fear might happen. Let life be one of openness to the possibilities instead of warding off what might happen. Life is, as G. K. Chesterton put it, an adventure to be lived not a duty to be dreaded. Be open to what God wants for you in every circumstance, no matter how good or bad it is, and he will fill your heart with indescribable joy. And as those who have children will tell you, there is no joy like that of loving one’s own children. Making room for children in your heart will expand your heart, not divide it. The more we love the more love comes back to us, one way or the other. That’s all I can say. It’s up to you to trust that God has nothing but your good in mind by calling you to marriage. Let him hold you up and shift your plans to what he wants for you. If you do you will never regret it. You and your fiance have my prayers, dear one.


#18

Have you met with a priest yet with the wedding plans? Please find someone to talk to, besides your RCIA chaplain. There are serious issues involved in your situation that you need to address NOW, before you proceed with any wedding plans. I can tell you how much of a joy it has been being a mother, but the issues you have stated go beyond what anybody can tell you or convince why having children is much more than “a duty.” Hearing the word “resent” in the same discussion as having children is a serious, serious red flag for me. One that cannot be overcome with advice on a internet forum.

I think you need to meet with a spiritual director of some sort. In almost every situation when couples say they are called to the marriage vocation its because they want to raise a family. I really question why else you feel called to being married as a vocation if you are already having “resentment” type feelings to having a child. Have you fully discerned that marriage truly is both of your vocations? Or did you think about marriage as a vocation after you already decided to get married? I’m not saying childless marriages are not just as full of blessings as ones that are filled with babies, but the choice of words you have used in discussing having children is very unsettling and any of the issues you both have need to be fully addressed now, before you proceed with any future plans together.


#19

This could be the perfect parental formula of success in the rearing of children. Having two parents that are very authoritarian could be bad just as two laid back parents could be bad. However, a mix of both could be perfect for the kids as long as the two of you do not resent the two differing styles. Certainly pray on this and see if you both can find a workable balance regarding your child rearing preferences.


#20

[quote="Doeadeer, post:1, topic:224046"]
I'm going through the RCIA process and I could use some help. I'm converting for my fiance, who wants to get married in the Church. He wants to have children because he feels it's a duty, but he doesn't like being around them and only seems enthusiastic about kids because he thinks they'll turn into little copies of me (yeah, right). I'm flattered, but I not only do I not want children, but I strongly dislike them. My biggest difficulty is with despair, based on observation--good people have awful children, children destroy marriages, and good people end up alone in nursing homes. Obviously we end up alone, children or no children, but a life of drudgery in diapers and soccer matches versus a life serving people who really deserve it (and I have no reason to think that time allows for both of those and a full-time career) is really not a difficult choice for me. My faith is simply not strong enough to think I, alone, will be the exception.

So, in the interest of saying "I tried," I'm here to ask you to talk me into it. I'm praying for someone to show me good reasons to want to have children, because the love of my life can't do it. Does it really come down to children being a duty to God, even if you don't love them? I'm at a point of despair, where I can't see a single benefit to having children, my dear fiance won't let up even though he doesn't seem to really want them either, and it's putting a real strain not only on our relationship, but also on the sincerity of my conversion, which is already shaky at best.

[/quote]

You are throwing up red flags all over the place

The strain that you are feeling on your relationship now because of a conversion that doesn't feel sincere, and the issue of children you don't want will not resolve themselves after marriage, of that much I feel sure.

I will present the only good reason to get married and to have children that I know, and you will have to decide if I am able "to talk you into it".

Matrimony, which is elevated to a sacrament in the Catholic church, is a covenant in which the man and woman establish a lifetime partnership for the purpose of procreating and raising of children.

That is what it's meant to be. If you don't believe that, or don't like it, or want to change it around, that's not a Catholic marriage. You can rightly argue that you see married Catholics all over the place who don't behave this way in their marriage, but that's them. This is you.

Pray, not that you are talked into anything by people here, but that you will be open to understand the right path for you as a couple.


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