Psalm 127:3 says, “children are an heritage of the Lord.”
If you are getting married, are newly married, or maybe you have been married for a while, you may have faced the inquiry of when are you having kids. These well-intentioned but potentially invasive questions might raise other questions for you. When should you be having kids? Is there a timeline laid out somewhere? Is waiting a little while better or not? What is the instruction we have been given?
The Importance of Children
At the October 2011 General Conference, Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “It is the crowning privilege of a husband and wife who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for these spirit children of God. We believe in families, and we believe in children.” There is no doubt that having and rearing children in righteousness is one of the most important works to be done here in mortality.
Further, in The Family: A Proclamation To The World it states, “The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force… We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.”
The charge to have children is an important one, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be rushed into. Preparation and planning are just as important for parenthood as they are for other aspects of the gospel.
Preparing For Children
We have been cautioned not to put off having children for things such as getting an education or seeking specific job opportunities, but there is a difference between putting off parenthood and being prepared for parenthood. In his same talk in October 2011, Elder Anderson shared a quote from a blog he read. The writer was a mother of five. She said, “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.”
The same can be said for fatherhood. It is not something that should be done for the fun of it or because everybody else is doing it. My wife had a religion professor at BYU who cautioned against confusing God’s timing with the natural processes because it could lead to unprepared parents. The Church’s handbook teaches that “a loving husband and wife together provide the best setting for rearing and nurturing children.” A husband and a wife have the responsibility of teaching their children good principles to guide them along the path of the Gospel.
So When Should You Have Children?
Ultimately, the choice of when to have children is yours. Elder Anderson continued, “When to have a child and how many children to have are private decisions to be made between a husband and wife and the Lord.” If you are wondering about any of these questions, take some time to evaluate yourself. Do you feel prepared to raise children in the Gospel? If not, why? How can you be more prepared? Or maybe you are prepared but simply have some concerns or doubts. It is also important to know that parenthood isn’t something that you can be perfectly prepared for.
As you think about these things, take your concerns and your questions to God. He will help and guide you. He will help you to know when you are ready to fulfill that sacred obligation of providing bodies for his spirit sons and daughters. He will help you remember if having children is a calling, then it is like any other calling. You can prepare. You can plan. You can be ready when the time comes to help your children receive the blessings of eternal life.