A reader, from Modesto, California asks: “We’re preparing for marriage, but when is the best time to have children?”
I believe that God intended for both a father and mother to nurture and raise their children unto the admonition and teaching of the Lord. Since one God-ordained purpose of marriage is procreation, the couple should, at minimum, be ready to take on the responsibility of raising children at the time they get married. If they are not ready to accept that responsibility, the couple should delay marriage until they are ready to take care of children (aspects of readiness are delineated below). Several women that I personally know had planned on getting pregnant two to three years after the wedding so that they could get to know their husbands better – only to find out, “Surprise!” the baby was conceived between the honeymoon and the first two months of marriage.
Because God has created male and female bodies to reproduce, a couple should be stable in these four areas before having children: personal, emotional, financial, and spiritual.
- Personal Stability. A sacrificial marriage requires an initially uncomfortable amount of selflessness. Yet, selflessness is one aspect of a healthy marriage. It takes time to get used to putting another person’s wants and needs before your own. So, how do children change the game? Your selflessness needs to be kicked into high gear. Especially in the young years, children will constantly want your attention and nurturing. You think it’s hard being selfless with a spouse? It’s all the much higher with children – after all, they rely on you for almost everything (the exception I’m thinking of is air, and even in rare cases, the parents may need to administer that to their child as well).
- Emotional Stability. How stable is your relationship with your newlywed spouse? Do you often argue or raise your voices at each other? How tired and weary do you get without yet having children? Bringing a baby into a relationally toxic environment is not beneficial to him or her in the formative years of the baby’s life. If your relationship is showing more bitterness and anger than love, peace, and joy, then take the time to seek wise counsel from a marriage counselor and work to create a relationally healthy marriage. It is not only important for future children, it is important for you as well.
- Financial Stability. I do not subscribe to the belief that a couple must be out of debt, have a fully funded emergency fund, and have saved for their future children’s college expenses before having children. However, on the other end of the extreme is the poverty-ridden family that can go some days without food. The young couple should be financially stable enough to support the child. Children do cost a lot, but they aren’t as much as you think they may be. If you don’t need the newest and best of everything, many other families who are outgrowing baby supplies may give, or sell the supplies inexpensively, to you. The Lord provides for those who are faithful to Him; however, He has also called us to be wise stewards of our money. So, just make sure that you are in a financial position to support another human life – and not only the normal food and clothing expenses, but medical and pediatrician visits as well.
- Spiritual Stability. This is perhaps the most important of the four categories. It is important that the couple is spiritually stable, (i.e., equally yoked). “Well, we’re both Christians, is that enough?” No, it is not. Varying people have different definitions on what it means to be a Christian. It is crucial, before marriage, to dig down deep theologically with your future spouse and really understand what he or she believes about God, Jesus, the Bible, salvation, repentance, faith, and sacraments. Since the parents should be a united force in teaching the child and raising him or her unto the admonition of the Lord, it is important that they have the same, or similar enough, beliefs on how that should be done. Additionally, men should step up here and be spiritual leaders of their families as the Bible places upon them. This helps the woman increase in security that she will be provided for and protected as well. You two don’t need to have the perfect prayer life, devotional times, and church attendance record before you have children; however, you should be heading in a path of righteousness and holiness which grows day by day.
Ultimately, when is the best time to have children? When God says, “It’s time.” There are things we can do with our bodies to make them healthier in order to help along procreation; however, ultimately, it is the Lord that decides when a person is to be fashioned in his or her mother’s womb.
If God has an optimal plan for your life, then wouldn’t you think that would include when you are born? Think about it… a year earlier or later could change everything – your friends, your acquaintances, your experiences, your spouse, when you graduate from school, etc. Many things could change depending on the timing of your birth.
Also, as parents, the child is not yours. “What do you mean the child isn’t mine?!? Whose is he or she?” He or she belongs to… God. You are just a caretaker, or steward, of him or her. So, in understanding this, it is important to rest and relax in God and wait upon His sovereign timing to introduce His new child to you.
(If you have a question about relationships you would like answered on PreEngaged.com, please contact us!)
Have you been anxious about when your children are to be born? If so, does the above post change that understanding?
Are there other areas of stability you think are essential? Comment below!
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