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Should We Have Children?

Should We Have Children?

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Question:

My wife and I long ago decided against having children. We are happy with our lives and don't feel that we need the added burden of parenthood. But recently we saw a documentary about a Jewish family with 17 kids, and it got us talking. Although my opinion hasn't changed, my wife is not so sure. What do you suggest?

Answer:

My suggestion: do not delay having children any longer. You owe it to yourself, your future children, your parents, the universe and G‑d.

For yourself: A parent experiences boundless love. While you can love your spouse deeply, the unconditional and uncontrollable love for a child is unmatched in creation. And the miracle of watching an embryo become a live being with feelings, needs and a personality that is an extension of yours is an experience that no one should choose to miss.

For your future children: Although we only meet them when they are born, our children's souls are waiting in a celestial transit area for their time to come down to earth. There are souls that are destined to be parented by you and your wife, eagerly awaiting their chance to be born. I can almost hear them egging you on, hoping that your decision will turn in their favor.

For your parents: You can only appreciate all that your parents did for you by in turn doing the same for your child. And the best "thank you" you can give your parents is giving them grandchildren.

For the universe: Our parents may not have been perfect, but whoever they were, they bothered to bring us into this world. And they were brought into this world by parents who were willing to go through the same thing, and so on throughout the ages. The fact that we are here is a result of countless generations of procreation. They have given us the greatest gift of all — the gift of life. Are you honestly saying that you are willing to break this chain of giving in order to maintain your current lifestyle?

For G‑d: For whatever reason, G‑d wants us to feel what it's like to be like Him. So He invested in us the power of creation. The drive to procreate is the most powerful instinct because it is the most G‑dlike. G‑d has offered to share His divinity with you by becoming a parent. Will you turn down such an offer?

Sadly there are those who for medical or circumstantial reasons are presently unable to become parents. They can find other means to bring love and life to the world, and many of the world's greatest souls were childless. But if you do have the option, can you possibly pass up the chance to participate in the most profound act of love that a human can achieve?

Parenthood means sleepless nights and a major lifestyle adjustment, but it is the most humbling and rewarding adjustment you will ever make.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Anonymous Brooklyn December 30, 2014

"You may not believe that souls wait in celestial transit to be born, and that is fine."

Who knows? Lets say that they do for the moment. But they can't possibly be having a worse time of it than all the living breathing children in orphanages who are waiting to be adopted. Giving children without parents a loving home is clearly a far more urgent priority than creating more children, no matter hoe G-dlike that may make us feel. Reply

Yevgeniy Furman Springfield December 29, 2014

That's a bizarre comment. Even if I subscribe to your logic, humans need to procreate to be around to find our "place in the universe". What about animals? I am sure my pet turtle has figured out its place in the universe Reply

Anonymous December 4, 2014

Procreation is selfish, anyway you look at it at least so far. Bring another human being to the world without their consent, and he/she will possibly be exposed to everything bad this world offers, and finally death. Why? What gives us the right? We still do not understand our place in this universe, the reason why we are here. Until we resolve this, then we need to stop procreating and stop causing harm.
But imagine we stopped reproducing and went extinct. It would not matter to the universe, at all. Universe would go on the way it always has. Reply

OK Arlington October 19, 2014

Geez, way to make single people without kids feel bad about themselves.
I think Orthodox Jews take having kids too far. Having 10 kids and going on food stamps is not a responsible way to behave.

With the overpopulation of the Earth, it's also necessary for not everyone to have kids, so from an ecological standpoint, kids aren't necessary.

I think it's a bigger problem to have kids born to parents who don't want them. To me the miracle of birth is parents who want kids having them: Not people having kids at the wrong age (orthodox people have them at age 19), or doing it because they think they're supposed to.

I also think it's a rabbi's place to tell someone else whether they should or shouldn't have kids. The miracle is people deciding for themselves. Reply

OK Arlington October 19, 2014

Geez Way to make people who don't have kids feel bad about themselves! Reply

Mikhael Rozenblyum New York August 14, 2014

I think there are enough children in the world without parents. Why not just adopt? Reply

Anonymous October 2, 2013

Unconditional Love I appreciate the rabbi's comment. I am a 33 yr old woman and I plan to marry. As much as i love my fiance, I am keen to experience the unconditional love coming from having children and having children is absolutely part of the marriage equation - to me. Reply

Stoicgirl March 14, 2013

What constitutes a selfish choice? Frankly, I think its selfish to have 17 kids. I mean, lets just pretend that a couple can actually materially afford to raise 17 hungry mouths and growing bodies, providing them with adequate medical care and decent education, social activities, and setting them up with future educational and work opportunities. Lets say that's possible.
Now, can the state to which those children have been born afford the population increase and its impacts on infrastructure, public health, and the education system. Are there enough affordable houses for 17 future families? Are there 17 decent jobs in this economy? And how many children will those 17 kids have?
We are long past the time of small tribes wandering in an endless, open land. We don't need to all be Abrahams. Reply

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein Chabad.org June 22, 2012

To So Sad Doubtless this question has a major effect on people's lives. That's why in weighing one's decision on it, it is good to look beyond only the immediate and personal ramifications to the broader consequences. I believe that was the gist of Rabbi Moss's response. You may not believe that souls wait in celestial transit to be born, and that is fine. The questioner directed his question to a rabbi because he wanted to hear the teachings of our tradition on this matter, and that is what Rabbi Moss offered him. I hope that in your own considerations on whether to have children, you too will think about the universal and spiritual benefits elucidated by the Torah from this momentous decision. In my experience, the Torah's teachings result in true enlightenment and satisfaction in real life. Reply

Anonymous los angeles June 5, 2012

So sad What an obnoxious response to a difficult question by someone who has no business giving advice to anyone. People shouldn't be guilted or bullied into having children because their "unborn kids are waiting in celestial transit." Please! This is a real question with practical, real-life implications that should be weighted carefully. Failed marriages and/or bad parents are the result of such flippant answers. Not everyone does or should choose the path of parenthood, despite what generations before them have done. We live in an enlightened age where people can make choices that are best for them, and that may be maintaining a lifestyle without children. That said, my wife and I are both currently struggling with the same choice, both of us on the fence. We fear future regret of whichever choice we make, though feelings in the future are tough to predict. I've been mediating on the idea and feel confident we'll come to the right decision for us, as will this person. Good luck! Reply

Pascale January 25, 2012

Please... They did mention in the first place that they did not want kids in first place... So, why try to insist that much and make them feel guilty about their decision, when, visibly, they analysed the pros and cons and decided it is not for them? Reply

momof3 Fairfax July 28, 2011

Don't have kids When you have children, there is no time for yourself, your spouse, nor selfless volunteering hours for abandoned kids. Having children makes you become selfish. There is less money to donate, because you now have a mouth to feed. If a couple does not want to have children, they shouldn't. It's a daunting task. There is a lot of stress, sleepless nights, and arguments with partner about rearing children. Reply

Anonymous Rockville, MD November 2, 2010

please... what if you don't feel this boundless love? there are plenty who don't.

you can't do it for your future children if they don't exist....

why do it for your parents? not a very good reason....one should do it for themselves, and themselves alone.

why care of this generation of procreation?yes, it is amazing and sure it's happened countless times, but why do it for that?
it's only an interest, not a reason

god also gave us the choice. us, unlike all animals, have the choice to procreate. I say it's up to us. Reply

Anonymous September 7, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Choice G-d gives a choice for everything, it's up to us to do the right thing. Just like He gave us the choice of to steal or not to steal, along with telling us not to, He also gave the choice of having kids, along with the commandment to have kids. Reply

Jules Nayarit, Mexico May 7, 2009

Marriage = Family I'm a 33 year old man, married with 6 children, and this topic is too deep to clear out in a post. :)

I think if somebody decides to marry o get together with the opposite sex is mainly because of a plan to give birth to a family. We all have a mission to accomplish in this life; some are to marry and have children, some are to marry and won't have children, or others are to stay single. It's all about our vocation I believe.

But, when a couple decides to marry, then they must realize how big the package is, people tend to want only a portion of that package of marrying, choosing not to have children, thus creating a situation which could bring damage and frustration to the relationship in the future.

Children demand parents attention, so parents ought to truly understand this if they work outside home too much, parent's love and care cannot be substituted by a daycare.

So, keep in mind that marriage is a vocation we freely choose as part of our mission in life. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI March 18, 2007

Children or No Children? If you and your wife decided NOT to have children, your reasons were neither wrong nor stupid. Parenthood is NOT a burden - it's a responsibility not everyone is equipped to handle. There's a lot of stress involved with raising children and maybe you and your wife feel it would be just too much for you.

It's true that we see, hear and read about families with more than a dozen children, and my first question is how they can come up with enough money to afford to care for them - especially if there's no outside help. In your case, if you change your minds, don't have more than 1 or 2 children at the most!

No matter what decision the two of you make, don't make it too quickly. Reply

Anonymous houston, Tx March 10, 2007

fulfilled and childless I am a 35 year old woman that has no children. I do not agree with the writen advice by the rabbi. However noble and beautiful and selfless it "sounds" to have children, its still not a choice for me. I am glad for all the wonderful things birthing children has done for people. My point is this, what are these self-fulfilled/selfless parents doing for the children that are parentless in the world? I spend every other weekend with parentless and throw away kids inside detention centers. I have found that I am a "mother" to many children and had I children of my own, I would be mad, raving mad that any "parent" could live comfortable knowing that other children have been treated as refuse. I'm glad that I have not been "self-fulfilled" so that I may have the sensitivity to be "others fulfilled" not through my biological potentials but because G-d needs my heart inside detention centers. I would be a sad woman if I had 10 children and would care less for the orphans...very sad! Reply

Yosef Feldman Sydney, Australia March 8, 2007

children It should always be remembered that the ultimate reason of any Mitzvah (commandment) especially the first Mitzvah of the Torah is beyond our understanding and therefore cannot be challenged by contrary reasonings.Hallachah defines when to be lenient etc.and is our practical guide to life Reply

Yona Rivka Kimelman Worcester, MA March 8, 2007

Having children By the grace of G-d my husband and I have been blessed with five beautiful children, and I hope and pray that we will be blessed with more. Someone once frowningly asked a pregnant Jewish woman how many more children she was planning to have, and she answered six million! With the rest of the world through the ages bent on reducing or eliminating our numbers, the greatest contribution a Jewish person can make to the world is to lovingly raise another committed Jewish child. The world CAN and WILL benefit from such children - leave population control to some other nation.
As for having the financial resources to raise children, the Rebbe stressed that each child comes with its own financial aid package from Heaven, so to speak. After all, the entire world belongs to G-d and if He has seen fit to bless a couple with a child, He can easily allocate the means with which to raise that child as well. I can say from experience that this is certainly true. Reply

Anonymous Aventura, FL March 5, 2007

Just do it I fully understand the choice to not have children. I made that choice at a very early age, as I truly didn't even like being around children. Surprisingly, my "biological timeclock" struck at around age 31, and I began to have doubts about my decision. I have only G-d to thank for such an incredible change of mind, because it could only have been through Him that my resolve waivered. Health issues, psychological factors, and other aspects that were previously unimportant became the focus of my world. Time was ticking--I was already 34.
Through phenomenal medical help I conceived and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I was overwhelmed in a thousand ways. But nothing else mattered. I "co-created" with G-d! I had my own miracle! Thank you, G-d, and a thank you to all of the people who helped me so much. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.
P.S. My child is now 10. I'm still not a "child" person, but I adore mine with every ounce of my being! Reply

Jeremy Newman Leeds, UK March 4, 2007

On having children The reply you gave to this couple on wheather to have children or not, is bazaar. As a Jewish man who is very proud of being Jewish, my wife and I have no intention in having children,Little do you menton the expence in having and bringing up children, and please don't tell me G-d will provide, but in the real world that is not how it works. I sincerely that having children is something that has to well thought out, in many ways not just religiously. Yoiu also never have children because someone or a religous doctorine says you should, this is call guilt, and is certainly not fair to the person you respond to. Reply

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