Family Planning for Young Married Couples

Should we put off having kids and starting a family until we're more mature and established? My wife and I are in our late twenties. She's in grad school and I'm working to get my new business off the ground. We're extremely busy, and to be honest, I'm not sure I'm ready to be a father at this point. Do you have any thoughts on starting a family later in life?

When weighing this kind of decision, it’s important to remember that children are not supposed to be a nuisance or a hindrance but a blessing (Psalm 127:3-5). Indeed, the Bible teaches that kids are central to God’s plan for married couples. “Be fruitful and increase in number” was the first command God gave to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28). We realize, of course, that many couples deal with the pain of infertility, and we believe that husbands and wives in this position deserve to be treated with love, understanding, and compassion. But this doesn’t negate the validity of God’s general design for the human race. Couples who are capable of bearing children should contemplate that possibility with enthusiasm and joy.

The question of when to have kids is, of course, something the Bible doesn’t directly address. Equally committed Christians have different ideas about the best way to approach this decision. Some believe that since life is sacred and a blessing from God, every married couple should embrace every opportunity to cooperate with His plan-in other words, they’ve resolved to avoid the use of birth control of any kind. Others hold that God allows couples latitude in deciding when to have children, and how many.

We can’t address all of the theological issues that come into this debate, but we can take a look at some of the reasons couples give for waiting to have kids. In the process, we can also try to point out why, in our opinion, most of these obstacles to childbearing aren’t as insurmountable as they might seem at first glance. Here are just a few of the most common:

    • “I want to establish my career first.” If this is your reason for waiting to start a family, you need to determine what your endgame is. Exactly how far do you need to get in your career before you’ll feel ready to have a child? What will you do if you don’t reach your goal?


    • “I need to finish my education/get my degree before I can think about having a child.” Yes, working toward a degree while caring for a child can have its challenges, but it’s not impossible. For the record, there are a lot of people out there who have completed medical school, law school, and other graduate programs with children at home.


    • “I need to achieve financial security first.” Financial stability is important, but what does that really mean in terms of having a child? Is it a matter of achieving a certain level of income? Being debt-free? Saving enough for a down-payment on a house? Establishing a nest egg? If so, how big?


    • “I need to be more mature before I can think about bringing a child into the world.” Yes, prospective parents should take steps to deal with any personal issues that might impair their ability to create a safe and loving home (for example, anger problems or substance abuse issues). If you’re struggling with something like this, we’d advise you to get help from a qualified Christian counselor. But if you’re generally healthy and stable, just remember that 1) you’ll never have kids if you wait to become the perfect person first, and 2) parenthood actually contributes to personal maturity. In many ways, children help you become the person you ought to be.


  • Before you make up your minds to put off having kids, we’d recommend that you sit down as a couple and take an honest look at your underlying values and motives. Analyze your priorities-do you care more about money, success, or a big house than you do about the blessing of children? Are you and your spouse in total agreement in this area? What are your thoughts on timing and spacing of kids and the method of birth control that you’ll use? And finally, are you aware that waiting may cost you something? Fertility declines with age, particularly after thirty-five. That’s why one fertility specialist we spoke with advises newly married couples to get pregnant sooner rather than later. If infertility does become an issue, treatment tends to be more successful in younger patients.

As you and your wife start thinking and talking about having children, stay open to God’s leading. Seek the support of mature believers who can pray for you and offer sound advice. In the meantime, if you think it would be helpful to discuss your questions with a member of our staff, please call Focus on the Family’s Counseling department for a free consultation. They’ll be pleased to assist you in any way they can.

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