I have many younger friends who are raising kids or considering it. Allow my perspective to join the other unsolicited advice with which you are bombarded.
First and foremost, adding a new life to this world automatically commits you to a lifelong relationship of self-education, adjustment, sacrifice and growth. If you are not up for it, don’t do it. Get a puppy, a goldfish, a plant.
Kids are neither accessories for, nor extensions of, you. Go clothes shopping, do art, or enlist a qualified therapist. There are a million reasons people should not have kids. There’s only one reason to do it.
To reproduce Life. If you are willing to deliver a new vessel for God-knows-what, no guarantees, no restrictions or demands on the new vessel’s ultimate, objective value, go for it. But commit.
You’ll need to subjugate your own wishes and desires to meet their needs a thousand times, as they arise. Your job, art, or therapy cannot come first anymore. While they are young, your first duty is to protect, provide, and promote, nourishing them body and mind, until they can successfully be without your care. They will always need your love. Always…
I take the ‘community crop’ view of child-rearing. I believe we are raising planetary citizens. I have expectations of parents.
Children must be taught respect, reflection and restraint. Standards of conduct and attitude should be demonstrated, reinforced and required. They need to be taught the multiple ways to learn and instilled with curiosity. They need guidance to navigate their own impulses and emotions, understand others and activate their sensitivity.
In short, parents undertake crafting their best vision for successful adulthood 24/7. Of themselves.
The mother or dad you are when the kid is 2 impacts that child more than all the plans you have for it. At the child’s every age, you are modeling behavior and thought for it. Your friends, your language, gestures, and actions are data imputing themselves into your child’s brain: ‘this is my model for adulthood’.
They cannot process why you are swearing at a flat tire, terrified by their fever, or weeping over an argument. They just see anger, fear, sadness. It all confuses them. You have to help them sort it out, exploring alternatives together.
For all we teach and model for them, we have to realize kids (at every age) are our guides to personal growth, too. We have to develop new skills, perspectives, reserves to serve their progress. We have to overcome laziness, insecurities, prejudices, addictions, and limitations, lest we pass them on.
We have to demand the best of ourselves and nurture the best in them, independent of fashion and transient social mores. For instance, if your little boy is clearly a little girl in a boys’ body, for goodness sake, help the child comfortably navigate the confusion and champion their being exactly as they are. No being is a mistake.
I’m old enough and experienced enough to tell you, the child you raise is you. You’ll be correcting and adjusting your own childhood history over and over. You’ll probably come to understand your parents and yourself far better. Your kids do that for you.
But most of all, in raising kids, you get the thrill and responsibility of delivering a precious gift to this world. You may not ever fully comprehend the value your kids have to this planet (and others?), but know there’s something unique in this being you ushered in.
You helped the Universe experience the limitless potential of new Life.