The Social Pressure to Rush Through Life


Every time I go to a family gathering, someone asks me when kids are coming. Matt and I have been married for 4.5 years now, and according to American culture, we're past-due for kids on the life timeline.

Why do we do this to each other? Pressure each other to rush into things...

When I was in middle school, I wanted was to be in high school. When I was in high school, I wanted was to be in college. When I was in college, I could only think about how long until Ring Day or graduation. That's how our culture has wired us - to rush. Once we reach a milestone, we have to start thinking about the next, without taking much time to really enjoy where we are.

It's not every moment. There are glimpses of enjoyment in each season. But I feel like I'm always on a countdown to something -- graduation, marriage, new lease, kids, new job, a raise, etc. 

Even Facebook has it out for us. When I was dating Matt, Facebook gave me adds about engagement rings. When we were engaged, Facebook showed me ads for wedding dresses and decor. As soon as we got married, Facebook switched to baby stuff. Slow down, Facebook!

We all just need to slow down.

I feel like I should note that by no means am I saying it's terrible to get married young or have kids young. We all have our own timelines -- I got married after just turning 22! What I'm trying to say is that we have to let each other make decisions in our own time. 

So here's what I think this could look like:

Get to know people well before you ask them questions

It can hurt to ask someone struggling through infertility when they're planning to have kids. It can hurt to ask a single person if they have a new boyfriend/girlfriend. If you don't know them that well, it's probably not appropriate/safe to ask. Wait for them to bring it up.

Consider your audience when you complain

It's not that your problems aren't real. But if you're having a conversation with a single person who really wants to be in a relationship, it may not be best to complain about wedding stress. If you're a mom who is barreling through the terrible twos, talk to other moms about that and maybe not someone who just had a miscarriage. Think about who you're talking to and how it might make them feel.

Live YOUR life

We each have one life to live. You shouldn't feel like you need to hide your photos of your kids in fear of making someone else who wants kids feel sad. Post what you want! Your friends want to love you where you are and share life with you.

If you're super happy about getting married young, great! Talk about it. But don't pressure others to keep your life timeline.

Currently, I feel rushed on the kid front. Part of that is internal within myself (I don't want to be an old parent), part of it is from social media (I feel like everyone I know is having kids and posting about it), and part of it is direct nudges from friends/family.

I do want to have kids, but I'm not sure when yet. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I also don't think there's anything wrong with people who decide not to have kids or not to marry. In fact, Paul said it himself that it's better for us to not marry because then we can focus more on the mission of the church/helping others (1 Cor 7) vs. serving a husband/family. However, he acknowledged that some of us just have a strong desire for a family. Also, we don't want to end up with an Idiocracy situation where the educated choose not to have children.  

The social pressure to have children makes it more challenging for me to sift through what other people want/are doing and figure out what makes sense for my life and my family. And I think it's be great if we all did our part in helping each other take as much time as we need to make grown up decisions. Being a grown up is hard.

Anyone else feel this pressure?