Donald Trump Doesn’t Get to Stop You from Having Children

Don't give him that power

Compact Bannerkid blowing bubbles

Here’s an anecdote that is simultaneously funny, timely, and exasperating. When I first met my husband, he was steadfast in his claim that he didn’t want to have biological children anytime soon, because the state of the world was such that he couldn’t conceive of bringing a kid into it. Also, when I met my husband, he was a big believer in the 2012 phenomenon (really. I can’t. He was twenty?) and tended to base a lot of long-term life decisions on this belief. See also: “The 6 Best 2012 Apocalypse Theories (Are All Bullshit).”

I guess he thought I’d nod and agree, but I’ve never been one to let outside forces or authority or bullshit end of the world scenarios dictate too much of my life, and I promptly shut him down and laid out all the reasons why letting The State of The World or potential transformative experiences dictate when you do and do not bring children into your life is a bad idea. (Also, P.S., if you feel strongly moved to not conceive biological children because of The World, there are hundreds of thousands of children who are already alive and who desperately need homes, regardless of what’s going on politically or otherwise.)

Since Trump was elected in November, I’ve heard echoes of the same argument from friends and family: “I just can’t imagine bringing a child into a world like this.” You know what, though? The world has always been shitty. Just as there have always been joy and light and goodness, there have also always been dictators and famine and war. I’m sorry if Donald Trump’s election has brutally awoken you to this fact, but guys, it’s always been a terrible time to bring children into the world.

And yet… we keep doing it. You know why? Because no matter how they come into your life (through family, adoption, biologically, IVF, donors, and so on, etc., forever), if you’re open to them, kids are downright legit. I don’t mean that everyone should have a kid because they’re super cool, but if parenthood is a game you want to play in the first place, then the first thing you need to know is that there are no rules. You don’t get to cherry pick an ideal time to have children (you can try, but even if you try, you may well fail), you don’t get to pick the kids you get, and you don’t get to choose the world they grow up in. You just do it or you don’t, and let the chips fall where they may. And I’m of the opinion that if you know you want them, and you feel ready to have them, then the time to have kids is right fucking now, no matter what.

you actually don’t control… anything

Here’s what I’ve learned in my nearly eight years as a parent on this planet: we don’t control any of it. I’m forever grateful that my child was born during President Obama’s first year of his first term, because it made it downright easy to explain our left-of-left politics, to raise our kid in a wildly liberal home, and to even point out that our super fantastic president had his shortcomings, failures, and problematic moments, all while knowing that at the end of the day he was a badass president, and we were lucky as hell to have him around. It was excellent.

But, we conceived our kid before we knew who the president would be. I was three months pregnant on Election Night, but we didn’t know who would win until that day. And while he looks glorious these days when compared to the bulk of his weak as hell party, John McCain in 2007 and 2008 was then the furthest from the vision of a great president that my husband and I shared. We were pretty stressed out.

But we had that kid anyway, and we have never looked back. And it’s partly because when my husband told me that the political events of the day (and, um, doomsday scenarios) would dictate when he had kids (if he had them at all), I told him that I would not let the world take the joy of parenthood away from me (without a fight). I knew I wanted to be a mom. So. That was that.

really: you control none of it

Before you have a kid, you think you know what’s up. You imagine your dream child and assume that of course your kid will be just like that, because why wouldn’t he or she? And then you actually bring a child into your life and realize that maybe you know some things that about kid, but you don’t know all of it. And just when you think you’re catching on, that you’ve got their number, they go through some kind of cognitive mindfuck, and you lose it all over again.

On top of that day-to-day parenting truth, you don’t control what medical conditions your kid is or isn’t born with. You don’t get to say, “No peanut allergies, please!” You might not find out about disabilities until after your kid is born, and you might not understand the many, many ways those disabilities will impact your lives until years down the road. You don’t get to decide if your child gets cancer when he’s three. You don’t get to decide if your child falls into a pool accidentally. There are so many things that can go wrong, and you’re not in charge of any of it.

It’s the same with the state of the world. As much as we might want to, most of us don’t really control anything that happens. Sure, maybe on a local level, we can get out and get involved and be part of our communities, and obviously we can all vote for the president and other assorted elected officials, but as we’ve learned… that doesn’t mean we get our way. You can’t create the perfect world for your kid, because your kid is just one of billions of people on the planet, and I’m not sure we can create a perfect world, period, for all of us.

in the end, you have to pick what matters most

But hey look. Kids just being kids are probably the closest thing we have to perfection anyway. I don’t mean it in some “OMG we should all have kids because they’re perfect” way (because they’re also gross, rude, wild, and dirty). But on their best days? Kids are magic. They are gritty, hard, delightful, gorgeous magic:


Have them or don’t, but don’t let Donald Trump be the reason you decide not to.

are you thinking of putting off having kids right now? why or why not? what kind of conversations are you having about parenthood?

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  • Mary Jo TC

    Thank you for this! I needed this empowering take on parenting and politics today! Reason # 5042 why I love APW and am excited for The Compact!

  • Amy March

    It’s also so judgmental and so privileged. Like, sorry, we don’t all have the luxury of scheduling our pregnancies around a 4 year presidency? It’s like people saying “oh, I can’t imagine having a baby in my 40s” when they got knocked up at 25 or “really? you’re going to have a baby before buying a house? i could never.” I think it’s telling that I hear this sentiment much more from people who a) already have a baby, and b) aren’t at any particular risk under a Trump presidency than people with concrete current fears.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      I’m hearing this sentiment primarily from friends who don’t have any babies yet. And phrased as, “Wow, I’m afraid to do this for a whole new reason,” rather than as a judgment of anybody else’s choices.

      • Amy March

        Yeah I’d feel very different about it depending on context.

      • stephanie

        I feel strongly (obviously) that.. there are always reasons NOT have to have a baby. There are always really big, scary reasons to not do it. It is extremely easy to talk yourself out of having a kid for those reasons. Waiting a minimum of four years before you even begin trying for a baby? That seems… unwise, on many fronts. I totally think that yes, Trump’s America is very scary and that is a REAL thing… but also, you have to keep living your life. And honestly, even having the ability to HAVE this conversation probably means that you + your potential baby (general you) aren’t nearly as threatened as a lot of other people.

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          I don’t disagree with you, overall. The friends I have who hate Trump are also the people I’m most interested in seeing successfully raise contributing members of society.

  • Christina McPants

    As a married lesbian with a daughter, we are postponing babymaking #2 until things are more settled with this administration. Kids are amazing and I don’t want to give him that power, but I don’t want to get 5 months into a pregnancy and find out that my marriage has been invalidated and I’m going to have to cough up a few thousand for a second parent adoption and struggle to provide healthcare for my wife.

    Trump’s presidency has emboldened bigots across the country, whether on the basis of ethnicity, religion, gender identity or sexuality, and for those of us that don’t fit the white cishet mold, it’s a little scary right now. I’m 2/3 of those and it’s a little scary right now. I could realistically find out tomorrow that an executive order has been signed that allows businesses to discriminate against my family. From pediatricians to daycares to just going to Target to buy diapers AGAIN, you always kind of hold your breath and wonder if today is the day your child is going to face the consequences of her parents being two awesome chicks. I’ve had some days where it’s happened and it’s not pleasant.

    And frankly, I do control some of the baby making process. I’m not going to get knocked up by accident, so I choose when I go to the fertility clinic and spend an astronomical amount of money to have the world’s most uncomfortable and expensive pap smear. I don’t get to control (consciously) whether or not it sticks, but I control the months that we hope that the odds are in our favor.

    He doesn’t get to control whether or not I choose to reproduce in the next four years, but in the next few months? When there’s a crisis a day every day? I want to put it on pause. Give me a minute to make sure this is something I can live with.

    • Ashlah

      This is a really fair and important perspective. I appreciate hearing from someone who could be directly impacted by the choices of this administration (though I obviously hope you’re not).

    • Mary Jo TC

      It’s been months now, and I feel like I’m still adjusting to our scary political reality. “Give me a minute” seems like a very fair reaction. I hope none of your worst fears come true and no one discriminates against you or your family!

    • stephanie

      I feel you! I really do. Half the reason I wrote this was so I could be challenged and encouraged to consider other perspectives than my own.

      I think there’s something here – “And frankly, I do control some of the baby making process. I’m not going to get knocked up by accident, so I choose when I go to the fertility clinic and spend an astronomical amount of money to have the world’s most uncomfortable and expensive pap smear. I don’t get to control (consciously) whether or not it sticks, but I control the months that we hope that the odds are in our favor.” that I really want to hit on, but I’m not 100% sure what it is yet. I really appreciate your comment and everything that you put out there.

      • Christina McPants

        I think what you’re saying in the article is that you can’t let fear hold you back from joy – in this case, fear of the political climate holding you back from the joy of parenting. Which I 100% agree with. I was terrified to become a parent and struggled with it a lot, especially because we’d sunk so much money into an unreverseable decision I was then ambivalent about (hello PPD!). If I somehow got accidentally knocked up right now, I’d probably keep it. But there are enough red flags right now that I want to give it a little time before jumping into the physical and financial commitments of attempting a pregnancy.

        • stephanie

          OH for sure! I feel that. One of my son’s conditions is genetic, and if we were remotely interested in conceiving a second child + doing so during this administration, I’d definitely want a minute. I would still want to do it (if I did at all – we don’t, and aren’t planning to), but red flags are everywhere.

  • Ashlah

    Thank you so much for this, Stephanie. We laid out our “when to start trying plans” while the primaries were still going, never really thinking we’d end up in quite such a scary place. Not knowing if I was pregnant on election day was quite the mind fuck. I wasn’t, and we had to decide whether to keep trying. We did, for much of the same reasons you outlined here, and got pregnant the next month.

    We had a few interesting/awkward encounters while we were trying to conceive and when we were newly pregnant with people (who weren’t aware of our plans) who said they couldn’t imagine having kids right now. Or even saying that they would go back in time and not have the kids they already had. I think some of it was reactionary to the frightening newness of it all, but it forced us to really examine and stand firm in our choice.

    I refuse to let him (or anyone) take away my joy. I refuse to let him control my life choices that way. This will be our protest baby. Is it hard and scary not knowing exactly what the world we’re choosing to raise our child in will be like? Absolutely. But, like you point out, do you ever really know? We’d already had extensive discussions about the role climate change could potentially have in our decision–my husband really struggled with this–so this felt like an extension of those talks. The world has always been scary and the future unknown. I choose to seek joy anyway. For me, I think I would need to feel my life was in immediate danger, or that there was a guarantee that my child’s life would be in danger, for the “state of the world” to affect this decision. Imperfect, for me, is not enough to alter my plans. The world was imperfect when I was born, and I’m perfectly happy to be here. Maybe this is a privileged or ignorant position, I don’t know. But I really feel okay about having a baby right now. (Not as okay as I would if the election had gone the other way, of course, but here we are…)

    • stephanie

      YES to every single thing here!

    • AP

      Your last paragraph is similar to how I came to the decision to go ahead and start TTC this year. We’ve been on the fence about kids for awhile, and I realized that all my/our reasons for not having a kid came down to fear of the unknown. Trump’s election sort of shook that realization loose for me. I’ve never let fear drive my decision making before, so why was I letting fear make this decision for me?

      That said, I am scared to death of my husband losing his job (which is heavily funded by federal/state contracts) and our employer-sponsored health insurance along with it. There already isn’t a healthy insurance marketplace in my state, and if Obamacare as we know it goes away, I don’t know what we’ll do.

  • CMT

    I’m not anywhere near having children myself, but I have been thinking about this and it’s not Trump’s presidency that gives me pause. It’s climate change. Which I do think will be exacerbated by Trump being president and not giving a shit about the environment. But I do have to stop and think about whether or not I want to bring a child into a world that is destroying itself quickly.

    • stephanie

      Yeah, we’ve had that conversation a LOT. I don’t have much else to say, but I feeeeeel you.

    • MC

      YEP – Husband and I are leaning toward not having kids anyway, but the current administration’s environmental policies + the reality of climate change + the giant carbon footprint that new kids bring into the world = a very hard case for having kids for me personally.

      • CMT

        Yup, it is so hard. And I *do* have a desire for kids (or at least one) and I do have a desire for various reasons to have a biological child. And I know that humans have been making and raising babies in all sorts of difficult situations for all of history. But this feels different to me. I have to stop and think: What is the world going to look like 70, 80, 100 years from now? Will most of it still be inhabitable? Will there be enough water? Will there be enough food? For all of history living conditions have basically continued to get better and I think climate change is a real threat to that.

        • Kalë

          This is so sticky to me, for all the reasons you outlined above! Will the world be good, clean, and healthy for kiddo? Will *having* kiddo make it less good, clean, and healthy? Eurgh

          • Knonymous

            The state of the world my kids inherit seriously scares me, too, but I prefer to think of the possibility that having them here will make it *more* good, clean, and healthy. I buy my son science board books (actually, these are my go-to gifts for all babies and toddlers these days). We talk about recycling, and not littering, and why plants are good for the earth. He’s 2, so this is not in-depth stuff, yet. But someone’s got to grow up to run the EPA, or be a scientist who makes an eco-friendly break-through, or becomes the urban planner who makes car-free living attractive to suburbanites. If the people MOST concerned with the state of the environment are the people NOT having and raising kids, what kind of kids are going to grow up to do this stuff?

          • CMT

            This is exactly the point I try to remind myself of when I get too wrapped up in my own anxiety.

          • Sara

            I have had both thoughts: “I can’t justify bringing another polluting, consuming human into this world” and “I need bring this child into the world who may develop mass-produced affordable bio-plastics and save the universe.” Unfortunately I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer because at this point in history, the end result is going to be the same. I realize this is a SUPER gloomy perspective but I try to be a realist and it is a prompt that I just think doesn’t have a correct answer, so we should all just do what feels right (which for me, is not having kids).

    • rg223

      YES. My whole reaction to this was: “… yeah but CLIMATE CHANGE.” Do we really want to bring an additional person into a world that becomes The Day After Tomorrow? And probably contributes to it? (I realize I’m using a silly movie in my argument, but still!)

      • Lmba

        I don’t really see opting out of child-bearing for environmental reasons the same way as for Trump-reasons. In scenario #1, bringing another Western-world consumer into a world suffering from environmental degradation (especially when there are older kiddos with needs to be met), could be seen as an unethical choice in the sense that it makes the world less livable for everyone else by adding to the environmental burden. (I don’t personally take this approach, I had my own bio-babies, but I get it). In scenario #2, we’re talking about not bringing a child into the world because we fear for *them* and the crappy things they will potentially have to live through. Which, depending on your life experience, I also kinda get. But they’re not the same thing.

        • rg223

          I do see your point, but for me, climate changes fulfills both scenarios – I think it’s likely (if not certain) that my child will have to live through crappy, climate-related problems, and I do fear for him.

    • wannabee

      This is such a legit point. Times have always been tough, but we know, without much doubt, where the world is heading, environmentally if not politically. I appreciate this article’s overall message, and fear of the unknown shouldn’t have outsized power on our decisions, but sometimes fear is not abstract.

    • NolaJael

      I was raised incredibly pro-environmentalism in a liberal part of a Western state, so we were raised on the concepts from both tree-hugger and fishing/hunting tradition perspectives. But I’ve definitely come to a point where it’s not the deciding factor in my life choices anymore.

      I have one life to live. I fly on airplanes, own a car, live in a house that’s small by US standards but huge by international standards, eat meat, have pets — all environmentally harmful choices when viewed objectively. But it’s okay. I try to be not a total a$$hole in my personal choices, but I don’t make big decisions based (solely) on global warming. And the decision to have a family, to be a mother, is one that is bigger than climate change.

      What if Shakespeare or Dickinson had decided not to write because paper was wasteful? Or Yo-Yo Ma stopped playing because building instruments from wood is wasteful?

      We can still have respect for the earth and our environment without resorting to asceticism.

    • Laura C

      That’s the one I look at my 11-month-old and freak out about. I literally don’t know what the world will look like when he’s my age. And to be real, we’re pretty privileged, so he’ll be spared some of what so many people will face, but still. I told my parents they can’t ever sell their house because it’s inland and he might be subsistence farming in their yard by the end of his life.

      • Sara

        This is some real stuff right here – thoughts that parents only over a decade ago would have never had.

  • RW

    I have a 2 year old son, and I struggled with this after the election, and it has impacted how we’re expanding our family and I think in the best way – we are now going through the process to adopt a child under 1 year from CPS. I live in Texas and we have an overwhelming amount of kids in state custody and it’s (of course) drastically underfunded. This way, we are still getting another child and taking in one that needs a home rather than bringing one into this world. The process is a little tedious, but at least I don’t have morning sickness. ;)

    • Trinity

      I love that you’re adopting from CPS! Has it been a difficult process? Have you been foster parenting, or are you able to adopt more directly?

      • RW

        We’re doing a Foster to Adopt – so technically we’ll be “fostering” until we are able to finalize the adoption. It’s a bit tedious of a process but I wouldn’t say hard – a lot of paperwork, and we kick off 2 trainings a week in April. They don’t offer childcare, so that is a bit tricky, but we’re enlisting family and friends as babysitters!

  • Trinity

    I was already 20 weeks pregnant when Trump was elected. (We actually had our first ultrasound the morning we got the election results.) I’m grateful to have been pregnant already, if only because I feel like my health insurance should be stable for this year. But I’ll definitely be getting an IUD and waiting to see what Trumpcare means for health insurance coverage for pregnancy before we have any serious conversations about having another baby.

  • MrsRalphWaldo

    My husband and I are at the point where I’m 100% ready for children (like, yesterday) and he 100% knows he wants kids but…not now. He wants to have the perfect picture of a house, the “perfect career”, and a “settled life.” While it doesn’t directly relate to the president, it is hard for me to feel like he’s waiting for the perfect moment that just might never come.

    • idkmybffjill

      That’s really hard, I’m sorry you’re going through that.

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    “Am I going to have health insurance, how much is it going to cost, and what is it going to cover?” seems like a reasonable question to answer before taking on a pregnancy.

    • Rose

      Yes, this. One of the reasons I was panicking about the repeal of the ACA is that if I can’t get insurance (I have a pre-existing condition), I can’t get pregnant. Yes, there are other options, but still. I wouldn’t adopt if I could get health care for the kid, either, which is another concern.

    • NolaJael

      And maternity leave (or some way to pay bills post-pregnancy). My partner and I have been together for five plus years, so in theory we could have started TTC sooner. Except that I was BOTH the primary bread winner AND in a job that had no formal leave policies (and let’s be honest – I would have been fired if I got pregnant, legal or not). Insurance, yes. Opportunities for pregnancy, no.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        Yeah, I’m super interested to see what this administration proposes on the maternity leave front. Last I read, they suggested 6 paid weeks for bio-mom births, which isn’t enough, but is also more than the Absolutely Nothing we have now. WaPo reported in February that they may change that to be gender neutral.

        • Ashlah

          It is 100% immature, but I hate the possibility of having to give him credit for finally getting us some sort of paid leave.

          • Kalë

            Ugh, me too. And the fact that, as said above, 6 weeks would be amazing compared to 0… and still so freaking piddly and pathetic.

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            I hear you. But it might actually *happen* coming from this asshole. And I more credit Ivanka, in her tone-deaf golden tower, for putting this on daddy’s radar. I’m grasping what little optimism I can find.

        • Another Meg

          I would be so grateful for paid leave, but I’m not sure how I’d feel getting it from this administration. Complicated feels.

          • idkmybffjill

            As angry as I feel about this administration, I’m willing to accept it if they end up getting something right.

    • idkmybffjill

      Totally agree, but also REALLY wish the US did more to support mothers/families/children. I’m somewhat unexpectedly pregnant and I found out the day after I found out my company was closing. I’m incredibly lucky in that I found a new job quite quickly (even luckier – had multiple offers) and the maternity and insurance benefits are outstanding. And if I hadn’t gotten a new job, I’m married to someone who has great insurance – so while we would’ve lost my income, we at least wouldn’t have lost health coverage.

      I think every single day how freaking lucky I am to be able to be thrilled about my pregnancy because of my circumstances. And I think that one shouldn’t have to get this lucky to be able to have access to healthcare for your kid.

  • Kalë

    My biggest concerns, as someone in prime childbearing years but definitely not ready/TTC for at least the next four ANYWAYS… would be a) if I got accidentally pregnant under this administration, will I be able (read: allowed legally) to make the choice to terminate if I ultimately decide I’m not ready to be a parent? b) if I got accidentally pregnant under this administration, would my prenatal care be covered under my insurance? could i literally afford to give birth to child if not? c) if I got accidentally pregnant under this administration, would I be able to afford to take the time off that I’ve always hoped to be able to? would I receive any time off from my job at all from FMLA?

    I imagine these concerns are only amplified for WOC, the LGBTQ+ community, Muslim families, etc… while I love the optimism here, and I do appreciate and understand that people have been having children for thousands and thousands of years under all kinds of oppressive conditions, I fully respect all the very real fears surrounding the idea of a pregnancy/baby under 45.

    • lildutchgrrl

      The combined increased likelihood of a) rape and b) abortion being criminalized or made otherwise inaccessible under the current administration was a major factor in both my wife and I undergoing sterilization procedures before Inauguration Day. Neither of us wants to carry a pregnancy, ever, and we don’t want the issue forced.

    • Ashlah

      Your first point, about choices available during pregnancy, was definitely something I thought about a lot. Both in terms of terminating a non-viable fetus, and of my own health and well-being. Pregnancy is scary, and I don’t want to die because politicians are making decisions that should be reserved for me and my doctor. I felt better about it living in a very liberal state, but obviously that isn’t a fail-safe.

      ETA: And of course living in a liberal state, or having the ability to move to one, is a privilege that not everyone has.

      • Another Meg

        This was me. I’m 29 weeks right now, and we had a scare at 23 weeks that forced us to look into options, which for us included termination. We had no idea would happen next and it was already hard with current laws for our state.

        • NolaJael

          Ugh, adding stress to stress. So unfortunate. Glad you made it through that period.

          • Another Meg

            I’m so happy to be on the other side of that. It was scary.

        • idkmybffjill

          I’m so glad everything turned out okay. We are very much in the “would TfMR” camp, and worrying about access is a very serious and real thing.

          • Another Meg

            It’s not a place where I thought I’d be, but the folks at the clinic where I escort gave me the information I needed (just in case) and were absolutely amazing. I’m nearing tears now just thinking about how important their kindness was, and I was lucky.

            One of my best friends has lupus, and she is TERRIFIED of what might happen to her if she gets pregnant (she isn’t in remission yet).

          • idkmybffjill

            Oh god – I can’t imagine. I’m perfectly healthy and pregnancy has sucked.

          • Another Meg

            For her a perfectly average pregnancy can turn life-threatening if she has a flare up. Since she’s still not yet in remission, she’s not in a place where she’d plan a pregnancy, but she (as all women are) is aware that doesn’t mean she’s covered. Lupus sucks.

    • stephanie

      Oh, hmm! This is definitely not written with accidental pregnancies in mind – it’s for sure a response to people who are actively discussing having kids & for who Trump is a reason not to.

      I do think that these fears have ALWAYS been amplified for many of the communities you mentioned, for sure. I also imagine that they are even more so. But I also think that, at least for me personally, having and raising a kid has been one of the most singular joyous experiences I’ve had, period, and I think it would be a terrible thing to miss out on because of Trump. Parenting has also been terrifying (we have spent many a day and night in hospital rooms), confusing, and scary. We moved across the country after the election so our kid could continue to receive health coverage (and I realize that we’re AWFULLY fortunate that we were able to do so). So I am definitely privy to the fears in that specific context, for sure, but only that one.

      But… thank you for this. I’m still mulling it over. <3

      • Kalë

        For my relationship, we are at the point where a pregnancy wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen, and we’re definitely planning on having kids on the horizon, so my initial instinct might not be to terminate, even though it would be 100% not planned… but my feelings and concerns and FEARS about accidentally getting pregnant look very different now than they did under Obama, or than they would have under HRH HRC.

        I guess what I’m saying, as someone who isn’t planning to have kids in the near future (and so lucky to be able to choose when I become a parent!), is that an unexpected pregnancy now, under 45, would be a lot more frightening, uncertain, and viable (in a different sense) to me than one under a different president. And I might make different choices based on those fears. Sad but true :(

        • Marcela

          Upvoting both for your comment and for HRH HRC.

    • MC

      For me, there is a difference between making choices out of fear/anxiety vs. making choices based on informed research and realistic understandings of ramifications of that choice. Not having kids because Trump sucks generally and a lot is unknown? It’s everyone’s own choice to make, of course, but that feels different to me than saying, “If I decide to get pregnant, there is a specific & real possibility that I might not have healthcare / might not be able to make my own repro health choices / my marriage might be invalidated.”

    • nutbrownrose

      These exact questions are what led me to get an IUD. I’m not planning on kids in the next 5 years anyway, but those questions are what put the fire under my butt to switch from a monthly bc to a one and done, cause I’m 24 and have insurance through my parents. At best that lasts 2 more years, but if it doesn’t? How much will I have to pay out of pocket for birth control without a full-time job or benefits?

  • ruth

    Thanks for this! I really needed to hear this today. This whole conversation sort of made me think of the movie “Idiocracy,” which has a lot of poignant satirical bite under the guise of a dumb comedy. For all of us debating / waiting for the right time to have kids, there are a lot of people who go into parenthood without that much thought…and that’s scary. I think if you’re seriously contemplating and making plans for these big issues like politics, climate change, changes or elimination of healthcare etc… that’s a sign you’ll probably be a wonderful parent someday!

    • stephanie

      You know… I’m going to push back and say that I don’t agree with you that thinking about these issues is a sign that someone will be a wonderful parent — and definitely do not agree that NOT thinking about these issues is a sign that you won’t. Parenting encompasses a whole lot, and while I think that every issue you brought up is really important… caring about them doesn’t make you a good parent. I think there’s a class component here that is being overlooked, and “there are a lot of people who go into parenthood without that much thought” makes me feel wildly uncomfortable to read.

      • Lmba

        Agree with Stephanie here. Of course, it’s great to be socially-conscious. Hopefully that helps you to be a better parent, but it might not. Politics are largely connected with culture and level of education – and, yeah, having a B.A. doesn’t automatically a good parent make.

        Also, adults don’t need to PLAN their parenthood in order to be good at it. They mostly just need to try hard to be good parents once they have their kids (and then rely on help from other people/resources to fill in the gaps).

  • SarahRose472

    We’re trying to conceive now and were planning to pre-election, whether or not Trump was elected.

    Honestly, one of my strongest feelings post-election was: ok, this is the direction the world is going? Great, then maybe my otherwise selfish desire to have many children can be socially useful, because those kids are going to be raised progressive as hell, and we could use some more progressives these days.

    (With two disclaimers: this is coming from a position of privilege where I don’t feel children of mine will be directly threatened by the political climate. And also…kids turn into real humans, and I can’t fully control whether they ultimately will *be* progressive.)

    • idkmybffjill

      “I can’t fully control whether they ultimately will *be* progressive.”

      This is possibly my number 1 fear of becoming a parent (I’m pregnant). I know l definitely learned (at least the foundations of) my political beliefs from my parents, but it’s scary to think my kid could grow up and not believe all the things I plan to teach him. Even though that’s sort of the rub.

  • Scaredbutready

    My husband and I are planning to start trying within the next year and I think I’m ready but how does one ever know?? I’m not really worried about external issues such as politics because I’m of a similar mindset to the author. However, I’m more concerned about being across the country from our families. I know we have a lot of privilege that makes it more likely that we can manage being parents such as both having multiple university degrees, having supportive families, having jobs, owning a house, etc but sometimes my anxiety gets the best of me! Has anyone out there had kids far away from their families? How did you manage? Do you wish you had been closer? Alternatively, if you were close, did you find you needed less support than you thought you’d need?


  • Lindsey d.

    #2 will be here in 9-10 weeks, give or take. I am definitely sad that I brought one beautiful son into the world under an Obama administration and will bring another into the world under Trump. His presidency and the emboldened bigots make me scared for my Jewish family that sends our kids to the daycare at our synagogue and regularly goes to services and special events there. I wonder a lot more now about who is going to burst through the door and ponder the best places to hide if something happens. My biggest fear, though, is probably climate change and the world we are giving to our children and their children. That was a fear under Obama, but it feels exacerbated now with Trump and his GOP gang who clearly don’t understand that you can’t breathe or drink money.

    But I also feel it is my RESPONSIBILITY to bring more pluralistic, open-minded, loving people into the world. I’m going to raise my kids to be good human beings and help them understand that the world isn’t perfect, but they can help make it a little bit better every day.

    • sofar

      My amazing friends (and people like you) having babies is what gives me HOPE for the future.

      • Lindsey d.

        Of course, the first step is getting my two-year-old to not slap children who get in his personal space, but baby steps.

  • I’ve heard/read this type of comment from several people, and it really pisses me off. It’s so offensive I can’t stand it. It reads as “wow this white man might actually make things shitty for white people and I actually care now”…meanwhile people of color have been living through shitty situations for 400+yrs in the US and still managing to have babies – babies that were raised in subpar housing, sent to subpar schools, discriminated against in employment, and often targeted by the police. As a new mama, it hurts my heart to know that my daughter has at least 2 strikes against her – being Black and female – and yet I wouldn’t trade the joy of having her for the world. The world is shitty and it’s hard but it’s worth it to have babies, if you want to have them. And if you don’t, don’t use the Orange Fuhrer as an excuse for not having kids.

    • Amy March

      I think it also plays into a larger sense that children are now somehow a luxury item that you should only have if everything is absolutely perfect and you’ve taken care of all the details and have every possible duck in a row. Nope. Do you want this baby? Are you going to love it? Are you going to give it the best care you can? Kid’s going to be good. I understand wanting to make sure you have health insurance, but so much of this narrative seems to paint parents who aren’t stressing about this stuff as somehow not really caring, and I don’t like it.

      • NolaJael

        “I think it also plays into a larger sense that children are now somehow a luxury item that you should only have if everything is absolutely perfect and you’ve taken care of all the details and have every possible duck in a row.” This is a very real phenomenon in our culture.

        And I think it’s growing from a lot of different directions. There’s a WASPy personal responsibility element, there’s a declining social networks element (can’t depend upon friends / older generations to help because they are still working or don’t live nearby), there’s a criminalization of parenting element (can I afford comprehensive child care since it’s illegal to leave a child in a running car for a minute or to allow them to go to the park on their own).

      • gipsygrrl

        Interesting point. I wonder where that “children are now a luxury item” sense is coming from? I see it as part of a larger sense of social shame we’re foisting on society for ever being financially vulnerable (the WASPy personal responsibility element that NolaJael mentioned).

        It’s like, if anything bad or unexpected ever happens, it’s your fault. You should have planned better. You shouldn’t have had kids in the first place. It’s… like an overarching lack of compassion or something. And it’s kind of awful.

        • Another Meg

          It definitely applies to a subset of the population – those with the privileges that combine to lower the likelihood of unplanned pregnancy. The “we’re finally ready to have children because we bought property in a suburb and upgraded our sedan to an SUV” folks.
          We’re in that privileged group, and there is definitely an expectation that any problems that occur are our fault because we planned my pregnancy. We are the only people in our group of friends who are expecting a kid but have not yet purchased a home.
          I do wonder if the “children are a luxury item and you chose this” thing gets thrown at people who have different experiences.

      • sofar

        “I think it also plays into a larger sense that children are now somehow a luxury item that you should only have if everything is absolutely perfect and you’ve taken care of all the details and have every possible duck in a row.”

        And this is fed by a culture that thinks other people’s children should NEVER inconvenience them. If children are not perfectly behaved at every moment, expect bystanders to post snarky blogs about it — and how “parents these days” are failing.

        The very young and the very old in our culture are regarded as “inconveniences” by many, many people. And it is gross.

    • Cellistec

      Well said.

    • laddibugg

      …thank you. I don’t like Trump one bit, don’t like what I think he might do, but I simply do not understand the type of flailing some folks are doing.

    • Antonia

      Lots to unpack here.

      No one I know is or isn’t having kids because of Trump, so I can’t speak to that. But the liberal, educated, middle-class, Pacific Northwest-living white people I know *are* concerned about the world getting worse for minorities. Maybe they’re “selfish” on a national scale (Trump’s election disturbed the existing political equilibrium in the country, unleashed and strengthened forces inimical to liberal and secular values, and left our nation insecure, vulnerable and fragile), but they absolutely fear for those in danger because of the color of their skin, the God they worship or the language they speak.

      As for having children when you feel you can ensure their safety and can provide for them, while there may be a “WASPy personal responsibility element” to this, what’s the alternative? I understand that family planning is a privilege, but I also feel that those fortunate enough to have access to family-planning resources should take advantage of them.

      tl;dr: I don’t think a Trump presidency should prevent you from having children if you want them. And I understand that minorities have never felt safe. But as a middle-class white person with ready access to birth control, if I felt unsafe or unable to provide for my children, I wouldn’t have them. I understand that mindset is born of privilege, but I won’t apologize for it.

      • Lmba

        “if I felt unsafe or unable to provide for my children, I wouldn’t have them”

        I think the point is that for many people, following this logic would have resulted in no one having any babies, ever, for like, hundreds of years. So, yeah, of course, choose what you want to choose. But it’s a super privileged position to be able to say, “This guy makes me nervous, I’m noticing that there are bad things in the world all of a sudden, I think I’ll wait a few years until this goes away and everything is good again.”

        • Antonia

          “I think the point is that for many people, following this logic would have resulted in no one having any babies, ever, for like, hundreds of years.” Up until 60 years ago, there was no reliable way to prevent pregnancy, so people had kids no matter what.

          I absolutely own that choosing if and when to have children is a “super privileged position” to be in. I would never argue otherwise.

          • Lmba

            Right. But it goes a little beyond just choosing if and when to have children. There is also the idea of choosing whether to have children based on a temporary political situation that has recently emerged (and honestly won’t likely pose a serious danger to most middle-class White Americans) vs. most people’s reality of bringing children into a world that has been hostile for a long time. It’s possible for White people to choose not to have children based on Trump-induced fear because they fundamentally know that Trump is temporary. So, put off kids for four years, and then resume TTC in earnest. But if what you’re afraid of isn’t really Trump so much as hate crimes and racial profiling and failing schools and police brutality and employment discrimination, well, I get how annoying it would be to hear the people whose kids have ALWAYS had it easiest talk about not wanting to bring a child into Trump’s America.

          • Ella

            “But if what you’re afraid of isn’t really Trump so much as hate crimes and racial profiling and failing schools and police brutality and employment discrimination, well, I get how annoying it would be to hear the people whose kids have ALWAYS had it easiest talk about not wanting to bring a child into Trump’s America.”

            This really makes it clear for me (a white, middle-class, non-American), thanks.
            So maybe, if you are in a privileged position and decide to defer kids until post-Trump, spend some of that money/time/energy on addressing the intersection between your privilege and others’ oppression.

          • Janelle Shepard

            For me a big thing in deciding whether I will want to have future children in this country comes down to abortion, reliable birth control access, and what our Supreme Court system will develop into. I refuse to raise my children in a country where abortion is illegal. I just cannot place that burden on them. Even if Trump gets elected out of office after this term, the Supreme Court decisions will stand for many, many years to come. And I recognize that even just the ability to voice this out loud comes with privilege.

      • To be Black in America is to be both in a state of rage & to feel constantly unsafe, 24/7. If feeling safe was a requirement for having kids, the Black population in the US would have died out generations ago. So “safety” is just a red herring to me, cause communities have continued to procreate for years despite the lack of safety that we’ve had and continue to have.

        You don’t have to apologize for your privilege but you should recognize that your privilege is allowing you to have this “I need to have this perfect setup before I can have kids” mentality – cause some of us will NEVER get to that perfection.

        • Antonia

          Never said “I need to have this perfect setup before I can have kids,” only that I would need to feel reasonably safe and have the resources to meet their basic needs. Absolutely recognize my privilege.

    • Lmba

      Jubilance – Thank you for sharing this. My baby girl is brown-skinned like her daddy, and I had a bit of a wake-up moment (not Trump-related, as we aren’t American) in realizing, “Holy shit, there is all this shitty shit that she will have to deal with as a woman of colour and I am completely fucking clueless.” We (White folks) all should have been caring a heck of a lot more long before now.

  • MDBethann

    My DH and I started TTC child #2 back in the summer without luck (took nearly 2 years for DD, who turned 2 in the fall). We did discuss whether we wanted to keep trying after the election, since we’re both federal employees and weren’t sure how a GOP White House and Congress would affect our jobs (still aren’t sure, but we don’t work for regulatory agencies, so we’re cautiously optimistic). We decided that, given our ages and how difficult things were the first time, we’d take our chances, not expecting to actually get pregnant.

    Merry Christmas – we’re due with bundle of joy #2 in September. We’re excited and worried; same as we were 3 years ago with our daughter. In some ways, given the ACA repeal/replace arguments, I’m honestly glad I’m having child #2 this year before any ACA changes can take effect. Even though the fed provides my health insurance, I fully expect ACA repeal changes to hurt my employer-provided insurance too and it would really suck to not have my prenatal and maternity care covered like it is now. Though as a woman “of advanced maternal age” (horrible, horrible term worth a whole other discussion), I’m definitely at risk for more complications and possible birth defects, which might not be covered if the ACA is repealed either. But as Stephanie points out, these are just some of the myriad things outside of any parent’s control, no matter when you have children.

    I’m also trying to take the more positive view point that since I’m not lucky enough to get to teach and shape young minds in a school every day, I at least get to help shape the values, manners, and morals of two hopefully productive members of our future society. And I will have two very good reasons to speak up on environmental, national security, and education issues (for some reason, politicians seem to love the “protect things for our children” argument, so I’m using it wherever I can). If I can use “selfish” reasons to get people to listen to me to make things better for EVERYONE’S children because for some stupid reason a parent’s opinion has more weight than a non-parent’s, then I will do it.

  • aldeka

    I had my first child three weeks before Election Day. And let me be clear, I’m very happy with him. He’s the perfect baby for our little family.

    And yet. If I’d known what was going to happen back before he was conceived, I would have waited to have him. My capacity for resisting all this bullshit is so much less now that I have a tiny baby to take care of. I don’t have free time in which to hack on civic projects or go to protests–I only occasionally even call my (hella blue) legislators. Our finances are tighter than they’ve ever been before; whereas before I could have taken a nonprofit or startup job with little risk, now we really need my paycheck to get by. Before baby, my husband and I had the employability and freedom to move more or less wherever we wanted to live. Now we’re dependent on my parents for the bulk of our childcare, and they live here, so no matter how much I want to flee the country we’re stuck here for the duration.

    I love this baby. I want to fight for his future. But I’m so much less able to do so now. It sucks so, so, much.

    • I hear you – during my pregnancy I wanted to march and protest but couldn’t, cause pregnant. And now I can’t march and protest cause Josephine is 2mos old. But marching or giving $$$ or even working at a nonprofit aren’t the only ways to resist. You can volunteer in your community, even if its a few hours a month. You can lobby your elected officials, calling or writing letters. Hell, you can tweet/FB informative information. That’s still making a difference! Every little bit helps.

      Don’t feel like you have to be on the front lines 24/7 in order to effect change.

      • I saw your had your little girl, but haven’t had a chance to say congrats!

      • Sarah

        My daughter’s name is Josephine, too! She’s 9 months old.

        It’s been hard to balance resistance with trying to be a good, present mother. I’m an immigration attorney, so I definitely had thoughts of “maybe this wasn’t the best time to have a kid.” I can’t put in the hours I would if I didn’t have a kid. I had to stop breastfeeding after the election because work got so busy that I simply could not keep up with pumping. I also drag her to marches and know-your-rights workshops instead of playing with her on the weekends. I’m either not doing enough for my clients, or I’m not doing enough for my daughter. The guilt is strong, and constant. But we march on (sometimes literally) and I try to keep things in perspective (like, she still has a really, really awesome life this is not ACTUALLY the end of the world).

    • Mary Jo TC

      I hear you on how much harder it is to participate in activism when you have a baby. If it’s any consolation, after the baby is a year old or so and you’re not breastfeeding anymore (if you do), then it’s a lot more possible to make it to evening meetings and protests. I’m telling myself that I will do more once summer comes. And the 2018 elections is when it will really matter.

      • Lmba

        YES, the one-year mark is a huge turning point!

      • Sarah

        Also – but I say this as someone with an “easy” baby, admittedly – don’t be afraid to take your young baby with you! This might be an obvious point, I don’t know, but I find people are amazed when I take my baby to things. Why not? I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of routine and do more wrangling if it means we can maintain our lifestyle. Sorry not sorry. She goes to organizing meetings in the evenings, she naps on me while I give know-your-rights presentations, she sits next to my desk and plays when I have to take her to work. I may or may not have pumped in a public cafe in a federal building before an asylum interview and left a poopy diaper in the asylum office bathroom, whatevs. She is loved. She is happy and healthy. I hope that she knows how much I love her and I hope she learns from her mama.

        • Ashlah

          I always appreciate hearing parenting experiences like this. Taking my kid to work won’t be an option for me, but I certainly don’t plan to be stuck in the house and give up our entire lifestyle, like some parents seem to suggest is inevitable. I always want to push back, but don’t feel like I’m allowed an opinion until I’ve been there myself.

          I think your daughter is getting an amazing experience, and I bet she’s learning a lot of wonderful lessons just by being by your side while you do all of this work.

          • Sarah

            Your lifestyle WILL change quite a bit, but you do NOT need to be housebound. My husband and I frequently note how much our lives have changed in these past 9 months. Sometimes it feels like we’re two ships passing in the night and we’re always wrangling baby gear and centering everything around our baby. But from the outside, not much has changed. We still show up to the dinner parties and meetings and we still do frequent day trips. Some of the best advice we ever got was “you can do everything you did before, you just have to carry more stuff with you.” So true. And you’ll be more tired. But you can incorporate your baby into your life instead of letting her needs dictate everything you do.

          • Ashlah

            Fitting baby into our life, instead of our life around baby, has been something we’ve talked about for years. We’re both anticipating that things will be harder, but that they shouldn’t be impossible. We’ll see how exactly it shakes out for us! Thank you!

        • Mary Jo TC

          That’s awesome, and I think it’s great for parents to bring kids along. Parents should be able to maintain their lifestyle and it does improve visibility to bring kids along to things like this. For some activist events, bringing a baby is great–mine has been to 2 protest marches! But you’re right that it works better with some babies than others. And I’d add that it works better at some stages than others. Very young babies are kind of a sweet spot, especially if you are ok nursing in public (or bottle-feeding of course). They’re light and if you’re lucky they sleep anywhere. I was able to take my baby out and about to events until recently. Now that he’s crawling (and about to walk) he can’t stand being restrained and he’s really loud if you try. But that didn’t start until he was about 9 months. I guess I’m in a kind of hard stage right now–too active to bring along, still nursing so I have to be there for bedtime. Less than 3 weeks until I’m done with my breast pump!

    • Substitute “four weeks after” for “three weeks before” and “she/her” for “he/him” and this is me too.

      I love my baby, I want her to have a beautiful future, but I feel like I”m barely able to remember to eat, much less be an advocate right now.

      • Lmba

        Don’t forget that sometimes small acts are as effective as large ones. Spending time to nurture a strong sense of self in one little person (or in yourself) for a season can also be resistance.

    • AP

      I understand this perspective. It’s one of my fears, as the director of a reproductive health/rights advocacy nonprofit who’s planning to get pregnant this year. To put it bluntly, sometimes I’m afraid as the only full-time employee that having a baby and taking leave will put my organization at risk.

      And yet…I have one life. There are seasons for everything, and I can only do so much. This timing happens to be best for my husband and me, and I trust that I will come back to the fight with gusto when I’m able.

  • Shawna

    Oof. We’re nearing our one year anniversary and we had discussed having kids within a year or two of getting married, mostly because he’s 11 years older and having the energy to be a good parent is a reasonable concern. But I am absolutely having second thoughts due to the state of the world. Or perhaps the way to put it is to say it’s forcing me to focus more on the rational reasons to be cautious and family plan with care that existed anyway.

    He’s still looking for a stable job, my practice is still in its first year and growing slowly, and with the lack of stable jobs for either of us health insurance is a very big question. We managed to get ACA coverage, but it feels so precarious right now. Yes, everyone says it’s here through the next year, but frankly I don’t trust that because everything’s been changing so quickly and promises seem to mean nothing under this administration.

    I’m also brown and a lot of our energy post-election has gone to navigating our very different reactions to this world. He takes it more in stride and I freaked the hell out. There’s been some repairing and reconnecting work and while I feel a lot better about the two of us now, I’m still hesitant from a safety and priorities perspective. Not because I think our child would be in more danger now necessarily (though there is that feeling sometimes, these waves of hate come in waves – it’s not new) but because we have to be very together before we change our relationship and are responsible for another human.

    I agree with the basic idea that the world has always been dangerous and sort of terrible so it’s not magically a different place to raise a family now, but there are some things that have changed and it is reasonable to wait not based on fear, but on real issues that have been thrown into high relief.

    • Marcela

      I’m not brown, but I am an immigrant with a pretty big health condition and my white, US-born healthy husband takes things so much more in stride than I do. It drives me crazy. I know that things weren’t all sunshine and rainbows before, but I didn’t have a president interested in revoking my citizenship status and undoing the progress we’ve made on the health coverage front and normalizing hate speech and attacks on others. Your last paragraph hits it right on the head.

  • L.

    I was feeling this way right after the election–that it might postpone us having kids. I think most of that wasn’t actually about having kids, it was about my own anxiety. I was imagining complete doomsday scenarios–nuclear war, or systematic and violent targeting LGBTQ+ folks (and other things like religious discrimination and genocide, but we’re both white so that wouldn’t put us personally at risk the same way)–and my own anxiety about those things was heightened by the thought of being a parent. I guess when my worst imaginings lead to me/us dying, I handle that better than imagining going through the same things with kids. It’s not really rational–having to flee across a border or whatever would be terrible with or without kids in tow, obviously–but adding the thought of that extra responsibility and caring so much about those hypothetical kids made me a lot more scared. Now that my own post-election anxieties are a little more manageable, I don’t think that Trump will stop us from having kids. As long as we can get health insurance and both be legal parents.

  • We had our first in December, and it’s been a hard, emotional journey. That last month of my pregnancy, I was so full of angst because of the Election. But then she was born, and I realized, I needed to be here for her. I’ve been letting activism take a back seat for the last few months. I also realized, I may not be able to march, or do ALL THE THINGS, but I can pick a couple things and focus on those things.

    ETA: I also feel like, if we all say “no kids for 4 years”, then he’s won. And most of the children that are born in the next few years will not be raised by crazy activist, woke, peeps, but 45’s followers, and we’ll have a gap of kickass liberal kiddos. So…yeah. I know I’m lucky, we have health insurance from my husband’s job, he works at a place that cares about him/us, and we’re in a steady, stable, place. I recognize my privilege in this situation.

  • sofar

    Wasn’t planning to have kids any time soon anyway. But it is satisfying, whenever my parents/Trump-supporting family members ask when I will be producing an heir, to say with a big smile, “I will not have a baby under Trump. And it’s your fault. You voted for him.”

    Yes, I am that petty.

    But also YES to everything in this piece. My incredible friends having babies now actually gives me HOPE for the future. And right now, my husband and I have committed to being the village and helping them out with whatever they need.

    • CMT

      Oh man, I love my friends’ babies so much! I know some really great people having really great babies :)

    • Marcela

      THIS. I’m petty AF.

  • Jessica

    Nothing to add that hasn’t already been discussed already, but it will be interesting to see if there is a baby boom in 4-ish years, or if people were just using this as an excuse to not have kids.

    • Jess

      I think we find a lot of excuses to not do things it turns out in our heart-of-hearts we don’t really want to do or are very very afraid of doing.

  • C

    We were probably already going to adopt an older kid (I had a hysterectomy a while ago and we were never interested in biological children for a variety of reasons) but now, my thoughts are more like: “OMGHOWMANY17YEAROLDSCANWEADOPTSOWECANMAKESURETHEYCANHAVEACCESSTOHIGHEREDUCATIONANDOTHEROPPORTUNITIESSOMAYBETHEWORLDISLESSFUCKED?”

  • Rebecca

    This is a big issue for us right now – or it will be shortly. We just got married and want to wait at least a year (I want to finish my doctorate first if nothing else). But we live in Australia, and my husband (first time writing that!) is a dual Aus-U.S. citizen. And we’d really like dual citizenship for the kids, too (we’ve been planning to move there anyway for several years). But to get it automatically they have to be born in the states (because my husband was born here).

    Beyond the general issues of having kids in a place where a) there isn’t much family to support us, b) the medical system means I would have to pay to have my own child – this makes me really angry, if I’m wrong about this tell me, and c) I might have to work hard to find a hospital that doesn’t use the nursery system, I’m now worried about the rolling back of women’s rights, particularly around abortion and pregnancy (and green card entry!).
    To give you an example of the contrast, the state we live in now fairly recently enacted laws that prevent abortion protesters from protesting within 150 metres (I think this is maybe 350 feet?) of an abortion clinic, to protect the women who are seeking those our other services from harassment.

    I know that we’re privileged to be able to consider this, that we could afford private health insurance if/when we move to the States and that if we don’t have our kids over there, as white educated Australians we’ll probably be fine when we move regardless, but the issues brought up by the current presidency so far are real and terrifying – and being able to opt out of dealing with them means I do have the luxury of really thinking about how they would affect me.

  • Alexandra

    I had #2 two days before Christmas this year. I loathe Trump but I don’t give his administration much thought in terms of my own family planning. I believe in climate change and am pretty sure it will affect our lives in some way in the future, possibly catastrophically (we live in Hawaii). Not too stoked about what’s going on in North Korea right now, either, especially since I live essentially on an enormous stockpile of US armed forces/weapons.

    There’s a lot of things to fear, aren’t there? And yet, just think about how many things there were to fear historically about having children–at the top of the list, one’s own death (many of my friends would have died in childbirth without modern medicine)! And then so many diseases and accidents that now have either been eradicated or are much more rare. In that light, now is the best time ever to have children!

    A strong principle of my life is not making decisions based on fear. We do the best we can with the information we have, make virtuous decisions, treat people as well as we can, and don’t worry about what we can’t control. I wanted a family, knew I could love one well, knew it wouldn’t be easy but that my husband and I would find it worthwhile anyway, and went forward with that information. I think I can safely say that I have a hard time imagining any scenario in which I would want to go back in time and “unhave” my children. I can imagine horrible things happening, but I can’t imagine giving up all hope when I didn’t even really know what was in store.

  • Anonymous

    This is timely for us – we’re planning on trying for kids in a year or two based on our careers, how we’re feeling etc.

    The tricky thing for us is that we’re Australian, but my husband is a dual Aus/U.S. citizen, and we’d like dual citizenship for the kids, too, if possible. But because the husband was born here, any kids would need to be born in the states (we’ve been planning on moving there anyway for several years).

    Beyond the general issues of a) almost no family there to support us, b) having to pay to give birth to my own child (this makes me really angry, so if I’m wrong about this tell me – in Australia i could give birth in an excellent public hospital for free, regardless of complications), and c) no guaranteed parental leave, I’m now increasingly worried about the rollbacks to women’s rights around maternal health and abortion that have been taking place for some years but which seem to be now ramping up (plus the green card entry issues!). As a contrast, the state we live in in Aus fairly recently introduced laws preventing abortion protesters within 150m of a clinic, to stop the harassment of women seeking those services.

    I know that we are privileged to be able to think about this, and that we would be able to afford private insurance if we did move, and that as educated white Australians we’d probably be ok regardless. But these are the problems we’re facing and they are real to us – if anything, the ability to avoid having a baby under the current US government (by just staying here) means we can think really hard about these issues and what they’d mean for us. So the administration probably won’t change when we’ll have kids, but where we’ll have them and where we want to build our lives.

    (I should say, Australian politics are pretty terrible too, but in different ways that don’t directly affect my reproductive choices.)

    • Sarah

      Have you consulted a US immigration attorney? I don’t know the specifics of your case, but I’m not entirely sure, “But because the husband was born here, any kids would need to be born in the states (we’ve been planning on moving there anyway for several years).” is accurate. I have a friend who was born in Mexico to a US citizen parent who was also born in Mexico to a US citizen grandparent.

      Again, I don’t really know much at all, but if you haven’t already I’d definitely talk to an attorney.

    • Sunny

      I second Sarah’s rec to speak with an immigration attorney, but this excerpt from Nolo’s website (and I typically find their advice to be pretty legit) makes it seem like your children would not need to be born in the US to acquire US citizenship:

      “In many circumstances, even though a child is born outside the United States, if at least one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth, the child automatically “acquires” citizenship. When this child marries and has children, those children may also acquire U.S. citizenship at birth.”

    • Amy March

      No, in Australia you don’t give birth for “free.” You contribute, throughout your life, by paying taxes which finance a state operated health care system. In the US, we don’t have that, and you can pay those charges out of pocket or, like most people do, pay for health insurance. Frankly, it seems incredibly entitled to me to be “angry” that you can’t show up in this country as essentially a tourist and give birth for free.

      • Marcela

        Anon mentioned that they’ve been planning on moving to the US for a few years already, so they would be here as immigrants/re-pats, not as tourists. Also, it doesn’t seem “entitled” to me because in many other countries healthcare is covered as a basic human right, not as something you can access because you’ve paid into it.

      • MissT

        Agree that we should all be angry that we have to pay a large amount of money out of pocket for health care and that health care should be considered a basic human right.

    • idkmybffjill

      You should definitely look into citizenship by descent (I’m assuming you haven’t – so excuse me if I’m wrong). I’m dual of New Zealand (although my father was born there) but was born in the states.

  • Sarah

    Getting married on Saturday, and this has definitely crossed my mind. We’ve talked about starting to try within a few months of getting married. Trump’s election has definitely thrown me for a loop.

    I definitely have fears that we are heading towards a large military conflict, a really terrible depression era economy, or the serious consequences of climate change. I feel like parents always (should) try to do what’s best for their kids. How can I choose to put a new life into any of those circumstances? I read stories about 1945 Europe or the dustbowl during the depression. In the grand context of history, these weren’t too long ago. The pure suffering children went through- I’d never want my child to go through that if I could control it.

    And I can control it, by choosing to put off having children. We haven’t made any decisions yet.

    • Though i broadly agree, when you look at the twentieth century, I don’t think there were two years put together in most of the world where it was a good time to have kids. If you put off kids during the depression, then because war was looming, then because you were are war, then because you were living with the aftermath of war and the rise of the cold war, then… You’re talking three decades of putting off having kids, easily. In that case, you’re not controlling it by putting off having kids, you’re controlling it by not having kids, full stop. And a huge number of kids were born during that period, and a lot of them had very happy childhoods. Everyone here has at least two ancestors born during that era, most of us four or even eight, depending on how close generations are in your family.

      • AP

        And…to be alive is to suffer, to some extent. There’s simply no avoiding it. I get that we want to minimize that for our children as much as possible, but I’m a better and stronger person for the suffering I’ve experienced as an individual and as a part of a larger community.

        If my great grandmother, who was a child during the Great Depression, had never had my grandfather just before WWII, and then he and my grandmother in turn had never had my mother during the turbulent 60s while he was fighting in Vietnam, then she had decided the Cold War was just to scary of a time to have me…then, I guess, what’s the point of any of it?

      • Marcela

        But how many of those children would have been born had birth control use been as widespread as it is now? I talk to people of my parents’ generation (in their 60’s/70’s now) who did decide not have have kids or majorly postponed it due to living under the dictatorship in Brazil during that time. They say that the introduction of the pill was like a miracle, because before, your options were either celibacy or eventual kids. And celibacy is hard, folks.

        • I think this probably depends where you are in the world: the latex condom had been available in Europe since 1920 (as opposed to earlier, reusable animal-product condoms… yes, reusable) alongside diaphragms and spermicidal douches, and there’s evidence in birth rates that people were increasingly using contraception, even within marriage. It’s noticeable that in Germany and Italy condoms were banned because of concerns over the declining birth rate. Obviously, contraception in those days had higher failure rates, and condoms specifically were advertised primarily as a defense against STDs (usually directly to soldiers) so may not have been people’s first thought when preventing pregnancy, but I think for people in a similar position of privilege to those today talking about deciding not to have kids due to political tensions, the options were there back then too.

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  • Carrie

    Frankly? I don’t know if I can risk having a child in a world that looks like it won’t have any safety nets. My husband and I already experienced what happens when a parent becomes severely ill and disabled in a state with basically no safety net. You know what the answer is? Everyone in the family just is expected to sacrifice their entire lives to become unpaid caretakers because there is literally no other option. It had serious physical and mental health consequences for my husband and me. I am not sure we could survive having a child with a serious disability, which as you rightly point out, we don’t get to choose. Especially not in this state, and not in Trump’s America. I’m sorry you feel judged and I wish I fucking had the courage of my friends having babies right now, but frankly it’s just been too fucking real already. God I want a baby, but I know what we could be signing up for, a child who could need 24/7 care forever, and I can’t, I can’t do that to my husband when he’s already been through too much, and I don’t think I can survive that kind of impossible situation.

  • When I think about it in terms of my own family, what stands out is my grandmother’s generation. My grandmother was born shortly before the depression in an incredibly deprived part of London. Her childhood was unhappy not because of poverty or conflict, but because her mother was abusive and her father had abandoned them. Her cousins grew up with the same poverty and conflict, but they were happy because their parents weren’t abusive. A loved and cared for child will always have something happy to get them through their childhood, not matter what else is going on around them.

    The thing you can control in these situations is you, and if you’re wondering about whether it’s a good time to have kids, I think the side you need to consider is whether you’ll be okay under Trump, not whether the kids will be. Don’t ask if the world is ready for your kids, ask if you are.

  • Sara

    I think this is an incredibly brave perspective. Being a sensitive control freak, the many uncertainties listed here (and many more) are, in combination, the reason I am not having children, and I don’t feel bad about it. I do have an enormous amount of admiration for those who do anyway.

  • NotMotherTheresa

    Demographically, I’m guessing the bulk of us were born during the cold war. When my parents had me, they knew there was a totally real possibility that we’d all die in a nuclear holocaust. But you know, they decided to chance it anyway, because what else were they going to do?
    There are a lot of things that scare me about having kids. I worry about what the stress of children will do to our marriage. I worry that my husband and I struggle with too many emotional issues of our own to be effective parents. I worry about passing on a genetic legacy of mental illness, since that’s something the husband and I have both struggled with most of our lives. I worry about being able to afford summer camps and good schools and enriching activities. But the political climate? Honestly, that’s changed so many times in my relatively short life that I don’t even give much thought to it.

  • ManderGimlet

    I wonder how many people actually feel this way and how many, like me, just straight up don’t want kids and you run out of ways to explain that so you just start making shit up? I have said this kind of sentiment (not since Trump, but similar “the world is terrible so no thanks” type things) multiple times because, for some reason, “I don’t want kids” is not sufficient an explanation for why you don’t want kids. People can’t understand lack of desire, there must be an obstacle of some kind. So you make stuff up and this seems the least likely way for someone to be like “oh you have medical issues/mental illness/family history preventing you from having kids TOO?!?”

  • Suzy

    Loved this article! We found out I was pregnant last August when I felt pretty confident out girl Hill would make the cut. Then election night happened and I freaked out for the world this kid will be born in to. I was upset that I wasn’t able to get as involved leading up to it. I was mad at the electoral college. I was mad at anyone who voted for him. I still am upset that it seems to have tainted what should be the most joyous time for us, and it is, but I’m also comforting immigrant and low income students at my work who are scared for the future. I was proud to march for women with this little one in me but every day of this presidency seems to be getting worse. I cant wait to meet our little guy or gal in May and know that will ease some of these worries but I’m also more determined than ever to teach him or her compassion, love, tolerance and respect. We will talk about these months for years to come and partly I’m glad ill have this child to remind me of all the good that still exists in the world! Lets also hope to elect him out in 2020!!!

  • I love this article. What’s got me all stressed out is the possible policy changes that may come with this administration that would greatly affect our choice to have another kid. Right now I’ve got a handy dandy IUD that I’m seriously worried about not being able to replace in a year or two’s time if I have it removed now. Also, if we are so lucky to be expecting again, what will maternity or paternity leave look like? I’ve already had the experience of losing a job because of giving birth (forced to quit, so no severance or anything), I’m not interested in going through that again.

    Basically I’m ready and willing, but there is still a lot that is stopping me that probably wouldn’t even be an issue if we had a different president right now.