Have a question about life, love, or faith? Fill out the form below, submit it online or email it to melfert@stjohns-cathedral.org.

Hey Rev!

My wife and I (both 19) have been married for one year now and have been having some “baby fever.” The question came up as to how we might tell our parents if we were blessed with a child. When we got married at 18 years old both families thought she was pregnant and that was why we did it, but that was not true. So, you can see the animosity that is expected. Could you possibly be able to help us with a “baby news” idea?

- Baby Fever

Expecting a chile photo

Expecting a chile photo

Dear BF:

A few weeks back, a young person wrote in asking for tips on telling your parents that you’re planning on getting married. Your letter has two big things in common with that one. First, the answer to your question is actually pretty straightforward. And, second, the really interesting — and really pressing — question is the one that you didn’t ask.

Let’s begin with the straightforward part: how do you tell your parents that you are expecting a child? You say, “we’re having a baby!” You can employ a little humor if you want to — you could start by telling your folks, for instance, that they don’t look old enough to be grandparents. But the main thing is to decide that this pregnancy is wonderful news — it’s like getting all A’s on your report card times 10 — and then to announce it with all of the happiness and all of the assurance that wonderful news deserves. Unless your parents are totally unhinged and vindictive people, BF, they’re going to share in your delight; their mistaken assumption that your marriage flowed out of an unplanned pregnancy isn’t going to stop them from being happy about a planned pregnancy now.

And now, here’s the interesting and pressing question that you didn’t ask: is having a baby a good idea?

Mrs. FKB and I have three children. And not one of them was the result of “baby fever.” That’s not to say that we didn’t want to have kids — we really did. But it is to say that, once we decided that we wanted to become parents, we then put a whole lot of prayer and thought into discerning whether or not doing so was wise.

Parenthood is a vocation. Like other vocations, it is something that God calls us to enter into seriously and reverently. So, BF, go do some questioning. Speak to people who became parents when they were as young as you and your wife are today. Ask them how parenthood changed them as individuals and, if they were married, how it changed their marriage. Ask them if they would advise you to have kids now. Then speak to people who became parents when they were five — or 10 or 15 or even 20 — years older than you and get some idea what that was like.

Now examine your own circumstances. Unless you and your wife are math geniuses, BF, I’m guessing that neither of you are finished with college or a trade school. That maximizes the likelihood that you aren’t employed in a stable or a well-paid field. Do you have, therefore, the financial resources to provide for a child? If you live in a country without universal health care, do you have medical benefits which will extend to a dependent? Just as importantly, only a year into your marriage, do you and your wife have the maturity and the strength as a team to take on the spiritually, physically and emotionally exhausting challenge which is parenthood?

Finally, don’t forget to hold this question before God. When you pray, when you speak with people steeped in God’s wisdom, do you get a clear “yes” to the vocation which is raising kids? Or is the response something more like “maybe” or “no” or “not yet”?

If your search leads you to a place in which you are in any way equivocal about becoming parents, BF, then wait a few years. Your kids deserve to be born into a strong home which is grounded in a solid and happy marriage. (I get that the prospect of waiting is hard. But, believe it or not, you’ll be 25 or even 30 before you know it — and you won’t actually feel all that old by the time that you get there.) If, on the other hand, your search makes it clear that now really is the right time to have children, then go for it. And, should the good news of a pregnancy come, go forth with joy and with confidence to tell your folks that they are going to be grandparents.

Have a question about life, love, or faith? Fill out the form below, submit it online or email it to melfert@stjohns-cathedral.org.

Categories: Beliefs


Martin Elfert

Martin Elfert

The Rev. Martin Elfert is an immigrant to the Christian faith. After the birth of his first child, he began to wonder about the ways in which the Divine was at work in the world. Shortly thereafter, he joined Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC, where he and his new son were baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2005 and where the community encouraged him to seek ordination.

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