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Start Your Family: Book Review image

Start Your Family: Book Review

How long should young married couples wait before trying for kids?

Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies is a surprisingly good book. I say surprisingly not because I expected a bad book, but because I expected an overly-sentimental, “children are so awesome”, lightweight kind of book. But this book is much better than that.

Steve and Candice Watters, founders of Focus on the Family’s webzine for young adults, Boundless.org, have written a careful, readable, very helpful book on starting your family. My wife and I have always been advocates for having children sooner than later. At the very least, we urge young couples getting married to think through the decision and not just assume you need three to five years to get adjusted and build up a nest egg. My wife was pregnant nine months after we were married. We have never regretted welcoming Ian into the world 18 months into our marriage, and I bet you would be hard pressed to find many Christian couples who regret having children right away, though you could find many who wished they hadn’t waited so long.

The Introduction leads off with the Watters’ main thesis:

  • You just got married and now it’s time to enjoy your husband.
  • You’re starting grad school.
  • You just got your dream job.
  • You want to buy a house.
  • You finally dropped a dress size.
  • You have a low pain threshold.
  • You like sleeping through the night.
  • You think you’re too immature to care for another person.
  • Your friends who did it never call anymore (and they don’t have much sex, either).
  • Your sister did it and traded her job for what seems like mindless babysitting.
  • Stranger in the mall who did it look haggard and irritated.


There are a thousand reasons not to have a baby.


But in deciding against children, or even in just deciding to wait a little longer, you risk missing out on a miracle–a larger-than-life, inexpressible joy. Some women will have to take extra measures to conceive, but the rest of us have a marvelous opportunity regardless of income, education or background (19-20).

What I really liked about Start Your Family is that it manages to argue for having children, without resorting to shame and manipulation. The Watters marshal plenty of facts on declining fertility (female fertility starts going down at 27, really goes down after 35 and plummets after 40) and the risks involved with pregnancy the older you get. But yet they are sensitive to those who have waited or are now having a hard time conceiving. As parents of four children, the Watters are obviously pro-children, but not unrealistic about the challenges. The book offers enough Scripture and other evidence to be compelling, and enough personal vignettes to be interesting. The book is a quick read, but not fluffy.

The Watters make a strong case for staring your family earlier rather than later, without making you feel like you need to be pregnant all the time and pump out 18 kids in order to be spiritual. In a 150 pages they simply make the argument that God is good. Kids are good. And the longer Christian couples wait to have kids, the harder it can be to start.

If you or someone you know is newly married or about to get married, they would do well to pick up this wise, encouraging book.

Originally published on thegospelcoalition.org.

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