Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: You asked for men to respond to the letter from “Confused Woman,” who was wondering if the time would ever be right and if her reluctant husband would ever want to have a baby. Anything can be justified: have children or don’t have them. When you’re 80 and wondering what happened, it is too late then. I think children are the way to make your life complete.

Happy

DEAR HAPPY: Many people responded, and their edited answers are below:

DEAR AMY: I had the same fears as the 40-something could-be-father, who was concerned about having children. You should have told “Confused Woman” that many men like me never knew what true love was until they had a child. As long as her husband is passively willing, they should take the plunge. Having children changed my life for the better, and none of my fears came true.

Took the Plunge, in Tallahassee, Fla.

DEAR AMY: My children are literally saving my life. The happiness they bring to my wife, my family and me are daily gifts that will last forever. My wife is currently being treated for stage 4 cancer. Whatever the outcome, she and I are facing this threat with strength and determination because of our kids. Otherwise, I would be suicidal and she would be despondent. In my opinion, the biggest rewards of having children come not when they are babies, but after they become adults.

Chuck

DEAR AMY: I’m a father of an adopted child. We adopted her when we were in our late 40s. We were both scared. We heard many negative things. I did not want to be a father — because of all the work I had observed from other friends in my life. However, my wife was convinced and I went along. My opinion never changed. Kids are too much work. But, on the other hand, our child loves us and I love my daughter. The depth of life experience a child brings is indescribable. I would tell this couple to go for it and be open to the huge blessings it brings.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Hesitant Father

DEAR AMY: Having the conversation about children before marriage is vital. When someone says they don’t want children, or they aren’t sure, believe them. People do change their minds, but it sounds like this man was pretty upfront prior to marriage. Trying to convince or trap him into it after you are married is just wrong. I would recommend this woman really have a discussion with her husband and if he still says no, then don’t get pregnant. She should decide if she wants to stay in this marriage, and if it is good enough to just be with him without children.

Older and Wiser

DEAR AMY: I tyrannically resisted having children until I was 50, when my first girl was born (now there are two, 14 and 12). Not only was I not too old, but my girls have kept me young, and given me a happiness I never could have imagined. Life’s pleasures alter with children, but the new pleasures are richer, more resonant, deeper than the old. I’d reassure the reluctant husband, and urge him to take the leap.

David

DEAR AMY: I was a very reluctant father when my girlfriend got pregnant. We got married quickly. When my daughter was born, I was nervous, but she was a beauty. When she was 4, my wife emerged as an alcoholic, and the responsibility to raise my daughter fell squarely on me. The next four years were tough (to say the least). I became a single dad. I know that sounds like a disaster, but I would not have changed a thing. I have a loving, beautiful daughter, who has grown into a wonderful adult. I was reluctant, but being reluctant was the only thing I would have changed.

Devoted Dad

DEAR AMY: When we got married I told my wife I did not want to have children. Twenty years went by. My wife honored my request, but the biological clock started ticking, and she impressed upon me the fact that most women feel their purpose in life is to create it. I relented. I thought, “Ok, here we go, there’s no turning back now.” Fear held me back, but sometimes you have to throw your hat over the fence. I don’t think I’ve ever loved someone as much as I do our daughter, and this is coming from someone who didn’t want to have children.

A Man and a Father