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Old 03-29-2014, 11:28 PM   #61
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My brother died of cancer at age 19; messed us up financially and emotionally.
DW and I definitely worry about the special needs or possibility of a child dying before us and the impact either one has on our lives. Again, that "selfish" comment applies... but I don't think that's necessarily bad.
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:07 AM   #62
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DW and I definitely worry about the special needs or possibility of a child dying before us and the impact either one has on our lives. Again, that "selfish" comment applies... but I don't think that's necessarily bad.
The choice not to reproduce is not selfish. It's self-aware. Would you adopt a pet that you didn't want to become responsible for? Of course not, and you shouldn't. Same logic with a child.
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:43 AM   #63
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Having kids is less of a crap shoot and more of a spin of the roulette wheel. There is one winning number and smaller payoffs if you bet the right color or pattern or whatever is available. There are a lot of ways to lose: handicap or disability, illness, legal trouble, drugs and alcohol to name a few. Then there is the opportunity to raise wonderful children who get killed in our never ending wars. Lots of ways to lose and few chances to win.

I live in an old, established upscale community. Most, not all, most of the grown children are not reproducing. They watched their parent's struggle and want no part of it. My own are clear, no way will they do it.
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:54 AM   #64
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Then again, I am sure there are plenty of people out there who didn't or couldn't have kids that wished they had.
Big differene between didn't and couldn't.

Childless refers to people who want to have kids but are unable to have them (i.e. couldn't). These people wish they had had kids.

Childfree refers to people do not want to have kids whether they are able to or unable to have them (i.e. didn't). These people do not wish they had had kids.

Too many people mistakenly interchange childless and childfree when they in fact describe two vastly different types of people.
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Old 03-30-2014, 11:02 AM   #65
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Big differene between didn't and couldn't.

Childless refers to people who want to have kids but are unable to have them (i.e. couldn't). These people wish they had had kids.

Childfree refers to people do not want to have kids whether they are able to or unable to have them (i.e. didn't). These people do not wish they had had kids.

Too many people mistakenly interchange childless and childfree when they in fact describe two vastly different types of people.

My friend and his wife had "couldn't" and "didn't" happen to them with vastly different results... They "couldn't" conceive so they had medical intervention. But the "didn't" plan on having twins. Now the budget is way tighter on them they planned for (their fault) as they cannot afford to have wife work do to high cost of daycare.


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Old 03-30-2014, 11:18 AM   #66
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With my first wife, we were moneycareer driven and did not have time for kids. Three years after I retired we had our daughter (I was 36) and was glad we waited so I could do everything with her.

With my second wife, I was more hesitant to have a child in my 50's but in retrospect our son now 8 has added so much to our marriage and our lives.

Now, in my 60's and my son is growing, we realize there will be a void in our lives
that has us yearning for another. We are hopeful that 2015 will bring us a new bundle of joy.
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Old 03-30-2014, 11:43 AM   #67
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Too many people mistakenly interchange childless and childfree when they in fact describe two vastly different types of people.
Actually too many people over simplify the meanings of childless and childfree and draw boundaries that in real life are frequently blended. We know folks living lives where some overlap and some are outside of the definitions you propose. It's not as simple as you lay it out............

Additionally, I think the concept of "childfree" has become inappropriately narrow in today's world. The real questions have grown from the simple "should a married couple have a family or not?" to involve same sex couples, single parenting, adoption, foster care giving, interracial marriage and/or child bearing/adoption, government control of child bearing decisions, etc.

It's a big world out there with lots of options beyond should a traditional couple expand their world to include a family. -

Edit: I understand OP's current situation and his desire for discussion which he hopes helps with his decision. Just pointing out that it's a pretty typical, traditional, same old - same old for the past 3 - 4 decades situation. And, there is plenty going on in our, and the world's, social structure involving family and societal patterns that will impact us all, in terms of FIRE, much more that a traditional couple's decision to be childfree or not.
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Old 03-30-2014, 12:03 PM   #68
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Big differene between didn't and couldn't.

Childless refers to people who want to have kids but are unable to have them (i.e. couldn't). These people wish they had had kids.

Childfree refers to people do not want to have kids whether they are able to or unable to have them (i.e. didn't). These people do not wish they had had kids.

Too many people mistakenly interchange childless and childfree when they in fact describe two vastly different types of people.
That's not always true either. With medical intervention, plenty of people who would've been "childless" are now able to conceive and/or have children by other means (not including adoption).

DW and I have pretty much decided that if we choose to try for children, we will not go to extraordinary means. If at some point it becomes clear that God or Mother Nature have dictated that it's not in the cards for us, so be it. In that event, I don't think we'll consider ourselves childless, but of course I am likely understating the emotions involved.
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Old 03-30-2014, 05:52 PM   #69
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I would say about 75% of the time I regret having a child. We waited many years to do it, had no interest at all and then gradually we both wanted it. DH is very cautious and warned, you never know what can happen. Well, It's true and we are part of the ever growing statistics. The last 12 years have had more anguish, heartbreak, anxiety, marital stress and fatigue than I ever could have imagined. Through it all, you're faced with discussing your problems, and then knowing your child is being talked about, or protecting your privacy and then suffering in silence while you listen to everyone's Disney adventures. And I echo the point about very strong social pressure to perpetuate the Hallmark version of parenting. It infuriates me.

I stand by my decision and own the responsibility that it's delivered. But do heed the advice that you need to be ready to accept whatever comes your way.

By the way, the other 25% of the time I'm consumed by the strongest, warmest love that I could never put into words. So there you have it-full disclosure.
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Old 03-31-2014, 12:13 AM   #70
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To me, the choice of whether or not to have children is a personal one, and whatever choice a couple makes is up to them. DW and I chose to have kids because growing up in large families (I am one of 7 and DW is one of 6) we saw both the tough struggles our parents had (the worse was DW losing a brother at a young age) but also the joy they had watching their kids grow up.

We had had both joy and troubles. The worst has been one son who has given us an emotional roller coaster, going from getting a full scholarship to attend a top private university to blowing that scholarship and getting kicked out through bad behavior. That behavior lead him into a crowd and activities that ended up with him serving 18 months in prison. That is not something that makes you feel like a good parent , and I would not wish that experience on anybody . Fortunately since being out he has been on the straight and narrow for 2 years, making enough in a good job to live on his own and now looking at going back to school to complete his degree.

However, we never tried to hide these troubles, and while we know some folks talked about us behind our backs, we developed some very deep friendships with some other couples who have experienced the same thing. The benefit of not having "Disney" kids was learning how many other seemingly "Disney" kids were not, and how grateful many parents were to share each others burdens about that. As much "trouble" as we may think our kids are, others have had it much worse, so we are not complaining.

Financially it certainly delayed us reaching FI, and I could likely have retired 5 years ago. But it was worth it. I didn't have kids I may not have been as motivated to excel at my career and thus achieve the income I have, as providing for them and their future I saw as a big part of my fatherly role.
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Old 03-31-2014, 12:07 PM   #71
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So, I searched the topic and the latest thread on this was back in 2007. Today, I've read two others who are mid-30s, child-free and intending to stay that way. I became curious...

Background: I am 36, DW is 33. We are presently child-free, but are always discussing the should we/shouldn't we. If we do, we will have two. We have a plan in place that would likely allow us to retire forever at (my) age 42 under our present and forecasted (child-free) financial situation. We have a great start even if we have kiddos, and thus would likely be able to retire late-40s or early 50s.

So, for those forum members who are child-free, was there anything that drove you to that conclusion? Or just a "I don't really want kids?" Or were you in the group that thinks "if I don't KNOW that I want kids, I shouldn't have them?"

Wife and I kinda fall in that last group right now. We wonder if we can be the best parents we can be if we aren't just SURE that we want kids. I would say we favor having kids by a 60/40 margin, but neither one of us will commit to one or the other. We do acknowledge the opportunity cost of NOT having kids, and that's what keeps us in the game (the joy, the opportunity to teach and learn from children, the purpose they give to your life - NOT the "I hope they'll take care of me or keep me company"... you can't guarantee that).

Interested in thoughts, or if I missed a more recent thread on this, point me there!! Thanks!
Was I one of the couples you were thinking of?

I am 37 and my husband is 35. I just never had that desire to be a parent or mother. I say that I just lack the motherhood gene, I was born this way. I'd probably be a great human mom, but I am an excellent dog mom. My love for dogs has lead me to be a volunteer in animal rescue for a decade now. I think I can make much more of an impact in the world for thousands of dogs than I could one kid, frankly, if we're going down the whole "I need a purpose" road.

No one "did anything to me" despite my mother asking if I had that horrible of a childhood to not want kids of my own (my sisters each have 2 kids by the way). It really irks me that child-free marks something wrong, undesirable, I haven't found "the one" to father my children yet (as if I wasn't supposed to be with my husband because he didn't spark my ovaries). Like it is something bad! I still get these comments sadly. The look of disgust and scrunched up faces of confusion when someone asks if I have kids, and I say no... It hurts! Although probably worse for people who do want kids but cannot.

I love all my nieces and nephews dearly and look forward to the day they might want to visit us (we're the cool aunt and uncle that camps, canoes and skis).

I like to use the analogy of "Do you want to be president of the United States?" Everyone I have asked so far emphatically says, "NO way!" Huge job/responsibilities with not enough pay? Doesn't look very fun? And you probably have NO DESIRE to even be president, right? I'm like OK, I don't want to be a parent.

But really, the reasons are not in the excuses. It's just that there is simply NO DESIRE and I think that having that DESIRE is pretty dang crucial (in fact the #1 step) if you're going start procreating! It's the hardest job in the world and it's a true roll of the dice!

If you're kind of ho hum about it, then don't do it. If you always pictured grandkids running up to you, but you kind of have to go through this step if you want to make that happen, then maybe do it (I would not though). You cannot always guarantee that they will produce grandkids for you either. Life will be very hard if that was your originally vision (grandkids running up to you). Maybe volunteer at a boys and girls club?

I have friends who were 42 and 45 and their reason was "We better do it now or else we're really old." And that was it. Because their expiration date was coming up, they decided to utilize their reproductive organs. I don't see that as a real desire to be a parent. One parent loves it but man she is tired all the time, the other parent always pulls us off to the side and says, "Don't do it! They'll ruin your life!"

Back when my H and I were dating, I guess I was kind of unsure. Not on the fence, but more like, "What is my 40 year old self going to want?" I was trying to predict what my future, unknown self was going to desire. Let me tell you, that was not working! I had to use the information that I had right now to make my decisions (H was in the same boat as me), and that was I don't have it in me. We also discussed that if any point one of us all of a sudden has this huge DESIRE to be a parent, then we would reassess stuff.
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:32 PM   #72
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Was I one of the couples you were thinking of?

I am 37 and my husband is 35. I just never had that desire to be a parent or mother. I say that I just lack the motherhood gene, I was born this way. I'd probably be a great human mom, but I am an excellent dog mom. My love for dogs has lead me to be a volunteer in animal rescue for a decade now. I think I can make much more of an impact in the world for thousands of dogs than I could one kid, frankly, if we're going down the whole "I need a purpose" road.

No one "did anything to me" despite my mother asking if I had that horrible of a childhood to not want kids of my own (my sisters each have 2 kids by the way). It really irks me that child-free marks something wrong, undesirable, I haven't found "the one" to father my children yet (as if I wasn't supposed to be with my husband because he didn't spark my ovaries). Like it is something bad! I still get these comments sadly. The look of disgust and scrunched up faces of confusion when someone asks if I have kids, and I say no... It hurts! Although probably worse for people who do want kids but cannot.

I love all my nieces and nephews dearly and look forward to the day they might want to visit us (we're the cool aunt and uncle that camps, canoes and skis).

I like to use the analogy of "Do you want to be president of the United States?" Everyone I have asked so far emphatically says, "NO way!" Huge job/responsibilities with not enough pay? Doesn't look very fun? And you probably have NO DESIRE to even be president, right? I'm like OK, I don't want to be a parent.

But really, the reasons are not in the excuses. It's just that there is simply NO DESIRE and I think that having that DESIRE is pretty dang crucial (in fact the #1 step) if you're going start procreating! It's the hardest job in the world and it's a true roll of the dice!

If you're kind of ho hum about it, then don't do it. If you always pictured grandkids running up to you, but you kind of have to go through this step if you want to make that happen, then maybe do it (I would not though). You cannot always guarantee that they will produce grandkids for you either. Life will be very hard if that was your originally vision (grandkids running up to you). Maybe volunteer at a boys and girls club?

I have friends who were 42 and 45 and their reason was "We better do it now or else we're really old." And that was it. Because their expiration date was coming up, they decided to utilize their reproductive organs. I don't see that as a real desire to be a parent. One parent loves it but man she is tired all the time, the other parent always pulls us off to the side and says, "Don't do it! They'll ruin your life!"

Back when my H and I were dating, I guess I was kind of unsure. Not on the fence, but more like, "What is my 40 year old self going to want?" I was trying to predict what my future, unknown self was going to desire. Let me tell you, that was not working! I had to use the information that I had right now to make my decisions (H was in the same boat as me), and that was I don't have it in me. We also discussed that if any point one of us all of a sudden has this huge DESIRE to be a parent, then we would reassess stuff.
I think you were one of them!

Thanks for your thoughts - very similar to our situation. And we are becoming involved with rescue animals - just rescued our first. That may be the road we go down as well, though I definitely do not want six dogs in my house. We'll go with two and then we've discussed working at the rescue as well.

We do have a niece and five nephews that we see on occasion and we enjoy being around them. Speaking for myself only here, I also enjoy giving them back at the end of the day!

Lots to think about... and appreciate the feedback and opinions from both sides!
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:55 PM   #73
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I can respond to this thread in so many different view points.

I was child free until age 39. (Married 11 months earlier - so no good opportunity prior.) I had my second child at age 41. Despite my AMA (advanced maternal age) both births were complication free. I wouldn't change things - the kids add value to my life, despite being PITAs much of the time.

I relate to the comment about treating your kids as personal lab experiments. One child in particular has offered more challenges than most. (Reactive to red dye 40, had medical and psychological professionals label him with ADHD, Oppositional personality, Depression, Anxiety... the list goes on.) Turns out he's got a genetic mutation on the C677T marker of the MTHFR gene. Vitamins (methylized folate) have made a huge difference. (B vitamins weren't getting to his neurotransmitters because he makes a defective enzyme that breaks them down to cross the blood brain barrier.) So, yeah, he's my own personal lab rat as we have tried to figure out what makes him tick.

My best friend is child-free by choice. Never wanted kids. I totally appreciate that POV. Her life is simpler and less complicated. She's had more flexibility to deal with career and personal life curves. Her husband is also in the camp that kid-free is the life for them. He's a high school science teacher - so he deals with teenagers all day.

My sister wanted children and wasn't able to have them. I offered to surrogate for her and BIL, but they decided that they were content in their child-free existance at that point. My sister gets her fill of kids by being a teacher. (5th grade currently, but has taught K and 2nd - and will be switching to middle school math next year.) I don't think she regrets the choice to forgo children, although it was painful for her when they were actively trying to conceive. She spoils my kids - and that's enough for her.
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Old 03-31-2014, 05:17 PM   #74
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I realized after DH and I got engaged that while I looked forward to the marriage part, the mom part was a non-starter. I'm someone who isn't interested in the "job" of motherhood, and at 39, haven't heard a single tick from the biological clock.

Given the huge human population currently on this planet, and our negative impacts to the environment, I also don't think that a below-replacement birth rate and slowly declining population is necessarily a bad thing, and I think remaining childfree is a net positive.

That being said, my advice is to avoid having kids until/unless you develop a burning desire to parent and are in stable relationship and financial states. If/when you meet those criteria, go for it. Otherwise, enjoy your life sans kids.

To be honest, I don't understand the common image of those who regret not having kids melodramatically gnashing their teeth and tearing their hair. Sure, it's a serious regret (one that my brother has), but I don't understand the concept of being inconsolable over missing something that you never had in the first place. But since I'll likely never have the desire to have kids, I won't know.
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Old 04-03-2014, 06:04 AM   #75
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I strongly believe that you should feel a true calling to become a parent before you make the choice to have children. That being said, sometimes both partners don't have the same feelings which can be difficult to deal with.

My desire to be a mom was there from an early age. That was all all I really ever wanted (although I did choose and follow a career path too). Actually one (of the many reasons) my first marriage ended in divorce was because I could see that my ex would not have the ability to be a good father. Too bad I didn't see that before we married but at the age of 21, who knows anything?

Fast forward to my current marriage. DH already had two children and had had a vasectomy because his first wife didn't want more. He was open to pursueing more kids (with me) and he had the reversal surgery. It didn't work. We didn't even go down the infertility treatment road. Just decided to adopt instead. We were both more interested in parenting than passing on our genes . Three adopted children later: best and most wonderful thing we have ever done. Of course there are struggles and trying times but love being a mom to three unique, loving children! My two boys have ADHD and one of them also has learning disabilities. But they are all perfect to me/us. We REALLY wanted children!!! No regrets and would not change it for the world.
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Old 04-03-2014, 07:19 AM   #76
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Yeah, we know, and our "ideal" window (with respect to my job) is probably the next year to year-and-a-half if we decide to start. DW is also employed and doesn't necessarily want to give up her career. One aspect of the FIRE life that we've considered is my retiring at 42 (with mil pension and our savings) and her continuing her career. With her current income and my pension, our savings rate would be very low, but we'd be fine and we have a great start toward FI as is. I could be Mr. Mom... and a kept man.
My wife and I are both retired military. We've been married for 31 years and have 2 beautiful (adult) children that we had while on active duty. They were raised in military life. I couldnt imagine my life without my kids. There is nothing more satisfying than being a parent!! Good Luck with your decision.

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Old 04-04-2014, 10:31 AM   #77
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Hey Folks,

Something quite striking is hiding here in the comments: People with kids say they're happy they had them, can't put a price on the joy, etc. People without them say it was the best decision ever, etc.

I think there's a problem with the question here in that it assumes people make a mostly rational choice (they often do), but then experience the effects of that choice in a logical way (nope!). There's plenty of psychology research out there to demonstrate that people aren't rational when it comes to many things, including events or choices that are seen as not being reversible. Kids are a big example of this and evolution did our species a big favor by making us convince ourselves that it is worth it when they scream all night and constantly soil themselves for the first few years!

DW and I don't have kids ourselves in our early 30s, but we're leaning away from it. I have almost no desire at all and she comes home from work (psychologist often dealing with kids) several times a week and say "let's never have children". She sees a lot of the non-ideal kiddos though...

My point? Have kids if you really want them and you'll probably be super happy you did in 20 years. I wouldn't do it at a 60/40 want/don't want mentality because some part of that is probably due to the fear of future regret. You'll rationalize and be happy about it either way down the line. Can always adopt at 60 if you really regret things.
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Old 04-04-2014, 10:53 AM   #78
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Hey Folks,

Something quite striking is hiding here in the comments: People with kids say they're happy they had them, can't put a price on the joy, etc. People without them say it was the best decision ever, etc.

I think there's a problem with the question here in that it assumes people make a mostly rational choice (they often do), but then experience the effects of that choice in a logical way (nope!). There's plenty of psychology research out there to demonstrate that people aren't rational when it comes to many things, including events or choices that are seen as not being reversible. Kids are a big example of this and evolution did our species a big favor by making us convince ourselves that it is worth it when they scream all night and constantly soil themselves for the first few years!

DW and I don't have kids ourselves in our early 30s, but we're leaning away from it. I have almost no desire at all and she comes home from work (psychologist often dealing with kids) several times a week and say "let's never have children". She sees a lot of the non-ideal kiddos though...

My point? Have kids if you really want them and you'll probably be super happy you did in 20 years. I wouldn't do it at a 60/40 want/don't want mentality because some part of that is probably due to the fear of future regret. You'll rationalize and be happy about it either way down the line. Can always adopt at 60 if you really regret things.
This is a good post, and I agree with it. Both sides of this "debate" have people who absolutely rationalize things to confirm their choice. I have only met two people who were willing to admit they 'regret' having children. Regret isn't the right word: they love their kids, but if given the choice to do it over again, they wouldn't. I suspect the REAL number of people is higher than that, but it's tough to admit and also, subconciously, probably doesn't feel very good to do so! What would your kids think if they overheard or read your words to that effect?

So, it's tough to get a straight, honest answer from parents, and in many cases those who elect to not be parents.

I enjoy people's thoughts on the matter, but we will make our own decision.
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Old 04-11-2014, 06:52 AM   #79
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+1. I'd like to see more of this, too.
+2. Couldn't have said/asked it better.
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Old 04-11-2014, 08:13 AM   #80
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I guess I think of the question more as "Do I want a family" rather than "Do I want kids". I suppose some would say you can have a family without kids but it would be a real stretch for me.

For me, having a family (3 kids, 9 grandkids) is the most rewarding thing that's ever happened to me. Maybe I'm lucky that we have three successful kids with spouses that we enjoy and grandkids that are a hoot.

We are there for each other when we are needed, we enjoy each other's company, and sometimes we go on vacations together. The grandkids seem to love to play with their cousins.

I realize everyone grows older and change in inevitable, but right now the family is priceless to me and my DW. I'm glad we did what we did but I'm sure other's will have different values and should choose their own path in life.
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