Deciding to have a child or not is a huge decision. A child comes with many changes in life and a great deal of responsibility. This is not to be entered into lightly. A baby affects every aspect of life from physical to mental and emotional. It is a very personal choice with no real specific formula to truly determine if you are ready. However, there are some real areas you need to consider before making a final decision. So how do you know? Think about the following areas and questions to help you make an informed decision on whether you are prepared to start a family.
Having a child puts a strain on even the best relationships, so make sure both you and your partner are committed long term. Though parenthood is filled with joy, there is also financial pressure and much less sleep which can break some couples apart. When the relationship is stable then a strong foundation exists for a family. This will help you both cope with the many changes that are to come. Make sure you are not only committed, but willing to commit and that love is part of the equation. Also keep in mind that a baby will not solve any problems or keep someone around. Build the healthy relationship first, then consider a child.
A baby will affect you physically and emotionally as your body changes and emotions run wild. If you already have mental health issues, consult with a therapist before considering pregnancy. A therapist can help you prepare and manage the changes, offering support during transition times, and offering coping skills for all the challenges that may be faced. In addition to a therapist, have a strong support system in place so you can talk, share, and discuss what is happening. While a lack of support should not be the only determining factor, finding support can be highly beneficial.
Talk to your partner openly and honestly when considering children. Both the emotional and practical aspects need to be thought out so a decision you can both be on board with can be found. Ask your partner to honestly share what they are looking forward to and what most concerns them with starting a family. Explore parenting styles from both of you so it is not a surprise when the baby is born. If conflicting ideas come out, now is the time to resolve them. Make sure childcare is also discussed as well so both of you are clear about sharing responsibilities and how work will be divided. Also discuss how you currently support one another and what may need enhanced with a child. Being able to express your needs before having a child is vital.
Babies cost money. Ask yourself if you are financially able to support a child. The birth alone is often expensive, but babies also need food, diapers, wipes, toys, and much more. As the child gets older, expenses increase so make sure your income is stable prior to having a baby. Go as far as to draw up a budget to realistically assess all that will come and plan for the unexpected or an emergency.
Children do not come with instruction manuals, so make sure you have the skills necessary to raise a child. There is no way to know everything, but you can be prepared. Learn effective parenting prior to the baby coming by attending classes, asking people about their pregnancies and parenting styles, and make an informed decision. Find a trusted mentor to help with specifics so the transition to being a parent is a bit smoother. Though each experience will be unique, it is well worth the effort.
Life Will Change
Parenthood requires a drastic lifestyle change in which your time is no longer your own. You will have to learn to put someone else’s needs ahead of yours in time, space, and emotional input. You need to practice healthier habits, create a safe space, and make sure you are willing to sacrifice. Your focus must be on family, not yourself.
Only you and your partner can make the decision to start a family or not. Planning ahead is highly beneficial because you are more equipped to make a realistic decision based on fact, not feeling. This will make you a much more effective parent.