If & When To Become Parents
By Rachael Pace
When it comes to parenting, it’s important for you and your partner to be on the same page.
If you’re planning on starting a family, there are a lot of things to think and talk about. When should we do it? What will our parenting styles be? How will we emotionally support each other, while nurturing a child? The list goes on.
Discussing what getting pregnant and starting a family will mean for job and careers, finances, living situations and your relationships will have both short-term and long-term benefits for you both.
If having children isn’t on your radar yet, start with the conversation about how best to prevent pregnancy. Birth control and not having sex are options. No matter your point of view, this is a good starting conversation and a first big step in finding out if you’re on the same page.
Understanding Your Partner
Open and honest communication with your partner is a real benefit for your relationship, including for the conversation about if and when to become parents. Taking the time to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings about why, if, and when you want to have children is key. Recognize, too, that attitudes and feelings about it may change over time, which is part of why it is important to keep talking.
Disagreeing about when or if to have children is a pretty common disagreement. That disagreement can be hard on a relationship and is likely to create frustrations. What might help ease that frustration is making the effort to really understand what’s behind your partner’s feelings and decision – emotional as those conversations may be.
If you are open to starting a family, talk to each other about how you were raised and how you want to parent your own children. Again, these conversations will help you both get on the same page about next key steps.
Discussing your Birth-Control Plan
If you’re not ready to have children yet, talk about you plan for preventing pregnancy until you decide you want to become pregnant.
A wide-range of birth control methods are available – but again, you (and perhaps together with a health care provider) will have some decisions to make. Some methods are effective for longer periods of time than others, some require daily attention and others no attention for a few years. Hormonal and non-hormonal methods are available. Condoms prevent STIs, others don’t. With all methods, you’re in charge of deciding what to use, and when to stop using it if you’re ready to become pregnant.
For more information about each method, including side effects, check the info here.
As you head down the path to parenting, it can be helpful to start to think about some issues that will be relevant to how you bring up your child. Now, you don’t need to know everything about being a parent before you get started, but here are a few things to ponder:
- Early feeding – will mom pump her milk, use formula or a combo? This answer can impact your schedules, work-life and more.
- Diet – If one of you is paleo or vegan, will you raise your child to follow that lifestyle or allow them to make their own choices?
- Attitude – Learning to laugh at life’s little surprises will be beneficial for both you and your child-to-be. Studies show that positive parental outlooks on life have a positive effect on child behavior. The happier you are as parents, the happier your child will be.
- Childcare – If you both work and plan to continue to after the baby comes, it is a good idea to discuss what sort of childcare you will use, how to find it and understand the costs – whether it be help from family members, day care or a baby sitter.
- Splitting parenting duties – How will you split your parenting joys and duties? If one falters, how can the other show support and pick them up.
- Religion – If you and your partner practice the same faith, deciding how you will raise your little may be fairly straightforward. For those with differing views on religion and spirituality, talking through your approaches to sharing these perspectives with you child to have a balanced view can be useful.
- Punishments – Having an agreed-on approach to consequences for a child’s bad actions can reduce stress and divisions between parents.
These are the kinds of questions that are good to go over with your partner. Doing so will help you both feel more confident about your new partnership as parents.
Creating a Timeline
If you want to have children, when will you start trying to get pregnant? Some people live by the “if it happens, it happens!” method. (We’d be remiss not to remind me that you don’t need to leave this situation to fate). Others take careful steps to ensure pregnancy by tracking the ovulation cycle, starting to take folic acid before conception, and learning the best sex positions for conceiving.
Those looking to wait a little longer before becoming parents are wise to create a timeline. Perhaps there is something standing in your way of giving your undivided attention to raising a child. You may have school or training to finish, or be on the cusp of a new work opportunity. Maybe a move across the country is not too far off. Issues on your personal timeline are good ones to include in your discussions about when to get pregnant.
Time to Prepare
One of the benefits of talking about your desires (or lack thereof) to have children is giving yourself time to prepare for the time that’s right for you.
Raising a child is expensive. It is estimated that the yearly expense of raising a child is a whopping $192,000 or $16,000 a month. Of course this cost will vary depending on lots of things – but in any case, these expenses are nothing to bat an eye at.
Having children can also affect your emotional outlook. Becoming a family changes your relationship dynamic with more “love interests” in your life. How you share and receive love will start to be a little different. This can be a really fun thing to talk about before and while you’re a parent.
Concluding thoughts: You and your partner being on the same page about if and when to be a parent is a sound way to enter that new stage of life. So Just Talk About It! If you’d like a few ideas about how to get the conversation started, here’s a little assist.
Author Bio: Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.
April 10, 2019