How can you really know?
How can you be sure you’re ready to make the biggest commitment of your life? How do you know you’re ready for the non-stop messes and tears? How can you tell if you’re mature enough emotionally for the daily stresses of children? How do you know if you’re ready for the possibilities of disabilities?
These are questions I ask myself constantly. Watching friend after friend get engaged brings out some strong emotions in me I never realized I had before! A long-time high school friend of mine just put a ring on his girlfriend of 1 year (who I still have never met). I probably won’t be seeing him much anymore! And just last night, one of my girlfriends got engaged last night after 7 long years of courtship! No, neither of these ladies are pregnant (that I know of!), but they always say that babies come sooner than they’re planned for, right? Because of that, I can only imagine these people are going to be bringing little bundles of joy into the world sooner than later.
Are both of these couples I described ready to have kids? That’s a fair, question, isn’t it? Are they even planning on having kids? Have they even talked about it?
If they do want kids, how can they know that they’re really READY? There are a few key indicators that I’ve found through my research on this topic. I am going to share those with you and some that I have discovered through observation of others.
- Are you married?
If you aren’t married, move along. This article is not for you. If you haven’t found a partner to love and cherish for the rest of your life, how do you think you will fare raising another human being for the rest of your life? Kids are not like goldfish.
- If you are the woman, are you willing to quit your career to begin a whole new one called Motherhood? If you are the man, are you willing to take on full financial responsibility to provide for your family?
Your kids will be healthier, happier, and stable. Knowing that Mom will be at home and be available for hugs and kisses at any time is an intangible asset. And a fun fact: your kids will be smarter due to a more nurturing environment. It is much easier to learn, grow, and mature in an environment when kids can feel that they are loved and cared for. Daycare really doesn’t cut it- ask any preschool teacher- they can tell which kids have been raised by a motherly figure or by a stranger in daycare. There is an incredibly evident different in behavior.
Oh, and another added bonus? You will be able to make the decision to home school easier! (This one is just for giggles, not everyone is suited to home school, and I get that.)
- Does your spouse (or you) have a stable job that can support two?
This is a similar question to #2, but it’s a little different. Even if the husband is willing to work his butt off to provide for the family and the wife is happy to stay home, the husband must be able to take home enough money to feed everyone.
At the same time, having both spouses working can be quite expensive too, when you factor in all the things that will have to be done by a third party. Did you know that on average, “stay-at-home moms are worth $117,000 a year” (Scribner, 2014)?! That includes the meal prep, daycare, and cleaning costs. Stay at Home Moms are busy! This doesn’t mean they can’t ever have a career again, but it’s unfair to say that raising kids, cooking, and cleaning isn’t a career. In fact, I would dare say it’s one of the most important careers that exist in the world. I would dare go a step further and say that many of the crimes that I hear about on the new for Detroit would be cut in half if more moms actually raised their kids and more dads stuck around to help with discipline! (Did I just go on a tangent there? Sorry, I’ll control myself a bit better next time!) Anyways, like I was saying, once your kids reach an age where they can be self-sufficient, you can consider working from home. This is only true if you are capable of handling stress and not letting it interfere with being a wife and a mother.
- Do you and your spouse communicate well?
If you and your spouse are constantly disagreeing on things and getting upset with each other, you really need to reevaluate. Adding kids to the equation will increase stress, which will amplify those negative feelings. It would be unfair of you to add kids to the mess of a marriage you already have. If you and your spouse haven’t ever discussed the deep topics, like religion, politics, etc., then perhaps you aren’t ready for kids. To spank or not spank? Were one of you abused as a child? The hardest things to talk about are usually the most important. Better to discuss before there’s a crying baby in your arms.
- Have you agreed on the big 3 topics?
First, how will the children be disciplined? Do you think spanking works? Some do, some don’t, but it’s important that you two agree on this. It can cause misunderstandings and fights. Second, do you plan on raising your children a particular religion? If you don’t but your spouse does (or vice versa) you are leading yourself into a world of spiritual headache. Do not bring kids into this. Lastly, if either of you ever feel that there is a time or place for undermining the other’s authority, you have no business creating children. The last thing a kid needs is one parent who is super lenient and another that is not. This will create instability in the marriage and the child’s relationship with both parents. If one of you is readily willing to undermine the other, that means that your marriage is probably on shaky foundation and needs some patching up.
Maybe you have already discussed all these things with your spouse. If so, great! You might just be on the path to having kids with them!
- Have you been together for 3 years as a married couple?
This question refers more to the idea that you cannot be in the honeymoon stage when you make this life-altering decision. Having kid’s needs to be a spiritual, emotional, and logical decision. It is not one that should be taken lightly and should not just be pillow-talk. It needs to be coffee-shop, pros and cons list conversation.
- Why do you want children?
Do you want kids because you think they’re fun and will make you happy? Then you are making a selfish decision. On the other hand, if you want to introduce a new soul into the world, I encourage you to do so. If you want to invite a left-behind soul into your home to help raise what someone else was unable to, then I encourage you to adopt. Adoption is a noble decision and I commend parents that have grown their families this way.
Before a child is even conceived, I would encourage the parents to read through these questions and talk about them in depth. If there are big areas where the two of you disagree, it’s best to not have kids. Even if you think its okay for now, and that you can deal with the disagreement later, realize that one of you is going to bend. And whoever bends on any of these decisions will feel resentment. That resentment will be unhealthy for everyone’s relationships. The spousal relationship will be strained. The parent-child relationship will be strained.
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