How to Decide to Have Children
Figuring out whether or not you want to have a baby is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. Some people seem to consider having children an automatic step after a couple gets married, or when a woman reaches a certain age.
It’s more than OK to spend some time thoughtfully reflecting on whether or not this big step is for you.
You’re Financially Ready
In 2014, CNN reported that on average, it costs a quarter of a million dollars to raise a child, not including the cost of sending him to college.
With this in mind, take an inventory of your finances, as well as your work situation and ask yourself if you’re ready to take on the monetary strain that having a child will bring into your life, counsels psychotherapist Joyce Marter, who was quoted in a Psych Central article by Margarita Tartakovsky.
If you’re one half of a couple, discuss finances with your partner and work out a budget to see how you would financially handle a child. Don’t be afraid to have this discussion. Marter says that conflicts over money are a major contributor to relationship problems.
You’re In It for the Long Haul
When you think about yourself with a child, don’t get stuck on the image of you rocking an adorable infant to sleep.
This is a lifelong commitment you’ll be making, says former psychologist and media personality Dr. Phil McGraw in the article “Should You Have a Baby?” on his website. Your infant will grow into a teenager, a notoriously difficult stage for many families.
It’s important that you step into parenthood with your eyes open and are interested in taking on this responsibility in both the good times and the bad.
Prepare for the Changes
Having a child brings with it major life changes. Not only is there no realistic way to fully prepare to be a parent, but many parents find that they struggle to find enough time, money and even energy to do the job they want to do, caution the experts at BabyCenter in the article “Is Parenthood for You?” Parenthood is a job with no days off, and there will be little time for you to recharge your batteries.
Your entire life will be centered upon your child, and there will be little to no room for your own wants and needs.
Have Children for the Right Reasons
It’s important that you and your partner honestly answer the question, “Why do we want children?” There are a number of factors that shouldn’t be playing a major role in your decision, counsels psychologist Michael S. Broder in an article for the Huffington Post.
For instance, you shouldn’t have children in response to pressure — either real or perceived — from your friends with kids or from a parent whose fondest wish is to have grandchildren. A child should never be a solution to save a floundering marriage, writes Broder.
The “right reasons” are all about you and your partner, not anyone else. If you don’t have a partner, you can still answer these questions. Just answer them for yourself.