The 6 Questions Every Couple Needs to Ask Themselves Before Having a Kid
Everyone knows that having a baby is a big decision, but how do you know if you're ready to take the leap? Here are the most important questions you and your partner should answer before becoming parents.
“What is the state of our relationship?”
If you think you might be ready for your first child, take a close look at your relationship first. Gary Brown, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles with over 25 years of experience working with expectant and new parents, believes an honest evaluation of the state of your relationship is an important first step on the path the parenthood. Having a baby changes everything, including your romantic relationship. “You really have to be honest about whether your relationship can endure the natural demands and responsibilities of parenthood,” Dr. Brown told us. Children need stability and support and the answer to this question reveals if your relationship is strong enough for the challenge of raising a child. Here are 15 signs your relationship is solid as a rock.
“What freedoms will I give up that I have now? What will I miss the most?”
“Once a baby arrives, some of the freedoms you have, both individually and in your relationship, will disappear,” says Erika Boissiere, a couples and marriage licensed therapist. From leaving the house on a whim to having time to read a book to random nights out with your friends, you will miss them. “Those who thrive off of spontaneity, having lots of obligations, or just like to be ‘busy’ struggle in this category. They can feel that their entire identity has changed, and it can be a precursor to depression, anger, or moodiness,” she says. To prepare yourself, and your partner, for changes to the freedoms you currently have in your life, Boissiere suggests talking openly about the things you will miss the most and working on a plan to keep some of these things in your life after your child arrives.
“What is our parenting style?”
At first, parenthood revolves largely around making sure your baby is fed and has her diaper changed regularly. Soon enough, however, you and your partner will need to agree about a parenting style or how your want to discipline and train your child. “Different parenting styles can create a lot of stress in a relationship,” Boissiere said. “How do you navigate areas in your relationship where there is no hard and fast truth? If you are someone that can be rigid, inflexible, or have a desire to be ‘right,’ you may have trouble when it comes to parenting style.” Before your child arrives is a great time to start talking about these differences in opinion and discussing what compromises you might be willing to make to establish a unified approach to parenting.
“How will we handle division of labor?”
Becoming a parent adds a lot of work to your everyday life. Before you make the decision to have a baby, you should also talk through how you will split up the new workload after your little one’s arrival. “Couples who have a ‘tit for tat’ mentality struggle tremendously in this category,” Boissiere explains. “Division of labor becomes one of the most important relationship ingredients following a baby. An entire new workload appears on both of your plates, and much of it is ‘grunt work.’ Ordering diapers, changing the baby, feeding the baby in the middle of the night, breast pumping, cleaning the bottles… the list goes on. Who will do it? How will you trade off? If one is carrying too much, how do you talk about it?”
“Do we have a good support system in place?”
Both during your pregnancy and after your baby is born, you will find you need help from the people closest to you. From encouragement during the hard days of early parenthood to babysitters when you need a date night, start thinking now about the people you want in your life when you become a parent. “I can’t emphasize enough just how important it is to have a good support system,” says Dr. Brown. “You’re going to need some help. Start building your support system as soon as you decide to have a baby.” Find out ways babies are even smarter than you realized.
“Are our finances ready for a baby?”
Perfect finances aren’t necessary for a happy and healthy family, but it is helpful to take a good look at your finances before you take the leap. Soon-to-be-parents will need to determine how they will provide for their child’s needs and how their finances will determine who will care for their child. With both parents work? If not, will your finances allow for a stay-at-home parent?