Imagine this: you recently walked past the Carter’s store in the mall and saw cute little white mannequins dressed in chambray shirts and camouflage pants. You also see the small leggings, jean jackets, and onesies, and you feel a strange yearning in your heart. You begin to wonder, “How do I know when I’m ready to have children?” In your mind, you start tallying up the convincing evidence, like how long you’ve been married and the fact that your parents have been asking for grandchildren.
You also consider your increased interest in holding babies and your desire to buy baby clothes. But are these signs that you’re ready to have children? Remember, this question isn’t one for your parents or loved ones, so there’s no need to take a poll. However, if you’re married, this question should start regular discussions with your spouse. Even if you feel like you know what your spouse wants, don’t be afraid to ask again. Feelings and opinions can change over time, especially after a stroll through Carter’s. Here are some signs that you’re not ready for children.
Only one person feels ready.
If one spouse feels ready and the other doesn’t, you’re not prepared as a couple. When you’re married, parenting is a couple event. You could go into it with the thought that the unready party will eventually warm up to it, but this idea may cause unnecessary complications. In order to alleviate this problem, it would be best to wait until both parties are ready. While you wait, try to figure out what caused the hesitation. Maybe one of you wasn’t in a good place emotionally or still has some growing to do. The reason doesn’t matter, but how you handle one spouse not being ready shows how ready you are.
If you’re single, you shouldn’t ask yourself if you’re ready for kids. Instead, you should ask yourself if you’re prepared to be a single parent, and that question holds the total weight of what single parenting is.
You don’t handle conflict well.
If you or your spouse argue, complain, nag, or nit-pick about what the other does or doesn’t do, or does someone always has to be right? The humor about couples that disagree a lot is most would say they don’t fight much. In their minds, heated conflict is healthy, or they enjoy lively discussions from different perspectives. They claim that it’s just their personality or blame their culture. However, you’re not ready for children if you can’t discuss who will wash the dishes or how much to spend within the budget.
Before having kids, the worst thing that can happen is credit card debt or a sink full of dirty dishes. The worst that can happen with mad parenting is you create an environment for your child filled with fear, insecurity, abuse, and possibly divorce. The home environment you make will form the backdrop for your kid’s personality. It could create fear and insecurity that will stay with them for the rest of their lives, and their behavior will mirror yours.
Before considering adding to your family, you and your spouse should learn how to handle conflict appropriately. You should consider attending Bible study, seeing a counselor, or getting a mentor. Handling conflict is a maturing process that doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t have to have it all figured out right now, but you should at least be willing to figure it out together.
Your income is tight.
Before welcoming a bundle of joy to your family, you should look at your income, budget, maternity leave, work schedule flexibility, and healthcare coverage. Will mom stay at home or go back to work? What are childcare costs? If one spouse has to work longer hours, how will that affect family time? What about emergencies like a lay-off?
Consider the stress that comes with budgeting. Children are expensive; think about all the diapers you’ll use in the child’s first year. Ask yourself the hard questions, like can you afford the expenses of a child? Do you have any sick days from work? Is there wiggle room in your budget for unexpected expenses related to your child’s schooling and health? Unfortunately, these are why most millennial couples are waiting longer to have kids. On the other hand, they have to handle the weight of waiting and running the risk of not getting pregnant.
If you’re in this position, take a deep breath and realize that you can’t plan for everything, but you can be smart and think about all the angles now. Take this opportunity to discuss your money plans in general. You don’t have to be rich to have children, but it’s not a good idea to stretch yourself thin financially, and it helps if you and your spouse are on the same page.
You have emotional baggage.
No one wants to admit to having serious problems to change their life plans. You may have some fears about your mom’s insecurity or your dad leaving, but you’re a grown-up now, so you think you’re okay, but are you? Before having children, make sure that you’re really fine. Emotional baggage can manifest in numerous ways, like rage, paranoia, manipulation, co-dependency, mood swings, or distrust. Regardless of your baggage, you have to deal with the issues in your emotional realm for your home’s health and yours.
If you are dealing with emotional baggage, it may be best to talk to someone about them before having kids. This may be the time to consider going to therapy or finding a counselor to discuss your issues. That way, you’ll have everything out in the open, and you can fix them before welcoming your new addition.
The decision of whether or not you’re ready to have children shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a choice that will change the course of your life as you know it. Before having children, you and your spouse should sit and discuss your readiness seriously. You won’t regret the conversation, and your child will thank you.