They say you can never truly be prepared for kids, but ignorance is definitely not bliss in this scenario. So many people become parents without really knowing what they were getting into. It’s the most serious commitment you can make in life and one that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. There’s also the big question…do you actually want children or is it just something you feel like you should do because it’s ‘normal’?
Before deciding to have children, there are some key things to think about and discuss with a partner:
- Relationship changes: Parenting puts a strain on all couples as the focus shifts to the child. Children are never the answer to ‘fixing’ a relationship, so until you know you are ready for the responsibility and are a solid couple, safe sex needs to be a priority. If you do decide on having children, how will you make time to prioritise each other to avoid dissatisfaction and cheating? What happens if you break up…are you able to be a single and/or co-parent?
- Impact on a vulva owner: Pregnancy and childbirth are brutal and bodies don’t ‘bounce back’ in most instances after childbirth. Stretch marks, sagging, weight gain etc are all normal after pregnancy. Postpartum body dysmorphia can occur and a person might have long term identity and mental health issues after giving birth (I suggest everyone read The Vagina Bible to learn more…especially penis owners!)
- The unexpected: Around 1 in 47 babies has a congenital birth defect…are you and your partner prepared to care for a child with special needs? Also, you may want biological children but find out you can’t have them…how will you handle that?
- Parenting roles: In cis het couples, most of the parenting and domestic responsibility still falls on women. Parenting isn’t just playing footy with your kids once a week. It’s changing nappies, midnight feeds, laundry, cooking and sharing of all domestic responsibilities. The expectation of how these are distributed needs to be established beforehand. Research has actually shown that the sharing of household responsibilities increases partner satisfaction and the amount of sex a couple has in cis het relationships! This episode of The Man Enough Podcast takes a deep dive into this topic.
The heteronormative family model of mum, dad and 2.4 children is still predominant in society but that doesn’t mean it has to be for you. Family can be anything you make it and having children should be an informed decision, not just done because it’s the norm. You are the one who has to deal with the consequences, so do what’s right for you. Ultimately, that might be choosing to be child free and that’s ok.