Written By: Caroline Meyer
No matter how many quizzes and questionnaires you fill in which attempt to tell you statistically if you are ready to be a parent, at the end of the day, no one can tell you for sure. No one can say how you will manage when you are sleep deprived and when the finances are really tight from all the extra expenses. No one can guess how your body will react to the pregnancy and the recovery afterwards. No one can advise you of your ability to deal with everything that bringing another life in to the world entails. And at the end of the day, you can only do so much to prepare. Here are a few questions you may want to ask yourself before deciding to go ahead and conceive, but remember, at the end of the day, it is a personal decision that no one else can make for you.
Are your reasons the right reasons?
A child should not be brought in to the world to try and solve a problem. Don’t have a child to try and save a relationship, to receive an inheritance or to stop everyone nagging at you about it. This generally brings more stress and strain and seldom solves the problem and you still have to bring up your baby. Your baby should also not be a substitute for love that has been lost. Yes, your child will probably love you, but they should be the ones being filled with love instead of being responsible for filling a gap in your own life. Your child should be wanted and you should be committed to spending the next part of your life taking care of your child and raising them up as best you can.
Are you ready to make sacrifices?
Are you ready to give up your time to a little person as often as they need it? Are you ready to stop doing things spontaneously? Can you commit to a schedule for your baby’s sake? Can you give them your full attention 24/7 if that is what they need? You may also have to sacrifice that new pair of shoes or mobile phone so your little one can go on a school outing or get braces fitted. You have to be willing to put your needs second to that of your child for as long as they may need you to.
Are you ready to love unconditionally?
Many of us still need to spend time working on ourselves and letting go of emotional pain so that we can fully love again. Many people come from background of being abused, hurt, damaged emotionally and even physically. That can hamper your ability to love someone unconditionally. You have to be ready to give love and nurture a little one before you decide to have a baby.
Are you able to take care of yourself?
This may sound a bit silly, but many people do not put effort in to their own health and well-being. You have to be prepared to take care of your own emotional and physical self so that you can be the best possible parent to your child and you do not put your life at risk by falling pregnant. If you are physically healthy and emotionally stable, you are better able to support and care for your child.
Are you ready to parent?
There are no instruction manuals. You can read as many baby books as you want, with many conflicting ideas and opinions. You baby may be stereotypical or may fall on any side of the norm or be a combination of behaviours. Your child will test your limits in various ways and how will you learn to cope? Do you have any mentors or people you look up to that have children? Are you part of any parental support groups that may be able to give you advice? Can you join any local parent education groups to get help? You may be able to cope perfectly on your own, but if not, it is good to have some type of support to help you.
Can your relationship handle a third?
While many single parents are able to raise healthy, stable children it is good to have support of people that can offer nurturing and love, beyond the parent. When you bring a baby in to a relationship, you need to be ready for the relationship to take a bit of a back seat in the first year of your baby’s life. Sleep deprivation, lack of funds and time can stretch a relationship very thin. You need to be committed to each other and your progeny, be able to work together as a team and be able to talk to each other and support each other. If your relationship is already under a lot of strain, bringing a child in to the mix may stress both of you to breaking point.
Can you afford a baby?
Babies are expensive. Even if you breastfeed, there are many other costs such as clothing, medical expenses, education and so forth. On average it costs around AUD 300,000.00 plus to raise a baby from birth to 18 years without any subsidies. You also have to know that you have a cushion in the event of one of you losing your job or becoming ill, so that you can still take care of your child adequately. This is the ideal situation though and may not always be possible, but it is something to consider so that your family does not have to suffer due to lack of finances.
These are just considerations and no one can actually decide for you if you are ready to have a baby. If you really want to have a baby and you are not bending to societal pressure or the fear of time running out for your fertility and you feel you are ready, don’t let any article or quiz tell you differently. For the most part, most mothers figure it out as they go along.