If you and your spouse are thinking about starting a family, there are many questions you can ask yourselves, including:
Are we ready to be awake at all hours of the day and night?
Can we take care of a newborn? We don't know much about babies.
Do we have enough money to raise a child? Some estimates put raising a child at the staggering cost of over $240,000.
Are we mature enough to be parents?
Are our careers far enough along to become parents?
Do we have room in our house for a child?
Can we give up some of our fun and freedom to become parents?
But the most important question to ask yourself, and the one that really matters, is
Do we have the desire to love and care for a child throughout his or her life?
Articles and experts may tell you that you need to have a certain amount of money or maturity to be a parent. And while some of that is true, you really just need to have enough love. Love is the thing you'll need when you're up with a fussy baby in the wee hours of the morning. Love is what will bond you to your baby and your partner as you work together to raise your child. If you're ready to love a child, you're ready to be a parent.
You can learn to do everything else you need to as a parent, from feeding and newborn care to dealing with toddler tantrums and potty training. Books, experts, and friends and family offer advice, techniques, theories and ideas. Some things will be instinctual, like how to comfort your child. Some aspects of parenting will be easier than others, and each child will bring different challenges.
There are a few practical things to consider. For example, are you in good physical health? Women who are obese or suffer from chronic disease may want to discuss pregnancy with their doctors before they conceive, as complications can occur. Also, are you in a committed relationship? It's easier to raise a child with a partner who is supportive and interested in being a parent. Some people say that children amplify problems in relationships, so make sure yours is in a good place before you bring children into it. Concerns over money and jobs can be dealt with by budgeting and being thrifty.
Here's the truth: even if you are ready, nothing can prepare you for the life-changing event of becoming a parent. But with hope, love and patience, you can do it. Billions of people on the earth can't be wrong.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.