Considerations Before Having a Baby

by Joanne Baum, Ph.D.

Has anyone ever told you that parenting may not be as natural as sperm meets egg, they connect, and voila you become parents 9 months later? Okay, so that's the "technical end" of becoming a parent. But just because you leave the hospital with baby in tow are you a "parent?" And, is it enough to be a parent or do you want to be a great parent so you can raise a great, well adjusted, ready to meet the world kid? Umm, some things to think about.

Have you and your partner/spouse considered whether you should be parents or whether you are bowing to social pressures? Have you two talked about what being a parent might mean to each of you? Do you have similar beliefs, expectations, and hopes about raising a child and being parents together? Maybe the first six questions to ask yourselves before making that important decision of should we or shouldn't we become parents are:

  1. Do we want/need to be parents to have a full and vital life as adults together?
  2. What does being parents mean to us?
  3. Do we have what it takes to be "great" parents?
  4. How would we define our roles as mom and dad?
  5. What do you expect of me?
  6. How do we want to operate as a parenting team?

Do you realize that most people become parents without thoroughly discussing how each was raised and how you intend/fantasize/desire to raise your child? They just assume, "It'll work once the kid is here." But then they run into problems like:

1) What do you mean you want me to give up golf because it takes me away from home for 5 hours and you and the baby are left alone? or
2) What do you mean we can't still go out every week because we can't afford a babysitter and the baby needs us? or
3) What do you mean you don't want to spank the baby when she's "bad."

Adults becoming parents make a lot of assumptions usually based on a fantasy that, "It'll work out and we'll naturally agree and do this well." When those fantasies don't work out you don't even know where to begin to communicate about the differences you're seeing and how upset you are because your wonderful partner is letting you down; and not just you, your partner is letting you and the baby down.

You often wonder, "Why didn't I see this before?" The answer is twofold -- you didn't see it because: a) you never looked, you never discussed, you never shared ideas and expectations; and b) you were blinded by your fantasies and assumptions so...