By TMoM Team Member Dennette Bailey

There are many factors to consider when planning parenthood. For this blog, I am going to focus on what I think are the six most important factors to consider. These tend to be uncomfortable topics; however, as an educator and advocate for children, I am compelled to be the whistleblower.

I have talked with many individuals who have wished they could express the following to a loved one but feared the loved one would never speak to them again. So, my hope is that readers will recognize these factors to consider with the love and concern for which it is intended—for the well-being of all involved. Also, please recognize that this blog is for those thinking about whether to expand their family; therefore, this is not an article about unplanned pregnancies

So, what the six factors to consider?

First Factor to Consider: Your Time is No Longer Your Own

When you have children, your schedule will be based on your child. You may experience some flexibility on this issue if you have dependable childcare or you can afford to have a live-in nanny or nurse -should that be your choice. But this time issue means you may only be able to sleep when your baby sleeps. It means if your child is sick or the daycare is closed, you will be the one caring for them or you will be the one responsible for finding alternate care. You might need a mental day, but you might not get one. That yearly girl’s or guy’s trip may not happen. Your child will be your responsibility 24/7.

Second Factor: Do You Have a Support System?

Many people in society today move away from home, and as a result, they don’t live near family or friends that they trust to help them take care of their children. This could mean if you have a special event you might have to miss it or you might have to take your child with you on the date. It might mean missing an important appointment because your child had developed a more significant need.

I have heard many parents complain that they moved to the area because a significant family member also lived in the area, only to discover that this family member was not available to them. Just because you would do something for someone doesn’t mean they will, or can, do it for you. Also, don’t assume that a retired family member or a family member with a light workload is willing to be your support system. Remember, life is about choices and we should not assume someone else’s choice is to be a “built-in” babysitter.

Third Factor: Where Will You Live?

It might be hard to believe, but children grow up fast. Picking the right neighborhood is extremely important because of the school district for which you will be zoned. Are you willing to change your living conditions for your child? You may like the neighborhood you live in, but will it offer your child the education and safety they need? Saving money by living beneath your means while your child is young and preparing to move when it is time for them to enter school for example, could be a good plan.

Fourth Factor: Children are Not Born with a Manual

While there are hundreds of “How To” manuals available, every child is different. There are no guarantees and no catalogues from which to handpick your child. Do you want a child to love and nurture, or do you want a mini-me? Will you be devastated if your child does not turn out the way you thought they would?  Choose parenthood because you want to love and nurture a child, as opposed to expecting that a child can satisfy your need to be loved or fulfill some unrealized void. The latter is very difficult for a child to bear.

Fifth Factor: Are You in a Position to Have a Child?

Do you feel confident mentally, and financially to take care of a child? Are you in a safe living condition? Ae you willing to learn for the benefit of your child? Do you have time to spend with a child? Do you like being around other children? None of these requires that you be rich with material items. But you must be rich in love for yourself and a child. You must have the mental energy to care about your child more than anyone else -AND be happy about it.

Sixth Factor to Consider: Do you Want to Dedicate Your Life to a Child?

Is the thought of having children exciting to you? When you imagine having a child do you imagine all the fun and nurture you can give to a child? If you do not, don’t blame yourself or judge yourself harshly. You have a right to pursue other passions without any pressure to have children when you are not ready. Children are extremely intuitive, and they can feel our energy when, as adults, we’d rather be otherwise occupied. They know when they are not a priority, and this can be devastating to their self-esteem and sense of belonging.

While there are a number of factors to consider when planning parenthood, I wanted to focus on these six. I wish this could be an emotionally correct “Having Children is Awesome” article, but, as an educator, I have seen too many children suffer. Not necessarily due to intentional abuse or neglect, but because sometimes parents just do not have the skills, nor desires to learn how to be a parent first. Thus, I will be the whistleblower and say it: having children is serious work.

Thinking about All the Factors to Consider

Please take note of these factors to consider first. Do not let society pressure you into growing your family if it isn’t truly something you want. Again, this article is not intended to address matters of unplanned pregnancies. This advice is for those who simply never realized that planning to have children, or planning not to have them, must be a deliberate choice. No one ever told you that being with your child all the time, with little to no time for yourself, must be something you honestly want. Consider these factors and you will be much more prepared for whatever decision you make.

For other perspectives on this topic, visit these TMoM blogs:
~ I Didn’t Know
~ 10 Tips for New Moms
~ What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Being a Parent
~ Being a New Mom is Hard…Why Don’t We Talk about It?

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