Open and honest communication is an important part of a successful relationship. It is imperative for both partners to be on the same page when it comes to big life decisions, such as having children. If one person wants to have children and the other doesn’t, this can lead to a lot of problems down the road. Starting a family isn’t something that you want one person to compromise on. It’s a major decision that will change your day-to-day life for years, and not something that one person should do if they aren’t ready and willing.
What the Research Says
Research has shown that being mismatched, when it comes to having children, can present a problem for you and your partner. Interviews with couples have demonstrated that there are three different decision-making types when it comes to children: mutual early articulators, mutual postponers, and nonmutual couples (Lee & Zvonkovie, 2014).
Mutual early articulator couples are those who make the decision early in the relationship not to have children. Mutual postponer couples are those who eventually agree not to have children, because neither member feels strongly about parenthood. Finally, nonmutual couples are those who draw out the process of arriving at a decision as to whether or not to have children, as the couple is mismatched. This can lead to problems in the relationship. To avoid drawing out this process, it is best to have a frank discussion early on (Lee & Zvonkovie, 2014).
Repeat: I am not a short-order cook. "It's a child's job to learn to eat what the parents eat," says Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian and the author of Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family. Instead of the all-or-nothing scenario, offer a variety of foods at mealtime: the main course, plus rice or pasta, a fruit or vegetable, and milk. This way, your child can eat just the pasta and the peas and get protein from the milk. "What a child eats over the course of a day or a week is more important than a balanced meal at one sitting," says Stephen Daniels, the chairman of the department of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in Aurora.
Having a conversation about children is something you should do before making a commitment to your partner. The topic of children and families is becoming more and more common early on in the dating process, though it is usually in a more hypothetical sense. Often the idea of eventually wanting children is brought up, which is a great way to tell if you two have the same vision for the future.
Some Questions to Ask if You Decide to Have Children
Beyond just discussing whether or not you want a family, it is also important to tackle issues related to when you want to start, how large a family you want, and how you envision raising your child/children. Below are some questions to consider when you have the family discussion with your partner.
- When do you want to start a family?
- How large of a family do you want?
- Do we have our finances in order to be able to support a family right now?
- Where do we want to raise our children?
- How will we divide the responsibilities when it comes to taking care of our children?
- Will one of us stop working to raise the children? Or, will we look into daycare or hiring someone to help?
- How will we decide on names for our children?
- What role will religion play in our children’s lives?
- What role will our families play in our children’s life?
- What type of schooling do we want our children to have (private, public, etc.)?
The more detailed the discussion, the better, as you can never be too prepared when it comes to your future family.