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Ready to be parents? Ask yourselves these questions

Relationship dynamics change when you become parents. (Source: Getty Images)

By Ritika Jain

If your in-laws or significant others have pestered you into having a baby soon, you need to take a deep breath and think about why you want to bring new life into this world. Becoming parents should not be a sentimental, impulsive move but a planned, committed decision. It’s the start of a new chapter in your life and no one ever said it’ll be easy. It will be disorienting and test your patience, it will be tiring, it’ll be anything but ‘romantic’. Ponder over these questions to know if you’re truly ready.

1. Are you and your partner fully committed to your relationship and have discussed wanting kids?

Not all of us are great communicators. A lot of important discussions never take place at the time they should and it’s often in hindsight that people understand the enormity of their decisions. A majority of Indians tie the knot under family pressure and then are under pressure to produce heirs. It’s wonderful to be parents but it doesn’t have to be something you tick off by a certain age. It means added responsibilities and partnership all the way, so you must be confident enough of your commitment to each other.

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2. Are you emotionally ready to have a little person firmly wedged between the both of you for eternity?

Relationship dynamics change when you become parents. There’s a shift from free-wheeling, impromptu plans to a more disciplined way of life. Not only is your physical space compromised, you have to share each other with a third entity who’s constantly demanding attention and time. Since there’s no school for these life skills, it only helps if you’ve closely observed the daily struggles of a couple raising children. Only when you’re emotionally secure, will you be able to provide a stable home for your children. Moreover, even if you didn’t have a successful marriage, you’d still be co-parenting or taking the responsibility for the child.

3. Do you have an equal partnership? Or are your roles clearly defined?

Cultural context is important. While one household may be patriarchal/matriarchal with defined roles for men and women, another may take a more flexible approach. It’s also easier to navigate unknown territory when some preparation has been made in advance. Eg. If you’ve arranged for adequate house help, it’ll take the load off the both of you somewhat. Furthermore, you could decide to take turns for regular chores or divide them according to competence. Either way, it’s important to gauge the level of participation you can expect from your partner in order to not be disappointed later.

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4. Could you rely on the help of extended family so you both could get time to yourselves every now and then?

It really does take a village to raise a kid. In all fairness, it would be very hard for couples to get along if they couldn’t carve out their own time to unwind once in a while. It doesn’t hurt to ask for favours and let grandparents or reliable uncles and aunts take charge for a while. The more you try to be in control and protect your child, the more afraid they’ll be to mix socially.

5. Have you discussed the importance of religion or other belief systems with your partner? Do you allow the other to practice their own faith? What would the child be guided towards?

This is a tricky area for inter-faith marriages. Since faith is a very personal concept but not necessarily something one shouldn’t be guided towards since childhood, it could help to draw a plan so you don’t bicker over it later. A good idea would be to expose the child to both ways and let him/her choose for themselves when they grow up.

6. Have you discussed long-term goals or the kind of life you’d want for your family? Does it involve moving to another place?

It cannot be emphasised enough that people can overlook flaws in a partner but will very likely wither if forced to live a life not of their own choosing. Eg. If you dream of living abroad but your partner is happy with a family support system here, your potentially happy life may turn to one of resentment. You simply should not force your will on another person. Instead, you must win your partner’s confidence by discussing all the pros and cons of a big move and respecting their say in the decision.

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7. Do your finances allow you to have a comfortable life for yourself and have medical cover for your family?

There are numerous things one saves up for but this is probably the most important reason. The well-being of our kin is something all of us hold dear. One can never be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. Eg. If your child had special ne, it would certainly put your budget into overdrive and translate to one of the parents being indispensable for the care of the child. Setting financial goals can be daunting but are a necessary aspect of partnership.

8. Are you aware of the cost of educating a child? Have you made a realistic budget for the coming few years?

Besides medical expenses, the other big ticket is our children’s education. Equipping the child to be able to be independent later in life is also a parent’s responsibility. A good education is like the foundation stones of their future. One should make a realistic plan, keeping inflation in mind.

9. If you’re adopting, have you researched well enough to understand the psychological aspects of it?

Most importantly, you must educate everyone around you to accept your adoptive child as a family member. There may be others (if you have a joint setup) who may not share your views on adoption. It’s imperative for the psychological well-being of the child to be nurtured with unconditional love, just like any child should.

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