EVEN if you know you want children and have found the right person to have them with, the decision to have them can seem overwhelmingly complex.

Between the financial implications of raising a family, the very real impact that having a baby can have on women’s careers, the pressure to “achieve whatever you want to achieve” or have all the fun you can before you go. No baby turns your life upside down – and balances it all against the eye-rolling recall of our “biological clocks,” it’s no wonder it’s overwhelming.

And then there’s the little problem of feeling emotionally ready to take full responsibility for a tiny person – their safety, health, and happiness, and who they’ll become. On top of that, it’s the one decision in life that you can never go back on.

Societal expectations

Of course, it became more common and accepted to have children later – the average age of first-time mothers in England and Wales in 2019 was 28.9 years old. There are fewer cultural expectations that people should even have children at all, there have been medical advancements in IVF and egg freezing, and – although there is a long way to go – there have been medical advancements in IVF and egg freezing. There is much more awareness of women’s rights in the workplace and gender roles at home too.

Things have changed and Holly Roberts, consultant at Relate, says it has “created opportunities and obstacles in equal measure.”

We are always “bombarded with messages about what a ‘normal’ family looks like, when to have a family, how many children we ‘should’ have.” It can be overwhelming if you don’t feel like you belong in this category, ”says Roberts.

The traditional nuclear family size has been 2.4 children for some time, but now “what may surprise people is that the most common family size is a child,” says Rachel Fitz- Desorgher, former midwife, dying aunt and parenting expert at The Baby. Spectacle. “So it’s more common to have an only child than to have two, three or four.

Family pressure

The influence of extended family members also remains a common problem. “The broader family expectations for couples to start a family can be even more difficult because you are laden with guilt for disappointing someone if you don’t achieve their dream of becoming a grandparent,” says Roberts.

It’s not uncommon for married couples in particular to feel this strange weight of expectation as to when they might announce a pregnancy or why they haven’t after a couple or years. But why have we been conditioned to think that wedding bells should be almost immediately followed by babies?

It is important to try to disconnect any family expectations from your own wants and needs. “Couples need to dig deep and find their strength to go their own way in life and not be persuaded by outside pressures,” says Roberts.

“You will be the ones raising this child and have this huge responsibility for the rest of your life, so it’s worth asking yourself why you want to start a family – is it because you really want or want to please someone? else? ”

Fitz-Desorgher suggests approaching the issue with compassion. Most of the family pressure probably comes from a well-meaning place. “It doesn’t necessarily come from a place of antagonism but from a place of love and enthusiasm,” she says. “Say to that person, ‘You would make a wonderful grandmother / aunt or uncle and I understand how much you would like to be.’

Always start from a place you love, recognizing that it is not where you are right now, but when you are, you will let them know. ”

In fact, knowing that you have the practical and emotional support of the family will be tremendous if or when you decide to have a child.

Stability of relationships

Obviously, a child needs to be brought into a stable home, so one of the main warning signs that neither of you is ready is if there is a conflict in your relationship. “If things are strained between you and your partner, then a baby will only escalate that,” says Roberts. “If there is underlying resentment or negativity between you and your partner, it can show you that now is not the right time to start a family.

“Having a child changes your life and your relationship dramatically,” she adds, so it’s important to make sure you’re both on the same page. “It’s worth talking about what you want out of life. Do you want to travel a lot, socialize all the time, climb the corporate ladder? Or do you hope for a more stable family life? What are you willing to compromise on? Do you have a biological impulse that cannot be explained and you have always considered yourself as a parent? Do you want to be a stay-at-home mom or dad or would you rather be a working parent?

“Talk about your fears, because it is as important as talking about your dreams. The more curious you are and wonder about your future together, the more you will begin to see if you are on the same path.

Feel “ready”

While it is not possible to escape the time and energy that children take raising, and the fact that some freedom and autonomy over your own time will change (or disappear altogether), no one can predict. precisely the impact of becoming a parent. will have on them, their relationship or their lifestyle – even if you’ve been around children a lot or have close friends with children.

“I think everyone becomes a parent without seeing the impact a baby will have on their life,” says Fitz-Desorgher. “It is not possible to imagine for ourselves the enormity of the emotions – good and bad, which will envelop us.

For women, it’s because we have to have the baby to trigger the hormonal releases and neurological changes that are happening in our brains. Until that happens, we just can’t figure out what it’s like to have a baby.

“So, of course, everyone becomes a bit short-sighted parent. Or we have expectations that are too high or too low, and that’s normal and normal.

Age is less of a factor than you might think too, says Fitz-Desorgher. “If you are immature you will grow taller very quickly, while mature people can feel very shaken by the chaos that a baby is.”

So, does anyone feel 100% ready to start a family? “Most people think having a baby would be the best time of their life and within 24 hours they might suddenly think it would be the worst decision of their life!” said Fitz-Desorgher.

“As human beings, we hesitate, we are equivocal and this is normal and natural. In all fairness, if you thought you were 100% ready to have a baby, you would probably be laughing at yourself.

“In all of my years as a midwife, I have supported families who felt very, very ready for a baby, then found the experience overwhelming, very difficult and needed a lot of support. ‘adapt to reality.

“I have also supported many families who were really unprepared and then found it to be a deep, deep and surprisingly fulfilling part of their lives.”

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