Maybe you were like me and had a vision/dream/plan for how your life would go. During my college years, I created a five and 10-year plan for my life. It included graduating, getting a job, getting married (I was dating my future husband), buying a house, and traveling. None of my dreams had an unplanned pregnancy, which can rock your world.
Some of the things I planned did occur. I graduated from college, worked as a teacher, and got married. Eventually, other items made my list, like attending graduate school. Still, getting pregnant was down the line – way down the line.
But picture this: I was in the last semester of graduate school. I had found my dream career. I was feeling unwell but attributed it to eating bad mall food or the stress of school. But something inside said, “Go get a pregnancy test,” and I did. I still remember what I felt when those two pink lines were evident on that strip: OMG, I’m pregnant, and it’s unplanned.
If you’re in a similar situation, you may be wondering how to process all you’re feeling inside.
Here are some ways to help you process the emotions of an unplanned pregnancy:
1. Acknowledge the emotional overload.
Take time to process everything that you are feeling. It doesn’t have to happen overnight.
When I saw those two pink lines, I immediately went into denial. This can’t be happening. This wasn’t in the plan right now. Then I was bombarded with emotions like being overwhelmed, scared, nervous, excited, and a little shame and guilt because I was faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Then came gratefulness because my doctor had told me it would be challenging to have a baby, and several of my friends were having trouble getting pregnant. Dealing with your emotions can take a while, no matter what they are.
2. Feel what you feel.
It’s essential to allow all that you feel to surface, even if it’s ANGER. Your natural reaction may be to push down negative thoughts or emotions. It’s better to put all your feelings on the table to deal with them. If you are angry at yourself, your partner, or even your child, it’s OK to feel what you feel. You just can’t stay there, because it’s not helpful.
3. Be prepared for your feelings to change.
You are experiencing many things right now, but that doesn’t mean you will always feel this way. If you feel angry or overwhelmed, it definitely doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out to be a parent. An unplanned pregnancy doesn’t mean your child won’t be loved or adored upon arrival. Be gentle with yourself and your spouse/partner as you both process.
4. Talk to your circle of support.
Yes, you may be on emotional overload. You have too many questions and not enough answers. Guess what? Your partner is probably dealing with the same things: shock, denial, feeling overwhelmed, or even scared. In the same way you need space and time to process, give your spouse/partner the same consideration. A healthy relationship should be the primary safe space for you to share concerns and fears about the change in your lives.
Talking to friends and family will help you recognize that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. In fact, more than 45% percent of women in the U.S. have experienced an unplanned pregnancy. Sharing all that you feel in an open and safe environment allows you to process your feelings.
Emotions do not have to be destructive, and what you do with all you’re feeling can make a world of difference. So allow yourself to feel and process through what you feel. Shoving down your emotions and ignoring them aren’t beneficial to you or your situation. As you read this, you may still be in some form of shock or denial, and that’s OK. Keep moving forward and processing your emotions to get to the other side.
Remember, some of the best surprises are unplanned.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Untitled-2-01-1.png5001200Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2021-10-20 11:34:442021-10-20 12:10:27How to Process the Emotions of an Unplanned Pregnancy
“Why don’t I feel that overwhelming loving feeling toward her? Is there something wrong with me?”
These are the thoughts that raced through my mind as I was sobbing at 2 a.m., trying to rock my 4-week-old baby girl back to sleep.
I’ve always wanted to be a mom. As a kid, if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have answered, “a mom.” In friend groups, I’ve always been the “mom” to everyone. When I thought about motherhood, I felt totally confident and prepared to become a mother.
But the day she was born, all those things I thought would come naturally never came. And even now, 3 months into it, I’m still struggling with those late-night thoughts.
Let me clarify something before you get any further — I’m not here to give you any advice. I can’t share a list of steps to help you out of these feelings because I’m still in it myself. And I don’t have it figured out (not even close), but I can offer you this: You’re not alone. I see you.
And I see you questioning yourself and your baby, wondering if you’ll make it through this in one piece, struggling to understand how different motherhood is than how you thought it would be. And I’ve realized, for me at least, that these feelings aren’t just rooted in sadness or sleep deprivation, but grief.
Grieving What Used to Be and Accepting the New
After my husband, my daughter, and I survived those first 3 weeks of postpartum and the fog *somewhat* lifted, I had this unshakeable feeling that the Caroline I had known 3 weeks earlier was gone. The super type-A, confident, reliable person I had been was just upheaved, and a new life — a new person — had just begun. And while I was told to enjoy it, to celebrate having “mother” as my number one descriptor, and to lean into this person I was becoming, I couldn’t do it. I liked the person I used to be and the life I had before motherhood. I didn’t want anything to change. But it had to.
I’ve grieved things as they used to be. I can no longer be on-call for everyone’s every need. I can’t go out with friends at the drop of a hat. No more snuggling on the couch every night with my husband and our dog. Heck, even the clothes I wore no longer fit, and they probably never will. Now, everything revolves around a feeding and sleeping schedule. I have to look for childcare, turn down calls and visits, and set firm boundaries with friends and family.
Maybe you’ve changed careers, or maybe you’ve given up your job to stay home with your baby. And maybe you’ve felt ostracized by family and friends because of this transition into motherhood. Regardless of what your life as a mom looks like, we all have to mourn the life we had before our little ones came into our lives. For good and not so good, things will never be the same.
Grieving Who I Thought I Would Be
There is this second aspect of grief that has taken me nearly 3 months to understand. It’s this feeling that I’m not the kind of mom I always thought I would be. My whole life, I envisioned this fun, adventurous mom dancing in the kitchen with her kids. But when my daughter was born and struggled to eat and refused to sleep, I thought I would lose my mind. That vision of the energetic mom quickly disappeared, and what felt like a shell of a person took her place.
For over two months, there was rarely a day without a breakdown from me, my husband, and our baby. It has been hard to bond with and love on my daughter and nearly impossible to feel close to my husband. At times I’ve felt like I just can’t do it anymore.
*I want to take a second here to say something that needs to be said. Since the very beginning, I’ve been in conversations with my doctor to monitor Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety symptoms. Since 1 in 7 women experience PPD, I was very aware that this was a possibility for me. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms or have any concerns. For more resources on Postpartum Mental Health, check out: Postpartum Support International. You can also call the PSI Helpline at 1-800-944-4773 (#1 En Español or #2 English) or TEXT: 503-894-9453 (English) or 971-420-0294 (Español).*
I’ve felt stuck in a never-ending cycle of trying to force myself into who I am “supposed to be,” then breaking down when that pressure is too much for me to handle. After the first 10 weeks of this, I gave up. I stopped trying to force that image on myself and started trying to accept the mother I am right now. This doesn’t mean I can’t learn and grow as my baby girl learns and grows — that will always be my goal.
But I want you to hear this: It’s ok to rest in who you are right now. Take the pressure off yourself to be the mom you feel like you’re supposed to be. Ignore the people who tell you to enjoy every moment, because not every moment is enjoyable. If no one else has, I want to tell you that it’s ok to need a break, to ask for help before you get desperate, and to be honest when people ask, “Don’t you just love being a mom??”
I know it gets better. But until it does, I don’t want to pretend that I’m loving this stage. People give new moms an unrealistic expectation to immediately bond with their baby, to be joyful about the many challenges of motherhood, and to appreciate all the fleeting stages their child will go through.
But what happens when none of that feels possible? Most new moms are left to wonder if there’s something wrong with them. But I firmly believe that these feelings of grief are ok to process through. I’m content with where I am right now. But I’m also looking forward to growing into the mother I know I can be. And I’m ready to take this journey one baby step at a time.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Untitled-4-01.png5001200Caroline Henryhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngCaroline Henry2021-07-28 15:22:242021-07-29 09:36:08When Motherhood Isn’t What You Thought It Would Be
Can I ask you a question? When you found out you were going to be a dad, were there parts of you that thought, “I’m gonna crush this. Everything my dad wasn’t around to do, I’m gonna do, because I’m not gonna be like my dad…”? Or did you say to yourself, “I don’t know how to be anyone’s dad. I had no one to show me how to be a good dad…”?
It seems like being a good dad would be a lot easier if you had someone who showed you all the things you’re supposed to do. There’s a part of us that believes we can figure out everything on our own. Every once in a while, you may get a reality check when someone else notices there’s something you didn’t know.
Without a dad to tell you what you’re supposed to do, it’s normal to make mistakes.
And it’s ok to not know how to do something. How would you know the right time to just give a good, strong hug if you weren’t shown by your father? Are you a bad dad? Probably not. Could you be better? Couldn’t we all? Is it a bit of a disadvantage to not having someone show you the way? Quite possibly. Is all hope lost? Far from the truth.
Shaunti Feldhahn’s research shows that men often worry that they don’t have what it takes. We fear that one day the people closest to us will find out. When I heard that, it hit my heart. I thought to myself, “When my kid finds out that I don’t know how to do the dad stuff, then they won’t respect me or even like me.”
So what do you do?
You keep faking it and you keep being there. Keep being present, and keep listening to your kids’ stories. You keep telling them the little bit you do know. You keep making mistakes with them. Keep taking them places with you and keep hanging out. You keep hugging them when they hurt, challenging them when they say something that doesn’t seem right. And next thing you know, they start looking for you because they want to talk. They want to share their success and get encouragement after their failures.
One of the biggest things you can learn from your dad is to never run away.
Because if your dad did, you know how it feels. And that’s what hurts the most. Instead, lean into your children. Running away could mean leaving the family. It could also mean running away from talking, from dealing with issues, from being open and vulnerable, or running away from what you don’t know.
It seems like every good action movie has an amazing running scene where the hero is running into a dangerous situation. (Will Smith got famous from his Bad Boys running scene.) Fellow dad, run into the situation. Run to your kids. Run to the hard stuff in their lives. That’s how the heroes are made. Not just in the movies, but also in the heart of your child.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Untitled-2-01-1.png5001200Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2021-07-06 11:29:572021-07-16 11:59:04A Letter to the Dad Who Didn’t Have a Dad (or a Good Dad)
You can have a strong, healthy marriage, even if you fight sometimes.
Having a new baby is amazing. And amazingly exhausting. You can always tell which parents have a newborn. They’re excited, but you can see the stress in their eyes. We’ve been there. When our son was born, he rocked our world. At times, we were so stressed and tired that the slightest frustration triggered an argument. And arguments, when you’re both exhausted, are dangerous. Here’s a secret, though: After having a baby, many couples can’t stop fighting. It’s not just you. All new parents experience high levels of stress and frustration.
Those first few months are filled with sleepless nights, hectic schedules, and disrupted routines. Not to mention you’re both figuring out how to balance work, family, chores, and grandparents. It’s no surprise that new parents experience high levels of stress. And high levels of stress often lead to arguments. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Parenting isn’t stress-free (sorry to burst that bubble), but you can reduce stress and manage it.
How can you lessen the stress (and fight less) after having a baby?
It’s common for new parents to feel like they aren’t communicating with each other. Communication doesn’t have to be complex at this stage. Make sure to take a few minutes each day and talk to each other. Talk about your needs, emotions, struggles, and listen to each other.
Assuming is dangerous, and it leads to frustration. But it’s so easy when you are both tired. Talk to each other, ask questions, and voice any concerns.
Apologize when you see you made a mistake.
If you’re in the wrong, own it. We all make mistakes, especially when we’re tired.
Don’t play the blame game.
When you both are stressed and arguing over something, don’t fall into the blame game. Own your mistakes, voice your concerns, but don’t turn it into a contest of who has made the most mistakes.
When things get heated, take a break.
Sometimes the healthiest thing to do is walk away from an argument. You don’t want to say something that will cause far more damage in the long term.
Address the issue at hand. Solve one problem at a time.
Be intentional about talking for at least 5 minutes a day.
Schedules are hectic when a newborn is in the picture. It’s easy for time with your spouse to take a backseat. Set aside time to talk and reconnect.
Give at least two compliments or expressions of gratitude every day. You look great today. Thanks for taking care of ______. I appreciate all your help with ________.
Expressing gratitude improves your physical health, reduces aggression, and increases your mental strength.
Be intentional about connecting with your spouse.
In the first few months of parenting, newborns own your schedule. But you can still connect with your spouse. When your baby is napping, it may be more important to sit and talk to each other than clean the kitchen.
Keep your marriage at the forefront of your relationship.
John Medina, a molecular biologist and author, was once asked, “How do I get my child into Harvard?” His answer, “Go home, love your spouse well and create a stable environment for your child.” One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is a healthy, stable (not perfect) home.
If you just had a baby and you can’t stop fighting, remember that parenting is tough, but it’s fantastic. These last eight years as a parent have been some of the best moments of my life. You and your spouse can have a strong, healthy marriage, even if you fight from time to time. Put your marriage first and provide the best possible home for your child you can.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/BlogPic-01.png8542048Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2021-06-03 16:01:352021-06-09 09:58:49Help! We Just Had a Baby and Now We Can’t Stop Fighting
“Honey, the test was positive.” When you find out you’re about to be a dad, the lack of experience can strike fear into even the most confident man. There are a few things I’ve learned after playing a part in bringing seven kids into this world that would’ve been helpful to know on the front end. [You read that right. Seven.]
Things I wish I’d known before I became a dad…
1. I didn’t have to be a hero for my kid to think I am a hero.
Your kids think you’re great, not because you’re the biggest, strongest, smartest, most powerful person in the world. They just think you are. You’re their hero because you’re Dad. You don’t have to become a great musician, make a lot of money, or be able to show them amazing tricks. Being the person who spends time with them, provides, and takes care of them cements your hero status in their eyes.
2. My words carried more weight than a giant boulder damming up a mountain stream.
Your words will build up or tear down your child. Even babies respond to their parents’ voices. Talking and reading to them as infants, teaching them as toddlers, and affirming them as adolescents—your words make an impact. The more “I love you’s,” I’m proud of you’s,” and “I’m thankful to be your dad” they hear, the more validated they’ll feel.
3. I didn’t have to know how to be a good dad before I became one.
Being a good dad is definitely something that can happen through on the job training. Even if your dad wasn’t around for you, you’re still able to be a good dad to your child. Changing diapers, building Legos, and listening to your daughter talk about her day are all skills that can be learned once your child is born. While good examples help (and every dad should seek out other dads they can talk to and get advice from), previous experience is not a requirement for you to fill the position of a good dad.
4. My kids would be giant sponges.
They watch you and they listen to you. They absorb what they see and hear. Then they follow your lead. If you fuss a lot, then they’ll fuss a lot when they’re playing with their toys. If you’re gentle, they’ll be gentle. “Do as I say and not as I do,” doesn’t work with your little ones. If you want to raise a future adult who respects others and has good relationships, be that adult.
5. Tapping into my inner child can make it easier for my kids to respect my authority.
Dads have a reputation for being playful, silly, and adventurous. There’s an essential place for this in fatherhood. It gives you parenting cred with your kids. When your kids know you like them and enjoy being around them, it will be easier for your child to respect and obey you.
Whether you knew it or not, you have everything you need to be a good dad. Be present. Pay attention to your child. Don’t let fear of failure prevent you from diving in. On the job training will help you learn everything you need to know about being a dad. And your biggest influence will also be your biggest fan—your child.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/oscar-lennin-salazar-m-1xuy92N718o-unsplash-scaled-e1603199488131.jpg207600Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2020-10-20 09:11:422020-10-21 12:22:535 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Became A Dad
So you’re a new dad. Congrats!! This is an exciting time. Did you get your how-to manual full of explanations and instructions? You didn’t? Hmmm, wonder what happened there? Oh wait, that doesn’t exist. If only kids came with instruction manuals. (Even if they did, would you even read it? I probably wouldn’t. Maybe that’s why the shelves I put up are crooked…)
So here you are asking the questions: What do I do now? What do I need to know? All valid questions. (We don’t want our kids to end up like those shelves!)
It’s ok, Dad—I got you! Here are some first-time dad tips as you begin this journey.
You don’t have to know everything.
It’s ok to not know everything. (Here’s a little secret, Mom doesn’t either.) Parenting is all about learning; each day brings new challenges, new adventures, new lessons. You have a partner in this so walk the road together. Embrace the journey and give yourself (and mom) lots of grace because neither of you knows it all.
Kids come in different models.
All children are different. All deliveries are different. Your experience won’t look like mine or your buddy’s, and that’s ok. Embrace this time, ask lots of questions, seek counsel from dads who have newborns. (I highly recommend talking to those dads; dads who have been in the game for a while may have forgotten those first weeks and months… sleepless nights are a real thing.)
You’re not going to know everything it takes to be a dad, but one of the most important aspects is to be present and involved. Take every opportunity to hold your newborn, swaddle, feed, talk, and read to them. This all strengthens the bond between you. (And Mom will be impressed!)
Diaper duty… you got this.
The first time I changed a diaper was the day my son was born. My philosophy was that if a kid was gonna pee on me, it’d better be one I helped create. Change lots of diapers! Changing diapers is a dirty business (often literally) but it’s nothing to fear and creates an awesome opportunity to bond with your newborn. Talk to your baby and make goofy faces at them while changing their diaper.
Feeding time… you have a role, too!
Be part of feedings. If mom is breastfeeding, you’re on diaper duty… there are those diapers again. Our routine for nighttime feedings was my wife fed and I changed the diaper. We’d alternate rocking our son for a bit. Here’s a Hero Tip: If you’re bottle-feeding, own those night feedings. This is as much about mom as the baby. She will love the time to rest. Hero Status: Unlocked.
Babies are gonna cry… that doesn’t mean you should!
Babies cry and that’s ok. What you’ll learn is that they have different cries for different reasons. You will get to know these. Make mental notes as to what sounds mean what.
Newborns are great to watch sports with.
Make your newborn part of what you love to do. My son watched tons of baseball and Moto GP races when he was little. We also took him to car shows, baseball games, and boat races. He doesn’t remember, but I can show him he was included in what I loved.
Dad jokes… everyone else is welcome.
You are a dad now, so you have a responsibility to share dad jokes every opportunity you can. Brush up on those skills, watch some YouTube videos, and be prepared for lots of eye rolls.
You’ve got this, Dad. You’ll have lots of questions and you will learn a lot in the coming weeks and months. That’s ok—fatherhood is a journey… embrace it.
For more information and tips for a first-time dad (and mom), check out our class, Oh, Baby! Online.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/devon-divine-nMv8DMdM4Z8-unsplash-scaled-e1603199202603.jpg238600Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2020-10-20 09:07:482020-11-03 11:41:53Tips For A First-Time Dad
No matter how you slice it, the birth of a child brings about changes that can be challenging. Here are some of the reasons why marriage can be harder after having a baby and how those challenges can make your marriage stronger.
Unspoken Expectations. You probably have a picture in your mind of what your lives will look like after the baby is born. You might be expecting to split household duties, take turns sleeping, grow closer in your marriage, and agree on parenting decisions. When someone doesn’t meet our expectations however, disappointment and resentment can build.
Entering the Land of the Unknown. Between the internet, books, experienced parents, and doctors, you try and eliminate as many potential unknowns as possible. And yet once the baby is here, you realize there are some things you just can’t prepare for. Disagreements arise as couples differ on how to tackle these issues that you simply didn’t see coming.
We’re Changing and So Are Our Needs. Maybe your wife used to like you to open the car door for her. Now, she’d rather you turn on the A/C and get the kids in their seats. Herr needs may change after the birth of a baby. Sometimes she might not be consciously aware of the changes. As your needs change, it’s so easy to focus on meeting your own personal needs after a baby is born that you lose sight of the changing needs of your spouse. How you help, support, and comfort one another looks different. Even how you respond when something triggers your emotions may change. There were times when I was so focused on my tiredness, schoolwork (I was in school), and my job that I resented my wife for not understanding and expecting more out of me than I thought I was fair.
Lack of Intimacy. So much focused energy is on the baby, trying to get rest, work, and everything that comes with a newborn that marital tension can replace marital intimacy. Plus, after carrying a baby for 9 months and breastfeeding, lots of women don’t want any physical intimacy because they are totally exhausted. They want to heal.
Emotional Exhaustion: You are not at your best when you are exhausted… and that’s understandable. A tired and stressed person trying to adapt to change doesn’t respond as well as a rested and peaceful person. Imagine if both of you are suffering from emotional exhaustion. The stage is set for irritability, aggravation, and a short fuse.
These are all challenges that can make your marriage stronger, as long as you don’t avoid dealing with them. It’s possible to address them and work as a team to transition into parenthood well. Here are a few things you can do as a couple:
Discuss Expectations. Conversations about balancing work and family are a great place to start. Nighttime feedings. Diaper changes. Household chores and responsibilities. Who will do what and who can we ask to help us? Think of grandparents and family. Talking through what you hope this will look like can help the two of you be on the same page as you navigate your new normal.
Remember What’s Important. Your baby doesn’t need perfectly-prepared parents for every situation. They need loving parents who are attentive. Figuring it out together can provide lasting memories. My wife and I have made tons of mistakes when all seven of our children were babies. There are some things you simply don’t know. Gather information, talk to one another, and do your best. When you or your spouse makes a mistake, you learn from it and everyone is better for it.
Talk Openly About What You Need From One Another. It’s hard to know what my spouse needs if she doesn’t tell me. I kept opening her car door until one day she said, “I’d rather you turn on the A/C and get the car cool.” I would’ve never known. Talking about our needs helps us ward off the resentment that builds. Trying to read someone’s mind can be harmful. Open communication is the only antidote.
Intentional Marriage Time. Do it, even if it’s just for 15 minutes to emotionally connect or hold one another. Virtual date nights are great for just a little marriage time. Don’t forget that your marriage needs both of you.
Lean In To Each Other. Lack of sleep is an obvious issue after having a baby, but I’m not going to tell you to get more of it. Sometimes that’s just plain impossible. Here’s what will be helpful to your marriage: Pay attention to each other. Help each other. Look for ways to support one another. In sports, the team that functions as a team in the fourth quarter when everyone is tired typically wins. You are that team. And winning as a team is sweet and exhilarating, especially when you’re tired.
Express Appreciation. It’s highly probable that each of you is doing things for the baby and the family that are going unnoticed. Look for those things and express gratitude.
Your love isn’t measured by every right decision you make. In fact, the best gift of love you can give your new baby is a healthy, thriving marriage, not a perfect one.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/mother-kissing-her-daughter-3662849-scaled-e1596467177938.jpg400332Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2020-05-29 07:38:252020-10-20 13:14:085 Reasons Why Marriage Can Be Harder After Having A Baby
There’s a lot that happens when a couple has their first baby…
Endless, life-impacting decisions.
The world being turned upside down.
Re-creating a “new normal.”
A constant fear of things going wrong.
The steep learning curve for both parents.
The list could go on, and on, and on. And I’ve heard it all… The good, the bad, the ugly, the astoundingly beautiful… And it’s all made me a little worried.
First, let me back up for a second. My husband and I have been married a little over a year, and we are not hoping to have kids for another two years or so. That being said, I’m fully convinced that I was brought into this world to be a mother. You can ask any friends or family. That whole “motherly instinct” has always come very naturally to me.
But for my husband… not so much. Although we both want kids someday, the timeframe and the number of kids differ just a little bit (or a lot, depending on the day). Even though we don’t have kids yet, the conversations around our future kids have already caused some division between us. And it’s caused a little bit of fear for the day that we do become parents.
And as we watch friends around us start to have kids and we hear the stories they share about all the challenges that come with starting a family, our fear has only grown…
“Wait, WHAT happens during delivery??”
“Are you SURE you want to go through that?”
“When we have kids, you can’t ________ anymore.”
“Why don’t we wait till we’re 40 and just adopt?”
“We’re cranky enough in the mornings on 8 hours of sleep.”
“There are very few parts of parenting that sound like a good thing…”
These are just a few pieces of conversations we’ve had about our future. The fear is real. And it’s for good reason.
But the desire to have kids is also real. Very real. So how do you balance the fear of parenting, the fear of having kids, the fear for your marriage—with the desire to have kids? Well, I can’t fully answer that for you. That’s something you and your spouse are going to have to work through together. But I can give you a few tips on how to have that conversation!
Here are a few questions to ask each other before having a baby:
What are you most fearful about when it comes to having kids?
In what area do you think having kids will cause us to have the most conflict?
Is there anything we can do now to work on that area before we have kids?
What tendencies do you see in me that might be a problem for you once we have kids?
How will we share responsibilities so that one spouse isn’t totally overwhelmed?
Are you willing to start our routines completely from scratch?
How can we work together as a team and rely on each other’s strengths?
What are your top 3 expectations of me as a parent?
What roles did your mom and dad play in your life growing up? Are there ways you want to be like them? Not be like them?
What are things I can do right now to help us both not fear becoming parents?
Prioritize Your Marriage
Having kids rocks your world. I don’t know that from experience, but I’ve been told that what seems like a bajillion times, so it must be true. Kids are a lot. They come with new responsibilities, new challenges, and new things to argue about.
And if you let it, being a parent might overtake being a spouse. But the key is to always prioritize your marriage first. Yes, kids require a lot. But they grow up. And after they’re grown, you’ll still have your spouse by your side.
So, choose today to strengthen your marriage. Actually, choose every day to strengthen your marriage. And the rest, even babies, will fall into place—a wonderful place.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/photo-of-people-looking-on-child-3617872-scaled-e1596467316872.jpg219450Caroline Henryhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngCaroline Henry2020-05-26 16:18:402021-03-30 09:48:0810 Questions Couples Should Ask Each Other Before Having a Baby