Are You Ready?
Questions to ask yourselves
- Do we want/need to be parents to have a full and vital life as adults together?
- What does "being parents" mean to us?
- Do we have what it takes to be great parents?
- How would we define our roles as Mom and Dad?
- What do you expect of me?
- How do we want to operate as a parenting team?
Preparing for the adjustment
Many people become parents without thoroughly discussing how each was raised and how they intend/fantasize/desire to raise their children. They just assume, "It'll work once the kid is here." Then they run into problems such as:
- "What do you mean you want me to give up golf because it takes me away from home for five hours, and you and the baby are left alone?"
- "What do you mean we can't still go out every week because we can't afford a babysitter and the baby needs us?"
- "What do you mean you don't want to spank the baby when she's 'bad'?"
When the pre-birth fantasies of family life don't work out as expected, people often don't know where to even begin to communicate about the problems.
What can new parents do?
- Don't blame your partner, and forgive each other for not knowing enough to discuss things earlier.
- Discuss your childhoods, how you were parented and what you want from each other as co-parents. Talk about what confuses, frightens, excites and upsets you about parenting. Voice your expectations for family life, your parenting philosophies and what you need from each other in this new endeavor called "family."
- Listen to each other well enough to respect what the other is saying. You don't need to be right or best all the time.
- Admit there are not enough hours in a day or week to get all your needs and wants met; prioritize from there. See how each family member's needs can be met while understanding and accepting that "wants" may have to wait.
- Figure out ways you can nurture each other and give each other important attention so your bond stays alive as your baby thrives.
- Have fun together.
- Enjoy the challenging, sometimes frightening and always worthwhile journey as parents, and remember to be mutual learners together and with your child.
- You don't have to know all the answers, but you do need to consider the questions together, take time-outs when you're upset, and figure out rationally how you want to react. There are no rulebooks to follow; you'll learn as you go, and if you have a partner who is willing to learn with you, you won't feel so alone.
- When you take care of your baby's needs and your baby is happy, life can be easier for both of you. When your baby is upset or doing something you don't like or understand, be a partner with your spouse and figure it out together.