This week we are going to talk about having children! Now before anybody gets excited (pun intended), we are not going to review 10th grade Biology class; I am going to assume anyone reading this column has had that class and doesn’t need a refresher.
I know many of you either already have children or your children are gone; so while I am not directing this column to you, I hope you will garner some use from it, and in any event remember it is in all our best interests to develop strong families, so pass this on to the people you know who would benefit. If you already have children, but had them without doing the planning I suggest, please consider following the advice applicable to you. I also realize we only got married two weeks ago (in our world anyway), but thinking about when to have children or even whether to have them is a discussion you and your spouse should have had several times before you got married.
The advent of modern birth control allows couples to reliably choose when they wish to have children. This ability to choose also implies greater responsibility. The responsibility to both examine your own heart as to if you are ready to be a parent, to talk with your spouse to try determine if they are ready, and last of course to determine if your marriage is ready. Much as I suggested in the column on dating, you are bringing another life to join with yours and because this life has no choice in the matter, you are MORE obligated to ensure you are ready for the commitment.
So again I remind you, before you even begin THINKING of having a child: you should be free of alcohol or drug use, have your temper under control and be healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. Your marriage should also be on firm footing. If there is ANY domestic abuse or excessive fighting, for example, please go to counseling and heal the relationship before conceiving. If these conditions are not satisfied, you owe it to yourself and more importantly that innocent child to become so before you conceive. Some are tempted to believe a baby will bring a couple closer or heal a damaged relationship; while this may be true for some for a short period of time, a child will stress a relationship LONG after any short reconciliation. So do not have a child to heal a relationship, spend that money on counseling instead.
You may have noticed that my columns tend to focus on preparing for success: whether personal, career, marital, or parenting success is our goal, preparation is key. It is hard work and often isn’t sexy, which is why most authors don’t discuss it and most of us ignore it. In this case another life is dependent upon you to get it right.
Having children should be a wonderful gift and time in a happy life. Give some thought to the suggestions I make to give yourself the best chance to be loving parent and raise a generation of children better than ours. Next week we will discuss the resources available for parents to help them raise great families.