In India, as soon as you get married, the family starts pressuring you to have kids. While agreeing to become parents on a whim is quite easy, the reality of being parents is not. Parenting is a lot more than giving birth. And couples are more than just parents. So, it is important to find a balance between being parents and being yourself. Choosing to become parents will have a huge impact on not just the soon-to-be-born child, but also the soon-to-be parents. While navigating this new territory may not be easy, asking a few pertinent questions can make the entire journey easier. Here are a few questions you need to discuss with your partner before you decide to become parents.
What will our relationship look like?
Becoming parents for the first time is a rollercoaster. You are learning things on the go and just winging it most of the time. First-time parents are often so busy being parents that they forget they are also partners. So, address how you will make time for each other once the baby arrives. Will it be date nights a couple of times a month, will you be staying home and having dinner together after the baby goes to sleep, or will it be something else? Find a way to prioritise your relationship along with your parenting responsibilities if you don’t want your relationship to fall through the cracks.
How will you handle the finances?
If you are a two-income household, you could turn into a one-income household for at least a few months when the baby arrives. So, plan your finances accordingly. Having and raising a child is expensive. The food, the clothes, saving for education, medical bills, and a whole bunch of other expenses that may be unanticipated. Discuss with your partner how the finances will be divided, how much each partner will contribute, and all the other necessary details. Make sure you are on the same page as your partner about money.
What will be the parenting style?
People often replicate the way they have been raised. While some people are raised quite freely with all their demands met, others are raised in stricter households. Reaching common ground regarding parenting styles for leniencies, disciplining, and decision-making can help avoid conflicts in the future. Parenting styles are one of the key questions you need to address before embarking on the journey of parenthood.
How will career plans fit into your new reality?
Having a kid will inevitably change your career trajectory. Parents will have to account for a new member and make some sacrifices or take up additional work, depending on the situation at home. This impact on your career can cause conflict. So, it’s important to discuss how work and family responsibilities will be re-distributed and balanced in the future. Accounting for career plans is very important before you enter parenthood as these can have a lasting impact on the parent-child relationship as well as partners.
Does your health and lifestyle allow you to be parents?
One thing people often ignore in their desire to be parents are their health and lifestyle. If you have any illness that can be passed on to the child, you need to take a long hard look at your decision to be a parent. You need to consider the challenges of carrying the baby to term and raising them while dealing with your health issues. Similarly, while you are pregnant, you may discover that your baby has a permanent, difficult condition. If such a situation arises, will you terminate or go ahead with the pregnancy? This is an issue that needs to be discussed with your partner before you get pregnant.
How involved will your families be?
In India, it’s pretty common for grandparents to be actively involved in their grandchildren’s lives. Similarly, new parents also lean on their families for support with childcare. Hence, it is important to discuss the level of the family’s involvement. You also need to draw some boundaries with your family to avoid issues in the future. It takes a village to raise a kid, but how much do you want your village to be involved in your parenting journey?
What will the childcare situation be?
It is very important to figure out the childcare situation if and when the mother is ready to go back to work. While one partner may want to drop the child with their grandparents, the other will want to enroll the child in daycare. And if you do live away from your family, you need to figure out if you want a live-in nanny, a creche, or some other childcare arrangement.
What religious upbringing will the child get?
While this may be an easy choice if both partners are from the same religious community, it is difficult if partners practise different religions. Religion is a huge deal in India and it is essential to factor this in before you enter parenthood. What religion will your child follow? Or will you raise the child as an atheist? Alternatively, will you teach the child about all religious practices and allow them to choose their religion when they grow up? These are all questions you need to address before you enter parenthood.
Parenting is a struggle and a joy. But it can only be a joy if you are not frazzled and pulling your hair out every single minute. This is where asking your partner the questions above and having thorough discussions can make the parenting process a little less confusing and exhausting.
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