Starting a family is a major milestone, and make no mistake – it’s no easy task.
We often have this vision of cute babies, sweet lullabies, and laughter all around. Only to have the rude awakening that the reality is far from it. That it’s a lot of hard work.
So, how do you know if you’re really ready for all that?
In this article, I’ll walk you through six signs that, according to psychology, might mean you’re prepared for the highs and lows of starting a family.
Let’s dive in!
1) You feel secure with your partner
The first question to ask yourself is this – is your relationship stable enough to take this giant leap?
Can you rely on your partner to be a team player? Can you trust them to love and care for your child as much as you do?
Because the reality is, it’s going to test your relationship in many ways. In fact, the smallest things can cause a lot of conflict.
You want to be sure that the nitty-gritty – like getting up at 3 a.m. to change diapers and helping you manage tantrums and school schedules – are something your partner is willing to do.
That they won’t bail when the tasks pile up and feel overwhelming. Because it will, no matter how prepared you are!
Research shows that a strong, supportive partnership is the backbone of a happy, healthy family. Children are more likely to flourish when they have a stable home life and two parents who are committed to each other.
A setup like this addresses this most basic need of children: family structure and stability.
So if you can confidently say yes to those questions above, then you’re probably ready to start a family.
2) You both understand and accept the responsibility
Real talk – it’s a huge responsibility. Starting a family isn’t as easy as adding a new member and expecting things to stay the same.
Nope. While starting a family brings with it tremendous joy, it also ushers in a lot of challenges.
The first of which is a lifestyle change. As a parent, I knew this going in, but it was still difficult to deal with.
I knew, of course, that it would be harder for us to get away for date nights or fun night-outs with friends, for example. We couldn’t even sit down and do some serious binge-watching like we used to.
Add to that the stresses of work – we had to discuss arrangements so we could both work and still manage to take care of our child.
Basically, starting a family means that you now have to put someone else’s needs before yours. Every decision you make is going to include that factor – it’s no longer just about what you want for yourself.
If your eyes are open to all these stressors, and you’re still up for it, then by all means, go ahead and start your family.
3) You’re financially comfortable
Speaking of stressors, there’s perhaps no greater stressor than the lack of resources.
Let’s face it – love might conquer all in the movies and books, but in real life, it certainly won’t be enough to put food on the table and pay household bills and child-related expenses.
In a Children’s Bureau article, wellness coach Elizabeth Scott talks about the impact of finances on families:
- Financial stress often leads to unhealthy coping behaviors like smoking, drinking, overeating, etc. Which then leads to more health risks.
- Less money = less self-care
- Financial stress also leads to sleep issues which can impair immune functioning and cognitive abilities
- It also causes anxiety, frustration and a sense of hopelessness, especially when debt is involved.
Simply put, not being financially stable takes a toll on one’s health.
Not only that, but money is also the source of marital tensions for many people. And that’s also likely to disturb the stability of the relationship and, as a consequence, the child’s family environment.
4) You’re both healthy
Similarly, your health is another factor to consider before you start a family.
An interesting study during the pandemic focused on the effects of parental well-being on parenting.
Unsurprisingly, it found that parents who struggled with physical and mental health issues reported lower life satisfaction and even lower satisfaction with child care.
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how you’d fare at raising another human if you or your partner have your own health issues to worry about.
Not only would there be more financial strain, but it would also be difficult to stand up to the rigors of parenthood if you’re not exactly in fighting form, would it?
This leads me to my next point…
5) You have a support system
Psychologists often emphasize the need for a strong support network for emotional well-being.
That goes double for parents and people wanting to start a family. Even more if you have health issues, as we discussed above.
My husband and I were in our mid-twenties when we started a family. We were young, healthy, full of hope and positivity. And yet, we still found ourselves struggling so many times.
Thankfully, we both have strong family ties, and our families proved to be wonderful allies in raising our kids.
They stepped in whenever one of us was sick or had to go away for work. They helped out with babysitting so we could have a little room to breathe when we needed it. I don’t know how we would’ve managed without that support.
Support doesn’t have to be limited to your family, though. It could be friends, or a group of parents who know exactly what you’re going through.
6) You want it for the right reasons
Lastly, why do you want to start a family?
This sounds like a no-brainer question, but believe me, a lot of parents I know went into it for the wrong reasons.
A few of them did it because it was what their family or culture expected of them. Some felt the pressure of a ticking biological clock.
One couple I know thought that having a baby would fix whatever was wrong in their relationship. Another did it “so that someone would take care of us in our old age.”
Yet another had a baby because they felt lonely and needed unconditional love.
I totally understand where they’re coming from, but that doesn’t make it right.
Bringing a child into the world should come from a place of love, readiness, and a deep desire to nurture and guide another precious life.
That’s why my last piece of advice is this: Assess your motivations closely and critically. Make sure they align with the realities and responsibilities of parenthood.
If they do, then you’re ready. You’re in the right place and time of your life to start a strong and healthy family.