You’ll never be fully prepared to be a parent, but get some of these discussions out of the way beforehand to make the transition a little easier.
1. Complications. If you aren’t able to get pregnant, what options are you willing to seek out? Adoption? Fertility treatment? How long will you try? Agreeing on this before you start trying to get pregnant will prevent painful arguments if you encounter complications.
2. Guardians. Who will you select as your childrens’ guardians if something should happen to you? Be sure to include this in your will, and if you don’t have a will, be sure to get one before having children.
3. How many. This is such a common question that I doubt anyone will need to be reminded to discuss it. Agreeing on how many children you both wish to try for is important, especially if you don’t agree.
4. Parental Roles. Before you get thrown into it and you just have to “wing it,” talk about the roles you will each have. Will Dad be exempt from diaper changes or late-night rockings? Will mom be exempt from disciplining? Don’t wait to play it by ear, or one of you may unexpectedly get stuck with a lot more responsibilities than you’d like.
5. Time in between. If you’d like to have more than one child, how much time (do you think) you’d like to have between children? This will help you prepare for family planning after you have (or adopt) your first child.
6. School. I realize your child has quite some time before they reach school-age, but talking about private versus public school could help you plan for the future. For example, if you decide it’s important for your children to go to private school, you might want to spend their first 5 years saving money to afford the tuition. Or if you decide your children should be home-schooled, who will be the one to stay home?
7. Birth. Do you want to have your child in a hospital or at home? Do you want certain family members or friends to be there? Do you want to have your child in a specific location? Some of these answers might influence when you try to time your conception and expected birth. For example, If you want to have your child in your hometown where your parents are, maybe you’ll want to time it for the summer if you have the summer off.
8. Money. If you are worried about having the financial security to support a child, perhaps discussing some financial goals would benefit you. Maybe you want to set a goal of saving a certain amount of money before having your first child.
9. Childcare. Will one of you stay home? Will you send your child to daycare? Will a family member baby-sit your child while you both work? Can you afford your preferred childcare option?
10. Discipline. What are your beliefs and values regarding discipline? How will you teach your child right from wrong, keep them safe, and parent them to become healthy and responsible adults? Do you believe in spanking? Do you think you should both read some books on the subject to become better educated? Whatever your choice, if you can agree on a plan for discipline, you’ll avoid parenting differences that will drive you both mad.
12. Religion/Spirituality. What role will religion play in your family and parenting? If you have different faiths, how will you manage that? What will you teach your children?
13. Strong enough. Is your marriage strong enough to handle having a baby? Having a child or getting pregnant will not magically solve your marriage difficulties. If anything, it will put additional stress on your relationship. Honestly discuss whether or not your relationship is strong enough. If it’s not, what can you to do make it so?
14. Twins. What if you get pregnant with twins? How will you handle that?
15. Back to work. How soon should you go back to work? Or will you?
16. Keeping up with the Johnson’s? Ask yourself, honestly, if your desire to have children has anything to do with the fact that all your friends and family members seem to be getting pregnant. Are you feeling pressure? Got the baby-bug? Evaluate your motivation for wanting to get pregnant and have children right now. Be honest.
17. Support System. Talk about your support system. It will be handy to have friends and family to lean on when you enter the world of parenting. Whether your searching for advice, free baby-sitters, or some financial help – do you have a strong support system?
18. Are you ready to grow up? Are you ready to be a parent? Are you both ready to be 100% responsible for another individual? If you aren’t taking good care of yourself, it might be hard to convince your partner that you’ll be able to take care of a child.
19. Are you willing to be gender-blind? You may secretly be wishing for a boy or girl. Are you prepared to have either? What’s your stance on shaping gender behaviors? Can boys play with dolls and girls with trucks?
20. Sexual Orientation. What are your beliefs and feelings regarding sexual orientation? If your child is straight, bisexual, homosexual, transgender, or transexual – how will you handle that?
21. For women, are you ready to give up your body? Trying to get pregnant, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and weaning are all part of choosing to get pregnant. Are you ready to surrender your body and experience having a child from beginning to end? Including the potential complications?
22. Privileges. What are you beliefs and abilities to give your children certain privileges like a car or college tuition? Do you think your children should be responsible for those? Are you going to start saving for those items?
23. Alone. Could you and how would you raise this child alone? Life happens. Death can take parents away with little warning. Even though you don’t want to think about it, divorce can leave you as a single-parent as well. Can you plan for these events (life insurance)?
24. Gifts. What kind of gifts will be appropriate for your children? Are you a believer in spending a ton of money on gifts, or do you think modest and more practical gifts are better?
25. Parenting Class. If you both want to be effective parents, are you willing to take parenting courses?