Babies come into this world under all types of circumstances, and they don't have to be planned in order to be a perfectly wonderful thing. But, if you're currently in a position where you can think about whether or not you're meant to have a baby, it might be wise to really think about what's best for your life.
If you're of a certain personality type, or have certain thoughts that aren't so baby-oriented, it may be that parenthood just isn't for you. And that's totally OK. "Bottom line is that having a child changes your life completely," Joshua Klapow, PhD clinical psychologist and host of The Web Radio Show, tells Bustle. "It brings the best of the best and the worst of the worst. You are meant to have a baby when your thoughts are saying 'I am ready for this challenge, I am ready to sacrifice, I know my life will not be complete without this experience.'"
If you don't feel that way at all, then you're probably pretty sure that kids aren't for you. But if you're more on the fence, it can help to weigh those pros and cons. Read on below for some thoughts that might indicate you aren't ready to have a baby — as well as some that could mean you won't ever be. And again, that's completely OK.
1. "I really love my total and complete independence."
While it's certainly possible to maintain your life to some degree after having a child, you should think twice if you're wildly protective of your freedom and autonomy. "If you are thinking this, it is not time [to have a baby]," says Klapow. "Parenting is a life-altering choice. You will lose freedom and autonomy. Be ready for that. Be OK with that. Or don't have a child. "
2. "I just want someone to love."
Wanting to be wanted is a basic human desire. We all crave love and acceptance, so proceed with caution if your baby thoughts are centered around wanting someone to love. "If this is you, start with a puppy or a new acquaintance," Klapow says. "Needing to love someone is very important, but not a reason to have a child."
3. "I need a purpose in life."
If you think a baby will give you purpose in life, you're 100 percent right. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea — especially if that's your only motivating factor. "If you are having these thoughts then the good news is you recognize you need a change in your life," Klapow says. "The bad news is that bringing a baby into the world should be done after you [you figure yourself out]."
4. "We need to save our relationship."
It's pretty common for struggling couples to want a baby, all in an effort to save their relationship. But yea... not a great idea. "Having a baby will test every fiber of your relationship," Klapow says. "Instead, you should be thinking 'We are strong together, we are ready for this challenge.'" Until that day comes, it'll be wise to hold off in the baby department.
5. "A baby will solve all my problems."
It's definitely not time to have a baby if you're viewing parenthood as a way to solve your own problems, either. As Klapow says, "Kids do not fix problems. All this is telling you is that you are feeling unfulfilled, unhappy, not satisfied. A child isn't a fix. A child is a new chapter in your life. If you can't fix these problems without having a child then you are not ready to have a child." Simple as that.
6. "I've always cared more about my career."
While it's totally possible to have a fulfilling career and raise a family, it's also great news if you'd rather focus every fiber of your being on work. "If you sit down and ask yourself what your goals are for the next five years and children are not on your list, you may not be ready to have kids now or possibly ever," says NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. It's all about deciding what's best for you.
7. "I'd much rather focus on myself."
As with your career, it's 100 percent possible to keep growing and learning as a person, even after having kids. But since it can be a bit trickier, you may decide you'd rather focus on yourself and let all that kid stuff happen to someone else. "Career or self discovery are important aspects to a person's life and if there are other priorities taking immediate precedent, then the focus should be on other areas of your life," Hershenson says. And if this is what you'd like to do forever, definitely try to pursue that life guilt-free.
8. "I have so much more I need to learn."
While this is a concern even for couples who are dead set on having kids, it's a thought you should allow yourself when thinking about having a baby. As Klapow said above, raising a child will create an enormous strain on your relationship. If that's not something you two want to deal with, or you're worried you aren't cut out for it, it may be you're destined to be that cool childless couple in the neighborhood. Or perhaps a really great aunt or uncle.
9. "I really need to work on my self-esteem."
While you don't have to be perfect to have kids, it's perfectly fine if you'd like to dedicate your life to fixing your own problems. "If you feel you still have work to do on ... yourself, such as developing better self-esteem, learning independence, or managing anger issues it is important to get yourself together before adding children to the mix," Hershenson says. "It is nearly impossible to be present for others when you have not taken care of yourself first."
10. "That is not my fault."
In terms of personality traits that don't mix well with parenting, there's one that should definitely cause you to take pause. As spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport tells me, it's the inability to take responsibility for your actions. Parenting requires a hefty dose of maturity, so if you constantly blame others when things go wrong, it may be a sign you're just not ready.
11. "I really can't control my anger..."
Another personality trait that doesn't mix well with kids? Anger problems. As Rappaport tells me, it's not uncommon for children to internalize their parents' anger. Not to mention, a short temper isn't great when trying to cope with the stresses of family life. That's not to say, however, that you can't work on this issue and have a healthy relationship with your children — should you decide to have them some day.
It just may take lots of thought, and plenty of self-reflection, first.
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