Discussions To Have Before the Baby Arrives
The day I discovered I was pregnant, like most first-time moms, I started my journey researching all there was about childbirth and child development. I ate healthy meals 3 times a day, faithfully took my vitamins and supplements, saw my obstetrician religiously, and created my own personal library of books. There was one thing I was missing and believe me it was the most crucial. The discussion about raising children with my now ex-husband.
I am not at all implying that all marriages will end without this discussion, unfortunately, it was our only downfall as friends, lovers, and partners. We never could find a way to see eye to eye on what our new arrival would mean financially, emotionally, logistically or professionally.
Learning where you each stand on matters early can help the transition into parenthood. From Disney to daycare, religion to careers your make thousands of choices as a parent. Here is my list, of both big and little things that should be discussed and worked out prior to deciding on your family.
Be on the same page
Having both been raised in separate families with different values, discuss your childhoods, your family’s ethics and methods of raising children. Then decide the parenting style you would like to implement with your children.
This one to me is the most important as this one was our downfall. Sadly, my ex came from a very abusive household where I was raised with patience, understanding, and unconditional love and attention. I was lucky that he broke the cycle of physical abuse in his family line. He, however, was emotionally and verbally abusive, especially to our son. I finally left after 15 years as I opened my eyes to the lack of confidence and self-esteem my son suffered.
Ask each other the questions:
- What are your goals when raising your children?
- What are your fears about becoming and being a parent? What fears do you have for your children? Can these fears affect how I raise and parent our child?
- How do we feel on these topics?
- Educating our children to be successful
- Nurturing our children’s heart
- Training our children with a gracious heart
- Being friends with our children
- If you’re a vegetarian, do you want to raise your child with the same dietary restrictions?
- Do you feel it’s more important to develop obedience or responsibility in your children? What’s your plan for doing this?
- Decide what you feel the difference is between discipline, punishment, and redirection. What is your preference of the three? How and when will you implement it?
- What reasons would there be to discipline your children? What reasons or cause would make you choose not to discipline your children?
- What would you expect as signs of respect in your home for you the parents?
- Will humor and play take on a role in your family? Would it be considered as a diffusor of tension? Or purely as fun?
- What would you consider a typical day with your children? What a typical day’s routine be? Would there be spontaneity, indoor play, outdoor play, sports, after-school clubs, art, music, reading, etc.?
- Create a list of ways that you would want to have fun as a family.
- Is your home large enough for your family?
- Who will take care of your children when they wake up at night (feedings, nightmares, bed wetting, sickness, habitual waking, storms, asking for a parent)?
- Where do you stand on sleeping arrangements and sleep training? Will they be allowed to come into your bed? Will you sleep in theirs until they fall asleep? Will you have them sleep alone in their room? Which do you feel is the truest statement?
- Letting infants cry until they soothe themselves teaches independence.
- It is important to figure out what our children are telling us when they cry, then decide how to handle the situation.
- It is never okay to let our infants and toddlers cry.
- What activities or skills do you want your children to learn? What language or languages will your child speak? Will they be hands-on or book smart?
- When does mom get a break? What does that look like? When does dad get a break? What does that look like?
- Will they be raised in a certain religion?
- When, if ever, should you leave or cancel plans on account of your children (i.e. throwing a fit, tired, poor influences, exposure to drugs/alcohol, your child’s aggressive behavior, another child’s aggression, exposure to the cold, exposure to the flu, has a cold or an illness)?
- What counts as spoiling?
- How will you protect your children from any negative influences?
- What role do you see your parents playing in our lives after the baby is born? What would be your reaction if your children’s grandparents disagreed, or openly defied your method of parenting?
- How will we arrange our work schedules? Feelings on daycare? Bringing in a Nanny?
- Which do you think would make you happier — going out to eat with or without our child, and why?
- If I get a better job that would mean our family has to move, do you willingly follow, or will you resent me, so I won’t even consider it in the first place?
- What would/should we do with abnormal blood tests/genetic tests/ultrasound findings?
When Conflicts Arise
The topics and questions you can discuss seem endless, and probably are. It’s alright if you don’t know exactly where you stand immediately. Sometimes it takes a while to know what feels right. You also don’t need to agree on everything, as long as you agree on most things.
I also advise that you to work as a team. Find the energy and resources to really hear what your partner is saying. Make time to have these discussions. I don’t advise having them after a long day at work, or as your rushing out the door in the morning. Make time to sit together, relaxed, and have a meeting of the minds. Don’t let this become an argument. There is no winner or loser when discussing these topics. The actual winner is the family as a whole and having balance for your child.
If there is an argument, it can be hard to stay calm: try approaching each topic as an attempt to understand your partner’s position. That means actively listening—not finishing each other’s sentences—and framing conflicts around how you feel, not about who’s right and who’s wrong.
In parenting, as with the airplane safety demonstration, put on your own oxygen mask first. Ask yourself what will help you relax and keep it together and what support you think you’ll need. The clearer you are about your needs, the more likely it is that your partner, family members, and friends will know how to support you. It All Starts With You!
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