If you are in the process of building a family, you already know that there is so much to consider. For women, family planning involves preparing the body for pregnancy and developing a birth plan. For couples, it involves having tough conversations about religion, circumcision, finances, education and — hardest of all, for many — naming. In other words, building a family takes a lot of serious thought, and it’s not something that should be taken lightly. However, if you frontload the process by talking through every one of these important aspects, you will be much better off when you start expanding your little troupe. Here are some of the most important considerations.
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- Timing Is (Almost) Everything – Although it can be a painful thing to acknowledge, men and women alike become less fertile as they age. Thankfully, taking fertility supplements and making certain lifestyle changes can support your odds of pregnancy later in life, but that does not mean it’s a guarantee. If you know you want multiple children, be sure to do the math and start earlier to increase your likelihood. You will also want to start talking to your doctor about your desire to start trying so they can get you on a timeline that makes sense.
- Consider Age Spacing –Timing truly is a big part of the conversation when you are planning your first and subsequent children. In addition to your own age, you will also want to think about the age gaps between your children if you decide to have more than one. Not only is this important for your children and their relationship with their potential sibling(s), but it is also important for you. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a birth interval of 18 to 23 months for the best outcome.
- Think About if You Want More Than One – Due to the issue of age, timing and pregnancy intervals, it is crucial that you think through your family vision and discuss it with your partner before you start trying to have a child. Perhaps if you came from a large family, you envision the same for your kids.
On the other hand, you may like the idea of a calm, quiet house and an only child. How many children you want will affect a variety of things — timing, naming and birth control after the fact — but know that there is no one right decision here. Studies show that only children are just as happy and well-adjusted as children with siblings.
- Children Have Many Requirements – Are you being realistic with yourself (and your partner) about all the things children require and the many ways having kids will change your life? Chances are, if you are this far along in the thought process, you are already familiar with the costs and sacrifices involved in raising children.
Of course, for most parents, it’s all well worth it, but it’s still crucial to be aware of all the implications. If you or your partner have not spent much time around children, it’s a good idea to spend time with friends and family members who are parents so you can get an idea of what day-to-day life is really like with kids.
- Families Thrive in Communities – When planning to have children, it’s important to ask yourself how you will provide them with community. For couples who are close with their families (chosen or biological), have big friend groups or are active in the neighborhood or community, this question will have a simple, obvious answer.
However, some parents — perhaps those who do not live near people they know or who live in more remote environments — will have to consider ways to build their child into a community. They say it takes a village, and that is so true, especially in those first few years. Having support from other parents, babysitters and educators is essential when raising your young family.
- You Will Have to Have Tough Conversations – If you are talking about building a family with someone, most likely you have already covered many of the big life questions. But, once you have children, these things tend to come into sharp focus, and they can cause massive issues if you are not on the same page. Some of the important questions to ask your partner before starting a family include:
- What are your feelings on circumcision?
- Would you want to have our child raised in a religious way?
- What kind of education and opportunities would you want for our child?
- Who will take care of which aspects of child-rearing?
- How would you react if our child was gay or transgender?
- How would you react if our child chose a different political party?
- What is your disciplinary style? Do you believe it’s better to be strict or easygoing?
- Building a Family Is Blending Families – One other important thing to remember is that, while you are building your own new family, you are essentially combining two families — yours and your partner’s. This means that you are bringing two entirely different perspectives, world views, backgrounds and potentially races, ethnicities and religions to the table. Understand that building a family with someone means giving a brand-new person a little bit of you both, so it’s crucial that you respect your partner’s background and ideas throughout the process.
- Logistics Matter – Sure, family planning involves a lot of big-idea thinking — religion, politics, names! — but, on a day-to-day basis, there are a lot of logistics. In order to ensure that your household runs as a well-oiled machine and that you are able to provide the most love and the best care possible, you need to cover all the logistics and make sure you are ready for the biggest job of your life!
- Who will watch the kids in their first few years of life?
- Do you have enough space for a growing family?
- Do you have access to good, safe schools where you live?
- How will you split duties as a couple?
It’s All Worth It
While there is a lot to consider when building a family, we do not want this list to overwhelm you. Parenthood can be one of the most joyful and rewarding experiences you will have in your lifetime, so it is crucial that you enjoy every single moment! Just remember to consider the big picture and every aspect of parenthood before you dive in and grow your family.
Read more on our Parenting Blog!