First comes love, then comes marriage… then comes the baby in the baby carriage? Not necessarily, says a study from the United Kingdom. The study, which surveyed 40,000 households, found that young married couples who postpone parenting are happier than married couples who do not.
These days, more and more women are deciding not to have children altogether — and they're okay with that! A University of Florida study found that middle-aged people with children were not always better off. More important was the quality of the relationships in a person's life — rather than whom those relationships were with. Childless women who had strong social and professional ties were as happy as their propagating counterparts (and far happier than those who did not have good relationships with their children).
So if you've opted out of the "mommy role," embrace your decision. These days, childless women have greater economic freedoms than ever before, and it's certainly not required that a woman become a mother for her to be seen as "whole." It's no longer about what we should do but rather what we want to do — and that's what liberation is all about!
If your dreams for the future include a nursery, the conclusion of a study such as this might be a little disheartening, especially as you know there is no denying that a child will forever change you and your relationship. Not to mention the many new priorities and interests that will require you to reconsider your identity and rediscover yourself in a new and more comprehensive way.
Consider the following tips to help you as you make this life-changing transition into parenthood:
Borrow a baby. It’s very easy to catch baby fever when you see a cute little newborn briefly at the grocery store or when you visit for an hour or two with your friends and their new babies. However, the reality of parenting is much more grueling than these new parents let on (and no matter how cute the baby is, two hours of sleep is still two hours of sleep).
Do your friends (and yourself) a favor and babysit the newborn while the parents go on a date night. Get a crash course in parenting and discover if you can really see yourself giving up fun Saturday nights in exchange for diaper duty.
Consider your motivations. Whether you have always longed for children or your desire for a baby is a new one, it’s important to sit down and think about your motivations. Why do you want a baby? Is it because your partner really wants children or because you feel like it’s the next obvious step in your relationship? Or is it because you are ready to start a family and share your life with your new creation?
It’s likely that you will find you have many different reasons behind your baby dreams. However, it’s important to make sure that you are having a child because it is what you want to do, not because it’s what society or your partner or your mother-in-law wants you to do. It’s also important to make sure that you aren’t having a baby to “fix” problems in your relationship. Problems will only get magnified with the stress of raising children. It’s okay to feel a little nervous about your decision, as this shows that you grasp the gravity and importance of the situation, but if you feel nothing but anxiety, then you definitely need to wait until you are more confident in your plans.
Be prepared for sex to change. When you’re childless and carefree, sex can be wild and spontaneous. You don’t have to plan ahead and get a sitter and you don’t have to worry about the kids walking in on you. Parenting changes all that. Making the transition from “Mommy” or “Daddy” to lover can be a little hard at times, and that’s why it’s so important to communicate and be on the same page with your partner. Regardless of how exhausted or busy you might be, it’s crucial that you continue making your relationship and your sex life a priority. This does not make you a “selfish” parent: There is no greater gift you can give your child than a stable home and a happy marriage, so make your bond with your partner a priority.
Although there is no denying that parenthood will forever change your life and your relationship, those changes can deepen and enrich your life in ways you never thought possible. Long-lasting love always takes focus and attention, but as long as you commit to keeping your bond tight, there is no reason why children should derail your happiness or your love.
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