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Style and Substance: On having children

Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer

Michele Armani and Sally Meisenheimer

Dear style & substance,

My wife and I are in our early 30s and have been married for 2 years. She really seems to be all about babies and starting to press this issue with me. The thought of beginning a family terrifies me. I feel like I need to have my career on a better track before I can agree. She says it will never be the right time. How do I know that?

Starting and having a family is a big responsibility, it is also one of the greatest joys in life. You may be coming from different backgrounds and this could be where your differences lie. Your wife may see it as more of an emotional decision where you see it as a financial decision. Your discussions could start with these three ideas in mind.

Your perceptions of your family life growing up could be adding to your fear; money may have been tight, your parents may have struggled with their relationship, some of your siblings may have caused a lot of worry, etc. Her perceived family life may have been different. Instead of rehashing all of this, you may have a series of talks about what your family would look and feel like; how do you see your roles as parents? How will you support each other in careers and other responsibilities? Your areas of agreement can help alleviate some concerns about being parents. Be confident that you already have a marriage built on compatibility and respect and expect that your parenting will be a natural continuation of this relationship.

Watch and learn. Pick role models; some young parents that are operating in a way that appeals to your values and makes sense to you. Also, watch some parenting styles that are really aggravating your worries; ask yourself why this style causes you concern and how you might avoid those parenting situations once you are in that role. Be aware, that even the best parenting preparation will bring children with their own temperaments and styles, there are always adjustments.

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