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It's normal to start a family in the military, but do you think he's ready?

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Anonymous asks:

I am 19 and a Cpl in the Marine Corps. I recently got married to my high school sweetheart who is also a Cpl in the Marine Corps. I have always wanted to be a mother since before I can remember, I really want to have a baby but don't know for sure if my husband is ready for that kind of responsibility. I know that 19 is very young to have a baby but in the Marine Corps it is perfectly normal to have a child already. I don't know what to do.

Susie replies:

As an American, I just wanted to thank you and your husband for your service to this country. Thanks and bless you! I don't know many Marines, but I know a fair share of sailors, and had a pretty long relationship with one myself, so I have some insight to military culture. You're right, it's pretty darn common for military folks to marry young and have kids. The military benefits definitely favor family living.

But as a matter of practicality, I'd recommend you wait just a little bit. Nineteen is definitely young, and military life isn't easy. If either of you have a chance of being deployed, that's going to mean the baby's going to be without a parent for a considerable length of time. That also means that you or your husband (more likely your husband) isn't going to get to spend much quality time with the baby. Babies are a lot of work, and it's so much easier for you if you could wait until both of you would be able to take care of baby together.

How is your nest egg? How are your finances? Perhaps you could concentrate on putting some money in the bank together. Learn to manage your money. Invest it, let it grow. It's expensive to raise a family, and I know the military doesn't pay fantastically. But you don't have to live hand-to-mouth or check-to-check if you bank wisely.

And let's get back to the age factor. Some people mature quickly. Others still need some time to grow into adulthood. I'm guessing this is your first time away from home? Perhaps you should spend some time being independent first, know what it's like to run your own household and take care of yourself before you have a kid. Also, enjoy the intimacy you have now as married adults. Once you have kids, the picture will change dramatically.

The most important thing is that you sit down and talk to your husband. Ask him if he's ready for the responsibilities of being a father. Phrase it so you don't pressure him into parenthood, and be accepting he says that the idea scares him right now. I have seen too many cases where some people have become parents before they were truly ready for the task, and they come to resent their children. There are few things sadder than children who know they weren't really wanted. I personally know a few sailors who left their marriages because they weren't ready to settle down, and were even less suited to have kids. I also knew a few folks whose military husbands weren't fully onboard about becoming parents, and they simply shirked their responsibilities.

I don't mean to be such a wet blanket, but you're both 19 and world-willing you'll both have long lives ahead of you to be parents.

On the bright side, if you both are absolutely sure you're ready to start a family, make sure you've got money in the bank and then go see your doctor. You should make sure you're in tip-top shape when you're trying to conceive so that you'll have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Good luck!

The Reality of New Mommyhood
I Want It NOW!

written 06 Jan 2008 . updated 20 Jan 2009

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