I was 18 years old and in my senior year of high school when I became pregnant with my son, who is 4 now. I am 23. Life has been rough for us: dealt with a separation from my abusive ex-partner, have been living in poverty without a whole lot of support, etc. Sometimes I wish I could hop into a time machine and shake my 18 year old self.
There are so many things I wish I had done before I became pregnant.
The idea of being "ready" to deal with a kid is tossed around a lot in varying situations. So, what I'm wondering is:
What do you feel you would need or want before being ready for a child?
This can be if you're like me and already have kid(s) and are making a wishful "time machine required list."
This could also be if you think you want kids in the near or far future. Or, if you know you don't want kids but still have ideas.
-Savings account, enough money to live comfortable for 3-6 months.
-College degree finished, at least a bachelors.
-Own a house.
-Spend a few years dealing with issues in therapy.
-------------------- The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you. - B.B. King Posts: 1180 | From: WA | Registered: Apr 2006
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I don't have kids yet, but I want to in the future. My list would be:
-a stable job -a safe place to live -a partner -other supportive people in my life(family, friends) -my partner and I don't abuse drugs -not dealing with any personal crisis
Posts: 143 | From: USA | Registered: Aug 2009
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- First of all, the desire to be a mother. Right now I do not have that, and I don't anticipate that I ever will, but I realize that it is possible that I may change my mind
- To be completely finished with whichever level of schooling I ultimately decide to complete, with no desires to go back.
- To be financially secure enough, that regardless of whether or not I have a partner, that I'd be able to comfortably afford caring for the child on my own. I don't want to be financially dependent on a partner.
- I would definitely want to spend some time in therapy before taking on parenthood. I know I have some underlying issues, and would want to make sure i had those resolved before bringing a kid into them.
There are probably more, but I can't think of them this late. If i think of any more, I will share, .
Posts: 444 | From: United States | Registered: Apr 2009
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I thought it might be helpful to add my perspective as a much-older person (I'm 40) who STILL feels she isn't ready.
A couple caveats first: As someone who has been a teacher for around 20 years, I have seen a lot of the impact poor parenting or less than ideal situations for having families can have on children and young people, so I raise the bar very high for myself. That said, I don't think having children and/or parenting is mandatory or essential for anyone, so I think we all get to have a high bar and probably should when parenting is a choice. Reproducing with my own body is off the table at this point in my life, but has been before I got to this age for the most part due to personal health issues and finances.
Before being ready to parent, in any capacity, some of the things I feel like/have felt like I needed are: The desire to truly be a parent, sustained over time, not just in moments or smaller amounts of time in my life. A large support network ready to be a village for anyone I'd parent, so that it's either not just me, nor just me and one partner, but an extended, active family that's diverse and all committed to pitching in. Health insurance for myself and my family as well as a reliable salary I could be fairly sure was stable and secure. A LOT of humility and forgiveness of myself for inevitably making a ton of mistakes. Time to really spend parenting and with a child, not just in snippets. The freedom to make extended time fairly regularly, which would include being able to walk away from work for days at a time, if needed. The strong feeling that I could care well for a child in all stages of their life, not just at one age or stage. Ongoing counseling/therapy for myself to help support me while I did the difficult work of parenting. A community to live in I felt I liked and would stay in and also felt was a good place to grow up. The desire to give up a lot of time I'd otherwise have to myself, including at times I felt I really needed or wanted that. Not being the primary caretaker of anyone else. The desire to fully commit myself to a child for the whole of their lives, understanding their level of commitment to me will not likely be reciprocal. The ability to love and accept a child even when they wind up mirroring the parts of myself I like the least. The understanding and acceptance that anyone I parent may or may not meet my expectations or ideals and may be radically different from me or who I might want them to be. Acceptance that sometimes, I will have to draw lines and limits which will result in a child/teen not liking me or understanding me. A real confidence in myself that I am capable of the enormous challenge of parenting well.
-------------------- Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen About Me Get our book! Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000
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I am, technically, currently parenting a teenager. I have legal, full custody of my little sister (she is 17, I got custody when she was 16). Was I ready? Not even a little. Do I think I am doing a good job? Not usually. Is she mostly happy, healthy, fed, attending school, and staying out of trouble? Yes. Was she meeting those criteria living with our mother? No. So in that sense, yes, I am doing a good job.
But in so many ways I am still not ready, and I know that this is not what actual parenting would be like. Had there been any other options for her then I would not have applied for custody, but it was the right and appropriate thing to do and I was at a stage in life where I was able to do it, if not as ready as I would have liked. And it's 2 years, not 18+. I didn't have to give up my dreams of grad school or try to make them work with having a small child I just delayed them for 2 years.
This experience has given me a huge amount of insight into what I want if I do decide to become a parent in the future.
-A stable relationship with somebody else, or multiple somebody's, who has/have the desire to parent well and who shares/share my values about raising children.
-A job that I am happy with that will not leave our household without the basic abilities to raise a child.
-A diverse community that will let our child not feel too different because of who their parents are.
-The ability to choose alternative education for our child should public schooling not work.
-The ability to financially and emotionally embrace the situation should we have a child with a developmental or physical delay, and knowledge of the resources to handle that.
-------------------- Hey folks, my name is Andrew and I was a mod here for awhile a couple years ago. I'll be here for a couple weeks while Heather is out and the site is even more short-staffed than usual Posts: 441 | From: Boston, MA | Registered: Dec 2010
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I'd very much like to become a parent soon. Before that, I'd need a supportive partner who was also ready and desired children. Were it a male partner, well, that would be easier. But possibly could manage with a female partner too.
Other than that, I feel quite ready. I think i'm at a good age with lots of energy. But also am happy with where I am financially and my living situation. I'd be happy to give up work for months to years if needed. I expect (and hope!) that my family would be happy to support with childcare, even if they didnt quite approve of my partner. Emotionally, some days I would struggle for sure, but I think I have enough reserves and outside support to cope well.
-------------------- "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."
I've known since I was young that I was never going to physically give birth to a child (young meaning around age 12 or so). I found out recently that I have either a recurring knee injury that will plague me for the rest of my life, in which case I don't want to add extra weight for that knee to support, or a genetic disorder, which would cause pregnancy to be especially difficult. This has reaffirmed my decision to not become pregnant.
However, I would like to adopt, so before I would want to raise a child, I'd want
-a job I enjoy, no matter if it's difficult or not. The last thing I want is to come home to a child and be angry about my job and how useless I feel and how I hate my coworkers/boss/customers -a support system...a partner, my family, an extensive network of friends, etc. Some kind of support system that can help get me through difficult times. -the physical ability to care for a child, including piggyback rides, running through a house playing hide and seek, and surviving slumber parties where there's no slumber. I've seen too many parents absolutely exhausted and in pain when trying to keep up with their kids. -the financial ability to care for a child in the event that I was laid off or ill for an extended period of time. This includes extensive savings, an excellent health plan, and the aforementioned support system. -the emotional readiness to explain to the child (if he/she is young enough when adopted that they don't know they were adopted) that I'm not their biological mother, and the willingness to let him/her search for birth parents.
Posts: 183 | From: USA | Registered: Sep 2010
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Having grown up with a mentally challenged younger sibling, who has a disability so rare that there is no name for it, I think one of the biggest things on my list would be being in a place (financially and emotionally) to deal with the possibility of having a mentally challenged child. To be in a place where I could give them the support they will need and where I will have the support that I will need, to be able to advocate for them, and to be financially secure enough to support the extra costs that may be associated with their disability.
This would require having one hell of a support system, and ideally living in a country/province where there is adequate support for children with disabilities (though the later probably wouldn't be a deal breaker). It would also mean having a solid income, either jointly with a partner or on my own. It would also mean knowing that I will be able to give the child the time it needs, which if I choose to pursue diplomacy may not always be an option.
And I think, in a way, if I was in place where I had the support system, the financial security and the emotional readiness to deal with this possibility I would be equally prepared to deal with a child who had no disability.
Posts: 245 | From: British Columbia, Canada | Registered: Mar 2010
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I went back to school ten weeks after my son was born, to get my masters. It worked out fine, but we had a *ton* of support (including financial) from family. It was actually much easier for me to be a student parent than it is to be a working parent, but the finances make it a short-term thing.
I was married, settled, had savings, and my husband and I had a pretty good track record of dealing with uncertainties about employment (which we have to, because the industry he works in goes through pretty sharp boom and bust cycles). I felt like I was ready when I started to think that teenage boys are cute the way Labrador puppies are cute - all clumsy, and not grown into their feet and enthusiastic and adorable. (I had a lot of professional exposure to teenage boys at the time. Not so much with teenage girls, at least not in person. I find them pretty adorable too, in approximately the same way.)
I felt pretty prepared to go through pregnancy and parenting with my son (everything textbook normal and fine), and then pregnancy and the newborn phase were so completely different with my daughter (pregnancy complications, prematurity, the NICU, etcetera) that it was like I was starting all over from scratch.
Posts: 129 | From: Boston | Registered: Mar 2011
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-a reliable co-parent -- don't particularly care if it's my romantic partner +/or the kid's biological progenitor or whatnot. just want somebody who is as committed to the kid as i am, + reasonably on the same page with me about what that looks like.
-job security, or reasonable confidence that if the job i'm at ends, i'll be able to find another one i like as much that keeps us afloat.
-a place in a community where i can give my child a measure of independence as they grow up without having a justified panic attack about them walking home from school or what have you.
-a home (owned or rented) which contains personal spaces, however small, for each person living there.
-being able to imagine how things would work with at least one more kid. (i don't know if i want children at all, but i know that if i do, i don't want an only child.)
Posts: 108 | From: caaaaanada. ('cause we've got rocks and trees and trees and rocks...) | Registered: Jan 2007
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