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Knowing What You Know Now…

Knowing what you know now, what topics related to parenting would
you suggest that a couple discuss either before getting engaged, or
married, or deciding to have kids? (I’m imagining this post as a
conversation-I’ll go first, and you respond with your ideas, too!)

So here’s a few of my topic ideas:

  • Do you want to have children?! If so, approximately how many? (This assumes that neither person has children already, btw.)
  • What sort of timing would you each prefer for the first, second, etc kids?
  • Will one parent stay home? Which one?
  • How do you feel about your own parents?
  • How do you feel about the way you were parented?
  • Do you want to parent similarly, somewhat differently, or very differently from the way that you were reared?
  • Discuss your probable future parenting philosophy. For example,
    some people subscribe to a parenting style as described in books on
    Attachment Parenting or perhaps in BabyWise.
  • How do you think your lives will change with the addition of a child?
  • What relationship do you each have to traditional gender roles? How might that change with the addition of a child?

So, what else?! Leave a comment and tell me what parenting-related
topics you think people should talk about as part of their early
relationship. I’m excited to see what advice you’d give!

Update:  I was recently shown this website, which has a great–long!–list of questions to ask before marriage. 

3 Comments on “Knowing What You Know Now…

  1. I like the idea of conversation here and I really like the questions you suggested, Katie. A few more occur to me.
    If one parent is going to stay home, what are the expectations of the other parent’s role in parenting and household tasks? Does the parent who is not at home have an equal or almost equal voice in child-related decision? Does the stay at home parent get times off? If so, are they supported by the other parent, family and friends, or paid help?
    If one parent is going to stay home at first, are there expectations about that changing? When and how?
    What roles do you hope/expect extended family to play in your life as a family with child and in the life of the child?
    What are your hopes and plans about spirituality or religion and your child or children?
    If your original intentions and plans don’t work out well – about parenting style, sleeping arrangements, nursing, who stays home – anything – how will the two of you address making changes?
    I’m interested to see what questions others add.

  2. I forgot to thank you before for the list of questions link. There are really some good ones there – comprehensive.

  3. All the details of the many questions are interesting, nay fascinating, when talking to the one you are in love with. But really the best advice is to let yourself hear what they are saying when it’s not a match. Alas, love is blind and deaf. Not getting the answer you want when it comes to household roles can be renegotiated. Number of children is not something to quietly hope for circumstances to work things out. The other thing to realize is that most of the really big things that matter don’t come with answers that you can rely on. Sometimes circumstances dictate unexpected results. And time changes everything. Chemistry wears off. People make major changes that you hadn’t counted on. People don’t make major changes that you *had* counted on. Unfortunately, there is little one can do to prepare for this. Personally, I think marriages that last are just a combination of a good match and blind luck. The right circumstances thrown at just about any marriage would make it work forever or fall apart in a year.
    The upshot of it is that more than anything you had better be ready to work like you’ve never worked before at making a relationship function. It is a labor of love and so worth it, but it is still *work*. When you have kids it gets even harder and even more worth it.