According to Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW, a psychotherapist in private practice in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, these are other important questions to ponder: “Why now?” “What was your own experience as a child and how might that be affecting your own reasons for wanting children?” and “Are you motivated to do what needs to be done to take care of the needs of someone else?”
How is your relationship? Consider whether you and your partner work well together and whether you tend to agree on important issues — and if you don’t, whether you are good at problem solving and compromising, Veland said.
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How do you communicate with each other about your needs, dreams and fears? According to Massey-Hastings, how couples communicate about these issues speaks to their relationship as a whole and provides a window into parenthood.
Have you passed the honeymoon phase? Consider the length of your relationship and whether it’s been stable for at least one to two years, Marter said.
Are you financially ready to have a child? “A baby brings new financial responsibilities and stressors,” said Marter, who sees conflict over money as one of the most common reasons couples come to therapy. She cited the USDA 2010 report on Expenditures on Children by Families, which provides estimates on how much it costs to have a child: Depending on the age of the child, expenses ranged from $8,480 to $9,630 for households with gross income less than $57,600; from $11,880 to $13,830 for households with gross income from $57,600-$99,730; and from $19,770 to $23,690 for households with gross income of more than $99,730.
Are you prepared for the lifestyle changes? Marter also sees many couples with kids who end up on the “hamster wheel of work/kids/household responsibilities because of a busy lifestyle, which causes them to neglect their own self-care and doing things that nurture the relationship.”
Have you achieved your core goals? Marter suggested considering whether you’ve “achieved the foundation of your educational, career or social goals as a childless adult,” because your resources will be limited once you have a child.
Can you lead a fulfilling life without kids? “ Ask yourself why you are choosing to have a baby and start a family rather than pursue other life goals or lifestyles,” Marter said. “Give yourself permission to consider a less traditional life path.”
Do you have support? “Having a good support network or the means to hire support — in the form of babysitters, housekeepers or other helping services — certainly makes the transition to family easier,” Marter said.
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