Confused About Having Kids? Answer These 3 Questions For Clarity
Being a parent is hard, but it doesn't have to be confusing.
By Jourdan Travers, LCSW | October 12, 2022
Even the most financially and emotionally stable people get cold feet when pondering the parenthood dilemma. Anyone contemplating parenthood has to grapple with questions like:
- "What if I'm just not built to be a parent?"
- "What if I end up passing down my flaws over to them?"
- "Will my child resent me?"
- "Am I just doing this because of societal pressure or do I really want it?"
It is natural to feel nervous about this decision – it means that you care about yourself and your child's future. And while you may never feel completely 'ready' to be a parent, there are things you must contend with before bringing new life into this world.
Here are three questions you can ask yourself to tackle the anxiety you feel when you picture yourself as a parent.
#1. How well do I know myself?
Self-awareness is a key factor in determining your overall emotional and psychological health. it might also be a determinant of how you might be as a parent.
Research has shown that having children causes acute distress to new parents which can persist months after childbirth. Such stress puts parents at risk of developing mental health disorders. Therefore, it is beneficial to be aware of your physiological, emotional, and mental strengths and weaknesses before you decide to become a parent.
To be clear, you do not need to be perfect to be a parent. You just need to show a keen curiosity about your own personality, shortcomings, merits, etc. that might bleed into your parenting style.
Here are a few questions you can use as journal prompts, or conversation starters with your partner or trusted loved ones, to discover your potential parent personality:
- Am I an innately distrusting person?
- Do I have a clear sense of identity outside of my relationship and parenthood?
- How do I process uncomfortable situations and feelings?
- How do I fight?
- What is my relationship with getting up early in the morning?
- Do I have a habit of unnecessary spending?
- How clear are my personal boundaries?
- What are the mature and immature parts of my personality?
You don't have to work out the answers to all of these questions before you become a parent, but laying the groundwork can make your transition into parenthood a lot smoother.
#2. Am I ready for life to get messy?
Certain parts of our personality might serve us well in our professional lives but could spell disaster for us when we step into the world of parenthood. According to several studies, perfectionism is one such personality trait.
If you expect perfectionism from yourself as a parent, you will very likely expect perfectionism from your child. The bad news is that perfectionists can be some of the unhappiest people we know – susceptible to depression, anxiety, and other psychological issues.
The good news is that you can learn to ease the grip of perfectionism over yourself and your children. This can also help you live a more fulfilling and joyous existence.
Here's how you can tackle your pathological perfectionism head-on:
- Learn that your value is not in what you do but in who you are
- Learn that mistakes and failures are a part of life and can be immensely valuable
- Learn to appreciate the effort and not the outcome. Focus on hard work and discipline over the pursuit of perfection.
#3. Do I view the world as a bad place?
It's natural to feel the need to prepare your children for the 'real world.' The world is not all rainbows and sunshine and they need to face this reality sooner or later.
However, to sow the seeds of what researchers call a 'negative primal world belief' in them by telling them that the world is inherently a dark and unjust place can backfire in a big way. Research explains that people who view the world as a dangerous, pre-determined place show a higher susceptibility to depression and suicidal ideation.
It's possible that you view the world as a dark place because your parents conditioned you to think this way. It is common for these beliefs to travel from one generation to another unless someone breaks the cycle.
To understand the root of your negative world beliefs requires deep reflection. You may even need to consult with a therapist to help you navigate and deconstruct the prison that you might be living in. In doing so, you're not only protecting yourself from poor mental health but also creating a safe space for your child to grow up in.
Parenthood is a complicated but immensely rewarding and meaningful experience. Being an honest, sincere, and considerate parent is far more important than being a 'perfect' one.