Make Sure You’re on the Same Page When It Comes to Children (283/365)

During the first couple years of our marriage, Sarah and I talked over and over about the idea of having children.

We were both certain that we wanted children, but the question became whether it was a real dream or a nebulous dream for the future. Did we really want children right now? Is having them now better than waiting until we are older?

Until we were sure, we were careful to ensure that we did not have a child that we were not prepared to parent.

As the years passed, the conversation changed. We both began to feel ready to have children, so our first child arrived about two and a half years into our marriage.

With each subsequent child, we’ve had many conversations about whether we wanted to add another child to our marriage. Each time, we talked about our changing feelings. Each time, we waited until we were both on board to plan for another pregnancy.

These steps were vital financial steps. If we had found ourselves with a child at an earlier point in our relationship, we would have been in dire financial trouble, let alone the personal and marital challenges that a child would have presented.

Make Sure You're on the Same Page When It Comes to Children (283/365)

The first tactic to follow here is the easiest: minimize your chance to become a parent before you and your partner are ready to become parents. Talk with your partner about how you want to do this, but have that conversation. If you’re not ready to be a parent, don’t make choices that lead to that possibility.

At the same time, talk about whether or not you want to have children. It is a vital conversation that each couple needs to have, preferably before they make a long-term commitment to each other.

If you are on opposite pages when it comes to children, don’t make a long-term commitment. You are in disagreement when it coms to a major life decision, one of the biggest ones a long-term committed couple will make. If you’re not on the same page, don’t jump into the relationship.

Even if it seems difficult, honesty is always the best policy. If you aren’t ready to have children, say so. Be honest about it and very clear about how you feel. You shouldn’t hide your honest feelings on anything, particularly something as vital as this.

Cooperation on this issue is vital. If you get this one wrong, you set yourself up for two decades of responsibility and hundreds of thousands of dollars in child rearing expenses. You do not want that on your lap just because you didn’t think about and plan for this issue.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.

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