5 Questions to Ask Before Having Children

GUEST BLOG:

Hi everyone,


It has been so much fun sharing ‘everything marriage’ on this series and I am sad to say that we are slowly winding to a close. If you have missed a few posts, make sure to catch up as it will give quite a bit of context for our finale next Thursday.

I’ve mentioned in quite a few of my posts that I am African, born to African parents, currently living in Africa and married to an African man. While I will claim my heritage to the day I die, it may also be relevant to mention that I spent over a decade in Asia during the latter half of my childhood and early adulthood. If you’re wondering why any of this matters, don’t worry, we’ll get there.

You see, there’s something about Africa and children that seem to go hand in hand. It is very common for people to have a dozen of kids because, well, children are a blessing. I am the fifth of seven kids, my uncles have between six and twelve and their parents had quite a few too. Africa is a very modernised continent with embedded culture so in every family you will have the grandparent or relative that will encourage (or pray) for you to have as many children as biologically possible. 

When I fell pregnant with my daughter, my first thoughts were about my career, my relationship and my lifestyle – very similar to what anyone my age with my ambitions would. I won’t go into details as I have shared this a few times in different posts, but what I do want to mention is my family’s reaction to it. Of course, being 26, my aunts and grandmothers were elated; I would be giving my father grandchildren and my grandmothers great grandkids! What a joy! And to top it off, any doubts of the functionality of my womb were washed away. Win?

Now all of that was great, but what was to come was not easy at all… and none of the aunties and grandmas were going to be there in the wee hours of the night when all we wanted to do was sleep, or on the odd days when Spawn would be throwing a fit. Since Spawn was a surprise, my husband and I had to make quite a lot of decisions fairly quickly and learnt some lessons along the way that I would like to share with anyone planning to have kids. To make it a bit more interactive (mentally at least) I’ll list my lessons in the form of questions that any couple needs to address before bringing a life into the world.

Can we afford a child right now?

Before anyone comes at me with every reason why finances should not be a reason not to have kids, let me ask you this… would you prefer to be financially prepared for medical emergencies, the best quality products and any extra help you may need? Finances play such a big role in destroying many relationships and while the strongest lovebirds have most likely gone through a financial rollercoaster, if you have the chance to plan a pregnancy, I would recommend that you keep this factor in mind. With so many unpredictables in life (COVID-19 pandemic being a good example) the worst feeling ever would be having a child special certain needs that you can’t afford to cater to. This lesson was hard learnt from my gigantic family and it is one that I will warn anyone who plans to be a parent. If you’ve skipped that planning part and are already pregnant, congratulations! My advice remains the same; save up as much as you can before the baby arrives – you may need it.

Are we in the right space emotionally?

Hello there, my name is Shelly and I’m an advocate for mental health! Part of that means empowering people who are emotionally unstable, so please do not take this question out of context. What I am referring to is the emotional wellbeing of the relationship you are in because a baby will NOT solve your problems. I find it a little concerning that many women fall pregnant to ‘trap’ their man, but is that really what the child deserves? Remember, children are human beings not pets. They have both physical and emotional needs, and their lives are defined by the environment they grow up in… Your relationship should be solid enough for you to take the next (big) step because you will automatically become ‘influencers’ to the little drops of cuteness.

Do we have any medical conditions that we should keep an eye on?

Every pregnancy is different and even two people with the same medical condition can have different outcomes. I’m definitely not a doctor so I can only share what I learnt from Grey’s Anatomy or have seen happen to my family and friends… after all, a little bit of awareness goes a long way! Whatever situation you are in, it is always best to make sure that you have a doctor monitoring the pregnancy right until delivery to ensure a viable pregnancy. Oh but it doesn’t stop there; once the kid(s) are around, you will need to invest in their wellbeing, your own sanity and that of your relationship. This is not just a financial commitment…

What values will we teach our children?

I wish my husband and I had spoken about this before Spawn came along but luckily for us, we were pretty much aligned when it came to the bigger picture. The differences came in the fine details as each of us was keen to do the opposite of what we experienced growing up. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did entail very different parenting approaches that needed to converge. While the ‘good cop bad cop’ approach works in interrogations, it isn’t the best approach to use when raising your child. Something I have learned and subscribe to is that both parents need to be in agreement when addressing their children so as to avoid any confusion. Religious beliefs also fall into this one – it is essential to be on the same page so that the correct values are instilled.

How involved do we want our families to be?

It’s a weird one to be throwing in here but relevant nonetheless. You see, in Africa, telling off your elders is a no go zone, but it can be done – my husband and I did it. While my experience is definitely culturally biased, I know this to be true in many communities. They say it takes two to make a child but a village to raise them. Well, in any relationship, it is quite important to know just what percentage of the ‘village’ will actually be given decision making authority because, let’s face it, nothing can destroy a relationship quite like the in-laws. My husband and I are very independent on that front so all of the decisions are made in our household and if anyone isn’t pleased, they know where the door is. Before having a child, I would recommend establishing just what you expect out of your partner with regards to helping around as well as keeping their half of the family in line. Help is always a good thing, but unsolicited advice (or demands) can be quite infuriating, so for everyone’s sanity, set the ground rules before the ‘bun’ is baked.

And with that, I’ll save any other advice to those with decades of experience raising kids (*cough* Toni). If you agree (or disagree) drop a comment below and share your thoughts as we would love to know your views!

Until next time!

4 thoughts on “5 Questions to Ask Before Having Children

  1. Hello Shelly and Toni,

    “Do we have any medical conditions that we should keep an eye on? “ was never a question I thought about, but it’s a really important one.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: