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Having kids with someone can have a huge impact on your relationship, regardless of how you plan to bring the child into the world. Whether you're getting pregnant, adopting, or using any other method, there are a few things you need to agree on before you can go about raising a child together — and discussing them in advance can prevent some big arguments down the line. Here are a few conversations experts say you should have with your partner before you plan a family together.
1. Is the timing right? Fertility specialist Jane Frederick, M.D., says her patients don't always time their first pregnancies thoughtfully. For example, some couples will have kids later in life and struggle with fertility, which could have been prevented by freezing their eggs and sperm in advance. It's important to think about what your goals are and whether or not they can coexist with a family right now. If they can't, you might want to consider freezing your eggs so that getting pregnant is easier when you're ready.
2. Do you both actually want this now? It might seem like if you've both agreed to have kids, you're both totally on board. But in some relationships, one person will really want a kid right this moment and the other will be less sure but go along with it, says therapist Maria Bruce, LMHC, NCC, founder of Thanks You Made My Day and Maria Bruce Wellness. It's worth asking yourselves whether you'd both want this kid now if the other didn't, as well as if you're feeling any external pressure from your parents or anyone else outside the relationship.
3. Who can help out? "The famous saying 'it takes a village to raise a child' is very true," says Bruce. "Every parent can relate to being sleepless, incredibly tired, and in dire need of a break." Jessica Wade, MAMFT, LPCC, agrees. "Couples who fail to plan for back-up help get burnt out," she says. So, think about friends, family members, or services you might enlist to pick up the slack when parenting gets to be too much for you. Chances are, you'll be grateful for them later.
4. Who will take on what responsibilities? Since having a child is a huge time commitment, it'll help you both to know in advance what exactly you're committing to, says Wade. Planning meals, waking up with the baby at night, driving them to childcare, and paying for their diapers, food, clothes, and toys are just a few tasks you'll want to divvy up. Speaking of which...
5. How will you pay for everything? According to Wade, you'll need to budget at least an extra $2,000/month for child care, food, clothing, and saving for your child's future. Think about how much everything will cost and consider whether you can realistically put that much aside and how you will. After all, you want to bring your child into a world that welcomes them as much as possible, which means being prepared on every front.
6. What role will your parents have in your kids' lives? When you have kids, estranged parents and annoying in-laws are no longer just your problem. You have to decide who you want in your kids' lives and what role you want them to play, says psychotherapist Tina Gilbertson, LPC, DCC. If you have an ongoing conflict with your parents or your partner's parents, it may be worth resolving so that you can model a good parent-child relationship for your kids.