How to Plan for a Family

Does it matter when we start trying for a child, or how many we have?

By Elvira Tan | 22 June, 2017

When you start out as a newly married couple, well-meaning friends and overexcited relatives will ask that question, “So when are you going to have kids?”

If you and your spouse get stumped by this question, don’t worry. There are a myriad of factors to consider – many couples are concerned about the cost of raising children in Singapore, career development getting affected, or whether both of you are emotionally and mentally ready to have children.

Perhaps you are open to the idea of having children soon, but have no idea how many you should have and when is a good time in your marriage to grow the family, or better yet, you are engaged and want to talk about family planning as part of discussions of the future – then here are some questions and tips to consider with your partner.

What are our education and/or career goals?

If you and your spouse have certain education or career goals in mind, then you might need to do some projections and ask yourselves when these goals are likely to be achieved.

With these goals in mind, you should consider which stage will be ideal for you to try for a child. Perhaps, come to an agreement that you two will intentionally try for a child even if the goals are not achieved within the expected timeframe. Time stops for no man, and your bodies are changing with time regardless of your projections; it will be wise to not assume that you and your spouse will conceive once you start trying.

Who will care for our children?

We all want what’s best for our future children and strive to provide them with quality. Thoughtfully discuss with your spouse how you both envision childcare to be like. Consider how much help you have around you in the form of parents, parents-in-law, childcare services etc.

My husband and I realised that, in order to have constructive conversations about this issue, we needed to be open to ideas and resist preconceived notions we had about the options available.

Take the time to find out in-depth about options available, which will possibly affect how many children you plan to have.

How many should we have?

This answer will depend greatly on what you and your spouse value, and what your personalities are. Discuss how many little ones you envision yourselves having and find out more from each other where these ideals come from.

Find out why your spouse would like one or six kids, and come to a consensus. Talk through the process without being judgmental; seek to listen and understand. I learnt that my husband desired a loud and boisterous family – the more the merrier, he’d say – because he had a lonely childhood; my preference was for a larger age gap between our children as I witnessed how challenging it was for my mum to manage 2 kids with a 16-month age difference.

At the same time, consider how crucial it is for you and your spouse to get that bigger home or better quality of life before you will have children. You’ll need to discuss what truly matters to the both of you. Perhaps you are willing to make sacrifices and cut back on certain goals in order to have a child or more children.

Talk through the process without being judgmental; seek to truly listen and understand.

Do we have issues to resolve before we start a family?

If you or your spouse are battling addictions, anger issues, buried in financial debt, or you are facing marital challenges, it’s best to seek professional help quickly so that a warm, loving and conducive environment is established for your offspring; it will also do wonders for your marriage.

On the flipside, if you are emotionally healthy and stable but wonder if you will be good enough for your children, take heart that you do not need to be perfect before you become a parent. Strive to be present and involved, and understand that you and your spouse will play different but complementary roles in raising the children. Interestingly, the little ones will bring out the best in us and also move us towards greater maturity.

If you are emotionally healthy and stable, then take heart that you do not need to strive to be a perfect person before you have a child.

If you come to a stalemate on any of the above issues, do not hesitate to seek help from a trained counsellor, who will be able to help you process your underlying concerns that may be causing the conflicts. Many couples find difficulty articulating needs and communicating in ways that deepen understanding between each other. It will greatly benefit couples to seek help so that they can intentionally work towards having a marriage and family love that will last for a lifetime.

© 2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

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