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The talk before having kids - What do you think?

(40 Posts)
onereminder Thu 28-May-15 13:01:36

I'm a new poster here but frequently see posts about couples with young children who end up having less sex, less time for each other, fewer date nights, less money, less time for hobbies, less freedom and it results in relationship problems.

It's got me thinking. Do people, when planning the biggest life change they'll ever have, actually sit down and talk about the changes involved?

I do feel that a lot of unsuitable matches - and their consequent disintegration - could be avoided by having a chat before trying to conceive in which it's stated quite clearly, so both are on the same page:

"If we have a child there are thousands of emotional benefits - but you need to accept that you must expect less sex, less time for each other, fewer date nights, more stress, less money, less hobby time, less freedom, and more stress. Are you cool with this?"

Or do we avoid that because we fear that if they knew the truth about raising a family, they'd be less likely to commit?

I suspect it's the latter, but wanted to know what you think.

Chchchchangeabout Thu 28-May-15 13:03:44

We had that sort of conversation. But I don't get the 'they' might not commit thing. We were equally committed/daunted!

youmakemydreams Thu 28-May-15 13:07:01

hmm do you have children? Because honestly no amount of talking about these things can actually prepare you for what actually happens when your world changes with a small baby in it full time. Unless you have actually lived it you can't even begin to comprehend how life changing having children is for some people even if you've seen friends and family having babies. Nobody is the parent they thought they would be. Things change, people change and plans change all the time children or not.

moanybollocks Thu 28-May-15 13:08:29

Judging by my friends and family, it's usually the latter.

People just don't talk enough.

I know friends who have got mortgages together before discussing whether they even want children - and then splitting when their expectations don't match. You're 30+, grow up and talk! Bonkers

My cousin tried for 10 years to get pregnant and then when they actually got their twins, it transpired in all that time they'd never once discussed what it would mean it practical terms - childcare, impact on relationship. So she does everything and he useless, as a father and partner.

I don't yet have dc but it's something dp and I have talked about a lot. I'm confident we're both on the same page, and know what's expected of each other and the impact it will have

BUT, I'm sure there will be a myriad of stuff come up if and when we finally do have dc that I'm sure we won't have thought of until then! grin

In the meantime we both try hard to ensure our relationship is as strong as can be and do work at it, rather than coast along not talking about anything of any substance

blacktreaclecat Thu 28-May-15 13:08:52

We had a conversation like that. DH promised to do the night stuff as a big thing for me is sleep. He's been a great daddy and true to his word. I did sometimes get up in the night but because I wanted to, not because he expected me to.
DS got the memo too and slept through from 10 weeks smile

moanybollocks Thu 28-May-15 13:09:34

X post with the above and I'm sure youmakemydreams is right

But shouldn't you at least TRY?

Skiptonlass Thu 28-May-15 13:37:20

We had several talks about it. Do we want kids (yes) how will we manage financially, who will take parental leave, what are our expectations of each other, do we have enough living space etc. honestly we talked about everything!

We both understand that a cute little whirlwind is about to upend our cost existence. We've talked about how to manage nights in the first few weeks, for example, and giving each parent time "off" to keep their life together.

I know the reality will probably knock us for six but I think we've talked through the emotional and logistical side a lot. That's all we can do really, apart from keep on the talking after ds is born.

stargirl1701 Thu 28-May-15 13:44:34

No amount of talking prepares you for the reality of it. I have never encountered anything like the sleep deprivation I had with DD1.

DH and I went into parenting knowing it would be one the biggest stressors we would encounter in our marriage.

Spell99 Thu 28-May-15 14:12:12

Of course it depends if the pregnancy was planned.

Spydra Thu 28-May-15 14:15:27

Of course you should talk about it beforehand. But the theory and practicality are two different things. And noone can honestly tell how they will react,

Lndnmummy Thu 28-May-15 14:23:18

We did lots and lots of talking, endless theoretical conversion.
Did nothing to prepare us for the shock we had. It was lethal snd nearly broke us.
So much depends on the baby you get, no amount of talking can set you up - IMO

MarchLikeAnAnt Thu 28-May-15 14:24:14

We talked about our expectations/ who would do what etc etc but NOTHING could have prepared us for the hell that was the first 6 months.

Skiptonlass Thu 28-May-15 14:53:59

Ldnmummy - that is a very good point. We hope we will manage and I'm happy we've done all we can at this point. I suppose there's a good deal of luck involved.
Hope you're doing ok now. Is there anything else you wish you'd done before that looking back you think might have helped? I'm very happy to hear words of wisdom from those who have gone before ....

derektheladyhamster Thu 28-May-15 15:01:19

We didn't even discuss whether we were going to have children before we got married! I fell pregnant the first month we started trying. We had 9 months to sort practicalities out grin

We've been married for 18 years, with a 15 yr old and 12 yr old.

We had more relationship problems last year when I went back to full time work after being a SAHM for 14 yrs, than when we had small children.

What helped us was that we came from very similar family set ups, same upbringing, and we were very young when we got together.

Lottapianos Thu 28-May-15 15:07:32

I don't know what all the eye rolling is for. I can well imagine that nothing can prepare you for the reality of being responsible for a tiny baby all the time, but IME people don't put nearly enough thought into whether its something they actually want. Talking about it doesn't mean you're anywhere near fully prepared for the full on reality of course, but it stuns me that some people just roll with it, on such a huge decision. Of course, some people don't realise that not having children is actually an option.

To answer your question OP, I think it varies hugely. DP and I have had about 5 million conversations about whether to have children, and its unlikely that we will. On the other hand, this is the conversation my friend had with her fiancee, a whole 2 months before their wedding (she was pretty on the fence by the way):

Her to him: How sure are you that you want to be a parent?
Him to her: 100%

And that was that. In many ways, she seems to be quite drawn to the 'man as head of household' dynamic so I guess it worked for her

Keepithidden Thu 28-May-15 15:18:21

Nope, didn't talk enough by any stretch. Muddled along and hoped for the best really.

Regret it immensely now, but thems the breaks when you take on these responsibilities.

SevTSnape Thu 28-May-15 15:19:56

Lotta You sound similar to DP and I. The general consensus between us is no, we don't want kids, because we'd rather do our own thing than have to think about someone else. It may change as we get older, and DP says if we do decide to have kids, he'd rather adopt, which I'd be happy to do as well. It is frustrating when people always say "you'll change your mind and have kids" and it's like "you don't know that!"

TheOldWiseOne Thu 28-May-15 15:25:26

This is like saying" My child will never have a dummy..." before the event..yeah, right! wink

Lottapianos Thu 28-May-15 15:36:10

SevTSnape, 'frustrating' is a polite way of describing it! Some people just can't handle the idea of other people making different decisions to them. It says way more about them that it does about you, but it can be extremely hurtful.

I have agonised over the decision for years, because part of me would love to do it, but being rational, I think the reality of being someone's mother and that being my life would drive me utterly crazy. I realise its a lovely thing if its right for you, but that's just the point - its not for everyone. The decision to have children is every bit as personal and complex as the decision to become a parent.

mumto3alexa Thu 28-May-15 19:01:22

It is a mn thing that people don't understand the reality whereas where I am most people are used to children so know what its like beforehand. We were alsomyoung so you just get on with it without the handwringing. I agree with deciding the fundamentals before children.

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 28-May-15 19:41:17

Just as an addition to this it is worth remembering that partners (both male and female) will agree then show their true colours down the line.

dun1urkin Thu 28-May-15 20:51:30

We talked about it a lot. I declared myself 'undecided but unlikely' early on when our relationship got serious and said to then DP we shouldn't be together if he wasn't prepared to accept this.

Over the years we periodically revisited how we both felt, what we would do if our feelings changed and we weren't congruent. Revisited it again when I had a 'pregnancy scare'. Revisited it again when his siblings had DC etc.

We have both seen some friends' relationships fail when one did want DC and the other didn't and it was very sad. We are now both firmly of the view that we don't want DC. I think we're very lucky that we both feel the same and are confident in each other's feelings (been together 15 years now)

NB We also talked long and hard about having DC ats, the impact on our lives and the responsibilities of animal parenting. We agreed we should have DC ats, and have never regretted it grin

Velociraptor Thu 28-May-15 20:58:09

We discussed whether we wanted any DC, but not much more than that. DH already had two, so he knew what he was getting into. I didn't have a clue, and no amount of talking could have prepared me. That said I have absolutely no regrets at all. I love being a Mum!

Whiteshirt Thu 28-May-15 21:14:36

I think the terms of the conversation you set out aren't the crucial ones, OP - everyone knows those are the pay-offs for having a child, less sleep and sex and hobbies and couple time are basic common sense.

The conversation DH and I had (together 20 years, had always planned not to have children, then reconsidered when I was 39), and which I urge any woman to have before ttc, is about childcare, and exactly what will happen after the end of maternity leave. Who does nursery /childminder pick ups and drop-offs? Who takes time off work if the baby is ill and can't go to childcare or a toddler needs to go to A and E during an important meeting? How are you going to coordinate work trips or late work so that they don't coincide?

Too often - in RL and on Mn - I see women drifting out of careers they love because they find too late the men they thought were feminists just assume they will pick up the slack and have no intention of changing their work hours or commitments. And suddenly it's 'I'm too stressed trying to juggle a child and work' and 'My salary doesn't cover childcare' etc.

Have the work and childcare conversation. Agree the exact terms by which you will share childcare responsibilities, and write them down. Don't sleepwalk your way out of your career.

LuluJakey1 Thu 28-May-15 21:15:22

We discussed it in detail. We had been married 5 years and were almost 35 when we decided. DH wanted a baby after we had been married a couple of years but waited until I was really ready. I was the hesitant one- kept thinking how life-changing it would be. I knew DH would be a fantastic dad and he is. DS is almost 6 months and he does more than his fair share of everything for him and for me. It has been hard but hard in a sort of 'We're in this together' way. TBH the end of the pregnancy and my hormonal hatred of DH even breathing was the hardest bit. Don't know how he put up with me.
DS is a good sleeper - after the first 5 weeks- but we are tired because he is all-consuming when he is awake.
He has a sixth sense about us having sex and immediately wakes up! But we are managing to outwit him.
He just fits into our life- we just take him with us to wherever we want to go.
Is being weaned at the moment and there is pureed fruit and veg everywhere at mealtimes.
He is just a joy and however hard it has been at times, we love him so much it hurts.

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