My partner and I have been together for 3 years. We've always talked about having kids. For the past year, though, we've been going through some rough times. We're in counseling and things are getting better slowly. The kid discussion is coming up again. I'm afraid, though, to jump too quickly into having kids for fear that the stress of it will bring out more problems between us (I'm a compulsive planner, she's very impulsive). How long should we wait for things to stay between us before thinking we're over the bad stuff and it's okay to bring a kid into the mix?
Dear Compulsive Planner,
As a happy parent of twin five year olds, I think it's safe to say that there is NEVER a good time for a compulsive planner, to endorse a decision as monumental, and life-changing, (not to mention unpredictable) as parenthood. Compulsive planning and parenthood are words that do not belong on the same page, no, better yet - the same book. The question I'd suggest that you start asking yourself is not, "are we over the bad stuff," rather, I'd be asking, "do we have enough tools to deal with all of the inevitable challenges we are sure to face, and the ability to seek out the tools we don't have, if, or when, we need them."
All relationships experience rough spots. If yours has been defined by rough spots only, then that's another, not -ideal-for-parenthood, story. If your impulsive other is eager to birth/adopt a baby (or more - remember, unpredictable), it's essential that you are clear about one another's motivations. Most people are hard-pressed to identify a really good reason to have a child; for many it's an emotionally-driven, inexplicable need that takes on a life of it's own. If growing a family together is based on shared goals and a common vision, then you have a good foundation from which to grow your family.
The good news is that couples who have children tend to last longer and work harder to keep their relationships in tact. Having a shared goal and a purpose that transcends each of you, and your relationship, is a powerful incentive to make things work. Note: I'm not suggesting that this is a good reason to actually become parents - it's not! It's simply a good byproduct if that's the decision you do make.
If you do join the ranks of parenthood be sure to look up a local and free social/support group for same-sex parents at www.likeourfamily.com - and join in good old family fun.
by Michele O'Mara, LCSW