The choice of whether to have children is probably the most important one of any man’s life. Truth is if you marry the wrong person, you can get a divorce. If you enter the wrong career you can resign, retool and try something else. If you move into the wrong neighborhood, you can relocate. A child, on the other hand, is your responsibility for the next eighteen years (minimum), and on some levels for the rest of your life.
Without any research into the matter I think I’d be right to guess that many men don’t pay attention to natural signs that tell them whether or not fatherhood is the choice for them, and then when they find themselves a father-to-be, they have to quickly get into that mindset.
Truth is, as men we should consider whether we want to become a parent before it’s ‘suddenly’ thrust upon us. Here are some things to consider when wrapping your mind around whether you want to be a dad…
Time and money
Experts now estimate that raising a child to age 21 could cost in the region of US$313,500 (J$27.5M) as well as at least eight hours of your day. Think it through carefully because you’d rather be relishing your role as dad rather than resenting it
Teaching the lil ones
Personally I love teaching children and bouncing ideas off them. It’s rewarding when you see/hear them sharing the knowledge they’ve acquired. What about a special needs child? I guess I would have adapted to the reality and embraced that challenge; it surely would be a lesson to me in patience and greater parenting. Children require constant guidance and attention, if you can’t see yourself providing that then there’s a red flag.
Enjoying children’s activities
Despite the ‘big people’ responses kids give to situations they’re not ‘big people’. They still want to watch cartoons, play with toys, dirt and other children (play dates). As a dad the times will come when you’ll have to be the overseer for these ‘fun times’. I’ve learned to enjoy them; otherwise I’d have been a miserable, mad-man by now lol.
Noise, clutter and flexibility
Newborns cry, a lot and in the most inappropriate places. Children in general cry a lot and leave a mess everywhere. Yeah, sure you can train them to become neater but until then clutter becomes a daily sight. I mentioned flexibility because two dreaded words no parent wants to hear are ‘medical emergencies’. Your plans (and sometimes sleep) are subject to be thrown through the window when the lil one needs to be rushed to a doc or an ER.
Parenting means being a doctor, nurse, event planner, tutor, chauffer, bail bondsman (hopefully not lol), chaperone, and etiquette instructor-to someone who can be obnoxious and disrespectful. Kids start life being noisy and messy, and dinnertime in most homes with children is no adult-sanctuary! Having a child means giving up quiet, tidy meals and having spilled milk to attend to on a routine basis.
Maybe being a parent aint for you
If your biggest dream is to be adventurous like the ‘Dos Equis world’s most interesting man’ where he is his only responsibility then by all means go get ‘em maverick – leave parenting out of it. If your hobbies require lotsa time and money and you don’t like sacrificing those hobbies for anything or anyone then probably forget parenting.
You have to always be a positive role model for your child. Being a parent doesn’t mean being a best friend. Surely there must be a level of friendship developed so the lil one can confide in you and ask your advice, but always remember you’re there to raise your child so that he can go out into the world as a responsible, independent adult.
Don’t forget that parenting is an option (unless you’ve already created the child), and once you’re there, you can’t back out. Many young people today are making the decision to not become parents, but to instead focus their time and energy on other pursuits.
It’s a serious job, and most parents would agree that it’s a very challenging job. I hear more and more parents admitting that they wish they’d thought it through more carefully, because they are not feeling fulfilled with their role as parent.
Parenting is truly life-altering, and the critical point is that you don’t want to find yourself having regrets, and not being able to change the course of your life.