About 20 percent of women don’t have children, a rate twice as high as the 1970s according to the Pew Research Center. For some, the decision is due to life circumstances or medical problems. For about 10 percent of women, it is a purposeful choice reflective of their values, lifestyles and interests.
This decision is life altering. Consider the following before deciding to be a parent.
- Do you like children? Some people just don’t enjoy being around kids. This may be difficult to admit, but please be honest with yourself.
- Are you in a stable relationship? Raising children will constantly strain your relationship. Parenting requires lots of compromise and communication. It’s misguided to bring children into a relationship marked by substance abuse, instability or turmoil and hope that kids will somehow erase those problems. The impact will likely be the opposite. Children exacerbate existing dysfunctions in relationships.
- Are you willing to sacrifice, often and indefinitely? You lose a great deal of freedom the day a child enters your world.I’ll forever remember the day we brought our daughter home from the hospital. We sat on the sofa, taking turns holding this beautiful little girl, thrilled beyond belief. However, from that day forward, my freedom and flexibility were substantially restricted. The benefits were amazing, but they came at costs that I didn’t anticipate.
- Do you have a good support system of family and friends? You can’t raise a child by yourself. You need help from others. Here’s the tricky part of being a good parent. You need to be totally devoted all the time to caring for another’s life. However, you also must simultaneously take good care of yourself and nurture your relationship with your spouse. Being a good parent is first and foremost about being a good person. Those are three separate and very demanding jobs. Good parents find that delicate equilibrium because of the support they get from others.
- Do you have good parenting skills?There are all kinds of different parenting styles. Wonderful kids come from families with a diversity of values and approaches to raising children. However, great parents share a few characteristics. First, they tend to be flexible. They are good at adapting to a variety of situations without overreacting or catastrophizing. Second, they are super at problem solving. They are skillful at thinking through tough situations and adjusting to the myriad of problems they confront in guiding their children. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, good parents are good people. They are moral, emotionally stable and extremely conscientious.
Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit www.childrensdayton.org/ramey and join Dr. Ramey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drgregramey. Dr. Ramey has been a guest contributor to the Ohio Family Law Blog since 2007.
[Reprinted by permission from the April 5, 2015, edition of the Dayton Daily News, “Should you have children? Ask yourself these questions” Gregory Ramey, PhD]
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Guest Contributor Gregory Ramey, PhD, Child Psychologist and Dayton Daily News Columnist
Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a nationally recognized child psychologist and columnist who has worked at Dayton Children’s Hospital since 1979. In addition to his weekly column in the Dayton Daily News about effective parenting, Ramey has conducted more than 200 workshops and has recently been quoted in articles in Redbook, Parenting, Ladies Home Journal as well as columns distributed by the New York Times Wire Service.