To have children, or to not have children? It’s one of the biggest decisions anyone will make in their life.
Getting it wrong has the potential to lead to decades of regret. So, how do you know if you really want to have kids?
Clinical psychologist Carla Anderson, from the Centre for Perinatal Psychology, says people who are struggling to make the decision need to do a bit of “deeper digging”.
Watch: Be a good mum. Post continues below.
“The main thing we’re thinking about is where the ambivalence is coming from,” she tells Mamamia.
Anderson has three questions that people who are wondering whether they want to have kids should ask themselves.
1. Is it you that wants to have a baby?
Maybe your family or your partner want you to start a family, or maybe it seems like everyone around you is doing it, but you’re not really feeling that desire yourself.
“Is having a baby something you actually want or is it because you feel like that’s the expectation placed on you?” Anderson says.
2. Is this how you’re feeling now?
You might have been telling everyone for years that you want to have kids, or you might have always said that you didn’t want them.
“It can change depending on what developmental or life stage you’re at,” Anderson says. “It’s okay to change your mind.”
3. What are you able to give a baby?
“So often, one of the things that people having babies might think about is what an infant’s going to give them, unconditional love and all that kind of thing,” Anderson says.
“This is about really stopping and thinking, ‘What are the needs of the baby that I can meet? What is a baby going to need, emotionally, when they’re born and as they grow up?’”
Listen to The Quicky on maternal ambivalence and when women regret having kids. Post continues after audio.
Once you’ve answered those, here are another 13 questions, written by people who already have kids, that anyone struggling with the big decision should ask themselves.
1. Are you willing to put the needs of someone else above your own until the end of time?
2. Do you have a strong support network around you that could help you to work through and cope with the huge emotional ups and downs, minimal sleep and any potential unforeseen challenges such as postpartum anxiety/depression?
3. Do you thrive on “flow” – and if so, how will you cope with interruptions every 5-30 minutes, 24/7, for six years?