We have now passed the halfway mark of our 100 questions article series. How exciting for you and your partner! This next part will be all about children. Some people want 1, some people want 10! For those of you who do not want to have any, this part will still be of benefit to you to go through. Our actual age, physical age and mental age may not always tally. Sometimes our so-called "biological clock” is already ticking but we still are not mentally ready for the responsibility of children. Do not fret! Eventually they all even out. This is why I tend to advice young couples who come to my clinic saying they do not want to have children not to do anything permanent yet, in terms of contraception, as they might regret it later on. Children in some religions are viewed as a blessing from God and absolutely prohibit any form of contraception. People who belong to these religions will definitely benefit having a chat with their partner using the next 10 questions just to make sure you are both on the same page.
Do you want children? Why or why not? How many?
Straight forward question but the answer may not be so. Having a child is a product of many complicated factors. The process of getting pregnant may be fun but the outcome may not always be desired. In some cases, your partner may have been through a previous miscarriage, difficult delivery, complication during pregnancy, divorce, etc. All these factors will come into play when talking about future children. Even if you happen to be one half of a “simple” couple with none of the factors I have just mentioned, having children may not be as easy as you think.
How long do you want to wait before having children?
It used to be normal to get married and become pregnant right away. It was almost an expectation. Oh, the stress that women used to have to go through fielding questions from family members as to why they were not pregnant yet when they have been married for 6 months already! But, nowadays, with more and more women in high-powered careers, having a large family may have taken a backseat. It really is nobody else’s business whether you and your partner want children right away or not. But you should both agree on this beforehand. It would be terrible for the husband to be eagerly waiting to hear the news that the pregnancy test was positive while the wife was secretly taking oral contraceptive pills. Trust me, I have come across these kinds of couples before. It was simply because she felt she was not ready to have children. She had married so young and yet he was already 35 years old. When the husband finally found out, thankfully he did not pressure her.
How would you discuss sexual orientation with our children?
This, again, has become another topic of frustration amongst new parents. It is no longer only about the birds and the bees. It’s the bees and the bees, the birds and the birds, and the birds and the bees - and sometimes the plural really does come into play! I suppose for you to answer this question, you would first need to really dig deep down and be honest about your own sexual orientation. Would you be able to accept children who were a different sexual orientation to your own?
Do you have any physical disabilities that will prevent us from having children?
Physical love between husband and wife is a completely normal aspect of adult married life. Your partner is entitled to know whether your physical love is just that, or whether there is any real possibility of it bearing fruit. Not only in terms of medical advice, but sometimes discussing this in front of a doctor will show you what options you have to overcome your physical disabilities.
If we are unable to have children, would you be willing to adopt?
I am always surprised to hear that some families are completely against adoption. There are so many unwanted, uncared for and abandoned children in the world. Yet for couples with fertility problems, they still do not want to take up adoption as an option. I am sure they each have their own cultural or religious reasons for this and I am always curious to hear.
If we had children, how would we divide the responsibilities?
Between feeding the baby and changing its diapers every 2 hours, soothing it every time it wakes up at night crying and managing your own adult needs, any new parent will find themselves stretched to their maximum limits. Dividing the responsibilities of caring for a child, taking turns to be deprived of sleep, etc has been the key for most successful couples.
What are thoughts on abortion?
This is both a religious and a medical concern. There are certain medical conditions wherein the child will have a very low chance of surviving past its first year of life. In some cases, being pregnant actually endangers the life of the mother. How would you feel in these situations? Would you be willing to take the risk?
Question 58 and 59
What are your ideas on parenting? How would you discipline our children?
Every one of us, no matter how much we fight it, will be unknowingly influenced by our parent’s parenting styles. A recent criminal case about a Malaysian couple who had migrated to Sweden illustrates this fact. In Malaysia, hitting a child is commonplace. Whereas it is almost completely unheard of in Sweden. When this Malaysian couple hit their child in public in Sweden, it was viewed as a criminal offence and the parent was jailed. Of course, parenting styles not only affect how you would discipline your child. There is also nurturing them, feeding them, protecting them and rewarding them, among others, to think about.
Do you feel that lack of money is a good reason not to have children?
It is a known fact that having children is expensive. There are ways to cut down on costs like exclusively breastfeeding, using cloth diapers instead of disposable ones, government benefits for new parents, etc. However, no matter how you look at it, eventually the cost of having a child will add up. In some cases, parents may not even have enough money to send them to school. So, in light of this, do you feel that lack of money is a good reason not to have children or to limit the number of children you have? Are you willing to give up your current luxurious lifestyle in order to ensure you have enough savings for their college education?
Children bring tears to every family. Tears of joy and sometimes tears of emotional pain. They can be your greatest source of stress or your greatest source of happiness. Some people get married for the sole reason of having children. What’s your attitude to children? Is it the same as your partner’s?
Happy interrogating and stay tuned for part 7 in this article series!
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