Some people think the more children you have, the more you know about parenting.
Actually, the more children you have, the more you know you know nothing about parenting.
Thanks to my four children, I am fully aware of my cluelessness as a parent and my complete reliance on grace from my children and from God. Still, the illusion I am a Mom Level Four (one level per child) persists and people are often gracious enough to ask for parenting advice.
The illusion I am a Mom Level Four (one level per child) persists and people are often gracious enough to ask for parenting advice.
The other day, a friend asked me a question he and his wife were facing: “How do you know when you’re ready to have children?”
The honest answer is you’re never ready. Having children is walking the tightrope without a net, it’s leaping from an airplane, it’s sailing into uncharted seas. No matter how you prepare, it’s going to be an adventure, testing and exhilarating.
But I do believe there are things couples can do to ease the journey.
Pray for guidance
Go to God with this question first. With your spouse, ask Him for wisdom about starting a family, about the timing, about the many choices you will make as parents. And if God is telling you it’s time to try for children, ignore my following points. He’ll take care of those.
Build your marriage
You’ve already started a family. It began the moment you said, “I do.”
Your marriage is the foundation of the family … its origin and its support. As one dear mentor once told me, “the best thing you can do for your children is have a strong marriage.”
But building such a marriage takes time. And when you are a parent, time is hard to find.
Think you’re busy now? I see your hectic schedule and raise it by the power of four kids with different sleeping, eating and schooling schedules, all (it would seem) born without the ability to find their own shoes.
You think you’re busy now? I see your hectic schedule and raise it by the power of four kids with different sleeping, eating and schooling schedules, all (it would seem) born without the ability to find their own shoes.
Consider taking a little time just being a couple. Learn to work as a team. Learn how to have healthy arguments. Be silly, make memories, plan and dream together.
Babies cost a bazillion dollars each.
This is only a slight exaggeration. There are hospital bills, food and clothes, diapers, bottles, toys, equipment and a new, bigger car to hold it all. You’ll need space for a crib, a high chair, a swing. (Do not forget the swing. The swing will save your life.)
My planner husband has been wonderful about this, setting aside money from the beginning of our marriage for the children we hoped to have. We also saved so I could stay home with the children, as both my mom and mother-in-law did with us. Those funds made the bills manageable and allowed us to focus on other things … like how to function on two to three hours of sleep per night.
While having your own baby is a completely unique and terrifying experience, there are a lot of skills you can work on in advance. For example, this will all be much easier for you if you already know how to change diapers.
Offer to babysit for the young parents in your life. (Their gratitude will know no bounds.) Sign up for the church nursery. (The old ladies will think you’re adorable.) Sit at the kid table at the next family reunion. (Don’t wear your favorite shirt.)
Lean on grace
My church, FreeWay Bible Chapel, recently hosted some marriage and family classes. The speaker, Steve Price, opened by saying the whole idea of parenting is learning that you can’t parent.
“And it casts you on the Lord Jesus,” he said.
In your parenting journey, you’re going to do some things right. You’re going to do some things wrong. And there’s going to be a lot of times when you feel like all your hard work is making no impact at all.
You’ll need God’s grace.
In those times, you’ll need God’s grace. And if you realize this even before you start trying for children, you’ll know that even if your timing isn’t perfect and things don’t go to plan, God’s grace will carry you through that, too.