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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Before you had children, what process of self-evaluation did you conduct?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38942points) July 7th, 2011

Inspired by this question. I remember over-planning my wedding and having kids and thinking I had it all figured out. I knew lots about conceiving and pregnancies and labor, I took classes. Postpartum depression took me completely by surprise as did the actual parenting, given that I, for some reason, didn’t educate myself all that much on how to take care of an infant and it didn’t help to have a floopy husband and a controlling mother. Once I got better and out of the marriage and into a good relationship, I became a much better parent and realized that prior to having children, I didn’t quite think about whether I have what it takes. I am generally confident about my abilities and skills and how I learn new things but there could have been more self-assessment (I was young-ish, relatively speaking, I gave birth to my first at 22).

We also often talk about bad parenting and how people should be more educated before becoming parents or whatever, that it’s too easy to become a parent and all that. Anyway, did you think about whether or not you’re capable of being a good parent before you had children? What specifically did you question yourself about?

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11 Answers

ccrow's avatar

I had my first at 22 also… I don’t think I really thought about it much. I’m the youngest of five, so I got to see little nieces and nephews a lot and had some idea of what it was like.
…floopy??

geeky_mama's avatar

I had children kind of later in life – and after having lived on my own over a decade, much of that time abroad…I’d lived a lot already and I suppose knew myself (the good the bad and the ugly) fairly well before I married or thought of having kids.
I was also a nanny and a babysitter for quite a long time..so I guess..I didn’t really self-evaluate whether I’d be a good parent or not…I went into it knowing I’d be able to keep an infant alive and guessing I’d be a decent mom.

So, I didn’t really question my ability to be a parent. And, in my case the more books I read and information I gathered..the more uptight I got about things like childbirth (e.g. I had a midwife and a doula for my first birth—and was ALL about having a natural child birth. After a particularly tough labor with that first 10lb baby I was much more “go with the flow” for my 2nd delivery a couple years later. I don’t think I read ANY books before my second labor & delivery.).

Until I started volunteering more in the community and meeting people I’d classify as having poor parenting skills (or more specifically, children whose parents were failing them) it never occurred to me that there were people out there having children that really should not have.

FWIW, I don’t think education or more training would necessarily help any of the people I’ve met that are bad parents. In each case that I know firsthand, these parents absolutely know better. They intellectually know what they’re doing is wrong and not good for the kid and either just don’t care or lack the ability to control their emotions. They know enough to give the right answers if they’re being asked by Social Services—they’re just lying their asses off.
e.g.
Social Services worker: “What method of discipline do you use?”
Child-abuser I know: “Oh, time outs. He sits on the “naughty” stool and then we have hugs and cookies.”
SSW: “OK. So, no physical punishment?”
CAIK: “Oh no! I would never lay a hand on him.”

Yeah…meanwhile we’ve all seen her shake this kid so hard his eyes rolled up in his head, yank him down the driveway by his ear and witnessed her beat him with a wooden spoon till it broke.

The “bad” parents I’m thinking of… they KNOW better. Really they do. They can logically provide me with the right answer or even lie to my face about how they care for their kids..and then treat their kids horribly.

ucme's avatar

When I met the wife she’d recently been divorced & had two kids from that marriage. I guess you could say I learnt the ropes as our relationship went on. Having to try & form a bond with two young kids who’d just been traumatised by the break up of their parents marriage was testing to say the least.
Throw in the fact that the wife had her tubes tied, years of operating waiting lists & her having the commitment to reverse the procedure, well I can safely say I was good & ready when my two wonderful kids came along in the following years. Everything turned out just fine & as my kids constantly tell me, i’m an awesome dad!!

Cruiser's avatar

My biggest concern was financial…was I ready to take on that financial burden? I was older when I had my first kid and thought mentally I was then ready to interrupt my life to take on the parental role. Having a kid is an interesting dynamic as aside from prenatal classes at the hospital and instructions on the diaper package and formula package…there are no other instructions. Babies are easy….feed, change diapers, and love em to death. As they grow up and their demands for care increase, your role expands to being father, chauffeur, referee, role model and mentor. Somehow you are supposed to do your best and that is not always possible. Work, spouses, problems and other issues get in the way and further test your wherewithal and stress coping skills.

That being said and looking back….yeah, a few pointers on being a better parent may have helped but most of parenting is instinctive and unless you are cold and uncaring…most will do a good job raising kids! I will miss them when they move out, but not that much to where I am looking forward to some peace and quiet and a much needed break from it all.

Coloma's avatar

I was 28 when I had my daughter. A good, middle of the road age I think.
I was done with my wild party days, and ready to make the commitment to home and hearth.

Being the pro active type I actually went to a few counseling sessions to determine if I was really ready, and to work through some issues I had with my mother.

The therapist was very supportive and thought I’d be a great mom…problem was, while looking at myself, I failed to take a really good look at my husband. The irony of that was not as amusing then, as it is now. lol

I fell into the mommy role easily and with great joy and enthusiasm, I truly loved being a mom and think I brought a lot of fun and creativity to the job. I really was invested in being the kind if mom I wished I had had, and I was!
No issues until the teen years when my marriage could no longer be sustained and my daughter went through her rebellious phase.

Those were a handful of rocky years but, it’s all good now.

As much as I loved being a mom, I also equally enjoy NOT being a parent anymore, now that my girl is almost 24. It is great to be on equal turf and just be pals, albeit with a bit of stubborness that can still show up between two bright and strong willed women.

Seasons and all ya know?

The season of only Coloma has been a good one these last few years, one endless summer. The eternal sunshine of the spotless house! :-D

Love you honey, but please don’t come home again. haha

Ajulutsikael's avatar

I like to think I’m doing all I can in a very complicated situation.

Cruiser's avatar

@Coloma You give me hope hearing about your endless summers!! ;)

YARNLADY's avatar

My first one, zero, other than the way I was raised. My second one, we had genetic testing, because we were in a high risk group, and we waited until Hubby’s career was stable, 5 years after we were married.

Coloma's avatar

@Cruiser

You’ll get there!
The transition is kinda hard, it takes a couple years to quit the parenting reflexes. haha
Now, it’s the role reversal showing up, my daughter has become head advisor, tells me I pay my gardener too much, thinks I should buy a new car, tells me how to return dud fruit to the market, it’s comical and at times, annoying! She had to remind me for a few years that she wasn’t 12 anymore, and now I have to remind HER that I am only 51, save the advice for when I am 91! Frack…the circle of life, it’s pretty damn comical! ;-)

Cruiser's avatar

@Coloma I can sense the fine line you still have to walk as down the road you may need them more than they need you!

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