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longgone's avatar

Is there really such a thing as being "biologically prepared" to be a parent?

Asked by longgone (13841points) December 10th, 2017

When I was 18, I really wanted a kid for a while. I’m happy to say I got through that strange period of time. I was not in the right place to be a parent, and I’m glad I didn’t have to be.

I know that I want to have children someday, but I’ve been waiting for some sort of cue.

I’m in a pretty good place right now, so I might want to tentatively start thinking about parenthood in more concrete terms. Not right now, not even soon…but not in some distant future, either.

Parents: Did you feel ready to have children? Cognitively, emotionally, or maybe instinctively? Does it even matter? If the degree of readiness does not matter, what does?

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17 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I think it would help a great deal.
I knew I never wanted children, from a kid to an adult now in my mid fifties I am really glad we never took the parenthood plunge .
My Niece on the other hand always wanted children from a small child right up to when she got married now has three children and is a great mom.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I was never ready. I knew it and was actually terrified at the prospect. Strangely, the wife (who worries incessantly over everything) had no qualms or reservations about parenthood, and it was that queer fact which convinced me that there is absolutely nothing rational in a decision to rear children. “Biologically prepared”? Fertile with working equipment in good order. “Ready”? I don’t care how you or others feel about it, you aren’t. And returning to the rational aspects of the subject, it is invariably those least “ready” who dive right in. Knowing in advance that you are considering the irrational choice, perhaps bottom line practical realities around “ready” can shock you back onto the sensible road. Are you by yourself, or do you have a partner? If you are single and lacking an enormous fortune, stand before the mirror and declare your reflection legally insane for even considering parenthood. If you have a willing and eager partner, drag him/her before the mirror and chant in unison “Two is not enough.” You don’t know it, but you need backup—LOTS of backup. A large extended family, your parents, your partner’s parents, multiple doting aunts and uncles within a radius of 40 minutes travel time—the ideal setup. Lacking the dream, you must build a newtork of other deluded people who think they love babies. Sprinkled in this pile must be a few folks who actually have kids and therefore know the awful truth, but you don’t want too many of these. Their lives, much like your own, now boil down to stumbling from sleep deprived crisis to crisis while hemorrhaging money. Actually, there’s no point continuing with this.

zenvelo's avatar

There is no such thing as being “biologically prepared”. Biology has nothing to do with being prepared to raise a child.

Physiologically, the best time to have a child is when the parents are in their early twenties. But that is really not best for the sake of raising a healthy happy child in a stable household.

Most parents are psychologically ready for children when they get to their thirties. Even then, it is not easy.

I had my first when I was forty, I was mentally prepared, but it was still a bit of a drain physically.

janbb's avatar

My Ex and I debated for a long time about having children; we were never 100% sure but I was more positive than him. What tipped it for us was that we realized we would probably regret it when we were too old to do anything about it if we didn’t have children. I don’t think anything really prepares you for the joys and demands of child rearing but certainly a stable relationship and some financial security are big assets. Living a healthy life and being active can certainly help with the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth but that is not the same as being biologically prepared.

We got married on the young side and were married seven years before we had kids. I would say that was good – perhaps one doesn’t need that many years (some of that was beyond our control) – but it is good to have some marital time without children.

elbanditoroso's avatar

If you are a male and you can get an erection, you’re just about biologically ready to make a child.

The question isn’t really about biology – it should be about psychology, maturity, economics, and similar thinks that enable the couple to give the kid are positive and successful start on life.

One can find various stories (although fewer, now) about 16-year old boys impregnating 15 year old girls and starting families. Biology isn’t the problem there. Maturity is.

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t know where the term “biologically prepared” came from in your question, but… the whole thrust of your being from an innate, instinctive evolutionary perspective has been and always will be to reproduce. So biological preparation, to the extent that this is a thing, has to do with the maturation of your sexual organs – in your case the uterus and egg-production cycle; menses, in short, and in the case of a male, the dropping of the testes into the scrotal sac and the production of sperm. (There are also secondary sex characteristics which help to demonstrate the invisible sexual maturity, including mammary growth and the capability of lactation, widening of the pelvis to enable a suitable birth canal, etc.)

That’s “biological preparation” in a nutshell.

That has nothing to do with what we, as a sentient species with the capability to plan and use reason, memory and all of our other intellectual gifts (to say nothing of opposable thumbs and other physical gifts) consider “preparation”: the actual planning for social maturity, mate selection, family creation (which is another human / animal instinct that we share with some other species, and which also tends to aid preservation of offspring), to say nothing of broader emotional, economic and other social aspects of “preparation”.

In most human cultures “preparation” for having and raising offspring also included very deliberate – and often ritualized – aspects of procreation including “marriage”, “family planning”, “income stability” and other things that so many young people these days seem to think is “just part of the patriarchy”. No, that’s life. It’s more than “having a feeling”, after all.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

As the others are pointing out biologically really has little to do with it, do you ovulate, does he have sperm? that’s ready.
Mentally? now that is the big one are you ready to give up your life to care and raise this little bundle of joy?
I am super glad to skip the parenthood part of life, as others point out doing so I do miss out on the joys of raising a child, but I also miss out on all the downfalls of it as well, the constant worry for their safety and well being , their education ,and so on.
Our life is great without them, NO debt, travel when we want, a lot less complicated,but we do miss the little rewards to, the hugs, the family time with the little ones, seeing them succeed in life.
I do not regret not having children, but I knew from the time I was a kid myself I didn’t want them.
What I do want to get across is really soul search this, because there is no turning back when you do decide to take on parenthood, you are in it for life.

funkdaddy's avatar

You’re never going to be 100% ready. I think there’s just no way to “test” how it will feel. Maybe I’m not much of an adult, but I seem to navigate OK. I never felt ready before.

Sharing my process because I think you’re awesome, and hope it will help in your journey somehow. Sorry for the length.

I was 25 when I got married, I had a lot I wanted to do, but kids weren’t really on that list then. I was defiantly not ready at that point.

I remember visiting my extended family with my wife, and having the kids climbing all over me while we played together and ran around. When I sat down with my “fellow adults” for dinner, they all wanted to know when I was going to have some of my own. I obviously enjoyed it so much, they thought. My cousin, who was about my age, and had two of the kids I was playing with joked “they look good on ya”... everyone apparently had been discussing it while I was wrestling.

I sat there and realized the kids felt more like my peers than the adults at the big table. I was just hanging out when I was with them, and I knew I wasn’t ready to be responsible for those little people.

I kept testing it out with friend’s kids. I’d go to birthday parties for 2 year olds and it all seemed so foreign and forced. The parents seemed crazy. I knew I wasn’t ready. Absolute certainty.

Then my wife asked when I would be ready. I didn’t really have an answer, but I didn’t “feel” ready. She was, so we tried.

It took exactly one time “trying” and she was pregnant. We lost that baby. I thought maybe it was because I wasn’t ready. We had time.

We tried some more, lost two more babies, and I still wasn’t sure. We’d been trying for years at this point. Maybe this was all a sign? Why was this so hard?

Our fourth pregnancy went well, and even in the days before my daughter was born, I was incredibly naive as to what was about to happen. It’s a running joke now, but I figured I’d give myself 3 days off afterwards (my own business), then be back at it. I figured at worst I could bring my little one to my office, since babies sleep so much. I knew I’d be tired, but I’d been tired before, right? I just relay that to show that I was nowhere near ready, even when the baby was almost here. I probably knew more about breastfeeding and sleep training (went to classes, read the books) than I did about what a newborn is really like.

That baby completely turned my life upside down and I had to rebuild it from scratch. I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Part of that was because I didn’t realize just how important that little person would be. I rearranged my life to make her #1 and it felt like the only way to do it. Anything else felt like I wasn’t living right. (this isn’t a judgement on anyone else)

My daughter became my #1 homie. I spent more time with her than anyone else, and sometimes that made me angry because of what I was missing out on, but it also felt right. Now I consider it time well spent.

The first time I remember feeling ready was during the sleepless nights early on. I’ve always struggled to keep a sleep schedule, and suddenly that was an asset. After that, other things started to fall into place. Being a big kid, who can make a game of anything, and still understands how to get things done can be an asset for dealing with a little one. Parenting felt natural after a while and I even started to understand some of those crazy parents at the baby birthday parties.

I’ve had two more little ones since that, and wasn’t ready for the changes of going from one to two kids, or two to three kids either.

I’d guess the only way to be ready is to recognize your life is going to change completely, and be ok with that. Everything else is just getting the details right. If you’re ready for that, and to love someone more than yourself, then that’s about the best you can hope for.

Good luck with whatever you decide.


“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

― Elizabeth Stone

canidmajor's avatar

When I was ready, I knew I was ready. There was nothing mystical, there were no dramatic “Aha!!” moments, I just knew I was ready. I was in a good emotional and financial place to start a family. I also knew (because I’m not an idiot and I live in the world) that I couldn’t predict everything, and that I didn’t know what it was really like to be a parent, but I was ready.
I had some challenges getting pregnant, which gave me more time to prepare, but I knew when I was ready.

janbb's avatar

@funkdaddy Beautiful. Half my heart walks around in Paris now unbeknownst and the other half is in San Francisco. (So that’s where I left it!)

I just want to add that having children, while not for everyone, enriched my life immeasurably. I have many wonderful and terrible things happen in my life but parenthood was the most awesome.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I haven’t read the other answers so I apologize if I’m repeating.

We are biologically prepared to have a student when a female starts ovulating and a male ejaculates sperm at 10 – 16.

Being mentally prepared is a whole other question. And yes. I was fully ready to have kids when I had them.

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III You are advanced! You had students?? I just had babies.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Huh? What you smokin’ Willus?!

Oh shit. I see it! Well, dang. Where did that come from? I must have been thinking of another thread and it sneaked it.

MrGrimm888's avatar

The OP needs to watch the first 15 minutes of “Idiocracy.”

It’ll give you some perspective on being “ready.”

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III I suggest you read your post.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I said

Huh? What you smokin’ Willus?!

Oh shit. I see it! Well, dang. Where did that come from? I must have been thinking of another thread and it sneaked it.”

It’s the post just above @MrGrimm888,‘s which is just above yours.

janbb's avatar

Yea, but I posted that before you edited your second one.

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