Having children is a big decision at any age, and young couples may worry more than most. But many common fears are unjustified. Here are a few of them:
We're not "adult" enough
This is a common fear for any couple, and if you're still quite young, you may believe that everyone who is older than you is also wiser, better prepared and somehow much more "adult" than you.
The truth is that couples of all ages worry about not being ready to have a baby, and few people ever feel like they have it all figured out, no matter how old they are. At some point, you have to trust that you'll be a good parent and just go ahead and start your family. You'll figure it out as you go along and you'll learn from your mistakes, just as many older couples do.
At one stage, someone thought it would be fun to work out how much it costs to raise a child from birth to adulthood. Ever since then, the media has been throwing around some truly scary figures. A recent estimate from Fox News now puts the figure at around $245,000, not including the costs of the pregnancy itself, or college.
This sounds like a crazy amount, but it's deceptive. A report from CNN Money states that there's a huge difference in how much you'll spend depending on where you live and what your income is. Unsurprisingly, lower-income families spend less on raising children than high-income families do.
It does cost a lot to raise a child, but you don't have to find all that money at once. Having a family is like buying a house. No-one expects to save up all the money in advance. When you buy a house, you get a mortgage. When you start a family, you simply start with what you have, and find the money you need at each stage of your child's life.
It's definitely sensible to wait until you have a reasonable level of financial stability before starting your family, but if you wait until you have $245,000 in the bank, you'll likely never have a child.
Our life as we know it will end
Having a baby changes everything, but not always for the worse, and not forever. We go through many life stages, and the age that we have a family just moves those stages around. Having babies young can mean the fun, free, empty nesting years come earlier.
If you're a young couple, you're right to consider and plan for the big impact that parenthood will have on you both. But having a family doesn't end your life. It just takes you forward into a whole new era.
We'll be bad parents
Most good parents worry they would be bad ones. It's a universal concern for parents-to-be of any age. Worrying about this can even be a good sign. It shows you care and you're thinking about how to be the best parent you can.
Children don't come with a manual, and there's no one right way to be a good parent. The best way to approach parenthood at any age is to be as well-informed as you can, pick some great parents you know well as role models, rely on your instincts and love your child. Being a young parent has pros and cons, but it certainly doesn't mean you'll be a bad one.
Achievements don't stop when your first baby arrives. In fact, having a family can be your motivation to achieve more.
Climbing the career ladder is harder, especially for women when you're combining parenthood and work. And things like going to school and studying at a high level will also be more challenging. Parents do manage it, however. I went back to college when my kids were young and found I was more focused and ultimately more successful than the footloose and fancy-free party crowd.
It shows wisdom and maturity if you're a young couple thinking through all the possible drawbacks of having children. The truth is, there will always be drawbacks and huge benefits to your decision. Take a balanced look at where your life is right now and plan for the changes you'll experience, but don't let fear hold you back if you're both looking forward to parenthood.
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