It has been so much fun sharing ‘everything marriage’ on this series and I am sad to say that we are slowly winding to a close. If you have missed a few posts, make sure to catch up as it will give quite a bit of context for our finale next Thursday.
- Shelly’s interview
- Toni’s interview
- Things You Should Ask Yourself Before Getting Married – by Toni
- Why you should consider delaying your wedding – by Shelly
- Ten important things you should discuss with your partner before getting married – by Toni
- How kids will affect your relationship – by Shelly
- Why you should consider couples therapy to STAY happy in your marriage – by Toni
I’ve mentioned in quite a few of my posts that I am African, born to African parents, currently living in Africa and married to an African man. While I will claim my heritage to the day I die, it may also be relevant to mention that I spent over a decade in Asia during the latter half of my childhood and early adulthood. If you’re wondering why any of this matters, don’t worry, we’ll get there.
You see, there’s something about Africa and children that seem to go hand in hand. It is very common for people to have a dozen of kids because, well, children are a blessing. I am the fifth of seven kids, my uncles have between six and twelve and their parents had quite a few too. Africa is a very modernised continent with embedded culture so in every family you will have the grandparent or relative that will encourage (or pray) for you to have as many children as biologically possible.
When I fell pregnant with my daughter, my first thoughts were about my career, my relationship and my lifestyle – very similar to what anyone my age with my ambitions would. I won’t go into details as I have shared this a few times in different posts, but what I do want to mention is my family’s reaction to it. Of course, being 26, my aunts and grandmothers were elated; I would be giving my father grandchildren and my grandmothers great grandkids! What a joy! And to top it off, any doubts of the functionality of my womb were washed away. Win?
Now all of that was great, but what was to come was not easy at all… and none of the aunties and grandmas were going to be there in the wee hours of the night when all we wanted to do was sleep, or on the odd days when Spawn would be throwing a fit. Since Spawn was a surprise, my husband and I had to make quite a lot of decisions fairly quickly and learnt some lessons along the way that I would like to share with anyone planning to have kids. To make it a bit more interactive (mentally at least) I’ll list my lessons in the form of questions that any couple needs to address before bringing a life into the world.
Can we afford a child right now?
Before anyone comes at me with every reason why finances should not be a reason not to have kids, let me ask you this… would you prefer to be financially prepared for medical emergencies, the best quality products and any extra help you may need? Finances play such a big role in destroying many relationships and while the strongest lovebirds have most likely gone through a financial rollercoaster, if you have the chance to plan a pregnancy, I would recommend that you keep this factor in mind. With so many unpredictables in life (COVID-19 pandemic being a good example) the worst feeling ever would be having a child special certain needs that you can’t afford to cater to. This lesson was hard learnt from my gigantic family and it is one that I will warn anyone who plans to be a parent. If you’ve skipped that planning part and are already pregnant, congratulations! My advice remains the same; save up as much as you can before the baby arrives – you may need it.
Are we in the right space emotionally?
Hello there, my name is Shelly and I’m an advocate for mental health! Part of that means empowering people who are emotionally unstable, so please do not take this question out of context. What I am referring to is the emotional wellbeing of the relationship you are in because a baby will NOT solve your problems. I find it a little concerning that many women fall pregnant to ‘trap’ their man, but is that really what the child deserves? Remember, children are human beings not pets. They have both physical and emotional needs, and their lives are defined by the environment they grow up in… Your relationship should be solid enough for you to take the next (big) step because you will automatically become ‘influencers’ to the little drops of cuteness.
Do we have any medical conditions that we should keep an eye on?
Every pregnancy is different and even two people with the same medical condition can have different outcomes. I’m definitely not a doctor so I can only share what I learnt from Grey’s Anatomy or have seen happen to my family and friends… after all, a little bit of awareness goes a long way! Whatever situation you are in, it is always best to make sure that you have a doctor monitoring the pregnancy right until delivery to ensure a viable pregnancy. Oh but it doesn’t stop there; once the kid(s) are around, you will need to invest in their wellbeing, your own sanity and that of your relationship. This is not just a financial commitment…
What values will we teach our children?
I wish my husband and I had spoken about this before Spawn came along but luckily for us, we were pretty much aligned when it came to the bigger picture. The differences came in the fine details as each of us was keen to do the opposite of what we experienced growing up. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did entail very different parenting approaches that needed to converge. While the ‘good cop bad cop’ approach works in interrogations, it isn’t the best approach to use when raising your child. Something I have learned and subscribe to is that both parents need to be in agreement when addressing their children so as to avoid any confusion. Religious beliefs also fall into this one – it is essential to be on the same page so that the correct values are instilled.
How involved do we want our families to be?
It’s a weird one to be throwing in here but relevant nonetheless. You see, in Africa, telling off your elders is a no go zone, but it can be done – my husband and I did it. While my experience is definitely culturally biased, I know this to be true in many communities. They say it takes two to make a child but a village to raise them. Well, in any relationship, it is quite important to know just what percentage of the ‘village’ will actually be given decision making authority because, let’s face it, nothing can destroy a relationship quite like the in-laws. My husband and I are very independent on that front so all of the decisions are made in our household and if anyone isn’t pleased, they know where the door is. Before having a child, I would recommend establishing just what you expect out of your partner with regards to helping around as well as keeping their half of the family in line. Help is always a good thing, but unsolicited advice (or demands) can be quite infuriating, so for everyone’s sanity, set the ground rules before the ‘bun’ is baked.
And with that, I’ll save any other advice to those with decades of experience raising kids (*cough* Toni). If you agree (or disagree) drop a comment below and share your thoughts as we would love to know your views!
Until next time!
Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader) says
These are really important questions. Having kids is a huge change in your life and you need to be as ready as you can be…although I don’t think anyone is ever really ready! 🙂
I love these! They are all so important! Thank you for sharing
These are great questions, Shelly and Toni. And, universal too. We are very lucky where I am. Our health system and other services for mums, children and so on are extensive. So, the financial issue is ameliorated to a large extent. My wife and I did discuss the number of children and we ended up with three. Yes, being on the same page is so important. Kids will always go back and forth between their parents when they want something. Linda and I handled this quite simply with “what did your father/mother say?” Most of the time they would say he/she said no. Occasionally, they would fib and we would say: that’s not something your father/mother would agree with 😂 As for family involvement/interference, yes, you need to set the respective parties straight. However, that won’t stop them from saying things from time to time. Sometimes, it is the tradeoff re family looking after the children, going on holiday together and so on. However, you do get to an age where you go “yeah, whatever” and let it wash over you. Friends are far more obliging on this one.
Shelly DS says
Thanks so much for you wonderful feedback, Sean! I genuinely appreciate how much time you take to give your thoughts and personal examples. It sounds like you and your wife (who has the same name as my mama by the way) are definitely in sync – that’s golden! As for family, gosh they don’t stop, but I’ve reached the “whatever” stage and sometimes get a bit cheeky and respond “oh that’s a lovely idea, you should do it with your next child” 😅
I think it’s more than okay to be cheeky in that situation with family, Shelly. I appreciate being able to provide feedback to some very thought provoking and interesting posts. We are in sync, but we have those days like everybody else. She keeps buying me Grumpy tee shirts for a reason 😂
Interesting points that you’ve mentioned here. I always love reading your posts about marriage and children, its great advice for me to read to prepare me for those lives stages!
Shelly DS says
Thanks Liv 💖 I hope you only experience the good when you have your turn~
Markus + Micah says
Excellent post. I really wish people thought more about this. Especially the first point. I see it a lot in this country. If only more families thought about how they are doing kids, there would be less poverty here.
Eromonsele Emmanuel says
As for me I just want to be like my parents, have two kids and that’s all!
I’ve seen parents become helpless in this pandemic and guess what multiplied such burdens? Children. A parent without a well paying job having six children and expecting? I’m a little surprised at how some persons in the society reason but I’m hopeful that with more education and enlightenment, like you’re doing Shelly, more people will rethink and ask themselves these questions before having kids!
P.s. I think I didn’t get your email. Mine is firstname.lastname@example.org
Shelly DS says
Thanks for your insight! It’s really sad actually. I find that the poorer a country is, the more kids per household and I wonder if it’s because of lack of education, nothing else to do, or the theory that the more kids you have the more likely some will survive and be around later to care for you when you age. Whatever it is, every makes their own choices and I will only share my views to provide perspective.
Eromonsele Emmanuel says
Education is definitely a big player.
These are definitely important questions and I love that you added how much you want your family to be involved because I didn’t even think of that when I started reading the post and I don’t think that would have been something I would put a lot of thought into had I never read this post. But you’re right it’s so important to think about how involved you want your families to be because as a brown person we tend to not have a lot of boundaries but I feel like there definitely should be boundaries even when it comes to very close family.