You're hearing all the time how the next step in your life is supposed to be having a baby. But are you ready - or do you just assume you are because everyone is telling you that's what you do after you get married/move in/buy a house? Here's 11 reasons you may want to pump the brakes, metaphorically speaking.
A baby will add new highs to your relationship. It will also lead to new lows. According to a Princeton-Stony Brook study from 2008-2012, relationship with kids involved are more likely to have a roller coaster of emotions.
Would you build a roller coaster on an earthquake fault line? Nope. Another study by England’s Open University of 5,000 people revealed that childless couples were more likely to focus on improving their relationship. “Heterosexual parents are the least likely to be there for each other, to make ‘couple time’, to say ‘I love you.’” Makes sense - when the baby is around, that’s your focus.
That can be an incredible, bonding experience in your relationship - or it can reveal cracks in the windshield of a car you can’t get out of. Babies can deepen relationships in amazing ways - but they don’t fix them!
You do not need to be in great shape to be a dad. You don’t need to be in any shape, although it does help when you’re carrying them nonstop. But if the thought of not getting a full night’s sleep gives you nightmares - nightmares you have during a full night’s sleep - then you need to take heed.
People joke about babies preventing them from sleeping. They are underselling it. According to a 2014 study of 1,800 carried out by British mattress manufacturers Ergoflex, parents average 5.1 hours of sleep per night that first year the baby is around. You’d be losing about 44 days work of sleep in one year. That’s six weeks of being awake at night. Is it doable? Yes- parents aren’t literally dying. Is it worth it? Like you wouldn’t believe.
But it’s not for the faint of heart. And as a dad, you better not think your wife will be doing all the late-night feedings/diaper changes. That’s a fast track to relationship issues and you being an a-hole.
In your head you think, “Having a baby sounds kinda cool. I can take them to games and teach them cool stuff and be a cool dad.” But every time you’re around babies - even calm ones - you either have no interest or you feel it’s an inconvenience. It's worth figuring out if you being around a baby full-time would, at this point in your life, make you lose your mind.
This isn't about the anxiety of being around a newborn and being unsure how to hold or feed them, mind you - most guys are anxious around babies because they don’t handle them much. This is about whether you actively prefer not to be around a baby or toddler at all costs. Will that change when it’s your baby? Sure! It's just easier to become a dad when being around a baby is an enjoyable activity for you on some level.
You may be more of an "older kid" kind of guy- you want a kid who can already shoot hoops or mess around with you or at least talk. And you can get that - but the thing is, the challenging years of raising a baby are what make all that other stuff all the more rewarding.
And this means in any fashion. If you feel like major parts of your life are in flux, a baby will make it feel like you’re in a hurricane. A hurricane that throws up on you and laughs at your misfortune.
Nobody ever has a “perfect” time to have a baby, but if you are unstable with your job/relationship/family/housing etc., and you are able to hold off on having a baby, hold off!
Otherwise, it’s easy to resent the baby for “blocking” you. Not that a baby is the problem - but it’s easy to pick a scapegoat out of someone who doesn’t talk. If the option is between having a baby right now when you are just entering a new relationship and you are unsatisfied with your job and you feel adrift, and maybe holding off, it can be wise to hold off. Some guys find that having a son or daughter gives them purpose - or it can be one more thing you are unsure about.
Do you own a two-seater convertible? How about a one-bedroom apartment with coin-operated laundry? Those are some scenarios that, sure, you could find a way to cope with when the baby comes, but it’ll make your life a million times easier if you can live in a place that’s family friendly (and safe and has a spare bedroom) and drive something with a backseat (with car seat latches!).
For some, that’s no big deal. For others, the financial problems of getting rid of a car or apartment might as well be a flashing sign of “Wear a condom! Wear a condom!” because it would make it extremely hard to raise a child. This is one of those “get your ducks in a row” situations. You don't need to buy a van right this second like bad family comedies have you believe- you don't even need a van unless you have multiple kids (twin babies on top of a toddler did that to us!). But if you are way upside down on a loan or mortgage, or changing apartments means huge lead time, it's something you can think about now to avoid problems later.
If you think having a baby is remotely a possibility - and if you are sleeping with a woman, it’s a remote possibility; also a possibility if your woman is a virgin visited by an angel of the Lord in December - then you should start figuring out scenarios now. It doesn’t mean you trade in your car before the pee stick shows a positive sign. It just means the sooner you can put yourself in a better position to make your life more flexible, the better.
Many moms end up taking a temporary or permanent hiatus from full-time work when the baby arrives. But it’s not nearly the same as it used to be. According to a 2010 Pew study, 62% of people surveyed endorse the idea of a marriage in which both partners work full-time and share child-rearing duties, up from 48% in 1977.
This isn’t old-fashioned America. If you haven’t talked to your partner yet about how you’d handle that arrangement, it’s a good one to have. What if they want you to be a stay-at-home dad?
Many dads do just that. Would you be OK with it? Feel emasculated? Think it’s a “woman’s role” (I'd argue nothing is manlier than taking care of your baby)? Could you afford it if one of you quit? It’s all a conversation you want to have beforehand to save you headaches later. Don't assume you know how she'd approach it. Don't assume your approach is the only option.
Men like this are all around. They have children at a young age, and all of a sudden they are 28 or 29 and thinking, “I never got a chance to live it up!” There are other men who look back and are proud that they got to spend their 20s as a dad and wouldn’t want it any other way. If you think you would seriously regret not going to bars every Friday or staying up all night just for fun, you should seriously weigh that in. But also seriously consider why that’s important to you - is it the activities itself, or is the lack of responsibility?
Sociologist Michael Kimmel, in his 2008 book “Guyland”, said his research proves there are a demographic of young, middle-class, mostly white dudes who are “baffled by the riddles of manhood and responsibility” and would prefer never really growing up to taking on “the sacrifice and conformity of marriage and family.”
Is it impossible to grow out of that demographic? Nope! It'll happen eventually for most. But you’ll need to actively work on changing your mindset if you're in that category so that everything isn’t “I don’t get to do this or that anymore”. Guys who are ready for babies look at it as “Now I get to spend time with my son!” or “I get to be a dad - that's so much better than another night at the bar."
It’s the best to be the first in your group of friends to do something.
First to win a fantasy football title.
First to date the hottest girl in school.
First to the bathroom after bad sushi.
First with a baby can be amazing - it’s new to everyone, so people will go out of their way to make a big deal over it and there isn’t pressure for you to “live up” to other dads.
The downside? Your friends won’t get what you're experiencing, at least until they have kids or get older. They won’t get it when you can’t go out to the bar on a whim, when you’d rather stay home and play with your daughter than go watch a game with them, when you keep bringing up something cute your son did when they just want to talk about Liam Neeson’s latest punch-everyone-in-the-face-for-revenge movie.
It’s part of getting older - and for some people, it means gradually changing friend circles. (Although you'd be surprised how once when baby shows up, all the other couples start popping them out like Kardashians).
Being a diehard gamer or sports fan comes down to time. You gotta have time to play or watch, uninterrupted. You might even have a man cave (It’s only a matter of time before there are “woman caves.” Just wait. You’ll see it on Pinterest anytime now.) But being a dad of a baby means your hands will be full - literally.
Can you still go to a game? Sure! It can be one of the best experiences you have as a dad taking your son or daughter out to see your favorite team. But taking them out regularly? Unlikely - especially once they start crawling and aren’t so easy to wrangle.
Same goes with gaming, because that controller is going to look very, very tempting. Good luck playing Call of Duty when your baby keeps pressing buttons.
If either watching sports or playing games is as important to you as breathing, there’s going to be an adjustment if you have a baby, whether you want to or not. Good dads find a good balance. Bad dads pretend nothing has changed. You can go on any parenting forum and find tons of comments from frustrated moms wondering why the dad won't put down the controller and help with the baby.
It’s not impossible to have the due date for your new job and your baby be at the same time. What will be really tough, though, is keeping up your performance in the new job (or new role after a promotion) when you’re playing with half a deck of cards. Because when you’ve slept 2 hours in two days, you’re not playing with a full deck. Basically, you’ve got two joker cards.
This is why some couples wait to start a family until much of the heavy lifting of career changes are over with. Life isn’t always so clean cut. You might not have the option. If you’re in the type of career where a new promotion would mean a huge amount of additional responsibility, adding the responsibility of parenthood on top of that is a juggling act you’d be better of avoiding if possible. Successful full-time professionals/parents are everywhere, but it's not for everyone, especially when it's right in the middle of a job change.
Even a few months in a new job/role before the baby arrives can make a difference (speaking from personal experience!), giving you a chance to focus on one major life event at a time.
Dude, do you really want a baby? You may have read this whole thing almost hoping that one of the slides would give you a good reason to say now’s not a good time. Well, there’s a sign right there.
Nobody can ever be 100% sure they are ready for fatherhood. Nobody can really know if they are going to adapt well to the changes. But don’t say you want a baby just because people are telling you it’s something you should do, whether it’s because you got married or it’s the “next thing on the list.” That’s a great way to built resentment.
Really, truly think if you like the idea of having a baby, or if that’s just something you keep being told, like a movie you thought sucked but so many people gushed about it you eventually thought, “Wait, maybe I DO like it.” Becoming a father is a hugely personal thing - and it should be something you don’t leave in the hands of anyone else to decide if you want to proceed.
Sometimes, a baby happens regardless and you roll with it, whether you wanted to or not. If you’re in a position of “Should we start trying to have a baby?” though, it’s critical you think for yourself. Becoming a father is the most incredible thing. You’ll want to go into it with everything you’ve got.
Maybe you're just not ready - yet.
That's OK! Don't let anyone tell you that there's some magical age or time when you're supposed to be ready to be a dad. Nobody is ready to be a dad. Even Joseph after the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus probably thought, "Yikes, holy diapers!"
You may need to work on some of the things above, or maybe just wait it out. What you don't want to do is keep coming up with excuses. There are real reasons not to have a baby yet, and there are excuses because you're not willing to admit you're anxious or scared and instead are just blaming other people and things as the reason.
Becoming a father is the manliest, most amazing thing. Whether it happens to you after careful planning or it happens because "I thought YOU were using protection!", you'll be great. The funny thing about babies is once they arrive, you're an instafather. Just like that.