In last week's article we started tackling the issue of being ready for kids. The first point we discussed was finances. This list isn't in order of importance; every couple struggles with different things. But we've compiled a list of what we felt were the most important things to consider. Sound off in the comments if you can think of anything else :-)
1. Environment. This includes your immediate living arrangement: are you and your spouse living in your own home? Are you living with relatives? What kind of influences are in the neighborhood where you live? As much as possible, it’s good to position yourselves in a safe and nurturing environment where you and your spouse can grow and learn together as parents without too much interference.
2. Family values. What traditions and core values do you want to instill in your children? Whatever you and your spouse decide, you have to live it yourselves before you can expect your children to learn it. And the thing is, children learn from watching your example as well as listening to the words you speak. So you have to be sure that you actually live what you preach.
For example, we introduced our 1 year old to Elmo and Sesame Street videos on YouTube. Soon after we realized that all she wanted to do was be on the phone. No matter how much time we let her have on our phones, she still wanted more. It was exasperating-until we realized that she was just picking up the habits we were exposing her to. We were constantly on our phones or other smart devices. So we had to make it a point to do other activities with her when she was around, and to minimize the time we spent on our devices when we were home because she would want to copy us. So whatever habits and principles your kids see you practice is what they will copy and emulate. Pretty unnerving, huh?
3. Quality of relationship with your spouse. Do you and your spouse argue a lot? Do you get name-call and raise your voices to one another? Are you having trouble spending quality time with each other? Are there communication or trust issues? It's always good to iron out major issues in your relationship before the kids come along, so that they don't learn these same habits. It all goes back to family values. Whatever we want (or don't want) to instill in our kids is what we must live ourselves. It's not easy to do, but our kids should at least strive to uphold the things we tell them are important.
Children are a blessing from God, and they deserve the best we can give them. So before we decide to bring new lives into the world, we have to be sure that we’re in a position to give them all they will need to thrive and find their place in this world. We do this by making sure that our homes are places where they will find positivity and loving influences, where they won’t be an afterthought or burden. The stronger our marriages are, the more our children will thrive in the homes we bring them into.