As I sit and write this column at one of my favorite eateries, I am captivated by the tiny baby across from me. Her (she has on pink) mother is apparently out with a friend and although engrossed in …
As I sit and write this column at one of my favorite eateries, I am captivated by the tiny baby across from me. Her (she has on pink) mother is apparently out with a friend and although engrossed in a conversation is still very attentive to this very young baby, certainly less than 6 weeks old.
The baby is adorable with her tiny little fingers occasionally reaching out as she stretches and yawns. Everything looks to be in the right place — her mouth, eyes, ears, arms, and legs.
Isn’t it amazing how that happens? Two cells join to form a new human and nine months later a baby is born that is unique in this world of 6 billion-plus people.
I wonder, how did the mother and her partner make the decision to have this baby?
In our society there are four fairly distinct types of decision-making processes. Test this out by simply asking any expectant couple, “How did the two of you come to expect a baby at this time?”
You will receive one of four different responses:
1. Planners — Both parents agree as to whether and when to have a baby. This decision apparently does not become any easier with age.
On the contrary, the older a couple becomes, the more difficult the decision. Health risks for the baby are a concern, but outweighing this concern are the many changes in lifestyles that a baby introduces to the family.
Since marital satisfaction typically declines during the child-rearing years (hitting an all-time low with teenagers in the home), many couples question if they want to deal with the changes and challenges that a child necessitates.
For this reason, increasing numbers of couples are deciding never to have a baby. The politically correct term is “child-free” rather than childless.
The connotation this change in terms reflects is that a couple can now choose to not have a baby and that such a choice is not a reflection that there is anything “less” about their lives.
2. Acceptance of Fate Couples — Rather than make such a major life-encompassing decision, these couples have unplanned conceptions but nevertheless are pleased to learn that they are about to have a baby.
Such couples often believe that a source beyond their own wisdom and understanding knows what is best for their lives and therefore trusts that source.
3. Ambivalent Couples — As might be expected, these couples vacillate concerning their readiness to have a baby. Even late in pregnancy, many such couples continue to express ambivalence. They express lower satisfaction during the pregnancy concerning the arrival of the baby and even lower satisfaction after the baby is born.
4. Yes-No Couples — These couples are at greatest risk. Such couples feel they are victims of an unwanted pregnancy and fluctuate between agreeing and disagreeing as to whether to have the baby or terminate the pregnancy.
The Planners and Acceptance of Fate Couples experience minimal decline of personal and marital satisfaction after the birth of a child.
Although Ambivalent couples tend to begin with lower satisfaction, the satisfaction usually improves sometime after the first two years.
Yes-No couples experience the greatest difficulty. Lack of certainty as to whether or not the arrival of a baby is welcome contributes to several negative factors such as major depression for both parents, increased conflict between the couple, longer and more troubling outcomes to postpartum depression, difficulty maintaining a positive and caring relationship following the baby’s birth, and, if married, divorce.
For this reason, careful planning predicts for better outcomes for both you and your child.
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