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Husband Isn't Ready to be a Father

QUESTION: I am 20-years-old and I have been thinking about having a baby. I know I am young, but I've been married for more than two years. Every time I mention this desire to my partner, he says that he is scared to have a child at this time. Should we wait?

ANSWER: Do not act on blind impulse. Becoming parents is one of the most life-changing and irreversible decisions you will ever make! The best gift you can give your unborn child is for both parents to feel ready for his or her birth.

Your husband's fear is a mature response to the profound responsibility of fatherhood. You get credit for choosing a responsible man to marry! No doubt his concern bodes well for becoming a father in the future. Use his disquietude as a positive impetus for discussing the prospect of parenthood seriously.

Now that you have introduced the topic of having children, develop your vision of family through discussion -- not actions. Find out what your partner's fears are and consider his feelings. Do you have any of the same kind of trepidation? Or are you letting him do all the worrying, while you fall prey to romanticizing the changes motherhood would bring to your relationship?

Most likely, you are in touch with the positive aspects of making a family, and he may be feeling the negative impact that a baby might have on your lives together. See if you can stand in his shoes, and, in exchange, ask that he entertain your vision for becoming parents together.

Does he see children in his future? If so, what goals need to be reached in order for him to embrace parenthood? Is it possible for the two of you to work together in setting goals that would lead to a shared readiness for this undertaking? For example, are there financial or personal growth goals your husband would like to see achieved, for himself or for you, before becoming parents together?

You mentioned that you are "young." You are in your early years of finding out who you are in the world. Perhaps waiting could provide you with more life skills and a deeper understanding of who you are before taking on the great responsibility of becoming a mother. Consider the possibility that you may be avoiding finding your place in the world as a woman. Be careful that you are not taking any shortcuts in your own development. It is highly beneficial for you to know yourself, and take care to deepen your own development, before you become someone else's mother.

Perhaps you are letting your husband express your own hidden fears. Make plans together that embrace your readiness for parenthood in the future, and consider other venues of personal development in the meantime.

There is plenty of time. Your baby will wait for you!


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter..

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