9 December 2013, by Dannie Cho
In early November, I was offered the honour of being on the discussion panel of Maybe Baby’s Celebri-TEA chat. It was a great afternoon for me, because I was, for one afternoon,
1) Blissfully unencumbered by kids – The wife and her family were taking care of Coco and Claire. No need to wrack my brains to figure out what Coco was talking about (she still needs some work on her diction, but she’s getting there). No need to carry Claire around, leaving me unable to do anything else.
2) Rubbing shoulders with real celebrities on account of my ‘fake’ celebrity status. I mean, I sat next to Jaime Teo. A real live ex-Miss Singapore Universe! And after Jaime took her leave, it was Petrina Kow whom I sat next to. One of the deejays I’ve always enjoyed listening to. Seriously, eye candy followed by ear candy. And Darren Lim! I totally didn’t recongnise him at first because I was so used to seeing his thumbnail on this site, but whoa… what a cool frood that guy is.
So, anyway, like what Li Lin mentioned in her blog entry, I also noticed a recurring question that has been popping out over a number of Maybe Baby events over the past few years – How Do I Persuade My Other Half To Have A Baby?
Since this question is obviously important to many in our audience, I’d like to share my experience with Yi Lin, and see if what worked for us would work for you as well.
1) Talk about baby plans BEFORE you get married
This is important. When you are comfortably in the dating stage, and are starting to envision a life together, don’t just talk about where to buy a house. Talk about your dreams and aspirations, both in terms of career and family. Both are inextricably linked. For example, if you want a career that involves quite a bit of travel, then you need to balance that with the needs of having a family. If your partner has no intention of having kids, this would probably be the best time to probe and find out. Try to avoid any negative absolutes, though. If your partner says “I don’t intend to have kids,’, then ask if this decision can be reversed some time down the road. Ask for probabilities, and also what would increase that probability.
Examples of good questions to ask would be:
– Would you be willing to reconsider this a couple of years down the road?
– How firm are you on not having kids?
– Why do you not want to have kids? Money? Stress? Some sort of fear that you would not be a good parent?
– Would you agree to have kids if I really, really want to have kids?
– How many kids would you want? Minimum? Maximum?
Having this conversation at least lets you better understand your partner’s position. It’s not a promise for the future, but an attempt to gaze through the crystal ball to see what your future together holds. And if your partner has already declared himself/herself to be dead set against having kids, then it’s also time for you to assess yourself to see if you are willing to take his/her lead on this decision. If not, then an early dissolution of the partnership may be on the cards.
2) Talk about baby plans AFTER you get married
I believe most family planning efforts fall into two categories after getting married. Couples in the first category would just get rid of all birth control efforts post-nupitals, and take things as they come. Couples in the second category would just say, “Not yet”, and try to reach whatever milestones they set for themselves before coming off birth control.
Yi Lin and I belong in the second category. The fortunate thing for us is that, having talked it out earlier, we were both agreed that we intend to start a family. That helped in letting us articulate a plan with the following parameters:
a) 2-3 kids before Yi Lin reaches her mid-thirties – the longer you hold off, the lower the chances of conceiving, and the higher the risks.
b) A strong desire to travel the world before starting a family – which in term meant working out how long our trip would be, the budget required for such a trip, how to balance our savings and expenditures to reach the budget within the shortest amount of time, and whether we would need any additional time to again become financially stable before starting our family.
c) A series of actions to be taken, if we were not able to conceive through natural means with specific timelines – This led us to seek fertility treatments after 6 fruitless months of trying to make a baby.
Seems like a tedious discussion, no? It was! That’s why we took several days to lay out our plans, and even roped our financial planner into working out budgets for us.
But I think this is really where determination pays off. Do not allow your other half to be uninterested and brush off the conversation. And make sure for every obstacle your other half brings up, you set up reasonable objectives to overrule that obstacle.
– When we are financially stable? When are we considered financially stable? When we have savings equivalent to 6 months of our salary? When we have $100k in the bank? Will you work with me to be financially stable? Let’s look at our salaries and expenses and figure it out.
– When we get our BTO flat? Okay, let’s make sure we set aside some space when renovating for the nursery. (You commit the space to a baby, and it would be really tough to back out of it!). Oh, by the way, shall we attend this Maybe Baby event?
– When your career is stable? What does this mean? Does it mean you are waiting to be promoted? Given more responsibilities? Would getting a pay raise to x amount be good enough to qualify as a stable career?
As you can probably tell, the sheer amount of questions you need to ask yourselves, especially with a reluctant partner, can be daunting. But let’s face it. You are committed to spend your lives together. If you cannot ask each other questions to just understand motivations and fears without pissing each other off, then how do you expect to be able to stick together and raise little monsters? In any case, this is why it’s called family planning!
By asking the right questions and breaking down your partner’s resistance into small little battles, you may eventually get at least a grudging consent to start a family. Take it. Make your kids, and remember to continue loving your other half for giving in to you.