(Dr. Norquist is on vacation this week. We are re-running a letter that was published earlier in this column).
Dear Dr. Norquist:
What is the best way for a couple to prepare for pregnancy and parenthood? My husband and I are planning on becoming pregnant and we have had numerous discussions on how we should parent. Besides taking expensive classes, what else can we do to be sure we are prepared to be parents. Are there any particular issues to discuss? I don’t feel comfortable simply letting my natural instincts handle this. We would appreciate some advice.
Dr. Norquist responds:
Start by discussing your own childhoods. In general, we tend to raise our children similarly to how we were raised, except for areas that stand out that we had a strong reactions to – those areas where we say to ourselves, “I’ll never be that way when I’m a parent.” Discuss this also with your spouse. Find out what areas he feels strongly about, and how his upbringing differed from yours. Look for the values inherent in how you were each raised and discuss together what values are most important to each of you in parenting.
How do you each imagine that your partner will be as a parent and what would you expect and need from each other? What are each of your views on staying at home vs. having a baby-sitter? How about your religious/spiritual beliefs, and the extent to which you each feel this should be a part of your children’s life? What about your views on discipline and the expectations you will have of your child? Try to communicate your internal sub-conscious expectations with each other so that you can paint a joint vision of how you would like to raise children together. It would also be helpful to talk with friends, your parents and other family members who have had children.
Hearing about their experiences may provide more grist for your own discussions. The fact that you are approaching this preparation so consciously is a good indication of how you will be as a parent.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanyacounseling.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2018 Chaitanya Counseling Services