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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Families are forever, so be smart about how you begin yours. No one truly realizes how starting a family will affect their lives until it happens, but it is a good idea to enter parenthood with your eyes wide open. Here are five topics you need to discuss with your partner before starting a family.

1. How Many Kids Do You Want?

Keep in mind that this is only a preliminary discussion–one of you might change your mind after your first one gets here. However, you should at least decide if you want an only-child family or you’re more interested in becoming the next Brady Bunch. You guys should decide on basically what you want and make sure you are on the same page.

2. How Will Your Careers Be Affected?

Will one of you stop working to stay home? Will you hire a nanny or take your child to a daycare service? There are pros and cons about each option and it is important to decide what is the correct option for your family. This is an important discussion to have before children come so that everyone will know what comes after maternity and paternity leave.

3. Are You Financially Ready to Start a Family?

Crunch some numbers and discuss how having kids will affect your finances. Everything will become more expensive including groceries, medical bills, etc. It’s important to take everything into account before your baby arrives. You cannot possibly predict every financial possibility, but you can create a budget, start saving for emergencies, and feel pretty confident in your ability to take care of your potential child.

4. How Will You Divide Responsibilities?

Parenting will add a whole new set of responsibilities; you must decide how you are going to share them. Some families split everything 50/50, others divide tasks into job categories. You must decide what is right for your family. It is better to have the conversation before the baby arrives, rather than after when both of you are exhausted, emotional, and sleep deprived. An outline of responsibilities will make the new, huge responsibility less overwhelming.

5. Do You Agree on Parenting Decisions?

Don’t assume that your partner feels the same way you do about discipline, education, health care, and activities for children until you have discussed them. If you and your partner disagree, it is important to¬† work through these differences until you are each on the same page. Consistency is extremely important when raising a child.

It takes the two of you to make a baby, so both of you need to be ready to become parents. Starting a family can be exciting, but there are a lot of important decisions that need to be made.

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing about home and family and spending time with her dog, Max.

Information credit to Gittens & Associates, law firms in St. John’s, Newfoundland

Earnest Parenting: help for parents before they become parents.