Parenting is not for everyone. Some individuals have planned their lives to include children, while others have other ambitions, such as a time-consuming career. While children require a great deal of care, commitment and financial responsibility, caring for a child and being there for momentous occasions in a child's life can also bring great joy to parents. Deciding whether you want to have children is a major life decision and starting a family is a major responsibility. There are numerous factors to consider when deciding whether or not parenthood is the right choice for you.
Spend time with small children -- nieces, nephews or children of friends. If you are uncertain about your ability to interact with children, spend some time with them. Take them to the park or out to eat. Or spend some time at the homes of your nieces and nephews, or with your friends' children. Allow yourself to see what it's like to take care of a child. Offer to babysit. For an even better glimpse into parenthood, offer to watch a child overnight.
Consider your own thoughts about having children. Avoid thinking that you are "supposed" to have kids. Instead, think about whether or not you enjoy spending time around children. Consider what you enjoyed about your own childhood and think about the way you were raised.
Talk to your spouse or partner if you are in a relationship. It is important to consider the feelings and wants of both parties in order to be successful parents and maintain a successful relationship.
Consider your work schedule and the amount of time required to care for a child. Figure out how many hours you work each week, if you are able to work flexible hours, and the availability of childcare for when you return to work after maternity leave. Consider the time involved in the long run -- school, sports, activities and other functions that you are likely not going to want to miss.
Determine if having children will cause your family financial stress. Figure out the cost of having a child and how you might meet them. These include the cost of food, healthcare, diapers, formula, toys, baby furniture, clothes and other essentials. Think long-term as well, about the cost of school activities, sports and daycare and even postsecondary education.
Consider the benefits of raising a child. According to Dr. Alan Singer, having a child fall asleep on your shoulder is worth a million bucks. Watching a child grow, accomplish many firsts, and his love for you is why many people enjoy parenthood.
According to Alan Singer, Ph.D., author of the 2011 book "Creating Your Perfect Family Size," it costs about $12,000 per year to raise a child.