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Deciding whether or not you are ready to become a parent is a big decision, regardless of your age or circumstances. That’s why it’s important to give it serious thought. While there is no magic formula to determine whether or not you are ready to become a parent, there are a few things to consider that can help you make an informed decision.

4 Signs You’re Ready to be a Parent

1) Good or bad days, you’re ready for it all.

One of the top questions you should ask yourself is whether or not you are emotionally prepared. Are you ready to take on the responsibility of caring for another human being? Are you ready to handle the ups and downs that have you feeling like you’re on top of the world one minute, then searching for help the next?

If you’re nodding your head yes and can’t wait for the millions of moments that make being a parent great (despite the fact there will be tough days, too), then buckle up and get ready to enjoy the ride.

2) Your finances are in good shape.

Having a child can be a game-changer for your bank account, career, and earning potential. You’ve got diapers, formula, and childcare to worry about, not to mention other expenses that pop up as they get older.

But if you have a steady income, consistently live within a balanced budget (i.e., your expense don’t exceed your income), have a nice emergency fund, and are not burdened with debt… you have a great financial foundation to build on! Just make sure you budget for all those added baby expenses that are about to roll in.

3) You have a good support system.

A good support system is not just nice to have. It’s often essential. Parenthood can be overwhelming at times, and having a support system of friends and family members can be incredibly helpful. If that isn’t available, don’t rule out parenting. Just make sure you have solid support from outside sources like parenting. You’ll be surprised how often you need to lean into this network as you navigate the different stages of parenthood.

4) You’re open to lifestyle changes.

Having a child can impact your social life, hobbies, and even your sleep schedule. You may find your friends shift to other friends who also have children. But if you’re willing to change things up, make adjustments to your schedule, and even try out some new pastimes that include or make room for a child, then give yourself the green to go full steam ahead on your choice to parent.

3 Signs You May Not Be Ready to Parent

While some may feel ready to start a family, others may not be there yet. And that’s okay. There are plenty of options and support services to help you get there or find a family who can parent your child if you’re already expecting. Here are five signs or red flags that may indicate that you are not yet ready to parent:

1) You’re hoping your child will fix your relationship.

If you are hoping that having a child will fix a troubled relationship, it may be best to address the underlying issues first. Bringing a child into a relationship that is already struggling can create additional stress and strain on both you and the child. A child should never be used as a band-aid for a relationship that needs work.

2) You feel pressured to have a child.

Family, friends, or a ticking clock to have a child, or never good reasons to have a child. It’s important to evaluate your own desires and motivations before making a decision. Becoming a parent is a significant life decision that should be based on your own desires and readiness, not on external pressures. Take the time to consider your own goals, aspirations, and priorities before deciding to parent a child.

3) You’re looking for a child to fulfill you.

Having children can bring exponential joy to your life. But, if you are looking for a child to fulfill a personal need or desire, it may be best to address those issues before becoming a parent. A child should not be expected to fulfill emotional needs or provide a sense of purpose or fulfillment. Your job is to support and be there for your child, not the other way around. It’s important to clearly understand your motivations for becoming a parent and to ensure that your expectations are realistic.

Choosing to Parent is a Personal Choice

It’s important to consider all of the factors involved when thinking about becoming a parent. It’s also important to be honest with yourself about your level of readiness. But remember, there is no right or wrong answer. That choice is ultimately up to you. Gauging your readiness means some areas of parenthood may be easier if you are as prepared. Reflecting on these factors now can help you make an informed decision that is right for you and your future family.