No, I am not addressing this to women caught in the age old story of young women fearing the passing of time and the urgency of finding a partner to start a family, although this is an important fact of life. I am thinking of what questions we might need to ask ourselves before we even begin our search for the right partner.
Questions such as:
- Am I sure that I am psychologically ready to take on the task?
- Are there aspects of my psychological self that I am unsure of that need attention before I make such a life changing commitment?
- Have I discussed this fully with my partner or am I happy to be a single parent?
- What was my own childhood like and how would I like to be a different parent to my own?
Understanding what being a parent means
For us to make these choices we need to be conscious of the demands on us as new parents. The need to understand, to discover for ourselves, our childhood experiences and the patterns we have inherited along the way that will support us or hinder us in our role as parents. Some will be good, others need working through before entering into this new phase of life.
A lot of what we bring to our parental role will be hidden deep in our unconscious mind only emerging once we are faced with the situation of being a parent. What is unknown before having a baby is now ‘out of the blue’ post birth, confronting us with what can be difficult emotional feelings.
For example, I may feel jealous of the baby taking my partner away from me by demanding a lot of him or her time. These may not be the feelings we were prepared for, would it not be better to have spent sometime reflecting on this before entering into parenthood?
We live in an open and free society where we have choices in the matter of whether to be parents or not. And we have the choice of when to have children. The LGBT community has influenced the narrative towards a child-centered and mindful approach to becoming a parent; the process by its very nature has to be a conscious act on the part of the couple.
Too often parents enter into parenthood without thinking about whether it is what they really want and in failing to consider how equipped they are to parent – especially where they have been failed by their own parents.
I am suggesting that approaching life with an open and inquisitive mind is preferable to allow events to overtake you and this is where psychotherapy and your psychotherapist as an ally can be extremely helpful.
Dorothea Beech is a Group Analyst with many years experience working in the UK and overseas. She worked as A Group Analyst in South Africa as a Lecturer at Cape Town UCT and at Kwa Zulu Natal University in Durban, lecturing on a Masters Program in Group Work. Her MA in Applied research was on Eating disorders. Her interests are in cultural diversity and trans-generational influences on the individual. Thea is available at our Brighton and Hove Practice.
Further reading by Thea Beech –