I am turning 30 this year. For millennial men and women, becoming 30, like turning 18 or 21, comes with an expectation. You've lived for three decades now and seen some stuff. By this point, you have mostly experienced every feeling a person experiences; love, heartbreak, friendships, broken friendships, death, promotion, job losses, etc. The one thing most almost-30 millennials have yet to experience is parenthood.
It’s no secret that millennials are having sex (Tinder is ubiquitous among my generation for a reason) and becoming vegans in droves, but millennials are not starting families. When I look at my social circle, I am the only one who has a child. And I have a big social circle.
For me, becoming a father was an accident. If I typed on this post that I wanted to be a father so desperately at 27 and that I was beyond excited to bring my daughter into this world, it would be an outright lie. Don't get me wrong, in hindsight; my daughter is a blessing and one of the best things to happen to my life. But initially, I was not ready at all to be a father, and because of that, there was a lot of drama between myself and my partner. It was a volatile period which has since settled.
When my male friends, often those who are in their late twenties, come to me and say to me "I am thinking about having a child," I look them dead in the eye and ask: "Why?"
Instead of asking that question, I have outlined four questions the millennial man needs to ask himself honestly before making this incredibly life-changing decision to have a child. Doing so will save young men from experiencing the regret and anger that I felt because I didn't fully think about the implications of fatherhood before throwing myself into it.
Have you accomplished your goals?
A man in his late twenties must have goals in his life so that by the time he is in his mid-thirties, he is stable in all critical areas of his life.
If having a child is not part of your goals or does not help you accomplish them, you don't need to have a child, especially if you're still in your twenties.
Now some of you men might say to me "But my girlfriend/wife" really wants a child. My retort is: "It doesn't matter." Having a child will bring such a massive upheaval to your life that you need to be utterly confident that becoming a father is a goal of yours at this stage in your life. If it isn't, then don't have a child. If that means your girlfriend or wife leaves you, then so be it. The two of you weren't on the same page.
Never have a child just because it's what your girlfriend or wife desires. I can't stress how important this is. When it comes to having children, you need to be selfish because the impact of children is too high.
Does your girlfriend or wife desperately want to be a mother and is she willing to put her career aside for a short period?
So, you’ve done a deep-dive into your soul and found that you do want to have children in your late twenties. Good for you, mate. The second question you need to ask yourself is: Would your girlfriend or wife make a great mother?
I've dated girls in the past that were fun. We had a laugh and a great time. But they would not have made good mothers at the time; their mentality was ill-suited for the demands that motherhood requires.
I honestly thank God that my partner is a natural mother. She is maternal to a fault. Our daughter's priorities come first. She has sacrificed a great deal to ensure our daughter is healthy and happy.
Although mainstream media says otherwise, a very ambitious woman who wants to be a director of a large company by 35 will probably be miserable if she becomes a mother at 30. I know the media is proclaiming “women can have it all” but in reality, they can’t - not straight away anyway. Show me an unstressed mother who is a full-time director; working 40 hours a week, while also being a full-time mother and isn't outsourcing her child rearing duties to nannies every week.
If your girlfriend is under 30 and wants children, as a man, you need to make sure that she is willing to put the needs of her child first and foremost before her career. If she can't, I don't see why she should have your child.
Depending on what kind of man you are, you might be happy taking a backseat in your career to stay at home and look after your child while your girlfriend or wife goes to work. While I could never sit at home and look after my child without working, if you decide to do that, then please make sure you're with a woman who won't lose respect for you overtime for being a stay-at-home Dad and appreciates your role.
Have you moved in with your girlfriend or wife for more than two years?
You want to have a child in your twenties. You can confidently say yes.
Your girlfriend/wife is willing to be a mother first and a career woman second or she is happy for you to stay at home and will not lose respect for you. You can confidently say yes.
Are you good to go? Better get procreating? Not quite.
In my personal experience, you want to raise your child in a stable household. I am very conservative about this. Although it's not the only way to build a healthy and emotionally stable child, it is still the most effective way in my opinion. It's going to be much harder to raise a child in a stable household if you haven't even lived with your girlfriend as stable housemates for at least two years.
I always roll my eyes when my mates, who have never lived with their girlfriends, say to me "we never argue, and we always get along." Well, of course you do, because you only see her three times a week. When you move in with a woman, you will see sides of her that will annoy you, and it's the same thing for her as well.
" Never have a child just because it's what your girlfriend or wife desires. I can't stress how important this is. When it comes to having children, you need to be selfish because the impact of children is too high. "
Live with your girlfriend for at least two years to fully understand her character, and she understands yours. Living together will smooth out the creases in your relationship so that when you do have a child together, your child is entering a home that is peaceful instead of one with constant arguments and slammed doors.
Are you financially stable?
You would think this would be a no-brainer, but I have seen couples have children they cannot afford -myself included. If my bank balance had eyebrows, it would have raised them incredulously when I ignorantly decided to have a child with my girlfriend.
If you don't have sound finances, having a child is going to test you as a man in a way you want to avoid. Again, take it from me. Raising children is ridiculously expensive. Overpriced clothes. Overpriced toys. Overpriced nappies. Overpriced nursery fees. If you're a vegan, forget about all that costly vegan food you love eating from Whole Foods. Having a child will bleed your bank account quicker than an ill-advised, drunken trip to the Casino.
Sit down with your partner and calculate your monthly income. All your outgoings and what you both need to cut now that you have both decided to have a child. Make sure you have emergency funds. Failure to do due diligence on your finances will make you stressed out and unhappy during a period where you should be happy and joyful.
Are you willing to sacrifice a lot of your money; time, energy, and opportunities?
Probably my most significant oversight was that I did not fully comprehend how much sacrifice would be required when raising children. Spending my disposable income on new trainers and weekly night outs. No more of that. Travelling whenever I want. No more of that. Eight hours of sleep. Ciao.
If you want to be a decent father, a lot of your time and energy will be spent supporting your partner in raising your child because you're also responsible for that child's growth. It's a gigantic shift in your priorities especially for men in their twenties, heck any man at any age. Raising a kid is one of the biggest responsibilities a man can have, right next to being the US President and look what happens when you mess up that role.
Are you happy to no longer be your partner's priority?
Understand this, as soon as your child is born, all the attention you used to receive from your partner will decrease, especially in the child's early years. While you should expect to be a priority to some degree, you're not going to be THE priority to your partner when she becomes a mother. As a man, you must be comfortable with this. If you still want to spend more time solely enjoying the love of your girlfriend while you both travel the world, then don't have a child with her yet.
To all my male, millennial friends who ask me if they should have children, I will now point you in the direction of this blog. Having a child is beautiful but have your eyes opened. It's not all fun, games, and trips to the park. It's a real responsibility. Don't make my mistake of blindly going through with it. Make sure you're ready.