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Parenting

What Is Contemplative Pre-Parenting and Who Is It For?

How Contemplative Pre-Parenting leads to healthier couples and families.

Key points

  • Contemplative Pre-Parenting is for couples who do not have kids, are in committed relationships, and want to explore family planning.
  • Contemplative Pre-Parenting helps couples make smart decisions by addressing their motivation, willingness, and readiness to have kids.
  • Contemplative Pre-Parenting work would not be helpful for actual parents because it could result in unnecessary feelings of judgment.
Ron van den Berg/Pixabay
Ladybugs on a leaf
Source: Ron van den Berg/Pixabay

As a therapist, when I’m working with my adult clients, we tend to focus on processing how the past affects the present, and ways to change thoughts habits, and behaviors.

When working with parents and families who are seeking help with their children, we focus on present problems a little, but a large part of the work is prevention. We develop routines to prevent meltdowns. We create communication strategies to prevent fights. We orchestrate expectation management to prevent defiant stand-offs.

When it comes to raising kids, preventing poor outcomes and bad behaviors is 10 times more effective than cleaning up the mess of normal, yet preventable parenting mistakes.

When it comes to prevention, the further back in time you go, the better your chances are of having desirable outcomes. So when it comes to families, let’s take it back to before children even come onto the scene.

Introducing Contemplative Pre-Parenting

To do this, we need to introduce a concept that I call Contemplative Pre-Parenting. This idea encompasses the whole process of considering, preparing, and deciding on what’s right for you and your partner before you have a child.

Sometimes this process involves deciding not to have children. And that is okay too. That’s why the process of Contemplative Pre-Parenting is so important.

If you go through the process of deciding what is and isn’t right for you and come to the conclusion that children are not in the cards for you and your partner, then you’ve made a wise decision that will benefit your relationship for years to come. Rather than get into something out of obligation, you are getting into something out of conscious contemplation.

If children are in the cards, Contemplative Pre-Parenting work can show you and your partner what needs to happen before kids are brought onto the scene. Maybe that means financial and career goals are shored up. Maybe relationship counseling needs to be explored. Perhaps expectations and hopes need to be shared.

When done well, this process will lead to a healthier couple, and eventually a healthier family.

Who Benefits From Contemplative Pre-Parenting?

Contemplative Pre-Parenting is for couples who do not have kids and who are in committed relationships. Parents already have kids and are past the point where Contemplative Pre-Parenting can benefit them. Parents, no matter how they have come by their children, are in a new arena and have their own set of struggles, tools, and ways to address issues that come up.

Contemplative Pre-Parenting work is an opportunity for greater guidance and hope for couples who don't have kids. Yet this concept would have the opposite effect for parents because it may result in unneeded feelings of judgment and second-guessing that is counterproductive and unhelpful.

Parents (and moms in particular) are already subject to incredible amounts of judgment and criticism and Contemplative Pre-Parenting, while about parenting, is not for parents, and not intended to make people who are already parents feel judged for their past choices.

Rather Contemplative Pre-Parenting is for those couples who have the time, opportunity, and resources to make choices for their individual lives, and their individual futures.

What Does Contemplative Pre-Parenting Entail?

Contemplative Pre-Parenting can be different for each couple but covers a wide range of conversation topics and considerations that a couple should explore before they think about incorporating a child into their relationship. Some, but not all, things that should be considered include:

  • Motivation for having a child, and timing
  • The willingness of each person in the relationship to start a family
  • Concerns, fears, and hopes for a child
  • Financial readiness
  • Career readiness
  • Environmental readiness
  • Relationship/communication readiness

Couples today have greater choice and availability to make smart decisions about how they want to plan their families. It’s time we start using and talking about the tools that can get us there.

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