Is parenting the right option for me?

Deciding whether to raise a child is a very important and very personal choice. Everyone’s situation is different, and only you know what’s best for you and your family.

Why do people decide to become parents?

If you’re facing an unplanned pregnancy, you’re not alone — about half of all women in the U.S. have an unplanned pregnancy at some point in their lives. People who are pregnant have three options: parenting, having an abortion, or placing their baby for adoption. Many decide to continue the pregnancy and parent the child.

Everyone has their own unique and valid reasons for choosing to have and raise a child. Parenting can be joyful, rewarding, and life-changing — many parents say it’s the best decision they ever made. But having a baby is also a lifelong commitment that takes lots of love, energy, and patience. It’s normal to have lots of different feelings about whether you’re ready to take on the challenge of parenting.

Sometimes, deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy is really simple and easy. Other times, it’s very difficult or complicated. But either way, the choice to become a parent is personal, and you’re the only one who can make it.

Am I ready for a baby?

Family, relationships, money, school, work, life goals, personal beliefs, and the well-being of your future child — most people think carefully about all of these things before choosing to parent. But every person’s situation is different, and only you can decide what’s best in your case.

Here are some things to ask yourself if you’re thinking about becoming a parent:

  • Do I want to start a family now?

  • Am I ready to be totally responsible for all of my child’s needs?

  • Will I be able to raise my child in a loving and healthy home?

  • Can I afford to raise a child right now?

  • What kind of support will I have from my family, my friends, and my partner/the father?

  • What would having a baby right now mean for my future?

  • How would having a baby right now affect my family or other children?

  • Would I consider adoption or abortion?

  • Is someone pressuring me to become a parent?

  • Am I ready to go through pregnancy and childbirth?

  • Do my partner and I both feel good about staying together and parenting together?

  • How do I feel about co-parenting if we break up, or parenting alone?

Though parenting is hard work, it can also be fun, exciting, and super rewarding. The love parents share with their kids can be really fulfilling.  But parents have to give up a lot for their children. Meeting your child's needs can be very challenging. People who are raising kids usually get less sleep and don’t have as much time to do things they need and want to do. Having a baby is expensive, and many people find it hard to financially support their children. Having children can also mess with your school or career plans and goals.

Parenting with a partner can bring you closer together, and creating a family with someone often feels really gratifying. But many people find that having a child tests even the strongest relationship in ways they don’t expect. Raising a child on your own can be especially challenging, but everyone’s situation is different, and there’s no way to know for sure how having a baby will affect your life and relationships.

There’s lots of stuff to consider, and it’s totally normal to have many different feelings and thoughts when making your decision. That’s why it’s important to get honest, supportive information about all of your pregnancy options. Support from other people you trust can also help you figure out if parenting is right for you.

Who can I talk to about having a baby?

Talking with your partner, someone in your family, a friend, a religious advisor, or a counselor can be helpful when you’re making a choice about an unplanned pregnancy. Asking other parents about the joys and struggles of parenting can also help you figure out if you’re ready to raise a child. But it’s good to choose people who you know are supportive of you and won’t be judgmental.

Many family planning clinics (including your local Planned Parenthood health center) have specially trained staff that can give you accurate information about all of your options and other resources if you need more help. At Planned Parenthood, you can get information about all of your options, answers to your questions, and support no matter what you decide to do.

But be careful when looking for a reliable health center. There are fake clinics that say they have pregnancy services. These are called Crisis Pregnancy Centers, and they’re run by people who are anti-abortion and don’t believe in giving you truthful facts about all of your pregnancy options. Read more about Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

No one should pressure you into making any decision about your pregnancy, no matter what. So it’s important to get the info and support you need from people who give you the real facts and won’t judge you. At the end of the day, only you know what’s right for you.

If you’re having a hard time finding someone in your life to talk with, check out Backline. Backline is a free hotline that gives you a confidential space to talk through your pregnancy experience. They’ll give you judgment-free support, no matter what choice you make or how you feel about it.

When do I have to make a decision about my pregnancy?

It’s important to take the time you need to make the best decision for you.

If there’s a chance you’ll continue your pregnancy — whether or not you choose to parent the child — start getting prenatal care as soon as you can. And visit your doctor regularly throughout your pregnancy to make sure you and your pregnancy are healthy.

No matter what decision you make, it’s a good idea to talk to a nurse or doctor as soon as you can so you can get the best medical care possible. The staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center is always here to provide expert medical care and support, no matter what decision you make.

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