Raising a child is a full-time job. Thinking ahead about the challenges you’ll face and the support you’ll need can help you prepare to be the best parent you can be.
What support will I need if I have a child?
Whether you’re a single parent or parenting with someone else, a child needs nonstop care and attention. Having a partner and/or family members to share the work of parenting makes the job a lot easier. Most parents need help, especially when it comes to money and time. The kind of support parents often need includes help with running errands, getting clothes and baby supplies (hand-me-downs are really helpful), babysitting, and just having someone to talk with.
Parenting with a partner is usually easier than parenting alone, but it can put some serious stress on even the best relationships. Raising a child on your own has unique benefits and challenges. Either way, being realistic about your day-to-day life and the support you’ll need is important when you’re thinking about raising a child.
How will parenting work with my partner and me?
Parenting with a romantic partner or a co-parent helps both parents feel supported, and many couples enjoy sharing the responsibility of raising a child. Creating a family with someone can be really rewarding, and it may even bring you closer together.
But most people find that having a child tests even the strongest relationship in ways they don’t expect. Sometimes the stress is just too much and the relationship doesn’t last.
Either way, your relationship with your partner will change when you have a baby. Parenting together takes good communication and a commitment to stick through the hard times. If you’re considering parenting with a partner, here are some questions to think about:
Is our relationship healthy enough to provide a loving and stable home for a child?
Do we agree on when to have a baby?
Will we communicate openly and honestly with each other?
Will we share the financial responsibility of caring for our child?
Will we share the day-to-day work of caring for our child?
Do we agree on how child care and/or daycare is going to work?
Can we deal with the strains that pregnancy and raising a child puts on relationships?
If our relationship ends, how would we continue to parent?
Talking about these questions together can help you figure out if the two of you have similar expectations about having a baby. No matter what, parenting with someone else takes teamwork, patience, and compromise. It works best when both people are deeply committed, and agree on what they each expect from the relationship and raising a child together.
How do I parent without a partner?
Many people find themselves parenting on their own, or they choose to become single parents. Being a single parent can be tough, but it’s definitely not impossible. Plenty of people do it, and many single-parent families are healthy and happy. Parenting on your own has unique advantages, too. You won’t have to make compromises with a partner, so you can raise your child exactly the way you want — with your values, principles, and beliefs.
For most people, raising a child on their own is also super challenging. The responsibility for your child is 100% on you, and you may have to make a lot of sacrifices that you don’t expect. For example, it may be harder to find and keep a romantic relationship as a single parent.
If you’re planning to raise a child without a partner, questions about money, career or school, and other types of support can be even more important. Ask yourself:
What would raising a baby by myself mean for my future goals and plans?
How much support will I have from my friends, family, and community?
Can I handle the financial responsibility of caring for a child on my own?
Can I handle the day-to-day work of caring for a child on my own?
Who will take care of my child when I’m working or going to school? Can I afford child care?
Is there someone I trust who is willing to take care of my child at the last minute if I get sick or have to stay late somewhere?
How will I feel if having a child makes it hard to find a romantic relationship?
If you're thinking about parenting on your own, talk with your family and friends about the help you’ll need. Be realistic about how much time, energy, and money the people in your life can give to you and your baby. You may also be able to get help from certain government programs, but they usually only cover part of what you need to provide for your child.
I’m ready to have a baby. What should I do now?
Having a healthy pregnancy starts BEFORE you get pregnant. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to have a baby, visit a doctor or your local Planned Parenthood health center for preconception care. Your nurse or doctor will talk with you about things like your physical health, your mental health, your diet, and your lifestyle. They’ll also give you any exams or screenings you might need so you can go into your pregnancy as healthy as possible.
Contact your local Planned Parenthood health center to make an appointment for preconception care, or for help finding a doctor in your area. Some local health departments or community health clinics may also provide preconception care.