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1.This document is FCS2147, one in a series of the Family, Youth, and Community Sciences department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication: January 2000. Reviewed: May 2001. Appreciation is given to Debbie Humphries, M.S., extension agent II, Taylor County; Diann Douglas, M.S., extension agent II, Madison County; Meredith Taylor, M.S., extens ion agent IV, Suwannee County; and Anne Fugate, project coordinator, University of Florida, for Floridas CYFAR State Strengthening Grant. Please visi t the EDIS Web site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.eduThe Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide resea rch, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, se x, age, handicap, or national origin. For information on obtaining other extension publications, contact your county Cooperative Extension Servic e office. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / Christine Taylor Waddill, Dean 2.Millie Ferrer, Ph.D., associate professor, Human Development, and Sara McCrea, graduate assistant, Department of Family, Yout h and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611 FCS2147Couples Considering Parenthood1Millie Ferrer and Sara McCrea2Are You Both Ready?Deciding to have children is a milestone in a couple's life together. Parenthood is a demanding job. Children take time and energy, leaving a couple with less to give to each other. Both partners need to make sure they are ready for this challenge. Believe it or not, having a child is a much bigger step than getting married. So, before having children, you and your spouse need to develop a solid relationship with one another. A solid relationship is not established overnight: it takes effort, commitment and a lot of patience. Through open communication and sincerity you will be on your way to strengthening your family structure. In any marriage, the decision of whether or not to have children is as important a decision as you two will ever make. Remember this: if the relationship between you and your spouse is not strong, the chances for your having a successful family with children are slim. Check the Activity SheetAt the end of this publication is an Activity Sheet for you and your spouse to use to determine how well children fit into your lifestyle. Parenthood is a serious, long-term commitment. To avoid mis-communication later on, it is essential that you and your spouse discuss any concerns either of you have. The information in this activity will help you start exploring some of these issues. Best wishes on your journey!
Couples Considering Parenthood Page 2 May 2001 Parents Forever Once a couple has developed a stable relationship, children are a wonderful addition to the family. Parents will be called upon to perform a variety of roles during a child's lifetime. These roles include care-giver (infant), protector (toddler), nurturer (pre-schooler), encourager (school age) and counselor (adolescent). As parents you need to have an understanding of how children develop. Knowing child development principles will help prepare you for the challenging and rewarding life as a parent. As you know, there is no instruction manual for parents. So, before having a child, it is recommended you take advantage of the different resources available to help you become better parents. You will find it beneficial to read about different child-rearing practices and attend parenting workshops. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service office to find out when parenting classes are being held--or for additional resources. Following are some guidelines for the many roles you will play on your journey to becoming an effective parent. Tips for Potential Parents The following tips are divided into the developmental stages children face. Read them over to get a general idea of what is important to know at each stage of a child's life.Infant. Your primary role is that of caregiver. Establish a sense of trust in your infant when you respond to his or her needs. Always hold your infant when feeding; be sure to smile and interact with him or her. Never shake a baby. Always handle your baby with tender loving care. Listen to and talk with your infant (imitate his or her cooing and babbling). Hold, cuddle, stroke, and rock your baby. Toddler. Your primary role is that of protector.Childproof your home and yard. Toddlers are curious and explore everything. Give your child choices. This is the stage when a child starts developing a strong sense of self and independence. When making requests keep them simple, clear, consistent. Be patient. Don't expect your child to share toys. Duplicate toys to reduce conflict with other children. The child may exhibit temper tantrums. This is normal. (For more about tantrums, see Lets Talk about Temper Tantrums. FCS 2153 [Ferrer & McCrea 2000]).
Couples Considering Parenthood Page 3 May 2001 Preschoolers. Your primary role is that of nurturer. Demonstrate warmth, acceptance, and respect for your child. Establish clear rules and limits. Provide materials that encourage fantasy play. Children learn best through play. Be patient. Children have a lot of questions at this age. Be sure to take time to answer them. Acknowledge your child's feelings and communicate acceptance. School-age. Your primary role is that of encourager. Be consistent. Set clear rules and consequences. Be supportive. Your child will experience peer influence and pressure. Be available as your child tries to find his or her own identity. Provide chances for your child to succeed at a variety of experiences. Give guidance and encouragement as your child selects his own activities. Give praise for any effort or improvement. Don't criticize.Adolescent. Your primary role is that of counselor.Be warm and accepting. Learn to "let go" as your child gains a greater sense of independence. Be a good listener. Consider your teens opinions, ideas. Set clear rules and limits. Recognize the physical and emotional changes your adolescent is going through. Be interested and involved in your teens activities without being overly intrusive. Reference List Ferrer, Millie. 1998. "Tots in Action: 12-18 Months." Fla. Coop. Exten. Serv., IFAS, Univ. Fla, Gainesville. FCS 2124. 4pp. Ferrer, Millie. 1998. "Tots in Action: 24-36 Months." Fla. Coop. Exten. Serv., IFAS, Univ. Fla, Gainesville. FCS 2129. 4pp Ferrer, Millie and Sara McCrea. 2000. Lets Talk about Temper Tantrums. Univ. Florida, Coop. Exten. Serv. FCS 2153. 4pp. Hamner, Tommie, and Pauline Turner. 1996. Parenting in Contemporary Society Allyn & Bacon. Boston. 400pp. Nelsen, Jane. 1981. Positive Discipline Ballantine Books. NY, NY. 258pp.
Couples Considering Parenthood Page 4 May 2001 Activity Sheet: Questions for Potential Parents Consider the following. There are no right or wrong answers, only what you honestly feel. When you are both done, share your responses with each other. 1. How many children would you like to have? 2. Describe the changes having children would bring to your lifestyle. 3. What are your views on discipline? 4. What will you do to establish a strong relationship with your children? 5. List what you feel the best reasons are for becoming a parent. 6. What are the qualities a person needs to have to be a good parent? 7. What are your greatest concerns about becoming a parent?