option is to assess your stepfamily strengths
now. If they're low, I recommend holding off on cribs and diapers. That's
specially true if your personal and stepfamily
supports are weak.
4) It's essential that both mates understand and accept that
unborn children are aware of,
and very responsive to, their
environment. One implication is that if a pregnant women is often
significantly stressed, and her home is often noisy and chaotic, her unborn
baby may be negatively affected for decades to come.
A final key conception-timing
How well you mates have considered everyone's
this complex stepfamily decision. Some false selves feel that child conception is
"nobody's business but ours." That's risky in a
multi-home stepfamily where many kids and adults will be
significantly affected for many years.
If you choose to conceive, you won't know the wisdom of
your decision for some years. Your long-range
outcome will be directly proportion to how well (a) you've discusses the
pros and cons with your stepfamily members, and (b) how you rank their primary needs with yours.
It takes time
to do that thoroughly! This is not giving the decision to other people
(specially kids!), but it is deepening the knowledge base from which to make
your impactful decision.
The last key "ours-baby" question is...
Can We Provide a
High-nurturance Family Environment?
To answer this, you mates must agree on
in your nuclear stepfamily. Excluding ex mates and/or
their new partners is a glaring red light! So the question becomes
"Can our three or more co-parents provide a high-nurturance family for
our present kids and any new ones?"
The next step is for all you co-parents to agree on what a
high-nuturance (functional) family is. Because
stepfamily child conception is such a profoundly personal, emotional, and complex long-term decision, it's probably a wise investment to get
outside opinion on this nurturance-level question.
You co-parents can judge your stepfamily's
nurturance level with criteria like these:
"Are my partner and I both consistently
guided by our
Selves now?" How do you know? Then ask the same
question about each other co-parent.
related readings, and qualified
professional counsel can help answer that accurately.
controlled by false selves often have trouble maintaining a high family
How many of
describe our present nuclear stepfamily? If your true Self is
disabled, your other subselves will either ignore this question or give
a distorted (idealized) answer.
each of our minor kids doing with their
family-adjustment needs? If all your custodial
and visiting kids are "doing well enough" (a subjective decision), then
you co-parents and kin are probably "pretty nurturing," and a
new baby is less likely to overwhelm your household.
Again, objective professional opinion can be a wise investment
here. A fourth indicator is...
How adept are our adults at
resolving role and relationship
The more effective you all are, the higher your family's nurturance level.
How aware are you
co-parents of the way you
adapt to major
The better your adults are at discussing and planning major
changes, the more likely you'll make a wise child-conception decision. Can you describe
your present policy (shoulds, musts, ought to's) on managing major family
changes? "No policy" is a policy...
Pause and reflect - how do you feel about this way of evaluating the
pros and cons of having an ours child? Now
let's add some..
If you're having significant stepfamily problems, you mates may
adopt the seductive myth that "having
a baby will make us feel like a normal biofamily." It probably
won't. Having an ours child won't change your
that come with it.
Do you wonder "What
do other stepfamily
couples do?" My research since 1979 suggests that a minority of
U.S. stepfamily mates conceive one or more planned
"ours" children. Key factors are that typical co-parents are
middle-aged, need two incomes, and already have over-busy lives with several
Help each other guard against black/white "bipolar" thinking
here. It reduces
many complex options to only two (conceive now or don't). There are usually
many different possibilities. Habitual bipolar thinking in
confusing or stressful situations suggests that a
protective false self rules the person's personality, seeking
structure and control in an unpredictable world.
Another option is to rely heavily on someone else's advice. If a lay or
seems to be
guided by their true Self,
answer these stepfamily
questions accurately, and...
can realistically assess your nuclear-stepfamily's
then s/he may be qualified to
advise you. Relying
on the advice of professionals, authors, or media "experts"
friends with little or no stepfamily training or experience, risks years of regret and heartache
to your descendents.
It is worthwhile to seek feedback from a variety of veteran
stepfamily co-parents. Roughly one of five U.S. families is a stepfamily, so
there are a lot of co-parents out there. Locate some in your community and see if they'll talk about their
"ours" conception decisions and how they reached them. You can also
investigate the many co-parenting sites on the Web - e.g.
An interesting option is to get undistracted, and imagine in detail the conversation
you'd like to have with an adult "ours" child when you're
about to die. What would you like to say, hear, and feel
about how your child's growing-up years "turned out"?
The decision to conceive an "ours
child" in typical nuclear stepfamilies is significantly more complex than in intact biofamilies.
This article explores typical pros an cons of having an "ours child" by
examining four key questions.
who wants to have a child?
why do you want an "ours" (vs. his or hers) child?
when is the best time to conceive?; and
can your family members provide a consistently
for a baby and everyone else?
Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get
what you needed? If not, what
you need? Who's
these questions - your
Lesson 7 /
Next - see
this worksheet for couples