### Key Questions to Ask Before Starting a Family: Insights from a Psychologist

There are numerous practical considerations to address before embarking on the journey of parenthood. Questions such as the duration of maternity or paternity leave needed, the availability of familial support for childcare, and the anticipated expenses related to childbirth are commonly deliberated. However, financial readiness alone does not equate to emotional preparedness for becoming a parent, as highlighted by Aliza Pressman, a developmental psychologist and co-founder of the Mount Sinai Parenting Center. In her forthcoming book, “The 5 Principles of Parenting: Your Essential Guide to Raising Good Humans,” Pressman emphasizes the significance of aligning personal and familial values before starting a family.

Pressman recommends introspective exploration through two fundamental inquiries: “What do I value?” and “What does this family value?” By clearly defining these values, individuals can mitigate the influence of external pressures such as social media trends and peer conformity, enabling confident decision-making aligned with their core beliefs. Establishing values serves as a foundational guidepost for navigating the complexities of parenthood.

To ascertain and solidify personal values, Pressman suggests the following steps:

1. Identify Priorities

Take dedicated time to brainstorm and document your family’s priorities. Encourage your partner to engage in this reflective exercise as well. Consider traits like diligence, compassion, or intellect as potential focal points. The goal is to tailor your parenting approach to resonate with your unique values.

If you encounter difficulty pinpointing your values, ponder the following prompts:

  • Reflect on a significant decision in your past. What principles influenced your choice?
  • Contemplate three individuals you admire. What qualities do you find admirable in them?
  • Envision how you wish your children to perceive you in the future.

2. Uncover Common Threads

Recognize patterns or common themes among the values you have identified. For instance, a love for exploration and culinary experiences may signify a desire for your children to embrace autonomy and novelty.

Pressman advises delving deeper to unearth the underlying principles behind your values. By recognizing these foundational concepts, you can assess your readiness to raise children within the framework of your defined values.

It is crucial to acknowledge that family values are subject to evolution alongside personal growth and changing circumstances. The establishment of guiding principles offers a flexible yet robust framework amidst the myriad opinions and influences encountered in modern society.

Aliza Pressman underlines the importance of aligning personal and familial values as a precursor to embarking on the parenting journey. By delineating core values, individuals can navigate the complexities of parenthood with confidence and clarity.