HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE READY TO BE A PARENT?
That’s a common question many people ask when they find out they are pregnant and are considering their options. They realize that parenting is a life-long commitment that requires sacrifices and lifestyle changes, and many aren’t sure that they are ready for it. Choosing to parent is a deeply personal decision and only you can decide what’s right for you and your situation. It may help to know that many parents say no one ever feels truly “ready” to be a parent beforehand, however, knowing what to expect and what resources are available can help you be more prepared.
When you are a parent, you will have great moments and difficult moments. But no matter what life throws at you, you don’t have to do it alone! There are a ton of resources available to help you on this journey if this is the path you decide to take. Focus Women’s Center has partnered with 1st Way Life Center in Johnsburg to provide our patients with the resources they need should they choose to parent. 1st Way offers both material and emotional support during pregnancy and up to two years after birth. They have free educational classes, a Mom’s Support Group, maternity clothes, diapers, formula, baby food, and other material items that are provided for free to their clients. They can also help with finding housing, job searches, financial assistance, and can connect you with other local resources to help you with your needs. We like to tell our patients that if you think you’d like to carry your pregnancy to term but feel like there are some barriers in your way, reach out to 1st Way Life Center to see what they can do for you.
SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT TO PARENT:
Do you have a good support system?
A good support system should never be underestimated. Raising a child, while rewarding, can be one of the most difficult jobs you will ever have. Whether it comes from your family, friends, your church, or even people you meet through a local moms’ group or resource center, having a good support system is vital!
What role, if any, will the father of the baby play?
Relationships are tricky and everyone’s situation with the father of the baby (FOB) is different. The FOB does have legal responsibilities to provide financial support. In Illinois, you can turn to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services for assistance with child support.
The father also has legal rights for visitation if he wishes to pursue them. Discussing his role and setting up boundaries ahead of time can help make the transition after birth go more smoothly.
If you are in an abusive relationship with the father, Turning Point can help you figure out how to proceed so that both you and your baby are safe.
Are you financially prepared to raise a child?
There’s no doubt about it – kids are expensive! The good news is that there is help available; you just need to know where to look. That’s why teaming up with an agency like 1st Way Life Center is so helpful. Not only can they help you save money by providing free necessities like diapers, formula, baby clothes, etc., but they can also help connect you to other free resources in the community that can provide further financial and material assistance.
Where will you live?
If deciding to keep the pregnancy means you will lose your housing, you will need to find a place to live. Thankfully, there are plenty of places you can turn to for help. Over the years, 1st Way Life Center has been able to find housing for quite a few pregnant women and their children. Home of the Sparrow is another local agency that can help with housing. Madonna Renewal Center is a maternity home in Freeport, IL that provides a safe place for pregnant women and their babies to live while also helping the new moms get back on their feet.
What will your child-care needs be and how will they be met?
Whether you will need an occasional babysitter just to enjoy a night out or need to find more consistent child care so that you can pursue your education or continue to work, planning ahead of time can take a lot of the stress out of finding child care. 4-C: Community Coordinated Child Care in McHenry is a great place to start. They can help you find quality child-care and the financial assistance to help pay for it.
How will you balance school or work?
Figuring out how an unplanned pregnancy will fit into your life can be overwhelming. Just know that every parent struggles with finding the right balance between family and school or work. Becoming a parent does not mean that you need to sacrifice your dreams or career goals, but it may mean that the path you take to achieve those things looks a little different than you originally planned – and that’s okay!