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How to Choose the Ideal Partner for Parenthood

As a soon-to-be mother of six children, I am constantly asked how I am able to do it.

My answer is always the same: The man I married makes it a joyful experience. He even delivered our fourth child himself and treats me with great care and consideration while simultaneously finding exceptional joy in parenting himself. Choosing a man who values family above all gave me a headstart on raising children who thrive.

Too many people find themselves overwhelmed and frustrated with parenting because they did not fully understand the importance of making a thoughtful parenting partner choice. Modern dating is often overly focused on sexual desire, infatuation, and romance.

While these aspects of relationship development have value, they overlook one of the most important decisions human beings have to make. The first and most important parenting decision a parent can make is who to have a child with.

We have culturally been so focused on avoiding conflict and telling others that whatever they want to do is OK that we have stopped equipping people with the information they need to reach the goals they want.

Who we have children with has far-reaching consequences. Who we create children with is called mate selection. Mate selection is a process whereby individuals choose an appropriate partner for reproduction.

It is important to explore the consequences when mate selection is done poorly and what factors to focus on to make a good choice.

There are three main consequences of choosing a poor parenting partner:

1. Parental Conflict and Alienation

Ongoing conflict and tension between parents are common consequences of not prioritizing choosing a good parenting partner. Tensions can lead to one parent preventing or interfering with the relationship the other parent can have with their child.

Conflict could lead to legal battles as well, which often come with excessive costs and life disruption. This directly impacts parenting, as parents can become so distracted by the conflict that they have limited time left to focus on child-rearing.

2. Children Learn From Us How to Develop Healthy Parenting Relationships.

The experiences children have with their parents directly influence the decisions they make about future partners and how to parent their future children. Therefore, the choices in partners that parents make often create a lasting legacy for their children.

For example, if children experience parents who struggle to communicate or control their emotions, they will likely struggle to do the same. Alternatively, children who come from stably married families tend to themselves develop stable marriages in the future (Howard and Reeves 2014).

3. Long-Term Instability

One of the most important factors in a child’s well-being is stability. Stability is the parent’s maintaining a long-term stable union. Contentious parental relationships often lead to a break in the union between parents.

Parents may also find that their relationship becomes more contentious when children arrive, further demonstrating the importance of making mating choices carefully.

Research on marital disruption demonstrates that divorce has a far-reaching impact on subsequent generations. A study looking at three generations found that grandparents’ divorce increased the risk of divorce for their grandchildren, even if they were not yet born when the divorce took place (Amato and Cheadle, 2005).

Now that we have a clear picture of why parental choice is exceptionally consequential, it is crucial to be equipped with tips for how to choose a good co-parent. While what matters to each person may differ, there are some overarching tips that can protect both the health and well-being of both parents and future children.

How to choose the right partner:

1. Make an actual decision; avoid things just happening.

Yes, I am actually advocating for discipline. This is a very simple point. Be purposeful. Choose to see this choice as too important to leave up to chance. Pay attention to and discuss parenting goals, and focus on actions over words.

2. Look for long-term traits of stability instead of short-term pleasure.

Enjoying time on a date with someone does not make them a good parent. Even enjoying sleeping with someone does not make them a good parent. Focus on their character. Are they the person you would want your future children to become?

3. Choose characteristics that matter for parenting.

These may include patience, good communication, a sincere desire to be a parent, having similar parenting goals, and valuing family over their own individual interests.

While no tips are foolproof, as human beings are amazingly complex creatures, we can stack the deck in our favour. Parenting can be made much easier or much harder based on the choices we make before a child is ever conceived.

Particularly in modern times, parenting a human being requires skill and support that are invaluable to achieve success. We can no longer hope for the best. We must be strategist and thoughtful, utilizing the incredibly amazing and complex brains we have been given.

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