Just Baby And You

Weighing the decision to have a child is never simple. When you're a single woman who wants to be a mom, though, you may face even more challenges and fewer resources. Here's how to decide if single motherhood is right for you.

mom on phone and computer with baby

Borrow a baby

As single women explore their options such as pursuing adoption or finding a sperm donor, they should ask themselves some common questions, according to Michelle Barone, M.A., M.F.T., family therapist and teacher. "First, be clear on motivation," she notes. "Find someone with whom to explore your desires, hopes and fears of the situation, before getting pregnant, contracting for adoption or employing other means. These methods all have additional stress, and it is vital that the woman has good support during the whole process."

As you go through the exploration process, spend lots of time with children. "If you have no experience with children, spend some extended time with family or friends who have babies and young children. The fantasy of having a child versus the reality of the day-to-day can be quite a shock; the more real experience there is, the better prepared you'll be."

Crunch the numbers

As you try on the motherhood hat, thinking about logistics is important. For instance, where are you going to live? Is your extended family close or far away? Is your bank account sufficient to feed another mouth? Barone says:

"Many women find that, once they have a baby, the need for familiar family and rituals from their own childhoods become important. To have others to help care for your child who are truly emotionally invested in you and your child can be very important. Give some thought to the whole support system you are developing; it can be quite stressful both financially and emotionally to be without some family or close friends to help out. Children need consistent caregivers. Begin exploring all the options before you have your child. If you have to work most of the time and your child is going to be with someone else most of the time, you might want re-evaluate your motivation and situation."

Get practical

While the exploration stage may be fun, you should set aside your romantic notions about motherhood and consider the practical realities of your particular situation. Single motherhood may lend itself well to a woman who has had time to pursue her career, is financially secure and has taken time to understand who she is.

Women who have depression or anxiety issues or have had difficulty managing life in general must evaluate honestly their capacity to manage the difficult challenges of motherhood in particular. "If the motivation is primarily so you are not lonely, or if your career or financial situation is not very steady or strong, your emotionally availability is limited," says Barone.

Stay flexible

Above all, as you explore your options and do your homework while lining up a support system, you must stay flexible.

"No matter how much you read and talk to your friends or family, your life with change in ways you can never predict," says Barone. "You will be more exhausted than ever, but you will find strength in yourself that you never knew you had."

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Tags: single parenthood

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