When you first start dating someone new, you're usually mainly focused on chemistry and how they treat you. But as time goes on and things start to get more serious, you may start considering how this person is going to fit into your plans for the future. Do you share the same dreams and goals? And perhaps most importantly, where do each of you stand on having a family? If you both agree that's something you want, the next thing to consider is, will your partner be a good parent? Because if the answer is no, it's time to ask yourself whether or not this is the right relationship for you.
But how do you know if your partner is capable of being a good parent some time off in the possibly distant future? Well, if you know how to recognize the signs of someone with the right temperament, you don't have to be a fortune teller to have some idea of what kind of parent they would be. To help with this, we spoke with parenting experts Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent, and Maria Lianos-Carbone, author of Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year, to ask them what to be on the lookout for.
If your partner has no chill, they probably aren’t suited to be parents because it requires a lot of patience, says Lianos-Carbone. “If [they] can’t handle stressful situations like an adult, watch out!” she says. “A [parent] needs to practice patience with [their] children; last thing a toddler needs is another toddler having a tantrum in the house.”
Saying that having kids changes your life is an epic understatement, which is why Dr. Walfish says your partner’s flexibility when it comes to change can give you a lot of insight into how they will deal with becoming a parent. “I define rigidity as psychological pathology,” explains Dr. Walfish, explaining that, “People whose personalities are rigidly organized are unconsciously (without awareness) terrified of change.” She adds, “Flexibility and fluidity in relationships is healthy and required for [successful parenting].”
For some people, being open with their feelings and affection comes naturally, and that is a good sign that they will be able to do the same with their children. “A good partner and [parent] is able to communicate [their] feelings, and show [their] love for those who matter to [them] most,” says Lianos-Carbone.
Dr. Walfish adds that you should watch out for partners who are highly critical or who lack empathy, as they are not suited for parenthood. “The goal is to build self-esteem by using words that support and motivate with empathic attunement, rather than criticize,” she says.
Not everyone is meant for or wants to be a parent, and that’s OK. However, if that’s something you want in your life, it’s important to pick a partner who shares that desire — someone who you'd be proud to co-parent with. Be as selective as you feel you need to be, because you deserve to have the kind of life you want, and someone who will stand by you through all of it.
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