It’s such a personal question, but you’ll get it all the time. And even if you hate being asked, you’ll probably end up answering anyway: “Do you want to get married?” And if you are already married or in a serious relationship, there’s this one: “Do you want to have kids?” Then, if you have a kid, it’s “Do you want to have more kids?”
I used to be the girl who had no idea how to answer these questions, which made me feel out of control and, frankly, more than a little freaked out. So along with my goals for finance and fun, I wrote out my goals for family into a #FamGoals list. I knew they were going to change, depending on whom I met (or didn’t meet). Yours will, too. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s good motivation for revisiting your goals often, whether you feel cornered into it (in a good way) by someone putting you on the spot or not.
My first stab at these answers wasn’t right or wrong, but it was a starting point. It was something, I thought. And something to organize my thoughts on the uncomfortable conversation of love, marriage and kids was better than nothin’.
Here’s how my #FamGoals list started:
- Year 1: Make time for dates, even if I’m exhausted or want to be working.
- Year 3: Date one person seriously.
- Year 5: Consider getting engaged/married.
- Year 7: Consider having a kid.
- Year 10: Consider having more kids.
Yep, those were my family goals when I was twenty-five. And yep, Betty Friedan would be turning in her grave. I’m not going to get into what you should and shouldn’t put on your list; it’s yours, and whether you want to tell anyone about it is up to you. But make one, even if you have no plans for change. Look your destiny in the eye. Again, this isn’t about deciding that you are going to be married at twenty-five—it’s about gaining some semblance of control, even if your goals change.
When I first did this exercise, I wondered, “How do I put a date on a goal like ‘I want to find the love of my life and have children with him’?” Well, of course, you can’t. While it’s true that you can’t have children forever, and plenty of people who do find the loves of their lives decide not to have kids at all, you can be proactive about finding love and creating opportunities to meet new people. Having a deadline motivates you to seek love actively rather than sitting around, waiting for it to fall into your lap—whether you want a family someday or not. So whether you want to put a ring on it or not, you gotta put a date on it.
Keeping it real means you need to consider stuff like this: are you willing to be away from your kids for long periods of time? No? So you’d like to go on every school field trip and be at every after-school sporting event? Would you give up, or seriously hamper, your career for that? Because, let’s face it, these choices are tough, and they’re going to come up. A healthy dose of realism will set you up for a greater chance of success with your version of “having it all.” Your goals for finance, fun, and family must be compatible.
And BTW, once you decide what’s important, phrase it in the affirmative: “I’d like to have children,” not “I don’t want to be childless.” I know it sounds silly, but we’re talking about what you want from your life. Be positive.