13th August 2012 | by Dr. Janet Takefman
I’m 38 and have always wanted to have children. My current partner is 42 and says he is willing to have a child with me – but he has a very short fuse and gets very pouty when he’s not getting all my attention. I’m seriously questioning whether he’ll make a good father, but I don’t feel I have time to end this relationship and find someone else to have kids with. What should I do?
Written by our mental health expert Janet Takefman, Ph.D.
Good parenting involves many specialized skills, attributes, and sacrifices. However, there is really no way to determine who will make a good parent and who will not. Many people, men and women alike, step up to the plate when they become parents and even surprise themselves with how committed and determined they are to be the best parents they can be. Others have the best intentions and say they love their kids and would do anything for them, but the way they behave and prioritize their lives indicates otherwise.
Although our research has shown we cannot predict who is best fit to be a parent, studies have shown who is NOT fit to parent at a given point in time. We use a ‘standard of harm” to indicate who should not parent. For instance, people who are either addicted or abuse drugs; who engage in domestic violence or are abusive; who have a mental health illness that is uncontrolled, untreated or unstable; or who are under extreme emotional or physical stress should not consider trying to start a family until these issues are resolved.
In your case, you report your partner has a temper and is demanding of your attention. These qualities might suggest he is a person who is self-involved and impatient; which I agree, does not bode well with adjusting to being the parent of a newborn and all that is involved. However he may be one of those men who change dramatically once the baby is born. Since you should not take any chances, I would strongly recommend that you visit a mental health counsellor with him to talk about your concerns. Couple therapy and/or anger management techniques can certainly help to improve your situation and reassure you. You did write that “he is willing to have a child”, which could mean either he wants to be a parent or he is agreeing to it just because you want it so badly. It would be important to clarify this point – if he feels coerced in having a child this may backfire in the long run.
If it turns out after several sessions with a counsellor that you feel it is too risky to try and have a family with him you should be aware that there are fertility treatment options for single women to become mothers, using sperm from a donor sperm bank. See our section on sole support parenthood here. We have extensive research to show that “single mothers by choice” as they like to refer to themselves, make excellent families and the children do not seem to have a poorer quality of life compared to those born in 2-parent families. It’s important to note that children who are loved, nurtured and raised in a conflict-free environment will thrive regardless of their family structure.