Mentally preparing for parenthood is probably a very big topic for parents or prospective parents, because they’re going into the unknown. And when you go into the unknown, that inevitably causes anxiety, inevitably causes stress, inevitably causes worry.
So how do you mentally prepare? Well, you know, in a sense it’s a bit like preparing for an exam. When one prepares for an exam, what people tend to do is actually do some studying, do some research, do some reading, get to understand more about the topic. So the best way to prepare for parenthood, actually, is to take the time and take the trouble to understand what is involved in parenthood. And that goes right from the moment of pregnancy all the way through to the early childhood years. And those people who do take the trouble to do the sort of things I’ve referring to, reading books, talking to friends, talking to their own parents, going to parenting classes, going to mother classes where there are other parents, tend to do better in terms of coping with parenting.
That’s not to say it’s mandatory, of course it’s not. But if you take the effort, take the time, learn, work out what’s normal, what’s not normal, what to expect, then, inevitably, you’re gonna find parenthood a lot easier.
Finally, there are, of course, all of the processes that go with having children. There’s early childhood centres, there’s the vaccination schedule. Those sorts of environments create an opportunity to talk to someone who’s an expert in parenting who can help guide you through, what is always challenging and at the same time, always incredibly exciting.
Dr Matthew Cullen, Psychiatrist, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney