How To Tell A Partner That You're Ready To Start A Family

In a relationship, some conversations are easy. For instance, you probably don't have to gird your loins before asking your partner what they want to order for dinner. But there are also discussions so momentous that it takes careful preparation to set the scene. In the past, you may have agonized over such milestones as asking them out, moving in together, or proposing marriage.


And when it comes to life-changing talks, speaking with your partner about having children may be one of the most challenging of all. Many people, even those fond of children, have heavy concerns about parenting. These may include timeless worries like finances and setting a good example, but also contemporary factors like school safety, environmental sustainability, and fostering body positivity for kids in today's society. "All the baseline fears and stressors are still there," psychology professor Diana Morelen tells Vox. "We've only added to the level of stress and fear and, really, adversity facing folks in their childbearing years."

But if you're passionate about raising a family, you can't let fear hold you back from broaching the topic with your S.O. With just a little preparation, you can tell your partner that you're ready to start a family in a way that's honest, considerate, and productive. Here's how.


Know your own feelings

If you want to start discussing the possibility of children with your partner, first and foremost you need to get in touch with your own emotions and know where you stand before opening the door to this talk. As Today points out, some people can fall into the trap of feeling that children are a mandatory or expected milestone in their life, without examining their own desires for parenthood. Make sure you're making this choice freely and wholeheartedly. You don't want to sow more confusion or uncertainty by coming into this conversation with any serious doubts.


Preparing for a family planning discussion also includes knowing where your boundaries and comfort levels are around all your options, from pregnancy or surrogates to the possibilities of adoption or freezing your eggs for later. This way, you'll be prepared to calmly go through any questions or concerns your partner might bring up.

Of course, understanding your opinions doesn't mean that you and your partner can't make certain decisions together, or leave yourself flexible to other options down the road. But when discussing children, be ready to let your S.O. know your thought process behind when, how, and how many — as well as how much room for compromise there is or isn't on each of these topics.


Bear in mind, you shouldn't deliver these opinions like ultimatums. As marriage and family therapist Megan Harrison tells Verywell Mind, an ultimatum only "leads to resentment and insecurity in the relationship since your partners felt pressured into doing something they didn't want to do." But knowing your own mind can lay the foundation for the most productive and honest conversation possible.

Talk about your family goals in advance

One survey reports that, on average, it takes two years for a woman to broach the topic of children with a partner (via SWNS Digital). But you may not want to invest that kind of time before finding out that your conflicting goals have doomed the relationship. "Having kids can be a dealbreaker and it's important to talk about dealbreakers as soon as possible — when you know you'd like to date this person consistently," sex and relationships therapist Rachel Wright tells Insider.


Plus, it can obviously be a little scary for a partner if you approach them out of the blue ready to start a family tomorrow. To remove some pressure and immediacy from the conversation, it's better to talk about your goals in advance, so it still feels a bit theoretical. The earlier you discuss your hopes — whether that means "I want two kids someday" or "I'd love to have a child before I'm 35" — the more time you and your partner have to get ready for the idea and ensure you're on the same page.

Prioritize a face-to-face discussion

When it comes to important discussions, nothing beats face-to-face. Texting, emailing, and phone conversations can all too easily lead to crossed wires and unintended drama. After all, over the phone, you can't read your partner's body language. And via text or email, you can't even hear their tone of voice — not to mention that the opposite is also true, and your S.O. could easily misinterpret your words out of context. "Never have an important, in-depth conversation via text because of tone—we are too easily misunderstood, and take the very large chance of making the problem worse than it was in the first place," Nikki Martinez, PsyD, tells Reader's Digest.


Family planning conversations are too important for miscommunications, so allow yourself time to speak with your partner in person. Ideally, choose to have your talk somewhere quiet and private, where you won't be interrupted or distracted. And as psychologist Diana Kirschner suggests to Women's Health, it's best to choose a time when your partner is feeling relaxed rather than stressed.

Go into the talk with an open mind

When you're gearing up to talk about having kids, you probably have some idea of where your partner stands. It could be that they've made comments and jokes that lean in one direction, or that their demeanor seems naturally parental (or not). But it's best not to carry any assumptions into a family planning discussion, especially if it's the first time you've really talked about it. After all, people can surprise you. And incorrectly assuming your partner feels one way or another can make them feel emotionally invalidated, like you're dismissing the importance and autonomy of their feelings (via ReGain).


Even if you have touched on the idea of kids before, you should still wait to hear your partner's current opinions before leaping to conclusions. "We often form relationships with an understanding or inference that life goals are shared," clinical psychologist and relationship expert Carla Marie Manly says to Bustle. "Yet, life goals, even if discussed early on, are subject to change. As such, it's a great idea to check in with your partner periodically on life goals — such as financial goals, having children, work goals, etc."

Talk through the pros and cons

In a moment of panic — which this talk could certainly produce, even if handled carefully — it's difficult to think clearly. During an anxious, fight-or-flight response, your limbic system takes the wheel, fighting against the rational, decision-making parts of your brain. As a result, you may make rash, emotionally-driven decisions (per CNN). In other words, your partner could be liable to lash out or rush to put walls up against the high-pressure idea of starting a family.


To talk through the idea of children more productively, ask them to help you make a list of pros and cons. Depending on your perspectives, the pros might include things like personal fulfillment, the opportunity to nurture a child, and building a family legacy. The cons list might feature less freedom and spontaneity, financial burden, and heightened responsibilities (via WakeMed). Encourage your S.O. to be honest, and let yourself do the same. Ultimately, it's up to you and your partner to weigh each side and decide whether it's worth it.

Don't pressure them for an immediate response

Sometimes, a partner may need time to sort out their own feelings about having children. Perhaps it's something they've never seriously considered before meeting you, or maybe they have fears of parenthood due to factors in their own upbringing. For instance, many potential dads-to-be are worried about being bad fathers, from dropping the baby to watching their kids make the same mistakes they did (via Fatherly). These kinds of worries are universal to any parent, so don't push your partner to give you a definite answer all at once. Remember: You had time to think about the idea of children ahead of time, so they deserve the same luxury.


Instead, let your S.O. know you're happy to keep talking about their concerns or uncertainties as they work through the idea. As dating and relationship coach Carla Romo tells StyleCaster, "This could be a great way to grow together through vulnerability if your partner is having trouble with this topic. And if you and your partner are on the same page, you can mutually discuss further what that looks like for your future, which is a win-win."