We all know there are a ton of things to discuss with your partner before trying to conceive (TTC), including parenting styles (e.g.., will you practice co-sleeping, or will you attempt the cry-it-out method?), thoughts on daycare, finances, religion (or lack thereof), discipline, you name it. But what about conversations you should have with your own parents before you have kids? Do their opinions on things really matter? Maybe it depends on how close you are to your parents, or whether their advice is actually good, or stuck in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
There is one very important thing to discuss with your parents before you have kids, according to Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, and that's whether there are any inheritable conditions in your family. “If you know that your mom lost children (either by miscarriage or at a young age), it might be good to find out if there are any genetic problems in your family," Dr. Posner tells Romper in an email interview. "Also, if there is any family history on either side of genetic issues, it’s good to know ahead of time."
Other than the genetic questions (especially if you are of Ashkenazi Jewish background, which means you need to get the screening for Ashkenazi genetic issues like Tay Sachs, Posner says), another thing to potentially discuss with your family would be if they would need to help you care for your children when and if you’re working. “Also, make sure they get their TDAP!” Posner adds, referring, of course, to the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine.
Otherwise, however, Posner has mixed feelings about recommending speaking to your family before having kids, because ultimately, it’s your decision when to start a family. “And if your family will be too intrusive, it might not be wise to talk to them,” she says. Being intrusive includes trying to tell you how to raise your kid, because it’s probably a lot different now than when you were a baby. I asked Posner what advice from our parents she would suggest taking, and what advice should be thrown out the window because it's out of touch with medical advancements the medical community has made since we were kids.
“I definitely recommend taking any advice about genetics, but with IVF and advances in reproduction medicine, even that can be helped," she says. "As far as how to raise a baby, a lot has changed since they had children. Make sure you follow current recommendations from your OB-GYN and pediatrician, not from the grandparents that think they know everything.”
For example, your parents might have put you to sleep on your stomach — something that's now discouraged because putting babies to sleep on their backs has been shown to prevent SIDS. You don't have to slam their outdated parenting methods, though.
“Just let them know that with time, more information has come out and even though certain things were recommended when they had children, they have now found out that those things were actually wrong, so they are recommending new things,” Posner explains. Personally, I’ve also found it helpful to point out that that yes, I survived old-school parenting, but how many children didn’t make it?
I also asked my parents if they’d support our parenting decisions and choices up front, as well as how often they’d be able to come and see our son and help out, especially since I work from home with him.
If you're close to your parents and you have a hunch there may be some medical issues that could come up or if you might need their help with childcare down the line, it could be wise to have a couple of conversations with them before having kids. Otherwise, the decision is ultimately up to you and your partner on when and if to have a baby.