Ask Ellie: Discuss logistics of parenting before having child with new partner

Advice columnist EllieDear Ellie: I’m a single woman, 38, never married, who had some bad relationships in the past but am finally in love with a partner I trust. He’s 36.

We met online during COVID, talked many times, then took walks together that were wonderful because we really took time getting to know each other.

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After a few months, he was the first to suggest that we live together. We’ve been partners for seven months and we get along great.

Recently he raised a new subject that surprised me — he wants to have children … soon.

I always thought when I was a girl that I’d have children, but as an adult I had put it aside since there were no likely prospects from the men I dated until now.

I’m not yet too old to have children, but time is moving on so I have to start deciding whether this is what I want. What’s your advice?

Is Motherhood for Me?

Seven months of romantic co-habiting is a joy, but it’s not a long time in the realities of pregnancy, birthing and raising a child.

A thoughtful couple should be sure they’re ready for all the changes — a focus on conceiving, then on months of planning plus the health of you and the baby, and finally … the constant needs/demands of a newborn.

That said, a baby is also a gift that can bind a couple closer than they ever dreamed. So, think positively, but use at least the next couple of months to talk to your partner about all that’s involved.

Discuss how you’ll handle any major changes as parents e.g., if you’re both working now, will you take full maternity leave or return sooner and need babysitting help; or whether you’ll soon or eventually need more living space.

Of course, not every future change can be predicted. But they’re less surprising if you use this immediate time to do a lot of talking together.

As a potential mother, you need to be sure that this man is expecting and happy to be a full partner with you in raising a child. When the time comes that you’re sure and ready, good luck!

Dear Ellie: I’m a man, 40, who’s a good cook and when locked down by the pandemic, made myself delicious meals to feel better about having zero social life.

But I gained 25 pounds and now I feel worse. There was a recent socially distanced get-together among some friends who have all been fully vaccinated, and I couldn’t do up the pants I’d planned to wear. I felt so ashamed and stupid, I sat down and ate some leftover roast beef and potatoes.

What should I do? How long does it take to lose weight? Do I have to cut out everything that tastes good?

Fat Guy

Don’t demean yourself. You can easily be the “Smart Guy” by starting a healthy regime of choosing varied foods that not only taste delicious but don’t add unnecessary calories.

First, check with your doctor about any reasons you need to limit exercise. Then, raise your spirits by getting out and walking whenever possible.

Research healthy-eating approaches and start one that’s sensible-seeming, not extreme. Find a fitness program or online instructor if you prefer, that suits your personal schedule … but twice a week is the minimum for getting some muscle strength and flexibility. If you’re sensible and don’t make extreme changes, a reasonable loss of weight will gradually happen, and you’ll feel much better about yourself.

Dear Ellie: My friend has twin teenagers in high school. Her older son is a math/science whiz and likely to get into a good university. But her younger son, who’s always had some learning issues, isn’t doing well at school.

He’s lately been showing an interest in cartooning, and my friend said it may cause him to fail since he’s been caught in classes drawing instead of listening. What are your thoughts?

Concerned

Tell your friend to encourage each of the twins for their own talents and interests. They are bonded but not of just one mind.

The mother should go with her son to an art school to assess her son’s art interest and skills, to consider whether he should switch schools from that of his twin.

It may be best for him to attend a different school anyway, where he’s not competing with, or compared to, his brother.

Meanwhile, show interest and find ways to develop his artistic interests.

Ellie’s tip of the day

When pregnancy’s being discussed, both partners should expect equal involvement in parenting.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.

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