So you want kids and you’re wondering whether or not your current love is the right one to have them with?
Some emotional needs of a good parenting partner are obvious: patience, responsibility, reliability and good communication. A partner who actually likes little humans is probably on your must-have list.
But there are some casual behaviors that indicate a greater understanding of what it means to be a true partner and a future awesome parent.
Here are six behaviors that are a great sign your partner will be a great parent. I alternate pronouns between he and she for simplicity, but these characteristics apply to both genders.
She wakes up in a good mood.
Someone who chooses to be in a good mood in the mornings is someone you can have kids with.
I guess it can be kind of quirky and cute at first, the grumpy girlfriend with tousled bed head who pouts until after she has her morning coffee.
But it’s not cute to have children with someone who labels herself as "just not a morning person." You know what time of day babies and toddlers wake up? Do you know what time school starts? Do you know what time of day kids will test your patience the most?
You don’t want to be a single morning parent – the only parent who gets up with the kids, the only parent who gets them breakfast, the only parent who gets them dressed, the only parent who gets them to school because you partner can’t be patient or pleasant before 10 a.m.
Morning is when parenting happens, and you want someone to share the responsibility.
He puts the toilet seat down and changes the toilet paper roll.
Why does he put the seat down? So you don’t have to. Why does he change the roll? So you’re never stuck in a messy situation. The philosophical angle of this behavior is that he thinks about what comes next. He foresees that you will need to use the bathroom and he gets it ready for you. He anticipates your needs.
The practical angle is that your kids will never fall in the toilet while using the restroom in the middle of the night. And a man who changes the paper roll will also replenish the diapers and wipes so you’ll never be stuck with a naked baby on a changing table, only to discover that there are no more diapers and the box of wipes is empty.
She can find the mayo in a crowded fridge.
Your partner wants mayonnaise for her sandwich so she goes looking for it -- like, really puts in her best effort to find the condiment she seeks. She moves the Coke bottle out of the way, she takes out the Tupperware of cookie dough, and she throws out a terrifying jar of something long forgotten in a back corner of the fridge, until she finds the Hellmann’s.
In other words, she doesn’t call you into the kitchen to come find the mayonnaise that she could find for herself. She’s aware that she is as capable as you are of moving the Coke and the Tupperware and doesn’t need you to do it for her.
You need a partner who employs effort and common sense to the job of parenting. Half your job description as a parent is looking for a lost item -- toys, baseball cleats, dresses, Neosporin ointment, or homework.
The other half is making a hundred tiny day-to-day decisions -- selecting what to pack in a lunch box, choosing a weather-appropriate outfit, deciding the best time to leave for school, figuring out a way to say, "I’m taking you to get a flu shot," that will elicit the least amount of terror.
You need a parenting partner who is self-sufficient and capable of making a common sense decision without your input.
He has/had an opinion about your wedding venue.
After all, your wedding venue is his wedding venue too. And your kids will be his kids.
You want a partner who wants to help you find the right school for your kids, and the best car for your family, and the cheapest flights to see relatives during the holidays.
It’s not fair to be the only parent with an opinion. It’s a lot of pressure to make life- changing decisions for your kids, and it should be a shared responsibility.
She buys items beyond the shopping list.
Having a partner who is an impulsive buyer is a frightening prospect. When your toddler is crying and begging for the $50 Barbie dream house, you need a partner who can stay strong and on budget.
But you also need a partner who is always thinking about the bigger picture. So if she goes into the store to buy a pumpkin pie for the office party, but she also thinks to buy toothpaste and coffee because you’re almost out at home, that’s a bonus.
As a parent of a baby you have to think, "Do we need diapers, wipes, formula or baby food?" every time you step foot into a store. As your kids get older, you have to think of school supplies, lunch supplies, ballet shoes, upcoming birthday party gifts, allergy meds. It’s a never-ending cycle of, "What else do my kids need?"
Imagine your daughter asking you at 6 a.m. if you remembered to get the glue for her class project, and (just as you’re about to panic) your wife says, "I got it yesterday when I went to the pharmacy to get her allergy meds." You’ll be glad you’re with a partner who’s always conscious of the needs of the family.
He vacuums and doesn’t even point out that he vacuums.
It’s so cliché, but that’s because it’s so true. Housework becomes such a source of resentment between couples, especially after having kids. Housework is never-ending and it’s pervasive; it’s everywhere and popping up more and more every hour as your kids spit up and Play-Doh it up. And anything you don’t do, your partner has to do.
Just make it easy on yourself and pick a partner who does housework without being asked, and without needing accolades for doing his part. Your life will be so much more peaceful.
So your partner doesn’t display all six of these behaviors -- now what? No partner is going to be perfect. Self-awareness and a willingness to understand your point of view go a long way to make up for imperfections.
You can’t change someone’s core values or personality traits and you can’t expect someone to change at that level. You have to take your partner at current face value and not what you predict future face value will be.
But we all need a parenting partner who demonstrates a willingness to listen and make new choices based on our family’s changing needs.