Deciding When to Have Children and How to Prepare

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Looking for a spouse without knowing what you want can be like going into battle without a sword.

Jerry L. Jensen, a BYU open major advisement center adviser, is a retired army officer who has been a branch president twice, an LDS group leader three times and is the father of five children. But with all that leadership experience and education, Jensen still said the spirit is the best teacher he has had to learn about marriage and children.

“You have to have an idea of the kind of person you want to marry, what kind of integrity [you want them to]  have,” Jensen said.

He said he feels the reason it is important to make sure you know what qualities and goals you want before you seek for someone to marry is because you will be making important decisions with your spouse eternally.

Karie Russell, a BYU alumna who majored in humanities, said the best way single students can prepare for marriage is to prioritize their own lives now, since additional stresses can come after marriage.

One decision that can be stressful in marriage is deciding when to have children.

Jensen suggests couples look at family tradition and be willing to work as a team.

“Don’t wait to get the right finances, you will never have kids if you do that,” Jensen said. “I think that being active in the church is a key thing and the priesthood should be prevalent and should be a function in the home.”

Jensen said it is a good idea for couples to strive to be financially able and be in good health.

Russell had a rough delivery with her first child and she knows inspiration is key to knowing when the right time to have children is since you do not know what types of complications you may have.

“I think choosing when to have children is a decision that should be between the couple and the Lord,” Russell said. “[Couples should also] try to think about things realistically since having children is a lot of work and they need to make sure they will be able to handle it.”

Eric Braziel, a junior from San Antonio, Texas, majoring in facilities and property management, said he and his wife are excited and nervous for the arrival of their first child.

“I don’t exactly know what to expect, but I know that it is the right next step,” Braziel said.

Braziel and his wife said it is important for couples to continually nourish their relationship since this will be the foundation the family will be built upon.

To prepare for their first child, the Braziels have been making changes to their lives, solidifying their family goals and saving any cash they can.  The couple will take turns watching their child after she is born, so they can both graduate from college within the next year.

“Something else that I realized while on my mission is that the baby is Heavenly Father’s child first,” Braziel said. “Whenever the burden feels really heavy, you can know that he can cover all your weaknesses if you rely on him.”

Jensen advises students who are preparing to have children to purchase a good pair of running shoes, since there may be times in their life that they might have to run after their children.

He also suggests couples might consider getting a puppy to practice taking care of before having a child.

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