As baby fever takes hold, men in the UK are finding it hard to speak up about their paternal desires. Fear of judgement, political correctness and the pressure to 'have it all figured out' before even considering a family are preventing vital conversations.
"The problem is that we can't really talk about wanting babies," says Ben a single forty-something from London. "It's not socially acceptable to do so." While men have always been expected to initiate courtship, there are no such rules around initiating a conversation surrounding babies or future families.
If a woman wants children and doesn't yet have them by a certain age, she may wonder if she should start looking for someone with whom she can have them. But for men - who aren't expected to be the ones seeking out pregnancy - there's no obvious starting point for becoming a parent. In this sense, they might be in an even more vulnerable position than their female counterparts: They're less able to feel sure that they're ready or want children at all.
It's not politically correct to talk about wanting babies.
Another common reason men don't talk about wanting babies is that they're afraid of being judged. The social pressure to wait until you're married to talk about kids can be intense, and even if a man wants a child before he gets married, he may not feel comfortable admitting it.
It's important to remember that society still has an issue with men wanting children - more so than women. While it's acceptable for women who have never been married or don't have children yet to talk about wanting babies before they've found their partner, the same cannot be said for men who want kids, whether with or independently from their partners.
Men feel like they should have it all figured out before talking about having kids.
All prospective parents want to be able to give their children the best possible life, but the pressure to provide for a family can often lie more firmly on a man's shoulders - which means they can often feel like they should have everything in place before family is even considered. They believe that if they don’t have a job, house and car, or a stable relationship with their partner in place, then it isn’t the right time for them to start thinking about having kids.
The truth is, that there is never really a 'right time' to start a family. And most couples are able to start out small and continue to grow as their family does.
Talking about wanting babies is seriously uncomfortable.
For some, it can feel too serious or adult-like to talk about wanting babies. You and your partner may have only just met, or have been in a relationship for years and are already living together - but regardless, many people still feel uncomfortable talking about having a future family.
Talking about wanting babies can make you seem emotionally needy or immature.
You might feel like sharing your desire for children is an important part of your personality and identity. But men are taught to suppress their emotions and appear strong at all times, so having such an outwardly emotional desire can seem weak or immature.
If you and your partner are headed in different directions, why get closer?
What if your partner rejects your idea of starting a family in the future? Indeed this can be devastating to a relationship, but it's an absolutely vital conversation to have in order to secure your future happiness and fulfilment.
Most men don't talk about wanting to have kids because they're worried it'll scare off the women they're dating, but it's important to be honest about your goals. If you don't want children, then why would you want to be with someone who does? It may feel strange at first, and some people will still feel uncomfortable even after saying it out loud - but there is no point investing your time in someone you 'know' does not have the same trajectory as you do.
Men want babies just as much as women do. It’s time to end the stigma, have those key conversations and ensure that our relationship intentions are aligned from the offset.