How It Works
Basically, before a couple conceives or adopts they plot out a division of labor. Contracts may also include a section of expectations during pregnancy. Although some couples seek a lawyer’s assistance with the wording, these are generally not legally binding. If they were, some sort of penalty would need to be imposed on the contract breaking partner.
In 2011, Meghan Markle asker her first husband, Trevor Engelson, to sign a prenatal agreement when they married. Such a trendsetter.
The now Duchess of Sussex’s agreement is said to have included stipulations for Mr. Engleson to pay child care (including a nanny so Meghan could continue acting) and for a personal trainer and nutritionist to help her return to her pre-baby body.
In 2018/19 Baby Contracts are gaining popularity in the US (especially in LA, shocking) the UK and Australia. The non-Hollywood versions are more task focused. Diaper changing, feeding, bathing, sports practice, carpools, homework… Everything is negotiable. So at 3 am when the baby is screaming its head off, you better be in arms length of that piece of paper to shove in your partner’s face.
Have you ever met children?
What part of the contract does this fall under? Honestly, this is the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a while, and last week I was asked how I fit my horse in my car.
Life and children are unpredictable. I couldn’t see how any parent would think this is a good idea, so I polled my friends. Guess what? Every one of them who has a child thinks this is ridiculous.
Those without children found it to be an intriguing idea.
Stop, Drop and Roll
People believe they can predict their reactions. For example, in elementary school we had a fire safety assembly every year. Kids learn if they catch on fire they should stop, drop and roll. Don’t run and don’t try to beat out the flame. Stop, drop and roll. When I was 10, an ember was ejected from my grandparents’ fireplace and landed on my arm. My velour shirt (it was the early 80s) burst into flame and I proceeded to jumped up and down beating the flame with my hand. I didn’t once think to stop, drop and roll. My older sister was also too stunned to go for help. Future behavior is rarely predictable.
Outside The Box
Children will challenge, delight, and frustrate you in ways you cannot imagine, sometimes all within 5 minutes. Parenting will pull you out of your comfort zone. Maybe you have one kid so you think you can better prepare for the next with a prenatal contract. Nope. You never get two kids from the same box. God, fate, genetics, whatever, two children from the same family are often as different as day and night. Plan all you want but you will be unprepared.
Stories from the Trenches
My son eats 10 foods. It used to be 5, we’ve made progress. I was never going to cook separate meals for my family. If he doesn’t like it he refuses to eat. He will go a looooong time without eating. I make him different food.
All my daughter ever wanted to do was ride horses. My husband swore up and down we would never own a horse. I am allergic to horses and hay. Meet Margo, our 11 year old horse.
I was on bedrest during both of my pregnancies. For one I was confined to the hospital. My daughter was a preemie with feeding and respiratory issues. One child emptied a poop filled diaper down an AC vent. We didn’t predict broken ankles, school bullies, new math, referrals to OT, PT, Neurology, Urology, and an ENT. Potty training was easier than expected but one kid would not give up the bottle. Teething sucked! You can write a contract but are you going to change it yearly, monthly, weekly, as life changes?
Communication and Partnership
Just like relationships, parenting cannot be divided 50/50. Everyone needs to give 100%. Parenting is a get to, not a have to. If parents feel they must divide up chores, maybe they don’t really want a child. (This sentiment was echoed by the friends I polled.) Parents should want to do things with and for their child(ren). If one of you is all in and the other isn’t, that’s a deal breaker. Raising tiny humans is too hard and too important.
*I realize due to death, divorce, deployment… many adults parent alone. I applaud them for all their hard work!