4 red flags that your partner won't make a good parent — at least, not yet

Parents sitting at a kitchen table with a baby
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  • Having kids with an emotionally immature partner can have lifelong consequences.

  • A psychologist shared some of the biggest red flags that a person isn't ready to be a parent.

  • Trouble controlling their anger and being highly critical are signs to look out for.

Long-term relationships are often defined by huge milestones: moving in together, getting married, and having kids.

But while you can always move out or get divorced should you choose to split up, children are a lifelong commitment. And co-parenting with someone who is emotionally immature can be a nightmare.

Annie Wright, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Berkeley, California, said the period after the honeymoon stage in a relationship is "a more accurate indicator of how people might be able to show up as parents."

Speaking as both a therapist and parent herself, Wright said that having kids ramps up any issues "times one million."

"It is hard and requires self-sacrifice, biological deprivation, financial strain usually, and a lot of prioritizing of the other above self or the romantic partner," she said.

While she said there is no crystal ball to knowing exactly how a person will be as a parent, she said paying attention to how they react in times of stress or inconvenience can say a lot about what to expect in your future together.

She shared four major red flags that a partner just isn't ready to be a parent — at least, not anytime soon.

1. They have clear anger issues

Everyone experiences emotions like stress sometimes. If you're with a partner who struggles to regulate their emotions, Wright said you should "probably reimagine what is an appropriate baseline is" if they express anger through screaming or raging.

But even if you aren't personally bothered by it, your future child is a different story. "If there's a partner with explosive rage who yells, stomps, throws things, punches holes in walls — that is going to be very scary to a child," Wright said.

Furthermore, she said a reactive parent could influence how the child deals with their own feelings, as well as how they believe they deserve to be treated from future romantic partners or friends.

2. They're highly critical of themselves and others

If your partner incessantly nitpicks you, your friends, or themselves, it's a pretty good sign they'll treat your child the same way, according to Wright.

"Never will you see a very compassionate, warm, self-accepting person then turn and become incredibly critical and harsh and judgmental of their child," she said of her own clinical experience.

She said to pay attention to how your partner speaks about and judges other people, and how often they do it. People who see others as losers or worthy of ridicule over innocuous mistakes are likely to become overly critical, perfectionistic parents.

3. They can't cope with change or disappointment

Wright said that many people can be incredibly romantic partners during the honeymoon period, or when only your best sides are on display, because "that's not real life."

"How they respond when things aren't going their way can reflect on how they might be down the road," she said. If you feel sick and can't have sex with them, will they respect that or make you feel a little bad? If a family emergency comes up and you can't go to the $300 Broadway show you'd planned on for months, will they check in with how you're doing or just rush to find someone else to go with?

"How much empathy do they have for us versus how much are they shaming and blaming us?" she said. Because so much of having children — and aging in general — involves ups and downs that they'll have to handle with grace, Wright said.

4. They check out when you really need them

In a healthy relationship, couples respectfully argue and support each other through tough times. But if your partner is already incapable of things like compromise or doing a little bit more around the house when you're stressed at work, Wright said it'll only get worse with kids as they can become emotionally absent parents unwilling to engage with any uncomfortable feelings.

Plus, she said, life is full of unpleasant surprises as we get older, such as illness, accidents, or death in the family. "Who this person is when circumstances are not ideal can shine a light into who they might be as a parent and non-parent," she said.

Even if you never end up having kids together, suspecting that your partner couldn't treat them with respect and kindness can be a sign you're in the wrong relationship to begin with.

Read the original article on Business Insider