The Longest Shortest Time

EPISODE #165: The 36 Questions to Ask Your Partner Before Having Kids

In 2015, one of the most read articles in The New York Times was the Modern Love column, To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This. It features a list of 36 questions developed by psychologists to help you fall in love. The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness.

On their third date, Stephanie and Joey decided to give the questions a spin… and it worked! Two years later, they’re planning a future together, with one kink in the plan. Stephanie has never wanted kids, and Joey can’t imagine a future without a big family.

With help from past guests and listeners, we put a spin on the questions to help couples determine if they want a future as parents together. We’re calling ours: The 36 Questions to Ask Your Partner Before Having Kids. You’re welcome.

Tune in to hear Stephanie and Joey puzzle through the questions to imagine a hypothetical future together. Will their visions match up… enough?

Wanna take the questions for a spin yourself? Keep reading. Or download our printer-friendly version.

The 36 Questions to Ask Your Partner Before Having Kids

1. Did you do any babysitting growing up? How much? How did you like it? Would you like to do that forever?
– Rob Huebel, from Episode #118

2. What is your wildest dream when you see yourself with your child?
– Esther Perel, from Episode #146 & Episode #96

3. What names do you think are awesome?
– Trystan, from our Accidental Gay Parents series

4. What last name will our kid/s have?
– Mandy Len Catron, who wrote the viral modern love column & How to Fall in Love with Anyone

5. Which do you think would make you happier — going out to eat with or without our child, and why?
– Dan Pashman, from Episode #36 & The Sporkful

6. Would we let our son go to kindergarten in a dress?
– Marlo Mack, from Episode #94 & How to Be a Girl

7. Exactly how much harder do you think is it to have kids than to have cats?
– Matthew and Tracie, from Episode #161

8. What should our kid’s relationship with technology be? At what age should our kid get their first cell phone? Computer in their room? VR headset?
– LST staff

9. What lifestyle standards do you have today that you have to keep, or you won’t be able to function? How would we accommodate those things, especially during the first few years?
– Joy, listener

10. What is your understanding of co-parenting? What does it look like to you?
– Jenny, listener

11. If I get the better job that would mean our family has to move, do you willingly follow, or will you resent me, so I won’t even consider it in the first place?
– Brigid Schulte, from our It’s a Real Mother series & Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time

12. What challenges do you think will arise if we are a multiracial family?
– Rosa Yadira-Ortiz, from Episode #153

13. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had a partner kid with whom I could share… “
– LST staff, modified from the original 36 Questions to Fall in Love

14. When we learn the sex of our child, either before or after birth, what significance will that have for you? (And what impact might it have on our parenting?)
– Marlo Mack, from Episode #94 & How to Be a Girl

15. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about the future kid, or the future of the planet in general, what would you want to know?
– LST staff, modified from the original 36 Questions to Fall in Love

16. How many?
– Makanani, listener

17. How do you feel when you attend a baby shower?
– LST creator Hillary Frank, who says a couple broke up over the kids question after her baby shower

18. What would/should we do with abnormal blood tests/genetic tests/ultrasound findings?
– Dr. Pratima Gupta, from Episode #115

19. How long could you imagine us not having sex before you’d think something is wrong? What’s the longest you’d be OK going without sex with me?
– LST staff

20. Do you consider yourself more of an introvert or an extrovert? What if our kid is very different from us in this or other ways?
– LST staff

21. What counts as spoiling?
– LST staff

22. How can I show you gratitude when I’m a sleep deprived zombie bending towards resentment?
– Jenny, listener

23. What’s an appropriate punishment or consequence for a child hitting you? How would we approach discipline on our family?
– LST staff

24. Will we be the kind of family that can talk about farts?
– LST staff

25. What are some of the things—messages, behaviors, beliefs—you learned from your parents that you would like to keep, and what are some you’d like to change, do better, or different?
– Esther Perel, from Episode #146 & Episode #96

26. What is the thing you most hope to replicate from your own upbringing?
– LST staff

27. What role do you see your parents playing in our lives after the baby is born?
– Trystan, from our Accidental Gay Parents series

28. What are the things that you imagine you would be unwilling to give up or change about yourself, even for your children, even for me?
– Rachel Zucker, from Episode #159

29. How would the class identity of our kid compare to the one you had growing up? How do you feel about meeting the expectations or disappointments that come with that?
– LST staff

30. What difficulties from your own childhood are you, quietly, in the back of your mind, trying to fix by not raising children who are not suffering in this way?
– Frieda Vizel, from Episode #136

31. How did your parents divide parenting responsibilities (like sick days, snow days, or washing the dishes)? How would we want to change that?
– Anna Sale, from Episode #93 and Death, Sex & Money

32. What if we have a kid and it’s not great? Will we feel like we ruined our lives?
– Cassandra, a listener who says it’s the question she’s afraid to know the answer to

33. Who is the person who strongly influenced your view about the reality of family life or parent-child relationships?
– Esther Perel, from Episode #146 and Episode #96

34. What do you think about couples counseling?
– Rosa Yadira-Ortiz, from Episode #153

35. How do we plan to say connected?
– Liz, listener

36. Imagine it’s 20 years from now, and we’re sitting in this same spot talking about our kid. What would that conversation be like? Let’s act it out.
– LST staff

UPDATE: These questions have led to at least one engagement! Hear the ultimate love story on Episode #173.