Vincent & Suzanne

DARON: Vincent, 34 years old, marketing manager

DARONNE: Suzanne, 31 years old, PR account manager

FAMILY SITUATION: Co-habiting, they are expecting their first child

Suzanne and Vincent are at the start of a big adventure. At the time of this interview, Suzanne had just stopped working as an account manager at a PR and communications agency to take five months of maternity leave. ‘I am not completely sure what to expect from motherhood. I hear lots of people around me swearing that they will do this or that with their children. But they usually change their minds to such a degree that they tackle it completely differently in the end. I would rather see how it goes,’ says Suzanne.

Too boring, too serious, too patronising and with too much focus on what I may and may not do. I would rather read books that address future fathers. They’re much funnier.

It did not take long for her to shelve the books on pregnancy and parenthood that she received or bought. ‘Too boring, too serious, too patronising and with too much focus on what I may and may not do. I would rather read books that address future fathers. They’re much funnier.’ It is clear these future parents know what they want. Brands with excessive amounts of plastic, loud colours or floral patterns for example will not be welcomed with open arms. They do not want to adapt their style, but exactly the opposite: everything must suit their lives as young parents who still want to undertake all kinds of things, who continue seeing their friends and travelling. But everything does not have to be cool and trendy all the time. ‘More than anything, I am not going to put too much pressure on myself. If I need a weekend of rest then I will take it. Irrespective of what others think about it. I am certainly not going to let myself be talked into having to be cool.’

She is a vegetarian, he is not. They have also made agreements about that. ‘The rule is that we never eat meat at home. But it should not be banned at the nursery, at school or at the grandparents’ house. That seems the easiest way. What if our daughter decides she wants to eat meat later on? Then that is fine as long as she knows that healthy, varied alternatives exist.’ Suzanne and Vincent want their children to be happy above all, to feel good about themselves and have the feeling they can achieve plenty in life.

That they grow into self-confident people who dare to dream and reach for those dreams. They should express modesty and gratitude because, in their opinion, if you are thankful in life, you can go far. They also have a positive outlook on a personal level. They are ready for the next step and are prepared to give their child  the place he or she deserves. And if that means sacrifices are required, then so be it. Not that they expect that straight away. ‘We are convinced that if you have a certain lifestyle before having children then you don’t have to fundamentally change it after the birth. That does depend on the child, of course. Some children are more adaptable than others. We will have to give some things up but only after we have tried it out our way first. We are resolute that we will not let people talk us into things too often. It may mean we fall flat on our faces but we would rather be an experience richer than assume that something is no longer possible,’ considers Suzanne.

Vincent and Suzanne are not as sure about the future. They recently read an article that stated they were part of the first generation of parents who are not one hundred percent sure that their children will have a better life than them and that sums it all up really.

Will there be a healthy place left on this planet to grow up in? What dangerous diseases will their children be confronted with? What about the terror threats?

Will there be a healthy place left on this planet to grow up in? What dangerous diseases will their children be confronted with? What about the terror threats? Europe has long been free of war but what are the consequences of the decisions by the world’s political leaders as a result of the attacks in Paris, Brussels, Turkey and the rest of the world?

Both their parents, except Suzanne’s step-father, are retired. That does not mean however that they are at the couple’s beck and call. They travel a lot and have many hobbies. Although the future grandparents have said they are prepared to look after their granddaughter every so often, Vincent and Suzanne hope they soon will be able to rely on people closer to home. They have seen how friends organise themselves using a system in which everyone takes turns to collect the children from school. ‘They also started their own scouting group because there wasn’t one in the neighbourhood,’ says Suzanne. ‘With childcare issues these people can all turn to each other, for example during the summer holidays. Then the one child can go and play every day for a week at another house for instance. It is much nicer than camp I think and definitely a lot cheaper.’

Picture by Zaza Bertrand

This portrait is part of the book ‘Framily. How Millennials redesign family.’ (Rombauts & Lemaitre / Trendwolves) A nuanced portrait of a generation of young parents who are looking for distinctive and positive solutions for a better work-life balance. It also appeared in Belgian newspaper De Morgen Magazine on March 4th, 2016.

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