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Scared to Be a Parent?

And it’s not only women who are grappling. Mike Birbiglia’s latest sold-out show, “The New One,” is an 80-minute autobiographical monologue that tackles his indecision about becoming a father. Along the way he explores all the reasons to avoid progeny and the ways in which a child will ruin his life. (Spoiler alert: Mr. Birbiglia is now a father.)

But for every comedian and writer who has emerged from baby purgatory and lived to tell the tale, an anguished soul (or 10) remains, searching for an answer. Ms. Davidman, who has a practice in Oakland, Calif., and runs online groups, describes her clientele as ranging across the wavering spectrum.

The term “waverers” captures those who are pregnant but not excited about becoming a parent, those who are 50 percent certain they want a child, and those who are 99 percent sure in their decision. Ms. Davidman said the key to clarity is not focusing on external factors, such as being scared of pregnancy or childbirth, concerned about money, or family and societal pressures.

In fact, during the four -month course, participants are not allowed to discuss the topic with their families or significant others. “You need permission not to deal with other people’s fears and projections and to figure about what drives you internally,” said Ms. Davidman, who, along with Denise L. Carlini, wrote “Motherhood — Is It for Me? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Clarity,” which includes guided visualization and an exercise of writing a letter to your unborn child.

For many, however, age, health and resources are often central to the issue of whether to become a parent. Can, then, or should, these life circumstances be suspended during the deliberations?

“I was really wrapped up in this as a financial decision,” ” said Abigail Donahue, 36. She was spurred to sign up for Ms. Davidman’s class because when she was in her early 30s she started to resent all the social pressure to have a family as she was enjoying her carefree routine: traveling, studying sleeping and going to dinner whenever she wanted.

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