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  • #359619
    Charlie
    Participant

    Hi there,

    My husband and I have a wonderful 17-month old son. My anxiety since becoming a mother hit record heights, and I’m finally working hard to address it. I’m starting to feel a lot better, and my son is a lot of fun but also a handful and has a ton of energy. All of my mom friends seem to be on baby #2, and I’m feeling the pressure from them and my own parents and in-laws to give my son a sibling. However, I had a really difficult pregnancy and traumatizing delivery (not to mention anxiety afterwards). In theory I would like a 2nd child (it’s what I always envisioned for my family), but the thought of going through pregnancy, childbirth, the newborn stage again, all while taking care of my son, sends me into a near panic attack everytime. I’m afraid if I don’t give him a sibling, I will regret it, or he will grow up feeling lonely, but I’m also worried about my mental health. Do you have any thoughts? My husband is happy with either one or two and says it’s my decision, which is wonderful but also makes me feel a lot of pressure to make the decision myself. Thank you!

    #359622
    Canadian Eagle
    Participant

    Speaking as a man, as I can’t begin to understand the joy and trauma of pregnancy , so forgive me for having an opinion on this . Having siblings gives your child a family …. only children have no nieces or nephews , no one to reminisce about childhood with , also they can carry the burden of care as parents age …… if it is safe from a health perspective I would recommend to have another .

    #359626
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlie:

    Bad idea to have another child… I can’t think of an idea that is worse than getting pregnant, then growing bigger and bigger for nine whole months, then going through the painful delivery and then months and  months of caring for a newborn, when “the thought of going through pregnancy, childbirth, the newborn stage again, all while taking care of my son, sends me into a panic attack every time“.

    If the thought sends you into a panic attack, what will nine months of pregnancy and many months to follow,  do to you???

    Regarding the “give my son a sibling… or he will grow up feeling lonely”- you can arrange for your son to have playmates, so he will have opportunities to socialize with other children in addition to school.

    Siblings are not always a good thing. Look at what you shared Oct 2016 regarding a friend of yours and his siblings: “his brother was feeding my friend heroin by the time he was 12… a seriously unstable half-sister entered into his life.. she treats him like crap, makes fun of him.. Her actions have torn up my friend over and over again and he knows she is bad for him”-

    – I know that your friend’s story is quite extreme, but in less extreme ways, it is not uncommon for siblings to be a disadvantage to a child.

    Having a very anxious mother yet again (when you are “starting to feel a lot better) because of having a second child, will definitely be a great disadvantage to your son.

    anita

    #359629
    Charlie
    Participant

    Hi Anita! I was really hoping that you were still posting on here – thanks so much for responding, and long time no chat! Yes, I am still really close to my friend, and he reminds me of his issues with his siblings every time I mention this issue. I know that sibling relationships aren’t always happy, but my husband has 3 sisters and they seem like the most perfect, happy family in the world and always talk about how amazing their childhoods were. I feel bad when I think about not giving my son that (even though there is no way I’m having 4 kids!). Do you think this decision is something I should revisit in a year or two? Or do you think that, given how rough bringing my son into the world was, I might be better off working on just accepting having an only child and not comparing myself to others?

    #359639
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlie:

    Maybe your husband’s and his three sisters’ childhood was “the most perfect, happy.. amazing”, and maybe they are nostalgic, as people often are about their childhoods, selective memories experienced retroactively as perfect, happy and amazing.

    As to your question for me, I suggest that your first priority should be your mental health, and not the topic of providing your son with a sibling. It is way, way better for your son to have a mentally well mother than it is for him to have a sibling. For the purpose of promoting your mental health it is better that you accept having an only child and not compare yourself to others!

    anita

    #359749
    Charlie
    Participant

    Thank you so much, again, Anita! – For your thoughtful response as always. I will continue to make my mental health my priority.

     

    #359754
    anita
    Participant

    You are welcome, Charlie. I am glad to read that you will continue to make your mental health your priority. Post again anytime you want to post and I will reply.

    anita

    #360060
    Charlie
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    hopefully this is my last follow up on this, sorry! I started going to therapy a few months ago because of my anxiety. I spoke with my therapist about this question I’ve been having yesterday, and she was really pushing me to have the second child sooner rather than later, because it’s looming over my head anyway so I might as well get it over with. She doesnt seem to think of an only child as an option. She said all the fears I have about pregnancy, childbirth, newborn stage (as well as concerns I have over the state of the world and country) are just fears that I’m letting run my life and I need to get over them and accept whatever comes. It seemed to me like she was minimizing these concerns I have in my head, and for this reason (and some others) I’m not really sure she’s the right therapist for me. Would you have any insight or response to her thoughts? Right now I just feel like everyone is telling me I need to get over my issues and have a second child, that it’s not big of a deal, That I’m being unreasonably fearful, etc. I was hoping to feel better after my talk with my therapist, but I feel worse! Thank you!

    #360066
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlie:

    No need to apologize, you can post as many times as you want, especially on a topic that is so important. It is so important because it can make or break you, this decision you need to make (“Have another child?”)

    Let’s look at what you wrote regarding your therapist:

    “I started going to therapy a few months ago because of my anxiety.. she was really pushing me”- a therapist should not be pushing any client, especially an anxious client! The attitude with a client has to be gentle, not aggressive in any way.

    “she was really pushing me to have he second child sooner rather than later”- I don’t suppose she offered her daily help with taking care of your son while you are pregnant, or that she offered her help with you caring for a new baby? Any person, therapist or otherwise, does not have the ethical right to push another person to have a child, especially when pushing person is not offering material or practical help with raising the child!

    “she was pushing me.. so I might as well get it over with”- your therapist doesnt .. know that you can’t get a pregnancy over with for a whole nine months? You can’t get a pregnancy over with any faster than nature decided it to be. And then, it takes months and months more to take care of a tiny baby, and then a toddler. Overall, we are talking about three years or so.

    Imagine a woman asks a therapist for advice as to how to manage pregnancy and parenting, and the therapist says: just “get it over with”.

    “because it’s looming over my head anyway so I might as well get it over with”- imagine a person on a hike coming across a  shaky bridge, it looks unsafe. It is not necessary to cross that bridge, it is possible to take a safe route around the bridge. Will you advise that person to take the bridge because the idea of crossing it is looming over her head anyway, so might as well get it over with.. or will you advise her to walk the safe route around the bridge?

    “She doesn’t seem to think of an only child as an option”- well, she is wrong. It is an option. Maybe she is projecting her experience being an only child, an experience that wasn’t good. I don’t know what motivated her to deny that having an only child is an option.

    “She said all the fears I have about pregnancy, childbirth, newborn stage (as well as concerns I have over the state of the world and country) are just fears that I’m letting run my life and I need to get over them and accept whatever comes”- a competent therapist will never, ever advise a client to “get over” anything, particularly fears. These words or suggestion is professional incompetence.

    In addition to this, a pandemic world with no vaccines or drugs for a highly infectious virus is a time to pause any and all plans to bring children into the world, says I. It’s the responsible thing to do.

    “I’m not really sure she’s the right therapist for me”- I am sure she is not the right therapist for anyone.

    Please do post again, I want to communicate with you further on the issue.

    anita

    #360082
    Charlie
    Participant

    Hi Anita, thank you again for your incredibly thoughtful response. And sorry that it takes me a while to respond – I have to wait until my son’s nap time or bedtime these days! Your responses to my therapist’s urging sound so accurate that they even made me chuckle a bit. When you put it that way, I definitely see the error of her ways, and I will look into ending my sessions with her and maybe someone else who focuses more on motherhood issues.

    The only real pull for me that makes me consider having a second child is that, despite initially being on the fence about having children AT ALL, I love my son so, so much. He brings me a lot of joy that I never thought a child would, and I wonder if I don’t have a second, I will have regrets. But at the same time, I’ve struggled with anxiety for pretty much my entire life. My own mother was a very stressed out mother with two kids (my sister and I), and I don’t want to end up like her. Right now I am pretty confident that I can be a loving and calm mother to my son, and I fear that a second child might make things a lot more stressful for me (aside from the other issues/fears I expressed above). My husband and I are financially stable for the time being, so I’m mostly worried about my own mental health/enjoyment of life, if that makes sense.

    Do you think only children are oftentimes happy being “onlies” and not lonely, or feeling like they’re missing out? Things like what the initial responder said above are often what I hear…. Thank you!

    #360089
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlie:

    You are welcome. Don’t worry about how long it takes you to respond to me. I don’t have a young child, so I am way less busy than you.

    “I wonder if I don’t have a second, I will have regrets”- lots of people are inclined to regret past choices no matter what, if it’s not  one thing they regret, then it’s another. I used to regret a whole lot. regretting is more of a disease than it is a matter of learning and making better choices: the disease-of-regretting.

    So I wouldn’t base my life decisions (such as having a second child), if I was you, on the possibility of regretting in the future- if you are inclined to regret past choices, you’ll find something to regret.

    “I’ve struggled with anxiety for pretty much my entire life”- this is strong evidence why you shouldn’t have a second child. Anxiety requires that we manage it, or lessen it in three ways: (1)not adding new stressors into our lives, (2) removing unnecessary stressors from our lives, and (3) managing better the existing, necessary stressors.

    “Do you think only children are often times happy being ‘onlies’ and not lonely, or feeling like they’re missing out?”- I believe that a young child’s strongest need is to experience the parent’s positive, calm attention, affection and patience. As a matter of fact, so many young children are disturbed and distressed by the arrival of a new child to the family because they experience significantly less of what they need from the parent! The absence of sibling rivalry is an advantage to being an only child.

    Here is some of what Wikipedia in its entry on “Only child” says under “Stereotypes” and “Scientific Research”:

    “In Western countries, only children can be the subject of a stereotype that equates them with ‘spoiled brats’.. only children are commonly stereotyped as ‘spoiled, selfish, and bratty’… Susan Newman, a social psychologist at Rutgers University and the author of Parenting an Only Child, says that this is a myth. “.. There have been hundreds and hundreds of research studies that show that only children are no different from their peers.’…

    A 1987 quantitative review of 141 studies on 16 different personality traits.. found no evidence of any greater prevalence of maladjustment in only children. The only statistically significant difference discovered was that only children possessed a higher achievement motivation.. attributed to their greater share of parental resources..

    In his book Maybe One.. Bill McKibben argues in favor of a voluntary one child policy on the grounds of climate change and overpopulation.. He argues that most cultural stereotypes are false, that there are not many differences between only children and other children, and where there are differences, they are favorable to the only child.

    Bernice Sorensen.. argues in her book, Only child, Experience and Adulthood, that growing up in a predominantly sibling society affects only children and that their lack of sibling relationships can have an important effect on both the way they see themselves and others and how they interact with the world”.

    In summary: reads to me that the problem only children experience in a primarily siblings society is prejudice due to stereotypes that are false. From personal experience I know of only children who suffered not because they didn’t have siblings, but because their parents neglected and/ or abused their only child.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by anita.
    #360091
    Charlie
    Participant

    Hi again, Anita, thank you so, so much! Sorry that my reply is so short… my son is waking up from his nap now. I am definitely one of those people who is inclined to regret/ feel guilty about things. I think it’s due to the way I was raised and my 12 years of strict Catholic education :-/. Do you happen to know of any books that address this issue? I would like to work on this part of myself… if you don’t know off the top of your head, no worries, I will do some research! I will also read these books that you found on Wikipedia. Your responses have been so incredibly helpful, and I will definitely come back to them again as this issue presents itself in my life!

    #360094
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlie:

    You are very welcome. Don’t rush to read all of the books mentioned in Wikipedia- that’s a lot to read. Maybe just one, to start with, no rushing through it.

    Regarding Regret, you wrote that it’s due to (1) the way you were raised, and (2) your 12 years of strict Catholic education. When you have the time (no rushing required!), if you want to, tell me more about how these two things created your inclination to “regret/ feel guilty about things”, and I will reply to you further.

    (I don’t know of any books about regret, but I just looked up Wikipedia and there is an entry there on regret).

    anita

    #360130
    Charlie
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Regarding regret and feeling guilty, I don’t know exactly how these things came to be of course, but my mother and father (who were both lawyers), always expected me to be perfect and were always very opinionated about everything I said or did. I always felt like I was letting them down and still struggle with wanting their approval to this day (part of why I became a lawyer myself), although in the past year or so I’ve become better at setting boundaries. Still, whenever they say something like my son “would be a great big brother”, it hurts me because it feels like they think I’m not doing the right thing for my son if I don’t give him a sibling, or that I’m less of a mother in their eyes. My own mother is a very stressed out person, but whenever I express having anxiety about something, her response has always been to “stop making a mountain out of a molehill” and to “stop looking at the glass half-empty” which makes me feel worse about myself and my concerns.

    I feel like this upbringing, combined with my 12 years of not-so-progressive Catholic education, made me second-guess myself in almost every aspect of my life. Not sure how familiar you are with Catholicism, but there was a big emphasis on avoiding sin and hell and things like this. For the record, I’m not a practicing Catholic anymore and don’t believe in hell and all that, but I think the general message of guilt/shame was engrained in me at a young age, and I can’t shake it.

    I was hoping that my therapist would help me with this, but in a lot of ways, she reacts similarly to my mother, i.e. with the pregnancy concerns, she tells me to quit worrying and just try to get pregnant already :-O

    Thank you, Anita! This is so helpful.

    #360138
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Charlie:

    You are welcome. I will read and reply to your recent post (and anything you may want to add to it) when I am back to the computer in about 11 hours from now.

    anita

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