Am I oversensitive?

(23 Posts)
Getyercoat Sun 06-Mar-16 22:54:09

Apologies if this seems long winded but to give some background:

We have one child, he's 4.5. He is brilliant. I'm so proud of him.

Before starting a family I had never envisaged having one child, but severe PND (really bad, in hospital for 6 weeks, lots of meds) put paid to any plans for another. I subsequently learned that the PND I suffered was hormone driven, so explains why antidepressants, antipsychotics and therapy didn't really work for me. I didn't feel anywhere near "right" until DS was 2.5. I'm fully recovered now, don't take any medication apart from supplementary oestrogen which keeps the severe PMS at bay, and works well.

I've been told by a psych, and know myself, that the chances of that PND happening again are high, given my history and my family history of seriously wonky hormones postnatally and during menopause.

I am genuinely ok with having one child now. I was initially angry about it (in a why me? way) but for the past year or so I've been so content and grateful that we have a beautiful, funny, bright little boy.
I also know now that my sanity is more important to my son and my DH than another child. I simply can't risk putting them through that, especially as DS would be old enough to know something is awfully wrong with mummy.

I've had a friend for the past 10 years or so. We'd loads in common, she had her DS1 a year before mine was born. She knows what happened to me, although I'm not sure she knows or understands just how bad things got.
She had another baby 1.5 years ago, gorgeous little thing, and we visited regularly, our boys get along great together and she got a break for tea and chats whole I cooed over her littlest.

The past three times we've visited, while in conversation with my son, she has told him: "[My DS] won't ever be lonely, he has DS2!"
Three occasions, three different visits.
My own DS didn't seem to take on board what she said, he's never actually asked for a sibling although I'm sure that could change!

But I found myself so pissed off by what she said. Am I oversensitive? Why did she say that, to a 4.5 year old, out of nowhere?
I didn't pull her up on it, because I was shocked the first two times and on the last occasion we were getting coats on to leave.

How should I respond if it happens again? I've had the questions about when we'll have another baby from various people and have never had any issues or problems dealing with it. But this really bothered me. Is it me?

Blondiewoman007 Mon 07-Mar-16 10:52:21

I don't think you are being over sensitive at all. I think that's a really horrible thing to say to a child. She is almost inferring that your DS will be lonely. Do all parents of multiples think this? I don't know. I've never came out and asked my friends with more than one child this question, mostly because I don't want to know the answer! Even if your friend does think a sibling is a guarantee against future loneliness (which of course it isn't a guarantee), it's really not on she said such a thing to your child.
I'm rubbish with confrontation so I don't know what I would say if I overheard this again. Perhaps something along the lines of 'aw that's not nice! Don't say that to him please.'
I would be really angry if any of my friends said anything to my son like the encounter you described. I don't mind if they question me on my choices but I would like my child to be shielded from these conversations.
Is she unsure of her own choices or perhaps jealous of you/your family set up and she feels the need to criticise? Who knows?
Good luck!

Knockmesideways Mon 07-Mar-16 11:02:32

Being a mum of an only child I would say "you know my background, you know why DS will never have a brother or sister. I really want you to stop saying that to him. It's hurtful to me and, eventually, it will be hurtful to him so it needs to stop".

aginghippy Mon 07-Mar-16 11:02:36

No you are not being oversensitive. It's not you, it's her. She is being unkind. There is no good reason in the world to say something manipulative like that to a small child. Especially cruel of her to say that in front of you knowing your history.

Nobody can predict the future. Her dc may end up being close or they may end up not getting on. My friend has 2 dc who are like chalk and cheese. They used to fight a lot, but now as teenagers they tend to just avoid each other as far as possible. My dd is an only, but is not lonely as she has friends and cousins (and parents) who she is close with.

IIWY I wouldn't wait for her to say it again. I would bring it up and let her know those comments upset you and ask her not to say anything like that again. If she is any kind of friend, she will apologise for hurting your feelings.

TapDancingPimp Mon 07-Mar-16 11:09:46

I genuinely don't understand the need of some people to comment on others' lives....just, why??

Two very good friends of ours (a couple) have been married for 6 years, no children. I don't ask, I don't comment, on their current no-child situation. If the topic of children/babies comes up maybe I'll ask in a gentle way, but I would never say something along the lines of "no babies yet??" or "aren't you lonely, just the two of you?".

I don't know what your friend is getting at here....either she's hinting at starting a conversation around you having another (has she ever openly asked you?) or she's playing some pathetic one upmanship game with herself.

RebootYourEngine Mon 07-Mar-16 11:15:27

I would have liked more children but it just didnt work out. My ds is 11years old and an only child.

My dsis does this sometimes. She goes on about her kids not being lonely. It does upset me. Her children are young.

A few years ago i came to terms with the reality that i wont have any more children and i am so glad. Going anywhere and doing anything is so much easier and cheaper. I dont have fighting and arguing about what activities amd days out we are going to do. What is going to be watched on the tv. It is fantastic.

TapDancingPimp Mon 07-Mar-16 11:27:20

And speaking of "lonely", as mentioned by pp there's no guarantee of immunity to loneliness through a sibling.

I have a brother whom I barely speak to. When my dad was dying I flew, alone, to be at his bedside while DB stayed at home. It's not that we don't get along, we just don't have that sort of relationship, which is a shame really and there really is no formula for it either as my mm did a fantastic job bringing us up and we had very happy childhoods.

Getyercoat Mon 07-Mar-16 12:03:03

Thank you all for the replies! Sometimes I don't know if I see and hear things through my own lens created by my experience, but this particular issue bothered me. I usually let comments wash over me because I'm genuinely happy with my lot!

Clarissa69 Mon 07-Mar-16 12:07:33

You are totally not being oversensisitive! You do need to tell her that this isn't acceptable ASAP. I can sympathise totally with you and I haven't been through your experiences so one would assume that she should, as a friend and someone you've confided in, not be so thick-headed to not get that you just don't say that - how insensitive! I would be wondering if you need her in your life and why is she saying that? It's a bit much.

By the way, some of the nicest people I know are single children and because kids lead such structured lives these days, they don't really miss out. As well as this - I have a brother - we were really close when we were younger (not till we got into our teens) and now we don't speak at all. No guarantee that a brother or sister will be there for you throughout life.

Take care of yourself of don't be tough on yourself - you sound like a lovely mum and enough xxx

Needmorewine Mon 07-Mar-16 21:17:29

Very odd thing to say, especially repeatedly ! Don't let it get to you OP. flowers

you could always loudly ask her DS if it makes him sad having to share mummy all the time

DuchessOfWeaseltown Mon 07-Mar-16 21:25:02

OP, I don't think you're being oversensitive at all.

I've had a friend repeatedly say off-the-cuff things about 'typical' only children (ie in a derogatory way) despie knowing we are probably sticking with just the one for various complicated reasons. Not as bad as your friend saying what she did, but it still got to me.

Am rubbish at confrontation so let it go, but it did really get my goat.

Don't people realise that the sad thought of an only child being lonely (even if it is illogical!) is precisely the kind of thing that can really haunt some parents of onlies, and it's a very horribly insensitive thing to say!! Especially given that she knows your situation.

As I have said on here many times before, I simply don't understand why other people feel any need to comment on anybody else's family size. Unless they have something really nice and cheerful to say!!

That said, if any more of you could come onto this thread and share stories about siblings you know of (or are yourself) who don't get along or don't see each other in later life, it would be fab (!) as I am getting the guilt from several people who have said things about a sibling being a 'friend for life'... like you OP it has upset me as despite logic it can be hard to shake off this idea that not 'giving' your child a sibling is in some way setting them up for a life of loneliness as an adult...

flowers for you OP and if you can address it with your friend maybe you should as it's not a nice thing to say to your DS...

Cladder Tue 08-Mar-16 10:53:04

I have an only and have probably heard every idiotic statement going regarding onlies. I even heard a new one the other day. DD had won a prize at school and one of the other mums had commented on it. Conversation led on to getting kids to practice things and I happen to mention that DD had practised like mad to win this prize because she really really wanted to win this particular prize. Her response? "Oh, she is very competitive for an only isn't she...." confused God give me strength.

I don't say anything any more. Just smile, walk away and do an invisible flick of the fingers.

I think a lot of these comments come, not only from a place of ignorance/stereotyping but also a place of fear. That if you don't provide certain optimum conditions for your child they will somehow end up a sad lonely loser. Now, I don't deny the fact that having siblings will add a different dimension to your life, compared to a life without siblings. This may on the whole be positive or it might be negative. All depends on the personalities involved. But, as many have said there are no guarantees.

Very few people get to carve out the exact life they wanted in their heads for their children. This is because 'shit' you have no control over often happens in life.....

I also feel a lot of people project their own insecurities about being alone onto only children. The sort of people who will stay in awful relationships at any cost because they don't want to be on their own. The people who see someone at the cinema/restaurant on their own and feel sad etc. These types of people are unable to think outside of their own experiences and emotions. They can't recognise that other people are perfectly happy in their own skin doing things on their own etc. They have a limited range of possibilities for life in their heads. Sad really.

I am sure my DD will go through periods of her life feeling lonely. Just like I did (despite having siblings) because all humans experience loneliness. This is a fact of life. It's unusual to feel completely accepted and understood at every point in your life. What good parents can do (which mine didn't) is help children understand and process their emotions. Help them think of ways to cope with what they are feeling and find potential solutions. This is the kind of input that will give your child essential life skills to cope with what life might throw at them.

When I am feeling lonely I talk to my husband or call a friend. I wonder why I don't call my sister?? Because she makes me feel worse... (But I won't tell my daughter that)!!

Sorry, went off on a bit of a rant there. Will stop now!!

Needmorewine Tue 08-Mar-16 11:17:38

You've put that really well Cladder especially the bit about people projecting their own insecurities.

Cladder Tue 08-Mar-16 11:32:55

Thanks Needmorewine. When I get the 'rage' reading about what mother's of onlies get put through (don't think the dads get it as much, I wonder why..hmm) it all comes tumbling out!

Needmorewine Tue 08-Mar-16 11:39:12

Ridiculous isn't it. I had no idea it was even a "thing" pre DD!!

I think most people are secretly jealous grin

Cladder Tue 08-Mar-16 12:42:41

I know I had no idea it was a 'thing' either. I think that is quite telling.

I have 4 adult friends who are only children and various friends without siblings when growing up and it never crossed my mind that they were in anyway lonely or that it was odd that they didn't have siblings (because they weren't overtly lonely nor odd).

It mainly seems to be an issue in the minds of mothers (not really fathers in my experience).

TapDancingPimp Tue 08-Mar-16 13:09:08

DH & DSIL wouldn't be close either. In fact it's usually me who suggests we go visit her and our niece & nephew and it's often met with grunts and groans from DH grin.

I was at the funeral of both their grandparents and to be 100% honest with you, DH sought comfort in me the entire day and wasn't hugging around his sister, as I imagine he will be when his own parents die some day - very morbid I know but I get the feeling a lot of parents of only children have this huge fear that their child will be alone and unable to cope when they have to cope with the loss of their parent(s).

If they don't marry, however, they're really screwed wink

DuchessOfWeaseltown Tue 08-Mar-16 13:43:01

Cladder you are my God now after that post... it makes so much sense!!!

DuchessOfWeaseltown Tue 08-Mar-16 14:06:20

I honestly think I might cut and paste that post onto my desktop, Cladder, and re-read it whenever someone says something insensitive or when I have a momentary wobble about decision (a very happy one!) to stick with our only as she is...

Spot on about people projecting their own fears about being alone. I have never been afraid to be alone, myself, and view it as a purely positve thing - time to recharge and just 'be' but I do know a lot of people for whom this is not the case. They would rather be with anyone at all than being alone.

I know many, many siblings who have appalling relationships. Appalling. Falling out over inheritances; bullying as children (and I mean real bullying, not just sibling issues); mutual loathing so strong that they can't even be in the same room together at familiy weddings etc. This may not be 'the norm' but it is surely something most people encounter at some point in their experience? Does EVERYONE on the planet ONLY know siblings who are each others' best friends?

What's very odd to me is how aggressive some parents of multiple children have at the mere mention of siblings not getting on in later life. I have occasionally brought this up (not in relation to other people's families, but just as a response to people talking about only children, or when I'm talking about our own child and our decision) and I have had some people get really antsy about it - "oh, well, I ADORED my brother as a child and we are BEST FRIENDS still now!" - as if this fact completely disproves anything I've said about siblings not always getting on.

Sure, they often do. They sometimes don't. It's no guarantee whatsoever of a life 'without loneliness'

I myself have a sister and a brother and though they are perfectly nice people they have never, as adults, been responsible for me feeling not lonely. We just lead very different lives. Sure, it's nice enough when we all get together and our children get on, which is an unexpected bonus. And I do know that when our parents die, it will be nice to have the feeling of back-up. They don't give me emotional support, though - never have and never will - like others have said I turn to my husband and friends for that.

A long post and a bit of a ramble, sorry!!!

Just trying to say, much less elegantly, what Cladder said!

Cladder Tue 08-Mar-16 19:48:28

Aw thanks DuchessofWeaselTown blush Glad it made sense to you.

I know exactly what you mean about not being able to discuss difficult sibling relationships in relation to having an only child. It seems it's fair game for all and sundry to talk negatively about only children but not for us to talk about the difficulties of sibling relationships.

When I'm having one of those wobbles you mention I read the long standing thread on here about all the positives of having an only child. It's a great thread with lots of wise words and encouragement.

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/one_child_families/89525-in-praise-of-only-children-the-great-things-about-having

chocolate to all of us parents of onlies and the dumb/insensitive comments we have to put up with smile

Getyercoat Tue 08-Mar-16 21:15:05

Cladder, thank you for posting that. I'm going to print it out!

"I also feel a lot of people project their own insecurities about being alone onto only children."

This is most definitely true of the friend I referred to in my OP. I won't go into it here but there's issues there for sure.

Really appreciate the responses here, it's lovely to read of happy families with one child (because we can't possibly be happy with one, can we?!)

lozwil Wed 09-Mar-16 09:16:39

I am the child of an only, i am an only and am the parent of an only not by choice but s**t happens. I have never been lonely because of it ( only because of the normal stuff we all go through) and ds who is 5 isn't lonely as he has a good group of friends but unlike his friends with siblings he is happy in his own company and if needed can entertain himself which is great. DH has a brother who he isn't close to amd we know when there is a family emergency we will be left to deal with it while he carries on as normal. OP I don't think you are being over sensitive at all. As long as you are ok with your choice then it doesn't matter what anyone else says but you do need to have a word as you do not what stuff like that said in front of your child.

Buddy198 Thu 21-Jul-16 12:09:10

Just marking my place on here to help me next time I any comments and feel like I'm letting my dd down not being being able to give her a sibling x

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