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Feeling very guilty about not wanting more children...

(25 Posts)
ljhooray Mon 16-Feb-09 22:04:52

I have a wonderful dd who is just turning 2 and is the light of our lives. Both DH and I love being parents, but I don't think either of us have a yearning to have more, except to give her siblings.
A bit of background - my dh has a transplant organ, he is very healthy at the moment and of course, I hope it will always be that way. But when he gets ill, it obviously can be quite severe. I want to give my dd everything she needs to be a healthy happy child (by everything, I don't mean things, I mean love!). You could argue that she could potentially have more to deal with when she is older with having one parent who has a high chance of being ill anyway, but then you can flip that around as we cope really well with things as they are even when dh is not in full health and can keep things on track. Having dealt with a lot, my dh does need some time out sometimes (just an afternoon for some golf, but I think that is very important to his happiness) and I appreciate the time out he gives me in return.
But I am driving myself mad with the thought that I am being selfish in not having another. I am not looking for people to justify having one just for the sake of solidairty or seeking any sympathy. What I would really valuable is some honest help in understanding what factors are really important to a not just a happy child but a happy adult too. Hope you can help me!

ljhooray Mon 16-Feb-09 22:09:48

Sorry, meant to add that overall, life is great as it ios, but when I look at it that way, I often feel so guilty for seemingly wanting an easy life, rather than what is necessarily best for dd. Just because my husbadn has had health problems does not mean life will be full of health issues (he's been overall very healthy for some years, although does get hit much harder by common bugs) so I don't want people reading this thinking I'm using dh as an excuse, just want to create a fuller picture. Many people deal with worse and have more children. It's just I feel guilty for not giving dd the chance of a sibling just because I don't have the need for more children.

thumbwitch Mon 16-Feb-09 22:17:14

I can only offer my DH's story. His Dad was already unwell when he and his bro were born - he had had an allergic reaction to penicillin that caused organ damage and his kidneys were shot. To cut a long story short, he had a kidney transplant and managed to survive until my DH was nearly 18, and his bro was 19, when he finally succumbed. He was pretty unwell throughout their teens though.

My DH hugely appreciates having his bro around when he was growing up as it gave him someone to play with etc., a common enough reason for having sibs without the parental illness issue; but his bro was more necessary, if you like, than most because his Dad was too unwell to do much with him.

We have the one DS and I would be happy to stop there, but my DH is determined to have 2 so that DS has a bro/sis to play with, so I am going along with it.

I can't say whether or not you are being selfish, only you really know your family situation - but I would think about factoring in the (probably foreshortened ) life expectancy of your DH to your decision.


RiaParkinson Mon 16-Feb-09 22:20:05

i do not think you selfish at all

You just want what is best for your dd

i actually think you are being selfless. you are just doing what feels natural

Gunnerbean Mon 16-Feb-09 22:25:24

I am a firm believer that the number of children one has must be their own choice entirely.

My DH and I have one child through choice. We knew we didn't want anymore and my DH had a vasectomy to ensure that there would be no more.

That was our choice. We arrived at our choice by taking into consideration our own feelings and wishes.

Some might think that's selfish and that's their preogative.

As a couple, we are happy and comfortable with our choice and our decision and as a family of three we're very happy.

If our DS decides when it's his turn to make decisions and choices about the number of children he would like to have, then again, that will be his choice. If he didn't enjoy the experience of being an only child then it will be up to him to make sure he has more than one.

Personally, I don't think that it's axiomatic that one is doing the right thing for their child by ensuring they have siblings so I don't agree with your position. However, if you feel strongly (which you seem to) that you are being selfish by not giving your DD a sibling or siblings then I think there is a strong possibility that you are highly unlikey to change your mind about that - whether your DH is fit and well or not.

Time to wheel out that old cliche again - you'll never regret the things you did, only the things you didn't do.

RiaParkinson Mon 16-Feb-09 22:28:04

i have six (to date!) people could call me selfish - i would never judge!

ellabella4ever Tue 17-Feb-09 09:00:58

Can I make a plea? So that this thread doesn't turn into one of those you-must-have-another-child-because-onlies-are-oh-so-lonely-and-will-be-all-alone-when-you-die threads can we just try to answer OP's question.

"What I would really value is some honest help in understanding what factors are really important to a not just a happy child but a happy adult too?"

because this is a really interesting question and one that relates to kids with siblings as well. And please don't say that siblings are essential to a happy childhood because there are plenty of people on MN who know that's not true and, also, it's not very helpful to those who can't have more than one child.

I will put my two penneth worth in when I get back smile

ljhooray Tue 17-Feb-09 13:10:26

Hi Ellabella4ever,
really interesting viewpoint and you've picked up on exactly my question. Perhaps as dd gets older, I'll feel more able to handle the challenges a second child will bring. But I'm not naive and I know the change will be huge and whilst I can handle everything really well now (loving my time with dd, my business, my dh and any potential health issues), could I with 2? So which is best for dd?
Although Gunnerbean, I totally take your point, I am worried the guilt will eat me up!

Lio Tue 17-Feb-09 13:15:15

Ian Banks was interviewed recently and said that he loved being a single child and having so much time and attention from his parents. I cut it out from the newspaper and gave it to my friend who also worries about not having given her daughter any siblings.

ljhooray, do you have an extended family? Cousins?

DontCallMeBaby Tue 17-Feb-09 13:31:22

I think one very important thing is to learn to live with yourself and your situation. Having just been reading a thread about why people want 'just one more', with lots of people saying it's awful to be told 'be grateful for what you have', I don't want to say that. But I think doing a bloody good act of being grateful for what you have is of great value for children. Children take their lives very much for granted, and while I don't doubt that some children do REALLY want a sibling, at least as many again have effectively been taught to want a sibling by their parents - whether by their parents guilt or grief at not providing one.

Other than that, the main thing I want to do for DD as she grows up (she's nearly 5) is to ensure that her friends are always welcome here, and that she is allowed out as much as practical and possible. I'm the eldest of two, but often felt lonely as my parents didn't really encourage me to have friends round, or to go out much.

mrsgboring Tue 17-Feb-09 13:46:35

In my completely personal opinion, the best thing parents can do is have the number of children they feel that they personally can cope with. The worst thing you can do is overextend yourself deliberately, or out of some sense of duty. That way, most people should have a bit of extra energy left for people who are hit with unanticipated difficulties or challenges.

FWIW my mother seemed to be overwhelmed by having two children 17 months apart. There are loads of issues in our family, but one thing that certainly didn't help was overstretched, frazzled mum yelling over and over at us to stop crying. My sister and I aren't that close (last year I had a "sorry I forgot your birthday" email several months after the event, for example). My mother has said before she had my DSis out of duty to provide a sibling and I honestly think it was too much for her on some levels.

ljhooray Tue 17-Feb-09 13:48:44

Hi Lio, yes dd does have cousins although none very close by, but I am blessed with very close friends who as luck would have it all have dd's very close in age to mine.
and Dontcallmebaby, geat point on the having friends over as I feel the same as you despite being one of four! And it's very interesting the who point about being grateful, as we didn't think we could have children so just having one is everything I ever wanted. I suppose it's still that niggle of whether stopping at 1 is more about what I want.

daisy99divine Tue 17-Feb-09 14:16:03

I think mrsgb makes a very valid point, although sad for her mum, being a happy mother (or as happy as you can be!) is what DCs want most of all. If you don't reinforce your DD's desire for a baby out of guilt and recognise that you are doing what is best for the family that is with you, not the family you might or could or would hope to have then you are going to be alright! grin

Lio Tue 17-Feb-09 15:01:39

ljhooray, that sounds like a wonderful network of friends, and I'm sure I read somewhere that friends are the new family wink

Hope you end this thread able to lay your guilt to rest and concentrate on the great things that you are already doing for your dd. We sometimes just need to forgive ourselves, and it's clear from your posts that you love your family dearly, which is a flying start to happiness.

ljhooray Tue 17-Feb-09 21:35:05

THank you so much Lio, I really do love them so much and want to do all I can to keep it that way which I suppose means we all need to be happy! I think we often assume that parenting means sacrifice in a very all encompassing sense. When I reflect on growing up, I only wish everyone had been a bit happier!

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Tue 17-Feb-09 21:59:51

Going back to the original question ...

What I would really value is some honest help in understanding what factors are really important to a not just a happy child but a happy adult too?

I agree with so much of what's already been said. It is not true that having a sibling is essential to being a happy child or happy adult - there are plenty of people whose relationships with their siblings are strained or non-existent and even those people who are close to their siblings will never know how they would felt, had they grown up as an only child.

On threads where people are seeking advice about having (or not having) another baby, I'm always perplexed by the attitude of 'go on, you won't regret it'. That's fine if we're talking about buying a handbag, but my feeling is that if anyone is really not convinced that they want another baby then they probably shouldn't, because it's such a huge step with such an impact on their life and their child's. Mrsgboring and daisy99divine sum it up very well.

ljhooray Tue 17-Feb-09 22:10:19

MadBad - you read my mind! I too have always thought the 'it'll all be fine' seemed such a throw away statement when having children is yes one of the most amazing but let's not forget life changing things you will ever do. And agreed, many thanks to mrsgboring and daisy99divine for their insights. feeling calmer already!

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Tue 17-Feb-09 22:20:29

Ljhooray - I'm not such a cheerleader for one child families that I'd try to talk anyone out of having a second baby and I'm not saying that the one child family is the best or only way to live. But the casual confidence that 'it'll all be fine' always takes my breath away - for some people it doesn't turn out fine at all!

ljhooray Tue 17-Feb-09 22:29:50

Agreed MadBad, I love watching my friends two children together and for tem it really works. I suppose though you couldn't really expect anyone to come on here and feel comfortable in saying it was actualy the wrong thing to do, hence why you don't often see that side represented.

thumbwitch Tue 17-Feb-09 23:56:54

tbh, I don't think you can ever know what is the right answer for your DD - I would have loved to have been an only child, resented bitterly having twins thrust upon me (athough I do get on ok with my sister now, it wasn't until she was 26 and me 30 that it really came together, and I don't speak to my bro at all); whereas my Mum resented bitterly being an only child and made sure I had sibs so that I didn't feel like she did.

So, as you can't know what your DD would prefer, you have to make the decision for yourself and what you can deal with.

Gunnerbean Wed 18-Feb-09 11:41:41

Exactly Thumbwitch, that's why everyone should adopt the policy that I did which states that you only take into account your own feelings when deciding how many children to have.

SoupDragon Wed 18-Feb-09 11:48:46

What does your DH think?

SoupDragon Wed 18-Feb-09 11:50:32

I don't think that being an only child or having siblings is the main part of being happy though - it is how the parents deal with the family they have. I know DS1 enjoys having siblings (in a love/hate kind of way ) but I also am sure we would have ensured he enjoyed being an only had that been the path we chose.

Racingsnake Sun 22-Feb-09 08:16:32

I agree with the above - it's not whether you have siblings which makes the difference, but how your family works and the most important thing in that is the wellbeing and happiness of the mother, because she makes the whole thing work. Doing what you are comfortable with is not selfish.

Having another child for any reason other than really wanting that child for itself seems very wrong and fraught with problems. What if you did have another and they didn't get on? There are other ways of ensuring companionship and support for your child - friends, extended family, etc.

flibertygibet Sun 22-Feb-09 23:31:33

LJHooray..I can relate to your situation. My dh has a terminal illness and while he is healthy at the moment, the threat of him getting ill is always with us. We have a gorgeous only ds and while we considered having another, we both felt that having one was what we could handle. We never expected we could have him so it's like he's a special bonus in our lives.

Having said that, I often feel slightly guilty that he won't have siblings. DS doesn't seem to mind at all and insists that he 'has lots of cousins' and therefore doesn't need any siblings.

I come from a big family and there are lots of stresses and differences. Some of the family don't speak to each other. Others I have nothing in common with.

I guess all I'm saying is to agree with what's been said here before..having another is an important step and not one to be taken lightly or just because society says we should.

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