Moms of only children or those debating the issue - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Is it okay to have only one child
Yes 94 87.85%
No 5 4.67%
Under some circumstances only 8 7.48%
Voters: 107. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 51 Old 04-06-2003, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I and dh are currently debating whether to have one child or more. DD, Alyssa, is a year. I am 34, so if we have another child it would be now!. I keep going over the pros and cons again and again and again! I could give lots of attention, spare her jealousy over a new baby and provide the best education etc to one, but I would then deprive her of being a sibling, sharing stuff, having a playmate etc etc.
Am also scared of having tow to deal with when they are so little! I'm just getting my life back!
Would love some input from moms of one, those who were only kids themselves or those thinking about the issue!
Camilla
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#2 of 51 Old 04-06-2003, 02:27 PM
 
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I am an only child, and I say---yes, of course it's ok! I grew up having very special bonds with my parents, and am as well adjusted and can be expected. I don't really remember wanting siblings; actually, I thought I was lucky.

Consider what you think is best for your family, but I think your daughter will grow up happy either way
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#3 of 51 Old 04-06-2003, 02:44 PM
 
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I'm definitely debating this one myself. I am an only myself as well, and have one daughter who is now almost 2.5. I always imagined that if I had two, they would be 3 years apart, and so the imagined conception date has come and gone.

I definitely am not ready now, and have decided to leave it at that. I'm 32, and have done a lot of research and feel comfortable waiting -- is there really that much difference at 34?

At any rate, I have no regrets about being an only child.
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#4 of 51 Old 04-06-2003, 03:34 PM
 
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I am an only child and think I had a wonderful childhood.
My parents took me everywhere and as a result I was always comfortable around adults and more mature for my age.
I don't look forward to my parents aging as I will be the only one to help them if they need it, people with siblings can spread that kind of responsibity around (Hopefully). And when my parents are gone, that's it for my family, except the one I have created with my husband and child.
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#5 of 51 Old 04-06-2003, 04:23 PM
 
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We are having only one... and although the reasons seem to raise others shackles, I believe in zero population growth. I wouldn't have had even the one if dh hadn't insisted. I wouldn't trade motherhood for anything, but we had one and we're done.
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#6 of 51 Old 04-06-2003, 08:12 PM
 
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I was an only child with step-siblings coming along when I was 8. I sometimes wanted a sibling, sometimes was glad I was an only. There are no guarantees either way. You may always wonder what it would be like no matter which choice you make.

As for which kids are better off, check out a book called Maybe One by Bill McKibben. It's the culmination of research he did when he and his wife were trying to decide whether to have another. He looks at it from an environmental perspective at first, but also goes into psychology of family dynamics and place in the family. It's very interesting.

That said, our dd is almost 4.5 yo and we are not planning another one (of course, we didn't plan the first one either!). We aren't sure enough to take surgical measures, but are happy with our family the way it is. Financial reasons come into play as well ... school, vacations, etc. It's tempting, but at the moment the benefits of one kid outweigh the desire to bring another person into the world. Again, no guarantees. I'm 31 and feel I have a few years before I personally feel I need to make a definite decision. Which isn't to say that mid-30s is "late" to have babies. It isn't. This is just how I feel for us.
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#7 of 51 Old 04-06-2003, 08:52 PM
 
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My sister is currently debating this. She has a 3 month old and a 7 year old stepdaughter. They are not really like siblings because the 7 year old has an entirely separate life and spends 1/2 her time somewhere else. One of the main reasons my sister is leaning towards another is because she doesn't want her son to turn out like her stepdaughter who thinks the world revolves around her and has no concept of sharing or the give and take that relationships require. My sister and I both agree that she will suffer a lot of disappointments as she grows up. The other consideration for my sister is that her and my brother and I are all very close. And, even though close friendships can be very strong, it is not the same as having siblings when there are deaths in the family or aging parents to take care of.

For the record, I don't think all only children have issues (in case anyone thought that from reading about my lovely step-niece).

Peace.
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#8 of 51 Old 04-06-2003, 10:23 PM
 
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Something to consider...

...I am the oldest of nine children.

When my Father died three years ago, my younger brother stole and embezzled the entire estate.

He spent it on drugs and women. He bought a house in the Toluca Lake area of Los Angeles. He never told me my Father had died nor did he tell me about the funeral. I was living in the same house with him taking care of my Father! How dumb was I?

We are still in court three years later trying to sort all of this out. My brother has been fined by the court (big deal). I did not want money; all I wanted was an accounting of the estate which I am entitled to by law. I am still waiting.

My point in this diatribe is that an only child would not have this problem. I have some very fine siblings who were also hurt in this situation.

Being an only child would eliminate alot of this; not all, just most.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."
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#9 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 12:30 AM
 
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I was an only child too, and it was fine, but it was kind of lonely. I've been debating this issue myself for a while. I don't think I really want to have another child, but I am reserving the right to change my mind. I do feel sort of bad for depriving Cole of a sibling relationship, but I don't think that in itself is a good enough reason to have another baby. Besides, there are plenty of people out there who have a horrible relationship with their sibling(s) so it's not necessarily even a positive experience. I think if I start wanting another child on his/her own terms and not as a companion for Cole, I will lobby for another but until then, I am keeping my eye out for a nice dog.
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#10 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 02:10 AM
 
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Not to make this a self-serving sob story, but I think one is a GREAAAAAT idea. I don't have any dramatic story like the above poster with the embezzling sib, but just the boring usual: my parents loved me, but they love my brother more.

Just recently, my brother, who owns his own house and who owns two cars, was given a used SUV by my parents, who also gave him an elegant collection of silver. I could give a sh** about the money either or both of those gifts represents, but I do care deeply about the lack of regard or respect or just plain equality it seems to demonstrate all too vividly.

Making a long story short, we're sticking with ONE because we want to be able to tell her that she is absolutely, positively, our favorite little girl in the whole world *and never give her any reason* to believe otherwise.
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#11 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 03:58 AM
 
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Well, I am definitely in the minority on this thread! I am not an only nor do I have an only but my dh is an only so I do have a little info from his perspective vs. mine - since we grew up differently.

I was the eldest of three growing up. Had a great childhood - both fun and fights were had by all. When the time I was 14 (my sister was 10 and brother was 6) both our parents had passed away (at the ages of 39 and 41 so you just never know...) As much as I liked my sibs and was glad to be a sibling before our parents' deaths, I CHERISHED them after and do to this day. I cannot imagine the aloneness one must feel after parents pass away if there is no one else that intimately connected to your life experiences. I can appreciate how close cousins, friends, neighbors can be but IMO it is not the same unless they grew up in the same house - to be there day to day, day and night.

My dh grew up an only (his brother 20 years older died in a car crash when dh was 3 or 4) of older parents (parents were 43 and 54 when he was born - a big surprise!) He had a good childhood, his parents love him very much, they traveled a lot, he had enough money to pay for his entire college education. His mom claims she doesn't remember him ever asking for a sibling though he says it "would have been nice to have one". When your mom is 48 years old when you are thinking this, it probably isn't a big option....

I think being an only wasn't much of an issue for my dh when he was a kid (and he is a very well-adjusted person, not selfish or any of the other things people sometimes expect from onlies) but being an only is becoming more and more of a sadness for him as an adult. His dad passed away and he now feels very responsible for his mom, who lives 3 hours from us. Whenever she needs anything and he can't be there to do it, he feels guilty. She complains about her friends with a dozen grandchildren - I am only one person; I am about to give her a third grandchild but a dozen isn't happening!

The other thing that gets to my dh now (as an adult) is seeing the bond I have with my siblings. I know that having siblings is no guarantee they will be close but it gives that option. My siblings both chose to live close to us and we see them often. My kids only have an aunt and uncle because my parents had more than one child. They are here and it warms my heart to see my kids with them. At all holidays, birthdays, etc. we are together and laughing and remembering stuff from our childhood. We have a million pix of us together. I think my dh is sad to not have that relationship. He does have lifelong friends (since kindergarten) but it is not the same.

All that said, I do not think that anyone who has an only is "wrong". Everyone has their own pros and cons for how many kids to have just like we do on spacing of kids. I love 4 years apart but you will find those who think one year apart is the way to go. I personally see many positives in having siblings and was glad I did so I had more than one child. It is a very personal decision and you have to be comfortable with it.
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#12 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 11:41 AM
 
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I am an only and I have an only dd who is 8. I had a great childhood BUT I think the key to mine was that my family was really, really stable. We didn't move around and I had the same friends most of my childhood (untill 11 when we did move once). I was very close to one best friend so didn't have the lonliness many onlys feel.

My dd has not have the most stable life so far. She has moved 5 times (but we haven't moved since 1999) and her dad and I are divorced and I am getting married next month. Her dad is kind of flacky and plans with her fall through often. She does get very, very lonley. WE live in the country with no kids anywhere!

My take is that it depends on lost and lots of varibles. My fiance and I are going to TTC this fall but my two kids will most likley be 9-10 years apart....

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#13 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 03:59 PM
 
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I was an only child until I was 11--my mom remarried and I have 2 great younger brothers the problem I find is that I am more a parent figure than a sibling. I enjoyed being an only child until I was 11 and in many ways I guess I still was after they came around.
Dh only wants 1----I dont think that is a definate decesion b/c he really only makes it a point to say "one and done" when dd is stressing him out, the baby phase is not for him.
I actually think about this every now and then----b/c if we are going to have more I want it to be sooner than later so they are close in age for a bunch of reasons. I am grateful for everyones point of views.
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#14 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 05:16 PM
 
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Good thread! I have an only child, and it has yet to be determined whether or not she will ever have a sibling. It's amazing how many people try to tell me that I should have another, and act as though I'm somehow punishing my child by not "giving her" a sibling! I think it is a personal decision and nobody else has the right to open their big mouths about it! (Can you tell I've gotten pissed at people about this? )

I think that whatever number of children there are in a family, a loving family is all that really matters when it comes to raising a happy, well-adjusted child.
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#15 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 05:35 PM
 
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LunaMom, I've been AMAZED at what people feel comfortable saying to me about having a second child. Some people feel very, very strongly about it. Usually when they get to the part about only children being anti-social and selfish, I let drop that I am an only child myself. But there's a lot of that "giving" stuff. Hmph.
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#16 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 05:47 PM
 
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I'll be in the minority with Kirsten

I'm an only child, never had a problem with it. However my Mom became terminally ill and I took care of her all by myself (parents divorced)for 7 months while I was pregnant (She died 3 weeks before my baby came). Worse, I lived in Colorado at the time, she in Michigan so I was away from my husband for our first pregnancy. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but if I had a sibling, there would have been a chance that I'd have had some support or help from someone else. I know I might have had a sibling that wouldn't have made it better, maybe worse like the other poster, but at least there would have been a chance. She needed very personal care that we couldn't ask jusk neighbors or extended family to help with.

Even now, there is noone to be sad with. My dh is awesome, but you can't explain to someone how it feels to not have a mom. Sometimes it would be nice to reminise (sp?) but he hardly knew her. I wish I had a sibling to ask "What would mom do, or did she give you that recipe?"

My best friends parents died in the same week, separate circumstances, when she was 16. Luckily she was the youngest of 5 and her siblings took care of her.

My dh comes from a family of 5, they bicker alot, but all would do anything for each other. His brothers are his best friends no question.

I think this is obviously a personal decision, and all of us have had our experiences. My point in sharing this is just to give a different perspective.

My dh and I planned on one child initially but I have 2, almost 3 children, for the reasons above. If you are a committed parent, as all of you ladies on MDC are, there is always enough love and attention to go around. We have a stable loving marriage and I have every confidence that we'll raise our family to be loving siblings to each other. JMHO.

Good luck in your decision!
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#17 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 06:16 PM
 
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I had it both ways. I was an only child until I was 11, and then I had three siblings born, each approximately two years apart.

I LOVED being an only child. I never wished for a sibling, although I did sometimes imagine how it would be to have one. When my siblings came along, I loved them, but I didn't feel as if something had just been made whole. Now I am in my 30s and my siblings are in their late teens/early 20s. I am relatively close with one but barely speak to the others (not that we have fought but that we just have very little to talk about).

My husband has two siblings, and they NEVER talk now unless they happen to be in the same room at the same time at their parents' house. Once again they are not enemies, they just have nothing in common.

My mother has a sister who she is very close with.

My MIL has two brothers who she fights with constantly. She seems to feel she should be close to them, but they all make each others lives miserable. And the inheritence issue comes up a lot between them. Right now none of them are speaking to each other.

My two cousins spent their entire life fighting, and their childhoods were miserable because of how much they fought.

So in my experience, siblings are great if they are someone you would get along with anyway, but you, as a parent, cannot make that happen. I say have them for yourself, not for their sake. If you have them and they get along, consider them and yourselves blessed.

We have two girls, and they mostly get along. We love them both tremendously and in different ways and are happy they enjoy each other so much. We had two because that was was was right for us at the time. If we were having children now, we might have done differently (this is not to say that in ANY WAY do we regret either of them -- I'm just saying I understand the desire to stop at one). BTW, the environment and overpopulation are now big issues for us and they might have had an effect on how many we had had if I had been thinking about them then.
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#18 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 06:23 PM
 
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I had an only child and we decided to have another baby because we wanted more children. I was hoping for a girl, and got lucky!

I think it is wonderful to have an only child as long as you feel fulfilled with only 1 child. There is nothing wrong with just having 1 child.
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#19 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 09:14 PM
 
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Lunamom, you and I must work in the same place...I hear a LOT about "When are you going to give Miss Thang a brother or sister?" First of all, as the "recipient" of one such "gift," it's NOT a gift. People are not gifts (though they can be blessings!). From everything I've heard, sibling happiness is as easy to predict as roulette in Vegas: you pay your money and you take your chances.

The other thing to think about for us is this: we love our little girl like crazy. Either we would love a sibling more, or we would love a sibling less (yeah, yeah, I've heard the 'You'll love them each equally for who they are... line before, but I don't buy it...I think that if you had to make Sophie's choice, you'd find out who you did love more, but that's another thang...maybe I'm wrong -- actually, I hope I am -- but I'm just speaking from my own experience, KWIM?).

I cannot imagine loving a child any more than I already love my dd: my heart would explode. . Therefore, I'd be bringing into the world someone who was already in second place.

How could I do that to him or her? Fageddaboudit. I'd rather just stay the mom of an only.
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#20 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 09:55 PM
 
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WHOA!! Not trying to turn this into a debate, but I have to respectfully disagree 1000% with you Baudelaire. I absolutely love both my children tons and tons, not one more than the other! I'm sure moms of more than one will agree with me (I HOPE!!). It's wonderful you love your little dd so much that you can't imagine loving another but that doesn't mean you wouldn't. It's not as simple as "..either you love a sibling more, or you love them less...". I will admit I couldn't imagine loving another before my ds #2 and even had feelings of guilt but your heart grows to accomadate your bigger family.

On a different note, hydrangea brings up an interesting opinion. Do you mommas think that as parents we cannot shape the relationship of our children as siblings? Do you think we can teach them to love and respect each other just as we teach them to treat other people? It seems the feeling on this thread is that we can't. Any thoughts? Personally, I can't imagine that we don't have an influence. I don't think it's like playing roulette as a previous poster said.

Hope I'm not changing the OP topic, but I think these topics play big roles into the decision to have more than one child.

Again, Baudelaire, I was respectfully disagreeing, no intention to flame anyone
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#21 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 10:00 PM
 
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I have 2 sisters, and I feel deeply blessed for having them in my life. We're very close, and the sister I'm closest with is 9 years younger than I am, so age separation didn't make a wit of difference in my case. I've got 1 son who's 19 months old and I'm due in 2 weeks with our second child. I just happen to want a larger family- it's not a matter of feeling obligated to provide siblings.

But... my DH has a sister who he's estranged from. In his case, having a sibling hasn't impacted his life in a positive way at all.

And one more data point... before I had my son I was a social worker for Older Adult Protective Services. I was an elder abuse investigator. I can say pretty authoritatively that in most cases 1 child winds up being the primary caregiver to aging parents and the rest just kind of live their lives. Having more than 1 doesn't mean that the burden will necessarily be shared. Obviously I can't speak for anything even close to every situation. This has been the fairly universal experience of the social service agency I worked for, however.

My perspective: do what you can do and feel comfortable with. If your heart tells you that your family is complete with 1 child, fantastic! Enjoy the blessings you have.
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#22 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 10:11 PM
 
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Ummm... I don't love one of my children better than the other. I have infinite love for both. They are both very different, and my relationship is different with each, but I don't love one more than the other.

It was something I worried about an incredible amount when I was pregnant with my second. And it did take a few days to adjust to having two where once I had had one. But I did adjust, and now they both have infinite love from me and their father, and are even fortunate enough to be incredibly loved by each other.

Lucky girls.
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#23 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 10:11 PM
 
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DH and I decided that one was the right number for us before DS was born. Once he was here, we knew we'd made the right decision. Our family feels complete. For us, it was a relatively easy decision, but I realize that for others, it can be a true dilemma.

IMO, our society tends to focus on "siblingship" as something every child must experience. You mentioned in your post the reasons why I think people feels it's important: 1.) having a sibling for the sake of the experience, 2.) learning to share, and 3.) having a playmate.

Of course in making the decision to have one child, you won't be able to give your child the experience of what it is to have a sibling. However, the other two things you mentioned are easily within a parent's grasp to give an only child. My son has plenty of playmates and at 2.3 years, is learning to share right along with rest of his his peers. In fact, at this point, I find him to be much further along in this department then some of his "siblinged" buddies--I think it's mostly just a case of personality, but interesting nonetheless.

The reason our decision comes easy, is that we just can't seem to wrap our minds around having another. We're headed into our late thirties now and we're quite certain that we don't feel ready now--DS seems to need us now more than ever (albeit in different ways) in his every growing and changing toddlerhood. But age isn't really so much a factor than just loving the speed of our life as it is. We don't have any theoretical issues with having an only, and people who have brought it up to us have failed time and time again to make a valid point. The only reason we would ever change our minds is if we really wanted to have another child. So far, we're just not there and not looking like we're headed there, but we're also not closing any doors so to speak.

Best of luck in your decision. By this thread, it's easy to see you're not the only one who is/has struggled with this decision. It is indeed a tough one for a lot of folks. I can relate to the part about getting your life back btw--I feel the same way. DS is mobile now, and loves to be out and about doing things. This has added so much to our life!

I must add here, that of all DH and I's *uncommon* decisions about child rearing (EBF, no CIO, AP in general), the decision to have only one child has been met with the most intense opposition! It has been real eye opener about the societal expectations involved. I really appreciate this thread and being able to read a helpful discussion on the matter rather than just getting read the riot act! Thanks Camilla!

Em 43 - Wife to hubby Mom to DS born: Jan. '01
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#24 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 10:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Summer
And one more data point... before I had my son I was a social worker for Older Adult Protective Services. I was an elder abuse investigator. I can say pretty authoritatively that in most cases 1 child winds up being the primary caregiver to aging parents and the rest just kind of live their lives. Having more than 1 doesn't mean that the burden will necessarily be shared. Obviously I can't speak for anything even close to every situation. This has been the fairly universal experience of the social service agency I worked for, however.
I think this is an excellent, excellent point. I have seen far more situations (personally and professionally) where one person is the designated caretaker in the family, no matter how many siblings there are, than of siblings evenly sharing responsibilities.
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#25 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 10:45 PM
 
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This is a great thread, thanks for starting it! I am 34 and dh is 53 and we have one dd, 7 months. We are discussing this precise issue, and our situation is complicated by dh's age. Embee, I agree with your comments about "loving the speed of our life as it is." That's kind of how we are feeling right now. We are able to travel (3 plane trips with dd already!), do resteraunts, go to friends houses, etc etc so easily and smoothly. We are so TOTALLY and ecstatically happy almost all the time, and so completely in love with dd it's almost intolerable So at times it kind of feels like don't mess it up! Now I get time with dh (not much, but some!) and time alone when she's napping. That's hard to give up. On the other hand, if you catch me on a different day, my arguments lean the other way entirely.... what fun it would be with two little ones, the energy in the house, the siblingship, even more love. So I dunno. Still undecided. I am also interested in people's experiences of how much influence parents have on how well sibs get along. I've heard differing viewpoints....
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#26 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 10:51 PM
 
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Originally posted by Carla
I absolutely love both my children tons and tons, not one more than the other! I'm sure moms of more than one will agree with me - your heart grows to accomadate your bigger family.

Do you mommas think that as parents we cannot shape the relationship of our children as siblings? Do you think we can teach them to love and respect each other just as we teach them to treat other people? I don't think it's like playing roulette as a previous poster said.
On these side notes -
I have never met a mom pregnant with or contemplating #2 that didn't worry about the "how can I love another child as much as I love the first?" issue. EVERYONE worries about this - NO ONE can believe they could EVER love another child in this deep, all-encompassing way. But then you do. It is an amazing and wonderful thing. If you only have one, I can understand how you could truly believe that the love you have for him or her could never be reproduced on any level for another child. I myself doubted it (as we all do) until it actually happened. And my second had raging, 24/7 colic, almost never slept, life was hell like I cannot describe and still I loved her with all my being.

And I definitely think we can shape the relationship that our children have with each other. In a million ways. I think the more you are conscious of how you can and do affect it, the better off you (and they) are. For myself, I tried to space my kids so as to make parenting and the sibling thing easier (everyone has different ideas on this - go with your own).
I also try to have one-on-one time with each of them (and ditto for my dh with each of them) - special time even if it is just a board game while baby naps or coming along to the grocery store and picking out a special treat in the frozen section or a mommy and me braiding class that my 6 year old dd and I are taking one day next month. Not everyone has to do or like everything - they each have their own interests and that is ok and should be encouraged IMO. We try not to compare them.

One thing I do/did (it is so rare now that the 2 year old can talk so well for herself) is from the time the 2nd was born, I would talk for her (in a high little baby voice) to her big sister. "Hey sister, could you find a toy for me to look at?" or "Will you play peek-a-boo with me?" or "Can I go to ballet with you?" DD1 would answer with a yes, no or what have you. I then would try to model good attitude by responding (as the baby) "OK, maybe next time" or "thanks, sissy!" or "how old will I need to get to go to dance class?" Baby would comment on how cool her big sister's room was or that she hoped she would teach her how to do some big kid thing when baby was bigger or whatever. I just tried to foster a positive relationship between them before one was really able to be established. I think it worked out well.

One friend of mine has an ok relationship with one sibling but is estranged from her twin. She thinks her mom (who was an only and friend thinks that may have played into the problem as she didn't know what it was like to have a sibling) played them against each other and compared them and caused a lot of the problems that led them to have the issues they do.

I definitely think we as parents can affect (positively or negatively) our children's relationship with each other.
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#27 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 10:58 PM
 
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Here I go again going slightly off topic, but I feel a need to respond to this since I brought up the caretaking issue:

Quote:
I have seen far more situations (personally and professionally) where one person is the designated caretaker in the family, no matter how many siblings there are, than of siblings evenly sharing responsibilities.
I absolutely agree this is almost always the case. However, it doesn't have to be evenly shared to still be helpful. A half hour walk, a good nights rest,$50 in the mail etc.....all things I would have appreciated while I was in that experience. Plus, just knowing I wasn't ALONE in that grief. Gosh, I don't want this to be a sob story, just pointing out that it doesn't have to be 'evenly shared' to be helpful.

Ok I'm done explaining myself. Still waiting anxiously to see if you guys think we can influence good relationships in our children with their siblings.
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#28 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 11:08 PM
 
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Kirsten we posted at the same time

I completely felt guilty about having #2 when I was pregnant. I agree with Baudilaire about this:

Quote:
I cannot imagine loving a child any more than I already love my dd: my heart would explode
Just not this:

Quote:
we love our little girl like crazy. Either we would love a sibling more, or we would love a sibling less (yeah, yeah, I've heard the 'You'll love them each equally for who they are... line before, but I don't buy it...
I should have been more specific about my disagreement.

I agree with you Kirsten about shaping our childrens relationships. Those were good suggestions and I also make an effort to foster respect between them even at the young age they are now.
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#29 of 51 Old 04-07-2003, 11:14 PM
 
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Carla, I know what you mean. I've also seen when it goes into negatives, though -- the caretaker is taking care of not only his/her parents but his/her sibling(s) as well. And I mean that in terms of emotionally, financially, other ways of caretaking, not just hands-on type caretaking.

Speaking for myself, I have friends who would totally provide the assistance you talk about -- the walk, the $50 in the mail.

This is not to say that having a sibling is BAD, at all. It could well be just the balm and help you needed. Just, I don't think a sibling necessarily would have helped the situation that much, and in fact could have made it harder. Unknowable.

In terms of parenting affecting sibling relationships:

I think that good parenting can only help, but I also think that we are learning more and more that people are individuals from the womb on, and they can be positively influenced without being outright molded. So I think there is a certain luck of the draw -- say you have four sets of siblings, AB, CD, EF and GH. A and B's parents are bad bad terrible people, and A and B are incredibly close; they were each other's salvation. C and D's parents are bad bad terrible people, and they are completely estranged; they associate the sibling with the bad situation they grew up in and see their parents' bad habits in that sibling. E and F's parents are good, wonderful people; they are all one big clump of close happiness. G and H's parents are good, wonderful people; yet G is unaccountably distant, anti-social, and H feels bereft and abandoned.

"G" happens, just depending on personality type. Or "G" took the arrival of a sibling very hard. (This happened to my husband, and from everything I've heard I think my parents in law handled things just fine. But my husband and his sister have had a downright acrimonious to somewhat cordial relationship from day one. This has had serious implications for his sister's self-esteem.)

Which is to say -- I don't think anyone can make the claim that "my parenting will ensure that my children become extremely close." You can do the best you can, and stack the deck in your favor, but there are wildcards that just can't be predicted.

My take.
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#30 of 51 Old 04-08-2003, 12:49 PM
 
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I agree with Sozobe. I think parents can certainly have an affect and may either help or hinder their children's relationships, but I think it is claiming too much power for the parents and denying the children's individuality to say that it is entirely up to what the parents do and teach.
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