DS doesn't want a sibling, do I take his comments seriously? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 36 Old 02-27-2011, 11:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have been TTCing #2 for over 2 years now.  If we had gotten PG right away, DS would have been around 2.5 when the baby was born, and I don't think would have ever understood what life would be like without a sibling.  However, now that he is almost 4, he can actually articulate his feelings on it.  Every single time we've asked him if he wants a brother or sister, or what he would think about a baby coming to live with us, he says no, he just wants it to be us and him.  He's not interested in having a baby live with us, and says he doesn't want a brother or sister.  He has never, ever asked for a sibling.  I know part/most of it is just his temperment - he's slow-to-warm, and likes his routines and for things to stay the same.  And of course, he doesn't understand the benefits that a sibling could bring, especially once he is older.  So I know that I can't take his comments completely to heart.  However, we're at the point where we're wondering how much longer we're going to keep trying, and I wonder if we should be taking his feelings into account more now.  I mean, we're not getting PG, and he's stated many times that he doesn't want a sibling.  Maybe we should respect that, and move on?  Obviously, both DH and I had imagined having another child, and I do feel it would be a positive thing for DS to have in his life, both now and as an adult.  However, I know it's not guaranteed to be an only positive experience, and that maybe it would be a harder adjustment for DS than we anticipate.  Or maybe they wouldn't be close.  Or who knows.  But anyways, my question is whether any parents take into account their child's thoughts on the matter of family size.  Most kids I know seem to beg for a sibling, and I guess we are lucky that DS hasn't done that, as it probably would have made our infertility even more difficult to deal with.  But if we're kind of on the fence about still trying or moving on as a 3-member family, should we let DS be the deciding vote?


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#2 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 12:51 AM
 
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IMO, abosultely not allow him to be the "deciding vote". That puts WAY way way too much responsibility on the shoulders of a 4 yo little boy. I do not think it is fair to him, any way you slice it. Let that decision be yours, and your DHs. I am sorry that TTC has been so difficult, that must be very stressful.

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#3 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 05:26 AM
 
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I agree that a 4 year old cannot understand all of the implications.  I definitely think that his feelings should be taken into consideration, but not have the kind of influence that you're talking about.  To turn it around, what if you didn't want more and he was insisting that you do have another baby?  Would you let him have that kind of final vote?

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#4 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 06:06 AM
 
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I never would have asked ds his opinion if I was still trying to get pregnant.  At the point when I was ready to stop trying, a while after my 4th miscarriage, I did feel him out a bit.  I might have tried a bit longer if he was the sort of kid who loved babies and talked of having a sibling.  But like your ds, he never expressed any interest in having a sibling. 


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#5 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 06:09 AM
 
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absolutely not, I'm kind of surprised that anyone would even entertain the idea that a nearly 4 year old should have a say. Honestly, I don't think any child should have a say over their parents reproduction regardless of age.

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#6 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 07:32 AM
 
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I agree with the above posters. I'd definitely take his feelings into account in terms of introducing a new baby into your lives, but I wouldn't let him be the deciding factor.

 

You never know how things will work out. My guess is that it would be a bit rough in the beginning, but that he would quickly come to love his sibling, and appreciate having a playmate as they get older. Yes, not all siblings end up being best friends, but that's a possibility for anyone considering more than one child. The vast majority of people love their siblings, even if they don't always get along.

 

Look at it another way: maybe it's a good thing that your son realises that it would be a big adjustment? That means he's at least somewhat prepared. :)

 

On a side note, I wish you the best of luck with TTC! It took us nearly 2 years to conceive our first child, and I know how stressful it can be. hug2.gif


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#7 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 07:44 AM
 
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Another, "are you kidding me"? No way should a four year old have a say in your life and your number of offspring.

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#8 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 08:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm sorry, I think some of my comments were misunderstood. DS has no idea that we are TTC, or that we are struggling with infertility. When I say that he says he doesn't want a sibling, I mean that when we've casually asked (maybe after a playdate that included a younger sibling or if we're talking about when he used to be a baby), he's always said he doesn't want a brother or sister, and doesn't want a baby living with us. And when I said the deciding vote, I didn't mean we'd include him in the decision making process! I just meant that if DH and I are making a list of reasons to keep trying and a list of reasons to stop, do we include "DS doesn't want a sibling" as a reason to stop, and if that tipped the scales, then let it be. I hope that my clarifications make more sense - that's what I get for posting right before bed! But anyways, in no way would DS be involved in the decision - I'm just asking whether I should consider his feelings when DH and I are considering if we should stop TTCing. There are pros/cons for both sides, so it is not an easy decision.

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#9 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 09:01 AM
 
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Personally, I don't think his opinion factors in either way, if I were in that situation. 

 

I would try to be understanding, and I wouldn't assume that he would in fact love a sibling should you get pg.  He really might hate it.  But it's not up to him.

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#10 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 09:17 AM
 
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no, i would not factor a 4 year olds opinion in my decision


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#11 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 09:25 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tryingfortwo View Post

I'm sorry, I think some of my comments were misunderstood. DS has no idea that we are TTC, or that we are struggling with infertility. When I say that he says he doesn't want a sibling, I mean that when we've casually asked (maybe after a playdate that included a younger sibling or if we're talking about when he used to be a baby), he's always said he doesn't want a brother or sister, and doesn't want a baby living with us. And when I said the deciding vote, I didn't mean we'd include him in the decision making process! I just meant that if DH and I are making a list of reasons to keep trying and a list of reasons to stop, do we include "DS doesn't want a sibling" as a reason to stop, and if that tipped the scales, then let it be. I hope that my clarifications make more sense - that's what I get for posting right before bed! But anyways, in no way would DS be involved in the decision - I'm just asking whether I should consider his feelings when DH and I are considering if we should stop TTCing. There are pros/cons for both sides, so it is not an easy decision.


I got what you meant! I didn't think you were going to sit your son down and ask him for his vote. thumb.gif If you're already feeling ambivalent about continuing, then I can see how it could be one item of many on the list of pros & cons.


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#12 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 09:39 AM
 
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first I would never take the opinion of my child into consideration 

 

 

and you really seem to make some assumptions- IMO

 

 

Quote:
And of course, he doesn't understand the benefits that a sibling could bring, especially once he is older.  

having see many that experience the negative side of it- no thank you, some have problems right from the start and way into adulthood and beyond the deaths of parents

 

 

Quote:
Most kids I know seem to beg for a sibling, 

many DO NOT want them at this age or ever (I am one that is so glad I do not have a sibling!)

 

making it right for you and you DH may never be right for you DS but it might work out-no way of knowing

 


 

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#13 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 09:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllisonR View Post

IMO, abosultely not allow him to be the "deciding vote". That puts WAY way way too much responsibility on the shoulders of a 4 yo little boy. I do not think it is fair to him, any way you slice it. Let that decision be yours, and your DHs. I am sorry that TTC has been so difficult, that must be very stressful.


I agree with this completely (and I've read your update).  He's 4.  Even though he is old enough to vocalize a preference doesn't mean that he really understands what it is to have a sibling (or be able to project ahead into the future to know what it would be to not have a sibling for the rest of his life).  Besides this, in my opinion, the decision of how many children to have is one for the parents alone.  When he is an adult it will be his time to choose whether to have children (and how many to have).   


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#14 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 01:01 PM
 
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i don't even think it's right for you to ask him this question or really discuss it at all unless he brings it up on his own.  it's your private life between you and your partner and involving your child is inappropriate and damaging to him.  


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#15 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 01:08 PM
 
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i don't even think it's right for you to ask him this question or really discuss it at all unless he brings it up on his own.  it's your private life between you and your partner and involving your child is inappropriate and damaging to him.  


I think if they said something like "ok ds, it's all up to you.  Do you think we should have a new baby in the family or not?" then that is inappropriate and possibly damaging.  I don't think simply asking a child if they think it would be nice to have a sibling is problematic at all.  I don't get the impression from the OP that she's doing anything except asking her ds if he thinks it would be fun/nice/cool/whatever to have a baby in the family.  I see it along the same lines as if we met a family that has 6 kids and then I asked my (2) kids if they thought they'd like living in a family that large.  By no means would I be implying that now it's time for them to decide whether dh and I will have 4 more kids, yk?


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#16 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 01:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by prancie View Post

i don't even think it's right for you to ask him this question or really discuss it at all unless he brings it up on his own.  it's your private life between you and your partner and involving your child is inappropriate and damaging to him.  


It's not like she was discussing intimate details of TTC with him. I think casually asking your kid what they think about having a sibling is just fine. I didn't get the impression that the OP was pressing him on it.


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#17 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 01:57 PM
 
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This. & I think people are being a little over dramatic about the situation and making it into something that it really isn't. JMO!!

 


 

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I got what you meant! I didn't think you were going to sit your son down and ask him for his vote. thumb.gif If you're already feeling ambivalent about continuing, then I can see how it could be one item of many on the list of pros & cons.

 

Anyway, with that said, I probably wouldn't take a child's opinion into consideration in deciding whether to have another child. Just like if I were done having kids for sure, and my kid was begging for a sibling, that wouldn't not change my mind either. Kids are adaptable, so I would continue to go with whatever you and your DH feel good about. smile.gif

 


 


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#18 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 01:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for your comments!

 

I have to say, I'm quite surprised at the strong opinions this question has generated.  I don't know if I'm being overly sensitive, but I feel like I have my defenses up over some of the response - so I apologize if I'm misunderstanding the intended tone.

 

I don't feel that any of the discussions I've had with DS about siblings or babies have been inappropriate at all.  They have all come up naturally, and have all been hypothetical and very casually asked/discussed.  And they also haven't been frequent or common - likely just a few times in the course of 2 years.  This is only on my mind because of the following exchange I had with DS over the weekend.  I was going through his clothes and pulling out things that are too small for him now, and putting them aside with all the other clothes that we keep just in case we have another baby (although I've never told him that - he's never asked why there is a pile of too-small clothes in his closet wink1.gif).  He asked why those clothes don't fit him anymore, so we talked about eating and exercising and growing.  Then he said that another baby will come out a tummy (he didn't specify whose tummy), and turn into a little boy, and he can wear those clothes.  And I said, yes, that might be true.  And then I asked if this baby would live at our house (I just wanted to feel out what he was envisioning), and he said no, he didn't want any babies living at our house, just him and mommy and daddy.  And then I said, oh, but it might be fun to have a brother or a sister - you could play with them and teach them things.  And he said he didn't want a brother or a sister, just us living here.  And then we moved on to other topics.  So maybe I'm in the minority, but I don't think a discussion such as that is in any way harmful or putting pressure on him. 

 

And as for taking his opinion/comments into considering when DH and I are deciding whether we want to keep trying, I also don't understand why that seems like such a wacky idea.  I mean, if we were buying a new house, or moving to a new city, or deciding what school DS should go to (or whether to send him to school at all, or instead homeschool him), ultimately the decision will be up to DH and myself, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't consider how it would impact DS, what would work with his temperment, and potentially even find out his thoughts through casual discussions.  Sure, I wouldn't say "okay, we have 3 houses to live in, which one should we pick?" and give him a vote.  But we might discuss what he likes about certain houses, and I'd factor into our decision the closeness of schools, parks, etc.  On the same note, prior to having kids, I would have never, ever considered moving back to my hometown - but now I love the idea that we could live in the same city as my mom and brother/SIL, and that DS could have a close relationship to them.  So in that case, how it would affect DS is one of the primary factors in the decision-making process.  Again, he wouldn't necessarily have a say, but I would definitely include it on a list of pros and cons.  I guess I just envision expanding our family as having the same impact on DS as moving or choosing a school, and so I am considering how it would affect him, based on his temperment, his current age, and yes, the comments he has thrown out in discussions.  I am sure that he has no idea we are even trying to have another baby, and if we do or don't, there's no reason why he'd know that his feelings on it had any impact on our final decision in the matter.  So I don't really understand that comments about the pressure it would put on him, or how it's inappropriate to even consider.

 

Maybe for the record, I'll list some of our other cons:

- DH is unable to take a medication that would improve his quality of life due to the medications negative affect on sperm production, so stopping TTCing would allow him to use that medication again.

- Emotionally, I feel like my/our life is on hold, as I don't know if there is a baby in the future, so I keep all the baby stuff (and our home has reach maximum storage capacity), don't make any major plans, and have to deal with the monthly disappointment when we find out we aren't PG again.  So stopping TTCing would allow me to move forward and accept that we are a 3 person family, without having to hold out hope for another child.

- Obviously, it's more costly to have more children, both immediately and in the long term.  Plus, if we pursue any options to help with infertility, that will also cost a lot.  So financially, we would be able to provide more/have more stability if we just stopped trying now.

 

Pros are a bit harder to articulate, as obviously there is just the desire and joy of having a child that can't really be estimated.  But I do think a sibling would be positive for DS, especially since we don't have any family/cousins close by.  And I don't know if I would regret that we stopped trying, but I would be sad knowing that I'd never have a daughter - but of course, there's not guarantee that we'd have a girl if we do have a second child, and if we had another boy, I would be thrilled, but still sad about never having a daughter, if that makes sense. 

 

Anyways, I don't know if my initial question is just being misunderstood, or if I'm really in the minority in even considering taking DS's comments into account when DH and I decide if we want to keep trying.  But anyways, I do appreciate the replies regardless.


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#19 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 06:45 PM
 
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My Mom is 66 years old. Her health and her mind are failing.

I am SOOO incredibly glad to have not only my Brother, but my Sister in Law to tag team with me when it gets bad. I know I couldn't handle it all by myself. I need my brother to help me with this.

My daughter is an only child. I am not ever having anymore kids. I'm too old even if I wanted another child. I feel bad that she's an only child, and she had a great childhood, and had more than I could have given her if I'd had other kids. I think being an only child is great too, but I bet she'll miss having a sibling when she's 45 yrs old.
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#20 of 36 Old 02-28-2011, 10:21 PM
 
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I think the real question is: How much weight should you really give those comments?

 

I certainly think that it's worth considering the impact on your present child(ren) when contemplating adding to the family. But I don't think I'd take his comments that seriously. In the situation you described above where you asked if the baby would live at your house, I'd take his answer to mean "I can't imagine a baby coming to live at our house." A 4 year old really doesn't understand what it means to have a sibling, or to not have a sibling. Thus, I can't take his comments seriously. And as soon as you use that as your deciding vote, he'll decide he wants a sibling! Or when he's 14, he'll decide that really, you should have had another child.

 

An analogy: IF I was contemplating applying for a new job, I'd certainly take my kids' needs into account when I was applying. For example, my son has some mild special needs that would make being in a major metropolitan area with good therapists a good idea. Thus, I probably wouldn't apply for a job in the middle of rural Texas.  I wouldn't keep the fact that my children can't contemplate living anywhere else keep me from applying to jobs, however, especially ones that would ultimately be a good move for the family. If I got the chance, for example, to move closer to either my family or dh's family, I'd apply. In the long run, I think growing up knowing your relatives is a good thing. I think that benefit would outweigh the difficulty in adjusting. However, the older my kids get, the less likely I am to apply for jobs, because then I think the move would be too hard on my slow-to-warm-up child. But I'd still consider it until he gets into high school.


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#21 of 36 Old 03-01-2011, 06:05 AM
 
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Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post

My Mom is 66 years old. Her health and her mind are failing.

I am SOOO incredibly glad to have not only my Brother, but my Sister in Law to tag team with me when it gets bad. I know I couldn't handle it all by myself. I need my brother to help me with this.



My mom is in her 70's, living with us, and I have not had one OUNCE of help from my siblings.  Siblings can add a TON of bitterness to such a situation. I'd rather be an only child, knowing that the burden is solely on me, rather than resent my selfish sisters who think that because we're better off, it's my responsibility.

 

OP - I absolutely think you're doing the right thing.  It's not your ds's decision, but taking his feelings into account, IMO, is the right thing to do.  Good luck!!

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#22 of 36 Old 03-01-2011, 07:00 AM
 
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A 4 yo's comments (or a kid at any age) would not have any bearing on whether we had more kids or not.

They would, however, make me very conciencious that this may be a kid who easily feels displaced or neglected, and I would be working on that as a seperate issue whether we had more kids or not.
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#23 of 36 Old 03-01-2011, 07:32 AM
 
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No, I would not take my 4YO's thoughts on whether to have another child or not into account. Heck, my 4YO wants another cat, but we're not getting one! She just doesn't have enough of a long-term viewpoint to make the decision on whether to get a pet that will be with us for 10-15 years.

 

Also, I'd step away from the "what if they're not close?" concern. What if they're not? It won't be the end of the world. My sister & I aren't close. We get along. We like each other. We're just really, really different and not "friends." It's really fine. You don't have to be close to your siblings. Obviously it would be unfortunate if we hated each other, but you don't have one person just to be a companion to another person. If you have a new child, that child will be his/her own person without regard to your DS. 


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#24 of 36 Old 03-01-2011, 11:52 AM
 
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No, unless he has special needs, I probably wouldn't take his comments seriously. That is way too much responsibility for a four year old. But I also wouldn't discuss the TTC and have a lot of discussion about the matter at all. Wait until your pregnancy is well established and then discuss it as a done deal. Playing what if is a losing game with a four year old. What if he started to ask/throw daily tantrums about his missing and needed siblings?

 

I think you should take his needs seriously in introducing a new sibling of course.

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#25 of 36 Old 03-01-2011, 06:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post

My Mom is 66 years old. Her health and her mind are failing.

I am SOOO incredibly glad to have not only my Brother, but my Sister in Law to tag team with me when it gets bad. I know I couldn't handle it all by myself. I need my brother to help me with this.

My daughter is an only child. I am not ever having anymore kids. I'm too old even if I wanted another child. I feel bad that she's an only child, and she had a great childhood, and had more than I could have given her if I'd had other kids. I think being an only child is great too, but I bet she'll miss having a sibling when she's 45 yrs old.

OT:
 

Dh came from a huge family (as did I).  We live the closest to his parents, who are in their late 80s.   His many brothers, some of whom are also in town, are of absolutely no help with his parents.  In fact, while they make a big show of talking about being helpful, they actually make taking care of the ILs much harder.  I wouldn't have children based on the premise that they will help out with me in my old age.
 

 

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#26 of 36 Old 03-02-2011, 02:14 AM
 
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I get where you're coming from, I think, OP. We are sort of in the same situation, though we have not had trouble with infertility. In our situation, dd was a planned only. I had her when I was 36. Then, last year, we decided to try again after all. Dd had just been so much fun and she was getting older, and we were in a better financial situation and, and...

 

So at 42, much to my surprise I conceived within 2 months. Dd had always made it clear that she did NOT want a sibling. She was very articulate about why, too. Again, in our case it was a very casual conversation. It does come up! No, she has never had a "say" in our decision; but living with her day in and day out, having her make comments here and there and knowing she is very, very happy as an only and we aren't exactly pining for another child either, well, it does change the tone of OUR conversations about it a bit, rightly or wrongly.

 

After I miscarried, I was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst. We were told not to TTC until it resolved. It has now been 9 months and the cyst is "persistent." We still really shouldn't TTC. I am now 43.

 

If we really, really wanted another baby, I would be pressing harder for a referral to a specialist to deal with my cyst. It has been imaged and tested repeatedly and deemed to be noncancerous. It can be watched for now, unless I want to have a baby. Then it should probably be removed first. If that was the route we wanted to go, I should be demanding an appointment at the infertility clinic and prompt surgery. As it stands, I haven't done that. I think it's all part of the "letting go' process for us and somewhere, that little voice of my dd does whisper in my ear. Is she part of the decision? Not really, not consciously. But knowing she's happy with the status quo does help move us along a little. I think if she were "begging for a sibling" then yes, I might actually be swayed a bit in the other direction.

 

It might just be that her feelings help us feel like maybe it's okay, just the three of us. Maybe we should just focus on that. But I think those our our feelings, more than dd's.

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#27 of 36 Old 03-02-2011, 02:43 AM
 
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Before getting pg with my 2 yr old, my oldest, now 15, flip flopped many times, she wanted a sibling, she didn't want a sibling, she wanted a sibling, she didn't want a sibling.  And the reality is that whether or not she wanted a sibling was never part of our decision.

 

HOW it would impact her always was.  We ttc for six years and the question of whether or not to continue and how far to take the fertility treatments did come up and how it would affect her life, being a big sister, not having any siblings, having siblings so much younger than her, was all part of the decision making process.  But her wants were not.  A child doesn't really get all the implications of having siblings, or not. 

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#28 of 36 Old 03-02-2011, 03:13 AM
 
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I respect my children, and always take their opinions and feelings into consideration. They are people, and they matter to me. If you are happy with it being the three of you, and he doesn't want a sibling, then life sounds pretty good. If you want to continue trying, I would start getting him used to the idea. Either way, yes, I think you are being a great mom by taking his feelings into consideration. : )

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#29 of 36 Old 03-03-2011, 08:55 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happysmileylady View Post

A child doesn't really get all the implications of having siblings, or not. 



ITA. There's not a lot of abstract, future thinking or peer interaction to 'get' what it's all about. Kids are pretty self-based at this age - how can they not be? It's great to know his feelings so that you can help him process, but his stance would not affect my own thinking one way or another.

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#30 of 36 Old 03-05-2011, 10:23 AM
 
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My dd was just over 4 when I became pregnant with her now 9mo brother. I agonized while pregnant over the ways in which her life would change, especially on days when she made it clear she didn't want a sibling. Of course, she was probably sick to death of being asked how excited she was to become a big sister by every well-intentioned stranger at the grocery store, etc. So PP, I can sympathize with you. I also read both of your posts and did not take them to mean you sat down and grilled your son on his opinions; nowhere did you say that his was the final word. I think it is respectful to put out feelers in a age-appropriate way to gauge a child's opinions on family-related decisions, but honestly a 4 yo has no idea what adding a sibling to the family will actually entail. Neither, for that matter, can his/her parents, which I say speaking from the experience of my own last 9 months! 

 

BTW, I don't think this thread is the place to argue the merits of having more than one child so there is help when it comes time to care for aging parents; there is never a guarantee within any family of how any of the relationships will pan out, nor can anyone know who will even be alive/able/around to help when it comes time make those elder-care decisions.

 

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