So my son popped me this question when a relative had a baby “Mom, I also want a baby”. Initially I brushed the question aside. The second time he asked me this question, my heart sank. I wondered if I am denying my only child a sibling. He seemed so sure he wanted a baby sister. But we cant give in to the demands of children, right? At least not this one. So what do you do when your only child asks for a sibling?
Having a second child is not an easy decision to make. There are many variables to that equation. In our case, my husband was totally not in favor of the second child. I always wanted one but then considering the factors, I too had veto the idea. What bought the question back was my son’s longing for a sibling. And I felt that he deserved an honest answer. We told him that every family is different. While some prefer more than one child, the others don’t. We told him how we feel complete as a family with him and that he is enough for us. He is both our son and daughter.
Later that night, I thought hard and long if my only child really needs a sibling. Somehow the rationale of having another child for the sake of providing your only child with a sibling did not fit right to me. It is an immense responsibility to assign to a child. What if after the arrival of the sibling, your child is engulfed with sibling rivalry and asks you to abandon the baby? Would you? You won’t. Just like you won’t abandon your new born if your first born asks you to, you can’t have another baby because your only child wants you to. She is too young to realize the gravity of her demand.
For those who say an only child is lonely, I am not really sure. I have seen far too many sibling who cannot not stand each other. Forget how will be the equations when they grow up! In such cases, parents are torn in between and keep trying to make peace. I do not want to force this relationship and yet it would be very hard for me to see my own children loathing each other.
The point I am trying to make is that we cannot force our child to love someone, even if it is a sibling. And I certainly do not want to land in that situation if I plan on a second child for the sake of giving a sibling to my firstborn. As far as providing company is concerned, that can be managed with cousins and friends.
Anyone who has been popped this question from their child would have their own views for it. This is what works for us. We are really happy with each other and our family size. We have crossed that stage where my only child asks this. Here are few things which helped us on our journey:
Listening & Empathising: Sometimes, listening and empathizing is the best thing. Young children often get influenced when they see their peers holding a younger sibling or playing a new baby. These are fleeting emotions. They don’t stay for long. So listening them out and with them is the best you can do.
Loving them: I remember how I cuddles my son and told him just how much I adore him and there is no love left in me now to love another baby. I don’t know why but it clicked with him. He felt loved and important and sufficient.
Building Friendships: Friends are sibling we get to choose – I grew up listening to this proverb. And as an adult now and having seen enough of the world, I cannot agree more. A lot many times sibling don’t click and a lot many times they do! But friends are always there as you are the one who gets to choose them. Fostering friendships is very important for everyone and perhaps a tad more for an only child. It fills your heart.
What really matters is not how many children you have but how happy you are as a family. If all three of you are happy then there is nothing else that matters.