The Sibling Question- When Parents Wonder If They Should Have Another Child
Many parents of only children dread the ‘sibling question’ -that is the uncomfortable circumstance of having to answer the question of ‘why isn’t there another child in the house?” to not just peers, friends and parents but also to their own child, a person who is probably not even reached four feet of height.
Why the norm?
Studies indicate that many parents of two or more children have not asked themselves the question “Why should there be another child in the house?” Most parents have simply automatically proceeded to build a large family around them because it is the usual social norm and also because they want to ‘get done with it’ before getting too old.
Choice or Chance?
Conversely, many parents who have asked the sibling question “why isn’t there another child in the house yet?” have stopped with just their first child not entirely by choice but owing to many other factors some of which are:
- Secondary infertility– While first pregnancies seem to happen rather all too easily, conceiving the second time sometimes becomes difficult for the same women. Many couples are ‘brought around’ to being satisfied with their ‘one and only’ after all their attempts to get a second child have failed. This reluctant acceptance to being just a family of three usually comes only after huge amounts of time, energy and money have been expended on getting pregnant the second time around.
- Difference of opinion between spouses– When one spouse wants a second child and the other doesn’t, the chances of the second child not happening is higher. Usually, when the marriage is shaky or when there is a huge age gap between the partners, one of the spouses expresses reluctance to expand the family.
- Divorce, death or illness– If a spouse is disabled or afflicted by a serious illness or if the couple or divorced, a second child becomes improbable.
While there are many other reasons for more couples wanting just one child, the above reasons mainly tell us about those couples who want a larger family yet stop with just one. Couples who want a second child but are unable to bring forth one experience a range of emotions like sadness, resentment, loneliness, inadequacy and sometimes envy too.
And often these feelings percolate down to their only child who feels without a sibling he is missing out on something. Sometimes it is the parents who implant the feelings of incompleteness in their only child, which triggers the child to ask the ‘sibling question’- Why is there not another child in the house?
How to tell your child that one is complete enough:
Children can sense their parent’s unexpressed emotions and inner feelings too. So the first step towards assuring your child that one child in the house is indeed enough. The parents themselves have to come to terms with the idea that a family of three is indeed a complete number. Parents who feel disappointed about not being able to have a second child have to address their inner feelings and come to a truce with their circumstance first.
When your child asks why he cannot have a brother or a sister, you can state the truth to him as simply and as gently as possible. If it is a medical or financial or marital state that is preventing you from expanding your family, tell the child so even while explaining to him that you are ‘very very happy with just him’.
Studies indicate that children crave for a brother or sister with intensity directly proportionate with the parent’s. Hence it is critical that both parent and the child come to the ground reality and address the issue as objectively as possible.