THE SECOND CHILD DILEMMA
Do you and your partner regularly face the dilemma as to whether you want more children? Perhaps your first one keeps you exceptionally busy and you cannot possibly fathom where more time would come from for a second child? Perhaps you’re quite content with one and cannot imagine being able to love another child as much as your first born. Whatever it is for you, you’re reading this blog for a reason. It’s a shared challenge so many parents face after having their first child, and a dilemma both myself and my partner regularly find ourselves in. So I wanted to put together this honest perspective on what that thought process looks like, and hopefully make you feel like you are absolutely normal in every single thing you’re thinking and feeling about having more children.
It’s quite an unusual concept that most of us find ourselves in, you know the one, you meet someone, settle down, then the relatives are asking “when’s he going to pop the question” then he pops the question and its “when’s the wedding”, you have the wedding, then it’s “when will you be having children” you have a child and it’s “when’s the second one coming”. Now whilst our relatives probably mean zero harm with these questions, it can be exceptionally overwhelming for first time parents.
Such questions from relatives can add pressure to our decisions, especially with the “two under two” club being a popular one, so that your children can grow up close in age and “keep one another company”. Your heart might feel torn as you see your first born growing up without a sibling, making you doubt yourself more and more as to whether “should we just have another now whilst they’re young” - but if you’re anything like myself and my partner, this thought alone overwhelms us considerably.
Being the parent to one child is already a lot, especially when you want to raise that child a certain way, with present parents who attend to their every need, it might be really overwhelming to try and even visualise how you possibly do that x2. Myself and my partner often find ourselves struggle to be unable to even envisage being a family of four due to the current pace of our lives/careers, we can honestly identify that something would need to be sacrificed in order to expand our family, and we are not in a position where we are ready to openly and happily make that sacrifice, however that doesn’t mean it’s off the cards forever.
We have endless discussions about what our future looks like, both near and far, and that also includes the possibility of more children. Being able to openly communicate about how we feel about expanding our family is incredibly important. I personally feel that not everyone approaches parenting with the same mindset and in many instances one parent is for more children, and the other may not be on that page yet.
One of the many reasons people have more children is to provide a sibling for their first born, which in all honesty is the main reason we would consider having more children, we feel exceptionally content with experiencing being parents just once, but the want to give Belle that support when she is older makes it difficult to come to a decision. What has helped us, is letting go of time-frames, our original timeframe was 3-4 years apart, and now we have a much looser timeframe of 5-6 years, and if we come to that point and we are still not ready, we will re-evaluate the timeframe and our position. I think it’s important for me to mention this because so many parents can box themselves in with a very strict cut off point which can sometimes force us into making a premature decision.
There is a part of me, some days that dreams of having two children running around and my decision is a firm yes, and then there are other days where I struggle to balance everything in my life the way I’d like to and I cannot possibly imagine adding more responsibilities to the mix, please know it’s completely ok to feel this way, it is a huge decision and not one to rush into. What helps me is understanding and visualising the kind of parent I want to be, both to one child or more, and then working backwards about what I would need to do for that to be possible, and then being realistic and understanding how far I am away from that. This could prove useful to do, imagine what kind of mother/father you want to be and whether that’s realistic given all of the other responsibilities you have presently or in the near future if you expanded your family.
Many parents online claim the newborn days are easier than the toddler days but we’d have to disagree. I would honestly say it took at least 12-18 months before parenting stopped feeling so overwhelming and intense, there was so much newness, first times and doubt that looking back, it can be a little overwhelming to consider going through that initial period again. Each and every families parenting journey will differ, it may feel a lot more manageable if you have family around to support who are very hands on, but you still may be unsure if you’d like more children, or you may be someone like us who doesn’t have any family in close proximity other than my mum who lives 200 miles away, this can shape a person's decision to add more responsibilities to their life, so assess your responsibilities/support systems in depth factoring in a second child before making a decision.
Here are some questions and tips for the next time you find yourself wondering whether you should have more children, please note, I am not for or against more children, but if you are quite clear in the fact you want more than one, I imagine you wouldn’t be reading this blog, therefore the questions below are designed to give you more awareness and choice over your decisions in a world that is designed to idealise families of 4 and above, this blog is here to empower you to make your own choices that suit yours and your families needs instead of being pressured to make decisions based on our families or societal pressures.
Where did this thought come from? Has anyone asked me lately about providing a sibling for my first born or has social media generated this thought? (It doesn’t matter where it came from, the important part if you know the thoughts origin).
What would my life look like with more children?
How does that idea make me feel? (if you feel overwhelmed by that idea, perhaps the answer is - no more children for now and let’s revisit in the future)
Do you and your partner have the same perspective on this? Are they for/against more children - does this impact your decision?
What would you have to sacrifice to have more children? (eg personal time, career, travelling, quality time, finances, time with your first born)
Are you prepared to make those sacrifices now or in the future?
Do you think you would feel resentful if you made those sacrifices now or in the future?
What is the reason for wanting more than one child? How much of that is impacted by societies ‘ideal family of four’ vs your own wants and needs.
Do you need to make a decision right now on this or can you park the idea for a period of time? If not, what is the deadline on this? Is it imposed by something you can change?
What are your belief systems around families? Perhaps you grew up with siblings so assume that’s what you need to do for your family. Is there a world where maybe you’re happy with one child?
Did you have an idea in your mind about an ideal age-gap which is quickly approaching? Is there any way that can move in order for you to give yourself more time and freedom to make choices that suit your personal and family's needs?
Remember; you do not need to make a decision right this second, it can be a decision that evolves and changes 10 times before coming to the final one, and always remembering that regardless of the outcome for or against, life works out exactly as it was supposed to.
I hope this blog brings you comfort and awareness, to empower you into making a decision for you and your family vs others and society.