Q.Our son is 3 years old and an only child. Lately, my husband has been talking a lot about having another baby. I know he gets pressure from his parents, because our son is their only grandchild. My mother-in-law has made it clear she’d love to buy cute little girl clothes for a granddaughter. But my last pregnancy was difficult. I had to stay in bed the last few weeks. My son was born premature and spent a month in the newborn intensive care unit. Also, I don’t know how we can afford another child. I have a job now, but if this pregnancy is difficult too, I may have to stop working. How can I best deal with my husband and his family?
A. You make a strong case for not wanting another child now and perhaps not in the future either — although that could change, given time. One of the most important things you can do now is preserve the good marital relationship you have by getting your husband to talk about why he wants more children and then presenting your thoughts on why you don’t want to have more children. It’s important to hear each other out without interrupting. You may not agree with him, but don’t interrupt.
Maybe he believes kids are happier or better adjusted when they have siblings. If this is the case, you can make a note to seek out and read articles about only children or find parents of only children to get their opinion. You’ll find that researchers and parents of singletons make a compelling case that only children do just fine. After your husband talks about why he wants another child, you can present your reasons why you don’t. Think in terms of having more than one discussion to resolve this issue over a bit of time. It’s not about him winning or you winning, but coming to an agreement as a couple by listening to each other and showing compassion and respect.
Given your reasons for not wanting another child, here are some ideas for you:
- Prepare a folder that makes it clear how much bringing your son into the world has cost you in prenatal care, delivery, NICU and pediatrician costs.
- Outline how much your current insurance will cover of the expense of having another baby.
- Explain any debt you still have from delivering your first baby.
- Present information on how quitting your job will affect your budget.
- Share how difficult it was for you during your pregnancy.
- Consider proposing that you both go a year without making a decision. This will give you a break from the pressures the family is putting on you.
Given time, you may or may not decide to have a second child. Your husband may come up with a solution to the cost of having another baby. Perhaps he’ll get a job with better insurance. Perhaps you’ll talk with friends or read about each pregnancy being different, with subsequent pregnancies usually being easier. Or maybe you and your husband will decide together to stop at one child. This is your decision as a couple and has nothing to do with what parents or others may suggest.
My parents decided to stop with one child. That’s right: I’m an only child. Occasionally, I’ll see some of my friends having a good time with their siblings and wonder if I’m missing out on the fun. But most of the time, I’m fine being an only child.
More important than whether you have another child or not is how you handle the question.
Betty Richardson, PhD, RNC, LPC, LMFT, is an Austin-based psychotherapist.