Having a Second Child
Berkeley Parents Network >
Parenting, Families, & the Community >
Having a Second Child
We are older parents and are considering having a second child. The first
child has been such a delight and so much easier than all the reports we
heard. (The hard part was for us conceiving; and we would probably have
this same difficulty the second time around). If we get lucky, the second
child will be about three years younger than the first.
My husband and I know that if we were younger, we would definitely have
many. Being a very high energy person, I'm having trouble letting our age
be the main thing that stops us from having a second, especially since the
first has given me so much joy....but, I'd hate to ruin the good thing we
have going now over fear of missing out on even more fun.
Have older parents found that the second (well spaced child) tipped the
boat or made life so much better. Have parents that opted for only one
child regretted that decision later.
Any words of wisdom will be appreciated
I am in my early 40s with one child, and although I thought for
sure that I would talk my husband into having more than one
child, we have been so happy with our child (also finding it
much easier than expected) that I decided to go along with my
husband on this. I know many parents with 2 toddlers and I come
home saying ''how do they do it?!'' For me - not a person with
endless energy - the one child was the right thing for us.
Second children have the benefit of their parents' increased
knowledge and calmness and the interaction with an older
We would have never known what we were missing without
a second child... but, knowing what we gained by having
him, we were thrilled to have our third child this past winter
-- 10 years after the second, thirteen after the first. We were
''older'' in 1988 (31)...now officially ancient! (45) Good luck!
I understand your concerns completely. I was 40 when I had my
first and 44 with my second. I am now 47. Not only do I work
full time, but my husband had a stroke, luckily with little
residual damage, between the two boys and a heart attack 2
months ago. We so wanted to have a second that we continued
with all the fertility treatments. I am absolutely blessed to
have both boys and I am absolutely exhausted. I enjoy both of
them thoroughly. Would I have the second again? Most likely,
but with a different thought process. The children have put an
incredible strain on our marriage and both of our health. When
people said the second more than doubles your work, they
couldn't explain it but it's absolutely true. Each child wants
and needs you individually and you are also needed when they are
together. You are always being tugged. After the fact, I was
sure glad they were 4 years apart. I didn't have to keep as
keen an eye on the older one while with the baby. Oh yeah, the
mess is way more than double as well and I don't know how they
do it. All this being said, I think my age and career have
allowed me the financial ability to hire a LOT of help and
counseling. I have a complete and insatiable pleasure and
aprreciation in watching the children interact and individually
grow. (I don't know if that is age related or me.) Without
these, I'm not sure how I would have made it. I didn't realize
how hard it would be, but for me it is worth it. It is hard to
describe, so I am happy to talk further if you would like.
We're early-40s parents of an 11 year old and a 2 year old.
Number one was an extremely active and demanding baby, still
likes a lot of attention and interaction. We weren't ready for
another for a long long time. We thought about having another
for lots of complicated reasons, including the fact that the
first one turned out so sweet and fun, that my mom has time to
help, and that that our siblings had not had kids for various
depressing reasons. We talked about having another for a couple
of years before we decided to give it a try. We let Nature have
her way -- if we weren't easily fertile, we were not going to
push it. I was pregnant in 2 months (kind of scary -- we're even
more careful about birth control now).
The second pregnancy was more tiring than the first one, but
labor was easier. She's always been a sweet, smart and
self-assured baby. The older one bonded with the baby right
away, though he's easily bored playing with her. It's been a
mixed bag for the adults as well. We often wish we had fewer
demands, though we love our kids very much. Being older (and
low-energy to begin with) does affect us, we're less likely to
play actively, go to the park, to get wild. We try to be
good-enough parents and have done OK so far.
You don't mention your ages, but we were slightly older parents
than most of our friends (1st one at 33, second one at 38) and we
are now 47. Many of my friends were in their 40s for their second
child (one friend had twins at 44!) I really don't think age is
all that relevant if you are in decent shape, and enjoy family
life. A second child DOES change the dynamic in a family - but I
do not know anyone who looks back and says I wish I had only had
one. You should also not expect any particular similarities in
your children. My first was a great sleeper, and very
independent. My second kept me up for 18 months, but is the
world's best ''cuddler.'' Three years is good spacing. You need to
make a committment to the preservation of intimacy with your first
child so that he/she will not feel displaced. Do not
underestimate this - even if your first seems to be adjusting
As a more mature parent, you also have to make a comittment to
using childcare so that you feel you have a life with you husband
- and for yourself. Don't guilt trip yourself that you need to be
home with them for everything.
Perhaps the biggest dilemma for older parents is getting through
the early years so you can do more adventurous things together as
a family, and not always be oriented to the toddler mentality.
(just when you are done with diapers for the first, you have to
start with the next) We have travelled with our kids alot in the
past, but last year, when the youngest was 9, was the first time
we could really take long hikes, speak in other languages, and do
more spontaneos things.
The happier you are with yourself, the happier your family will
function. One friend of mine had her second son at 48, and he is
a great joy in her life. Good luck.
Whew - this is a hard question since I really think it's very
personal, eg. your energy level, your partner's involvement, etc.
However, I can you give you my experience so far. I'm 47 and
have 5 & 2 yr old boys. Our boys are fairly energetic, noisy, and
messy (vs the quiet bookish types!). Our 2 yr old has not yet
slept through the night, and we are exhausted most of the time.
Having a second has been tough on me since I like to have some of
my own time and the testosterone level can push me over the edge
pretty easily at times. I love #2 madly, and love seeing how
different he is than #1, but these years are really tough and I
sometimes think how golden life would be with a single 5 yr old.
I am told - and this is why we went for it! - that soon it will
be great as they will play more together and entertain each other
and have a pal. I actually already see that - they love each
other alot and we don't have to make a zillion play dates and
organize life like our pals with one kid. So - if you can make it
through the first 3-4 years, I think the payoff is great for you
and for them, esp later in life they will have a support system
(one hopes). Plus, as my husband says, each of us will have a
kid to push us in our wheelchairs!
I also loved being a parent with my first, and despite being an
''older'' parent decided to go for the second. It has been a joy,
and a lot of work. I would say that my husband was more
ambivalent about the second child and he still feels that our life
would be a lot easier with only one child. I feel that as the
second child gets older, it gets easier. The first 2 1/2 years is
a lot of work with one child, and with 2 it is harder as there are
many needs that need to be met. Good luck in your decision.
We were in our 40's when we had our 2 kids (They are both
adopted since conceiving was an insurmountable problem for us)
Our 7 1/2 year old son is 18 months older than our daughter--
which is not optimal spacing. It has been REALLY hard but I
wouldn't change it--although my husband might. Until this year,
I was mostly able to work less tahn full time --which helped.
We are always tired and often cranky--probably more so than
younger parents would be. I have found that two kids are way
more than twice as much work--they each have separate needs and
there is so much balancing of time with each and still looking
for time for yourself. Be prepared for it to be more
challenging than you can imagine!
One fact that would not necessarily have changed our decision to
try for a second child, but that I wish I had known, is that the
three ''risk'' factors for having twins are - if you have twins in
your family - if you are over 35 - and if you already have had at
least one child. (check, check, check.) We considered stopping
at one and at 38 ended up with three. And if you go to a twins
club meeting, you hear that a lot. It has been an unbelivable
blessing, with huge ramifications. Including the fact that we no
longer fit in our 900 square foot house, and had to move away from
the Bay Area. Our old lives are pretty much gone -- (I used to
garden, read books and wash my hair) and we do actually weep about
that every now and then. And I have friends with 2 kids who feel
the same way. I think a good question to ask is what your
tolerance is for potential upheaval at this stage in your life. I
know occasionally a baby comes along who tucks smoothly into the
family's rhythm and loves to go to the park in a snuggly and lie
in a basket while mom gardens and nap so Mom can spend time with
firstborn -- but chances are not great you'll get one of those.
But a good thing about kid-induced upheaval is it shows you
tolerances and reserves you didn't know you had. Good Luck.
Unfortunately, no amount of advice from others can add up to the right
decision for you on this life-altering choice. In defense of a second
child, I will offer our own experience. I vividly remember a night, my
first kid was about 1 1/2 at the time, and I was probably six months
pregnant with number two, calling a girlfriend (who happens to be a gifted
Montessori educator) to moan about how I was about to ruin our lives, about
how I'd be losing precious one on one time with my daughter, and so on.
And she said, so wisely, that I'd be giving my daughter the best possible
gift, that I would be adding so much meaning to our lives with the advent
of our son, that our home would be my daughter's personal laboratory for
life, to learn about sharing, turns, all of those incredibly valuable life
lessons one learns at home. And of course, my son arrived, took his place
in the family, and I just can't imagine being on the planet without him. He
and my daughter are just under two years apart, are best friends, station
themselves on their campus when they know the other one is passing through
so they can say hi to one another and give each other a little hug (I kid
you not - even teachers have commented on how close they are). And of
course they piss each other off and swipe things from one another but it is
indeed the best workshop on earth here at home. So, if you have the
energy, the financial where-with-all, the stability required, yes, I think
a sibling is the way to go. And yes, it is very intense in the beginning
when they are both little, but I'm glad that my kids are close in age - big
dividends now that they are 8 and 6 (and just to complete the thought, I
had my daughter at age 36 and son at age 38). Best of luck with this life
Signed, Mom of two who wouldn't do things differently for all the tea in
After reading the previous postings on this issue I think I am
probably the oldest parent, so far, who is responding about her
decision to have a second child. I am a lesbian who has the
benefit of being with a partner who is 11 years younger than me.
She birthed our first son when I was 47 and our second son when I
was 50. We have been together 16 years, and although it wasn't
our original plan to have kids when I was older (it took us a
long time to have our first child-I'll spare you all of the
fertility details, etc.) I think there are definite benefits to
being ''older and wiser.'' In the Navive American tradition you
aren't considered an ''adult'' until you are 51 years old. I know,
for myself, the emotional maturity I bring to my children was not
available to me when I was younger. I came from a dysfunctional
family and it has taken me this long to come into my own.
Although I might have had more energy (whatever that really
means) when I was in my early 30's, I was a mess emotionally. My
sons have the benefit of being raised my someone who has had the
time, and opportunity, to work out some of the emotional kinks
before having them, instead of doing it with/on them. When you
are older you also have the benefit of having a career (if you
are lucky) and don't feel the need to go back to school (since
you may have already done this), or other things that necessitate
long periods of time away from a young family. I also feel that
having two kids is a real blessing...after seeing our two boys
together I believe the second child really came for the first. My
partner and I are just his caretakers, his real love is his older
brother. It is fascinating to see how different they are, how
they experience the world in such different ways. I also feel
that our first son is learning things that he wouldn't have the
opportunity to learn at such an early age, because he has a
younger sibling. I am impressed with his capacity for compassion
and the gentleness he shows his baby brother, things I would not
have expected for a 4 year old. He also gets his patience tested
over and over again. If I was 40 years old we would consider
having a third child. One of my personal challenges, at this age,
is keeping in good enough physical shape to remain active with my
family, bike riding, hiking, etc. in my mid-sixties--illness and
injury free. (It's hard to find the time to workout.) Having
younger kids provides a great incentive to remain active for as
long as possible. I had a great role model, who I keep in mind as
I grow older. She was a girl scout leader, who was not a jock (in
fact, she was an ex-smoker), who hiked the entire John Muir trail
at age 65. If she could do that at 65, I can raise two children -
showing them the wonders of the world at age 65, as she did for
me, when we slowly hiked the John Muir Trail together (I only
lasted 65 miles). From a happy, and somewhat tired, 51 year-old
I think there's a tremendous amount of pressure in our culture
to have a second child, whether or not it makes sense for your
family. Most of the research I've seen suggests that ''only''
children are similar in most ways to children that grow up in
households with more children. The adults also have more time
and energy to work and pursue interests outside of parenting.
Health also becomes more of a concern after 40. My husband had a
first heart attack when our child was four and had a second one
a year later. He's in his early 40s. Although I love being a
mother, and in other circumstances probably would have had
another child, I'm glad we only have one. When he's been ill,
it's been tremendously difficult to manage the logistics of his
needs, our child's, and my work. I don't think I could handle it
if we had two. Although most of us will be healthy into our 60s
and 70s, there are no guarantees, and I think older parents need
to consider how able they are to handle the responsibilities of
parenting on their own.
Should we have a second child?
Here's a slightly different question about having a second.
(Boy am I glad this is anonymous!!)
I *don't* feel particularly glad that we had a first, but my husband
wants another. Our first is a great kid, by the way, but I feel
totally worn out! I'm thinking, will a second be as much extra stress
as I fear, or not? I've heard, having two is more than twice the
stress of having one. The other thing is I've heard that unless you
want to spend your life dragging two kids around to two *different*
sets of activities, it's better to have them close together so at
least they can be entertained with the same activities and keep each
other busy, so that I don't have to. The reason I wouldn't totally
mind having another is just that I would really like to see how
different one kid is than another kid -- basic curiosity.
So to be brief about it, I'm not worried about whether I'll love my
second as much as my first, but about whether I can manage to love my
second more than have my first. There must be other parents out there
who still aren't sure they did the right thing, no? or am I off the
If you aren't completely sure you want a second child, don't do it! It isn't
fair to you or the child. The potential for stress from family conflict --
between the two children, between you and your husband over how you are
sharing the responsibilities particularly given the fact that he was more
anxious than you to have a second child, etc. -- will be much greater.
There's no guaranteeing they'll share interests and entertain each other;
they could very well fight or want to head off in completely different
directions. If you find you love the second one more than the first, I don't
see how that could possibly make life simple, as children are very sensitive
to that sort of thing and it would probably only make the first one harder
to deal with. Having a second child will also extend the number of years
until your nest will be empty again.
I have only one child and a lot of people tried to tell me I needed a second
to "keep her company," to keep her from being a spoiled only child, even to
possibly have a male to carry on the family name. I didn't think any of
these was a good enough reason, for the child's sake or mine. I finally
convinced my husband (not that I was about to have a child when I wasn't
totally for it anyway) that a child should be wanted for him or herself. (I
wonder if your husband has really analysed why he wants a second and if he
doesn't feel as exhausted as you, I wonder why?)
As for parenting being exhausting, I was completely sure I wanted a child
but was still surprised about how exhausting and emotionally trying it was.
It wasn't the 50-50 deal with my husband that I had naively expected either.
Given that, having a second child sure as heck didn't seem like a good idea!
I don't think you are off the map for admitting you're not sure you did the
right thing. I think we've all had moments (not necessarily real brief ones
either!) when we asked, "My God, what have I gotten myself in to." (One of
my favorite TV lines is from when Bill Cosby and his tv wife are considering
having another child and he says in a stage whisper, "Sometimes I don't want
the ones we have." It's healthy that you admit it to yourself and want to
talk about it. The good news, at least from my experience, is it gets
easier. While bigger issues can come up when a child is older, an older
child doesn't have to be watched every minute to make sure they don't stick
their tongue in the power socket. Sometimes they even go visit smone for one
or more days, sleep in all summer and when they do get up hardly leave their
room, and you barely know you have a child for awhile.
But you have to work hard now so they are smart, responsible and pleasant to
be around later so don't dodge any issues that come up. Also, the pressure
you feel may be from trying to do too much. Can you back off anywhere like
lighter work load/fewer hours, let the housework go or be done by someone
else, help from relatives, friends, etc. on child care? A lot of the stuff
we thing we really HAVE TO DO we really don't. (If you haven't read
"Simplify your Life," I recommend it.)
Finally, if you're curious about siblings you don't actually have to have a
set of your own. Just observe those around you. (I come from a big family
and I can tell you it's a real crap shoot.)
I find this post _very_ sad. Nevertheless, if you aren't terribly
happy parenting one child -- DON'T HAVE A SECOND. Two is more than twice
the work, and if your having a second child is a means to entertain the
first "so you don't have to" or to appease your husband, that is NOT, in my
opinion, an appropriate reason for having a child. Is your husband
aware of your feelings? If so, I can not imagine why he would want to have a
second child when you are questioning whether you did the right thing by
having a child at all! Granted, having children changes one's life in a
multitude of ways -- but if this is not a joyous change, with days filled
with smiles, happiness, laughter and amazement at the little life you have
already created, its unwise to create another.
Ask yourself first! What do I want to do with my life? What is
important to me? Don't get another child just only to satisfy your partner
(as it sounds like...) If you want a second child you can cope up with
every difficulty, independend on the gap in age or anything.
I got two, with a gap of 5 years, and they are great pales. With
increasing age the interests are getting more and more different, but
their siblings behaivor is not much different than it was between me and
my brother (gap 2 years). And I love my children both the same, I didn't
feel any hestitation, I didn't even think, there would arise a
difference... but I had a deep deep wish for the first and the second
child, it was my sole choice, my very own decision and I think this
is very important for the future dealing with upcoming problems.
It's very unrealistic to expect that you will love your second child
if you're having trouble loving the first. My advice is to take care of
yourself and take time for your love for the first child to relax and
grow before even thinking about having a second child.
While it's true that there are advantages to having children close
together, there are just as many advantages to spacing them apart. So
space them to meet your own needs, not the advice of your friends.
I sympathize completely with your current state of exhaustion. In my
case, the load on me decreased slowly as the child grew from newborn to
infant, to toddler, to pre-schooler, to school age. It takes a while to
notice, but after a while, the relief can be dramatic. In the meantime,
it would be foolish to take on additional workload that you already know
will overload you and make you resentful.
If you aren't that wild about having had one child, why would you ever
consider a second? Basic curiosity doesn't seem like a good reason.
As far as having them close together so they can be entertained with
the same activities, age has little to do with it. I have 2 children 2.5
years apart. One is into sports, the other into music, so there are
still separate sets of activities. I can understand your ambivalence
about parenthood, it can be really challenging, and as much as I love
having 2 children, it can be exhausting. Unless you truly want to be
a parent to a second child don't do it. Why make a choice to do
something you don't want to, especially one that requires a lifetime
By the way, I admire your honesty. I know people who really didn't
want children but gave in to pressure from family, society, etc. I have
the deepest respect for people who decide - and stand by their decision -
that their lives are complete with only one or no children. You can't
do this job because someone else thinks it's a good idea.
I don't know about you, but basic curiosity is not enough to sustain
me through endless nights of innadequate sleep, vomiting, fighting,
constant demands, biting, etc. (Just a few of the negatives any child
can offer.) Parenting is such a big job, and the energy to do it seems
to come mainly from joy. Without plenty of that, how to continue?
Your doubts sound real, and are based on real experience rather than
vague expectation. Unless your husband chooses to be the primary
caregiver to a very high degree, it is unreasonable for you to go
further into a project that is so far pretty tough for you. Your next
child could be as easy, or much harder than your first. The two of
you might find counselling useful to sort this out. Good luck! And trust
I've been hearing alot of reassurance about the 2nd
child on this network, and until now I haven't have the heart
(or time) to inject my negativity, but I have to say
I OFTEN regret having the second. She is sweet and easy and
totally undeserving of an ambivalent mother, but I cannot
help it. Two children are SO much more work. The 3 yr old
wants to go outside when the 1 yr old needs a nap. When
I nurse the 1 yr old, the 3 yr old leans out the window, or
pours milk on the couch. They fight with each other constantly.
The 1 yr old is always choking on the 3 yr old's small toys.
But the real problem is that I get too depressed to even
wake up in the morning. And this affects my relationship with
my husband. If you are someone who needs solitude to replenish
your energy, then at least wait until the first is 3 yrs before
having the second. If your husband needs convincing, show him
the very opinionated book by Burton White ("The First 3 Years")
which almost says it is a mortal sin to space children closer
than 3 yrs apart.
I couldn't agree more with the previous post recommending spacing children
more than 3 years apart if you are worried about being overwhelmed. Mine
are 4 years apart exactly and I dont feel that having two is anywhere close
to twice the work of having one, let alone more than twice the work. REason:
My five year old can largely take care of himself and can even be quite
helpful with the one year old (and has been so since the baby was born):
getting me things I need, carrying his own bag, even entertaining the little
one while I make dinner, garden, or take a rest. I think a lot of agony is
created by the urgency many people feel to have their kids all at once. I
don't think that much benefit is gained by it in terms of the children
getting along better or doing the same activities. Kids' personalities will
determine how they get along, and extra spacing may even help (so far, mine
have never fought and the older one is very protective of the younger, even
reminding me not to let him get too close to the edge of the bed, etc.), and
also what they are interested in doing. having them close in age doesn't
necessarily mean you'll be able to take them to ballet lessons
simultaneously, or even that they will be interested in doing the same things
at the playground. If your first is older, s/he may even have more patience
to occury him/herself while you concentrate on the little one's needs and
enjoyments for awhile, then shift to focus on the older one's interests
I was concerned when I read the most recent response about having a
second child. To the woman who "is too depressed to get up in the morning",
you might be suffering from depression and should consider seeking help.
Maybe you are even suffering from post-partum depression, exacerbated by the
stresses of a two toddler household. I wish you luck.
I was the third child in my family and never (to this day) got along with my
middle brother. My oldest brother and I do get along, but we're not ''best
friends'' by any means. However, here are a couple of thoughts to consider.
First, my husband always said we should have 2 children ''so they have
someone to conspire with.'' (He had an older sister and while they had a
good relationship for a couple of high school years, they didn't have too
strong a relationship at other times). This has proven true -- they can talk
with each other about household stuff that they may not want to take to mom
(like the time I overheard them talking about why they were so mad at me!)
Second, my husband died when my children were young. Because of the
intensity of my love and connection with my children, I think the best thing
that happened to them was that I had 2 children. Without one child as a
buffer between myself and the other, I probably would have driven them
insane by now -- who could withstand such close and undistracted involvement
with another person? Finally, my children have an incredibly good
relationship, especially considering that there's a 4 year age difference
and a gender difference. But I think so much of the sibling relationship is
based on the parents -- my parents have always sabotaged my relationship
with my one brother, though they certainly didn't intend to do so. So if you
go the multiple child route, you may want to check out advice from
parenting experts (e.g., Siblings Without Rivalry).
I am the 39-year-old mother of a 5-month-old baby, and my husband and
I are torn about whether we should try to have a second child. (We
are extremely happy with our delightful baby, and don't feel a
compelling urge to have another one, but feel that in the long run it
might be a good idea for all three of us -- and given my age, it's now
or never.) There was a discussion here recently about what it was
like to be an only child versus growing up with siblings -- but I'd be
interested in hearing about the same issue from the *parents'* point
of view (parents who had two children very close together, or parents
who chose to have only a single child). Did promptly having a second
baby convert your life from bliss to exhausted misery? How did you
manage to take care of a newborn and a small toddler at the same time,
and if you had the chance to do it again, would you? Did you hope
you'd be giving your first child a lifelong companion, only to find
they hated each other? Or did having the second child make everything
even better? Or, if you had only a single child, do you feel life is
better or worse for (a) yourself and (b) your child than if you'd had
a second one? An odd topic on which to seek public advice, but
. . . I'd love to hear about your experiences.
Responding to the 39 yo woman who was deciding about having another
child. My answer is to say, you'll find out if it was the right
thing to do years after the decision (whichever way you decide to
go) is made. And whatever you decide, it will become the right
Let me chime in as a person who both was an only child, and who has chosen
to have only one child.
I had a happy childhood and the only time I regretted not having brothers
and sisters was the summer when I was nine years old. We moved to another
state in June, lived in an apartment building with no other children living
in it, and I was not in school to meet kids. My mom just let me watch TV
all day. I desperately missed my friends and had no one to play with. For
the first and only time, I was angry at my parents for not having more
kids, but the real anger was generated by being torn away from the world I
knew, and being dropped into a new one against my will. Once school started
in the fall, I made new friends and forgot all about wanting a sibling.
I was a bit surprised to reach adulthood and discover that some people have
fairly negative views of only children. One person thought he was paying me
a great compliment by telling me that he would never have guessed I was an
only child because I was so personable!
I am not at all sorry to have been an only child. All family situations
have their ups and downs. I'm sure if you asked people how they felt about
being the middle child, you might get a sampling of negative comments also.
When I was growing up in the 60's and 70's, large families were much more
common. Now, there are many more smaller families, and I think/hope the
stigma of the selfish, lonely only child will wear off.
I am 44, I have a 2 year old, she will be an only child, by choice.
Both my husband and I come from 2 children families and we love our sibling
to pieces but this is irrelevant as we must face reality.
Our reality says that having a second child would completely destroy any
semblance of sanity we have still managed to retain up to now; we cannot
rationally "afford" to have a second child, and that decision is made for the
good of all 3 of us. By having a second we would stretch ourselves way too
thin mentally, emotionally, financially, physically and we know we would end
up in pure misery.
Annedoctal informations about how someone elses (?) childhood or adulthood
turns out to be in absence of siblings, or the opposite, is not the base to make
this decision or agonizing over it. Just be honest with yourself.
I don't know if you have cable TV, but there is a show on noggin called A
Walk in Your Shoes, where two kids from different parts of life switch
places for a week. One of the episodes dealt with an only child and a girl
from a family of eight children. You got to hear both of their points of
views on the matter.
If you go to noggin.com you can probably find out when it will be on again.
Both girls give positive and negative feedback on both sides from their
For the person who has a five month old. After having my first child,
I could not fathom of having another baby. I was adamantly opposed.
But then my son turned 1 and my feelings changed. I am now pregnant
with my third child and have an almost 3.5 year old and an18 month
old. All I can say is that it's not scientific, you cannot predict
how your children will get along with one another, or how you will
cope with more than one. You just do. Respect your and your
partner's feelings, desires, and know your limits. If you want to be
a stay at home parent, but that's not feasible with two kids, stick
with one. I grew up essentially as an only child (I had a brother who
was 12 years older than me who never lived with me-lived in a
different state) and had a wonderful childhood. Sure, there were times
I wished I had a sibling, but for the most part I didn't miss what I
didn't have. Once I became involved with hom! ew! ork and after
school activities, it never really crossed my mind anymore.
And my motiviation for having more than one child was not motivated by
providing siblings for my children, but by my and my husband's desire
for more children. There is little that can satisfy your desire for
more children except more children.
Perhaps I should not be the one to respond to this message, because I am
the fourth of four children, and have three myself. BUT, I must say, I
often look at only children and their parents with a sense of envy. My
sister has an only child, and does so much with her! They read together
all the time, go places together, and have a sort of closeness that I
think is difficult to achieve when you are bathing one, dealing with
another who has a cold, and trying to nurse the third! The other day,
due to playdates and such, my husband and I found ourselves home with
one child only, and both of us kept saying, "isn't this nice? Isn't
this easy?" There is something wonderful about siblings, but there is
also something wonderful about the quality and quantity of care that an
only child receives. My sister has tried hard to create a close bond
with her child and my eldest, since her daughter will never have
siblings. This has worked very well. Their cousin-relationship is
almost like a sibling one, and they will remain close as they grow
older, just as siblings would. Also, as the fourth child, I can say
from experience that no one ever helped me with my homework, enrolled me
in extra activities (like they did for at least the first two), or
seemed that involved with what I was doing or wanted to do. I don't
feel any resentment, but I do joke with my eldest sister that I raised
I had two children 18 months apart. They are now 10 and 12. I am
glad there are two of them. They have played wonderful games
together when little, and because of that, I did not have to
constantly amuse them. My general observation is the when people
have two kids, they can't give the same sense of overwhelming
self-importance that some only kids have. I think this is a good
thing. On the other hand, I have read that single kids are on
average slightly smarter, perhaps because of the extra adult time.
I tried very hard to follow certain rules that would help reduce or
prevent sibling rivalry (you can read about those). There was little
of it when they were younger, and that was a real blessing. However,
they fight more often now, and one of them seems to be doing her own
version of "East of Eden," accusing me of liking the other one better
and always taking the other kid's side. You have to work to avoid
this! We are going to rent and watch East of Eden next week as a
tonic. Anyway, seeing how different the two of them are, despite
being raised the same, makes a parent much more philosophical about
parental influence. They have their own personalities right from the
beginning and the best we can do is teach them how to be civilized
and learn to live with themselves in ways that benefit them, their
friends and relatives, and society. Self discipline would be a major
parental gift that I am hoping it is possible to give to children.
You are not going to change or shape their personality.
I am glad to have 2 kids, and I think it is beneficial to the child's
personality and to the the parent's parenting. However, I can also
see the wonderful effects of a large family--my neighbor had 6
siblings and still has the first gift she got from her parents that
was for her alone--a hard back book! Kids with many siblings just
can't expect the world to constantly provide for them and their egos.
HOWEVER, having two kids or more is an incredibly HUGE amount of
work. Having two kids in diapers was HORRIBLE. When they fight, it
is HORRIBLE. There is NO WAY to predict whether or not they will get
along, because you can't predict their personalities. I know people
who have kids who fight constantly. YUCK. I personally also think
having more than 2 kids is ethically wrong, considering this earth,
unless you are adopting needy kids. And yes, I am a bit judgmental
I was 39 when I had my first child and got pregnant when she was one
year old, delivering a second daughter 21 months after the first. We
loved our life with one child and in the final month or so of my
second pregnancy I mourned a bit for the special private time with
just me and my firstborn. BUT, once the second was born, both my
husband and I had this sense of being a family with these two girls
that we had not felt before. I can't really explain it in words, but
we felt complete. I am sure the number is different for everyone -
one, two, three... Now that they are older, four and two, they play
together beautifully and are great friends. Their personalities are
different but incredibly compatible. I'm sure some of that is just
luck, but I also made an effort from day one to do things as a family
and not carve out things for the older child to do on her own. We all
went to Epworth and to Totland and gym classes at the Univ. Village
together, and planned around the younger one's nap schedule. They
have shared a bedroom from the time the younger was four months and
have the same bedtime. I did not enroll my older daughter in nursery
school 'til she was almost four. I believe this has really helped
them to be close companions because they have to be! I'm sure it was
a lot of work in the first 18 months or so, but I hardly remember it
as such and the dividends are paying now that they play together - I
feel my life with two is easier than it is for folks I know who have
one. So, in the end I am happy with our decision to have two and
would even be happy if they were closer in age. You get through that
first year somehow - I have a very helpful and supportive husband who
was a student for the first six months of the second one's life. In
retrospect, I should have gotten more help (a mother's helper young
teen or something similar for a few hours one or two days a week)
after my husband went back to work, but I muddled through somehow.
You will too if you decide to go for it and are successful! Good
Please don't think that at 39 you have to have another child immediately.
Many women have children into their 40's. I had my 2nd child at 42. My boys
are 4.5 years apart. I can't say that it's a piece of cake having 2
boys....they play, they fight, they play, they fight, they gang up on each
other, they team up against mom and dad.....I think generally they have very
normal sibling behavior (they are now 11 and 6.5yrs....I'm 49 and tired).
I have 2 older brothers. Personally, I think growing up in a family with
siblings was a good thing for me. My brothers were quite a bit older than me,
so we weren't really "friends" till I was older. Now my one brother and I are
are very close, and the oldest is estranged from our family, unfortunately.
Whether or not to have another child is such an individual and personal
decision. No one, of course, can tell you yes or no.
I know the feeling of looking at your wonderful sweet child and never wanting
to interrupt that relationship you have with the intrusion of a sibling. It
does change the relationship. There are advantages and disadvantages. Good
luck in making this difficult decision.
Ours wonderful boy is an only child, by our choice. We were both
40 when he was born and only now, at age 45, do we have enough illusions
of competence to think about a second child. It would mean running the
1 in 25 or worse risks of a serious birth defect, that would affect BOTH
our children if it occured. It would mean my wife having to quit work
completely for the next 5+ years. It would mean serious economic
If we were 5 years younger? We'd try. Sometimes time is not on your side.
Be happy with what you have.
We've both seen enough inter-sibling conflict to feel that shared
parents are no guarantee of shared happyness. Sibling relationships can
be great, but they're not something parents can order or control! At
least in the parent-child relationship you can imagine you have some
If not to late I would lke to respond to the concern about having more
than one child. I am the middle child of five children and my husband
is the second child of six children. I want five children, my husband
is satisfied with our son and our two younger daughters. In deciding
to have children, one cannot concern themselves with simple
things. Money comes and goes. I pray that we are never without it but
it just seems to come and more of it with each child I have. However,
the tough times that we perceive now do not last forever. I have a 5
y.o, a 27 month old and a 3 month old. Every move I make is carefully
planned. My siblings all have children and when we need emergency
childcare or "I need to go out and take a breath time," I call my
siblings. I hope that my children will also one day be able to rely on
their siblings the way I can. Ultimately what matters when deciding to
have more than one child you must evaluate your ability to give
children what they need, love,shelter,clothing and food. Children
do not need the most expensive schools, the most expensive clothes
etc. 1.They need good parents who understand the blessings that
children are. 2. Remember hand-me-down clothing works well. Dont many
of the parents on this list shop at consignment stores anyway? 3.You
are your childs first teacher, so if I was a student in Oaklands
Public schools(and not Skyline) and am now an under 30 y.o. Phd
student at UCB anyone can be!! It comes from the parents NOT the
teacher!! So love the blessings you have, whether one or six and
hopefully, one day you will get the love back. By the way, my parents
are my best friends, advisors, etc. and they have five children !!!!!
I've delayed sending this post, because you asked for responses from
parents who had their children close together. But I felt it
important to give a little voice to the other side. My mother had
four children in a little over four years, and I don't think it was a
good thing for either her or for us kids. While she desperately
wanted children, having so many so quickly was overwhelming. There
was never enough to go around--and I don't mean financially, I mean
emotionally. She had lots of household and nanny help, but she was
still mom, and we kids needed *her*. She was constantly exhausted,
constantly being asked for more. I think we all would have been
better off if she had spaced her children further apart. She would
have been better able to recover between pregnancies, better rested
in general, and better able to meet the levels of attention and
affection that we needed in the early stages of our lives. We kids,
then, would have had our needs for mothering met.
I know you are only planning a second child, and I know that time is
a factor. And of course there are many women for whom a full house
is simply a blessing to be enjoyed. It's great that you are conscious
of the potential difficulties in the situation, and are asking
questions now, before a second child comes along. That says a lot
about who you are and how you relate to your family. But I would
suggest that you look inside and honestly try to imagine what it
would mean in your day-to-day world to have two very young kids in
your life--two kids in diapers, two toddlers; then two kids in
preschool, two teenagers, two in college. If it seems like the full
house would be an inspiration and the hard work just part of that,
go for it. If it seems overwhelming from the get-go, wait.
I have a one year old daughter and am almost 5 months pregnant with
another baby. I've been in emotional turmoil ever since I found out I
was pregnant with all sorts of guilt and reluctant feelings.
Obviously we are thrilled to be pregnant again. We DID want to have
our children close together in age but this close was, indeed, a
surprise. My emotions range from anger that we could let this happen
to extreme guilt with my daughter for not being there 100% for her now
(as I'm pregnant) and in the future when we have a newborn.
I feel like I, now, can't give her all I would I want to give her
emotionally and physically. I'm somehow "jealous" of my time with
her. I also just CANNOT imagine loving another child as much as I
love and adore her and I have this horrifyingly, awful fear that the
new baby would feel less loved and wanted. I know I've heard people
say this sort of statement before...but truly I can't imagine it. Are
people really being honest when they say they DO love their second
children just as much? Aren't the first ones so special? Will I have
just as strong feelings for our new baby? I would like
to hear from other parents who have been through this same situation.
I appreciate your help.
I am a mother of two, and I have a couple of thoughts on the second
child issue. It is a fact that your relationship with your first
child is unlike your relationship with any later children. The
arrival of your first child transformed you into a parent. That is
one of the most intense experiences of anyone's life. Your feelings
toward your first child will always be affected by this unique
experience you shared. Second, remember that although your first
child will lose something when she has to share you, she will also
gain something - a brother or sister! Now, she may not always
appreciate the wonderfulness of this gift, especially when they are
both little, but in the long run she will. My kids are four years
apart, so the older one and I had an exclusive relationship (I am a
single parent) for four years before the second one came along. So we
have a history together that is not shared with the younger one.
Also, the second does get the short end of the stick in many ways, she
gets the hand-me-down clothes & toys, the older one is the leader in
choosing most activities, what to watch on TV, etc. I frankly find
the older one's life and thoughts more interesting just because she's
older, and she always will be ... so does this mean I love the second
one less? I don't know, it's just different. Second kids are
resilient, they've never been an only kid so it seems natural to them
to share a parent. I'll be interested in hearing what other people
have to say!
What you describe is what every Mom who loves her first child feels.
It seems so disloyal to have a second, and so self-evident that there
is no way you could love another child as you do the one you already
have. But believe me, when the second child comes you will love him
or her as intensely as you love the first. You will never love them
the same; they are different people. But you will love them both
fiercely and without reservation. I felt exactly as you did when
pregnant with my second. My first child was my wonderful and unique
bundle of brilliance and intensity. My second child is my warm little
ray of sunshine. They are so very different, and my relationships
with them so completely different, but I cannot imagine life without
either one of them. As to depriving the first, there is a reality to
the concern: time is finite, and sharing Mom means less time. But a
sibling is a net positive, not a negative. My parents' best gifts to
me were my three siblings.
My sister is 16 months younger than me. When she was born, rather
than being jealous, I treated her as a wonderful new doll, as my mom
tells. It was wonderful to grow up with her.
How could you possibly connect with any other child as you do with
this one? The reason you'll be able to do so is the same reason you're
now able to connect with your daughter: You're unique. So is she. So
is your second child. You'll create and grow a whole new relationship
with this next one, just as you did with his or her sister.
Think about this: Back before you had any children, could you imagine
ever loving someone the way you do your daughter? But you do now.
Trust me--or, rather, trust yourself: you really do have it in you to
adore your second child and be a good mother to both.
(This also sounds like support group time to me. If you can't find one
listed in Parents' Press or something, place an ad there or in the
Express--or right here in the UCB parents' network--and start your own
group. It's truly worth the babysitter money.)
My second son was a complete surprise -- we had just decided to stop
having kids! -- and I was happy to hear I was pregnent, yet... I
spent a lot of my pregnancy ignoring the baby yet worrying about it;
mourning the loss of my alone time with my older son; worrying I would
never love this new baby like I love my older son; mad that I could
not go back to work as I had planned; and angry that I would not get
the "me" time I was craving now that a baby was coming. He was born -
awful labor and delivery - and I loved him, but it was not the same as
my first. I did everything I was supposed to do and cared, but... It
took a good three months for me to fall in love with him. Now, I
cannot imagine my life or family without him. I was (am) able to love
both my children - differently since they are different people -- but
equally. To top it off, I am an only child so I was nervous about the
whole sibling thing. My older son was thrilled to have a brother and
was rarely jealous (until now - 20 months later). I truly do love
both my chidren and I realized when my second was born that the best
thing I ever gave my older son was a sibling AND that this second
child filled a hole in our family that I didn't realize was there
until he arrived.
Hope this helps.
To the mom who is experiencing intense emotions around pregnancy with
the 2nd child: I think you are well within the range of what is called
normal. Your description of feelings reminds me of how I used to get
when my hormones were high, low and/ or running amok, especially as
during pregnancy. I almost felt as if I had been taken over by another
being, which, in a sense, is literally the case, but I experienced it
in a much more Sci-Fi kind of way, as if I were on Heavy Drugs. I
believe that hormones do affect some (not all) sensitive women that
way, and I have been one. Since I am a feminist, I don't think I am
being sexist, either, in reporting that some women do have lower
thresholds for hormone reactions. I am a nurse as well, and it reminds
me of some (not all) people's sensitivity to drugs. I was the owner
of a whacked out menarche-adolescence (bad depression, suicidal
ideation), horrific PMS (the chain saw murders, cars off cliffs kind),
a pregnancy that produced a mental state like waking dreams, an
unbelievable 3 day home labor (and birth) that felt like repeated
shotgun blasts to the abdomen for the duration, and years later D and
C for which I was given Pitocin (oxytocin, the hormone that causes
uterine contractions and is connected to lactation) and had florid
hallucinations--the real thing-- until the second it was discontinued,
and a menopause that is like a train wreck connected to a fatal
disease that I have described as PMS to the 400th power experienced
while hallucinating on an LSD overdose. Other than these episodes, I
have been fine and had a good life! I wish someone had early on given
me an owner's manual for this body! It even fooled a nurse.
So for a pregnant mom to be obsessing about the pregnancy and her life
with closely- spaced kids sounds normal to me. And the words you used
sound like the sort of hyper emotionality I experienced. Here are the
ones I noticed in your post: anger --extreme guilt --"jealous"
--CANNOT imagine loving another child as much as I love and adore her
--horrifyingly, awful fear-- strong feelings. Pregnancy for some
women feels like that. Welcome to the club, sister. You will probably
feel a lot better after the baby has arrived. Finally, many people try
to have 2 kids close together so they can be playmates. Such a deal.
Hope you feel better.
I recall one evening, now long ago, pregnant with my son, on the phone
with a friend of mine who runs a Montessori pre-school. And I was
sharing my concerns about the loss of my relationship with my daughter
(who turned two just after her brother's arrival). I vividly recall
her saying that in fact having a sibling was the greatest gift I could
give to my daughter, that I wouldn't love them in the same way but
that the heart is capable of vastness. Today, our kids are best
buddies, they kiss each other goodmorning and goodnight every day,
they totally look out for each other, they certainly piss each other
off but they know that they each belong to this family and to each
other. They share a room and use each other as a workshop to learn
about being a social being in the world. I go to great lengths to
restrain myself from interfering and let them work things out,
intervening only when there is physical pain inflicted from one to the
other. I would definitely recommend Faber and Maslich's "Siblings
Without Rivalry." And by the way, my kids are just shy of 6 1/2 and 4
And yes, your relationship with your firstborn will change, and the
change may involve some sadness and longing, but you are also adding
immeasurably to each of your lives. And you will love your second
differently, but I would venture no less. Each child brings so unique
gifts to his or her family, regardless of birth order. Best wishes.
Being the older child in a family of two daughters born 18 months apart, I would
offer this advice (which I wish someone could have given my own parents at the
time.) BTW, I applaud your honesty, concern and willingness to seek advice on the
* Give the older child as much of a role in the care and loving of the little one
as possible. He-She'll be what, 14 months when her sibling is born? Before the
baby is drinking out of cups she might be able to feed it from a bottle with a
parent's supervision. I think this might be very important. If she has any
inclination to, let her care for the baby as much as possible. When she's 3 or 4
maybe she can have the responsibility of "baby-sitting" while you're in another
room or in the backyard. Most healthy baby's are way more resilient than we believe
them to be. If the first child is a bit awkward in handling the baby (as long as
it's not intentionally rough) the babe will survive and the children may bond.
That's the most important thing.
* And pamper yourself so you don't feel martyred by the incredible demands on your
time, sleep and sanity made by caring for two little ones. Maybe a weekly massage
(my own chosen self-indulgence) or something like that.
* If things get bad, Get help! Good luck. I think your self-insight and openness
to help will create a loving family.
I am expecting my second child soon. Has anyone experienced
apprehensions over having a second child, such as whether or not they
would be able to equally love, and admire the second as the first?
I also feel slightly worried that my husband and I might have rushed into
having a second vs. working on some problems we are experiencing.
I just can't imagine taking away from the attention that I now give to my
daughter. Has anyone else experienced similar feelings?
Thank you in advance for any advice offered.
I think almost every mother alive has experienced apprehensions over having
a second child. I had a hard time bonding with my second child, we had a
difficult time establishing our nursing routine, etc. I cried in the
pediatrician's office worried that I would never be able to love this
child as much as my much beloved and admired first born. She gave me
some very sage advice. She said, don't worry. As soon as you think
you think you could never love one as much as the other they will
flip-flop. And, now at ages 13 and 15 I can assure you that they
have---and many times. We are currently in a stage where the 13 year old
old is great fun to be with and the 15 year old not so. Relax, you
will love them both. That said, you should know that the connection
with that first born is a forever thing (which is why first borns can
be so weird---sorry all you first borns, I'm a second born ;-)
Re: problems with your husband---hang in there. After 20 years of marriage we
have had dry spells and wonderful times, keep talking, keep loving, and don't
I, too, was apprehensive about having a second child. I was absolutely
stunned to discover one day, while my first child was only 9 months old,
that I was pregnant again. I immediately fell into a depression and felt
like my whole world was falling apart. My daughter's pediatrician
immediately noticed that I was unhappy about the pregnancy and questioned
me closely about my feelings and our family life throughout my pregnancy.
I even discussed having an abortion with my husband, which was a big step
for me as I have a strong ethical opposition to abortion. I also felt that
my marriage wasn't strong enough to justify a second child. In the end, I
proceeded with the pregnancy, but all the way up until the day she was
born, I had the same doubts about whether she was wanted and whether I
would ever love her the way I did her older sister.
My second surprise came when she was born. All of my doubts vanished the
moment I saw her, and I bonded to this child instantly in a way that took
months with my first child. I didn't want to let anyone else feed her (and
she felt the same way -- refused to have anything to do with a bottle), and
I spent every moment of my maternity leave with her. The mother's group I
had with my older daughter wanted to get together with me to see the new
baby, and somehow I just couldn't find the time. I was too busy having
those magical three months with just me and my infant. My husband just
rolled his eyes over what he called the "love fest" between us, and I guess
it was true. It was very difficult for him to get time with either one of
us. Even now, at coming up on 4 years, my younger daughter and I have a
stronger emotional bond with each other than with my older daughter or
Oh, boy, I sure had these feelings and I'd bet so has every other
mother (and father) of more than one child! There are lots of
books and articles on the subject for you and your husband to look
Here's something simple I read that made me feel much better: A
parent's love is like the flame of a candle. It will light one or
many candles and never diminish. And the light grows with every
newly lighted candle.
Another way to put it, the sum of a family's love is greater than its
I had the same concerns when I was about to have my second child. My
older son was barely two when my second son was born, and I was
worried both that I wouldn't be able to love my second son as much
as my first and that I wouldn't be able to give my first son the love
and attention he needed after his brother was born. What I found
instead was that I bonded deeply with my second son, but that my love
for my older son stayed just as strong as it had been, and maybe even
grew stronger when I saw him learning to be a big brother. And from
the beginning, there was no question of having to take love away from
one to give to the other. My experience is that it's not a question
of whether I love them both "equally"--instead, I love them both
totally, as if I'd grown a whole new heart for loving each of them.
>From the beginning, each of them was such as individual that I responded
to each one as an individual person. There's no doubt that you'll have
less time for each of them than you did when you had only one--but I'm
not sure that's necessarily a bad thing, as long as they both know
that you love them. It's also possible to combine a lot of
activities, like reading or singing to the older child while you
nurse the younger child, or playing silly hide-and-seek games with
both of them. (You'll have a lot less time for yourself, of course,
but that's another story!) And there are real benefits for the
children. My two little guys play a lot together and get a lot of
enjoyment and companionship from each other, and they've each learned
from each other, too--my four-year-old has had to learn to share (hard
lesson!) and to take someone else's feelings into consideration, and
my two-year-old has great physical skills because he's always trying
to keep up with his older brother. They fight, too, of course, but
on the whole I think that each of them has gotten a lot out of having
a brother and they both know that my husband and I love them.
I felt exactly the same way. My son was only 16 months old when
I had my second one. I remember holding my second son in the
hospital, looking at him and wondering if I could love him as
much as the first. My feelings must've changed within a day, for
I don't remember asking myself that question any other time. I do
remember feeling sorry for the older one for he was no longer the
baby, and I felt that he was cheated out of fully enjoying that
babyhood. but my boys have always been best friends and they feel
very sorry for anyone else that does not have a sibling (they're
now 18 and 19).
While I was pregnant with my second child I too felt extremely
apprehensive about "messing up" a great family. After my second
child was born, i don't think i boded with her as quickly as I did
with number 1--none of the hours of "adoring" that I lavished on my
first as a newborn. But after a few months (?) I did fall in love
with her too. Now (4 yrs later) I am so happy that I had another
child. The 2 kids love each other and mostly get along great (except
when they're ready to strangle each other!).
So I want to say I've been there, and it will be hard, but I think
you'll be glad you did it. A great book that you might enjoy (someone
else also asked for a book about siblings sometime ago) is "Siblings
without Rivalry" by Faber and Mazlish, the same people who wrote "How
to Talk so Kids will Listen and..."
I think it's completely normal (& even expected) to feel apprehensive
about the upcoming birth of one's second child. Most people I've
talked to have had these feelings and I know I certainly did. So much
of my life and attention was (& still is!) focused on my first son that
I couldn't imagine how I could find room for my second child. I also
felt like my life as a parent finally had a rythym to it (he finally
slept at night, didn't need to lug around all the baby paraphanalia any
more etc) and I wasn't sure how I'd do once a second child came along.
At times I even felt guilty that I would somehow let my first son down
by having a second one! Just as all the questions and doubts that swirl
around in the head of a parent expecting their first child have a way of
dissapating once they hold their child and fall in love with him/her, so
do doubts about one's second child. Taking care of the needs of 2
little people who rely on you can definately can be more stressful but
you get progressively more creative to get everything done that needs to
be done...and the house gets messier... Still, I love to see the
evolving relationship between my sons, I'm more tired but I have no
regrets even though I DID have lots of ambivalence during my pregnancy.
It took us years to work up to having a second child. We wanted the
first one so very much, I thought only fair to hold off on the second
until we wanted it just as much. Didn't happen--biology ruled otherwise.
It wasn't a problem, though. I think most parents regard their first child
as the World's First Baby, while for the second they have a more
realistic perspective--we have dozens of photographs of our first child,
and comparatively few of our second, poor thing!
But all that being said, we do love them equally. That's never been a
problem. True, we weren't as gaga about #2 as we were about #1; but
that's sentimentality, not love. Maybe #2 is a little better off for that--he's
had love, not gush.
Regarding couple/marital problems: it's a good sign that they survived
the first kid, but the second will stress the marriage too. Maybe this is
a good time to work on them.
To respond to the poster asking whether marital stress was normal with
the growing of a family: My husband and I have found it to be extremely
hard on the marriage. We love our child very much and he was a wanted
and planned baby, but our relationship has certainly been through a lot
of rough patches since he joined our life! We began couples counseling
8 months ago, and bit by bit we're getting things back together.
(Our situation is more complicated than some, to be sure.) Almost
all of my friends from my mother's group have or are experiencing
similar difficulties. In fact we've just decided to postpone getting
pregnant with a second indefinitely - until we're less stressed, and
our finances in better order. (I think loss of income, reduced
income or childcare expenses contribute significantly to the parental
I'd also like to recommend a terrific book called, "Becoming the
Parent You Want To Be", by Laura Davis and Janice Keyser. Unlike
the multitude of books that focus solely on children't development,
this one helps encourage PARENT'S development. I have found it
invaluable whenever I've felt really at a loss with my parenting.
I am expecting my second child as well, and initially had some anxiety
over how I will respond to a second (and still have some apprehensions).
However, after I told my son (who is 5 years old) about the baby and saw
his reaction, which was pure excitement, many of my concerns have
melted. I have included my son is helping us choose names, have showed
him the sonogram pictures, and talk to him quite frequently about what
it will be like to have a baby around the house. By doing this I have
realized that this second child is simply an addition to what I now
have vs. something that will take away from my current situation.
I also try to remind myself what it was like growing up as an only child
for many years (until my parents seperated, remarried, and gave a LARGE
family of step-siblings who I am very close with today). I can remember
wanting to have a baby brother or sister to either play with or dote on.
I also think of what it would be like for my son in twenty years if he
didn't have any siblings. As adults we can sometimes find our closest
friends in those we have grown up with.
Change is scary, yet inevitable - regardless of what the situation is.
Hang in there, and visualize this child you are about to be blessed
with. I'm sure that many fears will just fade away the minute that
child arrives. Good luck!
This is in response to the mother who is worried she won't love her
second child as much as her first. Don't worry! It's a totally natural
reaction. I remember I was almost due to deliver my second daughter before
I bought her anything -- and that was a nightlight for her room. It
It was so different from the excitement I felt when expecting my first
daughter. But those little babies have a way of growing on you. It's
natural to mourn the loss of the special relationship you have with your
first child, but you will be amazed how easily your heart opens up to
love and adore another child. In addition, you get to enjoy the
relationship between the children. You will see you that you will soon
love both of them equally.
I am in a similar situation, but resigning myself to the apprehension in
several ways (all focusing on the positive aspects of having two.) The
first is that I think our son will actually benefit from less attention
from us - not that he'll appreciate it, but he has just turned 5 & has
all the signs of doted-upon only-childness, most of which are not
particularly attractive at the moment. (He's not really "spoiled", just
very self-centered & demanding.) We spent the weekend with my grandparents
& got the usual advice about how we overdo with him, but this time I
really listened. My grandmother had 6 children & a philosophy that "benign
neglect" was the best way to bring them up. I hope to veer more in that
direction. Second, I was halfway an only child, & am the only child of
my mother. I only wish that I had some sibling support in dealing with her
now. And I adore my half-brothers. Though things weren't always
perfect, I don't know what I'd do without them. Finally, I have paid careful
attention to others I know who have been through this, and apparently
it's all over pretty fast. As with a first child, I think parents get used
to the situation almost right away (not always so with siblings... When I
was 5, I told my stepmother to send my brother back, so I'm expecting no
less from my son!) My sister-in-law said she had one long moment of misery
right after coming home from the hospital - "How could I have done this
to him?!" but then it passed! And, I've heard the love is entirely equal,
and the admiration is equal, but different, bc everyone has different
qualities to admire. I think parents' hearts just get bigger & bigger.
A really good book is "And Baby Makes Four" by Hilory Wagner. Read it & you
won't feel the least bit odd or alone. (As far as husbands, my experience
has been that there is almost never a time without problems - some are mild,
some are worse. But no matter what happens, I doubt that either of you
will ever regret having this child.)
Worried about plans for second child
This is only partially a request for advice; it's also a request for
stories. My husband and I are planning to get pregnant (soon) with
our second child. Our daughter is 16 months old. My husband stays at
home most workdays, while I work full-time outside the home. Although
we're both nervous about how to make things work with two young
children, he's VERY scared about it (and since he's the one who has to
do most of the day-to-day work, I don't blame him!). I'd love advice,
stories, anecdotes, etc. on how to get through the day with two little
ones, including logistics, suggested supplies, places to go, etc. to
let him know he's not alone and also to give him ideas which will make
it all seem less terrifying. Anything you can provide will be greatly
My older child was 4 years when my youngest was born, so a little different
from what you are doing. However the work of a newborn is extremely
demanding and the first few months, I was exhausted. A friend said: it
will get easier. I held on to those words like a mantra. And
after those first hard months, especially as the youngest got more social, I
found it truly did get easier. In terms of activities. Initally I would
try to get lots of playmates to come over to occupy my older child, as it
was so much work to leave the house. But then there came the point where I
felt housebound. It was easiest to go to a friends house, but we also go
places where my oldest will be well occupied, like Lawrence Hall of
You will find that two kids is more hectic than one, and often more fun. My
daughter (3yrs 4 months older) adored her little brother for 2 1/2 years
(now their relationship has more usual ups and downs). My second child is a
more stable person because I stopped trying to do so much once he was born
(unlike sister he had a normal bedtime and routine -- in fact he wouldn't
sleep anywhere but his bed...if kept out. My daughter fell asleep at 9:30pm
wherever she was, restaurants, movies, parties, conferences). I was also
less scared of babies, so he benefits from that, too. I thought we were
being pretty calm and casual the first time around, but no.
The most important thing I can tell you is that we couldn't picture
inflicting a baby on my daughter -- and can't picture life without either
of them, now.... we would have missed out on so much! [-- by the way, I
never felt that way about having a third but some folks do.]
Good luck, jump in and have fun.
My kids are 20 mo. apart, so my oldest was really just
a baby when my younger was born. I couldn't imagine
what life would be like. I think it was harder than I
would have thought at first from meeting the physical
needs of 2 closely spaced kids. Now it is pretty easy
because they are such good playmates.
As far as things we did-I found that the sleep
deprivation was harder for me the second time around,
and we sleep trained my older kid soon. A double
stroller was important for us. We didn't do special
activities because we just did normal stuff the older
one would do, and brought along my younger one. There
was a time, starting around 10 mo. and going to 3 yr.,
where the younger kid tended to wander off, so we had
to restrict things but not much. Also enforced "taking
turns" and sharing rules when my younger kid was 6 mo.
old, which made me feel pretty silly but was fairer to
my older kid.
Good luck, Ronnie
I have two daughters, a 7-week-old(Clementine) and a 22-month-old (Evelyn).
At the end of my pregnancy I was _terrified_ to think what it would be like
to have two when my older daughter was such a handful all by
her(wonderful)self: not sleeping through the night most nights, very
demanding of attention, extremely strong-willed and a real mama's girl. I
was worried about the jealousy and having to get up with two at night
(because Evelyn always wanted mama at night) and just not being able to
juggle two when I sometimes felt like tearing my hair out with one. None
of these fears materialized. The new baby is a good sleeper (not
miraculous or anything, but 4-5-hour stretches at night) and Evelyn quickly
adapted to having dad help her get back to sleep at night. Jealousy hasn't
been much of a problem either, so far. Evelyn is sometimes angry at me when
I am nursing the baby, but no more angry than when I am answering email and
she wants me to read her a book. Her anger isn't directed at the baby, in
fact, she would wear a hole in the baby's head from kissing her if I would
let her. She loves to hold the baby (with help) and exclaim: "Look at her
TIIIINY TIIIINY feet."
I have found that some things can be done with two almost as easily as with
one: baths (I have a baby bath pillow for the baby to lie on in the bath.
Evelyn helps wash her, which she LOVES. I orient the baby so her toes are
by Evelyn and Evelyn ladles water over her legs and
washes her feet with a washcloth. Then I can take the baby out and dry and
dress her while Evelyn continues to play. All of us enjoy bath time); the
park (I wear the baby and clamber all over the play structure with Evelyn
and the baby sleeps through it all); reading (goes with nursing well);
diaper changing (endlessly fascinating to the toddler set).
Some things that I really feared are in fact difficult, but not as bad as I
thought: going to the store (I was really afraid of this, but Evelyn goes
in the cart basket and the baby rides in her carseat, and despite having to
say "sit down" a million times and eventually having
to carry Evelyn, it's manageable) and making dinner (I wear the baby if she
is not sleeping and Evelyn stands on a stepstool and "helps" me).
Some things I do when Evelyn is very cranky and the baby needs attention: I
take out one of the "new" toys or books I keep on hand (library books, a
real new toy, or an old one that I put away for awhile); I let Evelyn play
with water --- she loves to "wash dishes" it makes an awful mess, but is
worth it in certain situations; I go visit a friend who lives nearby and my
dear friend and her 2-year-old daughter play with Evelyn while I take care
of the baby and chat! But these difficult times are infrequent.
From the perspective of a mere 7 weeks of having two (everything may be
different in a month!) it seems to me that the first baby requires such a
HUGE adjustment that you think the second will be similarly difficult, but
in fact, the second one just fits right in. The accomodations you have to
make for a second baby are so small compared
with the ones you made for the first that you can't figure out why you were
worried at all.
How do you handle your own feelings regarding the second child? We
have a 4,5 year old (daughter) whom I love to death. We also we have an
18 month old (son) whom I maybe don't love. He's terrible. He wines all
the time, is sick a lot. Keeps us out of our sleep, won't play on his own. I
almost resent him and am afraid of my feelings. Around me I usually see
the opposite, moms loving their youngest to death. Have others have the
same feelings I have or should I go and see someone. I'm scared that he'll
grow up knowing/feeling that I don't like him. What will that do to him? I
try to hide my feelings, but kids know.
The myth that mothers always automatically love their children is just that,
a myth. Sounds like you might have a touch of the baby blues or just badly
in need of some help or me-time. Your first child sounds like she was so
easy that you feel like your not doing something right with the second one.
For me it was the other way around. I was frantic with my first born, more
laid back with the second one (who was a preemie and caused a lot of worry).
You can go see someone, but try getting some help in, even if its only an
hour or two a week. See if just getting some rest or me-time doesn't help
you with your feelings of frustration. You're stressed and need a break.
Sometimes mothers get so busy taking care of their children, they forget to
take care of themselves. You need someone to take a little care of you.
To the mother of the the 18 month old. Obviously you love your child or you
would not be so concerned for him. Children can be so different and we may
very well like one child more than another, it does not mean you don't love
him. But, children do pick up our feelings and certainly your child could be
reacting to your feelings of resentment. I know that the more mine stresses
me out, the worse he behaves and it's a vicious cycle we can't seem to
break. Then I feel like I am not a ''good mother'' because he never seems
happy with me.
My daughter was so easy, it spoiled me for my son. He was work! I had to
work at doing things with him where he would feel good. He hated the pool,
hated swings, was shy around other kids. I'd take him to family fun night at
the YMCA and he'd just cling to me while everyone else was running around
having a blast. Eventually when he was a little older than yours we ventured
into doing art together starting with finger painting (which at first was
just an experiment in blending colors together and every single painting
ended up being olive green, gray, brown - but he enjoyed the process). Now
when he needs to spend time with me, he asks me to do an art project. I know
he's asking for time with me doing something we both enjoy.
I would suggest you find some time to spend with him alone, doing something
that he enjoys. He will react to your attention, and if he is enjoying
himself you will feel happier and more successful as well.
The strength of preference for one child over the other is what concerns me
-- everyone has preferences (mine change from moment to moment!) but you
really do seem to resent your son - a good counselor can help you deal with
this BEFORE it destroys your relationship with him. Children are very saavy.
He may already feel a difference in the way you feel about him.
Please seek counselling. I'm sure other people have felt the same way, but
that doesn't make it healthy - for either one of you. Perhaps try seeking
help from a homeopath.
I don't want to be judgemental, but your message concerns me. You may have
had one of those rare, quiet and ''perfect'', first babies. So maybe you are
not used to what ''normal '' babies do. I have a one year old and I know it
can get frustrating and it's hard when a baby is inconsolable. But, he's
your baby. The fact that you write that you don't love him is very
concerning to me. I can understand that sometimes you don't like his
behavior or moods, etc. But, he's your baby. If there are no times when you
look at your baby and feel love, then there might be a problem. A common
hormonal inbalance can cause a mother to feel things she's not used to. I
think that you should definately seek help. The fact that you wrote on this
message board says that you want help. You need professional help though.
For you and for your baby. Every baby should be loved. God forbid something
happen to your little baby and you wish you would have loved him when you
had the chance. Please get help.
To the Mom who feels resentful towards her youngest:
I have to admit that while I do love my baby, I do get fed up a lot easier
with her than I did with my first who is now six. Baby is 13 months. The
oldest progressed rapidly, did everything ahead of schedule, loved to play
by herself, etc. Our baby was a miracle baby to begin with, so she was a
surprise. She has also been much slower to develop than the oldest, had
colic for 6 months, has had all sorts of tummy problems and problems eating,
low weight gain,has to go to physical therapy for delayed motor skills and
over all has just been very tiring to take care of. On top of that there is
the jealousy factor of the oldest who never used to demand attention but has
now become very demanding and it is so much more difficult to explain to her
why the baby needs so much extra attention.
One thing that could help is to get someone to help take care of your
children so you can have some time for yourself to do something you would
like to do so you don't feel so resentful. If you have time, you might
consider finding a co-operative baby-sitting or playgroup to join so that
once in a while the baby could have a friend over to ''play'' with and then
once in a while, the baby can go to the friend's house to play. Also, try
Bananas for support groups and references.
In my very limited experience - speaking as an adult who grew up with
friends whose parents were very very obviously favoritive to one sibling, it
does affect them eventually - I think the end outcome depends on many
Yes, most parents feel resentful at some time, but it sounds as though you
expect to continue feeling this way. Think about what makes you feel like
yourself again. Do something away from your children. Join support group.
Have some time alone with each child away from home. Look into preschool
toddler programs, or rec center classes for your son. He's just getting to
the age where he might focus away from you if there is something interesting
going on. Give yourself a break so that you can feel like yourself, enjoy
both your kids, and parent them well.
As a therapist and parent of young children I would be happy to consult, or
provide you with a compassionate moderate-fee referral should you be
My gut reaction is that you are having post-partum depression. Talk to your
OB or regular doctor or a therapist about your feelings. Take care.
Please get some help. I don't think that you ''don't love your second
child'' - but that you're dealing with 2 very challenging issues: 1) you
have 2 children under the age of five and 2) after having an ''easy'' first
child,, your second child is much more high maintenance (and what a surprise
that can be!). ''Bad'' feelings are more common than most of us mothers
admit. Feeling resentful of being tired, stressed out, and constantly being
called upon for attention is NORMAL. Its healthy that you have enough
perspective to admit that you're having a hard time putting those feelings
in perspective and see that these feelings may be affecting your
relationship with your child(ren). Your second child may always be more of a
challenge (needs alot of attention, structure, etc.) but believe me he will
eventually really ''capture your heart'' (after all, you will have had to
reach down and pour alot more of yourself into that child... and through
that experience you may forge a bond that in many ways is deeper than with
your ''easy'' child). Don't feel guilty, you're doing a good thing by
admitting these feelings and reaching out to get help to process through
I have a 21 month old child and know from experience they are a LOT of work.
Sometimes it is easier to feel more comfortable around a five year old
because they are more self sufficient. My advice to you is to get a nanny
immediately. It sounds like you need some physical help with the needs of
Sounds like you need some help. I can highly recommend therapist Alissa
Genovese in Kensington. She really helped me with my post-partum depression
and my feelings of ambililance toward my daughter. We are now seeking help
from Meg Zweiback in Oakland to help us parent our wonderful but very
difficult now two year old. She is helping us with her ''mommy addiction'',
her aggression, and the fact that she has never in her two years slept
through the night. All I can say is, I would never make is as a parent
without using all of the resources that our wonderful community has to
a mom who needed help
To mom feeling resentful of 2nd child:
It sounds like it is less the birth order of your children than their
different temperments that's getting you down. I think it's harder on
parents if the more difficult child is number two because you have your
expectations set by your first kid and you now have all these additional
I highly recommend ''The Difficult Child'' and ''Raising Your Spirited
Child''. Read both. They have different, but valuable, takes on the
challenging kid issue.
When I was struggling with my feelings of resentment regarding my
difficult first child I found a brief return to therapy very useful for
understanding my feelings and getting some perspective. Our
expectations for mothers are so high and when we feel, well, probably
normal reactions, we think we're freaks. Also, do not underestimate the
devastating impact of sleep deprevation.
My sympathies -- I've been there. I'm still there! I don't think
having a difficult child has made me a better mother but it's made me a
better person. I realize how much each child is his or her own person
(from the day they are born!). I have tremendous compassion for how
challenging raising children is ...and I will never ever be
self-righteous or smug about parenting.
Final words: get support for your self. Books, friends, spouse,
therapy, pedicures, whatever! You need and deserve it (all moms do!).
Mom of Difficult First Child
It sounds like you may be suffering from severe depression. It is common for
mothers to feel incredibly overwhelmed with a second child, but if you are
feeling unloving toward your young son, there is definitely something that
needs to be paid attention to. Please seek some help - luckily, there is
about a million therapists in the Bay Area, and you should be able to find
one that can suit your needs. There are ways to help yourself out of
depression - you and your son will get through this. Good luck, and
I have a 1 and a 3 year-old, so I know it is stressful. I think it is
natural to feel differently towards your children. They have different
personalities, temperments, etc. My eldest was a colicky, clingy infant. My
younger was happy and peaceful. My elder doesn't break household rules; my
younger trashes the house every hour.
That said, I think you do need some professional help. Everyone deserves a
mother's love, no matter how much of a pain in the ass he is. Some babies
are harder to care for than others. If you are not up for the task, get
some help. A good therapist and perhaps a spiritual counselor. A parent
should not qualify their love with a maybe.
18 mos. is surely the most difficult age, and it probably won't get better
for about another year, or more, in terms of whining, contrary behavior,
sleep issues, etc. It is critical at this diffiicult stage (when life is as
difficult or more so for him than it is for you: communication is tough,
the world is very big and he is very small, his feelings may be strong,
random, incomprehensible, and on and on) that he feel your unconditional
love and support. Otherwise, yes, he might become marginalized and his
anti-social behavior might become ingrained. I have/had a second child
(boy) who was very challenging (and actually hit and physically harmed my
older child, almost daily, to the point of major tears multiple times per
day, for well over a year) and it was truly miraculous to see this child's
compassionate, loving nature emerge as we just poured compassion and love
and understanding on him, together with strict discipline regarding hitting
and other anti-social behavior. YES, GET HELP NOW so that you can learn to
love this child and enjoy, even marvel, as his own unique positive asects
emerge from the chaos of the ''terrible twos'' (i.e. 1-3 years).
It is great that you are identifying your feelings and reaching out quickly.
Other parents have experienced this as well, you are not alone. Just having
a second child at all can be very taxing in and of itself. I would recommend
you find a therapist to talk to and sort things out, because you are correct
that little ones do pick things up. Feel free to contact me (I am a
therapist myself) and I'd be happy to help hook you up with someone or set
up a consultation. But do find someone to talk to, whatever you do.
My heart aches for you and your second child. He needs to know that his
mother loves him, and you're right to face this issue now. It could be a
good idea to see a counselor to help you figure out how to develop a closer
and happier relationship with him. In the meantime, you might think about
carving out more time to spend with your second child alone. The fact that
he's whiny and needy suggests that he might need more one-on-one time with
you, in which you aren't trying to do anything else, like take care of your
older child, cook, pay bills, etc. It would also be a good idea to make
sure that you hold him and cuddle him a lot and tell him that you love him.
Those things might help to fill his emotional needs, so that he might
eventually become less demanding. It could also help you to feel closer and
more connected to him. For some other thoughts, you might also read
Touchpoints by Barry Brazelton, and Your Baby and Child by Penelope Leach,
which (if I remember correctly) both have very good discussions about
dealing with temperamental differences in children. Good luck to both of
I only have one, but I imagine that your situation is not as uncommon as you
might imagine - esp. since the younger sounds more trying than the first.
Also, I agree that kids definitely pick up on our true feelings no matter
how good we might be at hiding them. I strongly encourage you to seek
therapy. Not only for his sake, but also for yours. It could really help
you come to love him and develop the attachment you both need. There are
tons of fabulous therapists in this area - many offer sliding scales. Good
You are not alone. I could have written most of your
post in my recent past. I have 2 kids - 5 yrs. and 2
yrs. 3 months. Our first was a happy, easy baby and
charming toddler (most of the time!)
Our second came into the world with a hair-raising cry
that struck both my husband and me. She had colic,
cried and required holding almost constantly. Around
her first birthday she developed chronic ear
infections that were painful and disruptive. She is
now a pretty happy kid, but is still not a good
After a year of major sleep deprivation and
resentment, I began seeing a wonderful therapist named
Joanna Levine in Oakland. She helped me come to terms
with the resentment, the guilt associated with the
resentment, and the feelings I had that things were
''supposed to be'' a certain way with kids.
It might sound corny, but I really believe that my
second child has given me a gift of realizing that we
can't control everything. Rigid expectations of how
things ''should be'' in life - and especially with
children - always lead to disappointment.
That said, having a sick child who does not sleep well
is very debilitating. Even if the sleep disruption is
due to ''normal'' problems like bad ears, it is still a
huge strain. He's probably tired (and whiney too.)
You should absolutely find someone to talk to. I doubt
you don't love your child, but some kids are just more
challenging. To that point, your whiney, challenging
18 month old will likely become a wonderful 4- or 8-
or 13-year old guy. Unfortunately, your daughter will
likely hit some rough patches along the way too.
Getting some help now will serve you in good stead as
your kids evolve.
I think resentment of one or more of our children is much more common
most folks want to acknowledge, and doesn't mean the mom is depressed or
even needs therapy. I think many of us assume that we must feel a certain
way or be a certain way with our children all the time, which for most of us
is unrealistic and sets us up to feel inadequate as parents. It is important
to get support for ourselves as parents, and there is a great parenting
resource called Parent's Leadership Institute (PLI) which offers support
groups and classes. I would be happy to talk or email you about this, or
about the challenges of parenting, if you're interested.
this page was last updated: Nov 25, 2008
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network