Deciding to have another baby is always significant but when you and your partner disagree, it can fall into the category of a dilemma.
The good news is it’s a common dilemma!
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Recently, one of our Babyology readers was pondering this very question and asked our wonderful Facebook community for their thoughts. Here’s what our legion of supportive and helpful parents had to say:
Our notion of family comes from a deeply emotional place
Lana Sussman, a social worker and co-founder of The Parents Village, says many couples find themselves coming up against this dilemma because our notions of family have deep emotional roots.
“It’s hard because a person’s desire to have or not have a baby comes from a lot of quite deep yearning or sometimes unresolved traumas or emotional wounds,” says Lana.
“I have known people who have been only children and want to have four children as they felt very isolated as a child and don’t want their children to feel that way. Some people feel somewhat ‘scarred’ by the difficulty they may have experienced with their colicky baby and don’t want to experience that again.”
The financial responsibility of another child can also feel very overwhelming, and if you and your partner had different kinds of childhoods on top of that – well, it becomes tricky territory.
So what can you do to resolve this?
The first thing Lana suggests is setting out the following list of questions and making time to discuss them together.
Key discussion points to consider when talking about another baby
- How do you feel about going through pregnancy, as well as midnight feeds etc.?
- Is your living space appropriate?
- What are your partner’s feelings and commitment to having another baby?
- How will the other siblings feel about the change in dynamic?
- Babies and children cost money – is having another child join your family going to bring financial strain and psychological stress?
- What are the reasons for really wanting to have another baby?
- How would you feel if you don’t have another baby?
She also recommends couples struggling with this decision to see a professional counsellor.
“A counsellor who can facilitate an open and honest discussion about their feelings towards having another child and why it is or isn’t a value of theirs. Having a third party there with the couple can assist in increasing the understanding and empathy for the other,” says Lana.
Make time to talk about it … but share the talking stick
Psychologist Karen Young of Hey Sigmund! also supports the idea of talking through the issue, but stresses the importance of making sure your partner feels really heard.
“Often during a conversation, we tend to work so hard on having our own point of view heard that we don’t listen to the other person. Or, we listen, but not in a way that the other person feels heard. The problem with this is that people will tend to keep saying the same thing until they do feel heard. It can be this way for all of us,” says Karen.
Karen recommends dividing the time you have set aside for the conversation equally – so each person gets a fair amount of time.
Validate your partner’s feelings as well as your own
“All the talking in the world will be pointless if both people are more focused on being heard than on listening. The conversation needs to happen more together than apart, and this might involve putting aside your need to put your own opinion forward for long enough to make sure your partner feels completely heard,” says Karen.
“This means validating his or her feelings and opinions. ‘It sounds like what you’re saying is …’
“This isn’t because your partner’s opinions are more important – not at all. But if you’re the one who wants the conversation to move forward, making sure your partner feels heard, is the best way to make this happen.”
Remember to be realistic
An honest and open conversation gives you both the best chance to clearly state your reasons for feeling the way you do. And it provides an opportunity to go through each issue with a fine tooth comb.
But Karen also advises knowing when the issue needs to be dropped altogether – you can’t force someone to change their mind.
“If your partner really doesn’t want a baby, if you have talked and talked about this, and if the reasons are ones that don’t allow room for change then it’s unlikely that things will change.”