QUESTION: My husband and I have two beautiful children. I really want to have another child but my husband has been very hesitant for fear of losing our special bond and intimacy with our two existing children (7 and 4). He thinks that we can barely handle “man-to-man defense” and is terrified of “playing zone.” We are approaching 40 so this is basically our last chance. How do I get my husband to understand that even though we will be outnumbered, we will still be an incredibly tight knit family?
BBB: I can’t promise you that if you have another child, you will still be a tightly knit family or that you will actually be able to handle more children. Raising children is a different journey for every family that is influenced by variables too numerous to name.
I can tell you that the number-one factor in having a happy family is each parent’s emotional health. Having your own emotional house in order goes a long way in cultivating a content, closely knit family, all of whose developmental and emotional needs can be met.
However, if both parents are not on board for having another child, it is risky business. Even the slightest bump in the road could lead to a big “I told you so” and relationship problems of a whole different sort.
With regard to your family’s special bond of intimacy, I believe that we parents have an amazing capacity to love and have a special relationship with each of our children, as many as we have. The heart is an incredible muscle that can grow and grow, stretching to make room for everyone. What is critical to creating a close family bond is each child’s relationship with each parent. Having a full parent-attention tank fuels the close family tank. Warm feelings carry over and spread.
Years ago my own father shared with me that when I told him we were pregnant with triplets, he felt very sad. He said he truly did not feel that he could love enough that many more grandchildren, and he was worried about the closeness of our whole extended family. He went on to share how wrong he had been. We were an incredibly close-knit family with him until the day he died. We still are today.
Betsy Brown Braun, M.A. is a Child Development and Behavior Specialist (infants to teens), a Parent Educator, and Multiple Birth Parenting Specialist. Betsy consults with parents privately, runs parenting groups, seminars and workshops for parents, teachers, and other professionals. She is the award-winning author of the bestselling, “Just Tell Me What to Say” and “You’re Not the Boss of Me.” Betsy has been featured on the Today Show, The Early Show and Good Morning America and has been cited in Parents Magazine, Twins Magazine, Family Circle and many more. Betsy and Ray Braun, Palisades residents for 38 years, are the parents of adult triplets and have five grandchildren, so far.