"I want a baby brother or a sister". Help me respond to this! — The Bump
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"I want a baby brother or a sister". Help me respond to this!

I'm a 39 year old single mother to a 4.5 year old boy. The chances of me remarrying and having another child are slim to none, both due to my age and the fact that I'm not in a serious relationship with anyone. This morning, over breakfast, my son says "I want a baby brother...or a baby sister. Everyone has a baby brother or a sister except for me." My heart was breaking but I didn't know what to say. So I just changed the subject. His best friends at school all have siblings. He was 3.5 when my ex asked for a divorce and moved out, so all he knows is that mommy and daddy have their own homes. He doesn't understand that we are not married, or that it takes a man and a woman to have a baby. He was very innocent and naive for his age. How would you handle this???  Please , no-snarky comments about how glad you are to not have an only child, or how horrible it is to have an only child. I hear this everyday from people in real life :(

Re: "I want a baby brother or a sister". Help me respond to this!

  • I was an only child, and while I occasionally wanted a brother or sister, I loved it. 

    I wouldn't get too worked up about it, honestly.  If your son sees that the topic pushes your buttons, he'll pick up on that and keep coming back to it.  Instead, ask him questions...  Why does he think everyone has a brother or sister?  What does he think that would be like?  What does he know about babies and caring for them?  

    Use the conversation as a way to talk about how every family is different, and also about the people in his life that love him.  Believe me, he'll grow up just fine as an only child. Good luck!

  • My DD talks/ask about it sometimes too - she's almost 4 and so far an only child and likely to stay that way (almost 41 here and DH is 44).  We don't really respond much either way - just say, oh, that would be nice or talk about how babies are cute, but can't do all the cool stuff she can, or we talk about specifc friend's babies.  We also talk about when she was a baby and that makes her pretty happy. 
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  • imageFemShep:

    I wouldn't get too worked up about it, honestly.  If your son sees that the topic pushes your buttons, he'll pick up on that and keep coming back to it.  Instead, ask him questions...  Why does he think everyone has a brother or sister?  What does he think that would be like?  What does he know about babies and caring for them?  

    Use the conversation as a way to talk about how every family is different, and also about the people in his life that love him.  Believe me, he'll grow up just fine as an only child. Good luck!

    I agree w/ this.  DS is an only and I'm expecting this statement at some point.

    To follow on Fem, also talk about why it's great that it's just him- you have more time for him and the two of you can do a lot of fun things together that if you were to have a baby, you wouldn't be able to do (because of how needy a BABY is... focus on the baby aspect!)

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

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  • I'm an only child too.  Agree with everything pp said.  There are pros and cons to every situation and many of the pros of being an only child don't come for a little while.  I especially liked being able to do all of the activities I wanted as a teenager and not having to worry about fitting my stuff in with any siblings' schedules.  As I see all of the drama that goes on in DH's family (he's one of 4) now that the are adults, I'm especially happy to be an only child.

    I don't have much to offer in terms of what to say to your son.  I would try to be as honest as you can and avoid getting his hopes up that he might get one.  Friends and cousins can take on the playmate roles that sibilings may have in other families so maybe you can try to foster his non-sibling relationships if that's possible.

    Sorry if people are making you feel bad about him being an only.  That's really crappy on their part and they are not only rude, but completely wrong! 

    imageimage image
    DS, May 2011
    DD, April 2014

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  • I was an only child and while I did wonder when I was very young about why I didn't have a sibling, I have never felt deprived of that. I had an AWESOME relationship with both of my parents (who split up when I was 2) and I feel that the fact that I got them to myself was a great contributor to that! So I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't feel guilty or bad that your DS is an only child! He will grow out of this phase and you'll have such a wonderful bond with him :)
  • I would also try not to worry about it too much.  I know many people who have 2+ kids have times when their kids want to know when they can send their siblings back, but no one worries about that :)  (im also not saying that its better or worse to be an only, just different).

    I think the PP gave good advice about things to tell him which sound good. 

  • I did have a baby sister....and I still asked my Mom for another one.  I remember my Dad trying to explain to me that my Mom had her period and he said "it's her body preparing to have a baby each month."  I totally didn't get it.  I thought he meant she was going to have another baby.  I was really, really sad.  Point is, even having a sibling isn't a cure for this question.  I would just tell him that Mommy is done having babies.  Leave it at that. He will be just fine.  There are lots and lots of well adjusted only children out there.

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  • My husband is an only child and we go back and forth about having a second baby because I have two siblings and want my son to have a sibling, but my husband was fine without any siblings.

    He said he remembers asking for a sibling, but his mom said "you can't choose your siblings like you can choose your friends" so he got over it quickly. He was very popular growing up and still keeps in touch with his friends from high school.

    Kids will always want what their friends have. I like what PPs said about turning this into a discussion.

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  • Just wanted to echo this.  My 3 year old frequently asks me for a baby sister (his best friend has a baby sister, so he wants one too).  When I explain that he has his little brother, he frequently says, "but I want a sister too."  So it's not just an only child question, if it makes you feel any better.  I do the same thing the PP's do- talk about how terrific our family is just the way it is.  I try not to say anything negative about babies just in case we do decide to have a 3rd down the road (although I think it's unlikely!).  But I think reinforcing how every family is different and how his family is terrific the way it is would be a great way to handle it!
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  • Thank you for all your advice friends. This is how the convo went this morning..

     

    Completely out of the blue...

    Him:"Mama, I want a baby brother"

    Me:" Mama wants only one baby..you! You are my dream come true" :)

    Him: But I want a baby brother

    Me: Why?

    Him: So I can play with him.

    (He goes to pre-Kindergarten and aftercare so has 10 hours playtime with friends and has both best friends and a wide circle of friends at school. Also, I play with him from the moment we walk in the door in the evening. I actually posted asking about how to balance having some "me" time to unwind and playtime for him every night. His Dad is also very engaged and plays hours of "superhero" games when they are together. Believe me, this kid is not missing playtime!)

    Me: What is if you get a sister? Sometimes babies are girls, sometimes they are boys. (Was really tryingto buy some time here)

    Him: I want a baby brother OR a sister. Everyone has a baby brother or a sister except me.

    Me: Ryan (a friend's son) doesn't have brothers or sisters. Not everyone has brothers or sisters. Please finish your milk ( and successfully changed the subject :)

    The truth is, even if we had stayed married, we were not planning on having more kids. Having a baby put a huge strain on our marriage, one that we were ill-prepared for, which eventually lead to the breakup. I have two siblings, we live in three different countries and are not close at all as adults. So I don't feel as if he is "missing out" but just want to handle this delicate matter. Thank you, again, for all the great advice!

     

  • I am so glad you posted this question- we have only one child and I am sure, as your son did, she will ask this question.  And I too get it all the time- "You are only having one? " UGH I hate it.  Meanwhile we are comfortably taking care of our daughter and she seems quite happy.  I had a sister and all my life I wanted a brother- becuase I didnt have one- we always want what we dont have! 

  • Just wanted to add that DD really wanted a baby and we ended up having one (not just because she asked, of course) and now she's saying she'd like another, a sister this time. :)  I would definitely focus on the positive aspects of being an only and talk about how babies cry a lot, can't do fun big boy things, etc. 
  • I know you said in your subsequent post that he goes to daycare, but when I first read this, my first reaction was to wonder if he's really just trying to say he wants a playmate.

    I was an only child and I remember wanting a baby sibling...until my younger cousin was born and I discovered that babies can't really do anything. I guess I thought the kid would come out like another 5 y.o. And when my son was born, our niece who's an only and was also 5 at the time, kind of had the same experience. She wasn't too crazy about the idea of a baby anyway because she'd been the only grandchild for quite some time, but I think she also thought that our DS would be able to do more.

    I guess I'd see if it's something he continues to ask about, and if so, maybe talk to him about what his expectations are/why he wants a baby sibling. If you have friends or family members with young babies, maybe try to get them together so he can say that having a baby sibling isn't necessarily the same as what he's picturing.

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  • DS has said this and I lovingly explained that God gave him a mommy and a daddy and that he has cousins.

    My older cousin and her husband have an only child and they have their son go a lot of places with his best friend and it works out fine.

    I also agree with the previous poster about stating that every family is different.  And maybe give some examples of other "only" children.

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  • I think I'd focus on the "families come in all shapes and sizes" message, although it sounds like you handled it well.  You could also point out the downsides of siblings--having to share toys, having someone mess with your stuff, babies aren't able to play, etc.  :)

    DS sometimes says he wants another sibling, which is SO not happening, but I think it's because he thinks he could ride in the very back of the minivan if we had another kid.  The rest of the time, I hear, "I didn't want a baby" when DD is wrecking his blocks or crying or whatever.

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  • I think pp's gave good advice so I won't add to that... I just wanted to say that I am sorry people make negative comments about him being an only child. I think that is just awful. It is no one's business. And, it is not a good or bad thing to have one child.

    Good luck with this - I am sure before long he will forget about it and move on to another topic that will be difficult to answer! LOL

  • imageazuremama:

    I think I'd focus on the "families come in all shapes and sizes" message, although it sounds like you handled it well.  You could also point out the downsides of siblings--having to share toys, having someone mess with your stuff, babies aren't able to play, etc.  :)

    DS sometimes says he wants another sibling, which is SO not happening, but I think it's because he thinks he could ride in the very back of the minivan if we had another kid.  The rest of the time, I hear, "I didn't want a baby" when DD is wrecking his blocks or crying or whatever.

    This sounds like a totally valid reason for your to have another kid - you are big meanie!!

    j/k - LOL

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  • I was an only child and always thought I wanted a sibling too... until I got a little older (9 or 10) and realized how much my friends fought with their siblings, and how good I had it being an only child at Christmas and other times. The grass is always greener, you know?
    We love our little guys!
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  • Haha! I, too think it's a great reason to have another :)
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