Stop here every day for a new question and answer, practical help for busy parents.
My husband and I just told our 7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter that we are expecting a baby girl. My daughter liked the idea, but my son was not happy and threw a temper tantrum. We make sure each child gets individual time with us every day, and my son says he isn’t worried about the attention but doesn’t “want to have to deal with another baby.” How can I make him feel better about the situation? I don’t want him making me feel guilty.
Your son’s comfort level with the new baby is entirely up to him. You can’t make him like the idea, and some children don’t get with the program until after the baby is born.
Realize that while your son is comfortable with one sister, he’s older now and has different priorities than he did when your first daughter was born. He’s obviously afraid that things will change, and he’s right. Things always change when a new child is born.
You should talk about the situation with him again, but wait a couple days, until he’s had more of a chance to think about it. Let him know exactly what will be expected from him, emphasizing that you don’t expect him to assume responsibility for taking care of the baby all the time, but that you do expect him to get involved in some way.
Let him know that he’s entitled to personal time, and give it to him. Let him know that he’s also required to pull his weight when it comes to chores and other family obligations, and require him to do as he is instructed. Stress to your son that the family will be pursuing a new balance, and that he will be a part of it.
Listen to his concerns and don’t patronize him. If your son has identifiable objections as opposed to some amorphous resentment with no real basis, address those objections individually. If his concerns are legitimate, discuss how both of you can deal with them. If he is worried about something that will not happen, then be honest with him and do your best to allay those fears.
Obviously, the amount of personal time he gets with you and your husband will decline. There are only so many hours in the day, and soon there will be another child to share them with you. But it falls on you to make that time with your son as good as possible.
While your son’s irritation is understandable, the problem is his, not yours. As the parent in this situation, you need to remember a few key points.
- First, your son does not make the rules. The decision to have children falls to you and your husband, unless you choose to give your other children a vote. Tell him this in no uncertain terms. Seven is too old for temper tantrums, and he isn’t always going to get his way.
- Second, you need not feel guilty for having a baby. Do your best to meet your son’s needs, and do not let him cause you to feel guilty.
- Third, do not be angry with your son for his reaction. It’s probably misguided on his part, but it’s still understandable. Many people do not like change, particularly such life-altering ones as a new sibling in the house.
- Fourth, involve your son in the pregnancy as much as he is interested, but don’t push him too hard. Once the baby is born, he might change his tune.
- Fifth, if your son remains unenthusiastic about the little sister even after she is born, try not to worry much about it. He’ll adjust over time. That’s what kids do. They’re more adaptable than you (or they) realize.
Thank you for reading today’s Q&A. Check back here tomorrow for another installment of the Ask The Dad advice column. If you’d like to submit an Ask The Dad question, send it to [email protected] If you liked today’s column, click on the Subscribe link at the top of the page to receive e-mail whenever a new column is posted. Don’t worry, it’s free.