Dr Diana Monteiro
I have a 13-year-old daughter and my husband and I want to have a second child. How can we make her a part of the whole process and minimise any jealousy or feeling of unwantedness from cropping up?
Children who are raised as a single child often report wishing they had a sibling without realising the changes that sibling might bring. A child being born involves excitement and joy for the entire family and this is true for the sibling as well. As long as parents are able to give the older child the required love and attention and prepare the child, most children are able to navigate the adjustment of the newest family member.
It is important to spend time preparing your child. Preparation depends on the age of the child, since younger children will process information differently than older children. With an adolescent, involving them in the process from the beginning can be hugely beneficial to them. When you talk to your child make sure you do it in a relaxed manner. If possible both parents should be present for the first conversation. Talk to your adolescent openly about your feelings and allow them to express their feelings about the issue. This does not mean that you have to decide against having a child if they are upset or unhappy. If they are unhappy, allowing them the time to absorb the information will help. When talking to them, be open, honest, respectful of their feelings. If they are happy and want to share their joy, allow them to do so. Talk to them about how they will feel about sharing your time and your affection. Once they are comfortable, allow them to be a part of the process like planning for the baby room, buying clothes, deciding a name etc.
Constantly remind your child that while things will be changing , your love will stay constant. Allowing your child to feel a sense of control over certain things will go a long way in helping them adjust.
(The writer is a counselling psychologist at the Hyderabad Academy of Psychology. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org)