Q: My four-year-old has been asking for a baby brother. I would love to go through a second adoption and have another child, but we won’t be adopting again. My husband was reluctant throughout the adoption process and has not been a very involved father. What do I tell my son? Is there anything I could say to my husband?
A: Your concern about this difficult situation is understandable. It’s always difficult to tell your child that they can’t have something they want — especially when it’s something as important as this. Talk with your son about different people you know, giving examples of families with one child and some that have more. Let him know that the decision to have one or more children is a “grown-up” responsibility, and engage him in a general discussion (not about him, you, or your husband) about all the things parents think about and do. Reinforce how special he is to both of you.
It might be helpful for you and your spouse to seek counseling to discuss your parenting relationship. It is important for your son to feel that both of you are involved in his life in large and small ways. As you know, being a parent requires a great deal of patience, time, dedication, commitment, and financial resources. Your spouse may need some help to realize how important his role is as a dad and the rewards that go along with it. That role will become even greater over time.
I would also encourage you to do some reading on the subject of being a single child. Research shows that most single children grow up to be just as productive and happy as those who have siblings. If your son has cousins, or if you have close friends who have children his age, make sure he has regular opportunities to see these children.