Have Grown Son, New Husband Wants a Child

I am a 36 year old mother of one son and grandmother of two girls. My husband of two years wants to start another addition of the family. He's 41. The family on both sides wants us to go for it, but gee, I ah, eh, w-e-l-l... and I am also working as a Teacher Aide. Any suggestions, opinions, or am I just plain crazy? The doctor here says there are some complications when I'm this age. I've been good on exercising. Should I say to my husband "no," adopt (way too much for our income) or forget it bud? He loves to have children because his two younger brothers have two each of their own.

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Gayle Peterson

Gayle Peterson, PhD, is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She is a clinical member of the Association... Read more

This is a tough one because you and your present husband have had different experiences which have led you in previously divergent directions. Perhaps he has waited to have his own biological children, and at 41 is ready to make his dream come true. Or more likely, being with you and having contact with your son and his own nieces and nephews has recently awakened his longing for fatherhood. You on the other hand chose to become a very young mother. You have already entered the next generation of grandmothers! Perhaps you are just beginning to enjoy your new role of having the pleasures of children without primary daily responsibility for them.

It is not an issue of age, as at 36 many women are only having their first baby and it is not uncommon to have children into your early forties. And it is not an issue of adoption because of any biological reason that should preclude pregnancy. It is an issue of having made different choices which resulted in divergent experiences in life.

Becoming a mother early in life means that you have forgone the freedom of early adulthood your husband enjoyed. Not becoming a father as a younger adult means that your husband, though he may have enjoyed developing his work or career endeavors missed out on the first hand experience of raising his own child. He may be very ripe for fatherhood now, having waited until he felt ready for the responsibilities of parenthood, while you may be just beginning to enjoy and develop your career as a teacher's aide. And settling into your life without parental responsibilities to hold you back!

Was the topic of whether you would have children or not together discussed before getting married? If so, what was shared? Review these discussions, if they did occur, then update one another on what your current feelings are about having children at this point. What would be sacrificed for each of you? What would be gained?

Expect this discussion to gestate over a period of several days, or even weeks. Share your fears and hear his. Stand in each other's shoes. Imagine for a day you are having a child. Share what that day brought up for you. Imagine your life without having a child. Share that with each other.

You also have grandchildren and there may be a role your husband can play that would not be the same as being a parent, but would offer first hand experience and a lifelong involvement with children. It may be that being with his grandkids brought up the sadness of not having taken that road in the past. If you feel strongly that you do not want to have children now, it may be necessary for him to grieve the passage of this life opportunity. Make room for mourning this loss rather than prematurely "fixing" it for him, if it is not the right thing for you. Midlife for him will necessarily bring up the fact of not having made the decision to become a father earlier. But it may not mean that it needs to occur now. Midlife for you may mean having spontaneity and time to develop yourself that you did not have when you were raising your son.

If after mulling it over the two of you decide to become parents together, be sure you are taking care of your own needs in the process. If you wish to continue your work as a teacher's aide or develop your career in this area require this to be a realistic part of your future by sharing the parenting so that this is possible for you. But be sure that you have thoroughly explored what you will be giving up personally and as a couple by having a child now. And be as clear as possible about what your vision of the future would be like as parents together. Becoming parents is a major stress on the couple's relationship when two people want to have children. Do not have a child simply to please your husband, as you may quickly grow to regret it and the marriage may suffer.

If you choose not to have children together, you may find that it is not so much parenthood that your couple's relationship is yearning for, but a shared project, activity or interest of some kind that is missing. Still, it is natural to want to procreate with someone you love, and it is a necessary part of the relationship that parenthood is grieved should the timing in life be wrong for the two of you.

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