No matter how many children you have, the arrival of a new family member is always exciting.
If you’ve been practicing NFP to postpone having more children for now, you may have heard your child (or children) ask for another sibling. While each family has its own personal circumstances, it’s important as parents to recognize the reasons why a child may feel that need, especially if you have only one child.
1Someone to play with
The main reason children ask for a new sibling is they want someone to play with. Friendship is a concept that even little children can understand, and children may realize that it would be great to have a friend who lives with them and can play at any time.
Another reason they may want a sibling is to have an ally on their own level, in contrast with their parents. Children know that their parents are in a different category. Although they love their parents very much and play with them, children also like to have a peer, someone with whom they can team up and share.
3Looking for help
Children may also be looking for help, knowing that two can do more than one, and that having a sibling help them to tidy their room, pick up toys, or do other chores around the house can be very beneficial.
4Someone to care for
Another reason your child might want a little brother or sister could be to teach and protect them. Just as they see their parents or older siblings take care of them, the child may want to be more “grown up” and help to teach and care for someone else.
These and other reasons are all part of why your child might push for a sibling, but have you given his or her request any real thought?
Although it means more work, you may soon realize that after the first child, everything is easier because you now have experience and can better focus on what is truly important.
It’s also easier to educate in virtues when there are several children at home. Having to share with siblings helps parents teach their children generosity. Siblings can help a child grow in loyalty, respect, cooperation, empathy, etc.
Siblings have a special connection, and this camaraderie helps them train for life. Their social skills are enhanced when they’ve had this training from a young age.
Ultimately, every child is a gift, a living, breathing image and likeness of God, the expression of the fruitfulness of marital love, full of potential and called to eternal joy in heaven. This makes the risks and difficulties of responsible parenthood worthwhile.
Of course, it’s so important to remember that every family is its own little world, and only you know your distinct situation. If your child asks for a little brother or sister at a time when you know it isn’t possible, try to understand your child’s reasons and work to fill that need in other ways. You might encourage a close relationship with a cousin, for example, or help your child become the “big brother or sister” of a child outside your family who needs one. There are many ways we can fill our children’s hearts and help them love others more.