The great debate: Do you "owe" your child a sibling?


YES: children need siblings

NIKKI TEMKIN: "My second baby is a gift to my firstborn"

I never wanted children, didn’t particularly even like them and hadn’t experienced anything even close to broodiness. That is, until I met my husband in my late twenties and began to think that, perhaps, creating new life with someone that you love wasn’t such an awful idea.

Ironically, when my supreme ache to be a parent began, so did an arduous 2-year journey through the pitfires of fertility treatment. The primal desire for a child was like a physical hole, a craving unlike any other. It felt as if I’d never really be happy until I became a parent. Finally, in 2008, Eva Rose was born.

Becoming a parent to Eva has fulfilled me more than I could’ve ever imagined. Alex and I could have remained very happy with our comfortable unit of 3. Unlike with Eva, I felt absolutely no biological desire for another child. We asked ourselves if this was what we wanted – we were both frightened of upsetting our sturdy apple cart, not to mention the diabolical fertility treatment.

Our conclusion was that we didn’t want to deprive Eva of a sibling. My sister is 2 years younger than me and I can’t adequately express the ways in which she’s enhanced my life. We come from the same gene pool and share the same emotional history; we’ll both take on the responsibility of our parents as they get older.

We’re very different and yet our bond transcends our many dissimilarities. In fact, the birth of my 6- year-old nephew helped light my ember for a child. My friends who are only children have admitted to loneliness – they all feel the lack of a sibling in their lives.

So, the quest to produce a sibling for Eva was a purely practical decision. Now, after 2 years of trying to conceive, I’m 37 weeks pregnant and this child is my gift to her. Sure, it won’t be easy for Eva to share the attention but I believe that learning to cope with your own family challenges (sibling rivalry being one of them) is what prepares you for the wider world.

Whatever upheavals face us now, and even though a loving relationship between my children is
no guarantee, I truly don’t think I’ll regret my decision to give Eva a sibling.

NO: single children don't need siblings

TARA OSBORNE: "We have everything we could ask for"

I am mother to feisty 3-and-a-half-year-old Benjamin and wife to Paul. The perfect 3-person entity, we travel together, we laugh together, we sometimes sleep together, we love together.

The natural way of things suggested we’d have another, maybe 2. I never knew that I would change my mind. Nor did Paul. We even started trying for the second. I went off the pill, told my trainer at gym and then one day I woke up and all of a sudden, the last thing I wanted was another child.

I eventually sat down with Paul and told him how I felt. At first, he was disappointed, but now, we both agree that we are so absolutely content, adding another child to our family would just tip the balance. In fact, it would probably destroy us. I know myself; I couldn’t deal with the weight gain, the bad skin, the lack of sleep, the need for a bigger house, a new car, school fees...

I am so happy for Nikki and she is blessed in so many ways, as am I. Who knows, maybe one day I will wake up with an intense urge to conceive a soccer team (unlikely)! Right now, I am 28 years old, happy, content and just finding my feet again!

Two people I admire and love felt the need to lecture me on the benefits of more children and a sibling for Ben. I was hurt and upset. If I weren’t able to conceive another child, would I have to endure such meddling in my private decision making? I doubt it. Each of us is entitled to make our own decisions about the number of children to have.

Paul has the most amazing siblings and family, I am envious of that and I often feel guilty that I haven’t given that to Ben. However, I am the eldest of 7 and not close to at least 4 of my siblings. 2 of them I have only recently come to know and spend time with.

Do I owe Ben a sibling? He is so happy, content, well adjusted and well behaved. I don’t need another kid to keep Ben busy when I need time out. Is my mind made up? Yes. Is it anyone else’s business? No.
The Osbornes are happy. We have time for one another and we have love and everything else we could ask for and I couldn’t possibly wish for more.

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