Care and Feeding

My Husband Has a Totally Reasonable Parenting Limit—but I Know I’m Going to Regret Agreeing With Him

His reasons are solid, but I can’t ignore what I feel emotionally.

Dad holds the hands of toddler trying to walk while mom looks on.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images Plus.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

My husband and I have a wonderful 2.5-year-old daughter. We are not quite at financial stability, but we are doing fine and our solidly middle-class careers are starting. I am 39 and want another child. This is a little more pressing for me than for my husband who is 34. He doesn’t want another child and is happy with one. His reasons are solid and while I don’t quite disagree with his reasoning, emotionally I want another one.

I love my husband and will not be divorcing him to have another child by myself, nor will I do anything nefarious to force him into a child he doesn’t want. But I am worried I will regret only having one child, and I’m worried about how this will affect things in the future. So my question is twofold: Do you have any good arguments to help convince my husband to have a second child? And do you have any good resources for me about only children or families of three that will help me be at peace with only having one amazing child?

—Needing Some Peace

Dear Needing Some Peace,

It’s not easy to accept that something you’re longing for may not come to fruition. I’m sorry to hear that you and your husband aren’t on the same page about expanding your family.

That said, it’s never a good idea to try convincing your partner to make a life change they’re adamantly against, so I can’t in good conscience give you any talking points you might use to attempt to change your husband’s mind about a second child.

I can recommend two books for you to read, as you emotionally reset: Parenting an Only Child: The Joys and Challenges of Raising Your One and Only by Susan Newman and One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One by Lauren Sandler.

Also consider finding a community of other parents of only children. You may find it encouraging to interact with other parents who’ve had just one child, either by choice or by circumstance. Support goes a long way, both for you and for your child, who’ll benefit from having lots of other kids around to play with.


More Advice From Slate

When I was young I was married briefly. I did not want children, and thought I’d made that clear to my husband. I accidentally got pregnant, and he was thrilled. Against my better judgment I had the baby, with the understanding that he would take care of it. I did not like motherhood and when the girl was 2 years old, I divorced her father and moved out of state. I paid court-ordered child support until she turned 18. I had thought that was the end of my interaction with her, but I recently got a letter from her saying she would like to meet.