Infertility: Evaluating Parenting Alternatives
From the author of The Fertility Guide: A Couples Handbook for When You Want to Have a Baby
When the goal continues to remain “our” child, and a couple makes the decision to stop treatment, the alternative which presents is child-free living. The decision to live without children in the home is different from being childless. A couple must grieve their infertility and then consciously decide their lives will not have a parenting focus.
This alternative is often challenged by the societal emphasis to parent. You can be pressured to conform and be labeled as “selfish” if you choose to live without children. Additionally, you can feel internal pressure to do “Nobel prize” level activities in order to balance the inability to have genetic children.
Because you and your partner can differ in your commitment to child-free living it is imperative that honest communication of feelings occur. Research has demonstrated men typically are more comfortable than women with the option of child-free living. For those of you who do choose to pursue a child-free life style, fulfillment will come from personal and career accomplishments.
Single Child Parenting
Couples experiencing secondary infertility may decide to stop treatment and focus on single-child parenting. Many times the pressure to have a second child in order to provide a sibling is tremendous. Some couples are told countless times, “You should be grateful, at least you have one.” Though this may be true, the motivation to pursue additional pregnancies is more concrete–a desire to do it again prevails.
You and your partner must evaluate the toll of treatment on your relationship with your existing child and the physical, financial, and emotional costs of continued treatment. Increased understanding of the dynamics of raising an “only child” is important so that you don’t buy in to the typical stereotype of the spoiled, only child. Again, seeking the counsel of a therapist can be very valuable in making this decision.
Single-child parenting allows you to invest wholeheartedly in your child’s life. Often extra effort to provide opportunities for interaction with other children occurs. Additionally, single-child parenting may create greater financial freedom. Though children often persist in their request for a sibling, ultimately the ability of their parents to grieve the inability to have a second child through to resolution will provide them with the opportunity to enjoy their family of three.
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