How to Cope: Feeling Guilty About Not Having More Kids

Mom Guilt. It’s a real thing. This morning you forgot to pack your child’s favorite snack for sharing day. Then, you let him watch more cartoons than usual because you just didn’t have the energy to get off the couch. As you’re trying to fall asleep, you can’t help but experience a few pangs of mom guilt as you review your day.

Moms are prone to feel guilt. It’s unfortunate, but when there are so many people who are dependent on us, we can easily feel overwhelmed.

Decision Making Time

Amidst your day, you make hundreds of decisions—so many in fact that certain decisions just become inherent. Like waking up and starting that pot of coffee.

Then there are other decisions that require much more consideration, like, how many kids are you going to have?

There’s no easy solution to this question, and we definitely won’t be the ones to tell you there is a magic number.

Ultimately the final decision to stop or have more children falls on you (and your spouse), but that doesn’t mean you don’t feel outside pressure from varying sources.

I felt pressure from friends/family, my significant other, our children, and definitely within myself. Here are some ways I learned to cope with the guilt of not having more children.

Guilt from other Moms/Family Members

You’ve accepted the decision you made, but your best friend is pregnant and urging you to have another as well. Or Uncle Charles is asking when Tommy is going to have a brother to play with and lets you know that it’s cruel to only have one child. It is in fact, not cruel.

Guilt doesn’t bring out the best in us, so we eventually must let it go. Read this mama’s advice on remaining confident in her decision to have “one and done.”

Solution: Ignore it. That is harder to do than say. But look at it like this: your family is not their family – perhaps they mean well, but you can ignore the peer pressure.

Guilt from your Significant Other

If you have a different number in mind than your spouse, there can be real tension. Perhaps you even discussed your magic number before children, but feel surprised when those decisions change.

Solution: If you are at a standstill, mark it on your calendar to discuss it 6 months from now. The decision to have children can take a while to make, so decide to support each other until you can come to an agreement.

Guilt from your Children Requesting

We do many things for our children. In fact, most Moms say they would do anything for them. Suddenly, your children are trying to order a new baby sister as if they are going through a drive-thru. But we all know it’s not that simple.

Solution:  Explain to your children that you love them and feel your family is complete. They may beg you for a while, but hopefully they will find comfort in your words, forget their request, and accept their family as being complete.

Guilt from Social Media or Celebrity

Despite knowing that social media is not the most truthful representation of someone’s life, we are often offered glimpses into their lives by following them on Facebook, Instagram, etc. A friend’s perfectly posed family picture can cause a pinch of pressure to keep up with the Joneses.

IG @mommy.diary

Solution: Accept that social media only represents a moment in someone’s life. And usually, we choose to portray the best side of us, so it is anything but a fair representation.

Guilt that comes from You

Your number of preferred children may have changed once you had your first child. Before my first child, I was planning on having at least four children. I came from a big family myself, and that is simply how I envisioned my future.

Soon after my second child I realized mothering was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. More sleepless nights. More heart strings being pulled. And more back aches than I planned for. My ideal number of children changed and I felt guilty for not following through with my plans.

Solution: Realize that life’s circumstances change and your goals will transform over time. Reassess your life at this point in time and envision what your life looks like moving forward. Allow yourself to find joy in imagining the future with your current children and all the milestones yet to achieve.

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