Downside overshadows upside in woman's fear of parenthood

Dear Abby for April 18.
Modified: April 16, 2013 at 12:02 am •  Published: April 18, 2013
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DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are contemplating starting a family. When I was younger I wanted children, but over the years my personal experiences have caused trepidation. Because of divorce and the custody battles of my older siblings, I know the amount of blood, sweat and tears that go into children.

I work in the field of social services. Every day I am confronted with families who struggle with more children than they can care for and with behavioral and emotional problems. Frankly, it has turned me off. I am terrified of all the “what ifs.”

I can't talk to my family because I don't want to tell them they have created part of my problem. My in-laws can't understand why we don't have children yet.

My husband keeps insisting “everything will be fine.” I love him deeply and he would make an amazing father. My heart wants this, but my head isn't sure. I can't picture our future without children, but the fear of actually having them brings me to tears. Can you help me?

— Scared to Take the Next Step

DEAR SCARED: Children don't come with 100 percent, money-back guarantees. What they need in order to thrive is parents who love each other and them, and who are willing to put forth the time and energy to raise them. I don't know what went wrong in your siblings' marriages, but it appears their kids have been used as pawns rather than having their own interests put first. If both parents cooperated in the interests of the children there would be no battles.

Please do not allow the dysfunction you have seen in your work to influence your decision. You and your husband will not be having more children than you can afford, and I assume you are approaching the idea of parenthood in a mature fashion. I would caution you about one thing, however. Having a child because of pressure from your in-laws would be a poor reason to embark upon parenthood.

DEAR ABBY: I'm at a crossroads. I have been married for 15 years and have two children. I love my wife and have been content with this life for a long time. However, for years I have felt like something was missing.

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