Does sibling rivalry make it even harder to come to terms with not having children?

By Nina Steele 

Imagine the scene, you become an adult and like most adults you decide to start a family. Your sibling too is planning to become a parent and soon after, you hear the news that they have become successful and that they are expecting a child. Although you are disappointed at the time it is taking for you to become a parent, you don’t make much of it and keep trying. After a few years, you are still trying while your sibling is now expecting a second child. Then panic sets in and you decide to seek professional help only to be told that you cannot conceive naturally because of fertility issues. You get on the fertility treatment merry-go-round and after years of trying and several thousands of pounds spent, you are still childless. In the meantime, you have to sit with the whole family at Christmas with your sibling naturally bringing her/his children around and your parents playing the role of the proud grandparents.

Although this has not been our experience, I have heard similar stories and I can understand the pain that anyone in a situation like this may feel, particularly if there is a history of rivalry between the siblings. The first question people generally ask is why me? What have I ever done to deserve this? Of course it would have been far easier if you and your sibling had problems conceiving, but it isn’t the case and you have to deal with one of the most unpleasant emotions known to man, namely envy. Although envy can sometimes become a motivational force that pushes people to achieve, the fact remains that it is a destructive emotion that generally leads to unhappiness. In my experience, whenever people become envious of others, they forget everything they already have in their lives and focus their energy on what they see as lacking. Envy prevents people from being grateful and gratitude is key to happiness. I remember back then when people were envious of celebrities until the truth started coming out about the unhappy lives that some of them lead with addiction to drugs etc. Suddenly ordinary people realised that actually they have nothing to be envious about.

Going back to sibling rivalry preventing some people from coming to terms with being childless, the key is to be grateful for what you already have. Yes this person happens to be your blood relation, but you are two separate entities and obviously having children is not part of the things that you are meant to experience in this lifetime. Everything that happens to us, happens for a reason and whatever the experience, the goal is for you to learn from it and grow as a person. Of course no one expects you to be so enlightened that you accept your fate straight away and live happily ever after. That would be too naïve. We have all been conditioned to want to follow the same path and you will need time to become accustomed to the fact that you are not part of the mainstream. What you don’t want to happen is for you to be in your old age and still grieve the fact that you never had children, forgetting everything else that is going well in your life. For example, do you have a roof above your head? Are you healthy? Do you have enough money to live well? Are you in a healthy and loving relationship? Is your life generally ok, apart from the fact that you are unable to have children? If the answer is yes to half of these questions, then why not focus on that instead of focusing on what you don’t have.

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