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Mom Fights Feelings of Guilt Over Son Being an Only Child

DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of a 13-year-old son, my only child. For the past 10 years I have been living with mounting guilt over the fact that he doesn't have a sibling. It's not because my husband and I haven't tried, we have. But fertility issues took us down an empty road, and adoption discussions were just that -- discussions.

I can't tell you how many times our son has said he wishes he had a sibling. Every time, it's like a knife in my heart and the guilt surges back. I think about the future and how he will have no brother or sister to share life with or lean on when something happens to my husband or me. Although I have always felt blessed to have him, I can't escape these feelings. Sometimes I feel like I have failed him horribly.

It's worth noting that my son is a happy, well-adjusted child. He has good peer relationships in school, is close to me and my husband and has hobbies and friends he enjoys spending time with. My love for him is endless, and I pray that he will forgive me someday for not being able to give him what he has so deserved. -- SAD MOM IN OHIO

DEAR SAD MOM: Take a step back, stop self-flagellating and ask yourself how many times your son may have also asked for a puppy. You say you have raised a happy, well-adjusted son. That's an accomplishment that should fill you with pride. Not being able to give birth to another child is not something you should feel guilty about or need forgiveness for, and neither is refraining from adopting "so your son would have a sibling." Not all siblings have the kind of relationship you fantasize about. While some do, many do not.

Please consider carefully what I have said and search your heart. And if you still think you are guilty of any sin of omission, discuss it with a licensed psychotherapist.

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