WHEN SHOULD I TELL MY CHILD THAT I AM PREGNANT ?



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Awhile
back Heidi, a woman from my church, asked me to babysit her 4-year-old daughter
Kaitlyn for a couple of hours every Monday while she worked. One day when I
showed up, Kaitlyn couldn’t keep her hands of Heidi’s tummy.
Heidi
tried to distract Kaitlyn. I pretended not to notice.
Then
Heidi closed the door. And before 30 seconds passed Kaitlyn whispered to me,
“Mommy’s pregnant! But it’s a secret.”
Awk-ward.
That
night Heidi sent me a
Facebook message: “I am only about 6 weeks along so
that is why we have only told a few people,” she said. “Please don’t
tell anyone.”
Heidi
later explained that a friend of hers became pregnant with twins before she
found out she was expecting. Heidi and her husband wanted Kaitlyn to learn
about the pregnancy directly from them – not an overheard phone conversation.
Besides, Kaitlyn knew something was up and they didn’t like sneaking around
behind her back.
“She
was asking, ‘Mommy, what’s going on?’ ” Heidi recalls.
You
might have decided when to tell your friends, your parents and your cubicle
buddies you’re expecting another baby. But when should you tell your kids?
That’s
up to you. But experts offer a few pointers.
Is
your pregnancy viable?
Tragically,
an estimated 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to
the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. That’s why some
psychologists suggest waiting to tell your children about your pregnancy until
you’re reasonably sure you’ll carry the baby to term.
How
do you feel?
Your
kids will undoubtedly have questions about the new baby. You and your partner
should digest the news yourselves before sharing it, says Dr. Margret Nickels,
a clinical psychologist and director of the Center for Children and Families at
the Erikson Institute
“You
want to be sure that you’re available to support the child in their questions,
in their excitement,” she says.
Whom
do you want to know?
Nickels
advises against sharing the news with your children until you’re ready for the
world to know. “I would think it would be too hard to keep this
information a secret,” she says.
But
Dr. Irena Milentijevic, a Houston-area psychologist who specializes in women
and young children, says it’s OK to tell your kids about their new sibling
before you’re willing to tell your boss. This is a chance to teach your
children about subjects that are discussed in private, she says. At first,
Milentijevic says, you might allow your kids to talk about your pregnancy with
you, your partner, Grandma, Grandpa and no one else.
Have
your kids noticed?
Wondering
if your children even know you’re pregnant? Milentijevic says even toddlers
sense something’s different. “Maybe Mommy’s more tired and nauseous and
preoccupied,” she says. Explain why in terms your kids can understand.
Nickels,
however, thinks kids too young for preschool don’t

need to be told right away.
“A 3-year-old will actually not notice that Mom is five months
pregnant,” she says. If you’re not on bed rest and can still carry your
toddler around, she says expecting the child to anticipate a new sibling’s
arrival for several months is a bit much.

Either
way, Nickels says, share the news with all of your children at the same time.
And
if your child hasn’t started talking? Tell about your pregnancy anyway.
Milentijevic says a baby doll could illustrate what you mean.
Heidi
(now mom to baby Meghan) says she has just one regret about the way she and her
husband told Kaitlyn about the new baby: They didn’t capture Kaitlyn’s joyous,
feet-kicked-in-the-air reaction on video.
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