Second Thoughts: On Having and Being a Second Child

Holt. Apr. 2021. 208p. ISBN 9781250787866. $24.99. SOC SCI
Berger, a Dutch journalist, writes about the decision many parents face: whether or not to conceive for a second time. She found herself wanting to experience pregnancy again, as well as desiring a built-in playmate for her young daughter. She interrogates the reasoning behind this instinct, as well as the way it impacts all parties involved. Berger explores every aspect of the good and the bad of adding siblings to a household that can already feel fragile, like a constant negotiation. Berger’s own younger sister felt that their relationship was complicated. The author notes that there exists a tendency in parents to want to do better the second time around: to be less anxious or more patient. Berger draws frequently on the work of novelists like Rachel Cusk and Zadie Smith, both of whom have written frankly about the compromises inherent in motherhood. In a market saturated with parenting narratives and how-to guides, none of Berger’s research has gone totally unreported. However, her inclination to show compassion toward herself and other parents, and to weigh the impact of these decisions on children, make her a companionable guide.
VERDICT Recommended for parents contemplating a second or third child, as well as readers interested in family dynamics.
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