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I gave birth to my second son several months ago. In my first pregnancy I had no preference and was excited to find out I was expecting a boy, especially as my partner really wanted a son. Some of my closest friends also had boys.

However, with my second child I had my heart set on a girl. When I learned we were expecting another boy, I was disappointed and began feeling less connected with and happy about the pregnancy. To make matters worse, the same friends have recently had, or are about to have, girls this time round.

I have tried to reflect and understand why it is I wanted a daughter so badly. I am an only daughter and have a good relationship with both my parents, so the parent-daughter dynamic is the one I am familiar with. I think that deep down I wanted a chance to replicate the best bits of my upbringing with my own daughter. I also feel that I could have better related to a girl. I worry my sons will be closer to their father, especially as they get older.

There is a strong taboo around this topic as there is the feeling that maybe you don’t love your child or are not grateful. I have only felt able to discuss my true feelings with my husband and my parents. I love both my children. I know I am in a very fortunate position. Yet I still can’t seem to get over the sadness of not having a daughter. I am disappointed in myself, but the truth is I am jealous and sad.

Well done for being able to admit these feelings. You may be surprised to know you are not alone: the clinical psychologist I consulted this week, Dr Lindsay McMillan, specialises in parental gender disappointment and has an Instagram account dedicated to it.

I wonder if there’s any point telling you that a lot of mothers and daughters don’t get on, but a lot of sons and mothers do. But really all of this comes later after you’ve worked through your own feelings of loss. In her experience Dr McMillan, who has seen many similar cases, says that “this is often about connection; perhaps wanting to carry on elements of an important relationship or a hope to repair the past by creating different, preferred experiences.”

You’ve hinted at some of this already and realise that the answers lie in your own family history. Dr McMillan also said that “a longing for a daughter could be related to increased awareness of the inevitable future loss of your own mother, while you have become a mother yourself.” We wondered if this chimed with you?

Dr McMillan also thought you “may be finding difficult to adjust from how you had imagined your life as a mother would be to how it is in reality. Perhaps worries around being on the outside with your friends or even within your own family. Ideas about how you might parent a daughter may feel more familiar, less so with how to navigate raising sons.”

Dr McMillan also told me about ambiguous loss when we mourn something we never had: “Spending time thinking about a daughter means she has become psychologically present and so the not having, the absence of her and the relationship, is a loss which is not easily recognised by others.”

While it’s OK to feel the way you do, I would also like to add that it’s not a good idea to ever voice these feelings in front of your children. Such comments, even years later, can cause damage.

“Your mind is alert to what you might miss out on in the future without a mother-daughter connection. But how can you nurture important elements of this, with your sons?” suggested Dr McMillan. “For example, being able to show care and kindness is genderless. How might you model, encourage and shape important values for your children? Gently remind yourself that, as a parent, you do have a lot of influence.”

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Having two children is tough. If you find your mood lowering or have difficulties bonding with your baby, please talk to someone about this. Dr McMillan recommended Parenthood in Mind for private therapists providing specialist perinatal support.

These are real feelings you are having. Facing them and talking about them will help you process them. Then think about the relationship you want to have with your children, for you have the power to create this.

Every week, Annalisa Barbieri addresses a personal problem sent in by a reader. If you would like advice from Annalisa, please send your problem to ask.annalisa@theguardian.com. Annalisa regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions.

Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure the discussion remains on the topics raised by the article. Please be aware that there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.

The latest series of Annalisa’s podcast is available here.



#finding #hard #accept #daughter #Annalisa #Barbieri

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