This is a conversation a lot of couples have- whether to have another child, how many, any age gaps, as well as other things such as a cut off point- an age after which they do not want any more children.
A conversation I didn’t expect to have was whether to have more children to help care for my disabled child after I am gone.
It is something I had never even considered until I saw a post on Facebook discussing this and it stuck with me.
Initially I was horrified- a person can’t have more children with the expectation of them caring for one of their other children.
That’s the most awful reason to have another child! But the more I thought of it, the more I could understand why people might make that decision, and the more it made me reflect on my own life and the role Rory already wants to play for Alfie.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do not expect any child to be forced to be a carer for their sibling, nor would I have another child only to care for their sibling with a disability.
A decision to have a child is a personal one, but for me is about completing a family, it is about wanting that child for the individual they will become and the love you can give them.
But then I look at Rory. Rory is a child we want and love and had with no clue that he may one day need to care for his brother.
We have never forced Rory to help us care for Alfie, and yet it is something he does instinctively.
He is always aware of Alfie’s needs and tries to meet them in any way that he can, whether that is by giving him toys, comforting him or even trying to feed him.
He has learnt this through watching us caring for Alfie and supporting him with everyday tasks.
It is the norm for Rory as this is how his life has always been- as he has become more independent, he sees us still needing to help Alfie and has made his own decision that he wants to do that too.
Thinking about it this way made me understand more why people may have more children in order to help care for their disabled child after they are gone, or unable to.
Seeing Rory care for Alfie in this way has shown me how natural it is for siblings to care for one another.
Rory knows what Alfie likes and dislikes and even tells other people to ensure Alfie is happy and well looked after.
He is his protector without even realising it and any disabled child would be lucky to have a sibling caring for them in such a way.