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Couple wonders if parenting is worth it

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Dear Abby: My husband and I are happily married and will celebrate 15 years of marriage next year. We have a 5-year-old daughter. Our dilemma is whether or not we should have another child.

I'm 38 and my husband is 40. We have become comfortable with the fact that our daughter is getting more independent. We plan on doing a lot of traveling, and I will change jobs after I complete school. We are not sure about starting over with a baby.

We are doing OK financially, and if we have a second child, it would have to be within the next year, while I finish my classes and can be home to be with the baby. Our daughter is well-adjusted, and we plan on putting her in activities such as dance and gymnastics.

We would like your opinion, and also to hear from parents who had only one child, as well as people who were raised without a sibling. – Maybe Only One in Georgia

Dear Maybe Only One: If you are considering enlarging your family only so your daughter will have a sibling, I don't recommend it. What the six-year age difference means is that your children will not grow up "together." By the time the younger one is starting high school, the older one will be in college and gone. Even when they are closer in age, it's no guarantee that siblings will be close.

I cannot – and should not – decide this for you. I am throwing your question open to my readers and will share their opinions with you. However, I'm sure they will be varied.

Dear Abby: I am generally a conservative person. My 17-year-old son, "Leo," asked for an ear piercing when he was 13. I wasn't sure whether I liked the kind of impression it made, but because it was only one piercing, I agreed on the condition that he would stop at one hole.

When Leo was 15, he begged to have dreadlocks. Thinking it was a phase, I allowed it even though I wasn't thrilled. He has since cut off the dreads, but now says he wants an eyebrow piercing.

My son is a loving, wonderful, happy kid. He's active in school, well-liked, and an excellent student in an advanced academic program. I couldn't honestly think of a good reason to say no, even though this piercing freaks me out. I sense that Leo wants to do more piercings, but he's respectful enough to wait awhile.

My question is, what is a good reason to NOT agree to more piercings? Every argument I've thought of – unsightly, unsanitary, makes the wrong impression – is rather thin.

My 12-year-old daughter wants to dye her hair purple. I'm saying no, but still have no good reason for that, either. Am I just too old-fashioned? – Not-With-It Mom in Maccabim, Israel

Dear Not-With-It Mom: Tell your son he was born with a perfect body. When you agreed to the ear piercing, it was on the condition that there would be only one piercing, and you expect him to keep his part of the bargain. If he asks for a further explanation, tell him it's because he has enough holes in his head.

As to your daughter, remember it's only hair and it will grow out. If this is her only form of rebellion, consider yourself lucky.

As to your being "too old-fashioned," it's a mother's JOB to be old-fashioned. Keep up the good work.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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