In this week’s New York Times Parenting newsletter, writer Jessica Grose explains her decision not to have another child. She employs the term “emotional bandwith,” noting that she didn’t have the emotional bandwith (what I’d define as capacity to effectively cope emotionally; she defines it as “patience” and “humanity”) for a third kid.
I talk to my mom patients about emotional bandwith all the time, regarding decisions about family size as well as many smaller decisions. I ask: Do you have the emotional bandwith to: Volunteer for this PTO activity/attend this baseball game/respond to this text/attend this family event/etc.? If the answer is “No,” don’t do it. Lack of emotional bandwith is sufficient justification for saying “No” to any parenting decision or request, regardless of how small (or big)!