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Thoughts on having one child or two

post #1 of 62
Thread Starter 
I know there are lots of threads already on this type of thing. I don't know exactly what I am trying to get at here- I think just wanting to hear people's thoughts on having one child or two children. It is really a vague question so I apologize in advance!!
Basically- we have one baby and we are enjoying it Dh and I talk about if we want to try to have a second child or not. I would say 80% or more of the time we both feel that having just this one would be the best choice for our life, and we feel pretty psyched about how that will all go!

And then there are other times where I think- maybe a second child would be right for our family.

I am not asking for advice on deciding!
I am more just curious about peoples' experiences on either having only one child, or how it was different when the second child came.

Ultimately we will figure it out naturally and I am not worried about it. It is more that this is just somehting on my mind right now- so I am curious if anyone has any experiences or thoughts to share on having one vs two children.
post #2 of 62
DD is going on 1, and although DH wants more kids (he's Irish, after all!), I'm thinking I'd prefer just the one. I had a hard time adjusting to motherhood, and some days I feel like I'm still reeling from having my "old" life put on hold. Plus DD is still up multiple times a night, so I'm kinda dragging tiredness with me all the time. I have no desire right now to have to live through all that again.

Also, I want to stay home to raise DD--but I love my job and want to go back to it full time one day. Having other children will mean putting that off indefinitely. Plus were living on a huge salary cut right now, making extras like travel--which we love--really difficult. I'd love to take DD around the world, and more kids will make that really, really hard.

It all sounds so selfish put down in words, but that's what's going through my brain right now. We love DD so very much, and I feel like we're adjusting to the wonderful change and finally doing well, and I don't want to mess that up. I do feel guilty about depriving DD if a sibling, though... I"m hoping my choice won't leave her lonely one day...
post #3 of 62
I can say that as an adult, being an only child has been hard on dh. When his dad died, he had to handle all of the arrangements on his own. Also, his mom has a lot of issues and again, he's kinda left being the one who has to deal with it.
post #4 of 62
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post
I can say that as an adult, being an only child has been hard on dh. When his dad died, he had to handle all of the arrangements on his own. Also, his mom has a lot of issues and again, he's kinda left being the one who has to deal with it.
Having a second child is no guarantee that things will be any easier in that respect. In fact, they may be harder. I know someone whose sibling is still dependent on the parents for various reasons. When her parents are gone, she will likely have to handle all arrangements, PLUS figure out how to take care of her sibling. So that's not really a good reason to have another child, IMO. Not saying that a second child is a bad idea - just that having a second doesn't guarantee anything.
post #5 of 62
I love having a singleton. I will say that I had 3 losses trying to have another, and probably would have eventually succeeded if I had continued to try, but we made a conscious decision to stop trying and enjoy the positives of having one.

Along the road, I "interviewed" several adult single children and overwhelmingly was informed that they really enjoyed growing up that way. I think for some reason, females do better than males, in my experience. And none of these friends would be described as self-centered and egotistical, in fact just the opposite - they're all very caring, loving friends to have. And as one pointed out, even with siblings, usually it's one that gets "assigned" to care for the parents, and very often, there is discord as to how to handle things, money, etc.

There are a lot of pros to having a second child, (I wanted one!) but the fact is there is no perfect formula for a perfect family. For some, a sibling ends up a lifelong best friend, but for some, it's a source of constant competition/comparison, and for some, they just end up distant family members. And honestly, even though most don't talk about it openly, I have several friends who have quietly said they wouldn't have minded being an only! They're almost always first children who have a memory of what it was like before the siblings came along.

Everyone knows the benefits to multiple children (sooner or later, you'll hear the intrusive "when are you gonna give him a little sister?!") and I'm not knocking big families, but it's so important to not be swayed by society's expectations and there are a lot of prejudices in our society about having singletons. A few months ago, Time magazine had a cover issue "The Only Child Myth" - it's worth a read if you're really considering it.
post #6 of 62
DH and I are completely in the one kid camp. We're both onlies, and pretty much knew from the start that we would have an only too. There are just so many things we want to do for her - private school, activities, camp, vacations - that we couldn't afford (at least with a lifestyle that allows us to spend some time together at home!) for two. Also, I am able to be patient and easygoing and give more yeses to one in a way that I know I couldn't pull off with two (not that no one could do it, but I don't think I have it in me!). Anyway, there are certainly trade offs, but obviously you have to do what's right for you and your family.
post #7 of 62
My kids are 5 years apart because I was undecided for a long time. Now they are 8 and 13, and it's perfect for us.
post #8 of 62
I am able to be patient and easygoing and give more yeses to one in a way that I know I couldn't pull off with two (not that no one could do it, but I don't think I have it in me!).
post #9 of 62
Thread Starter 
Yes, my thoughts on it are similar to some of yours. Like mnj77 mentioned- we also want to send our ds to private school, and we also want to travel with him, etc- and those things would be harder with a second. Also we like the idea of having two parents for one child- we feel that we can really meet his needs that way while still tending our relationship, and our own needs.

It is just such a big decision either way! Having another could totally change things in a way that might be more difficult for us, yet at the same time not having a second could lead to regret in the future.
I don't worry about ds being lonely- I know plenty of people- adults and kids- who don't even get along with or feel that close to their siblings so there is no guarantee that they would be best friends- although they could be, of course. but either way we will make sure ds has plenty of social interactions, school, friends, etc.

Tway what you said does not sound selfish to me at all! It is important to know one's limitations so that as a parent and a spouse we can keep a healthy balance in life.

I think there is this biological physical thing that happens that makes me feel sometimes like I want to conceive another child- when I am ovulating or whatever! But I wonder if that just goes on and on no matter how many children one has! Before we had ds we thought we wanted two- but we are really happy with ds- and things feel like a good balance right now. But then on the other hand . . . etcetera.

If anyone else has more thoughts on their own experiences with this, please do share.
post #10 of 62
I am completely in this camp too. I absolutely love having my only son, but wonder about how it would be with two. I'm not sure that I would make it out alive! I patiently convinced my DH over the course of 5 years that having a child would be a wonderful thing...and it really has, for the both of us. But, it has also been very stressful at times and I don't know that I really have the energy to lobby for a second one at this stage. We can give so much to our son because there's no competition in the house. Having said that, I grew up very close to my brother and can't imagine life without him. But we're just starting to get into a groove, and it really works well. I can totally imagine life with just one, but there's that clock that's ticking in the background to make a decision about having another one, and I just want to be happy with the choice that I make! No regrets...that's my goal.
post #11 of 62
We lost our first child and then had our son. For a long time I felt like one was enough...I felt like the 'missing spot' at our table was our lost daughter's. And I found one enough of a challenge!

But when my son hit around thee, three and a half both my DH and I found ourselves thinking about it again. Our family just didn't feel quite complete - which is a totally emotional thing.

My son's 5 now and I'm pregnant. I find myself thinking the age gap is working in our favour - my son's making leaps into independence and wanting to do more with peers and that will give me some time with the baby. They probably won't play together a whole lot all the time (my sister and I have a similar gap and didn't) but as they get older the age gap will matter less. The bummer is we have to childproof again etc.

But for me, I needed that recovery time from the intense first 2-3 years. I really did. I love my son but I don't love the pre-verbal stages that much at all. Going through them with no break might've made me very burned out.

The one thing I'm not loving so much is that we'll be in "small child" land for almost 10 years total...eeek. And I'm 39 and will be 40 when the baby's born, so that presents a few challenges, particularly financial at the end there. I know we'll be older parents when our kids are starting off their lives so we'll have to plan for our care so we're not saddling them right when they need to be concentrating on themselves.

I've also probably wrecked my career a bit to go on mat leave right now but - oh well. I do love my job but it does not love me back the way family does.

It's been a tough pregnancy so far and I've had to stare down whether I would try again, and I think I would not. (We had set a limit to TTC until I was 40 and then stop, and with recovery time we'd be hitting that window.) Hopefully, since we're at 20 weeks, we'll make it to where it's not an issue.

But I don't think being an only child is a lifetime handicap...and having watched my dad (only) care for his parents and my mom (1 of 3) care for hers, I have to say neither situation was great - in one case there was more work and in the other more arguing and bad feelings. Eldercare is just tough all around. That said, I love having a sister to call up. It's just - different, either way.
post #12 of 62


I think the hardest thing about having just one child is that you need to have a thick skin. Society is keen to blame pretty much any character flaw, or any less than ideal behaviour, on a child's lack of siblings.

As I see our parents age though, I do take comfort in knowing that DH and I have siblings to help with their care when the time comes. Right now, our parents are still caring for their own parents, but I definitely see them appreciating the fact that they have siblings to share the stress and responsibility with.

When we had just one child I was totally content. We could have been an extremely happy family with just one. We would just be a very different family than what we are now.
post #13 of 62
(I have postpartum depression and a one month old--keep that in mind.)

I now feel kind of bad that I had a second child. I had a terrible pregnancy and have had a difficult recovery from a bad postpartum hemorrhage and overall recovery has sucked. I also had a miscarriage directly before this pregnancy so I feel like I have 'missed' a year of my older daughter's life because I wanted another child and I can never get that back. At this point I'm just grateful that my older child is so loving towards her baby sister. If she was resentful I don't know how I would deal with my guilt.
post #14 of 62
DH and I have an 18 month toddler and expect him to be an only.

For us, and perhaps for many people, I think the decision comes down to two things: what was your own experience as a child and how well you know yourself/accept your limitations.

DH had an awful relationship as a child with his brother, 4 years older. Apparently, he was quite cruel to him, even going as far as locking him in a trunk one day, hardly as an act of playfulness. I think the fact that their father had abandoned them had a lot to do with their dynamic, but the fact remained that their relationship was traumatic for him. For a long time, he was not even sure he wanted ANY children, let alone two.

For me, I was the youngest of four children, with a mom who was very unhappy in her marriage and probably (most definitely) depressed. I can count on one hand -- and I may not even be able to make all five fingers -- the memories I have of spending any quality time with either of my parents. My father saw his responsibilities as working and supporting a family, not necessarily spending time with them. Then my mother left him and had two more children with another man, in a very unhealthy relationship, and left most of their rearing to me and my older brother. So it's no surprise that though I knew I wanted children, I had no intention ever of having a large family.

Of course, this is not to say that this is how it always is in large families, but that my OWN experience colored what my choices would be.

But that's also connected to how well you know yourself, what your injuries are. My older sister has four children, and though I can't speak for them, I can only guess that their lives are much happier than mine was in a similar family structure. But my sister is a much different woman than my mother - and me. She's very high energy, superwoman even. She has this large family and for some time, homeschooled, did missionary work, returned to school herself and became a pharmacist, works full time, travels across the country to help her oldest daughter with her own two children, makes time for all of them to go on vacation together, etc.

I'm so low energy. After long days of teaching many classes, sometimes I think it's a miracle that I can make it through the rest of the day and sit down with my son to work on puzzles, read him books, make dinner, bathe him, put him to bed, then still work to prepare lunches for the next day, do laundry, etc. DH is the same way. We feel completely spent by the time night comes. That's just how we are. We can't even fathom how we would survive a second child, not necessarily that we wouldn't want one. But again, other people can do so much more, so it's a personality thing.

Finally, I suppose a third concern is money, though I know some people look down upon this as a reason for family size. Still, it can be a real constraint. Neither DH nor I could afford to stop working what with all our debt and responsibilities. If we had a second child, s/he'd have to go to day care, which would cost us roughly $1000 a month. Do we have another $1000 left over at the end of the month for this expense? No. So it's not even a possibility either way.
post #15 of 62
Originally Posted by mnj77 View Post
DH and I are completely in the one kid camp. We're both onlies, and pretty much knew from the start that we would have an only too. There are just so many things we want to do for her - private school, activities, camp, vacations - that we couldn't afford (at least with a lifestyle that allows us to spend some time together at home!) for two. Also, I am able to be patient and easygoing and give more yeses to one in a way that I know I couldn't pull off with two (not that no one could do it, but I don't think I have it in me!). Anyway, there are certainly trade offs, but obviously you have to do what's right for you and your family.
My DH is the oldest of 3 and wants a second child, but the above comments match my thoughts and feelings exactly. Our DD will likely remain an only.
post #16 of 62
We recently added our second

And it's been awesome. My DD is three and the spacing (for us) is perfect; she's pretty independent and she adores her brother with every ounce of her being. I love seeing him light up at her/vice versa, and I'm hoping that they will grow up to love each other.

My reason for a sibling was that I have a little brother who I CHERISH. I wanted DD to have at least one sibling because her personality is so warm, and loving and she talked about wanting a brother or sister. It just worked for us, and we can afford it (which for us was a big factor) I want to be able to be comfortable and two kids is our max (although sometimes I want a hundred)
post #17 of 62
We have two and I think it's one of the greatest things ever for our family, especially for our older dd. Sometimes I wish they were a little teeny bit closer in age. They're 2 yrs 9 mo apart, so 3 years apart in school. They get along great and play so well together and truly enjoy each other so much. Dd1 is a little bit of a young 9.5 and dd2 is a little bit of a more mature almost 7, so personality wise they're closer than the age gap.

I am so often so grateful that we had a second child, especially for dd1's sake. Dd1 is a unique, quirky kid, with some tendencies toward anxiety and she's a bit of an introvert. She likes to watch and wait a lot and although she's very gregarious with some adults she's not as gregarious with kids her own age. Having dd2 she always has a built-in friend. They really love each other and get along so well and truly enjoy each other's company.

There's a larger age gap between my sibs and myself (6.5 btwn me and my sister, 9 btwn me and my brother). We were not very close when I was growing up and by the time I was 11 or 12 they were out of the house and I was, by and large, an only. I didn't mind being an only as a pre-teen/teen at all, but I didn't get along very well with my sister in particular and my brother was so much older than I was.

I hope our girls continue to be close throughout their lives.

I also think at this stage it has made parenting so much easier to have two. When my second was a baby it was difficult at times, but I just put her in the sling or Ergo and away we went. Now the kids just entertain themselves. We're still very close as a family, but they don't require so much of my attention. The younger one can ask the older one to help her with a zipper on the back of her dress, or they can giggle over silly potty humor jokes together, or they can read a book or magazine together. I know from their personalities that if they didn't have each other they would be coming to me constantly for interaction. DH and I both need a lot of downtime (introvert tendencies also) and we can recharge while the kids are still getting the interaction they need. Anyway, I wouldn't trade having two for the world. I think it's been great for dd1 and for DH and I and dd2 is just wonderful in her own right!
post #18 of 62
Dd1 was an only for 4 years before dd2 came along. Even with dd2 being special needs, I definitely preferred having two. Personally, I found having one really stressful. A lot of pressure to always be playmate, always be on the go doing stuff, entertaining her, etc. I felt guilty if i ever took any time for myself. It's funny being pregnant with #4 and people freak out and say "oh I could never handle that!" but honestly, I really did find having just one much more stressful!

I think the comments on societal pressure to have more than one are very interesting! I never felt any pressure to have more than one when dd1 was an only. But with #4 due soon, I find the pressure to "get fixed" and the rude and intrusive comments and questions from people (even strangers!) really annoying! It seems like 2 must be the "magic number" to avoid rude comments, I guess!
post #19 of 62
We have one child and it is wonderful. We get along so well, and our home is peaceful and happy . DD loves being an only child and all her friends love coming over here. She loves having friends over, but also loves when they go home and we can enjoy our family time. The 3 of us are very close. I love that I can enjoy her with undivided attention. DH and I call having an only child "The best-kept secret." I grew up with 3 siblings, DH has 1 sibling, but our current family of 3 is happier, healthier, and more stable than either of our homes were, and DD has a much happier, better childhood than either of us did . It works for our family.
post #20 of 62
Well, I always wanted 2 but our son after about 1.5 began to change and became really hard and stressful. The reason was b/c he was dx'ed w/autism. After that, things just got worse and it put sooooo much stress on us. DH had kept on for so long and wanted another. I felt emotionally and financially it was just not right. I feel like I handle 1 fine. With another I think I would have been taken to the mental ward. I cannot even tell you. But, that is my story. If he weren't the way he was during that stretch of 2 or 3 yrs I would have had another. Plus, I was already 36 when he was born so that was another factor against it.

I still feel really sad that we don't have another, but I wanted to be fair to our son and give him what he needed which was sane parents.
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