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only children: were you happy?

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
I've always wanted to be a mother and now I am and everything is just perfect. Our family feels very complete. I'd be glad to stop here, having enough money to help dd with college (should she go) and dh and I could retire safely, if not comfortably. And I could resume my career while still relatively young. My dh is going on 40. I believe spacing children is wise but I think our toddler-chasing energy will begin to fade (may have started to decrease already). Plus there's the whole overpopulation thing, but there's also adoption if that were my only concern. ANYWAY, one's looking like enough to me right now.

BUT, I had siblings and I just CAN'T imagine childhood without them! I talked to one only child who advised not to do that to my child. He wished he had siblings. I think about how if a family moves, the closest peers go with a child with siblings. And when dh and I grow old, they'd have each other to lean on when dealing with, say, funeral arrangements.

So if I stop here and we remain a family of three am I depriving her? I know ya'll can't tell me what to do, but tell me if you were happy growing up, if you felt you missed out on something, etc. Just looking for food for thought.

post #2 of 55
I don't think you'd be "depriving" her if she were to be your only. You have to follow your heart and decide what's best for you and your family. How you feel now might change in six months or a year - or it just might be right.

Having said that, I have lots of friends who are "onlies" (weird phenom?) and NONE of them are happy alone. They are facing the burden of aging parents on their own, having children and having no aunties or uncles. Yes - they have very close friends that form a circle of support for them, but there's nothing like having a sibling to support you and your family.

On the other hand - who says siblings will be close? I also have friends who have siblings and they HATE eachother. But they still have someone to turn to in times of family crisis, and nothing pulls people together the way a bad situation can.

Right now I have one dd who will be two next month. We plan on having a minimum of one more, possibly two. I can't bear the thought of her being alone once I'm dead and gone. Plus I grew up in a family of five children - I love noise, and crowds and lots of people. I also LOVED having lots of siblings to play and fight and hang with. We're a very tight crew.

What a tough decision, eh?
post #3 of 55
Right now we're planning on DS being an only child. Of course that may change, but my pregnancy was difficult (to say the least), and adoption isn't an option right now (DH doesn't want to for a number of reasons I won't go into here).

I have 2 siblings, and neither were very much help when my mom passed away. I leaned on DH....he was my rock. Also, I don't plan on leaving any debt or funeral expenses for my child(ren) to pay, so that won't be an issue. If I have to go and buy everything beforehand or set up a fund, that's what I will do.

DH isn't an only, but he might as well have been. His sister is 8 years older, so they never had a lot of sibling experiences like my bro and I did (I also have a sister 8 years older). He was happy with the way things were. He had plenty of friends growing up.

One thing to think about here is your happiness. If you feel another child would wear you out, then you're not doing your child any favors by giving your DD a sibling. I am exhausted (DS has never been a good sleeper), and I just couldn't imagine having more children right now....well at least more babies. If it happens, we will be blessed, but we are happy wth our little family the way it is. I feel we are complete now.

You know, a lot of people grow up with friends that are like sisters and brothers. Does she have any cousins close to her age? My DS has only one cousin, and she's 16. Anyway, I'm really not that worried.
post #4 of 55
Thread Starter 
heh.. well, her cousins are having babies...

My brother has a three year old but that family is distant physically and emotionally from the rest of us.
post #5 of 55
So if I stop here and we remain a family of three am I depriving her?

No, you aren't. You can't create a perfect childhood just by providing a sibling. You can't recreate your relationship with your siblings in your children.
What if you have another child and they don't hit it off and you are tired and broke and frustrated that your children aren't getting along. There are positives and negatives to both siblings and only children. I think what matters most to your child being happy is how you parent and if you focus on the positive about your family.
You might ask people with siblings- did you have a happy childhood and why or why not?- and see how much had to do with their sibling and how much had to do with other factors. I think you'll find a mix of happy and unhappy despite the number of siblings.

I am not an only child. I have 2 older siblings. My dh has older and younger siblings. We have decided for similar reasons to what you have given that dd will be our only child... it was the right choice for us physically, emotionally, financially, and intellectually.
I love my siblings but as adults we are not close. I had a good childhood but they just aren't there for me as an adult. They are not super close to my parents either. I know only children who had good childhoods and envied them sometimes their relationships with their parents and friends.
My dh is a middle child and not close to his siblings either. He had a rotten childhood. His siblings are not there for whatever reason for his mom who has MS and Graves Disease.

Bottom line- if your family of three feels right and you are happy do not feel you are depriving your child in any way.
post #6 of 55

There is no "perfect" childhood.

If it isn't one thing, it is another.

I was an only.

I was and am fairly unhappy with my childhood.

Was it because I was an only child?

Oh, for crying out loud! Of course not! That has nothing to do with it. It is just incidental, not causual.

And I know several happy only children. And I know several unhappy ones. And the same goes for people from big families.

It all depends on the raising.

You can't plan everything, you just have to take it one day at a time. If the family feels right to you, it probably is.
post #7 of 55
I was pretty much an only. My brother is 10 years older than me and he left home at 16. I was very happy both having a sibbling and being an only.

I think happy childhoods depends on the parents parenting.
post #8 of 55
I was an only child until 12. My parents remarried and each had kids and I was more like a babysitter/aunt than sibling. I really wanted a sibling closer to my age. Might have been easier to deal with the divorce. I do feel as though I have missed out. I didn't have any cousins or other children around tho. Are there other children in your extended family?

post #9 of 55
I am an only child. It's just me. I've never felt deprived, upset, angry, or defective. I liked to have my own room, my own toys and I was able to do my own thing at home. I think the only down side was in high school. I wasn't able to get away with as much since my mother didn't have any other kids to focus on

Actually, my best friend, 1st cousin, father, MIL & FIL are all only children. I've never heard any complaints or even comments. Because of all the only children, I have a really small family but that's fine, too.

I know some people make negative comments but you'll always find some moron to make a negative comment about anything. I think for any sized family you'll fine those who loved it or didn't. I have 3 children. I think it's great that they have each other, but if I hadn't remarried and only had my oldest, I wouldn't feel like I was doing her a disservice by not having another child. Actually never even thought about it when I was a single mother with just her & I.

I say do what feels right for you. I don't think that there is anything wrong with being an only child. I've never had a moment of feeling upset in any way.
post #10 of 55
I was an only child with a single momma until she got married when I was 10ish. Remained an only child through that marriage and divorce, until I became a non-only with her remarriage, when I was 24. Suddenly I had brothers (then aged 13 and 17)!!

I loved loved loved being an only child. As I became an adult, and started seeing the very special adult sibling relationships that my friends have, I admit to feeling a pang of - I dunno - not quite envy - a resignation, maybe?? that I would never experience or truly understand that type of relationship.

I'm now fairly close to my youngest stepbrother, and feel like as we get older, we will become even closer. So I'm living vicariously through my mom's husband's family, I guess.
post #11 of 55
Originally Posted by happyhippiemama

I loved loved loved being an only child. As I became an adult, and started seeing the very special adult sibling relationships that my friends have, I admit to feeling a pang of - I dunno - not quite envy - a resignation, maybe?? that I would never experience or truly understand that type of relationship.
ITA - i am only child. never really cared one way or the other when i was younger. but now that i'm an adult i really wish i had a sibling. a bond, a relationship with someone for life.

i was always given many opportunities and i was always given undivided attention. which i think was mainly a positive - but i also think it tended to 'spoil me'. as an adult i understand the concept of sharing but never really experienced it on a daily basis as a child.

another interesting point - this may or may not be related to being an only child - even now, i am still very much a person that treasures being alone. other than my dh and ds, i really prefer to not have a lot of people around for long periods. read: i'm not very fond of people staying at our house for long periods of time.

as with anything though there are advantages and disadvangtages to everything. do what is right for your family. an interesting book about only children is The Birth Order Book. good luck!
post #12 of 55
thought of one more thing to add...

my dh has one sister - they're not real close. he would be fine if ds ended up as an only child.

me, on the other hand, as an only child - i definitely want to have a sibling for ds.

and like another poster said.....just b/c you have more than one, it doesn't guarantee they will be good friends.
post #13 of 55
This will be a repeat of many of the above posters. I am an only child. My parents didn't intend it to be that way, but mom had a Dalcon Shield IUD after my birth and if you know the stories, it completely messed her up and she had a heysterictomy at 27.

As a child it was impressed upon me that I was very fortunate to have my toys to myself, that I was able to have more because there wasn't anyone else to eat up half the budget. My parents weren't very poor, but lower middle class anyway. For me ther was the added factor of I knew full well my parents would never be able to have any more children. When my father relocated for work when I was 8 my parents made a choice on the neighborhood based on the fact there was a girl my same age across the street and another next door, so that I would have somebody to play with. So I felt very lucky as a child.

That said, as an adult I went though the same tough life phases mentioned above, alone. My mother is mentally ill, and my father has always been her rock. That leaves me no one to comeserate with over family issues and left me feeling a good deal of the time like I was the one who was crazy. I still harbor a lot of anger about that. Although if you and your DH are stable people it is not to say your child will feel the same way. However for me it is the strongest motivating factor in having a second child so my son will not be an only.

The added pressure to suceed is a tough one as well. I still struggle with the fact that if not me, then who? Again that could be disueded by good parenting. I say if you are happy the way things are and you just make note of the things that can plauge adult only children then there is no reason your child should not feel very very lucky to be the one and only center of her parents affections.

Follow your heart and decide what works for your family.
post #14 of 55
I've enjoyed reading this thread - thank you for posting this question! We too are going through the same thing. I love my little family of 3. It feels right. We have just enough room in our house, just enough money to be comfortable and pay for college for dd, and I have just enough energy for her. Another baby would EXHAUST me. I was visiting a friend tonight who has a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old and I had to leave - I was getting tired and stressed just watching her deal with all the drama. Plus, I'm 37 and still nursing with no end in sight so getting pregnant anytime soon isn't likely. My dh would like another, and I LOVE babies and sometimes think I'd like a baby, but I don't really want another KID, iykwim. I'm glad to read the positive replies about being an only, because I think you do feel societal pressure to have more than one. At least I feel it. But I LIKE having only one. And I have a brother who is less than 2 yrs younger than me and we have never been close - not even when we were young. I love him, but have never had anything in common with him and only talk a few times a year. Anyway, thanks again.
post #15 of 55
now that i'm an adult i really wish i had a sibling. a bond, a relationship with someone for life.
Just a quick note - I feel the EXACT same way, and I DO have a brother. Having a sibling doesn't guarantee that bond. Sad but true.
post #16 of 55
I was an only child and I had a great childhood. I had plenty of friends, however, I was also capable of entertaining myself.

Someone really needs to explain this line of thought to me. My husband is the youngest of 14 (!) and thinks having only one child is some kind cruel and unusual punishment for the child. I don't get this. I had a great childhood. We have a baby girl now, and I think an only child is lucky. As a parent you don't have to split your resources, you will be able to do the very best you can for that one child, and I don't think there is anything wrong with it. People who grew up with brothers and sisters, though, tend to think it is weird or wrong. IMHO, being an only child is just fine.
post #17 of 55
Friends are the family you choose for yourself.
I was raised as an only (by my grandparents) but I have a brother I've never been very close to.
As long as you instill in a child the understanding that friends can be just like family, it shouldn't be a problem.
I only have one child myself, an probably will keep it that way. I'm hoping he develops friendships that will act as sibling type relationships (but happier, hopefully ).
post #18 of 55
I originally only wanted one child, and every only child I talked to, except one, were very happy. And that one was just upset because her parents pressured her, so she wanted someone to take the pressure off her.

I hated my brother growing up. Well, I love them, but I can't stand them y'know. We aren't close. We will never be close, etc.
post #19 of 55
My dh grew up an only. He says it was fine - he didn't think then that he was missing out. There were friends, cousins, etc. But on holidays, on vacations, at the dinner table, etc. it was just him and his much older than usual parents (they were 43 and 54 when he was born - surprise!) He had a kind of "grown up" childhood. When I talk about playing certain games or listening to music and dancing around the living room or going to "kid-friendly" places, he just says "I never did that". He went on cruises where he was the only kid on the boat. They only went to restaurants that served mixed drinks. The music was Lawrence Welk. He remembers his parents having their friends over for drinks and the room being filled with smoke. His parents are (were - his dad passed away years ago) nice people; they love(d) him; they had plenty of money to send him to college.

BUT if you fast forward to now, he knows what he missed. He harbors a lot of guilt that we don't live in the same town as his mom to be able to help her more. He is sad when he sees the relationship I have with my sister and brother - and the one that our kids have with them. Our kids have no aunts or uncles or cousins on his side.

I think it is nice to be able to fully fund your child's higher education - my dh did like that! His parents saved enough to send him to the Ivy League - he didn't quite pull off the grades for that... But having siblings is a special opportunity (not guaranteed, but the opportunity) to have a lifelong bond with someone that was there before you met your spouse and will be there after your parents die. Coming from someone whose parents died when she was in junior high, I am eternally grateful to have been lucky enough to have siblings to share the good and the bad with.

Anyway! Sorry to ramble. I think dh grew up thinking it would have been nice if he'd had a sibling but not "deprived" per se. But as an adult, he insisted we have at least two kids. He was absolutely against having an only. We now have three - and he is open to more - but I think we are done. I know it is a hard decision for some - but for me, I knew in my heart I'd have more than one. It just was. I didn't have to spend any time thinking about it. Actually, funny thing was that when dd1 was 3 and it was time to TTC, I really didn't feel like it. We were fine; we were happy and life was getting easy again - out of the baby stage. But I wanted siblings for my kids so we went ahead. That was six years ago now - time has FLOWN! And we now have an 8 y.o., a 4 y.o. and a 1 y.o. I think it has kept us young - not tired us out.
post #20 of 55
Ive raised two only children.......the first bc of circumstances, and the second out of choice. I dont feel guilty that I mother one better than I could ever mother two or more. Its something I know about myself. My family is complete.

Come join us in FINDING YOUR TRIBE......Mothers of Onlies....
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