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only children: were you happy? - Page 2

post #21 of 55
I just want to say something about the idea of having more children so they won't be alone after the parents die. I hear this a lot as a reason not to have an only and it doesn't make sense to me. I don't feel that this is fully thought through or fair reasoning as given.

It doesn't seem fair to me to put the expectation on later children that they must keep the other child from being alone for life or burden to fulfill some purpose that the first child did not have.

I don't believe being an only child will make your child be alone any more than having siblings will give your child an automatic friend.

I have siblings but I am the youngest child of my entire generation of my family (cousins too). There is every chance that I could outlive all my siblings as well as my parents. Even if my parents had kept having children, someone would be last... someone would most likely outlive the others. What about that person? Why don't we consider them being "alone" when we talk about this reason? Doesn't it matter?

My mom has outlived both her parents and one older brother. Her other older brother is not close. When he dies, she will not be alone though. She has been married 35 years to my father. She has 3 children. She has 5 grandchildren. She has cousins, She has her aunt. She has friends that she has known since childhood. She has long time neighbors. She has co-workers at the place she has worked for about 10 years. She has ties to the community she grew up in and the community she has lived the last 40 years in. She has made new friends too.
Having a sibling didn't make it easier for her parents to die I'm sure. I don't see how it affected her aloneness. Yet, if I had said she was an only child she supposedly would be alone even though she would still have pretty much all the same people actively in her life loving and supporting her.

Just something I think about when I hear that an only child will be all alone.
post #22 of 55
I don't believe being an only child will make your child be alone any more than having siblings will give your child an automatic friend.
This is true. I'm actually closer to my next door neighbor who I've known only a few months than my brother who I've known 35 years. I probably know more about her too. My mother is always pressuring my brother and me to "stay close" b/c when she goes we'll be all each other has. What about our spouses? Our children? Our friends? Our cousins? Won't they be "there for us"? My brother and I struggle to carry on a conversation. There's no animosity, just NOTHING in common. I can imagine my brother and I after my mom and dad have gone having a conversation about funeral arrangements, getting the will taken care of, etc., then we'll go back to talking twice a year like we do now. Don't get me wrong, I would've loved to have had a sister I was close to, but sharing the same blood is no guarantee that you'll get anything from that relationship. Other than healthy sibling relationships, nurturing healthy friendships and marriages and relationships with your children is one way to ensure you're never "alone" in your old age.
post #23 of 55
I am the oldest of 3/dh is the youngest of 3. We have one dd and she will be the one and only. I know what people mean when they talk about "societal pressures" and having more than one. I do not wish to "divide my resources", I don't want to have to choose to go to dd's game or say the siblings game at the same time/date.
I have close relationships with both brothers though we no longer live close to them; my dh might as well not have had siblings; his sister and brother do not bother with him at all. Technically dd has 2 cousins-dh's sister's kids, but they do live far away and she never liked the fact that dh moved from that area for a job in this state and met me and married (it has been 14 years people can we get over this? : ) anyway, dd is the only grandchild on my family's side and the only girl on dh's. But dh will tell me "not every family is like yours" meaning calling each other, emailig sending cards and visiting, b-day presents; it is true his doesn't even bother he might as well be the only child when his parents had health crises, guess who was there? dh and me that was it.
I can remember being on the track and basketball team and my mom never being able to come, nobody cheering in the stands for me because she "has 2 other kids you know to take care of too". When I asked to go by a friends house it was always so and so only has one - I have two to drag out. It must have left a slightly negative impression on my I guess. But I know we should not have that problem come up.
When I was growing up I had a friend next door that was an only, she constantly wanted by my house (my mom hated that because she was kind of mean to my brothers) and I constantly wanted by her house where it was quiet and just me and her; I still am like that though I like lots of alone time though I have not had it in a few years...
post #24 of 55
Well said onlyzombiecat!
post #25 of 55
i haven't read any of the replies, so i may be repeating someone, but i wanted to say that i think that everything depends on the individual child that you do have. if your child is naturally introverted, sure it might be nice to have a sibling that she could be close to in her home, that will always be with her while growing up, etc...but of course that also depends on their individual relationship.

if your child is naturally extroverted and finds lots of close friends outside of the family, etc...then maybe it's not such a big deal.

also, the "aloneness" you're talking about is in adulthood, when your child is likely to have close friends, a family of her own, etc...making the point moot.

that being said, sibling relationships can be very special in ways that friendships/relationships outside of the family are not. CAN be. not necessarily, but CAN be. they have the POTENTIAL to be closer than any other kind of friendship becuase you have shared experiences, unconditional love, etc... but again...that's POSSIBLE, not a given.

so...my answer to your question is...maybe. maybe it'll be a downside, maybe it won't be. there's really no way to tell. what i CAN tell you is that if YOU are not happy with the structure of your family (as in you really want another child but don't have one, or you really don't want another child but have another one because you feel you *should*), you're more likely to show that stress and THAT is more likely to be a downside than either the presence or absence of a sibling.

i can't think of a downside to having a sibling (outside of rare circumstances) other than your OWN attitude about it.

follow your heart...it's a decision that only you and your own family can make.
post #26 of 55
Heres the link to the Moms of Onlies thread, if youre interested:


I think its such a personal decision, just as having a child in the first place is. I get soooo many comments on having an only.......it surprises me still. Its a decision a family makes based on the needs of that family. It shouldnt be based on what others think, or what society deems as necessary to be complete.
post #27 of 55
I think its very common for only children to feel as if they missed something...after all there is no other relationship to compare it to.

However, many of us that have siblings know the realities and know that just because you have a sibling doesn't guarantee that closeness. I have one brother who is very emotionally distant and immature and while we played together a TON when we were kids...I often feel like I am an only child as an adult. So having a sibling is no guarantee.

That said, I know that people who are close with their siblings value that relationship very strongly...its a huge blessing to those that have it. I envy that so much and I pray that my kids will be blessed with that kind of relationship.

We decided to have 2 kids because WE wanted 2 kids. One child just didn't complete the family feeling for me. I want holidays and family trips with 2 little ones around. I hope and pray that my kids will grow up to be close....but I know there are no guarantees and I wouldn't have had another child just for this reason.
post #28 of 55
SOme times, sort of. Mostly, i was terribly lonely, and a social outcast because my parents actually encouraged me to relate to adults and adult concepts more than things in common with my peers. I also felt a terrible burden being under their constant scrutiny, aware every moment of their unreachably high expectations of me, and i was the only one on which to pin hopes and dreams. So, my situation was i think on the more negative end of the spectrum, but i expect it could have been a lot more positive if my parents had dealt with me differently. As itwas, they were in their forties and never expected my mother to be able to carry a child to term (she has been diabetic nearly all her life and also had severe uterine fibroids). So, i was this miracle, this enormous answer to prayer. I hated that all my life.
post #29 of 55
I have a brother that is three years older then I. I see him at holidays if I am lucky. He is not a responsible person. Anything that comes up with my mom I need to take care of. Growing up we did play together, but we also fought like cats and dogs! So having another does not guarentee a close relationship.

mY ds is 3 y/o and an olie. I am infertile and more fertility treatment and adoption are not options for us. I am just concerned about socializing my son. He is very outgoing and social! I am just worried I am not providing enough playtime with other kids. How much time does everyones onlies get to play eith other kids? My son has about 3 hours of Y classes a week and we take hime to zoo and museum classes occasionally. He also plays with the kids I babysit for. But the 3 older ones are in school all day and are not that interested in playing eith a three year old. The other 3 y/o I care for has special needs and is at about 15 to 18 month old level. I'm rambling. At any rate just wondering what to do so son can have more play time with other kids or if I am worrying too much!
post #30 of 55
My cousin is an only. And I think now that he is an adult, he is sad that he doesn't have any siblings.

One of the things he doesn't like about being an only child is that his parents don't have anyone else to think about except him. He was always the center of their world - which can be good and bad. But it seems even more intense now that he is an adult and married and wants his own family time. They feel left out all of the time because they don't have any other children to spend their time with so I guess he feels this feeling of being smothered even more as an adult.

I'm not saying that this is how parents of onlies act, but this is his experience and he always says, " I wish my mom and dad had another child to divide their time with" And I will say that my aunt is kind of strange and would probably be up in all of her kid's business, even if she had 7 kids!

My cousin also feels a big amount of pressure to please them because he is all they have. All of the burden in any situation always falls on him. His mother cried when he decided to spend Christmas with his wife's family because "we will be alone" ( he lives far enough away that spending it with both families is not an option). But he felt that his wife deserved to spend a Christmas with her family a few times and that it wasn't her fault that she had siblings and he didn't.

That all said, he says he will definitely have more than one child.

I think if you feel complete with just one child, than you shouldn't ignore those feelings. You of course, have to do what is best for your family!
post #31 of 55

Another Only

I'm an only child. Most of what I have to say here has been said...I loved not having to share a bedroom, christmas, vacations, etc. I often wonder what a sibling would be like. I think I'm much closer to my parents than most children because I had them to myself. I have struggled alone with aging parents, and sometimes wished I had someone to share the load in the past. I have found a loving partner that now shares the load and it helps tremendously. I know that having siblings (based on what I've seen of partner and friends relationships) doesn't mean you'll have any help.

I have a 9 y/o son that I was happy to leave as an only child. BUT....my partner and I have decided we would like to try to have a child together. AND yes part of my consideration in having another child is to not leave my son alone when I die. It took me 37 years to find someone for me...the thought of it taking my son that long or longer and possibly being alone broke my heart. So that is one (not the main one, but a big one) of the reasons that we chose NOT to leave him as an only child.

GREAT THREAD...and thanks!
post #32 of 55
Thread Starter 


Wow, what a great response!

Adult onlies, almost all of your responses seem to be "textbook," so I'm starting to trust the textbooks here. Onlies and oldests tend to turn out basically the same, so I don't think in the long run a sibling will effect *who* my baby becomes. If we stop here (quite likely) I will just have to accept that her childhood will be different from mine and there may be situations I can't relate to.... there would be anyway!

Like many of you, I have a brother, 13 mos younger (mom thought ebf was solid birth control :LOL) that has little to do with the family these days and shows little interest in maintaining a close relationship. But growing up we did everything together and, well I can't imagine a childhood without children in it. Can't imagine NOT taking turns opening Christmas gifts, for example, some for him, some for me, some for both. We even took baths together when we were little. All experiences were shared, talked about, it seemed enriching. Nope, no benifit in the adult life, but he did shape my childhood memories.

My sister is 7 years older and has a different dad. I benifit from my relationship with her more now. She's so helpful with family stuff... My dad has MS and mom works too much but knowing she's out there helps me not feel too burdened to be a perfect daughter to my parents...who don't accept much help anyway, but I still feel bad for their situation... but maybe if they had only had one child, they'd have some more retirement money and I wouldn't always be worried about them!

It seems like everyone at my church had babies at the same time, so she has LOTS of peers there. If we stick around, I hope she forms strong relationships there and learns that mom and dad's way is not the only way, that not everyone is as careful with your feelings as we are, and how fun it is to experience something new with a friend. She and her friends can try explaining to me what's so cool about the latest whatever and it won't be so bad if I roll my eyes because she's got someone on her side. We have a faint dream of moving to Vermont someday and if we ever do, I would REALLY miss being a mother at this church.

Thanks for the link!!! Thanks for the GREAT points!!! I will be checking out that tribe soon.

post #33 of 55
I just want to say something about the idea of having more children so they won't be alone after the parents die. I hear this a lot as a reason not to have an only and it doesn't make sense to me. I don't feel that this is fully thought through or fair reasoning as given.
I always found this odd to say too. My mom is an only child and when her mom passes away she will still have her 5 kids and my dad and her own friends to support her. BUT, the way she feels she will be "alone" is that no one else will share her memories anymore. None of us were around during her childhood, no one knows exactly what it was like having her mom as a mother, none of us will be able to truly understand her grief although we all of course will be grieving too. So would it be easier with a sibling? No I don't think so, except she'd have people around to carry on the connection with her childhood. Of course there are no guarantees like others said that she would have been close to her siblings at all.
post #34 of 55
Originally Posted by EllieB
I always found this odd to say too. My mom is an only child and when her mom passes away she will still have her 5 kids and my dad and her own friends to support her. BUT, the way she feels she will be "alone" is that no one else will share her memories anymore. None of us were around during her childhood, no one knows exactly what it was like having her mom as a mother, none of us will be able to truly understand her grief although we all of course will be grieving too. So would it be easier with a sibling? No I don't think so, except she'd have people around to carry on the connection with her childhood.
I must comment on this! My parents died when I was 12 and 14. I was the eldest of three kids (my sister was 8 and 10, brother was 4 and 6). This is an ABSOLUTELY valid point - that may be hard to understand if your parents are still living. Having gone through this, I can say that it was then and continues to be a crucially special thing to have my siblings. They ARE a link to my parents. No one and nothing can bring them back but they are alive in us. My siblings actually resemble our parents quite a bit - and will often do or say things that remind me of mom and dad. We have many years of shared memories of our parents - which we talk and laugh about all the time. I did not feel alone or far from them. I think until you lose your parents (either with or without siblings), it may be hard to understand how much siblings can help continue that bond of love and family that you had when your parents were alive.
I am not trying to make anyone with onlies feel badly. I just feel so strongly about the above that I just had to comment that it is a valid point for many of us that have gone through that. I think most people feel strongly that they will have one - or that they'll have multiple kids. I doubt any thread changes the mind of very many people in regards to how many kids they'll have. Although I once read (here on MDC) that when you are done, you know it - if you are questioning, you probably are not done. I have been on both the questioning and the knowing side and it was obvious to me when I got there.
post #35 of 55
Kirsten- Thank you for explaining your pov. I think that in the case like you mentioned where you were a child when your parents died it is easier to understand.
As a parent of an only, I hear the reasoning often enough from people mostly who think someone else (like me) should have more children. They seem to be talking about adult children whose parents die. They don't explain why a child (adult) would be alone. It really doesn't seem to be thought through reasoning for many as I do feel there are holes in it. As a youngest child, I will always wonder what about the last child living and why don't people care if they are "alone".
Do you plan to do something to ensure that your youngest sibling or child will not be alone when all their sibling die?

You can have as many kids as you want to have and choose how to decide. I support people in their choices.
post #36 of 55
I was raised an only child, and I hated it. No feeling was worse then after my friends went home, and it was just me to play by myself for the hours before bedtime. I was so envious of my friends who could go home and still play with their siblings. That's why I have 3 children.
post #37 of 55
I was and am very happy to be an only child. There were (and are!) lots of people in my extended family so there's always cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.. I remember loving to play with the other kids(friend or cousin) but also relieved when they went home. I always needed lots of time alone to feel ok, and still do. I need my own physical, emotional, mental space and don't think it's because of being an only as I remember feeling that way from very young. I like other people but love being alone, it's just something in me. Our son will be an only. Dh has a sister whom he loves but is not very close to and is also very happy with our decision to not have more. I know that having any more would be too much for me, and I also think that having a sane and happy mama and daddy is at least as important as any reason to have siblings. Perhaps my family is unique though, I'm still close to lots of cousins who are also having babies now. Ds will grow up with as much time around his THIRD cousins as I had with my 1st cousins, so i don't worry about him not having family support should something terrible happen or as we age. I know I'd rather ds have a mom who can cope than a sibling to experience my inability to handle more children with. Terrible sentence structure, sorry. Go with your gut on this oen I think, you have to know your own limitations. Some people are so happy with lots of kids, but I know I just couldn't handle it.
post #38 of 55
i HATED being an only child, and now as a "grown-up" with my own family. i still HATE it!! i wished i had had brothers and sisters to play with and fight with then, and share with now......just my opinion....
post #39 of 55
I don't think it works to have children for the other children. I think that often parents will have some fantasy about how their children's relationships with each other will be and it's often very far from reality. It can be a major let down when things don't turn out as one had dreamed. I think it's a really good idea to have a strong desire to have children when having children.

I wanted to say a couple of things after just skimming this thread. I'm an only child...all my life I just knew that I would do whatever it took to have more than one child. It wasn't that I felt deprived because I was an only child. I guess I sortof felt like there was something missing in my life...not like a conscious thing...just a longing of sorts.

My husband is the youngest and his siblings are 8 and 10 years older than he is. He is also much younger than the rest of his extended family (his cousins are in the same age group as my parents. His mother was the youngest of 8 and then he is the youngest in his family....so major age gaps) It's a huge difference to have siblings that are widely spaced and be an only child. While widely spaced children may not have "grown up together"...they still do have siblings. The dynamics are just different in families with only children and families of more than one child. It's just something that irks me when people go on about how they were like an only child because of age span of their siblings...it's not the same.

No matter how aware parents are, things are just very different when there is just one child. I'm not saying that it's necessarily bad...just different. All of my life I have heard the arguments for and against having an only child. No matter how much someone wants to make it seem that it can be the same as having more than one child...it's not. I have 3 children and the differences in families with more than one child from those with just one child are huge.

I also have to say that I think there is a significant difference between "onlies" and the "oldests". While many of the books to point out similarities...there are also vast differences. Onlies deal with everything...being the oldest, the middle, and the youngest. Oldests do not.

Also, I notice that the OPs child is still very young. It's possible that in years to come you may feel differently. It's possible you may not. I think it's really good to leave the options open (this coming from someone who was clearly done after 2 children and 10 years later had a very strong desire to have more) Life can look very differently at different times. I think often we will get locked into looking at our future from our present or past...when it's virtually impossible to see what the future will hold. All the things that are major considerations today very well may not be down the road.

No matter what....having children is not a very logically based thing. It can easily be argued that we will never have enough money, time, etc. That's not what it's about.

I'm in no way advocating that someone has more than one child just for the sake of having more than one child. I just think that having children has more to do with coming from the heart than the head...no matter how many one has.

And no matter what...each child has his or her own path. I often see that parents think that they have way more impact on a child's path than they really do. They think that if they have one child things will be a certain way, or if they have more than one child it will be a certain way...or if they are spaced a certain way...or whatever. Sometimes I think that humans can be very arrogant in thinking that they have much more control over things than they do.

So with all my ramblings...this is what I have to say to the OP... I wouldn't worry too much about it all at this point. No permanent decisions need to be made right now. Life often takes us in much different directions than we may have thought. Go with it and in time the answers will reveal themselves Your child(ren)'s path is their own and things turn out the way they are meant to. I find that when there is a problem, it is most often because we are getting in our own way.

And I do agree that when we are "done" we feel at peace with it. It's not really something that comes into question any longer. And I don't mean feel at peace after a year or whatever...I think it's a long term peace. And even with that....I also believe that we can be at peace with it for a very long time and then things can shift. It's really not necessary to make a permanent decision about such things.
post #40 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.
I feel this way and I have an older sister (4 years)!

Pretty much all of my friends have two kids. Frankly I am glad more often than not that I have have one. Sure sometimes there are golden moments (and I am sure I miss most of them!) that having a sibling is uniquely enriching, but most of the time it looks like a lot of work.

I feel much like the OP. DH has always been certain he only wanted one. Now three years after dd was born I am certain enough in the decision that he gets snip snipped next week. Merry Christmas!
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