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Moms of only children or those debating the issue - Page 2

Poll Results: Is it okay to have only one child

  • 87% (95)
  • 4% (5)
  • 7% (8)
    Under some circumstances only
108 Total Votes  
post #21 of 51
I have 2 sisters, and I feel deeply blessed for having them in my life. We're very close, and the sister I'm closest with is 9 years younger than I am, so age separation didn't make a wit of difference in my case. I've got 1 son who's 19 months old and I'm due in 2 weeks with our second child. I just happen to want a larger family- it's not a matter of feeling obligated to provide siblings.

But... my DH has a sister who he's estranged from. In his case, having a sibling hasn't impacted his life in a positive way at all.

And one more data point... before I had my son I was a social worker for Older Adult Protective Services. I was an elder abuse investigator. I can say pretty authoritatively that in most cases 1 child winds up being the primary caregiver to aging parents and the rest just kind of live their lives. Having more than 1 doesn't mean that the burden will necessarily be shared. Obviously I can't speak for anything even close to every situation. This has been the fairly universal experience of the social service agency I worked for, however.

My perspective: do what you can do and feel comfortable with. If your heart tells you that your family is complete with 1 child, fantastic! Enjoy the blessings you have.
post #22 of 51
Ummm... I don't love one of my children better than the other. I have infinite love for both. They are both very different, and my relationship is different with each, but I don't love one more than the other.

It was something I worried about an incredible amount when I was pregnant with my second. And it did take a few days to adjust to having two where once I had had one. But I did adjust, and now they both have infinite love from me and their father, and are even fortunate enough to be incredibly loved by each other.

Lucky girls.
post #23 of 51
DH and I decided that one was the right number for us before DS was born. Once he was here, we knew we'd made the right decision. Our family feels complete. For us, it was a relatively easy decision, but I realize that for others, it can be a true dilemma.

IMO, our society tends to focus on "siblingship" as something every child must experience. You mentioned in your post the reasons why I think people feels it's important: 1.) having a sibling for the sake of the experience, 2.) learning to share, and 3.) having a playmate.

Of course in making the decision to have one child, you won't be able to give your child the experience of what it is to have a sibling. However, the other two things you mentioned are easily within a parent's grasp to give an only child. My son has plenty of playmates and at 2.3 years, is learning to share right along with rest of his his peers. In fact, at this point, I find him to be much further along in this department then some of his "siblinged" buddies--I think it's mostly just a case of personality, but interesting nonetheless.

The reason our decision comes easy, is that we just can't seem to wrap our minds around having another. We're headed into our late thirties now and we're quite certain that we don't feel ready now--DS seems to need us now more than ever (albeit in different ways) in his every growing and changing toddlerhood. But age isn't really so much a factor than just loving the speed of our life as it is. We don't have any theoretical issues with having an only, and people who have brought it up to us have failed time and time again to make a valid point. The only reason we would ever change our minds is if we really wanted to have another child. So far, we're just not there and not looking like we're headed there, but we're also not closing any doors so to speak.

Best of luck in your decision. By this thread, it's easy to see you're not the only one who is/has struggled with this decision. It is indeed a tough one for a lot of folks. I can relate to the part about getting your life back btw--I feel the same way. DS is mobile now, and loves to be out and about doing things. This has added so much to our life!

I must add here, that of all DH and I's *uncommon* decisions about child rearing (EBF, no CIO, AP in general), the decision to have only one child has been met with the most intense opposition! It has been real eye opener about the societal expectations involved. I really appreciate this thread and being able to read a helpful discussion on the matter rather than just getting read the riot act! Thanks Camilla!
post #24 of 51
Originally posted by Summer
And one more data point... before I had my son I was a social worker for Older Adult Protective Services. I was an elder abuse investigator. I can say pretty authoritatively that in most cases 1 child winds up being the primary caregiver to aging parents and the rest just kind of live their lives. Having more than 1 doesn't mean that the burden will necessarily be shared. Obviously I can't speak for anything even close to every situation. This has been the fairly universal experience of the social service agency I worked for, however.
I think this is an excellent, excellent point. I have seen far more situations (personally and professionally) where one person is the designated caretaker in the family, no matter how many siblings there are, than of siblings evenly sharing responsibilities.
post #25 of 51
This is a great thread, thanks for starting it! I am 34 and dh is 53 and we have one dd, 7 months. We are discussing this precise issue, and our situation is complicated by dh's age. Embee, I agree with your comments about "loving the speed of our life as it is." That's kind of how we are feeling right now. We are able to travel (3 plane trips with dd already!), do resteraunts, go to friends houses, etc etc so easily and smoothly. We are so TOTALLY and ecstatically happy almost all the time, and so completely in love with dd it's almost intolerable So at times it kind of feels like don't mess it up! Now I get time with dh (not much, but some!) and time alone when she's napping. That's hard to give up. On the other hand, if you catch me on a different day, my arguments lean the other way entirely.... what fun it would be with two little ones, the energy in the house, the siblingship, even more love. So I dunno. Still undecided. I am also interested in people's experiences of how much influence parents have on how well sibs get along. I've heard differing viewpoints....
post #26 of 51
Originally posted by Carla
I absolutely love both my children tons and tons, not one more than the other! I'm sure moms of more than one will agree with me - your heart grows to accomadate your bigger family.

Do you mommas think that as parents we cannot shape the relationship of our children as siblings? Do you think we can teach them to love and respect each other just as we teach them to treat other people? I don't think it's like playing roulette as a previous poster said.
On these side notes -
I have never met a mom pregnant with or contemplating #2 that didn't worry about the "how can I love another child as much as I love the first?" issue. EVERYONE worries about this - NO ONE can believe they could EVER love another child in this deep, all-encompassing way. But then you do. It is an amazing and wonderful thing. If you only have one, I can understand how you could truly believe that the love you have for him or her could never be reproduced on any level for another child. I myself doubted it (as we all do) until it actually happened. And my second had raging, 24/7 colic, almost never slept, life was hell like I cannot describe and still I loved her with all my being.

And I definitely think we can shape the relationship that our children have with each other. In a million ways. I think the more you are conscious of how you can and do affect it, the better off you (and they) are. For myself, I tried to space my kids so as to make parenting and the sibling thing easier (everyone has different ideas on this - go with your own).
I also try to have one-on-one time with each of them (and ditto for my dh with each of them) - special time even if it is just a board game while baby naps or coming along to the grocery store and picking out a special treat in the frozen section or a mommy and me braiding class that my 6 year old dd and I are taking one day next month. Not everyone has to do or like everything - they each have their own interests and that is ok and should be encouraged IMO. We try not to compare them.

One thing I do/did (it is so rare now that the 2 year old can talk so well for herself) is from the time the 2nd was born, I would talk for her (in a high little baby voice) to her big sister. "Hey sister, could you find a toy for me to look at?" or "Will you play peek-a-boo with me?" or "Can I go to ballet with you?" DD1 would answer with a yes, no or what have you. I then would try to model good attitude by responding (as the baby) "OK, maybe next time" or "thanks, sissy!" or "how old will I need to get to go to dance class?" Baby would comment on how cool her big sister's room was or that she hoped she would teach her how to do some big kid thing when baby was bigger or whatever. I just tried to foster a positive relationship between them before one was really able to be established. I think it worked out well.

One friend of mine has an ok relationship with one sibling but is estranged from her twin. She thinks her mom (who was an only and friend thinks that may have played into the problem as she didn't know what it was like to have a sibling) played them against each other and compared them and caused a lot of the problems that led them to have the issues they do.

I definitely think we as parents can affect (positively or negatively) our children's relationship with each other.
post #27 of 51
Here I go again going slightly off topic, but I feel a need to respond to this since I brought up the caretaking issue:

I have seen far more situations (personally and professionally) where one person is the designated caretaker in the family, no matter how many siblings there are, than of siblings evenly sharing responsibilities.
I absolutely agree this is almost always the case. However, it doesn't have to be evenly shared to still be helpful. A half hour walk, a good nights rest,$50 in the mail etc.....all things I would have appreciated while I was in that experience. Plus, just knowing I wasn't ALONE in that grief. Gosh, I don't want this to be a sob story, just pointing out that it doesn't have to be 'evenly shared' to be helpful.

Ok I'm done explaining myself. Still waiting anxiously to see if you guys think we can influence good relationships in our children with their siblings.
post #28 of 51
Kirsten we posted at the same time

I completely felt guilty about having #2 when I was pregnant. I agree with Baudilaire about this:

I cannot imagine loving a child any more than I already love my dd: my heart would explode
Just not this:

we love our little girl like crazy. Either we would love a sibling more, or we would love a sibling less (yeah, yeah, I've heard the 'You'll love them each equally for who they are... line before, but I don't buy it...
I should have been more specific about my disagreement.

I agree with you Kirsten about shaping our childrens relationships. Those were good suggestions and I also make an effort to foster respect between them even at the young age they are now.
post #29 of 51
Carla, I know what you mean. I've also seen when it goes into negatives, though -- the caretaker is taking care of not only his/her parents but his/her sibling(s) as well. And I mean that in terms of emotionally, financially, other ways of caretaking, not just hands-on type caretaking.

Speaking for myself, I have friends who would totally provide the assistance you talk about -- the walk, the $50 in the mail.

This is not to say that having a sibling is BAD, at all. It could well be just the balm and help you needed. Just, I don't think a sibling necessarily would have helped the situation that much, and in fact could have made it harder. Unknowable.

In terms of parenting affecting sibling relationships:

I think that good parenting can only help, but I also think that we are learning more and more that people are individuals from the womb on, and they can be positively influenced without being outright molded. So I think there is a certain luck of the draw -- say you have four sets of siblings, AB, CD, EF and GH. A and B's parents are bad bad terrible people, and A and B are incredibly close; they were each other's salvation. C and D's parents are bad bad terrible people, and they are completely estranged; they associate the sibling with the bad situation they grew up in and see their parents' bad habits in that sibling. E and F's parents are good, wonderful people; they are all one big clump of close happiness. G and H's parents are good, wonderful people; yet G is unaccountably distant, anti-social, and H feels bereft and abandoned.

"G" happens, just depending on personality type. Or "G" took the arrival of a sibling very hard. (This happened to my husband, and from everything I've heard I think my parents in law handled things just fine. But my husband and his sister have had a downright acrimonious to somewhat cordial relationship from day one. This has had serious implications for his sister's self-esteem.)

Which is to say -- I don't think anyone can make the claim that "my parenting will ensure that my children become extremely close." You can do the best you can, and stack the deck in your favor, but there are wildcards that just can't be predicted.

My take.
post #30 of 51
I agree with Sozobe. I think parents can certainly have an affect and may either help or hinder their children's relationships, but I think it is claiming too much power for the parents and denying the children's individuality to say that it is entirely up to what the parents do and teach.
post #31 of 51
Hi everyone! I'm an only raising an only Ds is almost 3 1/2 now and sometimes I do worry about depriving him of close family. Unlike me, he will have no aunts, uncles or cousins. But like many of you stated, having another child just to provide a sibling isn't sound reasoning to me ... although I've given it a LOT of thought!

I lost both of my parents three years before ds was born, and while I'm sad they didn't have a chance to be grandparents, I'm grateful that I was able to be there for them when they needed me. I honestly believe that I would have felt the need to "be there" whether I had siblings or not. Who can say.

We're enjoying our ds to the fullest, ebf'ing, co-sleeping, seriously considering home-schooling, plus we've gone veggie (in the Midwest - horrors!), so he will be unique in more ways than one. I hope he will continue to appreciate his uniqueness as much as he does now!
post #32 of 51
Baudelaire, while you and I share frustration with folks who take it upon themselves to let us know that we need to have more children, I also disagree with the idea that one child will be loved more than another.

I totally understand the feeling that you could never love another child as much as #1, but I have heard this concern from every friend of mine who had more than one, and they always found that they were wrong. I believe that you can love children equally, but that each relationship will be special in its own way because of that particular child's individual personality.

I only have one child right now, but I know I could have twenty (not that I want to ) and I'd love them all as fiercely as I love my dd.
post #33 of 51
I'm now pregnant with my first and it's amazing how many people ask me if we want another one. Hmmm...let me get adjusted to the one first, then we'll see, OK? My husband and I have talked about whether we want one or more though. We're both very much okay with one but will remain open to the idea of more. Both scenarios seem to have their advantages and disadvantages. I am in awe of how strongly some people feel about this issue. When I recently told a coworker that we may just stick with one child, she said that was "cruel and selfish". Cruel? That's pretty harsh, huh?
post #34 of 51
Hey, LunaMom and others....

I hope, like I think I said in my earlier post, that I'm wrong about that love-one-kid-more phenomenon...I really DO hope for tons of people's sakes that they love both children equally (or at least equitably). Yeah, it's hard for me to say because I only have the one...but without rehashing old family garbage, I strongly believe that between my brother and me, my brother was the more preferred of us, so certainly this affects my belief about what's true of sibling relationships. But hey -- one family is not universally representative of all families, right?
post #35 of 51
We have just one child right now, but my husband made it a condition of our marriage that we absolutely HAD to have more than one child.

My dh is an only, and he grew up lonely and very, very controlled. His parents had absolutely no malice towards him, but they were involved in every single aspect of his life, totally focused on him and totally oblivious to his need for privacy and individuality. Dh is the only source of their identity as a family, and that's a big burden for him (and now me) to bear.

I personally think that parents need to have very specific strategies in place for how they are going to deal with crushing their beloved only children with love and attention. My husband really liked the line in the Horse Whisperer, where the only child says to her parents, "I just wish I wasn't so special". It's a lot to live up to - all the parents hopes and expectations fall on one little set of shoulders.

And sometimes those shoulder's can't take it.
post #36 of 51
Baudelaire, I totally hear you, and I felt the same way about my family, too. My brother was clearly the "golden boy." And thank goodness my family of origin is not a model for all families either, or else the world would need a whole lot more psychotherapists!!! :LOL
post #37 of 51
Hi ~ I'm and only rasing an only (for now) and have been thinking about this a LOT ~ I have always wanted more than one child because I was an only ~ and we are ttc now ~ but I am a bit scared of having another simply because I have no true idea about how siblings relate to each other.
I was VERY lucky to grow up across the alley from my best friend, we met when we were 3 and have stayed closely connected throughout our lives. She is really like a sister to me, however, she still can't commiserate with me about how crazy my folks are or how their relationship is SOOO goofey (another subject entirely!!!). I was a bit lonely even with her company too. I also miss the bond that many (of course not all) siblings have later in life. Like someone else said, I missed out on the reminicing (sp??) about our families past and simply having the commonalities that many siblings share with no one else but their siblings.
I also would enjoy a larger family, ours is soooo small (I'm even an only grandchild on my dad's side as my aunt had no children, and I only have 4 cousins on my mom's side). I would love a huge family ~ but then I wonder if that is for me either.
I also know for me I always want what I don't have. But I really think that I'm going to go for 2 maybe even 3, simply because I feel I lost out of some things being an only ~ yeah there were benifits too, but for me, the losses outweight them.
post #38 of 51
I have 2 onlys. My ds is 25 and my dd is 28months. I feel completely comfortable with my decision. THere are so many reasons, but I think the main reason is it is what I can handle and feel good about. Some moms have 2, 3 and 4 kids and I dont know how they have the patience, money, attention to give. I guess Im one of those moms who does better when I have some life and time to myself, to recharge.

I think if I wouldve been deciding whether to have a child before 9/11, I dont think I wouldve had one. It weighs heavy on my mind the world my dd will inherit. But I guess that is off topic......
post #39 of 51
I'm the oldest of three, dh is an only. We have a 5 month old who is actually our second baby, but our only living child. We have not decided for certain that we want another child. Everyone tells us that we need to have another one or that Lily needs a brother. I'm sorry, but kids are not like action figures or comic books - you don't have to collect the whole set. Also, I don't feel like we should have another child just to make up for the loss of our first. I'm a mother of two. Period.

I would love to experience giving birth again, but I don't know that I want another child. I don't have the patience for two little ones. I want to wait at least another 4 or 5 years before we think about having another one. I always said I would be done by 30. That's cutting it pretty close. Dh and I have talked about a vasectomy, but all we hear from everyone is that we're too young to consider it.

Dh is happy as an only child. He is neither selfish or spoiled or any of the other horrible things people say about only children. I have a sister who is 3 years younger and brother who is 5 years younger than I. There is still a lot of rivalry between us even now. I was always the outcast of the family.

My brother and sister were athletic and always hung out with the jock-types in high school. I was the smart and artsy one that never fit in with anyone in my family. I was always teased at home for not having an interest in sports. I was always left out of a lot of family events. I absolutely do not believe that having siblings will give you a happy childhood.

As for parents favoring one child over another - it does happen. I don't care what anyone tries to tell me. I'm sure my parents loved me just as much as my brother and sister, but I know for a fact that I was not their favorite.
post #40 of 51
Of course it's perfectly alright to have an only. And honestly I don't get the people that insist that an only child won't learn to share, or will be selfish.

No one should have children because they are afraid that if their kid is an only it will be selfish. Sorry, but that sounds nuts to me.

Having siblings does not guarentee you'll have someone to "share the work" when your parents are older. Some people are flakey. It also doesn't guarentee that your child "won't be alone in the world" when his/her parents die. Sometimes siblings make life harder for children and adult children too.

You just have to decide what you want for your family and hope and plan for the best.
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