only children: were you happy? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-20-2004, 01:41 PM
 
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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!
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Old 12-20-2004, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

Siblings:
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!

Compensating:
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.

Julie
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Old 12-20-2004, 04:28 PM
 
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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.
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Old 12-20-2004, 04:44 PM
 
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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.
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Old 12-20-2004, 09:13 PM
 
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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.

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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Old 12-20-2004, 09:52 PM
 
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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.
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Old 12-20-2004, 10:27 PM
 
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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.
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Old 12-20-2004, 10:34 PM
 
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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....

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Old 12-20-2004, 10:45 PM
 
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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.
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Old 12-21-2004, 12:19 AM
 
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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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Old 12-21-2004, 12:40 AM
 
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my partner would be happy only having one child..i have siblings. my brother and i were very close.. 18 months apart and inseprable..and my sister and i are 5 years apart and didn't get along at all back then but now are great friends.. i can't imagine not having siblings..

i feel like my family is incomplete. i want another one now and maybe even more.. i wish for my partners sake that i felt complete just the three of us..

but i cant imagine such a friendly kid being an only child. he loves other people so much..but like many of you have said, you never can tell how things will work out.

 

 

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Old 12-22-2004, 12:46 PM
 
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So, i was this miracle, this enormous answer to prayer. I hated that all my life.
This is sad statement. I am afraid my son will feel this, too!!! We tried for 7 years including infertility treatments. Finally my IVF worked! Infertility treatments are sooooooooo emotional and physically exhausting. DH and I NEVER want to do infertility treatments again!

I always wanted more children but I am afraid he will be an only. This makes me very sad to read your comment because I was wondering if he will feel this.
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Old 12-22-2004, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, just don't have that fact in his face all the time. Let your world be bigger than him. Let him be normal. I've read that beccause we pay close attention to onlies (which can be good and bad) they learn to pay close attention to themselves. Maybe if you help him learn not to take himself too seriously, the fact that he's a "miracle" won't be a burden. The fact that you only have one child shouldn't be his "problem."

All of us are miracles! We don't ALL resent that fact!

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Old 12-22-2004, 02:52 PM
 
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Great comments about the pros and cons of siblings for the child(and the lack of any guantees . . .)

But now to a possible con for the parents': it breaks my heart when I hear about parents loosing thier one and only child as a teenager or young adult. If you have more than one, it is harder to be left childless? Does anyone worry about this? (Don't mean to sound crass or to say that some losses are worse than others).
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Old 12-22-2004, 03:09 PM
 
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i have thought about that.. not that i would be any less devestated if my son died, but i think that if i had other children i would be able to cope better than if he was my only son..

 

 

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Old 12-22-2004, 04:06 PM
 
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My dh grew up an only child but wasn't born one. He had an older brother (19 years older - MIL's first marriage) who was killed in a car accident when dh was 3 or 4. We have pix of them together and he has some memories of him. My MIL has said that she was able to go on because of Marty. I think she would have gone on anyway (she is very religious) but I think she was able to do so with some joy in her life because of the son she still had.

Another real life situation that we know of - Friends of ours have a daughter from her first marriage. That daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. She had half siblings but no full siblings. My friend was so distraught with grief that she considered the idea of having another baby with her ex if it got to the point of needing a bone marrow transplant and not having a match. I know that is a very controversial idea but if your child could die, you think of every option. I am not suggesting people have siblings for bone marrow insurance but the thread seemed to be going that way and this is something that my friend had to deal with. Of course the siblings COULD be estranged and COULD not be a match anyway or refuse to agree to it. But it again gives you that POSSIBILITY.

I think everyone has a bent for or against siblings as a concept. I don't think anyone's mind will be changed if they feel strongly. I am glad there is a support of onlies area - and I wouldn't post my pro-sibling thoughts there as it wouldn't be appropriate. But the OP asked and seemed not to be decided. I think it is interesting to hear everyone's opinions and experiences whether an only or a sib.
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Old 12-28-2004, 10:36 PM
 
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I think you have to follow your heart and do what is right for your family and yourself. We have one child and are only having one, mostly for financial reasons. But, that is okay. I have lots of friends who are only children and although some of them wish they had siblings, all of them have very good strong friendships. I have friends with big families and some are close and some are not. I really don't buy that there is something wrong with only one child. I think when we are adults and discontent or unhappy, we may look to our childhood and seek reasons. Also, of course, we tend to want what we don't have. My best friend is an only child and she said, laughingly, her worst nightmare as a kid was her mom would get pregnant and she'd have a sibling!


I have thought, though, like Mamawanabe mentioned, about "what if" something happened (horrible) to my beloved only son? But, after a bit of consideration, I concluded that having another child would be no consolation. At least not for me. I also can't have a second child for that reason alone.
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Old 12-29-2004, 12:00 AM
 
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I was happy as a child, yes. But (because my parents are older) I had to start taking care of my aging parents starting in sixth grade, and that was a VERY hard thing to do all by myself. It still is hard to relate to my parents in a healthy way.

Besides that, the worst thing about being an only child was I got the idea that everyone is paying very close attention to everything I say and do all the time. It makes me overly self-conscious in public, causes me to talk too much and not listen enough, and other related personality problems. However, I'm usually aware enough of this to be able to compensate. I'm not a selfish or uncaring person and I've never had any problem sharing a bedroom, etc. with someone. I have friends.

Do I wish I had siblings? Heck yeah. But I turned out okay without them, and I totally sympathize with how much EASIER it is to raise one child--you get to have the fun of being a parent while still having a lot of the freedom you had before, financial and otherwise.

If I had an only child myself, I would make an effort to pay a lot less attention to him than my parents paid to me.

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Old 12-29-2004, 12:22 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sohj
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.
I only read the first page......I think what sohj posted makes a lot of sense....great sig line btw sohj...I have heard a song or two by Jon Prine would really like to listen to that one!

My dh was an only child....he came out...well to be perfectly honest troubled not crazy or anything but he has his issues and I dont blame any of it on him being an only child ...I am the middle of an older bro and younger sis...my siblings were extremely mean to me at times and I think at times I would have done better without them given my personality. We arent very close but when times get tough we are always there for eachother and we do love eachother in our own disfunctional way.

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you posted "I can't bear the thought of her being alone once I'm dead and gone." Ive never once thought about that....I was kind of blown away when I read it

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Old 12-29-2004, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The way I see it, having any child at all opens up the risk of a terribly broken heart. (I considered this before marriage, getting pregnant.. I'm pretty careful with my heart but once I'm commited, I'm the oposite and put it all on the line.) The more kids I have the higher the probability something awful will happen to one of them, right? Anyway, the way in which I morn, it would probably be better/easier if I DIDN'T have an other child to tend to, comfort, etc. (I'd want to take up smoking again, /i bet.) And the gaping hole would be there forever regardless. And I'll be a mother forever regardless of how many kids I have or lose thanks to my first, my only.

Juliacat, you really seem to have a good grip on who you are and why. Yes, I plan to intentionally fix my attention beyond my little one. This article was quite inspiring:
http://www.continuum-concept.org/rea...InControl.html

and dd (8 mos) is already so much more content and pleasant when just being part of the action instead of the center of it.

I also have learned from my parents' mistakes and my in-laws' wisdom that its so important to take care of myself -- i.e. retirement gets paid before college fund -- because I don't ever want to be a burden to dd. I'm always worrying about my unhealthy, hard-working, broke parents, while dh's parents have retired comfortably and in a way the whole family can benifit from (nice guest room, fun website, etc.) and are still quite productive.

So many things to consider. Good thing we have each sweet day to savor along the way.

Julie
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Old 12-29-2004, 02:08 PM
 
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I know what you are feeling. I was very comfortable having just one child, but I am having another almost mainly because I wanted my son to have a sibling that was close in age. I also didn't want any regrets at having only one child. There are people I know that have only had one child and they regret it, and their are others that have had one and are very satisfied. It is a very personal decision. Having only one child is one of those things that you can't go back and change later in life. A person could adopt, but those close bonds that form between siblings are harder to create the longer the child has grown up alone, I think.

Even though I have a brother, I was raised as an only child (me by my grandparents, brother by my mother). We have never been close as we only saw each other several times a year. It was lonely, but I found ways to entertain myself. I will say that it is harder to relate to other people, but that could be my personality rather than how I grew up. I don't regret being raised as an only child. It did have many benefits such as: less strife in the household, quiet time for reflection, more individual time with grandparents (or parents in other situations), and more freedom to be myself (didn't have to be an example for a younger sibling or not do things because they might want to).

I wish you peace with whatever decision you make!

Mom to two boys, ages 8 and 11, and one blessing due May 8th.

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Old 12-29-2004, 03:51 PM
 
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Juliacat, you really seem to have a good grip on who you are and why. Yes, I plan to intentionally fix my attention beyond my little one.
Thank you, awnja. I'm glad you plan to do that. I think it will help.

I want to add that I plan to have at least two children myself, but my mother also wanted several children and could only have one, so I think having a plan B up my sleeve is a good idea, too.

I also want to illustrate what I mean about my own spin on only-child syndrome. Yes, my parents paid WAY too much attention to me. I couldn't get up to throw a banana peel in the trash without being asked where I was going and what I was doing. So there's that. But there's a more subtle aspect of it as well. If you have several kids, you're likely to say, "Let's pick up the kids from school," "Let's let the kids take turns picking a restaurant," "Let's send the kids over to their grandparents' house." With an only child, you're likely to call her by name: "Let's pick up Julie from school," etc. Being singled out like that in subtle ways happens a LOT. And I think it changes the way a person thinks about herself.

But it sounds like you're already two steps ahead of the game by thinking through all of this in advance. Good for you!

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Old 12-30-2004, 05:11 PM
 
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Both Dh and I are the oldest - I never thought about there being similairties between being the only child and being the oldest.

Right now I have a little nagging feeling that I want another, but I dont know how much of that has to do with the fact that dd is now 18 months and no longer a little baby, and Im just mourning the fact I will never have a baby again.

We had planned on having one for so many reasons. As the oldest of 3, I remember my childhood as one of limited resources and major responsibilities. My sister is 3 years younder than me and my brother is 6 years younger. I had to watch them after school, get dinner started, get them up in the morning, iron everyones clothes, etc. Because of this I resented my siblings and was never close to them growing up. I just dont want to do that to my dd. I actually dont share well because I never had stuff of my own growing up.

But I do adore my little brother now, although we didnt become close until he went to college and looked to me for guidance. My sis and I have just now started speaking frequently because she has a new baby and needs some support. So they are more like friends I probably would have had anyway.

Until I read this thread I thought "onlies" were one year olds! :
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Old 12-30-2004, 11:57 PM
 
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Well you have to do what is right for you, but I can answer your original question. No I was not happy. I always wished I had a sibling to share with. I was jealous of other kids who had large families. Holidays with just me and my parents always felt (and still do) kind of lonely.
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Old 12-31-2004, 12:19 AM
 
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i am an only. MY parents were a bit on the controlling/neurotic side while i was growing up. if there had been more than me, i think that we could have teamed up to help my parents mellow out. instead, my childhood was at times intolerable B/c they could hyper-focus on every damn thing i did 'wrong'.
i think that a child with loving, relaxed parents who do not try to impose their expectations could be perfectly happy. based just on your post, you don't sound like a control freak about your child's personal choices.
as an adult (and i'm fairly resolved about my parents, we're pretty darn close now), i don't feel any ongoing longing for siblings. if i actually think about it, i would love to have one or two. but i have friends, and i in no way feel alone.
good luck with all your choices.
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