only children: were you happy? - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-18-2004, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

Thanks.
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Old 12-18-2004, 02:54 PM
 
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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?

Full time working mom to two bright and busy little girls! treehugger.gif
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Old 12-18-2004, 03:11 PM
 
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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.
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Old 12-18-2004, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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Old 12-18-2004, 08:23 PM
 
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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.

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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Old 12-18-2004, 08:36 PM
 
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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.
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Old 12-18-2004, 09:08 PM
 
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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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 12:17 AM
 
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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?

Jennifer
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Old 12-19-2004, 12:33 AM
 
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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.

Stephanie, mom to 3 big girls ('94, '99 & '02) and to my little guy (12/30/09) intact & CD'ed!
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:10 AM
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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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:33 AM
 
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Quote:
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!
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:37 AM
 
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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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:48 AM
 
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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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:49 AM
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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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:53 AM
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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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 03:14 AM
 
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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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 04:24 AM
 
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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 ).
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Old 12-19-2004, 04:44 AM
 
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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.

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Old 12-19-2004, 07:41 AM
 
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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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 09:42 AM
 
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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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Old 12-19-2004, 10:05 AM
 
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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.

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.

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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Old 12-19-2004, 10:31 AM
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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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 11:27 AM
 
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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...

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Old 12-19-2004, 02:00 PM
 
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Well said onlyzombiecat!
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:12 PM
 
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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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:25 PM
 
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Heres the link to the Moms of Onlies thread, if youre interested:

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...ad.php?t=77798



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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 04:12 PM
 
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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.

"We shape the clay into a pot but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want" Lao Tzu
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Old 12-19-2004, 04:16 PM
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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.
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Old 12-19-2004, 06:58 PM
 
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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!

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Old 12-19-2004, 08:59 PM
 
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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!
GOOD LUCK!

Heather , momma to ' Parker- 10, Carlee- 7 and our baby Genevieve Faith - 8-27-10

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