One child. Only-child syndrome. Spoiled brat. Lonely kid. Maybe a little socially awkward?
All of these are terms/phrases used to describe only children. Why would anyone choose to have only one child, right? As someone who grew up in a large Irish-Catholic family with five siblings, it might seem strange that here I am, advocating for one child.
Well, let me explain why the idea of having an only child is enticing to my husband and myself…….and an increasing number of other couples out there. Recent census reports indicate that roughly 23% of Americans are choosing to go the only-child route. For our family, in a nutshell, here’s why my husband and I are considering it.
Simply put, one child is easy.
You have heard all of the cliches…..”One is fun, two is work.” Or my personal favorite, “One is an accessory.” (Definitely more true if you have a daughter, in my opinion. Gavin has officially put his foot down on wearing matching seersucker ensembles). However you cut it, there is no doubt that having one child can be less exhausting. Travel is a breeze. Pop ’em in the car, grab an additional plane ticket, and let’s be on our way, shall we? Don’t want to take your kiddo on this particular trip? With one, you can almost always find a willing family member to offer to watch your little one. As your child becomes more independent, the various stages become easier and easier. With no second infant to usurp the calm, it’s usually pretty smooth sailing. (At least until the teenage years, they tell me).
Only children tend to have close relationships with their parents.
I definitely believe this statement to be true. All of my friends that were “onlies” tend to spend lots of time with their parents, as well as communicating with them overall. It makes sense, when you think about it. When you have an only child, you certainly have more time to devote to and spend with that child. As a result, you form a unique relationship that children with siblings may not get to experience. And while I am not a proponent of being “friends” with your child, even I have to concede that “onlies” tend to form more of a fulfilling relationship with their parents when they become young adults. I would attribute this to the fact that only children tend to spend more time around adults in general, and therefore become more mature and comfortable in that setting.
Kids are expensive.
I hate to use money as a reason, but I am a realist. While I completely agree with the notion that you can “make it work” to an extent to have a second or third child, I would be remiss to not point out the obvious.
Raising children in America is becoming increasingly expensive.
Yes, you can shop at consignment stores and buy generic products….every bit helps. No, I am talking about what I like to refer to as the “terrifying trifecta”……namely childcare, healthcare, and college. If you are going the daycare route for a couple of kids, you can easily expect to shell out a couple grand a month or more. Have good healthcare? Cross your fingers and be thankful, because most people don’t. Between Gavin’s birth and two subsequent hospital visits, we have already dropped almost 12K on medical expenses out of pocket, and he just turned three. As for education, even state colleges are predicted to run well over six figures for an education in twenty years.
Let’s not even start talking about the support most parents continue to offer their adult children in their twenties and thirties. I can count on one hand the number of friends I have who have not received financial support for things like planning a wedding, paying for grad school, or even purchasing a house. It doesn’t end at eighteen, people. Or even twenty-one, for that matter. And here’s the thing. I want to help my son with things like that. In fact, I would consider it my honor and privilege as his mother to do so. But, it sure will be more feasible if I only have one child.
Disagree with me? I totally get it. Siblings are awesome, too! I am certainly not arguing that point. But do me a favor…..lay off the following comments for those of us who, for whatever reason, have only one child. While well-meaning, these comments can often be aggravating at best, and often downright hurtful. Trust us when we say that we have heard them before.
What NOT to say to the Parents who have One Child
Let’s start with the most annoying, shall we?
Time for another!
(Usually said when your infant is about 6-12 months old. Really?!) Here is my issue with this statement. Maybe that particular couple is ready for another child too but is struggling with getting pregnant. Perhaps they have lost a baby that you know nothing about. Or, it might be that they are in disagreement over the matter with their spouse, and it is causing tension in their marriage. Heck, maybe they are still paying their hospital bill from their first kid! Or maybe, they just plain ole’ don’t want one and don’t feel like having to explain their reasoning to you. Whatever their feelings on the matter, it is none of your business.
But if you have another, you can stay home! (Wink, Wink)
Hmm, really? It’s that simple? Well, maybe I like working…..did you ever think about that? Or, maybe I need to work to provide healthcare for my family? How about this….you do you and your family, and let’s leave the lifestyle and financial decisions to my husband and myself. Or, at the very least, to a professional.
Aren’t you worried about them being alone one day when you are gone?
Well, God willing, my husband and I are not going to both drop dead when my son is ten. I would like to look on the positive side, and hope that at least one of us will still be here when Gavin is middle-aged. At that point, I would assume that rather than living in a cave all by himself, he will likely have his own wife and children to spend his life with. Yes, no one likes to think about the day when their parents pass away. However, it is a natural part of life that everyone goes through. My hope is that my son will have a fulfilling life with family and friends, with or without a sibling.
Yikes….he will surely be spoiled.
Here’s the thing. Kids don’t spoil themselves. I know plenty of people with two, three, or even four children. And they are all spoiled. Spoiling is something that parents are guilty of, and it is something that my husband and I are cognizant of watching out for. If Gavin ends up being spoiled, it’s on us, not him. Yes, there are attributes that apply to each and every birth order, and not all of them are positive. However, I know many only children, and they are all successful adults who are contributing members of society. In fact, there is a lot of evidence that supports the fact that only children are high achievers, so I will take it!
Oh, you’ll change your mind.
Just don’t with this one, people. It’s patronizing, and actually kind of rude. It goes hand in hand with my first bullet point above. Just. Don’t.
Who knows what the future holds? Whether we stick with one child or decide to try for another, I am content and grateful for what I have. And that is enough for me.
Are you a mom of an “only child”?
What advice would you share with other moms who also have an only child? Leave your comments below we always enjoy reading them and always respond back.