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Why Having One Child May Be Perfect for Me

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.

Why one may be the perfect number for me - Raleigh Moms Blog

  • 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.

Why One May Be the Perfect Number for Me - Raleigh Moms Blog

 

  • 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.

Why one may be the perfect number for me - Raleigh Moms Blog

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.

 

 

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28 Responses to Why Having One Child May Be Perfect for Me

  1. Ruth Silver September 27, 2017 at 4:27 pm #

    Heather, this is a really well written and interesting blog.

    • Heather September 27, 2017 at 11:03 pm #

      Thank you for reading, Ruth! I really appreciate it and hope to see you soon!

  2. Michelle C September 30, 2017 at 10:26 am #

    It’s funny because I always planned on having at least 2, then I got pregnant. It was not a fun relaxing experience and unfortunately I knew before he was even born that this was it for me. Then when I became his mommy, I was so consumed with anxiety and the emotional toll it takes as on your body and mind. My husband and I made the hard decision that one would have to be enough. Then the questions of when the next was coming, it was very overwhelming to have to explain our life choices. Great article!

    • Christen December 16, 2017 at 11:45 am #

      Yes! This was my experience as well. So thankful there are other supportive moms out there.

  3. Elizabeth September 30, 2017 at 11:39 am #

    Thank you for this. I’ve had some disturbing comments made over having one child.

  4. Jamie K September 30, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

    I am a mom of an only. She is a little over one. My husband and I have only ever wanted one. I decided to get my tubes tied after she was born. The most annoying comment people tell me is “well you can still adopt”. I am a huge advocate for adoption but we had the ONE we wanted so I don’t need people to tell me their opinion. And why do people get an opinion about my sex life and reproduction anyway.

  5. Laura October 1, 2017 at 4:06 am #

    I loved this. We have only one child because I had 5 miscarriages after the birth of our son and we were done with the heartbreak so decided to stick with one. It was a very difficult decision for me as I’d always imagined I’d have 2 (probably because that was my family unit growing up). I went through counselling to come to terms with this decision (and to process the grief of the miscarriages) and I’ve come out the other side a big advocate of the ‘one child’ camp. I’m a big advocate for all of the reasons that you list, but being able to enjoy my almost 3 year old without having to divide my attention and love with another child has been an absolute pleasure. I have the time, energy and patience to teach him, discipline him, listen to him, talk with him and enjoy him. People often comment how well behaved, kind, polite, well adjusted, happy and fun he is. He’s not spoiled because we have the time not to spoil him and I couldn’t be prouder to be mum to an only child. Thank you x

  6. Becky October 3, 2017 at 9:40 am #

    I also loved this article and would love to see more social media groups and articles for parents of single children. I always wanted 3 children, but had issues conceiving my only child, which was done via IVF. The cost is so expensive and emotionally draining that I ultimately had to deal with the fact that I would only have one beautiful child. It was very difficult to see my dream of multiple children shattered and I had to dodge the same comments you mentioned above. Some people have no choice. I would like to see more parents of single children support each other and discuss ways to handle situations that arise, especially in school with other kids and comments, which can sometimes be hurtful to my daughter. I even think teacher’s need to be more aware that not all families are “traditional”, and try to be more considerate when doing Family Tree projects, etc. Thank you for sharing this!

  7. Alexa October 6, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

    Thanks for putting my mind at ease! I’m a mom to one kiddo, and we will not have anymore. We went through infertility, and ended up adopting. While I’m glad we adopted and we love our little guy, we’re happy with one. If we could have biological children, we’d probably have two, but after spending many thousands of dollars to adopt, we’re done. There are many benefits to having only one, and though it wasnt my first choice, I’m satisfied with that decision. Glad to hear I’m not the only one!

  8. Tracy October 6, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    THANK YOU for this, I have shared it EVERYWHERE! my story is different, I had an emergency hysterectomy, my husband and I had our embryos made (only one of 13 embryos survived, and we had a surrogate “bake” our embryo. Our one, was quite a hard fought battle. Yesterday at the grocery store, someone asked me when I was going to have another (my two year old daughter was with me) when I said just the one, she said “what a shame”!!!!! So, I decided to embarrass her a little and tell her my story. People are so rude. I needed this today!

  9. Paula October 6, 2017 at 7:39 pm #

    As a parent of an “only” I agree with much of this!!! The worst thing someone can say is- don’t you want more? (Yeah, we tried 6 years, everything, nothing worked)… and the next thing is, “You’re not a real parent until you have at least 2.” For sooooooo many reasons that’s wrong…

  10. Heather October 7, 2017 at 10:38 pm #

    Ladies, I must admit that I was nervous to write this piece, as I had no idea how it would be received. My fear was that I would be perceived as “selfish”, or not appreciative of my son. In actuality, nothing could be further from the truth. Ultimately, I felt this was an important piece to write. I thank you for sharing your individual stories. Honestly, your comments have meant the world to me, and I just hope that my words were able to resonate with some of you. ❤️❤️

  11. Steph October 12, 2017 at 12:12 am #

    My husband & I only have one son, who is about to turn six. We never thought we’d only have one, but it works for us! We both work full time and my husband owns his own business. We love our life, but just never felt like we needed to have a second. Our son is extremely outgoing & has a lot of friends. He loves being an only child & loves that he gets more of our attention. As long as you are happy, it shouldn’t matter what anyone else says!

  12. J October 14, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

    Thanks so much for this! We struggled through two failed IVF cycles and two miscarriages and finally had a successful pregnancy that was a bit difficult. Because of all this, we decided that we were good with our special little miracle. I’m constantly asked and told that Iour son needs a sibling. People seem to have no regard for an idvidual’s reality and what they may have gone through. Also, as noted, the financial benefits are great! We can afford a whole lot more for one than we could’ve for two or more, so….

  13. Stephanie October 15, 2017 at 6:28 am #

    For 7 years my husband and I didn’t want any children, then decided to have 1 child. Then yes we were bombarded by people to have another because our daughter needed someone to play with. Really? It’s not like we live in the middle of nowhere and she never saw other kids or something. She went on lots of play dates, daycare, etc….. and WE played with her.

    Now a days if people say something I ask them why would I have another, I like the way the first one turned out, lol!

  14. Kim October 20, 2017 at 4:02 pm #

    Excellent writing & excellent article! I’m currently a momma of one and we’re loving his age of 3-life is pretty darn perfect right now. Every reason you listed is true in our lives, although we’re not sure what our future holds (if we will or will not try for a second). However, I’ve felt since we welcomed our son 3 years ago, that we won the jackpot for life so every reason rings true for our little happy family of 3:) Thanks for expressing them in such a well-articulated manner!

  15. Michelle October 20, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

    I enjoyed this article, there is a lot of reassurance for soon to be mum of more than 2 kids, and how the next one just fits onto your life, it’s refreshing to hear the other side. I have one beautiful daughter. I loved being pregnant. My labour was as good as childbirth can be (extremely painful but thankfully uncomplicated) and being a mum is wonderful. But I don’t feel that pang for another. People tell me I might feel different, or that she needs a sibling, even hinting I’m selfish because I’m undecided for the future. Actually seeing this perspective makes me feel like less of a social failure because at the moment, I simply do not want another one.

  16. Linsey October 20, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

    Thank you so much, Heather, for sharing such an honest piece about your family. I really loved reading something I could finally relate to. Many of my personal reasons for having one child, a now, 3.5 year old daughter, align with the views you shared. I do wish, however, that parents with one child did not need to justify having that one child when creating a family, however family is defined, is such a personal choice. Society is always looking for this justification and it is a challenging request when it isn’t really anyone’s business but the parents or guardians. It is also a choice we sometimes cannot fully control given biology and challenges with pregnancy. Or perhaps we cannot/or choose not to get pregnant and wish to adopt or foster instead. Or some people choose not to have any children at all. All of these choices are perfectly okay. How we define family is such a personal choice.

    I love having one child and realize that many of my friends wanted to expand their families beyond one, which is wonderful, for them. I just wish it was more “okay” with society to have families of all shapes and sizes. I am so tired of answering the many questions surround my “only” when she’s truly my everything. While we, as a couple (my husband and I) are comfortable with this decision, I just wish it were more commonplace to understand and respect a family’s very private choice (and so often, challenge) to expand or not.

    • Heather November 3, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

      Linsey, so happy that you enjoyed the post and that you felt that you could relate. I totally agree that building a family is such a personal choice, and there is no “wrong” way to go about it. Thank you so much for reading!

  17. Stephanie October 21, 2017 at 7:48 am #

    This is great. We just had our daughter four weeks ago, but I was asked multiple times during my pregnancy if we were going to have more. We had pretty much decided one and done. I loved being pregnant and it was pretty easy for me (no morning sickness even!), but I had a complication at the end which required induction. Baby was two weeks early, but very small and developed jaundice. That was hard on my momma heart.

    Anyway, aside from health reasons, I already had a lot of the reasons you listed. I want to have enough time and money to give her the world.

    We could change our minds, but I thank you for writing such a supportive article.

    • Heather November 3, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

      Stephanie, congratulations on the birth of your daughter! I can’t imagine the stress of having a preemie….so happy that she is doing okay! How scary.

      I am so glad that you related to the post. There are many reasons why one child works for some, and I didn’t even touch upon health issues in my post. I thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

  18. Denali December 6, 2017 at 10:23 pm #

    I am an only child and so is my husband and we have an only child who is now four. We are enjoying him and feel our family is complete – the three musketeers! People will always say things on a number of matters that don’t concern them but it has never bothered me. I enjoyed being an only child as I spent plenty of time with friends and also enjoyed my alone time. I’m close with my parents and hope our son will be too. It’s interesting when “well-meaning” people inform me I really should have another since “only children are strange.” I think – should I mention now to this person that I’m an only child? Ha! Everyone needs to do what feels right with no explanations needed for outsiders.

  19. Randi December 31, 2017 at 8:10 pm #

    Great article! I am an only child who always only wanted one and waited until my late 30s to even have him. To add to my steadfastness in that decision my pregnancy was miserable and my son was born 7 weeks early due to HELLP syndrome during which I nearly died and he was in the NICU for 3 weeks. Thankfully he’s now a happy, healthy 2 year old who is both very social and very independent. It drives me nuts when people make these comments, especially when they imply that I’m hurting my son by not having another. I usually reply that the research actually indicates I’m helping his chances in life as only children are happier and more successful (which usually shuts people up). It may offend people but I would much rather someone think twice before the next time they make that comment as I have several friends who have onlies because of miscarriages, failed IVF, advanced age or other pregnancy issues and would love to save someone else the pain these thoughtless comments can cause some.

  20. Courtney Rankin January 1, 2018 at 10:02 am #

    We have an “only” and I always wanted more! However, I was very sick during pregnancy & after I was in and out of the hospital for almost 2 years. My daughter was a preemie & if I hadn’t live during a time with modern medicine I would have died. We were advised not to have anymore & I would never want to risk my own health to have another child. My daughter gets all our attention & we can afford for her to have the very best things…and that doesn’t make her spoiled or bratty, she is well taken care of. We love her with all our heart!!

  21. Emily January 2, 2018 at 9:11 am #

    Thank you for this article. I am an only child raising an only child. I have never been comfortable with the idea of having more than one child. I was a nervous wreck the whole first year of my son’s life because to be honest babies scare me. My husband and I both agree that one child is the perfect fit for us. We have been able to travel and do things with him that other families of multiple children have not been able to do. People have had the nerve to say to me, “What if something happens to your son?” Am I supposed to have another child as a backup to the other? Please?!?!?! I’m glad there are other moms out there who support each other in the decision to have one child.

  22. Rose January 2, 2018 at 2:48 pm #

    My husband, my father-in-law, my daughter and I are ALL only children. Whenever someone makes a comment about only kids being spoiled or not social I sort of chuckle to myself. They don’t know what they are talking about. Spoiling is about parental behavior, not number of siblings. None of the “onlies” in our family is “spoiled” and we all have very rich social lives. As an only child you have to make your family via friendships so nearly every only child I know has incredibly close, rich friendships. Both of my parents have issues with their siblings and those relationships are not something I envy. I know sibling relationships can be wonderful, but they aren’t always. I think it’s a 50/50 shot with any given pair of siblings. There are plenty of people who couldn’t imagine life without their sibling and plenty who wish they didn’t have one. Having an only child can be a wonderful experience and I am sorry for anyone who has had to endure the odd comments other people make about it. If someone is that concerned about a couple having one great kid instead of more than one great kid, then they are living a sheltered life. I, for one, am happily an only and I know my husband feels the same way.

  23. Linda January 13, 2018 at 12:06 pm #

    Whether you chose one,many, or no child/children just respond to questions and comments with “This works for us. Thank you for your opinion and concern.”
    You should not have to explain or justify your decision.

  24. Linda January 13, 2018 at 12:07 pm #

    Whether you chose one,many, or no child/children just respond to questions and comments with “This works for us. Thank you for your opinion and concern.”
    You should not have to explain or justify your decision.

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