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One and done: Deciding to have an only child

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Challenges and benefits

If you’ve decided to have one child, you may have already caught loads of grief from your friends and family members. We discuss both the challenges and the benefits of raising an only child, and how you can deal with naysayers.
Parents playing with son

“Do you want a brother or sister?” a well-meaning relative asks your only child. Whether your decision was a conscious one or made due to other reasons, you may struggle with how to interject on behalf of your child, and you may not be keen to explain — and be questioned why you are going to have one kiddo.

We talked with moms who either have an only child or grew up as one to get some insight on life as an “only.”

Challenges

One of the biggest challenges parents of only children report is easy to imagine they get pressure from family, friends and even strangers to have another child. Debbie, mom of one, experiences this. “We often get asked when we are having another,” she shared. “I get a little bothered by it now. We kind of did want to have another and my son wants a sibling. So it gets hard to say, ‘Well, we sort of tried but we are over 40 now so we are getting older!’ I think by next year my response may be ’buzz off.’”

Whitney from Washington reported that they are totally comfortable with their decision to have a single child. “My son will be the only grandchild in our family,” she told us. “My husband is an only child and I have one sister who won't be having any kids. Everyone is perfectly fine with that, we haven't had anyone give us grief over it. The only people who have said something are close friends who think we make pretty children and need to grace the earth with a few more. They understand that won't happen though!”

Rewards

Those who have an only child report that the rewards are immeasurable. You will have more money to go around, for example, and more time and energy to devote to your kiddo. Jenni from Pennsylvania not only has an only child, but she grew up as one. "I loved it,” she explained. “I remember occasionally wanting a sister to play with, but overall I was very content to be an only child. I really hope Richard feels the same way. He has cousins his age and I try to keep him occupied with school friends as well.”

What parents should know

Debbie has some hints that she’d like to share for parents who have more than one child. “My son really wants to be friends with your children,” she said. “I feel like he misses out on play dates sometimes because the parents already have built in playmates (siblings) for their kids and even though our children are friends at school, they don't need to have play dates.”

It’s also best to keep in mind that everyone’s circumstances are different. Inquiring about family size is often a very personal question that can cause hurt feelings or uncomfortable situations. Debbie explains, “Don't assume everyone wants to or can have another, and maybe it is best not to ask, especially in front of their only child!”

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