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My Only Child Family

My Only Child Family

People often ask me when I plan to have another baby. When I let them know I’m really happy with my family the way it is – myself, my husband, my daughter, two dogs and a fish – I often (not always) get some awkward silence, and then the inevitable need to know WHY I would chose to live my life with one child. I’ve heard all sorts of inappropriate judgments and blurtings of:

“You can’t JUST have one!”
“Who will they play with?”
“They NEED a playmate!”
“A sibling is so important!”

In the beginning, I was defensive. I over-explained. I felt inadequate and ashamed, and wondered if perhaps I was making an irreversible mistake. To some women I was a cold, uneducated and selfish mother to make such a choice.

I’m glad that now I can say this: Shame on them for making such absurd judgments. I’m not going to take time here to explain myself (defending parenting choices is sooooo 2013 anyway). Instead, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve come to understand about raising my one and only daughter.

Being Worthy: Whether you have one child or ten, you will still, in fact, be a mother. You do not lose some special privilege that only mothers of multiples have. Yup – you’ll still qualify.

Being Selfish: Your child will not spiral into a self-absorbed abyss of endless wanting and inability to share. No matter how many children you have, if you chose to teach them about sharing and giving and thinking of others, they will learn this from you and eventually practice it.

Being Bored: Your child will not be helplessly bored out of their mind. Every child is guaranteed to have an imagination (regardless of how many siblings they have). In fact, they’ll become exceptionally good at independent play, and you’ll have a wonderful time listening in on the fantastical conversations they have with the air, or their American Girl doll, or their Iron Man robot.

Being Bossy: Your child will not be overwhelmingly bossy (unless, they just are a natural born boss!) Furthermore, our worry about raising “bosses” might not be so horrifying. Sheryl Sandberg recently reframed “bossiness” in girls as perhaps being better thought of as “leadership skills.” So long as your child has someone to redirect them when necessary, I’m fairly confident they will not stage a coup d’etat in their kindergarten classroom.

I can tell you from my experience that my daughter has not died of boredom. She has not succumbed to egregious, selfish, tomfoolery. She hasn’t been expelled for excessive bossiness. She hasn’t taken over our household with her orders and filled our home with an overabundance of toys. Sure – she requires our undivided attention. When she wants to play, we’re “it”. We’re on deck 24/7 to interact with our daughter; but, we love that and wouldn’t trade it. Having an only child works for us, and much to the disbelief of others, we’re really happy about it.

So, whatever your choice may be – please know that if you have one child, it will still be a gift and a blessing and the most wonderful experience of your life. Parenthood doesn’t require plurals. It just requires that you love – and be loved.

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7 comments

  1. Heather January 13, 2014 at 8:30 am

    I am constantly amazed that people feel they can say things like that. The last one I got was a comment on how well behaved my daughter was when we went out to dinner. The other parent told me that she could never do that with her 2 kids – with 2 “there is just so much chaos”. She told me I was lucky. Really? Forget the fact that I was prepared with things for my daughter to do and chit chat about while we waited, and that I have spent 8 years working hard to raise a daughter who has good manners and knows when to use an indoor voice, and how to be patient (and she is not perfect – but who is?!?). Rather than a comment about how many children I don’t have, I wish the other parent had noticed what a great mom I am.

  2. Jen January 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Lisa, I am so proud of you. Absolutely. Moms are always trying to outdo one another. Isn’t enough to just be a mom? I am a mom of 2, however, I was an only child. I chose to have 2 for my own reasons just as you have chosen to have one for your reasons. It’s wonderful. Being a mother is wonderful and hard and dirty and crazy no matter how many you have. You are a wonderful mother. Your daughter is lucky. I’m sorry you’ve gotten those responses. I pray I have never done that to you or anyone else with one child. I think our natural instinct is to say are you having more, but its also horribly inappropriate. Thanks for putting this out there!

  3. Lisa January 14, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Thanks ladies – women supporting other women (despite their parenting choices) should be what we hear more of. Keeping strong, meaningful relationships with each other is so important. Thank you for reading my post!!!!

  4. Keri January 14, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    Yes, and amen, and THANK YOU for saying it so concisely.
    I am slack-jawed in awe over some of the “helpful” statements (stereotypes) people share in reference to our single child family.
    What I *know* is that I have never doubted that our family was complete since the moment they laid my smooshy-newborn son in my arms 3 years ago. That is valid. That is all the reason needed.
    Thank you for sharing your observations regarding your family – it is a simple, beautiful testament to the joy and love you share.

  5. Lora January 19, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    And then there are those enough to be blessed with one
    child and not able to have a second. Why do people not think of
    that? We worked really hard to have our lovable daughter and feel
    lucky every time she piles her stuffed animals on us or sits with
    us demanding another book. We have the power to make her childhood
    whatever we want it to be…sibling or not.

  6. Laura February 7, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    I am a mother to a 23 month old boy and I have felt enormous pressure to have a second child, from my partner, relatives and comments from strangers. The midwife who looked after me when I was pregnant came to see me when my son was born and said “oh in a bout 18 months you’l be back with your second one” and seemed incredulous when I said I was happy with one. My partner is not a ‘hands on’ helping dad (leaves everything to me), I have no immediate family nearby and I live in a remote area, I also struggled with post-natal depression after my son was born. I adore my son and I wouldn’t change a thing,I have found the last 22 months difficult but rewarding. If I had a supportive partner, relatives nearby would I feel any different? I don’t know, but it feels right for me- for the sake of my sanity and the situation I find myself in. I just want the best for my son. I don’t know if it’s to do with my son’s age at the moment – but I am being asked quite a bit when I am going to ‘have the next one’. I have been feeling guilty that my son wont have a sibling – I feel like I should have a baby so he wont be lonely (which I know is all nonsense). Has anyone else felt like this? I am so grateful to have come across this blog.

  7. Tiana May 4, 2016 at 2:51 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience, we feel so blessed to have our daughter since I was told I will never be able to have my own child.
    Since my daughter started school, I have started meeting other mums usually with 3 to 4 children and had to listen to quite hurtful comment. The last one yesterday when I picked up my daughter from a play date date in a family of 3 children and the dad come saying there is nothing better than brother and sister in front of her, then when her friend ask me if She could come to my house , her mom saying but there is not much fun playing in her house, it is much more fun to play in a house with several children, I was speechless because I wasn’t expecting this at all.
    I hear everyday mums complaining that they cannot do anything because of the baby, the little sister who is too small to play with the eldest one or the two eldest leaving the last one to play on her own.
    And the mums who have 3 but have 1 in nursery while the other go to school so that they can get on with the work at home. A big family is a lot of fun but also a lot more work too.
    I respect them so I would expect the same respect back.

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