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.
- E-family news: Only Children – Lonely or Lucky?
- Online Community: How Do You Answer the “Why am I an Only Child?” Question