There wasn’t an exact moment I remember thinking to myself “I am only going to have one child”, but I remember the first time I felt like apologizing for it.
I am not the type of person that goes running around saying “I’ve decided I’m only having one child and that is such a great decision”. I’ve noticed there is a pattern in life – when you are dating someone then people ask you when are you getting engaged. When you are married people ask you when you are having children. When you have one child, people ask you when you are having your next.
It’s not that it’s a rude conversation to start up with someone, and I have become conscience of myself following the same pattern. People consider some steps in life to be logical, and if you fall outside one of those steps then suddenly what you are doing can be labelled as different.
When my husband and I decided our son would be our only child it wasn’t a sad decision – we were lucky enough to have the choice on what our family would look like, and we decided we were lucky and very blessed to have what we have. Plus we have a dog (a Yorkie at that) who is very demanding, and we consider him another child. Trust me, he’s high maintenance.
We’ve been open with friends and family on our decision to have one child. I can’t remember a time actually bringing up in conversation – it’s usually because it might be the topic of conversation, or because I have been asked directly.
I’ve found most of my good friends have acknowledged it and it’s not really a discussion or talking point – it’s just something that I am doing and they are ok with it.
It’s the other reaction that completely baffles me – the people who dismiss my decision as fleeting, or dare I say, act horrified at this decision we have made.
I have been told “you say that now, but you will change your mind when you hold a newborn again”. Sorry, I have held many newborn’s, and although it brings back awesome memories of my own son’s first few months, I’m still happy with my decision. This sort of reaction from others doesn’t upset me because it’s coming from a good place. It’s like someone saying, it’s ok to change your mind. At least that is what I am hoping they mean!
The worst reactions are unfortunately the most common – people actually tell me how it’s a terrible idea to have just one child, and explain how it will negatively affect my child.
It’s like people can’t control themselves. They feel so passionate about what I am doing that they need to tell me what I am doing is not right before I pass the point of no return.
This is expressed to me in so many different ways, but all of them are usually very blunt. I actually have been told my child will be lonely, sad, and will have something missing from his life. I am not talking about the people asking if I am worried these things will happen – that is an honest conversation I am willing to have. Ask me anytime because I am happy to talk about it. It’s the people who tell me these things are actually going to happen that bother me.
Here’s the good news – I know better than this. My son is amazing. I know, we all think our children are amazing, and I am no different – he is amazing. Our goal in life is to make sure our child is happy. We don’t care what school he goes to, what sports he does or doesn’t play, what profession he chooses – the bottom line is we want to provide him with a happy family life, and we want to support him in whatever makes him happy.
Knowing this, I wonder how people could automatically assume that his lack of siblings means he will somehow end up unhappy. I grew up with two siblings I loved very much, but my childhood happiness was not dependent soley on them. There are a lot of things that make up a happy life. Does the fact that you did or didn’t have happiness in your life stem from if you had siblings or not? Maybe so, but I refuse to allow people to define my son’s life based on our families decision.
As a concerned parent (who has become more concerned based on all of these revelations on how dismal my son’s life will be without siblings), I am making a conscience effort to make sure he has a busy social life. He has friends – great friends actually – that he knows by name and requests play dates with. He’s involved with sports, he meets new kids at the zoo, the playground, on family trips, at restaurants – so far he seems pretty adjusted to his life as an only child pretty well.
It’s impossible to forget all of these comments people have made about what they think will happen to my son as a result of our family’s decision to have just one child. What’s left for me is to do is what I would do if I had one child, or six children – do everything I can to make sure my child is safe, happy and loved. Beyond that, all I can do is write this little blog post letting you know that our decision to have one child should be ok with you.
There are plenty of only children who have lead and lead normal, happy lives without siblings. I don’t think anyone should judge any other family’s decision on the number of children. It’s funny- people start getting “judgey” when people have too many kids too! As of right now, we have one child and a dog (who is also a handful). I would like more children eventually, but I am really enjoying my time with just my son.
Thanks Tricia! I think people can find ways to be judgey about all kinds of things unfortunately. It sounds like you feel my paid when it comes to a dog that’s a handful too! 🙂
People just don’t know what to say sometimes… I’m learning small talk is not easy for many people… myself included!!
When I was pregnant with my third… people would ask if it was my first. When I told them it was #3 a few people informed me about how expensive 3 would be… they asked how we were going to pay for their college (which is something we might not be able to do but that is not a reason to not have a child) Love… food… and shelter I can for sure give to them!!
It sounds like your sweet boy is getting tons of love and love is the most important thing… the greatest gift any of us can receive!!!
You’re doing great mama!!!!
Thanks Sarah! Isn’t it funny that whether you have one child or three, people still find a way to comment in a way that can make you feel uneasy? I think it’s something we all have to work on for sure! And by the way, I paid for college myself and I turned out just fine! 🙂
How sad that people have been so negative. You have a beautiful son who you obviously love very much. People should just be happy that you have such a lovely family.
So true. Totally relate. 🙂
I love your article Mandy! I have noticed the same pattern of expectations at each stage in my life too and everyone giving their two cents worth. I have been struggling trying to decide if our family is complete with one child or if we should have another. It is a huge decision and there is lots to consider. Your perspective on having one child gave me some good food for thought. And u are right, your family is beautiful exactly how it is!
It is much more common now to have couples decide to only have one child. Statistic show that only children are smarter, more driven and generally do ‘better in life’ than children with siblings. Having said this, this comment depends on what you define as a ‘better life’.
You indicated that your siblings did not add or take away from your childhood. I, having two siblings, also would agree with you (though being a girl in the middle of two brothers was definitely not a bed of roses and I would say they made my childhood more miserable than it should have been). But the key is that you are only thinking in a limited time span – of your child’s childhood only and not their adult life.
Like I previously said my brothers made my childhood generally harder but as an adult I thank God everyday that I have them now in my life. Though I have good friends, I rather spend time with my brothers. As you get older you recognize (hopefully) the real important things in life and how friendships can usually be quite fickle. I am fortunate that my brothers and I have a strong bond and love each other very much. They are also more supportive than most of my friends. I am not saying my friends are not supportive but there is something different with siblings – I KNOW they have my back – I am not sure, from experience, that my friends always do.
I also think I am unusual to have such a strong connection with my siblings as an adult so my argument may not be as strong as it could be if this was more common but I still feel it is something you have not considered – your child as an adult without siblings.
You and your husband will eventually grow old and as you grow old your child will want to have less to do with both of you as they move into their adult life. One day you will also no longer be here and when that happens what family will your child have?
Just my thoughts even though I feel totally respectful for anyone choosing not to have children or only having one child (even though for me this is totally wrong). I think your thinking on this matter is a little short in regards to a whole life span because siblings are there throughout your whole life in most cases, your parents and friends usually not.