February 5, 2009

Positive Stories About Single-Child Families

Beth writes:
I'm particularly interested in your ongoing contemplation about family size/spacing. I have one perfect (I think) little girl and I think my husband and I feel DONE! I've never particularly wanted a big family, and now that she's here. . . we just don't feel like we'd like another. We feel complete and well balanced and happy.

Of course this solicits many negative comments from friends and strangers alike, and I wonder if you might ask your readers sometime how they feel if they either are only children or if they have only children. . .

I'd like to hear some positive stories about "only-ies". . .we feel fine about our choice, but it's tough sometimes to hear about her "need" for a sibling!

This is such a great idea. I, too, would love to hear Happy Only stories. I hear a lot of negative feedback on my end of the family size spectrum, and I know the only-child peeps get a lot of negative feedback on their end of the spectrum, too. Socially acceptable family size seems to be "No fewer than 2 children, no more than 3 children."

So let's hear some GOOD STUFF about having just one child, or about being the only child. And I'm hoping we can do it without it turning into a bashing of OTHER size families.


Jess said...

I think like anything else, there are pros and cons to both, and no right answer. Every family has to do what's right for them. Torsten is an only child and he was very happy growing up. I know that people say that only children don't get socialized properly, but in some ways I think not having siblings clashing with him all the time has made him more sensitive to others' needs, because he never learned to tune anyone out, you know? And he and his dad are super close because they got to have all sorts of one-on-one bonding time.

Jodi said...

I have 7 kids and come from a family of 4 so I can't share any stories of onlies.

I did want to say that I think each family "knows" when their family is the right size. If she and her husband feel they are done then just take people's comments with a grain of salt.

After we had our 5th child we knew we were done. (Then we got guardianship of our nephews...)

Amanda said...

I agree that many people just know when their family is complete.

I'm not sure why people feel the need to comment on someone else's extremely personal decision. I can only hope that it's because babies are exciting and in general we are always eager to hear of someone planning another one and perhaps single child homes seem like a good place to look? I'm not sure.

I'm glad that Beth and her husband are content and happy with their choice!

There is no right answer!

Brooke said...

I am an only child and I totally hate all that crap about only children being selfish and unable to relate in groups. As a kid I wanted a sibling, but by the time I was in junior high, I was WAY over that. Among my friends I was the only, er, only child, and my house was the refuge. I am able to be alone and entertain myself; I'm really self-absorbed, but I've never had an identity crisis. I agree that every family has its own perfect size.

My daughter was going to be an only child. It was great just having her. Travel was easy, expenses were minimal, and she got all of our attention. She too is a quiet, willing-to-share child who enjoys being with others and has no problems sharing.

Unfortunately, I divorced her father, married a man with 2 kids and had another baby last year. So, now she is a middle child/half-step sister. She is extremely well-adjusted and we get more compliments on her than on any of our other kids.

Tell people who give you a hard time about having an only to suck it. With a sweet smile, of course.

Gina said...

I am an only child and I had a great life. While I admit that I sometimes (as an adult) wish I had a sibling, as a child, it never even occurred to me. I got to have friends over whenever I wanted and I always got to take friends on our vacations.

Being an only child has helped me develop confidence. I learned how to make friends easily and I am never afraid to be on my own. To this day, the biggest treat for me is time alone - I can go to the movies, or to dinner or out for a drink and never feel self-conscious. In fact, I love it.

Having a lot of time to myself contributed to my love of reading. I became an avid reader at a very young age and this helped me excel in school.

Since my parents only had to do it once they were able to pay for my education and I graduated without a single student loan (unlike my husband, who is paying out the nose).

I'm close to my parents, close to my aunts and cousins. And now as an adult, I really appreciate my in-laws (and there are tons of them).

There are benefits to both big and small families. It's all what you make of it.

Today Wendy said...

I'm in pretty nearly the same spot Beth is. We've got one (perfect) little girl (ok, not perfect, she totally bit my finger this morning) and my husband is DONE! I'm a bit waffly some days, but I think it is partly because the world is telling me that you must have 2.5 children in order to be happy. So I've been thinking about the things that I like about only having 1.
1) We do not need to move to a bigger house.
2) We won't have to go through the baby phase again.
3) We have more time for our individual pursuits which are fairly important to both of us.
4) We have more time to spend on our relationship.
5) I get more sleep.
6) I don't get torn between 2 kids who both desperately need me right now.

She's in daycare, so she's getting tons of socialization, and from all accounts gets along great with the other kids there. I'm really hoping that as she gets older we'll be able to do crazy things like take a friend along on vacations. I always thought I'd have a big family, and honestly I'm a bit jealous of Swistle some days, but then I look at my little family and realize how happy we are...

Denise said...

Another only child chiming in:
My parents were both from larger families (4 & 7) and it just worked out that they only had me. Not exactly by design but they said it seemed right. I honestly never thought about not having sibs as I was growing up. Twice in my life I've thought it would be nice--when my parents divorced and when my dad died. I guess I wanted someone to divide the sorrow with who "really" understood. I have tons of cousins that I love and who have always been involved in my life. It's not the same thing, but family is so often what we create around ourselves. I don't have children for medical reasons but if I did, I'm not sure I would know how to parent more than one because that wasn't modeled for me. Like anything there are pros and cons for all family sizes and my mother loves being one of seven. They get along so well and I'm blessed with a lot of family, despite not having siblings.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I come from a family of three kids but where I live (Utah) that's on the smallish side. A few things I've observed comparing my "small" family to my husband's large family (6 kids).

- In a large family, eventually the next generation comes along and screws up your proportions. At my husband's parents' house, the dining room table fits us all, just barely. But only half of the siblings are married and there are no grandkids yet. With an "only", you will always fit around a table, even when she's married and has kids of her own.

-I have always wanted a "large" family of my own. But since I came from a family of three, even if I have just 4 that will feel like a huge brood! (Remember, in Utah a large family is 6+ kids).

-My parents are already worn out by the two grandchildren they have. I think about my MIL who will have two grandchildren born just this year and think, "How long before she just can't be the kind of Grandma she wants to be because of the sheer volume of kids?" If your daughter has children, you will be able to be an involved, doting grandparent without killing yourself.

You can tell which stage of life I'm in by my comments!!

Natalie said...

I am an only child and I don't think my view on my childhood without siblings is going to contribute to this, so I'll keep my mouth shut on that one.

I will tell you that my son is also an only and he is as happy as a clam. Sure, he asks me when I'm going to give him a brother or sister, but he doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about it. Plus, I'm not sure how he would feel about having to share his time with us.

Lora said...

I think I'm stopping at one and it's because even though I have to work extra hard at being sure he isn't a spoiled little a-hole, it isn't as much work as 2+ would be.

I don't have to worry about money so much, or babysitters (everyone will take just one of your brats), or personal space, or sleep deprivation, or a million picky eaters at one table, or multiple health problems, or bigger living spaces, or or or or.

I love my son so much that I don't want to fit anyone else in there. I know I could, just like other moms of multiples. But he is mine and I am his and even though I will be left all by myself with a million cats in 15 years from now (oh, and a husband, provided he sticks around) I love this little life I have.

Maybe when Jake leaves I'll host exchange students or do respite care for moms in crisis or something. Who knows.

jschaffe said...

I'm not an only child, but there have been times I wish I was! Although my sister and I have reconciled as we grew older, I know some siblings who haven't, and it has only made things miserable.

Additionally, I don't think you have to have a genetic sibling to have someone who's like a sibling to you. My SO is an only child, but him and one of his friends are like brothers. They take crap from each other that they would never take from anyone else. I also have a younger (only child) cousin that I think of like a sister, because I spent so much time babysitting her growing up.

donna said...

I'm not an only child, but we are stopping at one because of infertility. I just keep thinking how I only have to save for one college education!

thedivinedetails said...

I love being an only child. It never once occurred to me that it might be nice to have a sibling until I was out of the house and in college. But even then it was short-lived. So many of the advantages I've had in my life are attributable to me being my parents' only one. It was hard enough for them to send me to my dream college; it would not have happened if they'd had to worry about another college education. I never had any trouble making friends. In fact, I would argue that as an only child you're especially equipped to go out there and make friends -- it's either that or be alone, a kind of a sink or swim type situation. And if you're raised right, as I was, you'll swim. Also, I'm very close with my parents; my mom and I have an exceptionally close relationship -- one that other moms envy. I'm not sure this would be the case if she'd had to split her attention among more than just me. She's one of 7 and did not like being a member of such a large gaggle of siblings so it was very much a conscious choice for her to have me as the only one.

I don't understand why it is people feel so compelled to weigh in on the choices of others, especially on this matter.

For what it's worth, I loved being an only child. And maybe it's because I was never plagued with bratty siblings that I grew to love children so much. I babysat all through high school and college and I can't wait to have a Swistle-esque brood of my own! :)

nicole said...

My dad is an only child, and while he would probably not say it was great, I can see that there were positives. My dad is one of the most responsible, self-reliant people I know. Of course, his dad died when he was in high school, but I know he would have been that way anyway. He is a man who is secure in his identity. He does not wait for people to do for him, he does what needs to be done. He could never blame someone else for a poor choice, so he learned to make the right ones.

It is so frustrating to hear negative opinions on family size, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum.

Shelly Overlook said...

I loved being an only child. Briefly when I was young I wanted an older sister (obviously not understanding the logic of such things), but I never wanted a baby sibling. I grew up very independent, imaginative and I knew how to entertain myself. In all honesty, I really have never once thought "Gee, I wish I had a sibling."

We are also in the same boat as Beth. We have one child who is going to be an only child. I am shocked at the reactions I get from people when I say we're done having kids (I will blog about it one day). & I don't mean reactions in a good way. People should just mind their own damn business, but you know that is never going to happen.

samantha jo campen said...

I'm an only child (and WHY do people say "Ooooh! That makes sense!" when I tell them that?) and it was great. I never really wished for another sibling because, dude, I got all the attention. SCORE! I developed independance early on, and I could easily hold grown-up conversations with adults from a young age as well, since I was always around them at gatherings and events. This is not to say, of course, that kids with siblings wouldn't be able to do this either but this is all I know so I'm giving my viewpoint.

The ONLY time I wished for a sibling was when I was 27 and my grandfather died. My cousins are all sisters so they had each other, and I felt very alone at the funeral since my mom was sitting with my aunt and my husband was a pallbearer. But other than that? Never wished for something different. Oh, well the one thing that sucked was that if something got messy/broken/out of place it was always ME who did it--no one else to blame!!

stephanie said...

I'm not an only child and I don't plan (hahahaah plan. try planning with infertility!!) on this baby being an only child, for reasons that are personal to my husband and me.

It's SUCH a personal choice and there are so many positive aspects to either -- I think only a family can decide what emotionally, physically and financially works for them. And we should celebrate them for whatever decision they make.

Kristine said...

Our son is currently an only child. I have been going back and forth over having another one, but for now, I think he's just as well off socially as any of his friends with siblings.

It's a personal choice amongst members of your family as to how many and when you have children. One day I hope people will stop bugging us about #2. For now, I just tell them that if they aren't satisfied with the one already here, maybe they need to find someone else to talk to.

Kate @ Life As I Live It said...

I'm not an only child but kind of grew up like one, as my sisters are 7 & 9 years older than me. They left home when I was very young so I have very few memories of growing up with them. We had such different childhoods because of the family dynamics that it makes it hard for us to relate to each other and we're really not that close as adults. I was fine with how I grew up - I had lots of friends and was very independent and confident.

I do like the fact though that I have sisters who can help deal with our parents as they age. And also, I got some great nephews and nieces from them. :)

I agree with everyone else: it's such a personal decision. Everyone has to do what's right for them. There's no *perfect* number of children.

Giselle said...

I'm not an only and I don't have an only, but it frustrates me that anyone should get harrassed for the number of children you have. Your child will be FINE if they are an only...as long as they are loved and cherished. And your child will also be FINE if they are one of many...as long as they are loved and cherished. And for some people, having fewer makes it easier to love and cherish them...and for others having many makes it easier to love and cherish them.

I hope people leave you alone soon. I have a friend (in her 20s) who has one and wants no more. When we meet new people who ask about her daughter(and immediately question future children), she says, "Yes, this is my daughter. She's my only...my husband has had a vasectomy, so there will be no more children." End of discussion. I LOVE how she just nips it in the bud right off the bat.

Misty said...

Oo! Oo! Pick Me!

I am an only child. And while I did have entirely too many toys, I was really (and am still) close to my parents. We were a unit. I have also always been told that I was very mature for my age because I hung out with adults most of the time. When we went on vacations, we would invite my best friend to come with us, so I was never lonely. Plus, we got to vacation more than my friends with similar household incomes, but more children. And my house was SO CALM. My best friend was one of 4 and her house was chaotic and a bit...gooey. When I was a kid, I always had sleepovers at my house because there were no little brothers or sisters to bug me and my friends. I had a great childhood!

But I have two kids. (Shrug) I think it can work out wonderfully no matter how many kids you decide on having. There are pros and cons to each situation.

Kim said...

Wow, this was so timely for me!
As someone who is almost 40 and going through IFV, there's a big chance we'll only end up with one. I have a sister I'm very close to and loved being in a nice neat family of four - I'd love to have two. But at this point one seems like an amazing gift and since I know there are pros and cons to any number, I'll do my best to appreciate one good one as the miracle it will be.

Christina said...

I'm not an only child, but my cousin is. We're only 7 months apart, so we grew up very close.

Even though we are so close in age, I always think of her as "older" than me, and more mature. Almost somebody to look up to. I think that resourcefulness, maturity, and independance stems from being an only child.

She was never lonely, as we had a large, close-knit extended family. Sometimes I would envy her ability to go home to a house where she was the only child, and I had to share everything with my little brother.

Her and her mother are very close and talk frequently, while my mother and I do not get along.

I agree with the other commentors that it's a peronal decision that needs to feel right for each family. It's an opnion - there is no "right" or "wrong."

I just cannot believe there are people out there that are rude enough to ask or make comments about the number of children somebody is going to have.

Especially since sometimes children are only children out of NECESSITY, not choice. They don't know the situation - whether it be medical, infertility, financial, etc. - so they shouldn't be so nosey.

SP said...

I am an only child. The only time I wish I had a sibling is when I think about losing my mother and knowing that I will be the only one to feel that pain. It is a lonely feeling. At the same time, I am social and well adjusted and generous and always aware of others around me. In fact, I think my hyper awareness might be due to not being de-sensitized to others around me due to a sibling.

I have an incredibly close bond with my mother. And the deep friendships I develop well and truly become like family.

Onlies have a lot of benefits and I'm grateful I had that growing up experience.

That being said, I have 2 boys and the dynamic they have is something that always leaves me in awe. It is completely foreign to me and I am happy they have that experience.

There is no global magic number of children. We each experience out circumstances and it is good. Who the heck wants exactly what everyone else has. How boring is that?

mpotter said...

i am the youngest of 13.
we're done with one.
(unless something unforseeable happens)

it has nothing to do w/ "feeling complete" and everything to do with there's NO way we would go thru that again.

granted, we thought we'd be done after one even while pregnant. one reason being that my pregnancy was so luckily good, i know the next one will kick me on my butt... plus having to chase a toddler around???
we thought it unlikely anyway.

but after going thru the hell that was called labor- (tho the ficticious next one will be easy- another c-section) and having the horrible time that we did for about 4 months; we both maintain we're done.

our most frequent saying around the house: thank god she's cute! and healthy!!

now that she's almost 7mos old, of course it's much better....
but that doesn't mean we've forgotten.

in any case, it's nobody's business & it's ridiculous if you think about it.... perfect strangers talking about your sex life. amazing to think how many people just assume you're having more. how many times during pregnancy did people say something about the "next one"...

then again, people assume you'll have kids to begin with.
it's definitely a choice people should make for themselves. not having kids "just cuz".

so if you're happy with one, have one. if you get "blessed" with 13, then enjoy that too.

we know we're lucky b/c lots of people can't be in this predicament at all.....
why do we feel as tho we have to defend our choices??

Ellen said...

I strongly identify with what Catherine said about the value of siblings. I grew up in a family of five and cannot imagine life without my brother and sisters. We have a 13-month-old daughter and plan to have 4 or so...

That being said, my husband grew up as basically an only child (has older siblings, but they were all moved out before he was born). He is one of the best people-people I've ever met and is incredibly caring, others-focused, and responsible.

I think the 'end product' of a grown child has a lot more to do with parenting and a child's personality and choices than with the number of siblings.

I am strongly for larger families, but you won't hear me trying to make peoples' choices for them. Growing up in a family of seven, I heard plenty of those "so odd" comments, probably as many as you'll hear about just having one. I strongly believe that you need to ignore those negative comments, since this is a VERY personal decision. IMO, you make your choice, you stand by it, and then you do your darndest to be a good parents to whatever children you have produced.

Maggie said...

I am also an only child and growing up I never wanted a sibling. I never wondered if my parents loved me best or thought I was getting the short end of the stick. When I was a teenager I wished I had a sibling only because then I thought I could distract my parents from my behavior by pointing to someone else's ;-) But I have plenty of friends and I learned to share just fine, which are the two biggest things I hear from people about why they think they shouldn't have just one child. Now that my parents are aging, I think it would be nice to have someone to help me to deal with that, but my husband is great and frankly, even with siblings there is no guaranty I'd have had ones I could work through issues with.

That said, it aggravates the heck out of me when people comment on the fact that I'm a only and my son is as well. One year when we were trying to figure out how to handle Christmas with my husband's family and mine and I mentioned that if we didn't see my parents they'd be alone on Christmas, my mother in law actually said something like "well if your parents didn't want to be alone, they should have had more kids." Some people just need to put themselves in the middle of personal decisions. You make the decisions that feel right to you and your family. Everyone else is unimportant.

Anonymous said...

Hi, It is Beth, of the original question. Thanks for all the feedback-- it feels like an affirmation of our decision. I think my daughter has a great personality and so far she's adapted well to being with other children in various settings, as well as just being with her father and me. I sometimes worry about her being "alone" when she's older, but neither my husband nor I are close at all with our siblings, so that feeling passes when I look at it from that perspective. I supposed nothing is a guarantee in life. We've just gotta go with what we feel is right for our family. I could do without the "you'll change your mind" comments that I get from people, though. I'm 36-- if I'm going to change my mind I hope it happens soon!

Raven said...

I wasn't given a choice about only having one child (my body decided for me) but my son is perfectly happy to be an only child. I stayed home with him when he was young and then enrolled him into a Montessori school to help him socialize with other children (age 16 mos).

We are a very tight knit group and sure he's a bit spoiled but I think most kids are nowadays (my own personal opinion) and we give him chores and responsibilities to prevent brat range. I also have the gift of the word NO. :)

He has cousins and friends for when he wants other kid involvement but he can be alone whenever he wants and he's good at being alone which will serve him when he's older, I think.

Magic27 said...

I'm an only child and, although my childhood was difficult because I was painfully shy and geeky (hopeless at all forms of sport, always pretty much top of the class) and my parents moved house ALL THE TIME (try 6 different primary schools...), I would still say I had a basically happy childhood. Sure, I'd have liked a sister or brother (sometimes), but was also very happy on my own (still am, actually, though I rarely am on my own).
However, it was important to my husband and I to have at least 2 children (we have 2 daughters, one 7, one nearly 5) because he, too, is an only child. My mother died 6 years ago, his father is out of the picture, there are almost no other members of our families we're in touch with. Our daughters have no aunts, no uncles, no cousins, only 2 grandparents (seen twice a year each at best)... For us, an only child would really have been a lonely (in the family sense) child. Now, at least they'll always have each other.
But our situation is special - I live in the south of France by my father lives in Scotland; my mother-in-law is the MIL from hell...
I really don't think there's anything wrong with onlies - look at me, I turned out fine (ha! ha!).
No, seriously - if it's right for you, it's right for you!
Stuff what others think!

Cindy said...

I'm an only child, and I have a daughter who may very well end up as an only child as well, so I guess I'm qualified to comment here.

Honestly, as I was growing up, I did sometimes want to be part of a big family (I always loved reading books set in orphanages or boarding schools or other places that were filled with kids), but as an adult, I can really see all the benefits of only child-ness that I never realized at the time. My parents were able to focus all their child-related love and attention on me, and while it embarrassed me a little as a teenager, it also left me with a lot of self-confidence and independence. I'm almost never lonely - quite the opposite, in fact; I get stir-crazy if I can't get enough alone time.

In regards to the "need" for a sibling, one thing to remember that an only child's reality is one in which they've never experienced having a sibling, if that makes any sense. I read a very insightful comment a while ago (maybe on Ask Moxie when this subject came up?): someone pointed out that when a non-only considers what life is like for onlies, they're imagining their own life without their own, real siblings, essentially imagining that their siblings never existed. If they're close to a sibling, that seems like a terrible thing. But for onlies, the lack of those hypothetical siblings is not so much a loss, as just... something that doesn't exist.

I could go on about this topic all day. In short: onlies are OK, and everyone should mind their own business when it comes to other people's family choices.

Celebrate Woo-Woo said...

I could nearly echo the first Gina's comment...oddly I am also Gina, an only child, who never thought about how having a sibling might be nice until I was an adult. It really only occurred to while contemplating who to choose as a guardian for my kids in the event of my death or disability and realizing how many people easily turn to their siblings for this.

Jennifer said...

My best friend growing up was an only child and I was always jealous of her. She had the undivided attention of both of her (awesome) parents, she was spoiled rotten (I thought) and because she didn't have to compete with a sibling her parents were able to send her to the best schools. She's now an astronaut or a magician or something.

Growing up, I would alternate wildly between wanting to an only child and wanting 100 siblings. I think there are pros and cons to both, and as long as your only is well-socialized and your million kids gets some quality one-on-one time with mom and dad, all is well.

Julie said...

I'm the youngest of nine kids, born within 10 years. It was not fun. It was kinda like crowd control. I currently have one child, and would be delighted with one more, but don't feel like I have to have another. Here's the thing - every situation has its pros and cons. But at the end of the day, you should have the amount of children that you can give the proper financial and emotional support to. If that's one, great. If that's five, great. I'm not convinced you can do that with 18....but maybe you can and I just don't know it. My guess is that a good parent will be a good parent whether they have one or several children. Same with a bad parent. I say hurray to those people who are honest with themselves and stop at one if that's what they feel is best for them.

Kelsey said...

I have been thinking about this all day and I realized I know very few only children. BUT the one that I do know is so close to her parents and is just an amazing person. I also think she likes her family just the way it is - likes not having to share the people who are most important to her. I think a family of three can be a very beautiful thing - so can a family of 13. In my opinion it has more to do with how you love and treat each other than with how many of you there are.

bluedaisy said...

I hate when people comment on your life like they have a say in your decision-making (not referring to comments here because they were solicited). If you feel happy and complete as a family of 3 then your daughter will feel that sense of love and closeness. And it will be ALL good. A certain mom-in-law I know likes to comment to her children that they need "one more" or "so and so needs a brother". It's hard to listen to the naysayers but feel good that you are following your heart rather than giving in to what amounts to peer pressure!!

Farrell said...

Everyone SHOULD mind their own business because wants/needs/circumstances are different for everyone.
I am an only child and my 4-year old will most likely be an only child.
My mom is 1 of 11 and my dad 1 of 6 which means I have a TON of cousins.
When I was young (birth-age 9), I basically grew up with my cousins (some lived 3 houses down from me) and almost did not realize I was an only child. I was very, very happy because when my cousins started to annoy me, I could just send them home:)
I started realizing I was an only child when we moved East to West, away from all our family, but I was still happy. My house was the hang-out spot since nobody would "bug" me and my friends. Occassionally I would get lonely if none of my friends could come over, and I really did (and do) miss the big family gatherings around the holidays with all the cousins. However, I don't recall ever wanting a sibling.
Some of my cousins I am very close to and my daughter calls them "auntie" and "uncle."
And despite my daughter's current obsession with me finding a new husband and giving her a baby sister, I am very content right now with our family of two...
My biggest regret about not having a sibling or siblings is thinking of my parents aging and getting sick...it will all fall on my shoulders. And that's not to sound selfish, but just - it would be great to have the emotional support of a sibling going through the same thing...
Since I was an only child, I think it would be really cool to have more than one to observe those sibling reactions and bonds. But I'm divorced so for now, it's not an option...
Only time will tell! Sorry for writing a book!

the Joneses said...

I haven't read the other comments so forgive me if this is entirely a repeat of what everyone else said.

I'm from a large family, but we had two "only child" friends. What I mostly noticed about them was their camaraderie with their parents. Also, these "onlies" took on responsibility and decision-making a little sooner than I did.

Bethtastic said...

Growing up, my parents best friends were the parents of an only daughter.
We are a family of three kids, I have two older brothers, and interestingly enough, that only child was between my brothers in age.
What that meant was, she was like our sister. Our families vacationed together, we had a time-share chalet in the mountains together. We attended the same church and same school. When either of our parents went out of town we stayed with the other. She was the only sister I ever had among my brothers.

That girl/woman was/is never lonely. Their family was certainly complete with one.

You do what is best for you.

Michelle said...

Everyone knows what's right for them... or should anyway ;) And people just can't keep things to themselves when they should.

Ok, off the soapbox!

I was a 2 kid family, and my husband was a 3 kid family. But I have some friends who were onlies. There were times they were a little lonely, but they also got to do some really cool things with their parents that people with more kids couldn't, and there was never a conflict of "oh, you can't do X (be it a birthday party or soccer) because your brother/sister has something else that day." And for all the lonelies that they had periodically, hello anyone with siblings who had fights with their siblings and wished they were onlies sometimes? Yeah, that was me, too! :) I used to plan to put my sister on the roof so the aliens could take her back.

elizasmom said...

Oooh, the comments about weird only children GET ON MY NERVES. I'm an oldest, and am accordingly control-freak-y and humorless. Does that mean people shouldn't have oldest children? What about babies of the family, who are lazy and manipulative? Or middle children who are exhibitionists, desperate for attention?
I'm exaggerating, OBVIOUSLY I hope, to make my point, which is that I think it's kind of gross to condemn parents for some pathology they are supposedly inflicting on their children by the particular number or spacing or whatever of their children. Yes, there may be certain negative traits associated with only childhood, but there are also, as other commenters have noted, myriad wonderful ones. JUST AS THERE ARE WITH EVERY BIRTH ORDER.
Ours is going to be an only due to a combination of factors, which would all be moot if we didn't have that, "Eh, we're done" feeling.
This is another one of those cases where it would be wonderful if people understood "You don't have to be wrong for me to be right."

Anonymous said...

I am an only child, as is my fiance. Let me just say, minus a few moments here and there, we have both loved being only children! I know personally that I got to do a lot, travel a lot, and spend a lot more QUALITY time with my parents than many of my other friends (and both my parents worked full-time). As I move forward with my life, I know my parents will never have to split holidays, etc. between myself and spaced out siblings.
I think the most important thing to do for an only is to socialize them...as I said, my parents both worked full-time, so I ended up in a day care setting at a young age. It was the best thing they could have done for me. My fiance's mother chose to be a stay-at-home mom, but still sent him to "Mommy's Day Out" events and preschool.

HollyLynne said...

I'm an only! Pick me!!!

The good:

1) Opportunities that wouldn't have been affordable if my parents had more than one child: Namely, in my case, being able to visit the UK yearly and my figure skating career.

2) The thing about being an only child is that there isn't a clear divide in the home between "adults" and "children". Its just three (or two) "people". As such, I was never really treated like a "child" growing up. This DID have negative consequences (my relationships with kids my own age were sometimes awkward), but it also made me, from an early age, especially responsible and practical. I didn't get into one iota of trouble as a teenager, if that says anything (although I was a horrid bitch, as most teenage girls are!).

3) My relationship with my parents is just different than the relationships my friends with siblings have with their parents. Its the whole "people" vs.. "adults" or "children" thing, I think.

The not so good:

1) I've seen it a few times in these comments, and its true: Parents of only children need to make a special effort, as early on as possible, to let their kids socialize with other children. By the time anyone realized anything was up with me in that department it was first grade, and kinda too late to fix the issue entirely.

2) My parents were stellar at teaching me the value of things, but it is pretty easy for only children to become spoiled. I wasn't, honestly, but that was because my parents used tricks like making me save my allowance to pay for big ticket items, and letting me do extra chores to earn extra pocket money. I may have been taken on (educational!) vacations and been involved in a very expensive sport . . . but when I wanted my own TV in my bedroom, I had to save until I could pay for it. And once I had saved, the only thing I could afford was a 7 inch black and white!

Erin said...

My husband is an Only and he is a Good Man. It's interesting, actually, for our marriage; I come from a big(ish) family, and we see things very different. Which for the most part, is enriching.

Julie said...

I am an only child. I don't think there's anything wrong with only having one child. It's all about what works for your family. People say things without realizing how presumtuous or hurtful they are. Just smile and change the subject.

Erica said...

I'm an only child and so if my husband. We have one child ourselves.

Growing up, I'm sure I wished for a sister a million times. It wasn't really for the "sisterly bond," because I have no idea what that feels like. It was mostly so I'd have someone to play with.

I've decided not to have an only child of my own. I want my daughter to have that sibling bond. She doesn't have any cousins since her parents are only children and I don't want her to be alone when my husband and I die. I want her to have some family left.

Erica said...

I totally left out the positive stuff! As an only child, holidays were all about me. My birthday was a big deal and I was spoiled by my grandparents. When I was a teenager, my parents let me bring a friend along on family vacations so I wasn't lonely.

Daisy said...

A good friend has only one child because she leads a very active life. Now that the kid is a young teen, they take him along on some incredible family experiences, such as working traveling Broadway shows. it was a great choice for their family!

apple said...

Another perfectly happy only here! My parents were careful when I was growing up to make sure I had lots of contact with other kids (who always used to want to come over to my house to play, since there weren't any little brothers or sisters around). It also allowed my parents to pay for my whole education -- I got to go to any college I wanted and graduated without loans, which is an amazing gift to be able to give to your child. I am very conscious of how lucky I am and wouldn't change my childhood for the world.

crisitunity said...

I'm an only, and I don't remember thinking anything much about not having brothers and sisters until I was in college. My family was small, cold, and distant, so what others have talked about here with more closeness with their parents and other family members didn't apply to me. I really have a hard time assigning any of my personality traits to being an only child; family isn't the only influence that creates a personality.

However, I have often been frustrated that onlies are sometimes considered freakish in a society where more than kid is the norm. And I'm stunned that anyone would be such a judgmental busybody as to tell you how many kids you ought to have. How are your family decisions remotely anyone else's business outside of China?

Anonymous said...

Honestly I am having a lot of trouble with having an only child. I grew up with three siblings and feel as though my toughest times in life were manageable because of them. I also have "giggle fests" with my sisters that I've never had with friends. I did find a book called Raising an Only Child and it has been helpful. I want my daughter to have those people she can call and know they will be there and I narrowmindedly can only imagine them being with their families. I've always been so close with my sisters that I didn't need a lot of friends so it is foreign to me to depend on friends. It just feels like she will always be wanting closeness and I always picture kids with siblings rejecting her - I have NO idea why. I simply picture her alone all the time. I am 41 and have had 3 miscarriages and it just isn't in the cards to have another. We've considered adoption but adopting a child only so your child can have a sibling doesn't set right.

Anonymous said...

I am the mom of an only child. I myself have a sibling and his father has three siblings, however infertility has left us blessed with one beautiful, healthy boy, who loves spending time with mommy and daddy and is the apple of Grandma and Grandpa. We struggled at first with the expectation everyone around us had to have another, but we are happy with our family of three. Our son is still a toddler, but we anticpate taking him travelling and having the neighborhood kids at our house. While he doesn't have to fight with siblings for toys and attention we are not at all afraid to use NO as a final decision. I am glad to hear grown onlies have good experiences, we don't see him as an only, but a gift we will cherish. And we won't have to break up fights in the back seat of the car on roadtrips so that's good too!

Anonymous said...

I am an only child and feel totally blessed to have such wonderful parents. The bond I have with my mother is incredible. We are so close and always have been. My mother has a young outlook on life and growing up was a sister and mother into one. My mum always had time for me and my parents still to this day have an unbreakable bond. I am very close to my cousens so never feel alone. I hope in years to come to have my own family, and I can honestly say as long as I'm lucky enough and blessed to have a child and they have the kind of unbringing I've had I'll be a happy woman.x

Anonymous said...

my daughter is an only child and she has no problems. She gets along with all kids and is very outgoing. She tells me she is glad she has no siblings as she sees her 3 cousins fighting all the time LOL.

Question I have for others who are onlies is I'm planning a summer trip and wondering about your thoughts of inviting friend along which always makes things more enjoyable (I think). I'm a divorced dad with 9 yr old daugther, so it can take some pressure off you on a trip

Anonymous said...

I was at book club last night and a "close" friend interrogated me about why my husband and I had "chosen" to only have one child. First, there is an assumption that having one child is a choice, and second is the astonishment that I feel when I am constantly asked this question. My husband and I are the proud parents of a wonderful, intellingent 6 year old boy. The same year that we had him, my husband underwent open heart surgery. Additionally, due to the extreme complicatons from delivery, I had to undergo three surgeries the year after my son was born to be
"put back together again." So, having one was not entirely a choice, but we are happy nonetheless. I am an only child and am a well-adjusted, educated professional with a circle of family, friends, and interests. The constant backlash that I receive that we are somehow "abnormal" for having one child is insulting to me.

meg said...

I am a mother of a 9 year old girl and happy with one child. My husband too is content with just one. But lately my daughter has been comparing her life with her friends who have siblings. She feels sad about it which leads to me feeling guilty for not giving her a brother or a sister.
How do I make her feel happy and content?