Is Being an Only Child a Bad Thing?

I love my siblings.  They taught me how to share, love, argue, fight, bullshit… SO many things. And because of that, I always said if I ever had a child, I would have to have to have another, because a sibling is the greatest gift a parent can give their child.  Now here I am with one child, not really that interested in having another. I feel awful about this. Awful. For as long as I can remember I have had these preconceived notions about only children, and that whole idea about siblings being the greatest gift ever. Now look at me, feeling quite torn about giving my son this great gift...



I feel like I am a horrible selfish mother for not wanting to have another baby.  I feel like a horrible selfish wife, since my husband would LOVE to another baby.  But when faced with the idea of having another baby I want to run to my closet and hide.  Plain and simple I am afraid. Terrified.

I am terrified that I will not have enough money to comfortably raise two children.  I am afraid that two toddlers will be more than I can handle.  I am afraid of all of the unknowns. What if the two children grow up hating each other and never speak like some siblings I know.


Another issue I am having is that I have finally gotten the hang of this whole mother thing. I JUST came out of the first year fog! It's nice having a routine and sleeping 6+ hours again. Plus, Oliver is at a point where I can relax a little while he plays by himself.  I just don’t feel like I am ready to throw another baby into the mix.  Maybe ever?  Which is not a good thing since FTD and I are no longer spring chickens, so if we are going to have a number two we, I, need to shit or get off the pot.

This is something that is really tearing me apart. I want Ollie to have a sibling, I do. But… 
  
I also think that since he has four cousins that are all boys ranging from three weeks younger than him, to five years older, and in Australia he has three cousins, with another on the way, he won’t be short of family… However, I know a cousin and a sibling are far from the same… Or are they?  I don’t have any cousins, so I really don’t know.

Oh, what to do...

Is it a bad thing to be an only child? Are you an only child? Or are you struggling with the same issue? Did you have a number two against all odds and everything worked out brilliantly?  Do you regret not having another baby? I would LOVE to know your thoughts!




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April is an award-winning writer, blogger and proud debut novelist - The Devlyn Disguise. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more about April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com

22 comments:

Jessika Kazaros said...

Oh dear... I haven't decided if this has become age based (on my own feelings), or boy based (see previous), or trauma based ("" ""), but I understand your feelings on this so much. Yeah, I know, I have two. But... Dave doesn't entirely see it like that, and in his own way, he's thinking the same way- is Chase going to grow up a quasi-only child (between age difference and visitation), or does he "deserve" another sibling? I default to the cousin route, or all the same things- financially, time, energy, etc- is it really fair to bring another child in just for the sake of making the current child not an only child at the sacrifice of making daycare costs (if applicable) twice as much, clothing, food, extracurricular, airline flights (if you're lucky), etc., etc., etc.... Two years ago (the very, very beginning of my pregnancy), I would've said I wanted to consider another after Chase. Now I just don't think it's worth my marriage, current child, etc. being stretched even further on all resources (especially patience) to do that.

TOTALLY just my opinion on my own situation though. I came from a big family and know lots of absolutely wonderful bigger families that make it work. I just don't think I have that much to pass around anymore.

April FirstTimeMom said...

Clearly we on are the same page! Two years ago I was all for two little ones. Now, after a horribly uncomfortable pregnancy, having my mind blown by the amour of time, energy and money one child requires... and being 35...

foodpixie said...

Count me as a passenger on the same boat. Honestly, I think I will be a much better mother, wife, friend, and person if I don't have another child. And I don't want to risk my life again. I'd rather be here, in good health, for the one I have.

Anonymous said...

My hormones wanted me to get pregnant right around my son's first birthday (he's now 14.5 months old), but now, I don't know. I don't know if I'm okay with not having another child, but I also don't know that I'm okay with doing it again either! It was tough on our relationship, SUPER tough because I need sleep to be nice and well, breastfeeding makes that nearly impossible. Partner can't help with that. Also having to leave him to go to work at 12 weeks old, my incessant worry made me a nut. And yes, how the heck do you juggle two children and still make a healthy dinner, have clean clothes, and take a shower? Let alone feel like a real person in society? My gosh. I had no idea these things would be so much tougher with a kid. THEN, I think sometimes that babies and toddlers are only this age for so long, then children become independent eventually, falling asleep on their own, grabbing their own snacks, and all these other things that are so hard now will be replaced with new stages. I am right where you are. I'm only 32, but I don't want to have kids super spaced apart, at all. I don't want to reset the clock so to speak. I feel more afraid of having a second than I did of my first. I have no idea if this is normal or not! But you are not alone. And obviously financial concerns are important, but I also wonder if I should really let that determine whether I expand my family. Sorry April! I don't think I helped this situation with my comment :( -- Amanda

Anonymous said...

OH! Also, I just wanted to say in your particular case, if it was me, I wouldn't have another child for the sake of my existing child. I think as a parent, I would only have a child because my partner and I agreed that adding to the family is something WE want to do, but not because we want a sibling for our kid...I see it as a "how do YOU see your family looking?" Being an only can't be a bad thing if that's what parents thought was best for their family. Good luck dear mama. -- Amanda

Meg said...

We have four kiddos and would have gone to six if uterine cancer didn't nix those plans. There was no question that we wanted siblings after both of us experienced very solitary childhoods. Wouldn't change our large family for the world... but that's what works for us.
I have several friends with only one child or were the only child and yes there are a lot of perks. However on the flip side I've seen a lot of strife over the fact that mama only has one grown child to obsess over and drive utterly bananas.;)
Cousins are great and totally count as faux siblings if they have enough time together to develop deeper relationships.
Bottom line is if you are happy and whole in your choice then your child will be just fine too. These buggers are an expensive awesome time suck... but you do make adorable babies. xo

April FirstTimeMom said...

That is it! I am more afraid of having my second than my first! What is that? And you are so right, this hazy crazy phase only lasts for so long. It's still the fear of money and the crazy world we live in... ugh.

April FirstTimeMom said...

Thanks for that... you are right. I just cannot get past the fact that I love my siblings so much. the friendship and bond are so strong... but that's us. I know plenty of siblings who do not speak to each other.

April FirstTimeMom said...

That is exactly how FTD's parent are. Both only children and had three children and would have kept going but medical reasons held them back as well. FTD keeps reminding me of that. But I recently go a twitter message from an Only child who said she loved it, but married into a big family.

Thanks, Meg. xx

Alissa said...

You have to do what is right for you!! My parents ended up adopting my sister after I was born and they couldn't have anymore children. Even though there was only 2 years between us we were practically two "only" children with the same parents. We were never the BFF's that I am sure my parent's envisioned us being. Just because you give your child a sibling doesn't always mean they will be friends.

I wasn't sure I wanted a 2nd... but now that I have two amazing boys I am perfectly happy and am done having kids! But wouldn't you know... society keeps pressuring me to go for #3... because I just HAVE TO HAVE A GIRL... Yeah no.

April you and FTD are amazing parents to Ollie and that is all that matters. I think being an only child is not a bad thing at all. If you did go for two you would adapt and so would Ollie and it would all work out. And if you decide not to that is ok too! Hugs to you. Don't let age, society or anyone else pressure you one way or another. Do what you feel is right in your heart.

PS. I was scared out of my mind to have two.. and it's still freaking me out but every day is a new day and I just go from there.

Anonymous said...

We have two boys, 2 1/2 and 3 months. Our second was unexpected, although we had planned on having another eventually. My second pregnancy and birth SUCKED. I didn't know I could get so stressed out (I was working full time though...also unexpected). But now that I have my two boys, and things are settling down, I realize that it was all - IS all just temporary. Pregnancy is temporary, the stress is temporary, the sleepless nights (even though they may last months and months) are temporary. And we've decided wholeheartedly that we're going to endure a few piddly months - years of our lives in order to have a super awesome family (we do plan on having more yet). Our boys (and future kids) will have best friends in their siblings, and when we get old, there will be no shortage of family hanging around (I hate being lonely). Our life was already full with one child, but will only overflow with more kids. Sibling relationships are not dependent on spacing between ages, or if you have another boy, or a girl - they are based solely on family dynamics. If you were super close with your siblings (I am too), then I have no doubt your children would learn and live the same.

Some couples are meant to have one, some none, and some 6 or more. But my thinking is that kids are nothing but a blessing, in any situation. I HATE being pregnant, stressed out and exhausted as much as the next person, but I always remind myself the life-long reward is more than worth it. No regrets!

Christine said...

I was in my mid 20s when it dawned on me that being an only child made me a lot different from a lot of folks, and it didn't seen to be the norm either but I haven't read any statistics. I do know that I'm smarter than the average bear and that became apparent very early, I was reading at a 7th grade level when I was in 4th grade. Probably because Mom was able to focus on me. My dad was in the air force and we were poor I'm told but you would have never known it by the looks of my room and clothes. Socially, I may have had some problems but I don't ever remember being without friends even though we moved every three years. My parents are my best friends, and I definitely never wanted to share them with another sibling! I am also close to one cousin which is the closest thing I have to a neither but we did not grow up together. I've also been very honest which you may attribute to not having a sibling to blame things on. I despise lying and I can pick it out on anyone! I have no regrets on raising Katie as an only child. :-)

Quirky Chrissy said...

I have cousins who are as close if not closer than siblings. if you raise Ollie to know his cousins like brothers and sisters, they will be as such.

Claire said...

As always April reading your blog is like reading my diary from a few years ago. Before Sam I was sure I wanted 2 children, a boy then a girl, and didn't want to have children past the age of 35 ( this was because I saw my mum going through her pregnancy with my youngest brother who is 11yrs younger than me, and my mum was 36 at the time and during the whole time she complained about how different it was compared to when she was in her twenties) so when I got Sam home and the following months lost all sense of myself and quickly realised that the fantasy of being a stay at home mum was far from what I had imagined. Luckily it wasn't just me hubby also felt the stress of being a dad so we had loads of discussions about having a second. I went through stages of wanting a second then Sam would go through a difficult stage and I would quickly change to hell no way! But due to a ongoing condition and my doctor wanting to put me on a new drug I was put into a now or never situation. Hubby was due to go away 8mths apart so we decided to take the plunge and try for those 8mths (it had taken us a year to fall with Sam) and what would be would be, if we did brilliant and if not we'd be happy with just the one. Don't make the mistake of thinking any pregnancy or baby will be like your last. As for being a only child (assuming your a natural blonde,hehe) do you miss being a brunette? You might wish you where but things are always greener, ollie will not miss having a sibling at times he might wish he did, just like I wished I was a only child but you deal with what you've got. Xxx

Hilary @ Peanut Butter Spoonfuls said...

I definitely don't think being an only child is a bad thing! I think they sometimes get a bad rap because some parents spoil only children more than multiples. But it's not the only-childness, it's the parents! I actually read a study on it once that I can't find now. Anyways, I think Ollie will be more than fine either way, and you should have another or not based on your feelings about that child and not how it will affect him.

For what it's worth I know what you mean about just getting out of the fog. I feel like I should have a 2nd now before I really remember what feeling normal is like or else I may never do it.

Lillian Connelly said...

I am going through this right now too. To have another child or not to have another child. The clock is ticking. I am afraid to have another child too. just one is really hard. Adding another scares me to death. I did a lot of research last year about only children and most of the stuff we hear isn't even true. It's just like homeschooling. Plus, I know a bunch of only children as adults and they are awesome people. So, being an only child is not a bad thing. It's just one of those things people like to make out to be a bad thing and I have no idea why. Anyway, I am struggling with this decision right now. One day I am all for having another child and the next day not so sure.

Anonymous said...

I see NOTHING wrong with having an only child. I mean, if you wanted another child because you wanted to do it all again, then yay! Do that! But if you're doing it just so your kid isn't a singleton? Don't stress. I have a sister and we're super different personality wise so we've never been especially close. Ollie has plenty of family who loves him, with or without siblings. Plus he has the WHOLE ENTIRE INTERNET. We all adore that little face! Of course, I'm not a mom. You should check out a post my friend Joules wrote on her loud and proud only child status: http://pocketfulofjoules.com/2012/12/04/strangers-in-my-business/

Mrs. Loquacious said...

Like everyone who has responded, I too am wrestling with this. In some ways, Little L benefits so much more from having all of our attention and resources. However, I know that there is no way that she can play with us the way she would a sibling, and there is something so very special about the way that brothers and sisters play together.

Our friend has convinced Hubbs that we should have a second because of an entirely selfish reason, which is that, after the brutal first few years (and they are hard), the siblings sort of take care of each other and entertain one another, which suddenly makes life a lot easier than having an only child (in which case, you would be the sole entertainment).

So, I think we will probably start trying in the next few months. I'm still nursing enough that I haven't started my period, so I'm not sure how long it will take us to conceive. Probably long enough for us to change our minds a thousand times, though! ;)

Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh April my 1st time reading your blog and it was this post.. I toooo fear the same the what ifs. My little man will be 2yrs old in a month. I am sooo completely torn for the exact same reasons. Ughhhh.

Jen @ the mama years said...

I'm an only child and I love it! That said, we'll probably have two but we plan to space our kids by 4-5 years to optimize giving each little one attention when they are that little. It's totally fine to have one!! If you aren't feeling it now, free yourself to table the issue and re-eval in a few months. The best sized family is the one that makes YOU happy, not anyone else!

Creed said...

It's not selfish to have just one. I do not want another child. I'm struggling enough with one!

My sister and I are 7 years apart and it's only within the last two to three years that we've become more connected now that she is older (just turned 21). That seven year gap was a lot for us. I mean really, what does a 10 year old do with a toddler? And that didn't really have adverse affects on either of us. I was essentially an only child for a long time as was she since I was gone at 18 and she was basically alone with my parents for another 8 years.

Anonymous said...

I'm an only child, and all I can say is...have another baby...I hated being an only child , the sole focus of my parents attention, every want need and action scrutinised,..I was determined not to have only one child, and I'm now the proud mum of 3 teenage daughters which difficult as it's been. I wouldn't change for anything.

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