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Why It’s Okay to Have an Only Child

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Being an only child can carry with it a stigma, though it really shouldn't Here's why I think it's perfectly ok to have an only child - if you want kids.

The questions start rolling in as soon as you say, “I do.” Or, more accurately – one question: When are you going to have a baby? When are you going to have a baby? When are you going to have a baby? Everyone wants to know, and somehow they think it’s their business. Talk about social pressure!

Then as soon as you have one child (if you chose to do so), the questions start to mount again. When are you going to have another one? How many siblings are you going to give your newborn? The questions are endless and everyone thinks they have a right to know. I can only imagine how it must feel to couples who want to have a child but can’t.

It’s not a requirement for any married couple to pop out a few kids, but somehow it’s become the norm. When you get married, you have a kid. When you have one kid, you have another one. Somehow in our crazy universe, this has not only become what you’re supposed to do, but also what people expect you to do. Honestly, I always assumed that I would have two kids as well — until I actually had one.

One and Done

 

My husband and I have one daughter, and after we had her, we decided that one was all we needed. Let’s be honest here — raising kids is hard work, probably one of the hardest challenges you will ever face, and it’s not all about bedtime stories and blowing bubbles. “One and done” became our motto, and we feel so content with our family of three.

Friends and family were sometimes shocked by our decision to be done and offered sad eyebrow raises and cautionary advice when we said we only wanted one. I grew frustrated sometimes at their concerns. What is so bad about having one kid these days? It is absolutely okay to have an only child (or none at all) if that’s what suits you.

It’s Not Selfish to Only Have One Child

 

So much can be said about how we change as new parents, the way our lives suddenly revolve around a little ten pound nugget while we run around, eager to appease all their needs at the drop of a hat. But still, I’ve been told that it’s selfish to not give my daughter a sibling because she needs the social interaction and a playmate, and I could not disagree more. If anything, an only child is getting more one-on-one time with their parents and not having to compete for attention. What’s selfish about that?

I’m already selfless enough as a parent. I’ve already put her needs ahead of mine so many times, as I probably should. But when it comes to having another baby just to give her a social playmate, that just seems ludicrous to me. After all, another baby would affect my life more than it would hers. I’m the one who has to put in all the work.

A Child Isn’t Guaranteed to Like Their Siblings

 

I’m sometimes reminded that my poor daughter has no siblings to play with. I have two siblings of my own, so that sentiment used to pull at my heartstrings, but it’s still not a good reason to have another child. Although I had a great experience growing up with a brother and sister of my own, not everyone has the same wonderful experience.

While I love my own two siblings through and through and can’t imagine life without them, my husband, on the other hand, isn’t close to his siblings at all. They have nothing in common and only talk to each other if absolutely necessary, particularly around the holidays. Being around them is awkward for him, and he wishes he had the relationship that I do with my siblings with his own, but he doesn’t.

Watching my husband interact with his siblings, in such a sharp contrast to how I interact with mine, reminds me that there is never any guarantee that siblings will even like each other. Sure, they are raised by the same parents, but that doesn’t mean they have the same personalities and interests. You can’t force them to like each other.

Being an only child can carry with it a stigma, though it really shouldn't Here's why I think it's perfectly ok to have an only child - if you want kids.

I’ve Never Wanted to Own a Minivan

 

These days when I get hounded about adding another baby to the mix, I’m faster with my responses and quick to put people in their place with these statements I’ve honed:

  • My child doesn’t have to compete for our attention all the time.
  • She has a huge vocabulary because she doesn’t hear baby talk.
  • I miss my personal time.
  • Having only one child is green.
  • And frugal!
  • I’ve never really wanted to own a minivan. (My personal favorite.)
  • And, oh yeah, it’s none of your business.

I don’t think people always mean anything bad when they bring up the topic, but I do get tired of the pitying glances towards my child, and I’m tired of answering the questions. It’s really no one’s business but mine. My ovaries are my business.

There is nothing wrong with having multiple children or a large family, but no one should guilt trip any parent for choosing to raise an only child. No one else should get a say about whether or not you have kids (or how many you do have) other than you and your spouse. It’s a very personal decision and for good reason, so don’t let outside influences affect your decision.

 

Do you have a large family or a small one? Did you have a preconceived idea of how many kids you wanted? Did that idea change once you actually had a kid?

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Robin McDaniel

Robin is a freelance writer who chronicles her financial missteps and victories on her blog www.TheThriftyPeach.com.