When we were first married, my husband made one thing clear: if we were to have children we’d be having 2 or 4 kids, not 3. He comes from a family of 3 where he was the middle child. As a result, he digs even number of kids. He feels so strongly about this that if we were to have an unplanned 3rd child then he’d want to try for a 4th! Fast forward to now and we aren’t young chickens (in our early to mid 30’s). We won’t be having 4 children. But having a 2nd child isn’t out of the realm of possibility (yet). He also has strong opinion re: having an only child when it can be helped. I think this has a lot to do with him knowing someone who was unhappy as an only child growing up. I, on the other hand, have never been scared to have an only child. I came from a family of six (4 kids) and sometimes growing up I wished that I didn’t have any siblings! Sounds awful but I fought with my siblings, didn’t you? And being an introvert (meaning needing alone time to re-charge my batteries), I often longed for a solitude that’s impossible to find in a large family. Don’t get me wrong – I love my siblings and I’m glad that I have them! I just didn’t always feel that way as a child.
There are many, many benefits to stopping after having one child. There are also legitimate and unfounded downfalls. Lets start with those:
Negatives of being an only child:
– your child could wish they had a sibling
– your child could feel bored and lonely
– after you’re gone, your child is alone
– risk of losing your only child
– your child will grow up to be entitled and selfish
To combat some of those, I’ve met only children who never wanted to have a sibling growing up. Also, I’ve found a lot of only children form strong bonds with friends and cousins so not to feel bored and lonely. Yes, after you’re gone your child won’t have a sibling to talk to about their childhood days or about their parents, but what if you have two kids that don’t talk to each other? You’d have the same result. And having more than one child doesn’t mean that the pain will hurt less if you lose one of them. I’ve seen this in the case of a mother who lost one of her identical twin boys. She still aches for her son tremendously. Lastly, new studies show that it’s the emotional culture of the home rather than whether or not a child has a sibling that shapes their ego. This short video is really good: The Benefits of Being an Only Child
Benefits of being an only child:
– no sibling fighting!
– with the above, your house would be 10x quieter when you don’t have two children fighting to be heard or tattling on the other
– its easier to get things done and fit in some “me” time with one child. with one, you’re able to trade off with your partner. with two – someone always has a child.
– there’s some neat experiences that only children seem to get more than families with two or more children (such as travel)
– the parents don’t have to divide their attention – they can read the story a second time as there’s not another child to also get ready for bed
– life isn’t about money but there’s only so much that goes around. an only child may be able to receive more support for post-secondary education than a child with siblings
– I’ve been told that two children is double the fun but 10x the work
Only time will tell re: whether we’ll have another child or not. My husband would say that he’d like another and I mostly feel the same but some days I think of the many benefits of stopping at one. After giving birth to our daughter naturally, I turned to my husband and said, “she may be our only child”. Our midwife laughed and said to revisit that in a couple of years. That’s what we’ll do. But if by circumstance we are unable to have another, we’ll find a way to celebrate having our one, our only. There was a time when I wondered if we’d ever have a child. Now we have one! And one is fabulous.