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When doing a little research on the topic of the “only child” the words above were used by some to describe both “only children” themselves and the parents who would dare to have only one child.
Consider this first comment in response to an article titled “In Defense of the Only Child” I found on a mom forum:
“Well, it is my duty to provide my child with other siblings. Sure, it’s not always convenient for me, but sometimes I have to look beyond my own selfish desires…”
Whoa! Of course, it’s hard to call an only child spoiled when you bitterly sacrificed yourself to make sure you provided your firstborn with a playmate, but that’s a different blog.
Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum are the endless number of tactless people we saw commenting on fellow MomsCharlotte blogger Jo, who has chosen to have 13 children:
“Great! Pretty irresponsible behavior if you ask me. The last thing this planet needs is every person with a uterus having 13 kids.”
That was actually a mild comment compared to some.
Well, clearly the world prefers for us to have somewhere between two and twelve children. I’ll let Jo here deal with the “lots of kids” end of the spectrum, but I’ll gladly take up the call for the “one kid” end. That’s right- I hereby announce my family’s plan to only have one child.
For me this comes down to a matter of comfort, economics, and experience.
I am an only child. I don’t know what it’s like to have a sibling, and I also don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything by not having one. When my parents pass I will be left alone. Alone with only my spouse, daughter, dog, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and community to help me grieve. The notion that the only child is somehow left alone in the world seems ridiculous to me. Sure- perhaps for someone having always had a brother or sister it seems like it would be lonely, but us “only kids” tend to be a little more used to managing their “aloneness”, I think.
My family lives comfortably. With one child we can afford to save a little each month for future schooling for my daughter while still saving for retirement. I will admit, though, that especially considering our choice to have me stay home with our child, the ability to save for more than one kid is pretty much impossible. Sure- there are always scholarships, summer jobs, working through college, etc., but I don’t want those things to be a necessity for my child. Financial security for my family is more important to me than the size of that family.
Is it selfish for me to want to still go on vacations, have nice meals, and enjoy my interests outside of parenting if this means I can only have one child? Some clearly will say “yes”, but when I consider the divorce rate in this country along with the number of people who live on antidepressants while mortgaging their homes, cars, big-screen TVs, iPods, and cell phones I’m not convinced that a little consideration for one’s own interests while living within one’s means is such a bad thing. Or that families with more than one child have resulted in/continue to result in individuals contented with their lives.
Along the same lines, my daughter is learning during and enjoying these vacations, meals, and interests with us. I’m NOT saying “hey… I’m going to let someone keep my kid for three weeks while I enjoy fancy vacations”, but I am saying I think that activities outside of running back and forth from the pediatrician’s office do add value to our familial relationships and lives as a whole
Finally, I am concerned about the health of any future children we may have. Our daughter had brain cysts in utero, which fortunately never seemed to materialize into any kind of issue, and was born with severe laryngomalacia which needed two surgeries to try to correct. While there is a certain risk with any pregnancy, after our last experience I’m just not sure I feel up to the worrying that would naturally occur for us during the second go-round.
I certainly can see the benefits of having more than one child, but for my family they do not outweigh the benefits of having a single child. I clearly would never look down on what someone else has chosen for their family, but at the same time, when you see that my daughter is almost three please don’t ask me when I’m planning on the next one and try to convince me I’m doing her a disservice when I tell you I’m not.