FILED IN: Family Size

Only Child: Why We Only Want One

Stop asking me when I'm going to have another one

Flickr Commons/Photo by: Josh Liba
Flickr Commons/Photo by: Josh Liba

I am the mother of one perfect daughter. She’s pretty, sweet, intelligent and a handful. My little girl just had her first birthday, and I can’t imagine a happier occasion — celebrating a year of being the mother to the most incredible being this world has known. Unfortunately, my joy in being a mom is inevitably interrupted each time I am discussing children with someone. As I am describing how great I feel about being my daughter’s mom, inevitably I am asked, “So, when are you going to have another?”

How to explain my thoughts on this subject?

The short answer is, “Never.”

That’s right, I’m not planning to have more children. My husband and I actually WANT to have an only child. We have never planned to have a second child, and we stick by that plan. Other people, however, don’t seem to understand that this can be possible. The minute we tell people that we aren’t going to have more kids, the advice starts pouring in.

She’ll be lonely. She’ll be greedy (I guess only children don’t learn how to share?). Don’t you want to see what it’s like to have a boy? Isn’t it selfish of you to not have another child for her to grow up with? I have heard all of these arguments, and many more like them. So, here’s an open explanation to those who would ask, “Why not have another child?”

The first reason is perhaps the most important. We want to be able to give our children everything. As my husband and I were not blessed with rich relatives throwing cash at us or a well-chosen lottery jackpot, we need to watch where money goes. Having just one child will allow us to lavish upon her all the things she needs and some of the frivolous things she wants. Our daughter will get all we can afford, and we’ll be able to save for her future as well. With a second child (or more) we would be stretched thinner (money-wise) and we wouldn’t be able to give each of them what we wanted to.

The second reason is medical. I have a genetic condition that can be passed on. It’s not deadly, but it is inconvenient. I feel like we gambled and won (there’s a 50% chance of inheritance) with our daughter, so I don’t want to risk it again. It’s the same with my brush with preeclampsia – I survived and so did my baby (five weeks early), but I wouldn’t want to risk it again. (I do know my risk for having preeclampsia a second time is higher than the 5-8% of pregnancies usually affected.) Neither of these problems are certain to happen with a second pregnancy, and for that reason some would choose to try and have more children. I don’t feel it’s worth the risk for my family.

I also have done research into the differences between only children and those who have siblings. There is no proof that only kids are less adjusted, less social or less happy. Child psychologists debunked those myths years ago. Most only children are pleased with their situation and would not change it so that they could have brothers or sisters (at least that’s the story from the only children I’ve talked to!).

I do admit I’ve wondered what it would be like to have a little boy in the house. Shopping for non-pink clothing and baseball mitts would be fun. Fortunately, that’s what nephews and other small male relatives are for – you can shower them with the toys your little girl doesn’t have an interest in, and buy them all the blue onesies you want.

These reasons aren’t a rationalization for myself so I feel alright about having just one baby. I truly hope people will read this and understand that having “just one” is a choice. We’re sticking to having just one child and we’re satisfied that we’re going to stay a family of three. So, yes, it’s our choice and yes, we’re happy with it.