Dear mom of the only child,
Whether you have one child or a dozen children, family size is a very personal decision. Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of the following when people explain why they do not want an only child:
“I want to have another child because my son/daughter …
….should have a playmate. They are going to be best friends!
….needs a sibling because I had one. I don’t want them to miss out!
….should not solely have to care of us in our old age. I don’t want them to be alone after we die!”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard these phrases, I may not be rich, but I could probably go out for a really nice dinner on Federal Hill with my husband.
You could have slew of reasons for having one child, Mom. Perhaps your family feels complete, maybe you started your family later in life, maybe you kept waiting for the “right” time to add to your family, or maybe you have been trying or another child without success.
The average American family has held steady for several decades at an average of 2.4 children per family. This consistency is maybe why there’s some implied “wrongness” to having one child, as if you are cheating your son or daughter out of some experience.
I’m here to tell you to stop allowing yourself to feel that guilt. Your only child will be okay. I know, because I am an only child too.
My parents say I was a baby and the next thing they knew I was in 3rd grade. It was then they felt as though their opportunity had passed. And when I was a child, I was far more into the idea of getting a puppy than a brother or sister.
I forged incredible, long-lasting friendships from college classmates to former co-workers despite my only child status. The kind of friendships that transcend life phases, that result in stints in each other’s weddings (I’ve been in 9!), and becoming godparents to each other’s children. I also have a sister by marriage who I adore.
I don’t begrudge my parents for not providing me with a sibling to share in decisions regarding their future care. Their job was to provide me with the best upbringing possible, not to fulfill some arbitrary future obligation. And my parents did that. In fact, they excelled at it. My childhood was awesome and my little 3 person family felt nothing other than complete.
So yes, I’m looking at you, mom of that only child. Whether your heart aches for another child or you are satisfied with one, your son or daughter will be just fine. He or she will surely surround themselves with people who love them immensely despite not having any siblings. Your little one will be no worse for wear. Because, in the end, whether you have 10 children or 1, family is family no matter the size.