Why I'm Considering Having an Only Child


My little boy is two, and he is the light of my life.  He's truly become my little buddy as he tags along with me everywhere I go and loves to do everything I do.  I have a great time until this nagging little voice pops in the back of my head.  Oh, I try to quell it.  Trust me.  Still this little voice visits me several times a day:  Annette, you're not getting any younger.  Now's the time to consider having another child before it's too late!

At 35, I still have a few more childbearing years left, but my husband is 40 this year, and well, if we want to have another little squirt, we need to get working on it.  Thus our dilemma is born, and the answer is not coming to me easily. 

Only children over the years have been given a bad rap.  I know.  I'm one of them.  We've been told that we're greedy, selfish, social misfits.  According to an article in Time Magazine  called "The Only Child Myth," this attitude stemmed largely from the "research" of one man, Mr. Granville Stanley Hall, who in 1896 wrote a study called "Of Peculiar and Exceptional Children."   In the study, Mr. Hall called only children "deficient on the social side," "petted," "indulged," "humored," and "spoiled," and since he was the first one to do a study like this, it has virtually gone undebated for the last 114 years.  So now I personally have Mr. Hall to thank for all of my years of growing up with these ridiculous, absurd labels.  Thanks Mr. Granville Hall.

As an only child, I would like to personally debunk these labels, and instead, explain why having one is a great idea.

1.  Only children, for the most part, receive undivided love and attention from both parents.  This doesn't make us "petted" or "indulged."  This makes us confident.  This makes us feel worthy, and in a world where we are constantly inundated with fears and inner-criticisms that we are not good enough, having this extra self-esteem is not a bad thing.

2.  Only children tend to mature quicker.  Although my parents divorced when I was five, I still grew up in a world of adults.  If I wasn't spending time with my mother, grandmother, or grandfather at home, then I was spending time with my dad and his wife.  While playing games with me, they shared their knowledge of the world, and often I was privy to many adult topics.  I didn't mind.  I was flattered.  It didn't turn me into a social misfit.  Instead, it turned me into someone who was a little more thoughtful and reflective at a young age.

3.  Only children benefit from undiluted resources.  Time Magazine states, "the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the average child in the U.S. costs his or her parents about $286,050--before college."  When my mother got divorced from my father, she didn't have much.  Child support only went so far.  She had to leave her stay-at-home-mom status to work for minimum wage.  We were far from rich, but my mom still didn't hesitate to get me involved in activities like dance lessons, Girl Scouts, piano lessons, and such.  Being able to join as many activities as I did helped me become an open, well-rounded person.  It also kept me from getting into trouble during my teen years.  In today's economy, it's wise to consider having one child that can benefit from all our available financial resources, especially when our income is becoming less and less due to inflation and a freeze on wages and salaries.  Oh, and did I mention the cost of college today?  Yes, tuition can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,500 per three-credit course at most four year institutions.  (You can multiply this by 40 courses for a Bachelor's degree.)

3.  Only children choose friends in place of siblings.  Throughout my childhood, I was constantly asked, "Are you an only child?  Oh, you poor thing.  Aren't you lonely?"  It's easy to think that an only child would feel lonely and bored, but in reality, this wasn't the case at all.  First, if I didn't have someone to play with, I'd often play by myself, which I believe, helped me develop quite the imagination.  No, I didn't have an imaginary friend, but I may have had imaginary customers that came in to shop at my own boutique, or imaginary students to teach, or imaginary patients to cure.  During the summer, I usually had a friend come over to the house everyday, and on several occasions, I was allowed to invite a friend on our family camping trips.  It was fun because the friends I chose to be with had the same interests as me and we got along, which doesn't always happen with siblings.  Finally, if I didn't have a friend, I often had my mother or my grandmother who'd love to sit down and play boardgames with me.

4.  Only children become close to their parents.  In most cases, only children do become very close to their parents because we grow up having them as our role models, our support system, and our friends.  I, in essence, became my mom's buddy, and as I grew up, I enjoyed going shopping with her, going to the movies, and going on fun day trips.  Since my parents were divorced, I also became very close to my dad and was his fishing buddy.  The one reality that's true for only children is that we do have to face our parents' death alone--meaning that we are the ones who usually have to take care of all the arrangements and clean out the house, etc. on our own.  I had to face this reality when my father passed away in 2007.  It was hard, but I had the love and guidance from my husband and incredible support from my friends who helped console me along the way.  In the end, the process went smooth because I was the sole executor of the estate, and I had the pleasure of getting all my father's treasured pictures and items--like his old bass boat.  Priceless.

Yes, I'm still uncertain as to whether Lil' Lewie will grow up with a sibling or not.  My husband and I are still a little leary.  However, there is one thing that I can say with all certainty and that is, if we choose to have him and only him, I will never, not one day, worry that he might be "spoiled," "indulged," "selfish," or "petted."  Instead, this boy will be very simply, like many children, loved.

How about you?  Do you want to have anymore children?


  1. Sigh, we would love to have more kids. But it's not so easy as just wanting it. You've got to think about finances, how much space your home has, etc. When I was young, I wanted to have several kids, but I think we'll feel like our family is complete with just one more child.
    There are drawbacks and advantages to every type of family, tons of kids or one. If Little Lewie ends up as an only child, he'll be happy and well-adjusted.

  2. I have a two year old also, and sometimes I wonder if I am cut out for having another. I love her so much but the work that is involved, and being a military wife and doing it alone most of the time, is tough. We are going to plan for another in the near future, but I am a little nervous. I think that by the time she is 2 1/2 I may be ready. :) There's nothing wrong with wanting one, but I really want her to have brothers and sisters like I did growing up. I had two brothers and a sister so I know what its like to have both. Also, I don't want all of the pressure to fall on her when her daddy and I get much older and she has to be the only one to take care of us. That would be hard on her. I have to put my selfish tendencies aside and give her what I think may be best-siblings :) Came over from the Nomies Monsters hop :)

    The Frugal Free Gal

  3. I keep going back and forth on this issue...in all honesty, there's no doubt in my mind we'll have another one. There are those days that I think it would be easier to just have one though :) My husband just turned 41, so we're hoping within the next year we'll be financially stable and able to go for it...and it won't take another 15 months like it did with Scotty! Scotty will be 4 in June and does great with his new cousin, so I'm hoping the age gap will be a good thing!

  4. This is a tough one. We only had one child. She is now 6 and complains a lot about not having a sibling. She says she's lonely. And because of her autism, she can have a hard time making friends with other kids.

    It is great that we can devote so much time and resources to her though! Even if we have to do private school later in life, we can probably swing it.

    There are definitely pros and cons either way!

    You should probably go for a second child if you feel that huge desire to!

  5. Me, I have one for now. But, I feel like I want another one soon. It depends on how you like your family life would be. Some people I've met and heard, shared wisdom that "if you don't want to have a poor life, then have one child. If you want a poor life, then have many kids as you like." What an advice, isn't it? It's sarcastic but there's some truth behind it. Me, I came from a family of three and my husband is from a family of two. I looked at my father's side of the family. My Grand Ma got 8 and my Mother's side has 4. Having 8 was really tough for them when they were kids, teenagers to college. Though they are very poor, the kids learned to support each other siblings by supporting each others college. Right now, I admire them from their patience and toil that all of them had a college degree and stable jobs and families. They have a strong family bond too.

    On my side, being the eldest in our family and first Grand child to got married, and my husband is the first one who got married from a family of two, I feel so deprived and envied my Aunts and Uncles from a large family. I don't know. Maybe because I'm so alone, and that I'm the first Grand child to have separated and have a family of my own. And I came from a poor family so I'm not afraid becoming poor if ever I have lots of kids (God willing).

  6. I know where you are coming from. I have 4 kids...but there are moments -that I OBVIOUSLY don't share out loud- that I miss the time my oldest and I would share...just the two of us. He was over 4 before #2 came along so I had a lot of time to love, nurture, play with, cuddle with my first born. I miss him. He gets lost sometimes in the shuffle and schedules of a family of 6. He's the oldest so naturally more falls on him. And with daddy leaving in May to serve in Afghanistan...my heart is very troubled--but that's a different topic. Anyway, I totally see where you're coming from.


  7. I was an only child until my brother was born 11 years later. I agree with you. The only child stereotype is just that another stereotype that isn't always true. Do what feels right to you Annette. You're a fine young lady mom and wifey (=

  8. I love this list. I feel like I got the best of both worlds. Since my sister and I are 10 years apart, I feel like I grew up as an only child (receiving all of that fantastic love and undivided attention). And then I FINALLY got my wish and was given a baby sister, one of the absolute best things that has ever happened to me. I absolutely want more kids. At least one more. Like you, my eggs aren't getting any younger...but I definitely need a bit of a break in between. So I am putting the "tick, tick" on snooze for the moment :)

  9. Thank you all for your comments! It's been wonderful reading them, and it's made me feel like maybe I'm not so crazy after all. This topic, honestly, is a daily struggle for me because in my heart, I believe I want to have one more, but then I worry about finances, the space in our home, and even whether the love that Lil' Lewie and I share will end up being different (sigh).

  10. Great post! We may only have one child because that's all we can have so your list makes it seem less scary. All that being said, I came from a big family so I loved having all my crazy brothers and sisters. It's all in the parenting.

  11. Annette I am so happy you wrote this post! I have a lot of mommy guilt about not being able to give Little Chick a brother or sister. I feel like she needs someone to go through life with. Your post makes me feel better. If I can have another child God willing I will. But if I can't then I will always remember your beautiful post! Have a great weekend!

    Mama Hen

  12. I have no MD or PhD behind my name. Coming from life experiences, I've met some great only children and some bad ones. I'm a strong believer that it's about raising them to the best of ones ability and not how many siblings they have that make them a wonderful person.
    Go for what's best for your family.

  13. Oh Annette, you read my mind with this post! While I teeter back and forth about adding to our family, I do not think having an only is the horrible thing many make it out to be. I'm an only too, and I agree with your entire post, especially number 4. I am so close to my parents and am not sure things would've turned out this way if I'd had a sibling. I just wish friends and acquaintances would stop with the judgmental glares and sighs when I mention that I'm not sure yet if GG will have a sibling. There's certainly nothing wrong with have only one child!

  14. My husband and I are currently contimplating our 4th child. We love our family as it is but with me being 35 and he 36 we realize our childbearing years are winding down. We have 2 boys and 1 girl, I have 3 older sisters so I would love for her to have a sister also but....I guess only time will tell.
    I am a new follower. I hope you will follow me back.

  15. Annette, you make so many great points in this post. I have known and worked with many children over the years and I have found that you can point out children on both sides (only children and kids with siblings) who meet the "only child" characteristics. It has more to do with the child's personality and how they are raised, not wether they have siblings or not. Great post!


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