Why I'm Considering Having an Only Child
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?