Choosing to have an only child

By Leca
@lecanis (16664)
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
January 14, 2007 6:56pm CST
Looking for input on the only child issue. I have one son (7 months) and due to family health problems, I don't plan on having any more children. However, comments are constantly made to me that it's wrong of me to make my son be an only child. I'm inundated with accusations that he will be spoiled, bratty, unsocialized, lonely, overburdened, etc. Even if I explain the entire situation, people still say "Well, I wouldn't have just one child!" Anyone want to weigh in on this topic? It's be nice to hear clear reasoning for either side, really.
11 people like this
107 responses
• Canada
15 Jan 07
My sister has one child, my niece, who is now 8 years old. She and her husband decided long ago that they only wished to have one. My sister ended up having much trouble conceiving so they were grateful when they had a healthy baby girl. They've held to their decision and my niece is not the least bit lonely or unsocialized. She has many little friends, particularly from school, and she participates in basketball, took horseback riding for awhile and used to be in dance. She's really good with other children. She adores my two girls (who are much older than she is) and we enjoy having her over to our house to visit, for a meal or a sleep over. I will readily admit that she DOES have some more expensive toys than my girls had at that age but it's because they can afford them. But here's an example: she loves American Girl dolls. These are very expensive (at least we all think so). We live in Canada, so ordering these from the US and paying shipping and exchange makes them even MORE expensive. However, to get one, my niece saved her allowance for about half a year and my sister paid the fees and charges. My niece told me on the phone just the other day (after being gifted with a second doll at Christmas), "Auntie, I love my girls... but I'm happy that I saved my money for Megan (the first one) because she's really special." She is learning not to just take things for granted and for this I give my sister and brother-in-law credit. They've heard all the same things you have and they don't intend to raise a child who would be viewed that way. Only children don't "have" to be spoiled. Sure, they might go through phases of wanting a sibling (I know my niece does) but, often, they'll spend time with a larger family and realize that they quite like their own family dynamic just as well. I think it's all about how you raise them. If they are happy and active, have friends their own age (and don't only socialize with adults), the accusations you've heard can be completely unfounded.
3 people like this
• United States
18 Jan 07
As a perfectly normal (Well, mostly LOL) 24 year who was an only child his whole life. I can assure you all that most of the accusations are unfounded. I am sure there is some truth in many of them. I am sure many children are lonely from time to time, but that is what friends out side the family are for, and more so what mommy and daddy are for. I have to admit that I am probably a bit different than most kids as I was never once lonely. I was always happy being alone or with people it didn't matter. And, this crap about only children being dysfunctional, I've never heard anything so completely ridiculous. Let me ask had any of these people been only children themselves? Were any of them psychologists? If they were psychologists do they specialize in child psychology, if so when was the last time they dealt with and only child? And, how many only children had the psychologist dealt with in the past? Are there any studies on this type of thing? I have noticed many parents who say these type of things never had an only child nor were they ever only children and most of them have never known an only child. My wife used to say I couldn't imagine growing up without my brother. Of course she couldn't cause she doesn't know what it would be like. She has nothing to reference in relation to it. She assumes not having had her brother would have made her life bad, but this is because she has already had a brother. Had she never had a brother it would have been a different experience all together. I imagine she would have been just as happy she just would have been happy in a different way. People like to hold onto their convictions. This is just one of those convictions. No matter what you say most wont see reason.
@Melizzy (1381)
• United States
15 Jan 07
I'm an only child. Did I get lonely growing up? Yes, but I wouldn't change my childhood. I had cousins who were like siblings. As an only, I was able to have more time and attention from my parents. And I was raised in a more adult household. That wasn't a bad thing. Don't have another child because somebody else wants you to; have one because you want to. But think about your health first and foremost. Having another child won't do anybody any good if nobody's around to raise the child.
@zuri25 (2127)
• United States
15 Jan 07
Unfortunately, it is a VERY common misconception that only children are spoiled rotten, selfish because they've never had to share, and spend their childhoods being lonely. First of all, only children don't neccessarily get everything they want. Most parents are smart enough to know when to say NO to their kids. Secondly, only children may not have to share with siblings, but they have to share with friends and schoolmates. And thirdly, only children may experience periods of loneliness where they wish they had siblings to play with, but for the most part they have their friends and their families as well as after school activities such as sports to keep them from feeling lonely. Now, I'm not an only child so I don't speak from personal experience, but I have had only child friends. Your choice to not have another child is a very personal one that I'm sure you've given a lot of thought to. Other people should respect your decision, your boundaries, and your privacy by keeping their outrage to themselves. Do what is right for you and your health...period.
• United States
15 Jan 07
I think every couple has to decide for themselve what's right. My sister is in the same shoes. She has one daughter that was born premature because of preclamsia and will not have anymore kids since the doctors don't know if it would happen again. That is the choice she made for alot of reasons. I don't know why anyone would say that an only child would be spoiled,bratty , That's a pitfall any parent can fall into even if you have more than one. As for unsocialized and lonely. well daycare,preschool, playdates and organized sports would take care of that.
1 person likes this
@april444 (1341)
• United States
15 Jan 07
yes I agree and those people who tell you that have no idea what you are going through. Please dont risk having another child if it will harm you. And please brush of those rude comments. I have 2 because I wanted 2 but if I had medical conditions I would not have anymore. Im not having aymore anyways because I need to take care of the ones I have and be happy with them. Lord only gave me so much to handle :) Have a great day
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Jan 07
Well, I was an only child, and I don't think I was spoiled or bratty (anymore than other kids) I didn't have to act up to get attention from my parents, Mom and Dad never had to referee any "he touched me! did not!" fights and if something was broken, we all knew who did it. I was with other kids at school and in the neighborhood (plus 8 cousins near my own age)so I certainly wasn't unsocialized or lonely. When I would visit my friends with siblings I would be glad I didn't have any because of all the fighting they did with each other. I wouldn't blame any parent for only having one!
1 person likes this
@rosie_123 (6118)
15 Jan 07
I totally agree with you. I am an only child too - and never had any problems in later life because of it. I had friends at school plenty of boyfriends in later life - and never felt unsocialised or lonely. Agreed that my parents had more money to spend on me as it didn't have to be shared with others, so I probably had more toys and clothes than kids with lots of brothers and sisters, but that didn't mean I was spoiled emotionally or in any other way. As you say - if something got broken they knew it was me and I was punished accordingly! Only thing I notice now - is that I definately need more "space" than some other people - I actually like to be alone and need time alone even away from my partner - and I think that's because I was alone a lot growing up - but I don't think that is a bad thing.
15 Jan 07
Hi, I have only one child and dont intent to have any more. It is not a health issue but a personal choice made by me and my husband. As much as we wanted to be parents, we realised theamount of time and effort both emotionally and finacially is massive. Our daughter was a tough baby that cried all the time and hardly ever slept, this also added to our decision not to have any more children as we feel we cant go through it alll again no matter how much we love our daughter. We put all our time and energy into her, we dont allow her to be spoilet, and she is very generous loveing and caring and happy to share. She is not lonely as she goes to pre-school and is making friends there. i think there is nothing wrong with having an only child and at the end of the day the desision comes down to you :-)
@vijayr (114)
• India
15 Jan 07
Only child in a family makes the child feel lonely. He should have some relationship. If you live in a join family, then its not a problem. There are many children to play with him in a joint family. But in a independent family, the child will have no friend in the family and this causes him to feel lonely, and it will affect his mind very much.
@missybal (4492)
• United States
15 Jan 07
I only plan to have one child. I feel that if having more then one will put a strain on you being able to commit to taking good care of the children you shouldn't do it. If it will be spreading yourself so thin to take care of one that if you had two then both could be affected. Also financially if you feel you can only afford to give one child all you can then it would be wrong to have two or more and have them all go with very little. Really it's all about the quality of life you can give and if having more then one will affect the quality of life you can give then you really shouldn't have more than one child. I want to give all I can to being a mother, but I have health problems. Having one will be a struggle as is and I wouldn't want to spread myself so thin that if I had a second child I couldn't give enough of myself to both of them to make both well rounded children that are happy. I think your being very smart and I don't think it makes a child spoiled or bratty. That has more to do with how you raise a child.
1 person likes this
@Meljep (1668)
• United States
15 Jan 07
Sorry to hear that you have health problems. If you love your child and work to give him a well rounded childhood he should turn out alright. It's more ideal to have several children so that they can learn at an early age how to get along with other people and learn social graces. In the case that this is not possible then having many children around to interact with your child is the next best thing. You can have lots of children around the house, but at the end of the day you get to send them home.
@mrstigs (63)
• United States
15 Jan 07
It's your choice to make. I would simply tell people who feel they have a right to decide how many children you have that if they would like to be the one who financially and emotionally supports the child they can have some say in the discussion, otherwise, it really is none of their business. With choosing to have one child you have a rare chance to be able to expose them to all kinds of great experiences in life that you might not be able to do if you had a whole brood.
1 person likes this
• United States
15 Jan 07
I think it's your own personal choice & it's too bad the rest of society thinks it's theirs! Don't feel bad for your choice of only having one.. even if it wasn't for health problems.. it's still your CHOICE & you are the one that needs to be happy about it-- not anyone else. Your child will turn out the way you teach him to. Only child's aren't born with the innate ability to be a BRAT just because they don't have brother's or sister's. That's ridiculous.. Your child will be just the person you raise them to be.Keep your chin up & be happy with your decision.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
15 Jan 07
well, your life is yours. you choose your own destiny. let it be.
1 person likes this
• United States
21 Jan 07
I feel it is whatever is best for you and your husband. It is no one elses business how many children you have. Do what makes you two happy.
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
21 Jan 07
Thanks for your response!
@onesiobhan (1330)
• Canada
17 Jan 07
I've known lots of people who were only children and they aren't always spoiled. In fact some of them suffered from neglect. Only children are just as likely to be independent, strong and self-confident. All they are doing is expressing their prejuduces.
@lecanis (16664)
• Murfreesboro, Tennessee
18 Jan 07
I'm amazed at how many responses I have gotten to this topic! I guess I didn't realize that this was such a touchy subject for others as well. Thanks for the input!
@sunita64 (6473)
• India
18 Jan 07
Well I have one elder sister, she was in same problem and so she had only one son, she has brought up her son in a manner that he is so polite, so good and so friendly, Even a single child if given good upbringing is very good.
@missyd79 (3438)
• United States
18 Jan 07
this decision is entirely up to you. i mean if you are doing it for your health the so be it, i mean why endanger yourself for another child if that means that it could leave your children without a mother or a very sickly mother. i rather have just one healthy child and a healthy mother then. don't let people get to you. my grandfather always said that opinions are like a**holes, everyone has one and they usually stink. hehehe (sorry for the cussing)
@thekiwi (588)
• United States
16 Jan 07
I see nothing wrong with it...I want more kids, i have an 8 month and thought about making him the only child, but i wanted more kids...:) Anyways its your choice! I see nothing wrong about making him the only child. There are bunches of kids that are only kids and they are all fine.
• India
16 Jan 07
i have also one child she is 4 and half years old. same like u everybody said me but in my opinion that it should be our desicion whether we want other one or not .
@kittykatzz (1133)
• United States
16 Jan 07
wow,, thats a tough one.. and i mean on YOU not having anymore for health reasons, cuz it seems to me that it may not be the case if there werent underlying problems.. i know it can be difficult to listen to the constant barrage of others telling you what constitutes a happy healthy child.. but you know what? YOU know whats best for your family.. and it seems that the truth is, that it could burden your family and your son to have another child based on health needs and risks.. if someone wants to say that your son will grow into being "bratty and unsocialized" due to being an only child.. i would inform them sharply, that you believe that those traits are developed in a child due to parental "issues" not the SIZE of ones family.. and furthermore who are they to judge you on the size of your family anyways? i wouldnt feel the need to say anything more than that.. and if a true friend or family member were to say anything to you i would inform them of the same AS well as remind them of the risks you would have to face having more.. they should be happy for you, not criticizing your parenting or family choices.
@patootie (3593)
16 Jan 07
It's your life .. your child and only you and your husband can really decide what is best for you and your family ... Only children do not have to be spoilt and bratty .. that's how folks have let them become .. and I am sure you won't be that kind of parent .. as long as a child has lots of playmates and a loving caring home they will grow up very well .. Don't let these other folks bully you