Only Child, Lonely Child?

But I HAVE a friend! See, right here!

Now that W is almost 18 months old, many of the mommies who gave birth at the same time I did are pregnant again, or at least trying again. I increasingly find myself fielding questions — sometimes from complete strangers — about whether and when we’ll try for #2. While I’m not offended by these questions, I do find them a little personal. Further, it is interesting to me that in a society so puritanical that we dislike the notion of a mother feeding her infant from her breast in public, we nevertheless find it appropriate to inquire about the procreational inclinations of someone we’ve only just met. But hey, I stopped trying to make heads or tails of social mores a long time ago.

In any case, W is it for us; we won’t be having a second. She’s not truly an only child, as she has an 18-year-old half-sister. Still, for all intents and purposes, she’s the lone chick in the nest; her sister is off to college this fall. Not only is W a mostly-only child, she is also cousin-less (or, at least, she has no first cousins). There are a few second cousins scattered around the country who are close to her age, and there’s a third cousin* who is close to her both geographically and in age, but my little girl is pretty much on her own as far as same-age family goes.

*Third cousins are, in reality, barely related. Their grandparents are cousins; their great-grandparents are siblings. She probably has a lot more third cousins than I realize, given the distance of the relation. Heck, she’s probably third-cousins with half of the Western U.S.

I wonder how this will affect her as she grows up. During my childhood, for instance, I had so many cousins who were close to my age — not to mention a brother — that I spent more time playing with family than with little friends. Will W “need” friends more than I did at that age? There are some psychologists who suggest that only children grow up feeling (and acting) like “little adults”; this, the experts claim, makes them both precocious and a bit socially awkward. I do worry about that a little; our family tends to be precocious and a bit socially awkward even when we grow up surrounded by lots of other kids. Need proof? See here.

Last year, rather than enroll W in daycare, I did a lot of working from home, and used family and a mother’s helper to pick up the slack. This next year, however, I think we’ll start daycare a few days a week, just to get her some social interaction. That’s my long-term plan, I guess; simply to make sure that she always has the opportunity to interact with other kids through school, sports, and activities. Still, though, I do worry sometimes. It bothers me a little that she’ll need to play alone so much of the time. I worry that without having to share and cooperate with other kids all the time, she’ll lag in those skills. I worry that she’ll identify more with adults than with children, and won’t fit in when she starts school (but then again, maybe “fitting in” is overrated). Regardless of these worries, I know we’ll work it out. I know I’ll do everything I need to do to make sure she has the social contact she’ll lack at home.

That said, while it doesn’t bother me when people ask whether we’ll have another, it definitely does chap my hide when, in response to my answer, they argue that she “needs” a sibling. They list all the reasons above, as though trying to change my mind. As though generating a playmate for W is a reasonable justification for bringing a human into the world. There are arguments that can be made for having two (or more) children. There are arguments that can be made for having only one…or none. The decision to have (or not to have) children is, in my view, as intimate and private as the act that produces them, and if it’s (marginally) socially appropriate to ask whether a couple is planning to have a(nother) child, I would like to submit that going on to debate that decision is entirely gauche.

 

Do people ask you whether you’re going to have another? Do they question your decision?

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48 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashley
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 09:42:08

    Have you checked out the CSL? They have a part-time preschool program. I’m not sure how old W would have to be to attend there, but they’re really awesome.

    I totally agree with you that the decision to have/not have children is very personal, and I’m baffled by people’s boldness in asking, too. I’ve decided whenever people with kids ask me why I haven’t had children yet, I should start asking them why they STOPPED having kids, and what method of birth control they used.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 09:52:48

      I actually found a really great daycare that W has visited for play-dates a couple of times, and loves. She’ll do that 2 days a week, and 2 days a week we are doing the “mommy and me” starter preschool at the CSL, which she’ll continue in sans-mommy next year. πŸ™‚

      Reply

    • SquintMom
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 09:55:12

      Oh, and BTW, I LOVE your idea about what to do when people ask too many questions!!

      Reply

  2. becca
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:04:24

    Hmm. I was an only child, and though I always wanted a sibling, I never thought it was “unfair” of my parents not to have another child. Instead, I knew it was “unfair” I got ‘all’ their attention, while my friends with siblings had to fight for attention.
    That said, one aspect you didn’t bring up is the argument I actually find most persuasive as a parent- someday, I will be old. It will fall on my son to support me if my own plans fall through (of course I’ll save for retirement, but one never knows when health issues may interrupt the best laid plans). Someday, I will die. Gods willing, it will be long before my son does. So he’ll have to deal with all that without a sibling. In *that* way, I wonder if it’s being ‘unfair’ to him to not have another child.
    Of course, in most families I’ve seen the elder-care duties are *not* evenly distributed between siblings, so maybe the universe just fundamentally doesn’t care about fairness.

    Reply

  3. Jess
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:19:35

    Mine is only 9-month old now and people are asking the question. Even my partner thinks it’s a good idea. Growing up in a household of five siblings and four foster kids, he feels that social interaction within a household is so very important. I, on the other hand, think what’s lack of in a home can be made-up by outside influences… and I believe the first is for us to move to a more family oriented neighbourhood (instead of downtown high-rises). I love your idea of play-dates and daycares. I also think later, when the kids are older, sports and activities such as Scouts and Girl Guides are great ways for single child to build their social skills. Just a thought. πŸ™‚

    Reply

  4. Megyn @MinimalistMommi
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:31:07

    My response is always the same, “We never planned the first two!” I then follow that up with how The Hubs got a vasectomy for my birthday. Most people shut up after that (except my MIL who swears I *need* a girl). I explain to a lot of people that should I later decide that I have some void that only a child could fill, there are always children up for adoption. I see no plausible need for me to produce anymore offspring.

    I completely understand your decision. I go back and forth all the time (despite having two). On one hand, I like the relationship they have. Yet it’s a LOT of work ALL the time. It’s overwhelming. Someone ALWAYS needs something, so you rarely get a break. As for relating more to adults–I was the third and youngest child, and I’ve always identified with people older than me. I had an only child friend that was much, much less mature. I think it really all depends on the parenting and personality. I know you’ll do right by W, and that’s all that matters, not anyone else’s opinion.

    Reply

  5. Dorit Reiss
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:32:27

    I completely agree with you about the question issue. I am from Israel originally (now a U.S. citizen), and Israel is a small, tribal society and people feel very entitled to express their opinions on these matters – and I find that extremely offensive on so many levels. Let’s start with the assumption that it’s their business, which they make: how do you know – when you decide to ask a woman why she does not have kid, or more than one, which kind of personal pain you’re bringing up? I know people who cannot have children, who have had miscarriage after miscarriage, who lost a child. Why torment them? And then, more fundamentally, I agree with you: it’s none of your business. Whatever they decide. This is – again – potentially even more sensitive in Israel, where some people feel that it’s a matter of principle to bring children – you will hear things like “we need to show Hitler” (by repopulating the Jewish nation)or “it’s a commandment” (yeah, so is “love thy neighbor”, which so many people violate; plus, I’m secular), or things about the demographic balance. People think these make it not one’s private business. It’s really hard on people who want no kids – or want only one or few.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:12:14

      Excellent point. Not having kids (or more kids) is NOT always a choice, and can be exquisitely painful for those who desperately want, but can’t have, them.

      As to the “repopulating the nation” thing, while I understand where Jews are coming from, I have a really hard time with the notion that there need to be more people on this (already overloaded) planet! As I teach concepts of sustainability, that’s one argument I simply can’t get behind (and is, incidentally, one of the major reasons I am stopping at one!)

      Reply

      • Dorit
        Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:16:08

        I’m completely with you on the repopulating thing. I don’t buy into any of those arguments. But they’re still ways for people to justify why they stick their nose into your business, and it’s frustrating (and futile) to argue with.

    • enkidu97
      Jul 19, 2012 @ 07:39:25

      “when you decide to ask a woman why she does not have kid, or more than one, which kind of personal pain you’re bringing up?”

      This is my #1 beef with these kind of questions. I lost my son at 18 weeks, and had a very difficult pregnancy with my daughter (bleeding, bedrest, and then she was 13 weeks premature and spent 2 months in the NICU). Yet people who KNOW this STILL ask me when I’m having another, and tell me my daughter needs a sibling.

      Heck, before I knew how hard pregnancy was going to be for me, my husband and I planned on having only one child (the best we believe we can handle). My daughter is now 4 years old and has lots of friends, loves going to preschool, and loves meeting new kids at the playground. What’s the problem…?

      Another thing to consider is that siblings aren’t always “friends.” I have an awesome relationship with my sister. My aunt (a close family friend) and her brother don’t get along AT ALL, and when their parents died, it was her “adopted family” (us) that helped her through the funeral arrangements and that difficult time. Likewise, she helped my sister and I when we lost our dad, and when we had to find a care facility for our grandmother. Siblings aren’t automatic best friends or even nice people.

      Reply

      • SquintMom
        Jul 19, 2012 @ 10:00:56

        Thank you for sharing your story, and I am so sorry to hear what you went through!

  6. Dorit Reiss
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:35:54

    The second and non-related issue for me is that we are actually debating this ourselves. I’d like another one, and my husband is tempted too, but we are both nervous (and if it were possible would really, really like to skip the first year – I know it’s very personal – but we did not like the first months). We’re worried about having even less time, about the strain on our relationship, about lack of sleep again. So if any of the people here want to comment – and I really don’t want to divert the discussion – but I’d be curious to hear any thoughts. SquintMom, if you feel this will actually hijack the discussion, feel free not to post this. I won’t mind. I just wanted to vent and express myself somewhere that isn’t facebook.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:13:30

      No worries about hijacking the discussion! Out of curiosity, have you guys thought about adopting in order to “skip” the first year?

      Reply

      • Dorit
        Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:19:36

        We have not thought about adopting at this point. Maybe we should. It would also help skip the completely irrational way little people are brought forth. Has anyone read Lois MacMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series? She talks about a “Uterine Replicator” where fetuses can be developed outside a woman. I know there are women who think differently, but to me that seems a better way. On the other hand, one thing – by no means the only one – we like about our child is seeing similar traits. Though he’s very much himself, he looks like his dad and me, and that’s kind of cool.

      • SquintMom
        Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:23:07

        Yikes. The idea of a “uterine replicator” scares me on many levels. First, while I know that there are women who legitimately can’t carry a baby for physical reasons and would benefit from such a thing, the “inconvenience” of pregnancy is one of the things that perhaps helps limit the population somewhat (as is the fact that you can only gestate one pregnancy at a time, fertility is limited afterward, etc). I worry about a population explosion if pregnancies weren’t self-limiting and weren’t “inconvenient” anymore.

        Further, we don’t know to what extent a baby’s emotional and mental development (and maybe even physical development) are affected by being in the uterus of a living mother. “Nature vs nurture” aside, the field of epigenetics (how environment literally affects DNA) is in its infancy.

      • Cytherea
        Jul 18, 2012 @ 16:55:00

        I’d think the cost of using a uterine replicator — as presented in the books (which are, of course, science fiction), it’s something that has to be maintained and monitored carefully by highly trained medical personnel — would offset the convenience factor, really. Even with insurance, it would be pretty pricy — likely more than IVF followed by nine months in the NICU.

        Of course, limiting reproduction to those who can afford it has its own pitfalls.

  7. Alison
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 10:52:31

    My daughter just turned six. She is and will remain an only child. I spent years trying to convince myself to have a 2nd child so that she would have a sibling, but in the end, I agree with you that not only is that not reasonable justification for having a child – it’s really a very bad reason if it’s not what the parents want. And so far, my daughter is just fine as an only. I still worry about it too, but we’re lucky enough to live on a block where there are 3 sisters across the street who she plays with every day. Plenty of sibling-like interaction and at the end of the day she gets to come home to her own space. Kind of idyllic if you ask me, as I am the oldest of three sisters and I very much yearned for space and peace as a kid!

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:15:04

      Your last comment resonated with me. I wonder if sometimes we want for our kid what we didn’t have!

      Reply

      • Cytherea
        Jul 18, 2012 @ 16:59:04

        I wonder if sometimes we want for our kid what we didn’t have!

        This, definitely. I was a Lonely Only myself — the former appellation not least due to being a military brat whose family moved frequently. As a result, we plan to have two or three kids.

        Of course, my husband was oldest of four — and in deference to what he’d like changed about his experiences, we’ll be having a larger gap (he and his younger sister, e.g., are 17mos apart) between pairs of siblings. πŸ™‚

  8. Dorit
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:11:59

    Pity you can’t like comments here. I really liked everything these clever moms said.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:19:52

      No doubt! I think there may actually be a plugin or something that I can install to allow “thumbs up” or whatever on comments. I’ll have to look into that. Anyway, I second you; thumbs up to all you awesome moms for your thoughts!

      Reply

  9. Dorit
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 11:29:01

    πŸ™‚ Haven’t thought of that aspect – either aspect, actually. In her world, human beings are out inhabiting many planets, and it’s not an issue (in at least one planet, the reverse is – they have too little population). As to the nature v. nurture, it might also work the other way – the uterine replicator may lose something, but may also gain protection from all kinds of things. I guess if it ever becomes real, we’ll find out. Probably not in our lifetime.

    Reply

    • T
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 17:29:33

      My boy’s 1mth older than your girl and while we have a v limited social circle, already I’m so sick of this question. We want another sometime between his 4th and 5th birthday. Some days I feel bad he hasn’t got a playmate, esp as my little sister is due to have #2 in a few months when her boy is 18mths. But then I think about how much I fought with her and how hurt and jealous I was of the loss of parental attention with her and my other sister’s arrival, and I remember that siblings do not always = friends. Some days I feel I don’t give DS enough attention as is and I hate to think how thinly I’d be stretched with a NB around now too.

      On the external uterus concept, growing up I wished such a thing would be invented, but by the time I grew-up and came to actually being pregnant, I enjoyed it, and while giving birth wasn’t something I’m very keen to repeat, it’s a pretty brief experience and in no way puts me off having more kids. It’s the time/effort (particularly that first year) and expense that puts me off. I enjoyed pregnancy so much I might be slightly less inclined to having more if I missed out on that!

      Reply

  10. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 15:07:03

    People haven’t and didn’t ask me about future kids, but I was pretty forward from the beginning that T would not be our only child. I was also pregnant with #2 when T turned 1, so people barely had an opportunity to ask. My husband and I made a mutual decision that we would have more than one before we were married, and since we, like Dorit, did not enjoy those early months, we planned to have the kids close in age. I’m not a fan of pregnancy or the baby stage…let’s get this over with! When I think about our plans for the future, i.e. balance in my life with family and career, the desire to travel, and finances, I can pretty confidently say we are done. I think if someone tried to convince me to have more, I’d just stare at them (who in the world do they think they are?). Although I have no problem sharing my plans, I agree it is absolutely no one else’s business.

    On another note–I’m an only child, and I think I turned out fine. Did I interact better with adults growing up? To some extent, yes, but it’s mostly because my parents treated me like an adult and expected me to act maturely. I think they would have expected the same of any sibling(s). My mom did say she would ask me when I was little if I wanted a sibling, and I told her “no”, so apparently I was happy growing up without them. I was also the first grandchild on both sides of the family with no cousins living nearby. I was raised very differently than most of my cousins (git ‘er dun!), so it’s unlikely we would have been close no matter where we lived.

    Now I can say I do have some of the same concerns others have mentioned. When my parents grow old, I will need to live nearby. I always joked with them that I would own a house big enough for them to live with me but me not even know when they are there. A girl can dream, right? It’s also hard if I’m spending a holiday with my in-laws because that means no one else is home with my family. For my husband, who is one of four, it’s really easy for us miss a holiday with his family because at least one other child and their family will be home with his parents. Lastly, living where I do now (and when I lived in DC), I often think about what it would be like to have a sibling, especially a sister. There are so many times I want to share something and don’t have that best friend to share it with. Then again, not all sisters are BFF, right? And really my mom has filled that role for the most part, so it’s worked out in the end.

    Reply

  11. supermouse
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 17:56:34

    I have identical twin boys. I did struggle with infertility, and they were conceived via IVF. (funny story, we didn’t want twins and the RE thought it was very risky, so we only had one embryo transferred. Joke’s on us.) I have never made a secret of it, but at the same time, it is my right to decide who knows about it.

    Anyway, after the boys were born (and I mean within a couple of months), people would ask if we were going to try for a girl. I was not offended per se…more confused. Some of these people knew that I have IF issues…couldn’t they see that there was no guarantee I could ever get pregnant again, let alone specifically with a girl? And some of those people had only two children themselves. Generally I would tell the truth: we wanted two kids, we got them in one pregnancy, we’re done and we can’t afford any more anyway. I can live with only having sons. My mother only had daughters. (and only 2 of us)

    At any rate, since my boys were together from the beginning, they do not know what it is like to be receiving 100% of their parents’ attention. I do believe they are somewhat advanced in social areas, because they’ve always been together and always had to share. It is rare they fight at all, and the occasional bicker over a toy never was very serious. They play very well with each other, and though both will demand our attention, I think it is less often they are clinging to the pant leg as it were, than some of their friends who don’t currently have siblings, or have siblings too young to play with.

    I think having only one child is fine, and certainly the business of the parents. But like SquintMom, I would make every effort to put the child in social situations like preschool, where she will learn how to interact with her peers. My dad, my FIL and one of our good friends were all only children, and they seem to have turned out ok.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 20:27:08

      LOL! I LOVE the story about ending up with identical twins after a single embryo implantation!! πŸ™‚

      Reply

  12. supermouse
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 18:00:19

    Oh, I forgot to add, my husband and I both work, so the boys go to daycare/preschool every day. Since it is an in-home daycare, they interact with children older, and younger as well as their own age. They LOVE babies and are very good with them.

    Even though they have each other, I think it is important for them to interact with other kids. I love their daycare provider and the social atmosphere she provides works very well for us.

    Reply

    • Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
      Jul 18, 2012 @ 20:47:18

      I agree with the daycare/preschool idea for socialization. I work at home full-time, so we have used an in-home nanny since T was born, but he will be starting 1/2-day school in August for that exact reason.

      Reply

      • SquintMom
        Jul 19, 2012 @ 07:18:20

        Oh, man. Working from home is the HARDEST! For me, at least, I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job of either working OR mothering. I guess having a nanny probably helps. Kudos for finding a way to work it out!

  13. Jem
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 07:34:13

    If it helps, people were asking me within days of having #2 if we were planning another. Give me chance to heal folks, please! (And those that weren’t were saying “oh, a boy and a girl, your family is complete now!” … just wtf?!)

    I was one of 6 growing up and I couldn’t imagine not having siblings, but we had another because *I* wanted one (and I guess Karl did too, hehe) not because we thought we owed it to Isabel or felt she “needed” a sibling. We seem to have struck lucky in that she’s totally in love with Oliver (for now) though.

    I have to confess that I have asked the “are you having children / another child” question before but I would never begin to think I had any right to debate the answer!

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Jul 19, 2012 @ 10:02:41

      Wow! Days?! O_o

      Reply

      • careri
        Jul 20, 2012 @ 14:33:59

        I got the “are you having more” question while my premature twins were still in the hospital. I think it was shorthand for “would you do it again after all of this craziness” but who knows. For me, getting my first two home and surviving their first year was enough to worry about. πŸ™‚

      • SquintMom
        Jul 21, 2012 @ 08:24:06

        OMG. Regardless of what people meant, I can’t believe they’d ask you anything other than “Are you/they doing ok?” and “is there anything I can do to help?”

  14. D
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 17:57:41

    It seems that only children grow up just fine. But they don’t seem to have just one child themselves–it seems they usually have more than one. I don’t know if that means anything, but I notice stuff like that.
    My sis and I are not close, but not feuding, either. It was really nice to have her there when each parent got sick and died. We felt the losses similarly, and I really appreciated having her there to go through all our parent’s stuff when we had to sell the house. It was also nice to have someone to share the load with when our parents were sick.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Jul 19, 2012 @ 21:27:05

      That’s the biggest thing that keeps showing up; dealing with aging parents. Thanks for sharing your story.

      Reply

  15. Awesomemom
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 19:37:23

    I still get asked if we are having more and we have four kids! We had decided on 4 before we got married (I came from a family of four sisters and he came from a family of six siblings) but I had decided that after my third I was done. This decision didn’t happen immediately but it was over a 2 year period of time that I pondered. My last pregnancy was tough on me because of gestational diabetes and we had moved to a more remote area so getting the prenatal care I would have needed was going to be more tricky. I was happy with my three boys. While I was coming to that conclusion I was pregnant with my daughter. Big shock and a fun surprise.

    Now we get the whole “So you finally got your girl.” Which was not intentional at all. Yeah I am happy to have a girl but we were not trying for one. All the pondering did have a good outcome though I got my tubes tied after my last one so I am ready to savor the last baby and them move on with my life into big kid stuff and get rid of all the baby stuff.

    Reply

  16. Olga@ TheEuropeanMama
    Jul 20, 2012 @ 07:56:23

    I found your blog through The SOB. Great post! I have a brother who is 6 years younger than me. I felt lonely as a child, and so I asked my parents whether I could have a sister. They agreed, and so my brother was born 9 months later. I think it is great to have siblings. However, there are many misconceptions about only children, and one of them is that they’ll be socially awkward. Not true. I’ve read that because they don’t have to share, they will be more likely to do it. Also, I do have a brother, and still I am a little socially awkward (and so is my family in general, I must say). Still, it wasn’t much of a problem.
    Besides, I have two children, and people still ask me whether we’re planning a third- just because they’re both girls! If you’re planning to have just one child, it’s your choice, and your husbands. I am sure W will do just fine!

    Reply

  17. Rachael French
    Jul 20, 2012 @ 16:39:00

    Yup. #2 is ten months old, and already I’m getting asked if we’re having another.

    My uterus tries to fling itself into oncoming traffic when people ask me this. No. No, no, no, and also no.

    I love my kids. I got really lucky with both of them. I’m 39. I detest being pregnant. So very done.

    I pay people to remind me what newborns are like, when I start to get misty about Z not being a baby much longer.

    Reply

    • SquintMom
      Jul 21, 2012 @ 08:25:16

      LOL! I detested being pregnant too, so I totally know where you’re coming from! Some women are uniquely suited for it; some of us, however, are not!

      Reply

  18. AllieP
    Jul 23, 2012 @ 08:51:52

    I have no desire for another child. None. Zero. But the questions and the guilt and all are ridiculous.

    I don’t understand any of the arguments people make, even the one my husband makes. I’m one of three and I’m not close to either of my brothers. I maybe talk to them a few times a year and we all live in different states. They are perfectly nice people and we get along great when we see each other, but I don’t have much in common with them. They remind me of friends you had in college you don’t keep in touch with anymore.

    My husband is one of two and he and his brother did not get along at all as children. It mystifies me why he wants another, given how distant he is from his brother. The “family tragedy” argument is nonsense. He and his brother went through two significant, long term, emotionally draining family tragedies recently (one for each parent) and they hardly ever spoke to one another about it.

    He insists, also, that it’s because of how close they are in age and he wants at least four years before our child and the next.

    The last thing I want is to be finished with all this crummy “baby” stuff (special foods, sleepless nights, diapers) and then plunge right back into it. Also, I can’t imagine kids being close if they are so far apart in age! I’m almost four years distant from my next oldest sibling and we rarely played together. I was basically a babysitter.

    And as for who takes care of old parents, I call BS on that, too. My father has a brother, but who took care of their ailing parents? My mother, that’s who. I see it over and over in families with lots of siblings — all the responsibility gets dumped on the least successful, or the closest to home, or etc. I’m not going to raise a kid just so she can take care of me in my old age — that’s not fair to her, either (Anyone see NOW VOYAGER?)

    So, second child: I don’t want one, I don’t see any benefits to my child, neither I nor my husband are close to our siblings, and I’m not about to have a baby for nursemaid status later on. But though it was apparently okay to remain childless, to only have one child is the equivalent of cruel and unusual punishment for mine.

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    • SquintMom
      Jul 26, 2012 @ 08:20:11

      Good thoughts! Thanks for adding your experience to this discussion. I agree with a lot of what you say.

      Reply

  19. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 08:52:53

    I thought about this a little more and wanted to add that while I don’t feel like the discussion on number of children is necessarily appropriate for acquaintances or strangers, I am guilty of asking several of my friends. I don’t ask with a questioning or judgmental attitude though. It’s out of pure curiosity and more along the lines of, “What are your life goals?” or “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”. I would never second guess or try to sway their response.

    I was at a LLL meeting recently and another mom asked me if we planned to have more. Although she isn’t a BFF, it was a situation where sharing this kind of information felt appropriate. It gave me an opportunity to talk about my postpartum struggles, which is strongly influencing my decision to stop after two. She, in turn, was able to share some of her experience, which was comforting for both of us.

    So while I think that it is totally inappropriate for someone to question or judge one’s decision on whether to have/have more children, I think many people ask for the right reasons and with good intentions.

    Reply

    • Molly
      Aug 27, 2012 @ 21:39:22

      I really appreciate Ashley’s comment. I have also asked that question before & my motive has been to find out if they are like me & only considering having one child. I had horrible postpartum depression & I just don’t know how healthy it is to go through that again. I don’t necessarily want to always share that with people. I also appreciate other people’s comments about the first months & first year struggle. It was rough & I am truly enjoying my son as he grows older. I usually just tell people that even though I loved pregnancy it did not love me & we don’t know if another one is the plan. Usually they leave me alone after that. I do worry about my son & dealing with the parents getting sick & dying. I just hope he is married by that time & has a supportive wife or good friends.

      Reply

  20. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 08:59:11

    Last comment. I think. My husband and I had a conversation in the car recently about his travels for a soccer league he played in when he was little. One of his parents always tried to attend games, but there were times when he rode with a friend to an out-of-town tournament or two because neither parent could be there.

    I, on the other hand, have very fond memories of one, if not both, of my parents attending every single basketball, cheer, gymnastics, soccer, t-ball, piano, dance event I had. Does it make them better parents? No. Is it a perk of being an only child? Absolutely!

    Reply

  21. Poogles
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 15:58:19

    As AllieP pointed out, I really think the whole “ageing parents” argument is BS. I don’t feel a child should ever be obligated/expected to take care of their parents in old age. If the child wants to, that is another story entirely, but I would never expect it from my child as something “owed” to me or something; I would not be bringing them into the world for MY needs or purposes, but so they can become their own person, with their own needs, purpose and desires – which may not involve me at all.

    Caring for older parents is also almost never distributed equally amongst siblings – more times than not, it falls on just 1 of the children, who is then also resentful for having to take on the full responsibility when there are others who “could” help.

    Reply

  22. Ariane
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 20:41:27

    Thumbs up to so many of your comments! I agree that it’s an inappropriate question and no one can tell you what is best for your family. If you remember, I was that socially awkward, selfish only child (can’t remember exactly how you described it) and, yes, it provided some challenges later in life with roommates but that’s ok…and what good therapy is for πŸ˜€

    Reply

  23. Kat
    Sep 01, 2012 @ 07:27:57

    Ugh. I can’t stand it when people ask questions that are really none of their business.
    Listen, as parents it is part of our DNA to worry about our kids. If you weren’t worried about her being an only child then you would worry wondering if she was getting enough attention compared to her siblings and if things were always fair and even. We worry. It’s what we do.
    Bottom line, she’ll be wonderful. Single child, or child of a big family. Love is the most important thing. That is all. πŸ™‚
    Great post! πŸ™‚
    Here from Weekend Linkup.

    Reply

  24. May
    Sep 01, 2012 @ 08:08:45

    I don’t remember people asking if we planned to have another. What really ticked me off was when our second child was another girl and people would say “I bet she was supposed to be a boy”. The assumption being that since baby #1 had been a girl we tried again expressly to have a boy. They would say it right in front of her as though she were less than she was meant to be. Then they would be cut off at the knees by a hurricane force response from an offended mama.

    Reply

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