Having only one child: Why is it such a crime?

Categories: Balancing Act, Parenting & Family, Relationships & Marriage, Your life


My husband and I have one daughter, who is four years old.

At this point we’re not planning on having another child. I never say never for anything in life — having learned enough lessons — but it’s not in the short-term or long-term plans.

When people ask me when we’re having another (and I’ve noticed that it’s almost always “when” and not “if”) I say that we might just be done with one. This is usually greeted with utter surprise or treated as a joke. “No way, really?!” (Unless of course the question is asked by my parents or grandparents, in which case the answer is greeted with a long lecture about how they need another grand/great-grandchild or how crazy we are to not have another great kid like the first one.)

But a few times in the past year when I said that we’re likely having only one child what I heard back wasn’t just surprise, but judgment, and harsh one at that. After we moved I went to a new OB, who was taking the usual medical history when she asked me what our plans were for more kids. I said that I wasn’t sure we had those plans to which she responded by telling me about all the benefits kids gain when they have siblings and the difficult only children that she knows. Mind you, how this had relevance for my pap smear I don’t know.

Then there was a mom I’d met at a networking event. After I told her that maybe one is it for us she proceeded to tell me about a friend she has with one child who constantly tells her how much she regrets it.

Or our neighbor, a mom of a grown only child, who doesn’t miss a chance to tell me that I am making a horrible mistake thinking about just having one.

I try not to let what strangers say get to me too much but to be honest, I am getting really sick of this. Why is it such a crime to only have one child and why in the world is it anyone’s business to talk to me about my family’s size?

In the interest of full disclosure I should tell you that I am an only child. I have as many “issues” and idiosyncrasies as the next “normal” person, but for the most part, I think I am fairly well-adjusted, non-narcissistic, non ego-maniacal, thoughtful and caring person. I point all of this out not just to pat myself on the back — although it feels nice — but because these are some of the many qualities I’ve been warned about when I say that we might just have one child.

I just wrote a paragraph about some of the reasons my husband and I think we might just have one. There was something in there about the fact that having one and juggling not just our careers and interests, but our own relationship, has been very challenging and something about none of our families having great sibling relationships. But I deleted it because I don’t think I need to defend or explain our choice. If I said we’re thinking of having two kids no one would ask me why.

The thing is, while we think we will only have one, I am extremely conflicted about the decision. Having a sibling could definitely benefit our daughter, now and later in life, and I feel a lot of guilt about not giving her a sibling. Having more than one kid would reduce the chance that we become over-bearing parents who put too much pressure on her. Hey, it might even be good for me because it could cause just enough chaos to force me to give up my anal-retentive planning and perfectionist tendencies once and for all.

But it shouldn’t matter. It’s nobody’s business to question the number of kids my husband and I will have or to tell me horror stories about families with only children. Just like it’s nobody’s business to question why I work or why another mom stays home full time, why I breastfed for only six months or why my friend didn’t do it at all. These are extremely personal choices and I really wish everyone else would butt out.

Which, of course, doesn’t answer my questions: Why is it such a crime to consider having just one child?

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218 comments so far...

  • I think the real crime would be having more than one child because you feel you “ought to” rather than because you want to.

    Lylah  |  July 6th, 2008 at 10:21 pm

  • I couldn’t agree with you more!!! For the LONGEST time we said we were NEVER having another one. I’ve learned to never say never!! Because my ‘never say never’ is sitting on my lap right now! LOL

    But, I heard all the same things you are hearing. It used to really bother me that people didn’t give us more credit than that.

    Dawn  |  July 6th, 2008 at 10:56 pm

  • I totally agree with Lylah. I swore off having kids after my first, then something hit me. I wanted another child, first I was in denial and then I admitted to myself that, the reason I am taking those pregnancy tests after only being late a day is because I am secretly hoping that I am pregnant. So I had another kid. And it is really really hard. (although I shoulddn’t say that to Lylah, she has five). Now people tell me if I will have a third. NOOOOO.
    My question is, is having a sibling really a benefit? Think about how many brothers and sisters that really don’t have a close relationship after they grow up and get married and have their own lives.

    Vera Babayeva  |  July 6th, 2008 at 11:03 pm

  • I think no matter what kind of family dynamic you have, there are always going to be judgmental assholes out there questioning it.
    I have four children. The first two were boys and it was like a broken record when I was pregnant with my third child that people would say, “you HAVE TO have a girl this time” as if my boys were second class citizens, or there was some sort of perception that your life will only be perfect if you have both sexes of children. I almost wanted to have my third boy in a row just to piss people off. I didn’t, I had a girl, then another girl and I think everything worked out how it was supposed to, after all.
    You probably will get the “when” question until you seem old enough to be done having kids, and I don’t think people are being insensitive when they ask that way, it’s really just a conversation opener. But if they act like you’re a freak for keeping your family a one-child family once you tell them, then they move into asshole territory!

    Sunshine  |  July 7th, 2008 at 12:34 am

  • It is definitely no one’s business but your own, and people who question your decision or lecture you on their own views are way out of line. I will say, though, as the mother of two girls just two years apart in age, that I believe one of the reasons people go on and on about having more than one child is that for many of us the joy of watching our children interact with one another is so intense–and was so unimaginable before we had our second–that we feel the (inappropriate, of course) need to be zealots and try to convince everyone else in the world to experience that joy as well. Totally impolite and inappropriate, mind you. But truly–for me, the work of having two is extreme, but the extra love and joy brought into our family by our second child far, far outweighs it. There is NOTHING like watching my four-year-old and two-year-old hug each other, dance with each other, kiss each other’s “boo-boos”, or sit shoulder to shoulder “reading” books. They are each other’s best friend and it’s a dynamic I never could have appreciated before having baby #2.

    Bottom line, though, is ALWAYS that it’s no one’s business but your own! For all those rude people know, you may have medical or financial constraints that make further child-bearing impossible; and even if you didn’t, it’s none of their business.

    Shannon  |  July 7th, 2008 at 7:07 am

  • Ugh, I hear you. I have a 3.5 year old daughter and she will be an only for many reasons. When people ask, I just say I’m an only child and an only grandchild and I’m carrying on the family tradition - since that’s pretty unusual, it usually shuts people up.

    Like everything else with parenting, you do what is right for your family and not everyone elses. End of story.

    Claire  |  July 7th, 2008 at 7:42 am

  • Well for the record - I’d be happy to network with you and I won’t question your choice in how many children to have! We have one, by choice and have addressed the posibility of having more so I am 95% reasonable to say we will never have another.
    I am the youngest of 4, we all live within 1 hour’s drive of each other and have large families - parents each the youngest of 5. I love my family, as does my hussband who only has 1 sister in the country, with whom he does not speak. My siblings are important to me and I’ve made sure that our son has a lot of opportunity to form a close relationship with his cousins, for lack of siblings. Ironically though if you say anything to my son about brothers or sisters he will reply I DO have them, and proceed to tell you . . .a sister in france, a sister & brother in Brazil (now in Boston) and a brother in Germany.
    We’ve been fortunate to be involved with the Rotary Youth Exchange program, each of the kids we’ve hosted some for only 2 months others for almost a year, well they ARE my son’s siblings. and I suspect always will be. Each has been back to visit, we exchange emails, birthday cards , chiristmas gifts, etc.
    Is my son scarred for being an only child - just the opposite in my opinon, he has so many opportunities and is loved by so many people - what does it matter?
    Another route - very straight faced reply, are you having sex at least 5 times a week . . . well why not? It is just as personal a choice and question as MY choice to have children! ;)

    Pammy  |  July 7th, 2008 at 9:57 am

  • Tell the critics that it’s greener to have one child. That should earn you some points these days!

    alison  |  July 7th, 2008 at 11:34 am

  • We’ve talked about this before, and this is an entirely personal decision that there should be no need to defend. That is, the number of children one has - assuming they were all wanted and by choice - should NOT have to be defended, whether it’s one child or six.

    I think that Sunshine has a point about the “when” question. In some cases, it probably is idle conversation, and may keep coming up until you appear to be past the child-rearing years - or until your one child is old enough that people figure you wouldn’t want to start over again.

    I eventually got to that last point. My only child turns 24 this week, and by the time he was in his teens (and I was still in my 30s then, BTW), most people assumed that he was “it.” I’d always been pretty sure he would be “it.”

    I think that part of it is also that one-child families just aren’t the norm in this country, and many people just aren’t comfortable with what’s not the norm, so they try to push their viewpoints on others.

    I think that if one is comfortable and secure enough with one’s decision - always easier said than done - it helps one shrug off a sense of being judged or pressured.

    Still, as everyone else has noted, it comes down to what’s right for you and your family, and it’s really no one else’s business.

    Florinda  |  July 7th, 2008 at 12:10 pm

  • My sister and I have a very close relationship. Just yesterday, I talked to her on the phone for an hour about nothing in particular. Just sisters catching up.

    That being said, she still says she would have been ok with being an only child. There’s an eight year age gap between my sister and I so she had a really good feel for life as an only.

    Your family will be happy no matter how many kids you have.

    Cheryl  |  July 7th, 2008 at 12:22 pm

  • There are certain personal things in every mom’s life that people feel not just the right, but the responsibility, to question you about. They include:

    -When (not if) you’re getting married
    -When (not if) you’re having a kid
    -When you’re due (and if you’re excited/ready for it)
    -Are you breastfeeding?
    -Are you going back to work?
    -If you’re going back to work, who’s going to care for your child?!
    -When (not if) you’re having another one!

    I’m sure the list goes on, but this is my personal list so far. It gets OLD.

    Susan  |  July 7th, 2008 at 4:01 pm

  • This really resonates with me. I have an almost one-year-old daughter, and I have spent the past 11.5 months deflecting questions about when I’m having my next one. People didn’t even let me recover from the first delivery before they were asking about the next one. We currently have no plans to have an additional child. Like you, I hear disbelief - nearly shock - when I tell people that I think I’m done with having kids. I agree with what Susan said - people really feel like all of those questions are somehow their business. Lord knows I have heard them all from various people, and interestingly, never from my mother or my in-laws - it’s from people whose business it really ISN’T!

    Amanda  |  July 7th, 2008 at 8:18 pm

  • Okay, I admit, I ask my cousins *if* (not *when*, but if doesn’t really concern me, either) they’re planning on (more) children. So far, three of them have kids and one of them is pregnant again with her second child (the sixth great-grandchild for my grandma). I ask, because those cousins are really much older (mid- to late 30s) than my sisters and I (early to mid 20s) and we don’t have much to talk about and the kids are just so cute.

    It’s weird though - my younger sister asked our oldest cousin not even 3 years ago (our cousin must have been 36 or 37 then) if she planned on having children and my sister told me that our cousin completely broke down and cried and that her whole life was kind of falling apart then. She dumped her indecisive boyfriend of most of her adult life a bit later, found a new guy within a very short period of time, got pregnant just as quickly, they’re married now, their baby girl’s going to be 2 in January and I’ve never seen my cousin so happy. Of course, now she’s almost 40 and everybody in the family wants to know if and when another baby’s coming, but on the part of us younger and childless cousins it’s just curiosity, no judgment, we just want to have cute little babies to cuddle at family gatherings without the responsibilty of actually raising them. Just because we’re not yet ready to have some of our own doesn’t mean we don’t like them.
    (I do realize though, that it must be very very annoying to have everybody pry into your personal decisions. I’m still at the “when are you going to move in together/get married?” stage with my boyfriend and that’s annoying enough…)

    Jo  |  July 7th, 2008 at 8:23 pm

  • My 3.5 year old will be our only. I’ve found it useful to tell folks who question this, “we’re nearly outnumbered at one, but we’re making it.” I haven’t met anyone who will tell me that having more than one is easier - generally what I hear is how exponentially harder having two is.

    Another answer, “When my husband agrees to be pregnant, deliver the child, and stay home to raise him or her.” Delivering this with grace, charm and a smidge of irony tends to move the conversatin along…

    KC  |  July 7th, 2008 at 8:45 pm

  • As the mom of one child (with no plans to have another), I’ve heard these comments so many times. There are no guarantees that if you have more than one child that the kids are going to get along.

    My experience with my friends who are only children is that they tend to make friends easily and consider their friends as their extended family. My son at age three would go up to kids he didn’t know on the playground, introduce himself and ask them if they wanted to play. He’s had no problem making friends and I think it’s because he’s been forced to be more social.

    JC  |  July 7th, 2008 at 8:57 pm

  • I adopted two girls close in age and I’m reminded every day that it was probably the best thing I have done / will ever do for them - and for me. The gifts they give each other are amazing.

    That said, it’s your business what you do. Try not to let people’s comments / questions bother you. They don’t know how you made your decision, so why should you care what they think?

    I feel the bigger problem isn’t other people’s judgments, but our vulnerability to them. Nobody else can make you feel bad without your permission.

    SKL  |  July 7th, 2008 at 9:48 pm

  • We have an almost 3 year old daughter and am fairly certain she will be it. It’s hard, damn it! Though I strive to be the perfect working mom…have all my little ducks in a row, remain patient and well organized at all time, keep my sense of humor…and some time for myself and my husband, I do struggle. I know that there is a large part of us that is just selfish and recognize that we do want/need some time of us, but I’m also selfish in regard to the fact that I really just want time with her. Right now she is ridiculously fun and I want to enjoy that, not be distracted with a baby.

    Yes, the decision is an individual one, and we are pretty happy as is. I like the way our family looks right now…

    Jen  |  July 7th, 2008 at 10:01 pm

  • People amaze me. Un-believable. Great topic, and I think the answer to your question is that parents are expected to be perfection itself these days, and the perfect family means 2-3 kids. And moms, in particular, bear the brunt of the rude questions and comments just because we’re the ones who are expected to be 101% besotted with motherhood 24/7.

    Diane  |  July 7th, 2008 at 10:20 pm

  • We get this question frequently. My husband and I have one child together and he is 7. My husband also has a 15-year-old son that is only with us in the summers (and it is awesome when he is.)

    I get REALLY irritated when people tell us we are hurting our son by not giving him a sibling. When I remind them that he DOES have a brother, I have even been told “well that does not count.” To which I reply, I believe God disagrees with you. That of course ends the prying and I go on with my day.

    It is no body’s business but your significant other’s and yours. I had said I was never having children EVER. Then I met and fell in love with a fabulous man. It was actually when I realized that I wanted to have children with him that I knew I loved him!

    All that being said, “One and I’m done, unless God has other plans” is my mantra. I don’t say it because I did not get along with my siblings. (I love them dearly.) I don’t say it b/c I’m “afraid.” I don’t say it b/c of all of the other goofy reasons that others ask. I say it b/c it is right for my family. I don’t feel ashamed for it, nor do I allow others to question me for it.

    When I have nosy people that ask me those silly questions about our choice for number of children, I politely remind them that I do not pry into their personal choices and I’d prefer that they respect my choices. If I want their opinion, I’ll ask.

    Everyone that chooses to have a big family or a small family has different things that they focus on. I did not say good or bad, but DIFFERENT. That is what makes this world so darn interesting!

    When we talked about having kids, we both agreed on what we wanted our child to be able to have in life. (This conversation also included my step-son and not wanting him to feel left out!) As a mom, I want to be able to attend ALL of my son’s school functions, not have to choose between different ones. I want to be able to have a solid focus on his school work at home rather than trying to juggle a million things. I want to be able to frequent cuddle/special time just he and I. I did not want to feel guilty for not doing something for one of my children. And so on and so on.

    Since my son is an “only” most of the time, we also made sure to have a strong focus on empathy, sharing, kindness, teamwork, etc. in our household. I did not want a spoiled only child. I don’t have one! Teachers and his friend’s parents give us great reports. We had to work harder to make situations for him to learn things vs it naturally occurring, but it works for us.

    Bottom line, regardless of if you have 10 or 1, be comfortable with the decision you made and ignore the rest.

    Stephanie LH Calahan  |  July 8th, 2008 at 1:16 am

  • [...] Nataly Kogan over at Work It, Mom! wrote a post the other day posing the question “Having Only One Child: Why is it Such a Crime?” While neither of us have found the answer, it is interesting that the “heir and a spare (or two)” philosophy is still so ingrained in our culture. [...]

    BabyCenter: MOMformation » Blog Archive » Being content with just one child  |  July 8th, 2008 at 9:11 am

  • Children are not potato chips, you can have just one.

    Paige  |  July 8th, 2008 at 1:27 pm

  • I have two children (three years old and three months old, respectively), and man, some days it’s REALLY HARD. I love them intensely and I’m not complaining, but I’m telling it like it is. I can’t even imagine being presumptuous enough to pressure someone else to take on this load just because I did.

    Tammy  |  July 8th, 2008 at 3:08 pm

  • I think for the most part folks are just trying to make conversation and look for common ground. I don’t know why some are less concerned for privacy than others. How many children you have is between you and Hubby. We have three and are ready for more and get chastised regularly for attempting to have a large family “on purpose” especially “at our age” (hubby will be 40 in august). What do they care anyhow??

    Andrea  |  July 8th, 2008 at 3:33 pm

  • I have only one child. She is a happy, healthy girl getting ready to start kindergarten.

    As you say, it is a personal choice and sometimes the choice is made for you.

    As long as you do what is right for you and your family, that is all that matters.

    Dara  |  July 8th, 2008 at 4:06 pm

  • how funny - i just fielded this question three times today. My son is 2 and everyone wants to know when the next baby is coming along. my typical answer is ‘as soon as someone volunteers to pay for daycare’ which usually does the trick :)

    people mean well, but man have they got this one wrong!

    Kate  |  July 8th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

  • My daughter just turned 3 in June and I hate it when people ask me this also. I understand people just making small talk, but you never know people’s situation. I cannot have any more kids, so asking just to have something to say is pretty insensitive in my opinion. So is trying to talk people into having more kids. I wish people would stick with you usual kid talk when they need something to say…..’she’s so cute’, ’she’s tall for her age’, etc… Leave the personal stuff alone.

    Kay  |  July 8th, 2008 at 5:33 pm

  • I am sick to death of this question. I have an amazing two year old, whom I love to death. He will be an only child because medically, I can not have anymore children and quite frankly, I do not want anymore. He’s all I need.

    What is super infuriating is when people tell me that I have to give my child a sibling or he’ll end up strange/deranged. As if children with siblings don’t grow up to have issues. And don’t even get me started on the heir and the spare mentality…ugh.

    People should learn to respect others decision about child-rearing. Plain and simple. Or at least keep their opinions out of my womb!

    Susie Q  |  July 8th, 2008 at 6:34 pm

  • I think almost everyone gets the same amount of crap about family size, customized for their decided-upon family size. I can report on how it goes as you go up in family size:

    One-child families get the crap you describe. Two-child families with one boy and one girl are the lowest on the crap-receiving scale, but if both children are the same sex it’s “Don’t you want to try for a [other sex]?” Three-child families get a combination of “We’re stopping at two, thanks!” and “Once you have three, might as well have four!” Four-child families get a lot of “You’re done NOW, right?”

    Five-child families (and this is as far as I can take it from personal experience) get “Are you kidding??” and “Are you…Catholic?” and “Are you crazy?”

    Swistle  |  July 8th, 2008 at 9:44 pm

  • As an only child married to an only child with an 11 year old son who will be our only, I’ve heard all the judgments before. I even got the cold shoulder from my gynecologist once she realized I was done with childbearing. I became a less interesting patient.

    We are fortunate to live in a prosperous country which gives us the ability to choose our family size. Too bad everyone can’t respect those choices!

    Keep up the good work and don’t let the turkeys get you down. Onlies are great!

    Barbara  |  July 8th, 2008 at 9:47 pm

  • It’s refreshing to read this discussion and I thank everyone for their opinions. I am the mother of an almost 4 year old and I get this question a lot. My family has stop asking (thank goodness) but I get the question a lot at work. I usually get the “you need to give him a sibling” argument, which is so strange to me. I love children and if my life situation was different my choice might be different, but being almost 36 and employed full time with a husband who has a rotating work schedule, this just works for us. I think there are equal benefits and challanges with raising an only child, an bi-racial child, an adopted child, or many children at once, etc. It’s hard to make this choice in the first place and it’s even harder not to second guess your choice with so many extraneous opinioins. But when I am really honest with myself, I know this is the right choice for me and my family.

    Melina  |  July 9th, 2008 at 9:58 am

  • I just want to say how heartened I am by this great, thoughtful, non-judgmental discussion — and how much food for thought you guys have given me. I am wowed:)

    Nataly  |  July 9th, 2008 at 10:16 am

  • Well, I also have an only child who just turned 4. I also get asked sometimes about if and when I will have another.

    This is a hard one for me to discuss, but needs to be discussed.

    I had problems before I had my son, and after I had my son I had more problems (physically).

    In November of 2006, I needed to have a hysterectomy.

    Right after I had the surgery, the Rabbi came to see me (yes, at Beth Isreal you get a choice of what religion you are and if you would like a visit), and he told me that children don’t always come from God.

    Do what is right for you, and feel blessed to bring life into this world. If other people ask me, I just say, I am blessed to have the one.

    If you have gynelogical issues, and want to discuss, just let me know…I will be here to listen.

    Gia  |  July 9th, 2008 at 11:53 am

  • Thank you for this discussion! We currently have a 4.5 yo DS who is so silly right now, I love him to death!! DH and I have been debating trying for another, and most days I find myself leaning toward the opinion that we are good with one. Since DS is starting kindergarten in the fall, the day care bills will only start to decrease, and he is very easy to travel with. He is a relatively easy going child, and doesn’t know if there is anything missing by being an only child, and what is wrong with enjoying alone time? Why chance it and rock our nicely sailing family boat?? And whose business is it anyway regarding what our decision is? The nerve of some people stuns me!

    MelissaS  |  July 9th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

  • I have to admit that I have not been harrassed by this question as much as others have. Although my husband does like to ask people when they will be having another child and then it backfires. We have a 13 yearl old son. He is kind, generous, compassionate, respectful, and loving. He rarely gets in trouble and we feel blessed every day to have him in our lives. Being a mom has been the most rewarding experience of my life, but being an aunt has also been equally rewarding.
    It is okay to have only one child but it is also okay to have 20.

    Rosa  |  July 9th, 2008 at 5:10 pm

  • We have a 3-year-old daughter. I lost a 10-week pregnancy in March 2007 and then lost a son at 5 months due to a fatal birth defect in January 2008. I just turned 40. I am not sure I can ever face being pregnant again…people ask me regularly when we are having our next child. I have tried to deflect it, but now I say, “I may not be able to have another”. Then they feel terrible, as they should. It is NO ONE’s business how many children you choose to have. It is a shame that people think they have the right to ask or comment on your personal choice, and that they don’t stop and think before they speak.

    Wendy F  |  July 9th, 2008 at 9:44 pm

  • I know people with more than 1 child who had children for all the right reasons, and have joyful, loving homes. Unfortunetly, some people have more than 1 child because they think that’s what they are supposed to do, and that seems to be the type of person who is quick with criticism about those of us who have an “only.” I refuse to address the issue with anyone but family members with whom I am close, which does not include every member of the family!

    Sue  |  July 10th, 2008 at 9:48 am

  • I have a five-year-old who is mine, and want to adopt a second, but the adoption procedures and the policies of some of the agencies with respect to age has made it impossible and a foreign adoption is just too expensive.

    That said, as much as my son wants a little brother or sister, I like being able to do a little bit more for him because I don’t have the expense of a second child. If I had two, it would be public school (which are perfectly fine where I am) and not the private Catholic school where he is now. Not to mention my daily schedule would be crazier.

    I love kids, and would love a second child, but there are advantages to having only one.

    Kathy  |  July 10th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

  • I can completely resonate with this article. I have one 5 1/2 year old son, and I am constantly asked about when we will have another one. It did take me 2 years to have him, 2 miscarriages, an ectopic and a baby who died in utero. People truly need to realize how children are miracles and this question hurts me, b/c I personally am fearful of losing more babies. On the other hand, i feel complete guilt about not having another one, but this is my decision. My son has love, friends and many “surrogate” cousins, brothers and sisters.

    beth  |  July 10th, 2008 at 12:35 pm

  • I am SO interested in all your thoughts (potato chips–can I use that?). I recently was invited to blog by Psychology Today magazine on the topic of only children. The blog is called SINGLETONS and has and will talk about the concerns and issues of onlies and parents of onlies. A bit of what was mentioned in comments is in a blog or two already. But there’s lots more to say as we all know.

    Here’s the link:

    I hope you’ll visit often and leave comments there, too. If there’s a specific topic or conern you would like me cover in a blog, let me know.

    Susan Newman, Ph.D.  |  July 10th, 2008 at 12:52 pm

  • I believe Ann Landers crafted the perfect rejoinder to intrusive questions that you don’t wish to answer: “Why do you ask?” It isn’t sarcastic or nasty, but I think it does make the other person realize that (fill in the intrustive topic of your choice here!) is none of their business, and gives you a painless parachute drop out of the conversation.

    I’m the stepmother to a wonderful “only” who’s off to college next month. Why would anyone worry that onlies would somehow be traumatized by not having sibs? Last time I checked, the world is FILLED with kids, cousins, friends. Unless onlies are imprisoned in solitary confinement in a Russian archipelago, they’ll learn the social skills they need.

    People who “need” others to have more than one child (to justify their own choice, maybe?) strike me as the same sort of people who never quite evolved past the peer pressure and conformity of high school.

    Jeannie  |  July 10th, 2008 at 12:58 pm

  • It is your perogative to only have one child. My original plan was to have only one child, but things changed. No one should dictate or be judgemental at the decision YOU have made. People should think before they pass judgement.

    Yvonne  |  July 10th, 2008 at 1:01 pm

  • You cannot satisfy the public.

    I was single - they wanted to know when I was getting married.

    I was married - they wanted to know when the child was coming.

    I had one (many yrs later)- they wanted to know when the other was coming.

    I now have 2 girls - they want to know when the boy is coming.

    He ain’t coming!

    shama  |  July 10th, 2008 at 1:06 pm

  • Oh my, did you ever hit a nerve here!
    My thoughts? Whenever someone asks me “when” we’re having another child, I simply smile and ask them, ” Are you asking because you want to write me a check every month to support the cause?”
    That usually shuts them up in a hurry!

    naturalsoycandles  |  July 10th, 2008 at 1:47 pm

  • Of course, all of this is an echo of my experiences as a first time mother of a 13 month old. Just like so many other roles in our lives, I have come to realize, we are constantly categorizing others and being subject to be categorized the same. I believe it to be our job to protect our boundaries when we feel they are being permeated. Therefore, rather than allowing any shame, guilt or other 2nd hand emotions to arise in me, I have learned to answer, “Do you really have to know?” It is our responsibility as parents to provide the best environment we can for our child(ren)’s happiness, but first and foremost, it is our responsibility to be happy parents first.

    Francine  |  July 10th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

  • Our son is turning 2 this month and the questions are pretty much relentless at this point about when we are having “the next one.” There isn’t going to be a next one. We had to go through 7 months of fertility treatment to have my son, I had a rough pregnancy and then we nearly lost him just before birth. My husband is a loving, patient and understanding man, but on the cusp of 40 he is saying “no” to more kids. And as a working mom watching some of my peers nearly lose their minds trying to cope with two kids, a job, a husband and a house, I am inclined to agree with him.

    However, as Shama said, you cannot please the public. No matter what you are doing with your life, someone thinks you should be doing something else.

    My husband grew up an only child and he is one of the most generous, sensitive people I have ever met. I have a sibling I never speak to because he is one of the most dysfunctional, selfish people I have ever met.We were never friends, even as children; our relationship as children consisted entirely of fighting, which sometimes escalated into serious physical injury. I have very, very few positive memories of my brother at all, and now the only reason I know where he is or what he is doing is because my mother tells me unsolicited. People who think that giving their child a sibling (or two) will ensure the child has friends and someone to rely on to make tough decisions as parents age is really making a LOT of assumptions about their future child’s innate personality and the dynamic between their children. My brother will never be of any use or help to me in caring for our parents as they age; I will be just as alone making those choices as my husband will be in dealing with his mother. I do have a wide circle of close friends who I rely on in times of trouble who probably will be there to help if I need them. My mother, who has 4 siblings, ended up pretty much caring for her aging parents by herself at the end of their lives, and her friends have been much more supportive of her than her siblings have been.

    We are going to encourage our son to develop strong friendships, but also to be independent and free-spirited. He has a very strong personality, so I don’t know that he would be the type of person who would benefit from a sibling even if one came along.

    At any rate, you cannot win this battle with people who have figured out the perfect way for you to live your life for you. My husband’s response to the people who exhort us to have more children is “we got it right the first time and don’t need any do-overs.” Not terribly polite, but usually shuts people up. :)

    Amy  |  July 10th, 2008 at 1:57 pm

  • Its so funny — people are just plain nosy!!
    When my son was 2, we were asked constantly about a second child. Then we ended up having twins…and enjoyed the dynamics…so we had a 4th!
    NOW…all I get is comments on the fact that I have TOO many children and how do I cope, and why did I have another one after the twins…blah, blah, blah!
    It doesn’t matter what you do…people will comment!
    I agree with all of the previous posts — you do what you are comfortable with and what works for your family and thats all that matters :-)

    Linda  |  July 10th, 2008 at 1:58 pm

  • I ask for the same reason I ask any other question, curious and like to find a commonality.
    I may have a little bit of prejudice because my mom always wanted a second and couldn’t have another and was really upset about it. But the thing that lingers with me is the terrible terrible divorce that my parents went through. I am the only one who knows what it was like. I am also the only one who can take care of my mother now. The burden falls directly on me to care for her when she can’t. Siblings are not always close, and one could be estranged from the family, but it would have been nice to have the possibility.
    I just had my second and it is such a joy to see my oldest interact with him. There are dynamics that I never experienced. I’m glad I’m able to at least witness it.

    Michele Weir  |  July 10th, 2008 at 2:07 pm

  • While I concur that it is nobody’s business about how many children you have, I think that it is mean to have only one child and chose not to do it. I am an only child as is my husband. I can not tell you how many years I wished for a brother or a sister. I looked around and saw my friends with a special sibling relationship, I was/am envious.

    Now that I have to take care of my mother and after the death of my father and both of my husband’s parents, I had no sibling to talk thing over with. Sure I have cousins and friends, but it isn’t the same. And now that my mother lives with me, I am the only one to care for her.

    Since both my husband and I are only children, my children do not have aunts or uncles or cousins.

    Plus, when you are an only child, you can’t blame a mess or breaking something on your sibling! :)

    Lori  |  July 10th, 2008 at 3:15 pm

  • I think there are advantages and disadvantages to any number of children. The people I really feel for are couples who choose to have NO kids! You know they’re getting it with both barrels!

    Sheryl  |  July 10th, 2008 at 4:54 pm

  • I’m sure my daughter would be thrilled to have a live sibling to go along with her 2 imaginary ones. But we’re done.

    I think about Pidge being our sole caretaker when we’re in our dotage. And I wish she could have help shouldering the burden. But all I can do is try and make it less of a burden: plan in advance, make sure we’re financially secure, etc.

    Someone once told me you should only have children if it’s absolutely necessary. Pidge was absolutely necessary. But aside from a strong case of baby fever right before we were about to move across the country, I haven’t really had the desire for another.

    I don’t get much grief about only having one. My family is silent on the subject. There are benefits in being descendant from Norwegian farmers. :-) And strangers and acquaintances rarely go beyond asking if Pidge is my only child. I think at my age (41), most people assume I’m done anyway.

    Jenn  |  July 10th, 2008 at 7:19 pm

  • I can totally relate, and in fact, my current blog post on motherhoodlater.com is about this very subject. I invite people to read it and learn my story.

    Robin, founder, motherhoodlater.com  |  July 10th, 2008 at 9:48 pm

  • Having faced the same question over and over again, my usual frustration is with those who thinks it is their personal mission to convince me to change my mind because they either have more than one child or are working towards having number 2. I love children. I really do. I love my daughter to no end. If it is in the cards, I would readily embrace the experience, however, as of today, I am happy to stop at one. Thankfully I have a stepdaughter who is much older than my daughter, but does it matter? That is her sister and they love each other dearly so I am blessed and can feel comfortable with stopping at one with no regrets. And for the record, what other people think does not influence me one bit.

    Karen  |  July 10th, 2008 at 10:38 pm

  • Our daughter is turning 3 next week, so we are getting the “when are you going to have another” questions ALL.THE.TIME. I am an only child, so I have always said that I would like to have 2 kids. But, here I am … a full time working mom, primary bread winner of our household … having only one kid is looking better and better. I am exhausted with the life I have now. I would prefer to have one child and give her a great life than have two and give them a mediocre life. I am not having the “urge” to have another … at least not yet.

    Red Lotus Mama  |  July 11th, 2008 at 1:05 am

  • hi Nataly, I felt your exasperation over those comments.It’s really stressing to listen and feel tired over matters that other people especially close ones think that it is their duty to remind us of decisions we have to make in our lives. Hey!it’s our choice and we are the ones responsible for own decisions …people are people , they always feel it’s their job to point us out what’s missing or lacking or even what’s sooo extreme!
    The best answer? Just smile sweetly and say God will give you in time additional adorable kids so it’s for them to wait with you when will it be. Mwahh!!

    eleanor  |  July 11th, 2008 at 2:00 am

  • Hi,

    Sometimes you have to wait a bit and see what your only child is like. Watch his/her personality and find out if they’re the kind of child that “needs” a sibling or not. I am 46 years old and mother of one 12 year old. I can give you pro’s and con’s of both sides from my point of view, but my son can also give points of view from his side. His social personality likes to have someone, and he asks me about on a regular basis. I thought I was ok about the decision to have only 1 child, but my son is making me 2nd guess the decision. I am too old to have another child now. Anyway, my best advise is to watch your child, and see how their personality develops.

    Barb  |  July 13th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

  • I’m an only child and look how I turned out.

    Wait…don’t run away…

    Elizabeth  |  July 13th, 2008 at 7:55 pm

  • I say it’s all about how you feel about your decision. If you’re 100% comfortable with your ability to make your own decisions, other folks opinions will not affect you … literally. The fact is that their opinions have absolutely no weight in your life, so why bother having an emotional response to them? Some of them may not be judgemental, they just have their own set of opinions … which don’t apply to your life. I don’t think it’s personal. And this is coming from a mother of one. I get the same comments and for some reason they don’t phase me at all.

    For the folks with less tact … the ones that believe that your business is their business … tell them to mind their business. That’ll fix it. LOL.

    Ignore everyone else. Change the subject.

    ushika  |  July 14th, 2008 at 12:39 am

  • My husband and I are of a certain age.
    We have only one child.
    She just turned 9 and is, as one would expect, the love of our lives.

    We didn’t intend to have an only child. It just happened this way.

    That is why it is so hurtful when acquaintences ask, “So, when you gonna have another one?” or, more appallingly, when strangers say “Why don’t you giver her a brother or a sister?”

    I imagine these people had great experiences with their siblings. They see us with this little person and wonder if she’s bored. They want to ensure my daughter is happy, well adjusted, not lonley…

    What these people need to know is, often times, families only have one child because of health issues. Families like ours.

    We embarked on a roller-coaster ride, a quest for a sibling for my daughter. This ride took us to high-highs only to leave us, ultimately, at the ground floor — with the answer that my daughter would be an only child.

    We’re good, solid, fine. My daughter is happy and has many friends and cousins to play with.

    So, folks that mean well, please hold your tongues.

    HeatherSocks  |  July 15th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

  • I think if you write a blog about it you are inviting people to get into your business. Now they will even more tell you what they think you should do. As to your OBGyn - you should def switch or give her a talk, that’s really none of her business.
    As always, people cant just generalize everything; not all only kids are spoiled and rotten, and not all multiple siblings are well adjusted and non selfish.
    I am an only child; the typical one BTW. I am inconsidered, dont know how to interact with people the right way, I am selfish, I am rude and if I dont get my way I will raise hell - growing up I was miserable; my single Mom was working full time and I stayed by myself from age 7. I had no one to play with, no one to talk to, and later one became EXTREMELY clingy towards my “best” friend. I got extremely jealous if she wanted to hang out with other people.That was at age 9 until TODAY. I am 27 now and I still dont like sharing my best friend. I have a 18 months old Toddler now, and my husband and I are planning number 2 as we speak. I will not let my daughter grow up to be like me; I am the prime example why people should have at least 2 kids.

    HTownChick  |  July 15th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

  • I am a very happy mother of a 13 year old girl who I think is the most wonderful child ever. She is an only child and she will remain an only child barring something accidental happening. My husband and I get asked all the time from relatives and complete strangers as to when we are going to have another. I can accept it from family, I just shrug it off and tell them how well my daughter is doing. But people can really be judgemental. We decided that having more children would be a financial stretch for us. I also had so much trouble in delivery that it made me think twice about it. Whatever the reason it was my choice and at least I THOUGHT about it. No one is questioing all these mothers having 4 & 5 unplanned kids they cant afford to have that are NOT well adjusted and are just total brats running around unchecked. I can usually just dismiss the person who grills me about my personal choice but it really hits a nerve sometimes.

    SHEELAH NICHOLS  |  July 15th, 2008 at 4:33 pm

  • I do not understand why everyone is so offended. I was an only child and am very happy with that, but I am not offended when people ask me if I have any siblings. It’s just people trying to make conversation. I can understand being annoyed or offended if they are pressuring you, but simply to ask? I am also a cancer survivor. I suppose I could be offended whenever anyone mentions what my plans are for the future, because I might not be here in another 5 years, but that’s ridiculous to get upset. Spend less time dwelling on how “offensive” all of these comments are and enjoy your child and your life!!

    Emily  |  July 15th, 2008 at 5:58 pm

  • [...] read the Work It, Mom! blog fairly often and a recent post caught my [...]

    being a mother of two » anita’s world  |  July 16th, 2008 at 4:15 am

  • I am the mother of four girls, have one sibling, and am married to a man who was an only child. I will say that in my situation it is difficult for him to understand the natural sibling rivalry. The girls are pretty close in age and if you have been around kids at all, know that kids fight. He doesn’t understand the fighting, competitions, natural kid things that go on. It sometimes causes us problems. I don’t believe it was just because he was an only child, but there are many times that he seems very selfish. He always feels that all the attention should be on him and that he is getting neglect because I have so many kids to dote on. I know this is because not only is he an only child, he was and is mommas boy. The attention he got everyday, not including birthdays and Christmas, is unreal. I believe that if you have an only child that is fine, as long as you don’t raise them with the same attitude as my husband apparently was raised with. It actually is very hard to live with now because of the lack of attention he gets. The lack of understanding he has towards sibling interaction, and the lack of understanding he has towards my relationship with my brother. My brother and I are very close and he has gotten upset about the time we spent together. So while I can understand only having one, I do feel it is unfair for their lives later. However, I do believe it isn’t your choice, no it is not a crime, just be careful how they are treated because it can cause problems later on.

    christina  |  July 16th, 2008 at 10:38 am

  • sorry it is your choice, really didn’t mean it wasn’t. of course it is your choice, and a choice you yourself should make.

    christina  |  July 16th, 2008 at 10:40 am

  • I am an only child. It is not a good idea. You have no one to share the pains of growing up with; being disciplined and handling the brunt of over-bearing parents. The child feels alone in all of it and will feel treated unfairly. In the end - what is most important? - your family. when mom and dad pass, whether close or not, the siblings will have each other. whether a mom wants to have one child or not - it is selfish if she decides to have one and not want another. it’s not for her, it’s for the child.

    susan  |  July 16th, 2008 at 1:17 pm

  • I know nothing of what you are speaking about yet I know exactly what you are speaking about. I do not have the desire to one have one child, because I have 5. However, I do understand exactly what you mean when you say you get unsolicited and unwanted advice from friends and strangers alike! You say that you get ridiculed for the desire to have one perfectly healthy and happy child- A decision that only you can understand and make for yourself. On the other hand, I get ridiculed for having “to many children.” My family and some friends are not exactly supportive. Have you ever heard of a grandmother saying she didn’t want anymore grandkids? Yeah-me neither until I lived it. So, my advice would be to just put on a happy face to all of those extremists out there who are unhappy with their own choices so they must degrade everyone else. But you will do what is best for your family and you should be comfortable with your decisions, because it is nobody’s life to live but yours!! Live it!!

    rizchick  |  July 16th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

  • This topic has been weighing heavily on my mind this week. I have a daughter, she is 22 months. I think I have been asked at least twice this week when are we having a second baby?

    Why is it everybody’s business? I am still in limbo as to if and when. I think I would like my daughter to be closer to three years old if I were to get pregnant and have the second.

    But the point is that I am so happy with my daughter, she fills my heart with so much love. I would be so happy with just her. But theres always the doubt that I am being selfish, and that she needs a sibling. I am so close with my two sisters we talk every single day.

    So would I do it for her or is it for me? Its has totally consumed my head this whole week. I wish I had an easy answer. I just don’t want to be so selfish and love my daughter all by herself and have regrets later.

    All in all, I just wish people would stop asking. I never do that to anybody. Even closest friends. It is a personal decision I don’t know why everybody feels they need to weigh in on other families lives.

    Thanks for hearing me out!

    Crystal  |  July 16th, 2008 at 11:05 pm

  • I do agree with Florinda - I think anything outside what is considered normal makes people uncomfortable. Perhaps it makes them question their own “normal” choices, or they are secretly envious of someone who doesn’t play by the rules. And in nearly every situation like that, the person who is uncomfortable or envious of your choice feels the need to put you on the defensive.

    I say ignore them and do what is right for your family.

    Patti  |  July 17th, 2008 at 3:18 pm

  • We receive the same pressure, so I totally understand.

    I just disregard them, or I point out how we both need to keep working to continue with our lifestyle. I can balance that with one child, and feel like I’m not failing him too horribly. With two, I think I’d feel like I was failing them both in attention, by still having a career.

    This is a personal decision, though, and everyone feels differently. This is just how I feel about it - for me.

    As for why people have to share their opinions, it is human nature, and I just do the best I can to allow them their say.

    RC  |  July 17th, 2008 at 3:33 pm

  • People can say rude and thoughtless things.

    I have almost four year old twins, and people always go on and on about how hard it must be, how sorry they felt for me, how glad they don’t have twins, etc.

    I planned on having an only child, since I am an only child.

    I loved being an only child, and I still do.

    When I spend time with only my son or only my daughter, I am amazed at how EASY it is, and how intimate.

    I can not resent having twins, that would be crazy. But I am clear that having only one child is a much easier, and in some ways a more rich and intimate experience.

    kelly  |  July 17th, 2008 at 7:24 pm

  • Hi, I know it is hard at times…but just don’t mind those people that judges you.
    I have 3 Lil ones ages 3, 4 & 5.
    I have been looked at and people are just mean..rude! and would say things that wow, so you never stopped having babies..huh! what was that?
    anyway, no matter how many you have 1, 3 or more…there are always people around us that can’t just mind there own business =)

    J.Lee  |  July 17th, 2008 at 7:32 pm

  • You know I understand this pressure. I have a 4 year old daughter myself. My husband and I are confilicted about having another child. I love my free time with my daughter and I wonder how streched I would be if I had to share that time with another child. Also babies are a lot of work and I am starting to get my life back. I don’t think it is a crime to just have one but never say never!lol

    Sarah  |  July 17th, 2008 at 7:45 pm

  • If you think it is tough defending your only child decision, try telling people that you and your husband won’t be having any. We not only get shocked responses and lectures, very many people react as though we are not decent human beings. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard or overheard “What kind of people don’t want children?”

    I think it is better to have just as many children as you think you can devote the time and resources toward raising, be it one, ten or zero.

    JerseyGal  |  July 17th, 2008 at 7:47 pm

  • I am an only child, and haven’t been traumatized in the least. I now have a wonderful husband, who is the youngest of four. We come from different family structures, but find ourselves oddly similar, in spite of our sibling count.

    My first baby is due in a few weeks, and quite frankly, I hate being pregnant. We want others, but may end up adopting them if my mind doesn’t change about pregnancy.

    It’s your decision as to whether or not you want more kids. I want a houseful, but that’s me… not you.

    Moselle  |  July 17th, 2008 at 7:51 pm

  • as the mother of 7, yes, seven, I get a lot of annoying questions too, you have to do whats best for you and your family and don,t mind the silly people. there is nothing worse that having another child - just to please someone else. all children should be loved and wanted from the start. so my thoughts are have one or more, Its your choice! just love however many you have.

    biddy  |  July 17th, 2008 at 8:06 pm

  • I can totally empathize! My husband and I have a 4 yr old son. He is our world. It also took us 2 1/2 years to conceive him. And a troubled pregnancy and an early delivery. Thankfully, he is healthy and a joy. I wanted another one right away. Then reality set in and the glamour faded. Sleepless nights, repeat ear infections and being torn between home and work takes a toll. We thought of having another at 2 but my husband was still in school. there was no way we could have a second on just my income. so we waited until he finished his internship and graduated. Now, we’re pretty sure we’re done. but why does everyone looks at us like we’re crazy. I have the same worries. Are we going to regret it later? What if something happens to him? Are we crazy putting “all our eggs in one basket?” People don’t understand the emotional, mental and financial burden getting pregnant for him put us through (there were two miscarriages before he was born). I have my reasons enough, so why is it that I need to explain them to everyone. And even with all that I get the “well you know it’s a miracle what dr’s can do these days.” Our parents are understanding (although I secretly think they wish for a miracle). we did try to get pregnant again for about 4 months and we quickly realized the toll that it was taking on our relationship. There’s nothing romantic about counting days and taking temperatures and getting injections. It just wasn’t worth it to us. We have a healthy, happy family and we feel complete. I’ll always second guess if we did the right thing. But I’ve also talked to people who had a second child and said they’d wish they’d stopped at one. It takes a certain type of person for a “large” family. I’m just not that person. I was an only child until 16 and loved it. My husbands only sibling is mentally handicapped. He wishes often he’d been an only child. In the end, you just have to make the choice that’s right for you and to hell with the rest of the world. When someone asks me when we’re having another, I tell them as soon as they are paying for fertility, daycare, insurance and college. Usually shuts them up!

    Tammy  |  July 17th, 2008 at 8:25 pm

  • My son is an only child. He’s now 14 years old. He’s the sweetest, smartest, most well-adjusted child there ever was… and this is after I divorced his father when my son was 3. He’s never been at a loss for friends or extended family.

    I was one of EIGHT kids, and my mother one of FIVE… neither of us had a happy childhood. I am close to only ONE of my siblings… out of EIGHT. The one that I am close to has SIX kids, and she is happy as can be. So in my opinion, it just goes to show that we each do what is right for us individually, and it works out in the end.

    When my son was 6, he asked me for a brother. When he was 7, he thanked me (and still does to this day) for not giving him one. He loves being an only child and thrives on it. We have a great relationship, and he has great relationships with his father and step-father as well. The lack of siblings has not affected him in any negative way that we can see.

    It’s nobody’s business but your own. Only you know what is right for you.

    Melissamo  |  July 17th, 2008 at 8:36 pm

  • Oh my gosh! There are some very sensitive people on this board. I am a mother of one I do not feel offended if asked this question. People are just trying to make conversations (they probably don’t even care) - it is like asking “how are you doing” and they really don’t give a hoot. To the people that can not have any more - the person asking does not know your situation so how is it insensitive? I honestly feel some some single child parents are having guilty feelings and misplacing their sentiments on the asking party. However, if the asking party is going to press the issue after you have given your response, just change the subject for pete sake! That should send a clear signal. Just my two cents

    T12  |  July 17th, 2008 at 8:37 pm

  • I don’t want children and I have to field the same questions and judgements everyday. I am so frustrated with society. When people ask my husband and I when we are going to start having kids and we respond never, they get this look on their face like we just shot their dog. children are not a requirement or a right. I believe as a society we have far to many un-wanted children just because of the preasure that is placed on couples to reproduce.

    I could go on forever about this but I will keep it short :)

    Cassandra  |  July 17th, 2008 at 8:38 pm

  • Don’t let it get to you. Too many people sit atop there high horse and pass their ignorant wisdom to whoever will listen. I have four kids and can’t count how many people would ask…are they from the same father? Although my children are from the same father, it was the rudest thing to hear. As if they had to satisfy some judgmental curiosity. I never could think of a really great “in your face” come-back.

    Toni  |  July 17th, 2008 at 8:47 pm

  • It’s not that it’s wrong to have one kid; and all that say otherwise have no right to comment about your choice.

    But I do believe 1 is the hardest. Here’s my complete take on it.

    1 is the hardest because you’re their sole source of entertainment.

    2 is the easiest because they have someone to play with.

    3 is like juggling balls; anyone can juggle 2 balls or 2 kid’s schedules, but it takes a lot of practice to juggle 3.

    There is no difference between 3 and 8 kids. If you’re cooking for 5, you might as well cook for 10.


    A. Affording college for 4 to 8 kids does enter the equation.

    B. I’m the father of 5 (in 6 years); and not Mormon or Catholic. Just love kids. All 5 are college grads (on my dime).

    C. I’ve spoken to many moms of 5-8 kids, and they all confirm my 3-8 hypothesis.

    Hope this all helps!

    Stephen  |  July 17th, 2008 at 9:05 pm

  • I think the author missed the point of her own article….that being….it is NONE of ANYONE ELSE’s BUSINESS! Her best bet is to find a polite yet firm way of telling those who ask this intrusive question (inlaws aside, of course) that it’s not something she wishes to discuss.

    I’m a middle-aged only child - and single, to boot! And believe me, I’m questioned all the time as to why “someone hasn’t snapped me up” yet. Well, my close friends and family know why I probably won’t ever marry, so the rest of the inquisitors are usually casual acquaintances or total strangers. So, if I feel like indulging them in my “I LOVE my single life” monologue I do, but most of the time I don’t so I just smile, roll my eyes, OR wink at them and say…”It’s a L-O-N-G story” and then change the subject. It works wonders!

    Best to All!

    Fonteiyn  |  July 17th, 2008 at 9:13 pm

  • I understand your frustration, and I believe that you should have as many children as you can handle emotionally, physically, and financially. Some people can only handle one, and that’s perfectly ok. Some people can handle kids into the double digits, and that’s ok, too. (It’s equally as frustrating for them to hear things like, “Don’t you know when to quit?”) It’s YOUR family!!!! PERIOD!!! They can do what they like in their own families and what works for you may not work for them and vice versa. God made us all different, and that’s good - it alleviates boredom!

    Deanna  |  July 17th, 2008 at 10:24 pm

  • Tiger Woods is an only child. Look how he turned out.

    lola  |  July 17th, 2008 at 10:25 pm

  • i know so many people that are only children and are wonderful people that had great childhoods (one is my husband, who grew up happy on a farm). i plan on only having one child for many reasons. it is absurd to me that people want to change my mind on this before i have even had ONE!

    and you are so right, siblings don’t always get along. as long as kids have interaction with other kids, i dont feel that it matters whether or not they have siblings.

    ashleyd  |  July 18th, 2008 at 1:17 am

  • I had hoped for more than one. But, that was before it took me three years to conceive the first one. And, before the divorce. Now I’m glad I only had one. I don’t know how I’d make it with two kids on my budget.

    I often worry that my daughter will end up somehow defective without a sibling. She hasn’t given up on asking occassionally if she will ever get a sister. She doesn’t want a brother, because she is now at the age that boys are “gross” as she puts it. But, she’d love a baby sister.

    Well, maybe if I win the lottery. . .

    Until then, its just the two of us.

    Renee  |  July 31st, 2008 at 2:32 pm

  • It never ends, does it?

    If you don’t have kids, people ask you WHEN (not if) you’re going to have them.

    If you have a kid, they ask you WHEN (again, not if) you’re going to have another.

    If you don’t have kids, somehow you’re life will be horribly empty. If you only have one kid, somehow THEIR life will be horribly empty.

    I say we all just get hammered on some Jack Daniels and go sailing or something because apparently no of us can get it right. ;-)

    Corvette1975  |  July 31st, 2008 at 3:12 pm

  • Right on Sister! =)

    I am an only child (and only grandchild) and was very happy that way and grew up very well and well adjusted. My husband and I only have one child and I STRONGLY do not want any more (also never saying never, I still have time). I also get lots of criticism from strangers, friends, and even family who think we should have more. My SIL is the worst - she keeps saying “Mom wants a grandson” so I told her to have one herself and get off my back.

    When will people learn that it’s NOT their choice and I DON’T want their input??

    Christine  |  August 1st, 2008 at 9:28 am

  • When someone offers advice on a topic that I did not request advice on I smile and say what is your pet peeve, mine is unsolicited advice? Of course, it is a bit rude, but I don’t say it unless I feel that are being cold. Example “wow, I really thought your looked better as a blonde”

    I also have been known to use this trick, when someone asks me something I don’t want to answer, I smile and say “why do you ask or why do you want to know?” It will take them back and make them aware of the question they asked and generally they will change the question completely, it is fun to see people squirm.

    Amy  |  August 4th, 2008 at 3:39 pm

  • It surprises me that people here are posting to have a second child “for the child”. Oh really? I have a sibling. We had a rocky childhood and it did not bring us any closer together. We haven’t spoken in 15 years. He was evil and mean as a kid and he’s the same now. So what good did it do having THAT kind of person as a sibling? It just made a bad situation worse. There are no guarantees in life. You can have sibs that are close, you can have sibs that hate each other. Giving your child a sib is NOT a good reason to have another kid. And having someone to help take care of you in your old age is an equally crummy reason. Even if sibs are close, one may live across the country and have no input into care of an elderly parent. I think it’s a lot of cr*p when people give those reasons. If you want one, have one. If you want two, have two. Beyond that though, it’s rather selfish from an environmental standpoint to have more. By 2050, this planet will be at 9 billion, way over capacity. That should at least be a thought in educated people’s minds - adopt if you want a full house please!

    We have a wonderful 4 1/2 year old: confident, funny, generous, generally well-behaved. She makes friends wherever she goes, she shares with people and she’s not clingy or self-centered. She’s got cousins galore that she’s close with and she’s happy, so we’re happy.

    People need to get off the Judgemental Bandwagon, and I really get that feeling more from people who have more than one - “oh you have one, that’s great, but more than one is ever so much better.” Yeah, well biteme I say.

    To each his own!

    Willow  |  August 7th, 2008 at 4:40 pm

  • I have a son with my husband who is almost 6. I also have 2 stepkids that live with us. A girl that is 17 and a boy that is 13. I have been in their lives since they were 9 and 5. They don’t call me mom even though I have primarily been the one raising them since there mom is not a very involved parent. I struggle with wanting another. I did not enjoy pregnancy or childbirth. We also do not have any family nearby so not having any help when he was a newborn was very hard. I am 32 and my husband is almost 40. He does not want anymore but has not done anything yet to make it final. Right now we could not afford another, especially since my stepkids mom does not help out financially. I want to be able to provide for our kids, and I think it would be selfish of me to have another child just because I want one. Maybe it would happen down the road, but then again, I am just starting to get some freedom back and don’t know if I would want to start all over. I guess I just don’t want to regret not having another one once i am past my childbearing years. I have received the same comments the rest of you have expressed, not to mention all the other comments and insecurities that come with being a stepmom! Aauugh! Anyways I am so glad I found this discussion and I am so glad I am not alone. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.

    olivia  |  August 18th, 2008 at 1:30 pm

  • I have a 6 year old daughter, our one and only. Saying “one and only” shuts people up before they have a chance to speak. It basically says “case closed”.

    Before I knew this trick I had people tell me I had to have more kids. Someone even asked me if we had pets. When I said we had a dog she said, “Oh, good. At least she won’t be too screwed up then.”

    BTW, all the stereotypes about onlies in society are based on very poorly conducted research in the late 19th and early 20th century. Read Parenting an Only Child by Susan Newman to read about it. As a parent of an only, I often let those nosy people know this.

    Posy  |  August 20th, 2008 at 2:14 pm


    ANTIONETT  |  August 27th, 2008 at 1:03 am

  • I love the topic of this article because when my son was just 2 months old, I was asked when we were having another because, and I quote, “you’re not really parents until you have at least two.” Really? I beg to differ. I tried for three and a half years to have my son. I endured every treatment up to and including IVF. Ultimately, I conceived on my own, but I don’t know if I’m ABLE to have another child. So the fact that people continually ask me “When” I’m having another is really as painful as people asking when I was going to have children in the first place (while I was going thru the difficult process of fertility treatments). I don’t know if I want another either. I feel like I’ve been through so much, and shared it all with my son, and that’s a special bond between the two of us. Also, there is a 12 yr age difference between myself and my younger sister and while I love her, I don’t know I was missing anything as an only child. I think if anyone wants to have an opinion on anyone else’s child bearing arrangement, they should keep it to themselves.

    Rena  |  August 29th, 2008 at 4:13 pm

  • [...] I have to admit that when I found out that she has five kids I thought, wow, how does she juggle being governor with being a mom of five? Does her husband stay home full time? Does she have a nanny? I was impressed and I was curious about the logistics she has in place to manage it all. (After all, I have a tough enough time juggling my work and being a mom to just one kiddo. [...]

    Working moms have poor family values: the Sarah Pailin edition - Work It, Mom! Blog - Work It, Mom!  |  August 31st, 2008 at 12:34 am

  • I think its a personal choice whether someone just want to have one child or more, and it also depends on their financial situation and if they are able to cope with having more children and more importantly child care is a problem, the women would either have to give up her job and stay at home to raise her children or to work part-time which means a reduction in salary and not being able to buy whatever and when you want and becoming dependent or even a burden on the husband/partner so that are a lot of factors that have to be considered, unfortunately other people try and tell us how to lead our life and what is right but its not their life its yours and one has to do what is right for them and what they can cope/afford, afterally cost of childcare is an absolute joke and i personally wouldnt feel comfortable leaving my child with a child minder considering the stories you hear about them, so its a no win situation, I have one daughter whose 4 years old Ihavent had too many people asking me about when i will have my second but I know that is on their mind especially on the minds of my in-laws who believe that you need to have a son but I dont care i will do what is right by me and my husband and more imporantly what im happy with as I would be the mother of that child and noone else. its a big responsibility for life you cannot make your mind up in seconds.

    Ruby  |  September 10th, 2008 at 12:04 pm

  • I LOVED this article and reading all the comments! I have a 21 month old “only”, and have heard many comments about the negatives of having an only child. It is so hilarious to me how other people can “know” what is best for my family, and myself as a mother. It would never dawn on me to think about how many children people “should” have. If people would put the energy into their own lives, that they too often put into examining the lives of others, the world would be a far better place!

    Allison  |  September 16th, 2008 at 1:37 pm

  • I am the only child myself, and by observing big families ( I’m talking 5 kids and more) I realize that in big families at least half kids are skrewed up. Sorry if I offend anyone, I don’t meen to. But I can clearly see the partern. My husband’s family is a good example of that. Only older children go confidently in life and younger ones are loosers. And it is not their fault that they did not get enough attention from their parents. they feel that they did not get love and attention they needed when they needed it. They know it, but can’t change themselves, just suffer through life. I feel sorry for the kids whose parents overestimated their ability. I honestly don’t think it is possible to give enough love, attention, good care, moral support and education to more than 3 children, unless you have grandparents who are willing to devote all their lives for raising their grand kids. I have a strong oppinion that parents should motivate children go to college and help them to get education, set them for success in life. I strongly disagree with parents who push their children to work at 15 and force kids move out after high school. If a family is big, younger kids berely finish high school, they don’t have a drive to better themself, challenge themselves, advance in life.
    I am 26, married for three years and every time have to answer when I will have kid question. Even though I am planning to have a couple kids someday in the future, question why I don’t have one now irritate me. I don’t undersatand mothers who had their kids at 17, never graduated high school and work on low pay job full time just to make ends meet ends, blaming their kids for taking their fun of their life and at the same time trying to tell me :”It is so cute somebody running aroung me calling me mammy!”
    I want have kids: one, two or three, we will see, but I want have them when I feel I am ready and have a wisdom to give them good advise, give them a good example of my own life, give them all the children need to be happy, feel loved, protected, set them for success. All our inner problems, complexes, fears and shortcomings come from our parents. We struggle with them all our lives and can not do much about it: all the damage was already made by our parents. There is no such thing like ideal parent, but at least we can try our best for our children. I support parents who deside have only one child if they feel that’s all they can handle: it better get one right, than screw up a few. For those couples who feel they can give enough for more than one, two or three children go ahead… Bless you God! Help you God! Just never tell to a child: ” We actually did not want you!” That would hirt and mess up child for life.

    Olga  |  September 21st, 2008 at 8:16 pm

  • I just tell them my uterus is closed for business, they usually don’t want to proceed down that track after that…

    Casie  |  September 29th, 2008 at 11:04 am

  • I am 37 with one daughter who is now 2 1/2 and when people ask me this question I too feel a bit of guilt when saying I think one is enough..i am torn as well because i have siblings and my husband has a sister who he’s very close to and I’m afraid my daughter will grow up alone and that is the ONLY reason why I’d want to have another one..but my instinct is telling me no for many reasons…in the past I didn’t always go with my instincts and regretted decisions I’ve made so this time I think I’ll trust my instincts and be happy with my beautiful daughter, husband and newly adopted cat..


    Jessica  |  September 29th, 2008 at 9:41 pm

  • I am a mum to a very active 16 month old boy. I have learned so much about myself, what I want from life and about my relationship with my husband in the last year and half. Before having my son, i was sure I wanted to have at least two kids. After a relatively fast and easy birth, my husband and I thought we could do this a few more times. But as our son is growing up and we realize how much work it takes to raise a child, we are not so sure. We want to be able to give our child a certain upbringing which we need time for. Our families think we are joking when we tell them we are happy with our one child and are not sure if we would want to have another one. I am annoyed at the guilt that is thrown our way..how we are made to feel selfish for wanting a life for ourselves while raising our child..Some go as fast as saying that we are selfish for wanting to deprive our child from having a sibling..we want to enjoy each other and spend time on our relationship..we want to be happy as a family and we also want to be happy as individuals.

    Zak  |  September 30th, 2008 at 5:14 pm

  • I am very happily a mom to a 4 year old girl. It took a while but I have let go of guilt and societal expectations. I have chosen to enjoy the blessing that was bestowed upon us. Our family size works for us. My husband and I will occasionally ask each other if we have any regrets.The answer is always no. I love the closeness we have with our daughter. The time we have to give her. She has 17 cousins, lots of friends. She is a very social child. This works for us financially and emotionally. I feel that I am a better Mom and wife. This is a personal decision. Whatever people decide it is their own business.

    Patty  |  October 1st, 2008 at 6:16 am

  • I always wonder at people who think they know how many children is good for someone ELSE’S family!

    I have 3 kids (wish I had 4 but am overextended as it is), but never thought to question any of my friends who have but one child.

    That’s like saying, “excuse me, but do you realize you ought to be somebody else and live a totally different life than the one you are living now?”

    Alison  |  October 2nd, 2008 at 8:15 pm

  • A medical out, which I have, always works to shut people up. There is no comeback for “I had to have a hysterectomy”. The other, untold part of my response when asked is that we made a decision (anyway) to only have one together. My husband has a 21 y.o. and she is a sibling to our son (we don’t allow the characterization “half”).

    Sure there are arguments against only children. There are equal numbers of arguments against multiple children. I have two sisters and remember “hating” at various times during my adolescence the fact that I was not an only child!

    My husband and I are firm believers in not having more children that you can handle. And really, why is it anyone else’s business but yours?

    BeccaM  |  October 29th, 2008 at 8:44 pm

  • For ten years we had an only child and we faced the same questions. Now that we have our second child people ask me if they have the same father.
    The nosey questions will never end. Just live you life and be happy.

    emilyp  |  November 10th, 2008 at 12:54 pm

  • I am so glad that I found this website. I am a working mom of one awesome almost 3 year old and I love it! Although, I struggle with the decision to have another or not! I will be 40 next month and while I enjoyed the prgnancy (after the first 3 months), and staying home for 3 months, I still needed and wanted to go back to work. Now, I struggle, should I or not. My husband is 98% set on only have one child. He thinks for the sake of our marriage, our careers and just having time for ourselves. I just don’t want to regret it later. All my friends have two or are expecting thier second and I know it is our choice, but, I sometimes feel guilty that he doesn’t have a sibling, although he does have several friends and cousins…… I really enjoyed reading everyone comments and hope to meet someone someday that has only one by choice that I could connect with. Thanks!

    Michelle P  |  November 21st, 2008 at 1:33 pm

  • I am the mom of an only child who is now eighteen. For all you frustrated moms of singles, let me assure you that the older your child gets, the less people will ask you about having more!

    I also agree with the mom who says that most people who ask about your plans for more kids are just running their mouths off. They will be happy with an “I don’t know.” If your kid wasn’t standing there in front of you, they would be talking about the weather.

    Caryn  |  November 25th, 2008 at 1:41 pm

  • Move to Massachusetts. People are so easy here. we are having only one child (a boy, 2 years old) and not planning for more, and nobody seems to be surprised of any kind. Some women don’t want to have kids at all, and live their lives perfectly.

    On the other hand, you might be under your neighbourhood influence. If you moved to a wealthy , but a family-oriented neighbourghood, you’ve got what you’ve paid for. At some point, maybe you are not that much against another child, especially, if somebody’s small talk on this subject makes you uncomfortable.


    Sasha  |  December 15th, 2008 at 3:35 pm

  • We have one child and I haven’t been convicted of a felony! haha My husband is an only child and one of the most well-adjusted people I know. It’s a personal choice.

    Atara  |  December 21st, 2008 at 8:48 am

  • Regardless of *whether* you have children, or how many, that choics is yours and yours alone, and people shouldn’t pry into it like busybodies. Then again, aren’t there blogs like this for the reason that we get to see into each others views about it?

    I am one of 5 kids and wouldn’t change it for the world. If I ever have kids I’ve decided its all or nothing in the family realm. Either I will marry and have several kids (biological or through adoption or foster care) or I will remain single (and still consider adoption or foster care).

    I think the hardest thing for me to understand, especially coming from a big family, is why so many people decide they want just one child. (Please remember, these are just musings, and I in *no* way mean them to be judgmental) It seems a lot of what I see in that department are very careerist moms who have the biological drive to have one, but after that would really like to get back to their careers. There is nothing wrong with a career (those looking for biblical basis can check out Acts 16).

    The other large reason I find, is financial. Which I find perfectly understandable if you’re trying to put food on the table, but a bit disconcerting when the decision of adding to your household depends on whether you can buy them their 1st car when they turn 16.

    Really liking these posts, btw

    Stacy  |  December 21st, 2008 at 10:52 pm

  • Just tell people you subscribe to China’s One Child policy. That shuts them up right away!

    I have one adorable boy, and am able to focus on him and be the best mom I can be. He also sees me working in a career I love, and I feel I’m setting a good example for him as he grows into an adult. My husband stays home with him, so we have an “untraditional” home - which I hope becomes more of a trend in society.

    Stick with one if that’s what is right for your family. It’s really no one’s business. :)

    Sarah  |  December 26th, 2008 at 5:31 pm

  • I wanted to comment from a slightly different perspective…the only time I have regretted being an only child was when my father was suddenly dying and I,alone, had to make the choice on keeping him on life support or not. At that moment, and only at that moment, I would have given anything to have someone to share that decision with me. Growing up as an only, I had a wonderful life, plenty of friends, didn’t develop a egocentric attitude about the world and became a very successful mom with 2 daughters. But as an adult, I would love to have siblings especially now that both my parents are deceased. While my husband’s family has welcomed me with open arms, I would l ike my girls to have another side of the family for support.

    Sarah  |  January 3rd, 2009 at 7:54 am

  • Natalie,

    I am so sorry for the way you are being treated especially from professionals like your OB/GYN. Like you my husband and I are thinking we might just be done with 1 - a 3-year-old daughter. And while some people have been judgemental, many others have understood. My OB was much nicer and completely understood.

    Perhaps it’s because we live in the city and most of our neighbors have the same space constraints and concerns about private school costs as we do.

    And I, too question if my choice is correct. And right now I know it is what works for us - for many of the same reasons as your unpublished paragraph listed.

    So stay strong and know that there are many of us out there and it truly is no one’s business but yours and your husband’s.

    Leanne C.  |  January 26th, 2009 at 3:09 pm

  • I have an only child and he now is 22 years old. There are great things about having only one child-you never miss any of his or her events, birthday parties are always fun, and it is usually never too much trouble to do an activity. My husband and I made sure our son had great friends and they were always included in anything we did so it wasn’t just the three of us. While people say that only children are selfish and self-centered, I think my son is as generous and caring as any child with or without siblings. And when asked if he misses having any brothers or sisters he is fine with his situation. Now the downside, he will be alone to take care of us if that happens, he does have to navigate situations without the benefit of learning from someone else and he is always our focus which can be daunting. But I was 36 when I had him (not easily) so I am grateful to be a mother and love him to pieces. Everything is a compromise, just because you have a brother or sister doesn’t mean you get along with him or her. Besides, I never met an only child that I didn’t like. So enjoy your situation and do what is right for you and your family.

    Catherine Kraus  |  January 29th, 2009 at 7:41 pm

  • This is such a great forum. I am the mother of a fabulous 2.5 year old boy and both hubbie and I work full time. I love being a mom and every moment I spend with my son. I feel this experience has made me a better person and I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it., but I’m pretty sure my son will be an only. Thankfully, when asked about baby #2 and I respond that I happily have my hands full the conversation turns to talk about my son. On that topic, I can talk for days!

    It’s wild how personal people can get with near strangers. I wonder what it is about our culture that so many feel so free to ask such questions. My husband and I were married for eight years before we ever started trying to have children. I think the pressure then was worse. I actually switched GYN’s because he gave me crap everytime about when I was going to have a baby even though I told him to stop asking me about it. I told my parents and in-laws we’ll let them know when/if we’re having kids and not to ask anymore. After that, things got better. So much so that the folks thought we were joking when we told them we were actually pregnant :-)

    Stephanie  |  January 29th, 2009 at 10:34 pm

  • What could possibly be wrong with one child? Plenty of people are perfectly miserable singletons and perfectly miserable members of larger repertoires. I too am a very happy mom of one, although I always thought I would have more. My pregnancy for my daughter was absolutely the single most treasured event of my adult life. I don’t feel however a desire to repeat it. We are a happy family right now. I do mentally stress as to whether I am being selfish or honest. While I am prone to worry about what other’s think, thankfully, in this area I do not.

    Amanda  |  January 29th, 2009 at 10:43 pm

  • We are all the product of our environment.

    I was an only child due to medical reasons, and I hated it. I always wanted a large family. When I “inherited” 4 step-siblings at the age of 17, I knew that I wanted a large family. Now with 3 girls I *think* I’m done but who knows.

    I do know I’ve sacrificed a lot to have my large family and to do it so young (I’m 28), and it will be a struggle to start my career properly at 30, but a large family was always more important than that. It’s just my Dad and me now, and I don’t ever want my kids to feel alone like I do.

    Kin  |  January 31st, 2009 at 5:34 pm

  • I loved this blog! Never give anyone any more information than they need.. like your name. That’s it. It’s nobody’s business.. It’s your life!

    virtualmom  |  February 1st, 2009 at 12:11 pm

  • I have a 10 weeks old and as the main breadwinner i am already back at work full time since 3 weeks, i would love to have another child, but i will wait for our financial situation to be better and once i don’t have to work so hard and earn so much, i will be stay at home mummy and have another baby :-)

    Emilie  |  February 4th, 2009 at 8:01 am

  • It is none of my business, but from one only child to another, I feel the voice of experience should be shared. Like you, I have enjoyed being an only child. I feel very well-rounded, and in the terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I think I have reached self-actualization more than once in my lifetime and maintained it for great lengths of time in comparison to friends, cohorts and co-workers.

    I have a fantastic relationship with my mother and step-dad, and my husband! Which brings us to the situation that shattered my only-child kingdom. The death of my father. As in Nancy Reagan’s situation, it was a long good-bye, watching him diminish from Alzheimer’s Disease. This was the only time in my life I really wished for a sibling! My husband was wonderfully caring and supportive, my Mom his ex-wife was very supportive, but ultimately the decisions - the life and death - decisions fell to me, alone, There was no one to bounce ideas off of who knew him as intimately as I did, no one with whom at the end I could link my arm in theirs and walk away at the end in agreement that “we” had made the best choices possible for the one we loved. It would have been nice to have that reassurance.

    Ultimately, it is your choice in what works best for your family, but in my years (50+) of observations we often make those decisions based on what is best for “us” -more “me” than “us” - and don’t think far enough down the road for those involved in the “us” because we are comfortable in the now, and have never experienced what it would feel like to be in such a situation as I have described.

    I do not fault my parents for me being an only. . . it was a fertility issue that seems to skip a generation in my family - doctor’s say she was lucky just to have me.

    valjene  |  February 11th, 2009 at 10:01 pm

  • I was a very happy only child–only grandchild on both sides, even–as a kid. Then I grew up and my mom became terminally ill and my grandpa went senile and I had a baby and inherited my grandpa’s stranger-biting but sweet dog. My life has not been one emergency after another with nobody else to respond to them for many, many years, and I’m lucky my husband supported and joined me in endless caregiving. Between the incredible pressure of this and loneliness of seeing my whole family die out, I would never have 1 kid myself. If someone I am close to brings up the subject of having just 1 kid, I mention that.

    When we were slightly wild teenagers, an also only’s parents told her that they dedicated their whole life to her and by making bad choices she was RUINING THEIR LIVES. This was my first inkling that I might not want to put all my eggs in one basket.

    That said, I think it is INCREDIBLY rude when strangers tell me my toddler is cute, and by the way, I better have another one fast so she “doesn’t get get spoiled.” It’s personal and even close friends and family should not offer advice unsolicited.

    Alex in OC  |  February 23rd, 2009 at 8:58 pm

  • I live with my daughter, and her only son. He is seven, adhd, and possibly autistic. and the joy of our lives. She too, has suffered some comments and judgement about her choice. She was one of four, and never wanted to have to tell her son “no” because of money, or time. I often worked two jobs just to keep four of them housed, fed and clothed. So, yes, not only was money short, but time and attention as well. I was dissapointed at first at her decision, but now I understand and respect it. Hang in there, there are others out there.

    Betty  |  March 13th, 2009 at 4:09 pm

  • I agree with your thoughts about having only one child. My husband and I have a daughter and there are days when she wants me to do nothing but play with her that I think, gee, it would sure be nice for her to have a sibling to play with. When my husband and I met it was never in our future to produce a litter of kids. If it happened, it happened, but if it didn’t that was OK too. I don’t find too many people pushing their opinions on me about only having one child. If they did they’d get an earful, something like, “Do you want to change it’s diapers and buy everything for it? I DON’T!” Go with what you want, not what other people think.

    MsWonka  |  March 21st, 2009 at 8:17 am

  • What do you do about an only child (my daughter is 7) that really doesn’t want to be an only child? She is very well adjusted, does good in school, very compasionate, etc. I just feel really guilty…ugh!

    Vicki  |  March 31st, 2009 at 11:06 am

  • Thanks so much for all the postings, it really helped me, although, my decision has been made for me….. I found out that at 40 (just turning 40 in December, 2008) that I am in early menopause and chances of having another baby are very, very slim and really the only way would be egg donor. SO, I guess, I asked for a sign and that was it. I love my little man more than anything in this world and feel blessed to have had him and I am grateful……….

    Michelle  |  March 31st, 2009 at 12:02 pm

  • Oh my gosh, thank you so much for this post! I am so tired of everyone telling me, “Oh you’ll change your mind a few years” and “Oh that’s so sad”. We’re doing what’s right for us - emotionally, financially, etc. If someone else wants more kids, they can go on and have them. ;)

    Amanda  |  April 2nd, 2009 at 9:07 am

  • We have an “only” who is almost 6 now. Over the past year he asked for a sibling a few times, or more specifically, a baby. He was fascinated with them for a while. I got him a little doll that coos and that was good for him and now he has moved on to legos :)

    I had an easy time getting pregnant and an easy pregnancy. The only hitch was a c-section because he was breech. We originally talked about 2 but once we had him we just felt right at 1. I don’t believe in having children unless you are sure you want them so we are at 1. I am 33 so there is time for mind-changing but I don’t see it happening.

    I had a sister who had brain damage and died when I was 6. She had a birth defect and some severe health problems. I realize how easily a child can not be born “perfect” and how much that can take a toll on the family. I also believe my mother felt cheated out of opportunities because of having children (she had 3 in all) and I don’t want to end up there. She tells me they had me because they knew my sister might die so they wanted to make sure to have a boy and a girl - talk about trying to fit into the “norm” taken to the extreme! So while I feel happy with 1 just because it feels right, this history also plays into my decision.

    Melissa  |  April 24th, 2009 at 5:44 am

  • While having only one child is definately your decision I will give the perspective from an only child. I am a 27 year old only child. To this day I still wish I had siblings. I am fearful of my parents growing older and having to make decisions on their care on my own. I am engaged to be married. My fiance isn’t completely sold on the kids idea and I am so scared that someday I will end up alone with my husband gone and no parents or siblings. I’m scared of not having a family when I’m 80 years old. I don’t want to be the old lady in the nursing home that no one comes to visit.
    I’m also a teacher and hear a lot of excuses for only children. Such as, oh they’re an only that explains the way they act (like a spoiled brat). I don’t consider myself ever acting like a brat. Spoiled yes but that was how my parents and grandparents showed their love for me. I was the only grandchild for a long time. I also see how only children have a hard time socializing with other kids. Only children spend most of the time playing by themselves. When they come to school they don’t know how to engage in play with other children. I have a girl in my class this year who is a shy, quiet only child. She is often isolated by the other children because she does not speak up and does not know how to engage others in her activities.
    I do know one thing, if my fiance decides we should have kids I will not have only one. I feel that there are so many things I am missing out on by not having siblings.

    Tracy  |  May 9th, 2009 at 10:41 am

  • The same judgment and questions have come my way because I am childfree by choice. I’ve heard it all including that I will change my mind. Never would someone suggest that to a pregnant woman. Never would you hear “Oh, kids are such a hassle. You’ll change your mind and have an abortion or put it up for adoption.”

    Such a thing would be considered beyond rude, but no one seems to mind telling me that I will change my mind. I am 33 years old and I know my own mind. Judgment and questions are not appreciated.

    Lawfrog  |  May 10th, 2009 at 8:55 pm

  • The bigger question is why do we all need to be in each other’s business all the time? Women who choose not to have kids, to have only one kid, to have a kid without a spouse, to have lots of kids … everyone gets some kind of comment from someone. When will we ever respect each others’ choices?

    Its also just freaking rude. My son is 7 years old and I am expecting our second. I thought he would be an only due to some medical conditions that made it difficult for me to have another. It really hurt when people would ask me why I didn’t have a second because I was grieving. Now people make comments about the age difference we’re going to have. Whatever. You know what? Its my business… and my family’s.

    Larisa  |  May 14th, 2009 at 10:45 am

  • Larissa,

    You’re absolutely right! It’s your business what you decide to do in regards to children, the number, the age gap, etc. I don’t know why people feel like they have a say in other people’s decisions or that their opinions are welcomed.

    You can never know the reason someone may not have children or may not have more than one. As was the case with you, a medical condition could be the reason and you may not want to discuss that with everyone in the world. Privacy should be respected, but unfortunately, it is not.

    Lawfrog  |  May 16th, 2009 at 7:54 pm

  • It’s not.
    But this is also coming from a “normal” only child with only one child.

    Just tell them you found out what caused it and quit. In my experience this normally shuts them up ^_^

    Hope  |  May 30th, 2009 at 2:35 pm

  • Thank You! I’ve been feeling exactly the same for a year now. Your description on this issue is just amazing. You put in words exactly what I’ve been going through!. A couple of hours ago I called my OB office to get an appointment to finally consult him on the fact of not wanting another child. Children are lovely, we adore our daughter, but the reality is that we don’t want another child, for plenty of reasons, that as you clearly said, are nobodies’ businesses! So, again, thank u!

    Jess  |  June 11th, 2009 at 9:07 am

  • Wow…I am an American living in Mexico. And having one child is viewed as a Crime. I was relieved to read this blog and hope to find other support like it. I wish it did not affect me. I must admitt when my husband is traveling and I am out with my son. I feel so alone with just my son. I see huge families everywhere. I am trying to be strong and not let it affect me. Thank you for the post.

    oohhmm  |  June 19th, 2009 at 10:06 pm

  • Being a single mom I figured I’d never have to deal with this. People understood, surely, that with her father and I not together, having another one wasn’t a given. And that was true; for 5 years.

    Maybe I’m finally starting to show that I’m leaving the child-bearing years. Those who figured I’d find someone else realize it isn’t happening. So maybe that is why I’m now hearing: don’t you WANT one more? won’t it be easier for her if she has a sibling?

    I make a comfortable living so could probably adopt. I could foster. Having been through pregnancy essentially alone I don’t wish to do it again.

    But for me, the kicker is I don’t feel able to care for two. My daughter has developmental issues that make it unlikely she’d care one way or the other about a sibling so I don’t feel “mean” for having her alone. And I don’t bring another child into the role in the shadow of a sister who’s therapies and interventions might get in the way of their normal childhood.

    Am I mean? Selfish? Deluded? Will I devastated? Pining? The answer, to me, for all of those, is no. But if I am, I’ve not doubt many here are standing in line to say “I told you so” and how is that helpful to anyone?

    Mich  |  June 26th, 2009 at 11:57 am

  • Wasnt Jesus an only-child? Ive never read much bible but I think the Virgin Mary only had one child? If someone could clarify that, it would be a great comeback to prying people questioning an only child’s character.

    And arent there half a billion (?) only-children in China? Im sure most of them are just fine or we’d have heard something by now.

    Im starting to wonder if Ive talked myself into desiring a second child, because of irrational guilt / pressure from others etc. Our 2 year old daughter is so lovely and special, as all little girls are. Life feels full. But she has no cousins and I am concerned for her becoming lonely or feeling ‘odd’ in a society full of siblings. Not sure…. thanks for all the great comments, it’s been a thought-provoking read for me

    emmaemma  |  June 29th, 2009 at 7:00 am

  • Mich, I too have a child with developmental issues. He has made incredible progress (lost the diagnosis) with the help of some unconventional (but NOT over-the-top or wacko) therapies: gluten-free diet, Suzuki violin lessons (instead of auditory processing therapy–nearly the same thing, but he comes out with the ability to play the violin !), Tae Kwon Do (instead of PT/OT), and vitamin supplements (especially B12). I hope this helps, and sorry for hijacking away from the single-kid issue.

    Taximom  |  June 29th, 2009 at 9:46 pm

  • emmaemma, I’ve heard a LOT from ex-spouses of some of the adult only- children from China. Many of them are NOT just fine; they are used to being the center of their family’s universe, and expect to be that in every adult relationship as well.

    But I don’t think that should impact anyone’s decision to have only one child, because here in the US, it IS YOUR DECISION, Nobody should EVER question your decision. If you feel it’s right, then it’s right. Just like, for those of us who felt that several children was right, then THAT was right–for us.

    I do have one point to nit-pick: or the Chinese parents, it wasn’t a choice at all. There is a heavy price to pay for a second pregnancy–financial, emotional, and sometimes even physical. Heavy fines are imposed not only on the parents, but on their relatives as well. Enormous pressure is applied by the gov;t–jobs and housing taken away, etc. Forced abortions were and apparently still are common. Imagine WANTING that second child and having a forced abortion.

    That one-child rule is why there have been so many girls dumped in orphanages in China–their parents wanted a boy, especially those from poorer families.

    Obviously, THOSE children were not “just fine.”

    For you, though, if you worry about your daughter feeling lonely, with no siblings or cousins, maybe you could make sure you live near lots of other little girls the same age, so she would have lots of easily accessible friends.

    Taximom  |  June 29th, 2009 at 9:57 pm

  • Hi Taximom thanks for your comment and yes I agree with your concern about some of the disturbing things going on in China (and elsewhere), I guess my comment might have souded flippant which is not how I feel about gender selection and didactic government policies. I only meant that I dont think the Chinese kids turn into a-holes - if you have witnessed otherwise then I’m sorry to hear that, but Im thinking it’s not the norm in my experience. Most adult ‘only children’ who I know are fantastic, including my best friend!

    Also about China: I’m not American but in my country I notice a lot of Chinese migrants have 2 kids and one mum told me it was a factor in why they left China, so I do feel for them. So sad

    My daughter is already popular with kids but I dont think friends are the same as siblings, it’s rather different isnt it

    emmaemma  |  July 1st, 2009 at 3:21 am

  • I have a sister. We are not close at all. We are the complete opposites. We fought a lot and have a lot of hurt feelings. If we weren’t related, we probably wouldnt even be friends irl. My best friend is more of a “sister” than my own sister is.
    Just because you have another child, does not necesarily mean it will benefit your current only and they will be close. That is a gamble and I believe there to be negative effects as well as positive effects for the only. It could go either way. That being said, figure out what YOU want and what is right for YOUR family.

    mermaid_mama  |  August 16th, 2009 at 9:30 am

  • I totally agree!! I also have only one son who is 2 and all of a sudden everyone is asking me when we’re having the next one. With the economy in the toilet and the reality that my husband and I live in a place where the public schools are less that satisfactory (meaning we’re going to have to invest in private school), we’ve decided to put off plans to have a second child. The other reason is my health isn’t the best as of late. But that is neither here nor there. It shouldn’t matter what reason a couple decides to stop at one, it is no ones business to tell you otherwise. It might not be so wrong to have just one child these days when it is so hard to keep and maintain a job and household.

    Heather Anderson  |  August 21st, 2009 at 10:44 am

  • I loved this!!:

    “”I don’t think people are being insensitive when they ask that way, it’s really just a conversation opener. But if they act like you’re a freak for keeping your family a one-child family once you tell them, then they move into asshole territory!

    Sunshine | July 7th, 2008 at 12:34 am “”"

    that just summed it up!

    cricket  |  September 3rd, 2009 at 2:41 pm

  • It is not a crime I’m an only child, well my parents got divorced when I was 2 and they got merried later on in live and had children, but I’m 16 years older so I feel like an only child, I have a 16 year old doughter and she is the only I have so do what you think is right for you

    Sherry Lynn  |  October 1st, 2009 at 6:47 pm

  • Totally agree. I am the only child and have a 8month old daughter. Even though there were times when I wish I had siblings…many times I enjoyed being the old child.

    My husband and I are talking about this issue on a daily basis recently and we both came to conclusion that we’re only going to have one.

    Julie  |  October 13th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

  • I have an only child and she is now 9 years old. My husband is very content having an only but for some reason I have been conflicted with the decision. When my daughter was born she had an underdeveloped esophagus, and severe Milk, Soy and Protein Intolerance. She screamed for the first 6 months of her life. Her medication and formula was $700 per month. Also, when she was 5 she was diagnosed with cancer, Leukemia and relapsed and had a stem cell transplant. I am happy and lucky to have her but would love to share our lives with another child. I wish I knew what was lacking in my life that I feel incomplete having an only. I think part of the reason is society pressure. We live in the mid west and most families have 3 or more.

    Elaine O  |  October 16th, 2009 at 5:03 pm

  • I am so glad I found this website, and this article! I know exactly how you feel. Today, a colleague (who has a stay at home wife to take care of his 2 kids) suggested that I was selfish for not having another baby. Just last month, someone told me, “Think of your son!” when she heard me say we were happy with one. I wish they’d mind their own business! I live in Malaysia, btw, so I guess this is a problem for mums with one child everywhere!

    moonlight  |  October 21st, 2009 at 8:20 am

  • Thanks for your cander in writing this blog. I’m home with my sick, 9 year old “only” and I stumbled upon it today. Even though the option of having another child is over, I still struggle that I put my feelings ahead of my daughter’s. I feel as if the societal message is clear: if you’re a “good” mom, you put your child’s/family’s needs above yours. When I decided to have just one child, I put my needs ahead. I had to be brutally honest with myself at 38. I felt one child was manageable. I married a terrific man but it was apparent he was no Mr. Mom during those early years. The responsibility felt squarely on my shoulders. I wanted the balance of family life and a work life and I knew I wasn’t a mini-van/soccer mom kind of person. I also felt blessed that my daughter was sweet, gentle, smart and acted in a reasonable way for a 2 year old. If I could have duplicated her, I would have likely had a second child. But at 38, I didn’t want to take the chance of having a cranky, needy, unreasonable second child. As for my daughter, I’ll feel bad forever that she’ll never experience a sibling relationship and I know she’ll always wonder what that would have been like. But I also know that she’s gotten the best version of a mom that I can be. I also know that some of my dearest relationships have been with people outside of my family. As my daughter ages, she benefits from my choice in a way that can never be measured. And as I age, I realize the beauty of being wise enough to tune out societal norms in order to make such an important, personal choice.

    Nancy  |  October 22nd, 2009 at 12:26 pm

  • I have a daughter who is nearly 4. At first I was dead-set against having more…I wanted to be able to focus all of my time, energy, etc on her. Then everyone around me started having their 2nd. I started to question “Well maybe we SHOULD have another one”…not whether I deep down wanted another. I have a brother and can’t imagine life without him - but that being said, I wouldn’t have known any better if I’d been an only.

    We started trying for awhile, but I have come to the conclusion that one round of diapers, 2am feedings and baby junk all over the house is enough for me! I loved it, but don’t want to do it again!!

    I have had people give me the same responses to the “when” question…and the most RUDE and unthoughtful comment I’ve ever gotten is “Well, what if something happened to McKenna!!” As if having another child would make it easier to lose another!!! People are seriously weird.

    Jennifer W  |  October 28th, 2009 at 11:31 am

  • My daughters are 8 years apart. Why? Because after my oldest I was done. I never felt those pangs that my family was incomplete. I was perfectly happy with my one wonderful little girl. I heard all the same things you’ve heard, but I think you should take them with a grain of salt - If it’s right for you then that’s all that matters.

    Daughter #2 was a complete suprise. I love her completely and utterly adore her, but I hope it doesn’t sound awful when I admit that if she wouldn’t have been a “suprise” I was not planning on having any more children.

    AmyT  |  November 9th, 2009 at 9:53 am

  • I have one child who is 21 years old and a junior in college. She goes to a great school and if I had two kids, I couldn’t afford for her to go there! She has many very close friends and keeps in touch with me on a regular basis and I couldn’t ask for a better relationship. I decided to have one child because there were things in life that I wanted for her that I couldn’t afford financially if I had two. I was also a full-time working mom and couldn’t even imagine how stressful it would be to be a full-time working mom with two kids. I am from a family of six kids who had two full time working parents and saw how hard it was for them to even attempt to do it all. I have no regrets!

    And in response to the women who is an only child, and therefore the only care giver to her adult parents, it really isn’t any eaiser when there are six and the other five refuse to help! My dad is 92 and I just took a day off of work to drive 380 miles roundtrip so he could go to the bank and move some money around. I also cleaned his condo and went grocery shopping for him when I was there. Isn’t it funny that every single one of my other siblings lives closer but somehow couldn’t find the time to do this? However, when they found out that he stuck $50 in my pocket for gas, they asked how I could take the money from him. Sometimes I tell myself that this is what I would be doing anyway if I were an only child, and it makes me feel better ;-)

    Claudia  |  November 11th, 2009 at 3:03 pm

  • Great article, and I couldn’t relate more. Loved the sentence about the second child bringing just enough chaos to force a mom to give up her perfectionistic planning tendencies.

    I’m 32 and my daughter is 3, and though I grew up with a sister 2 years younger than me without whom my life would have been (speculatively speaking) much more plain and with whom - though she lives about 700 miles away - I maintain a close and loving relationship, I just never saw myself having more than one child. On the one hand, I’m “selfish” enough that I want my own genes propagated into the next generation, and thus I had a biological child, on the other, I worry a lot about the future of the world and middle-class as we know it, about overpopulation, about human suffering and similar issues, and it makes the prospect of bearing more children burdensome to say the least.

    Like you, I’m not saying a determinate “never”, but nothing about my life indicates that I’m planning for a sibling to my daughter in any near future. And as someone who’s actually lived about half their life in a different country (and has left a good set of relatives and friends behind), I’ll just let you know that Americans are in comparison, kind, unpresumptious and unintrusive. Seeing me with my 2.5 yr. old this summer on the streets of my former homeland, everyone from the bus driver to the lady selling jam on the market to old friends and you-name-them-they’ve-said-it, spoke in nothing less than imperatives how only selfish or infertile couples dare have only one child and how it is a WOMAN’S PURPOSE in life to be a mother and have as many children as feasible.

    With American population, which includes my partner’s (dare I differentiate him from a husband since we’re not married) family, I’ve gotten nothing close to so much as a hint that we should make more. That said, my partner comes from a family of 6 children and being 11 years older than me as expressed a desire for (at least one) more offspring in the near future, but is understanding about my resignations and doesn’t push me. It’s not as if I ever indicated to him that I wanted more than one child, and then backed out either. I just felt that with one child, I’ll have the best chance of giving her the best opportunities in life that I can. And besides, I’ve known a great number of only children who were actually more social and had more friends because they didn’t take peer relationships for granted but actually worked on nurturing them.

    If my daughter comes one day and pleads with me to make her a big sister on the other hand, I may just cave in.

    zhivka  |  November 19th, 2009 at 9:12 am

  • Being raised with siblings can help you develop leadership skills and teamwork skills that apply later in the workforce and in civic service. There are leadership conferences for young people (I attended one as a teenager), but the 365-day lab of your own household is the very best way to learn.

    Ellen Ewing  |  November 27th, 2009 at 8:11 am

  • I completely understand. It seems that while I read your post, I identified with you very much. The only difference was that I am one of three children. I presently have only one child, my son Damian. He will be 4 in about a month. Yes, I pay him tons of attention, which I thought was what a parent is supposed to do, and he is very well behaved-not at all rotten or spoiled. I am having difficulty even getting pregnant, trying since last Aug. Not sure if I’m willing to get assistance from my OB to become pregnant~seeing him this month. There are way too many hormonal weirdnessess within my own body and am desperately waiting to be back on the pill.

    Anyway……just thought I would throw that thougt in….that I know exactly how you feel. I am going throught the same feelings…..sometimes feeling guilty for not giving him a sibling, other days wondering if he will be just fine without one.

    May I ask a question…..no need to answer if it is too personal. Was it lonely growing up as an only child? I only ask because I grew up with a sister who was 3 years younger. We played together well (most of the time) but also played separately in our own rooms.

    Thanks for the thoughts.

    L.Herrington  |  January 3rd, 2010 at 10:00 pm

  • I can totally relate to this-I am 33 years old and my husband is 40. We have a 4 month old daughter and do not plan to have any more. It is so annoying when people get an attitude when you tell them you are only having one.

    Jenny  |  January 22nd, 2010 at 8:21 am

  • I was searching for information about moms of onlies and this came up. Thank you for putting this out there. I really wish people would not ask.

    Shannon  |  January 26th, 2010 at 7:09 am

  • I am pregnant with my first, due any day now, and have been shocked at some of the insensitive comments I would never in a million years have anticipated.

    Children are a highly emotional topic and everyone seems to have an opinion but when it goes beyond reporting facts and into laying down judgment, the time for polite shock is over.

    Tell them their comments are highly inappropriate and insensitive. If enough people do this maybe we can stem the tide of hurtful “advice”.

    I am not opposed to going one step further and telling them that your family is none of their business but that overpopulation is killing the planet and you are only doing your part. Or any other comment that can turn the tide and make them feel a little less comfortable themselves.

    Jamie  |  February 2nd, 2010 at 2:55 pm

  • I stumbled on this blog today and I really need to hear these comments today. My husband and I always wanted to have 2 or maybe even 3 children. I had dreams of a big family. The reality was that we had a very hard time getting pregnant. Every couple that experiences infertility was probably surprised by the news. We were no exception, but I was truly shocked just how complex the problem was. In the end, we were told we had less than a 5% chance of getting pregnant. We took our chances with IVF and for reasons I’ll never understand but am eternally grateful for, we got pregnant on the first try.

    Today is my son’s first birthday.

    Everyone tells me we should try again. We got lucky once, we could get lucky again etc, etc. I’ve heard all the same comments on this blog. He’s going to be lonely. If something happens to him, we’ll have no children and all the other equally insensitive remarks.

    Here’s my secret irony. I spent years dreaming of a big family and you know what? As a happily married professional with a busy life and a big mortgage and 1 perfect little boy. I’m not sure I actually want to have another baby. Even if it wasn’t crazy expensive. Even if it wasn’t a huge long shot. Even if we could just get pregnant whenever we want, I’m not sure I want to. I love my little boy more than I ever thought possible, but the day to day routine pretty much does me in my 9pm every night.

    I truly don’t believe I could be as good a mom if I had more than 1 children. Let me be clear that I’m not saying others can’t manage. I know many couples who raise, 2,3 or even 4 children amazingly well. But, if I’m being honest, I don’t think I could give my son the attention he needs if I had to spread myself between 2 children.

    Does that mean I don’t still grapple with this? Does it mean I don’t sometimes feel jealous when I see beautiful big bellies or when I’m packing up all his tiny sleepers? No. These things make me long to be pregnant again. But when I put my practical hat on again and I’m running after my 1 year old, I remind myself that we’re just fine.

    Kelly  |  February 12th, 2010 at 8:36 am

  • @ Kelly,

    I am NOT trying to talk you into more children–I truly believe that it’s just fine to have only one child.

    I just want to say that, while listening to the practical hat IS important, so is listening to your gut. In my experience, my gut has been correct far more often than my practical hat! I’ve regretted acting without thinking, I’ve regretted relying exclusively on spur-of-the-moment emotional reaction, but I’ve never once regretted listening to my gut. I have, however, regretted decisions that I later felt were unnecessarily practical. But in those cases, I was only able to really see what I had lost when it was too late.

    If your son is only one year old, IMHO, that’s rather early to be thinking of another child, anyway. Most (but by no means all) breast-feeding moms seem to have children spaced 30-36 months apart, which seems to be nature’s way of optimum spacing.

    In my experience, it was good spacing because each child was old enough to be out of diapers when a sibling was born, and, more importantly, old enough to desire some independence from Mommy. Also, each child was old enough so that the jealousy issue was practically non-existent, especially when every word out of my mouth to the baby was about how important, wonderful, strong, fun, helpful, handsome, smart, etc. Big Brother was.

    My mother was horrified that my two oldest, both boys, would lift their shirts and nurse their stuffed animals when I nursed the baby. But I thought it was great that they understood what mommying was all about, especially when my 2 1/2 year old came running to get me out of the shower when the baby woke up and cried, yelling, “Mommy, Mommy, the baby is crying, she needs you to pick her up RIGHT NOW!!!” Not “make her stop crying,” but “do what the baby needs.” I wish more parents understood that one!

    I do have a neighbor who managed to conceive ONE month after the birth of her first child, even though she was breastfeeding. Then, ONE month after the second child, she conceived TWINS. :0 And, yes, she’s been stressed out ever since. Of course, my OBGYN always told me that if I could even consider sex any time within the first six months after birth, that that meant that I was ovulating. (But in all honesty, I couldn’t even sit without discomfort for at least 6 months.)

    Anyway, wait and see, consider your practical hat’s perspective–but in the long run, go with your gut, whichever way it leans. (And there’s always adoption.)

    Taximom  |  February 12th, 2010 at 10:43 am

  • An older person who was sitting near me at the Dr’s office began to speak to me about her grown children and asked me how many I had and I had mentioned one son.

    She asked me If I would be having any more and I said no and she said how I could do that to him that it would be very selfish of me not to give him a sibling. I remember beingso flabergasted at her response. I thanked her for her opinion and moved to another chair. I seriously didn’t know what to say. I’m always amazed on what people will say to others.

    Heather  |  February 18th, 2010 at 1:12 pm

  • Thanks for this article. We have been going through the same decision process, and we’re deciding on just one child. I am like you though and second-guessing all the time, trying to be perfect in my parenting. It’s rough, and I’m always doubting, but then I’m so happy and blessed right now. I think my biggest battle was overcoming people’s thoughts of me, yet that’s no reason to procreate again—other people! Yet I somehow have to keep reminding myself that as we’re just now informing our parents and letting people know in our replies to “When are you having another?”

    Kelly C  |  February 18th, 2010 at 9:51 pm

  • It’s not a crime, but a personal choice. In my opinion, it can be hard on the “only child” later in life. For example, I lost my mother about a year and 1/2 ago. Prior to that, I was at her bedside while cancer slowly transitioned her. Everything was on me and it was a lot of stress. When she did pass away, I was responsible for planning, delegating and the execution of her funeral/burial. The only other living immediate relative was my grandfather and with dementia, he could not help. I had to do it all and that was one of the most difficult times of my life.

    With all that said, I have 2 kids. I want more, but it’s not looking good. If I were able to, I’d have at least 1 or 2 more. Yes, it’s financially straining and at times mentally too, but it’s worth it to me. My kids are stair steps (not planned). They play and fight, but for the most part, they stick together. I’d hate for them to experience the stress and heart-ache I experienced with my mom. It’s like a friend jokingly said, “Have more than 1 or 2. At least if one of them turns out bad, you still have a chance with the other(s).” Hilarious, though good and bad, I’d love them no matter what.

    Q. Brook  |  February 25th, 2010 at 12:09 am

  • Yes, it’s a personal choice.. one that no one should comment on. I’m beginning to think those who are so intent on people having more than one are just trying to justify their own decisions.

    I was an only child for 12 years. Yes, at times, when I was younger, I wish I had a sibling, but as a got a little older, being an only didn’t bother me. And I don’t think it impacted me negatively.

    Having more than one child is not always insurance that they’ll be able to support one another when things get tough.

    My sister was born when I was 12. Not a planned pregnancy on my mother’s part, but a blessing nonetheless. However, being older, I was more a caretaker than a sister to her. My mother passed away from cancer from I was 25 and my sister 13. I became her legal guardian. I love my sister more than anything but do I think the whole ordeal would have been easier if I was an only? Yes.

    Another example, my mother in law in one of SEVEN. However, when her mother and her sister will ill and passed away, none of her brothers and sisters helped her at all.

    While it’s a lovely thought that by having more than one child, your children will grow up with best friends and support one another throughout their life, it doesn’t always work out that way. If you have the means (financial and otherwise) to have more than one, go for it. But no one’s choice (and in some cases, it’s not their choice if they’ve dealt with infertility) to have only one should be questioned.

    It’s interesting that people will comment on someone having only one child but is anything ever said to those with 3, 4, 5, 6 or more children?? While you might think an only is lonely, one might think that your children don’t get as much attention.

    Rena  |  February 25th, 2010 at 9:11 am

  • @Rena,

    I think you are too quick to jump to conclusions.

    We live in a society where EVERYTHING is subject to both judgment and comment by others, whether it’s parenting choices, such as breastfeeding, vaccinations, how many children, or whether it’s what you choose to wear to work.

    Certainly, it’s possible that some people who comment are doing so to justify their own conclusions, But it’s equally possible that they are able to see from a perspective that you don’t , and that they believe that sharing their perspective may help you.

    One could just as easily argue that snarling, “it’s a personal choice, you have no right to comment on it!” is overly defensive and an attempt to justify YOUR choice.

    If you are so convinced that your choice is the right one for you, then no matter how judgmental someone seems, all you need to do is calmly explain the reason for your decision. You may end up educating the other person–is that such a bad thing? Or, if it’s too personal a subject for you to discuss, calmly explain that it’s too personal a subject for you to discuss. You don’t need to make someone feel bad, especially if they may have had the best of intentions.

    I think what it boils down to in the end is that, if you are comfortable with your choice, comments won’t bother you, even if they seem judgmental. If they do bother you, perhaps that is an indication that you are not completely comfortable with either the choice or the subject itself. And if that’s the case, then I’d say you have an issue that you need to deal with–and focusing on whether the other person is out of line or not to mention it becomes a convenient way to distract yourself from that issue.

    But lashing out at those who dare to question your choice? That says as much about the lasher-outer as it does about the one who dared to comment.

    I think the best way to approach it is to think about what you might–or might not–regret 40 years from now. Or 10 years from now. Or next week.

    And that applies not only to decisions like whether or not to have a second child, but also to decisions on how to react to people who seem to judge you.

    Have I ever regretted snapping at someone? Sure. Have I ever regretted being patient, calmly explaining reasons behind my decisions, and listening to another perspective, even if I end up not agreeing with it Not yet.

    Taximom5  |  February 26th, 2010 at 11:36 am

  • It’s not a crime to stop at one child. Trust me. It’s difficult enough to work and raise one child. My son is 16 years old. Now, I can say honestly that I wish I would have tried for one more earlier on. We found out that I couldn’t have any more children when my son was about six years old.
    Still, one child is great, particularly when you have one wonderful child!

    kellyg  |  March 14th, 2010 at 6:43 pm

  • We have recently decided that our one son will be out only son. My husband just turned 39 a couple of weeks ago and we got to talking and neither one of us wants to be in our 60’s with a 20 yr old child. While I am only 5 years younger than my husband, I also think that’s it time to stop. We’ve been trying for our second child for almost a year, just to find out that I’m ovulating too late in my cycle and that it will take several tests and some pills to get things going right again. My son is 4 yrs old and is just about perfect. I am very content with out choice and now deal with the disappointed comments from family.

    We’re happy and that’s what matters.

    L.Herrington  |  March 15th, 2010 at 7:36 pm

  • I can think of 100 reasons to have another baby and 101 reasons not to. It is not always an easy choice.And you don’t need the general public making you feel worse about a hard decision.

    Maz  |  March 16th, 2010 at 9:18 am

  • I cannot agree with you more. I love what you wrote as it perfectly echos how I feel. (my son is now 3 years old.) I can even sort of picture the deleted paragraph that you mentioned you wrote.

    Reading your piece really made me a lot less lonely. Thanks.

    Carmen  |  March 29th, 2010 at 7:48 am

  • Loved your post! I have one child, who will remain an only child for many reasons. The biggest reason is that I feel it is highly unethical to produce a second child because I “should”, or to give my child a sibling. I don’t want another child, I wanted my only child, and that is why I had him.

    I have been caught off guard lately by hearing expectant mothers of their second child telling me why they are having another child. The producing of a sibling for the exisiting child is always mentioned, not “I really want to have another child, I am so excited about this baby”. I have listened to several women tell me “the only reason I’d have another child would be to give my first child a sibling, I’d never do it otherwise, no way”. I just listen and smile, it’s not my place to give them my contrasting viewpoint, but if having only one child because you only want one is soooo bad, why is having a second baby you don’t especially value, just to produce a sibling for your only child accepted by society? That is baffling to me.

    Now I’m wondering what percentage of second and third children were born because their parents really wanted more children, or just because their job description was “sibling wanted for my first child”. I have heard psychologists say “one reason for having more chidren may be to provide a sibling for the older child, but if that’s the only reason you are having another baby, that is not reason enough to have additional children”. I tend to agree with that.

    Allison  |  April 27th, 2010 at 1:33 pm

  • My husband and I have been married for almost 6 yrs and we have a 3 yr old little boy, and he will definately be our only child, no regrets, no hesitations!!!! I was an only child with the exception of a step brother on my mom’s side, my husband grew up with a brother. In my opinion the pros of having an only child definately out-weigh the cons. You don’t have to divide your attention, less noise, less chaos, less dishes, less laundry, more money and time to give to your child. What child wants to have to divide everything and not have the best of things due to a bratty little snotty nosed sibling always wanting to be up your butt. I’m sparing my sweet boy that agony. He is happy with just him and mommy and daddy!!!! Plus, I work as a registered nurse and my husband is an assistant manager at Food Lion, our time fits perfect with one. Having more kids means more laundry, confinement to home and more messes to clean up and less money!!! NO WAY!!!!!! Siblings are a true pain, means more aggravation and less for you!!!!

    Brenda Brown  |  May 4th, 2010 at 6:38 pm

  • I have one child who is now in college and 21 years old. If I had two children, I don’t think I would have been able to send her to her college of choice, or help with her rent and expenses. I also wouldn’t have been able to give the commitment to my job, (which pays these bills) if I had more than one! Having more than one is fine if that’s what you want, but please don’t complain to me because you are financially stretched too thin or just don’t have the time for other things. It is your choice.

    Claudia  |  May 4th, 2010 at 8:17 pm

  • Might I add that I’m having the new Essure procedure done next week to ensure that my precious little man doesn’t have to deal with the aggravation of a worrisome, snotty-nosed, whiny sibling!!!!!! Will be taking him to Disney World for the second time next year!!!!!

    Brenda Brown  |  May 5th, 2010 at 10:33 am

  • I had only one child, a daughter. I would have loved to have had more but I could not trust her father. I was 16 and pregnant and he 26 when he married me as he said temporarily to “give the child a name.” Although before he married me at 6 months pregnant he tried to force me to have an abortion, even physically holding me down and forcing ergot down my throat. I ran away and made myself vomit. I fought very hard to keep my pregnancy and to have my baby who was the light of my life. I stayed with her father 9 painful years to make sure she had a good start: a home and financial security. Then I could take no more of his reminding me that he didn’t really want me I left him, took my daughter and went to college. I raised her from then alone basically.
    Now she is 47 years old and I was diagnosed with cancer and she abandoned me, her husband saying,”just because you have cancer doesn’t mean OuR lives will change.” She married a man as selfish and narcissistic as her birth father. Now I am told by people that I should have had more children. She even said that to me. One person said this is why people have more than one child in case that one turns out badly or is a bad seed. When you get older or sick you need family to help you if you failed with just one you are left alone with no one to care. This is shocking to me.

    Carol  |  May 8th, 2010 at 2:25 pm

  • Why is it such a crime? What is wrong with you? You know what it’s like. It’s a crime because being an only child is misery. Not having peers makes it tough to relate to them when school starts. An only child has to become a little adult from the get go. Who are their peers? Who are the only truly important people in their lives? With no siblings it’s our parents. They are our peers so we become adults at an early age. Parents seem like our peers so we don’t want to act like kids. There’s an unspoken something that makes being a child out of place. Also the pressure is all on us. We are the conduits of our parent’s dreams and desires. There is immense pressure to succeed. Your parents may not verbalize it, but trust me IT is there.

    Only kids get along well with older and younger people than themselves. We are super sensitive people because we weren’t teased by our brother’s and sister’s. I can never tell if someone is kidding or serious. Only children have no one to share with so sharing a toy, or what have you is extremely annoying. We can’t help it. We feel like freaks for not having siblings. That whole phenomenon that 99.9% of the population experiences is like a secret society to us. We feel left out and are very lonesome.

    We live in UNSPEAKABLE TERROR at the idea of losing our parents. when your parents die, there goes your entire immediate family. We may very well end up alone in our old age. If we are unable to have kids (which is a sure deal breaker with spouse’s) What happens when we are old an infirm? Relatives um no. Blood is thicker than water. Aunts and uncles have there own kids to worry about and cousins have their own families to think of. In these cases like I said blood is thicker than water. When the going gets tough, the tough get going; and suddenly we feel like a bottle of Evian.

    Lady you said it you’re anal retentive etc… because you’re an only child. don’t be so selfish think of your child. Being an only child sucks.

    Estherlolly  |  May 17th, 2010 at 10:15 pm

  • Nataly, there is nothing wrong with you, disregard the last comment from Estherlolly, it would be shear TERROR to have more than one child. I’ve seen more than not that siblings are at each other’s throat when they’re adults because they can’t agree on anything. My only child is very well rounded and attends daycare everyday and gets along very well with others. Nataly, you seem like a great mother. Too often, children are not able to have nice things or have that car at 16 because there is always, “more than one to buy for” and YES, sharing EVERYTHING including time with parents and having, like I said a snotty nosed sibling up your butt every minute would be a pure nightmare, you know these kids are thinking, leave me the H*$$ alone, ALONE for 5 mins!!!! I’ll be proud of my little man whether he becomes a phd psychologist or a general laborer as long as he puts forth effort!!!!! Proud and SANE mommy of 1 child and 1 child ONLY!!!!!!

    BrendaBrown  |  May 22nd, 2010 at 9:59 am

  • I just read the comment “being an only child sucks” from estherlolly. Wow, what a statement, and nothing at all like my only child friends; every only child I’ve known was extremely smart, goal oriented, successful in their career, and very very socially adjusted. I guess many things in life “suck”, but there are no guarantees of anything, life is unpredictable. I had a friend who was very very close to her sibling, and her sibling died unexpectantly at a young age. A great loss for her to be sure, but this illustrates that having a sibling for your child does not guarantee that they will always be there for them, accidents happen, some siblings are not close, etc.

    Every family, every mother needs to decide how many children they want, and some women want zero children. This is their right. You owe your child a happy mother, a mother who loves the number of children that she has. You do not owe your child a sibling, a child needs a happy mother who is happy raising her child, not raising more children than she wants to. Who wants a mother like that?

    Allison  |  June 15th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

  • Don’t worry what folk say!!, belive me they’re always saying something. I’m an only child and LOVED it!!, sure you get more time alone but i try and use this time conctructively!!. It’s given me a great imagination and oh do i come up with some ideas!!!. I’m so lovong (cuddles)…so sweet, caring, giving and loyal. I have puppet Clifford so me and him (and Arkie…another teddy) are a team!!-strange family but it works for us!!. My Mum was 36 almost when she had me, plus there were many issues between her and my Dad, also medical issues so it’s sensitive too people shouldn’t question it, i wouldn’t question anyones choices why should they me. I want just one, it would be enough for me and it’s my dream!!, i see it as middle ground from not being childless (which if someone chooses that i would never judge) and not having a bog family, even 2 would be too many for me. I have medical issues and am not a strong girl plus i like the idea of haing just one!. Any only children (or anyone else) out there feel free to email me if you want a friend to compare note with!! [email protected].

    Bye gang!!.

    Shameme  |  June 19th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

  • I couldn’t have said all of this better myself! I agree wholeheartedly. My husband and I always planned to have just 1 child and we’d see how we went and now that we know financially we can only cope with one, our decision is set in stone. It will be one for us. I turned 40 last year and our son is nearly 7 and I am wondering when people will stop asking about if I have changed my mind about having another. A Mum at school said to me yesterday that it’s nice to have a sibling (or perhaps she even said “better”) - she has 3 kids and can’t cope with them so leaves them in care and goes to work. I wouldn’t do that to a child. We have other personal reasons for only having one child, along with the fact I was sick a lot of my pregnancy and didn’t have a perfect sleeping baby either. It takes a lot out of you and no-one in the world should judge people on how many kids they have. It is just ridiculous - I sometimes think the people that have many children just want all of us parents out there to suffer like them financially etc. by having many more children than we can cope with. It is no-one else’s choice but our own and yes, at times I do wish I had a crystal ball to see into my son’s future to make sure he’s fine with being an only but for now he is loving it and is very close to his 2 cousins (both girls) aged 7 and 3. He has a wonderful circle of friends and is very likeable at school and is doing marvellously with his schoolwork. We are so proud of him and hope to give him the best upbringing we can. He is not spoilt at all as both my husband and I grew up with siblings and we know what it’s like to go without and to share things and our son is learning those same values from us. We couldn’t be happier!

    Karen  |  July 28th, 2010 at 6:15 pm

  • I have only one child as well and i don’t plan on having another one…i feel guilty at times of not having another one, but i just dismiss it. i feel free… i can do a lot of things with just one kid. i can still travel and still build career, thank you for a great article.

    Shygirl  |  August 10th, 2010 at 10:52 am

  • I thought that we would for sure have two. I still want two. But in the back of my mind I hear my Dad cautioning me that if I have problems with the first one, not to have another one - my Mom had sever post pardum depression after I was born and gave up on life….I’d like to say that I am stonger then her, that I have more support, but at the same time I know that I turned into a gumpy momma bear for the first few months and am now not sure about jumping right back into the ring. I’m going to wait until the first one is a bit older, even though that means that I will be older then I wanted to be (I’m 33 now, turning 34 and I didn’t want to have kids after 35…..so not sure now). I’ve realized that if I do have just the one….that will be alright too. I have a cousin that had one child and she has become the darling of the family, precocious and a very talented family and she is very close with her other cousins. I think that close cousin bond has made up for not having siblings at home.

    MamaLisa  |  August 16th, 2010 at 2:37 pm

  • As an only child myself, with a 6-month-old and a husband who is very close to his 3 brothers (all born within a year of each other!), I have been thinking about the whole only-child thing, and whether I want to have more children. I definitely think the whole ’spoiled only-child’ myth can be put to rest, and while most of my friends with siblings are very close to them, I know there is no guarantee. As a parent, I am sure it is wonderful to see the sibling relationship develop, but also adds to the work, difficulty of traveling, etc. All of my only-child friends and I agree: we didn’t miss having siblings when we were children- we had plenty of friends and entertained ourselves just fine. But as adults dealing with our parents, in their aging, illnesses or just difficult personalities, it would be awfully nice to have siblings to back us up! On the other hand, who knows, maybe they wouldn’t anyway…

    newmom  |  August 22nd, 2010 at 5:12 pm

  • Tell them to STFU! Seriously. There is NO REASON when the global population is approaching 7 BILLION (yes, that’s with a “B”) for ANYONE to punch out more than one child. As an only child of only children, I can tell you that I NEVER wanted to be around kids even when I was one, so I am a very happy nearly 60 year old CF female. I had a FANTASTIC childhood, we lived all over the place due to parental units’ foreign obligations, I learned several languages, yada, yada, yada. Got a few degrees, met a great guy, and got spayed (tubal ligation) when I was 26 (tried when I was 17 and they laughed).

    I/we (Dh and I) have a wonderful life, large family of few blood relatives, 3 felines, and many, many friends and students, an occupational hazard for both of us :) of all ages, plus both of us are involved in various volunteer organizations, both together and separately. He’s all about the people stuff and I prefer the critter groups.

    Bottom line - if you DON’T want to have a second child, PLEASE, DON’T! You’ll regret it, you’ll be unhappy, both your current and new child(ren) will be unhappy, as well as your spouse, …do the math. DO WHAT YOU BELIEVE is right. You know what that is. Follow your heart. Good luck!

    TMcLone  |  August 30th, 2010 at 6:02 pm

  • I am a mother of one child. Most of my friends and family wondered if I would have another child being that I was in my 20s. (I am now in my late 30s). But the truth remains that having one son is a great choice, and one I don’t regret. Too many people project their values onto us, which in turns makes us wonder if we made the right choice. In the end, you don’t owe anyone an answer as to if you will have another, nor is it any of their business (even if it is your mother or grandmother asking). I did what was right for my family, as should you. On a side note, many religions push the idea for big families and my religion is one. But it comes right down to what is right for you and you alone.

    momofone  |  October 27th, 2010 at 9:54 pm

  • Opinions are like assholes… as the saying goes.

    Sometimes people say or ask the stupidest thing. It’s very refreshing when you actually meet someone who agrees with you or sees things the same way.

    I am expecting my 3rd but that is what seems right for our family. I come from a family with 4 kids - talk about chaos. But that’s family to me.

    There are several people at my work who don’t want kids at all. I think it’s great that they are able to stand by their convictions and live a full and rewarding life. (While I continue to complain about how crazy my life is and how exhausted I am.)

    Elle  |  October 28th, 2010 at 11:59 am

  • I firmly believe that as parents, we do what we feel is best for our families. Every family is different; there is no equation for what “should” be done. I understand your frustration, and I think you should not feel that you need to justify what you obviously feel is best for your family.

    Erin  |  December 23rd, 2010 at 12:06 am

  • It is okay to have one child. I am extrememly close with my sister and for that reason wanted my daghter to have a sibling. But we decided to have one. She is so exposed to so many different activitities and has our attention. She is not spoiled . . .she is loved.

    Ashley Peterson  |  January 9th, 2011 at 11:51 pm

  • I am a mom of one also and can totally relate to the annoying and usually rude comments made by people who think they have a right to tell you how large your family should be. I had always thought that I would have at least 4 children coming from a big family myself but I married late in life and had my daughter later in life and now at 40 still working full-time and on the verge of a re-location to Manhattan the option of having a second child has faded away. Not to mention that my husband is absolutely against having a second. He said he doesn’t want to worry about not having enough money to pay for the seoncd child’s education. I suppose I can see his point. Anyway, my daughter Casey is the absolute light of my life and I’m thrilled and lucky to be her mom. So, I have been in the process of accepting my one child mommy status. But, I must admit it is not easy when both my sisters have three children each and there are so many people telling me that I need to have a second child and if I don’t have a second child my daughter will suffer for it. Why can’t I just have one child and that be totally ok? I feel the need to ask the same question you have, “Why is it such a crime to consider having just one child?” I have yet to hear the answer.

    Clare Stark  |  January 10th, 2011 at 5:42 pm

  • i total agree with you, our daughter will be 4 this year and we get it all the time people asking if you want another child. when i tell she is are only one they treat you like you’ve done something major wrong. i find it offensive when people treat me differnt cause we choose to only have one child. i think it give my child the better hand in life as we can do a lot more thing and be better off financially and give her much more opportunities in life.

    jody  |  January 13th, 2011 at 3:37 pm

  • My husband and I also only want one child, we both have siblings. I was the oldest of two and he was the youngest of four, and we and a 1 1/2 year old, a healthy baby boy. Which is a handful most of the time. We only want him, and no more, but like you, family, friends, and neighbors insist that we need another. You don’t buy another puppy just cause it’s cute, and they aren’t the caregivers or the life givers of your child. That should be a discusion between a couple, not the couple and the rest of the world.

    Meagan H.  |  February 5th, 2011 at 11:54 am

  • Having only one child isn’t a crime in my opinion. I am 36 years old, and have a twin sister. We also have a brother that is 9 years older than us. I am close to my sister, but our brother acts as if we aren’t his siblings. I’d like to say it’s just because of our age difference, but not so sure because he acts like our mother isn’t his mother.My point is that just because someone has a sibling doesn’t mean they will get along or be close like siblings should be. I have a 26 month old son which I love with all my heart, but. If people want to call me selfish for not wanting more then that’s their problem. I have time for him and time for me. My brother plans on having none (probably just as well) and my sister has medical problems that she can’t get pregnant. With that being said, I have thought long and hard about having another baby just so our line doesn’t stop. But then think how hard my pregnancy was, the sleepless nights, the list goes on. Just a few days ago the receptionist at the pediatrics said to me you should have another baby. I told her he will probably be my one and only. I could tell she wanted to say something,but didn’t. She had a puss on her face as if she couldn’t believe it. To each his own.

    nb  |  February 6th, 2011 at 1:21 am

  • I’m almost 42 years old and I have an only child who is an 11 year old girl. She is great; smart, athletic, outgoing and an A+ student with lots of friends. I must say the question never stops. I still get asked abut why I didn’t have any more children. I can’t tell you how much it hurts. I can’t explain the anguish, the distaste, the unhappiness that question brings. It is the worst question every. I could give reasons and sometimes I do. I shouldn’t have to explain, but, I do, then I go home and sulk about it and maybe even cry. It’s impossible to please people. I don’t want any more kids!!!!! I didn’t enjoy after 38 hours of back labor being told I am now going to have a c-section, or having all those doctors poking and proding me like I was a piece of meat to figure out that I needed a c-section. The c-section was a walk in the park compared to the labor. I didn’t like after having my daughter how the nurses keep grabbing my breasts trying to get the milk to come in so I could breast feed my little girl. I felt like a common cow with utters. No one asked me how I felt at the hospital after having the baby. No one cared, except my husband. Finally, after about a day and a half in the hospital a night nurse came in the room seeing my depression looming on my face and asked if I would like to try formula for my daughter. We did and she loved it. I never went back to try breast feeding. It didn’t work for me and it felt awful. Formula answered my prayers. So, not only did I get the when are you going to try breastfeeding or why don’t you try… it’s is so good for the baby, I got the when are you having another? I swore it off and never looked back. The worst part is the question. It still makes me cringe. People are cruel and thoughtless no matter what choices we make in life. Ignorant thoughtless people question a woman why she doesn’t want any more! I love my daughter, she is healthy and happy and smart. Why go through the process again if it wasn’t pleasant the first time? It is a crime to ask the question, but it isn’t a crime to have one child. It is a blessing and I love her forever and always.

    Cindy  |  February 6th, 2011 at 4:31 pm

  • We may only have one, as well. We get the same thing. I despise the “when are you having another one” questions and jaws dropping to the floor when I say “we may be done.” I’m a big advocate of putting your marriage first, and I’m not sure we’d fare well if we had another one. But, just like you, I’m conflicted.

    Rachel B.  |  February 25th, 2011 at 9:39 pm

  • Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets questions like these :) LOL. Just tonignt my mother told me I needed to have another one. Last night at church I was informed I needed to have another one. It is just about an everyday thing. I think we are done as well, but who know what will or wont happen. Before we decieded to have a child we were not sure if we wanted kids and I was informed that I needed to have kid. So now that I have one I need to have another. No one is ever happy, except my husband and I. It is crazy.

    Angie  |  April 7th, 2011 at 12:30 am

  • In the past month, three people have told me I should have another child. Ha, I honestly cannot contain my laughter when I hear this, and just laugh in their faces and say “oh no, the baby making factory is closed for business!” Most people laugh when I say this to them, but still persist, saying I need a child of the opposite sex, or how well I’ve done with my only child, so of course I need another.

    It is amazing to me that the majority of society seems to think that you cannot have an only child, that this is an unacceptable situation. Maybe because having an only has not been the status quo, and people get uncomfortable with change.

    I also like to say “Children are not potato chips, you CAN stop at just one!” If someone was very rude to me about this, and just would not let it go, I would like to say, “Oh great, yes, I am in fact newly pregnant, and am starting scheduling my free babysitters and house cleaners, the 3am to 6am shift is currently open, shall I pencil you in for that shift? You seem to really want me to have another child, I am sure you would be on board for helping me out, free of charge of course”. Ha, I’d love to see people’s faces when I said that to them.

    I love having an only, and people can tell me a million times over how my child “needs” a sibling, it is not happening.

    Just this week I sat in a restaurant, seeing a set of siblings race around the table, screaming at each other. They were old enough to know better, probably in 3rd grade. The parents sat by and did absolutely nothing. My only child, a preschooler, sat quietly and ate his dinner, disturbing no one. So…I don’t want to hear the illogical arguments about how only children are flawed and don’t have the social skills that children with siblings have. My only child is far from perfect, but he knows how to behave in public.

    I hope all parents of only chidren disregard the negative comments they get. Focus on your only child, and how fortunate you are to have him or her in your life. And…all the great benefits of having an only!

    Ally  |  April 7th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

  • Great article and I’ve heard all that and then some. I especially enjoyed the lectures about how my son would grow up to be lonely and/or selfish.

    I knew from the minute I was pregnant that I would NEVER have another child. I just knew deep down that one was all I could handle but as you said in your post never say never.

    Several years after my divorce I met my current partner and he has 3 girls so I have 4 kids but only 1 is my own and only 1 is with me full time and that’s how I like it and since my man’s had a vasectomy and we plan on staying together until death then I get my wish : )

    The only thing worst than the “why only one” question is the “why aren’t you guys getting married” question. Ugh! I hate that question. The answer is NEVER and just like my one child decision I mean it!

    mneave  |  April 20th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

  • Great comments and article.

    Having my daughter two years ago, completely turned my life and my expectations of motherhood upside down. Granted, I had a very severe and debilitating battle with PPA, for the first six months of her life, but if I’m honest with myself its more then that.

    I like to call it, “The Myth of Motherhood”, that we project on ourselves as women and on a society in general. Mother hood is supposed to be instinctual, joyous and bring full and utter completion and contentment. I was completely unprepared for the utter feeling of helplessness in feeling like I didn’t know what I was doing, 24/7.

    I can not deny that my PPA (and very high likely hood of its return a second time around) is a huge factor in my decision to have an only child. However, I secretly (as another mother put it) am content to have only one for many other reasons. I say secretly because I feel like my PPA is a reason that people can wrap their head around, versus my other reasons which people can’t sometimes seems to.

    Like, for example, that I feel very happy with my life as it is today, and when one of the other moms talked about trusting your gut vs. being practical, I think she missed the point that maybe trusting your gut IS having only one… I feel like having an only makes me the absolute best mother I can be. I feel like a have a special balance of motherhood but also a very strong sense of who I am as a person with enough energy to devote time to what I want, and how I am going to be fulfilled and content.

    I think the hardest struggle for me in the beginning was coming to terms with the way that I had always “imagined” my family. I won’t deny that the picture in my mind of my daughter holding a little brother or sister is sweet, but that’s all it is: a photo in my mind and not the reality of what role a second child would play in my life.

    I have made my peace with my decision, but what I’ve really gotten from reading these comments is the fact that I need to work on my defensiveness in my decision when people ask. I am slowly realizing that for the most part (with some very rare but infuriating exceptions!!)when people ask, its like many women already stated; they are just making conversation, being polite, and not meaning to be disrespectful. I am sure before my own journey through motherhood I had probably asked someone, not knowing that they may have been going through fertility problems, or a wide assortment of other issues, and not even given the question a second thought. I guess people don’t know, what they don’t know.

    Although its tempting to respond to this annoying question of “when” with a snarky zinger (my favorite being “since we’re being so personal, how often do you and your husband have sex?) I am starting to realize that if I am truly sure and confident in my decision (which I feel that I absolutely am) that I should be able to respond with a simple “we’re done” and let people say what they want to say. Easier said then done… I’ll see how it goes!

    Also, one last thought! I read a really interesting article about a mother who said that having a second child for the sake of a sibling was essentially putting a burden and onous on your child that is far beyond their maturity and ability. A socialy responsible, adult who will birth, care for and parent this child for their life, is the one who needs to make that decision for themselves… how on earth could a child possibly be able to make a decision of that magnitude simply by saying “I want a sister/brother”. It also said that children want what other kids have, be it a puppy, new toy, etc. and sometimes a sibling fits into that category as well!

    Ok, feel as if I’ve written a novel here, but have been thinking about this topic for a long time and wanted to share.


    mythofmotherhood  |  April 28th, 2011 at 12:14 pm

  • I was 16 when I got pregnant. I very much wanted my child and to keep her. I had to fight off not only her 10 years older than me father but my family to not abort her. I was a very mature 16 not at all like the teens in the show “Sixteen and pregnant” and this was because I had many I was responsibilities as a child many more than is usual. I lost my father when
    I three and my mother had to work in a bargain basement to care for my brother, myself and her sick, aging mother on typical gender based slave wages. So I began a baking business in elementary school to help the family eat and also went to work full time though it was against child labor laws, at age 14, working nights and week-ends. So I was not your usual 16 year old child. I was an excellent mother and cared for my child with joy. Now she is a mother herself and has two and when I was diagnosed with cancer she decided it was a good time to stop speaking to me and take my teen granddaughters away from me even though we had been extremely close all their lives and I had contributed gladly, financially to them. She asked me at age 47 why didn’t you give me up for adoption mom?” and also said “this shows you, you should have had more children so everything wasn’t dumped on me as an only child. she refused to sign for a life saving BMT and now I am terminal. She truly believes I was selfish for not having more children and leaving her to take on aging parent responsibility. Others have said you should have had more children to protect yourself because if you get a bad one like her you are in big trouble. What in the world is going on? Why do women still have to defend their choices and pay a price for having only one child?

    carol  |  April 28th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

  • I always knew that I wanted more that one child for a number of reasons- one of them being the relational aspect- siblings are a child’s first relationship in life, and that can have many benefits. However, there is also a lot of research that says that only children actually have a lot of benefits in life. They tend to be more cognitively- and therefore academically advanced. In addition, jsut because they lack relationships with children in their home does not mean that they cannot learn the value of relationships, give and take, and conflict resolution from their parents. There is recent research suggesting that there are actually few striking differences between onlies and their counterparts. Finally,some of the research on siblings and birth order suggests that some children suffer detrimental effects as a result of their birth order– first-borns tend to focus on power struggles, and tend to be driven by unreachable perfection in attempt to deal with being “dethroned” by the second child. Middle children tend to struggle with their identity, and tend to act out for attention- this can be positively redirected, but some parents may not recognize what is happening. Youngest children tend to be classified as the “family mascot”, recieving endless help from others, and may be “babied” longer than the other children.
    Although these are findings that cannot necessarily be generalized to all children and familes, the point I am trying to make is that having more than one child may not be for everyone, since it is quite a difficult job, and a complex process for parents and children. in addition, some people would rather devote all of their time, love and attention to just one child, rather than feeling like such things must be divided up between children.
    I’d simply ignore these people, as they know little of what they say. In addition, I feel that we live in a world where everyone must go bigger, and have the “perfect” picture of a family– which may mean 2-3+ children, so they can display it with little window decals on the back of their SUV or minivan. Those people need to get a life, and get out of yours…

    Sara  |  May 1st, 2011 at 2:51 pm

  • I am the mother of an only child. I was pressured by my mother and sisters not to have any children at all. So when I got pregnant, everybody was looking at me like if I had told them that I had terminal illness. None of them seemed happy, even though I was happily married. They only said that they felt sorry for me for all the trouble I was going to face for being a mom. It turns out that, because of their words, I had my tubes tied right after giving birth to my precious daughter. Now, that she is 5 years old and wants a sibling, I regret having done that surgery. But don’t get me wrong, I totally agree with you that having an only child is not a crime and that is nobody’s business. I am educating myself on how to better raise my daughter, but I sometimes do feel lonely not becuase I have an only child but because even though I have 8 siblings, I don’t get along with any of them because they are so far away.

    Loise  |  May 25th, 2011 at 1:10 am

  • We (I) are (am) still, currently, having a very difficult time deciding on this. We have a well-adjusted, compassionate, loving, social, life of the party 3.5 year old and I feel in my gut that we are done. We have done our best to not spoil her, she doesn’t get everything with all the bells and whistles, we are borderline extreme minimalist actually to be honest. Not the stereotypical upbringing of a one-child we hear of at all, so I don’t expect this self-centered-ness that we all hear of.

    My husband wants another, and there there is talk of trying again in the fall. But I just think: Why not get ahead, finish paying for daycare FOREVER, have one University Degree to pay for, travel with her, bring her to our meetings, we will be less stressed and able to focus on moving forward. What if we had twins second time around? What if baby is not healthy? I just don’t want the gamble.

    Husband and I both have sibblings, I am close to mine, he is not close to his. I really don’t think it matters to have a sibbling, so long as they are socialized, have close friends for networks, develop strong links within the community. I am on the one-baby train.

    It’s tough!

    Jill  |  July 17th, 2011 at 12:52 pm

  • I am 40 yrs old. Never Married - No children. However, I would someday like to get married if I found the right person. No one in my family, siblings or parents have ever commented on why I’m NOT married or have NO children. At this point, If I wanted a child, I would adopt. Besides I have 13 nieces and nephews for my parents and grandparents to love. I like being an Aunt I think more.

    jodi  |  August 8th, 2011 at 5:48 pm

  • I think that your post is very well written and thought provoking. however, lol, it has put me in sort of a quandry. I agree with you completely that the number of children that you have is no ones business but your own. but as an only child, I desperately want to weigh in on the subject. I think that the reason so many people try to judge you is that they are projecting their feelings on to you. Its biology really. wether you agree with the idea of evolution or not, darwin said it best. I’m paraphrasing here but “the sole determination of a organisms success in this world is the number of progeny it has that survive to the age of being able to procreate” so in other words “an heir and a spare”. that is why so many people have more than one child. just in case something happens to one before they make it to adulthood. just remember those are their fears, not yours. and they have no right to project their fears on to you.
    With that said sorry, just can’t restrain myself from throwing in my opinion so here goes. I wish that I had siblings simply because my childhood was very lonely. But now as an adult, the isolation I sometimes feel is terrifying. The fact that I have no siblings, means that my three children do not have any aunts or uncles or cousins. It also means that I have little help with raising them. Lack of family to help me is a never ending source of terror and frustration for me. I find comfort in the fact that I have more than one child though since when they are grown and I am gone, they will still have each other.
    I should point out though that if your husband has siblings or either of you already have cousins then this may not be an issue for you. It also seems from your post that your parents are very supportive. Much of the gap in my familial support system is not caused by a lack of siblings but issues with other family members that were not supportive of me in childhood or as an adult. I hope I am conveying this to you properly. I am telling you this because you wrote that you are conflicted about this decision. I am not in any way judging you and am just trying to point out potential problems that an only child can have so you can find other ways to rectify them.

    hope foster  |  August 9th, 2011 at 6:10 am

  • I am an only child, now faced with taking care of my mother at a time when we should be “free”. Our kidS are grown. Instead I am stuck as a caretaker and not free to pursue the career options that I bypassed when my kids were small. I have no one to lean on, no one to share memories with, nothing. As an only, I refused to have only one child. I hated every minute of it and as I’ve gotten older, I find myself almost envious of my friends who have siblings. My 3 children, although they still occasionally squabble are still very close. I envy them that closeness. Having only one child is more of a “let’s see if we can do this” instead of “I want to have a family”. If I had it to do over, I’d have had more children, not less. Choosing to have only one seems selfish from where I’m sitting.

    Caroline  |  August 9th, 2011 at 6:55 am

  • We have a 3.5 yo daughter who will be our only. We just recently solidified the decision, no surgeries are taking place yet LOL and of course there is always the being at peace in the case of an accident.

    It has been interesting hearing all the perspectives of the “only” or “singletons”, especially. I am always curious to know their perspectives. I hear the words “lonely”, “isolated”, “alone” “unable to cope with aging parents”, “envious of other people with siblings”. It makes me wonder why, on the other camp, singletons have expressed their gratitude for being the one child. I hear many more posts on other boards from very happy well-adjusted singletons!

    In my humble opinion, a child is only lonely if they are not provided with networks, taught how to forge new relationships at a young age by being given the opportunity to “network” at play-care, pre-school, family functions. This IS the flip side! Point blank: If you are going to have ONE child (I hate the word “only”) you must make this decision with the promise to that child (to yourselves that is) that you will provide ample opportunities for them to make new friends, deal with change, learn how to share in group settings, etc. PROVIDE them with playmates, include them in activities, team sports…travel the world with them!

    You get my drift. Honestly, I think as a parent, it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to provide windows for greatness for any child, whether they have a sibling or not. Kids adjust. Kids are resilient. Kids will NOT be lonely, IF they are given chances to learn how to enjoy being alone, while at the same time appreciating their time around others. Its a dance.

    And PS - we are super excited to spend the next 5 years traveling with our one child, rather than spend the next 5 years paying for daycare for the next! University will be $100K less for us, and we will only spend $250K raising one child as opposed to $500K for two! We can’t afford it in these unstable times.

    I should also mention, I have a brother whom I am close to, and love to death, but guess what? We have both moved on, have our own families and NEVER see each other!!! So what is that all about?!

    The case for one.

    Tara  |  August 9th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

  • I would like to comment on what Caroline said. I think it’s wrong to label anyone selfish when you are not privy to each individual situation. I believe that as long as you love your children or child as the case may be, unconditionally and strive to be the best parent you can be then noone has the right to label you selfish. The bottom line is everyone has the right to choose the size of their family. I know several “only” children that have had the happiest of childhoods and by no means regret being the “only ” child. I think it’s all about the individual experience. There is no right or wrong, there is just what works best for each family. My husband and I both work and my daughter is in day care for 11 hours a day. I would not mind having a second child but that would mean two children in daycare all day. In my opinion, that would be selfish. As I said, each situation is different and unique to that family. To say that parents who have only one child are saying “let’s see if we can do this” rather than “let’s have a family” is beyond wrong…it’s ignorant. My husband, myself and my daughter are, indeed, a family and I love my little family. You certainly have no right to say otherwise. You are obviously a very angry person Caroline. Don’t take your anger out on the rest of us who are totally happy having one child.

    Clare Stark  |  August 17th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

  • We definitely are thinking of having only one child. We both had siblings that were 10+ years difference in age from us so we were in similar situations to an only child and enjoyed it. I never wanted children so the fact that I went out on a limb and decided to have even one was a big deal! When we use the money we would have spent on her sibling to take her on European vacations, I’m sure she won’t be sad that she is an only child.

    Kay  |  September 7th, 2011 at 11:43 am

  • I’m shocked wt some of the shallowness I see here.

    I wouldnt trade any of my children–or siblings, for that matter–for all the European vacations in the world, or for any amount of money.

    Perhaps, being the child of a Holocaust survivor, I have a slightly different perspective.

    In our family, nothing, NOTHING, is more important than family.

    More children = more love and support. Not more competition for $ or attention. Those have never, ever been sn issue.

    Taximom5  |  September 8th, 2011 at 7:31 am

  • There’s nothing shallow in saying by having only one child you can provide that child with a richer life in shared experiences - whether it be having the means to travel the world or simply by being able to read them a story before bed because you do not have to work two jobs to support a litter of children.

    I think it’s incredibly offensive to believe that the definition of FAMILY is more than one child. My family is my son, my husband and myself and I think it’s perfect.

    It’s amazing that people feel it’s ok to question when someone decides to only have one child but you wouldn’t think of saying, “What? A fourth?? Are you nuts? Why would you do that???” No, that would be considered… impolite. ;)

    rena  |  September 8th, 2011 at 8:06 pm

  • I am also dealing withsame issue my son is 8.and @ times I feel guilty for not giving him more…but I have a lot of health issues family medical history well is really not something I want to pass on…
    I am in the middle of making a desicion of hysterectomy…I am 34 :(
    People don’t know everything and really should mind their own buisiness.
    Good luck to you and your completed family and while I am learning to accept that I am catholic (”were suppose to have ginormic families”)
    And I am only blessed with one ..we truly are complete even if I’m the only one who doesn’t quite know it yet.

    Santi  |  November 2nd, 2011 at 3:39 pm

  • I wouldn’t take peoples comments about a second child so personally. We have all been there in conversation with our girlfriends. Most the time I think people just want good stuff to talk about not that they really care either way.

    For me, I have a 6 month old baby boy. Being an only child myself I thought I would have another….but then reality set in. Babies are alot of work! I am a working mom and this is by far the toughest job I have ever done. Between the cooking, cleaning and taking care of baby, husband, and myself there’s no time for another child. I would feel like I failed my second child if I couldn’t give them the rich life I plan on giving the first.

    Hollie  |  November 30th, 2011 at 9:11 am

  • having one child is amazing! My son Brendan has gotten all of my time and attention! I have watched many parents including family struggle to make it to one child’s event because they have to tend to their other children?…Sure it’s great for them to have siblings to play with..but it’s great that you can play with then..for example..on a Friday night I would turn the lights out and turn on our star wars light sabers… best match ever not to mention fantastic memories! What ever you decide have one child can be great..less stress more fun!

    Lola  |  February 14th, 2012 at 8:07 pm

  • People are super judgmental. It’s just part of our genetic make-up. If we’re not complaining about one thing, then we’re complaining about something else.

    Jasmine Reese  |  March 16th, 2012 at 12:51 pm

  • I am in the same boat. I have a 2 year old with, at least for now, no plans to have another. My husband and I both work full time, and we have just enough to pay our necessities and save a little each month, and still have some left over for a few fun things. We live in a developing country, though, and in the middle class here, it’s far more common to only have one or two children, because the cost of living is fairly high and the salaries low. If we had another one we’d probably have to sacrifice our savings and forget our fun…. People here understand that, but I think in the US, where I am from, people tend to have more resources, and a better welfare system, and the financial stress isn’t as great in general. The part that sucks the most? All baby items are imported here because the country doesn’t produce their own, and importation taxes are astronomical, meaning a plastic sippy cup runs anywhere between 10 to 25 dollars…

    Finances aside, even if we were in a better place with money, my body really popped right back into place after the first one. No marks, no extra fat, and with only one I have time to take care of myself, I still can exercise and do things I enough that make me healthier and happier. As selfish as it may seem, I don’t think I want to chance sacrificing that. I mean, why should I be obligated to give up things that I don’t want to give up for another potential person who doesn’t exist yet (and probably never will).In the long run, I think it would only make me bitter and resentful. I don’t want to be a martyr, I’d rather just be happy.

    laurel  |  March 18th, 2012 at 9:29 am

  • I think us women will be judged no matter what we do! I have no children yet, and all I hear is “why don’t you have kids?” and a million other questions regarding why. I’ll tell you why, because we live in one of the most expensive places in the world, we make $100,000 a year and it barely covers us to own a condo! How are we supposed to afford a child when daycare here is $900 a month? When we both work graveyard?

    This world is full of people who just want to judge everyone they come across, and it will never end. My suggestion? Tell them your uterus isn’t up for discussion and walk away.

    kitkat30  |  April 8th, 2012 at 1:40 pm

  • My husband and I run into that problem all that time too. It’s just RUDE!
    I usually respond by asking them WHEN (not if) they plan on having another.
    But really. There is much to be said about having just one. You have more time to dedicate to just one. Your finances are not spread as thin…

    I feel that people with more than two shortchange the children. They can’t possibly devote enough time to each of them to benefit them emotionally. (Middle child syndrome anyone?)

    But really, it’s a personal choice, people should accept it and move on.

    Tara Denny  |  June 15th, 2012 at 5:00 am

  • As the mother of an only 10 year-old girl, I can completely relate. It is nobody’s business. I have an only child by choice because like you, my husband and I felt that juggling 2 careers and more than one kid would stretch us too thin. We are incredibly happy with our decision. My daughter is a terrific kid who gets a lot of love and attention, makes friends easily, and is joyful and enthusiastic in most everything she does. (OK, I maybe biased ;-) )

    Many people assume the stereotypes about only children being selfish and lonely are true, but isn’t that the same as assuming all blondes are dumb?

    Marcy  |  September 12th, 2012 at 11:53 am

  • Sometimes I just say “I got it right the first time that I didnt need to try again with a second child” People get a little upset with my answer but I am happy with one and that is what God saw fit for me to have.

    Ann  |  September 12th, 2012 at 12:06 pm

  • While I have several children myself, I am completely supportive of anyone’s decision to limit their family to one child.

    I must say, though, that Ann’s comment above (“I got it right the first time that I didnt need to try again with a second child”) does strike me as very offensive, because it implies that anyone with more than one child didn’t get it right the first time.

    And that kind of comment can be especially devastating if uttered in the presence of any child who happens to be an older sibling.

    After reading through the comments here, it seems to me that there are an awful lot of moms on both sides of the issue who are very immature.

    If you are happy with your own decision to have 1 child, then it shouldn’t phase you when people assume you intend to have more. Just say you are happy with one and leave it at that. You don’t need to lash out at anyone. (And implying that others got it wrong if they had more than one is definitely lashing out.)

    And if you are happy with your own decision to have 10, you shouldn’t criticize anyone else’s decision to have fewer, since you are NOT in their shoes.

    Allie  |  September 12th, 2012 at 1:32 pm

  • As the mother of a 17 year old only child I can say that it has been all good. But…. It’s awfully hard to image not having a child at home as I will next year. I am not excited to have an “empty nest.” I do wish I had more time to be a mom of younger children.

    For full disclosure I am 46 and have worked full time at a very busy career since my son was 12 weeks old. It’s not that mothering has been my only job and that I’ll have too much free time on my hand when he leaves for college. Mothering, has, however given me a sense of joy and purpose I cannot get from working. I realize I’ll still be a mother, but it’s sure going to be a different life next year! :)

    Lisa  |  September 12th, 2012 at 5:46 pm