One and Only: Raising An Only Child
By Michelle Keast
I get that reaction a lot when I'm asked how many children we have. There is no shortage of opinions when it comes to raising an only child, and it amazes me how people are willing to judge you on the size of your family. Before we go any further, let me clarify; yes, I am physically capable of reproducing again, but my husband and I have chosen not to for a variety of reasons. They range from financial to emotional to extremely personal, but we do have our reasons!
So why do people find it so necessary to weigh in on the topic? And why is it the family with one child is judged more harshly than a family with 2 or more children? Is there really a right or wrong way when it comes to the size of a family?
When our daughter was born nearly five years ago, we were over the moon. I had a great pregnancy, a pretty straight forward delivery and the perfect, healthy child. So of course, while everyone oohhed and aahhed over the baby, they'd inevitably ask "So when are you going to go for number 2?" I couldn't even comprehend the idea of another child; I was already fighting what I now know was a bout of post partum depression, and getting through the day sometimes seemed inconceivable. And to be honest, the urge to have another one never came over me. Other friends of mine were anxious to move on to the second child, to have them close together in age so they'd be closer growing up (There are the ones who are usually telling me to have more children when we're on the phone and I can hear World War 3 breaking out in the background over who gets the red plate at dinner!)
So our daughter's first birthday came, then the second, then the third...and people REALLY started to get nervous for us! When we finally came out of the closet and said we were done having children, the responses were eye opening. Here's a list of some of my favourite (and not so favourite):
1. "You’re being selfish." –I've heard this used against people who decide to have NO children as well. However, I don't get it...if people don’t want children at all (or any more), isn't it better than having children they don't really want?
2. "Only children are so spoiled." – I can see why some parents would overcompensate by buying more stuff, but our daughter only gets presents at two times of the year...Christmas and birthday. Yes, the grandparents swoop in every now and then bearing gifts, but she is no more spoiled than other children with siblings.
3. "She'll be so lonely." – I beg to differ. Between school, play dates, and other activities, she has a more active social life than I do!
4. "If you two die, she'll be all alone." – this one really grinds my gears. First of all, I hope by the time my husband and I pass on, our daughter will be grown up and have a family of her own. And if, heaven forbid, something happens to us sooner, what difference would it make at this age if we have one or five kids?
Was it an easy choice to stop at one? Yes and no. We knew financially and time wise we were finished; my husband is now 40 and I'm not far behind, and I didn't want to be having babies beyond that age. Our daughter does occasionally ask about having a baby brother or sister, mostly because some of her friends have baby siblings. And when that happens, I wonder whether we made the right decision. But then I ask myself this: If I really wanted another child, would I question it so much? I think the answer is no. I believe every woman knows in her heart when she is finished having children,whether it be one or two, five or ten, or none at all.
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