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  1. #1

    Pros and Cons of Having an Only Child

    Let me start off by saying my daughter is technically not an only child. She has a half sister that is fifteen years older than her, but since there is such a huge age gap between them and her sister lives several states away from us, my kid will basically be an only child while growing up. I hope when they are both older they will be able to have a wonderful bond, but as of right now her sister is a teenager and wants to do her own thing (which is completely understandable).

    So my question is, what are the pros and cons of having an only child? I have looked up several articles on the subject, but I wanted to get people's opinions in a forum as well.

    If we had another baby, we wouldn't start trying until the end of 2017/beginning of 2018. By that time, my daughter will be about three. My husband is quite a bit older than me (hence her half sister being fifteen years older than her haha), but wouldn't mind another baby. I would like another one (I think haha) in a few years. At the same time I understand having one child is easier in so many ways. We don't live in the same state as my family or any of his relatives. We aren't particularly close with our family, though we do see mine at least once a year and text with them on a regular basis. We are an active duty military family, so if (more like when lol) we move, our daughter will have to change schools and make new friends. Which is why I believe a sibling somewhat close in age to her would be great.

    But I was wondering what you all think given the circumstances.

    Thanks!

  2. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    679
    Well, I can't comment on this from the perspective of a parent of an only child, or as an only child myself. I became one of eight upon my mother's remarriage a couple years ago. Before that, there were six of us. Growing up, it was both incredibly awesome and somewhat difficult having many siblings. It's not necessarily true that children with siblings "always have a friend to play with", which I think many people argue/assume. My siblings and I all have drastically different personalities and, had we not been siblings, very likely would've wanted nothing to do with each other. Each sibling fought hard with the sibling directly above and directly below them. Sure, when we were maybe 4-6 we got along a bit, but it hasn't been until recently that all of us get along more than occasionally...and we are 17-38! Also, I think some people picture big families being awesome around holidays. It is, to an extent. Some of my fondest memories are of us kids all gathered on the floor Christmas morning talking, tearing into gifts/showing each other gifts, and just being together. That doesn't always represent everyday life though. Other days can look like long bathroom lines & no hot water, high food bills & difficulty finding foods that everyone will at least tolerate, fights, cramped space, many activities to cart everyone around to... It can get hectic.

    All that being said, I LOVE having siblings. It's an adventure, though God bless our parents for putting up with us! I myself would love to have a lot of kids- like more than 5- but that just isn't really realistic for my husband and I. I definitely don't want to have just one child if I could help it, even though that would be a blessing itself! I guess I could see the appeal- more one-on-one time, less expense (maybe), the need for less space, and so on. Before my mom and 1st step-father married, my step-sister was an only child and had been for 18 years. She has told us that she was incredibly lonely. We grew up in a small farming town, where people had lots of kids to help out. She got to see all of her friends interact with siblings and she desperately wanted what they had. Her parents tried to get her involved in other activities to socialize her (preschool, camps, Girl scouts, etc.), but she never quite got the hang of things. She told me that she would literally beg for siblings. She was actually happy when her parents divorced and her dad began dating my mom, because that meant she got 4 siblings instantly, plus the sister that my mom got pregnant with soon after. She's told me that it was quite a culture shock, especially since my older siblings were "older new babies"...it's not like she got a bunch of new baby siblings. We had been used to our own things and everyone had to adjust. We all became close and loved doing things together.

    I think that you have to evaluate what YOU (and husband) want in your situation. By all means, don't just have another child for the sake of the one you already have, especially if it isn't something you particularly wouldn't be interested in if you were not in the situation of having to move/uproot every so often. That could bring up other potential issues, like having to move with two kids versus just one (a feat in and of itself!) Regarding the support system issue that could come about, I'm sure you could adjust in time, so that might not necessarily be an issue. If it is something that you both wouldn't mind, I say definitely keep it on the table and reevaluate when you get to the point where you would like to start trying. How does your husband feel? You mention him being older than yourself. You two obviously have a child together currently, so it seems like he is or was open to the idea of having more kids. With a 15-year-old, that was essentially starting over lol. My 1st step-dad was just about 50 when his youngest (my youngest sister...a 'surprise' baby) was born and he hated being mistaken for a grandpa and being so much older than other dads...plus his oldest was about 21 when our little sister was born, so that made it a little awkward for him as well. I'm not sure if that's a factor for you guys though...

  3. #5
    Thank you for your response and help! I wouldn't mind another baby, just not today haha. I need somewhat of an age gap between them lol. I have an older brother who is seven years my senior. He and I chat now, but we didn't get along when we lived in the same house. If we have another, I want them somewhat close in age so they can kind of relate to each other. My husband is open to having another baby. He agrees that we need an age gap. Yes, moving will be a pain with one or two kids. Financially, we would wait until I hit my next pay bump so we had a little extra cash coming in before we had another munchkin to take care of. My husband just turned forty this year and was thirty nine when we had our daughter. Like you said, our plan might change before we get to the time frame we were thinking of. Thanks again!

  4. #7
    I have to agree with @namergirl3, having another child just because you want your kid to have a buddy that's close in age is not a good reason to have another baby. I'm not directing that at you specifically, but it seems to be a wide spread idea that if you have one child, you need to give them a sibling so that they don't grow up to be lonely and horridly awkward. My own grandmother said that you should never have only one child, because then that child has no one to "turn to" after the parents pass away. I'm an only child myself, so you can imagine how that could be insulting.

    Speaking from my own experience, I never felt lonely or isolated as a child. I suppose it depends on your personality, but I'm an introvert, so I was perfectly okay playing and being by myself more often than not. I also have a huge extended family, and I was strangely more friendly and outgoing as a child than I am now and had a lot of friends, so birthday parties and family gatherings were always full of people. My family also traveled quite a bit, because we have family in every corner of the US and we would go out of state for horse shows, so I was able to interact with a variety of people due to that. I certainly entertained the idea of what it would be like to have a brother or a sister or a few on occasion, but it was never something that consumed my mind. There is the fleeting sense of missing out sometimes, on things like becoming an aunt or an uncle, or being there for your sibling during their big moments in life. None of those things are guaranteed though, so even if I had a sibling, that doesn't mean I'd ever get to be an aunt or play protective sibling around any of their boyfriends/girlfriends or whatever.

    I would say the biggest con of being an only child is that other people treat it like it's really weird. I've gotten plenty of comments along the lines of 'That would be so boring! What do you do for fun?' ... Go outside my house? I was allowed to have friends, you know. I can also entertain myself. Or 'Did you parents want more kids?' ... That's nobody's business, but the answer is no.

    There's no guarantee that your daughter will love being an only child while she's young, but you're not sentencing them to a life of loneliness and solitude if you only choose to or are only capable of having one. There's still this huge stigma that only children are brats and that they grow up to be awkward because they didn't interact with people as much as kids with siblings, which is frankly an ignorant assumption. I know plenty of only children who have extroverted, outgoing personalities. Being a brat also isn't correlated to being an only child either. Just an off handed observation, but I generally think only children are more individualistic and more confident in certain areas. You learn to stand up for yourself because you don't have any siblings to hide behind or to be outgoing for you.

    That being said, I think there are quite a few positives of having an only child. I hate to relate it all to money, but it can potentially save a lot when you have just one kid. I say can because it's obviously not a guarantee that a single child will require less expenses spent on medical bills and the like over a family with multiple children. You can put away more money for their college fund and you only have to pay for one set of extracurricular activities. Also, only children are generally very close to their parents and there's more free time for you if you're not having to volley between multiple children and all of their needs. It's easier to plan things because you're not having to plan around Child #1's basketball practice, Child #2's doctor appointment, etc. If you ever find yourself in financial troubles in the future, it's generally easier to manage with just one dependent to look after. If something, god forbid, happens to both you and your husband, you don't have to worry about all of your kids getting split up.

    There are probably a lot of pros to having siblings as well. I think namergirl3 highlighted the pros and the cons of that pretty well. People tend to value familial relationships above all else, but I know friends who are closer than siblings, and siblings that have nothing to do with each other. I'm aware I took on a very pro-only child stance in this post, but that's just because I want to dispel some of the more common myths about being an only child. I appreciate being an only child, because I like being able to spend so much one on one time with my mom and I don't think my parents would have been able to give me some of the things that they did if they had to provide for multiple children.

    I have to reinforce the point that you should do what's best for you, your husband, and the child you have. If you have another baby, things like moving and putting food in their mouth probably aren't going to burn up all your money, and you will all be just fine. Even under your circumstances, I'm sure any children you have will grow up knowing that they're loved and who the important people in their lives are!
    Last edited by vestigesofsummer; April 17th, 2016 at 04:57 PM. Reason: added some things
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  5. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Posts
    1,170
    Hello!
    I have a brother, so I can't talk about my experience as an only child, lol.
    However, my brother's bf is practically an only child with a 20 years older half brother. When he was born, his mom was almost 40 and his dad, over 50; so it wasn't quite the same situation, but it's kinda similar.
    He doesn't hate being an only child, but he practically is with his friends every weekend or he'll be either with his friends or his computer/video games/Netflix/ his dog because he gets bored.
    On my own experience, I am years older than my bro, and while growing up, we were very close and we loved it! Now that we are teenagers, we fight all the time, but I'm sure we'll be great friends once we grow out of it.
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