Please don't promote blogs that aren't in the Mumsnet Bloggers Network. Join the network
One-child families on the rise - tell us what you think(50 Posts)
A new report suggests that nearly half of all families now have only one child.
Another sign of economic struggle and the increasing cost raising a family - or a conscious choice by a new generation of parents who know their limits?
In a guest blog today, MN blogger and mother of one Stephanie Pomfrett (who blogs over here) writes about her decision to be a one-child family - and why she won't be adding a sibling to the mix.
Is this your family set-up - and if so, what influenced your decision? Are you under pressure to conform to the 2.2 'norm'? And if you have more than one child, are you surprised by these figures?
Let us know what you think, and if you blog on this post your URL on the thread.
Surprised I'm the first one here!
Great blog post.
Currently, my DD is an only at 8mo. Right now, I am wondering if one is enough for us. I had a difficult pregnancy and labour, as well as the loss of my father-in-law and PND with which I am still coming to terms. If I can make it out of this year unscathed, I don't know if I'd try going through this again.
Our family and friends, however, all believe this to be ridiculous. It seems despite my reasons, I'm being selfish. Dd needs a sibling [sceptical]
After DD1 I didn't feel ready for another baby for a while. I loved her so much I didn't think I would love another as much. DH & I went for a gap, it made sense financially and with no family nearby for support we felt it was the right thing to do. It was, not sure we would have coped with two close together. The gap is just under four years. So glad my girls have each other and with the gap they don't seem to be in competition. Many I know have 3 children.....not something I will be doing.
I'm very surprised by those figures. We have elected to only have one child and we are most certainly in the minority round here. So much so that, despite being absolutely confident and happy in our decision I have at times wondered if we're missing a trick!
I'm a very happy only and don't recognise the manifold arguments about lonely children and indeed adults.
Personal experience doesn't suggest it's on the rise, i.e. friends and family, in fact there seems to have been a spate of third children recently. I am currently pregnant with no. 3, although it wasn't really planned(!) However, I find myself increasingly glad that I have more than one as at the moment they are such great friends and on a purely selfish level I can't imagine how I'd cope if they didn't go off and play together as much as they do.
I'm surprised by these figures too. Around our neck of the woods 3 is the popular number. I only know one person who has 1 child out of choice and a few who had the decision taken out of their hands and would like more but can't.
I suppose the gloomy economic outlook might contribute to people having one and maybe the fact a lot of people are older before they start a family.
We always thought we'd stop at 1 (infertility issues) as we'd be lucky to achieve that, but as soon as DS1 was born I knew I wanted another. DS2 arrived and although I'd like a 3rd, I would want a bigger gap which isn't possible at my age. I'm happy and feel lucky to have the 2 we have.
Is the increasing trend actually for one-child families with older parents?
We have one son and won't be having any more DC. The main reason is because we started too late, for financial reasons. I had a MC just over a year ago and we decided not to try again. We're getting too old and don't fancy the risks.
I'm sad about it. I wanted DS to have a sibling and I would have liked all the baby and small-child bit to have lasted longer. This time has gone so quickly.
I don't open threads about the 'pros and cons' of only children any more. Some of the opinions people have about lonely, weird or badly-behaved onlies upset me - my boy is a sweet, placid child. In fact, personality-wise, he's just like his uncle - my brother, the youngest of three children.
And then there was one hilarious poster who wrote something like 'Only children are no problem, I wouldn't say the same about the parents though!'
I think it's true that to many people you're not a proper parent until you've done it more than once. To them you will always be the precious, inexperienced parent of your first child.
I'm really shocked by those figures too. We're the only family I know with one child - nope, tell a lie, I do know one other singleton family but their DS is younger than ours and I'm pretty sure they will have another.
For us there was no one 'big' decision - just lots of small decisions (age, difficulty in getting pg, terrible, terrible labour, no room, lack of sleep, lack of sex too probably ). I was petrified of becoming pg again after my first birth, that took a long time to get over too.
When we moved recently we both had a 'ah, we could've had another baby if we'd done this 5 years ago.' And I suppose I regret that we didn't really make a positive decision iyswim, we sort of let it drift.
I would have liked to have had the 'ease' that I see people have post-PFB, but it wasn't that important to me that I wanted to bring another child into the world.
But overall - we're totally happy and I don't think DS will be disadvantaged at all. I have a couple of friends who are my age and are trying/pg now and I think it's unlikely they'll have time to do it again (oops, how blunt is that?) so I won't be the only mother of one in my social circle for long.
I'm very surprised by these figures and wonder whether they're right, TBH. I know of several families with one child, but two is much more common among my friends and acquaintances, and three isn't uncommon.
Actually, scrub that, I've just had a count up on my fingers and one child families are very unusual among people I know (and that includes the families I know at DS1's school - so that's quite a few).
Outside school I know of two families who chose to have one, one that suffered secondary infertility and hasn't been able to have a second, and a third family who plan to have another, but will have a big gap due to circumstances. Everyone else has two or more (we know two families with four DC and one with five).
I only know one family who have chosen to have an 'only' here (Northern town) though several friends in London have had to stick at one because of massive nursery fees, well over double what we pay. Most people here go for 2 or 3. I have 4. I can't imagine life if we'd stuck at one, I'd never have met my younger two sons or my daughter, and what a lot I would be missing without them in my life.
Interesting! My pfb is 9 months and be might be an only... Haven't 100 per cent decided but at the moment we're leaning in that direction. This might sound odd but to a certain extent I do think how easy they are as tiny babies can influence the decision - as the writer says herself, she got one with colic! Likewise if you have a v bad pg, hyperemesis or spd, or a v difficult birth, it skews your idea of what the whole process is like, or could potentially be again. Mine, though utterly adorable, is a dreadful sleeper and I do think that's playing a part in our decision to at least wait and either make him an only or have a very decent gap before the next. Two women in my NCT group have said they want to get pg again this year. That would finish me off I think!
Two child families seem most common in village where I am (southern central). Delighted that 2 good friends with children same age as my daughter (3) are both now expecting their seconds, but at the same time in conflict over deciding to stick with 1 ourselves. Nothing to complain about, very easy preg & relatively easy birth, dd slept well, potty trained fine etc. Decision based on finances & DH & I both worrying we wouldn't be as patient/good tempered parents as we'd want to be if we had more than 1. Still not 100% sure though, I keep swinging from thinking "definitely not" to "will I regret it later". Always wanted 2 kids before I had any as I'm 1 of 4 & it was chaotic!
My DH only ever wanted an only. He is an only, and if we want to give our DD the education we're hoping for then we can only afford one child. But I really really want two, and always have done. The happiest times in my childhood were playing with my DB. I'd like to try for a son.
Unfortunately labour was traumatic and the acute renal failure during Pre Eclampsia has not yet resolved itself.... which sort of hands my DH the winning card in that debate.
Thinking about my DD being an only child upsets me - what if she were to come to harm? I imagine a thousand ways we could lose her - boat capsising, pony kicking her, parachute not opening, motorbike crash..... (which is daft since she hasn't learnt to crawl yet.)
And then I remind myself "dry your eyes, Princess, you have a perfect child, and you've managed to survive life so far - so will she. Count your blessings."
Family and friends all assume that we'll have two children - but the cost of nursury is extortionate. And we've already decided that our DD's educational fund is more important than a new hot water system for the flat, or a foreign holiday or a new car..... so unlike my parent's generation - it seems to me that my generation can only afford one child.
I agree with Quenelle that it might have to do more with starting parenthood late.
Also the expectations are now higher.
I don't think it is about the money issue alone, people had many children in harder financially situations and going through wars, immigration, seperation from family etc.
Imo the families with one are more vocal now and i understand why as they get a lot of unfair comments. They might also be the better off and succesful ones (again, this often goes with the late start) and therefore they have voice in the media, are articulate etc.
It always strikes me about people who choose to have only one child and say its fine and they dont feel their childs missing out....yet in the next breath the mum will tell me how theyve spent the weekend with family or theyre going on hoilday with family etc...they just miss the point.
I'm shocked by those figures but I know a couple of ppl in my office who are having one by choice.
Me? I'm not sure, I always wanted two but my DS is now four and I just don't feel broody for another one and am beginning to think I never will. When I had DS I was DESPERATE for a child, it was all I thought about and I guess I'm waiting for that feeling again rather than have another because ppl expect you to or because DS should have a sibling. I'm only in my early thirties so I have a while......
All the people i know who only have one say they would love another but wot because their husband doesnt want anymore,or they cant afford it,or they had a dreadful pregnancy or birth,or just dont know how they would cope.
I dont know anyone who has had only one by choice alone,just because they think its great.
I can definitely see the pros of being an only child but i can also see the cons too,just as i can see the pros and cons of my own expanding brood.
I don't really think it comes down to cost,2 doesn't cost any more than 1 really unless you go back to work and have to pay for childcare.
eh Patricksmum? I think I'm missing the point too...
People forget that they often appreciate their family like brothers sisters nieces nephews but forget that their only child will miss out on those close relationships as adults ....
People forget that they often appreciate their family like brothers sisters nieces nephews but forget that their only child will miss out on those close relationships as adults ....
So apparently 47% of families are one child families.
I want to know, does this figure include couples who have had their first child, and who may or may not go on to have more children?
Because if so, the statistic is pretty meaningless as an indicator of whether only child families are increasing. many of that 47% may go on to have more children, they just haven't yet.
it's well known there is a baby boom going on at the moment, so that would explain why there are more people than usual having their first child.
I am an only child. My mother was an 'elderly' mother and only wanted one child, preferably a daughter. I always hated being an only, always wanted a brother or sister and disliked it even more as an adult, particularly when my parents were old and there was only me. There was a lot of pressure on me to be happy, to be compliant. I have several children, and in retrospect wished I had had more. They were great mates as children and are good friends as adults. I envy them, it is very lonely to not have close relatives of your own, even if you have great BIL and SILs as I have.
can't access the link to the report unfortunately. We only have one child after an easy pregnancy and birth. We are happy with the situation. I know more families with more than 1 child than families with 1 child tbh so am a bit surprised at the figures.
My ds is 18 and in his class were 9 only boys!
I think as it increases it will become more common. I did want another but health issues stopped that. I do think finances are a consideration esp now.
Wispawoman this was exactly the point i was trying to make...people who chose to
Only have one child sometimes fail to realise how much they appreciate their own family...hence why ive got three children ...being an only child can be a lonely place especially when your parents pass away or if youve got rubbish in laws
I think it depends on the individual. My ds likes being an only child he is very social though and has very close mates. I think things have changed as well Family means a lot of things. It is not all about being blood relations as much as being close and loved by a wide group of people. There are some off the mark jugdements on threads about only children. I know a lot of sibling groups who do not get on and have nothing but trouble between them.
I just asked my ds on the way out the door about being an only and he laughed and said Quit that MN bollocks so I think I am going to
Oh I see - I don't think it necessarily follows tbh.
I had the upbringing of an only child (DB was born when I was 14) so we're not close at all. I don't really have close relationships with family and we don't spend a lot of time with them, although I've worked hard to make sure DS has a good relationship with my parents of course.
Obviously I can't know if I'm missing out, but we have a very full life with lots of very good friends. I have one niece I'm close to, but I'm close to her because I love her, not because she is a relation.
DP has brothers and sisters but they're not close either.
minipie - good point. Lots of families have one child now, but they will be planning to have more, so how is that reflected in the statistic?
Before I had my son I had resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't have kids (partner had 4 from a previous relationship and didn't want anymore), I wasn't overly distraught about it but then I was young so who knows how I would've felt as I got older. Anyway, I fell with son after coming off the pill to get implant, it was a shock, and partner without any thought wanted to keep him. After I'd had son i was adamant I didn't want any more. I had a very easy pregnancy and labour so that wasn't the reason for my decision, it was more financial. Partner refused to get the snip though because he felt I would eventually want another one. He was right, grandad died last year and was so touched by how much family were there for him towards the end that I realised I didn't want son to grow up without a sibling, someone to be there with him till the end (of course he's more than likely to have his own family but you never now). I immediately started trying and I'm now expecting a girl in July I feel more complete having a boy AND girl and am pretty certain this is it kid wise, we wouldn't be able to afford anymore even if we wanted to!!
I only have one child and he seems happy his got other family his sort of age that he very close.We always said we only wanted one boy if we did have another we have to move which we couldnt afford to that.We are happy to only have one child that what we wanted.
I suppose you can only talk from experience. There was a big age gap between my brothers and I, and I always felt like I was missing out by not having a close sibling around. Now we are older i really appreciate the fact that I have two brothers, a niece and nephew who we see regularly. My m-in law was an only child and says she felt really lonely when her parents died because there was no link to her childhood. We always planned to have two so they could be there for each other, both growing up and when they are older.
I wasn't particularly close to my sister. Perhaps not surprising then that we both have single child families and our 'onlies' are very well adapted.
Where we live there are lots of one child and lots of three child families. Two seems more unusual, especially at the reception type ages.
My dd (8) is an only. She was unplanned, as a result I have been single since before she was born, and, as I'm now nearly 40 and can't imagine even starting dating for some time to come, she will remain an only. Having said that, I wasn't ready/planning to have kids when I fell pregnant, and I don't have any desire for any more. But I can imagine that if I was in a relationship I would feel I ought to have a second, I'm one of 3 and my siblings are important to me. However, my cousins are too, and I have made sure that dd has pretty close relationships with her cousins (first and second) who I hope will provide that common family link through shared memories.
We have a one and only DS. Part of me would have liked another and wondering whether he would miss out. However, he has genetic condition and this was a big part of decision not to have another, also TBH we could spend more in terms of time and money if we only had one.
As an only child myself, I'm fairly neutral. There are plus and minuses. Lots of people I know with siblings aren't particulalry close to them. OTH I know lots who enjoy very close suppportive relationships and it is a pity J will miss out on that.
Around these parts, there are quite a few only children. Also a fair number of 3s and 4s, so not sure the recession is having that big an impact.
I agree with Wispawoman, although her childhood experience was that of my mothers, who ended up having four of us. I have great memories of being part of a large family and still really appreciate them, now that I also have four children. We have had to work hard at maintaining good relationships, but it has definitely been worth it!
The figures are a bit misleading. 47% of families at any one time, have only one child living at home. But a family that has 2 or more children will usually have a few years at the start with just one, and a few more years at the end with just one, so would probably appear in the survey as a "one child family" on around 6 out of 20 odd years they could be surveyed (assuming an average 3 year age gap between children) - ie around a third of the time.
So the survey says around 53% of families have 2 or more children, but I'd estimate around 78% of families have 2 or more children at some point in time, but a third of them (25% of all families) show up as "one child families" at the point when they are surveyed.
That would leave a bit less than a quarter of all families as ones that only ever have one child - which would fit a lot better with most people's experiences.
The proportion of children from one child families is of course lower still.
I find it very unusual that the suggestion is that there will be so many families with one child.
A lot of talk about having children seems to focus on what people want/plan, but I know a lot of people who don't get the number of children they might have wanted.
I am one of only 9 families I know who have just child. In just one of those families I know they only wanted to have one child. Two families I don't know why they have one child, three families are ether single parents (and presumably have not had such easy access to having another child) or didn't get on with their partner and so did not want to have any more children together and three families (myself included) had fertility issues.
I am sure that many people who only have one child may not have chosen to only have one child. The blurb at the top of this thread makes it sound like a choice! It is not always a choice.
I know a few people who appear to have chosen to have o e (can't be sure that it isn't their first choice, but I think it is). Agree that a lot of older parents may find themselves in this position or that the experience of pregnancy/birth maybe enough to put people off. I have a male friend who was an'only'and had a very positive experience himself. I think he would have been perfectly happy for his ds tone an only too, but felt a lot of pressure, particularly from his wife, to have another. They have two now... I thought I would have one because at the time couldn't seeme going through labour again. Have four now . Everyone thinks we're mad so can endear stand what it is like to feel judged about your choices re number of children.
Sorry about the typos, one handed on iPad while feeding dd!
For us it is a case of not being able to afford it - £4.5k for a round of ivf is way out of our reach now I work pt and 1/2 my salary pays for nursery. That £4.5k would only give us a 33% chance of successful pg anyway. So DS is our little ivf miracle and that's more than I thought we'd ever have 4 years ago.
I only want one child but do worry about how DS might feel and that I am being selfish not giving him a sibling. I can't quite face another - the birth was traumatic and we as a couple have barely recovered 3 years later.
But how will I explain that to DS?
He will have everything - a PFB until he is 25! - but will he be lonely and want the one thing he can't have.
Motherhood = guilt
Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.
Well, I was an only for 11yrs did I miss having a sibling no. Do I love having a sister yes. We have a huge age gap and that comes in handy. I am tempted to just have my DS and call it a day, pregnancy isn't brilliant to my body but I am broody for another. We are opting for a bigger gap though.
Join the discussion
Please login first.