Having an only child 10 years in - singing the praises!

(29 Posts)
Singsoon Tue 03-Jan-12 09:11:24

I'm a long time lurker on this board. Left parenthood a little late, struck lucky, got pregnant straight away and had a DS, now 10.
Roll forward to his 5th birthday. multiple miscarriages behind me, and I made the decision that I didn't want to waste any more his life being pregnant and miscarrying. This was very much my decision, DP would probably have carried on.
But - you know what - our life now is great and he is very happy!
I, too, went through the processes and thoughts that I see others going through on this board, and as friends had 2nd and 3rd babies, I felt guilty, miserable, and sad for us and our son.
But I made the decision that we must make the best of our situation - after all we have been lucky enough to have a healthy child. So that is what we have tried to do. And as time moves on, friends stop having babies and it becomes so much easier when you move out of that period.
And so, at 10, DS is very happy with his lot. He is bright, sporty and sociable. We have to turn down more invitations that we accept for him. He is great with the younger and older siblings of his friends, has a strong relationship with cousins. He doesn't want a sibling because he perceives they only fight. We are lucky enough to have made friends with people with an only DD of the same age, and we allow them to experience a degree of sibling behaviour - eg fighting!! His friends love coming to our house -we can taylor activities completely to their age group.

Our Christmas day included a collection of friends who for a variety of reasons, didn't have a nuclear family to retreat to - and they appreciated having that. There were 22 of us across the day in total. Loads of kids for DS. He was delighted to have a quiet boxing day!

We are a social family - actually probably much more social than I would naturally choose to be. It takes work to develop that group of friends and supportive network that we want him to grow up in.

Having an only child has been better for me workwise, I have a satisfying career, albeit part time so I am here for DS. But I also love my job, and derive much enjoyment from it.
Activities wise, because we can do things at the right age for him, and we can do them all together, I have learnt new skills along side him, and we have many outdoor family hobbies. With another younger child, one of us would be looking after them.
I also have time to give to others who need help, and have been able to assist some troubled neighbours looking after their toddler, which means DS has exposure to the care of a young child.

Clearly, it is really easy for us, and others, to attribute some of DS' characteristics to "only child syndrome" - but that is an easy label, isn't it? And clearly, it will have an impact on him, although we try our best to mitigate them. Eg very strict about sharing, earning rewards, taking responsibility for pets etc.. But if you look at larger families, you could pick out characteristics in most children, that you could attribute to their place in the family, when they might or might not have been like that whatever size of family they were in.

And of course, there is the "when the parents get old" argument - but as someone has already said on these boards, if as an adult, he has not made any friends or partner to support him, then we won't have done our job in bringing him up well in any case. So probably good we weren't able to inflict our parenting on another equally socially inadequate child!

So I don't think DS has suffered from being an only child, and I see many positive benefits for us all. Life could have dealt us a different hand - but it didn't and we need to live the life we have got.

So, as so many people say on this board, you shouldn't have a second child as a sibling for the one you have already, but only if you really want one yourself.

And if you can't, or chose not to - make the most of having one child because there are so many benefits, but you may need to work at some of it. But you will glean the rewards.

A bit of a long first post - but I hope it helps someone

EmmaNicole Tue 03-Jan-12 09:45:15

Excellent post!

Llanarth Tue 03-Jan-12 17:12:50

Thank you so much Singsoon - a really positive post for the start of 2012 and very inspiring! I hope our DS (currently only 3) fares as well as your boy in the years to come. Thanks so much for taking the time to share, your post has made me feel very excited about the future. smile thanks

VivaLeBeaver Tue 03-Jan-12 17:32:41

Singsoon, lovely post and one I totally agree with.

For various reasons my 10yo dd is an only child and will never be able to have siblings. I've always been fairly happy with this situation, though from the age of 7 to about 9 she often asked for a brother or sister. Thankfully she now seems to have accepted this isn't going to happen, but it was hard to hear.

She's sociable, has lots of friends, goes to a childminder some evenings where she is very good with the younger ones. Plays with them, reads to them, lots of patience. Cm says she is a huge help. She's a play leader at school and helps out with the infants. Very caring person.

As an only child I think she definetly has some benefits. Materially she gets spoiled more than she would otherwise as I only have her to buy for. We have girly shopping days out which we love. More family days out to places, cinema, etc than I'd have been able to afford if we'd had two or more kids.

Yes she can be a bit of a madam at times, but I think that's her age rather than the result of being an only. I'm very close to her, which I hope will continue. From a selfish point of view I think it's probably easier for me just having one. More time to put my feet up and read a book! Luckily she's a bookworm as well. The only thing that concerns me a bit is as she gets older and is off with friends more I worry I might be a bit lonely. But this is something that happens to all mums/parents at some point......I'll just need to take up a hobby or something. grin

UniS Tue 03-Jan-12 18:35:17

likes this thread, but NOT in a posting it on book face kind of way.

Thank you Singsoon

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Wed 04-Jan-12 22:51:56

It's great to hear about your experience, Singsoon, and I hope it provides comfort and inspiration to anyone who's wobbling.

Deliaskis Thu 05-Jan-12 10:59:55

What a lovely post singsoon . I lurk on this bit of mn occasionally as although DD is only 10 mo, DH and I are fairly convinced she will be an only (by our choice, not for medical reasons). If we had another, it would be 'just as a sibling' (gosh that sounds horrid, but YKWIM), rather than because we want another, and like most on here we do agonise a bit about whether we are being 'selfish' etc. We love DD to bits and love spending time with her and watching her grow, but for various reasons, I can't imagine doing it all again, we just don't feel the 'need' for any more, and are excited about the future for our family of 3.

It's lovely to hear a positive outcome, and I'm hopeful that I will be able to come back here in 9 yrs and say the same!

Also hoping it will soon feel OK to say 'one is enough for us'.

D

Barmcake Thu 05-Jan-12 11:18:53

Great post Singsoon, we have a 10 year old ds and for various reasons he ended up an only (he still asks for a sibling!) and I could copy and paste your post almost word for word, apart from the social side as dh works unsocial hours mainly, but ds is involved in lots of activites and makes friends very easily with younger and older children alike. He is also able to try out lots of different activities that he probably wouldn't have if we had any other children.

beanandspud Thu 05-Jan-12 14:30:27

singsoon what a lovely post, thank you for sharing your experiences.

I had a wobble over Christmas when we met up with friends who had a son who is a bit obnoxious - over-bearing, rude, over-confident (iyswim), wants to be the centre of attention and another friend commented that he was "obviously an only child" sad. It is so nice to be reminded that having an 'only' is also a very positive thing!

forkful Thu 05-Jan-12 23:16:32

What a brilliant post Singsoon - thanks

Our DS is 4.3 and will be an only. I was the driving force behind having a DC and DH is the vetoing force against having more DC. In my moments of wanting a second it is more about wanting a sibling for DS and not wanting to be "different" and stick out and feeling that society thinks that I am less of a mother.

So I too am in "the place in between children and childlessness - having just one child".

That phrase I quoted gives me a lot of comfort and it comes from this book - The Case for the Only Child - which I can highly recommend.

SingingSands Thu 05-Jan-12 23:27:33

Great post Singsoon - I'm going to show it to my friend who has been conflicted about whether or not to have another child because it's perceived to be the "done thing". I'm sure reading your experiences will help her.

I do think there still exists a lot of stigma over only children, but I don't understand why. There's nothing wrong with having just one child, through choice or circumstance but there is a large part of society that will question this. I also hate the phrase "only child syndrome" - what is that?!

BsshBossh Fri 06-Jan-12 17:29:13

Wonderful post. I was an only and had a wonderful upbringing. So much so that I've made the choice to have an only too - my lovely 3 yo DD.

Fingerbobs Fri 06-Jan-12 20:46:47

Delurking for the first time in a long time to say thank you for such a lovely post. My DS will be only by choice, but as others have said that doesn't always mean an easy or immediate choice. My DS is 4 and I'm starting to really feel the benefits - for all of us - of having one child, so it's exciting to see a post celebrating it a bit further down the line. Thank you again.

notyummy Fri 06-Jan-12 20:55:49

Great post. DD will be an only as DH is utterly committed to only having one after a very unhappy childhood in a large family. I was a happy only, although would kind of like to have another, but not enough to upset what we have.

Loved reading it.

Perriwinkle Sun 15-Jan-12 13:08:06

There are so many myths around being an only child.

Loneliness is probably the biggest one of all and others are just silly really - things like being selish and socially maladjusted. I think we all know enough people who have siblings who are just plain weird to be able to dismiss that one totally out of hand.

Most only children these days won't feel lonely because times and society and childhood have changed and moved on. The experience of an only child 50 or so years ago won't be the same as one today simply because childhood is a totally different experience now.

Children change at ages and stages too. For most young children, say 0-5, all they crave is to be number 1, to have all the attention and to be centre of their parents' world. An only child gets that. Yes they like playing with other children and they do, but really what they want is to be number 1 and have all the attention. Very young children are inherently egocentric.

As they get older they become more sociable and that's easy to support - school and outside activities with friends/ counsins etc provide this and they have the luxury of being able to retreat back home when they've had enough and have everything their own way too, something which children with siblings don't. Also, children don't have to be very old to start organising their own social lives. My DS is 11 and has a very active social life which he organises himself (within reason!). He truly has the best of all worlds I feel and he loves his life.

He has all the love and attention, peace and quiet he wants at home and his friends/cousins of his own age etc to play with when he wants them too.

The archetypal stereotype of the "lonely only child"; awkard, shy, socially maladjusted, selfish and rude because they've been over-indulged, with starchy, elderly parents is now an image which should be consigned to history.

People need to stop feeling sorry for only children too because in my experience they don't naturally experience loneliness. I think if they do, it's usually because they've picked up on the negative vibes of being an only child from their parents, who may themselves be feeling guilty at being unable to provide them with siblings. My DS has never experienced this as he is an only by choice and so has only ever seen portrayed as a positive experience.

boredandrestless Sun 15-Jan-12 13:15:52

Lovely post OP. smile

My DS is 7 and an only, he has autism and I often worry about him not having siblings to look out for him but there is no guarantee of that even with siblings. DS has two half siblings though (older children from an earlier relationship his dad had). I have many many reasons for him being my only, but it still wrangles at my conscience sometimes.

We mainly enjoy a nice life together, and like other posters have said I have more time to spend with him, can do things more often that would be too costly in a larger family, and we have a great bond.

BodyOfEeyore Sun 15-Jan-12 13:19:33

thanks for sharing. We have an only DS, age 5. Friends are having second and third babies, and I do feel bad that DS will be an only child.

TeamDamon Sun 15-Jan-12 13:21:39

Thank you for the wonderful posts on this thread, particularly the OP and Perriwinkle.

DS is an only by choice but I spent a lot of time agonising over this choice - DH and I knew we didn't want another but I worried a lot about the effect of our decision on DS, and the attitudes of other people have been quite surprising in how rude they feel they are able to be about our choice.

Fortunately, DS knows a number of other onlies, and two of his cousins are onlies, so he does not feel that he is isolated or out of place in that sense. But it has been a hard road for me and I so appreciate threads like this which show me that there are women just like me out there.

shortcutplease Sun 15-Jan-12 13:28:01

Thank you so much OP, for taking the time to start this thread. It has made my day and I think it may provide me with much needed reassurance for the rest of my years!!

We don't do hugs on Mumsnet- but if we did I would send you a massive one wink.

Thumbwitch Sun 15-Jan-12 13:36:14

Dear Singsoon, thank you so much for that post. I am now where you were 6 years ago - DS is just 4 and we are still working through the MC/ failing to get pg with no. 2 and time running out - in another year I will also be giving up if it doesn't happen by then. I am so happy to hear your positive experience of having an only son - our DS is very happy and sociable, we would like for him to have a sibling but equally I won't be that unhappy if he's an only because I know all too well that siblings aren't always all they're cracked up to be!

Certainly no one here who meets DS assumes that he is an only - so I guess all these perceived stereotypical behaviours of an only child aren't that obvious in him! Can't take all the credit for that - he's a very sweet-natured boy all by himself (DH and I often wonder how blush) - but I have done my best to help him be social by taking him to playgroups and other classes.

MaureenMLove Sun 15-Jan-12 13:44:30

Ah, that's nice. smile I have the experience of a 16 year old only and I am happy to confirm, that it just keeps on getting better! grin

Perriwinkle Sun 15-Jan-12 19:10:51

The fact that the "stereotypical behaviours of an only child" aren't obvious in a lot of only children is testimony to the fact that they are nonsense. You are just as likely to identify all those stereotypical behaviours in a child with siblings.

It depends on the child, and most importantly the parents.

Bullets Sun 09-Dec-12 19:38:33

Just came across this and wanted to thank you all for your stories and positivity, really appreciated!

AutumnGlory Sun 09-Dec-12 22:13:02

What a nice thread. I'm fed up with rude people criticising our choice of having only one child. We are happy and feel complete this way and my 5 Year old never asked for siblings and never questioned why her friends have siblings and she doesn't. She is very popular, sociable, confident and happy. Unfortunately cousins leave too far away but she has plenty of friends asking for play dates everyday. Me and Dh have more time to her and ourselves and money for her extra curricular activities and family activities. We don't spoil her and she also is very good at entertaining herself. Comparing my life with my friend who has 3 children who keep fighting, don't know how to play with one another or even alone I'm in paradise.

CaHoHoHootz Sun 09-Dec-12 22:48:56

This is a nice thread. You forgot to mention the financial aspects. Cars, houses, holidays, Uni's, childcare, food etc, etc. I have three Uni aged DC's and it's expensive! Less financial stress makes for happier households smile

mustbewinetime Mon 10-Dec-12 03:25:06

Brilliant post Singsoon! I have a 2yo DD, means the absolute world to us but we decided early on that she'd be an only. No medical issues, just various reasons such as finances, no desire for another and, maybe selfishly, the hope for a fairly easy-going life wink Having more than one just seems stressful in my opinion! However, i recently had a bout of the wobbles over whether it will be the right decision in the long-term but posts like this, coupled with the fact I am awake at 3am due to a night-waking toddler for no apparent reason grin just reassures me that we're going to have such a better life sticking at 1 rather than conforming to what is expected!

Phineyj Thu 13-Dec-12 19:36:33

This makes me very happy to read, thank you. Our DD, due any day now, will almost certainly be an only due to what we had to go through to make her happen. However, my 70 year old mum was an only and is a very happy sociable person. Also, my two friends who have teenage/nearly grown up only DDs also both seem very happy and close with them, while my DH and I both have a few issues with our siblings.

I read in a book about health and society once that it's only been in this one short period of human history and in western society that you're expected to reproduce exactly twice, ideally one boy and one girl, close together, and found that an interesting thought.

OvenReady Thu 27-Dec-12 20:06:47

Thank you Singsoon...

...and all the other positive comments.

I am at that cross-roads in my life right now. I left it late to start a family, and had DS 2 years ago when I was 41. He is a joy, he lights up my world, and I would love to have another to double the fun. It seems mother nature is not so keen, and after two miscariages this year I am trying to re-evaluate my life. Now 43 I know I don't have time to play the 'ttc' game for much longer, and I am trying to decide what is best, what do I want, what will work for us.

This thread has given me a new perspective, now I have something new to think about.

Thank you all.

LibraryMum8 Tue 01-Jan-13 03:09:15

Thank you, that was a wonderful post! As we have only 1 ds, just turned 11, I can say that has been our experience too more than not!

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