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To ask, if you hated being an only child, could your parents have made it better for you?

(55 Posts)
LalaLeona Thu 13-Mar-14 20:19:57

Hi there, first time poster here. I am mum to an only child, dd7, and after reading the previous thread about only children I am feeling (albeit probably irrationally as this is a sore point for me) really anxious about my DD's childhood and future..just wondered if any of the unhappy onlies out there could give me some tips on how to be a good parent to my only. I do have a Dsd of 20 but she lives with her mother and is at uni. Her and DD have a great relationship but probably only see each other once or twice a month..i make a big effort to see cousins even though they are quite far away, and DD has plenty of friends round, but I wish I could do more. I had severe PND with my DD for the first year, and left it a long time to have another. My partner is 48 and we simply can't afford another, so DD7 will definitely be an only at home. Any advice on how I could improve our situation would be greatly received. Sorry if this sounds rambling. Thanks so much!

thegreylady Thu 13-Mar-14 20:26:02

I was a lonely only child who longed for a sibling to the extent that I had an imaginary sister for years. However my parents encouraged lots of friends to play and I had a wide extended family with whom I shared lots of holidays etc. my dgd is an only as are many of her friends (in Turkey) and she is fine.

StrawberryMojito Thu 13-Mar-14 20:27:22

Is your DD actually bothered about it?

I was an only and yes, there were times that it bothered me and I do still occasionally wish I had a sibling but on the whole life is fine. It's been no big deal.

My advice is to keep doing what you've been doing. Plenty of play dates, extra curricular hobbies that involve interaction with other children and when she gets older, maybe let her take a friend on holiday for company her own age or go away with another family.

To be honest, having grown up with my own space, it is still something I cherish.

LalaLeona Thu 13-Mar-14 20:40:27

No she is not bothered at the moment but many of the posters in the previous thread really touched a nerve and I do worry about the future.. I am probably a bit hung up and neurotic about the whole thing to be honest.. It's like if we are in a park and my DD is playing alone near a group of brothers and sisters I feel so sad that I want to leave the park..weird hey!

SlowlorisIncognito Thu 13-Mar-14 20:50:59

Stop worrying. Loads of people love being only children. I haven't seen the thread you are talking about but I am an only child and love it. I also know a few older siblings who really resented their younger siblings when born (they were about 4-5 years older so just about remember being an only). I wouldn't assume she will start to dislike it if she doesn't already.

Just remember that as an only child she will get loads of benefits- like having more attention from you, and probably you will be able to give her more financial help when she is older e.g. with driving lessons and uni. You can also organise activities and things she wants to do without worrying about the activities clashing with brothers and sisters.

Looking back at my teenage years I got to do a lot of things that might not have been possible if I'd had a brother or sister. I was fairly serious about horse riding, and wouldn't have been able to go to the stables nearly as much or ride other people's ponies if I'd had a sibling who hated horses. I also wouldn't have been able to take a rural job that I needed a lift to when I was 16.

I think it would be best to stop worrying and maybe find a nice hobby for her that she wouldn't be able to do if she had a sibling. That might ease your worries a bit, but I am sure she will be fine.

violator Thu 13-Mar-14 20:59:38

LaLaLeona I understand where you are coming from.

It's a sensitive issue for me too. I never thought I'd have just one child, but I also never thought I'd be hospitalised with PND, take more than two years to recover and still sometimes feel I'm not cut out for motherhood.

It cuts me deep when people go on about how wonderful siblings are and how they make a childhood so much better. I can't, I simply can't take the risk of being that ill again.

So we work with what we have. At the moment DS is 2.5 and goes to playschool two mornings a week. He'll go every morning from September. I work from afternoon into evening so my mornings are completely about DS and playing with him and making sure he plays with my friends' kids. We'll be choosing schools carefully for him because I don't want him swamped or 'getting lost' in a huge school.

When he's older we'll invest as much time and effort as we can in getting him involved in sports and other activities. And he'll get to do some serious travelling with us!

thecatneuterer Thu 13-Mar-14 21:03:07

I loved, loved, loved being an only child. I also don't think it did me any harm. It made me into a very independent adult I believe. I used to feel really sorry for my friends when I went to their houses and saw what a pain in the neck having to live with siblings appeared to be.

Beamur Thu 13-Mar-14 21:03:55

I loved being an only.
My DD is not an only but her siblings are quite a lot older. However, hanging out recently with some school friends who have younger toddler sibs seems to have cured her of her desire for a little brother or sister.
Don't worry or guilt yourself over this, as long as she has a happy and loved childhood that is the best you can do for her.

When you read all the threads on here about problems with siblings you should be thankful she is an only. Stop stressing about it. She will never know any different. And I speak as the mother of an only.

saintlyjimjams Thu 13-Mar-14 21:08:38

I was an only & liked it.

Once I got to about age 10/11 my parents used to invite (& pay for) & friend to come on holiday with us

missingwelliesinsd Thu 13-Mar-14 21:17:49

I was the youngest of two children, my older brother was 3 years older than me. Honestly it was like being an only child, my brother did not want anything to do with me, ever... well basically until we were adults. We never played together and if we were cooped up together we always fought. We didn't even acknowledge each other when we were both at the secondary school. People used to be shocked when they found out we were siblings! We're friends as adults, but not close.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that it's a gamble whether siblings will be close like the Walton family or like not so much, like my experience. I think the older sibling being a girl helps, honestly having an older brother who was not known for being mature didn't help, if we'd been born in the opposite order I think I would been a nicer older sister than he was as an older brother.

missingwelliesinsd Thu 13-Mar-14 21:20:56

I was the youngest of two children, my older brother was 3 years older than me. Honestly it was like being an only child, my brother did not want anything to do with me, ever... well basically until we were adults. We never played together and if we were cooped up together we always fought. We didn't even acknowledge each other when we were both at the secondary school. People used to be shocked when they found out we were siblings! We're friends as adults, but not close.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that it's a gamble whether siblings will be close like the Walton family or like not so much, like my experience. I think the older sibling being a girl helps, honestly having an older brother who was not known for being mature didn't help, if we'd been born in the opposite order I think I would been a nicer older sister than he was as an older brother.

Amrapaali Thu 13-Mar-14 21:31:55

I read the other thread and it made me sad and panicky. I have one DD.

This thread is helping to calm me down. Thanks everyone.

Link to other thread?

LalaLeona Thu 13-Mar-14 21:56:21

That's exactly how I feel.. Sad and panicky it's an awful feeling! Thank you all for your messages it's good to hear different opinions and that others feel the same..sorry I don't know how to link to the other thread but it was about being an only and many people posted about how hard they found it. I know they were just saying how they feel, but it cuts like a knife sometimes. I do need to stop worrying I know..obviously I don't want my daughter to pick up on my loony thoughts! smile

TwittyMcTwitterson Thu 13-Mar-14 22:16:54

As an only myself, I say no. If you are a loving parent who is there for their DC then you don't need to do more. I sometimes felt my mum wasn't quite there for me. I distinctly remember going for a drive with her, buying toys like a frisbee etc and her buying a magazine and I got really excited about playing with her and doing the things I'd do with a sibling but when we got there she just sat and read her magazine. How can you play with a frisbee alone?!

Of course, you need to understand they may want to play out more than a child with siblings or have more friends round or sleepovers grin

TwittyMcTwitterson Thu 13-Mar-14 22:20:47

You can never win tho. I hear so many people talk about how they don't get on with siblings.

I currently have an only. 2.5 years old. I pray DP decides to have another sooner than later. I don't think he will. Either way, the grass is always greener wink

Slapntickleothewenches Thu 13-Mar-14 22:30:54

To give you the other side OP, I had a DB who was 3.5 years younger than me. I didn't know he was arriving (though in hindsight my parents must have mentioned it) and I resented it. We are very different characters and he idolised me, copying every single thing I did right down to choosing the same cereal as me. It drove me potty, alienated me from my family to an extent and nowadays we have no contact. No falling out, just nothing to talk about hmm
My DS is nearly 10 and an only. We have time for him, far more time than his friends with siblings parents. He attends a wide range of extra curricular clubs, has never missed a fixture or meeting due to siblings and has never played in a match or concert without at least one out of DH or I to watch.
I think he's fine with it and I would certainly have liked his life when I was a child grin

c4ss3y Thu 13-Mar-14 22:32:13

i'm an only child and i loved it. i never really liked other kids and would not have enjoyed having siblings.

hudjes Fri 14-Mar-14 06:45:26

Thanks for this thread lala. I too read the other thread and it made me feel bad for my dd who is an only. Not only that, but we are 'older' parents and I worry about her when I think about the future. She has cousins, but they live far away and the nearest cousin in age is 4 years older. since my dd started nursery I have relaxed somewhat as she has made some good friends. My DH said she will make her own friends. So I try to stop worrying.

JapaneseMargaret Fri 14-Mar-14 06:55:17

I think one of the things you can do to potentially help the situation is work on your own issues around it, because even if it doesn't bother your DD, the fact that it bothers you so much is bound to rub off on her.

I realise this is so much easier said than done, but you need to work on a way of making peace with your decision. Because you can't change it, and if you feel so incredibly negative about, she will pick up on that.

It is not inevitable that she is going to have a negative experience as an only. She may. But she may well not either.

You sending out all your vibes (which I completely understand why you do) is only going to make it more likely she will think being an 'only' is somehow a bad thing.

If you start being more positive about it - or at least neutral about it! - you're part of the way there to giving her a good experience.

DrankSangriaInThePark Fri 14-Mar-14 06:57:28

Stop worrying and don't make a big thing about it.

Help your child to socialise (though if they are already in school then your job is done there, the bit I found hardest was before she started school when I felt obliged to do all the glittery shit and playdate hell and even more hellish groups and softplay and chatting to other mums in the park- gah! Probably still have post traumatic stress from all that effort grin)

Invite other kids round. Accept invitations. Encourage (but never oblige) any kind of interest where your child goes out without you (<<<< that bit is important) and where they will automatically meet more people.

Dd is an only, as am I. As was my Dad. I have never obliged or signed her up for anything that she hasn't come home and said "I want to do this!" She does: an after school creative writing course, altar girl duties grin, volleyball, piano and violin.

It can be really easy to overthink the issue- especially with so many judgemental people around who bleat on about what a disservice you are doing to your child, but just look at some of the introverted, shy, socially awkward children you know. All onlies? I very much doubt it. Dd's best friend has a little brother, three years younger than her. She comes to our house to play, but literally cannot look you in the eye, she is so painfully shy. (both children are totally helicoptered as well, which probably has something to do with it)

I have found people a lot less judgemental here tbh (am in Italy) probably because (ironically in the land of the Catholic Church stronghold) there are more one child families than anywhere else in Europe I believe. People do sometimes judge though- dd's babysitter used to say to me "it's not right, you must have another, I have 2 and they hate each other!" Er, right. grin

DrankSangriaInThePark Fri 14-Mar-14 06:59:05

PS I was 38 when dd was born.

Remember: people are never judging you because of your decisions. They are judging you because they are so insecure with their own they feel the need to find fault with other people's. smile

ProfYaffle Fri 14-Mar-14 06:59:37

I'm an only child. As a child I didn't mind at all, I think this is because my Mum and Dad both have lots of siblings so I had tons of cousins who I went on holidays with/had days out with etc. Plus where we lived there were lots of neighbours with children of a similar age so I was always in a tribe of kids roaming about but at the same time could go home, close the door and have my own space.

As an adult though, I do wish I had siblings. Based on my own experience if I had to give advice to a parent of an only I'd say accept that your child will grown up, grow away from you and have their own life. Don't be like Cnut and fight the inevitable.

I'm not saying you're like this op, it's just been my experience with my parents smile

DrankSangriaInThePark Fri 14-Mar-14 07:00:55

PPS- I'd be wary of forcing friendships with cousins as well. My cousin was a year younger than me and we lived on adjacent streets, and so were very much thrown together as a matter of course. Couldn't stand her then, tolerate her now. The feeling is mutual. Dd is the same with one of hers. She gets on very well with 1 of them, tolerates the other.

Blood does not automatic friendship make!

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