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One-child families on the rise - tell us what you think

(52 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 27-Mar-13 21:03:12

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.

OP’s posts: |
MsAkimbo Thu 28-Mar-13 03:50:55

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]

MsAkimbo Thu 28-Mar-13 03:51:31


Morebiscuitsplease Thu 28-Mar-13 06:49:08

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.

KittieCat Thu 28-Mar-13 06:57:52

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.

Manoodledo Thu 28-Mar-13 11:38:36

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.

Tailtwister Thu 28-Mar-13 13:14:44

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.

Quenelle Thu 28-Mar-13 13:44:19

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.

WilsonFrickett Thu 28-Mar-13 14:00:42

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 blush). 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.

juneau Thu 28-Mar-13 14:24:29

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.

juneau Thu 28-Mar-13 14:29:49

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).

ilikemysleep Thu 28-Mar-13 14:53:14

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.

PenelopeChipShop Thu 28-Mar-13 14:57:54

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!

fidgetywidget Thu 28-Mar-13 15:17:02

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!

Polyethyl Thu 28-Mar-13 15:19:12

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.

Laquitar Thu 28-Mar-13 15:23:41

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.

patricksmum Thu 28-Mar-13 15:56:11

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.

Pinkglow Thu 28-Mar-13 16:33:30

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......

AmberSocks Thu 28-Mar-13 16:48:45

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.

AmberSocks Thu 28-Mar-13 16:51:28

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.

WilsonFrickett Thu 28-Mar-13 18:12:40

eh Patricksmum? I think I'm missing the point too...

patricksmum Thu 28-Mar-13 20:04:57

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 ....

patricksmum Thu 28-Mar-13 20:07:33

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 ....

minipie Thu 28-Mar-13 20:13:25

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.

wispawoman Thu 28-Mar-13 20:14:12

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.

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