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Worrying about your only

(10 Posts)
WannabeEarthMomma Wed 15-Aug-12 22:16:55

I've read a fair bit about the advantages and disadvantages of choosing to have an only, but the only thing that makes me waver is wondering whether I'd worry more about death if I had only one child.

Many people have mentioned worrying about the child not having siblings when they are older and inevitably lose their parents. I personally think that this is not so much of a worry because by the time I get really old I'd have thought my only would have friends/cousins/spouse/their own kids to turn to for comfort. I have a sister and it's nice to think of her and her kids being there for me, however, she lives 200 miles away, so it's not like we're in each other's thrall like we were as kids.

No, the thing that really worries me is, what if I have only one child, and that child dies before they've had kids of their own? Would I regret not having a 'spare'? I know it's a selfish way to think because, how would a second child feel if they picked up the vibe that they are a spare!? Also it's an irrational way to think because I've heard of plenty of onlies who went on to have big families, I also know of someone with a big family who lost two siblings at a young age. Just because you have one child doesn't mean you're more likely to have a tragedy happen to you!

I know that even as a parent of more than one I would spend the rest of my life worrying anyway. But as a parent of only one child, am I destined to be even more of a worrier? Or, can I find a way to chill out about my darkest fears, and accept that any kind of child is a joy in your life, even if they pass on early, or choose not to have their own family?

EmpressOfTheSevenFlames Thu 16-Aug-12 01:23:21

We've just got the one. But I think losing a child is going to be just as tragic regardless of whether you have one or six.

As for the 'spare' concept - I don't know which of you is older, you or your sister, but I'm the eldest of three and I'm quite sure my siblings weren't there as backup options. I think trying to handle your fears is the only way to cope really.

N0tinmylife Mon 20-Aug-12 11:02:26

I do know what you mean, I have felt like this at times, I've always felt daft feeling this way, so I am glad to see its not just me.

Some things I try to remember though are, people lose more than one child, so how many do you have to be safe? You could have 5 and lose them in an accident. Most people also only have one husband/partner, and it would not occur to them to have a spare. I only have one sister, I have never thought my parents should have another child to give me a spare sibling. I hope that makes some sort of sense! It does help to put it in perspective for me smile

Snog Tue 21-Aug-12 20:04:46

I have one child aged 12.
I do wonder sometimes what would happen if she died - I think all parents think about this. Whilst I am sure that the death of a chld is devastating no matter how many children you have, I think (yet cannot know) that having surviving children would give you some consoloation and some reason to keep going.
This is not sufficient reason for me to have another child and neither do I worry unduly over the safety of my dd on a day to day basis.

I hope this helps.

Chubfuddler Tue 21-Aug-12 20:12:13

It's v v v unlikely to happen to you. It does happen but it's unlikely to be rather than me or someone else. I don't think in such a situation surviving children are in any way "spares" - I have a five year old and a one year old and what you suggest is that my eldest is in some way me real child and my younger and add on. It's just not like that when you gave more than one child.

That said done lovely elderly neighbours of mine lost their only child when she was 23 and when I had dd the husband said to my Dh that he was do so glad we had had another child, his only regret in life was that their daughter was only child and when she was gone they felt like they were no longer parents.

WannabeEarthMomma Mon 10-Sep-12 20:16:22

Notinmylife, that's a good point you make about not having a spare husband! My other half is 16 years older and I've always had in the back of my mind since we've been together that it's likely he'll die before me. It's something I have come to accept as part of life, of course I dread it happening but I know it'll likely not be for a long time.

It's comforting to think of having a kid who survives us both, to have kids of their own. I guess it is only a natural to hope to have grandkids and ensure a line of descent into the future. It's funny because I didn't always want kids, but now that I want at least one, I find myself worrying, what if I have a child, bring them up, and lose them before they get a chance to become a parent themself?

I think the main reason this worries me is because, I don't believe in God or Heaven. I think they are useful metaphors, but I believe that when we die, we're just gone. And what matters is the memories people have of us. It would be sad to lose your child, your bloodline, your only truly lasting legacy to the world. Of course, your other relatives and other people who knew your child would remember them, but your own family would be ended forever.

I know very well that having 2 children instead of one is no guarantee of immortality. I don't know why I can't get this nagging feeling out of my head, that if it did happen, I'm going to spend the rest of my life regretting it, that I basically wasted my adulthood patiently waiting to become a mum when I ought to have started asap and had more kids.

I'm not even a mum, yet! Strangely enough, the thought of not being able to have a baby at all, sounds less horrible to me than having one and then losing them. I can't explain why.

ottawagirl Thu 27-Sep-12 14:11:43

Hey Wannabe, I am the mother of one 5-year old. And I worry about her dying all the time. One friend said to me, "yes but if your only child dies then you are free to do other things and focus on your relationship or career or things that make you happy. You can reinvent yourself or start again in some way. If you lose one child who has siblings, then in a way those siblings could actually make your pain worse." I had never thought of this, and I don't even know if it is how I would feel, but I thought it was an interesting way of looking at it. I guess one has to be a big 'buddhist' about these things and just enjoy what we have and live every moment. Otherwise those dark nights of the soul will take over!

monsterchild Thu 27-Sep-12 14:17:25

My DH has lost two sisters. I know that having two other children has not made much difference to my MIL. The fact that I am now pregnant with her first GC doesn't appear be any consolation, but will be a good thing all on it's own.

It's been a bit stressful for me though!

tedglenn Thu 27-Sep-12 18:16:03

I read an article about a charity for people who have lost their only child (or lost all their children at one time e.g. in an accident/fire).

The specific issues for the people the charity helps is that not only have they lost a child, they have also lost their identity of being a parent (no more school gates, PTA, kids's disco on holiday, etc etc). I'd imagine that would magnify the pain of losing any child.

southcoaster Tue 13-Nov-12 08:08:18

DS is 5 and there was a time when he was about 2 and we thought we weren't going to have anymore, and I remember saying exactly that to my mum 'what if something happens to him etc'. Then by surprise no.2 came along ... although at 27 weeks and very ill, he left us when he was 11 months old. So DS1 is once again an only and will remain so. I still worry about it but not as much as I used to before .... maybe because I think it's unlikely that the 'same shit' happens to you twice, although I know that it does in some families.

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