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Only child reassurance

(25 Posts)
Mittelschmertz137 Sun 07-Jun-15 19:12:25

Hi everyone,
I am looking for some support and reassurance that my little girl will be ok being an only child.
She has just turned 3. I struggled to conceive her and am am about to turn 40. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for the last 2.5 years and so having another child has not been on the cards. I am still in counselling and until recently have been ok with the decision to have one child. My husband only wants one.

But recently I have started to feel overwhelmingly guilty that my daughter is an only child. When she has no one to play with or when it would just be nice for her to have another child there.

My mind goes around in circles. I don't feel that maternal pull to have another and if I did it would be a few years before they could be play mates. I know financially we can give her all she needs and I do worry about the risks because of my age. But I can't get it out of my head! Would love to hear from other parents of only children or parents that are only children themselves for some sanity and reassurance that she will be fine.

scurryfunge Sun 07-Jun-15 19:26:15

Hello Mittel,
Do not despair! Having one child is ok, you know. I was in a similar position and being an only child does not mean they are lonely. My son is very sociable and had plenty of play mates. Being on their own doesn't define their sociability.

noddyholder Sun 07-Jun-15 19:30:27

I have one ds he is 21 now and never lonely and tbh our house has always been full of him and his mates and now his uni mates! I am fed up with them all at times. SOme of my RL friends with 2 or 3 children never see them and have an empty house all the time. I don't think you can generalise I worried a bit years ago mainly as people always comment and assume bigger families more fun/close etc but I haven't found that. one of my school mum friends when ds was little had 4 and I used to be a bit envious at times but now 3 of them live abroad and the one who is her moved out unexpectedly aged 17 and rarely visits her Enjoy what you have smile

Mittelschmertz137 Sun 07-Jun-15 19:47:08

Thanks, it's true I know. I was 7 when my bro came along and don't really remember feeling lonely. We plan on having her friends and cousin over whenever we can and have an open house to keep her from feeling lonely. Guess I will feel guilty if we had a baby too. Ah! Being a parent is hard :-)

blacktreaclecat Sun 07-Jun-15 19:51:48

I am an only and it's fine, I've never known any different. I had a happy childhood and am close to my parents. I have lots of friends and a busy social life. I've never wanted or missed having a sibling- it doesn't look that great to me. DH has a sister who we see once or twice a year. They aren't especially close.
We ttc for 3 years to get our wonderful DS and it nearly broke me, mentally and physically. He's fabulous- no way am I going through that again! So he will be an only but it doesn't worry me in the slightest.

Kelly1814 Sun 07-Jun-15 19:55:03

Mittel! Be just been discussing this with friends..

Don't worry! I am an only and love it, always loved it.

I am gregarious, outgoing, also live time alone and am very independent.

Lovelydiscusfish Sun 07-Jun-15 20:12:35

My dd is three like yours, and we have absolutely no plans to try for another. Being just the three of us seems to work perfectly for us - we have lots to give her in terms of time, energy and resources.
Although she likes babies and other children, she Is adamant she doesn't want a sibling. I think she sees enough of the babies in her nursery (apparently she used to help with them sometimes(?!) when her classmates were napping and she refused to) to know how demanding and noisy they can be.
Dh was an only child, and loved it. He is very confident and sociable (and, yes, used to getting his own way, but luckily very charming and kind with it!)

Lizsmum Sun 07-Jun-15 21:42:52

I'm an only child, my DD is an only child and my DGD is an only child. We're all pretty confident and well balanced ..... so far.

Starlightbright1 Sun 07-Jun-15 21:50:29

My Ds is an only child and is very good and making friends, Great at sharing.

I think there are many advantages as an only child

Squirrel78 Sun 07-Jun-15 22:08:41

I've gone through all the emotions you're going through. I was almost cured of it yesterday. I went to a friend's house and she has two children very close together on age - nearly 6 and 7. I always thought she had made the perfect decision to have two close together in age.

The two children literally spent the whole time arguing with each other and physically fighting. Their parents were at their wits end being dragged into their petty squabbles. I noticed the boy was louder which seemed to make the girl withdraw into herself while he took centre stage. I noticed they were constantly competing for their patents attention - the boy by being naughty and the girl by sulking and playing up her role as victim of her brother's behaviour. While all this was going on my dd (a three year old "only") played with their toys happily and looked rather content in her own company.

Don't get me wrong they are a lovely family and I'm sure in time the siblings will get on but it made me realise that we can look at other people's situations and think they are right for us too but they aren't necessarily.

I don't honestly think siblings make you feel more or less lonely. Loneliness comes from being uncomfortable with being on your own and not having anyone you can be yourself with. Our relationships with parents and peers have a much greater bearing on this than siblings do.

I may always feel a pang of guilt about dd not having a sibling like I had but I try to focus on what she does have. A very happy home and lots of love and attention. When I worry about her being lonely I am underestimating her ability to make her own relationships in her life. She's a bright, funny and caring little girl already as I'm sure your little girl is too so let's not limit their futures by fearing the worst. Let's trust our "onlies" to turn into happy balanced people because they aren't really missing anything at all.

ForEverythingAReason Mon 08-Jun-15 09:12:26

Was just about to write something similar to squirrel, but she's got there before me and said it much better than I could!

Ilook at families with siblings and remember my own upbringing. Tbh I don't think your DD is necessarily missing out. I think to have a baby just because you want to provide a sibling for your first born isn't a good idea; unless you really want another baby too that is which is completely different.

Lonz Mon 08-Jun-15 16:59:38

I think it's sad that parents of one child feel the need for approval from society. I can understand how you feel. I fretted over sticking with one child (after a bad experience having him) but after a while I came to terms with the fact that me having anymore really wouldn't be want I would want or any good for my son as I'd be a wreck all over again. So it's benefiting him in a way.

I'm one of 5. Only see two of my siblings now. The others pretty much have their own lives and live far away. So most of the time I'm pretty much by myself anyway. Anyone can be lonely whether they have siblings or not.
If it's right for you, you will make the best of it.

Mittelschmertz137 Tue 09-Jun-15 09:28:28

Thank you everyone! This has been so helpful and I feel a lot better. She is so loved and wanted and has a great foundation and lovely family to grow from. I didn't have that growing up and my therapist has also made me realise that I am presuming my daughter is feeling as I did as a child; lonely. I guess it's natural but not having someone to play with as and when she wants is normal and all children get upset if they want to play and can't.
Like for everything a reason said having a baby just for her is not a good reason to have a baby. I don't want another.
It's so easy to wobbly about such a decision so having a group like this is such a comfort. Thanks :-)

GeorgianaDevonshire Wed 17-Jun-15 16:21:35

It's important to remember that being alone doesn't equate to being lonely. DD (10) loves having time to read, play with Lego Friends or her iPod or watch telly. So don't continually fill your house with cousins/friends because you think she needs companionship and entertainment.

Mittelschmertz137 Sun 05-Jul-15 22:27:24

Thanks everyone. Re reading these comments as having a guilt moment. We had a BBQ today and invited brother over with his two. My niece is 18 months younger than my little girl. They had a nice afternoon playing together but I wouldn't say they played all the time and my daughter at times didn't seem too interested in playing. But then when my brother went my daughter got really upset. I started to worry again that she's lonely and misses having children about all the time. I feel a bit sick about it again now sad

Sleepybeanbump Mon 06-Jul-15 14:16:55

Siblings often hate each other. Or just about tolerate each other.

Onlies grow up with a great reserve of self sufficiency. I am one, married to one, contemplating our boy due in December being an only because we don't feel we have the time or money to give two the upbringing we want to. We could have the time, we could have the money, but we don't have enough money to have both time and money unless we stick to one. I'd like two mainly because our family is very small ( long line of onlies on both sides!) and it's got a bit extreme. But other than that I see so many good things about only children.

Mittelschmertz137 Mon 06-Jul-15 19:50:21

Thanks Sleepy and many congratulations in your pregnancy.
Our decision is based on the same reasons. I am also worried about potential risks as I am 40. I know our reasons are sound but it doesn't stop that rush of guilt when my daughter is upset when she hasn't anyone to play with. Makes me feel like crying. :-(

Sleepybeanbump Tue 07-Jul-15 15:52:25

Thanks Mittel. I do understand where you're coming from, but motherhood is all about guilt, right? Imagine you had two - I bet you'd feel the same amount of guilt, but about whether you were able to give two equal attention etc. Or something else. There's always something to beat ourselves up about....

Also, in the gentlest way possible, and obviously I don't know the detail, but I wonder whether you are reading meaning into your daughter's behaviour that isn't there? Maybe she was just overtired and overstimulated and would have got upset about anything at the end of the day....?

Be kind to yourself.

DuchessOfWeaseltown Tue 07-Jul-15 19:24:57

Hi Mittel!

Just wanted you to know you're not alone, I feel like you a lot of the time.

I vacillate so much - fundamentally I know it is a good idea for us to stick at one for MASSIVE reasons - a disability that DD has luckily not inherited but a future child might; money; time; and the fact that I don't actually think I want another!

But then... I worry about DD. I worry that she will be lonely. And I worry about some time in the future when all we will have is her - for example I think of my parents who have 4 kids and 5 grandchildren and their lives are massively enriched in their older age by all the visiting and activity - I worry that our lives will feel veyr empty when DD is grown up, with just having had her, and that if she for whatever reason doens't have a familyy of her own it will be a very small lot of us indeed.

I know this sounds silly as you could have 4 kids and all of them oculd move away and/or hate your guts and so you might never see them!!

Do you ever think that maybe part of the reason for you feeling like this is because, at her young age, she doesn't yet have a massive 'social' life of her own... ie my DD is only 2.5 and isn't even at nursery yet, so the circle of other kids for her to play with is TINY. However when she is at school (hopefully, anyway) she will have loads more opportnities for socialising with other kids, making preopr friendships etc...

In fact I do occasionally wonder whether some people have a second child when their older one is a toddler as they feel like you and I do - they feel the toddler is lonely - only to then have the siblings spend the next 18 years off with their own friends and ignoring each other??!

Good luck OP, I feel just as you do and at 39 time is running out either way.

Both my head and my heart tell me we are right as we are (and phenomenally lucky) but I do have my moments!!

RainbowFlutterby Tue 07-Jul-15 19:30:16

Oh boy do I know about Mittelschmertz!

Just wanted to add that DS is an only and seems perfectly happy with life. We always go away to child-friendly places with lots going on and he's very good at making friends. Someone asked him if he was sad about not having a brother or sister not long ago (hmm) and he made his preference for being an only absolutely clear (and had a lot of people laughing too).

ArsenalsPlayingAtHome Tue 07-Jul-15 20:50:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sleepybeanbump Tue 07-Jul-15 21:02:27

Well I'm sure that really helped the op feel better about her choice, Arsenal. hmm

ArsenalsPlayingAtHome Wed 08-Jul-15 06:47:04

Sorry everyone for my post. It was really insensitive. As soon as I'd posted it, I realised I hadn't responded to the OP, but to Rainbow's post about her DS making his preferences clear.

It might well be funny to hear a child making absolutely clear his preference for being an only, but when children have come around to my house, and told my children, without having been asked, how great it is to not have any siblings, and why, it doesn't seem funny, it just seems a bit rude.

Obviously, that's just the children who've been round to my house, or whose houses we've been to, and I shouldn't assume that anyone else's child has been rude about it. It just hit a raw nerve in me, because of the various times my DS has been on the receiving end of it and been visibly upset and confused by friends' comments.

Sorry Rainbow, OP, and everyone else.

blush blush blush

Sleepybeanbump Wed 08-Jul-15 14:50:06

smile

I think they key is we're all really sensitive about our choices, aren't we? In real life any choice about family size is loaded with decisions and implications about time/money/attention/work etc etc. And so we all take other people's opinions (often innocently and harmlessly meant) really personally because a small thing can be such a big emotive issue internally.

I feel similarly to you Arsenal when I'm (even as an adult) on the receiving end of passing comments about only children being spoiled brats. Anything that criticises your choice/situation seems hurtful in a way that the people saying don't seem to think about.

I basically think all comments about family size are verging on rude unless you're very careful and/or know the person really well. All the 'ooooh, gosh, three, really?', and 'oh, and only, did you not want any more' and 'trying for another are we?'. <wince>

I saw my mother get so much of this when I was younger. It's a shame she always responded politely and neutrally to save everyone's face rather than just snapping 'well I would have liked more but sadly I found out my husband is a cheating w*nker so I haven't slept with him since and our marriage is destroyed'. Comments like this are so awkward and embarrassing for people on the receiving end of it, but people rarely turn it round and make the people saying them aware of how their comments make people feel.

I know people who adopted after years of heartache. Never ever in a million years would I casually ask a virtual stranger if they were planning more kids. You never know what pain you're stepping on.

Mittelschmertz137 Thu 09-Jul-15 21:55:32

Oh yes totally hear you on the awkward comments. People always ask when we are having another, with things like 'it's worth it'. Sure it is, but they don't know my reasons.

I think you are right there will always be something for us to feel bad about. My parents got it so wrong and I am so set on giving my daughter a wonderful childhood I give myself a hard time!

Thank you everyone for your comments. It's nice to have different perspectives :-)

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