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Where are all these one child families?!

(30 Posts)
Sleepybeanbump Tue 14-Jul-15 14:26:04

I'm only child of two only children, married to an only child of two only children, currently pregnant with what may well be our only child. I've always been interested in the concept of onlies and how we are perceived. It seems from most of what I hear and read that an only is still, sadly, seen as negatively as it was when I was a child, and yet at the same time, I keep reading that one child families now make up nearly half of family units.

And yet of all the dozens and dozens and dozens of families that we know- friends, neighbours, work colleagues, friends of friends, even the vaguest of passing acquaintances, I can only think of 3 only child families that I know of.

Does anyone else have the same experience? That society's reactions to onlies haven't caught up with the prevalence of onlies, and that they come accross a disproportionately small number of onlies?

chairmeoh Tue 14-Jul-15 14:30:44

I have an only child. Amongst my friends I can think of about 10 one child families.
I am an older mum though, and my similarly aged friends tend to be the one-child parents. I wonder whether that is a factor?

lampshady Tue 14-Jul-15 14:33:48

Most of my 'parent' friendship group is made up of onlies, but we're by and large single parents. The two children families I know have different fathers with large age gaps. We all know where each other is coming from, which dual parent families wouldn't necessarily understand and it works fantasticly with childcare and children swapping so we all get a break and the children are entertained! I must say, I by and large find it easier with two to look after, but doubt I would full time.

Viviennemary Tue 14-Jul-15 14:40:15

I am an only child. My parents were not. I don't know many people who are only children or only have one child. Only one or two.

Sleepybeanbump Wed 15-Jul-15 07:29:05

That's a good point. The 3 we know two have single or separated parents, and one has special needs and was adopted. His parents deliberately decided not to adopt a second so they could focus on him.

Whereas the majority other families we know are all fairly 'traditional'.

It makes me nervous in anticipation of having an only ourselves, as I feel certain we'll be viewed as weird, like my parents were when I was a child, and that our child will be hyper aware that he is unusual in this respect. Which is just depressing.

We obviously need a more diverse social group!!

annandale Wed 15-Jul-15 07:32:44

Ds is an only. He has no only child friends, quite a few with three. Tbh I think a lot of the only children in the stats must just be first children who haven't had siblings yet.

RoganJosh Wed 15-Jul-15 07:35:52

My DD is in yr 2 (so don't think there will be siblings) and has 6 only children in her class. I think two of those has parents still together.
We know four other one child families, three due to fertility issues, one money/lifestyle.

merlehaggard Wed 15-Jul-15 07:39:03

I don't know anyone who had an only child by choice. Their factors were health problems, not being able to conceive again and relationships splitting up.

TheQueenOfSheba Wed 15-Jul-15 07:39:34

We live in Dubai, and most of our friends and DS's school friends, have only 1 child. All of our Arabic and Indian friends have only 1 child each, which is interesting as you associate those cultures traditionally with having larger families.

I don't know why this is the case, but it fascinates me.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Wed 15-Jul-15 07:43:42

Without thinking too hard about it, I personally know 3 one-child families. None of them are only-child parents, and 2 of them the one-child thing was perforce, due to MCs etc.

Through MN, and this board in particular, I know lots more, some of whom I have met in person as well <waves to whomever remembers me>

I think anyone who views only-child families as "weird" seriously lacks imagination and empathy, to say nothing of buying into old and stupid stereotypes that are rarely accurate. Of the 3 families I know personally, only 1 of the only-children is in any way spoilt - the other 2 aren't. Nor are they suffering in any social way, or any of the other things that are levelled at only children. The spoilt one - I have some sympathy there because he really was a "last ditch attempt" after several MCs and, while all children are precious, his mother is very very "PFB" over him - he gets away with far more than others might, but he's still mostly a good kid (and one of my DC1's friends).

I think it's ridiculous for people to assume characteristics for a child based on their position in the family hierarchy, out of old-fashioned stereotypes and I would ignore anyone who commented from that point of view.

Bunbaker Wed 15-Jul-15 07:45:02

"Does anyone else have the same experience?"

No. I know loads of families with only children. DD is an only and has several friends who are onlies. Quite a few of these families had onlies by choice as well. I couldn't have any more children so DD isn't an only by choice.

applecharlotte Wed 15-Jul-15 07:51:38

DS is an only and his two best friends at preschool are as well. We are in zone 3 London and it's very common here! Most of my friends are only just having children now they are 37/38 so I expect in our friendship group being a one child family will be there norm.

Chchchchangeabout Wed 15-Jul-15 07:52:07

I know two people with an only child. One definitely by choice the other I don't know well enough to know why. I know lots of others with one child so far but who haven't declared an intention for just having one

UniS Wed 15-Jul-15 07:59:12

Lots of only children in my lads sport, lots of only children in our village. And yes, my lad is an only.
Class of 22, 4 onlys, 2 semi only with signifcantly older half/ step sibs.

VirginiaTonic Wed 15-Jul-15 08:07:50

There are 8 only children in my dds class alone.

BeaufortBelle Wed 15-Jul-15 08:20:14

There are two ladies at work with only children - both older teenagers now. There were very few only children at our children's primary school although it was a church school and families tended to be fairly traditional. I am racking my brains to think of any only children amongst the children's friends and they are 17 and 20!

I, however, was an only child of two onlies. It didn't bother my parents because they were onlies because their parents would have loved more but couldn't. I was an only because my mother never wanted children, I didn't change her mind and she made it crystal clear that my existence was not a positive thing. I certainly had anything money could buy but I'd have had that if I'd had siblings.

I am wondering why you are asking the question and why you are thinking your child might be an only. I hated it. I hated the sly comments about only's being different, I hated the lack of siblings (more so now that my mother is elderly and there is no one to share the burden).

It was always my intention to have a large family but sadly that didn't work out - eventually we got two children after heartbreaking late miscarriages. We ploughed on because there was no way I wanted our son to be an only child. I was terribly important to me that he would have at least one sibling.

My DH is one of three and hardly speaks to his siblings who live on the other side of the world. My children have some cousins but don't see them. That saddens me.

If I hadn't married and had children there would have been a point in my life where I'd have had not a single relative. That's a consequence of being an only child of only parents. It isn't great.

absolutelynotfabulous Wed 15-Jul-15 08:26:53

In my dd"s primary class, there were 6 out of 25. I'm an only, my cousin is an only. DD is an only. I was getting on when I had dd and had problems in pregnancy.

I must admit I've never been aware of a culture of negativity around only children, apart from the usual "he/she must be spoiled"...etc, which doesn't imo hold water at all.

Lymmmummy Fri 17-Jul-15 15:18:00

I totally know what you mean!! You are quite unusual in coming from such a long line of only children I would think

We keep being told that a fifth are now only children and that this will increase to nearly fifty percent - but were we live it is almost exclusively families of 2 or 3 children born close together - and for some reason of fate often the same sex - thereby the family has enough playmates within itself for the children - and as a mother of an only I do feel quite isolated - and very guilty - but health reason mean it's quite unlikely I can have any more

I do think this is partly the area we live in as its prime middle class settling down land - perhaps in a city or more urban area it would be different

Of my DC nursery class only 3 out of about 40 were only children and in the other two cases the mothers were very young so it's possible they will add to their family later

Millionprammiles Fri 17-Jul-15 16:44:54

I can see 4 of them from my desk. In fact every parent in our team has an only and no plans for more.

CainInThePunting Fri 17-Jul-15 17:01:12

I have an only child, I can't honestly remember coming up against any negativity for it (unless I'm just oblivious!).
A lot of people I work with have onlies but most of my family are 2 or 3 children families.
I can't think of any factor that differentiates the only child families, I've always thought it was probably circumstance or preference.

Actually, there was an instance of negativity from a former friend who was at the time childless and single. She pointedly commented that she would hate to be a lone parent of an only child (as I was) and that she couldn't bear the thought of having multiple children with different fathers.
She married and had a child and then separated from him so the last I heard she is a lone parent of an only child. No idea if she has remarried or had any more children. I hope she has changed her attitude though, now that she is 'walking in those shoes'.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 17-Jul-15 17:16:58

I don't know many onlies, only 3 I think. I do know that at least one of those is due to miscarriages, the others maybe due to age, but not sure.
I think people are well negative about onlies, and perceive them as being over precocious due to too much adult company, materially spoilt, pernickety, unable to share.
In actual fact I have by some strange coincidence had a couple of serious boyfriends in the past who were onlies, and found them to be really interesting, kind, generous, and kind of eccentric, all of which words describe my child!
I think the fact that onlies don't get stuck with the birth order thing, and aren't categorised as much as in large families with the arty one and the clever one etc, the can kind of be who they like.
I really hate the head- tilty way people say " do you only have the one then? " to which I reply " yes, I have one child " with a big smile.

Bunbaker Fri 17-Jul-15 17:46:41

I have never come across the negativity that I see on MN about only children.

WeAllHaveWings Fri 17-Jul-15 18:07:33

ds(11) is an only, he has a group of 4 boys he is in football team/school/plays with and has nightmare sleepovers with. All the boys are onlies, some through choice, others (like ds) because the mums left it too late for a first child that a second never happened.

I cant think of any families we know, or in ds's class with more than 2 dc. Onlies being quite common.

PumpkinPie2013 Wed 22-Jul-15 19:36:38

I have two colleagues who both have only children - one would have loved more but can't due to fertility issues. The other lady also struggled to conceive and had her dd quite late in life but always says she wouldn't have had more anyway.

Other than those two, I don't know any one child families - two or three seems the norm where I live.

We have one ds who will be an only child as due to birth trauma, I can't have any more children.

proudmummy2004 Fri 24-Jul-15 00:43:49

Most of my friends have 2 or 3 children. My DD is an only child and I was an only child.

I would have liked 2 children but I suffered a MC with second pregnancy and my view is that it wasn't meant to be.

Sometimes it has been hard with just one, especially being a single parent and I find now DD is 11, she needs someone other than me around her. She has plenty of friends and a ton of cousins, so in a way she is never really alone. She does have a half brother from another mother but she does not see him that often (he is 6 years younger). She has often said that whilst in a way she wishes she had a sister sibling, she is happy that she is an only child as she gets more opportunities than some of her friends in respect of days out, treats etc because I only have to pay for one whereas others ahve to pay for 2, 3, 4 children.

I didn't like being an only child myself but had to get on with it smile

I don't know many one child families myself - sometimes I think it would be nice to meet some!

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