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The longer term considerations of having one child

(33 Posts)
kitkat321 Fri 02-Dec-16 22:49:17

One of the main thinks that makes me consider a second child is giving dd someone to share the burden when me and dh get old/pass away. Having lost my dad a couple of years ago just after I had dd I was so grateful to have my brother to share the burden with - we arranged the funeral and my brother takes on a lot of the work supporting my mum - taking her shopping, doing the odd bits of DIY etc. I'm very aware of how different my (or most likely her) life would be if I was an only child.

I'm sure that all of you who have an only child have considered this and I wondered how you feel about this/deal with this?

For me personally, this is one of the biggest drivers to having another but if I could have some comfort/reassurance that my dd wouldn't be left to deal on her own with the burden of her parents then I'd be a lot more confident in a decision to just have one.

Does that make any sense?

NataliaOsipova Fri 02-Dec-16 22:55:26

It does make sense. But it's maybe not the basis of a sensible decision, if that makes sense? I'm an only child; I fully accept that I'll be responsible for sorting out my DM and that I'll be on my own. But I'll also have autonomy to do so. My DH isn't close to his siblings and will still bear the brunt of the burden of his parents as he is by far the most competent person in the family. But he'll have to negotiate and justify his position.

I often say this on only child threads - but there are no rules set in stone and there are no guarantees. There are pros and cons of everything; only you will know what's best for you and your family.

Plicky Sun 04-Dec-16 16:52:48

Seriously it's a daft reason for having a second child.

SprogletsMum Sun 04-Dec-16 16:55:45

There's no guarantee that a sibling would help your dc. There's always threads on here about siblings not helping on here.

CalpolOnToast Sun 04-Dec-16 16:59:06

My SIL was actively hostile to my DH when my FIL was ill and died; my aunts and uncles were emotionally supportive to my mum when my DGF died but not much good practically. There's no guarantees, I have given this some thought but we're still sticking with one.

MnRumours Sun 04-Dec-16 17:03:13

You have no idea if the siblings will get along or come together in the event of a death. You're looking at it through rose tinted glasses. I am one of two, haven't seen other sibling in nearly twenty yrs.

TroysMammy Sun 04-Dec-16 17:07:59

There are no guarantees in life. I've always been a believer of you have children because you want children not have children to look after you when you are old.

I have one niece who is an only child. Her Dad is an only child and her only Auntie, me, doesn't have children. I don't expect her to have the burden of my care when I need it. I'll go in a nursing home but I hope she would visit me occasionally.

EllieMentry Sun 04-Dec-16 17:09:07

I am an only child. My dad died recently and my mum is very elderly. My husband is hugely supportive and I don't feel the lack of siblings that I thought I would at this stage in my life.

ItsJustaUsername Sun 04-Dec-16 17:17:08

Honesty I think that's a terrible reason for having children full stop. You're children could emigrate/die before you or be unable to afford to give up work to care for you. I have a brother and there's approximately zero chance of him helping care for our parents when the time comes as he's a selfish narc.
Save for your old age care instead so you can pay professionals.

NataliaOsipova Sun 04-Dec-16 17:20:33

Put another way - I have 2 kids and they are best pals and feel genuine love for each other. I look at that and wish I had a sibling and a relationship like that. But then I see people who really don't get on with siblings and are constantly arguing over - for example - care of parents, shares of money etc - and I'm glad to be an only child! So - although it's very trite, all you can if that it's great for a child to have a sibling with whom they have a great relationship. But you can't guarantee that, or know that in advance!

SloanePeterson Sun 04-Dec-16 17:24:12

Op, have you considered that the sibling themselves may end up being a burden on your dc1? My second child has autism and various other difficulties that wouldn't have been picked up in antenatal testing, and I worry hugely about what will happen when I pass away. I'm sure my daughter would far rather face organising my funeral alone than have to takeover the care of her brother. If you want one, then stick with one.

NataliaOsipova Sun 04-Dec-16 17:26:11

Very good point Sloane

gamerwidow Sun 04-Dec-16 17:26:47

I have an only child and think this is a weak reason to have another. Hopefully when I die she'll have friends and a family of her own to support her through the time. I have a sister and she has caused me more pain than comfort in recent years. Just because you are related doesn't mean you will get on.

lljkk Sun 04-Dec-16 17:30:34

It's not so simple as saying "just pay for care". Huge burden to try to make the best decision especially if a parent has dementia or mental illness. Worse if there's limited money for any option. A work colleague (only child of unwell elderly mother) is going thru this now.

Even if you had many, one kid might pick up most the burdens, though. And as parents we could do a lot to make it easier on them... I've already told DC that I will go willingly into assisted living accommodation as soon as I need to. Ideally, I'll choose the carehome digs rather than my DC having to make that choice.

I suspect what would also help are things like careful financial planning, having all your financial papers & other effects in order, a living will, a clear will for after your demise, also a Power of Attorney form ready to go at any time (but be careful about that!). So that your child had more powers, less clutter to wade thru, & more info about what you would prefer. Also talk thru with your child while you're still sane what you want. So that if you lose your faculties, they can be reasonably confident which decision you'd prefer.

StealthPolarBear Sun 04-Dec-16 17:32:59

It does. I'm an only child approaching 40. I was fine as an only as a child, we went on holidays with my cousins, I had lots of friends around etc. My parents were wonderful and always wanted to spend time with me.
But as they get a bit older (they are currently healthy, touch wood) I am feeling increasingly alone about what is to come. Not the financial side - they have plenty of money - or even the physical side of caring but the decision making and the emotional strain. Dh is great but if I had a sibling they would be in exactly the same position and I think I'd take comfort from that.
As a pp says though they may be crap. My grandma was one of eight and yet she alone cared for her mother with dementia which led to a huge family falling out sad suppose I'll never have that. Plus the financial element - ill never have to worry about what my sibling thinks of any money we spend on care, I'll spend as much as I want and I've told dh to do the same for his parents.

Bluntness100 Sun 04-Dec-16 17:33:03

Yup, and on the other side, nothing causes arguments between siblings more than a will. Many siblings don't get on and often one is left to deal with it anyway, Just like me and my brother, not only did I have to do it, I had to also sort out his interests and make sure he was happy. Doubling the stress All your burden sharing doesn't mean that's how it always happens. In fact I'd quess more often it's the opposite.

Very silly reason to have a second child.

FaithFromTheRealmsOfGlory Sun 04-Dec-16 17:33:22

DD may well be an only. we'd like another but had fertility issues with her and I don't know if it'll happen again. While I consider this issue, it's not a reason to have a child. I work in elderly nursing, I've seen so many people doing all the support because despite having siblings, people don't share the load. If you want another, go for it. Don't base it on this alone.

skyyequake Sun 04-Dec-16 17:41:42

I would rather go into a home than have DD look after me... And that would still be true if she one day gets siblings. I would never want to be a burden on my children no matter of I had 1 or 10. I hope that DD and any hypothetical future children would come and visit often but not feel any practical stress over me. I had DD when I was 21 so hopefully I will be alive and well for a long time for her and obviously I hope to be able to live independently for most of my old age... But I certainly wouldn't feel like DD owed me any care or looking after. Don't get me wrong I hope she gives a crap about me but she shouldn't feel responsible for me! That wouldn't change with extra children and it certainly won't factor into any future decisions on whether to have more...

StealthPolarBear Sun 04-Dec-16 17:47:16

Skyy but it's more than just the practical

skyyequake Sun 04-Dec-16 17:53:51

Well I would hope that DD would develop her own friendships and relationships without siblings who, as others have said, may not be available for emotional support. I have a large amount of cousins I am close to and a sister who is closer in age to DD than she is to me... She is not without family and hopefully she will have close friends and potentially a partner and children of her own surrounding her. I don't think it's a case of having siblings or being totally alone... I know a few only children and none of them are "lonely children" and yet I also know a set of twins who don't get on at all so either way it's a roll of the dice!

Famalam13 Mon 05-Dec-16 12:47:01

I agree with many pp that it is not a good reason to have more DC. Arranging care for my DGM has caused a lot of tension between DDad and DAunt. I am glad that I will be the only one making the decisions for my parents and will have the support of DH and my friends. With DS who is an only we will make sure to have as much organised in advance including a living will and we won't expect him to care for us.

Myrobalanna Mon 05-Dec-16 12:55:21

You can't control the outcomes here. You have to know that.

My own younger sibling is not a good person (convictions, outbursts, drugs etc). When the time comes for us to be dealing with this, I know there will be additional strain there, and I have already thought through in the dark of the night how I might manage the situation. My parents aren't even unwell. I find this one of the most stressful things about the future, almost eclipsing my parents' deaths sad

HeyRoly Mon 05-Dec-16 13:10:28

If this is your only reason to have a second child, don't do it.

The care of elderly parents invariably falls to one child even if there are many siblings. Usually the daughter. My mum has two brothers and has had to bear 90% of the care of her elderly parents. All the shopping, phone calls, appointments, liaising with HCPs (I could go on and on) falls squarely at her feet. My grandmother broke her hip last week and Mum spent the day in A&E with her. Her brother, who also lives locally, refused to change his plans and instead went out to dinner.

I know that's a massive tangent and not entirely related to your post, but as Myro said you can't control the outcomes here. It just seems almost universally true that other siblings will sit back as long as one sibling takes on the brunt of the caring responsibilities. I'm under no illusions that the same division of labour will happen between me and my brother.

mistermagpie Mon 05-Dec-16 13:20:52

There are no guarantees either way. I have a brother but I'm NC with him and both my parents. There is no way on God's earth I will be taking care of my parents in their old age so, for that purpose (any any others to be honest), he might as well be an only child. Nobody could have predicted this when they we planning to have two children though.

Equally my DH is not an only child, but if he was, I would 100% step up and help his take care of his parents if he needed me to. He wouldn't be on his own. Your daughter might have a supportive partner to help as well, there is just no way of knowing.

It's not a reason to have a child. IMO the only reason to have any child is because you really really want them.

kitkat321 Tue 13-Dec-16 23:13:31

Thanks for all your comments.

It would never be my only reason but is one of the things gnawing away at me at the moment.

I can't decide if I want another or not - I think if circumstances were different i.e. if I wasn't the breadwinner in our relationship with a full time and very demanding job, if DH helped out more and didn't seem to struggle so much with adapting to having one child (he's a good dad but I can tell he really misses those days when he could spend all weekend golfing) & I wasn't so prone to miscarriages I'd be more inclined to just go for it and have a second.

When I imagine what it would be like though, particularly during the pregnancy and first few years I wonder how I'd cope - I'd probably murder my DH and would struggle to dedicate as much of myself to my children as I want to.

And it's absolutely right that having a sibling doesn't mean they'll get along or not be lonely when growing up.

I keep thinking I'm secure in my decision to not have another and then something throws me - like one of the mums from my NCT class announcing she's pregnant. That makes me feel like a failure, that I'm doing something wrong but that's more due to what I perceive as external pressure/expectation rather than a burning desire from me to have another.

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