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Perhaps its the term 'Only' that's the problem

(23 Posts)
ljhooray Mon 08-Jun-09 16:55:08

Hi everyone, I've poted a few times to this section as I am increasingly suspecting the dd may be our complete compliment of children! Nothing to do with problems, traumatic birth, PND, fertility etc. etc. I think I had convinced myself we would never have children (medical issues) that she's such a little miracle and so lovely, I just don't have the broodiness or desire to have anymore. However, I am really quite alone on this in my group of friends, not one other mum feels this way. So this may have led to a bit of sensitivity on my part, but when the majority of MN postings, books and discussions with my friends use the term 'only' child, I kinda resent the word. I'm not free of guilt on the old sibling debate (despite knowing siblings do not always = happiness) so I think the term 'only' always grates a little. I wonder as the percentage of 1 child families increases the attitude will change? (Although I hope this then doesn't cause a backlash for those that choose to have many! I say good on you and you have much more stamina than me wink)

Rubyrubyrubyinthegame Mon 08-Jun-09 16:57:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ljhooray Mon 08-Jun-09 17:01:42

Ruby, I think perhaps its quite a loaded word, only implies a negativity, that there's something missing. I saw on another thread in this topic that babycentre have threads for 1,2,3,4 etc and that would appear to be a good way to look at it. In fact MN isn't guilty as they use one child, but it is one child or larger families. Would appear that a more constructive and useful way to look at it is help mums support each other with the variety of challenges and dynamics that 1,2,3,4,5,6 etc bring. Just my opinion though blush

bigchris Mon 08-Jun-09 17:03:05

that's why this topic is called one-child families and not only-child families

ljhooray Mon 08-Jun-09 17:04:34

Hope I cleared that point up Bigchris in my last post, the OP was meant to discuss the term more generally

UniS Mon 08-Jun-09 19:43:25

I don't mind the term only personally, DS is an only NOT an eldest waiting for a sibling or a first ( of many, the implication goes).

I have friends with no children, onlyies, 2 or 3 or 4 and my SiL has 6.

I still find myself thinking " you mad fool" when I hear a friend is expecting their second or subsequent child.

flibertygibet Mon 08-Jun-09 21:55:48

ljhooray...you are SO right. I would like to ban the 'only' label.

I desperately wanted my lovely boy and thought I'd want more but to my surprise, I have never felt broody again. I never felt that burning desire to have another. The thought of it actually makes me stressed. Same with my dp. We are just so happy having a 3 person family and I can't imagine it any other way. We are complete.

ljhooray Tue 09-Jun-09 10:39:33

I think flibertygibet you've described exactly how I feel, think I'm still quite surprised about how I feel, just assumed I would feel differently. But everyday it feels more and more fantastic!

DamonBradleylovesPippi Tue 09-Jun-09 10:48:19

I have two children but I get exactly what you mean. I never sat down and thought about it because I did want more than one and I did but it'd annoy me too if I had one child for whatever reason.

In my language we use 'unico' the meaning of which is closer to unique or one, not only.

So yes I think it should change.

ljhooray Tue 09-Jun-09 10:50:22

Love Unico! Great suggestion!

Overmydeadbody Tue 09-Jun-09 10:54:35

I don't think 'only' has negative conotations. DS is the only child in my family. It's just a fact.

DamonBradleylovesPippi Tue 09-Jun-09 11:02:35

yes but saying 'you are an only child' is not as nice, isn't it?

slowreadingprogress Tue 09-Jun-09 11:17:48

I think it does have negative and even judgemental connotations - simply because of the way it has been used over the years.

Singleton is ok I think. One child family again I like.

daisy99divine Tue 09-Jun-09 13:34:51

Another vote for Unico here!

Mulanmum1 Tue 09-Jun-09 16:12:20

It does have negative connotations. Many times I've heard women say "I want another baby because I don't want my DC to be an only child" as if being an only is a fate worse than death.

AMumInScotland Tue 09-Jun-09 16:51:02

But if you changed the word, then those women would just say "I don't want my DC to be a unico" instead, and the new word (when it caught on) would still have the same range of meanings applied to it.

All you can hope is to challenge and change their assumptions when you hear them, to comment how happy you are with your family size, and how many positives it has.

ljhooray Tue 09-Jun-09 17:40:27

I think AMumInScotland raises the key issue, it's about the assumptions that are related to having one child. Don't think I ever really thought about it b4 becoming a mum and thought as its so much more common perhaps the negativity would have gone away. Just intrigued to see that even within my circle of friends, choosing to have one child seems alien to them. Providing siblings appeared to be part of providing for your child. Glad there's some v positive threads here on having one child.

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Tue 09-Jun-09 20:47:32

I agree with AMumInScotland. The negativity about the term 'only child' could and would transfer to any other term, eventually. All these terms get loaded with baggage (usually other people's, not the child without sibling's).

CrushWithEyeliner Tue 09-Jun-09 20:57:44

It is so nice to hear of others who simply have no desire for another. So rare amongst my RL friends who seem to think "you can't have just one". Why not? I have heard this so many times and it just makes me sigh.

I feel so happy with DD, I love the process of bringing her up and just couldn't imagine doing it with a newborn in the process. I know my limitations, I know I like my life when I am in more control and not struggling.

I always feel the term "only child" has massive negative connotations. But MIS last point is a very good one, it is not the term itself but the assumptions.

Gunnerbean Tue 09-Jun-09 21:31:23

"Only" has no negative connotations for me whatsoever.

My DS is my "only" child. I "only" have one child. I "only" wanted one.

Again, it comes back down to the same old chestnut with one child families - the word "only" will only have negative connotations if you consider that the word "only" sums up in a nutshell that you "only" have one child when you ideally would have liked to have more.

Rubyrubyrubyinthegame Wed 10-Jun-09 09:08:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ljhooray Wed 10-Jun-09 13:42:32

Gunnerbean, I think it's a bit of a generalisation to assume that a problem with 'only' is due to wanting more. Even reading your post about your child it would seem so much more positive if you took the work only out. Ds is your child, you have one child, you wanted one. To me that has a great ring to it and only puts a different emphasis on it. (BTW, have loved lots of your posts on the subject Gunnerbean, your confidence and support for others with one has been great)

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Wed 10-Jun-09 16:14:32

ljhooray - I agree. In my view, much of the problem is that people use the term 'only child' as a disparaging shorthand for needy/spoilt/lonely/selfish/bratty or whatever their particular prejudice may be. Similarly, just look at the way that Precious First Born is a term of abuse on MN, aimed at both the children (and all one child families have a PFB, after all) and the parents.

I don't dislike the term 'only child' and it certainly doesn't make me think about the children I didn't have, iyswim.

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