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Is it selfish to have an only child?

(162 Posts)
plus30 Mon 25-Jun-07 15:35:34

This is the first time I have posted on here - much reading of other posts but never created my own. Anyway, I guess I'm just looking to gather peoples thoughts about only children. My dh and I are parents to one 21 month old daughter who I can honestly say is the love of my life. Although I absolutely love being a mum I am unsure as to whether i could cope with anymore. I am 35 - my husband is 37 and I just think we started to late! The only thing that makes us unsure is the thought of our daughter not having any siblings. Both of us come from families with 2 children and are close to our siblings and their families. The thoughts of christmas and family holidays where she doesn't have a little playmate make me feel really sad! Nor do I want my daughter thinking that we didn't enjoy being parents so decided not to have any more! Perhaps I'm thinking about this too much! Any opinions gratefully recieved....

oliveoil Mon 25-Jun-07 15:38:46

I don't think it is selfish, you can have as many children as you see fit

HOWEVER I will say that there is nothing better than hearing your children giggle and play together (when they are not fighting that is)

I have some friends with 4 children, 3 children, 2 children and 1 child, pros and cons to all of them

and you are no way too old btw

tasja Mon 25-Jun-07 15:40:26

Hi there
welcome to MN!
I'm an only child and always wished I had another brother or sister.
My mum and dad always gave me loads of attention but you tend to get lonely at times.
Esspecially now, I'm away from my parents - they are in SA - and I'm in the UK. Now my parents have no children there. Goes both ways.

gothicmama Mon 25-Jun-07 15:41:06

there are benefits to staying as you are equally enjoyable is going from 1 to 2. does your dd have cousins she can e close to think you are thinking too much about it especially if you are worrying she'll think you duid not enjoy being a parent - do you enjoy being a parent

onechild Mon 25-Jun-07 15:41:10

I am one of five would like five but dp has said he wants just two so we have made the obvious compromise at three, in MY opinion it is not selfish but i do think you need to work harder with one as you have then got the sharing issues, my ex bil is only child and he would push his sons away so he could spend time with my step sis by herself he would do the same if anyone else had her attention and he wanted it! so you would need to work harder its a personal choice and its a desision to be discussed with dh

gess Mon 25-Jun-07 15:41:10

I'm an only (my mum wanted 6 but ended up with me!) but have 3 myself. Think there are lots of advantages to be an only myself......

hana Mon 25-Jun-07 15:41:57

loads of women have their first past their 35th birthday, I was 36 when I had my third.
but no, nothing wrong with having one child - there are some lovely threads here about the pros of having one child - not sure which topic tho, maybe someone else can link?

I love having 3!

PersonalClown Mon 25-Jun-07 15:43:29

Why is it selfish? It's your choice.
I have 2 brothers and I'm not that close to them as there is a 6 and 9 year age gap.
I have 1 ds and am fed of defending my position on only having one child.
Ds is autistic, I am on my own and yet my parents (and complete strangers) feel the need to comment on my choice.
I believe that I am doing the best by me and ds by giving him all my love and attention and having a second child would possibly inhibit his progress.
That and you need a bloke to get pregnant and I don't want any old bloke that my parents think will do.

geekgirl Mon 25-Jun-07 15:43:52

I think you have to go with your gut feeling on this - if you overanalyze it you'll still be undecided by the time you're 50.

What do you want? Do you feel broody at all? do you think you'd feel sad at having only one child 10 years down the line, or do you think you'd enjoy the peace and quiet?

I have 3 and it's really turbulent and hard work a lot of the time, but the pleasure really is threefold, and when they play together it's just fab.

babygrand Mon 25-Jun-07 15:47:28

You may not have thought of it from this point of view, but according to David Attenborough, the biggest problem facing our planet is not climate change, but the increasingly population. He says in his lifetime the population of the planet has increased threefold. Having no further children could be the opposite of selfish.

Blu Mon 25-Jun-07 15:50:00

I don't think it's selfish, I just think people either make different choiuces, or are given certain outcomes!
DS is an only child, we have been on hol with a range of friends and family, and locally he has a little tribe of good friends who are in each others houses the whole time.
Contrary to the stereotype (which can apply equally to children from large famillies guardiing thier own patch!) he has absolutely no problems with sharing and taking turns - he learned to take turns at a very early age as we taught him and our nanny's child together to avoid strife! We have taken care to make sure he has a lot of contact with cousins and friends.

Personally, I think the best reason to have another child is because you yearn for one, or a family of more than one child. A subsequent child needs to be wanted in thier own right, not provided as a sibling ofr your first, iyswim.
We are v v happy in our one child family - but then i am free from doubt or guilt about it.

gess Mon 25-Jun-07 15:52:31

Agree with Blu. TBH I find the youngest in a tribe are often the worse at sharing (certainly true of ds3) as they're born staking territory.....

Lizzylou Mon 25-Jun-07 15:52:32

If you wanted another baby then you would cope, if I can, anyone can!

I don't think it is selfish to raise the family that you want to have, you know what will work best for you. You are not too old should you decide to have another baby, but that is up to you.

I love having 2 children, but I couldn't cope with 3

PestoMonster Mon 25-Jun-07 15:54:17

I think you should go with what's right for you. It's your family after all, and your life. I was an only child and I don't think I suffered for it all. Granted, I always yearned for a brother or sister, but other things were great about being an only. Such as always being able to get attention from a parent.

One thing I wasn't too happy about though, was that because there were just the three of us in total, I would always be out-numbered in decision making as my dps tended to stick together. Consequently I didn't usually get much say in anything. Just always had to do as my dps told me.

berolina Mon 25-Jun-07 15:54:25

Of course it's not 'selfish'. I have a sibling and we never got on. It can go that way too!

There's a lot in what Blu says about a child needing to be wanted in its own right rather than as a sibling. People's preferences are different. A friend and I are both due with dc2 in Sept - my ds is 2.1 and hers is 2.8. We both got pg not unplannedly but somewhat unexpectedly, iyswim. She would have been very happy with one, while dh and I would like 3 or 4

berolina Mon 25-Jun-07 15:55:53

Oh goodness, and you're certainly not too old...

binkleandflip Mon 25-Jun-07 15:56:01

I have a dliemma about this. I have one daughter who is five and is adamant she doesnt want a sibling. I have no broodiness at all and no urge to have another child BUT I come from a family of four and my mum is very ill and I cant imagine going through the emotional torment alone.

So, I would only have another child so my daughter isn't an only child, with a view to the future for her (also my dh wants another)

BUT, I do not yearn for another (though I feel I'd bond and be happy no problem)

BUT, if I had another just for my daughters sake, there is no guarantee they would get on - they could hate each other, she could resent me forever.

Any advice on this?

fillyjonk Mon 25-Jun-07 15:57:08

i think ALL that matters is what YOU want.

I think you will probably cope fine with 2, and no you're NOT too old.

But I would personally be wary of having another for your daughter's sake. Have one for YOUR sake. Your daughter will make friends of her choosing when she is a bit older. And you can explain to her that you loved being a mother, but that you didn't really feel the need to repeat the experience, I'm sure she'd understand that.

Agree that there is nothing better than hearing your kids play. But dp and his brother were VERY close as kids, and literally speak once a year. I like having a brother but I hardly see him, he is very very different to me and we do find it hard to find common ground. Loads of my friends never seem to see their siblings.

I suppose I'm trying to say, if you are all actually happy, don't feel you have to change it.

goingfor3 Mon 25-Jun-07 15:57:19

I'm an only child and it didn't bother me too much when I was growing up as I had many friends living locally. Now as an adult I do wish there was someone else around who was related to me. My mum has been unwell and I have had to look after her alone which was very difficult with a newborn. One thing a friend said to me was that although her and her sister don't get on it's really good to know there is someone else around who has had the same upbringing. My mum also regrets not having more but circumstances meant she couldn't. You are no too old.

berolina Mon 25-Jun-07 15:59:19

Difficult, binkle. It's not like you actually don't want another (unless I've read your post wrong). I suppose in your place my decision would come down to how much my dh wanted a second. I don't think you would be depriving your dd by not 'giving' her a sibling 8see above!), but she's only 5 and may not know her own mind IYSWIM.

I'm sorry about your mum

Mercy Mon 25-Jun-07 15:59:37

Not selfish at all imo.

And you are not too old - I didn't have my second until I was 40! (there is just under 3 years between my two).

My mum is an only child and is one of the most self-sufficient people I know. And what she 'lacks' in family is made up by a wide circle of friends, a few of whom she has known for over 40 years.

fillyjonk Mon 25-Jun-07 16:00:47

binkie (x posted) here is my take on it.

there is no guarentee that your kids will actually lean on each other for emotional support. Neither me nor dp would lean on our siblings in that situation, we'd look to friends. Tbh what would happen in that situation is that we would be left to deal with the crap while our siblings buggered off (we're both the eldest ).

So I wouldn't go through 18 years of child rearing for that reason, no. I'd do what I could to build my child's self reliance and ability to make friends so that there was a good chance that in that sitation (which, touch wood, will NEVER happen!) she'd have a decent support network. most of the only kids i've met are very self reliant.

but I know its a hard decision! I planned NONE, I've ended up with 2 and another on the way...

plus30 Mon 25-Jun-07 16:00:51

Thanks for all your thoughts - and encouragment about age - of course I know lots of people have babies older than me, I just think it's much harder physically and perhaps even emotionally! In answer to gothicmama, yes I love being a parent. Must admit I didn't grow up dreaming of marriage and babies but now I have both I certainly would't want it to be any other way. I've always been fairly career orientated but since the birth of my daughter my priorities have totally shifted. I do work full time but more because I need to if we are to sustain the standard of living we are used to (not extravagant by any means but comfortable).

I'm not particularly broody if I'm honest, it really is more about not wanting my little girl to be lonely. And I know that if I had another I would love him/her equally. She does have cousins but they don't live in the same country so she really only see's them at Christmas and once or twice throughout the year.

Anyway I guess there is no right and wrong - and I would never judge anyone for having just one child but sometimes we can be harder on ourselves than others if that makes sense?

Blu Mon 25-Jun-07 16:01:32

I have gone through two really upsetting 'crisis' times over my parents, and my relationship with brother and sister has been o no help whatsoever.
the first time Dad was having a long affair, and my Mum confided in me for two years - hours and hours on the phone, going home , hard conversations with dad - but she was adamant that she didn't want my brother and sister to know (for various circumstantial reasons) and i had to respect that, and then she was very ill last summer - I dealt with it alone (others abroad) and don't think i would have felt better had my B&S been around. My best friend and DP helped me a lot.

But I am bringing DS up to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible. But I would if he had brothers and sisters - it's my general approach, I think.

Too many ifs and buts if you try and second-guess everything in the future - do what feels right. I love seeing big happy famillies togethr, children hugging, but then i love the family i have, too.

Blu Mon 25-Jun-07 16:02:42

Fillyjonk - x-posted with you - but I'm the eldest, too.
I think your position in a family has as much influence as whether you are an enfant unique or not.

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