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are single children disadvantaged?

(112 Posts)
tiredmama Mon 27-Jul-09 12:14:50

We have one DS aged 3.Both of us have full time jobs and I also work 1 weekend in 4 and also do night shifts.Our parents are abroad(we are immigrants) and we have no family support here at all.We have this ongoing debate almost everyday about whether to have more children.Practically, it is going to be very very hard .As it is, we are struggling to cope with parental demands, work demands.We are worried we will be totally snowed under.We are not natural parents like some of the others we have seen and have to try very hard.Neither of us is willing to let our careers take a back seat as we both enjoy our jobs.But on the other hand, I feel it is not fair to bring up an only child as children need other children`s company, esp. siblings`.When he grows up and when we pass away, who will he share childhood memories with?This decision is killing me.Any thoughs opn whether single children grow up disadvantaged?

GetOrfMoiLand Mon 27-Jul-09 12:20:21

I don't think single children grow up disadvantaged. DD is an only child and is 13, as far as I can see she has never been lonely and has never felt that she has missed out.

You talk about when you have passed away - even if you have another child there is no guarantee that your children will be close, or even talking to one another. So don't feel guilty.

misshardbroom Mon 27-Jul-09 12:22:49

I think your parenting, the experiences you give your children and the values you instil in them, are far more important than how many (if any) siblings they have.

I have three children, and I see every day the great benefits they get from each other's company, and they are very close. As a parent, I love having a big family and I'm really proud of these little people we have created. However, every day I feel spread very thinly. I know there's lots of times when they're all clamouring for my attention. I often feel as though they would each do better with schoolwork if I had more time to support them individually.

As with everything, there are pros and cons, but I admire your honesty about your career, and about finding parenting a challenge. There's nothing sadder than an unwanted child, so you are being very responsible to weigh it up carefully.

pleasechange Mon 27-Jul-09 12:29:46

I think people put to much emphasis on this shared memories aspect. I am one of 3 and yes, I have childhood memories with my siblings, but we don't exactly sit and reminisce about them. In fact, like many people, I live very far away from my siblings and rarely see them

Also, I think there are (real or perceived) advantages and disadvanges to every scenario. For example, I feel that my shyness was driven by having an elder outgoing sibling - I never needed to speak up as she spoke for the both of us. Maybe if I'd be the eldest, or any only, then I'd have been more outgoing, who knows?

If you're already very busy, then I think it's best to spend whatever time and energy you have on the child you already have. Who's to say that any siblings would even get on together anyway. Also if your time is limited, maybe they would feel they have to compete for your attention, who knows

I think what I'm trying to say is, don't make decisions out of guilt or what you think is a risk. Best to be happy with what you've got and provide your existing child with the happiest childhood possible

tiredmama Mon 27-Jul-09 12:34:52

Yes, I think it is my own guilt more than anything else.There are pros and cons to every thing and there is no right or wrong decision ,is there?I am 32 and I dont want to regret not having any more children when I am past it ,I suppose.

notyummy Mon 27-Jul-09 12:36:40

I am in a very similar situation - dd aged 3. I would like another - DH not keen. Having said that, DH initially didn't want kids at all, so having one is a huge concession - having two would not be fair I think. Having siad that, he is a fab dad. We also have busy jobs with long commutes and I don't think we could carry on doing what we do with more than one. I feel guilty sometimes that we don't have enough time for her, or I am tired after work/driving so can be grumpy with her - maybe even if DH changed his mind we wouldn't have the capacity to do have another child and care for it properly?

I was an only child myself, and don't feel lonely now as an adult. I have a number of close friends that I view almost as surrogate sublings. My DH has a number of siblings and isn't close to any of them. One of the reasons he wanted only one was his unhappy memories of growing up with a number of siblings when they didn't get on and constantly fought/bullied and competed with each other.You have to do what you think is right for your family as it is now - you can't second guess what the future may hold.

choufleur Mon 27-Jul-09 12:36:59

No. yes children need other children's company but a sibling is not necessary, that's what friends are for.

There are pros and cons to only children and large families.

If you want more children and can cope have some. If you don't then don't. Your DS will be fine I'm certain.

12StoneNeedsToBe10 Mon 27-Jul-09 12:37:41

I have on DS (14) and I've never thought of him as being disadvantaged.

12StoneNeedsToBe10 Mon 27-Jul-09 12:40:44

Ooh, meant to add, neither does he (after long discussions following snide comments from ex-P (DS's dad) but that's another story)

SoupDragon Mon 27-Jul-09 12:42:28

In some ways yes they are disadvantaged and in others they have an advantage.

It's not black and white.

tiredmama Mon 27-Jul-09 12:49:10

Reading this post has made me feel alot less guilty.Yes, if you have more children, how can you be sure they will bond?Hadnt thought too much about that.

pleasechange Mon 27-Jul-09 13:01:17

tiredmama - have a look on the parents of onlys board, I've found it very useful

tiredmama Mon 27-Jul-09 13:10:05

Thank you .

AzureBlueSky Mon 27-Jul-09 16:24:10

I'm very close to my 2 sisters, although I appreciate some people are'nt close to their siblings. I know a fair few people without siblings, and 90% said that they wished they had a sibling, and that they were lonely growing up.

HappyMummyOfOne Mon 27-Jul-09 16:43:16

I have siblings but am only close to one of them, the others are nothing like me and we rarely see each other.

I grew up having to fight for time and attention, there was no room to have friends stay and no privacy.

I have one DS and no plans for any more. I dont feel he is disadvantged in any way, we have the time, energy and financial benefits of only having one. He knows he can invite friends over after school and spends lots of time in the summer holidays with his cousins so doesnt miss out. As he gets older, i'm sure more friends and sleepovers will take place.

There is no guarantee that siblings will get along either when young or when older.

LittleMissTuffet Mon 27-Jul-09 17:57:33

"I know a fair few people without siblings, and 90% said that they wished they had a sibling, and that they were lonely growing up"

Really? I find that hard to believe especially as it's been discussed at length on Mumsnet many times and the majority of adult lone children say they weren't lonely and didn't mind not having a sibling.

I'm one of 4 kids and our parents died when we were relatively young. We have grown apart and hardly ever see each other.

I am the mother of one DD and don't think she is being disadvantaged in any way. Look at all the posts on MN from people tearing their hair out because their kids won't play together or just fight constantly.

DD's friends are always welcome in our home but we also enjoy the time we spend as a family of three.

OtterInaSkoda Mon 27-Jul-09 19:09:31

FWIW I felt very alone as an only child but various issues contributed to this and I don't think a sib would have made helped.
DP is one of four and he was as lonely almost as I was - in fact if it wasn't for the issues I had at home as a child I think I'd have felt less isolated than he did, if that makes sense. A crowd (even a small one) can be a very lonely place.

kittywise Mon 27-Jul-09 19:17:54

To answer your question, YES definitely. It is a lonley burdensome thing to be an only child and I wouldn't wish it on anyonesad.

pleasechange Mon 27-Jul-09 19:21:37

I agree with otter - a crowd can be a lonely place. What with sibling rivalries and perceived favouritism etc etc. I think a child could feel isolated with siblings or without. It's dependent entirely upon the circumstances

MaureenMLove Mon 27-Jul-09 19:31:31

It's a really tough call tbh. No-one knows what the future holds for onlies or for siblings. I have an only and I have to say, I am racked with guilt about that time when me and DH are not here anymore. However, I am hopeful that she will not be alone, she will have her own family or hundreds of friends that act as family and everything will be fine. TBH, there's nothing I can do about it now anyway. Life has a habit of throwing us curve balls and we always manage to get around them somehow. I know my dd, at the tender age of 13, will be absolutely fine in the future. She has enough friends and extended family to ensure that already.

JamieJay Mon 27-Jul-09 19:32:50

"I know a fair few people without siblings, and 90% said that they wished they had a sibling, and that they were lonely growing up"

I could just as easily say that 90% of the people I know growing up have struggled with sibling rivalry, favourism of one sibling of the other and having to fight for attention etc. (and I'm not over-egging the pudding here)

"To answer your question, YES definitely. It is a lonley burdensome thing to be an only child and I wouldn't wish it on anyone"

kittywise, I'm sorry, you seem to having a hard time but your situation is your situation and not everyone will suffer in the same way.

I'm an only child who lost my dad in my mid 20s following a long terminal illness. It wasn't a lonely burden for me as I had DH to support me. DM has a sister who was f' all use when dad was ill and didn't even bother to come to his funeral so having sibling is not guarantee of sharing the burden.

JamieJay Mon 27-Jul-09 19:35:40

Oh, and in answer to the original question, being an only child was advantagous for both me and DH as we were able to follow interests and hobbies that would have been harder with siblings due to the time, cost involved etc.

Our parents also made sure we had every opportunity to socialise that parents of siblings may not explore as much as they have automatic play mates in house IYSWIM

Hulababy Mon 27-Jul-09 19:36:17

My DD is 7y and an only child, although not particularly through choice.

I can honestly say that she is not disadvantaged in any way at all. She is a very happy, sociable, friendly little girl who is able to make and retain friends very easily. She sees friends regularly, and is rarely short of a play mate if she wants want. But equally she is more than happy to play alone for ages at a time too. She has a younger cousin, and one more on the way, who she sees as often as we can (every couple of months really).

We also choose to holiday with friends, who also have children, or with parents regularly, or chose holidays which are child orientated (although we don;t do kids clubs, etc.) such as Disney, etc. when we holiday alone.

I assume DD will share childhood memories with cousins and childhood friends.

Takver Mon 27-Jul-09 19:52:46

FWIW I'm an only and I would say that I had as happy a childhood as anyone I know - I truly never had any desire for a sibling (perhaps because my friends were 'blessed' with annoying younger brothers?). I also have an only child myself (by choice).

I'm sure there are advantages and disadvantages to any family situation - from being an only to being the last child of 14

frankbestfriend Mon 27-Jul-09 20:03:58

I am an only child, and have never felt lonely or burdened. I never wished for siblings, I had a fantastic childhood.

I have also chosen to have an only, and I don't feel I have deprived dd of a potential playmate, or left her emotionally unstable due to a lack of sibling support.

In fact I can hear her now, screeching with happiness in the garden whilst playing with 4 of her friends from our street. She sounds really lonely and burdenedhmm

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