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We're becoming a nation of only children: do you agree? And have a butcher's at our guest blog, too

(140 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 27-Mar-13 13:02:23


There's an article in The Telegraph today saying that we're becoming a nation of only children, with almost half of all parents having just one child.

The Telegraph article suggests that many parents are "stopping at one" largely because of the mounting cost of bringing up children.

Do you think this is true?

If you're a parent, do you only have one child? If so, is that by choice or not? And if it was by choice, how big a part did your family finances play in that choice?

And what are the implications, if any, of a generation of onlies who've had no siblings to squabble play with?

MNHQ STOP PRESS: In a guest blog today, MN blogger and mother of one Stephanie Pomfrett (who blogs over here) writes about her decision to be a one-child family - and why she won't be adding a sibling to the mix.

Do read what she has to say, too - and post your comments here or over on our Bloggers thread.

lljkk Wed 27-Mar-13 13:13:11

Would think it was good if true, but...

Doesn't fit my experience at all, very surprised by that stat. I thought the UK birthrate was far higher than most of Europe. Off to find some stats...

fuzzpig Wed 27-Mar-13 13:13:25

Wow, I didn't realise it was that many.

I have to say most mums I know (not that many TBF <loner emoticon>) have at least 2 DCs, but basically those I know with one just feel 'one is enough', or they don't want to do the baby bit again. I don't personally know anyone who has stopped at one just because of money.

I have 2, I would have liked more but health and finances mean we can't. However having 2 minimum was pretty much non-negotiable for me, and luckily I was able to have 2. I was a very lonely only. But that's just personal to me really. I feel I missed out by not having siblings (not for want of trying - mum had 2 MCs after me, one was a late one and very traumatic) and I wanted my DD to have somebody to grow up with. But I wouldn't generalise and say that all onlies are lonely, it depends on lots of other circumstances. My loneliness was possibly just as much to do with my parents' personalities (incidentally they also grew up as onlies) as the fact I had no siblings.

ReallyTired Wed 27-Mar-13 13:13:31

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Newforestpony Wed 27-Mar-13 13:17:47

And remember that a lot of only children are the result of long infertility and IVF/ICSI.

I would dearly love a sibling for our one and only ds but haven't managed to conceive a 2nd, even from the 4 frozen embryos we had left from the cycle that our ds was the result of.

Hulababy Wed 27-Mar-13 13:18:02

We only have one child, DD will be 11y next week.

It wasn't really choice though. It took a fair while to have DD, and then it's not happened since. Have had OPs, hormone treatment, etc but it isn't to be.

Finances were not the reason at all. We could afford another child, we just haven't been able to have a child since we were TTC when DD was 2y.

We ensure DD has always had plenty of people around to play with, after school and in holidays. We chose to go on holiday with grandparents and also friends at times, though ensure we have one holiday a year just the three of us. We are taking her younger cousin away with us next week for example.

We also have to ensure that DD isn't spoilt. Yes, she is very privledged financially, money isn't a worry. But we have worked to make sure she is still a lovely girl with manners, who is grateful for what she has, and isn't grabby or needy.

lljkk Wed 27-Mar-13 13:19:00

Uk fertility is well above avg for OECD countries.

2012 data: only France & Ireland have higher birthrates than UK, within Europe.

Neah, sorry, Helen, I don't believe it! And after all, almost every family with 2+ children was once a single-child family. We won't know if there is now a definite trend of "only one" until 20+ yrs from now when the chance or choice of more children has passed.

Sounds like typical shoddy journalism from the Torygraph.

Hulababy Wed 27-Mar-13 13:20:06

Fuzzpig - I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that loneliness is not something DD suffers from, far from it. But we worked hard when she was small to ensure that, and not she is just surrounded by friends and family whenever she wants it.

BikeRunSki Wed 27-Mar-13 13:21:20

My eldest child is 4 and a half, and I'd say that around 50% of my "mum friends" has stopped at one child, although some because of secondary infertility or relationship breakdown. However, the majority (over half ) are by choice.

I have 3 siblings, and couldn't bear the idea of my son not having any, particularly as we live 200 miles from nearest set of cousins. I truly believe, that when times are bad, nothing bonds people like a common childhood. My mother 's adult relationship with her two brothers is testament to that.

Much as my brothers, sister and I squabbled when we were younger, I appreciate them now even though we live in different countries!

Despite hyperemisis and no financial sense, we did have a second child. More hyperemisis, and we are financially breaking even on childcare costs for the time being. There will certainly be very few holidays for the foreseable future, and I can't remember when we last ate out.

I say that we had DS for us, and DD for him. Obviously she is much loved now,but my driver for having a second child, despite nothing making sense about doing so, was DS's future.

fanoftheinvisibleman Wed 27-Mar-13 13:25:42

I have an only but we seem to be unusual in my experience. The vast majority of ds's friends have siblings. My friends mostly all have more than one.

I would have loved another but dh didn't. Having struggled to find a position in his family as the middle of three boys he was adamant he was only having one. In the early days I tried to argue that not all families were the same (I have a brother and my family are close).

Unfortunately at the point where it would have been now or never, one of dh's siblings did something which literally tore the whole family apart and we are no longer in contact. It just wouldn't have been the right time for us mentally anyway but any arguement to support siblings would have been a lost cause for me at that point and I would never choose to have a child that wasn't wanted by both parents.

Dh was probably concerned about finances but I think ultimately there were bigger issues.

elQuintoConyo Wed 27-Mar-13 13:25:44

We are sticking with one for many reasons: financial, neither dh nor I are high earners and we live abroard where there's no help whatsoever; emotional, DS is highneeds in some aspects, plus at 15mo I still haven't recovered physically from the birth, that scares me. Plus I have one sibling, an older Dsis, and we have never got along, never.
DH's extended family is here with plenty of cousins to play with so we hope he won't be lonely.

Only doesn't have to mean lonely or spoilt.

grabaspoon Wed 27-Mar-13 13:28:41

My charge is an only child and so are 2 of his friends - However most of their peers appear to be 1 of 2; generally the eldest. We also know several families where there are 3 or more children.

fuzzpig Wed 27-Mar-13 13:31:24

Exactly, hula. If you have family friends with DCs, lots of cousins, neighbours etc, there is no need to be lonely. I didn't have any of that - absolutely tiny family with no other children except the uncle 12 yrs older than me who abused me but that's beside the point and unsociable parents, virtually child free street etc. I was basically treated like a mini adult, but that could have still been a problem if my siblings had survived. I do feel that maybe it would've been better to have someone to be a child with, but that is just my dysfunctional family, so I couldn't and wouldn't apply that logic to other families.

My closest friend with an only child has a sister and SIL with DCs, they are all really close and have lots of sleepovers, there is absolutely nothing missing from her DD's life IMO.

Blu Wed 27-Mar-13 13:33:35

We have a happy one-child family smile

Finances had nothing to do with it. I mean, childcare was a huge strain and we couldn't really manage on one income, but had we really wnated another baby we would have had one and managed somehow.

We were happy with one. DP felt a second child might put too much strain on our relationship, but had I been driven to have another, we would have overcome that.

More choice for women in our generation operates in many ways, and I felt free of the sometimes evident pressure to have more kids...the endless 'when's the next one due?' / criticism of the perceived characterstics of only children aka prejudice / my own role as a mother being established and having a busy and fulfilling career alongside family life.

Tee2072 Wed 27-Mar-13 13:36:29

I have an only who is 3 and will remain an only because I am an old, tired, ill woman. Part of that may be because I have a 3 year old...

In any case, thinking about my son's preschool class, I know of only 5 only children out of 24 students. Two mums are pregnant. 5 or 6 have younger siblings and the rest are the youngest of 2 or more children in their families.

So, nope. Don't buy it.

TheFallenNinja Wed 27-Mar-13 13:42:02

I often wonder why it is the sole purpose of the press to heap nothing but misery and doom on us. Surely there's some good news?

For example, today I had a fried egg sandwich for lunch and when I squeezed my ketchup on I made a smiley face smile

MorrisZapp Wed 27-Mar-13 13:49:02

I've got an only, but I'm the only one out of ten at my ante natal group not to have a second - and I hear vague murmurings of thirds!

Money and age is only part of the reason. Yes, I'm ancient, and yes, childcare is like having a second mortgage. But its also just preferring a small family. I'm not a 'super mum' type at all and I'd rather just concentrate our resources on pfb DS.

I love being a family of three, but I can't see it becoming a big trend. Most women do want more, ime.

badguider Wed 27-Mar-13 13:49:42

We might not have a second, we haven't decided yet. But we met in our 30s and I will be at least 37 before we could have another, realistically much closer to 40.
It's nothing to do with finances. We feel that we're probably sociable enough to have an only.. two does seem the 'default' but we'd have to be really sure not just do it because society feels 2 is better.

I have a sibling I have almost no relationship with (don't dislike him at all, just nothing in common) and my DH has a sister we get on great with now but they didn't enjoy each others' company growing up at all.

MelodyBaker Wed 27-Mar-13 13:51:31

I have one child. I wanted more but exh was abusive and refused.
He wanted dd to have everything he had and if we had more dc he said he wouldn't pay for schooling etc.
I wish dd had a sibling but looking back, it was easier too leave with just her (I left while he was out). Fiance was never a issue.
I wish dd had siblings but I am happy that I have even 1 child. I treat her like I would if she had a sibling. She isn't spoilt and she has lots of friends round and goes away with them/they come away with us.

Taffeta Wed 27-Mar-13 13:52:38

About 1/8th of the families I know have one child. Most are because of secondary infertility, some financial.

GetOeuf Wed 27-Mar-13 13:54:22

I have got an only, and finance was a major part in my decision to only have one, but also other circumstances (I was single for years) contributed. I also never really had any desire whatsoever to have another, apart from a few mad moments of broodiness.

RocknRollNerd Wed 27-Mar-13 13:54:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NotTreadingGrapes Wed 27-Mar-13 13:56:11

I have an only and I am the only person I know to have one.

I don't believe those stats at all at all at all.

<waves slyly to Getorf and waits to see if she recognises me....>

NotTreadingGrapes Wed 27-Mar-13 13:57:09

(I do imagine more Telegraph readers to have only children though...)

EauRouge Wed 27-Mar-13 14:02:59

I'm surprised too. I'm in the minority in my group of friends by only having two DCs. Most of them have three or four (or more!). I don't know anyone that's only had one child and isn't planning more.

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