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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.

Everhopeful Wed 27-Mar-13 14:11:41

It certainly doesn't reflect DD's class at school. She's the only only out of 31 as far as I'm aware. I did always want more but lost 4 before I got her and doctors down on bended knee begging me never to do it again she kind of got it out of my system. After that it was financial though I'd have done it if I was sure she would be harmed if I didn't. A friend pointed out to me that he and his DB hardly spoke, so the playing together thing doesn't always happen anyway.

Everhopeful Wed 27-Mar-13 14:13:23

Tell a lie - just remembered another one in her class!

Bramshott Wed 27-Mar-13 14:13:47

Any idea what this new research is and who did it? Must say that doesn't chime with my experience at all - I only know a handful of families with only children.

Bramshott Wed 27-Mar-13 14:17:03

Hmm - I guess from here - quite a number of important disclaimers about older siblings living elsewhere, and of course the vital point that all families were families with one child at one point (except families with multiples)

Bramshott Wed 27-Mar-13 14:18:39

Now frothing with rage at "should we worry about British mothers turning out a generation of spoilt singletons?"

Blu Wed 27-Mar-13 14:21:26

I agree with RockandRoll, it is an obnoxious article:
1. the emperors and empresses line
2. Sexism: "the mixed message sent by last week’s Budget, which proposed to make childcare more affordable for women who go out to work but did nothing for mothers who want to raise more children in the home." Parents. Childcare more affordable for PARENTS.
3. And more sexism " “superwomen” – the bankers and lawyers whose salaries enable them to pay for the childcare to support multiple children;" when 2 parents work childcare is for BOTH of them, and the father's salary also goes towards childcare.
4. Sexist and obnoxiously prejudiced: "should we worry about British mothers turning out a generation of spoilt singletons?" Fathers never turn out a child of any character, and are irrelevant?

And Sue Palmer's book is not one I will be buying, as she seems to either state the obvious or talk shit say things I don't agree with.

Hulababy Wed 27-Mar-13 14:25:09

Most families we know have more than one.

In DD's class:

2 - only children (inc DD)
6 - family of 2 children
1 - family of 3 children
2 - family of 4 children

Only one of our friends have an only child.
Most families we know there are 2 children.

neriberi Wed 27-Mar-13 14:26:02

I only have one DS, I would love to give him a sibling but unfortunately I can't for health reasons.

Viviennemary Wed 27-Mar-13 14:33:01

I hardly know any only children these days. I am an only child and there seemed to be more around then. But there were quite a lot of bigger families then too.

CMOTDibbler Wed 27-Mar-13 14:43:10

I'd be suprised if the figure isn't more like 20% of families are one child in the long term - certainly looking at my sons class and our friends.

I have one child, partly by choice, partly not - I had multiple miscarriages before we had ds, a bad pg and a premature birth - so its more that we never had felt that we wanted another enough to risk all that heartbreak again.

Littlefish Wed 27-Mar-13 14:46:24

I have one dd. Absolutely not my choice, but because of fertility issues. I know 4 other people who have a single child, 1 due to fertility issues, one as a choice (don't know about the other 2)

ouryve Wed 27-Mar-13 14:48:54

I only know three only children. One of those hass a single mum because her father was an irresponsible sod who mucked around then went and had a child with someone else, then left them, then.... The other two are children of single mums, too.

I know far more people with 2 kids, like us and a lot of people with 3 or more.

By definition, a lot of children are going to be an only child, anyhow, even if it's because the younger sibling hasn't come along yet.

MrSlant Wed 27-Mar-13 14:52:12

I have three and my two best friends have three each too, other friend has 4, therefore if I was a Telegraph hack I would conclude that families are getting bigger and go off to write a load of drivel based on my huge sample size. That's how it works isn't it?

milktraylady Wed 27-Mar-13 15:31:15

So what?
What business is it of anyone else to judge/ comment on how many children you have?

If its the government concerned about population replacement then clearly they need state funded nursery care.

Otherwise- bog off!

slhilly Wed 27-Mar-13 15:43:05

It would be nice if someone at MNHQ had actually looked at the underlying report rather than just relying on the Telegraph. It's easily available here and it shows that the proportion of families with one dependent child has changed from 42% in 1996 to 47% in 2012. So it's not an especially big trend, and it overcounts because it excludes families with adult children and families with children living elsewhere, and obviously also can't account for the fact that families may have more kids later on.

Froth and nonsense.

phlebas Wed 27-Mar-13 15:44:52

another 'so what?' and also not my experience.

(I just did totted up the number of children my 19 closest friends & I have (no more babies planned for any of us) - 4 families with one child, 4 with two children, 7 with three, 4 with four and 1 family with six)

AnnoyedAtWork Wed 27-Mar-13 15:47:08

Yep, can't afford it. DD is 8. Would love another but (reasons in order of importance):

1) can't afford it financially
2) can't afford it career wise
3) reluctant to do 0-3 stage again (now DD is very helpful and independent)

unebagpipe Wed 27-Mar-13 15:50:08

I have an only, as want my DC to have a private education- and can only afford for him to have one. If that makes me a "telegraph reader" hmm then so be it!

Fairydogmother Wed 27-Mar-13 15:53:30

I was technically an only child as my sisters were vastly older than me (20 years) and I was incredibly lonely at times.

Think parents are much more vigilant in ensuring this doesn't happen now tho. Most of the people I work with have only one child too

EggBasket Wed 27-Mar-13 16:10:26

Think this is a case of "lies, damned lies and statistics". Of course loads of parents only have one child, that doesn't mean they won't go on to have 12!

In my experience families which remain single-child are very much the minority. Not that I think it matters.

wonkylegs Wed 27-Mar-13 16:12:46

I don't believe this (and not just because I dislike the telegraph) Our nearly 5yo DSs only child status is a rarity in both his class and our friends & neighbours and can only think of 2 other families in this situation.
One through choice and one not.
We live in a well off suburb of a big city and most families we know have a minimum of 2 children and usually interrogate us as to why we only have one.
Currently we are getting ready to try for no 2 but due to my health this is enormously complicated hence the gap.
I know that this is purely anecdotal evidence but surely if the figures were approaching 50% we'd know more or at least there would be more families in the school with single children and we don't even go to the catholic school up the road where there seems to be an average of 4 children per family!!

IslaValargeone Wed 27-Mar-13 16:13:28

I'm surprised by this too.
We have an only, through choice, but don't know any others and even after 11 years still get the odd raised eyebrow that she has no siblings.
My dc loves being an only, isn't lonely or spoilt.

lljkk Wed 27-Mar-13 16:19:08

I am thinking of the adults I know age 40+ probably
1/3 child-free
1/3 one child
1/3 2+ kids.

EuroShaggleton Wed 27-Mar-13 17:10:21

I really doubt it's true that there are more onlies around now. I don't know any and the families I see out and about all seem to have more than one child.

I was the only one in my class of 30 growing up. I'm not sure it's more common now.

prettybird Wed 27-Mar-13 17:20:30

I vowed I would not have an only child after seeing the strain on a friend of mine at Uni when her mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer sad

However, two MMCs after having ds, I have to accept that ds (now 12) will be my only - and much loved - child. smile

It's not always a decision to have an only child. Nature plays a part too sad

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