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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.

RememberingMyPFEs Wed 27-Mar-13 17:38:54

39yo expecting DC1 and am split 50/50 on whether to stick at an only or have 2. Suspect it'll be the one in the end (Age, finance, career, age, tiredness, age...) but I know I am DEFINITELY in the minority!
Rubbish article from rubbish rag!

Wishiwasanheiress Wed 27-Mar-13 18:11:33

Everyone I knew at work planned 2 from 2008 crash onwards as job security zilch. Have first, take a year, return pregnant, take a year, either return on flexi or hope for redundancy whic being city firms was extremely likely. A certainty if a flexi request approved.

Wishiwasanheiress Wed 27-Mar-13 18:13:59

Forgot to add, all have had or in process of second. 6 of 11 have since been made redundant following either a year off or flexi requests approved.

tunnocksteacake Wed 27-Mar-13 18:13:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsDimples Wed 27-Mar-13 18:16:08

One child here. Through choice, can't afford more.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 27-Mar-13 18:19:30

I think as more families have both parents working, there are many saying they can't afford more due to childcare costs, not food, clothing etc.

Also many women are leaving it longer before having a child, maybe due to career. They only have time to have one child.

I know several who fall into each of the above categories.

perplexedpirate Wed 27-Mar-13 18:35:24

One child here.
We stopped at one because we are happy.
I know people just hate that, so they write snotty articles about shit that has nothing to do with them.

PainForLife Wed 27-Mar-13 18:44:30

one child here - would love more but due to health reasons not possible plus have been a single mum for 3 years now (came out of a physically/mentally abusive relationship!!!). so no plans to ever get in a relationship again unless he happens to be a billionaire smile

I only know of 1 person with an only child & that is again due to health reasons. 1 friend with 4 kids & 2 friends with 2 kids.

WrenNatsworthy Wed 27-Mar-13 18:59:59

Didn't intend to have an only but failed to conceive a second and gave up last year. I have to say that I would worry about money if I was to find out I was pregnant with a second now though. We already struggle at times.

Guardian reader here by the way. [hmmm]

Snog Wed 27-Mar-13 19:18:37

I have one dd aged 13 and I think the "little emporer" tag is just crass and frankly offensive.
It's no surprise to me that there are more children amongst the very rich and very poor.
If you are a working mother it is easiest to have one child imo. I personally think this gives you a great life balance and have found having one child to be brilliant for our family. I can't comment as to whether having had more would be even better of course!
Economics very very definitely has played a part in our choice of family size. We live in a high property cost area and could not move to a bigger place without spending another £150k plus. We are two full time working parents and the costs of University seem huge even for one child.
I think that for mothers who don't work, having an extra child generally wouldn't be so difficult as for working mothers.
If I had won the lottery in my 20s or 30s I would definitely have had several more children - but we are all very happy with our status quo.

TiredFeet Wed 27-Mar-13 20:03:45

I always assumed Ds would be an only as it took so long to get pregnant and, despite coming from a large family myself, I was pretty much at peace with that. I made sure he had a lovely sociable time at nursery and baby groups, and we did lots of holidays /weekends with friends and family with young children. However, just found out I am rather unexpectedly expecting number 2 and while I am happy I am also struggling a little to adjust. Financially it is going to be much tighter. I am sure we will adapt and love the new addition, but I don't think life is necessarily bad or worse for onlies, and I certainly think that it is possible to take steps to ensure they have lots of company and aren't spoilt. There can be downsides to being in a big family too.

LadyLech Wed 27-Mar-13 20:05:44

I only know of two children who are genuine onlies. I know of others, but they have half siblings, from one parent's previous marriage.

Most of my friends have 2 or 3 children.

DontCallMeBaby Wed 27-Mar-13 20:14:02

Not my experience at all. In DD's class there are three kids who are definitely onlies (including her), five I'm not sure about, 11 who have at least one sibling, and eleven who have at least two siblings. Practically everyone I know with kids outside the school circle has two or three. The only peer group of which the nearly 50% thing is true is our NCT class - of eight couples three, probably four, did not go on to have second child. But I think the deciding factor there was age - the other two mums who definitely didn't have another baby, and the one I suspect didn't, were all 40+ when they had their DC.

I do wonder if this is a combination of misunderstanding the stats combined with some journo's London-centric anecdata?

Finance wasn't a factor for us anyway. It's an advantage now, being able to do more with our ever dwindling salaries, but had we wanted a second child then, biology willing, we would have had one, and done less.

MrsDeVere Wed 27-Mar-13 20:16:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DontCallMeBaby Wed 27-Mar-13 20:27:44

Oh, I knew the article would make me cross. People who have had one child through choice, through secondary infertility, other health reasons, relationship breakdown, financial reasons are NOT the same as an entire, vast, nation required by law to have no more than one child. Entirely different kettle of dim sum.

And as for 'log on to the mothers’ forum Mumsnet, and the reasons for having only “the one” sound simple', such bloody lazy journalism. Go to Mumsnet, read thread entitled "Only by choice - what are your reasons?" (or something like that), think you know it all. Ignore threads about whether PND was a factor. Ignore talk of secondary infertility. Ignore threads where one partner desperately wants a second child and the other doesn't. Ignore heartbreaking tales of miscarriage and stillbirth. No, those wouldn't be simple, wouldn't they.


41notTrendy Wed 27-Mar-13 20:47:08

We are a one child family. And very happy. It's because
1 I found pregnancy a bit traumatic because of a previous miscarriage and I developed obstetric cholestasis.
2 ds never slept and it sent us round the twist and I can't do that again
3 money has been tight, but if we stay as we are, life is good and affordable with treats and holidays now and then
4 I'm too old to do it all again grin
5 I'm an only and I'm alright
6 we have lots of friends and family with children

I am surrounded by families with one child. In fact I know more people with 1 child than I do with more. This is not the case however for ds's class. The norm is 2 or more.

DramaInPyjamas Wed 27-Mar-13 20:53:52

When I was at school, in a class of around 30 there were only 2 children who were 'only children'

My DC (I have 2) 7 & 9, are now in the minority in their classes by having a sibling.

AnnoyedAtWork Wed 27-Mar-13 21:07:52

I agree with Snog. I am a FT working mum and my partner works FT too. It just about works with one child. I can't imagine doing it with 2. ( I mean of course without live in nanny that does everything, homework, costumes for school play, dinner. )

MsAkimbo Wed 27-Mar-13 21:14:54

I think only child families are becoming less of a stigmatized group.

All the reasons listed, albeit in a very offensive manner, in the article are valid ones I've heard many parents cite. I think those parents to be very honest and pragmatic. So surely there will be more families who can relate to each other for those reasons?

As it stands, I have one child and am unsure if I could have a second. I don't worry that my DD will be a "spoilt singleton" at all. She already has a loving family and lots of little friends. She'll be fine.

jellybeans Wed 27-Mar-13 21:28:01

Most of my friends have 2-5 children. I know a few with only children and usually it is through infertility/age than deliberate choice. 3+ children is very popular too.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 27-Mar-13 21:29:31

Hello. We've just edited the OP to add a link to our guest blog by Stephanie Pomfret, who's written today about her decision to be a one-child family - and why she won't be adding a sibling to the mix.

Do please read and share your thoughts, either here or on our Bloggers thread.

TodaysAGoodDay Wed 27-Mar-13 22:13:47

I only have one DS, and my one set of friends have one daughter and are not having any more. However, 7 other couples that are my friends have 2 children, so the 'almost half' comment was a bit surprising.

I see having a child as a special time, I didn't want children for many years and was an older mother (37) when DS was born, but I think I can afford to give my DS everything he needs with regard to time, but I would have to split my time if I had more than one. Only having one meant I could take him swimming every week on my own without dragging another adult along to be with the second child. It's easy to take him on rides at the funfair, I'm thinking of those rides for little ones where you only have enough room for you plus one. Ditto to shopping bags in one hand and the child's hand in the other.

I am perfectly capable of seeing the benefits of having more than one, namely them playing together, but personally that doesn't outweigh the benefits of having one IMVHO.

Cheaper? Not sure about that one. hmm

FannyBazaar Wed 27-Mar-13 22:34:40

I have an only child. I never planned to have children so it was rather a shock and I definitely didn't want to do that again. My DH had the snip but now we are no longer together. Answering the questions about having another with 'I'm single' is a great way to kill that conversationgrin.

I do regret that my DC doesn't have siblings but I was never in the position of wanting to provide them and being able to.

My parents do find an only child a little difficult when they are here because they are not used to it and expect DC to play without involving them all the time, but my DC doesn't have siblings to play with or to fight and argue with!

We have lots of only child families as friends, most single parent families, 3 we met on holidays last year and have kept in touch with. The children all love having someone else to play with so we often do things together. I think the only children have a great empathy with each other.

I do not know if there are other only children in my DC's class, can't think of one, must ask...

letsgetreadytoramble Wed 27-Mar-13 22:37:22

I have one DC, and although we are both working (we earn around £45,000 between us) there's no way we can afford another. The cost of Childcare already means we can't afford to do anything with our baby, like swimming lessons. The plan is that once he's at school, we can hopefully afford a better lifestyle for him. Having another baby would scupper any chances of that, because one of us would have to stop working. I'd love to have more children, but we simply can't afford to.

DuelingFanjo Thu 28-Mar-13 00:00:06

Yes. I have one chid primarily because of the cost. I want to carry on working but if I had a second child it would probably mean I'd have to give up work and rely on just my hsband's wage and benefits (which I would get more of if we were on one wage) ...I really woudn't want to do that so just the one for us, plus I am too old. Plus I had to have IVF.

Coud Also be that more people are havng children in their forties, meaning if they have their first at 40 they may not be able to have another. When I say 'more people are having children in their forties' I mean since the 1940s as statistics show that back in the 40s and 50s there were more 40 something's having children than there are now.

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