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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.

jodee Mon 01-Apr-13 23:09:50

DF, agree too - being pushy would never work with DS - he would be completely miserable.

Actually, we went down the adoption route when he was about 9/10 - after a year they (sw) put everything on hold, apparently ds's SpLD would be a problem (literacy/processing difficulties) - even though they never even met ds, who is in mainstream school; we were angry but looking back it was for the best and we had to go through the process to realise it wasn't right for us or DS, who actually said without any prompting that he didn't want a brother or sister any more.

swallowedAfly Sun 31-Mar-13 18:51:35

agree df. i am a real 'let him be' kind of parent. the idea that because he's an only i'll over push him is bizarre to me. i'd be more inclined to be using every class and extra known to man if i had more than one rather than hear them bickering at home.

whilst i say given enough money i'd risk having another child i am actually pretty happy with one and that child would be a bit.... well not less wanted but... hard to explain but i suspect some other mum's of onlies would know what i mean.

i'm not sure i could love that much and that consumingly again. a second child would get a lot less from me i think and i know that i got a lot less as a second child.

DuelingFanjo Sun 31-Mar-13 17:40:57

Plus, I really do believe that you're either a pushy send your child(Ren) to every class going kind of parent or you're not. Having one child doesn't mean you push them to over achieve. Some of us just want to send our child(ren) on their way as decent enough human beings who can fend for themselves and live an independent and happy life.

DuelingFanjo Sun 31-Mar-13 17:37:12

My son is quite clearly fucked.

I am old
He's a boy
He's an only child

Or...perhaps he will be just fine and perhaps he won't turn into some kind of Norman Bates character. I think the most offensive thing I have read on this thread is the idea that a close relationship with a parent, and in particular a mother, is somehow going to psychologically damage a child. Projecting much?

Spuderoonerism Sun 31-Mar-13 15:25:04

I didn' 'allegedly' about it for me, I wanted one, I stoped at one. Through various career changes DH and I probably had not far off that extra available to us before DS started school, never crossed my mind that we ought to therefore have another.

Also - the 'allegedly' leaves me a bit hmm; is it so hard to believe that maybe some people might just decide to have one and be happy with it? Do you honestly think that all those of us saying we wanted one are kidding ourselves? Staggering though it may seem in the face of the kind of rudeness that is doled out to parents of onlies fairly frequently (and not just on MN but in RL too) we're not all deluded and lying to save face about the choices we make.

swallowedAfly Sun 31-Mar-13 10:06:59

yes but it would also be easier with a full time nanny - wonder how many people who allegedly only have one because it's easier would feel differently if an extra 40k a year was in the mix.

BernadetteRostenkowskiWolowitz Sat 30-Mar-13 16:15:17

cost is not the reason my friends with onechild have one child. i have two and sometimes daydream about how much easier it would be if i also just had one.

jodee Sat 30-Mar-13 15:26:56

Haven't read all of the thread yet, or links posted, but to add my situation: one DS, turned 13 this week. His best friend since Reception is an only. Two other boys he has known since Reception are onlys. The planned two children has become one, who is wonderful.

skyebluesapphire Sat 30-Mar-13 13:40:00

I only have one DD, through choice, by a forced choice for medical reasons. I suffered from severe SPD when I had DD and could barely walk for the last two months of pregnancy. I was in agony all the time, on crutches and hardly left the house. Then I had an awful back to back labour, on a drip, epidural wore off....

The consultant himself told me to think very very carefully before having any more children as he didn't think that my body would cope with it. I was 36 years old, overweight and inclined to agree with him, as was my then H (now XH).

I didnt even know if I would have kids, due to endometriosis, so see my 1 DD as a blessing.

She has lovely friends nearby and family of a similar age (cousins children and XH's great newphes/nieces). I have one brother, but we didnt always get on.

I make sure that I spend plenty of time playing with her and she has such a fantastic imagination, that she happily spends hours playing on her own with her toys.

Financially, we would have struggled to have 2. I live in a 2 bed place, so if we had a boy, would have needed another bedroom eventually.

My XH walked out last year when DD was 4yo, so I now make sure that I spend a lot of time with her, giving her cuddles etc.

I don't think that anybody should be criticised for having just 1 child.

Spuderoonerism Sat 30-Mar-13 13:33:50

One final link from me: this article about a threatened school shooting a few weeks ago in the US gives an interesting perspective about just how quick people and the media can be to assign negative characteristics to a lack of siblings.

Spuderoonerism Sat 30-Mar-13 13:28:57

And linked within that article is a gallery of famous onlies. It also includes Lance Armstrong but it's from a few years ago I guess. Interesting as well that it comments on the spike in onlies after the Depression in America, adding to the fact that there have always been periods when there have been increases in the number of onlies.

Spuderoonerism Sat 30-Mar-13 13:25:52

This is the article about the only child myth and the idiot who came up with it. Leatheralley you might find it an interesting counterpoint to your 'sources' which we're all still waiting for

badguider Sat 30-Mar-13 13:24:43

When does a family officially become a 'one-child family'? When the mother reaches menopause?
So many people (like us) have one not knowing if they're going to have a second... then there are combined and blended families, step-siblings, new partners, half siblings etc. etc.

tallulah Sat 30-Mar-13 13:04:58

At nursery most of DD's peers were onlies until they left for school (we've all gone separate ways, so they may or may not have had another child since).

At our school DD's Y1 class have a high proportion of onlies. Of 28 pupils, 11 have no siblings and 2 have a half-sibling (in both cases same mother but different fathers). Only 3 of those with siblings have more than one.

When I was at school the vast majority of my peers had one sibling.

PurpleStorm Sat 30-Mar-13 12:34:10

Surprised to hear that one-child families are so common.

I know far more families with two or more children than I do families with only children.

Although, having said that, 19 month old DS is an only child at the moment. All being well, he'll be part of a two child family in another 6 months or so. There may be many more families where the only child isn't going to remain an only child.

Moominsarehippos Sat 30-Mar-13 11:00:17

My mum was far closer to her father actually.

Booky: you and your only child, Dr Patricia A Nachman, publisher HarperPerennial

swallowedAfly Sat 30-Mar-13 10:56:57

unless you're living in one of those freakishly hermetically sealed in a domestic unit families with 'babes in the wood' syndrome.

swallowedAfly Sat 30-Mar-13 10:56:20

leather's statement is backed up by nothing. i also loathe the assumption that an only child's only close relationship would be with it's mother. i'm a single mother and there is no father in the picture at all and yet i am not my son's only close relationship. he spends regular time in the care of his grandparents, lots of time with my sister and her teenage children (one of whom he is especially close to) and he has lots of friends.

i am not an only but was a pretty lonely child due to a combo of parental disinterest and a divide and rule family dynamic that made it really hard for me and my sister to be in any way close. however even then i had a grandfather i saw a lot of and was really close to and enjoyed a fab relationship with which meant i experienced unconditional love and intimacy and reliability etc.

parents/siblings are not the only relationships children have.

Moominsarehippos Sat 30-Mar-13 10:29:26

Leather - do please explain that 'gem'. My mum was an only child - happily married for 50 years. Only 2 siblings have not been divorces/not middle aged and single. A schoolmate was one of 7 kids - last heard 2 sisters up the duff as teenagers and one arrested for sexual assault.

I akways ask only children about their experiences. They usually say that they had a good childhood, didn't miss out and why am I asking such a stupid question?

Moominsarehippos Sat 30-Mar-13 10:23:43

I know very few only children. Please stop treating us like an effing freakshow. Tbh, I was one kid in a large family, and we were treated like a sideshow attraction too.

I'm reading a very good book about parenting an only child (will pop back with the title when I get a mo).

swallowedAfly Sat 30-Mar-13 09:58:50

i would be very, very surprised if this was true (it might just be that 50% of families surveyed have only had their first child so far).

i have one child and i seem to be pretty rare and even as a single parent people are always asking me if i'll have anymore.

my reflex was to say that it wasn't due to money that i only have one but upon reflecting further it actually is to do with money in a way. i am not sure i have the energy or could cope with starting again with a second child. i'm a single parent, have gone back to work last year and sometimes feel run off my feet. but actually if i was on a really high income that wouldn't put me off because i'd have more childcare options. whereas i stayed home with ds i'd happily have a second child and go back to work quite quickly and utilise a lot of childcare and possibly domestic help to make that work. at present i couldn't afford to do that.

so when i really break it down it IS because of money because if i knew i could afford decent childcare and domestic help and could carry on with my balance of work and home i'd do it. because of lack of money those kind of 'options' aren't there.

ComeIntoTheGardenMaud Sat 30-Mar-13 00:14:40

Forgive me for not having read all the thread (so someone may well have said this already) but all that article seems to be saying is that nearly half of all families currently have one child in them, not that those children will spend all their lives as onlies. As nfk says, it's statistical illiteracy.

Nattynar Fri 29-Mar-13 22:49:12

We just cannot afford to put 2 children through childcare, it wouldn't be worth me working as my entire wages would be used on childcare. And I think it is unfair to expect DP to work all the hours that God sends whilst I'm a SAHM. I just don't think I want to go through the whole being pg, newborn once DS starts school.

Plus it would effectively mean that I would have to put my career on hold for 10 years, and still be on the same wage at the end of it.

DS is a well adjusted boy, who is social and happy. He will never be a brat, because we are careful to make sure he knows his boundaries and his place.

Southsearocks Fri 29-Mar-13 22:21:17

Desperately wanted number 2 but I got too old sad

TomArchersSausage Fri 29-Mar-13 20:26:30

I am an only but def wanted more than one dc if possible. I have 3 dc.

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