Guest blog: one child families
A new report suggests that nearly half of all families now have only one child. Another sign of economic struggle and the rising price of raising a family - or a conscious choice by a new generation of parents who know their limits?
Here, blogger and mother of one Stephanie Pomfrett writes about her decision to bring up an only child - and why she won't be adding a sibling to the mix.
Are you part of this statistic - and if so, what influenced your decision? And are you surprised by these figures? Share your thoughts with us on the Talk thread.
I have an amazing five-month old son. He’s bright and alert and very cute. I love seeing him develop, and ticking off each milestone as it happens. I had an easy pregnancy and, although my labour was long, it wasn’t too bad. In short, I enjoy being a mum. But I’m very happy to only do it once.
Before I became a mum, I didn’t really know if I wanted children. I knew that if I did have them, I’d probably only want one. My husband, however, is an only child, and had always said that if we had children, he wanted two. Recently though, he’s changed his mind.
I have no shame in admitting that we, two people completely unused to babies before we had our own, have struggled with the adjustment of having a baby. It’s not that we had jet-setting, expensive lifestyles before we had D - rather it’s been hard to adjust to utterly all-consuming role of parent.
When we tell people that D will probably be an only child, they often come back telling me (note the ‘me’ there - rarely ‘us’) that I’ll change my mind once he’s toddling; that I’ll long for that new baby smell and that every mother really needs to have a daughter (for the record, in the unlikely event I will have another, I think I’d prefer a second boy).
There are lots of reasons why we’ve made this decision, and some of them are based on my health - both physical and mental. I’d also be lying if I said finances weren’t a part of it too - I’m already worrying about how we’ll pay for childcare when I go back to work. Even if I explain these things to people, there’s still the expectation that because I’ve had one baby, I should want another.
The thing is, I just don’t feel like I want another. I had a friend who, when she found out I was pregnant, became utterly broody herself - despite having a small baby already. When I find out my friends are pregnant, or I see photos of their new arrivals, I’m genuinely happy for them. I may even knit something lovely for them. But I can't help thinking though that I wouldn’t go through those first three months again if you paid me (we had a particularly stonking time with colic, as well as the usual ‘Oh my god, I have to keep a small person going and I really don’t know what I’m doing!’)
Of course, there is the niggle of whether it’s the right decision. I have friends who loved being an only child - and those who hated it. I worry that he’ll miss out if he doesn’t have a brother or a sister. On the other hand, I figure as long as he’s well socialised and isn’t spoilt utterly rotten, he’ll probably be fine. I admire mums who have more than one child, I just don’t think it’s right for my family.
Among my friends, it seems to be pretty evenly split between one- and two-child households. Three children households, like the one I grew up in, are pretty rare. I think as the economy worsens, and until childcare becomes cheaper, this is probably the way things will continue; increasingly both parents need to work, and more children makes this harder - families like the Jolie-Pitts are expensive to run! Interesting, too, to compare this generation of parents to our own parents and grandparents; my mum is one of four and my grandma one of six. It seems like the further down the family tree you go, the smaller the branches.
Stephanie Pomfrett is a freelance writer, obsessive knitter and makeup addict who's getting to grips with being a new mum. She writes about all this and more on her blog www.stephaniepomfrett.co.uk