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Should You Stop at One? How to Decide Whether to Have Another Child


Should You Stop at One? How to Decide Whether to Have Another Child

Should you have more than one child? Circle of Moms members have shared many considerations that can help you decide what's right for your family. If you’re struggling with the decision, consider these perspectives from other moms who have faced the same dilemma.

Lonely Only?

Numerous moms who opt for more than one child say that providing a playmate for their first child was a major factor in their decision to have another. As Sandi A. shares of a friend who is an only child. “She calls herself a 'lonely child,' which breaks my heart.”

Many others, however, argue that the “lonely only” assumption is not a foregone conclusion, and that an only child can have a social life that is every bit as active and fulfilling as those of siblings. “Only children does not equate [to] lonely children,” argues Sharon C. “It is a parent's responsibility to see to it that our children are not lonely. Begin play dates and social groups early on.”

And only child Helen H. counters that she’s far from lonely, not to mention very independent: “I'm an only child…and as a result I'm a strong, independent person with some amazing friends."

Unique Sibling Bond

In addition to basic childhood companionship, one key reason Circle of Moms members cite for having more than one child is the unique bond between siblings.  

As an only child herself, mom Cassie W. feels sad that she missed out on that bond: “Honestly, growing up and even now you miss a bond you feel you deserve but never had and never will have.”

Nadine L. agrees: “Nobody in the world can take the place of a brother or a sister, not even parents. You have a different bond with them. Yes as teenagers you fight and you can't stand each other, but you and your siblings get married and start families you see that nobody will love you or your children the way your brothers and sisters do.”

Other moms argue that sibling companionship alone isn’t a strong enough reason to have more than one child. As moms like Charlotte M. note, there’s no guarantee that siblings will actually get along — either as kids or adults: “I know plenty of [brothers and sisters] who can't stand to be in the same room [with] each other and never see each other at all."

Time and Money

“I think having one is giving that one the best of everything,” shares Eileen B. “Instead of giving your child a sibling, you will be giving them the best opportunities because you will have the money and more time.”

Finances and time are heavy considerations when deciding how many children to have. As Pam N. relays: “Money is one of the big reasons for our decision to only have one child. We both work full time and the guilt I feel for not being able to spend as much time with her as I would like is already hard to deal with. If I had a second child right now, my guilt would not only be doubled, but my first child would probably get even LESS time with me than she does now.”

But some only children like Cassie W. argue that splitting time and attention is a positive: “100% of parents’ attention ain’t so great, it taught me to be a selfish, needy, clingy and demanding child and young teenager and it took a lot to work myself out of that.”  

Rebecca M., who has several children, makes a similar point: “It is good for you to have to split all your attention and finances, etc., so [that] one child does not receive it all! There is enough love to go around, but I have watched my kids benefit in so many ways from having each other — learning to share, learning to amuse themselves, learning how special the time we have together is.”

When You’re Older — and Gone

An additional issue to weigh is that an only child will have the sole burden of caring for elderly parents. Only child Cindy S. shares: “Someday that one child will be the only one making decisions about their parents' care in their elder years. I know it bothers me that I don't have a sibling to share decisions with, like how to finance home care when my parents get older.”

Dealing with a parent’s death was also a factor in Angie B.’s decision: “We considered having a one child family but changed our minds one year when we watched two friends lose a parent...The only child (who was married and had a family to support) said he wished he had a sibling to help him. That day he told us not to have a single child family.”

Looking for more perspectives on this decision? Or need witty comebacks to rude only-child questions? Check out Circle of Moms' Mother of Only Children community, where you can connect with over 100,000 moms of only children.

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