If I had thought that all the interrogation would stop once I was legally married and had done my bit for the human race, I couldn’t have been more wrong. “He’d make an excellent older brother.” “But who will he play with?” “Who will help him take care of you when you’re older?” “He’ll have nobody when you both die”. I’ve heard all of these corkers and more throughout my 8 year parenting career.
Continuously, we were told that having a second child would complete our family, as if we were somehow hollow with just the three of us. When our son was still young, they said “when he grows up, you’ll be wanting another”. Our son obviously did grow up, as kids tend to do and we still didn’t want another one. If anything, watching him grow up only confirmed our desire to have only him. Not because we didn’t enjoy it but because we felt complete as a family of three. People still didn’t believe us though. So many didn’t even manage to keep their disdain to themselves, they’d even call us selfish for not providing him with a sibling to grow up with.
Now I’d be lying to you if I said that people’s opinions didn’t hurt. For a while I really worried that we’d made a mistake. I would watch other, larger families trying to make sure I hadn’t glossed over something we were truly missing. I would watch as my son delicately stroked the soft hair of a friend’s newborn baby, unable to take his eyes off off it. Were we actually being selfish? Mother’s guilt crept in. But we stood firm, his life, and ours, wasn’t “less” because of not having more. Now you might misinterpret this as selfishness, or ignorance to the benefits of siblings and I don’t doubt the tremendous benefits to having a sibling that I, myself, despite having a sibling of my own have not experienced. I’ll sometimes feel pangs of what if after reading stories of sibling love. But that’s not our situation or story. To be totally honest, our decision to stick with one was based more on circumstance than choice, as these decisions made by sensible people often are. So in honour of the almost weekly judgement I receive at our only-child choice, I have compiled my favourite benefits of having an only child, I hope they make you feel better if you’re on the receiving end of hurtful comments about your sex life from total strangers.
Knowing that we’ve only got one shot at this, puts everything in perspective
When you know that this is going to be your one and only experience of parenting it’s so much easier to stay in the present moment and get through the tough times.
Time for personal attention
The truth is that having one child as opposed to two or more allows for a much more controlled environment, let’s not forget the fact that, in a single-child family, there’s only one child who can scream, cry, and have meltdowns. Research shows that all of that extra personal attention leads to higher academic success, higher IQs, and higher self-esteem for only children. Good news for all, eh?
He’ll never suffer from a toxic sibling relationship
A sibling is a relationship. Some have good ones, some have incredible ones, and some have toxic ones. So while my son won’t have the benefits of a close-in-age sibling playmate, he also won’t have the chaotic fighting and animosity that so often comes with that deal.
Nobody gets that lucky twice – ever
My son is a great sleeper, great eater and all round ray of baby sunshine. This was most definitely luck of the draw. I’ve repeatedly heard that there’s no way my second one would be that easy. And I’ve seen my friends really suffer with colicky babies and little ones with challenging behavior. I’m fully aware that we hit the jackpot, you can’t improve perfection, why on earth would we need another?
We have time for us as a couple
With only one rapidly independent 8-year-old boy at home, I sometimes feel guilty for how easy it is to explore my own interests. As addressed in the TIME article, “The Only Child: Debunking the Myths:” “There must be some balance between the joy our kids give us and the sacrifices we make to care for them. Social scientists have surmised since the 1970s that singletons offer the rich experience of parenting without the consuming efforts that multiple children add: all the wonder and giggles and shampoo mohawks but with leftover energy for sex, conversation, reading and so on,’” wrote Lauren Sandler, author of “One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One.” So many people abandon their relationship once children come along, because there simply aren’t enough hours in th day. Eventually, your child will leave the nest and it will just be you and other half again. So it’s kind of vital that there’s still something about the two of you that isn’t about the kids.