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Having Only One Child

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Parenting, Families, & the Community > Having Only One Child


Questions:

Donor egg vs adoption vs raising an only child

March 2012

I'm 45, have a four year old, and have been trying for #2 and have 4 IUIs and 2 miscarriages to show for it. The doc says donor egg IVF is the way to go.

Is it crazy to think I could have a child at 46? Am I too old? The odds of success for IVF with donor egg are 70%, but adoption is 100%. The issue I've heard about private infant adoption is older parents get turned away. Is it possible to adopt a baby with parents in 40s? Husband will not do county foster-to-adopt, only private, domestic adoption.

With a 2nd, I'd also have to go back to FT work while #2 is still a baby. To retire and still educate 1 kid is a feat, so 2 is a huge strain. We've been able to get by with my PT work, but I'd have to go full-time with 2. How does that work?

Part of me feels blessed having just one. We have been able to parent in a mindful and (generally) un-stressed way, which is good for our child, and us.But we're alone in Ca, and grandparents 2,000 miles away don't give a sense of family.

For those ''one and done'' by choice or circumstance, how do you keep the only child feeling a sense of family connection, especially when extended family are far away? Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.


My husband & I are on the 1 kid track. We're lucky in that we both come from 4 kid families, so she'll have cousins, but they are all far away. Here are some of our ideas:
* making ''cousin'' photo albums. we'll update each year with some favorite photos of cousins getting together.
* we've found another family that is planning on just one kid, and we have monthly dinners. Not an every day thing, but it does give a sense of belonging. The two kids are 2 years apart. so like siblings that way.
* read the book ''Maybe One'', which goes through some research showing that just one kid doesn't damage teh only child and actually only children are on average pretty well adjusted.
* read the chapter on siblings from the book ''Nutureshock''. It resets expectations on what sibling life is like. Once adults, siblings are rivals as often as close friends
* foster community in your neighborhood. Can you do monthly get togethers with others on your block - similar aged kids?
* plan on bringing friends on trips as your child is growing up. not necessarily coordinating two families (which can be challenging), but rather bring an extra kid with you when you go camping, to Disneyland, etc.
* I've seen postings from other people looking to develop a community of families. maybe something you could think about?
* encourage your child to join a team once at that age.

wishing you community


Having known many one and dones including my dad and my youngest sister, born when I was 17 I'd say it's an ideal set-up. You do get to prioritize on your child. The singletons I know are often smart, social and well balanced kids. My son has another 4th grade friend, her parents didn't plan on her, she was born when mom was 45, dad's a bit older. Her dad goes on EVERY field trip as he's partially retired. Every summer he has a gaggle of girls in the car and they are off to the park, the pool or any other adventure while mom is at her more demanding job. She treks off to summer camp, ski camp and a host of other things she wants to try because they can afford it.

The reality is that just because they are family doen't mean they are your BFF? I have a sister whom I gre up with, three years younger. She isn't my ''person'' or my BFF, that title is reserved for a friend whom I've had since I was 16. I don't see the upside of you having more, less time with your kids, more financial struggles...enjoy the one and move on. fan of one and done...


My only child's life thus far has been filled with other children, including both friends and extended family. He's a happy kid. My perception is that we may invest relatively more time and resources into visits with extended family than two+ kid families, on average, but I am not sure. We do sleep-overs and movie nights with friends and family, camping trips, etc. I myself have several siblings who I am close to. But I am also very close to non-relative friends and I firmly believe that family is what you make of it. I have witnessed dear friends in times of crisis, i.e. cancer, and those who have BEEN THERE through thick and thin include both relatives and non-relatives. Think big. I don't want to discourage you from adoption or donor egg if that is your path. But don't do that because you are afraid of raising an only child. The hardest thing about raising an only child, in my experience, has been dealing with the stigma of raising an only child. anon
We are ''one and done'' for medical reasons -- and our families all live in another state. At first this bothered me tremendously -- and when my son was four and begging for a sibling, it bothered me even more! But all things change, and now (a fairly rational 10 year old) my son tells me he's rather glad to be an only child. He understands the opportunities he has as an only, for travel, classes and so on (not to mention my undivided attention!), that he wouldn't necessarily have with siblings. I definitely agree with you about the reduced stress of just one, by the way! We do three things to help with the feeling of family:
1) I've always belonged to a local congregation, and sing in the choir. My son has always been the ''choir baby'' and has even received little Christmas gifts from his ''choir aunties.'' Being part of a larger community is very important when you don't have family locally. Doesn't have to be a church, could be nothing more than a moms' group with kids who play together, as long as people take an interest in your kid (and you in theirs).
2) We make visiting family a very big yearly tradition. When my son was really small, my mom helped with this by visiting often enough that he would get to know her; now that he's older, we can get by with the big-deal Christmas visit. And the grandparents go all out with this too (one set of grandparents is even offering to fly him out during the summer for camping, if we want). Helps that we all get along pretty well.
3) We keep in touch regularly with phone calls, letters and cards, photos, and now Skype. He's always excited to talk to relatives on the phone, and LOVES getting letters and packages from them.

And keep in mind, having siblings doesn't necessarily result in strong family ties. I have one brother, 3 years younger. He's a good person, we have no arguments - but we also have nothing in common except our parents. We've always had different interests, gone different directions, and when we get together we just make small talk. It doesn't have the ''one person in all the world who is there for you'' feeling that people talk about with siblings. So, ultimately, we're OK with one and done. anonymous


Guilt over no sibling for child v. marriage stress

Sept 2008

Regarding "Adopting a second or singleton?" ... I have struggled with the same question about whether to add to our family of 3 by adopting a second child or not. I do not have any answers, but feel empathy for the poster.

I have struggled with this over the last year and felt paralyzed by conflicting emotions of guilt for not giving my only child a much wanted sibling and the fear that adding another through adoption (our best option) will greatly increase my stress level which may in turn negatively effect my otherwise happy, if not perfect, marriage and the very close bond I have with my daughter. My husband is happy with one child and is ambivalent about a second. When we talk, he brings up finances, college funds, retirement, etc.. All fair/rational concerns. We're equally concerned about the effects of increased stress (we both work, but he commutes, so I handle most of the day-to-day parenting and logistics of our home/school, volunteering, etc..I don't really see that division of responsibilities changing with two).

We started our family late and I am hugely grateful for my daughter after experiencing 3 miscarriages before having her. My husband and I are both from large families with 5+ siblings each. My sibs have been a great comfort to me in troubling times and we are closer than most, likely because we lost our parents at young ages. My rational side knows that my family history has greatly elevated the importance of siblings for me and my guilt in not giving my daughter a sister or brother. My husband thinks I'm putting too much of my own experience into the situation and that our daughter will do just fine in her life with or without a sibling. I know he's right. Our daughter is a wonderfully happy and much loved child with a large extended family and many family friends. The rational side of me knows that you certainly do not need siblings to be happy and that you can't control the future, but I just can't seem to move beyond the feeling that I am denying her an important life support and joy - it's the long run that concerns me. I need help because I am unhappy/paralyzed and my usual methods of working thru difficult life decisions are not working.

I am wondering if anyone who has been through a similar struggle might advise resources that they found helpful in coming to a resolution on this question and moving on. Books, therapists, I am open to anything at this point. Otherwise Happy and Grateful Mom


Hi there, My vote is to go ahead w/ an adoption - whether it be traditional adoption or family-building through embryo adoption. Now, we have four children - and I know that is alot -but- we love to watch them interact w/ each other and it is comforting to know that they will have each other throughout life. Back when I had one child - I remember feeling the same way that you do. Both of my parents are only children and I have watched them struggle w/ caring for their own parents as they have aged (my paternal g-father just turned 100 yrs.old). Obviously, neither one of my parents has had any support or back-up help from sibs and this has been very frustrating for them. Honestly, I was sad having just one child. So my husband and I (I was 39 yrs. old at the time) went to a fertility clinic and ended up w/ a set of twins through embryo adoption. They will turn 2 yrs. old on 10-20. It has been great - but- I also have alot of help. Then - believe it or not- I did get pregnant again w/ a second biological child at 41 yrs. I just delivered him 3 months ago. Our ride has been pretty wild - but- loads of fun. My midwife says that our family is unique in that we have an interesting story. So, my vote is have another ! There is nothing more rewarding (and certainly difficult) at times than motherhood. K.
Your post sounds as thought I had written it myself...we are in a nearly identical situation and wish I had some solid advice to offer. I can say that as an only child myself, I have very strong desires to provide a sibling for our toddler-age daughter. There are many reasons why I think having siblings would be so wonderful, though clearly recognize that you are not guaranteed the siblings would be close. We are also 'older parents', and the additional stress of caring for an aging parent alone, without sibling help, is difficult. All that said, I do feel the decision you make needs to be what's best for you and your spouse, rather than out of guilt for your current child. Do you enjoy parenting and looking forward to having two children? How would this impact your marriage, finances, energy level? Your child will not suffer from being an only child (nor will they be spoiled, as most assume). I have spent months balancing these thoughts, while also rationalizing all the reasons for maintaining our nearly perfect family of three, but continue to agonize over the desire to have another child...I am happy to talk more, it is somewhat comforting to know others have similar struggles. mmg
This edition of the BPN newsletter was filled with three things that I'm dealing with as well -- including your posting on coming to terms with one child. I have a three year old son, and I always wanted two children, but my husband wasn't really excited about having kids, but agreed to have one. I thought I could live with just one child, but when my son turned 2, I was really longing to have another one. My husband, for a brief moment, agreed to have another one, but then he started acting very distant and angry. We had a lot of conversations, and it was decided that for the sake of the marriage, we would just stick with one child. Now, it's a year later, and I can say that not a day goes by when I don't think about how much I want a second child. Even though my son has become extremely high maintenance recently (that's another posting), I love being a mom and I just feel like my life wouldn't be complete without another one. I also have the concerns that you have about my son not having a sibling since my sister and I are extremely close, and I really value that relationship. I had a friend who was in a similar situation, but then her husband agreed to have another child, so I felt like I didn't have anyone to talk with anymore about how I was feeling. So recently, I decided to go to a therapist. I've been a few times now, and while I can't say I'm completely ''cured'' of my sadness and longing, I can say that it really does help to talk to someone -- especially a neutral party. I'm interested to hear if anyone in a similar situation was finally able to make peace with having just one child when they wanted more but their partner only wanted one. But please know that you are not alone in your feelings - I'm right there with you. anon
I have one child, 7, and I struggled with this issue as well for quite some time because I come from a close family and like my siblings. What's helped me is realizing: there are no guarantees (the 2nd could have problems, could upset the marriage, etc) , my daughter will not KNOW what she is missing -- this is just her life, and lastly, she says, ''I like getting all the attention'' and doesn't even miss having a sib! She gets lots of love, has lots of friends (I tell her she can CHOOSE her own 'sisters') and is doing great. I feel lucky to have her, and broke the mold with her --- so I stopped while I was ahead! (p.s. got divorced anyway, so it was moot) - - now there can be step-sibs in the future -- you just never know! Happy with my ONE and Only
Hi. I just read the responses to your message, and Id like to chime in and talk about the POSITIVES about having only one child. I used to imagine myself with 3, and I did struggle with first the decision and then the reality that I would have only one. But I LOVE having one child!

Listen, not all singletons are selfish lazy bums who don't know the joy of siblings. Not all siblings give a whit about each other.

Really. Most singletons end up being great people. They tend to make friends more easily, have an easier time talking with strangers, feel close to the people in their lives. They tend to do a little better in school, communicate better with adults even as youngsters, and love their parents.

It can drive you crazy when you or others guilt trip you into thinking you are denying your child something because they are a singleton. Sometimes life just works out this way. Sometimes we can't live the vision that we once had for our lives. And that's okay.

There are so many things you can do with a single child. I feel very close to mine. We have great dinner time conversations, the whole family. It's not about the sibling battles that so often go on in huge families, but about ideas, and how we lived our days. We play silly games at diner, look into each other's eyes, and enjoy our meal.

We can travel more because we don't need to buy so many plane tickets or hotel rooms. We can save for college and splurge on extra lessons now. We can buy a smaller car, live in a smaller house.

Yes, we give our son lots of opportunities to play with friends and family. Yes, our son gets LOTS of practice learning to share, struggling to be his own person and part of a group. Any deep relationship can help with those aspects of being, and a friendship can be honored deeply.

Having one child is not failing. It's a great and glorious blessing. Happy Mom


Having an only child is pretty wonderful. Here are our thoughts:

1) there are people who are great parents of more than one child and there are parents who are better off with one. We know a lot of people who are miserable or struggling with multiple children for the reasons I will outline below. What are the differences? Ability to multitask, mental and emotional fortitude, ability to delegate (i.e., you don't feel like you have to do everything yourself - you can feel OK about taking time off to do something for yourself like workout without feeling guilty for leaving the child(ren) with your spouse or sitter), a helpful spouse, capacity to endure the trials of infancy again, strong domestic discipline, to name a few. While we have a lot of these characteristics, we knew early on that we were better off with one child despite tons of pressure.

2) All the people who may be pressuring you to have another child are not going to be there full time to help you raise the child. They are not going to help pay for the additional expense.

3) The arguement that it will give your child ''someone to play with'' or that ''I want my child to have a sibling who will be their best friend'' is nonsense. Sure, it can happen and does. But that is not sufficient reason to have another child. Our only child does fine with making and keeping friends through a number of outlets and the best part is? We can send the other children home. There is no guarantee that siblings will be close. There are tons of examples of people who do not talk to their siblings or are just not that close.

4)The following are the practical aspects of an only child: i) financially less demanding (school, activities, travel, food, utilities, home size, vehicle size), ii) it is a lot easier to travel with a single child than multiple children (seats, hotel room size, admission, airports, etc.) and so, if that is important to you, that can be a large factor, iii) logistics. If you like to drive and have no problem with spending your days doing so, each additional child can add to that enjoyment.

When all is said and done, we are happy with one child. Our child is happy and well-adjusted. We do not feel like we or our child is missing out on anything. Just think it through. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons because as you know, kids are permanent. One and Done


Adopting a second, or Singleton?

Sept 2008

Hello all, We wished very much to have a sibling for our daughter who was conceived through IVF but after repeated attempts at another IVF the second just doesnt seem to be taking. We are considering adopting a second, or just accepting that our first will be an only child. I would really appreciate the advice of people who found a way to adapt successfully either to life with their one-and-only or to life with an adopted second child. Has anyone else dealt with these issues who'd like to talk about them? Anyone adopted after their first child? Or chosen the life of a one child family? I wonder if a single child would be lonely or lose out on the lessons you learn by having a sibling, but I also wonder about being fair and equal when adopting a second child ... and the finances of course! thanks much for any advice or stories to mull over !


Before I ever had kids, I had my heart set on more than one. After number one came along and wife turned out to have a really, REALLY hard time adapting to life with baby (lots of stress, as in more than ''normal''), I realized that this was going to be it -- just one. My dreams of a large family, blended with biological and adopted kids, has gone by the wayside; I am convinced that it just will not work for everyone in my fam. This has been very difficult for me to accept, but what I keep coming back to is that fact that deep in my heart, I know that this is the right choice. It is not something that I have totally accepted, but it is a process -- and I wish you the best of luck with your process, whatever you decide! Marty
Hi! We have a bio son and an adopted son 13 months younger. He was almost 2 when we adopted him. Having a biological child and an adopted child definitely has it's own issues. All children perceive their parents as treating them unfairly compared to their sibs, an adopted child can see this as having to do with being adopted. Having them so close in age, they do argue a lot. The other issue is that our adopted child is a different race, and so the perception of society whenever we go out is that our kids are on a playdate, and we often correct that. You have to be prepared for the ticket taker at the zoo to say ''you have to pay for him, he's not included on your family membership.'' Those kinds of things. Now, all those issues said, we would absolutely do it again. While our kids argue, they are best friends. When we get older, they will have each other to fall back on. They'll have someone to vent when they are upset with their parents. When they have trouble with friends, they have a fall back. We didn't want to raise an only child, and I'm glad we didn't. Our bio son is pretty self-centered as it is. Having a brother really forces him to open up and view the world from a more empathetic perspective. That's my two cents - good luck with your decision! mixed house mom
I have the same situation. My son is 8, I'm 47, and for years, not a day went by that I didn't wish that I could have had another! My son has been taking social skills classes for years, he is lonely all the time, when we're dead, he'll be alone, and I think that being a singleton totally sucks!

Go adopt someone. Just do it. Don't overthink it. Just get another baby/kid and start your life. Once you do it you can stop thinking about it and go live.

So that's my two cents! infertile mommy


I'm sorry to hear that your 2nd IVF attempts have failed, I imagine that must be hard. I was an adopted only child and have chosen to have only one (biological) child. I wasn't lonely as a child, never wished for siblings, and don't miss the large family culture (my extended family includes lots of cousins). I learned plenty of lessons in cooperation, sharing, etc. from friends and other family members and I certainly wasn't spoiled. So, the small family unit feels very comfortable and close knit to me, and I enjoy my relationship with my child as a singleton. I guess there are also a number of economic and environmental arguments that could be brought into family size. But that said, you could also provide a wonderful home for an adoptee. I think the bottom line is really how much you want another child for YOU, because if that's hugely important, you will make it work as far as finances, family dynamic and so forth. AS
I shared some of my story off-line with the poster but wanted to comment here with more detail and in response to some of the other posts. We chose not to adopt after having our bio child nine years ago. Suggesting that an only child will be incredibly lonely and require social skills classes has not been our experience. Also, we had the fortunate insights from a good friend when making our decision. He survived prostate cancer after the birth of his bio daughter which left him unable to conceive other children. He came from a bio/adopt family and was against adopting. He was the bio child and told us that while he and his sibling were close as kids, identity issues in their teens led his sibling to distance himself from the family. Heading into their mid-40's,they still aren't close. Maybe some kids can handle not having the connection to parents that a bio sibling has but we could see how hard it would be, especially as the kid got older, and chose to stick with one. I'm sure there are happier endings out there, just wanted to share the story that influenced us. Anon
I've just read the first round of responses, and I wanted to add something to the mix. I have one biological child, and tried and failed to have another. We thought about adoption, but for reasons not relevant here, we did not go that route. Yes, I will be honest that I frequently wish I had another child (especially I wish that those I lost had lived), I would not be honest if I said other wise.

But I LOVE having a singleton. He's wonderful, and we do our best to fill his life with friends, neighbors, cousins, pets, classmate and the like. Yes, at time I think he would like to have been the youngest of 12, but other times I know he is very happy being the only one to climb up into my lap. He's articulate, bright, calm. Our family dinners are filled with laughter and conversation, not arguments over who got more potatoes or the like. He knows how to share better than most kids I know with siblings. He likes to talk to adults and to kids, and is generally one of the happiest, most generous, most loving people I know.

We can also do things that would be hard with more kids--when traveling, we only need one room (most of the time) so we can stay in better places or for longer visits. We only have to buy 3 airplane tickets. We drive smaller cars. We are able to save for college and pay for extra piano lessons if he wants them. You will make the right decision for your family, I am sure of that. But having one child has so many benefits! please don't see it as an emptiness. Happy Mom of One


I am an only child. I ALWAYS wanted someone next to me, I grew attached to anyone I met and I got badly hurt when my friends chose not to play with me. A sibling HAS to play with you, has to have time for you, has to share with you. Also, the stress goes away sometimes when you are not CONSTANTLY the center of attention ... being looked at and observed every minute of your existence. I think it creates a balance when there is more than one kid in a household.

When I had my son I knew I wanted to have more. It took 4 years, two miscarriages and lots of luck to make a second one. For the first 2 years of my son's life, I knew he would've loved to be an only child... he has that obsessive personality... After my daughter started to crawl he ''ordered'' us NO MORE BABIES! Having a sister has helped him to not to be so self-centered, have a subtle way of saying things and has created a different perspective of the feminine world -even though she is 4, she can be a tease, a drama queen and a dictator-. Good luck with your decision and have a happy life :) courage!


Hey there. So, we are dealing with a very similar issue right now. I have an almost- 3 year old little boy and have had 4 miscarriages. IVF might work if I did PGD, but it sounds like a very hard process that has like a 70% chance of resulting in heartbreak and I can't take much more of that. We have started the adoption process because it takes so long, but still are thinking about IVF.

The questions I am asking myself are... would an adopted child provide any less joy? Would I love him/her less? Is there really that much higher risk of the child providing any more heartbreak than a normal child? And all of the answers seem to be ''no''. I would clearly get a total kick out of the adopted child the same way I would my own because kids are great and funny and goofy little people. I would clearly love him/her the same because everyone who has ever adopted and had a biological child has told me that there is no difference in how they feel about the kids and it just makes sense that you bond with the adopted one just as you bond with your own. And flipping it to look at the risk of having a kid that ruins your life... well... lots of biological kids have done that, too. So, I highly doubt there is any increased risk of that.

You obviously wanted a second child (as do I), so maybe just think about the same questions. I bet you come to the same conclusion that we seem to be coming to... just adopt. Jenny


We adopted our second after a bio child. Most of the parts of having 2 kids versus 1 kid is the same as for a bio child. But if you are thinking of international adoption be sure you have emotional and financial reserves -- it is very stressful and expensive, and the uncertainty, wait times, and expense seem to be increasing. Also, the first year is very stressful, especially if you have not adopted an infant. Because the child is not a newborn, he/she already has needs and a memory and stuff, so the parent has to be extra responsive. So if you have a good support network, or else extra money for an occasional babysitter, that would be good. We are happy we adopted, but there is a reduction/change in lifestyle for everyone. Our first born's singleton friends get to do a lot more stuff. But having a younger sibling is nice too. Incorporating the younger sib's cultural heritage into our life has been rewarding as well as time consuming. I think we would have been happy either way, but we are happy with 2 kids & both children are a joy. anonymous
I think adopting a second because you want another child, and can provide a secure home for the child is lovely. However, there's no evidence in the research that you ''need'' to adopt a second in order for your only child to have a satisfying childhood/life. We have an only child (middle-school age), and it has been great. We've been able to travel, and our child has been able to pursue activities that would be too time-consuming, or expensive if we had more than one child. We also fit comfortably into our small two-bedroom house. Our child has formed several deep friendships with other only children (very common in Berkeley; about 1/3 of the families in her public elementary school had one child). We have adult friends who were only children, and they seem to have cousin/sibling type connections to some of their childhood friends. The only thing I'm sorry about is that I enjoyed the early childhood years so much, I wish I could have experienced them with a second child.

It seemed like some of the comments to the list were repeating stereotypes about only children that originated in the 50s, a time when middle-class women were being pressured to return from the workforce back to the nuclear family. There are a number of books out on the topic of only children, both from a popular and an academic point of view. Information from beyond the world of BPN is in order when making this, (or any other life-changing) decision. happy with one


Do we struggle with identity issues with our children who are now in adolescence? Are we concerned about their relationship down the road? Absolutely. So should everyone who raises more than one child. As someone who is seeing estrangement between her siblings as they approach 60 (all of them born to the family and presumably sharing similar DNA) I don't think any parent can take these things for granted. Yes, there are challenges to being a ''blended'' family. There are also tremendous rewards, especially if you really want more than one child and adoption is your best option.

And yes, we feel our adopted child most definitely has a ''connection'' to us, the only parents she has ever known. wanted to share too


It's very interesting to me how evenly split the advice on this question is. There do seem to be plenty of people who decided not to adopt a second, and are happy with their decision -- which is, of course, great. I couldn't let the topic go, though, without adding my perspective from the other side.

We had tried to have a second ''bio'' kid for about 8 years, with several unsuccessful pregnancies. For me, having just one kid was always on my mind, always, always bothering me. Our daughter was lovely and wonderful, but I always wanted a sibling for her. My husband was fine with having just one, but realized that it would always be a source of sadness for me.

Long story short: We adopted a two-year-old girl from Eastern Europe three years ago, so our daughters are almost 10 years apart in age. Our little one is the life of the party. She is 1,000% demanding, what one might call ''a handful'' -- not an easy child, by any means, but full of humor, wonder and beauty. Our older daughter loves her and gets a big kick out of her, and my husband and I are happy seeing the two of them together.

Despite the hassle and the expense, the process of adopting a child was entirely wonderful. We feel lucky to have done both - - bio birth and adoption. Although our little one presents challenges at times, there has never been a moment when I would exchange the present for the past. happy to have two


You know I was thinking about this issue and found it interesting to read the responses - most recently folks who decided against it. I have 2 daughters, both of whom were conceived using an anonymous sperm donor. One I carried, one my partner carried. So essentially I have 1 bio child and 1 adoptive child. I know the circumstances are different in some ways, b/c of course I have the emotional bond to my partner who has the biological bond to our daughter, and the bio bond is present for our daughter in the family. AND (not insignificantly) we are all the same race. HOWEVER, I will say that it has been a very interesting experience for me (I have always felt that I wasn't the right kind of person to adopt). These are the things I've noticed for myself: 1) the bond to my adoptive daughter (I actually don't think of her as my adoptive daughter, but for the interest of clarity will refer to her that way here) is definitely different - it came on later, and wasn't instantaneous, the way it was with my bio daughter, however, I feel completely bonded to her just as deeply as I do my bio daughter. I have a different relationship with each of them but I see that as being d/t the fact that they are different people, different birth order, etc. 2) sometimes my relationship with my adoptive daughter is just easier than with my bio daughter. I feel that it is easier to just accept her for who she is, rather than worry that she is acting too much ''like me'', repeating my mistakes, inheriting my insecurities, bad teeth and poor eating habits. I think that this MUST somehow get communicated to both of my daughters. There is something so freeing about having a child that I don't hold to this wacky standard of expectation, etc.

Believe me I do think crazy things - like I run the Sophie's Choice scenario in my head sometimes and wonder what I'd do, etc. But there definitely are benefits to having a child you are not biologically related to. Mama of 2


Hard time reconciling that I may not have another child

Sept 2007

I'm in my late 30's. I have a 2.5 yo son. Originally, I hoped to have 2 kids. Have been trying for 14 months to have second child but no luck so far. I've been TTC naturally, didn't want to do anything extra. I'm having a hard time reconciling that I may not have another child. I've met some other people in the past that probably dealt w/ the same issue but at the time just assumed that I'd easily have two. Wondering how others have dealt with this. On the plus side, I did spend a week w/ another couple w/ 3 kids. That experience helped me a bit, I appreciated some of the simplicity of my family unit in comparison but of course recognized the wonderful sibling relations as well. Still Hoping to Have Two


I have one suggestion: Adopt! I know dozens of very happy adoptive families (some who also have bio children). There are many paths to building or expanding a family and adoption is a wonderful way forward. For those of you who may not have thought about it, take some time to explore options and open your heart to this possibility. Good luck! Happy adoptive mom
I'm in your shoes but several years older. It's hard. I thought I could just accept ''what my body had planned for me.'' But it's not easy. For me it's a big loss. I'm looking into alternatives. I often wished I'd taken the path toward intervention when the numbers were more in my favor. If I got a do over I would at least look into those measures earlier than I have! The hardest part is finding others in your shoes...secondary infertility is painful--having the direct experience of parenting your first can fill you with joy, and concretely tell you exactly what you are missing. in your shoes

How to raise an only child?

March 2007

I've recently discovered that I cannot have more children. I had originally wanted 2, but I will only have 1. I was wondering if there are advice from parents of only children on how to keep them entertained, and experience on raising them, the pros and cons. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks. anon


I'm very sorry to hear about the complication in your life. I think the first thing to do is to grieve your loss--you wanted two children, but cannot have another. To go through the grieving process will help both you and the wonderful, lively, glorious child you do have. Part of grieving is letting go of what might have been and accepting what is. And that is your one (one-derful) child.

There are some things that are easier about raising a single child, other things that are harder. With one child, you can really give him or her your full attention without the conflicting needs of another child. It frees you up to simply be present with your child in a delightful way. You need to remember to give your child his or her own personal and emotional space, and not expect them to be everything for you. Some people say that single children suffer for playmates and don't understand interpersonal relationships. Not so! My child has a full and rich social circle with friends, relatives, neighbors, community members, toys, imaginary worlds and more! And while he does not get experience fighting with someone at the dinner table and in the back seat of the car, he does get his fair share of learning about how to get along, deal with conflict, give and take. Some parents of onlies try to fight their child's battles and I will admit that can be a temptation. Sometimes it would be easier. But then again, it would be easier to finish his homework for him too rather than expecting him to do the work and learn for himself. You can do more with an single child. Travel is less expensive, going out to dinner is not a once-a-month splurge, and private school, if that's what you'd like, is easier to afford with only one tuition.

There are some things that are harder. We travel to places with kids' programs because that provides a set of peers in new places. It's harder to go to the woods and expect your child to amuse him or herself while you sink into a novel. I have heard that it gets complicated in the early teen years when they are too old for a baby sitter but too young to be by themselves.

Friends with older kids say you have to arrange a sleep over or some equivalent every time you want to go out for an adults evening.

But on the whole, having one child can be really great. You might also check out Only Child, an on-line magazine (you must subscribe) for other insights. anon.


I too have an only child, and for many reasons will not be having more; I too originally wanted two (and at least one girl; my only child is a boy).

I get sad sometimes knowing that every time I go through something (preschool ''graduation'', first day of Kindergarten...) it is also the last. I would say that this is the biggest disadvantage. It was also quite painful when my son, at 4, went through a phase of telling me that he really, really wanted a sibling.

The second major disadvantage is that parents (mostly me) are the only at-home playmates my child has, as we do not live next door to other kids. You hear a lot about sibling rivalry; but you don't hear so much about the fact that they really do often entertain each other. My son's very social, and prefers not to play alone; this can get very tiring! But on the other hand, now that he's older, he can keep me company, and he loves to help me do things, he's learning to cook, he's interested in my hobbies, and generally a lot of fun to be around. I think that only children have an easier time relating to adults, as they tend to relate to their parents directly more than multiple kids do.

Also, when we make decisions about our child (what preschool? what school?) we are not driven quite so much by money. We never have to worry, can we afford TWO slots at the preschool, because one is all there is. Makes budgeting quite a bit easier. For example, my son is crazy about castles. I have to go to Germany on business this summer, and I plan to take my family along, and stay for a bit of extra time, so I can take him to see some real castles. We couldn't do this if there were two kids.

I've always worked at least part time, so my son was first in a family daycare and then a preschool, and I think that for him this was essential. This is where he developed his ability to relate to other children. He's very good with other kids now, so I don't think I believe the rumor about only children having more social problems. They just need a context in which to learn the skills.

Finally, remember that having siblings does not necessarily guarantee you built-in close friends all of your life. My brother and I were three years apart, but we are such incredibly different people that we have never been close. We chat on the phone occasionally, he drops by to visit now and then, but I don't miss him when he's not around, or when he doesn't call. I am not saying that I dislike him -- I don't, he's a fine person. But he and I have next to nothing in common, although we grew up in the same family. Karen


I want a second, husband only wants one

Sept 2006

How do I come to terms with the fact that I long to have a second child but my husband wants to stop at one? We never really discussed the number of kids we would have beforehand, only that we both wanted kid(s). We now have a wonderful 1.5 year old son that we both adore. However, my husband was particularly traumatized by those first few months and the effect that having a child has had on our lifestyle. He feels that one child is manageable but two would be impossible to maintain a balance between child-centered activities and some of the stuff we did pre-baby (not to mention the time and financial implications of having a second). For reasons that I can't explain I just know that I want to have another baby and I can't stop thinking about it. It makes me so sad to think that this may not be possible. If the desire to have a baby were on a scale from 1 to 10, he's a 1 and I'm a 10 and unfortunately it's not a case where we can meet in the middle. I had hoped that with time he might warm up to the idea but he's not changing. I can afford to wait a few years longer but part of me feels that I'm just fooling myself. Did anyone else go through this and did you get over your desire for more kids? anon


I'm in the opposite situation, which is that I'm the one with no interest in having another child, where my husband (although not a 10) is interested. I'm going to tell you how I feel, knowing that it will probably sound extreme, but it is also the truth.

On a hopeful note, I guess you can wait it out, and see if your husband changes his mind your first child gets older. Even I will admit that it does get better; however, in all liklihood, he will still not want another.

For me, the truth is that I am *so vehemently* against having more children that I don't see any way around it. And, ultimately, I think my husband respects my decision because the health and happiness of our marriage is more important to him that the prospect of any future children. He knows that I would be completely miserable if I was forced into a situation that I didn't want, and so, I'm sorry to say, the person with the stronger disinclination has won.

If I was forced by my husband into making that decision, I would feel unbelievably betrayed that he was choosing a child over our marriage. That's how I would feel, and to be honest (and it's never gone this far with us, and you haven't mentioned that you would consider it...I'm just saying), if he tried to force my hand, I'm sure our marriage would never survive. In the truest sense of the word, it is a dealbreaker. Is it the dealbreaker for your husband?

If so, consider now: is your desire for more children stronger than your marriage? Be honest with yourself and him and see what happens. You both deserve to decide to have the happiness you want, just realize that it might mean you can have another child...it just might not be with him anon


All I can say is you have my sympathies. Your story appears to be very close to mine. I, on the other hand, can't afford to wait a few years. My biggest fear is that all this division will lead to resentment. As you say you can't compromise on the subject - you can't have 1/2 a baby! - But the alternative is that one part of the couple just lands into resentment and that is the end of the marriage - well unless you're willing to live in that condition for the rest of your lives together?

All I can say is that we're in couples counceling - luckily he sees the value in that and willingly participates - and slowly we're coming to understand eachother's position. The difficult part is getting men to verbalize their reasonings. For them a flat '' I don't'' supposedly answers everything, never mind that it's patronizing. You can sit and conjecture as to the ''whys'' and ''why nots'' of his position ad infinitum. But until he actually verbalizes them you're building castles in your head, not a healthy place to be in the first place. I, like you, fight this urge every day, because I think about having another constantly, and melt away when I see an expectant couple with a proud belly, or someone with a brand new baby in their B-Bjorn walking on the street. Anyway, in my experience a professional 3rd party that is willing to interject reason on an emotionally charged subject is very helpful. But don't expect it to turn around instantly either.. In your same boat....


We went through this. We had agreed before to have two, and then my husband changed his mind. I sent him to counseling, he bought a couple of books on having more than one (Twice Blessed and another one) and a lot of time passed and he finally agreed to have another child. I was sure it wouldn't happen and the time we worked on this was pure torture. Have you two gone to counseling for it? It might be helpful to have a mediator sit there with you to bring more importance to the issue and help you understand where the other is coming from and maybe who feels stronger about their position. I don't think the desire for another ever goes away. Good luck -- I really feel for you Been There, Done That
Wow! I could have written that, except for a few things. I was not ready for another kid until my son was 2 years old. However, at that point, my husband lost his job and was out of work for about 5 months, so he didn't want to talk about another kid until we were more financially stable. Then he only got a per diem job. He finally got a full time job with the same place, where he's not really happy and it's a step down from his prior job. Now my son just turned 3. I really wanted to have 2 kids about 3 years apart in age. He said we can talk about having another this Fall. I don't think he'll go for it, but I desperately want another! However, I am trying to focus on how much I love my son and how great he is, even if he doesn't have a sibling. I'm trying to focus on how lucky I am to just have him. I can't force my husband to have another child and I don't want to lose my husband over this. He says he doesn't have the patience for another child and he's worried about further loss of our time together and doing adult things, as well as the financial implications of a second child. I understand all that, but I'm willing to sacrifice and I really want another. It's very hard. I don't know what to do, but I hope it helps that you're not the only one anon
I don't know if this will change his mind or not, but maybe if you can get him to think about how things will be in a few years, when the second child is a little older rather than focusing on the second ''baby'' things might seem more do-able and also the trade-offs are more balanced. Yes, the baby period is intense, but it is short. After that, you have a kid. With 2 they can entertain each other and might not need as much of your attention. Also, you've already made the biggest change to your lifestyle going from 0 to 1. From 1 to 2 isn't as big a change--you are already parents, you already have the responsibilities and commitment, and you probably already have most of the stuff you need too! I really hope he comes around. Wishing you all the best, --mom of 2
To the mom that wants a second child -- Unfortunately I don't have any advice or words or wisdom for you, but I did want you to know that I am in the EXACT situation you described.

Although my husband wasn't too hot on having kids initially, he said that he knew how much it meant to me and agreed to have one. I thought that one would be enough, but after having my son (who is almost 1.5 years), I really wanted a second child.

I thought my husband would change his mind, but he is sticking to just having one child. I find myself thinking about having another child constantly, and often resent my husband.

Although I'm not necessarily ready right now, I'm in my mid- thirties now, and wouldn't want to wait much longer. As I said, I don't have any advice, but when I'm feeling down on the idea that I may just have one child, I try to think about how much I love the child I have Mom in the Same Boat


we are in the same boat although I am not a ''10'' and I don't think my husband is quite a ''1'' although he may be a ''2'' on your scale. I keep hoping that as our child gets older & the colicy/not sleeping very very tough first 6 months fade, my husband will decide at least to try. (child is 18 mths) Looking forward to seeing the replies curious
I am a mother of two with a fully participating, helpful husband. We both wanted two and have no regrets. I consider myself very very lucky for this.

Here are my thoughts when I read your post. before I had any children, noone could have made me understand how much time, energy and patience it would take. I could not have imagined how different my life would be. My guess is that you can relate.

The same is true going from one child to two. I once thought as long as I was taking care of one, it wouldn't be such a great leap to care for two - WRONG! it is soooo much more work and time. Now when I have just one around, I feel like I'm on a mini-vacation. Especially the first year when their needs are so different it can be really rough and I have lots of family and husband support. And I have 2 easy kids! (aged 3years and 17 months)

Unless your husband is fully on board, I would not encourage you to push for a second, it can be really rough and you might put a huge strain on your marriage in the process mama of two


A good friend of mine and her husband struggled with this for some time. After the two of them had been over and over this and began to feel more desparate about finding a happy resolution, she started reframing this less as ''I want a second, husband only wants one'' and more in terms of intimate conneciton with her husband. She started to wonder whether possibly what was going on from her husband's side was that he so valued their marriage and missed her so badly with all of the attention and time they had turned to their first child, that he couldn't bear to lose more of the intimacy he valued with her. So she started making more of an effort to be present in two-some only ways - they took their first night away together, more date nights, etc. I don't know if that explained the change, but within a year they were expecting and now seem very happy with their two children.

At one time she might have wanted three or more, but has taken that off the table and feels quite complete. You might try making sure you are enjoying plenty of two-some connection and time, no matter what, as a different way to approach whether your family wants and is ready for another child. Now that I have a kid of my own, I know it's a challenge, but watching others struggle through it has made me realize how important it is to prioritize best of luck to both of you


I have the same issue. I want another, but my husband wants only one... In the golden, olden days, the mother got to decide this. How much does your husband not want a baby. Mine is at 9, whereas I am at 10 in wanting one, so I win that argument.

Seriously, my husband's father only wanted one, but my MIL wanted two. So she had a second one -- a daughter-- and FIL adores her. I don't think most men regret the second child once it's here, they only dread it. In the same baby wanting boat


Only child or egg donation?

August 2006

I am 39 and have a 3 year old boy, and have been trying to get pregnant for a while. I just found out yesterday that I failed the ''clomid challenge'' and that the odds of me having another child with my eggs are essentially zero (i.e.,even IVF with my eggs is not an option). My husband and I are very sad, as we have always thought that we wanted more children, both for ourselves (we both have siblings) and for our son. Now we are trying to think through whether we accept our fate and go forward as a family of three, or pursue egg donation. I would really love to hear from people who have chosen both paths. If you are an only child, or have only one child, can you tell me about that? Our family is so happy right now the way we are --my worry is that in the future our son will be lonely or short changed without a sibling. For those who have chosen egg donation, tell me everything -- the positives and the negatives. It feels very extreme to me, and somehow reaching too hard? Right now I am not looking for information on adoption, as there is much on the archives, and we are really trying to understand these two paths better Feeling very sad


Although we did not already have a child before doing so, my husband and I chose egg donation. Since we were fortunate enough to have twins, however, I do know something about living with siblings. We are so happy now with our family, but I do remember some of my concerns when making the decision. I would be glad to share more with you. Please email be directly Debbie
I can't speak to having a donor egg, but I can speak to fertility problems and having an only child. Of course the two situations are related, but it has helped me to separate them as much as possible. In my situation, I lost several pregancies, both before and after my son was born. I'm now past the age when I think having children is a good idea. I've had to deal with the grief of loss, and I think that I will feel some sense of loss and grief over the lost children for the rest of my life. The pain comes and goes, and mostly I have accepted it.

I have at times wished for another child so my son could have a sibbling, etc., but I have to tell you that there is something absolutely wonderful about having only one child. The bond is tremendous, and I am able to do things for him that I might not if I had more than one. I make him costumes, for instance, and think I'd feel overwhelmed if I had to make two or three. He and I can get into a really sweet place when we play together, largely because I don't have to check on the baby or mediate disputes with an older sibling. Not too long ago I felt a very strong sense of gratitude that I had only one child.

Of course nothing's perfect, and there will continue to be times when I'll wish I had another child. I think you can learn things from siblings you can learn no where else. But I also see that my brothers can't stand each other, and they are terrible about keeping in touch with me. I communicate more with their wives. There's no guarantee that siblings will like each other. It seems to me that you will need to work through your grief on this one first. Give yourselves a couple of months to let things sink in, to cry as much as you need to, even to perform a ritual of some kind to mark the change. Then start thinking about one child or egg donation. You'll no doubt see things much more clearly with a little time. Oh, and don't forget to enjoy your one boy. I know you won't, but still the grief can be so distracting. One thing that the grief of loss has taught me is to take nothing for granted. That small thing in itself can bring such joy Happy Mom of One


Hi, You've mentioned a lot of things think about. I will only speak to ''failing'' the clomid challenge test. Many doctors don't consider the clomid challenge test to be an accurate measure of fertility. Not all doctors use it. I have absolutely no idea what your situation is, whether you've gotten a second opinion, what your full medical picture is and whether that's only part of the criteria used to discourage you from trying, how attached you are to having another (of your own) children, or how much energy you want to put in this direction or who your doctor is. All those factors and others are important. But if this is an avenue you are serious about, do enough research and talk to some other docs/patients out there, especially ones that have good statistics w/ your age group. It's not clear from your post that you've had the opportunity to do this, so just in case you haven't, you might want to read a bit more. A simple web search will yield a lot. There's a lot of accurate, and inaccurate, information out there, from ALL sources, but a bit of reading will yield a lot of good info. Good luck anon
Have you considered sharing your home, life, & love with a child who's already been born & is just waiting for a family to love them? Instead of all the difficult medical journeys with ''assisted'' conception, why not open your arms to a child who already exists? child of an adopted child
My husband would not accept an egg donation because when he was young he knew a woman that donated, and she was a drug addict and of questionable character. So that's the end of that story. There is a very good support network called INCIID at inciid.org. There is a forum for donor recipients, fertility after 40, etc. At age 39, even though you didn't pass the clomid challenge test, you still could have a good chance w/ your own eggs. It is not the end-all and there are a lot of success stories like that. I would go to the UCSF fertility clinic--- although that's not the one I used, I used a non-university one and didn't like the experience because the different doctors didn't agree, they didn't inform me very well about choices, options, what's going on, etc. I have heard a lot of good things about UCSF subsequent to my experiences with the other one I used. I may still try that clinic. For insurance purposes, passing the clomid challenge test may be one of the conditions that dictates whether insurance will cover you or not. However, I heard that fertility doctors can still treat a patient even if the patient appears to be a low chance of success, as long as the doctor has clearly discusseed with the patient the chances for success and the patient goes into the process (IVF) with a clear understanding of the chances. (I figured if you are even considering egg donation, you have money for IVF, which is cheaper.) Good luck! anon
As the parent of a child born from IVF using both donor egg and sperm I thank god that these options are available to women now. That being said, it's a really personal decision that you have to make. I love, love, love my son and couldn't be happier with my decision (100% infertile and single) but people do ask about his looks and what not. The one piece of advice I would offer is this, please be honest with your child about his/her conception if you decide to move forward. Everything I've read and heard says you should be up front about it and introduce the topic little by little from the time they are tiny. I've read posts from folks who don't tell anyone and it almost seems like there is shame around the subject, which is really too bad because it's a wonderful option. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions. Also, I went through the Alta Bates IVF program and they were wonderful Leslie
There is nothing wrong with being an only child. I am one and two of my cousins' daughters are only children and my child is an only child. There were always lots of kids in the neighborhood and lots of cousins (extended family) to play with. We have grown up self confident and sharing and loving adults (except my daughter who is only 5). I felt fortunate to have all of the attention of my parents and I didn't feel deprived. Of course there were times I wished I had a sibling so I could blame my misdeeds on him or her enjoyed being an only child
I just wanted to say a bit about being an only child, having been one myself. The subject is fresh for me because we have one child now and I often wonder why we should have more. I'm a 35-year-old woman and an only child. Growing up, I never felt lonely... people would always ask ''don't you wish you had a sibling?'' and honestly, I never did. Only children tend to grow up with the ability to entertain themselves (I had an active imagination and created intricate storylines with my Fisher Price little people, Barbies, etc.) I also enjoyed a lot of the benefits of getting taken everywhere -- Europe several times, restaurants, theater, etc. I remember as a kid wondering why siblings fought so often -- it just seemed so pointless! I guess it helped that I lived in a neighborhood with lots of kids running around, and I had lots of cousins and other relatives.

So many adults have dysfunctional sibling relationships. Just because you have 2 or more kids doesn't mean they will end up getting along or really being there for one another. Happy only child


I'm sorry to hear that you are being told there is no hope to conceive with your own eggs. It's the standard thing they say. But there is hope! I was devastated to hear at age 37 (failed clomid challenge, high FSH) that I would probably never concieve, and I gave up hope of having any children. I opted not to use an egg donor as I am adopted and really wanted a biological connection. A couple months after I gave up hope, I was pregnant and later had a healthy baby. At age 40 I had even higher FSH but got pregnant again and had another healthy baby! It's my belief now that while it is true that fertility clinics will not have good results with our own eggs if we fail the clomid challenge, they really can't say what the odds are of getting pregnant on your own. Good luck to you Twice Given No Hope
If you want a baby and you want to carry it go for egg donation-then if it doesn't work you can at least feel that you tried everything. you won't constantly second guess your self with ''what ofs.'' Singeltons(one child) are much more in vogue now as many parents embark on parenthood as a single person or two really busy parents. you can socialize your child with frequent park outings and playgroups and he will thrive and be fabulous BUT again if you want a second-do it-jump in with both feet and try... sydney
Hi, I can't imagine what a tough decision this is for you. However, I can tell you that you will NOT be short-changing your child if you decide that the three of you are going to be the final count in your immediate family. I hear over and over again, about how bad it is to have an only one child. This simply isn't true. If you haven't guessed already, I am an only child. Here is what I have learned about this subject so far in actually talking with people. There are those out there that were only children and wished that they had siblings. There are those that were only children and were very happy about it, (like myself). There are those out there that had siblings and loved it. There are those out there that had siblings and wished they hadn't. And it seems pretty split down the middle on all points. Please don't make assumptions. If you keep your only child social, he/she will not be lonely and may even prefer that he/she may pick and choose with whom he/she socializes with more. In addition, they get your full attention. I understand that both your husband and yourself came from backgrounds in which having siblings was a positive thing. It is only natural that you want to do for your child that made you happy and feel you benefited from. My husband had three siblings (a positive experience). We have decided that we are going to stick with one child. But this was based on numerous factors. There are so many factors that go into a happy life. With whatever you choose, if I may recommend, don't get caught up in this one factor too much. It's an important desicion, don't get me wrong, and I'm not trying to belittle it. But it's the amount of love and attention (which you clearly give to your child) that are the dominant factors Anon
Conceiving with an egg donor gives you a chance at parenthood you would not otherwise have. If you yearn for a second child, as we did, do consider it. Please know that it requires considerable financial resources, determination, and there are no guarantees. However, your chances of conceiving increase dramatically. I wondered how I would feel about our second child not being related to me, but those feelings pale in comparison to the wonderful gift of having a child. I will be ever grateful to the woman who enabled us to have our beautiful baby girl anon
Hi there -- I am in a similar situation. I have a delightful 3 1/2 year old and have been trying for #2 since he was 1, which has been an incredibly painful time, though also a time of growth. I don't really have an answer for you regarding only child or egg donation (for us it would be donor egg or adoption as we are committed to having another child), but I did want to send you some other thoughts. From what you've written, it doesn't seem clear to me that you cannot have a second child with your own eggs. It sounds like you would not be a good candidate for IVF, as you might not respond much to the stimulation drugs. What this means is that the REs feel like the only way THEY can help you is by offering you a donor egg cycle. This does not necessarily mean that YOU, at age 39 with a successful recent pregnancy, cannot get pregnant without their intervention. Have you read the book *Inconceivable* by Julia Indichova? It is a wonderful book about a woman who was told the statistics were she would never have a second child with her own eggs (her FSH was 42 and she was 42 years old)-- and how she did end up doing so. It is very inspiring and full of hope. She also has a webite www.fertileheart.com with a community of women who are in situations similar to yours, and quite a number of whom HAVE gone on to bear healthy children. Julia also holds bi-monthly phone circles that are inspiring and reasonable ($10). For me, Julia and this ''Fertile Heart'' community has been crucial during a very difficult time. It has given me tools not only around fertility, but around life and my whole outlook on it that have changed me in important and deep ways. I don't know still how this next baby will come to us (and I think donor egg is a fine route), but I do know that having gone through this struggle, and all that I've learned and experienced in it, will make me an even more wonderful mom to my next child (and to me and my life!). It has made me see that this struggle is not about ''resolving'' infertility as much as it's about deepening my connection to life -- and helped me be open to it Fertile Heart friend
There is a film called ''Beyond Conception: Men having Babies'' on Discovery Channel, that tells the story of a gay couple choosing surrogacy, after having adopted their first child. It might give you some insight on the egg donor issue. all my best

I would really like to stop at one child

April 2006

I would really like to stop at one child. My son is 3. I have been getting really rude remarks from people who hear my decision. I wonder what I should say to my son when he asks for a sibling. Is there a club/support group for parents with only one child? Is my resolve detrimental to my son's emotional well- being? Thanks anon


I know what you mean. People can be so rude sometimes. I have only one child, and have been teased (mostly, sometimes harrassed) about it a lot. Many people cannot understand having only one child. Sometimes if they people get too pushy, I tell them the truth: I tried, but had losses and am now very grateful for my one child. But that can make further conversation awkward. Someone I know says she tells people that she created a masterpiece with her daughter, and leaves it at that. Other people I know just try not to rise to the bait. You could just say that your family feels complete and change the subject. Happy Mom of One
My husband and I are thoroughly enjoying family life with our one daughter, who is now six years old. Similar to what you describe, we started getting tough questions about our family size around the time our daughter turned three. The question that gave me pause was Rdon't you think your daughter would be better off in this world if she had a sibling?'' After thinking about this for a long time, this is what we both realized: when we decided to have a child, we longed for a child. It was one of the most powerful feelings ITve ever experienced, only intensified by the experience of bringing my daughter into this world and embarking on this journey of life together as a family. I have never since longed for another child. If I ever do, then and only then will I pursue the notion, but one thing my husband and I will never do is bring a second child into our family RforS our first child.

Though she did when she was four, my daughter no longer expresses any desire for a sibling. I'm certain she understands our decision and also believes we made the right choice. Have confidence in your decision and trust that your son will have the capacity to understand ---a confident parent


GOOD FOR YOU! It is socially, enviornmentally responsible and good for your family to have only one. There is nothing wrong with your decision. I have heard many people talk about how children will have no friends, no social skills, etc. with no siblings and they come from no facts, and no experiance. What we say when people make rude and ignorant comments about our only-child boy (ten) is something along the lines of ''We can give our son more when he is the sole need of our attention, love, and resources, and we know that it is best for all of us.'' Good luck, A Father of Just One
We're stopping at one kid too. I hated being pregnant, my husband hated the first 3 months of blob-ism, so we decided then that we just didn't want to go through it again. Besides that, I was an only child until my dad remarried when I was 14. I'm still my mom's only child.

Oh yes, we get comments. I don't understand why people think its okay to tell us we should have more kids. It's not like getting a cat or something. I just tell people that we don't want more kids and don't offer any explanations. It's none of their business. In fact, its kind of funny when you don't let it turn into a conversation because if you just leave it at ''because we don't want to'' they're stumped with how to respond. What are they going to say? Nobody has ever had the gall to ask me ''don't you love your son?'' and if they did I wouldn't even dignify that with an answer.


There was an article in Newsweek recently about only children. I'm sorry I can't remember the date, but I think it was this summer sometime - and the article on the cover. Basically it said that the latest research indicates that only children do just as well in life as children with siblings Parent to one
I, too, only have one child. He is 8 years old now. I have never had any rude remarks from anyone and am sorry that you have! What kind of friends are those! My son has never asked for a sibling, and when I have asked him if he ever wishes he had a brother or sister (the question arises from my own sense of guilt about not having provided him with a sibling) he always says that he is very happy being an only child because he doesn't have to share me and his dad with anyone. We know other people and have many friends who only have 1 child, and the children all seem happy and very well adjusted. I, too, have always been very happy having only one child and never felt a need to have more to feel more fulfilled. Yvonne
Neither your associates nor your child get to make this decision, you and your husband do. I would cease discussions about it with your ''friends'' and if your son brings it up (which he may never do) just tell him that there are good things about having siblings and there are good things about being an only child. As he gets older, you can invite a friend of his along on outings, etc. I am also thinking of stopping at one. We are happy. You can tell from the several other posts in this episode of the advice digest that you do not have the only only child in town. I heard recently that like 40% of kids today are onlies, the highest amount ever. I think that living in an urban area, it is more common and not a big deal anon
My husband and I have one child and we too went through the thoughtless and annoying comments and judgements of friends and complete strangers when they asked when we were having ''another''. Humph... now that my child is entering HS I am SO VERY THANKFUL we were not influenced by peer pressure to have another child. Sometimes I think others are a bit jealous that we have ONE. Our family size decision has provided us the time and financial ability to offer our ONE opportunities we might not have if we had multiple children. Please do not take any of this of judgement of others with multiple children. We are just really pleased with the family size and lifestyle we have chosen. It WORKS for us. Make your choice on what works best for you and your family and do not be swayed by the rude and thoughtless remarks of others. BTW == our child tells us she is happy to be our ONE.

Besides the current population explosion is severly taxing the worlds ressources. Have you seen Gore's slideshow movie? Parent of One and very happy with the decision. Happy Mom of a great ONE


Well, as the forgotten middle child, I can tell you the dynamic changed drastically when my little brother was born. My older brother used to take me with him everywhere and we were close, but once there was a third, there was always a 2 against 1 situation that would get us all fighting, uh, pretty brutally. BUT, then again, my little brother is such a wonderful person. And I'm so glad and thankful that I got to grow up with him despite any problems that ensued btw my parents and older brother. I can't say I have any real regrets. We lived in the burbs in another (more affordable) state, though. Sending 3 kids to private schools simultaneously would, at least for me, not be doable. -Oakland Mom Stopping at 2
I read the responses on this one and wanted to weigh in. I am the now-single mother of a nine-year-old boy. My son is very sociable and would love (I am pretty sure) to be one of a Cheaper by the Dozen scenario. I have tried instead to integrate him fully into the extended family. He has twelve cousins in all. Most of them live far away, so I have made it a practice to invite one cousin per year to spend a ''fabulous'' vacation in California. During that week with the cousin, we travel together, explore favorite local haunts, let the cousin have his/her way when it comes to planning some activities, and in general get to know each other better. I can't claim that he has become best friends with all of his cousins (he's the youngest of the bunch, some are quite a bit older), but he has really grown to love some of them and he knows all of them are related to him! His favorite cousin so far has probably been a seventeen-year-old girl -- they were so like each other in personality! It was a surprise to all of us. We also invited Grandma to come with us to San Diego and met up with an aunt there. This kind of thing makes family memories almost as effectively as day-to-day food fights and wars over TV and X- boxes. If you are concerned about your child not having siblings, I would go for something like this, in which you develop family ties a bit differently. keeping the home fires burning

One child seems right, but pressure from friends & family

March 2006

Hi there, I wanted to hear from my families who've made the decision to have only 1 child. We have a 2 year old and, although we originally thought we'd have a bigger family, think that now we've decided to stop at 1. The main reason for us to have a second at this point would be to give our child a sibling. My husband and I have careers (I gave mine up to stay home and am so happy to have had the choice but am very eager to return to work one day), so it's not a financial consideration. It's simply that we feel that this may be the right size for our family. The problem is all the pressure (explicitly from our family, implicitly from our community and friends) to have another child.

What about other only-child families? Are you happy with your choice? What has been your experience? And is there a network for only children to meet other only children out there? Thanks for sharing. wonderingmama


I think it's perfectly fine to stop at one child. Actually, I find it ironic that we try to conserve resources only to overpopulate. After having our child, I vowed I would adopt if we ever wanted to expand our family. I love children - not only my own. anon
We've decided to have only one as well. Initially I was very sad about this, having really wanted two, but my husband does not want a second and I do not want to force him into something he clearly isn't comfortable with. Now I feel pretty good about it and am enjoying the many benefits of keeping it simple with one.

We try to schedule lots of time with other kids. We have a regular trade with another only kid on the block (he comes over one night a week and our daugther goes to his house one night a week) and hope to make even more of that time. (Having it be a standing committment helps a lot.) I do feel that connecting with other parents who've made the same choice has helped me feel good about it; there's a tendency to judge or assume something is wrong if you don't go for number 2. I think it's a tough choice, but it has many, many advantages!

I don't know of a support group or parent group but if someone wanted to start one, I would attend. jen


We love having one child only! More time to play with the child and listen to it, less germs to fight, easier to travel with, only one college tuition ahead, can splurge on summer programs and base them on child's interest, only one diaper stage and only one set of homework per night to review, only one school lunch to fix every morning. It's wonderful and enjoyable. My daughter has lots of friends, play dates whenever she wants them and time with both parents. I believe that being hurried all the time is a killer to a deep relationship and I am serious about a deep relationship now, so we can survive the pre-teen and teenage years reasonably well. A second child would put me over that edge, as I work full-time. I am deeply enjoying my life with one child and so does my husband. Don't forget that the pressure you feel is mainly cultural, maybe even political. There are countries in Europe where couples primarily have one child only. Of course, that endangers the state retirement fund in the long run. That still hasn't changed the statistics though. You should do what feels right to you - only you know how much responsibility is enough for you as a couple. Anonymous
We've decided to only have one child,too. Since I am an only child, I think the decision was easier for me at first then it was for my partner. Our reasons have more to do with lifestyle and not wanting to be too old while raising a baby. But there are certainly many people that have children at a later age. Really, it has to just be your decision. Ignore everyone else. Before we had our son, I wanted to be a parent, period. Now, I'm satisfied. I don't feel that urge. I don't feel that anything is missing in my life. I guess I'm suggesting that you listen to your feelings and go with that. Tune everyone else out. Good luck
We faced a similar dilemma several years ago. Oddly enough, we never got anything but support from our parents about our decision, it was our peer group in the Berkeley community that seemed to react most negatively. What I have found is that with the passage of time, we are even happier with our decision.

Here's why: we both work because we both have careers that we love and neither of us was willing to give up the satisfaction that we get from our chosen professions. IMHO a fulfilled person makes for a much happier parent, at least in our case I can definitely say that is true.

Our child gets to spend a lot of quality time with us and our extended family and friends. We take our child everywhere and have been able to afford a quality of life that we could not have had if we had had a second child.

I would say do what is right for you and your partner and if you are coming from a place of personal fulfillment, that will translate to your child being more secure and happier. Having more kids is not the answer for every family, and I would certainly not worry so much about the judgment of others on this issue. Three is perfect for us


I am an only child and had a very happy childhood - even though my parents split up when I was 10. My husband and I thought we would have two children because the assumption is that it's the thing to do. However, once my daughter was born, I suffered severe postpartum depression. I didn't immediately bond with my baby and was unable to breast-feed - two things that exacerbated my depression. In any case, after I had been stabilized with meds and had bonded with my baby, my husband and I came to a mutual agreement that we would not have another child. I have never regretted it. I am 40 and have a three year old that I have time for. She is not spoiled and knows how to share. She also can play happily by herself. She has friends at school and has a cat who tolerates her and she's not lonely. Pets are great siblings! It's strange to me that everyone finds it odd that we could be happy with just one child but, in addition to the obvious, economic benefits of having only one child, the emotional ones are even better. There's no fighting among siblings and I don't have to worry about making sure I divide my time equally among my kids since there's only one.

Love being an only child and having an only child! Jessica


We have one child, and feel our family is complete. Our daughter (now 8) used to try to bargain for a sibling, but we felt like our lives were just managable with one child and would descend into utter chaos with more. We also noticed that all of our friends with two kids had a stay at home parent and/or a nanny, and both of the adults in our family wanted to maintain careers. Neither my husband nor I had great sibling relationships as children, so we didn't feel siblings were necessary (or even the best option) for companionship.

A couple of years ago, our daughter started to notice that siblings often fight, and multi-child families don't get as much parent time as she does. She doesn't want a sibling anymore, and we're happy as a family of three.

Some people will assume that only children are more selfish, can't share, etc. That hasn't been our experience. Our daughter relates well to children older and younger than herself, has always been good at sharing, and is able to keep herself entertained for extended periods of time - we don't have to be surrogate siblings.

Go with your heart and your gut, and don't let others tell you how to build your family!! Lisa


We have only one. In many ways I regret not having another. Yes it would have been more work and we'd probably have had to make other decisions about education, but I think overall, it would have been a good thing for my daughter. She's very social and would have liked a sibling. My prime reason for not doing it is that I was not sure about my own parenting skills and did not have the confidence to try it.

However, each family's situation is different. IT is very hard to look ahead. If I had to do it again, I would have a second. anon


I am an only child. My husband is an only child. My child will be an only child.

We think large families seem like a lot of fun, and perhaps in another life, we'd have one, too. But we have decided our lifestyle is such that having one child will work best for him and us.

Despite a rich bay area culture, we appreciate other countries and different perspectives, and travel is an important component of that. With one child, we make travel a more frequent activity without bending our budget. Also, an only child allows us to make decisions for our child without worrying about what will appear ''fair'' to our other children.

In truth, this is likely so much boot-strapping; I'm sure if we had two (or three or four), we'd have great reasons for having a bigger family, too. The real point is, we're happy with one, and the only downside my husband and I experienced growing up as only children was snide remarks from our friends' parents about how awful only children were (typically followed by ''well, you're different'').

Truth is, any combination is good: one, two, five. If you're comfortable with it, so, too will be your child. - One


I have one child and I want another in a couple of years so I can't talk to you as a parent of an only child, but I AM an only child so I can tell you about that. Being an only child was great for several reasons: I got all my parents attention and had a good relationship with them, I never had big fights with siblings like my friends, I enjoyed the company of adults as a kid and I am very comfortable hanging out with people older than me. On a greedy note, I will inherit everything from my parents and that may be the only way I will ever be able to buy a house in the Bay Area someday. The cons of being an only child: many of my friends have great relationships with their adult siblings and I'll never have that, I have a hard time sharing some things (esp. space which makes marriage very difficult for me), I get upset when my husband goes off on a fun adventure without me (like a bachelor party...I don't like being excluded from anything), I was often bored as a kid on vacations or wherever and had no one to play with (although I was very independent so it wasn't that bad, just a little boring), and all my parents hopes and dreams were on me and that was a lot of pressure (I couldn't dilute this with a sibling or at least bitch about it with a sibling). Overall, being an only child was fine and great in many ways and like any situation, it wasn't perfect.

If that is what feels right for you and your husband, than do it and don't worry about what other busy-bodies think. it's really none of their business anyway. Anon


I was ambivalent about having more than one and my partner dead- set against it. After our child was around 3 and nearly all of our friends were onto their second and third, I started getting pangs of desire for more. Especially kicked in with each hormonal monthly. In my heart I know that our family is better for not having another, my husband may have melted upon seeing another baby, but it also may have propelled us into divorce. I fantasize sometimes about poking pinholes in the condoms. But ultimately I'd much rather parent with someone who really was excited about the endeavor. Fortunately the baby showers have slowed down. It is still sometimes awkward for me figuring out playdate exchanges with families with more than one. I don't always want to have both their kids since going from one to 3 is a bigger jump than when they have mine and go from 2 to 3, but we work it out. And we try to cultivate some friendships with families who also have onlies. Mostly I'm glad for the lack of fighting, sibling rivalry, scheduling complexity and expense of a larger family. I worry that my child will lose out on that sibling relationship, but that can be a crap-shoot too.

Unfortunately, I don't think anyone can tell you what is right for your family. One thing that was helpful for me to think about was balancing the strength of my desire for baby #2 (ambivalent) against my husband's lack of desire (vehement). Also to realize that much of what I was responding to was the fact that everyone else was having more so that is automatically assumed to be the ''right'' thing to do. Simple Life is OK


I had my kid at 35 and now 5 years later, I'm completely happy to have decided on having just one. Aside from some health issues that would make it hard to go thru another pregnancy (I'm diabetic), I know that having another would seriously affect our (my) quality of life (financial, mostly)--not to mention that the physical strain of having 1 more would most likely shorten my already statistically short life span. Which brings me to a topic that I'm not sure enough people think about when bringing babies into the world. I lost both my parents before age 29. My parents were 42 and 49 when I was born--they both died from forms of cancer. They weren't at my wedding or my child's birth. I also believe that I might have married and started my family several years earlier, had I not been tending (without reservation) to my dying parents, and then processing the grief afterward. I realize many people don't choose to wait to they're older (incl me) to have kids, but if you have the choice? Think about what it'll be like 30 years from now. I guess this is meant to be food for thought.

That said, I have two siblings, one of which I rarely see, the other I no longer speak to. I do feel that losing our parents whilst we were all in our 20's/30's helped to facilitate the seperation between us--The devistation this has caused me is enough to be grateful that my child will never experience this.

My personal belief is that ''family'' is not dictated by blood, but what you are willing to put into and how you treat your relationships. With that I know my kid will grow up with a rich extended family, blood related or not.

Finally, I'd just like to add, that I did go thru a period of wondering if I should have another, around the time my kid was 2. I would suggest, also that you wait another year or so, to make the decision. Having now experienced the 3's and 4's, I ultimately figured that I couldn't go thru it again. Maybe experiencing those ''challenging'' years, will help you be at peace with your choice. I know it did me.

Ultimately, I think you should go with your instincts on what feels right for you and yours, and tell those who inquire, explicitly or implicitly, that this is your choice and to kindly respect it. Good luck to you. Happy in my (immediate) family of 3


A friend and I recently discussed this. She is an only child, and I'm the oldest of five. It turns out she had most of her needs met while growing up, while things were pretty tough in my family, with each kid vying for the limited amount of attention and energy our parents had.

While I love my siblings, I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to say that an only child could end up well-adjusted, simply because the parents only must focus on HER, rather than split their attentions amongst other children.

OTOH, my only-child friend says she feels a bit of a burden, because when her parents age and become frail, she will be the only one to care for them - she has noone to share the responsibility with. Just thought you might like to hear both sides. :)


We have one beautiful 3 1/2 year old daughter & love it. I posted the last time this came up & it is archived, so I won't harangue the list again :)

I think a network for parents of one kid is great- maybe post to the annoucements list under 'connections with other parents'?

Best of luck with your decision- do what is right for you & your family, don't let others pressure you with their expectations! As for giving your child a sibling, I know many only children & none of them wishes they had brothers & sisters... not to mention all the families where siblings don't get along. one child is perfect for us!


Resources for single child family

Oct 2004

We have one wonderful toddler and for a variety of reasons (economic, marriage instability, space, lifestyle to name some), my husband and I are leaning toward not birthing more children. I have read the pros and cons about deciding whether to have more than one child and that is not what this post is about. I am wondering whether there are groups that support having one-child such as playgroups (I am tired of being the only parent of a toddler that is not pregnant and I am tired of being asked when we are having the next one). Also, we would still like our child to have a community of brothers and sisters. Any ideas such as a progressive church, becoming a ''surrogate'' parent to a child from a busy or non-loving family, ''adopt-a-neice or nephew'' programs, etc.? Thank you. anon


You might check out the magazine Only Child, which I think you can find on the web. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (actually located in Kensington) is a nice progressive church with a growing community of families with children. You'll still be in the minority with an only child, but there others (mine included). Fostering friendships helps, and chances are with the reight intention, you'll be able to help your child find community. Carolyn
I've been thinking about this for a couple of days and finally think I've realized what's been bothering me about your message - - look, if your marriage is in such bad shape that it's a real factor in your decision not to have a second child, should some other family's child or children really be coming into this situation? I know I wouldn't be keen on my child spending time with a family if I knew the parents' marriage was in real trouble....

Obviously, I don't know just how difficult your relationship with your spouse is, but...if it's really that big of a problem, maybe the best choice for your family would be for the two of you to work on your problems. Keeping your marriage healthy is about the best thing you can do for your kid. If you take care of that, the positive relationship skills you're modeling should help your child learn how to build strong friendships on his or her own. Sara


I only want one child

December 2003

We(or rather I) are planning on having only one child. I am a 41 year old mother with a wonderful 3 year old child. I had a difficult pregnancy (bed rest), various physical problems, and a collicky baby. So the beginning was hard. However, things are much easier now. We are all doing well as a family. In theory, I would love to provide a sibling for my daughter. I do feel deeply sad that she will not have a sibling - but when I ask myself at night, ''Do I want to do this again?'' The answer is a resounding, ''No.'' My husband would like to have another child and is open and interested in adoption. Even that I don't want to do. As much as I adore our daughter, I don't feel like I have the energy or resources to either give birth to or take care of another child. I feel quite alone in this - almost like there is something wrong with me. I look around me and it seems like everyone either has another child or wants another child. I don't know anyone else who feels like me. I would love to hear from mothers who are HAPPY with their decision to have one child. I don't know anyone who has CHOSEN this path and is happy with their decision to have only one child. mother of an only child


Hi, you are not alone! I'm 36 and my daughter is 2.5 years old. I found dealing with an infant really tough, but since she's been walking and talking it's been a lot of fun. I knew during her infanthood that I would not ever have another child. (Before having her, my husband and I had agreed to two kids.) I love her, and sometimes she asks for a sister, but it is not going to happen. I love being with groups of kids, taking them to the zoo and whatever, but 1. things like family travel (or even errands!) just sound overwhelming with multiple kids, especially small ones, and 2. we could never afford college for two. On the extremely rare occasion that I think, what would two kids be like? I remind myself of these two things, and I remember how close I was to going over the edge that entire first year. ! I'm also happy that I can now help out other people with kids, like my sister or friends ... If I had two kids I'd be too absorbed with my own to help out. I am happy with my decision, and I'm sure it's best for all of us, even though my husband could be easily talked into having a second. I'm only sad that I suspect some folks think that not wanting a second means that maybe you don't really, really love your first. Because I do! -- Having that elective surgery soon
I am almost in your shoes, with the difference that I have made peace with having an only child. I also had a bed-rest pregnancy (after 4 miscarriages) and a colicky and high-need/challenging temperament child which made for an extremely difficult first year. I come from a big family (9 siblings) and I would have loved to have at least 2 children (I would certainly would have gone for it, if I I could have carried a pregnancy to term earlier in my life). However, given the fact that I am 45 years old and that the first year of mothering was extremely hard, I simply don't feel I have enough energy at this point to deal with 2 children, while maintaining a stable and positive relationship with my husband, and re-developping my career (which is now not a priority). People keep hammering me about giving my son a sibling, but I know it would be too much. Even now my son is a ! very intense, strong-willed 1 1/2 year-old, and I am working only part-time so I can focus exclusively on him most of the day, with enough energy and patience to be a good mother. With two I probably would be a lot more short-tempered and yell or become depressed when exhausted. Another factor is that I have chosen to put my career in the back-burner for the first years of his life (I actually work right now only because I absolutely need the income), but I definitely want to feel again the pride and accomplishment of a succesful career once he is 3 or 4 years old and I feel confortable leaving him more hours on daycare. A second child would mean postponing my career development for another 3-5 years, and I simply don't want to do that. You are not selfish or weird for choosing to have an only child. On the contrary, I think that you are an excellent mother who knows her limits and wants. Recognizing that you only have enough energy to provide good mothering to one child and still have the kind of life you want is a gift of love to yourself, and your whole family. At peace with just one child
Listen to yourself, listen to yourself, listen to yourself. Don't let yourself follow the 'second child crowd' if it's not for you. It's hard not to follow your spouse's dream if he does wish to have a second, so set some cash aside and go in for 3 or 4 counseling sessions to talk about what you both want out of life. Promise each other before these sessions that you won't leave any yearnings unspoken. Are you contemplating another because you fear having regrets in life? Recently I called a cherished former professor of mine concerning my struggle over this exact same question you're dealing with. She said, ''I used to make all my decisions in life based on a f! ear that later I'd have regrets. Finally I realized: having regrets in life is about realizing you are an adult. Making real, honest decisions in life -- choosing one path over another -- is about finally growing up. Yes, you will have regrets about making one choice over another. But I look back upon my regrets as evidence that you are a more fully realized human being, capable of making your own long range choices.'' Finally: there are various websites dedicated to one-child families. Check these out. Good luck! Signed, Sympathetic.
Please don't think you're alone in this! I feel the same way you do - I love my daughter immensely, but there's no way that I want another. It's hard hard hard work having just one - I can't imagine having two (or more). Besides my own desires, in our house there really isn't money for two children - and my husband and I already have a hard enough time making time for each other.

The only reason we'd even consider having another child is to give our daughter a sibling. But I know quite a few people who have never gotten along with their brother or sister. If there's no guarantee that the kids will get along, then that seems to me like a pretty bad reason to bring another person into the world.

I've done a lot of reading on the subject and there is no reason to feel badly about your child being an only...you have to make sure that there are ample opportunities for them to socialize with other kids, but other than that, there's nothing to suggest that they will be harmed in any way by not having a sibling. I've also spoken to MANY only children who had wonderful childhoods, have great relationships with their parents, and no bad feelings about being raised without a brother or a sister.

The people who would give you grief about this choice are thinking about the old-fashioned mythology surrounding being an only-child. I've come across these folks as well and, while it's always hard and annoying to have to explain my decision, I try to just let it roll off my back.

Please don't beat yourself up about this. You want to be the best parent you can for your child - if that means only having one, then that is the best decision you can make on your child's behalf. Good luck!


Hi -- I know you are interested in hearing from moms with one child; I'm a father with two, but I hope this might be helpful. I'm here to say that there is nothing wrong with sticking with one.

We were also in our 40s when our first was born, the pregnancy was tough, and the first couple years seemed pretty hard -- wonderful, but hard. We could not decide about having a second: things were just feeling manageable and we were having a great time with our son. More than anything, we felt like we ''owed it'' to him to have another child ... particularly given how old we are, we were concerned about him having close family when he grew up; also, we were concerned about him being lonely growing up alone, and falling into the supposed spoiled only-child syndrome.

We did some research, and found that the studies done seem to show that only children tend to be even a bit happier than those with sibs, and actually do better at stuff like sharing and interacting when they get to school age.

Anyway, nature intervened (our ambivalence led us to be a little lax about birth control), and we now have two. The pregnancy was even tougher, and the next two years were quite trying. Our youngest is a delight and a blessing and enriches our lives enormously. I do not regret having her, not even a little bit. But having a younger sib has been pretty challenging for the eldest (he'd probably say its the worst thing that ever happened) and it seems clear that our lives will be greatly more complicated for the foreseeable future.

So,I would say there is no mistake in doing what feels right to you ... you don't owe it to your child or anyone else to have more.


I'm so glad you posted this message! We feel the same way and I am periodically consumed with guilt when I think about my son possibly being lonely without a sibling. I look forward to hearing the responses you get!

Hang in there! You're not alone!


We're having one child and are loving it! The term ''only one'' already makes it sound like something is missing and I'm sure this is a cultural thing. I come from a country where having one child is pretty much the norm these days (to the dismay of the social security system, but that's a different story). With one child you get part of your life back after the first 3 years. You get to pick up former hobbies/interests by trading off with your husband. If your child has a playdate elsewhere, you get instant couple time without paying a babysitter. You can always do age appropriate challenges/excursions with your child, without having to drag a younger sibling along. Your child can have all the friendships and social interaction it needs at preschool, school and at the house - let someone else pay for the other kids' college tuition. I like to keep my life as simple as p! ossible - it has plenty of surprises anyway.

I never saw a reason for having more than one child. I had an easy pregnancy, easy childbirth, a non-colicky child, enjoyed her babyhood, but I don't have to relive it through another baby. I never mourned over the end of her babyhood and never had that urge to make another baby whenever I saw another cute one in someone elses carriage. What's nice is that my husband feels the same way, and we've never been concerned about being different from the ''norm.'' My advice: Work this out with your husband, and find out the nature of the source that makes you feel awkward and talk that through. Anonymous


I think that how many children to have in such a personal choice & you & hubby should decide together what will work best for your family. So I have no adcive per se, just my own experience to share.

My husband & I have a beatiful 15 month old baby girl & decided long long ago (before we even got pregnant) that we are going to be a one child family. We both come from prertty big families & have siblings. I had a relatively easy pregnancy & birth, so that isn't the reason. I'd like to be able to say it is for political reasons- zero population growth, etc- but that isn't it either. I think for us, it is a combination of the cost of raising a child in the Bay Area, our desire to both have careers, & the time/energy/experiences we want to have for our child. We want to still be able to take vacations, not worry as much about paying for college, have time for ourselves, etc.

Some folks have said that our daughter will be sad/lonely/spoiled/unable to share/maladjusted because she is an only child. The most common argument in favor of a 2nd child is that that children need a sibling to play with, be best friends with, etc. There are lots of ways to build community for your child without having another baby. (Not to mention I know plenty of siblings who don't get along!) One particularly morbid mommy friend worries about our only child dying & how hard that would be on us, plus the fact that an only child will have full responsibility for taking care of us when we are older. Frankly it is annoying & sometimes pisses me off that people try to convince us to have another child- if you want lots of kids, have them yourself & leave us alone!!!

For other persepctives, there are also posts in the archive at: http://parents.berkeley.edu/advice/parents/singlechild.html


We're in almost the same boat - I was 41 when my child was 3, too. I thought about having another - my husband was up for it - but realistically, I'm barely managing with one. Pregnancy involved a lot of nausea and misery, and the sleep thing, even with an ''easy'' baby - was really rough. Sometimes I wish I'd had my baby at a younger age, but then I realize - that would be a different child, and I can't imagine not having him! I've come to terms w/ it, especially when I see how much work it is for my younger friends who have two or even three kids. If you feel regret, spend more time with friends who have a 3 year old and a 15-month old - or offer to babysit for them - that will cure you... anon
My husband and I are trying to have our first child, so I cannot advise you as a mother, because I haven't had my child yet. However, my intention at this point is to give birth to ONE child and, IF we feel inclined to have a second, to try to adopt.

However, my best advice that I think I could give would be as an adult who grew up an only child. I have to admit that, now, as an adult, I would appreciate having a sibling - but I want to reassure you, I LOOOOOOVED being an only child. I was the center of my parents' world. I felt cherished and loved and I didn't have to vie for their attention. When my mother asked me if I wanted a sibling (she only asked to make sure I wasn't feeling deprived, she wasn't able to have a 2nd and really didn't *want* to have a 2nd child), I told her without hesitation and with absolute certainty that I DID NOT want a sibling and was quite happy to have my mommy all to myself, thank you very much.

Look, there are advantages and disadvantages to both situations for children. There are no guarantees that one will grow up being very close with one's siblings, plus you have to deal with all the rivalry while growing up. It can be very trying for both the parents and the kids (I know from talking to my friends who grew up with siblings). I think that your intuition is correct: your child will be better off an only child with parents that have enough energy to devote to her than she would be with a sibling and exhausted parents. The disadvantage for only children is that it can be harder to fit in in social situations (it *can* be, I've known plenty of only children that had no problems at all in this regard).

My point is, I don't think you have anything to feel bad about. There is no such thing as a perfect situation for a child. As long as you are providing a loving environment, your child will be fine! A happy only child


It sounds like we are in a very similar situation, although both my daughter and I are one year older then you and your daughter. In my case, however, I have a physical condition that worsened after my daughter's birth and made parenting an infant exceedingly difficult (impossible without help). This was in addition to having a pregnancy that ended seven weeks early (due to preeclampsia). In spite of my life circumstances pointing to a very loud ''No!'' regarding the question of having another child, for a very long time I would fantasize about either giving birth to or adopting another child. I wanted my daughter to have! a sibling and, in addition, I had never imagined myself having ''an only child''. With time, however, I have definitely come to accept my ''only child''. In fact, writing this response feels like a milestone. In my case this has sort of paralleled an acceptance of my physical condition (I still struggle with a major health issue). On a larger scale, though, I think it comes down to accepting yourself where you are, and how your life has really evolved, rather than continuing to try to impose a version of it that isn't real. My situation is made somewhat easier by the fact that my husband has no desire for an additional child, and my daughter, so far, seems quite content with having stuffed animals and dolls as siblings.
I was just thinking about writing a post like this myself! While I don't have anything enlightening to say, I do share some of your same feelings, especially the middle of the night would-I- really-want-to-go-through-this-again moments. I always expected to want to have two children and was quite surprised that I felt content with one (I am 39, my child is 4). People who make a choice to have only one child are looked upon as oddities, especially in the Bay Area. Go through the tunnel and everyone seems to have at least three children! And the perception seems to be that if you only have one, you should be able to ''do'' more (career, travel, ?) and that gets annoying because that's not the reality for any full-time parent. I hope that you fi! nd comfort in your decision. Fellow mom of one
I just wanted to encourage you to continue to listen to yourself and your strong feelings about this, and not be thrown into doubt about what you ''should'' be feeling about the prospect of another child. People should do what is right for themselves and their families, and there are a number of right ways to have a family, one child or two or even no children. I am sure you will hear from others who feel the same way you do, but wanted to let you know that even those who have made different choices about their own families should respect *your* choices in your own life. I do. sign me have more than one kid, but that's just me
I know how you feel. Everybody I know wants to have another child or has already two children. Before I had my daughter I was sure I wanted to ha! ve only one child. My husband agreed on that too. I have many reasons, which are : I don't have family near by to help me out, we live in a small 2 bed room house and can't afford a bigger house, but we love living in Albany, so moving to the boring suburbs is not an option, we like to travel but with 2 kids we couldn't afford it anymore, I don't like the stress of having two kids and child care is just too expensive. Well, I guess many people who read this probably think I am selfish. I love being a mom but I like being a mom to one child since this makes me happier. I don't want to have 2 or more children only because it's the norm. I guess I am just not the average but it's good to hear from some other moms who want to have one child only. You are not allone. Don't feel guilty about it. anon
I always wanted only one child. When I finally got pregnant (around the same time as you as I am also 41 and have a 3 year old), I rejoiced. It had taken 3 years to get pregnant. My son was born with a very complicated heart defect and had to go through several surgeries to fix. At times, my husband and I would think that we should have another child so that our son would have a sibling to help him out if he needed when we were gone. But the reality is that I just want one child, I feel that I couldn't go through the whole pregnancy, childbirth, and fear that something would go wrong. And our son has never yet expressed a desire to have a sibling, although most of our friends with children our having their second children. I am very comfortable with our decision now, and don't think that it will adversely affect my son.

P.S. My best friend is an only child, and she has a ton of friends and an incredibly active social life. anon


I am sure you will get lots of responses to this, and I hope so as I am in a similar situation. I am not yet 40, but I have a two year old daughter and restle with the choice of having another every day. I have many friends who are either pregnant again or have two kids. So it's always in my face. For health reasons, I have many cons against having another, but I too feel the desire to provide my daughter with a sibling, especially because my sister has been so instrumental in helping take care of my her. But my child is easy and I fear the second one wouldn't be! And at an older age, how could I deal with that? I also lost my parents when I was young, because they were older when they had me...(mom was 42, dad was 49) and don't wish to burden my child(ren) with that loss if I were to conceive late in life. So I have many reasons not to have the second one....I think it's comendable of you to realize what you want, or don't want, ! as the case may be....and truly unselfish of you. Having another is a huge amount of work, and everyone I know who has two, even though they may be enjoying it, are truly exhausted and have no life outside their families.(not that there is anyting wrong with that--if that's the goal) It sounds to me that you have considered all the possibilities and are only feeling pressure to have another because either that's what is expected are its what others want for you. Unless your husband is planning on being the primary caregiver of this second child (getting up in the night, staying home from work, etc.) it seems to me he needs to respect your feelings and/or decision....anyway, I hope this helped. Good luck. anon
To the person asking about having only one child. My husband and I decided (it took almost two years) not to have any other children.We went back and forth with having more or! not having more children, and we each felt differently at different times about the issue.We are most happy with our decision to have only one child. We struggled with all the issues you named and a few more. The having other siblings was a heavy decision since both of us have siblings and enjoy them very much.We spoke to friends who are only children to get their perspectives and to others who have siblings. In the end we decided that our gut instinct to have just one was fine and have not regretted our decision. We too are surrounded by people who want and have other children and have been able to handle it well because our decision to just have one was made slowly over time and with great thought. We made the decision that was right for our family. Our son is 5 years old and is happy and confident and will be fine.We are all doing well.Take your time making your decision and be honest with one another as t! o the reasons for why you think and want what you want. Do not compare yourself to others. If you have more children do so because it is right for you, otherwise the road will be all the harder. I feel like no matter which way we decide, more power to all of us for making the correct decision for our own lives. It is all the easier to support one another in this way. Good luck with your decision. An extremely happy mother of an only child

Coming to peace with one child

January 2003

It seems like everyone of our friends is pregnant again. After a difficult pregnancy and first year, we have decided not to have another child. Most of the time I am fine with this decision (there is a good chance that I wouldn't conceive anyway, health problems and age are only some of the factors here), but every now and then, it feels strange and scary. I am working on coming to terms with this tough decision and was hoping to hear some words of wisdom from parents with one child who have found peace with their decision, instead of regrets.


I am the mom of a nearly-three-year-old, and your post describes my situation exactly (including the uncertainty about being able to conceive again). So many pregnant women and new babies in our lives right now! I wish I had some advice, but all I can say at this moment is I hear you, and I'm looking forward to reading the responses. mom of an only child
I know how you feel! I'm in a situation very similar to the one you described and would be happy to share my experience with you in a more private forum. If you're interested, feel free to e- mail me. R.L
We decided a year ago not to try any more for a second child. We had many miscarriages and other sad experiences. In the end, it was just too painful and we wanted to focus on the joy of our living child. We have had many many discussions about whether this is the right decision for us. Every friend who gets pregnant reminds us of our decision and our grief over not having another child. At some moment in each discussion one of us says, ''are we reconsidering this decision?'' Each time we agree that we have not changed our minds and that this is part of our grieving and healing process. We would love to have a second child, but it is not worth the risk of introducing more pain and sadness into our family. Interestingly, we have also decided not to persue adoption. We started down that path before our child was born and know the kind of commitment it takes. We decided we did not want to distract ourselves from our child in the search of another. It is beginning to get easier, just now.

We are always looking for ways to have our child interact with other children, but in spite of our best efforts he spends a lot of time alone. I feel that in the end we all play the cards we are dealt. We will do our best and I know our child will also. We stay focused on what we are grateful for and allow our feelings to work their way through us. We have rebuilt the story of our future, this time with one child. We are oh so grateful. kj


It's really hard, isn't it? I recently made the decision to stop at one and it was a really hard decision--and was harder each time I saw a pregnant woman, or heard someone announce (so happily) that she was pregnant. But I'm slowly coming to peace with it.

I think my son will love being an only child. He gets all my attention now and we have a great time together. I really want to take him to Europe and doing that, and things like it, logistically and financially just seemed impossible with another child. I see other moms with two (especially single moms, like me) and I just don't see how I could stand the chaos, being pulled in two directions, how to play with the toddler while the baby is sleeping, etc. (Sure, there are plenty of situations that are harder as a single mom, but then, plenty of moms of 2 have to deal with the kids without the other partner there.)

My son is cherished by my family and without a sibling (or other parent), we still have a big family (with two big dogs and a cat!). I love that he will never lack for attention and love and I will never feel torn in two by having another child.

I have had my 'setbacks,' of course. I was at a friend's house just last weekend. She is a mom of two, and there was a book about being a brother on a table. I shed some tears over the fact that my son will never be a brother. But I really do think I made the best decision for our family. I hope you feel the same way. Take care. Jennie, a Single Mother by Choice


Dear Anon, after reading the archives on the subject (and they are eloquent) I just must say: go with your gut. Examine why you want or don't want another child. My daughter will be an only child-after going through the same soul searching you are going through now, we decided that we had enough on our plates in terms of career and family responsibilities to add to our family, and we are very much a peace with the decision, and try very hard not to spoil our little princess. Oddly, she has told us she does NOT want a brother or a sister (so maybe that's one less thing to feel guilty about)! For the record, I am the younger of 2-my sister is developmentally disabled and lives with me. wishing you the best on your journey- Lisa
I just read the website for the previous postings and wanted to present a different perspective: those of us with siblings that we wish we didn't have. My husband and I both have siblings we did not get along with growing up and have no relationship with as adults. We have nothing in common with our respective siblings and both of us experienced much pain and heartache growing up with these people.

As adults, you get to choose who you spend time with. Children are stuck with each other in a family unit. Neither of our parents dealt with the sibling issues very well, but looking back on it, I am really not sure what they could have done differently. Some people are going to be jealous no matter what a parent does and those same people tend to find favoritism toward others in every action.

So, I am here to say that if you feel one child is all you are prepared to handle, please do so comfortably. I truly believe that some of the issues in my family came about due to the stress of too many kids and resultant lack of resources. My husband and I have one wonderful child and neither one of us seriously considered having another mostly because we didn't want our child to experience the misery (and mental abuse) we experienced at the hands of our siblings. Incidentally, we both get along well with our parents, which is not true of either of our siblings. anon


We have only one child ( a 3 y/o now) and decided to have only for a variety of reasons: it was difficult to get pregnant; we are older and more tired; my husband especially did not want a 2nd because of the work load, which would have meant that I had to carry most of it (I wasn't willing to do that); and we have the most fabulous easy child, and we are completely happy with this child. The up side is that we can take those trips overseas; I have the patience for one (in my heart I think I would have become a harpy if we had two, having no time to myself - one child always needing something); we can devote our time to the one and still have time for our own interests. The down side is not having a sibling...the cousins nearby are at least 6 years older, grandparents are very old. Also, I don't know what I would do if something happened to our child - I would be completely and totally devastated - I don't know what others with one child think of this, but the 2nd is kind of like insurance that one child will be around if something happens to the other. But mainly, we love having one child because we got one of the best ones around! ;-) Anonymous
Please check out www.onlychild.com. It's a great website/magazine that covers all the positives of having one child. Jodi
I don't think being at peace with your decision means that you'll never feel regret. Part of coming to peace with it is accepting that you will feel some pain about it,some regret. That's reality. For various reasons I am in a similar situation--and even though I do at times painfully miss not having a second child (for my child's sake as well as mine), I don't question the decision. anon.
Hi, Although my partner and I are very happy with our one child and did not plan to have another one, I feel like there is a lot of pressure on us. My daughter is almost 3 and almost everyone asks if we're going to have another. And yes, so many parents at pre-school are pregnant and having more kids. It's hard not to feel something.

On the other hand I had an interesting experience. A friend of mine asked if we were going to try again. And when I said no for various reasons--some of which were age and how hard it was the first time--her reply was really positive. It turned out that when she was a child her parents tried desperately for years to have another child. And it made her feel like she just wasn't good enough for them. She said that if she had problems having a child that she would happily have one so as to never subject another child to that experience. Have your feelings and enjoy your child--we are all so lucky to have our children. AN


I'm sure this won't be a popular position, but I notice that all of the responses to coming to peace with one child are purely personal. The decision to have another child does not just affect the family which the child comes into; it affects the world. I believe that it's very important when considering this to look at the environmental and social implications of bringing another American consumer into the world. anon
I can empathize. I too had to come to peace with having one child and gave up on trying to have another. I had difficulty having one healthy child and underwent an abortion and intense infertility treatment until I finally gave birth to my wonderful and healthy child. I decided not to continue to try to have a second child for the following reasons: I must work to help support the family and my profession is very demanding. My husband is the type of guy who requires a lot of attention and easily feels neglected. He doesn't want to give up his dreams in order for me to realize mine. (Although, my husband is a loving father to our child.) I just thought under the circumstances, I could provide a great life for one child but that two would have half as much which is not great for the children. If I had a different husband and could afford to take more time off work, my decision would have been different. My great joy in life is my child and I had always wanted several children. I am sad to give up my dream. My attitude is this: Now my child has a better chance of achieving greatness than if he were one of many siblings. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an only child. I also do things and help integrate the children of friends and extended family into our lives as best I can, so that my child doesn't feel too ''only.'' Also, we have a great dog who is really into his people, so when my child laments about having other children, I say something to the effect that his cousins are brother's but they don't have a great dog who is such a good buddy (and they never will have a pet either) My son seems to have internalized this and is OK with it. My best to you. A mother who understands.
I have an only child who is 5 and I am happy having just one. Although age would certainly have been a factor had I decided to have another, this really was not the real reason my husband and I decided to have just one. Probably the main reason is that we felt that having more than one would be too stressful for us and would put a strain on our marriage, which is a good one! We can pretty much have the kind of lifestyle that we enjoy, and for us, it is easier to do that with one. Also, I am completely fulfilled having one child. Sometimes I have felt envious seeing some of my friends getting pregnant, but the feeling passes, and I know down in my heart that I am doing the right thing. Also, I have several friends and neighbors with only one child, so I feel like I'm not alone. Of course, there are times when I feel sorry that my son will not have a brother or sister (and he has asked me for one himself, which really pulls at my heartstrings). However, he is very social, and I do not worry about him making friends. In fact, one of his best friends is also an only child, and he is a few years older than mine. So, my son sort of looks at him as an older brother, and even says he loves this boy. This boy's father, in fact, was also an only child. The father says he remembers being happy as an only child and had lots of friends. In other words, he wasn't a ''lonely, only.''

Some of my friends who have 2 children complain about the sibling rivalry. I am glad I do not have to deal with this. Of course, the downside of having one child is that they need and want more of your attention since they don't have a sibling to play with.

There's no easy answer or perfect family situation. The main thing is do what you think is right for your family. And if you're happy, your child will be happy. When people ask me if I'm going to have more children, I say I'm happy with one. Yvonne


My son is 5 and we had trouble conceiving him, so we decided not to put ourselves through trying for a second. A good book that I found helpful is Bill McKibben's Maybe One- A Case for Smaller Families. The author had one child and was trying to decide whether to stop with one, due to concerns about over-population. However, he did not want his child to be damaged by being an only. SO he undertook to study the issue. The first couple of chapters are an extensive review of research on singletons and they carely refute the myths about onlies: spoiled, lonely, maladjusted, etc. They also trace the origin of these faulty perceptions. It was fascinating. The rest of the book I think is about overpopulation. I just read the first chapters and was so overwhelmingly relieved to read the research about onlies that I stopped there. It really helped me make peace with our decision. I also described it to some key people in our lives, so they would not project these ''only child'' sterotypes on my son. Other things that have helped: maintaining friendships for my son with another one-child family (so he doesn't see his situation as odd); cultivating lots of close sibling-type relationships with cousins and other kids; appreciating some life-style pluses like travelling more easily, less chaotic underlying stress in our home, less financial stress, more ability to bring him along to adult-type activities like going to a museum, lots of one-on-one time for good things like reading aloud together, etc. I still sometimes have baby-cravings (but so do some of my friends with 2, when the youngest has grown up a bit!). I also remind myself of how blessed we are to have our one (and how close we came to not having him at all). Hope that helps. peggy

Were you a single child?


Dec 2001

My husband and I are in the throes of trying to decide whether to have a second child. We have a wonderful, sweet almost-3-year-old daughter whom we love more than anything in the world, but we do feel very stressed and stretched, in terms of time, money, energy, etc. While we love being parents, we also both have very demanding careers (which we also enjoy). And we know that another child will make our lives more hectic, at least in the near future, but our daughter has no extended family her age, so we would very much like for her to have a sibling.

So with all of this, what we're trying to do is to figure out whether having another child would do more to add to the richness of our family's life or just to add to the stress. It would help if we could hear from adults who grew up as single children: did you (or do you now) feel deprived without siblings or did/does your single-child status feel like a way to have particular advantages (e.g., closeness to parents) that you wouldn't have had otherwise? What effects do you think it has had on your ability to make and sustain close relationships? Has being the only child in a family made it particularly difficult to deal with older parents and/or with the death of your parents? And finally, what about your own children -- would you raise another single child, or is it important to you to have more than one?

I know these are all big questions, but they are very important. Knowing more about the experience from the child's point of view will really help us with our decision. Thanks in advance for your help.


I am an only child and had an extended family around,so I wasn't lonely. I did on occasion wish for a sibling,but by the time I was a teenager,I was over it. Being an only child made be quite independent and able to entertain myself easily. We have an only and am not certain if we will have more in the future because of alot of reasons,money,time age,I just turned 38. My husband is 1 of 6 kids and there are alot of issues within large families as well(favoritism,jealousy,etc..) People often think our son has siblings because of his outgoing personality and flexible temperament. Really I think it depends on the child. He has a nice group of friends and keeps very busy. He is in kindergarten now. We also want to buy a house here in the bay area and it may be impossible to extend our family and buy a home too. He also attends private school and with having just 1 child we can maintain his lifestyle(soccer,art lessons etc) I think you should search your soul about the reasons you may have another,and make sure it isn't just to provide your child with a playmate. I bet she will be just fine as an only. Good luck!!
Hi, I was an only-child until I was nearly 10. I always wanted a little sister. I'd ask my parents over and over for one. My parents intended for me to be an only-child (they didn't tell me at the time) but suprise suprise along came my sister. I am now 33 and she is 23.

Because of this I really want us to have a second child (our little girl is now 19 months). In contrast, my husband is perfectly happy with our daughter and doesn't want to. His concerns are exactly what you described: time, money, exhaustion etc. (Oh, and then he adds, why should his little treasure share her parents with anyone? )

Truth be told, my head tells me that he is correct. He is an assistant professor at Cal and works tons of hours. I'm working full time while we save for a house. Any decent house we buy in the area will require at least 1.5 salaries. Child-care is incredibly expensive. Not to mention private schools. Activities. Vacations. College savings. Makes my head spin. However...I don't care! My heart reminds me of what it was like to grow up with an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Not to mention my "little sister" who is Godmother to my daughter. If my child doesn't have a sibling, this mean that her kids won't have this extended family (on her maternal side). And what happens when my husband and I are senior citizens and/or are ill? I remind my husband of the guilt he feels living 400 miles from his parents even though he has two sisters living near them. I wouldn't want my daughter to carry that burden alone.

Good luck with this! This is an ongoing debate at our home.


I am a single child. I'm in my early 30's, have a husband, and don't have children at the moment. My husband is also an only child. We plan to have one child, however I prefer having 2 children.

For me, I wish I had a sibling and feel I missed out on this experience...it would be nice to have someone to call a brother or sister, someone who understands how the family is and growing up together. I also feel like when there are parent/family issues, right now I am the only one who can really understand things and wish I had a sibling who knew what I was going through. It places a burden on the only child. In terms of making friends and maintaining closeness with friends, my friends are very important to me and I try my best to sustain friendships during the hectic pace we all have.

My husband and I feel that somehow being an only child prevented us from learning how to get along well and being comfortable with the opposite sex, and both of us didn't have boyfriends/girlfriends until after college. My father died less than 2 months ago, and right now I'm pretty much the only person in our immediate family that is helping my mom. It requires taking off a lot of time from work, getting through all the finances and paperwork with my mom, and it's hard doing it all by myself (w/my husband). I think if one can possibly manage it, people should have at least 2 children, not just one. For my situation (work, finances, housing, our ages), I will have to settle for one, but one is better than none.

One thing to note is my husband felt he wasn't deprived of anything by not having siblings. However, some of his actions today indicate he was quite spoiled by his parents, and when he does certain things today, it shows and now I am the one who has to deal with this and not his parents. If a couple has an only child, spoiling the child and always giving in won't benefit them in the future because it will only make the child harder to deal with when they are adults.


I'm guessing that the replies to this one are all over the map. This is a debate my wife and I had for a very long time before deciding to have a second. I'm an only, while my wife has seven siblings. My personal view is that there are very few negatives associated with being a singleton. I loved growing up secure in the knowledge that I was the center of my parents world, and I don't believe that had negative effects on my personality as an adult. (My wife might disagree!) For me, anyway, being an only child was wonderful.

Most of the adults I know well have experienced major drama associated with one or more of their siblings, and I know few who would describe an adult sibling as their closest friend. In addition, it's more difficult to be a good parent to two (or three, or four) rather than one. Obviously it's not impossible, and my wife and I are doing our best (we decided to have two), but it ain't easy. I love both of my children dearly, but I wonder to this day if we would have been better off only having one. On the other hand, my wife is convinced that the best thing we could have done was to have two; the boys are very close, and it is wonderful to watch them together; well, when they're not fighting, anyway. Thank goodness there's less of that now than there used to be.


Your posting struck several chords with me. I was raised as an only child (a daughter) by parents who are 40 and 45 years older than me. Throughout my life I have experienced deep feelings of isolation and a lack of family connections. I also had no cousins or other family members living nearby. I have had trouble making intimate and close connections with people throughout my life and have always been happier being alone. Perhaps it is my personality, but I also think that the lack of exposure to peers during my childhood reinforced whatever personality traits I may have had.

Before the age of 7 or so, I was very happy to be an only child. My parents tried to adopt a sibling when I was about 5 years old and I remember being very jealous of the little boy, who lived with us for a few months. I think my jealously of him in part played a role in my parents ultimately deciding not to adopt him. After the age of 7, however, I yearned deeply for a sibling and pestered by parents continuously about it. My poor parents -- at that point there was nothing they could do.

Throughout my childhood, my parents had a great deal of marital and financial difficulties. I remember often wishing I had a sibling with whom to share some of the experiences I was enduring as their child. In my adulthood, concerns about my parents' health and financial wellbeing have been constant sources of worry. Again, I wish I had a sibling with whom to consult and share some of the responsibility.

As an adult and a parent of one child myself, I am sorry that I have no aunts, uncles or cousins to offer my child. My husband has several siblings who live in different parts of the country, so my child has no close relatives nearby. As a result of my experiences, I am very committed to having a second child soon (I want my children to be no more than 3 years apart). My husband and I too have busy careers and limited time and financial resources, but I think having a second (or even third!) child is something that's very important for us to give to our child. Sibling relationships, after all, do last a lifetime, whereas parental relationships do not.

Having said all that, I know that there is no guarantee that siblings will be close. My husband, for example, is not close to any of his siblings, but I think that fact may have to do with the vast age differences (10+ years) between the siblings. In any event, I think what's important to keep in mind is that in having 2 or more children, you are creating a family with uncles, aunts, in-laws, cousins, etc., even if your children are not close.


I am an adult who grew up as an only child. I now have a child of my own and am planning on having more because I mostly hated being an only child. I must acknowledge that there are advantages: I was very precocious and comfortable with adults because my parents took me everywhere with them. We did a lot of traveling around the world because packing up one kid and bringing them along is not as big of a deal as it is with more kids. I am also extremely close with my family, since it was just the three of us. My parents had more money, time, and attention for me, which was mostly a good thing, but sometimes felt very smothering. Often being an only child was lonely. I don't feel as if I got to be a kid as much as friends with siblings did. At my house, my parents and I read and played board games and watched movies. At my friends houses, they and their siblings built forts and put on plays and dressed up in their parent's funny clothes.

I begged for a brother or sister for years when I was young, but it actually wasn't until I got older that I really felt the loss of not having a sibling. I feel a little bit robbed that I will never know what it feels like to have a sibling, or a niece or nephew, or to be an aunt, or somebody's sister. My father died of cancer this summer and I felt the loss so profoundly, and it seemed like there was no one to relate to about his death. Other family members felt differently because he was something different to them than he was to me. My friend told me that when her mom died, her brother was the only thing that got her through it, because he had lost the same mom too.

The other things to consider are your personality and your child's personality. My mom always says that she couldn't concentrate on more than one kid and that I was enough of a handful that she didn't want to try. I think that's a chicken or the egg argument, because it's possible I was such a handful due to being an only child. Only children get stereotyped as brats, and we aren't all, but you do have do be more mindful of those kinds of things when one child is getting all of the focus.


For what it is worth on the topic of being a single child: I'm not a single child (one brother) but BOTH my parents are. While they chose to have two kids, I don't think they ever had any social issues from being a single child. They are two of the most happily married, social people I know.

Don't underestimate the impact a second child will have in your family. While many people think the first child is the one that really changes your lifestyle, my experience was that I had more trouble going from one child to two children than from none to one. Maybe it isn't common, but #2 was quite hard for me. (Colic, ear infections and sleep issues in #2 were big contributors!)


As an only child, I always felt very lonely as a kid wishing I had siblings to play with and more excitement/activity going on around the house. I always liked going over friends houses with siblings because of the energy in these homes.

On the other hand, as an only child, I became a very independent adult and quite comfortable being by myself.

I don't think my relationship with my parents would have been any different with or without siblings.

I don't think it's effected my ability to make close relationships, although I am sensitive perhaps due to not going through the sibling rivalry experience (it seems to perhaps give you tougher skin)

As an only child, alot of energy is focused on me from my parents because they have no other children to focus on. This can be good or bad depending if the focus is positive or negative. And the weight of parents' declining health will be all my responsibility since there are no siblings to share with yet his hasn't occurred yet.

I have one child and definitely would like to have a couple more.


I am a single child. I hope you hear from lots of different people, because depending on relationship with parents, community, family and a host of other things, you will get very different answers. For me, I did feel deprived not having any siblings. When I was young, I wasn't so concious of feeling deprived, but it was more feelings of wishing there were kids around on family vacations and outings. Later, in college, I was more concious of the disadvantages. For the first time living with other people (in the dorms) I realized lots of the skills that I hadn't learned. That's not to say that only children never learn these skills, but for me, not living with anyone near my own age definitely contributed to my not learning them. I'm not particularly close to my parents, though at 39, this is changing some. However, I think this had more to do with my particular parents than with being an only child. The connection is that I had no one with whom to figure out how to deal with unreasonable rules and there was no one to share attention with when the spot light of attention was too much. An advantange was that I was able to attend a small liberal arts college, which my parents probably could not have afforded if I had more siblings. On the other hand, I probably would've been eligible for more financial aid then and in my book, this in and of itself is not a reason to only have one child. Making and sustaining relationships has been a lot of work for me, but I do it. My spouse, from a very large family has a harder time at this than I do. It would certainly be easier I think to deal with a parent's aging with a sibling. I do feel a lot of responsibility and this can feel overwhelming. On the other hand, I've heard stories about siblings who disagree about care for a parent-- stresses I haven't had to deal with. I would not raise a single child; it's always been important to me to have more than one. That's just my experience. I do think there are ways to form community that help children get some of what siblings get from each other. I didn't get that though. Good luck with your decision.
As the parent of an single adopted child (from Russia), I too struggled with the problem of him being an only child. We decided to stop at one because, living in Oakland, we felt that it was the choice between private school or a second child. We chose private school. Our son is 8 years old now and fortunately he does have cousins close in age, although 3000 miles away. We make sure to get together in each other's home or on camping/resort vacations every year, at Christmas and in the summer for at least two weeks a year. One cousin (boy) is only two weeks younger and they are like twins together (in the closeness of their relationship). They will be going to sleepaway camp together for three weeks next summer for the first time.

So, although, it is expensive in time and money, we have made a commitment to building life long relationships with his cousins, some important shared memories, so that they can talk in the future about their youth and their experiences with their related but different parents. My generation had their children in their late 30s and 40s so I am well aware that my son will have no immediate relatives (adopted or birth) by the time he is my age, and that does seem very lonely indeed. Christine


Yikes, so many people saying how much they disliked being an only. Well it looks like we will be having an only, though not by choice, and I would really like to hear from more people who feel good about it! What did your parents do that you feel helped? Things we are doing with our son are trying to cultivate life long relationships with close friends and cousins and trying not to spoil our child. Also there are so many more single children now, especially here in the Bay Area that I wonder if onlies don't feel that sense of difference or missing out as much as they used to when it was more uncommon.
I am a single child and loved it. I never regretted not having a brother or sister and I was not spoiled. After reading the replies, maybe part of my happiness comes from the fact that my parents are in a happy marriage and I loved watching their happiness, not knowing about their financial struggles. When I was a teenager, I briefly regretted not having an older brother who could bring potential boyfriends of mine right into my house. That would have been sooo convenient! I enjoyed how calm and reliable my parents were, never a broken promise, always being listened too, not being rushed or pushed around by anyone, privacy when I wanted it and playdates when I asked for them. My harmonious and solid childhood is my strongest backbone. I remember feeling sorry for two elementary school friends of mine, whose mothers were always in a rush, speaking too fast and occasionally too harsh buried in tons of timelines and responsibilities. I have always liked how simple, calm, and focused we were living as a small family. I turned out quite social, and take good care of my friendships. A closer look would reveal that I established a "chosen sister" in my life for the past 13 years and a "chosen uncle" for the past 15 years and a "chosen grandma" for the past 14 years. My parents live on the other side of the globe and I am still close to them. They would not want me to relocate if one of them dies, just attend the funeral. We talk about things in detail before they happen, so we know our course of action we agreed upon. My husband and I will definitely not have a second child. He is from a family of seven and hated it. The only time nobody was screaming or crying in his family was on Christmas Day. Given the economic pressures of living in the wonderful Bay Area, one child is it for us, especially since we have no relatives here. It is a pleasure being able to pay close attention to the development of our only child. We are both very playful (beyond board games and movies) and enjoy the time we spend together as a family. We love to have playdates over, who are excited about all the arts & crafts supplies we have. Other parents have commented on how nice it is that we can have all age appropriate supplies readily available, whereas they have to store everything away from younger siblings. I wouldn't want to trade with them. We can have a relaxed meal with conversation as a family at a restaurant of our choice, because our daughter loves these outings and I'll take her preferred food and supplies along. I'd have to pack a small suitcase if I had two kids. My child is free to go where she wants to as an adult. I didn't put a child in this world to take care of me when I'm old. My goal is to raise a human being who knows how to generate her own happiness and experiences the freedom of choice, she is not my investment for old age. Just loving her and being loved is the gift - day by day. Holidays and extended family? We always invite our close friends and wonderful neighbors, and that may be more harmonius and fun than someone elses extended family members.
Hi, This is in response to the couple contemplating whether or not to have another child. I have often wondered what it would be like to have a brother or sister. Then, it hits me...I do have brothers and sisters--my best friends!! I think that growing up by myself has made me a very extroverted person. I am confident in myself and very independent. I am quick to turn boredom and loneliness into creativity and excitement. I think this is a good skill to have! I have noticed, however that I prefer to work by myself and am not so keen on group work. This is not to say that I don't know how to get along with other people, however, it's just my preference.

I am also very close to my parents. More so it seems to me than friends of mine with brothers and sisters. My parents today are like my best friends and advisors. This is a wonderful relationship to have and I feel very lucky.

It seems to me from reading your posting that the idea of having another child is more of a stress than a desire. My advice to you is to just relax and enjoy the family you have already. Your child will grow up to be a wonderful person thanks to your nurturing and will find others to be "brother" and "sister" through life's course.

Sincerely, a content only child


I am an only child who was determined to have two children. Although only children can be more self-reliant, I think they can also be more insular when relating to other people. As a 51 year old adult without many close relatives, my only real family is the one that lives at home with me. My wife and I raised two children, but one passed away a few months ago at the age of 11. He and our 16 year old daughter fought constantly, yelled at each other, got into each other's faces, and threatened each other day and night. We have spoiled our daughter since our son's death, to help compensate for all that she lost during his 11 years of constant life threatening illness. Yet she is clear that she would take him back in a minute if she could, compared to being the only child that she now is again. She is also more mature in many ways because of how she had to relate to a younger sibling.

Yes, raising two is hectic in a two career family, but my wife, my daughter and I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything. Mike


Regarding whether to have only one child, I just want to say that I have never really gotten along with my sister (who is four years younger than I) and this has seriously affected my desire to have a second child. My sister and I couldn't be more different and we have never been friends. Our parents are both gone now and I feel like we should have become closer because of this, but we haven't. She is simply someone I would not choose to be friends with. My father always told us, ''You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your relatives.'' We may go for a second child, but I am in constant fear that if we do our children will turn out to not like each other, not get along, etc. just like it is with my sister and me. And of course, I know there is nothing anybody can do about that, but it is still a constant concern of mine.
First, let me say that I am sure there are many only children who are fantastic parents! But, having been raised by an only child (mother), I am not basing this on personal experience. Both my mother and my husband's mother were only children as was one of my best friend's mother. This friend also happened to be a psychologist and we talked about our mothers quite a bit. Lisa's theory was that only children can't really have a relationship with more than one or two people at a time - hence all three of our families suffered as these only daughters went on to have more than one child.

My mom wanted and expected a walking and talking doll. Unfortunately, that isn't what she got when she adopted me (her first child). She had no idea what it was like to raise kids or even be a child with another child as she had little experience of this herself. When my sister and I fought, she was completely overwhelmed. All she could say was that she always wanted a sister and couldn't understand why we fought.

Having kids is challenging period! One thing I would like to add is that when I had my second daugther, I was keenly aware that immediately (like as we came home from the hospital) we went from being a threesome to being a family. I actually felt closer to my husband than I had since the birth of our first child. We became a couple again; a couple with two kids. Plus, my relationship with each of my children is so amazingly unique it is hard to imagine without experiencing it.

It is a huge decision and I applaud you for thinking of the effect is has on your child. If you do decide to have one child (a very understandable decision), I encourage you to find ways to let you kid be a kid and not a short adult. Make sure those difficult friends do come over, spend lots of time with cousins, share yourself with others in front of your child as much as possible, talk about your experience of being in a family whatever the make up.

Best of luck on your journey Terry


I have resisted responding to this thread because I felt I had too much to say on the topic but I finally can't resist anymore.

First my background: I am the only child of my two parents, but have half and step siblings from my parents' previous and subsequent marriages. My half siblings are between 10 and 16 years older than me and never lived with me, and my step siblings arrived on the scene when I was 11 and lived with me two days a week. I spent most of my childhood as the only child in the house, but as I grew older I grew close to both my steps and halves. I wouldn't trade my relationship with them for anything, but I have no qualms about my son being an only child.

I should say at the outset that I never, not even once, during my childhood wished to have siblings. It just wasn't something I thought about, not even when I was given the gift of three step-siblings at age 11. It was fun to have them around on the days they lived at our house, but I didn't feel that they filled some kind of unmet yearning. I never remember being lonely, both because I had many friends and because I grew up to be quite self-reliant. I can say that I have never been bored with my own company, and while I think some of that is simply temperment, it's also that as an only child I learned to create a fulfilling inner life for myself. I am also social and outgoing, like group activities, have many friends, know how to share, etc. Generalizations to the contrary made in previous postings seem utterly spurious to me. There is no single ingredient that determines what a person is going to be like -- it depends on the person, and on the family.

Which brings me to my main point. I think that as parents we're fooling ourselves if we think we can create the perfect family environment and thus the perfect human being if we only make all the right decisions. The sooner we realize how much is out of our hands, the better off we'll be Shit happens. You can plan to have more than one kid, and not be able to get pregnant. You can plan to have an only child, and get pregnant accidentally. I have friend who was an only child, and decided to have a second kid because he resented not being able to share the burden of caring for his elderly parents. Both children are now in their thirties and it turns out the second child is a total flake who isn't particularly interested in his parents. It's going to be up to the first kid anyway. There's no predicting it. I know people whose two children love each other and are best pals, and people whose children fight constantly. I know adults who are close with their siblings and adults who feel they have nothing in common with their siblings. I know adults who are resentful that they are only children, and adults who feel that their parents ruined their childhood by bringing another kid into the picture. I know only children who are spoiled rotten, and ones who are delightful.

My point is: there's no one right answer, and no way to predict what your child will resent you for. Chances are, it's going to be something you never even considered. My mother has a long list of things she feels guilty about doing as a parent, and not one of them is on my list of things I feel resentful about. Most I don't even remember. I think it's easy to seize on the number of kids in your family as a reason for your problems ("I was the oldest, so I always had to be responsible," "I was the youngest, so no one paid attention to me," "I was in the middle, so I always had to be the mediator," "I was an only child, so I was lonely"). But really, it's not the circumstances, it's the way they were handled that count.

Ever choice has its pitfalls. As the parent of a child who is probably going to be an only, I feel I have to make sure not to treat him as a little adult, and make sure that his father and I aren't so involved in his life that it's hard for him to separate from us, and make sure that there are lots of children in his life. If I were to have another child, there would be other things to work on: not favoring one child over another, making sure that my expectations for each were based on who they are and not on my experience with the other. I'm sure there are many more.

Ultimately, having a child, whether it's your first or your fourteenth, is a selfish decision. We have them, hopefully, because we want them, and our desire to be with them overrides what we know about how much work they are, how expensive, etc. The planet certainly does not need any more children, and children the world over have grown up to be happy and well adjusted with far more challenges than being an only child.

All of us want to believe we've made the right choice, but that doesn't mean that our choice is THE right choice, it's only A right choice. So let's cut ourselves some slack and try to make the decisions that make the whole family happy. Children whose parents are obsessed with creating the perfect life for them are the ones who are going to end up with the biggest resentments and the most disappointments. The rest will adjust, adapt, and ultimately do just fine.


Regarding the only child issue that was discussed before winter break, I found it very disconcerting that everyone (seemed as if) who wrote in had sadness or a feeling of lacking around being an only child. Please for those of us who, for one reason or another, have an only child, could people write in about their positive experiences around being an only child. I am feeling as if we have made a terrible mistake and am needing to hear some other views by those of you who were raised as an only child. Anonymous please.
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