only child stigma

I have Google alerts on a few topics. It helps me find information that I write about on my blog. One alert is “only child”.  I found two articles that evoked strong emotions in me and I had to address them.

First let me begin with…

My decision to raise Dinosaur as an only was based on infertility and financial issues. It took me a long time to terms with this. It wasn’t until I spoke to a cousin on my hubby’s side of the family. She is a single mom who used a donor to become pregnant and have a beautiful daughter. She is confident in her decision to raise an only. She explained that she did not want to spend more money trying to have another child when that money could go towards her daughter. Her words got through to me and helped me come to terms with being a family of three. Before that moment I was not satisfied or was holding out for more and not able to see what I ALREADY had.

We struggled with infertility for six years, there were mornings I wish I hadn’t woken up, because the pain and loss was unbearable. Our marriage was suffering because of it, but then it was put to the test even more with IVF. I kept it a secret form EVERYONE except my two dear friends. They would only give me the most positive and the most positive and diva-like support. Besides too many people knowing would only add more pressure and stress. Mixing hormones, injecting myself, and having hubby inject me was already crazy enough, but having everyone ask about it…NO WAY.

I am very proud of our decision to do IVF and bring our child into the world. I am confident I would not be a happy person nor would our marriage have survived if I couldn’t be a mother. As much as I hated to play God, I knew I would have died inside without my miracle child. I know IVF is often a subject up for moral debate, but I am bringing it up to explain how we were able to become parents. IVF was our only option. I would NOT have survived the adoption process or the money we would need to spend on it. Hubby’s health care paid 90% of the cost for two IVFs.

Even if we had the money to try again (that ten percent and the cost of another baby) I don’t know if I could handle knowing this was our last shot. If this didn’t work we could NEVER try again. If it didn’t work it could break me. Then there is the chance I could develop preeclampsia again and go through another NICU trauma. I couldn’t handle that again.

So when I look at Dinosaur and see what a happy guy he is, it gives me peaces to know it will be okay. He doesn’t need siblings to be happy, he just needs a loving home. Besides for every adult who is unhappy about being an only child, there is another adult that does not talk to their five siblings. While blood connections are important, family is more than just blood, it is community, friends, and faith.
My son is NOT spoiled, well he is spoiled with love and family. I will never spoil him with objects that he won’t remember when he an adult. Movies, expensive toys, name-brand clothes and shoes, or jewelry won’t replace our family’s love. He won’t look back on life and reminiscence about all his cool toys, but he will remember the wonderful moments he shared with us.

We have this “only,” this quaking bias against households with one kid, and I know it comes from deep in our genetic guts as organically fashioned baby-makers, and I understand that people say “Oh, just one?” when they just want to say Children = Joy

In response to the author, I feel for you. I wonder if one day my son will ask why he is an only. I will respond with the truth, that life did not work out the way I had planned it to, but God blessed us with you. There are many families being forced to have only one child for a multitude of reasons. I hope and pray they can find the peace in their child that we have. Though, I do have my emotional moments. When I see a pregnant mom or a newborn, I wish I could enjoy those wonderful moments again. I don’t want to have another child to make others’ happy. I don’t want to have another child for a playmate for my son. I don’t want to have another child just so I don’t have to hear parents make remarks that I have it easier being a parent to an only.  Parents of two plus kids, good for you, your family works for you and that is great. My family works for me and that is okay too. My son will only see being an only child a bad thing IF society tells him it’s bad, I am teaching him tolerance and acceptance of others. This stigma is created by people who have nothing better to do than judge others and probably the same people who conducted the study below.

“Scientists have pinpointed a potential risk factor for overweight and obesity early in life — and it has to do with how many siblings a child has.”  

In response to the article on only children having more obesity…Well my hubby and I each have one sibling and we are chunky. I know MANY adults who are overweight and have more than one sibling. I know MANY only children who are fit and healthy. Being an only has NOTHING to do with it with weight and health. It really is sad when money is wasted on studies like this that only cause parents more worry and grief.

Just to note…the article said that only children come from less educated homes, have TVs in every room, hardly played outside, AND the study was done in Europe. I am a highly educated, professional, my husband is quite smart, and my son is always running around and getting exercise. I know families with more than two kids who have TVs, iPads, iPods, and wii’s in EVERY ROOM, but it’s just the only children that are the overweight ones, right?

I normally ignore articles about this, but my heart wanted me to respond and write and I am glad I did.

How many children do you have? Do you wish you could have more or are you happy with the number? Do you think number of kids really affects obesity?

16 responses to “only child stigma

  1. I love this article. As an only child, I often wondered why my mom did not have more. I wanted someone to play with. She told me that God had a plan and he knew I was more than enough for her.

    I never thought I was going to have only one child. I didn’t want my child to feel lonely. Looking back, I was never lonely. I grew up with my cousin’s. We saw each other everyday and my cousin Keya is only 5 months older than me and her mom and my mom were not only sisters, but best friends. So I believe that had my son Max been an only child, he would have been just fine. I am a big kid anyway.

    We are not in a financial position for more children. When Max was 2, my husband and were coming to terms with Max being an only child. It was for the better. We could provide for him. However, fate had another plan. I thank God for Allyson, but it was a real financial upset, even more than we already had. But thank God hubs has found a job and is now working.

    And like I mentioned, I am an only child. I am obese. However, I think it is more to do with my family and our bad habits with eating than it has to do with being 1 child. My cousin is 1 of 4 and is “fluffy” 🙂

    • Hey babe, thanks so much for commenting. I had no idea that Max was intended to be an only and Allyson is a beautiful surprise. I know it’s hard financially, but then God gave you and your hubby the means to make it work out.

      Thank you for sharing your story (HUGS)

      I normally ignore articles, but this one really got to me.

  2. As a member of the media, I can tell you editors love nothing more than to put out stories to fuel insecurities and worries. Your son is loved and adored and wanted. So many children, whether born as onlys or manys, are unwanted. The fact you had to work so hard for him proves he is unspoiled because you appreciate him. And if you ever really want another child, for you, and if it’s financially doable, you can always adopt. Families grow and change–there are no rules.

  3. I totally hear you on this one. I have an only child, and after the debilitating postpartum depression, I will most likely always only have one child. (I just can’t see myself putting my son through that as it was crazy hard enough for myself, my husband, and a newborn who’s little eyes couldn’t focus on all those tears yet) People tell me all the time that I “need” to have more kids or ask, not if, but when I will conceive again. I want to look at them and scream sometimes. My child is ENOUGH. He does not NEED siblings to validate him. He has cousins, he has friends, he has parents who love him so back off. Telling me that I must have more is basically like saying we are not good enough as we are. Don’t judge me!

    Whew. Sorry. End Rant.

    Hugs! Emily

    • ((HUGS)) I can’t imagine how hard that was to deal with, and you are right you would have an infant and a toddler to take care of. That’s how I feel, I don’t want to take anything away from Anthony.

      I normally ignore these articles but one touched me and the other angered me.

  4. I think studies like this are imprecise and just plain silly. Some people have 1 child, some people have 10. That doesn’t say anything about them except for how many kids they have. Who knows the reasons, there are just too many different things that influence the amount of kids a family has.

  5. I am so glad you wrote this piece. You should own your reality whatever way that is. 🙂 I have 2 children, but spent quite some time getting to the place where I decided to have a 2nd child. And had I never gotten there, I would have been completely happy with one. It is such a personal decision, and I always wonder why people feel like they have the right to question it.

    • yeah, people love to judge each other to make their decisions feel better. I am happy with our family and just wish studies would be more accurate.

  6. Oh for goodness sake. Enough with the mommy wars people. I hadn’t heard of this version – we’re now judging each other based on how fertile we are? REEEEE-DONK-U-LUS. Karen, I’m thrilled that you are raising an only. I think God know that some children need to be only chidren, and he puts them where they can have the undivided attention of their parents. You were created to be Dino’s mommy. Why would I have any reason to judge that. It’s what God wanted. Me? I have two boys. I had two high risk pregnancies… back to back… at the advice of my doctor, we tied the tubes when the 2nd was born. They are all I can handle. My friend who is just had baby girl #3 and is already planning for #4 (and who knows how many more) – she is a beautiful mom to those girls. Again, how can I judge who God has called HER to be.

    I’m appalled that the mommy wars are judging this. And on behalf of silly women everywhere, I’m sorry.

    • (HUGS) yes, that is true. God knew just what our Anthony needed and gave him the family that would provide that. I am sorry about your high risk pregnancies, but so happy that you have two beautiful boys.

      It took our situation for me to understand my limits and love our family. If everyone did that, what a wonderful world we would have.

      You always have such insightful and spiritual advice.

  7. We made the decission to have only one also. For many reasons. And we are so happy with her and the life we have been able to provide for her. Nice post

  8. This is totally enlightening. I think that a persons decision on how many children they are going to have is strictly their own… I have four, I’m way glad I have that many and wouldn’t honestly do it any differently, in fact I still want more, though it’s hard to do alone. You’re doing a great job, and sometimes with things like this we just have to have Faith that there’s a reason.

    • yes, it took me a long time, but I do beleive that God wanted me to have an only child. I am happy with our family and know we all just right for each other. I love seeing big families though, and marvel at how amazing they all work. Each family is perfect for themselves.

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