I have one child. Yes, that’s right, I am a parent to an Only. I have been judged for having ‘just’ one, told that she will be selfish and spoiled, and constantly asked why I do not have more children. And frankly, I’m upset.
But aren’t we all?!
Regardless of how many children you have, there is always someone who is going to be unhappy with that number. Like they have a say it how many lives you bring into the world. They will make you feel like you need to defend your decision. We need to remember that it is our decision, our spouses and ourselves, no one else.
Let’s look at all the ways someone will criticize our number of children:
The Only Child
As I have stated, I have one child; a beautiful daughter who is my world. She is headed into teen-hood in less than two years. She is amazing, kind, compassionate, loving… all around awesome!
But, I have heard it all:
- “Only children are spoiled” – This is very true with my husband who is an Only, but not with my mother who is an Only. My daughter has two parents, and while my husband has no siblings, I grew up the youngest of two. I was taught that we had to work for what we wanted and in some cases what we needed. I passed this knowledge on to my daughter, so no, my daughter is not spoiled.
- “Why don’t you try for another?!” – It would be nice if people stopped asking this question. No one knows the back story. For many it is infertility that leaves them the parent of an Only. For me, it is my mental health. As a long time sufferer of Depression and Anxiety, it is better if I do not have more children. Another factor could be financial. Or, alas, maybe the couple just wanted one!
- “They will be all alone when you die.” – I did think about this one for a long time and then I realized that most likely my daughter will be in a loving relationship with children of her own. She has her cousins and friends. No, she will not be alone when my husband and I leave this planet. She is loved by many.
- “Only children are socially awkward.” – Aren’t we all a bit socially awkward?! My daughter has been in a daycare/school setting since she was three months old. She was socially ready for kindergarten way before she actually started. Just because she has no siblings to socialize with does not mean she will never be social. That is something us as parents can help with by seeking out play groups, preschool, etc.
The Duet (Two Children)
To me, two children seemed like the ideal number. You have a boy and a girl, everything is perfect… but is it?
- “You need to try for a boy (or girl)!” – Say you have two children of the same sex. Naturally someone is going to tell you that you have to have another child for a chance at the opposite sex. But what if you have a third and it is the same sex as the other two? What then? Try once more?
If you answer that you are just fine with your two children, naturally the negative comments do not end. Several local moms told me what they have heard:
- “Ugh, boys! How do you do it?!” – Abby, mom of 2 boys
- “All girls! Poor Dad! And good luck in the teen years!” – Aarika, mom of 2 girls
- “Are you going to have a third or are you ‘one and done’?” – Kate M., mom of boy/girl twins
- “You’ll regret not having another.” – Hilary, mom of a boy and a girl
The Team (3 or more)
Of course once you hit three children the question of having another doesn’t end. Why not 4? Or 5? Or 20? Having three children used to be the ideal number for me, pre-mental breaks. I was one of three and did not have the best relationship with my siblings but desired that for my own children. Not that it was a guarantee or anything. For friends of mine that have three or more I have heard the following (and may be guilty myself of saying a couple of these in the past):
- “You need to try for one more, you may get that boy/girl you always wanted!” – Parents of three kids with the same sex, there is not need to listen to this. As said above with parents of two, there is no guarantee that a fourth child will come out being a different sex. I have friends with four girls. It is what it is unless you have the money to actually pick the sex of your child. It is in the hands of genetics (well the sperm and the egg).
- “Wow, you sure got your hands full! I could never have that many kids!” – Please, state the obvious. I am an avid watcher of Outdaughtered on TLC where you are brought into the lives of Danielle & Adam Busby, their daughter Blayke and their quintuplet three year old girls. How many times do you think they heard this?! It is hard. I stare in awe at them because I know I would never, ever, ever be able to do what they do. But then it got me thinking, if I was in their position, trying to give my oldest child a sibling and got pregnant with five, what would I have done? The answer would be the same as theirs. I would have six kids.
- “Are you going to start your own baseball team?” – Just no, stop right there.
I am not sure when people thought they had the right to weigh in on the amount of children you have. Unless they have a part in creating your child(ren) then they really should keep their lips closed. Instead of relaying the thoughts above, maybe we can all start being there for each other and helping other moms regardless of how many children they have. Having one child doesn’t make you less of a mother than having five. You are still a mom, struggling to keep it all together while loving the child(ren) you have.