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Guest Post: Mothers With One Child Are Happiest (and a Giveaway!)

Today’s guest post comes from Dr. Susan Newman and discusses the support for choosing to have just one child in the modern family. Dr. Newman has written a book on the same topic, and she is giving away a copy of it to one lucky ScienceofMom reader. See below the post to enter the giveaway. I’m looking forward to some good discussion on this one!

Mothers With One Child Are Happiest

Resisting the temptation and pressure to have more children

by Susan Newman, Ph.D.

Having an only child is desirable from a wide range of viewpoints and practicalities, but that doesn’t make decisions about family size any easier. Going from one child to two (or two to three or more) is a dilemma single parents and couples wrestle with, sometimes for years.

The mother of a three-year-old child talked to me about whether or not she really wants a second child. She is not an isolated case of men and women who are asking the same question.

The husband of an almost 40 year-old wants to give their five-year-old a sibling. His wife doesn’t. She told me that she has weakened and agreed to see a fertility specialist, but isn’t sure she can cope with another child or fertility treatments.

A friend, age 34, has been teetering on the second baby fence for four years, but her resolve is being undone by pressure from her family to have another. She hesitates knowing her job (and promotions) will be in jeopardy if she takes another maternity leave.

Although each situation is unique, the profound confusion surrounding the question of having more children is similar. Some people begin with a very practical approach and ask themselves questions like these: What will we give up in time, money, freedom, intimacy, and job advancement with another child in the household? How thin will we be able to stretch our financial resources?

Many decisions we make appear to be rational ones: where to vacation; what to wear; how much to exercise, what car to buy. We weigh the pluses and minuses and make a choice or so we believe. But, there’s more going on that affects choice. “When someone makes a decision, the brain is awash in feeling, driven by its inexplicable passions. Even when a person tries to be reasonable and restrained, these emotional impulses secretly influence judgment,” writes Jonah Lehrer in his book, How We Decide.

Nowhere is the emotional component more evident that when deciding whether or not to bring another baby into the world. A good portion of logic and practicality goes out the window. Whether conscious or not, feelings about how you were parented, how you related to your siblings, what friends are doing (and saying), the media portrayal of family, your career or job, the stability of your marriage, and your dreams get factored into this private debate.

Support for Stopping at One

You may be very clear, even emphatic, about how many children you want…or don’t want. You are positive you want two children; there’s no shaking your confidence until you experience parenting one child. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so easy to welcome another. On the emotional side, you wonder how another child will affect the relationship with the child you have. But then, too often you hear, “He needs a brother or sister.” You begin to waffle.

Before finalizing your decision, consider this stunning support for stopping at one. Hans-Peter Kohler, sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, found that people with children are happier-happier than those without children. The Pew Research Center framed it this way, “As a source of adult happiness and fulfillment, children occupy a pedestal matched only by spouses and situated well above that of jobs, career, friends, hobbies and other relatives.”

But, Kohler also discovered that second and third children don’t increase parents’ happiness. His study of 35,000 adult identical twins in Denmark showed that more children make mothers less happy. On the other hand, “additional children beyond the first child have no effect for males [in relation to happiness].”

We know intuitively that children add strain in most marriages. Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard, reviewed studies on martial satisfaction and reported in his book, Stumbling on Happiness, that marital satisfaction improves once the last child leaves home.

Given the stresses of modern marriage, job pressures, the cost of raising children, and Kohler’s happiness findings, the increase in one-child families is understandable. Yet so many people have more children. How did you decide to add to your family? Or, to stop after your first child?

Author Bio: Susan Newman, Ph.D., is a social psychologist who specializes in issues affecting family life. She is the author of 15 books, most in the parenting and family relationships fields, and taught at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She blogs for Psychology Today magazine about parenting and related topics.

For more, see: The Case for the Only Child: Your Essential Guide
Follow Susan’s Psychology Today blog, Singletons
Visit Susan’s website: http://www.susannewmanphd.com

Dr. Newman is graciously giving away a copy of her book to one lucky ScienceofMom reader! If you are considering whether to have a second child or have already decided to stop at one, you’ll definitely be interested in this book. We’ll draw the winner one week from today, on Monday, March 19. Sorry, entries are limited to readers from the U.S. and Canada – but please share your thoughts regardless!

To enter, just leave a comment below, answering the following question: What is your ideal family size and why?

For an extra entry, Tweet about the giveaway and then leave a comment here letting us know that you did.

57 Comments
  1. Katherine #

    We’re waffling between staying with one child and having a second. The biggest concern I have with just having one is that they are alone to deal with the tough stuff when my husband and I are older. I couldn’t have dealt with my mom having terminal cancer without my sister to lean on, and I wouldn’t want my daughter to have to go through that by herself either.

    Like

    March 12, 2012
  2. Katherine, You raise one of the main concerns parents have when trying to decide to have a second child. The concern is discussed in a chapter in The Case for the Only Child. Parents fantasize that their children will rally ’round to help them as they age and that offspring will support each other peacefully. While this happens in some families, it is just as likely they won’t. In many families, one child carries “the load” or siblings disagree on what parents need or who and how to take care of them..

    Like

    March 12, 2012
    • Katherine #

      I guess I’m just spoiled in that my sister is also a good friend, so that colors my viewpoint. My mom and her sister were also very close, so my perception is that’s the norm. I’m not saying it’s always peaceful, but it’s great to have someone to go through it with.

      Like

      March 13, 2012
  3. Stephanie Carlson #

    I’m pregnant with our first. My husband and I are both only children and we both had happy and fulfilling childhoods. We’ve decided to have this one and see where it goes from there even though we have talked about two being a nice number.

    Like

    March 12, 2012
    • Hi Stephanie,

      You are not alone in thinking “two” is a nicer number. The Gallup Poll has been asking “What is the ideal family size?” since 1936. The response leans heavily toward “two” children. In 2012, the reality is otherwise.

      Like

      March 12, 2012
  4. Robin #

    As an only child I can’t help but think one is not the perfect number, for everyone at least. I missed out on the large family feeling, was forced to go to my parents (mother) when I needed interaction and now as an adult am left with the large pressure of dealing with my aging parents all by myself. I can’t help but think these items have impacted my parents experience as well. While I can understand the benifits of just one, for me it wasn’t an option and I have chosen to have more children.

    Like

    March 12, 2012
    • Robin,

      Interestingly, many who come from large families have one or few children when they become parents. What I found fascinating in doing this research for The Case for the Only Child was how many only children had a different experience than you did and decided to have one child. Family size is a very personal issue and we all need to go with what feels right (and doable) for us.

      Like

      March 12, 2012
  5. Sarah Ellis #

    Im not sure. I used to think 4 children (like my family) then 2 (after having one) and now…if I’m honest, I think I would just as happy with my family staying how it is now:- One husband, one wife, one child, one dog!

    Like

    March 12, 2012
    • Hi Sarah,

      I just wanted to underscore a point you made: The majority of people I talked to want to replicate their family of origin if they had happy childhoods and have good relationships with their siblings. The times and individual circumstances today seem to be changing that view.

      I can’t comment on the dog, but the family of three is fastest growing family unit not only in the US, but worldwide in most developed countries.

      Like

      March 12, 2012
  6. Nancy #

    We have one child now and I find myself constantly asking myself this question. I am very curious to read this book.

    Like

    March 12, 2012
    • Nancy,

      There is a lot more related information on my Psychology Today “Singletons” blog. The link is above.

      Like

      March 12, 2012
  7. enkidu #

    It took three years of trying, a loss at 18 weeks gestation, and then my daughter arriving 13 weeks early… my body barely was able to give me the gift of my daughter, no need to tempt fate with trying for more. Besides, it would be hard for us to cover the financial cost of another child. My entire family knows these things yet my husband and I are still often asked when we’re having another. Why do people “pressure” others on such a personal and sensitive issue? Before I had my daughter it was, “When are you having a baby?” Now it’s, “When are you having another one? Kids need siblings.” It boggles my mind.

    Like

    March 12, 2012
    • It is quite amazing how people love to enter your private life and think they know what is best for you and your family. One of the major problems is that society has been brainwashed into believing that the perfect family is comprised of Mom, Dad, and two children. The definition of family hasn’t been that way for a very long time. Unfortunately, like family size, the stereotypes surrounding only children have stuck (since 1896), but those are slowly disappearing.

      Like

      March 12, 2012
  8. Leah #

    I struggle with this a lot. I really am enjoying my daughter, who is just two, very much but am not certain that adding a second child is the right choice for our family for many reasons. My husband was laid off for almost a year which was a huge financial setback for our family. Also, my family lives about 12hrs away so any help with childcare while I work part time is out of the question. We need my income, and so either my husband finds an amazing new job, which is pretty unlikely in this economy, or I continue to work. Paying addtional childcare for a second child makes zero sense because due to the cost, I might as well not work! For myself, I can see our life staying the way it is. I had a rough pregnancy experience and PPD afterwards so the idea of pregnancy doesn’t exactly give me fuzzy feelings! I also miss spending time with my husband and can only imagine that a second child would add strain to our relationship. For my daughter though, I am sad for her when I think that she may grow up without siblings. I love my siblings, I appreciate that I have siblings, so I feel almost obligated to share this joy with her. For now though, second baby plans are on the back burner until a better time presents itself; but, what if it never does?

    Like

    March 12, 2012
    • Hello Leah:
      You are among the fortunate who have excellent relationships with siblings. You wrote: “For my daughter though, I am sad for her when I think that she may grow up without siblings. I love my siblings, I appreciate that I have siblings, so I feel almost obligated to share this joy with her.”

      You can create “sibling-substitutes” for her among cousins and children in your area. One “subject” in the book so struck me–she and a lifelong friend were there for each other through everything; they felt they were sisters. Good friends
      come to your aid when you need them.

      Your daughter will thrive with or without siblings; every child does not need a sibling. It would be good if you could eliminate the pressure of thinking a second child is essential.

      Like

      March 12, 2012
      • Leah #

        Thank you very much, that was a very helpful response. I will now try to stop pressuring myself and just enjoy our little family.

        Like

        March 12, 2012
  9. Jessie #

    My ideal family would have about 4 kids. I want my kids to have siblings to build relationships with.

    Like

    March 12, 2012
  10. Linda #

    I’m an only child, and the mom of an only child. I had several miscarriages after having my son, but am happy to have a healthy, happy son after seeing so many of my friends struggle with infertility. While part of me wanted to give him a sibling, my husband always points out that I’m closer to many of my friends, than he is to his siblings. I really have no regrets on having one child, but I do resent the stereotypes that people make about only children (spoiled brats, etc). I’ve worked since I was a teen, and I know plenty of spoiled, bratty people who come from big families!

    Like

    March 12, 2012
    • Much research has disproved the stereotypes. “Resent” the stereotypes is a great way to put it, Linda. I dispelled the “lonely only” one in a “Singletons” blog post (and in the book all of them), Look at “A Lonely Child? Not in Today’s World.”

      Like

      March 12, 2012
  11. My ideal size is what our family is right now, 3! My husband, daughter and myself! I feel the research and Dr. Newman are correct in their findings and were very helpful in solidifying my decision to have a singleton! Thank you Dr. Newman!

    Like

    March 12, 2012
    • Thanks so much for commenting, Becky. How can you not love when people find your work helpful.

      Like

      March 12, 2012
  12. Elanne #

    I loved reading this!!!
    I have one seven month old daughter and when this question comes up I often tell people that my ideal is to have more than one child (as in my fantasy family has at least two kids), but the reality is that I think it makes most sense for us to have only one child. I’m 40, my husband and I both have some chronic health issues that make it very important that we take care of ourselves, something we’re both not doing much of right now and something that it seems mothers of multiple children put off for many years. I joke with people who ask that her sibling may be a four-legged one day since my husband and I both love dogs.

    I have found that my family and closest friends are very supportive of us having one child. Often doubt arises (same concerns as mentioned above – I don’t want her to miss out on the sibling relationship, will we feel incomplete as a family….) but in truth I think I see what you are talking about bearing out in people around me. A lot of moms of more than one child seem miserable to put it bluntly. As my daughter grows so rapidly I do understand the impulse to have another. This time is so precious and so fleeting, I think the desire to do it again comes up pretty strongly for mamas when their babies begin to grow up.

    For me there is also an ecological element. Americans consume most of the worlds resources and every new one created is one more consumer. I’ve often thought that if we did choose to expand our family adoption might be a good choice. But the truth is we currently feel totally complete as a family with one beautiful daughter and I can imagine it remaining so.

    Like

    March 12, 2012
    • Thank you for adding new dimensions to the conversation, Elanne. You wrote: “I think the desire to do it again comes up pretty strongly for mamas when their babies begin to grow up.” That’s the point to ask, “Am I missing my child’s babyhood or, do I really want another child?”

      You and your husband take good care of your health!

      Like

      March 12, 2012
    • Congrats, Elanne, you are our winner! Send me a mailing address, and Dr. Newman will send you a copy of her book! Thanks for your thoughtful addition to this discussion, too!

      Like

      March 20, 2012
  13. I want three hubby wants two but we are still trying to figure out how this first one is going to pan out.

    Like

    March 12, 2012
  14. Nicole #

    I always thought I’d have two, maybe three kids, but now after having my daughter, we’re fairly certain we’re going to just stop at one. It’s a combination of finances, mental health and a desire to give her more than we had growing up. I had three siblings and I’m just not very close to them. It bothers me when I constantly am asked when the next one is. And when I say never, the reply is that they’re sure I’ll change my mind!

    Like

    March 12, 2012
    • Nicole,
      Your reasons for possibly sticking to one child (“finances, mental health and a desire to give her more than we had growing up.”) are the ones most often cited by those decide one child is right for them. Please, don’t listen to the naysayers!

      Like

      March 13, 2012
  15. Before we had our first, we felt confident that we wanted at least two children. Since my son was born, my husband feels strongly that we should not have any more and I find myself waffling. There are times when I want two and then there are times when I want to stay with one. I’ve been reading as much research and anecdotal stories I can find to see if anything helps me decide once and for all. It really is a very personal and complicated decision.

    Like

    March 13, 2012
  16. Susan – I’m curious (and someone asked the same question on Twitter) – is there research to show how family size impacts happiness of children – both as children and as adults?

    I have always wanted 2 to 3 kids, but we’ll probably stop at 2 for many of the reasons mentioned above: family finances and career (I want to be home for the first few years of my kids’ life, but then I’d like to return to a full-time career). I’ve always loved kids, and I think having at least 2 will make me happier, though perhaps not in the short term! But as you say, this is a very personal decision, affected more by emotion than logic.

    Like

    March 13, 2012
    • You asked: Is there research to show how family size impacts happiness of children – both as children and as adults?

      Much of my work and the research of others reflect the happiness of only children. Very few studies have looked at only children as adults. Last year Katherine Trent and Glenna Spitze at the SUNY at Albany compared adult only children and children who grew up with siblings primarily about sociability. They used national data on families and households and found that adult only children engage in similar social activities (religious events, bars, groups) and with relatively the same frequency as children with sibling.

      The authors summarized their findings: “There are some differences in adult sociability behaviors between those who grew up with and without siblings. However, the pattern of findings in this study suggests that these differences are not large or pervasive across a range of sociability behaviors and may grow smaller with age.”
      One other finding from the study will interest parents with one child: Adult only children visited their parents more often than did children with brothers and sisters..

      The study, “Growing Up Without Siblings and Adult Sociability Behaviors,” was published in the Journal of Family Issues, 32(9).

      Like

      March 14, 2012
      • Thanks Susan. There are so many factors involved in something as broad as “happiness” that I’m sure that whether a person is an only child or has siblings is just one of many and could impact it either way, depending on the situation. It is probably much more important for parents to make the right decision for their own family and trust that the right decision for them will be the best thing for their kids, too. For example, a child with a sibling but stressed, financially-strapped parents is probably not better off than an only child with happier, less-stressed, more financially-secure parents.

        What a great discussion here! I love hearing so many different perspectives on family size.

        Like

        March 15, 2012
  17. I saw this book at the store on the weekend and if the budget had allowed I would have purchased it. I love knowing that I’m not alone in wanting only one.. though when I read about siblings playing together I do a little waffling until I remember that having a sibling doesn’t mean having a playmate. We’re happy as a family of three and all the adventures we have together.

    Like

    March 13, 2012
    • Suzi,

      Just as parents fantasize that their children will be there for them when and if they are older and in need, they also fantasize that their offspring will wind up being best friends. Yes, that happens. And, just as frequently it doesn’t. The reason to have a second (or more) child is because you want one, not to give your child a playmate.

      Like

      March 13, 2012
      • Totally agree. Completely happy with our decision.

        Like

        March 13, 2012
  18. We have two, now, which is what I always wanted…I got a distinct feeling of “done” when my son was born, and it hasn’t gone away in the six months since. One of each, and done.

    I guess I wanted two because I want them to have siblings – for their sake, and mine. My sister and I are very close (we weren’t until we were both adults, though), and I want that for my kids…and my sister’s girls are very much able and willing to entertain each other, which means that her kid-world got a bit easier once both were mobile and reasonably sentient. I want my kids to be able to spend a few minutes once in a while playing together while Mommy has a cup of tea. 😉

    Like

    March 13, 2012
  19. Donna C #

    I am an only child who continues to wish I had siblings. So, I do not feel one is enough. Children need the support system of siblings.

    Like

    March 13, 2012
    • Hi Donna:
      It is so true of most things in life that we want what we don’t have. I am not dismissing your desire for a sibling at all–I completely understand that. On the other hand, when the sibling relationship is not good or not what a person wants, it can be very upsetting. I have spoken with so many people who say they wish they didn’t haven’t siblings because the relationships are so stressful or nonexistent.

      As I think I mentioned earlier, parents can create sibling-like relationships for their child. This is discussed in The Case for the Only Child in some detail..

      Like

      March 13, 2012
    • Roxanne #

      Just because there are siblings doesnt necessarily guarantee they will want anything to do with each other – I have a son and daughter that have barely acknowledged each others existence. As a matter of fact I feel like my daughter had never forgiven me for having her brother in the first place. So there’s that.

      Like

      April 30, 2013
  20. Tanya Suhanek #

    My husband & I have one child, a daughter. We did consider having another child. That was very important to my husband who was an only child & he felt his childhood was lonely. I have 2 sisters whom I am very close to and I wanted my daughter to have that special & important relationship with a sibling. But the reality is we can only afford one child. We want her to have the good things in life. Travels, good schools, good medical care, a nice home, etc. no money isn’t the most important thing in life but it is a reality. Also we want to be good parents and have the time & energy to “there” with our child. Having another child would make this difficult & stressful. So we are happy with our decision to only have one child.

    Like

    March 19, 2012
  21. Bianca #

    I have a three and a half year old son and I have found myself asking this question within my own consciousness for quite some time. I have a strong feeling that I have enough. My son is enough and the love in our family is enough to fill my love tank forever.
    Where my waffling comes in is that as my son gets older and more independent, I worry that i will desperately miss having a little one to be awed and inspired by. A little partner…a reminder of all that’s new and present and heart-opening in life. My son’s presence in our family has brought blessings I never imagined. I have to admit that I wonder if when he gets older, I will want a cherub in our midst again.

    Like

    March 19, 2012
  22. Ladybuggsmama #

    Not sure what we’ll do…after 7 years of infertility, we were incredibly blessed with our 3y/o DD. She is definetly spirited, and we’re older than we planned…so I guess between 1 and 2, its up in the air. But I will say, my heart yearns for another…but I see advantages to one…sigh…

    Like

    March 19, 2012
  23. Valerie #

    This was so facinating. Like many, I always imagined I wanted 2 children. As the eldest of 5, I knew I did not want lots of kids (!), but with a single child friend who hated being ‘alone’ – 2 seemed the perfect number.
    Funny how single children seem to want more than one child, while those from big families want fewer!
    In the end, any choice was taken out of my hands as I conceived identical twin girls. For a long time I felt cheated in that I only got to do the baby thing once, and it was twice as hard! Neither my husband or I really felt we wanted 3 children, but would have liked to have had another baby – if that makes sense. In the end, with the girls now 5, I am sure I do not want anymore children. It’s actually really hard work! Don’t get me wrong, I love my children and dote on them, but motherhood is the toughest thing I’ve ever done, and in all honesty, I think if I had just had 1 the first time, I probably would have stopped there too.
    Thanks for a great article. X

    Like

    April 5, 2012
  24. I am not surprised to be honest. I have a 4 year old and right now could not imagine having another child. I would hate for my attention to have to focus on 2 children and not just stay focused on my son. I love how close we are as a unit – both me and my partner work from home so get to spend lots of time with our son. We are all very close. I would really be sad if I had to stop paying as much attention to my son because I have a newborn to look after.

    I have been looking after my 1 and a half year old niece twice a week and this has really hit home how much I HATE having to divert my attention away from my son.

    I would like another child in the future..but not until my son is at least 10…and not wanting me as much.

    For now though I love our time together and I don’t want to ruin it.

    Like

    April 18, 2012
  25. Hi, I am very happy with my one & only daughter who is now 7 Yrs Old, though there is tremendous pressure from people to have one more kid. I have decided to give the best in the world to my daughter

    Like

    August 31, 2012
  26. Jennifer #

    I have been struggling with this question, of whether to have a second child, for over a year now. My son is 2.5 and it’s taken a while but I’m finally really enjoying him and motherhood in general. My biggest hesitation, with having a second, is feeling as if, now that I’m feeling comfortable, I’ll have to start all over again. My husband is in the military, and there is a big part of me that would like to have another child partly because military kids go through a lot, and it would be nice for my son to have a sibling to go through it with. They can lean on each other with each move and change and deployment…it’s a lot to think about and I’m not sure if there’s a right or wrong answer.

    Like

    May 4, 2013
    • Hi Jennifer: You basically answered your own question. There is no right or wrong answer. I will add that having a content, happy mother is a huge part of having a content, happy child or children. It is true that military children do have to contend with relocations more than most children; some of them react extraordinarily well and become skilled at making friends quickly. But the same could happen whether or not a child moves often or not.

      Like

      May 5, 2013
  27. sam #

    We have a beloved six year old son who took many years and many ivf cycles to come. I homeschool him and the three of us are an incredibly close unit. The quiet time, the shared moments of reading together, talking, playing board games, laughing, just looking into his face and having no distractions from him is the most wonderful way to live. We all appreciate each moment together – there are no stresses, no sibling quarrels and no divided time. Our son has turned into a wonderful child – mature, focused, secure and intelligent – and I have to say I love the closeness and the peace. Our son is secure – he does not have to shield his things or the way he likes to do things from another young person who wants things done differently. I see the distress and resignation in many families of two children or more of the older one who has to compromise or has their quiet time constantly interrupted. To be able to live in peace is essential to a deep down content – and to being happy with oneself and with ones own company. One more person here would change everything – we would be divided, worrying more, I suspect, about logistics and getting everyone ready or fed or washed than knowing each other as people. I know our son will get older and go to school later and he will be in our lives less – but I cannot imagine a better start to his life or a better way for us to have gotten to know him and him us.

    Like

    May 30, 2013
  28. Oneofmany #

    I am the youngest of 4 siblings, 6 years between the me and the oldest…and I was the loneliest child in the world. I was lonely in a house full of people. I love all my siblings but they can, stull today, make my life miserable! I was much closer to my best friend, and still am today. She is the one I call when I am sad and she is the first one I talk to when I have big news to share. I missed not having my parents full attention, I needed them more than siblings. I had my friends to olay with but nothing could substitude my parents. (They tried their best but time was divided by 4). My husband is almost an only child, 10 year agegap betweet him and his younger sibling. He has never felt lonely and is the happiest person I know, he can be alone for days but still feels good and never lonely. He loved his childhood. He is super social and makes friends everywhere he goes, so easily. He is used to not having a sibling to lean on so getting to know people is so natural and effordless for him. I have a 3 year old and out relationship is so very special, I want to keep it that way and I want her to have my FULL attention:) and as for old age, I would never expect for my children to care for me, even ig I had 10. I would never want to be a burden. I am going to make arrangementa before the times come:)

    Like

    November 26, 2014
    • Dear Oneofmany,
      Thank you for telling your story. It is not uncommon for a child to feel alone in a “sea” of siblings. Your point about your best friend is well-taken and many only children rely on friends as substitute siblings. Loyalty is a strong point among only children.

      As the author of two books on raising only children, I am personally delighted to read about your husband. He is more typical of only children than most people understand.

      Like

      November 26, 2014
  29. Danita #

    It doesn’t matter how many children were in a family. What matters is that the mother and father of these children made each one of them feel special, protected and loved. And by the way, FIRST born children are the most reliable, trustworthy children.

    Like

    August 9, 2015
  30. You are correct, Danita, when you say what matters most is having parents that make each child, no matter how many there are, feel safe, loved, and special. It is a bit more difficult to do the more children in the family–but it can be (and is) done. In many ways, parents and how they parent are more crucial to a child’s development than the number of siblings he or she has or doesn’t have.

    Like

    August 10, 2015
  31. A. Rose #

    I’m a firm believer in, “the best thing you can give your child is a happy parent.” My “surprise” child wants a happy parent more than he wants another sibling. I’ve trained him to entertain himself for hours, which has been essential for me as a single mom, since he has to come to work with me on a regular basis.

    Also….overpopulation. Which, I’m sorry, but no one seems to be willing to talk about. It is a real thing.

    Like

    October 21, 2015
  32. Amy #

    I’m so glad I came across this, I definitely need to read your book. I am about 90% sure I don’t want anymore kids (we have one living daughter, but also a daughter who was stillborn) but the pressure to have another is suffocating. I do get some pressure from family, but most of it comes from myself. Feeling like I SHOULD have another, and not being sure why I cannot accept that I am perfectly happy with just our one living daughter. Sure sometimes I long for another baby, I miss the midnight snuggles, the tiny baby clothes…but one day THAT baby will be grown up too, then what? So I don’t feel like that is a very valid reason to want another one. I have an older brother, and we are close. Yes I did have him to lean on when our mother passed, but then again I also had my father. As my dad ages, I can already tell that it will be me who the “burden” falls on to care for him. Not that my brother doesn’t care, but I am just much more nurturing and thoughtful when it comes to that stuff. So I agree, having someone to later deal with aging parents with is not always a guarantee when you have a sibling. Also I know many families where there was a lot of disagreements and hurt feelings when it came to siblings trying to work together for their aging parents. My uncle had his sister (my mom) growing up and they were very close. But she died young, so when my grandparents passed away just three weeks apart, he was all alone in dealing with losing both of his parents so close together, the funeral arrangements, their estate, etc. He had a sister, but she died. So I think the notion of having another baby just so your child can have a sibling is a nice idea on paper, but life often throws curveballs. I’m excited to read this book, since there isn’t much societal support when it comes to having just one child.

    Like

    March 17, 2016
    • Amy, Clearly you have thought through many aspects of the pressure to have another child particularly when the pressure is self-created. What you wrote about siblings and help with aging or ill parents is so true. Most people–only children or otherwise–have spouses, friends, aunts or uncles who pitch in to help or at the very least, be supportive.

      Like

      March 29, 2016
  33. We can’t make up our mind to have a second child. But it is hard because of our health situation. Your article makes us feel better. It will be helpful for other parents. Thank you so much.

    Like

    March 20, 2016
  34. Ja #

    I find this discussion very interesting. I believe that the decision about having one or more children depends on each person’s life experiences. I have one sister, and so does my husband. We decided on having just one child for several reasons. First, our relationship with our respective siblings are inexistent. My son even doubts that I have a sister (he is nine), and he has never asked for a brother or a sister. He is a happy only child. Besides that, we are getting old. I am 42, and my husband is 52. We are no longer looking forward for sleepless nights with a colicky baby. I got a tubal ligation when our son was born. No regrets.

    Like

    June 4, 2016

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