How do you decide if one child is enough for your family?

Extracted from Parenting Magazine:

There are questions you as parents must seriously consider when asking yourselves the question: “Should we have more than one child?”

  • Can we cope emotionally and physically with another child?
  • How will we juggle another child with our jobs?
  • Where do we want to be in three years? Five?
  • How will another child affect our finances? What about our marriage?
  • If we wait any longer to decide, will our choices be limited by our age?
  • “It’s normal to wonder if you’re making the right choices and decisions, no matter how many kids you have,” says Susan Jeffers, Ph.D., author of I’m OK, You’re a Brat! Setting the Priorities Straight and Freeing You From the Guilt and Mad Myths of Parenthood. “Even if you decided to have two or more children, you’d wonder if your life would have been easier with only one child.”

    And even when you do make that decision for your family, you will still face questions from the outside world.  Here are some excellent points about some of the most common objectives that I often hear when I announce I plan on only having one child.

    So When is the Next Kid Coming? 

    “The pressure to have a second child is often greater than for the first,” says Newman. But the fact is that the friends, family, and even strangers who are exerting pressure aren’t the ones who’ll be caring for these future children till they reach adulthood. After Lawler’s daughter was born, she answered her questioners with “We’re going to take care of Jessica.”

    Sometimes intrusive questions and opinions can drive us nuts, which is why it can be helpful to look within before lashing out.

    “When you are affected by this pressure, it means you’re looking for that person’s approval,” says Jeffers. “Ask yourself, ‘Why am I reacting this way? Am I afraid of criticism from this person?’ As soon as you stop needing their approval, you can relax and appreciate the decision you made.” Once a mom is feeling calmer, she can answer the critics with, say, “I understand you really want this, but it’s not right for me” or “Well, thanks for passing on your ideas.”

    What Happens If Your Only Child Dies?

    In my darkest moments, I’ve been known to worry about the unthinkable: With no other children, what would I do if I lost Oliver? But, of course, parents of onlies don’t own the front and center on worry. “Parents fear for all their children,” says Newman. “Families with a number of children are equally devastated and blown apart when a child dies  — the pain is no less just because you have others.” We need to accept that something so dramatic as death is highly unlikely and try not to live our lives in a state of anxiety.

    “Mommy, Daddy, Can I have a baby brother or sister for Christmas?”

    It happens: Many onlies will ask  — loudly, often  — for a little brother or sister, or wonder aloud why they’re stuck being an only child. A straightforward answer is the best bet, says Lise Youngblade, Ph.D., associate director of the Institute for Child Health Policy at the University of Florida in Gainesville. “The last thing parents want to do is get into a negotiation,” she says. Instead, respond with something like “We’ve decided that our family size is just right. There are lots of different kinds of families, and this is how ours is.”

    With an older child, you can point out that many of the advantages he enjoys as an only  — his own specially decorated bedroom, for instance, or the one-on-one time he has with Mom and Dad  — may be things he wouldn’t have with a brother or sister. You can also try asking your child what he thinks would be the benefits of having a sibling. It could be as simple as having a bunk bed.

    If a child’s demands don’t abate, Jeffers points out that “children complain, period.” Parents with two or three kids sometimes hear, “Mommy, it’s time to send the baby back to the hospital.”


    How do YOU answer the inevitable questions and objections that family, friends and strangers alike pose when you annouce your intentions to have only a single child?


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