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?


    Famous Only Children

    Here is a list of famous only children I found online – just for a fun Friday post!

    • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    • Ansel Adams
    • Steve Allen
    • William A. Anders
    • Hans Christian Anderson
    • Christina Applegate
    • Lance Armstrong
    • Lauren Bacall
    • Burt Bacharach
    • Jeff Bagwell
    • John the Baptist
    • Candice Bergen
    • Frank Borman
    • Bill Bradley
    • Carol Burnett
    • Mark Burnett
    • Laura Bush
    • Ada Byron
    • Roy Cohn
    • Chelsea Clinton
    • David Copperfield
    • Walter Cronkite
    • Leonardo da Vinci
    • Sammy Davis Jr.
    • Robert De Niro
    • Nick Faldo
    • Gerald Ford
    • E.M. Forster
    • Indira Gandhi
    • Mahatma Gandhi
    • Sarah Michelle Gellar
    • Rudolph Giuliani
    • Tipper Gore
    • Cary Grant
    • Alan Greenspan
    • Teri Hatcher
    • William Randolph Hearst
    • Lillian Hellman
    • Anthony Hopkins
    • Gayle Hunnicut
    • Samuel L. Jackson
    • Shirley Jones
    • Tommy Lee Jones
    • James A. Lovell
    • China Kantner
    • Alicia Keys
    • Ted Koppel
    • Lenny Kravitz
    • Charles Lindbergh
    • John Lennon
    • Phil Lynott
    • Jesse Metcalfe
    • Joe Montana
    • Iris Murdoch
    • Isaac Newton
    • Al Pacino
    • Gregory Peck
    • Matthew Perry
    • Cole Porter
    • Natalie Portman
    • Ezra Pound
    • Enoch Powell
    • Elvis Presley
    • Lisa Marie Presley
    • Daniel Radcliffe
    • Nancy Reagan
    • Condoleezza Rice
    • LeAnn Rimes
    • Eleanor Roosevelt
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt
    • Richie Sambora
    • Jean Paul Sartre
    • Brooke Shields
    • Frank Sinatra
    • Kirsten Smith
    • Danielle Steel
    • Barbra Striesand
    • Charlize Theron
    • John Updike
    • Betty White
    • Robin Williams
    • Tiger Woods

    Raising An Only Child Tips (Parents Magazine Article)

    Raising an Only Child

    Parenting just one has its own joys and difficulties.
    By Colleen Davis Gardephe


    Fifty years ago, when only children represented just 10 percent of all kids under age 18, “onlies” were often thought of as lonely, spoiled, and socially inept. But the tide has turned, and as the number of only children climbs, their place in society has risen. Today there are some 14 million only children in America, representing about 20 percent of all kids, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    A small family differs dramatically from a large one and, consequently, comes with an entirely different set of challenges and rewards. Read the following pages for some strategic guidelines to parenting an only child.

    Help Forge Friendships

    Give only children the opportunity to interact with other kids. Social activities need to be engineered more for only children, even as early as 18 months of age, says J. Lane Tanner, MD, FAAP, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco. Options for child socializing include:

    • Preschool
    • Special classes
    • Play dates

    Play dates should be scheduled both in the child’s home, where she has to share her toys and her parents’ attention, and at a friend’s home, where she has to follow the lead of her peer. Also be sure to orchestrate play time with kids your child’s age, since onlies often gravitate toward older or younger children.

    Teach your child social skills. Only children don’t have the benefit of the rough-and-tumble of sibling relationships. What we call sibling rivalry is actually a chance to get along with peers on a daily basis, explains Meri Wallace, author of Birth Order Blues. Losing a game, waiting a turn, joining a group — all of these things are hard for an only child, she adds. To help children succeed in social situations, parents should:

    Demonstrate by example how to share, compromise, and show consideration for others
    Reward children when they’re being considerate and administer consequences when they aren’t

    Separate Yourself

    Foster your child’s independence. Since only children develop such a close relationship with their parents, some become too reliant on them for moral support, homework help, and entertainment. Parents, too, can unknowingly reinforce this dependence.

    A parent can counter the dependency by giving her child some responsibility, such as chores, explains Wallace. An only child needs to learn how to occupy himself and have fun — the parent doesn’t always have to be the entertainer.

    Set clear boundaries. Only children often feel like one of the adults and believe they should have equal say and equal power, Wallace points out. And while many parents of onlies do give their child a say in some family matters, there are obviously many decisions that should be made by the parents alone.

    Experts also emphasize the need for parents of onlies to enjoy some couple time. Getting to spend a lot of quality time with your child is one of the many advantages of having a single child, but it’s essential to nurture your marriage. Remember that Mom and Dad have a right to their own life.

    Don’t Push Too Hard

    Set realistic expectations. Since many onlies are verbally precocious and high achievers at an early age, it’s sometimes hard to know what behavior is age-appropriate for them. It’s also difficult to know when you’re pushing too hard and when you’re not pushing enough. By the age of 7 or 8, only children are like little adults. In their opinion, kids their own age are immature. Slow down, and make sure your only child has a childhood.

    Don’t ask for perfection. For most only children, perfectionism seems to go with the territory. Only children want so much to please their parents, and because they peer with adults, they take on adult standards, says Carl E. Pickhardt, PhD, author of Keys to Parenting an Only Child. While it’s fine to want the best for your child, it’s important not to make your goals and anxieties his.

    Since onlies often receive parental approval for their many successes (or even their attempts), parents need to explain that their love is not conditioned on the child’s performance.

    Keep Splurging to a Minimum

    Keep gifts in check. Experts warn that when onlies are bombarded with gifts and their every wish is fulfilled, they get the message, “I always get what I want.”

    It’s never too late to rein in excessive gift-giving, notes Pickhardt. Emotional protests will likely follow, but taking this stand will be beneficial in the long run. Parents need to realize that it’s not the gifts that matter; it’s time spent with the child that’s most important.

    Don’t overindulge your child. During early childhood, an only child’s expressions of need are responded to quickly. In contrast, children with siblings need to “wait in line” to have their needs met. And learning how to wait, says Dr. Tanner, is a vital lesson.

    To prevent only children from developing an attitude of “What I want, I get,” parents should:

    • Set limits
    • Delay gratification
    • Stick to household rules
    • Instill discipline through guidelines and expectations

    Parents of onlies also have to learn this valuable lesson: You can’t get hung up on the notion that your child always has to be happy. If you dote on your only child and satisfy his every whim, you’ll regret doing so in the long run, says Pickhardt. One of the repercussions of such overindulgence: Some onlies want to have everything on their own terms. They develop a mentality of, “It’s either my way or no way at all.”

    As experts and parents note, the undivided attention an only child receives from his parents can be either a positive or negative force. But if you avoid some of the common pitfalls and offer your only child your unconditional love, he will no doubt thrive. In fact, many parents of onlies say that their relationship with their child is like a wonderful friendship. Best of all, they say, it’s a great friendship that lasts a lifetime!

    What Is An Only Child? The Wikipedia Definition

    It says something about society and its attitudes towards the subject of only children when even the Wikipedia Article on the subject is relatively short!


    An only child is a child with no siblings, either biological or adopted. Although first-born children may be considered temporary only children, and have a similar early family environment, the term only child is generally applied only to those individuals who never have siblings. An “only child”, however may have half-siblings or step-siblings who come along considerably late (after he/she turns, say, 12) and still be considered an “only child”. Children with much older siblings may also have a similar family environment to only children.

    Families may have an only child for a variety of reasons, including: family planning, including financial issues, stress in the family, time constraints, fears over pregnancy, advanced age, infertility, personal preferences, and death of a sibling. Additionally, some parents decide to have only one child because they simply prefer it that way. Under the the One-child policy in Mainland China, subject to local relaxations, urban parents are prohibited by law to have more than one child.

    In Western culture, only children are often subject to a stereotype that equates them with spoiled brats.

    G. Stanley Hall was one of the first experts to give only children a bad reputation when he referred to their situation as “a disease in itself.” Even today, only children are commonly stereotyped as “spoiled, selfish and bratty.” Susan Newman, a social psychologist at Rutgers University and the author of Parenting an Only Child, says that this is a myth. “People articulate that only children are spoiled, they’re aggressive, they’re bossy, they’re lonely, they’re maladjusted,” she said. The reality, according to Newman, is that “there have been hundreds and hundreds of research studies that show that only children are no different from their peers.”

    Alfred Adler (1870-1937), an Austrian psychiatrist and a contemporary of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, was another early theorist who believed that only children were deficient. He argued that birth order leaves an indelible impression on an individual’s style of life – that is, the individual’s habitual way of dealing with the tasks of friendship, love, and work. Adler believed that because only children have no rivals for their parents’ affection, they may be pampered and spoiled by their parents, particularly the mother. He suggested that this could later cause interpersonal difficulties if the person is not universally liked and admired.

    A 1987 quantitative review of 141 studies on 16 different personality traits contradicted Adler’s theory by finding no evidence of any maladjustment in only children. The most important finding was that only children are not very different from children with siblings. The main exception to this was the finding that only children are higher in achievement motivation.[3] A second analysis revealed that only children, first-borns, and children with only one sibling score higher on tests of verbal ability than later-borns and children with multiple siblings.[4]

    The advantage of only children in test scores and achievement motivation may be due to the greater amount of parental attention they receive. According to the Resource Dilution Model, parental resources (e.g. time to read to the child) are important in development. Because these resources are finite, children with many siblings receive fewer resources.[5]

    In his book, Maybe One, Bill McKibben argues in favor of a one child policy based on this research. He argues that most cultural stereotypes are false, that there are not many differences between only children and other children, and where there are differences, they are favorable to the only child. Aside from scoring significantly better in achievement motivation, only children score significantly better in personal adjustment to new situations. Only children are also more likely to make outside friends, whereas children with siblings tend to be “more parochial and limited in their understanding of a variety of social roles.”[6]