I am an only child, and our son Ethan is as well.
Am I a bad mother because I decided to raise an only child? I do not think so. But I am aware there are mothers that worry about raising an only child, and others that have a strong judgement about it.
My personal story as an only child
Personally, I have never found myself missing out because I have not had any siblings. Actually, I grew in a pretty dysfunctional family, so being an only child may have been a blessing in disguise for my mental sanity, because I grew up believing that had I had a brother or a sister, my parents would have preferred the other child as a result of never embracing who I was. I am not sure whether this is true of course, and I will never know. But this idea was a good enough reason for me being happy about being an only child.
I was often in contact with adults for most of my childhood and cousins during week-ends. I did not attend kinder garden, and the first true daily contact I had with other children was at the age of almost 7 when I started primary school.
Did I miss other children’s company? For sure. I was craving to play with other kids, but that was mostly because I was living with an extended family (my grandma, my uncle, my grandpa and my parents) all under one roof, and because they a business in house, they had little time for me. My family was always working, or talking about work, and focused on making money. And there was rarely a break from that.
So, good thing, I loved going to school because I was in contact with other children and I could learn new things.
You may think of an only child as a spoiled on, and I am sure there are many you know that tick that box, but it did not really happen for me.
I had little positive attention, very few toys, a strong discipline because my parents were coming from a disciplinarian upbringing and that meant that the relationship parent-kid was set on unilateral blind respect towards the parents no matter what.
The good thing I remember was my summer holidays because my family had a flat near the sea, and for 2-3 weeks in summer that was my paradise escape with lots of children and fun!
I am aware that, as an only child, my background is pretty “unusual” though.
But enough about me.
Carlo has an older brother (7 years apart) with whom has a causal relationship. They are relaxed with each other, but they have little in common, so they live separate lives and share some geeky conversations.
Our son’s story as an only child
Ethan is an only child, and is growing up well.
He loves being around children, but has never asked for a brother or sister. He has been going to the nursery since he was 7 months old, so he was always surrounded by kids, of his age, older and little ones as well.
We have been making sure that we organise playdates for him during week-ends, so he has someone to socialize and have fun with.
He seems to be content. He has got plenty of friends, both boys and girls. The rare occasions he asked why other children have got siblings, we matter-of-factly replied that he is our only child like I am, while other families have more than one kid like in Carlo’s case. I believe that if you act ok and casual, your kids will be as well. Kids tend to take on the way we react to things, and make them their own. For them, it is what it is.
Ethan is learning from adults as well as children. He is curious, asks interesting questions (very!), and is doing well in school. We have had no worries about his learning or socializing with others so far.
What is in it for an only child?
I believe that life teaches its lessons by every encounter we have, so I am not worried about Ethan not having a sibling, because he is surrounded by adults and children most of the time.
Carlo and I have decided not to have other kids for many reasons.
Our business endeavors and the lifestyle we have chosen for our family do not allow us to offer the same we can do for Ethan alone to more than one child.
I feel that I would not have the same amount of patience, attention and care I am dedicating to Ethan now, and I would not want to end up doing many of the things my family did to me that crippled me as a person.
I am 42, and I want to live a happy life. I have a wonderful kid that I love more than myself that needs attention and nurturing, a beautiful husband that is the love of my life that needs my love and my support, a business that I love and needs my love and my attention as well, friends to care for, a house to tend to, and there is me as well. Honestly, having more than one kid would not leave me much time for myself (and still I rarely find time for that anyway) and follow my passions in life.
I am aware of my own limits as a person, and I respect them.
But again, you know better what it is important for you as a woman, and for your family. Nobody can tell you what is right for you, not me not anyone else, no matter how close they are to you.
I personally believe that because you have siblings, you do not necessarily get on well with them. As I see it, if you are lucky and your parents are fair and good at keeping the family lovingly together, having brothers or sister turn out to be a great thing. You will have the best companions for life.
But, if it is not like that, you just force two people with very little in common, to love each other, live together, share love, attention and things when they have not chosen to, and maybe they do not even like each other…
I saw both sides of the story with my family having many siblings, so, there is no right or wrong reply here in my opinion, but just what you feel is right.
Long winded post to say that I am sure that any kids will be more than fine being an only child, as long as you as a family provide a loving, and supportive environment that embraces who your kid is, and stimulates the best in them.
As for the rest, be the best you can be, and surround yourself with people you want them to learn from.