I know how you feel. Like me, you cringe when you hear phrases like only and lonely and only child syndrome. I feel your heart sink when others list the many reasons (in their minds) why you just have to have another, even going so far as to insist that it would be selfish not to give your child a sibling.
Maybe you have one child because you experienced secondary infertility, or you only had enough funds for the last round of in vitro. Maybe it took you so long to conceive the first child that you squirm at the thought of going through the whole process again. Maybe you’ve experienced a traumatic birth or endured the emotional depths of postpartum depression. Maybe one child is all you can afford. Maybe … you just feel like one is enough for your family.
Whether you feel that one child makes your family complete or you secretly wish for another that you were unable to bear, it’s OK. You don’t have to defend your choice to anyone.
I know what it’s like to politely divert the subject as relative strangers weigh in on your family dynamic. You have not invited anyone’s advice, and yet for some reason, others feel compelled to share their unsolicited opinions. I too, have stewed silently as others listed the reasons why one is not enough. These range from manipulative compliments to downright insults:
But you must give them a sibling! Who will share the burden of caring for you in your old age?
Who will play with them when they are young? Won’t they be lonely?
You make beautiful children, you must have more!
Oh, you can never “afford” it! Just do it! It’ll all work itself out.
Can’t you see how much he wants a brother or sister? I feel so sorry for him …
The second one is easier … you’ll see …
I know what it’s like to feel that the world is not accepting of families of three.
Contrary to popular belief, your child is not missing out, because they have a loving family in you. Having a sibling does not guarantee a friendship any more than being an only child guarantees loneliness. In fact, there are several studies that point to only children being more independent, creative and driven. Why does society feel compelled to focus on the negatives without celebrating the positives of each unique family?
I can tell you that it speaks more about others’ insecurity than it does about your own ability or decision to procreate.
At the end of the day, regardless of whether one child is a choice or a reality you accept, just know that you’re not alone, and your child won’t be either. The number of children you bring into this world is deeply personal and frankly, no one else’s concern. You are every bit as brave as any mother out there.
You are good enough, and so is your one and only.