Why I Don’t Feel Bad For Having Only One Child

Why I Don’t Feel Bad For Having Only One Child

November 5, 2018 Updated May 9, 2019

one child
AleksandarNakic / Getty

When I tell people I only have one child, the facial expressions I get are somewhere between hilarious and downright concerning. It’s like I just told them I gave my kid some Drano to drink after her snack time. Some of my “favorite” comments are: “You only have one child?” And “Aren’t you afraid of your kid being alone when she’s older?”

Okay, so I know a lot of people mean well. And trust me, I will occasionally get in a guilt-stricken panic with fears that my child will be scarred for life for never having the experience of sibling relationships. Will she grow up to be resentful?

But then reality sets in and I realize that I don’t feel bad for having only one child and here are my reasons why:

1. Childcare costs

I live in an area where full-time infant daycare costs about $2,000/month. Daycare for toddlers and preschool runs about $1,300-$1,700/month. Unfortunately, my family just doesn’t have the cash for that expense. I suppose we could always put over $80,000 on our credit cards, but I’d rather not do that. I also don’t have any loved ones who can provide that care for free or for an amount that I could afford. My partner and I both have to work full-time, in order to pay for basic living expenses. Also, we don’t qualify for any government programs that can help us pay for childcare because our income is “too high,” but our income doesn’t support childcare expenses for a second child.

2. My child’s network

My daughter has a lot of friends and even considers her best friend and her best friend’s brother as “siblings,” though they’re not related. She sees her friends at school and has playdates outside of school. We went to Disneyland two summers ago with one of my child’s friends and their parents. She might not have a brother or sister, but she has plenty of playtime with her friends in and out of school.

3. My support network

I’m grateful for my loved ones who have provided as much help to me as they could. But the reality is that everyone is extremely busy. Everybody works full-time just to keep their heads above water and/or has kids or elderly parents they’re already taking care of. I don’t have a network of people that can help me if I were to have a second child.

Last year, my mother-in-law watched my daughter when she was sick. My partner and I were unable to take any time off work because we ran out of sick leave. My mother-in-law was able to watch my kid at this time because she was in between jobs. Today she is fully employed so now my partner and I rely completely on our paid sick leave if my kid is sick. If you’re a parent, you know how often babies and kids get sick. The paid sick leave that my partner and I now have barely cover days when our kid is sick. So if we had another kid, figuring out a plan to watch the second child would be challenging.

4. High parent expectations

I personally believe that parents in this generation are held to a much higher standard, compared to previous generations. I’m not saying that parents had it easier before this generation, because they had their own unique set of challenges that parents today may not have. However, parent standards and expectations these days are just ridiculous.

When I was a kid, I remember going to the nearby park with my friends without parent supervision. My parents were great parents and expected me to come home at a certain time. They educated me on not talking to strangers and anything else important I needed to know.

Nowadays, if I’m even 20 feet away from my kid, I sometimes will get dirty looks from adults, like I’m a mom who just dropped off my child at a strip club. Since parent expectations are so damn high, I’ve felt beyond exhausted trying to maintain the finances, my home, my full-time job, and my one child. Yes, I only have one child as I’m reminded by some that I “only have one child,” but I’m still very, very, very tired. Without any extra support, I’m not sure how I could add another child to my family.

5. My wonderful daughter

I only have one child and, despite the hard work involved in parenting, she has been the most precious and wonderful gift in life. I would not trade parenting her for anything in the world. I sometimes wonder what the hell I did to deserve this amazing child. If there would have been evidence to prove to me that not having a second child would be harmful or negative to my specific child’s overall wellbeing, then of course I would have a second child. But, she’s honestly an emotionally and physically healthy kid who excels in school and her social environment. Plus, she told me she doesn’t want brothers and sisters.

So, those are my reasons for being content with having only one child. Sure, she could benefit from having a sibling relationship. But, overall, I feel good about my decision.