Parenting

Giving Your Kid A Sibling Isn't A Good Enough Reason To Have Another Child

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“Do you ever wish I had another baby?” my mother asks.

“No. Do you feel guilty for not giving me a sibling?” I respond.

When my mother and I had this conversation, I was already in my 30s with a kid of my own. My parents only have me. They made the decision to stop at one kid when I was about five. It was the right decision, so I was surprised my mom was questioning her decision 20-something years later.

Listen, parents, you don’t owe your kid a sibling. No matter how much you think they need one, they’ll be okay without one.

I can remember my parents asking me if I wanted a little brother or sister when I was in kindergarten. But for some reason, it had to be a brother. I became obsessed with the idea for a while. When they told me they couldn’t promise me a brother, I told them we were good and I was happy alone. Never once did I regret my feelings.

Parents of one child face endless and constant questions about plans to have more kids. I’m a mom to one and since he was an infant, people (mostly strangers) ask if I’ll have more kids. Sometimes I’ll just laugh it off, but other times I’ll be honest. My current plans do not include another child.

“But he needs a sibling,” they protest.

No, I don’t owe my child a sibling — he’s perfectly fine being an only child. Here’s the thing about my son. He’s been abundantly clear about how much he doesn’t want a sibling. If someone asks him about wanting a brother or sister, he is adamantly against it. One day we ran into a former classmate of his. The little boy’s mom was visibly pregnant, which lead to a conversation about babies. Naturally, I ask if he wants a baby, knowing exactly what his answer would be.

“No! I don’t want to share you,” he says seriously.

If you’re thinking about having another child simply because you think your kid needs a sibling, talk to them. Kids usually know what they want. You may be surprised to find out you don’t owe your kid a sibling. They are very likely quite happy with the way their life currently is. Of course, there will be days they wish they had a sibling. The feeling ends almost as fast as the idea that having a sibling will solve their problems. Trust me.

Sure, life can be lonely for an only child. But that’s not a good enough reason to have another kid. That’s why play dates and activity groups exist. Sign your kid up for an after-school activity. Take them to a play group where they can meet kids their own age. When I was a kid, I took dance and made friends with the neighborhood kids. If my son needs to play with kids, I take him to our local playground or to a McDonalds with a PlayPlace. Let them use that loneliness and boredom for something productive.

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Only children are super creative because they have to be. When there’s no one to play with, they have to come up with games of their own. My son has no problems taking a bucket of LEGOs or his favorite trains and creating elaborate stories from them.

As an only child, I can assure you that most of us don’t sit around being mad about not having siblings. In fact, a lot of the only children I know are glad to be only children. Having siblings seems like a great thing, but I know there can be a lot of headaches too. For my mom, I think her guilt comes from the fact that she has siblings. She has tons of stories about their great childhood. On the flip side, their adult relationships have not been great.

There are plenty of siblings who get along well their whole lives. But just as often, there are siblings who never have a good relationship. Parents hope for the harmonious sibling relationship, never considering their kids simply may not get along. If you genuinely want to have more kids, that’s fine. But to only have more kids because you think you owe your kid a sibling isn’t a good enough reason.

If you think you owe your child a sibling, how will you feel if you have another kid and they don’t get along? It’s hard to explain to your kid that you had another one because society told them you had to. Not everyone is cut out to be a sibling, and not all sibling relationships are the idyllic versions of them we hope for.

No matter what you may have been told, you don’t owe your child a sibling. Don’t let anyone pressure you into thinking otherwise either. Good sibling relationships are definitely not a guarantee — you don’t want to look back and feel regret. Parents should only have more kids if it’s truly what you want. Not because societal pressure makes you think you’re failing your kids otherwise. Chances are, your only child will thank you in the long run.

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