Am I a Selfish Mother If I Choose Not To Have a Second Child?

It’s impossible not to have regrets in parenting. I regret not taking away my son’s pacifier when he was much younger. (Now he’s two and loves his binky more than anything — possibly even me — on the planet.)  I regret the hours spent worrying that my son wasn’t walking, or talking, or crawling. I even regret my choice of car seat (the straps always tangle.).

Those are all little regrets. Tiny blips in the blur of everyday parenting. They don’t overwhelm me or cause me to stop in my tracks on a particular day when I think about them.

But the decision to have another child, to provide my son with a sibling, feels impossibly huge to me.  I don’t want to have huge regrets about this one.

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I do not believe in a “one size fits all” approach to figuring out how big your family should be.  I also know that the long-held cultural stereotypes about only children — as lonely, selfish, and neurotic – are not true.  I don’t think that my son will be lonely or weird or an outcast if he’s an only child.  The deciding factor in whether he’s a productive and happy member of society, able to form meaningful connections and realize his dreams, will not be the presence — or absence — of siblings. As a teacher, I got to know (and adore) lots of delightful, smart, and well-adjusted kids who were only children.

After two years of sleepless nights, colic, and the chaos of infancy and early toddlerhood, I am starting to feel like myself again.  A new “mother self,” but still myself.  As an introvert, I finally get the time and space that I need to carve out professional and personal pursuits.  I love seeing my son turn into a little person and spending my days with him.  I don’t feel like our family is incomplete without more children.  I feel whole and satisfied with one child and don’t really want more, at least not at this time.  But I’ll be 39 this summer and my time for having a decision to make at all may slip away.

I also can’t help but feel that I’ve had personal experience that might trump my present gut feeling to stop at one kid.  My dad was 53 when he passed away from cancer.  I was turning 30.  My brother, sister, and I all lived in the Northeast, but my parents were in Florida, after two happy years of a sort of early retirement.

When I first learned that my dad was sick, five months before he died, it was my sister who told me.  We cried together on the phone and knew that our world had changed forever.

When I waited a few weeks before going to Florida to finish up the school year when he first got sick, I knew my brother was already there, mowing lawns and sitting with my dad on the porch.

When the doctors told us that there was no time left, all three of us flew back down to Florida, holding a sad and confused vigil for weeks.  And on the afternoon that my dad  died — a day whose sounds, sights and smells (the chocolate chip cookies that were inexplicably baked, the warm Florida October sun on the deck, the kind eyes of the hospice nurse) are seared into my memory, it is the touch of my brother’s hands on my head and shoulders, trying to comfort me as I cried, that I remember most vividly.

When a few days later at my father’s funeral, I simply couldn’t stand up in front of all those people and say anything — there were no words, for me, a writer — I felt at peace because I knew that my brother and sister would say all the words that needed to be said.

When my brother and I flew back up north, returning to our lives, we knew that my little sister had moved into my parents’ house when he got sick and would stay behind with our mother for as many weeks and months that it would take for her to find her way.

In short, I can’t imagine my life — everything that has happened between when my brother was born when I was three until these current years of negotiating early parenthood — without my siblings.

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So, for me, even though I’ve been trained in research methodology for my doctorate and believe in the power of data-driven decision-making, this choice is ultimately one of the heart.  For me, it feels almost as profound as life and death, love and loss.  I’m afraid of regrets, either way.  I feel comforted by the research evidence that only children are just as happy and healthy as anybody else, but it is only part of the story.

I also know that my present feelings as a mom, wife, and individual — my story — are just part of the equation; the life cycle of a family is long, holding many unforeseen challenges and triumphs.  I don’t want to deny my son the chance to experience those heartaches and joys without the company of siblings.

My rational mind can pore over the research, data, facts about kids’ development, and I can listen to other families’ experiences, but none of these facts and figures can make this decision.  My heart is confused and I’m waiting for its answer.

About the writer

Jessica is a freelance writer in Buffalo, NY and a mom to a very active toddler.  She has a doctorate in educational policy/development and blogs about parenting, education, and her favorite books at School of Smock and about female friendship at The HerStories Project. You can also find her on Twitter @SchoolofSmock and Facebook.

From Around the Web


Sara 3 months ago

I have two brothers and I’m selfish and anti-social, you don’t really know fully what exact things have made you a certain way…its very easy to assume.

kris 3 months ago

Hi Lee Ann
You are so correct when you said this!
I lost my baby last month, it was my 2nd baby and only I know how devastated I’m.
The only reason I’m alive and typing this is my 1st born …my daughter. If she would not have been around, I would have died by know ….would not have let my son travel all the way to heaven all alone.
I can relate to the thought you discussed and I’m a living example of it.
May god never let any mother on earth to go thru this.

Jocylene 3 months ago

I searched this topic and found this article because I am feeling the exact same way. I too am a teacher who currently has 3 wonderfully social and brilliant students that are only children. I also lost my mom to cancer at age 30 and got through it with my brother. Everything you have written is exactly what I’m feeling and I feel like I flip flop daily on what I want. I wish the answer would just come to me.

A 25 year old one child! 4 months ago

Dear Madam,
Iam a 25 year old girl!
And I’m in an age that i should be thinking of having a baby myself!
But ….
I think i have to tell you more about how was my life growing up and how its now, and how they were connected, and then i will tell you if i were you, what would i do!
When i was a child i did feel so lonely, and i do feel now different from the ppl around me.
Back then, i used to be over kind and over sensitive about ppl’s emotions and over caring. And i still do. And when i think about it now i think it might be for one of these two reasons: one: it might be bcz i really wanted ppl to be around me. And second: it might be bcz i only recieved huge love n caring from my parents and i thought this is how it goes. And it might be both, i mean i give love n be nice all the time cz this is the onely way that i knew. I mean i never had to share the love of my parents with some else, or never had to share anything with any one else. That led me to never be able to stand out for my rights and being so nice and so caring. Which in ppl’s eye its weekness and being naive!
I think if all the world was a single child that wud b great, but its not! Or i might b different than other singles so them my whole theory is wrong!
The thing is, i do feel differnet, and solitude gave me alot, gave me deepness that no others hv. But it also gave so much from me, like being ubnormal in the society.
U might think im week, or im not aware of the devil in the world. But its not true, i do know everything about me but i just cant react to it but being nice. Which makes me lonlier and makes ppl to take advantage of me more!
Beside in this workd where friendship is alk about benifits, i think i will never hv the connection that silibings do.

What i think now, despite the fact that i cry when i think about motherhood and childhood, i think this world is full of evil, and i would be a criminal adding more ppl to it. If ppl keep taking advantage from ppl who r nice, and ppl keep hurting the nice ppl then i think its really bad world. Despite the fight and hatered around the world. So i think it would be selfish of me to hv a baby, although its a human right.
Therefore i decided to adopt children, this way ill b a mother and i wont be adding more victims, and i would teach my children to love properly.

In your case, if i already have a child of my own( which i probably will :) dont listen to the above) i would diffenetly consider it a crime not to have a second baby, a crime even bigger than adding an other person to this world.
I would wait until my son get emotionally full, like 6yrs or 7. Then i would have a second baby for him.

I would stongly reclmand u to adopt. And he can choose his brother or sister. But plz dont leave him play alone, now if he is under 6 he wont get it but later her will blame u for not getting him a sibling.

Ps. We r all differnt, ur child might be differnt than me, so plz at at of 5 or 6, simpley ask him. And see what he feels and what he want. For me i think it ledt a hole in my heart that will never be filled.

Ps2s i asked many ppl why would they have a baby, and all the answers were selfish like cz they r cute, or not to feel lonely or to have a meaning to our lives. So plz try to make it about them so u can contribute to this world. I also asked pll why wont they adopt, and the answer was also selfish: cz its more expensivecthan having our own, or cz it feels different!

Ur child might be unque and successful and extremely nice and everything. But he will always feel different and lonely’

Or maybe not, maybe ur child experienxe be different than mine.

Ps3: i might be all wrong, so please dont take my experience and my opinion as a rigid true!

There is so much goodness in the world but we are too afraid to show it, and too afraid to trust, thats my opinion about losing love and compasion in this world!
So plz raise childern that can feel more than any other thing

Best of luck with ur decision

Stephanie Langis 4 months ago

Thank you so much for this honest post, you have made me feel less alone as I too struggle to decide whether to have a second child.

Johana 4 months ago

Get a deck of oracle cards

Johana 4 months ago

I did however marry young. No kids just one in the oven . I’ve been married 7 years now..and I’m expecting my first baby. You get what you deserve in this life. If you’re an will marry an asshole. If you’re mellow. You’ll marry someone that’s down to earth. We all kinda make our own beds..if you know what I mean. Will I have another baby? I’m not sure. I don’t like being pregnant and to be completely honest i probably wouldn’t have considered having a baby if it wasn’t for my husband who so badly wants to be a father. I’m a teacher as well. So I think, my next kid will be adopted if my husband wants another one. Being pregnant is no joke. And I’m not sure I want to do that again.

Johana 4 months ago

I’m an only child. My mom couldn’t have anymore and my dad didn’t make anymore when they got divorced. I am outgoing, charismatic and very open minded. However I don’t give my parents credit for that. I became that way because I had to survive. My mom had a shitty boyfriend and my dad was in another country. I moved around a lot with my mom and her loser boyfriend cause he couldn’t keep a steady job. I didn’t have anyone to go through that with and yes, it sucked. But my skin is a lot thicker now thanks to their lack of parenting. I survived. I could’ve become a drug addict, a prostitute or a complete drunken-slut. But I didn’t. I had no supervision. I did get myself into some shenanigans but nothing that reflects on my record..I’m squeaky clean. Smoked a little pot to cope with the ignorance that sorrounded me and my friends became my siblings. I don’t think being an only child is a bad thing.. I know of siblings that don’t even talk to each other and of others whom are very close. It depends on the person and their life also depends on how intelligent they are and how street smart they become.

Emma 6 months ago

Aww I feel exactly the same as you.. completely torn…. I can’t see how I’m ever going to make a decision… I had a miscarriage last month and was excited about the prospect of another but also just as much as a decision had been made… now I am back to same quandry. I had put a time limit on it… so we try until a certain date and then I go back on the pill. Take care x

Emma 6 months ago

Hello, it’s so comforting to read all your posts and know that it’s not just me! I have a 2 year old boy who I love more than anyone and we are now a perfect little family of 3. I never imagined how hard these 2 years could be and now that I am getting my career and social life back on track I am really happy. However turning 39 next month is making me feel under pressure for a second. I am completely torn… I want my son to have a sibling and the wonderful relationship I have with mine but I also don’t know if I can do it in terms of energy and also financially things would be tight. Do I stick with no more and give him a more secure life with a less tired Mummy or do we just go for it and be frazzled for the next 3 years?! Good luck everyone xx

Rochelle 6 months ago

Well good for you that you are so perfect, honey. The rest of us aren’t. Who the hell cares what her reason is?? She still loves her second child and that child still got to come into the world. Sounds BEAUTIFUL to me.

Christine 6 months ago

I have a younger brother, and although we are pretty close, we are both somewhat anti-social. Not in the awkward way, just in that we’d both rather spend a night in than a night out. We can both function completely fine at social events, but being introverts, it’s exhausting for us, and we’d rather only deal with our close friends and family. That said, our personalities are still quite different, and we fought a fair amount as kids. I’m not sure your issue has much to do with not being a sibling as it does with the genes passed onto you. Although, farbeit from me to say what being an only child feels like!! I mean no disrespect to your feelings.

starpallas 6 months ago

imagine how lonely it is to be an Only child, do that research please, iv 6 children an could tell u a few stories and reasons why, but believe me the more the merrier all the way around

Hind 7 months ago

Sorry to tell you this, but you made your second to serves you as a medication in case the first dies, well I find this selfish and so bad for the second child “I made you in case the child I love more than you dies I would keep on living since you’re here” I only have a child and not planning a second, she gives me full love, so full that I don’t need anything else and I love her so deeply, if something happens to her I would kill myself, she means the world to me. But I’m not making a second because I know I would not love him or her as much.

Luciana 7 months ago

Well, I have a sister, and my childhood is not a sweet memory.
My sister is 3 years younger than me and she used to beat me up and break my favorite toys.
When we became teenagers things got worse. She really used to jump on me like a cat and scratch me.
As a mother today, I can’t imagine all the stress my parents had because of us.
My sister was never easy going.

Today, just thinking about my experience, I don’t think of having 2 children.

Steve 8 months ago

Really don’t put matters of health and happiness in the hands of a non existent God. Your current child needs a strong healthy mother. Be happy with what you have.

Steph 8 months ago

I enjoy reading all of these posts, but now I am more confused than ever…. We always wanted another child , but my son will be 6 inapril and I willbe 39.. I’m so afraid of the risks involved and to mess up our happy little family, but I just don’t want him to be alone and would love to have another one, but as someone posted earlier, I don’t know if I just miss him being a baby.. In my heart.. I think I will always regret not having another, but in my head,, speaking financially, where we are finally at professional, and biologically,,, I think we should just move on and not go for another. I wish someone could make the decision for me.. Or show me the future where I know he is ok being an only child.

nanaknows 8 months ago

Well, every couple must make that decision on their own. There is nothing selfish about choosing to have only one. My husband and I were not at all sure that we wanted more than one. We enjoyed our first child so much, but infancy is exhausting. We decided to wait and see if he seemed to really want a sibling. Some kids are very happy being the center of attention and don’t seem to be interested in the idea of a sibling. Our child was not one of those kids. He very much desired a sibling and he was willing to share anything he had(even my lap)with any child that came along. We decided another child would be a good idea. It turned out to be a great idea! At the age of four he welcomed his baby sister with open arms. Four years later and they are the best of friends. He loves to cater and she loves to be catered to. He has told me more than once that he is so glad to have her. I was told, before having our second, that it is easier to have two than it is to have one. I have found that to be true. Rather than demanding my attention all the time, they tend to entertain each other. They tell on each other when one is doing something dangerous and they comfort each other when they see that the other needs it. I even hear them giving each other advice. I was afraid that I might not be able to love another child as much as my first but it was a groundless fear. Playing favorites has not been an issue, they are so different and wonderful that I couldn’t possibly love one more than the other. Every situation is different and your feelings matter. Some of the nicest most well adjusted people I have known were from a one child family. Whose to say that if you had another child that they would even be close to each other in later years?

Ero 9 months ago

I have a brother, and I too find it hard to make friends while my husband is outgoing. I don’t think your’s is a flaw of being an only child. Possibly something genetic, or environmental. Your parents could have put you in after school programs, or gone on family friendly holidays, so you could meet (and socialize) with kids your age.

Monyka 9 months ago

I’m in the same boat. I have a gorgeous 10 month old and my husband and I made the decision before his birth he would be our only. My decision is more out of fear though. My first pregnancy ended at 10 weeks, a year later I got pregnant with My son. The pregnancy was hard and we almost lost him. When he was 2 months I got pregnant with an IUD in place and lost the third baby when it was removed. I have two brothers one younger one older and I love them dearly and I don’t want my son to miss anything but we are a close family (husband son and I) and do everything together. I’m stuck wondering if its enough or do we bring in another child? If we decide to how will that go? Will the pregnancy end like the others or will it be healthy? I just don’t know

Emma 10 months ago

I have one girl. I only wanted one. I’m honestly tired of people telling me I’ll change my mind one day. I don’t want more kids and I’m not sorry. She’ll be fine and just like I was fine growing up an only child.

Susan Maccarelli 10 months ago

Gorgeously written! It only reinforces why I am taking your writing class! I think either decision is the right one and I am so happy for you that #2 is on the way!

Lillian Connelly 10 months ago

I am going through this right now. Trying to make a decision. I’m 39. I keep going back and forth…do we have a second or not? It’s a tough spot to be in.

savannah 10 months ago

Man I’m in a similar boat :) I had my daughter Feb 2013 omg she is the most amazing person. I love her beyond words.. I never knew this love could exist. My only problem with having a second child is will I love it as much as I love her? What if she is always my favorite? You’re not supposed to have favorites but I love her so damn much I couldn’t imagine loving someone else like that..but is it possible? Is that like a second child you think? Same powerful love with first child..? I either want one child or two.. no more than two for sure.. so with the first Alice my daughter I felt she was missing in my life, I craved her so badly and when I was pregnant I knew it was her I felt like I already knew her.. right now I don’t really have a craving for another, yet. So I wonder if I should just wait until or even if I get that same craving for another child. I also do want her to have someone to play with and love of course. But that can’t be your only reason for a second child it has to be from your heart and desires too.

Patrick Carter 11 months ago

I am an only child, as well as an only grandchild on my dads side, and I can honestly tell you I think it has hindered me hugely. I was treated as some sort of mini messiah (from Uncles as well as grandparents), growing up in the country with two working parents, which has left me with so many bad social tendencies and inadjustments. You don’t develop an understanding of how to wait for your turn and contend to be heard in social situations when everyone hangs on to your every word, and I regularly felt incredibly isolated. I used to visit cousins on my mums side and be so envious of their large families, able to argue and fight with each other. While there are obviously benefits – better at being alone, financially better of etc – they are so outweighed by the costs. Having a lifelong companion in the same boat as you or that extra holiday to Kenya is not a difficult choice. 11 months ago

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Codigas 1 year ago

After reading these comments I probably have to think about having another one. I have gone back and forth and I would probably be fine sticking with one, but I do worry that she would be lonely and feel like she missed out on something when she grew up. I am close with my sister and brother and I always pictured my family to be at least 2 kids. My baby is such a great baby too! She wasn’t difficult and was a great sleeper, so what is the problem? I am a CPA and work full time and around 60 -65 hours during tax season. I was able to manage with my daughter since my in laws are amazing and live only about 45 min away and I had an incredible nanny. Even then we barely made it. My husband works insane hours year round and is on call once or twice a week which is hard to plan around. I just want my daughter to get the most time possible with me since I am away too much already. I don’t want to have to split that attention with another one and then they both feel robbed. My daughter is 13 months old so I have some time to think about this, but it has been nice to get my life back a little and finally start to get “out” again doing things. It is a tough decision and everyone feels differently. I get a TON of grief from my family for saying I only want one, but ultimately it is you and your husband’s decision and NO ONE else’s since they are not raising the children, you are. I am just praying that I will follow my heart and hopefully something will work out to give me more time with my children.

Kelly 1 year ago

My son is 3 1/2 and I struggle daily with this. I always THOUGHT I wanted 2 kids. But after having one, I realize that with my husband’s and my personalities that one is just better for us. I enjoyed ALL of it. Being pregnant, the ultrasounds, finding out the sex, painting the nursery, announcing we were pregnant, even the delivery. But I think at the end of the day I want to experience HIM again, not come home with ANOTHER child at the end of the day. I just feel bad because my husband is an only child and my only brother passed away a few years ago and hadn’t had children yet. So my son has NO aunts and uncles and NO cousins. I was an only child for 9 years (my brother was 9 years younger than I) and now I am again. My mom is a young mom so I haven’t felt the “burden” of taking care of her by myself yet but I’m sure that’s coming. I’m 43 so if we want another the time is NOW. But I just don’t think I do. Having another child JUST to give your first child a sibling is NOT a good reason to have another. YOU have to want another kid at the end of the day and I’m just not sure I do. I’m a very one-on-one, focused person. He is my EVERYTHING and frankly, I don’t want HIM to have to share ME. I’m not good at spreading myself too thin. But I must say, I never understood the argument of “well if God forbid something happens to him, at least you’d have another”. WHAT? As if my other kid could fill the whole left from the first one not being here? That’s ridiculous! Only NOW do I understand what that really means. If something were to happen to one, the other one would GIVE ME A REASON TO KEEP GOING. Now THAT I get. My mom lives for me and my son now that my brother is gone. But she is strong and I’m sure would have kept going even if my brother had been her only. I just want this feeling of “undecidedness” and guilt to go away. I’ve made the decision that one is enough for me. Now my heart just needs to get that message.

eliza 1 year ago

It’s so comforting to know I am not alone with these feelings. I am also an only child. I always thought I would want more than one child for exactly these reasons. Plus my parents are nuts (thankfully they are still alive and well) but they drive me crazy. My husband can empathize (or sympathize, I always forget which one is which) but he doesn’t TRULY understand. My son is 20 months and I am 36 and I feel like if I want to have number 2, it’s now or never. But I just don’t know if I have it in me to go through it all over again- pregnancy, lack of sleep, trouble nursing, etc. But then I think about my son and how great a big brother he would be and how nice it would be to have someone who understands his life. There is no right answer and my heart and mind are so torn! I wish it had happened accidentally so I didn’t have to spend so much time thinking about this. It stresses me out and is a constant weight on my mind. HELP!

emma 1 year ago

I stumbled on this post, happy I did. I’m an only child and I feel a huge weight of responsibility for my mom (father passed away long ago). I don’t have siblings to help, to pick up the pieces or for that comfort. My daughter is almost 2 and I love that I sleep more, can take her places and that I feel comfortable (not totally but better) in my role as a mom. I guess the clincher for me is that I would feel incomplete without another child or two in our family. It’s a family decision and no one can say what is right but for me, as I look into the far future, I think more than one looks best for us. This is a hard topic. Lots of emotion with it. You made it safe to discuss. Thanks!

KC 1 year ago

I have a daughter that will be 3 in less than a month and I am at the same cross road. We originally wanted 3 kids but the challenges of each stage are hard to adjust to. My husband no longer wants more but I do. I have 2 older siblings and we are not real close so I just suggest don’t let the gap between ages go to far apart. 6 and 10 year gaps don’t give the kids much time to grow up together because the older ones are off growing into adulthood while the youngest is left back at home alone. So if we don’t have another before my daughter turns 6 then I’m not sure if it we will extend our family. Good luck with your decision.

Maryann 1 year ago

Firstly thank you for writing this confessional and all the comments. I thought my husband and I were the only ones that had these fears and thoughts.
Our little girl is now 1 and the questions have been rolling in asking when we’d have another but whilst I liked being pregnant (besides getting gest diabetes) like so many of you the birth really rocked me to my once found ‘core’.
I didn’t expect the soreness or not being able to laugh without peeing for months after. No one told me how hard breast feeding would be and after three bouts of mastitis I gave up at 5 weeks (best decision ever) but also no one told me how much people would judge and how much it would affect me. It was so difficult.

But now we’re great, we’ve got confidence in what we’re doing.. Our little girl is awesome and we cannot imagine life before but we both cringe at the thought of another.

Above all those other issues is the biggest fear that my amazing wonderful husband and I wouldn’t be able to survive another.
We love each other dearly but we’ve had those moments when our relationship is teetering on being miserable, we’re tired, I’m pissed off I had to get up all night, he’s mad about something but were both too tired to care and that’s the biggest reason why we may not go again.
At the same time we both want our daughter to have a sibling so she has someone to share secrets and play with and I just hope all we need is time… And with time comes the courage to face all those incredibly scary fears again and maybe, just maybe we’ll be awesome from the get go…
Thank you again. Just writing the above and getting this off my chest has made me feel so much happier. Xx

Anonymous 1 year ago

I myself am an introvert also, and I’d rather regret not having a second child than regret having a second child. I honestly see no point in having more than one child, especially in 2014. I mean, gender doesn’t matter to me at all, and most people just seem to view the second child as a “spare tire/playmate” anyway, which I personally think is sickening because at the end of the day you’re not really having another baby… you’re having another future human adult. + It’s important to keep in mind that siblings don’t always get along… I mean, my twin cousins hate each other with a deep, passionate, “grown up” hate. Your experiences with your siblings are your own, and as much as you want to give your child what you had/have, it could backfire on you.

Stacey 1 year ago

I came looking for a post like this because I’m struggling with the same decision. We’ve always said we wanted 2 kids, but right after my daughter was born my husband started having trouble at work, ended up leaving and we were left in a very delicately balanced financial situation. Not poor, but making some serious cutbacks. I still wanted a second baby – I yearned for it, I dreamed about it, I obsessed over it – but we knew it would be irresponsible. Now, 3 years later, we’re content. We’re stable and we’ve got a pretty good system going. I have time to myself. I sleep through the night (most nights). We’re done with diapers! There’s part of me that still wants another baby, but I’m starting to realize that maybe what I really want is to be pregnant – my daughter was 8 weeks early and I’ve always felt a little cheated out of my pregnancy – and maybe I don’t really want another child. I’m only 36, but my husband is 45, so that’s a factor, too. In the end I’m 99% certain our family is complete, and I’m okay with that. I’m actually happy with that. But I may have to accept that 1% of pregnancy nostalgia…

tina 1 year ago

try for another one…… if it happens u’ll be able to pull on. and that means u will have a second one by god’s wish. but if u don’t conceive and get pregnant with in a year of trying then just think that god wants u to have only one.

also now the whole world is going for a single child only. so don’t think u r the only one. we don’t need siblings and even parents for that matter. there is a god up sitting to bless u with everything u need.

Kara 1 year ago

Lucy, everything you are saying is everything I’m struggling with. I wanted 3 kids back to back! Just like there are 3 kids in my family. After having my son (who my God I adore!) I didn’t realize the struggle that would come with it. We have no help from family here (our families live out of state) and my son was a difficult child. My husband does not want anymore and we both feel like our dynamic is good. But then the guilt sets in and kills me. I struggle with this so much that I thought of talking to a therapist about it. I don’t want my son to be burdened by us. When anything happens in my family, my sisters are the first people I go to. How can I deprive him of that. I love my son so much. He truly is the reason of my existence but had I known the guilt that I would feel because of this I don’t know if I would do it all over again. It’s unbearable :-(

yisel hdez 1 year ago

I’m going the same dilemma, ACTUALLY a little different. I have a 2 and a half baby boy, and altho i love him to dead (he drives me crazy sometimes) I always wan net a big family, but after having my first kid and really learning how hard was it to provide for another human been , i changed my mind. Now that he is almost 3 I’M going trough a a stage that i call BABY CHRUCH !!!!! Wish is the werdest thing ever , I DONT feel really AT ALL ( in any aspect) to have another baby, but at the same time my MIND it driving me crazy with the idea to have a 2nd child. I am an only child, and altho i don’t believe that being an only child its a horrible thing like many people think, I do agree with the fact that being the only child SUCKS!!! even having amazing friends — its never the same. And wrowing up , I always promese my self I will never do that to my kid,… Please can any body HELP ME !!!! I’m really confuse and will like some opinions!!! thank u

LP 1 year ago

What about the mother who does want a sibling for their child but also because they want one for themselves? What about the mother who tried for four straight years, fell pregnant 10 times and had 10 miscarriages and the only reason is the consequence of her choices for starting too late in life, for finding her husband too late. The gift was her only child. The plight is knowing that I won’t be there for her as long as my mom was for me because I had mine 7 years later than my mom did. I suffer with regret and trying to reconcile why? Why? I guess someone has to suffer – I was the one in four ten times! Yet I have never won the lottery. I only win at losing.

sophie 2 years ago

You should definately have a second child. As an only child it is riducoluous the amount of lonliness and feeling as if parents will never listen to you . WIth a seond child you are insuring an easier life when they are 10 to 16 and in their adult years you would hope they hape someone to look back to no matter what.. Eventhough it is hard it is worth it 100 percent

unsure 2 years ago

worked my way up the ladder*

unsure 2 years ago

My only is turning 12 soon. I had her when i was not ready and she was completely unexpected. I was 20 years old and going to college full time and working. I was not living a responsible life, making bad choices for myself, as most college kids do… but soon snapped into gear to give her a better life than what I had. I married her father when she was 8mths and we have stayed together and worked through every obstacle that life could throw at us. Raising her took everything I had. I stayed home with her till she was in school. I happily went back into the business world and have worked my way up the latter in just a few short 5 years. My husband and daughter yearn for a child. I have asked my husband to talk about it with me but he just wants to do it… lol okay so maybe we have some communication problems. He just wants me to be in agreement. I have been against it all this time not wanting to “start over”. I have her halfway raised for goodness sake! all joking aside i have to say for the past year i have had this part of me opening up to having another. I just turned 32 and its like every time i see a little boy my heart yearns. I almost brought myself to talk to my husband about my feeling when i got in the car yesterday…. cranked it… thinking should I mention this?… I looked in the back seat and wondered if there should be a car seat back there. What is this?!? I have been terrified of having another now i feel like my 2nd is just waitng for me to decide all ready. I am very anylitcal and i know its my downfall. I never wanted to have kids because of a hard childhood. But God blessed me with my first and i cant imagine life without her.. is my second child in my future waiting for me? I am just scared… I feel like this article… fearful of regret. my husband is 37, i’m 32 and my daughter is about to turn 12…. my career is taking off but I think I feel a void…. like my future son is waiting but i’m too scared to take the leap.

MeganMeag 2 years ago

I could have written this myself (except being an introvert – although maybe, the older I get). You wrote everything I’ve been feeling and believe. Thank you. It helps so much, especially when I look around at all of my friends with 2 or 3 and am asked when (not if) I’m having my next.

stunning seo guys 2 years ago

13moN0 A big thank you for your blog.Thanks Again.

Tracey Harriss 2 years ago

Maria Sh – hear hear. Elisa Brown-Barrile – what a hypocrite! "I don't want to judge you – but you are so short sighted" If that isn't being judgemental then I have had the meaning of the word in my head wrong all my 50 years.

Kay Aitkin 2 years ago

I only have one child. He made it very clear from an early age he did NOT want any brothers or sisters.

Aimée Lafrenière Turner 2 years ago

I agree with you, TaRaysha. I have one, because I know myself, and there would not be "enough of me" to go around if I had two. I often feel maxed out with one. I would not be a very good mother to two. But I think I'm a great mom to one.

Angela 2 years ago

I guess we are going to have to just disagree. I know it really hurts our daughter when she doesn’t have a sibling to turn to when people start in on us as an entire family about why she doesn’t have a brother or a sister. Try to imagine people yammering on and on about how wonderful it is and how great their children’s lives were growing up together. They get very specific. What the hell are my husband and I supposed to say? Mommy had 4 miscarriages and the last time Mommy had to carry a dead baby in her tummy until the doctor could schedule a D&C? She’s only 8! I’m not sure why I’m trying to reason with you because I’m beginning to get the feeling you didn’t even read my post when I was sympathetic with your plight. Typical.

Allison Stratton 2 years ago

Wow, I can totally relate to this article !!!! I am having an internal struggle with this at the moment. My son is turning 5 this week and cries and begs me for a sister. I don't really want another child as I struggled so much emotionally when he was a baby. I feel like I only just scraped though post natal depression. I am just enjoying him so much now and want to be able to provide a good life for him. Children are expensive and I could not afford the day care and school fees for two children. I constantly have people tell me I am mean to deny my son a sibling and an judged. On the other hand I want to give my son what he so desperately wants conducive the morbid thought of "what if I lost my son" then I would have no kids. My husband has just turned 40 and I feel like I am running out of time :-( what if I regret not having a second child and I am too old ? What if I do have another and can't cope financially and emotionally ? I am so torn and feel panicky as time runs out :'(

Crimson Wife 2 years ago

I’ve seen plenty of brats who are their parents’ “one and done”.

Crimson Wife 2 years ago

My point is, no matter how many children a woman has, she is going to face judgment for it. That said, with so many people today choosing to have 0 or 1 kids, I do think moms of 3+ face a greater amount of flack for their choice than moms of only kids.

Lindsey Moraco 2 years ago

Vanessa Lockhart Who sends you children then? I hate when people act like God is not the one in control and blesses us with many blessings. That is pretty stupid to me.

Nicola 2 years ago

Thank you, Danelle. I am a Graphic Designer and understand and agree with you. When I design, I need 100% focus, calm and quiet – all these are luxuries to a mom of a toddler. Starting up my own business failed miserably, because I struggled to focus my attention since I became a mother 3 years ago.

My brother and I were very close and we even bought a house together that we shared for 5 years. Him and his family now live in New Zealand and we are losing touch. You cannot plan life, or assume that, because something is a certain way now, that it will remain like that forever.

Some days, I am sad that I might not have another child (turning 38 this year). But, my daughter, my husband and I are very happy at this moment in our lives and we spend lots of time together – extremely blessed!. To me, that is a great, great gift and very important. If I have another child, I will have to give up my part-time position and work longer hours – thus spending less time with my family. I will also, most probably, go completely insane and that won’t be good for anyone.

Tori 2 years ago

My husband and I have decided that our not yet conceived child will be an only. My husband is an only child and he had several close friends and cousins. I am the youngest of three if that gives you any idea of how important siblings are. I was tormented constantly by my older, bossy, and quite frankly mean sister. My older brother doesn’t really contact us anymore. There are no guarantees in life. ESPECIALLY in families. The dilution of resources cuts out so many opportunities for your child(den) as well.
We are choosing an only based on the skyrocketing costs of raising a child from birth to 18 years. Not to mention college.
You should only have another child if you TRULY want one. Not because you want a “playmate” for your child or because you fear being labeled “selfish”.

Maggie 2 years ago

I had one child. I was totally happy (plus, I’m not good at multi-tasking; I knew my limitations). She had fun playing with friends in the neighborhood. I’m sure if you had two, you would be a good mother to both children. Not all siblings get along, as you know. I guess it’s mostly the parents’ fault. One moralistic friend with two said she felt her child deserved to have a sibling. The kids are totally different from and don’t like each other. I have read that many parents have a favorite child. They can deal with this sensitively or not. The future is unpredictable. You know what is good for you, and that is most likely best for your child.

Elma Sulek 2 years ago

I came from a large family, I'm child number 10 and have two younger siblings. I'm not close with ANY of my siblings. Blood ties mean NOTHING.

Todd Allen 2 years ago

Actually, those who have huge old broods are the selfish ones. We're not suffering from an UNDERpopulation problem, and we can't support an indefinite number.

By all means, please don't do that.

Kerensa ˚͜˚ B 2 years ago

There are PLENTY of people on the planet already. It and I commend your choice. I am a mother of one, and my one is a creative, mega social ray of fabulousness. I could not have wished for more.

Angela 2 years ago

Anonymous. I’m sorry about this. Thank-you for telling the truth and considering the future for your children.

Angela 2 years ago

I’m not sure what that comment was except maybe you have been judged for having TOO many kids? I have seen that happen. Large families have been some of the closest I have ever known. No one should be judged for that and I think it is ridiculous and it happens all the time. However, so many only children, mine included are very lonely. I would gladly take the judgement if I could have a lot of children. We don’t have an only child by choice and it’s painful for us.

TK 2 years ago

I’m somewhere on the fence on this one too. Reading your post and some of the comments here has given me a lot to think about!

Andrew Laderoute 2 years ago

Elisa Brown-Barrile your an idiot …oops I judged you…offended cause someone wants to give all they can to one child instead of having multiple children who they can't support..your brats are the reason we sit at the bar in the resturaunt I bet.

Crimson Wife 2 years ago

Women get judged no matter what decision they make about family size. You think you’re judged for having only a single child? Try having 3+, and your first two children being opposite genders so that you don’t have the “excuse” of trying for a boy/girl.

Crimson Wife 2 years ago

I’m sorry about your dad, cancer is such a horrible disease :-(

I personally am a MUCH better mom of 3 than I was mom of a single child. I look back on videos of me with my oldest when she was a baby and absolutely cringe at what a super-neurotic “helicopter” mom I was back then. With 3 kids, I am forced to be more laid-back about stuff because it’s impossible to hyper-analyze every single little detail of parenting like I did when I just had one child.

Anonymous 2 years ago

I am an only child. I can only tell you of my own experience. Now that I am 55 I realize just how alone I am. All I have in this world is my husband and children. No other shoulder to cry on; no one else to share personal victories with. You have to decide what's right for you. I decided to have two children so that at least they would have each other when their parents were gone.

Rocco Sauvage 2 years ago

Vanessa Lockhart good post. I have one kid (adopted) (cant have kids) and I dont want anymore kids. I am still paying off her adoption fees and she is 8 yrs old. Kids are expensive and not everyone wants to spend their money on daycare as adults. My kid daycamp in summer is $600 a month and was $1200 a month as a baby. We are not rich, just middle class…so not everyone can afford a bunch of kids.

Angela 2 years ago

Do you ever leave the house long enough to know what goes on in society? Those of us who have only children get pressure from random idiot strangers almost daily. Society makes it their business to judge us when we have an only child especially when they don’t know our story and some of our stories are really painful. Your ignorant comments are pretty typical of all the crap we have to put up with.

Angela 2 years ago

There is a big difference in being childless by choice and choosing to let your child remain without a sibling. As an adult, you are making an adult decision FOR two adults. This is a decision that affects a child’s formative years and the rest of their lives and they don’t have a choice. It’s just completely different.

Vanessa Lockhart 2 years ago

It really is possible to regret having a child. The first, the fifth, whatever. We don't want to admit that, but it can happen. The child could be the next Bad Seed. You'd regret that fa sho!

Vanessa Lockhart 2 years ago

Elisa Brown-Barrile Not having additional children is not short-sighted in the least. Nor is it selfish in any way. People like you are the problem, not her. You have no right to tell her she's wrong for enjoying her life and her single child. Your picture is next to the word "hypocrite." You say she can't make the choice of what is right for other people, but you just told her she was wrong for not wanting another child. You can't make that choice for her. I say you're short-sighted for not having 10 children and adopting 10 more. Can't you imagine the love you'd have for them? Wouldn't your family of 22 be just as awesome as your family of 5? Huh? Wouldn't it?

She doesn't have to imagine the possible love for another child. She is concentrating on the one she has. You are the know-it-all judgmental person, not her. Believe that.

Vanessa Lockhart 2 years ago

God didn't get you pregnant. I wish people wouldn't say stupid things like that.

Vanessa Lockhart 2 years ago

This is the second article I've read about parenting recently that mentioned having an additional child to provide a sibling for an existing child. Do people really do that? Have a child for that reason instead of because you want the child?

And societal pressures? From who exactly? I can see maybe family/friends asking "don't you want more?" or something, but society in large doesn't care how many children you want. I don't remotely understand how wanting one child, having one child and being done with it possibly makes anyone a bad mother. I don't remotely understand why that thought would cross anyone's mind.

Carla Peele 2 years ago

Honey, you don't have children because "you think you should". You have kids because you really, really WANT them. Like your body aches to have more. Otherwise, it's not fair to the child. So, no, you're NOT selfish. Having more when you don't really want to? THAT is selfish.

Anonymous 2 years ago

The funny thing is, my first was brilliant (still is) and I thought the same – didn't want one. Then birth control failed me AGAIN even though I used the pill and spermicide – and I had the funniest, quirkiest most loveable little boy…. and then a third, who was my best buddy and most understanding child. Oddly enough, I didn't have a favorite even though I thought my first was perfect.

Anonymous 2 years ago

I had three sons, mostly because birth control at the time didn't work for me. I don't regret a one, and I love them as men nearing their 40s as much as I did when they were sweet babies.

You know, birth children aren't the only kids out there. I had three stepchildren and three foster sons that I raised from age 12. Their adoptive mothers threw them away – my stepdaughter had also been adopted and her mother saw her only a couple of times. She was 9 when her adoptive mother left the family, 20 when her mom died. So sad they barely knew each other.

Raising those preteens was every bit as satisfying as the three to whom I gave birth, we have remained as close as my natural sons. I was very happy that the three boys reunited with their adoptive families as adults and seem to be working things out.

I've always loved kids, so if you don't give birth but decide you love mothering? There's always a child out there in need of loving down the road.

Liza Geo 2 years ago

I was essentially an only child. I have a stepsister I'm not close with and is not nice to me. I have one child who has stepsisters as well. My stepdaughters love him, but I worry if they will be the support he will need someday…. I'm turning 40 :(

Jennifer 2 years ago

I feel the exact same thing! I’m currently pregnant with our first and only child. I struggled for years with infertility and spent thousands of dollars to finally get pregnant. I never would have bothered if I had known how much I would hate being pregnant! It took me until I was 5 weeks along to realize that this would be our only biological child. Down the road we may decide to adopt, but there’s never going to be another life-force-sucking baby coming out of this body. Ever. I don’t feel guilty at all for making this decision.

Ryan Cash 2 years ago

You are not selfish in this thinking. My wife and I are childless by choice, but that doesn't mean we don't have family. I have one sibling born by my mother and father. But I have five brothers, three sisters, and a slew of cousins. Never did I feel like it was only my brother and I. We had family. One brother of mine was never officially related to me – he and I shared years together in the Army. Just because we don't share common ancestral blood doesn't mean our bond is any less.

Your child can grow to astounding heights or abysmal lows. It depends on him, you, your friends and extended family, his school. His life isn't measured or defined by siblings – it's defined by experiences. You can do this.

Kelley 2 years ago

As a mother who is also a huge introvert, I understand the dilema of adding to your family. When you are a person who relaxes and recharges by spending time alone – well there is no guarantee there will be enough of that alone time with kids.
I always wanted more than one child, in fact I kind of wanted 4 (I was one of three and it was alllways 2 against 1). Obviously, I didn’t know myself very well, lol. I had 2 and stopped as I had rough PPD after each one. Their young years were rough on me. I didn’t get enough sleep or quiet time or alone time. Part of that was well, a 4 yr old and a 1 yr old are alot of busy. Part of that was an unsupportive husband(ex now), who didn’t get that I really needed some time to myself EVERYDAY or I couldn’t destress.( Really you can’t take a half day off work so that I don’t have to take the kids to the doctor while I get my PAP smear done!!!)
There is no doubt that having more than one child impacted my career. I was out of the workforce longer as it was silly to pay daycare when it was actually better financially for me stay home. Increased costs pretty much took away any chance of continueing education such as pursueing a degree. The time to invest in my career/personal development, also was hugely decreased as during my marraige and as a single mom, 90% of the responsibility for child related anything falls to me.
DD18 was the golden child who fools you into thinking that yes, you could handle another one – slept well, ate well, took instruction well etc. My son was a hard baby and youngster. A very needy kid with Adhd and boderline ODD. Spent the first 4 months of his life in a snuggly attached to me so I could get something done -like cook the 3 yr old food.
As I chose to have them, as hard as this all is, I can’t help myself but give my all as a mom even though I long to go back to school or be able to travel.
My youngest is 15, so I do see the lifting of responsibility coming.
He and my DD18 are very close and have always been. She loved him so much right from when she knew she was getting a sibling – although she definately was pulling for a sister. She talked to him so much while I was pregnant, that when she walked into the hospital room to meet him, he turned his head completely towards her when she spoke!! So their closeness makes me glad to have provided them both with that kind of love in their lives.
But in my secret heart of hearts, I know I would have handled an only so much better and I feel guilty for knowing/slightly resenting the loss of opportunities.

Jen 2 years ago

Having decided to have an only, I feel like he finds his “siblings” in other places. Our family is very close, he’s my little man and he doesn’t have to share me. The book we’re reading says “parents have the first child for themselves, and the second child for the first child.” I think that’s true, and I also think there’s no guarantee that it will turn out as well as we hope.
That’s just my opinion!

Courtney Tetreault 2 years ago

yeah, you just judged her. Duh lol

Deb @ Urban Moo Cow 2 years ago

I wonder if you’re asking the wrong question. Does it make you selfish? No. Does it make you honest with yourself and your needs as a family and as a woman? Yes. Just my two quick cents. Lots more to say but will do it with you out of the public eye. :)

When Crazy Meets Exhaustion 2 years ago

Oh, Jessica :( The story about your dad hurts my heart, and the fact that you're still doubting yourself hurts, too. There is nothing selfish about not wanting more kids. I say that earnestly as I want MORE and I already have two. We moms are way too hard on ourselves, and need to rally 'round one another to stave off feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. You do what's right for you and your family, and if that means having one child, then so be it. Your little one is loved and cared for and that's what's important.

Suzy 2 years ago

If it’s meant to be for you to have another child, then it will happen :)

Suzy 2 years ago

Mothers of one child aren’t being selfish or short-sighted. I wanted more children but I couldn’t have more children (without spending tens of thousands of dollars that I don’t have to have another one). Who are you to say that three children is the right choice? If it is for you, then great. One child is the right choice for me (although I really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter).

Kezia 2 years ago

It is selfish. The main reason you don’t want to have another child is because it will make life more difficult for you. That being said, I 100% understand and agree. I love my son more than anyone or anything in the world. He is an absolute treasure. However, the only reason I am considering having another child is because my husband wants and big family and wants our son to have a sibling more than anything else. I am perfectly happy only having one child, and can’t imagine having two or even three. But alas I love my siblings, and can’t imagine life without them, so my child will have a sibling. But not because I want another child-even though they will be thoroughly loved and treasured- but because I feel like it’s the right thing to do…

Angela 2 years ago

I couldn’t physically have another child (miscarriages/health issues) and my husband is selfish and refuses to adopt. That is my regret. I wish my daughter had a sibling. I grew up with one sibling, he is autistic. I understand not being able to go through the very young years again, they were very draining, but I would truly think very hard about what your own siblings meant to you and maybe consider foster-to-adoption. Your story of your siblings was so touching. By the way, my daughter is quite lonely and we are doing everything we can and I am a stay at home mom and my husband is home a lot. It is my one big regret that she feels this way. Best wishes!

Sabrina 2 years ago

Unsolicited advice warning:
I tend to think “if you’re on the fence, the answer is no”. Honestly, here’s what stuck out to me most in your post…

“I don’t feel like our family is incomplete without more children. I feel whole and satisfied with one child and don’t really want more, at least not at this time. But I’ll be 39 this summer and my time for having a decision to make at all may slip away.”

I think that is very telling. If the only reason you feel like you need to have another child is because you might not be able to, frankly, that’s not enough of a reason, in my opinion, anyway.

Point blank: If you’re happy, your kid is happy and your spouse is happy, then that’s all there is to it. There is nothing selfish about wanting to be your own person in addition to being a mom. There is nothing selfish about only wanting one child. There is no rule that says you must provide a sibling for your child.

Heaven forbid something should happen to you or your spouse, as you experienced, he won’t be alone. If that is your fear, erase it. You’re clearly raising a smart, social, sweet little boy who’ll grow up and be surrounded by people who love him. Sibling or no sibling, as he grows, he’ll develop relationships that will be just as important as sibling relationships that will be there for him should he need them.

That’s my .02 cents and worth exactly what you paid for it

Kristi Campbell 2 years ago

This is something I struggle with all the time as well. I would love to have a sibling for my son but I’m an older mother. He already has special needs and it scares me that a sibling would have even more issues when it comes to that…
But I know a lot of people who grew up as only children and they’re fine!

Jennifer 2 years ago

Deciding on the perfect number of children is really hard, but also, I don’t think you ever regret having one more once he or she is here.

One Classy Motha 2 years ago

I felt the same way! It wasn’t until my son turned three that I decided it was now or never. While I wasn’t ready to go back to the baby stage (that was a hard time for me) I decided to look beyond that and focus on MY big picture. And for me, the big picture was…I wanted my son to have a sibling, someone to commiserate with, depend on & take care of, an ally in this world when we are gone. Granted, none of that is guaranteed, not all siblings get along, but that’s a mother’s hope.
He now has a baby sister, who’s 5 years younger (it took us a while). They fight, bicker, drive each other crazy, but they also love each other madly.

Maria Sh 2 years ago

It's actually quite possible for a mom to regret having kids. Some write articles venting about it, while others go to the extreme and end up on front-page news. Hit up Google and you'll see.

Maria Sh 2 years ago

Elisa Brown-Barrile Do you realize that you just said that you don't judge her for her choice, but then went ahead and judged her ("shortsighted" and "selfish" are pretty damning words about someone else's family.) And you also told her that she shouldn't decide things for everybody else and went on to scold her for doing so. I'm not seeing where she said that? She said it was worth it FOR HER and that SHE made the choice. However, I am seeing where *you* did it, by asking her "who she is" to make the choice that she did, that it's offensive and selfish, etc. So it's okay to make decisions for others as long as those decisions are ones you would make?

Alison 2 years ago

I have fought the same battles in my head, but how many people do you know that aren’t close AT ALL to their siblings or are another source or trouble? Just because you bring another kid into this world does not mean they will be close or be there for each other down the road. Bringing another person into the world when you are not financially or emotionally prepared to take care of another has to be a “I did what was right for our family at the time” moment that you accept.

Jean Gallagher Domanski 2 years ago

I feel you. As a teacher, I used to cring in the staff lounge about comments like, "Typical only child!" However, I also pondered a parent I respected who was also asst. dir. at my oldest son's preschool while I taught her son. She was an only child but had 5 kids. She did say to me that she really hated being alone at the hospital for her parents. However, what motivated us to have a 2nd child at the age of 36.5 is that our older son was asking for a sibling. 8 years apart is hard in some ways and actually easier in others. Sometimes they get along, and sometimes they don't. And I am sending one to H.S. while the other is entering 1st grade. But I know they love and value each other. I think we did the right thing.

Kelley 2 years ago

More than I wanted a second child, I wanted my daughter to have a sibling. I also work in long term care so I so daily the stress that is put on an only child to care for aging parents. It’s always good to have more than 1 emergency contact- LOL. But joking aside, I grew up with siblings and I had a hard time imaging my daughter not knowing the relationship of a sibling. I love my son tremendously, and I love seeing my daughter as a big sister. Several people have told me- you will never regret having more children. I will say it has been very hard to go back to the baby phase where it is so hard to do anything. I loved talking my dghtr places and it’s hard to bring a baby along to everything. Do what your heart tells you to do. It’s the right answer.

Maria Sh 2 years ago

And who are YOU to call her short-sighted and tell her her decision is wrong and she is less loving?? Ugh!! and "Yes, they are expensive." Um try, a second child would bankrupt some of us. Yes, BANKRUPT. not going to go into detail but it's not always about "If you budget better then you can do it." check your privilege at the door. –Signed, a short-sighted, less loving, mom of a wonderful only child who won't change my family size just for everyone else's "advice." Ugh.

Linda Brennan 2 years ago


Gwyneth Rees 2 years ago

I don't think you are being selfish if you choose just one child, and I think your son will be absolutely fine. In terms of regret, I think the saying "you only regret what you don't do, not what you do" is very true here. I think that you will never regret having another child (yes it may be challenging, but depth of love for a new baby trumps everything). If you don't have another child I think part of you will always at least wonder about it, and possibly regret….I guess the question is are you OK to live with that?
I have two boys (2&5), and seeing their relationship together is another great joy for me.
Everyone has their own preferences and choices. Good luck in choosing what is right for you and your family! x

Ganzii 2 years ago

I love this post. I have been thinking a lot about this topic lately. My son is almost 3. I had a very traumatic delivery with him – 38 hours from the time I arrived at the hospital to be induced until he made his dramatic entrance (or would it be exit?). We were both sick, and he spent a week in the NICU. He has some medical things going on, all which have been resolved now, but the first year was doctor after doctor, stress stress stress, and no sleep. He never slept. I was lucky to get 3 hours straight at any point for at least the first 8 months.

BUT, he is an amazing boy. He is brilliant – scary smart. He’s sweet. He’s social and friendly and loves everyone. He is the absolute light of my life, and I know I got SO lucky. Even his 2’s haven’t been too terrible.

So for me, the problem is twofold. 1.) The birth and early months were so stressful and horrible, I don’t want to ever do that again. He is finally at the age where I can do things with him – like day trips and vacations, and not want to jump off a bridge. He is fun. He is a little person! I don’t want to go back to square one and no sleep! and 2.) I can’t imagine getting this lucky twice. I can’t imagine another child being so smart, sweet, interesting, and special to me.

But yeah, I always wanted more than one. I am very close with my brother and I think of things like family holiday dinners in the future and having a very empty house. That makes me sad.

My son’s father and I are divorced, and he is not in the picture. I’m with someone now though, and even though we are nowhere near the point of having a child of our own, I can’t help but think about how awesome it would be to share that with him. To have a little hybrid of us running around.

I still have no idea what I’ll end up doing, and it won’t be my decision alone. It has been on my mind a lot lately though. (Partially because I just had a bit of a pregnancy scare!) I am 28, so there’s time to figure it all out. I’m glad to hear that I am not the only one who really struggles with this decision. It seems like most of the people in my life are either total baby factories or have sworn off of kids altogether.

Lisa 2 years ago


Go with your gut not what society dictates or even your personal experience. We have false belief systems that we use to make decisions. So make sure your beliefs are true before you make a decision. I love both my kids….usually….but I’m telling you….I don’t give a fig if they are best of buds when they are adults because their constant fighting will be the death of me and I won’t be there to witness that miracle. Love my dog more than my kids…for sure!

Ambria 2 years ago

As much as people make a big deal out of it, having a second child doesn’t always work out well. For instance, I know a lot of people who vehemently do not like their siblings, so it’s ridiculous to always assume that another kid will automatically be positive for the first child.

Also, I had a lot of friends, while growing up who complained about the fact that their parents would constantly dump their younger siblings on them, regardless of scheduled plans, homework, studying, or some other obligation to take care of. To make matters worse, although they were responsible for everything the younger kids did, but they had absolutely no authority to tell them to do/not do anything, inevitably causing them to get in trouble all the time for things they had no control over.

I always thought this was crazy, and believed that my parents would never do anything like that, but when my dad remarried when I was 17, that’s exactly what happened. There’s nothing like not being able to study because you have to watch an obnoxious kid, then getting bad grades, and then getting in trouble by the person who caused the situation in the first place.

Of course not all parents do this, but it appears to be incredibly common, so I’m inclined to think that having more children sometimes makes it too easy for parents to not take the obligations that kids already have seriously (even though slipping is unacceptable), and then give them more responsibilities, which actually should belong to the parents.

Jane 2 years ago

I notice that a lot of people commenting are making the assumption that only having one child is a choice. Sometimes it’s not – sometimes there are other factors involved that mean you only get one baby.

My daughter is 6 and I find it so insulting when people ask me when I’m going to have another. Do they not stop to consider that it might be a really painful subject?

I’m completly happy with my life the way it is – with only one child – which is a blessing seeing as how I don’t have the option to have anymore.

Abby Byrd 2 years ago

I am in the same place as you are right now. Thank you for articulating both sides of the issue so eloquently. I wish you the best as you decide what is right for you.

Nancy Mota Moreira 2 years ago

Aw, Ann Labbe…and you have a beautiful family. Your boys are adorable.

Shannon Woodard 2 years ago

I am an only child and my daughter is also an only child. I'm a single mom now. And everyone says that will change and I may want another child when it does. But my pregnancy was so physically difficult and emotionally scarring. I do not want to go through it again. As an only child, I have also just taken on the responsibility of caring for my mother. And while this is extremely difficult, I still do not wish for any siblings. I do not feel alone in the world. I have been given the incredible gift of choosing my siblings. Love comes in so many forms and can be cultivated in so many ways. I do not regret being an only child, and I don't think I will regret the decision to raise and only child.

Pat Harris 2 years ago

I like your comment – it makes me think. Not sure I’ve ever heard anyone say they wish they had more kids, only that they wish they had a specific gender, like, “I wish I’d have a daughter,” but never, I wish I had 4 instead of 3. But I’ve heard people say, “I had no business having 3 kids,” or if I knew then what I know now, I could’ve just had dogs. All these people love their kids, but I’ve heard things that intimate that people felt out of their depth with kids. All that said, your comment makes me ask myself if I’d ever say that, as I consider permanent birth control now that I’m on number 2. I don’t like regret and I’ve got to have a serious talk with myself to see if what you said resonates. Thanks for sharing.

Pat Harris 2 years ago

Everybody has their threshold for what they can take and still be an effective parent. My 2 year old is just now able to do things on his own and that’s the 2nd child. I cannot go back for a third. We were talking vasectomy last night. I am a great parent of 2, and would be a horrible parent of 3. I have friends with 3, and good for them, they can handle it (or think they can). I know that I can’t. So if 1 feels right, it is right.

Teach your kid how to make his own siblings now – the best family is the kind you picked.

allison 2 years ago

I’ve heard people say, “I wish I’d had more kids”. I’ve never heard anyone say they wished they’d had less kids.

Deneen 2 years ago

I am a (l)only child… All I ever desired was a sibling ; I never fit in w my parents. I am envious of the bonds my friends and cousins had & still have w their siblings. I am not judging you only passing on the feelings of an singleton. You sound like a wonderful mum and THAT is what will make your child secure! Thx for sharing! Xoxod

Amanda 2 years ago

I am the oldest of 3 & my husband is an only child. There are experiences that can only be had with a sibling- so many wonderful experiences & quite a few aggravating experiences as well. My husband & I each grew up happy, but he has taken my brothers as his own. I wish we had been able to have more children than our twins, not for us, but for them. Growing up in a house full of siblings is FUN!

Good luck with your decision. Whichever way you go, it sounds like your house is full of love.

Sarah 2 years ago

Wow! I really felt your words.

Renee R Clark 2 years ago

I have 1 of my own (11) & DH #2 has 2 (7 & 10)… fear is that if I don't have one with him & something happens to him, his 2 won't have a reason to come back around. My thoughts are, if something happens to mine…..then I won't be a "mom" anymore……i am 42 & DH is 49…..the clock is beyond ticking

Katia 2 years ago

Jessica, you’ve perfectly encapsulated in this post the inner struggle that you’re going through. Even though my personal story is kind of a mirror image of yours (only child who had two boys) as an introvert parent, who is struggling with the lack of privacy and autonomy these days as my baby is about to turn 1, I completely identify with the feelings you describe and with the dilemma. I wish I had words of wisdom regarding possible future regrets. The only thing I can come up with is please, if you do end up regretting your decision, beating yourself up, or going ‘what if’ remind yourself that the decision was an informed one and was the right one, maybe even the only right one, for the moment.

Sandy 2 years ago

The problem is that no one gets to live it both ways. Only children don’t know what their lives would have been like with siblings, and kids with siblings have no concept of life without them.

I have siblings, and I always knew I wanted my child to have them, too. I lost my parents before I had kids, and I couldn’t have dealt with it alone. I’ve also found that my memories of my parents are one-dimensional compared to the picture that emerges when all my sibs share their memories. Since my kids will never know their grandparents, this means a lot to me.

As for two kids taking too much time — no. Just no. My kids are 18 months apart, and the early years were a lot of work, but those years fly by and what you’re left with is far more time to yourself, because two kids can play together. With one kid you have to import kids via play dates. While it’s always nice to have friends over, it’s even better not to feel pressured to do it all the time. As I write this, my kids have been watching videos together, and this afternoon they will swim together. They play wii and board games together, and generally keep each other busy. In the fall they will walk to school together.

They’re normal kids and yell and fight, but they know there is always someone around to do things with, if they can persuade them (a useful skill!). They also know how to share, because they’ve done it their whole lives. Siblings teach hard lessons early and almost by osmosis, like life is competitive, and other people don’t necessarily think you’re as wonderful as you think you are.

The true gift is twice as much love, of course, and the opportunity to see your children grow into individuals.

Jessi 2 years ago

Perhaps I have experienced a drastically different sibling experience than most of those who have commented before me. I agree there is no right or wrong I simply want to share my reasons for wanting only one and my life experience that led me to this choice. I have a younger brother (6 years younger) and my mother wanted me to have a sibling because she feared me being alone if she died. Well, she died 5 months ago and I have been alone. My brother and I are simply not close… He is emotionally closed off and I am emotionally open and he refuses to let me be a part of his life. I love my brother don’t get me wrong… The point I am trying to make is not to worry about that. I know that a lot of you have experienced similar losses and feel strong because of your siblings but I am living proof it can be done alone.

Heather Leann Fall 2 years ago

You are not going to regret a second child once they are here, it's impossible. However after my seconds birth I had post partum really bad and thought it was the stupidest thing I had ever done, and she was the perfect baby, slept easy, fed easy etc…I just felt that I hadn't savored the time with my oldest. But now 4 years later they are best buds the oldest has no memory of being an only child so there was never any anomosity. The second has a third teacher so she learned things quickly and it all goes by so quick.

Brittania Butler 2 years ago

I said this to my husband not even a week ago. "I will never regret having another child, but I may regret not having one."

DesperatelyErin 2 years ago

I think we look for that fairy tale ending, and the thing is there isn’t one. If you have another kid, it will suck for a while and then you’ll fall in love. If you don’t, you give your baby your undivided attention and always wonder what if. You’re not wrong either way.

Julia 2 years ago

I know exactly how you feel. My son had colic it was a rough road to 2 years old and now that he is almost 3 I finally feel like me again. I’m not sure I can go back to the infant days and I don’t know if I have the desire too. Yet the idea of a second child, of a sibling for my son is something I think about over and over again. I wonder about this person that may never even be real and I find it really hard to make a decision about whether or not we will be a family of 3 or 4.

Ann Labbe 2 years ago

thanks Nancy

Jacquelin Butte 2 years ago

I'm getting ready to have babies 4-5 crazy as it seems I can't even picture my life with out all of my kids. One child was never and option for us the way they play and the bond they have with each other there is nothing that compares. It is my firm belief (coming from someone who was raised as an only child) that you do what's best for you. I would have given anything to have a sister or brother to talk to when I was younger, I did grow up lonely and an out cast.

Nelly Hudson 2 years ago

It's easy to take just one around with you wherever. When you have two you're outnumbered. Double the work, just think about that.

Kristina 2 years ago


Emily 2 years ago

Jessica, I’m so happy to see that this was published here on the fabulous Scary Mommy site! As you know, I previously commented on your blog and I hope that my comments were somewhat helpful. You’ve received some wonderful and varied feedback here too and I hope that with time, you will “know” one way or the other.

Lea 2 years ago

I am an only and I always wanted a sibling. I still wish I had one. My parents are aging and I know I will be the only one who can support them as they age. I’m honestly scared about this.

And maybe this is my “only syndrome” coming out, but I want to have more than one because I am already looking forward to being a grandparent. And I also want to have their support when I grow old. And yes, I realize that this is a little selfish, but it is true.

Chris 2 years ago

They say “you have your first child for yourself and your second child for your first child.” I wholeheartedly believe that to be true. I had an easy pregnancy and then BAM! I had to have an emergency c-section but the anesthesiologist screwed up and did not give me enough anesthesia and cut me open and my body went into shock and then they gassed me and knocked me out and kicked my husband out. Had nightmares for months. And then my daughter had undiagnosed reflux for months and was getting up at night every hour on the hour sometimes every 15 minutes…I was nearly suicidal. We are now over this dark period and my daughter is the easiest baby since getting on reflux meds and she sleeps 12-13 hrs consistently a night. I will never forget the dark time I had initially but we will have another child b/c I feel like I missed out on a normal delivery and I would like to experience one and my daughter deserves a playmate and someone she can call on the phone when she has a problem and my husband and I are gone.

rye’s mommy 2 years ago

This article is well written, and says what I want to say but to quiet to say. I had my daughter, it was a normal (miserable) pregnancy. Everything was fine, but my husband wants to have a 2to3 child family, but the kids be close together (like 2 years apart). I was against it, on having another child and having them close together. He still holds that against me, he wanted more and I said no. I see that I couldn’t do it, my daughter was enough, I felt complete. I am a full time student and homemaker, while my daughter was growing up, if we had a second child I would not be able to be with them to grow up until kindergarten. That child would habe a different childhood, than my daughter. I couldn’t do that to a child, it would miss that bond, I have with my daughter. Do I think I was selfish for not having another child? No, I was doing it for my self and for that child.

Dani Ryan 2 years ago

I identify so much with this post. Thanks for putting into words a lot of the things I cannot express myself. I have a sister, and my husband has a sister, and we always assumed we’d have 2 children as well. It’s just what we knew. But I have a history of neural tube defects in my family, so being pregnant was very, very stressful for my husband and me. Even though we had tests done that showed there was no reason to be concerned, we were scared until the moment she was born and knew she was okay. The idea of going through that again worries both of us. I also found the first year of motherhood to be hard, and I am only starting to feel like myself again 2 years later. Would it be fair to put my child and husband through another stressful pregnancy and another round of PPD, should it strike me again? I just don’t know. But I’m not ready to say “yes” or “no” yet. I guess I’m waiting for a sign. :)

Elisa Brown-Barrile 2 years ago

I want to let you know upfront I don't judge you for your choice in only having one child but how can you be so short sighted! They are expensive and a lot of work but you can't imagine the love you would have for another being the same as the one you have? I'm sorry but that is offensive in so many ways. I have three children and I love them all in so many different ways, just like they annoy me the sane way. I have never felt like I have a favorite. Love is limitless, you can never use it up. I have a 5 year gap between the first and second child while I appreciate and remember the easy days of just having my daughter and the things we did just the two of us, thick as thieves I love our family of five the same as our family of three. I take my three children and do a lot of fun amazing things and I am fulfilled. Again I believe you can absolutely be fulfilled with one or no children but who are you to say one child is the right choice. How do you know what the right choice is for someone else? That is what bothers me about know-it-all judge mental people their selfish way is always the right way

Crystal 2 years ago

Growing up I always wanted a big family. I used to say I’d have as many kids as we could afford not wanting wanting to put a cap how many kids we would have. Then I got pregnant with my son and the first few months were great but the last 4 months were horrible for me.. I was a nervous wreck always waiting for something to go wrong, I had medical complications (gestational diabetes) and I was so over being pregnant that I told my husband then that I was done, no more babies. I bartered my delivery date w my OB, based on my dwindling mental health and after 36 in the hospital and no labor starting I begged for a c-section, which was a relief. When my son was born i was excited because I was done being pregnant and because my son was/is perfectly healthy and beautiful. My husband and had this conversation alot during his first year, going back and forth on the idea of more kids. (At one point i thought i had gotten pregnant again and had a panic attack, which only helped me see that my answer was already made). My son just turned 3 years old this week and I finally have time to myself. It has been a hard road for me since becoming a mother and I never dreamed I’d have an only child but I’d rather have an only child who I can give all my love and attention to and who I enjoy more and more everyday as he grows into a very loving little man. I’m excited by all the possibilities of things we can enjoy together as he grows up. My biggest fear is that if we concider adding one more we might end up with two more (twins). Or that I won’t be a good mom to two kids because I’d be miserable without sleep and with two kids to chase after. After putting the conversation on hold for a year and just living our life as a family of 3, my husband and i finally just said we were done. But we gave ourselves the freedom to change our minds later and revisit the topic. But for now I’m enjoying the freedom of having made the decision to stop, knowing that my family will always be complete no matter our number.

rye’s mommy 2 years ago

I love what you say about the adopted siblings! My daughter is the same way, she will make that bond with “adopted” family, and she is closer to her adopted aunts and uncles, than her real family. I think there is a different bond when you make the friends and bring them into the family, instead of just having the friend.

Suzy 2 years ago

Me too! My daughter said the other day “mom, I don’t think I want a younger brother” I told her “good b/c you aren’t getting one!” lol

Suzy 2 years ago

I have struggled with the same feelings as I have an only child, but I have a brother who I love dearly. Yet my daughter never slept as a baby, has anxiety issues & can be “high maintenance” at times. I love her more than life itself & she is smart, kind & funny but sometimes I wonder if I could handle another child like her. She is now 10 and I have time to pursue my interests, including a PhD in higher education policy. We’ve tried to get pregnant-including a painful stint into fertility treatments-and those efforts didn’t work. I think it’s the universe’s way of saying “one is enough” :)

Meredith Roberts 2 years ago

Beautifully written, and as a parent of an only child, not a day goes by that I don't wrestle with the conflict of whether or not my decision is the "right" decision. Thanks so much for sharing!

Gina Crosby Fennell 2 years ago

Seems like you have a wonderful experience with your siblings, but it's not always like that. I was tormented by an older sibling and resent her to this day.
I've never wanted more than one child. I have 1 six year old boy and I can't imagine it any other way.

Marcia Lopez 2 years ago

I had the same feelings and doubts you did. It almost seemed impossible to want to have another child. I had our son 4 1/2 years after our daughter was born. I was so certain I could never love him as much as I did our daughter…Boy was I wrong. You do, you learn to love each of them for their uniqueness and what they bring to your family. Time will tell if this is the right choice for you.

Megan ‘Lindberg’ Karau 2 years ago

I did not want a second child. I had a horrible pregnancy and a horrible delivery with my first and I didn't want to do it again. The perfect moment of holding my first child was a crock of shit. It took me months before I could actually say the words "I Love her" and mean it. I wasn't doing that again…until the stick turned pink. I cried and even thought about ending the pregnancy even though I am strict pro life. My children are 16 months apart and I parked in handicapped spaces for the first year I was a parent of two. I love my children, both of them, more than anything. I had the moment with my second daughter. I held her for the first time and the out pouring of love I never felt for my first came. It's okay if you don't want two. I didn't and ended up with them and it turned out fantastic. It is a matter of the heart, but in my mind it's more a matter of God. He does what he wants and you can't control it. It'll happen if it's supposed to happen.

DB 2 years ago

I am an only child, and the parent of an only child. Many of my child’s friends are also in single-child families. I’ve never wanted to have more than one child (I went through IVF to have my daughter), as I feel fulfilled and complete. Of course, I’ve never known what it is like to have siblings, and can’t imagine having more than one child, personally. I’ve observed friends and other family members, and their sometimes contentious interactions with their siblings. From the outside looking in, it appears to me that one child is always favored over the other(s) in most multi-child families. Also, both of my parents have siblings, and I watched as they (my parents) ended up being the primary caregivers to their parents until each passed. I dread the ultimate loss of my parents, who are thankfully fairly healthy presently, but I can’t imagine that having a sibling will lessen the impact of their loss.

Danelle 2 years ago

I feel your pain. I, too am a writer (multi-published, bestselling novelist) and after writing ten books, my husband and I made the decision to have a child. I was 38 when our daughter was born, and my fears that having a child would negatively impact my writing career (which everyone denied would happen) most certainly came true. It actually took me over ten years before I felt as though I had the time and space to write again, and it was extremely hard for me to find my identity as a mother.
Our daughter is now 13, and not a day goes by when I wonder if I made the right decision to have only one. I know in my heart, that I’m not “cut out” to have a second one; most creative people, myself included, are hugely driven (and fueled) by their Muse, and it can be hard, if not impossible, for a person to “serve two masters.” Of course, the child must come first. But for most truly creative people, there will be a resentment, even if it’s unspoken, that the thing that makes their heart sing — that true joy in creating — is sacrificed to that.
In the end, my pain is what you’re struggling with: Give the child the gift of a sibling, which will (hopefully, but no guarantee) ensure (perhaps) that the child will never be alone, that, after you and your husband are gone, your child will have someone to share those family memories with … or, be true to the needs of your own heart, and accept (in this society that insists that moms be 100% self-sacrificing) that you deserve your own personal fulfillment as well. For a true creative person, I don’t think these two can successfully co-exist, and the more children you add, the harder it is likely to be. Guilt with one choice, resentment with the other.
Good luck with your decision, and know that you’re not alone.

Heather 2 years ago

Wow, good point about there being no guarantee that a sibling would be a source of support. Thanks!

Jessica 2 years ago

Loved that episode!

Heather 2 years ago

Thank you for this column! I’m in the same boat – my son is an only child, and I’m 43, so talk about your time slipping away. I thought I was fine with having an only child until my husband’s father died. He’s an only child, and it was really heartbreaking to see him suffer alone. But my husband isn’t much of a bread winner, and I don’t see how we could possibly afford it. I’m dealing with a lot of anger and resentment toward my husband because he won’t improve his ability to earn a living for selfish reasons, and it’s impacting us all. Effing men.

Jessica 2 years ago

Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I, too, felt like I had just found my “new normal” when my baby turned 2. We did ultimately decide to have a 2nd child, who is now 1, and I can’t imagine my life without her.

But I love the mantra “there is no correct way to live your life.”

I also lost my dad in my 20s, and yes, it was comforting having a sibling through the whole ordeal. BUT, having a sibling doesn’t guarantee anything. Unfortunately, I know many people whose siblings are, how do I put this delicately? Assholes! Lol. A sibling might not be supportive at all. Even raised the same parents, siblings can often go in completely different directions regarding life choices and personalities. So don’t bank on this mystery sibling being there for your child…you just don’t know.

My mom is an only child and recently lost her mother (my mom is close to 60). It was hard taking care of her mother and making all the final decisions, but she is close with her cousins (and her daughters!) and has a lot of support. You can get this love in many places.

Good luck!

MomMom 2 years ago

This is a decision I struggle with daily and I’m only 26! My H works a very demanding job, that is a 2nd shift job, so my ds2 and I only see him for about 1-2 hours a day. I’m a SAHM, so that leaves me responsible for the house, ds2 and the pets, alone, pretty much 24/7. Right now I know it would kill me to throw an newborn into the mix! On top of that, I have some health problems that lead to a complicated pregnancy. What would I do with my son if I was on bedrest for 5 months again? Plus, I have had to put my schooling and professional career on hold until my son starts school since H can’t help much. This all being said though, my brothers were my best friends growing up. We are all in our 20’s now, and they are still first on the list of people I call if I have a problem. We still all get together at least once a week for family dinners. I am so conflicted! I’m glad i’m not the only one afraid my son will miss out on something!

Jessica Smock 2 years ago

Thanks, Carrie! I love your advice! It is true that many people have really terrible experiences with siblings, who are the opposite of supportive and cause tension and heartbreak on their own.

Jenna 2 years ago

I would say if your feeling like you should stop, then listen to yourself! I am an only child and I never wished I had a sibling growing up and honestly, even in my 30’s with 2 girls of my own, still don’t. I am lucky that my parents are still alive and I’m extremely close with my Mom. The thing is, there are no guarantees in life. Just because you have a sibling does not mean you will be friends for life, or extremely close. Even my husband has a brother who is two years younger than him, but since he moved away to go to College, they hardly ever talk (maybe that goes with having 2 boys vs. having a sister?). They still love each other obviously, but even though there wasn’t a falling out, I wouldn’t say they are “close”. The thing is, you have to do what feels right. Honestly there are so many days when I wish I had only had one child even though I love both my girls. No one is really ever alone in this world. You’ll always have your friends, or extended family, or husband/wife to help you through a difficult situation if and when it should occur. Live your life however it will make you happiest!

Jessica Smock 2 years ago

Thank you, Kathy! I know a few women who’ve had similar experiences as yours. What a happy ending!

Carrie 2 years ago

I was the youngest of three children, I have two brothers, and we were all close in age. However, we are not close. I have friends who are really close with their siblings, even as adults, and I envy them a little. My daughter was an only child for 5 years, and my husband and I had originally planned on only having one. Our son, the second child, was a huge surprise for us. The end result, is I am thrilled with our family now. I have to admit though, that even before I got pregnant with him, and was set on having just one, when my daughter reached about the age of 3, I started having this twinge like maybe I wanted another person in our family. I think we would have been just fine no matter the outcome, but I think you really know in your gut what is right for your family. Just because you have siblings doesn’t always mean they will be close. I do hope for my children to always be in the others life. Don’t feel bad, though for whatever you decide what is best for your family. Love the ones you’re with :)

Jessica Smock 2 years ago

I too had a difficult birth (emergency c-section) and recovery. My son had colic, reflux, and milk protein allergies, and I wonder sometimes how much of my indecision is actually related to subconscious fear. Either way, I was not a terribly happy pregnancy person, and another c-section would not be something I would look forward to!

Flyagain Angel 2 years ago

"I don’t feel like our family is incomplete without more children. I feel whole and satisfied with one child and don’t really want more, at least not at this time. But I’ll be 39 this summer and my time for having a decision to make at all may slip away."

"I don’t want to deny my son the chance to experience those heartaches and joys without the company of siblings."

Sounds to me like you already know what you want (to have another child) but you do not know if this is the right time to do so. All I can suggest is that you do not make the mistake of thinking this is a decision you have to make on your own. On the contrary, it is one that you should be talking with your husband about and finding out what he thinks as well. You may find that he is not ready to have another child yet; or that he isn't sure himself.

He may well be thinking that you are just now getting back to the person he knew before your pregnancy, worrying if you will have a longer and harder time with a second child. He may even be worried that you will give birth to a purple, bug-eyed alien monster that likes to jump out of closets in order to collect screams that are used as energy for his world; BECAUSE you have already given him such a perfect bundle of joy that it is not possible to do it right again ;-).

No matter what he is thinking though, you need to know, and he needs to know how you feel as well. Otherwise there WILL be trouble and misunderstandings down the road that cause very serious heartache and regret.

Go talk with your husband, tell him how you feel confused because yo want your son to know the joys of having a sibling, and to have the comfort a sibling provides, but that you do not know if it is the right time, or even that you should have another child. Once you do, I have a feeling that all your concerns and questions will be answered and you will know without a doubt what you want to do.

Good luck and God Bless no matter what you choose to do 😀


Kathy Radigan 2 years ago

Jessica I love this post! I think having another child is such a personal choice, I also think it’s something that sometimes happens. After having four miscarriages we were thrilled to have our son. After we tried for over a year to have a second child we went back to our fertility doctor.

While in the middle of our first IUI cycle I decided that it was so time consuming and so emotionally charged that we would only do this once, even though there were doubts whether this one would take. I remember being sad but content with our decision. Then I was thrilled to find out we were pregnant with our daughter. Since her pregnancy was so difficult it was strongly suggested by every doctor in our high risk practice that I get my tubes tied after my scheduled c-section.

That is every doctor but the one I saw the day I had to schedule the procedure.He said, you don’t want any more children, and I said of course we do but I didn’t think anyone thought I could do this again. He suggested a few alternitives and I did not have the procedure.

Imagine our surprise when three years later I found out I was pregnant with our third!! Peter turned 8 this spring and I could not imagine life without him. But I also know that had life worked out differently I would have been thrilled to have my son and our life. I guess this is a long way of saying that we can plan, but sometimes life has another plan. Sending good thoughts your way and thank you for a beautiful piece!!

3kidmom 2 years ago

I am a mother of three children. However, I can’t say I am always a happy mother of three children. As a child of a blended family, I was 6 years younger than my closest sibling and 22 years younger than the oldest. I simply felt lost and left behind even though I had 3 siblings. I didn’t want my son to grow up only playing by himself because it’s a sad memory I have of my childhood. We lived in the country and by the time I finished middle school I was the only child left in the house and on the whole rural road for that matter. Having said that, my two sons are 2 years apart and I was not prepared for the life-shattering chaos that tore the fabric of my personality and entire state of being apart. I quit my job, almost lost my husband and spent days and nights questioning why I wanted to do this to myself and how me being so emotionally mixed-up was going to ruin my sons. Then a few years passed and I felt the yearning for a third child – I blame that on the ticking biological clock as I was now in my mid-30s. It wasn’t a mistake to have multiple children. It was a mistake for me to have 2 children so close together when I personally was at a time when I couldn’t deal with so much change. I spent so long waiting for an answer to come whether a third child was the right decision but the moment my daughter was born all of those doubts vanished. Do I think everyone should have multiple children – HECK NO! Nor do I think anyone ever has to make a concrete decision – especially in the trenches of first time motherhood. We all have to make the best of the life we have to live. Life is short – you won’t get out alive. Loving your child unconditionally is what makes a good mother – NOT how many children you love.

Jessica Smock 2 years ago

Yes, that is the thing, isn’t it? When you have the same parents, you hold a different form of memory. If you don’t have siblings, maybe you’re not alone — you can create your own network of support — but no one else will ever know what it’s like to have your parents and experience your childhood.

Jessica Smock 2 years ago

Amy, I love this point! When you have siblings, you do feel like you’re part of a built-in army. It’s harder to build your own when something difficult happens, but it is possible!

Prachee D 2 years ago

I’m in the same boat and this is exactly what I think (not out aloud, until now!). I am so glad to know that there are other women who think the same way!!!!

Amy – Funny is Family 2 years ago

I loved this post. I identified so much with the loss of your father and the support of your siblings, and while I am not an only child and I have two of my own, two of my best friends are only children. They are not selfish, or lonely, or any of the things people say about only children. They are kind, friendly, and giving. They are wonderful, just as your only child will be.

Having siblings gives you a built-in army, but in the absence of siblings a child will build his or her own army. And those people will be there when tragedy strikes.

Jessica 2 years ago

A little creepy that we both have the same question, same name, and live in the same city. I feel guilty just not knowing if there will or will not be a #2. Thinking about how terrifying/sleepless/stressful those first few months were makes me sick. But then I wonder if it would be simple since we already did it once. I really never thought about it the way you described though… now I’m even more on the fence!

Tonia 2 years ago

I totally hear you. It’s so much stress.
Try to be calm and listen to your heart. ( cliche but true)
A sibling doesn’t guarantee a great relationship between the two either. On the other hand, I understand wanting to offer that for your child.

Ann 2 years ago

I think you already have your answer. I am an only child. I am not lonely, selfish or neurotic. But I was an orphan at the age of 22 – before I got married or had children – and going through that without siblings was horrible. I have a lot of family in many different forms that have always been there for me, yet there is something about blood ties. I miss my parents everyday and I feel like I am the only one who holds their memory. I have no one to reminisce about them with and that breaks my heart. I have 4 boys now myself and it gives me peace to know that they never have to be alone.

Tonia 2 years ago

Great answer!

Ann Labbe 2 years ago

I think you already have your answer. I am an only child. I am not lonely, selfish or neurotic. But I was an orphan at the age of 22 – before I got married or had children – and going through that without siblings was horrible. I have a lot of family in many different forms that have always been there for me, yet there is something about blood ties. I miss my parents everyday and I feel like I am the only one who holds their memory. I have no one to reminisce about them with and that breaks my heart. I have 4 boys now myself and it gives me peace to know that they never have to be alone.

Sandra 2 years ago

I am an only child. Or I was until I was 14 and got 3 stepbrothers. I missed learning some things (like how to get someone in trouble without really telling on them LOL) and it was not a great time at first (one of the boys was 15 at the time, not great ages for boys and girls) but I look back and am happy I had them. 1 of the boys is really close and we refer to each other as brother and sister. The middle one doesn’t really talk to me (or anyone else in the family) and the youngest lives a 3 hour plane ride away. But they are still family. Would I have been just as happy to continue my life as an only child, yes likely. Do I feel I was missing something from those early years becasue I was alone, not really. I think of the things I had then and the closeness I felt to my parents that I don’t think I would have had if I had siblings. Do I regret having 2 stepbrothers, not at all. (Except those teen boy years, boys are gross at times. Yuck) I would have my wonderful neices and nephew if I didn’t have the stepbrothers.
I always said I wanted 2 or more children. But my husband is almost 10 years older than me. I will be 40 next year and he will be 50. He feels it is to late to add another child. I am coming to that realization also. Not that it is too late. But that my son would miss out on alot if he had to “share” with another child. He gets to do so many things that we would not be able to afford to do with 2 or more kids. And we get lots of one on one time that would not happen. He gets all of my husband and I. And I think that is someting important to consider too. It is a hard decision. I’m not sure it will ever “feel” right to me. But it works for us. My son is happy, has great friends and seems ok with being an only. I really think the stigma attatched to being an only is ridiculous. Every family is unique. Good luck finding what your balance is.

Tiffany Rome White 2 years ago

I am in the same boat. I am an only child, DH has 4 siblings. I am 38, DH is 50. Our only child is perfect and he is 8 months old. Do we or don't we? The risks of birth defects, our older ages, what happens to them if we both go………..I am so torn.

Tonia 2 years ago

I’m an only child. I have an only child ( we went through many losses to have her and feel very blessed to have her)

I never felt slighted growing up without a sibling. I didn’t know any different. I only had one first cousin who joined our family when I was 12. He’s also an only child.

I’m 33 and have gone through so losses that I had to go through primarily by myself because of having no siblings. Here’s the thing. I still wasn’t alone. I have amazing friends, 2nd and 3rd cousins and aunts and uncles. They are always there for me.

I wondered why my mom didn’t have more kids. It’s because she didn’t want them. Looking back at our family, that was the right call. If she wasn’t wanting that then why do it? It would have added stress. She said our family felt complete.

We’ve struggled to add to our family. We’ve recently came to the conclusion that one is great for us.

Every family is different, every child’s needs are different. One thing is always important though. Happy parents. Don’t feel guilty for doing what feels right for you. Kids with and without siblings have problems. 😉

Peace and love,

Colleen 2 years ago

I can relate to your story. I am 42 and have a 4 year old and have often wondered if I am ‘doing the right thing’ aka making the right decision whether to keep our family at 1 child. My husband would be perfectly fine with having another, but I am not feeling a nagging urge to do it all over again, as I feel I am just getting my life back a bit after having been a stay-at-home mom these last 4 years. Only you will know what’s right, but yes, it is a tough decision partially because of what society deems to be ‘normal.’ 2.2 kids, etc.

RuralRebellion 2 years ago

I feel exactly the same way. I always thought I’d have more than one child, but my daughter is 2, and I’ve felt since the day she was born that I don’t think I want any more. I keep getting guilted by others to provide siblings for her, but the burden for us would be financial. We are struggling now, bringing another child into the picture would only make things worse. If we do have another, there will surely be a larger age gap between the two, because I am just not ready.

TaRaysha Smith 2 years ago

No, you shouldn't. I made the choice not to have a second child. They are a lot of work and extremely expensive. No way I could do for two what I do for my one. I enjoy our impromptu vacations, and trips to the amusement parks or NYC for the day to see a play. Not to mention my child is awesome and I know I'd play favorites. Why put another child through that.

Jeanette 2 years ago

I am struggling with this decision myself. My daughter will be 2 in October and I am 31 so I have a little time to figure it out but not too much. I can tell you that I am leaning towards having a second child and my reasoning is this…my brother. My brother and I have drifted some in the last 10 years but some of my greatest childhood memories are with him. My husband is an only child and it makes me sad that he does not have those same memories of always having a playmate or in my case, the big sister…someone to boss around! Haha! I also think about our future. We are fortunate enough to have all of our parents still living but one day that will not be the case. When my mom goes, I will have the support and love of my brother to help me through. When it comes to my inlaws, the burden will be solely on him. Of course I will be there but I know it will not be the same as having a sibling to lean on.

Liz 2 years ago

I am an only child. My father died in car accident when I was 25. I did not have siblings to lean on. Interestingly, at first I never wanted to have kids b/c I was scared of them going through the loss of parents- I didn’t want a child to go through what I went through losing my Dad. But, after 4 years, I figured out that life goes on. My husband and I have 1 daughter who is 14 months and right now, that’s all we plan to have. Will history repeat itself? All I can do is teach my daughter how to cope, be well-rounded emotionally, and hope that we can raise her to be well-adjusted so that when the times comes (hopefully when we are very old), she can deal with the loss too. We cannot predict the future.

Essie 2 years ago

The question was “Am I a Selfish Mother If I Choose Not To Have a Second Child?” The answer is no. Families exist in all different shapes and sizes and only children have existed forever. The argument about having life long sibling relationships is very legitimate. Its honestly one of the biggest reasons I had my 2nd child. But these relationships can exist with cousins or other people in which relationships are nurtured. Do what is best for your family!

Kelly 2 years ago

This is me – right now! We have 1 son who is 4 years old. My husband was an only child (he has step siblings but he never lived with them, his parents divorced when he was 5). My husband and I got married in 2002 and his mom, my mother-in-law, got sick with cancer 3 weeks later. We celebrated our 1st Anniversary in 2003 and 2 months later she passed away. My husband was the one making decisions when she passed but I was there to help. That is the only reason my husband wants another child, so they wouldn’t be alone if something happened to us. BUT I had pretty bad ppd after our son and my husband doesn’t want me to go through that again. So there is the reason he doesn’t want another child. We are completely stuck and I feel the same way about regretting it – either way! It’s a tough decision to make, especially when people are asking when you’re going to have your next.

Angie 2 years ago

I am almost in the same exact situation right now. I turn 38 in a few weeks, and my daughter is 4 now. I went through 4 miscarriages before we finally had her, and my pregnancy ended at 8 months due to pre-eclampsia that had started to move into eclampsia, and then toxemia. I was almost in kidney failure and it took quite a while for me to bounce back.

But now we’re in smooth sailing, so to speak, and I look at her and wonder how it would be like with 2. I feel like our family is complete as it is, but I do have that niggling fear of losing her, or missing out on something extraordinary by not having another one. However, I’m not sure could handle another miscarriage, which there is a greater risk for now that I’m older. We looked into adoption after miscarriage number 2, and agreed it was an option if we couldn’t have our own. But now we have her….

I’m right there with you in the heart struggle. There’s no easy answer to this…

Sharon 2 years ago

My brother was the best mistake my parents ever made. They’d decided, after mom had a miscarriage, that I was to be an only child. But, the universe had other plans.

What’s meant to be will be. My grandma used to tell me that all the time when I was wrestling with one decision or another. I impart this same wisdom onto you. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.

Amy DiLonardo Stott 2 years ago

When asked if I was going to give my daughter a sibling from the minute I had her until 5 minutes ago (or so it feels), my response is always, "No. Are you going to have a third?" There's no rule that says you have to have multiple kids. Hell, there's no rule that says you have to have ONE kid. You'll do what's right for you and forget what everyone else says.

Rochelle 2 years ago

Thank you for posting this. There are so, so many judgements against moms (breastfeeding vs. formula, diapering, and on and on and on) and choosing to have an only child is another one. Before getting pregnant and then having my first baby 5 months ago, I too judged. “How can that mom only have one? Don’t you want your child to have a playmate? You’re going to have a spoiled, selfish brat on your hands”, I said. Then I got pregnant– and realized how uncomfortable and wretched being pregnant is. You don’t “glow”. That’s bullshit. After 9 long months of hating everything about pregnancy, I have the worst childbirth ever in all of history (ok maybe not but the pain was that bad) including a 16 hour labor, 5 hours pushing, and then an unexpected C-section. Recovery was rough and I am now, 5 months later, finally get some semblance of self back. I now know why some mothers choose to only have one child. Because I now will never get pregnant again. Ever.

Michelle 2 years ago

Lee Ann, I completely understand your thinking! thats a huge part for us on having a second child.

Meredith 2 years ago

I think the decision over how many kids to have and when to have them is entirely personal. You’ve gotta go with what works for you and weigh all the factors, as you are clearly doing. Go you for working to know what is YOUR best decision!

grownandflown 2 years ago

Jessica, It can feel so overwhelming to have a toddler in the midst of trying to build a professional life, too! I’m sure you will make the right decision for your family but I cannot help but see how rich a life you paint with your siblings as adults going through the painful moment of your father’s death and wonder if that experience will tip the balance in favor of having a second child. I had my second at 40 and now, seeing them as 22 and 17 year old friends, I cannot imagine life – for them – without the other. Besides, who better to discuss (complain about? fret over?) their parents with than each other?

Mallory 2 years ago

I don’t think of it as a selfish decision at all. I myself had the opposite problem. After having my first child, my husband and I fought for custody of my step-son. He had not been allowed to be a part of our lives before going to court. Having full custody of him changed our lives, he is several years older than our youngest. As a child and young adult, I never envisioned myself having 1 child, even less 2 with a third on the way. It is a struggle a lot days. There is soo much extra stress and work that has became a part of our daily lives now. However, having more than one child was right for me and my family. Whatever makes you feel whole and content in your life is surely your path. Embrace it.

jennifer 2 years ago

I agree with previous posters. After my son, with a really traumatic birth experience, my husband thought we would never have another but in spite of what I went through, i felt strongly that someone was missing. Turned out to be our daughter, who was born 2 1/2 years later in a much better situation. But i do still feel that our family isn’t complete. I can’t explain it but it’s there. we will probably give it time, for financial reasons and because we can’t add another baby to ahouse this small. There is no wrong choice here. There is only a family, filled with love.

Sara Ann 2 years ago

I was recently watching a documentary that urged families to only have one child. They sighted that families having multiple children depletes resources and other economic factors.

Honestly, I had to turn it off because it actually pissed me off.

I can’t think basing the decision to have a child off anything besides what’s good for you and your family. Having children is definitely a decision you have to make from your heart, wish you and your family the best! :)

Debbie 2 years ago

Hi Jessica. Sounds like you are in a bit of a pickle. You can not judge what one baby was like and what a second baby is going to be like. My first one was very easy. The 2 one, spent many of days sick and sleepless nights. Yes, i did have a 3rd and then things felt complete.
There is nothing wrong with having one child. I to always wanted more than one incase something happen to the first one.

Go with want your heart is telling you. That gut feeling that we know is right. Good lucky and remember you know yourself, so go with it.

Jenn @ Something Clever 2.0 2 years ago

His friends will be his “adopted” siblings. I know I’m closer to my friends than my actual blood relatives. And my son is closer to his “aunts” and “uncles” than his actual aunt and uncle.

Stephanie 2 years ago

I struggled with this decision myself, though at 35 I have a bit more time. I compare my struggle to the same process that Lily goes through on How I Met Your Mother. She had a whole list of reasons why they weren’t ready for a child and on the other side a baby sock her friend left behind “but but sock”. That’s what my decision about a second child has looked like. A whole list of rational reasons (especially since my son was going through a difficult phase) not to have another child, but sock! It makes no rational sense, but my heart wants another child. So it is definitely a decision of the heart and you are not alone in struggling with it.

Kp 2 years ago

I know you’re not asking for advice, but I’m going to stick my oar in anyway 😉
Having also struggled with this question we went for adding another one and I’ve never regretted it (at least not in the two years since!). I guess there were a couple of factors that have made this choice so clearly right (apart, of course, from the overwhelming love and getting all those lovely ‘firsts’ again!). One was definitely the sibling thing. That has worked out well for us and we’re now at the stage where I get more time to myself because they play together. Yes there is fighting, but there’s also a LOT of laughter.
I felt like you do about getting myself back after the craziness of babyhood, but you know, in the scheme of things it such a short period. Also, you get to correct all the mistakes you made on your practice child (huh! If only…)
Having said all that, you are absolutely right that there is nothing wrong with having one child. You may end up with siblings who can’t stand each other, you just can’t know. Whichever way your heart eventually decides, don’t waste time looking back wondering if you made the right decision.

Liz 2 years ago

If your gut tells you to keep it at one, than do so! I have 7 years between my two children and had it not been for “ahem” a mishap, he would still be an only child, despite his relentless begging for a sibling. Some of us are not cut out for multiples. It doesn’t make us less of a parent, it actually makes us better parents for it. Just because we can have more children, doesn’t mean we should! You go with your instincts. Your son will thank you for it later. Not that I don’t adore my daughter, I do with all of my heart. However, when people ask “when is the third one coming”? I smile and say, “I got a dog”. :)

Janine Huldie 2 years ago

Jessica, loved this article the first time out and so happy to see it being featured here. Some very good food for thought yet again and I have just shared this, too!!

Lucy 2 years ago

I’m an only child and, personally, I will have a second child for the sake of my daughter. I’m jealous of people who grew up with siblings and who have close relationships with them now. I feel like I really missed out on something and, honestly, I sort of resent my parents for stopping at one child.

It was great not having to share things as a child, but now I don’t share well as an adult! It’s ridiculous how I’m a grown woman, yet I consider things mine and don’t want to share with my husband. I also have issues making friends and socialising, which I attribute to being an only child.

Family vacations were especially unbearable, considering I didn’t have anyone my age to play with. I was forced to do things on my own. It made me an independent adult, which is a good thing, but I hated it. No child wants to spend two weeks on vacation during the summer only hanging out with their parents.

I can see personality flaws in my husband that I attribute to him having a brother, with whom he was always competitive. Whenever we play a game, he’s hell-bent on winning, and if he loses, he’s a sore loser – but he’s also a sore winner! He turns into a big child. He also has issues doing things alone. He’s very social and outgoing, though, and I envy that. I think the benefits of having a sibling outweigh the negatives, though.

Faye Hartley-Youens 2 years ago

My Mom fought Cancer for 10 years, I was only 19 when she was first diagnosed and I cannot imagine going through that or the subsequent difficult years since she died without my brother, the only one who truly understood what I was going through. So I relate to your post with a knowledge I’d rather not have but as well as this I have a million brilliant memories of Christmas Eves and mud pies in the garden and make-shift picnics on kitchen floors. Your first real playmate and if your lucky your longest friendship. I have 3 kids now (one surprise!) and it has been the hardest few years but when I watch them playing, hugging, fighting and laughing as they grow together I’m so happy they have each other and that I have them. Follow your heart…

MB 2 years ago

I’m in the EXACT same state of mind these days. I always thought I would have two children. But now, my daughter is almsot 2, and I feel I don’t want anymore children. We’re enough, and I just got my life back. I love being able to go out with my friends, even though my husband’s away a lot, having no problem finding someone to babysit… But I love being a sister to my sister, and we loved being pregnant at the same time, and I couldn’t imagine my life as an only child. I want my baby to be that lucky too, but I don’t feel like I NEED another child. Also, my husband is still keen on the idea that we’d have 2 kids…
It’s a complicated decision to make, and I feel your pain…

Mama and the City 2 years ago

Aww. I hope your heart soon finds the answer.

I don’t think there is ever a correct decision when it comes to Parenting, other than “if it works for you and your family, so be it”.

I’m still struggling with the idea of baby #2. I always wanted a big family, but after #1…I just don’t know if I want to put up with the struggle. Maybe adoption? I’m still struggling with this idea too.

Take a deep breath.

Lee Ann 2 years ago

Honestly, let me tell you the only reason I had two children. It wasn’t because it felt like someone was missing, it wasn’t because I had more love for one child than I could imagine having for two. The reason I had two children? Because I loved my only child so deeply and fully that i feared if she ever died, I would never be able to go on without her. But if I had a second child, I would be forced to continue living for her. And that’s the truth.