The Only-Child Conundrum, Part 1: Just the One Kid Is Alright. Right?

2 Mar
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I have a friend who is due to have his second kid any day now. I have several other friends who already have two kids, and another friend who is actively gunning for a third.

My wife and I might be okay with just the one.

But is that okay with everyone else? More importantly, is it okay for our son?

Or is the only acceptable reason for having only one kid that you’ve been forced by your government?

I’ve always thought that I’d never want to raise an only child. Not only does having just one kid increase the odds of raising a selfish, spoiled douchebag, but I liked growing up with brothers, and I like the idea of my son having a younger sibling. The built-in camaraderie, the automatic companion, the frequent sparring partner; these things appeal to me and, I suspect, would be good for him.

(Disclaimer: I am not a scientist. And I am fully aware that many of the Only Children Are Evil theories have been wildly debunked. But regardless of whether it’s a stereotype or factually supported, it’s still a prevalent enough belief that I think it’s a definite consideration for parents struggling with having only one kid.)

Obviously, not every “only child” turns out bad. But it seems logical that growing up without having to share toys or cake or clothes with a sibling, or without having to compete for love or leftovers – without having to deal with all the stuff that comes with having a brother or a sister – would fundamentally change the way a person interacts with others later on, even if only a little bit. Growing up in a contained environment with a sibling or two would seem to serve as a nice little training ground for future interaction with the rest of the world.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that siblings will turn out to be best friends, or friends at all. In fact, later in life siblings can grow to be burdens, or an obligation forced upon a person because of blood ties and sometimes little else. At the very least, there will always be a connection there, and that can be a valuable thing, especially later in life. But life is unpredictable, who knows if you’re setting your kids up with a support system or just some extra baggage? What if we have a Cain to our beautiful little Abel?

That’s a lot to chew on. And I haven’t even gotten into the whole overpopulation/birthing a child into a dying, dangerous world/remember that scene in Se7en?

Aside from people that have a bug up their ass about overpopulation and/or hate their siblings, the general consensus out there seems be that having just one kid (by choice) is a bad thing. But not everyone feels that way, and there are more and more studies coming out that dispute the stereotypes surrounding only-child syndrome. Now that I have one kid, I have some practical knowledge of what being a parent is like. As such, some of my preconceptions have been challenged.

This blog is about how having a kid has impacted my life, both good and bad. I trend towards the bad here, because it’s funnier and because – while it’s easy to get parents to gush about their kids – it’s hard to get them to admit it the less-then-glamorous truths of parenting. And there are a lot of less-than-glamorous truths. But there’s a lot of better-than-expected truths too. It’s difficult and fun and exhausting and exhilarating and frustrating and hilarious and boring and exciting and everything in between. But most of all having a kid is incredibly draining and incredibly rewarding.

But will it stay so “simple” if we have more?

We’ll cover that tomorrow, in part 2.

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3 Responses to “The Only-Child Conundrum, Part 1: Just the One Kid Is Alright. Right?”

  1. Surfer Jay March 3, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Yes, yes it is. perfectly ok.

    Although, I’m super secretly excited because my 1yo girl is totally going to be a tomboy considering that my 2.9yo boy beets the snot out of her everyday. So in that sense, it’s totally worth it to pop out another clone, in case you want a tomboy. other than that, i really can’t think of any natural benefits….

  2. Jennifer October 21, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Thanks!! We have only one child and are planning on keeping it that way. I have a lot of the same struggles you describe but I think there are pros and cons to each side. I think it’s important to do what you as parents can handle and provide and that is doing the best for your child. I worry about my daughter feeling alone in the world but I know I don’t have the energy to have another child and that both would suffer if I did. I also don’t have the money or resources living in the most expensive city in the country. I also am an older mom and am unwilling to roll the dice on the risks in having a child now. I know a lot of people now who are stopping at just one and I think that’s a good thing. We can be mindful of making sure they learn to get along and spend time with their peers, help them develop close relationships with cousins and friends, and finally I truly believe over population is serious. Having children is a blessing not a right and we’re over taxing our planet and there may not be enough for all of these children and their siblings and their future children.

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