Choosing to have a child is a big decision to make. It doesn’t matter if it’s a first, second, or seventeenth child, you should make that choice because YOU actually want that child.
I want you to note that I’m talking about purposeful procreation, here. I understand not everyone “makes” this choice for a variety of their own situational reasons. Sometimes the baby making isn’t consentual. Sometimes, like my friend, Alea found out, your birth control doesn’t work quite like you were hoping it would because of medications taken, or another reason. There are also religions that deny birth control measures (which also don’t always work) in their faith that God should be the one to decide when life is created.
But in the event that life hands you no surprises, the decision to have a child should be yours (and your partner’s), and no one else’s. Right?
Not everyone agrees, I suppose. I’ve received many a comment, often from complete strangers, who feel that they know better than myself what it is that my family needs. (I went on a bit of a rant about it here.)
Right now seems like prime time for many of the families who had their first alongside us to start planning for their second child. It’s so wonderful seeing these new smiles and excitement and baby bumps parading around. I have to admit, I’m a little bit envious. I’m one of those women who LOVED being pregnant. I felt pretty amazing and super healthy, most of the time, and would love to be pregnant again… if there was no recovery and no more babies to come out of it.
Before our little one was born, I was adamant that yes, we did HAVE to have at least two children. You simply could not have an only child. You HAD to have a sibling.
At that point I wanted two (or maybe three) children in our family, and my husband wasn’t completely against having two. (Three on the other hand…)
Now my outlook has changed. My whole idea of family and what that means has developed into my own personal experience of love, laughter and frustration.
Family is a personal experience. It’s so different for each little (or large) unit.
In our own little nest our intentions have changed. Certainly part of this is to do with the whole unfortunate cesarean (non)recovery. So many parenting decisions are made by looking at risk vs. benefit, and for us it’s a bit of a scary gamble.
But the big thing is just the way we feel. Now our family feels complete at one. It feels whole, and our vision of the path ahead seems clearer.
The three of us make a very happy family, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
There are definitely some cons to this only child scenario, too, and I’m sure I’ll find some of them as we go along. But for every challenge, there will be a solution. With friends and community, I believe little Z can be raised to share, socialize, and communicate just as well as a child with siblings.
In the mean-time, though, for myself and any other parent out there that has made the decision to raise an only exclusive child, I have written up this list.
Pros to Raising an Only Child Exclusive Child
1. No more diapers. I’m not going backwards in the potty training department. Once little miss is using the potty consistently, I will be done with diapers, and I’m not looking back.
2. Travel. Seeing all the wonderful places to find in the world is a big part of our dreams. With one child, yes – it will still be expensive – but one extra airplane ticket is a lot more achievable than two. We could travel with Baby Z, and share the world with her. I think it could be fantastic to experience so many different places and cultures as you grow up. (If family travel is on your list, too, check out these tips on plane travel with a toddler.)
3. Speaking of affordable, how about only buying one lunch box. One bike. One bed. One car seat. One backpack. One Pirate Pack (or your local child-sized dining experience). You can’t cut the cost of raising two children completely in half when you have an only child, but it is a heck of a lot cheaper.
By the way, I used to say to my hubby pre-pregnancy that “babies don’t (have to) cost anything”. Unfortunately I get that rubbed in my face fairly often. I may have been a little off in my estimate.
4. No sibling rivalry. What’s that? Your kids are at eachother’s throats, or constantly getting themselves into more trouble as a team? Tell me again that I “need” to have more than my one and only child, while your little duo tries to poke each other’s eyes out.
5. I get to play the savior. Being the only kid around, even if your parents are involved with you, could be lonely. So I don’t mind having another little one in my care when needed, and we’ll make a point of allowing our little one to invite a friend along on fun outings, trips and even just over to play. This means that while my little one is learning important lessons about sharing and friendship, and being entertained with her friend, I get to look like the good guy for taking the kids for a while.
6. One RESP. One child means focussing on saving for and supporting our spawn through one post-secondary education. Which isn’t cheap.
7. Bigger housing options. One child means one bedroom. One bedroom means the even in a 2-bedroom home we would each still have our own rooms. Not that siblings can’t share a room, but there comes a point where two children (especially different genders) will want their own room. Our home is fairly small, and we love it. We’re not interested in moving somewhere bigger in the foreseeable future.
8. Avoiding the mini-van dilemma. With one car seat in the back of our SUV, we could either take one adult comfortably, two adults copied up, or one more car seat, with me and my baby-daddy up front. If we had another full-time car seat back there, that’s it for carpooling.
I know there are a lot of wonderful people out there planning for and enjoying their multi-offspringed families, and I’m very happy for them living their own unique versions of life. But a family is a family on their own terms, and for us, we’re content to be three.
Whatever your situation, you have your own pros. Go find them and let those be your focus.
Are you raising an only child? What do you love about it, and what makes it harder for you? Share in the comments below, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know!