Growing up, I always proclaimed that I wanted more than one child. This isn’t because I was unhappy with my own only child status. It was instead because I saw multi-child families as the norm. Most of my friends and classmates had siblings, so assumed that I had to be missing out on something by not having at least one of my own.
Life and fate, however, had other plans.
I’m now an adult only child raising my own only. Due to multiple variables, our son is likely to join me as a “lifer” in the only kid club. I was initially a bit bummed at the idea of not giving him the sibling(s) I’d once dreamed of. But now that we are well into the rhythm of a family of three, we all whole-heartedly embrace our relatively simple dynamic.
I do admit, though, that on days like last week’s National Siblings Day, I tend to slow my social media scroll and admire the sweet tribute posts. I may even take a few minutes to wonder if my husband and I shouldn’t try a little harder to make our almost five year old a big brother. But then I recall the many benefits that come along with only childhood. And they, thus far, reaffirm that one (and most likely) done seems to be the perfect fit for us.
Some of the many benefits of having an only are:
- THE ABILITY TO GIVE UNDIVIDED ATTENTION IS AWESOME: Parents of only children never have to worry about splitting time between their children’s needs, appointments and activities. Our son is the singular center of our world. In many cases, my husband and I are both able to attend his practices, classroom activities, and important appointments. I remember appreciating this kind of undivided attention when I was growing up, so I’m glad we can do the same him.
- INDEPENDENCE ALSO ROCKS: Only children tend to be loners in the best possible sense. Our son can easily entertain himself for a couple of hours. Because he’s always been on his own, he has no issue with being “alone”. I’m hoping that this will translate into him becoming an independent adult (much like his extroverted introvert of a mother).
- THIS MAMA LOVES WORKING (OUTSIDE THE HOME) FOR A LIVING: The less children in a family, the easier it can be for mom to return to work after baby. I teach high school, and I love it. Having only one child allows me to balance my efforts between work and home without feeling too overextended.
- RELATIONSHIPS WITH FRIENDS AND EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBERS RUN DEEP: I was always close with friends and family growing up. Likewise, our son LOVES his cousins. He also deeply values his best buddies at school. Because he lacks a built in playmate at home, he never takes his comrades for granted. It’s eye opening to see such a young child value family ties and friendship so intensely.
As I grow older and reflect on the benefits of only childhood, I become more grateful for my own only child status. That personal experience solidifies that should my son stay an only, he can be happy and fulfilled well into adulthood. There may be no live in best friends, silly fights over board games, or even secrets shared between siblings in our household, but there is an insurmountable amount of love. And at the end of the day, that’s all any family really needs to be complete.