How hard could it be to raise an only child? Less laundry, fewer expenses, no sibling rivalries, saving for only one college fund, and once you’re done with diapers, you’re home free!! Right? Wrong!!
I used to think people with 3, 4, 5 or more children were crazy. I still don’t think I could handle 4 or more kids. Those parents have my wholehearted respect. God bless them. Truly. I AM NOT WORTHY!!
God knew what he was doing when he only gave me one.
Now, with only one, I have just as much respect for parents of one (or the “late child” with no older siblings at home).
There certainly are fewer expenses when you’re raising an only child. When it’s time for “back to school” shopping you’re only buying enough clothes and school supplies for one. Which, of course, means you tend to buy more for that one. Same with Christmas and Birthdays. You have fewer presents to buy but it can be so hard to control yourself.
I don’t ever want my daughter to be spoiled. And yet, every Christmas my husband and I lay out all the presents before we wrap them and agonize over whether there are too few or too many. Did we spend too much? Should we take something back? (Luckily, my daughter likes “stuff” regardless of price. So, it’s rarely about spending too much and more about quantity.)
When I talk to other moms with one child at home, they have expressed some of the same frustrations I have when it comes to presents. The worst aspect of presents can be your only child taking on an attitude of entitlement.
They don’t see that their siblings need clothes, presents, baseball cleats, etc., also. They don’t see that mom and dad’s money has to go further. In a lot of cases, if they want it they assume they will get it. All they have to do is ask.
Not having siblings at home, makes other “life situations” harder for them to understand. It’s often difficult for them to completely grasp the concept that kids fight. They can be mean. Kids don’t naturally like to share and if you share they may or may not reciprocate. Kids can and will say mean things today and tomorrow act like nothing ever happened. It has nothing to do with you. You aren’t being slighted or singled out.
One big lesson I didn’t learn until I started talking to moms of other “one child at home” families, in many cases their kids will be completely helpless when mom is around. In school, they are overachievers. First one done. Happy to help the teacher. Good grades. Honor Roll in most cases.
At home, it’s completely normal for them to lose the use of their brain and/or limbs if it means getting mom to do things for them. I’ve seen this time and time again in my own home and heard about it from other moms too. They know how to push our buttons. They also know we want them to be successful, so we occasionally fall for the “MOM, I just don’t understand this. I can’t do this. Can you please help me?” Again, that comes from not seeing other siblings chipping in with chores and contributing to the running of the household.
It took me a while to catch on. Silly me!!!!!
In school, they know they are not the only one. They don’t come first. At home, it’s a different story. They are fully aware they don’t have to compete for attention. So mom SHOULD BE at their beck and call. See how we handle homework here.
Speaking of competing, another thing I’ve noticed with mine (and several others, especially girls) is they don’t like to compete with parental/marital affection. My daughter will often get her feelings hurt because she doesn’t understand that my husband and I do things for each other because we are married. That’s how you treat your spouse. She thinks my husband should do countless things for her as well.
Many situations at our home turn into learning lessons. The results sound like “this school backpack is your responsibility and you will carry it” or “you do not get to talk to Daddy that way, he is not your husband or personal servant“.
I would say our biggest hill to climb is almost always stubbornness. It’s easier to tame a box of poisonous snakes than to win an argument with an only child. They don’t see their siblings lose a disagreement with mom and dad. Or get punished for stomping off and slamming doors. All they see (and hear) are their parents give instruction or make a statement and it’s supposed to be regarded as “the law of the land”.
In their mind, they should have just as much say in family decisions. Their opinion should be considered in any and all situations. (Box of poisonous snakes.)
There are many good things as well. The family calendar is much less full and complicated. One bedtime. Much less laundry and mess to clean up. The babysitter is cheaper. And, it’s easier to get a table at a restaurant or buy plane tickets.
God blessed me with one child. No more and no less. Often families want more children and God has his own plans.
HOWEVER, if anyone asked my opinion, I would always recommend having more than one child (if you have the choice). Why? The life lessons are easier for them to learn. There’s always someone to play with or sympathize with when mom and dad are “just impossible”. And, most importantly, they have a forever friend.
No matter how many, or how few children you have, every family situation presents its own rewards and complications. We need to support and help each other navigate motherhood as friends.
I’d love to hear your “only child” stories in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy, The One Thing No One Tells You.