Pressure always comes when raising a family. There are always questions about the worthiness and readiness of being parents. Of one’s capability to provide for a family. But, when it comes to a family that chooses to birth and raise one child, external and internal pressures seem to magnify. More questions are directed towards the decision of having one child and “Are you sure you don’t want more? It will get lonely.” At times like this, you will find yourself questioning if one child is truly enough?
Is it really?
Where the pressure come from
The pressure about starting a family often has two sources: internal and external. The former has something to do with your personal goals. The “I should be married by 26 so I could have children at 28” milestone goals or something similar to that. And sometimes we have our upbringing to blame, what our parents say, and what we have observed growing up. Other factors also affect your idea of starting a family. Media, in particular, is a prominent factor.
Pressure driven by internal and personal factors is manageable. You can always adjust it to your current situation and timeline. Or you can move it back or better yet, move forwards. But external pressure is a different story altogether because it comes from strong and constant factors in your life, such as family and society, per se.
For example, once you announce you’re getting married, questions about pregnancy arise almost immediately. Uninvited suggestions about how many children to have and how to raise them arrive at your doorstep, it becomes borderline suffocating. But you bear with it since they are family after all.
Their hearts are in the right place.
What Does Society Say?
On the other hand, society seems to have some unspoken rules when it comes to starting a family. Somehow, it is unbelievable for some that there are couples who do not want to raise several children. For them, raising one child is more than enough. This decision often causes an uproar. And you get several whats and raised eyebrows. Many will also say that there will be a time when you’ll change your mind and crave to raise more children.
After all, the process of raising your children will fall on you, not on them.
The pressure of having more kids can be unbearable at times but, as of this moment, it is something that we need to learn to live with. For the parents who chose to raise an only child, always remember not to fall into thinking that you need to appease your relatives’ wishes and bow down to society’s norms. Creating and raising your family is your decision alone no matter how loud their opinions may be.
As for the parents who are still unsure whether a small family is the perfect choice for them, let’s take a deeper dive into the advantages and disadvantages of the smaller families. The families that chose to raise a lone child.
Kinder to Your Wallets
Financial practicality is the most obvious advantage of having one child. You might be hearing statements from aunties and grandmothers about raising a family isn’t a business, something between the lines of “It’s not about the money, it’s about raising your children with love and affection”. Well, it’s obviously not a business, but with the spending that comes with it? It might just be a privately-run enterprise. Sure, it might not be all about the money, but having money—lots of it—is necessary to provide a decent life for your child, to let them experience a hassle-free childhood.
Having one child means that you only need to pay for elementary to university education for one child, you only need to prepare money when they start attending summer camps, and when you want to go on vacation? You only need to extend your budget a bit more to accommodate another happy camper. Obviously, there are heaps more expenses that you need to be wary about but the bottom line is, you only need to prepare for one.
Poor Social Skills? An Only Child Can’t Relate
Contrary to popular belief that an only child has it difficult when creating new friendships, an only child actually has it easier when it comes to building connections. These children actually have the tendency to work twice as hard to befriend other kids their age. They tend to reach out more and be more helpful towards other children in public places. Of course, these characteristics cannot be concluded for all only borns but for most, it might be true. Upbringing is also a huge factor in a child’s social development.
These children are also almost always surrounded by adults. Their parents friends and relatives dote over them all the time to the point of spoiling them, but the good thing that comes out of it is that the child is exposed to all kinds of social cues. The child sees and observes all kinds of relationship dynamics. And what do they do with all these observations? They apply it when they socialize with other children. They may not have siblings, but they sure will have lots and lots of friends and playmates.
First-time parents experience a lot of parenting jitters. Mothers question if they are worthy of being mothers. On the other hand, first-time dads question what they need to do and how they do it. Raising a child for the first time is a long process of trial and error. Some parents want to perfect the process when they have their second child. But for others? They don’t want to experience that process again. Avoiding the stress that comes with raising a child doesn’t make anyone less than parents who birthed multiple children.
Another advantage that comes with having a single child is that you can focus all your energy and efforts on the child. They need someone to come to school with them for an event? Both parents can be present. When the child needs someone to play with, you can play with them or bring them to the park or your trusted daycare.
No matter what others say, it’s easier to prioritize the needs of the family when you only need to tend to one child.
Provides the Best Environment
In relation to focusing all your efforts on one child, raising one also lets you provide the best environment for them. A valuable fruit of your efforts as parents reflects largely on the environment that your child is growing up in. Does their environment full of love and attention? Are they provided with their needs adequately? Are they living and enjoying their lives as children?
Having an only child ensures that all your efforts will result into something that will be advantageous for them. At home, they will not have to compete for their needs and attention. As a parent, you won’t have to bend over backwards to provide for your child. It’s basically a win-win situation.
On the flip side, there are some disadvantages when it comes to choosing to have an only child. For the most part, it comes as a burden for the parents.
The Barrage of Questions that Comes Your Way About Having More Children
Firstly, we have the external pressure from our loved ones. The constant and unceasing question about conceiving the next child. Their statements may be well-meaning and their hearts in the right place, it comes to a point when you just want them to stop talking and stop asking. The barrage of never ending questions can make you doubt your decision too. It’s a hard process, but you need to power through it. The news of having more children may delight them but if the entire process will take a toll on you and on your current family, is it really even worth it?
Always remember that it will be your decision—your partner and yours.
The Fear of Letting Your Child Grow Up Lonely
Another thought that will keep you up late at night is what if your child will grow up lonely without siblings? There will be days and nights when you think about blaming yourself for this decision, for being selfish parents. But let me assure you, thinking about your capacity to raise a family first before having more children is a highly calculated yet very welcome decision. If you are scared that your child will be lonely growing up, then make sure to exert extra effort in being present in their lives. Encourage them to create bonds outside your family. Watch them and support them create families of their own as they make friends with others.
Loneliness in growing up is not defined by having siblings or not. A house with one child and a house with multiple children can have the same amount of warmth and love depending on the strength of the relationship of the family.
The Fear of Spoiling Your Child Rotten
Ah, the most prominent stereotype of an only child—growing up spoiled. As parents, as much as possible, we don’t want our children to be shackled to a stereotype with an unfortunate connotation. At the same time, we also don’t want them to feel neglected or lacking. As the only child receiving all the time and attention, there is an ever-present fear in a parents’ mind that their child will grow up to be spoiled.
It’s normal to spoil our children from time to time; to let them splurge on their wants. But, when they start acting out when not provided of what they want, then that is where we cross the line. As parents, we must always be mindful over what we give our children. Are we always saying yes to their requests? Are these gifts enough or am I giving too much? Be mindful of your actions, you do not want to enable their spoiled attitude.
Families take on different forms. A family can be rough and rowdy, it can also be soft-spoken and gentle. A family can be traditional or not. It can also be large and so loud or small yet still loud. You get to decide whatever form your family takes on. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, you get to decide which advantages are for you and which disadvantages are the challenges that you are willing to take on.