8 Things Not to Say to the Mom of an Only Child

[deleted account] ( 15 moms have responded )

http://thestir.cafemom.com/toddler/13029...

I've got one child. It might be by choice. It might not be. It doesn't matter. It's personal. Still, that doesn't stop people from asking if I'll have more, when I'll have more, why don't I have more. Or stop them from telling me I have to have more, my life is no good without more, I'm not a "real" mom without more.

Hurtful.

Insulting.

Ignorant.

Rude.

These are declarations that I -- and other moms of only children -- really don't want to hear. Questions we really don't want to answer. So be kind. Take the time to read this list -- and the next time you find yourself saying something like this to another mother, bite your lip, and give her a sweet compliment instead.

1. "When are you having another baby?" This is wrong for all kinds of reasons. Maybe I don't want another baby. Maybe I desperately want another baby (and can't have one for whatever reason -- feel like a jerk now?). Maybe I'm currently pregnant and don't want anyone to share the news just yet. Maybe I've just had a miscarriage and I'm in mourning (again with the jerk thing). I'll have another baby when I want to, if I can, and when I'm ready. Until then, not your business. Wait for the baby notice in the mail. Seriously, don't ask.
2. "Oh, you 'don't know' cause you haven't had your second one yet." Don't know? Don't know what? I know exactly what it's like to be a mother. Last time I checked, one kid is all you need.
3. "You're so lucky you can [fill in the blank] because you've got only one kid." So true, so true. Because I have only one child, I spend my days lounging around, watching soap operas (are those still on?), and eating bon bons. I'm thinking you might have one confused with none. I still do need to read Good Night Moon a thousand times (in one sitting), kiss boo boos, watch this ... watch this ... watch this!, survive with no sleep, go to the pediatrician, worry, wash crayons off walls, deal with mommy playground politics, do laundry, plan birthday parties, take showers, cook dinner, potty train, go to Mommy & Me class, have food spit in my face ... you get the picture. See that? One. None. That N makes all the difference.
4. "Every child needs a brother or sister." If I don't want another child, I'm pretty sure I disagree with that statement. And I probably believe that my kid can have a happy, fulfilling life and won't turn out to be a serial killer. But if I do believe in the importance of siblings and feel beyond guilty for not being able to give my son or daughter one, then congratulations -- you just made me feel even worse.
5. "Well. It's easy for you to be in shape because you were only pregnant once." That MUST be it. It really has nothing to do with the fact that I exercise and eat right. The one-kid thing is totally why all moms of singletons look like triathletes and moms of more are fat slobs.
6. "It's so hard with three kids." The inverse of #3, but still, worth repeating. Are you implying that my job as mom isn't as hard as yours? For those of you who stay home with your three kids 24/7, or work and come home to your three kids, I'd agree. My hat is off to you and you can stop reading now. But for those of you who want to tell us single-kid moms how hard it is to have three kids, it's probably best not to do it at these times: a) When I see you in the coffee shop with my kid in tow, where you're meeting a friend for lunch (followed by a pedicure!) after having done your morning workout class. b) When I run by you on the road struggling with my 40-pound kid in a 20-pound jog stroller as you come breezing by, enjoying a long luxurious run because you just dropped your 3-year-old off at "school" and your 8-week-old twins off at daycare. c) Just after you've told me that you're going away on a four-day spa trip because you need some "alone" time when I haven't spent a night away from my "just one" ... ever. You might "have" three (a blessing not a burden!), but my one is always with me.
7. "Don't you want to try for a girl/boy?" Sort of like #1, but worse. Are you saying the gender I got "stuck" with isn't good enough? Or is it that my life will somehow be incomplete if I don't have one of each?
8. "Are you trying for another one?" I'm sorry, did you just ask me if I'm having sex?
A final bit of advice: Don't repeat all (or any) of the above EVERY SINGLE TIME we see you. We didn't appreciate it the first time.

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[deleted account]

I guess it does sound a bit more condescending on it's own. It was written as part of a collection of articles about what not to say to a variety of mothers. There is one for moms with "a lot of kids", one for lesbian moms, one for adoptive moms, and one for childless women. They were published in smaller articles, but centered around the judgment and criticism that ALL parents face from other parents.

It is an older piece, but I thought about it recently because I was recently told "You (and hubby) would be so much happier with a little girl! And so would J--you really shouldn't have only one child, you know." This woman, and her friends, even went on to tell me that my husband would have more respect for me if I mothered more than one child--as though his respect for me lay completely on how many children I can give him-- and that he would see me as more of a woman if he had a daughter.
I posted it today because I saw another post on the welcome board about how to respond to such statements.

While I am very secure in my decisions, the statements did annoy me. I felt very judged and disrespected, and I didn't think twice about sounding condescending or judgemental when I responded.The reasons I am a parent to an only child are very personal to me, and I don't feel I should have to discuss them in order to "earn" the respect I deserve from other parents. I don't feel like I should be looked down upon because I only have one child. Likewise, I don't feel mothers with many children, or lesbian mothers, or adoptive mothers should have to discuss or defend their decisions for creating the families that they have created.

Chet - posted on 08/02/2013

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I think a lot of the comments from parents of more than one come from reflecting on their own experience. Our children enjoy the company of their siblings so much it's very difficult to imagine their not having those relationships. When you have two or three or four kids, and you think back to the time when you only had one, it does seem like you had more time back then, and that it was easier to get back into shape after your first baby than after your forth. And when you have three or four kids, and you go shopping with just one of them, or you are home with just one of them, it can seem a whole lot easier than when the whole crew is around... but it can also seem really lonely too.

Chet - posted on 08/02/2013

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I do think that parents of only children often need to have a thick skin. The truth is though, that parents in general tend to benefit from having a thick skin! We have four kids and get a lot of "are they all yours?" and "are some of them twins?". What I've figured out is that people aren't trying to be rude. Mostly, they just want to make small talk. I just speak positively about what we have and don't let it get to me.

Celeste - posted on 07/31/2013

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Oh yeah, as a mom of twins, I get a lot of comments too "I'd kill myself if I had twins" "Which one's the evil twin?" among other silly statements. But, I think ANY kind of family, like you posted, is going to get some kind of comments from people-only children, a large family, an adoptive family, etc. I just think it boils down to, some people just don't think.

Celeste - posted on 07/31/2013

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I agree. It's a little condescending. And #6, I don't think it's implying anything. It's not negating that having one child isn't hard.

Of course, some of the things I can understand. There's nothing wrong with choosing to have one child. But I don't like the overall tone of the article.

ETA: I should add that I would never ask about someone having another child (unless they bring it up) I am a mother of twins, and many of my fellow twin moms suffered with infertility before having their multiples. Another mom is going through the pain of not being able to have another child because infertility.

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Sal - posted on 08/20/2013

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I had a son who for almost 12 years was an only child... I vowed if I ever had another child I'd have 2 as my son was lonely and it's hard having an only child.. And with a decade or more between kids I'd practically have 2 only children ... I did have another 2daughters very close.. The best of friends now 6 &5 and fell pregnant again ... I have been so ill this time I have had to admit that no matter how bad I felt for having an only child if this baby was my first it would be my last... I have a total new respect for the mums who say they just couldn't do it again...

[deleted account]

I totally love this post! It's how I feel most the time. I also think the women with 1 kid and in there thirties probably get well your running out of time thing and the biological clock bit. I'd love to read more posts like this! It's got the attitude and thinking of most women with only 1 child. I can't stop laughing!

Diana - posted on 08/03/2013

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I am a proud single kid parent. I just tell people that I am part of the "1 and done" club and ask them when are they having more when I am asked about having more children.

Jodi - posted on 08/02/2013

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I am one of 5 children, and as a result, my mother always got asked "are you Catholic" and "did you have trouble with birth control". I mean, WTF??? Whose business is it anyway?

Heck I have had "wouldn't you have liked your children to be closer together in age?" or "Why did you have them so far apart?". Really? Why do you care? I'm happy, so why is it a problem for you? Believe it or not, it DOES have its advantages and it works out just fine.

So I get where you are coming from. I think people just need to learn to butt out, basically.

[deleted account]

Oh, there's one for parents of multiples too, Celeste--I forgot that one.

I have a friend who has twins who was actually asked by another mom in our playgroup (who had 3 children) "Which one is your favorite?"
She was so stunned she couldn't even respond so I replied, "I didn't know people with more than one kid chose a favorite! Which one of your kids is your favorite?"

My mother's boss had triplets, but unfortunately, one baby died shortly after birth, and the other two fought a long battle in NICU. One mother actually asked her, "So are they twins now, or still triplets?" As if she would just ignore the fact that there was a third baby because he passed away.
She replied, "They are triplets, they just have one brother in heaven." (She's Christian)
You'd think that would be enough, but this lady continued, "Do you regret trying to carry all three of them? I mean, the body is just not made for that. Don't you think it would have been better to have one healthy baby than all three sickly ones?"
Stunned, she said, "Did you just ask me if I wish I'd have killed two of my babies? No, I don't. I am very happy with my decision and I thank God for ALL of the children he gave me, even my angel."

Shawnn - posted on 07/31/2013

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Well stated, Ms. Kelly!

These also apply to parents who only have one gender children (I have 2 boys)...and it took me long enough to conceive both of them that 1) I wasn't about to go thru the ups/downs/anticipations to TTC again...figured if we got the 'urge' to have a girl, we'd adopt... & 2) Why is a family not deemed "complete" if there isn't a boy AND a girl???

Anyway... ;-)

~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/31/2013

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Condescending....that is the word I was searching for earlier and could not dredge up. Thank you Celeste.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 07/31/2013

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Hmmm....I find this to be just as judgmental, hurtful, and ignorant as the point they were trying to prove.

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