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Only child vs. Siblings

[deleted account] ( 26 moms have responded )

I've seen this topic come up a few times in passing through other communities but I'd love to see the pros and cons debated here!

Do you have just one? Are you happy with your decision? What influenced you decision?

Do you have multiples? What motivated you?

Chad and I are still contemplating having another so maybe this debate will help us make a decision.....we're back and forth daily!


[deleted account]

We are very happy and content as a family of 3. I had a frigthening pregnancy, terrible birth experience, and post-partum depression. Over the next few years after my son was born, I lost any urge, yearning, or desire to have any more kids. Plus, I wasn't willing to experience anymore miscarriages or go through more years of trying for more kids. I also realized that I don't like the baby stage at all, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

IMO, I personally feel it is selfish for a couple to go and have another child for the SOLE purpose of providing a sibling. That is the wrong reason to have a baby. A baby should be welcomed, loved, and wanted. Not seen as an instant playmate. I am happy and comfortable with my decision. I do know that my husband would like to adopt an older child some day, and it's something I will consider later on. But as of right now, no, I am not willing to add to our family.

Dana, I know you saw this on the other thread in the Only Child board, but for the rest of you:

*Only children does not equate lonely children. It is a parent's responsibility to see to it that our chldren are not lonely. Begin playdates and social groups early on. As a working mom, my son was exposed to both in-home child care plus traditional daycare settings. He is active in sports and in the community. Lots of friends and I always welcome kids to come and play. While cousins never replace siblings, my son is close in age to his 2 boy cousins. They also live locally so it's never an issue to have all the boys over here. So my son may be an only, but he is not lonely!

*Only children does not equate spoiled children. Again, a parent's responsibility to see to it that you do not spoil your child. Plus, the same statement can be made of kids with multiple siblings. I'm a teacher and I have seen extremely spoiled kids, with and without siblings!

*Only children are always bored becasue they have no siblings to play with. Again-not true and it goes back to parenting to ensure that your child is not bored. Besides, how often to kids with siblings whine "I'm bored!" Right now I have a pile of magazines, construction paper, glue, markers set up onthe kitchen table so when my son feels bored, he can make something. We also like doing mini-science experiements, and yes, ther are times when he plays by himself in his toyroom. A kid that claims "I'm bored" all the time must have limited stimulation at home.

*Having a sibling means someone to grow up with and be best friends. Really?! Not always the case. My siblings & I are closer now as adults than as kids. As kids we were 4 years apart, I'm the middle. We never hung out in the same circle and had different sets of friends. Different personaliaties. My husband and his brother rarely speak and as teens were quite physical with each other. No guarantee that siblings will get along and like each other.

*Only children are selfish and don't know how to share. Well the same can be applied to kids with siblings and it goes back to teaching your kid how to share! I'm not saying my son is perfect in the sharing department, but a lot of 5 year olds aren't either.

Good parenting goes a long way no matter how many kids you have!

September - posted on 07/06/2010




Currently we have one 19 month old little boy however we do plan to start trying for another this fall. As a child I always knew I wanted to be a Mother. Being the oldest of 6 siblings I also knew I wanted to be a Mother to more than one child which was reinforced after having our son Kazyn. He brings so much joy to our lives and I can't imagine not having more children. Plus recently Kazyn has been asking for a sister :)

Sharon - posted on 07/03/2010




I know I sort of argued for having more than one child... but I wanted to add...

There are times when I wish I had one child to lavish EVERYTHING on. ALL of my attention, ALL of my money... to make sure they would have the best of the best and not middle line.

You know whats weird? When I imagine that, I don't see the face of any child. Not any of my three. Its so nebulous, the imaginary child doesn't have a gender or face. Which I think is kind of cool. That even in my imagination, my brain/soul doesn't favor one child over another. I sort of figured that in that imaginary situation, my oldest would be the figure, first born, right? Nope. I wonder if there is a study on this somewhere, lol.

Charlie - posted on 07/04/2010




My sister is my best friend and one of my soulmates , i could not and will not imagine life without her , what we share is something i want for my son , and hopefully anytime now he will have a brother , i have no problem if people want to have only one child but for me i couldnt , its such a special relationship .

Jamie wants a big family but i only want two for many reasons , physically , emotionally , financially and environmentally i feel two is the perfect number , its all ive ever wanted , 2 boys and thats what i have so im happy , i have said i would have one more only for him but i really would rather just two , im giving it a 5 year IUD and then getting my tubes tied , i would get it done straight away if i could but im too young .

Lindsay - posted on 07/03/2010




I think everyone's views on this stem greatly from their own experiences from their childhood. For me, it was never even a consideration to have only 1 child. I was the youngest of 3 so i literally never knew what it was like to not have siblings. My mom was #7 of 9 and my dad was #3 of 4. Growing up, I didn't always get along with my brothers. i was after all the annoying little sister that got in the way. But I was also exposed to my parents very close relationships with all of their siblings. As I got older, me and my brothers developed more respect for each other and friendships. I think it was always there, just took us a while to show it. Today, I couldn't imagine life without my brothers. We still have a occassional spats but we love each other and would do anything for each other.

Josh wasn't as gung ho on having more than one as I was. He has a sister that he loves to pieces but due to subpar parenting, he was often the one left to take care of her. In short, he didn't get the childhood he deserved. And it took him realizing that it wasn't the sibling that brought on the problems but the parenting, or lack of.

There is no right answer to the siblings vs. only child debate but it will go on and on forever. My second came as a surprise so in a way, i feel very fortunate that it wasn't a decision I had to make on if/when we would have another. I love being a mother of 2 and having our little family. I love that my children have each other. And as strange is it may sound, I love seeing them fuss and fight with each other only to work it out. They are learning things about life and relationships through each other that I can't teach them. They are best friends, they drive each other crazy and bug the crap out of each other BUT they love each other. I already see the life-long bond forming and growing stronger by the day. For our family, having another was a perfect fit. But for another family, it may not be an option or simply may not be desired. Either way, each individual family has to figure out what's best for them.

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Tania - posted on 07/06/2010




Well I think if you want to have more kids do it...if you aren't sure its fine to wait.
I waited 13 years before I had a second. Both my kids are sort of olnly children in that respect but I don't argree with the "only child" arguement.
I know plenty of selfish bratty kids who are siblings and wonderful well behaved children who are the only child.
It all comes down to how you raise your kids.

Becky - posted on 07/06/2010




I come from a family of 4 kids, and I thought that was perfect. I always wanted 4, but my husband only wanted 2, so we're compromising at 3. We currently have 2.
My sister closest in age to me is my best friend. I'm close to the other 2 siblings as well, but closest to her. My little sister is 11 years younger then I am, so I got a lot of child-rearing experience from her.
One of my reasons for not having only one is that if/when dh and I die, I don't want my child to be all alone. I want them to still have immediate family. We have a close extended family, so I know they'd still have family, but I just don't think it would be the same as having your siblings to lean on and to go through it with.

Johnny - posted on 07/03/2010




It wasn't your post Joanna :-) but thanks! I actually agree with your analysis of the situation. I really think that selfish, spoiled children stem from parenting style rather than sibling count. And some kids who gets siblings may get more selfish to start, because of the jealousy thing. Good parenting will help them get through it and most likely teach them to be less selfish than they otherwise would have been without a sibling. But there are also many times where that jealousy is allowed to build and is not successfully dealt with. Those kids probably end up being even more selfish than they would have been without a sibling.

It's the same thing for only children, some get treated in ways that make them think they are the center of the universe and everyone must treat them as such. The "only-child syndrome" which you speak of. Others are carefully taught sharing, generosity, and that they aren't king shit. I tend to think that nice kids will be that way regardless of siblings or not. But like you, I think having a sibling will give my child a gift, someone to bond with and journey through life with. But if it doesn't work out, I don't think it will doom her to be a spoiled brat.

Joanna - posted on 07/03/2010




Carol, I hope I didn't offend you with what I said. And I only used the "only-child syndrome" phrase in my first post because that's what I've been hearing from my in-laws in regards to my daughter, and since I'm not an only child the phrase isn't offensive to me, but I can see how it could be to some, so I apologize.

I think sometimes a parent realizes though whether their child could benefit from a sibling. Paige is selfish, but she's also 2, and in no way do I think she's selfish BECAUSE she's an only child, it's because she's 2 and doesn't know much better, and it's hard to direct her from being selfish at this age. But from raising her, I was able to tell at a certain age she'd benefit from a sibling. Will it help her be less selfish? At first, probably not, I'm sure it might make it worse. But in the end it will help, but also provide her with a sister she can bond with and help teach and guide along in life, which I think is the best thing of all.

ME - posted on 07/03/2010




We have two...Miles is 2 1/2 and Mayah is 4 mos. I have many siblings, and my hubby was basically an only child (he has a half sister who is 8 years older than him). We discussed it a lot, but in the end, I convinced him that at least two kids would be better than one...Two of my four siblings are my closest friends in the world...I don't know what I'd do without them, and I wanted that possibility for my children too!!!

Johnny - posted on 07/03/2010




Ah the good old "only child"="spoiled/selfish child" argument. Good to see that people are still recycling bullshit.

Joanna - posted on 07/03/2010




After reading what you wrote Sharon, I feel the need to add on to my post about how we're providing a sibling for Paige. Did I want the child I'm pregnant with now? At times, yes and no. I love our family of 3. I've always toyed with the thought of having another, I love everything a child brings to a family, the easy love they give no matter what. So regardless of whether our decision to have another was based more on what the baby could do for Paige VS. truly 100% wanting another baby, it's a decision that we are 100% sure will bring extra love to the family, and that's always wanted.

[deleted account]

Another benefit is the financial aspect of raising one child versus more kids. We can afford to do more family acitivites like ball games or museums, road trips, and I opted to place my son in a better preschool that had a higher tuition as opposed to his previous daycare facility. I also don't have to juggle mutiple kid schedules :-)

Christa - posted on 07/03/2010




I personally couldn't imagine having only one kid, although I agree with you Sharon C, you shouldn't have more then one unless you want and are ready for one. I do think only children tend to be selfish, self centered and spoiled (based off the only children I've known), but again I agree with Sharon C. that it all is going to come down to good parenting.

I'm the oldest of 4 (2 sis and baby bro). Growing up I HATED it. All me friends got extravagant Christmases and vacations and cars etc, we never got any of that. We were sort of the Beverly hillbillies (not that we lived in Beverly Hills) of the neighborhood. They drove me crazy, I couldn't even have friends over because they were always spying on us and such. Of course we did have fun and I do have fond memories of my childhood with them, but it wasn't until I went to college that I realized how much I needed them. Now they are all my best friends and it's weird because I have such a different and unique relationship with all of them. The sis right below me (3.5 yrs younger) I always say if she wasn't my sister I never would have gotten to know her well enough to like her. She and I are total opposites, but we love each other just the same and while we still get into it once in a while I’m glad I have her. My other sis (6 yrs younger) she and I are a lot alike, but also have some major differences, but she's the one I can just hang out with and neither of us has to sacrifice anything, we just enjoy the same stuff. And my bro (8 yrs younger), he's EXACTLY like me. In fact it's funny because if he and I had been the same age and not related we TOTALLY would have hung out in the same group and maybe even dated (I know weird) but we are that much the same. Anyway. . . . I plan on having 4 although I just had my second and it's been WAY harder then it was with my first. My mother in law always said you aren't really a parent until you have more then 1 kid, and I used to get offended by it, but now I totally get what she was saying. lol! Anyway I think ultimately you have to do what YOU are ready for otherwise you are not going to give your kid(s) the parent they deserve and I think that is the MOST important.

[deleted account]

My sister is my best friend. My husband feels the same about his brother and sister. Now I feel like they are my brother and sister too. For me it's been all positive so having more kids is a no brainer.

Dana, I can totally understand your diversion to having more if you've had negative experiences.

I don't think you can predict how their relationships will be. But if you have a desire for more, and you can swing it financially, physically and mentally, I'd say go for it.

Tanya - posted on 07/03/2010




I have an older brother and he is my best friend. I love my brother so much. He is five years older than I am and we talk on the phone 2 or 3 nights a week. When I had my son he came and stayed with me for a week. He was there taking care of me when everyone else had to go back to work. He has literally saved my life. I was an addict for about a year and a half. I was totally honest with my brother about everything I was doing. So when I wanted to get clean. I moved out of the state and in with him. We have never judged each other. Oh and once as a child he saved me from a rattle snake. I have a best friend who is an only child and has said for years that she envies my relationship with my brother.

Justin has an older sister and they get along pretty well. We have dinner with her about once a week. I love her too.

Both or my parents come for families with four children. I loved having so many cousins. It made all the holidays so much more fun.

I wanted 6 kids, but because of the c-section I can only have four unless I wait three years and try to vbac. I Allen is only 5 months old now and we are thinking of trying for another. I have wanted to be a mom my whole life. I started baby sitting when i was very young. By the time I was 14 I was watching 3 kids at the same time and it was so much fun. So yeah I can see us being very happy with 4.

Riana - posted on 07/03/2010




Mostly I'm willing to see both sides, but I'm very one sided on this subject. I know that it is possible to grow up as a only child but why anyone would want to is beyond me!

If I asked you to draw a picture of a family, would you draw 3 people? I'm sorry if I am being silly. Maybe I just had a very good siblings experience. I'm the middle child between 2 brothers, and I love them to bits, can't even begin to understand what my life would have been like without them.

My husband compliments me, he is my best friend and my lover but he does not even try to understand me (just accepts me the way I am) but my brothers understand me inside out, I can spend hours arguing with them about life, religion, children the weather and who cares what else, they make me a better person!

My older brother has just had a daughter and my younger brother is expecting his first in Oct, my husband laughs at me when I say my niece and nephew (on the way) are just a little bit mine. But it is like that for me, I feel a very strong connection even with my brothers children and I know that if anything sould ever happen to their parents as would love and protect them as my own.

If you can't do it for yourself, them do it for your daughter. Yes maybe they will end up fighting but chances are they'll end up being best friends for life.

C. - posted on 07/02/2010




Well I only have the one handful right now.. But I do want 3 more. Hubby only wants 1 or 2 more. I loved having 3 siblings, though..

Pros and Cons for us are as follows:

-won't get spoiled as easily b/c they won't be able to get every single thing they want.
-family time is amazing when there's more people.
-I am stuck with only knowing how to make dinners for more than 3 people :)
-our son will have more brothers/sisters (not holding my breath for a girl, though :/ ) to play with.

-bigger messes.
-more money
-if we're stuck w/ only boys, NOT ENOUGH FOOD (just by going off of my son at the moment, it isn't looking too pretty..)
-MORE PAIN (meaning more deliveries)

Yeah, that's all I can think of at the moment.

Johnny - posted on 07/02/2010




I was an only child and most of the time, I've been quite happy with it. There was a brief period around when I was 8-10 years old when I wanted a sibling. Mostly because I wanted someone to pick on in the back seat on long car trips. They didn't have DVD players back then, and if they had, I probably wouldn't have harangued my parents for a sibling.

I have no idea what it would have been like to have a brother or sister, so I can't say which is really better. My parents couldn't have more, so it was never really up for that much discussion. It seems that it has it's good points & bad points, much like being an only child. I honestly don't really think it matters either way, life will be good or bad depending on many other things, not so much having siblings or not.

I've read posts in the past where people hated their siblings and resented their parents for their siblings. And I've seen only children resent their parents for never having brothers & sisters for them. I sort of suspect that there is more going on in those cases than a simple issue of family numbers. Other dynamics are coming into play.

I do sometimes wish I had a sibling around to help me out when my parents get old. But, I've seen quite a few times, even in my own extended family, where this doesn't work out. My BIL has just had to have his own sister evicted from their mother's house on grounds of elder abuse. The sister's husband was stealing all of the mother's money and they were trying to force her from her own home & take it for themselves. So, looking at that, I can see that having a sibling is not always all it's cracked up to be.

But on the other hand, I see the wonderful support and love that my own husband shares with his sister & brother and the great relationship he has with his nieces & nephews.

So when we were deciding on having more kids, I was torn. Originally I wanted just one. But now that I'm a mom, and I love motherhood so much, I would love to have another. I really really would. I'm not sure it's going to happen because of our financial situation. But we still have a few more years to find a way before our time is up. I did want any kids separated by quite a few years though. I know my own abilities and 2 kids under 2 is not in my playbook. I'm just not that talented, lol.

[deleted account]

I have 2, girl and a boy with a mystery due on the 12th. There is only 2 years between all 3.
I always knew i would have a few kids. I wanted 5 but hubby only wanted 3 so we compromised on 4.
I'm now not so sure on having baby number 4. This pregnancy has been really hard on my body and on my family emotionaly. ( I have been a wreck with this one so angry then upset my husband can't keep up)
I LOVE having the kids around it makes me feel alive. I also think how much easier it would have been having had only 1. My 2 are brilliant when they are not together.
I wouldn't change my decision. They make life so much more enjoyable.
The reason i chose to have them close together is cause i honestly don't think i could go back to changing nappy's/diapers once they are out of them.

Joanna - posted on 07/02/2010




I was fine with having just one child. I enjoy our family as the perfect threesome it is. But Paige was starting to show signs of only-child syndrome, just jealousy, boredom due to lack of playmate, etc. So my husband and I thought it best to give her a sibling, we thought it only fair. So we're expecting another little girl in October, and I'm about 95% they'll be our only 2, and if I do decide to add again to the family, we're going to wait at LEAST 5 years.

edited to add: I had a fine relationship with my brother growing up. Normal sibling fighting and such, but I'm glad I had an older sibling to look up to, and even though he probably didn't mean to, he protected me when I needed it. I think the bond is nice, regardless of how well we get along. I'd like Paige to have that, and her sister, too :)

Rosie - posted on 07/02/2010




i am so one sided on this issue, i just cannot fathom only having one child. obviously if that's what people want i could care less, but for ME, i always wanted more than one, i wanted 3 and thats what i got (after some haggling, lol).
i have a brother and a sister. my sister and i no longer speak to each other, and won't until she stops drinking. she was my best friend ,and i love her to death. i just can't stand to enable her self destruction any longer. my brother is a geek, and not very social, but i love him and wouldn't know what to do if he wasn't around. growing up we fought, and we played. but my memories are always of my siblings. they are VERY important to me. i obviously have great memories of my mother and father, but when i think back to my childhood, it is my sister i think about the most and our times together at the creek, or at the park, or just playing in the yard with our dog. my brother is a bit younger, but when he was born kristi and i went house to house in our neighborhood announcing the arrival of our new sibling to complete strangers, lol!!

also when you get old and feeble, there will be more than one person able to take care of your old diapered ass!! lol!!

Sharon - posted on 07/02/2010




I like having a brother. I like knowing there is more family out there. Even though we don't always get along. At least, one other person out there understands my frustration with our parents!

I was a military child so the single kids I knew were very lonely. Serious "latchkey" kids. There was never any extended family around for them.

But that sort of set for me that I wanted more than one kid. There was just me & my brother so I always figured I wanted 3 at least, maybe 4. We have 3.

We were going to stop at 2 because of finances and we did hold off until things got better. Now I'm content with three. The only way we are having number 4 is if we win the lottery.

[deleted account]

I can also see both sides which is why we're struggling with this decision.....I think if both myself and Chad didn't have such crappy relationships with our siblings (he HATES his sister and I don't have much, if any relationship with either of my brothers) that maybe we would be more adament about wanting more?!

From our experience, having siblings was frustrating and discouraging! Obviously I know not all relationships turn out this way. We're actually probably the minority but I still struggle with it!

[deleted account]

Currently I have one child but hopefully I will have at least one more maybe two.

I can see the pros and cons for both sides but IMO I feel that it is better to have more than one child. Both my hubby and I both have fantastic memories of growing up with our siblings (me 1 bro/ hubby 1 bro 3 sis) and we do not want our child to miss out on those experiences. I think having a sibling also allows children to learn important life lessons such as sharing (I know they can be taught without siblings). I have found that many only children are spoilt and a little bit bratty because when you only have one child they can get away with more. Also only children tend to be lonlier, yes you can have friends and cousins but they cannot substitute a sibling.

My BIL has one son and he and my SIL do not want any more they see it that by having one child they can provide him with what he needs without having to scrimp and save, they can focus all their energy on him without having to divide their time with other children and he will not have the sibling rilvalry that some siblings have.

Ultimately I say each to their own we all have to do what is best for our families as nobody knows the dynamics that go on behind closed doors.

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