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There are many strong opinions out there about how many children you think you should have. . . and how many children do others think you should have. These “others” will often tell you quickly.
Journalist Joanna Pocock wrote of her personal journey: “In a playground in London, a mother told me that having an only child was synonymous with child abuse when she saw my daughter frolicking in the sandpit by herself. When I told my mother that I probably wouldn’t have any more children, she exclaimed disparagingly that a child is ‘just not a family’. “
Feelings about just children are rife on the internet, showing that many don’t need to hear opinions from “others” to feel concerned or rethink their parenting decisions. Parents who have a child struggle with their decision. “I don’t need to be told that my son could be lonely if I don’t have another child,” wrote one mother.
“I only have one and I will never forgive myself for having just one,” someone told me in an email. Perhaps something in their background or in families that mostly have multiple children made their strong statement. But she is not alone.
Another mother is more measured. She told the Detroit Free Press, “I wish we could deal with another child, and I feel terrible when my daughter asks about a baby sister. At the same time I know that [one child] is the right choice for us. “
Who is actually more likely to be disadvantaged?
For parents of only children, the most worrying thing about comparing a singleton to child abuse is when it is more correct to say that “child abuse” between siblings is surprisingly common. The former is misguided thinking; The sibling problem is reality.
After reading “The Dark Side of Siblings” in my article on sibling abuse, one reader shared her experience with many, many others: “I wish someone had told my parents this. I grew up fearful for my life because an abusive older sibling never forgave me for committing the offense of being born. . . When I tell my parents about it, they yell at me for complaining. “
According to the University of Michigan School of Medicine, “Sibling violence is widespread. In fact, it’s probably even more common than child (parent) or spouse abuse. The most violent members of American families are the children. ”
An anonymous writer reported on her experience with an abusive sibling in an article titled “To Protect My Daughter From The Abuse I Survived She Will Be an Only Child”. It is a fact that many parents – who are wary of inflicting negative stereotypes on their children about children only when they choose not to have more children – may not consider when planning their families. “I was always very aware that a sibling cannot be a blessing. And when I hear people lament the so-called sad state of the only child, I remember how many times I actually longed to be one, ”she wrote.
When “others” tell you …
The “others” who tell you that your one-child decision is unfair, that you are putting your child at a disadvantage, or that it is “child abuse” are likely to have no idea what your reasons might be. You don’t have to explain your infertility, miscarriages, difficult pregnancy, or issues with postpartum depression, money problems, or a partner who no longer wants to have children or who may have children from another marriage. Or that a child is what you want. . . Period.
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Paul Chai, an only child living in New Zealand, argues that being an only child is a plus that those who have or want an only child may want to adopt. He also offers a strong message to the “others”: “So enough with the one-shaming. You may think having or being an only child is strange, but I think strangers who ask what I do with my sperm and my wife’s womb are socially awkward. Rely on them the next time you feel the need to get into a fairly private matter with no wrong or right answer. “
connected: Growing up without siblings: Children only speak up for adults
Copyright @ 2018, 2020 by Susan Newman