The Guilt with Having Only One Child

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There are lots of people who I talk to who know very early on that they want to have kids.  Unfortunately I wasn’t one of them but our decision to have our precious little Ella was the best decision we could have made!  No regrets for sure and she makes our life and purpose on this world so much more meaningful.

Now onto the hard question that I’ve struggled with and constantly get asked – “so when are you having another?”. My answer is always, “we’ve decided to only have one as it’s a lot of work to balance with a career and not have to sacrifice the other things we still want to do” (insert cringe here or similar reaction).  It’s a choice that I’m confident is right for us.  But still, there is always a small nagging voice that comes with this decision.

  • Am I being too selfish?
  • Will Ella be okay on her own without a sibling to lean on when parents are not the first choice to confide in?
  • Will she become too spoiled being an only child and not develop those core social skills that she’ll need once she becomes an adult?
  • Will she be lonely during the holidays or other family-oriented occasions when we’re no longer around?
  • and the list goes on…..

The GUILT and the questions are always there.  I try to live my life with no regrets and that is how I approach everything I do or decisions I make.  Whether the decision to have only one child was the right one unfortunately I will never be able to answer and there is no way I’ll ever know.

The worst is when Ella asks us at 5yrs old what happens when we die and she’s all alone!  That’s the worst question of all and makes me very sad when she asks.  We try to comfort her by telling her that she has lots of great friends and cousins around and potentially she’ll have her own family one day so she won’t be alone.  That’s the best I got so here’s hoping that is enough.

Thanks for listening and sharing in my thoughts.

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46 thoughts on “The Guilt with Having Only One Child

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  2. Minh, this is such a personal decision. Never let anyone tell you what is the right decision for you. I think you are doing just fine without anyone’s opinion butting in. You are the one who is raising your daughter. And what would have happened if you had more than one and then been unhappy? You would have had resentment and taken it out on the kids. Only you know what is best for you. I am an only child and grew up in a home full of love. I never felt alone I had a few good friends and am close to my cousins to this day. And I turned out fine. I do not worry about being left alone in life, I have a family of my own. And when your daughter is grown she will make her own decisions about these subjects, whether she wants to marry and have her own family. It is not up to us to make these decisions for our children. Be confident and secure in the knowledge that you did the right thing for yourself and by being a happy and contentt human you can be a better parent.

  3. I don’t think there is an answer right or wrongly here its’ what you feel is right for you and your family I think. Everyone is different. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me. I hope to see you again tomorrow for another great round! #sharewithme

  4. There is no right or wrong answer; only what you feel is right. Children are resilient and she will be great whether she is the only child or one of ten. There are so many aspects of parenting that we can question and feel guilty about. #made4kids

  5. I’m and only child and so is my husband. We both have different feelings about it. I wished I had brothers and sisters growing and he didn’t. However, you are the one providing care for your child; so I completely get not having more kids. It’s a hard job and adding more kids makes it even harder.

  6. There’s no right or wrong answers. It’s all about what’s right for your family. I’m an only child and I had a great childhood. My husband’s the youngest of three and he’s close to his siblings. When my mother-in-law passed away, I was inspired by how they were there for each other, and felt a little sad that I wouldn’t have that. But I have my family and my cousins, and that’s important too! Thanks for sharing your post at the Manic Mondays blog hop!

  7. What you’re saying is just what we’ve gone through too. I wasn’t sure I wanted children – I’m not a usual fan of kids (let alone babies), but then decided that yes I didn’t want to regret not trying when I was old. It’s been the best thing ever, and I presumed we would have 2.

    But then things change – to have 2 is so much more sacrifice, especially if you don’t have a husband who shares the load (mine works 7 days a week so apart from shower time, lunch at weekends and any time N wants to go out on the farm with him, that’s it. No day to day support). So we’ll only have N. I think it would be different if he didn’t have 6 cousins living within 2 miles of him. I’ve not felt too guilty, because while he’s only asked a couple of times for me to have a baby so he could have a little brother like his best friend, I’ve explained that we wouldn’t be able to do half the things we do now because I’d have to give up work, even though I’m the salaried worker.

    The only thing I do worry about is sorting out the legal things like probate, wills, estate, potential issues with dementia and care over the years for us. My brother and I have sorted out our mum’s probate, will and house sale (our dad died when we were young children), and we’re now our nan’s legal deputies for her finances and care as she’s in a home with dementia. I’d not have wanted to go through that without my brother, so I’m hoping that N stays in touch with his cousins, aunt and uncles as he grows up and we get old to give him support. As well as obviously hoping he has a strong family himself.


    1. I haven’t even thought of sorting out the legal things yet – need to add that to the list! That’s great that your little one has so many close cousins. We have only 2 that are about 45 minutes away but we’re committed to seeing them as often as possible in hopes that they become/stay close. Fingers crossed.

  8. We only have one and I tear myself up about this sometimes. I think though that there’s no right or wrong answer, as long as you make what you choose work. We try and make sure, for example, that whenever she wants to have a friend round after school, we say yes unless we have a very good reason why she can’t, and we do lots of activities with other parents and children, so she’s getting lots of time with other children. whatever you do, other people will judge you, so you may as well do what feels right to you.

    1. I’m always on the hunt for play dates. She’s 5 now and always asks to play with someone her own age. Luckily we have a couple of close friends who have kids around the same age. I sometimes feel like I am her personal social manager 🙂

  9. Trhere are lots of 1-child families out there, both by choice and not by choice! We chose to have a lot (#6 is on the way) but everybody’s circumstances are different. Sometimes guilt is a sign that you need to change your course, and other times it’s just something you should brush it off – and most of the time, deep down you know which one it is so listen to your heart!

  10. I get that question a lot too. Those types of questions drive me bonkers, because ultimately it’s up to the parents and any decision regarding children is up to the parents alone. We currently just have our daughter and are still undecided about having more. Somedays we’re convinced we want another one, somedays we’re happy with just her. Somedays we’re not in agreement on this, somedays we are. There are definitely pros and cons either way you go!

    Thank you for sharing with us at #mommymeetupmondays!

  11. Wow there’s guilt everywhere 🙁 I’m an only child and my husband is from a huge family. I’ve seen both sides and think being an only child is just fine 🙂

  12. There are pros and cons to having any number of children, including the decision to not have any at all. And others will always have their own two cents to throw at you either way. Guilt, however, though common, is a distraction from focusing on being the best mom you know you already are to your child. You know what’s right for your family, and that’s enough. “You alone are enough,” as the late Maya Angelou once said. 🙂 -Elle

  13. Omg, this is exactly what I have been dealing with! my son is 15 mons and that’s usually the 3rd or 4th question I get asked. Honestly I do not know, I am an older mom, most of my friends hv 2-3 kids and their youngest being 5/6 so its tough. your article made me feel so much better, especially this — ” We try to comfort her by telling her that she has lots of great friends and cousins around and potentially she’ll have her own family one day so she won’t be alone. That’s the best I got so here’s hoping that is enough”

    1. I had my one and only shortly after I turned 36yrs old so I’m with you on that one. We had to make younger friends as we started to feel left out with the kid focused activities before we had our own 🙂 Thanks for visiting and giving your support. It’s so nice to know there are others out there feeling the same as me as well!

  14. It’s such a complicated subject, we had much the same angst as you. Before having any children I wanted lots, after having one I couldn’t imagine having another. 4 years on (my husband did want another) and with my 40’s approaching it felt like a now or never situation and we decided to go for it. Of course there’s no regrets but I would definitely say to any one choosing to stuck at one, go with your instincts, don’t let guilt creep in. We would have been perfectly happy with one, there are loads of things we could have done that now we can’t or will have to wait a few years. For us it will be all worth it (eventually!) as it will for you, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    1. Trying to go with my instincts for sure. It was the now or never moment for us (similar to yours) about two years ago for us. Unfortunately it’s that internal clock that makes you decide whether you want to or not!

  15. Our daughter is an only, not by choice but just because that’s the way it worked out. She is now halfway through college, and our little family of three is very, very close. She gets everything she needs, and most of what she wants, but she has the most grateful spirit I know, so “only” doesn’t have to equal “spoiled,” even if you do spoil her. 🙂 I do worry about when my husband and I are gone, but we have a large extended family, and her friendships are very strong. Ella will be okay. 🙂 #SmallVictoriesSunday

  16. I completely understand where you are coming from! I think you are wise to know your family and to try to make the best choices you can… families are definitely not one size fits all! So sorry you have to deal with negative reactions as a result. My husband is an “only,” and he has some of the closest friends I’ve ever seen someone have — he really did build a second family out of those friendships, and doesn’t feel any lack from not having siblings. I am confident your daughter can do the same with your encouragement and support. 😀

  17. Ella sounds like a wise little girl. It’s a very personal decision to make, but as long as you do what’s right for you and your family, don’t worry about what others think. Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky xx

  18. I don’t think it’s a question that is as clear cut as it gets made out to be. Siblings are not necessarily close, only children are not necessarily lonely. Only children do not automatically become bratty and spoilt, that depends on what they learn from their parents. As it does in multi-child families – kids with siblings can be spoilt brats. Interestingly, I don’t think anyone ever says ‘oh but she’ll be lonely on her own/spoilt’ when someone has more than one child but with an age gap so great that the youngest is essentially raised as an only child! It’s an odd idea that some people seem convinced it is ‘selfish’ to only want one child, but not consider that it would be irresponsible to have more children than you feel is right for you or you can handle. I think it is always best for your child that you have done what you are happy and comfortable with so that you can be the best parent possible for them. & I think everyone works to try to balance out the downsides of whichever way they have gone. So the parents of the only child are trying to ensure the child is not spoilt and is socially adept and not lonely. While the parents of more than one child are trying to ensure that the children all get enough attention, and that one child doesn’t dominate to the exclusion of the others, etc. It’s swings and roundabouts. #justanotherlinky

  19. There is always going to be questions and guilt pretty much for any parental decisions so I really wouldn’t beat yourself up. You have to do what is right for you and your family. Ella sounds very loved and she will always have people around her – like you say hopefully her own family too. It is no one else’s concern and I hope you can feel happy in your decision xx #justanotherlinky

    1. She definitely is well loved. You always want “everything” for your child and I guess all of our love should be enough. I know it’s the right decision for us. Still a small ounce of doubt and guilt will always be there but it does help to share and to get all the perspective and support from everyone on this post – thanks!

  20. Try not to feel so guilty! Just because she doesn’t have any birth siblings doesn’t mean she won’t find friends or maybe cousins who are as close, or even closer, than a brother or sister would be. And even if you did have more children – relationships fail. It doesn’t mean they would be there for each other, unfortunately. Do what’s right for your family; the rest will fall into place!

  21. All families are different. I’m an only child and love all the undivided attention and love I get from my folks. They are my friends and will be forever. When they are gone I will have friends and loved ones of my own x She’ll be ok. I’ll be ok. x

  22. I totally understand, my eldest was an only child for 10 years. It didnt affect his childhood though and I didnt feel selfish, it wasn’t the right time to have another until then. I’m sure she’s a very happy little girl! 🙂 #justanotherlinky

  23. Everyone’s life choices are going to be different. I personally don’t want to have 4 and 5 kids like some of my friends, but it’s not my life so who am I to say it’s wrong. I myself don’t have any kids yet, and when the time is right for me to take that step, I’ve already decided I want to adopt. And your decision to have 1 child was the right one because it was your decision. Nobody can say it was wrong because they are not you, and what may be right for them is not right for everybody else.

    1. I hold onto that for sure – right for me and not for everybody else. Good luck with your adoption should you decide one day to take that step. Lots of kids out there who need to be a part of a loving family.

  24. Sounds like your Ella is a much loved and precious child; whether she is your only child or not. All families are different and you have clearly made your decision with all of your best interests at heart. We cannot be good mums if we don’t also look after ourselves. x #TheList

    1. We hope she feels precious and much loved as it’s completely how we feel about her. I’m hoping one day she will read this blog and get a little insight on why we made the decision to devote everything to our one and only!

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