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No, I'm Not Having a Second Kid -- Get Over It!

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Dr. Cara Gardenswartz: "Of course you'll have another child ...."

mom and son

"You'd never do that to your son -- leave him without a sibling ...."

"You'll see: Once he gets a little older, you'll miss this age and want another one ...."

"Only children are spoiled ...."

"When are you having another ...?"

"He needs someone to play with ...."

"But won't he be alone in the world when you and your husband die ...?"

"I always feel so bad for only children -- are you sure you want to do that to your son ...?"

I used to actually attend to these intrusive questions and comments -- I thought I had to explain myself for this wrongdoing -- for only wanting one child. I used the difficult-pregnancy and horrific-labor excuses (both true). I said, "Maybe when he's older" to accommodate others. I would say "we" instead of "I" to take the burden off of me (also true, but not needed).

And then my husband said something so obvious, yet brilliant -- something I had to hear: "You don't have to explain. You don't have to give an answer." That's when the shift occurred: I became more at peace.

People like to tell you what is "right." Most people don't heed the maxim "live and let live;" instead, they pass judgment.

Years later, my husband and I are beyond content with being "one and done" with our 7-year-old. In fact, all three of us gleam with fun, silliness and love (that is, when we're not sleep-deprived or cranky).

I can't predict which decisions I make as a parent will most impact my son. I make choices on a day-to-day basis and hope for the best. I hope he will be confident and happy in the world. This will not be based on one decision. And I want the same for me -- confidence and happiness, which is how I feel today.

"When are you having the next one?" My quick, obviously-this-is-not-a-discussion-I'm-willing-to-have answer to my cousin-in-law's wife's question is simply, "I'm not." No explanations. Freedom.

next: Jessi Slaughter: A Teachable Moment
15 comments so far | Post a comment now
Beka July 22, 2010, 7:56 AM

We are a “one and done” family as well and we also get lots of pressure about when we are having more. I like to mention my terrible relationship with my sibling and how I don’t want to provide my daughter with a life-long enemy. After all, there is no guarantee that the kids will get along and remain close throughout their lives.

Stacie July 22, 2010, 8:06 AM

My husband and I are currently expecting our first in September, and we’re ALREADY getting pressure about the second kid! Seriously! We have thought about this issue a lot, and are still leaning towards making this child our only child. I just smile and shrug when people say, “Oh, you’ll change your mind.”

jen July 22, 2010, 8:37 AM

My husband isn’t on speaking terms with either of his sisters, and I’m an only child. Siblings are not always a blessing. People should mind their own business, but of course they won’t.

Lisa R. July 22, 2010, 8:52 AM

I am a mother of two (9-1/2 years apart, same father, same marriage), and I always wanted a lot of children. I love children, and I cannot imagine my life without them. HOWEVER, I do NOT pass judgement on people who only want one or—gasp!—no children at all. I may not “get it,” but everyone is different, and I think knowing what you want (be it 4 or 1 or zero) is admirable; sticking to what you know is best for you in the face of all the pressure you get is even more so. I don’t know why everyone thinks what’s best for them is best for everyone—and, worse, that it’s their job to inform you so—but good for you for doing what’s right & sticking to it. You do not have to explain yourself. Also, there are many, many children w/siblings who are (all) horribly spoiled, poorly behaved brats. Being an only child does not automatically make a kid spoiled or indulged, entitled or bratty. That’s all the parents. I say good for you!

Elle July 22, 2010, 10:46 AM

Kudos to you! I only wanted one child, but God gave me twins. I am happy to have two, but I can totally understand where you are coming from. At least I only had to be pregnant once.

Mariah July 22, 2010, 11:05 AM

We have 2, a girl and boy. We got the same questions and pressure as soon as our daughter was born. We were pretty set that we were only having 1 child. The sleepless nights, nursing issues, and financial problems solidified it for us. I have 3 siblings, none who I’m very close with now, my husband has 2 that he’s never had a good relationship with.

Then as our daughter got older we saw how much she loved other kids. She was so powerfully drawn to any child within 500 ft radius of us wherever we went. The sleepless nights were gone and we our financial troubles passed for the time being. Our hearts changed and our new desire was to be a family of 4. Now we have our son, and he is amazing and perfect and wonderful and everything we prayed about. Now our family is complete again and we’re starting our own reality show “Two is Enough”, lol. Because of course, the pressure and questions never stop.

Shana July 22, 2010, 12:03 PM

Love it. I’m what some might call a “poor lonely only” because they think I must have had such a HARD time growing up without siblings. Just the other day someone (I had met like 10mins earlier) asked me how many brothers sisters I had, & I responded that I was an only child. They thought about it for a second, as if I really needed them to reply, & said, “OH wow! That must have been SO LONELY!” *eyeroll*

I love/d being an only kid, & at the moment, my son is an only too. I don’t see us having more kids, but if we do, great - it’ll be because we want to, not because some nosy person shames us into it. ;)

Misti  July 22, 2010, 5:54 PM

Thank you for this article!! I have literally said EVERY ONE of these lines to more people than I can count. We are also a “One and Done” family - or a “One is OneDERFUL” :). The looks I have gotten from other moms when asked “So when are having your second?” are priceless when I tell them I’m not. We’re happy just the way we are. I was an only child - and now I have an only. I was happy growing up… always got to bring friends on vacation and have TONS of sleepovers anytime I wanted! :) Now my son does the same thing. No loneliness anywhere that I can see. And no, he’s not spoiled, snobby or a know-it-all either. He’s just a great kid. Thanks again for this post! AWESOME! :)

Sandi July 22, 2010, 9:32 PM

So many judgmental people out there. Thank you for not being one of them. I have 3 kids, but I firmly believe that if the parents aren’t happy, the kids won’t be either. Your child will be lucky because you are making a decision that works for you.

MARJORIE July 23, 2010, 10:58 AM

You just made my life easier. You ended with “FREEDOM” which when it comes to making a choice for one, none or many means ‘freedom of choice’ and ‘freedom from questions’ all in one word.
Thank you Dr. Gardenswartz!

Julie July 23, 2010, 11:08 AM

We professionals are often able to advise others yet not see clearly for ourselves when under pressure and emotions triggered. Thank your husband from me for “You don’t have to explain. You don’t have to give an answer.” I will use this personally and pass it on when appropriate

Read more:

Louisa July 23, 2010, 11:14 AM

So simple, so clear, so relieved!

Krista July 25, 2010, 8:54 PM

I’m an only child and at 29 still think about how different life would be if I had a sibling. I have watched good friends fight and dislike their siblings, then in the mid 20’s grow closer then ever with them and I feel like I’m the one tagging along with them. When my parents are gone I’m alone on this earth in that respect and will have to make desions on their behalf by myself. I have 2 kids and almost lost my life to placenta accreta with my first delivery. It was worth the risk to have my second because I didn’t want my daughter to be an ONLY LONELY!

Allie July 27, 2010, 6:44 AM

I have two, and I feel I am getting pressure to have a third! Growing up, no one I knew had three kids and all my friends only had one sibling, so having three is a totally new concept for me. We are unsure if we want another one, we’ll have to see.

donna July 30, 2010, 6:40 PM

Read the article and all the comments and agree with Krista that when it works that’s great but not reason enough to have 2nd if it is no what you really want. I have a good relation with my siblings, not very close because of distance and where life has taken us but never a problem. The reality is when it comes to aging or ill parents too often it is only one who takes on most of the responsibility and makes the decisions. I believe people should live in the day and do what is best for them in the here and now whatever that might be.

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