The Only Child

in Henry, Oh, Controversy!

At Girls on the Run, we played an ice breaker game that is similar to Bingo – but you search for teammates with certain characteristics.  One of the squares is for an only child.  Season after season, I had to scribble my name in the box for one of the teams because out of 15 girls, only one was also an only child.


I am an only child by fact of life, not necessarily by my parents’ choice.  My parents’ marriage was my mother’s second; she gave birth to me when she was 39.  I know that my father in particular would’ve loved to have more kids, but it just didn’t work out.  So I remained an only child.  Currently, there are 14 million only children in the United States, representing about 20% of all kids (source).   The average American family has 2.1 children; the average European family has 1.4 (source).  But our country is moving closer and closer to more only children than ever before; in 2003, only child families slightly outnumbered two child families – but 80% of families still have more than one child (source).


Some only children are sibling-less for reproductive reasons; other motivations are more practical.  Obviously, it’s much easier on a family’s finances to only have one child.  And other parts of life are easier, too – traveling, for example.


Perhaps you’ve heard theories about how birth order influences certain traits.  Frank Sulloway argues that only children (as well as firstborns) are dominant, more conscientious, and less flexible that other children.  A little fact:  almost all American Presidents were either first-borns or first-born sons (source).  One study found that only children perform academically at the same level as first-borns but are less socially adjusted (source).  Some psychologists observe a phenomenon known as Middle Child Syndrome, which is when middle kids feel ignored or slighted.  Stereotypically, the last child is usually coddled and treated like the ‘baby’ no matter what his or her age.  However, some researchers have challenged the view that birth order influences personality, finding a weak relationship between order and personality type (source).


I feel that my personality was greatly influenced by my status as an only child.  Yeah – I’m somewhat dominant, very conscientious, and a tad inflexible. I was my parents’ primary focus and was pushed (in a healthy way) to succeed.  I had all their emotional resources at my metaphorical fingertips.  I wouldn’t say I was spoiled in a bratty way, but I definitely got most of the material things that I wanted because I didn’t have to share.  In many ways, being an only child was – and continues to be – quite nice.  I get all of the attention, time, and energy that my mom and dad have to devote to parenting. 


But being an only child is a little sad, too.  The Husband has a sister and three stepbrothers, and I’m slightly jealous of their bond (it was nice to marry into a family with so many siblings-in-law, though).  I was sometimes lonely as a kid, especially after my parents divorced.  As an adult, there is a bit of pressure to be a ‘golden child.’  I worry about what will happen to my parents as they age; there are no siblings to count on for emotional or financial support. 


So – I guess that begs the question… Will Henry be an only child?


We really waver on this issue.  Practically speaking, I think it would be very wise to stop at one.  Henry has already cost us a ton of money due to subpar health insurance (the joys of being self-employed); we certainly couldn’t afford to have another child in the next year or two.  I also love being able to focus all my time and energy on one child.  I know another baby won’t get the same level of fuss because of logistical reasons. 


Emotionally, I want to have another child… or even two.  I’d love to have a baby girl, and I’d love to watch Henry interact with a sibling.  I imagine big Christmases with many children running down the stairs or looking into the review mirror and seeing three kiddos in the backseat.  And this might be very morbid, but I’ve always been a little nervous about ‘putting my eggs in one basket’ – what if something happens to Henry and we end up childless?  All of this is assuming, of course, that we could even conceive again – I hate to count the metaphorical chickens before they hatch. 


If we do have another child, it won’t be for a while.  I always thought that it would be nice if Henry was three years old before the next one comes along.  So I guess we have time to decide.  And until then, I’m going to enjoy my only child as much as I can. 


How did your birth order influence you?  Are you planning to have an only child?



  • Molly @ Duchess of Fork August 6, 2012, 7:59 am

    My husband and I are both only children. I’ve never really minded being an only child. Sure, it would have been great to have siblings growing up, but I just don’t know any different. I am sad that our kids won’t have aunts, uncles or cousins, though. Both of our families are big with lots of cousins. We definitely want more than one since we’re both onlys.

  • Hannah August 6, 2012, 8:05 am

    I am the oldest with a sister who is 5 years younger, and quite honestly I can’t imagine being an only child. My sister and I don’t always get along, but its so great to have someone to complain about our parents to, share the excitement on Christmas morning, and talk about boys (she even tried to help me cover up a hickey last month!). My sister was the result of my mothers second marriage, so I may have never had the chance to have a sibling, and I am so glad I did!

  • Sarah @ In Sustainability and in Health August 6, 2012, 8:07 am

    My brother and I are best friends – we have the best time together and never fought much growing up. We are four years apart, so my parents had lots of time to get us each through different stages of growing up before the other was there. For example, they never had more than one kid playing high school sports at one time, never had more than one kid in college at one time, etc. There was plenty of attention to go around, since our needs were usually pretty different.
    And we fit those birth order stereotypes to the T!
    I’d say have another in a few years! I love having a sibling!

  • Amy August 6, 2012, 8:09 am

    I have 4 siblings and my husband has 1. Before we were married, we talked about having 4 kids (I wanted 5, he wanted 3, so we compromised). In the months after my son was born and still to this day, I think about him being an only child. I am a SAHM and would like to return to work some day; another child would delay this (yes, I know how selfish that sounds, but this is a hard job!). Your image of Christmas mornings and the joy a playmate/sibling would bring to my toddler make me realize that there will be another one, probably when he is closer to 3. Who knows if we’ll ever get to 3… or 4… or 5? 🙂

  • Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction August 6, 2012, 8:09 am

    I have one younger brother who is 6 years younger than I am so I do remember being an only child for a little bit of my life. I begged my parents to have another baby because I was bored, and wanted someone to play with. I can’t imagine my life without him, but I understand the difficulties of having more than 1 child. I think it is great when families are able to have more than one child, because their is a special sibling bond that cannot be achieved with anyone else. But then again, to the people who have a hard time conceiving, one child may be the miracle they have always been waiting for.

  • miss pip kelly August 6, 2012, 8:11 am

    As an elder sister to one younger brother (four years apart) I definitely consider myself to display some of the eldest child traits (not limited to occassionally being a bossy boots). I find it hard to imagine growing up without a younger brother, and he, and the role of older sister have definitely had a large influence on who I am today. We fought like cat and dog at times, but we also played the most amazing imaginary world games together, which is why I think I definitely want more than one child if possible, the built in play mate!

    Other half is a middle child to his Mum and Dad, and then much older brother to his Dad and Step Mum’s two adopted children (9 and 10 to our 27 years). As someone who came from a very traditional set up it’s been interesting to observe the dynamics in his family(ies). Coming from a bigger family (I guess 3 kids is big now, right?) he definitely wants more than one child. He’s not a classic middle child in my opinion, other than being a peace maker and mediator for the rest of the family and being the more practical ‘get it done’ of the three elder sibs. He definitely wants more than one child, I think in part because of the relationship between him and his older brother when they were kids. He is sure he wouldn’t be the sportsman he is today if it wasn’t for that early on competition he had so close to home.

    Part of me wishes I was a psyhcologist instead of an accountant when I think about things like this!

    Thanks for the thought provoking lunch break Caitlin!

  • Mika August 6, 2012, 8:15 am

    I am an only child and will probably have an only child out of circumstance. I’m 37 and pregnant with my first so several issues must be taken into account. As a working mom, child care is incredibly expensive and there’s also college to consider. I want to provide our son with everything (and more) my parents were able to give me. I agree with you that being an only child grew lonesome after divorce but I’m fortunate to have wonderful friends and cousins who will turn into aunties/uncles. I also worry about possible financial burdens that I may encounter as my parents age especially since I live in NC and my parents are in Texas. My life as a mom may not have turned out as I imagined in my early 20s but I feel so blessed to be a position to provide for our son after living such a full life thus far.

  • Ruby @ Focus, Woman! August 6, 2012, 8:18 am

    Loved this post. I think it’s natural to start thinking about whether or not to have more children after things start to settle a little with the first one. Deciding if and when you want to have more children is often an even more difficult decision to make than going for the first child. You KNOW how much work, time, and money goes into a kid. There’s always a sense of “we’ve just got a bit of a rhythm going” or a fear of not being able to handle two.

    What happened for us is, I knew I could never finish my master’s degree with TWO small children, so we wanted to wait until I was finished before we had number 2. On the other hand, I also enjoy great benefits at my current job, including long materinity leave, and I have a secure contract. So in the end we’ve decided to try for number 2 & aim for giving me enough time to finish my degree, but not too long afterwards, so I can have another baby before I start looking for my “real job”.

    I think what happens is, just like with baby #1, at a certain point you start to feel the biological clock tick. Then at first you’ll see hurdles & reasons not to go for it right now. Then, after a while, you’ll start to find reasons why or how it COULD work out. ;-))

    I am a firstborn and definitely type-a, very typical firstborn. My sister is typical last-born, and yes, my bro a middle born.

  • Kelly August 6, 2012, 8:21 am

    Very interesting post! As a teacher I think I’ve only had maybe 5 or 6 only children in a group of 120ish students (and I think at least one of those ended up with a sibling later after kindergarten). I don’t have enough for a job sample size but some have been great and others definitely fell into the difficulty being social study you discussed (though of course this also exists in multiple kid families). I debate about this too and I don’t even have one kid yet. I see a lot of advantages to 1 but then again, I can’t imagine life without my siblings!

  • Emily August 6, 2012, 8:22 am

    I’m a first born (one brother who’s five years younger) and I absolutely love it. I’m driven to do better and set an example for my brother. However, I’ve always wished I had a younger sister, too, and ideally I would like to have three kids of my own one day – finances permitting, of course.

  • Calla August 6, 2012, 8:22 am

    I’m the oldest of three, and while I am very conscientious, I tend not to be dominant or inflexible. People see me and my sister, the middle child, interact and frequently think our roles were reversed – not sure what happened there! Our brother, the youngest, is definitely the stereotypical baby, though.

    I’ve also heard that birth order doesn’t precisely influence one’s personality, except when the family is all together and then those shades come out.

    My fiancé and I haven’t made a solid decision about whether we’ll have children – it’s not a possibility now anyway – but if we have any, we’d prefer to have two. He grew up in a family of four and there seems to be a lot less drama than in my family (which is not solely because of the number of people in it but I really don’t think it hurts), but he was never lonely as a kid and he and his sister both became good at sharing, which I think is important. (And, I don’t think it’s too morbid – I have the same “putting all of my eggs in one basket” concern that you mentioned.)

    I agree with your three-year age gap idea – my siblings and I are all about three years apart in age and I think it’s a good gap generally. The only downside is that if you have three children all three years apart, the oldest and the youngest are six years apart, which in my experience is a pretty big gap. It can be hard for quite awhile to find things that those two both like, and my brother and I didn’t have much in common or much to talk about until relatively recently.

  • Lissa August 6, 2012, 8:24 am

    I’m most definitely a first-born (there are 3 of us kids). We are going to try for baby #2 sometime in the next year, so our kids will be about 2.5-3 years apart (Maya is 19 months now). She is just SO fun now … it’s hard to think of going back to the days of sleepless nights and blowouts and all the joy that is newborn life. But I do want Maya to have a sibling if we can give her one — my siblings are my best friends. And though my husband’s sister was born with severe mental paralysis (she is 35 with the brain of a 2-year old), he adores her and comes from a huge family of cousins and aunts and uncles. We have incorporated Maya into our lifestyle and hope we’d be able to do that with #2 too.

  • Lee August 6, 2012, 8:25 am

    I’m kind of a weird hybrid. My parents got divorced when I was three and I lived with my mom so I was the only child in my household. However, my dad got remarried and he and my stepmom had two other kids, ten and twelve years after I was born. I saw them often and they only lived like 20 minutes away, but I didn’t live with them so it didn’t feel like I had siblings.

    I kind of only want one kid but at the same time, when I was a kid (especially before Eric and Emma were born), I wanted a brother or sister so badly.

  • Cyn August 6, 2012, 8:25 am

    I’m an only child and I didn’t mind it at all! I also believe that as an only child I have all of the traits/attributes you spoke of in this post. However, I also think like you do – when my mother ages it will be difficult to deal with that on my own (although I do have my husband to help out, it won’t be the same because she’s not HIS mother – I won’t have anyone to share my kind of grief when she passes on), and I do think about what will happen when we have children of our own because he/she won’t have any aunts/uncles/and therefore cousins from my side of our family (the Hus does have two siblings, albeit younger ones who aren’t planning a family any time soon).

    However, I definitely understand where you’re coming from when it comes to raising an only child, and am really leaning towards having only one when our time comes along. Of course my husband wants three, just like he was raised. I know it’ll be a topic of much debate once we have our first child, and I do understand your “all your eggs in one basket” theory – my mother felt (still feels) the same way. From reading your blog for a while now I definitely think you’re doing an awesome job of everything, though, and I love that you raise these kinds of topics. You’re very inspiring! =)

    • Ginger August 6, 2012, 11:10 am

      Thank you for chiming in that you didn’t mind being an only child. I have an only child and while of course the writer has a right to say she thought being an only child was sad on her on blog, it makes me (as the mother of an only) sad to hear it!

      • Beth August 6, 2012, 1:58 pm

        All things considered, Ginger, I really love being an only child as well! Cyn mentioned the potential downsides, but I really loved that it was just my parents and me. 🙂

      • Kate August 7, 2012, 12:13 pm

        I am an only child and didn’t find it sad at all. I had such a special bond with my mom and dad, was allowed to bring a friend on our trips away (Mom and Dad could afford to pay for a friend to come along and entertain me, since they didn’t have to pay for another kid 24/7), and I learned how to communicate with people of all ages, because if I were in a group with my parents and their friends and no other kids, I would just chat to them. To this day I have friends ranging from age 18 – 70! With so many people on this planet, I think having one is a very responsible choice Ginger !

  • Leah August 6, 2012, 8:27 am

    I have one little girl (she’s two) with another baby on the way in Oct. I’ve never had any questions about having another child. I come from a family of 3 children and now that we are grown adults I could never picture not having my sister and brother. Like most things in life, it is everyones individual choice to have one, two, three or more children! Financially speaking, more than two for us won’t likely be an option and we are okay with that. I think when planning for a family (large or not) you have to consider all the factors involved. I can’t wait to see Sophie and her little brother or sister grow up together… I think it’s going to be an amazing thing as a parent to watch their relationship grow!

  • Angie @ Pint of Goals August 6, 2012, 8:28 am

    My husband and I are planning on just having one kid, but that could change once we do have a child some day. Our reasons for having one are financial and philosophical.

  • Jennifer August 6, 2012, 8:30 am

    I have one sister and our “birth order personalities” are sort of backwards. She’s the oldest (by 20 months!) but I’m definitely the more dominant and less flexible one; I was definitely the over achiever in school and always working hard for my parents approval.

    As far as how many kids we will have….I always knew I wanted more than one. I wanted a big family (more like 4 kids) but my husband is one of 3 and he wanted us to have 2 kids. Well after being pregnant twice (well 3 times with a miscarriage) and having horrible morning sickness that last nearly the entire pregnancy and deliveries that resulted in c-sections, I think I’m officially done. We have two little boys (4 years and almost 9 months) and I just can’t imagine doing this all over again.

    As far as watching them interact, it’s the absolute sweetest thing. From a very young age babies realize that children are different than adults. The first voice/person our baby tracked was our son, he got the first smiles and the first laughs. Already he looks at his brother with such adoration, it melts my heart daily. I have SO many photos of our baby staring at his brother and watching his every move. I never want to forget this sweet moments when they’re little before the fighting begins. 😉

  • Erin August 6, 2012, 8:32 am

    I have 1 younger brother. There are 3.5 years between us, and after elementary school, I didn’t feel we had anything in common again until he started working and going to college. I’d always wanted a bigger family with kids who were closer together in age. 4 was my magic number, in, hopefully, no more than 8 years. Then my first daughter was born. I still knew there would be a 2nd, but 4 was sounding more intimidating than fun. 2.75 years later, our 2nd daughter was born, and I realized that was it. There isn’t enough money or me to raise them the way I want to if there are more. Sure, I might be able to wait a few extra years and try for the other 2 (I’m only 30), but that doesn’t fit with my other goals.

    In short, it’s a decision that evolves, and you’ll know your answers in your heart soon. Don’t let the first year get to you, it doesn’t stay this hard. 🙂

  • Hannah August 6, 2012, 8:32 am

    I have a fraternal twin sister, and she’s the only sister I’ve ever had. We actually are so different that we don’t get along or communicate telepathically like a lot of people think 😉 but I think I would hate to be an only child.

    I want 2 or 3 kids someday but I am deathly, deathly, dreadfully afraid of having twins! Dear God please no!

  • LMN August 6, 2012, 8:35 am

    omg Love this topic! I am an only child. All of those descriptions fit me 🙂 My 4 (yes, 4!) closest girl friends are ALL only children. It is the best of both worlds. We always say we were attracted to each other b/c no one else gets us. 😉

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat August 6, 2012, 8:37 am

    Great topic! I’m a firstborn and have one sister who is 3 years younger than me. Our age gap is perfect in my opinion – large enough so that we had different interests while we grew up together, but small enough that we get along really well and have a lot in common. As a first born, I’d say I definitely exhibit that inflexible trait – both in terms of the fact that I crave routine, and also physically in that my mum has always told me I’m as stiff as a board! (Can’t say my sister is much better though – I don’t think she can touch her toes!)

  • Mary August 6, 2012, 8:46 am

    I am number three out of seven. My siblings (five of whom are sisters!) are absolutely the greatest gift my parents gave me. We are all best friends and despite living in different areas of the country now, we still call each other several times during the week (and yes I know how uncommon that is, I am very lucky to have such amazing siblings!.

    I gave birth to my first child, a daughter, last summer. My husband and I do not currently have plans to have another child anytime soon (for financial reasons), but because of my own happy childhood memories I would very much like for Eva to have a sibling (but not 6! I don’t know how my Mom did it!).

    Playing into that decision is a class I took my first semester in college. It was the professor’s first semester back after spending the previous year recovering from the death of her only child, a young man in his 20’s, who had died in a tragic car accident. I never forgot the absolute horror of her situation–no longer a parent, too old to have another child, the possibility of grandchildren forever gone… So yes, I am also (selfishly) considering having another child at some point just to avoid that “eggs in one basket” situation!

  • Jenn August 6, 2012, 8:47 am

    Le sigh. I gave birth in feb and was using the LAM method well last week I found out I was preggers- gues we will be at least a 2 child family 🙂

  • Charitydawn August 6, 2012, 9:00 am

    I am the youngest of 3 and my hubby is the oldest of two. I myself am more outgoing, more confident and self sufficent then both of my siblings. Before Alexander came along we had decided not to have children, for financial reasons also that we are getting older (he is 39 I am 33) However since we were blessed with Alexander we are considering having a second. If we do, like you, it won’t be until he is 3. I do not want 2 children in diapers, and I would prefer to have one a little self sufficent and not totally dependant on us with a new born. Since we both have siblings we are having a hard time seeing Alexander without a sibling. Also when it comes to the time where we pass, we would like for him to have someone to “lean on” and not have to deal with it all himself.
    At the moment we are undecided if we will have another one, but he is also only 2 weeks and 2 days old so we have lots of time to decide.

  • Hillary August 6, 2012, 9:01 am

    My dad is an only child, and he’s always said he’s missed having a sibling his entire life. I have an older brother, and while we fought terribly for much of our childhood, I cannot imagine not having him in my life as an adult. We’ve been through a lot of family crap in the last few years, and we are the only ones who understand what the other one is going through. That unconditional understanding and support (and love!) has been invaluable, and it absolutely makes me want to have at least two children when the time comes!

  • Susannah August 6, 2012, 9:05 am

    Hi Caitlin, I’ve never commented before but have been reading for a few months, as our boys were born 3 weeks apart and I enjoyed following your pregnancy. I wanted to tell you that this kind of post is the reason I come back to your blog; I really enjoy the way you discuss topics rather than just food and exercise.

    I’m the middle child of three, and certainly display the “performer/entertainer” trait as well as being a people-pleaser in general. My siblings and I are two years apart, and I cannot imagine growing up without them. We were each other’s best friends (with the exception of the adolescent years) and our family of five was a very close, tight-knit one. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, and I think the lack of toys, etc, and the fact that there were three of us, really helped to develop my creativity.

    After I had my first son in 2009, I went through secondary infertility and several miscarriages. Because of my background, I just couldn’t imagine my son being an only child. We would have adopted if I hadn’t been able to carry my second son to term. But I have to admit, as a mom who stays home to a 3 year old and an 11 week old, it has been a HUGE transition for all of us, to go from having only one to lavish all the attention on to two. Our older son is having a lot of trouble adjusting, but I know it will get easier as the younger can “do” more.

    Anyway….great post! Henry is adorable!

  • Erin August 6, 2012, 9:11 am

    I never really know how to answer this question. I don’t have any biological siblings but I have two step-siblings who started living with us when I was in 5th grade. So, I suppose the first 9 or so years of my life I was an only child.

  • Nicole August 6, 2012, 9:12 am

    Great topic.

    I’m an only child too. And I have to say that I definitely exhibit those traits, even the less socially adjusted one (but who doesn’t feel awkward in middle school?). I will have to say that it got on my nerves when I was younger, and kids made assumptions that I was a spoiled brat. Sure, my parents could devote all of their attention to me, as you said. But I definitely wasn’t spoiled — my friends had their own tvs, nintendos, and then cars, while I had none of that and had to work hard for things that I wanted. So grateful my parents instilled that into me. My mom and I don’t talk much about personal things (she’s very reserved) but I have a feeling they wanted more than one but couldn’t for both biological (my mom had a miscarriage before me) and life reasons (they moved around a lot because of my Dad’s job).

    I never liked being an only child. There were a lot of rough patches I had with my mom growing up that would have made it more bearable if I had a sibling to go through all of it with. But then I wouldn’t be the artsy, creative, self motivated, driven, strong woman I am today. With that said, I definitely want more than one child if it is biologically and financially possible. My husband and I are trying for our first so I just hope we are blessed to have one.

    • Alex Elisabeth August 6, 2012, 12:30 pm

      our experiences sound very similar!

      i am an only child, and my parents are pretty reserved people, so i don’t know much about the circumstances. however, my father has said they would have loved to have more children “if God had decided to bless us with them.” and i know my mom had some vague but serious medical conditions that contributed to me being an only child. so i don’t think it was a conscious decision, exactly.

      i was also a pretty sickly baby so i think by the time i was healthy, they were probably a little too stressed and anxious to consider going through that trial again.

      i am pretty scared about being alone when my parents start slowing down. even if i’m in a relationship and/or surrounded by lots of loving friends, no one is going to be able to empathize like a sibling could. my parents and i also live 1800 miles apart, and i have a lot of guilt because of it.

      though i never liked being an only child, i had a wonderful childhood. my parents came from big families, and i had lots of cousins nearby. i never wanted for anything, but i wasn’t spoiled–i had a regular size bedroom without a TV, our family vacations were only ever visiting relatives out of state, and i still had chores and got grounded. i felt suffocated by so much attention sometimes (hello, high school), but i don’t think there’s a perfect balance in any family all the time.

      i think it’s funny that so many people are saying they “couldn’t imagine” live without their siblings. of course not! but when you don’t have any siblings, you’re not missing those non-existent individuals, you’re missing the idea of siblings.

      i think there are a lot of practical reasons for having fewer children. i used to want 5, now that i am an adult with bills and whatnot, i’m down to 2 or 3. but i don’t think i would want to place the stress and pressure of only-ness on my kid.

      • Jen August 6, 2012, 4:37 pm

        If you dont want the kid to be stressed domt stress it! I have many only child friends and they all loved it!

        • Alex Elisabeth August 7, 2012, 11:50 pm

          I don’t think my parents intentionally put any stress on me! I feel stressed sometimes because I know when I chose to pursue my professional dreams and move far away, it meant my parents were going to be alone a lot. Of course they have friends and other family locally, and fulfilling lives and careers, and they could have had ten kids who all ended up in distant places, but it doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes wish I had siblings who could do some of the checking-in, catching-up, looking-after, etc.

  • julia August 6, 2012, 9:13 am

    I’m the oldest of two and am a pretty typical older kid personality wise. I already have two of my own and we don’t have insurance now, we’re in a healthcare sharing ministry which is awesome. We want one more as well. Maybe I’ll have at least one girl then? 🙂

  • char eats greens August 6, 2012, 9:18 am

    Great post!! Such tough decisions. I’m pregnant with our first child (due in November) and am the oldest (but was an only child for 9 years) and I feel very set in my ways in that after this child, I want to wait 3 years as well…given that’s how things go. We’re not finding out the sex and I feel like that almost adds pressure because ive already had my father-in-law make a comment that a boy would be good (to pass down the name) where I politely told him that I have no control over that – gender has already been decided. I feel like, so what, if we don’t have a boy first time around and decide to stop, that would be wrong? I think babies can bring so much new joy to a family but also so much torture!!

  • Christina August 6, 2012, 9:19 am

    I’m the oldest child, and I have 2 younger brothers and 1 younger sister. We all have the same parents, but I’m 11 years older than my youngest sibling. (Right now we are 26, 24, 18, &15) I loved growing up with lots of siblings. I got to help a lot with the younger 2, which helped me learn how to care for babies. Our house was never quiet, but I with every new baby the love just grew and grew. I could never imagine life without my siblings, I love them all so much. We are all close, and it is a wonderful blessing to be friends with my siblings as an adult.

  • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution August 6, 2012, 9:19 am

    You have the most thoughtful posts. I love them!

    I am the youngest of two children in my family. I think that I ended up being the more responsible one (no offense, sissy, I love you!), but it’s almost like I act like the older sibling and she acts like the younger sibling. I find the same is true for my boyfriend and his sister, who have the same age difference as me and my sister. I think that it’s interesting, I see it a lot in two children families! It doesn’t seem to be the case for the youngest sibling in families with more children, however.

    I personally want to have one child at this point. I think if I don’t have a boy on the first try, however, we might go for two because my boyfriend likes the idea of carrying on his family name (he is the last male with his last name in his family). However, you bring up a very good point. It’s expensive to have children, and I’d like to give my child(ren) the best of everything that I can give, so financially it makes more sense to stop at one. I think it’s one of those ‘wait and see’ things, however.

    P.S. Henry is just as cute as a button!

  • Dori August 6, 2012, 9:20 am

    This is actually something I’ve thought about extensively over the last few months. My boyfriend and I both want just one child, for a number of reasons. The financial aspect is the biggest one, but we also want a level of freedom that’s a lot easier when you have only one child. My brother is my best friend and I love him more than anything and can’t imagine not having him; his wife is my closest girlfriend as well, and my mom says things like “don’t you want your child to have that type of relationship?” But every family dynamic is different, and at least right now, this is what I want. It might change in the future, but I see so many benefits to having an only child.

    • Lauren August 6, 2012, 1:22 pm

      Dori, I feel exactly the same way! Part of me feels like our families see my husband and I as selfish for feeling this way. These are the same people who can’t believe we’ve been married 3.5 years and don’t have kids yet 😉 I know it’ll be easier financially with one child and there will be a lot more freedom to keep our current lifestyle.
      My mom has told me that my grandparent’s generation used to say that you have to hurry up and have your children after you get married so that you don’t get “too comfortable” with life before them! Can you imagine that mindset?!

  • jane August 6, 2012, 9:20 am

    i say if you are blessed to be able to have another-DO IT! kids dont need to be as spoiled as they are. there is no greater gift than siblings.

    • Siobhan August 6, 2012, 11:14 pm


  • Tara August 6, 2012, 9:21 am

    I have one older brother, so I am the baby of the family, however, I don’t feel like I was treated like the baby! I think I pushed myself harder, because it felt like my brother got a lot of attention being the oldest, so I studied harder to do better at school and was more outgoing because I didn’t want to be in his shadow.

    We have one son and our currently expecting our second child. I knew I wanted another child after about 8 weeks of our son being born (I think that was the turning point in my post-partum healing where I could sit without a pillow and he started sleeping through the night!) It took my husband until 6-8 months. He was not a fan of the newborn stage, because he said he felt useless and the baby didn’t need him. As soon as we passed that stage and he realized he was just as important to our son he was totally on board for baby number two. It did take us a year to conceive our second child though, so for a while I thought we might have an only child by no choice of our own. I even set up a fertility consultation only to find out a week later we were expecting! I am so excited for my son to have a sibling and for us to have another child. I love our son so much and I know he will make an aweome big brother! : )

  • Sara August 6, 2012, 9:21 am

    I’m an only and I love it! I had so many special experiences in my childhood that I wouldn’t have if I had a sibling. I think my relationship with my parents is better and closer because of it. I was never jealous of kids with siblings because their siblings always seemed to be PITAs (if you get my drift).

    I only want one child (a girl) because I know how amazing it was to grow up the way I did, and while the recession may make it harder to give everything I got as a child to my future child, I know I’ll be able to give them things (travel, experiences, opportunities) that won’t exist if I have multiple children.

  • Jen Hofstetter (@photosbyjenh) August 6, 2012, 9:23 am

    I was raised an only child (I have a half sister that I barely know) and I’ve always said I’d never put that on my own kid(s). My parents moved around A LOT and they were the only constant in my life aside from my pets. I was also a latch key kid, so I didn’t have anyone when I got home from school. I absolutely hated it. Maybe if things were different and I’d grown up around cousins who were the same age, or if I came from a large family, I’d feel differently. I pray that I’ll be able to have 2 or 3 by the time I’m ready to have kids.

    From a different perspective, and speaking of being morbid, my best friend has a sister, and she said she’d never have only children because she realized that when her parents are older and need to be taken care of, or when they do finally pass, her sister will be be there with her, and she wouldn’t want her own child to be alone in the same circumstance.

  • brooke @ sweats & sweets August 6, 2012, 9:24 am

    Both me and my husband are only children. I grew up close to my cousins, and Brittney was like a sister because she was also an only child. Zach and I always talk of our future children, but we both say “child”. I think we will only have one and I’m ok with that. Being young and having been told it will be difficult to have just one, I will be over the moon with one healthy baby. I don’t think someone should ever feel bad for their choices when it comes to the number of children. Sadly I’ve seen it from my own family. My dad would love for us to have more than one child so our child can grow up with siblings like he did and the same with my mom. I’m just concerned with being able to have just one healthy baby (in the far future) and not going to push two on my body. My mom was only able to have me, but wanted more children. I think thats why she wants us to have more than one.

  • Nicole August 6, 2012, 9:33 am

    I’m a very stereotypical first-born. I was also an only child for almost six years, so that’s interesting to think about. I have only one child right now and plan on keeping it that way but I’ve been met (more than once) with, “But you HAVE to have another child- kids need siblings.” And I completely disagree. I love my little brother and I know being in each others lives affected us to some degree, but some people automatically assume a sibling can be there for you when your parents age or die, but in our case, that’s not true. In fact, since my mom died I’ve spoke to my brother a handful of times. I have been solely responsible for her death expenses and he doesn’t even acknowledge the burden it’s caused me. Anyways, I think having another child to give your child a sibling is a bad reason. If I had another child I would do it because I felt like my family wasn’t complete. And I already have that, so I don’t see more kids in my future.

  • Anne August 6, 2012, 9:34 am

    I’m the youngest and only girl of three, and it definitely affected me. I was spoiled and learned quickly that a few tears would get my way. I’ve always wanted a big family, and my husband is one of 4, so we’ve always said we would have three or 4 kids. I have a little bit of a complex about having a big family, mostly because we aren’t planning to try for almost another year. My mom was 25 when she had her first kiddo and I just turned 27. I think it’s amazing how calculated we are about when the right time is and the right number. I’m thankful for the control–and my inner control freak is too–but I wonder what it would’ve been like to just go for it instead of waiting 4+ years into marriage and careers 🙂

  • Nikki @ only25hoursinaday August 6, 2012, 9:35 am

    Love this post – I’m a huge believer in birth order (the three kids in my family – me being the oldest – fit it perfectly!), and my husband and I have gone back and forth on keeping our son (now nearly 5 years old) an only child.

    Like you guys, we want to provide our son with every ounce of our love, energy, and resources (time and financial) possible, and we also think of the long-term – when we’re gone, who will he have? Also, I selfishly worry that maybe he’ll never have his own children… then I’ll never get to be a grandparent!! That is a sad, sad thought for me!

    We are not in the greatest financial situation to have another child, but we are trying for another. It may sound cheesy and lofty, but I truly believe that things will work out – we will learn to adapt and live with less. I know that if we don’t have another now, we will regret it at a point when it’s too late. And besides, as long as there is love and nurturing, the rest is just *stuff* – stuff that’s not all that important in the end. Family, love, and experiences make for a full and happy life, not stuff/the most $$ education/etc.

    As for how far apart the kids should be, I’d say 3 years MAX. This might sound terrible, but our son is nearly 5 and he’s at the age now where he wants someone to play with at ALL times, meaning we have to try to entertain him during all his waking hours. From my own experience (my brother was 2 years younger than me), having a sibling would alleviate this a bit (even if more refereeing was needed on our end!).

  • Sue August 6, 2012, 9:37 am

    I’m an only child, but I don’t think I fit the description. My parents got divorced when I was still very young, and they were too busy with their own lives and jobs to spoil me. We never had a lot of money, so I had to earn my own money to get the things I wanted.
    I’ve always wished I had a brother or sister. Just someone to talk to, who shares my situation and understands what I’m going through. Someone who’d help me take care of my mom, who’s a very clingy person.
    Luckily, my husband has a huge family, which I’m a part of now. So I feel a lot less lonely now.
    My husband is a middle child (he has two brothers), and he has two children from his first marriage. Due to financial and personal reasons (I don’t feel emotionally stable enough to be a mother), we’ve decided not to have any children together. But I really enjoy being a step-mom!

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed August 6, 2012, 9:39 am

    I’m definitely your typical oldest child! I grew up always sorta taking care of my sister and I still do in certain situations. We have been close our entire lives and I can’t imagine not having her and my brother. My boyfriend is an only child and says he never minded not having siblings, but thinking about our future family gatherings and how small they will be makes me kinda sad. My dad is one of four, my mom one of five, so our family gatherings have always been huge.

    I think 2 kids is a nice number… 2 parents, 2 kids… you’re not outnumbered, even numbers are nice for 2 person rides/things you need a partner for, your family fits comfortably in a hotel, car, etc.

  • Kimberly @ Redefining Kimberly August 6, 2012, 9:43 am

    I am the oldest child and fall right in line with the sterotypes of first born – natural leaders. reliable, conscientious and perfectionist who does not like surprises. When I was newly married and “planning” our future – I envisioned us having several children (I grew up with a younger sister, hubby has a younger brother). Our plan was to have them 2 years apart in age – similar to my husband and his brother. Then at 18 months old, my daughter starting experiencing seizures which put our plans on hold. Now that she is 2.5 , I am finally starting to feel as though we have a handle on parenting, and our in a great place as a family. With just the one child, we have more time and resources to devote to her – and I worry that a second child would limit the things (memories/experiences) that we could provide for our daughter. On the other hand, there is this part of me that feels as though there is a piece missing in ou family puzzle. Our plan for now is to revisit the issue at the end of the year, as we hope to be in a better place in terms of money, career, and our daughter’s health.

  • Katie @ Soulshine and Sassafras August 6, 2012, 9:43 am

    I’m the oldest of two, and I think it probably added to my leadership skills and care-giver tendencies. I’ve noticed most people I’ve talked to who don’t want kids are either the baby or are only children, and I’ve always thought maybe it’s because they’re the least experienced with taking care of someone younger, and therefore less attracted to the idea.

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles August 6, 2012, 9:44 am

    I was the youngest of two, and I was definitely the baby of the family – coddled a lot. But at the same time, I feel like I’m pushed to succeed more than my older brother. Odd.

    When I get to baby-making, I’d love to have more than one. If I can afford it, I’d love 3 or 4 0 I’m a huge kid person.

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More August 6, 2012, 9:46 am

    I don’t have kids (nor am I even married) so I’m not sure I can accurately speak to this “issue” per se. But what I can speak to, is how much I love your honesty. Always.

  • Anna S. August 6, 2012, 9:46 am

    I’m an only child and I love it. I’m really close to my cousin who is also an only child. I am definitely not socially awkward, but my parents had me in daycare from a young age for interaction with out children. My boyfriend has a sister, but he isn’t particularly close to her. When the time comes, I’m not sure how many kids we will have (if I’m able to have any).

    I didn’t know this at the time, but apparently when I was 2 my mom wanted to have another one (biological clock) but they were moving across country so it wasn’t the time. By the time I was four, they both decided they didn’t want to do the newborn thing again. Haha.

  • Katy @ HaveYouHurd August 6, 2012, 9:46 am

    I am an only child and while I KNOW I’m spoiled I still don’t think I’m the stereotypical only child. People are often surprised when I tell them I am and often say “you don’t act like an only child” to which I reply “thanks?”. I don’t really like the stereotype but after coaching high school girls…I get it.

    I think when my husband and I start having kids if we have 1 boy and 1 girl I’ll be PUMPED but I’d also be happy with one too 🙂

    • Nicole August 6, 2012, 1:29 pm

      I got the same comment from people who were surprised that I was an only! My response was always, “is that some sort of compliment…?”

  • F. Plvan August 6, 2012, 9:56 am

    I’m a faithful reader of your blog, but for about a week now your RSS feed (using Firefox) has not been working. I know you mentioned that other readers were having a problem with IE (a very poor browser, IMO), but now the feed is not updating with FF. I’m using Shrook, by the way, as my RSS aggregate.

  • Allison August 6, 2012, 10:06 am

    I have an older brother but suffice it to say, much was expected of me and I am definitely less flexible and more conscientious at school. But he was dominant. Actually, he was more outgoing and I was more shy so it was good to have him around. Our parents are divorced, so I just can’t imagine life without him. Now I have a boy and a girl, in that order. I can’t imagine them not having each other. Yeah, they fight, but not that much and they really do like each other. My son is also very protective of his little sister, when my husband and I aren’t around (like at school) and when other moms tell me stories about how sweet he is to her it totally makes up for all the times he is totally rotten to her at home.

  • Allison August 6, 2012, 10:09 am

    Also, the second child can be a little cheaper than the first because you already have most of the stuff. Health care wise, they won’t be cheaper, at least you have all of the equipment and cute clothes.

  • Katie August 6, 2012, 10:14 am

    I want one back up kid, and then a back up for the back up. Just in case 😉

  • Evan Thomas August 6, 2012, 10:15 am

    I’m an only child and now that I’m old enough to really evaluate how that affected my life, I realize it was probably for the better. Growing up I always wanted siblings because a lot of my friends had them; but I was also lucky enough to have friends from when I was very little still to this day who have felt like family to me so looking back I don’t think I ever truly was deprived. On top of that, I’m starting to see what that meant for me financially. A lot of my friends who are from big families have struggled to pay for their own education and I’m fortunate enough being an only child that I haven’t had to do that. If I had siblings, I’m not sure my parents would have been able to provide the same opportunities as they have for me growing up financially.

  • Ali August 6, 2012, 10:18 am

    I’m the youngest and have one older sister. My sister is the absolute typical oldest (very inflexible, loud, domineering, pushy, and always has to get her way or no one is happy) and I am the absolute typical youngest (quiet, go with the flow, timid). It has taken me years to get out of my sister’s shadow. I was always expected to do everything she did and as well as she did, which was hard since I wanted to be my own person. Since I grew up in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors, I can’t imagine not having a sibling. Still, my sister and I have a hard time getting along even now, especially since I am now more willing to speak my mind and not let her get away with the typical first-born stuff. I know a lot of people who are best friends with their siblings and I wouldn’t mind having 2 children, but IF I ever have children, I can imagine it would only be one since I’m getting older and biologically, two likely wouldn’t happen.

  • Katherine August 6, 2012, 10:19 am

    My brother and I are 18 months apart and he is and always has been my best friend. We live on opposite coasts and so far (2 years) have seen each other 3-4 times a year and we chat almost everyday on the phone. I have a 1 year old and I think all the time about having another, but my body just isn’t ready yet. I want her to have the potential for the wonderful relationship my brother and I have. We are still breast feeding a ton though and she is very busy..I don’t know how I would have the energy for a pregnancy right now. I don’t know how my mom did it. I want my little one to have a sibling without a doubt, but it’s so hard to know when the right timing will be. I think when she’s 18 months old if I am feeling it we might not really try, but just see what happens. Great post and totally on my mind all the time these days. Thanks.

    • Kelli August 6, 2012, 1:03 pm

      Awww I loved reading this I have a daughter and son 17-18 months apart and they are best buds too I hope they stay that way!

  • Dunja August 6, 2012, 10:19 am

    I am an only child too. And for me it was ok the most of time. Only sometimes i missed someone to play with. But therefor I have learned to keep myself busy very early.
    My boyfriend an I are dabtating about the number of children we will have. I want two but he want only one. He is an only child too and is loving it every single moment. He is a bit spoiled 😉

  • Jillian @ sprinkle massacre August 6, 2012, 10:27 am

    I am an only child, for sort of similar reasons as you. It was actually my Mom’s second marriage, too, and she was 36. I definitely relate in that I have the typical only child personalty traits (and being spoiled but not “spoiled”!), but I also feel like it gave me a chance to be really close with my Mom because no one else was fighting for her attention. We are super close and I love having her as one of my best friends!

  • Marissa C August 6, 2012, 10:28 am

    I’m the oldest of 5. My husband is the oldest of 6. We plan to have 4-6 children and couldn’t imagine having fewer than three. I’ll adopt if we cannot have more for whatever reason. My baby is only 8 months old, but it makes me said to think I couldn’t go through pregnancy and all the stages again, or even 2-3 more times.

    I’d say this–I’ve never heard of anyone regretting having too many children, but I know lots of people who regret not having more (My mother included…even though she had 5!)

    I also think there is a weird new notion that if you cannot provide X for your kids (which usually includes a paid-for college education, lots of activities as a child, sometimes private schooling, and usually X gadget or toy) you should not have more than you can provide X for.

    I think that is just crap. We all knew growing up that my parents would not be able to afford a college education for 5 kids…it inspired 2 of us (so far) to get full college scholarships, and the other 2 have gotten partial scholarships. #5 is well on her way to a full ride. My parents have still helped where they can as their financial situation gets better as they get older. We were all expected to get jobs in high school and I bought my own car when I was 19. We didn’t have our own laptops, etc. We were fine. If anything it taught us to work harder and make our own way. And I wouldn’t give up my siblings for any of it–we are so close now, even though we fought sometimes when we were younger. I love them all and truly love hanging out with them.

    To clarify, I don’t think there is anything wrong with providing nice things or a higher education for your kids, but I don’t think it should be a reason to not have more.

    • Rachel August 6, 2012, 11:19 am

      I agree 100%!!! I come from a family of four kids and we all turned out just fine & had plenty of opportunities. We also had each other 🙂

    • Meghan August 6, 2012, 11:59 am

      I also agree with this post. I am one of seven and couldn’t imagine life any other way. I would gladly take my siblings over any material item, travel or a completely paid college education. I am currently pregnant with my fourth and we will probably have even more kids!

    • Megan August 6, 2012, 1:24 pm

      I agree as well!! My husband and I have 5 kids ( he was middle of 5 and I was middle of 3) and we provide what we can, but the best part of it all is watching them play together and know that they have lifelong best friends.

      • Rachel August 6, 2012, 1:55 pm

        One more thought – my dad grew up in a family of 7. EVERY SINGLE ONE (and 5 of them were girls) graduated from college, many with graduate degrees. Pretty impressive. And they certainly didn’t have the money to fund each of their educations. Also, family gatherings are super fun with so many cousins!

    • Nikki @ only25hoursinaday August 6, 2012, 1:55 pm

      I love your take on this, and agree 100%. There’s something to be said for teaching your children about hard work and that nothing comes free or easy in this life – and that you don’t NEED as much as you think you do.

      • Verna August 6, 2012, 4:25 pm

        I agree with this too! My husband and I would like to have 4-6 children.

  • Cassie D. August 6, 2012, 10:28 am

    I’ve been a faithful reader for a while, but have never commented. I just wanted to start by saying how much I enjoy your blog and I’ve truly appreciated your documentation of your journey to motherhood, as it is something my husband and I are starting to think about. Your writing is honest and I especially related to this post. I’m an only child, and I always thought I would only want one someday. I was lucky to meet my very best friend when I was five. She happened to live less than two blocks from me and with five kids in her house, she gladly spent many days at my house where things were a little less chaotic. She became my family’s “second child” and even today, her daughter calls my parents “grandma and grandpa.” However, as I get older (and moved away from my family and childhood friends for my career), I am realizing the important role that siblings play in other people’s lives. The friends I have made in my new town have sisters and I’m seeing the bond between siblings especially as adults, and I have to say, at times I’m a little jealous. It’s not that women with sisters don’t “need” friends; in my experience I have found that they often have their sisters and super close girlfriends may not always be a priority. But for an only child like me, those close girlfriends have always been my “family,” so it can be hard to maintain those friendships when the “adult” responsibilities of taking care of a home and family, and having a career, get in the way. Family will always be there. My mom was only able to have one child for medical reasons (she almost died having me, and I was born two months early), so I hold no grudges there, but I hope that I can have two children some day.

  • Leslie August 6, 2012, 10:34 am

    Loved this post. I was an only and hated it – even when I was little. My dad was 59 when I was born (2nd marriage for him – he had a grown daughter by the time I came along) and my mom was 33. I was lonely a lot, and because my dad was so much older (and back in the late 50s he looked older!), kids were always asking me why my dad was so old. That made me feel different and set apart. Dad died when I was 11, then mom when I was 23. Orphaned! I was sort of grown and launched by then (at least I thought), but now I know I wasn’t.

    Anyhoo – I always vowed to NEVER have an only, and after my daughter was born, I was on a mission to have another and spare her my experience (which of course I couldn’t control), and went on to have 2 boys. Our family is great – all 3 are 20-somethings now – they love each other and us!

    So my opinion is to have another if and when the time is right, but I have many friends who were onlies, have onlies, and wouldn’t have it any other way! It’s all good.

  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life August 6, 2012, 10:36 am

    I am the oldest and everything you listed as traits for the oldest are in line with my personality. I feel like the oldest is expected to be a certain way and follow the straight and narrow path. By brother, the baby, didn’t have the same expectations held to him as I did and mom and dad were MUCH more laid back with him! I do love having a sibling though and I’ve always wanted more than one child. I’ve wanted to be a mom since I was a little girl and I’ve wanted a big family since I was a little girl. But boy, are you right about the finances! Hubby and I have decent health insurance and it is still expensive and that doesn’t even cover all of the activities and school things they will be doing as they get older. Now we just found out #2 is a girl and I can’t help but simultaneously hear the sounds of a cash register! It seems like girls would be more expensive but I wonder if that is true or not? I’ll soon be finding out!

  • Kirby August 6, 2012, 10:36 am

    I don’t believe your mother was 39 when she had you – she looks so young! You should probably consider having more children just so you can pass along those good genes some more 🙂

  • Sara August 6, 2012, 10:38 am

    I’m an only child too! My parents had me later on in life (they didn’t have me until they’d been married 15 years! Partially because my mother had a miscarriage and difficulty conceiving, but also my mom just wasn’t ready to be a parent until later.) My dad had a stroke when I was 6 weeks old and the doctor’s advised my mother into having her tubes tied. So it’s just me! I feel much like you do on this issue. It really scares me to think about helping my parents as they age–because I’m all alone. It’s just me. Of course I have my husband to help, but it’s not quite the same feeling. He has a sister and I always wished I had a sibling! But I enjoyed growing up with just my parents too. They’re my best pals now that I’m older. I truly enjoy their company. Though I do feel a little guilt if I don’t call enough or visit enough since it’s just me. My husband and I hope to have more than one child but really, it depends on how it works out financially after we have our first! (Assuming we can have children, of course.) We hope to start trying this winter. I can’t wait. Great post.

  • Jen August 6, 2012, 10:41 am

    I was a middle child- and for that reason I want an even number of children, preferably two. Being in the middle I felt like I was always competing for attention from the first born or the ‘baby’. In the end this worked out in my favor because it made me really independent and successful in life. I don’t think having only one child would be bad, but a few of my friends have told me they really wished they had siblings growing up and now. So with our first little one due any day now, I know we will eventually try for a second but I do know however that financially we need a little time between kids. I’m thinking probably about 3 years, and since I’m not getting any younger (31 now) we will be waiting to see what the future holds.

  • Tami August 6, 2012, 10:42 am

    I know it’s not really sad, but the word sad or sadness comes to bind when I think of only child. I almost get mad at the parents for being so self for not giving the first child another sibling. I know this is just MY opinion coming from a large family (my mother 1:10 my father 1:3 my husband 1:5 his mother 1:16 (obviously years and years ago). I have two older sisters 9 and 7 years older) and my brother was 2.5 years older than me, he died 19 years ago and I don’t speak to one of my sisters anymore….

    I also think its too early for you to make any type of decision

  • Colleen August 6, 2012, 10:48 am

    For a split moment I thought you were going to say you were expecting again. Sorry about that. Anyways, I am the second of four kids. My sister is 2 years older and my brothers are 5 and 6 years younger. None of us were planned. My sister was actually a honeymoon baby. Growing up my sister and I were close until she found outside interests (alcohol/sex/rule breaking/etc) and left me behind with my brothers. I ended up caring for my brothers more than anyone – both parents worked extremely hard to provide the basic necessities – no extras. So I grew up shy, slightly alone, frustrated, resentful; while my sister was outspoken, wild and crazy. My older brother was the same as her, while my younger brother was like me.

    Since childhood, we have all changed slightly – mainly me and my younger brother are more outspoken and determined to make a difference. However, I’m not really close with any of them. Once I left for college, I really never looked back. I had found the support and love I was looking for and needed, so why would I go back? Now, we communicate when needed and support each other when needed.

    As for my decision about kids – in college I couldn’t see myself as a parent – given my less than ideal childhood. My husband and I really never talked about kids – only getting a dog, but somewhere during the early years we decided to ‘not try’ and see what happens. We ended up with three kids – two boys (8.5 and 6.5) and a little girl (3.4). Even though some days are better than others, I wouldn’t change a thing. However, I do put undo pressure on myself to make sure they receive what I didn’t growing up. I want to make sure they are closer as adults than I and the husband is with our siblings (husband has a sister he isn’t close to either). Plus feel loved, valued, appreciated, and visible.

  • Sarah August 6, 2012, 10:52 am

    I’m the oldest – I have a younger brother (we’re 3 years apart). We absolutely fit the birth order mold – I have always wanted to please my parents – and I still do! And I have always felt like they let a lot more stuff slide with my brother – but that might be because he’s a boy.

    My little one is 13 months – and I started thinking about the second shortly after he was born. More from a planning aspect – I want him and the next sibling to be 3 years apart. And in a perfect world, I’d like the next one to be born in the spring of 2014. So, I need to get pregnant next summer. I think I scare my hubby with all the planning, but hopefully in a year, he’ll realize there’s a method to my madness!

    I do often think that I enjoy my guy so much, would I want to add another one to the mix? Am I doing it just so he’ll have a sibling? Will I have the connection to the next baby as I do to him?

    While I wanted a baby sister (who was to be named after my cabbage patch kid), I ended up with a brother. I couldn’t stand him when I was younger, but now we have a awesome relationship as adults and I smile every time we talk on the phone and he tells me he loves me. So I know I do want that for my son – that bond that you only have with your sibling.

  • Erin @ erinberries August 6, 2012, 11:11 am

    I’m a middle child and I totally have middle child syndrome. But I’m not ashamed of it. I think that being a middle child has given me something wonderful. I’m super close to both of my siblings. My older sister and younger brother don’t know each other as well because they are 7 years apart in age. But it was fun growing up with two siblings. Also, I like to think that my childhood lasted longer because I still got to play with my younger brother when my sister was growing up. I know I still want to have 3 kids someday, even though I had this “syndrome”.

  • Amy August 6, 2012, 11:23 am

    I was raised an only child by my grandparents. I have a half-sister but since I never really had a relationship with my father (never met him in person), I don’t have a relationship with her either (does being friends on Facebook count? 🙂 ). When the time comes, I’d like to have two kids just so they aren’t so lonely. I get jealous when I see the relationships my friends have with their siblings (especially those with sisters). I’d like for my future children to have that bond as well.

  • Alaina August 6, 2012, 11:26 am

    I’m an only child, too (by “circumstances” as well, not by choice). My parents worked a lot too, so I was in day care starting when I was 4 months old. Needless to say I became very independent very quickly. My husband is one of four and two of his siblings are married. I love being part of a big family now. 🙂

    • Alaina August 6, 2012, 11:28 am

      Oh, and if David and I decide to have children, we’ll probably go with one. I would love to be able to travel with a family, and one would be ideal for that. 🙂

  • ashlynn August 6, 2012, 11:27 am

    I am kind of a hybrid – middle child and oldest. I have an older half brother and half sister from my dad’s first marriage, and I have a younger sister. So, for weekends, some holidays and vacations, I was a middle child, and for the rest of the year I was the oldest. I wouldn’t give up having siblings for anything. My husband is one of six. So, our children when (hopefully) we have them will have plenty of aunts, uncles, and cousins.

  • Sarah Anne August 6, 2012, 11:31 am

    I am an only child. The next youngest in my entire family (save Dads side) I’d my mother who is 25 years older than I am.

    I definitely have the traits you mentioned above, and while as a kid I always wanted someone to play with, I like being an only child. I think k I was also way more self starting, creative, driven. My family is so tiny, that it is hard for me however, to be around large famiez. My ex had 2 siblings Nd a big family and I had times where I needed a ‘time out’ upstairs by myself. I find I DO need more alone time than most others. It is how I process. If I could change my birth order…I wouldn’t.

    I have only child friends too!

  • Zoe August 6, 2012, 11:34 am

    The WHO actually recommends waiting 3 years between pregnancies, for the sake of the mother’s body. Pregnancy and labor are really hard on a body (as I’m sure you know) so taking time to rest/recover/make up y’alls mind about another kid is a good thing!

  • Dynamics August 6, 2012, 11:39 am

    I am a middle child and DO suffer from middle child syndrome!!! It is very real. One thing to think of if you are trying to decide…if you and your husband die who is there for Henry? I know my girls will have each other to always depend on. Unfortunately, my family may not be there for them. Sisters carry a great bond, maybe not so much in younger years but definitely as they get older.

  • Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin August 6, 2012, 11:39 am

    I am the baby in my family, I have an older sister and an older brother. However, my older brother passed away when I was really young due to Cerebral Palsy, and I think that made my parents treat me even more as the “baby” because losing a child made them more protective as we grew up. I think the studies that generalize sibling order and personality can somewhat ring true, but obviously not set in stone. My older sister is definitely more dominant and less flexible, and I am treated like the baby even at age 22. I want to have at least two kids even though I know it will be a ton of work and financially difficult, but my sister is my absolute best friend in the world (she is 3 years older, which I think has been a perfect gap) and I hope my kids can have that same bond! I still have a while to decide though, considering I am not even close to being married yet 🙂

  • Alina August 6, 2012, 11:39 am

    I am the youngest of seven and I think I portray at least some of the stereotypical traits (yes, I was spoiled at times) but I feel like my older siblings and I were just spoiled in different ways. Sure, sometimes it was hard being part of a poor family (we all had to figure out how to pay for our own college, we never traveled much, we all had had jobs in high school and throughout college) but I don’t feel like I missed out at all. If you can provide some of those things for your kids that is wonderful, but I think kids don’t need quite everything that society tells us they need. I think it is a very personal decision how many kids to have, one might be right for you but not right for me.
    My brother just older than me passed away 3 months ago. We were close but it’s not like we talked every day, however, having something so tragic happen has made me truly realize how important my family is to me! In my experience it doesn’t matter how “close” you are with a sibling, there is a love there that is just different than you would find with friends, or even other family members like cousins. Since my brother died, my other siblings and I have grown closer than ever. We still don’t talk every day (hello, we all have busy lives) but we know that no matter what happens in life we will ALWAYS be there for each other for the good and the bad times.
    Again, I think it is totally a personal decision, but I would love to have at least 4 or 5 kids, I can’t imagine any less as I have seen the joy that my own large family has been in my life!

  • Lauren August 6, 2012, 11:40 am

    I’m a first born of two kids. I feel like I represent the textbook definition of my birth order well, as does my younger brother. I am high achieving, more rigid than most, and very conscientious. It’s also hard to be a first born girl because your parents overprotected you that much more! At least, that has been my experience.

    I’m not married yet, but things seem promising with my current boyfriend. I’ve always gone back and forth about the amount of kids that I want. I swing from not wanting any to wanting a lot. But this current boyfriend is not sure he wants kids, and if he does he’d want only one, preferably, tops two (with the second one adopted). I think I would rather not have an only child, but it’s looking like that could be what happens for us. We both will have enormous amounts of graduate school loans, so I’m not sure how we could afford kids. I liked your discussion of only children because I’m always not too sure about having an only child!

  • Elisabeth August 6, 2012, 11:44 am

    I’m an only child (30 years old) & I’ve always enjoyed it. My mom’s sister had 3 kids ranging in age from 1 year older than me to 8 years younger than me, so it was sort of like having siblings in a way (without any of the annoying-ness! 😉 ). I do think I’m quite a bit like the typical only child (more mature earlier, high performer, a little bit of social anxiety), but without the ‘spoiled’ aspect you sometimes hear of in only children 🙂

  • Kelli August 6, 2012, 11:58 am

    I’m expecting our first child in the next 3 or 4 weeks. My husband & I already know that we want to have 1 more child. I grew up with 2 younger sisters. I would say my personality is first born in some ways, but not in others. My middle sister is also a mix of some first born & some middle child traits. And honestly, my youngest sister isn’t a stereotypical youngest either. My parents had pretty high expectations for all of us & we all felt a strong desire to succeed. My husband is the 2nd of 4 children. We both have close relationships with our siblings, my sisters are 2 of my best friends. We weren’t planning to have children, but when we found out we were pregnant with our son, we immediately said we wanted a 2nd. We will stop at two for several reasons- financial, ability to give emotional support, & our ages. I’m 33 & my husband is 37. We’ll probably start trying for #2 pretty quickly after #1 is born.

  • Sana August 6, 2012, 12:01 pm

    I know this is awful/ not really an American tradition. But in my culture the children are responsible for taking care of their elderly parents ( no nursing homes). So I guess it helps to have more children (other than the obvious blessings that children bring).

    • Evan Thomas August 6, 2012, 12:36 pm

      What’s so difficult? Just throw on a diaper and lock them in their room.

  • jennifer strickland August 6, 2012, 12:06 pm

    Being an only child weighed very heavily into my decision of the number of children i would have. I wanted my daughter to have a sibling simply bc i felt like i longed for that so badly (once i was older) but i also agree with many of the benefits of an only child. My husband and i finally decided to leave it to fate, dis the birth control and let nature take its course. I am due with baby #2 in a little over a month! This will be the final baby for us though. One thing i do recommend is having the older child potty trained before adding a second, two in diapers just doesnt appeal to me. Also with my daughter being 3.5 she is very aware and excited about having a brother!

  • Kattrina August 6, 2012, 12:11 pm

    I am a middle child and probably suffer from middle-child syndrome. I don’t think my parents ignored me per say, but I was a peacemaker and quiet so it was easy for my parents to just “forget” about me because my other sisters were much more demanding. I am happy to be a peacemaker now though and I loved growing up with an older sister (to do big kid things with) and a younger sister (to play Barbie dolls with). I am super close with my younger sister and fairly close with my older (she lives far away so it was hard to stay close with her) and I wouldn’t give either of them up for anything. My family was on the poor side (SAHM and military father) and we all paid for our own college education and we didn’t have tons of stuff, but we were super happy and had a great childhood.
    I am pregnant with my first son right now and I would love to have 6 kids. However, I am already in my 30s and 6 will definitely not happen. I think we’ll probably just have two. My husband is from a really poor Honduran family and he thinks we should only have one, but I think I can convince him that we can “afford” two. I always wanted a huge family growing up and thought I would have a ton of kids – but when it came down to time and daycare I think 2 will be the magical number.

  • Jessica August 6, 2012, 12:12 pm

    My parents had me at 20 and divorced five years later. I am an only child on my mom’s side, but my dad remarried and had my half-brother when I was 9. They lived about 3 hours away so I didn’t actually grow up with my brother, so I’ve always considered myself to have had an only-child upbringing. I really liked being an only child, I was the baby’s baby, so I got a lot of attention from my grandparents and probably some special treatment. I also had a lot of cousins to play with, so I was never really lonely. I think being an only child raised by a single mother made me more independent and creative, plus I have a really close bond with my mom, which a lot of my friends with siblings don’t seem to have.

    I do have that fear of my parents getting older and dealing with the grief and loss alone, and I also feel pressured to have a kid because I am my mom’s only chance for grandchildren… so there are downsides. But I wouldn’t change anything 🙂

  • Lisa August 6, 2012, 12:23 pm

    I’m the oldest and I have a brother 4 years younger than me. I am definitely an overachiever and I think that’s part of being the oldest. I felt like my parents put more pressure on me for success. I also think there was too much of an age gap between my brother and I. We did not get along as kids (we do now as adults). When I have kids I’d like 2 and would like them to be closer in age.

  • Stacie August 6, 2012, 12:24 pm

    I am an only child and would have given ANYTHING (minus my dog!) to have had siblings around while growing up. I felt so different than everyone else because my family didn’t “match” others in regards to the number of kids. (then on top of it, my parents divorced) I had to go out searching for friends in the neigborhood rather than having a friend at home anytime of the day. Plus, I never had the opportunity to have “late night” chats with a sibling, sharing stories of “our” childhood not that I am older, etc, etc. Not sure if children are in my (and my husband’s future), but if it is suppose to happen, we definitely want at least two. I understand that children are expensive, time consuming, etc., etc., but feel the “perks” of an only child don’t outweigh the latter. I would still give almost anything (minus my husband AND dog!) now to have a sibling. Like you, thank goodness I have wonderful sibling-in-laws! Phew….guess I had more to say then I realized on this comment….on that note, will say thanks for this post! It’s hard to find/”meet” other only children. LOVE your blog!!!

  • Chelsea August 6, 2012, 12:33 pm

    I’m an only child =D I pretty much follow the stereotype other than getting everything I want. I’ve learned since I was like 15/16 that I have to pay for anything I want in life (including college). My boy-friend on the other hand is the baby of five siblings. He’s NOT your typical youngest child stereotype. His family goes to him for money to borrow (which REALLY pisses me off) because they know he works so hard. I mean they pay him back but I swear sometimes he acts like the oldest of his siblings instead of the youngest.

  • carrie August 6, 2012, 12:37 pm

    Great topic! I was the youngest of three girls but my sisters were twins so we didn’t really have a middle child in our family. I definitely think my parents treat me as the ‘baby’ and I don’t mind at all! As a mom, I have a three girls, a singleton and then twin girls for me as well so up to this point we also didn’t really have a middle child. However, we were surprised to find out I was pregnant about 9 months ago and a baby boy is due imminently. I am very intrigued to see how adding this fourth child, who is NOT a girl will impact our family dynamic. I’m quite excited actually b/c we had always wanted four kids but after twins were a little afraid we’d end up with five so it was nice that it was unplanned, in the end. Does that mean that my twins are middle children now? I suppose but I also assume they won’t fit the stereotype of middle child since there are two of them… Very interesting but I definitely recommend having more than one!

  • Beth August 6, 2012, 12:39 pm

    This is such a tough topic, and one that certainly is family to family. I also feel like with so many mommy war topics, this is something that has a lot of judgement around it. When I tell people we may only have one child (I like to say we’ll start with one and see where we go from there) I get so much judgement–from “you’ll raise a brat” to “that is the cruelist thing you could do to a child”. And that hurts, because no one knows our situation other than my husband and I.

    I have a sister, but we were not close until we were both adults. I remember hating her, and the fact that I had to take care of her and take her to events, when I was a kid. Yes, we are very close now, but there is no guarantee. Both of my parents are very distanced from their siblings. My husband and I also worry about the cost of multiple children, since we live in a very expensive part of the country where double incomes are the norm, as well as the environmental impact of multiple children.

    Thanks for being honest about this Caitlin, and know that whatever decision you make, it will be the right one for you!

  • Stacy August 6, 2012, 12:42 pm

    I obsess about this too… down to the morbid possibility of all my eggs being in his basket. On the flip side, I worry about me and my husband dying and leaving him alone without siblings. My son is 15 months, I’m approaching 35 years old (thus will have to deal with dwindling fertility), and I just found out that daycare in the town we have to relocate to within the next year will be $1900/month. That amount of money is vomit inducing for one kid, let alone multiplying it by two! I like the idea of being able to live a nice, comfortable financial life with one child and being able to provide for him in the best possible way. I also like the idea of being a family of four. My head says stop at one, but my heart says we’ll find a way to make it work with two. And maybe the next baby will be a good sleeper. One can dream!

    BTW, I’m the oldest of two. I’m driven, responsible, competitive, and a very inflexible.

  • Lauren T August 6, 2012, 12:44 pm

    I have one younger (by 2 years) sister, and I can’t imagine not having a sibling. We didn’t always get along growing up, especially in the last few years before I went to college, but now we are great friends! I have so many great memories growing up together, and I don’t feel like having a sibling really took away any of my parents attention, they were (and still are) very good at giving us both the time we need. I know that I want to have 2 kids when the time comes, and I would like them to be close in age like my sister and I are because I had such a great experience growing up with a sister! I think it’s important for kids to have a sibling/siblings because it’s a relationship like no other, and there’s no one else in the world who can understand what it’s like to grow up in your family other than your siblings.

  • Kristen August 6, 2012, 12:45 pm

    Great topic! I’m the oldest of three, I’m 29, my brother is 27 and my sister is 25 and I absolutely have the traits of an oldest child. As we’ve gotten older we’ve gotten a lot closer, I love having two siblings that I know I can turn too. My mom is an only child and is currently dealing with have two elderly parents by herself (my dad helps but it’s not the same), I see the stress it causes her and I’m grateful that I most likely will never have to deal with that by myself.

    I’ll have to see where I am emotionally, physically and maybe financially (I’m not 100% that I would give financial matters much consideration in this decision) when the time comes but my plan is to have three children as well.

  • Kimberly August 6, 2012, 12:47 pm

    Thank you for writing this post! I’m an only child and can empathize with many of your feelings, including a sense of loneliness and the immense responsibility of taking care of elderly parents alone. Growing up, being an only child never bothered me and I never lacked for company. However, as an adult, I am sometimes jealous of the bond that my friends share with their siblings. I’m lucky to have many close friends, but the sibling bond is different than any other.

  • Allison August 6, 2012, 12:53 pm

    Our 2 are 16 months apart and although this was not exactly planned, we love it. They are 26 months and 10 months and pretty much always prefer to be near eachother. The older is learning to share very well and I am suprised that they already play together (or at least with the same thing next to eachother). I thought I might only want 1 but my husband did not want to have kids if we were not going to try for 2. Obviously it is not always a choice, so we knew it might not go as planned.

    For me the attention that each kid gets is completely balanced out by the fact that they have eachother. 1 kid is expensive and 2 kids are really expensive; this is the downside to me. Especially when it comes to wanting a bigger house, potential private school, and college, the finances are a intimidating to me.

  • Morgan @ moments of mmm August 6, 2012, 12:59 pm

    I was the last born of three and it definitely influenced my life in many ways and actually for the better. On the pro-side, my parents had gone through raising two other girl so they were a little more lenient on me. They realized that being overly-stern wasn’t going to predict my actions, so they always instilled a lot of trust in me and allowed me to make my own mistakes.

    On the down side, my parents had a very hard time letting me leave the coop. I decided to move out of state and it was heart-wrenching for my parents which left me feeling very guilty. But after living 2,000 miles away for over 2 years now, they realize how great this opportunity has been and that with technology (Facetime, Skype, etc) it’s really not that bad. 🙂

  • Elizabeth August 6, 2012, 1:09 pm

    I am the older sibling ( Im 25 and my sister is 23) and I definitely exhibit typical older sibling traits. We fought a lot when we were younger but when she was 12 she almost died from ecoli and it changed our relationship. She calls me all the time ( I live in a different state now) just to talk about nothing really and I would take a bullet for her. My parents are both 1 of 4 siblings, my mom being the oldest of her family and my dad being the youngest of his family. I have lots of aunts and uncles and tons of cousins.
    My fiance has 1 older sibling and 1 much older half sibling and his parents are both only children so he has no cousins and a very small family. He loves going to Sunday dinners with my entire family and being around them at the holidays because its so different than what he is used to. We talk about children and I think we are both in agreement that we would like 3 or 4. But who knows really, I havent had a child yet and we dont know what the future has in store so it may just be 1.

  • Lauren August 6, 2012, 1:33 pm

    My husband and I are both the oldest of 3 siblings – he has 2 brothers, I have 2 sisters. We’re all kind of close, but we are all also very, very different. To the point it’s almost hard to all get along sometimes. I went to college while working full time, got engaged, moved in with my husband, worked on my career, got married, and now we’re buying a house. I guess I am a very stereotypical example of a first born. I like things in order, and so does my husband.
    On the other hand, my younger sister was all about having kids. She had 4 in 5 years with the hopes of them all being close . I love the kids, but I just can’t imagine that lifestyle for myself.

  • Peggi August 6, 2012, 1:43 pm

    I am an only child and I have an only child. I LOVED being an only child. I do not think my parents planned it that way but we moved a lot and then when I was 3 they were thinking that it was so much easier by then. My mom always tells me she stopped at perfection! LOL. 🙂 I always hated it, and still do, that people assume only children are spoiled. Yes we may be better off because our parents can afford to give or do more with us, but that doesn’t make us spoiled. I still got an allowance and worked for what I wanted. I never got everything I asked for. Now I am the parent of an only child. I originally wanted 2 children but then realized since I am a working parent would this work out to have 2? You start looking at the cost to have 2 in daycare and then quickly come to the conclusion that a whole paycheck would be turned over to child care….it is crazy! We are happy with our one, and know that we can take fun family vacations without worrying about the finances as much!

  • Kath August 6, 2012, 1:51 pm

    I do not have any children but i can say that i wouldnt not be who i am today without my younger sister (22 months). I should have another younger sibling, but unfortunately my mom had a stillbirth when I was 10. However, i so thankful for the sister i do have. She is my best friend and honestly understands me better than anyone. I dont have any childhood memories that dont involve her by my side. I want to give my future children this same gift one day. I hope to have at least 3 because i always wished for more siblings my whole life. However, I will be happy with any children God blesses me with. I know that there are so many decisions that go into having children, but the gift of having a sibling is something I would never want to live without.

  • Annette@FitnessPerks August 6, 2012, 2:12 pm

    I LOVE having a big family!! My parents wanted lots of kids (and financially could), so I have 9 siblings and we are all real close and have a lot of fun. I don’t think I’ll have 10 though 😉 I definitely want a few. It is WAY more fun to have instant friends! I’d love to have twins one day too. Babies/kiddos are the best. And family is the MOST important thing in this life, so I want to be able to have that. Of course I can’t control it at all, but those are my wishes and hopes!

    Oh, and I am the 4th of 10, and we are all really dominant, outgoing, leaders, have opinions, and are feisty. It is intense but super fun 🙂

  • Sarah August 6, 2012, 2:15 pm

    If something happens to you AND your husband then Henry will have no immediate family left without a sibling. That was my push to have a 2nd (and 3rd) child.

  • Nicole August 6, 2012, 2:16 pm

    Three years sounds like a good waiting period, especially since it’s my deadline and I’ll still be under 35 😉

  • D August 6, 2012, 2:22 pm

    Wow – look at all these comments! I guess this is a topic that ‘hits home’ for many people. 🙂

    I am an only child, and I loved being an only child!

    Check this article out, Caitlin – I know I found it really interesting!

  • Sarah August 6, 2012, 2:34 pm

    I have a brother who is 2 years older but in many ways, I feel like an only child.

    I think this is because the way our school district was structured, we were never in the same school at the same time until his last 2 years of high school. This prevented us from bumping into each other, going to the same school activities, having the same friends, or even riding the same bus. We never really bonded like siblings and now it’s awkward as adults.

    When I plan my family spacing (as best as we can ever really plan anyway) I’m going to consider the school-spacing thing and try to get my kids closer together so they’ll have a better chance than me and my brother did.

  • Ashley August 6, 2012, 2:41 pm

    This may be random, but how did you get that last picture of Henry? It looks like its from your perspective, but both your hands are clearly holding/lifting Henry?! Did you use a delay??
    In terms of kids, we don’t really have the choice of having an “only” child. I just birthed our first (and second!) kids – identical twin girls! It’s such a joy – but also a struggle – to try to find equal time for each.

  • Julia August 6, 2012, 2:43 pm

    I have a sister who is 2 years younger, and two brothers who are 4 and 8 years younger. We’re all pretty inseparable to the point where I realized it was unusual (not in bad way) for most siblings to be like that. I can’t imagine not having them to hang out with on family trips or when I’m just bored at home.

  • Jess August 6, 2012, 3:02 pm

    I’m an oldest. I am also a teacher, and most teachers I have met are oldest children, so I’m wondering if there is a connection there.

    My partner is a youngest, and was very sick growing up (kidney failure) so he was babied beyond belief. I am slowly making his more self sufficient, but it is hard after 20 years of being coddled.

    As a teacher I can look at a child in my class and tell you their birth order (oldest, middle, youngest, only) just by observing their behaviour.

    • Lindsay August 6, 2012, 8:04 pm

      Jess, I also am the oldest and a teacher! 🙂

      And I agree about being able to tell the birth order. I especially can tell who is an only child. I teach Kindergarten and most of them have a really hard time “sharing” me with the other students. It does take a while for only children to realize our classroom includes 20+ other children.

  • Andrea August 6, 2012, 3:22 pm

    I am an only child but had a brother that died before I was born. I always wonder how my life would have been different if he had lived (even though I probably wouldn’t have been born at all!) I always thought I’d marry someone with lots of brothers and sisters, but instead I married a man with one sister who has severe mental disabilities. Our daughter will not know what it’s like to have aunts and uncles or lots of cousins and that makes me sad. My husband would be fine stopping at one, but I always said I would never have an only child and we are planning on adding at least one more to our family. I loved being an only child as a kid, but as an adult, only is very lonely.

  • Julie August 6, 2012, 3:22 pm

    I was the oldest of 2, & my daughter is an only child (just by circumstance), & I can definitely relate to the personality attributes mentioned as they relate to each of us. I can def see the pros & cons on both sides of the issue. I would have loved to have at least another child (& still would), but I can def see how my daughter has benefitted from getting all of my attention & financially it has made a huge difference. She has gotten to do SO much more since it’s just the 2 of us (vacations, concerts, plays, sports, camps, etc.). I guess I look at it as whatever God blesses me with, I’m grateful & will focus on the benefits either way (as I truly believe both scenarios offer many benefits).

  • Natalie August 6, 2012, 3:25 pm

    I am the oldest of 4, and my dream growing up was to be an only child. My younger brother was verbally abusive to me for years, and my younger sisters are coddled and spoiled beyond belief by my parents. Even though I would love to have them be a part of my life, I am not close to my siblings at all (their choice).

    So no, I do not feel guilty about having one child. My daughter is 16 months old and she is the love of my and my husband’s life. My husband would probably be thrilled to have another baby, but as far as I’m concerned, we are a family of 3!

  • Amber K August 6, 2012, 3:43 pm

    I am the oldest of two kids, but we were 4.5 years apart and different genders. So it really felt like I was an only child most of the time. We had our own toys and things and never shared because we didn’t like the same things. We don’t really get along that well because we grew up in two very different households (while under the same roof). I think we both have first-born tendencies, while he also has the “baby” of the family traits as well.

  • jen August 6, 2012, 3:47 pm

    What an interesting post! I, too, am an only child. My parents divorced at six, so going back and forth between their houses by myself was a bit lonely, but I loved having most of my mom’s time and attention, and still enjoy it at age 32! I was just thinking about this earlier today – I read once that only children and oldest children leave the best tasting thing on the plate for last, and youngest kids eat it first, because onlys/oldest didn’t have to compete for the best food and the youngest did. I know that I save the best for last!

    I always heard from people that only children were spoiled, but I most certainly was not, not in an over-the-top way. Perhaps in subtler ways I don’t understand because I didn’t have siblings?

    As for how many kids I want, I haven’t had any yet, but hope to get pregnant in the next year or so. If I have a girl, I’ll probably be okay with stopping at one. I’m going to be an older mom, my husband is ten years older than I am, and I think we’ll be able to do more of the things we want to do with just one child (travel the world, afford to send the child to school, etc.). However, if we have a boy, I think I’ll want to try for another. I have such a great relationship with my mom, so I guess I have dreams of recreating that.

    It will be interesting to see what you guys choose to do!

  • Jen August 6, 2012, 3:53 pm

    I am an only child and have no complaints! My parents were great about involving me in a lot of activities so I always had lots of friends and I honestly don’t ever remember being lonely. I AM extremely independent and do require quite a lot of “space”, which may or may not be a result of not having siblings. I had a lot of opportunities as a kid and young adult that I don’t think I’d ever have had if I had to split my parents time, energy, and finances with a sibling. Obviously there are tradeoffs but I can’t say that I would have wanted to be raised any other way. I do get really annoyed with people who assume that only children are automatically spoiled and bratty. I can’t believe how often people say to me “You don’t ACT like someone who was an only child!”. What?! I think it’s all in how you were raised. For what it’s worth, I’m only planning on having one kid (although obviously that might change) so my experience couldn’t have been too bad. 🙂

  • Sonia the Mexigarian August 6, 2012, 3:55 pm

    Middle child right here. Middle of 3 girls. We have two older brothers (by 20 years) from my dad’s first marriage, so I really ever knew growing up with my sisters. I can’t imagaine life without them. My older sister fits the stereotype to a T (bossy, inflexible,perfectionist). I am quiet, peacemaker and my little sister is definetly the baby of the group. We are each 2 years apart. I am clsoe to my little sister and it took a while to be close to my older (she used to be a serious B) but I love them all the same. Even if my older sister was mean to me, she still protected me from others and my little sister was a buffer between me and her. I grew up with a big family and love it. My husband had a (extended) large family as well. We both want at least 2 children. (Though Eric wants a soccer team! ha!)

  • Allison K August 6, 2012, 4:15 pm

    I’m a first born, and a TOTAL first born. I like to be in-charge! As for more kids, my baby is three months today! The night he was born, my husband looked at me, while he was holding him and said “Let’s have another!” Ha! But, as we’ve made it through the newborn period, I have days where I do and don’t want another. Mostly, I do. We are fortunate, that due to decent health insurance, generous family and friends, and successful breastfeeding, Anderson hasn’t cost us too much yet. The expensive part is still down the road! Have you seen how much teenage boy eat?!?
    I had a c-section, so my midwife has encouraged me to not even get pregnant again for at least a year post delivery, so that I can fully heal, especially as I would really love a VBAC, so I sort of feel like the pressure is off for a while, but if we do have another, I think we will start trying at that one year mark, cause I’d like the kids to be close in age.

  • Kathryn August 6, 2012, 4:19 pm

    My husband wants one child and I want two. I have 4 older siblings and I’m 10 years apart from my brother who isclosest in age to me. I always kind of felt like an only child because my siblings moved out when they were 18. My sister and I are 18 years apart but we are very close.

  • Jameil August 6, 2012, 4:29 pm

    I know so many people who fall in line with birth order that I”m a total convert. I’m my parents’ oldest child & a classic oldest. When I hear ideas, my first thought is to look for flaws. I have to make myself stop and give a reasoned answer first. This might be just a personal personality quirk and have nothing to do with being the oldest. My dad has two other children from a previous relationship but I didn’t grow up with them in the house so amazingly, I act like the oldest even when they’re around. Still bossy. LOL Miraculously only the baby occasionally fights me on this. But I’m very good at stepping into a situation and taking charge.

    My husband is the classic middle child. He feels ignored in his family and mopes about it low key. His brother is the baby and WOW! Stereotypes still true. I definitely want 3 children. Husband wants two b/c he’s old– his logic. LOL He’ll be at least 38 when our first child is born. I’ve always wanted twins so hopefully we’ll get to compromise on that!

  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See August 6, 2012, 4:34 pm

    Never though about some of the implications of being an only child! I have one brother (family of four) and have always thought it was the perfect number. 🙂

  • jen August 6, 2012, 4:38 pm

    im a psychological phenomenon according to birth order stats. im technically the youngest of 6 and have all the spoled characteristics of being the baby. my siblings all doted on me and i got away with murder. i also have a lot of first child characteristics bc there are 8 years between my closest sibling and i, so i love being in charge, and can be a bit opinionated. all of my sibs and i have mixed up characteristics bc there are 23 yrs between the birth of the oldest and my birth. i find it all very fascinating, as did my high school psych teacher when i wrote a paper on birth order in relation to my family.

    i had the most amazing childhood. i grew up haviong all my sibs attention and love, and got the feeling of being “big sis” bc my nieces are 2 and 3 yrs younger than me. while i would love to give my future children the same experience, the changes in finaces over the years sure changes it for us. my husband and i ideally would like to have 3…so our kids always have someone to play with, but they have a choice, ahaha

  • Priyanka August 6, 2012, 5:16 pm

    Wow such an interesting discussion, I am the older child and certainly see the traits of being the first born in me. Since the pain of c-section still lingers on, I feel a bit intimidated about having another child. But I think this is just a phase! Deep down I really want to have two kids, since i already have a son, a little girl would be just perfect. Although that would happen only after three years or so, if at all.

  • Leslie W. August 6, 2012, 5:20 pm

    This is the primary topic on my mind these days! I am the 9th of 12 kids and my husband is an only child. My husband is 41, a stay-at-home dad, and his mother had him when she was 21. My mother had me when she was 36 and her last child when she was 46. My son is turning 4 today and my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for the last 2 years. My husband was ready for a second when my son was 9 months old but I wasn’t quite there yet due mostly to a traumatic birth experience. When I say “trying”, that means no birth control, and honestly some months we try harder than others in terms of attempting to track my irregular cycle. My head says count your blessings and stop at one beautiful son mostly because I worry about our ages and finances. The stress of trying to conceive with the sibling age gap widening and the biological clock clanging away is sometimes too much. Deep down, though, my heart says there is another soul out there on its way to us and everything will work out in the end.

    I value all of my siblings and we are all close even though the oldest is 50 and the youngest is 28. My husband loved being an only child and until we had our son, was set on having an only child himself. He would be OK with just having one.

    I have this fantasy where I will get pregnant next month with number 2 and then immediately get pregnant with number 3 (as a surprise of course, not planned). I think it’s entirely possible to over-think this stuff to death, when life is a mess of twist and turns anyway!

    • Lindsay August 6, 2012, 8:12 pm


      My boyfriend is the youngest of 12! Whenever I tell someone that, they are shocked. It’s so nice to hear of another big family. 🙂

    • Maddie August 8, 2012, 1:55 pm

      Gotta love big families! I’m the oldest of two, but my fiance is the second youngest of 7 (and all of the siblings have babies!). Whenever I tell people that they’re like, WHOA, do you know what you’re getting into!? I just respond, You have NO idea how fun Christmas is 🙂 LOL. There are definitely pros and cons to both big and small families. I think we’re really lucky we get to experience both.

  • Sarah August 6, 2012, 6:02 pm

    I grew up in the chaos of a large family (I was the 4th of 5 kids), and I have found raising an only child to be incredibly gratifying. I have health issues, and I did not want to risk a second scary, high-risk pregnancy. But in having one child, mostly I feel we had time for her: time to make sure she had enough time with other kids, time to listen to her beyond the initial “how-was-your-day?”-“fine” monosyllabic answers one can fall into with a kid, time to help her really figure out what she liked and wanted to do. I don’t look back on her childhood as one big rush. We weren’t overwhelmed. We just had a neat little threesome. We enjoyed each other’s company, and we traveled, and ate out, and hung out at the bookstore together. She says now that she feels a little more mature than most of her peers. She has said she was lonely at times as a kid. I was also lonely as a kid, in a house full of kids! But she also says she loved her childhood, and she feels closer to us than many of her friends seem to be with their parents. I’m really happy with how things turned out. It seems to have been just right for us. And now my daughter can go on and create the family she craves, which may be a big, chaotic family! And I wish for her that she is as gratified in her choices as I have been.

  • Christina August 6, 2012, 6:29 pm

    I am an only child. After our first daughter was born I said that I didn’t want any other children. When our daughter was 10 months old my mother suddenly died and my father was in the hospital on life support for 7 weeks. I had to make all the decisions in my dad’s care on my own. I had to clean out their house alone. I had to plan their funeral alone. Two months after they died I told my husband I could not live with myself if our daughter had to go through what I had to go through all on her own so we started trying for another baby and now we have our two girls and I don’t regret it for a second. They just love each other and I’m glad they’ll always have each other.

  • Heidi August 6, 2012, 7:08 pm

    My husband and I both have 1 sibling each, but we had really thought we’d have only 1 child for financial reasons. Then my mom got really sick and died (she had cancer) and I don’t know how I would have made it through that time without my sister. It helped me so much to have someone who was going through the same thing and who knew exactly how I felt. That’s when I decided to have a 2nd baby. Our daughters are 2 years apart and are now ages 2 and 4. I’m so glad they have each other and while they do fight, there are also some really sweet moments too. It is a LOT more expensive though. We spent close to $20,000 in daycare/preschool tuition last year alone. GULP! I have found some ways to save though-I clip coupons and I buy a lot of their play clothes at Goodwill and rely on hand-me downs from our many cousins to help out. Plus, I’m lucky that I have 2 girls because I can use the clothes we have twice! I think it would cost a lot more to have a boy and a girl!

    Once my girls are both school age, my husband and I are planning on adopting an older child domestically. Funny that you mention birth order-when we talk about this I always tell him that I don’t want to interrupt the girls’ birth order! So if we wait until they are both in school to adopt, our oldest would be about 7 and our youngest would be about 5. That means I’d want to adopt a child who was 4 or younger. I think “dethroning” our oldest would lead to some difficulty-she definitely has a lot of the traits that oldest children have!

  • susan August 6, 2012, 7:10 pm

    I have two children who are five years apart. After we had one, it was so wonderful and yet so difficult, it took me four years to imagine having a second. I’m glad we did, and I’m glad they are so far apart. I have had time to enjoy every stage a second time.

  • Julie (A Case of the Runs) August 6, 2012, 7:12 pm

    I am not sure how many I would eventually like to have. I am the middle of five, and I can’t say it’s been the best because of those “middle child syndrome” traits. However, I do like having a larger family because we’re not close at all to extended family.

    I think we want 2, but I think I’ll see how #1 goes first.

  • Anne August 6, 2012, 7:17 pm

    All I can say is I thank God every day for my little brother and sister 🙂

  • Maura @ My Healthy 'Ohana August 6, 2012, 7:25 pm

    There were two in my family, but 5 in my husband’s family, so he wants a lot of kids! He had so much fun growing up with a lot of siblings and cousins. It’s definitely a blast getting together with them for the holidays, and he has very close relationships with all his siblings. I envy that sometimes! We’re definitely going to have at least 3 kids, which is totally going to be expensive, but we’ll make it work somehow 🙂

  • Katherine August 6, 2012, 7:34 pm

    My husband and I have talked about this a lot. We are just starting IVF (my husband has a genetic issue and we’ve been told it will never happen naturally, even IVF has a low success rate) and I’m very nervous about it. We had always wanted 3 kids, but now if IVF even works we’ll only be able to afford to have one. It’s so freaking expensive and we can only afford 2 cycles! So we’ve really been struggling with whether we would even want to go through all of it if it meant (possibly) having an only child.

  • Jolene (Homespun Heritage) August 6, 2012, 7:41 pm

    You and I have talked about this on/off a bit in the last year (via comments here on your blog and your replies) and I know in your heart you’d love a bunch of kids…just take it one at a time and remember there is *never* a perfect time to have more. There is will always be not enough money, not enough time, etc.

    We’ve got 4 going on 7 and we’ve been so blessed to adopt amazing children and give birth to a few, as well. My husband was an only child and it still surprises me to this day that he loves having all these children but it was definitely a lonely existence for him and he just loves coming home from work to the little ones (and big ones) saying “Up Daddy”.

    I am due next month with our next and there is a 2.5 yr difference between this baby and the current youngest. At first I had wanted them close together but I am so glad I had 2.5 yrs with her as the baby before another one came along.

    Life is going to get a bit nuts with two 5 yr olds added who don’t speak a lick of English and a newborn but its our kind of crazy…we’ve added 3 at once before so we can do this thing…Ask me in 6 months if my brain is still functioning, though!

  • Claire August 6, 2012, 8:44 pm

    I’m the youngest of two and very much have first born traits. I am far more high achieving and much more of a control freak than my brother and my parents were/are a lot tougher on me than on him. I am close to my brother and glad he’s around, he’s an awesome uncle to my kids. I also get along with my sister in law despite a huge age gap, I started dating my husband when his sister was 6!

    I’m mother of three little boys ages 3, 6 and 7 , pregnant with my fourth. We always said we’d have more than two, for a while we were sitting on three and no more but decided that one more would suit our family. My husband has a half sister 11 years younger and always wanted a big family, I wasn’t fussed about kids until I had my first and then wanted a big family. My three are all good friends, they fight of course and have their moments, but the older two share a room by choice and often end up snuggled in together reading and drawing. It’s sweet to see.

    My three are pretty typical of their birth order. My oldest is cautious, driven and worries like crazy. The middle one is pretty oblivious to the world around him but super affectionate and very close to me and the youngest is the biggest diva that ever lived. That boy is a super star in his mind and gets away with it most of the time (usually from others because he’s the stereotype cherubic blonde and huge blue eyes and suckers people right in) It will be interesting to see how the fourth affects the dynamic.

    On the money thing, honestly, babies cost nothing compared to children! And as a high school teacher, I can say from observation, children cost nothing compared to teenagers!

    I usually can’t tell who is an only child in my classes, mind you, I don’t tend to investigate because it’s pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. I live in an affluent area where more than 2 kids is odd and the average age for a first time mother is 35+, so it’s not uncommon to have one child.

    To each their own I say.

  • mollie August 6, 2012, 8:48 pm

    i would love to have only one child for environmental reasons- americans use SO many natural resources compared to the rest of the world. realistically though, i imagine we’ll have two if we’re able. i have two sisters, and i CANNOT imagine life without them. i want to give my (future) children the chance to have that bond with a sibling!

  • BroccoliHut August 6, 2012, 8:49 pm

    Great discussion topic! I definitely fit into my birth order role as the youngest child. I am only engaged so I don’t have any children yet, but my fiance and I are both children of three-kid families (I’m one of three girls, he’s one of three boys), so I think we’d do well with three kids.

  • Morgan August 6, 2012, 9:02 pm

    I am the oldest and so is my husband. I am very close to my siblings and really depend on them in hard times even though we live far apart. My husband never talks to his siblings and doesn’t depend on them at all. So even with siblings having a lot of family support is sort of a crap shoot. We currently have one daughter and she might be an only. We had several miscarriages leading up to her being born and I have had one miscarriage since she was born. We are seriously trying to decide if we can take more miscarriages and how important a second child is to us. I feel badly that our daughter might be lonely, but my husband constantly points out that he doesn’t even consider his siblings his friends, so obviously I can’t guarantee her happiness with a sibling.

    I too worry about the morbid aspect of something happening to her, we actually know people that this happened to, but I have to remind myself another child would not heal the pain I would feel if something happens to her, and there is no guarantee that nothing would happen to our children even with multiple children.

    I really enjoyed this post, all of these thought have been weighing heavily on me recently. It is nice to know I am not alone in my concerns about an only versus siblings.

  • Katrina August 6, 2012, 9:04 pm

    I’m the younger sibling, my brother is three years older. As a child, I was sometimes very irritated by my brother, but i never once wished to be an only child. I did; however, sometimes wish i had another sibling, another ally.

    Now that I’m older, I really love having my brother around. We’ve really become quite good friends now that we are in our twenties. My mother (an only child) is in the process of determining end-of-life care for my grandmother. It has been the most painful, difficult, and stressful time for my mother because there isn’t another sibling to help share the load. After bearing witness to my her struggle, I can’t imagine having to take care of my own parents completely by myself as they age. For me, that’s reason enough to have more than one child, it’s for their long term benefit.

  • E August 6, 2012, 10:04 pm

    I’m an only child, and I know hate is a strong word, but I hate being an only child. I’m 22 and I still feel like I can’t share, nor adjust to a change in plans or my schedule. While I was provided with more financial opportunities, such as being able to go more places and financial assistance with my college tuition, I can say without a doubt that money does not make up for not having a sibling. Despite the fact that my parents are healthy, I am already dreading the day when the responsibility for their care in their old age falls completely on my shoulders. In addition, I always felt, and still feel, immense pressure to do well in all aspects of my life to the point where I feel as though I didn’t have enough fun growing up. I did have cousins who lived close by, but they had siblings and I always felt like I was not the same extent. Ever since I was young I have always said I’m having three children or none at all. I don’t believe that having only only child was my parents intention, but I have felt mildly resentful about being an onkg child my whole life.

  • Caitlin August 6, 2012, 10:17 pm

    Such an interesting topic! I’m a middle child, and I definitely get a bit of middle child syndrome – I think influenced both by birth order and personality. My older brother and younger sister are more similar to each other personality-wise, so I often feel/felt like the odd man out. That being said, we all get along so well and they are two of my best friends. I definitely vote in favor of siblings! I can’t imagine my life without mine and think every kid deserves to have the kind of special relationship that only siblings do.

  • Lindsay @ Fuel My Family August 6, 2012, 10:55 pm

    Even though my brother and I didnt get along well growing up, I always liked having a sibling. If anything I wish I had more so I had “options” as to who to play with, haha. We have 2 babies right now and god willing we want a couple more! I share the same vision of kid filled christmas mornings!

  • Ali August 7, 2012, 1:07 am

    I am an only child.
    I had a great childhood, but always felt like I missed out by not having siblings and SWORE I’d never have just one.
    I got pregnant with #2 when #1 was only 7 1/2 months old…and today my boys are 8 & 9 years old! 🙂
    When #1 was 5 and #2 was 4 years old….I had #3… a beautiful baby girl! 🙂
    While I L-O-V-E my kids, I am D-O-N-E!

    My (unsolicited) advice to you….don’t worry about number 2…don’t even think about it. Just enjoy your precious first born baby boy! You’re a healthy young woman and everything in your life will look and be completely different over the next 5 years and I mean EVERYTHING! The way you think, the way you look and the way you feel!
    You’re going to get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people, but down the road you’ll know exactly whats right for you and your husband, whether it be 1 child or 5 children. And trust me, in the end, finances will have absolutely nothing to do with your final decision regarding family size. =)

  • Jen August 7, 2012, 1:19 am

    Great post, Caitlin! I’ve always been fascinated by this topic…in fact, I remember writing a paper on it in late middle school or early high school? It’s been so long that I can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure that I got an “A” on it (maybe my teacher also found the subject fascinating!). Anyway, while I do believe that birth order plays a role in personality (too many things ring true), I don’t necessarily believe that ALL of these things apply all of the time…as with anything else, there are always exceptions. Bottom line, I believe that love and support within the family are the true determinants of a child’s happiness! For the record, I am the oldest of three…thankfully, with a WONDERFUL family, but definitely won’t be running for president anytime soon! 🙂

  • Claire August 7, 2012, 1:43 am

    I’m a middle child of 3, and definitely think I fit some of the personality traits. I always wanted three kids of my own, so did my husband. But we had them all in just under 4 years as I had an inkling that if we waited too long between each pregnancy we would decide not to go back through the newborn stage.

    I’m amazed how much financial reasons come into it for everyone. I think that is much less of an issue in Australia where we have free universal healthcare. It is completely free to deliver a baby here (you can choose to pay for private care if you wish). Also, we have a paid maternity leave scheme. So while financial considerations are of course taken into account, they are not as big of a deal. I’m so glad I live in a country with good social support structures in place.

  • Susie August 7, 2012, 2:11 am

    I am the youngest of 8 and I LOVE belonging to a large family. We have the most wonderful and crazy family reunions and my 3 sisters are my best friends and my 4 brothers are my protectors! I was an “oops” as my next closest sibling is 7 years older than me. But my amazing family never made me feel like I didn’t belong–well, maybe when my brothers told me to go play in the road I was a little dismayed! (We lived in a rural farming community, so playing in the road was not too dangerous most of the time!)

    I always wanted a larger family–maybe 4-6 kids, so that my children would have all the advantages and adventures of a large family. However, fertility issues to begin with and then very complicated pregnancies/births gave way to us being very fortunate and blessed to having 3 healthy, beautiful children. And because most of my siblings and I are still very close, my children enjoy big family gatherings with lots of children close to their age around to play with (mostly 2nd cousins, given the age difference b/w me and my siblings and I didn’t have my first child until I was 29 years old.)

    So, in short, I feel sad for people who are an only child. I really feel that they and their parents miss out on some of the most incredible blessings that occur with multiple children. And as far as birth order, I really fit both first and last born, very likely due to age differences between me and my siblings.

  • womanoflesssubstance August 7, 2012, 5:31 am

    I’m an only child and I really loved it when I was young. As I get older and watch my parents get old I am increasingly worried about how I will deal with the practicalities of looking after them without siblings to help. Of course having a sibling is no guarantee of having a friend and helper anyway. I know some siblings that don’t talk to each other for years on end. I like to think that they are the exception.

    We have two children and it amazing to see them play and chat together. I am very glad we had two but if things had turned out differently I would have been happy to just have had one.

    I think that this is a happy decision to make because, in my experience, being an only child is great and, from what I can see, having a sibling is also great.

  • Ashley // Our Little Apartment August 7, 2012, 8:37 am

    Holy moly there are a LOT of comments.

    I just wanted to say that we planned to wait 3 years between our kids, too. And now my son is turning two and I’m freaking out! How did that happen so fast!? I swear he was just born! (I know, I know. I’m terribly cliche.)

    I want him to have a sibling if only so he doesn’t bear the burden of being our child alone. We are crazy hippy vegetarians – he’s going to need someone who’s also been through being our child. 😉

    And on a more practical note – I don’t want him to bear the burden of taking care of us when we’re old alone. I’ve seen my father-in-law (an only) deal with that.

    That said – there are SO many benefits. One child is super easy. We can do anything and go anywhere. Sigh. I’m more scared of a second child than I was having my first!

  • Melissa August 7, 2012, 9:25 am

    I’m an only child and have always despised it. In second grade, I told everyone I had a half brother away at college because I wanted to fit in. People constantly pinned me as being spoiled and I was bored all the time growing up- especially during summer vacations. Despite the negatives, I don’t think I turned out too bad… My parents have a decent amount of money, but they do not give me any now that I’m grown up. I am independent and responsible, definitely not spoiled in the way many would think of an only child. Now that I’m older, however, my parents are constantly concerned about my life choices. I just broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years, so now they’re worried I will never get married. They wish I could do everything and be great at all of it, but I am only one person. I’ve always spread myself too thin, trying to take on as a many tasks as possible, and it’s probably because I’m an only child. There is a lot of pressure involved with being an only child.

  • Dukebdc August 7, 2012, 12:19 pm

    Well, siblings don’t always mean companionship and an unbreakable bond. My brother and I are very different, and (by his choice, not mine) we don’t have much of a relationship. He also stays away from my parents for the most part. So truthfully, I often feel like an only child when it comes to being there for our parents. Yet I also felt that my parents spent much more time and energy on him, and just expected me to be perfect without guidance. My brother is pushing 40 years old, and just married his 17-year-old pregnant girlfriend. Her age is not a typo. I mourn for a relationship I never had with him, and probably never will.

    • Dukebdc August 7, 2012, 9:30 pm

      And maybe as a result of my distant relationship with my brother, we will probably only have one child. My husband is the only child of his parents’ marriage, but he has two much younger half siblings and one disabled stepsibling. He was kind of forgotten when his parents married his stepparents and he agrees that one is enough for us. I feel like a downer for this topic, but things don’t always turn out rosy and all siblings aren’t blessings.

  • Kate August 7, 2012, 12:24 pm

    I am surprised no one has brought up the environmental/over population issue…
    Perhaps in this day and age, with our population overflowing and our resources running low, we owe to to our kids to only have one?
    Just thinking out-loud, no judgement.

  • Claire Zulkey August 7, 2012, 12:30 pm

    I have a younger brother. We were great playmates up until a certain age and then we basically hated each other for ten years (we are 2 years apart.) We are better now but not best friends. But that said, my husband is an only child and said that he wishes he had someone in his life who he could talk about his parents with, who got what it was like to have his mom and dad as his mom and dad. We’ll see how Baby #1 goes but I feel like I will listen to the only child in my life if/when he has an opinion on whether we should go for more than one. I think we probably will if all goes well. I read comedy-type parenting book that said one good reason to have more than one kid is that playing with children gets boring after a while so it’s good to have more than one so they can entertain themselves and leave you out of it! 😀

  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut August 7, 2012, 2:46 pm

    I am a triplet and I love it! With anything though, there are pros and cons. I’m very close to my brother and sister, but because we are the same age but progressing at different paces, it’s been a weird adjustment for us as adults. I think sometimes we feel like we should be “equal,” but I try to remind my sibs that everything will shake out and “even out” in the end!

    You are so lucky to have had Henry at a young age. Enjoy him now; I have a feeling you’ll be ready for another in a few years. 😉

  • Brigid August 7, 2012, 3:02 pm

    I have an interesting perspective as both an only and an oldest. I’m my mom’s only, but after my parents’ divorce, my dad remarried and had two more kids, who are 12 and 14 years younger than me. Since I was already in middle school when they were born and we have never lived together, I’m essentially still an only child but with the bonus of having two awesome kids in my life. That said, my life is so much better with them in it, and I’m really jealous of the experience they have of growing up with each other. I was often lonely as a kid, too. Plus, as our parents grow old, we have a lot of added pressure to be caretakers for them on our own. If I am able to have kids, I definitely plan to have at least two.

  • Teresa August 7, 2012, 4:46 pm

    I’m the oldest of eight, and I have to say growing up in big family was awesome. Each child got lots of attention and when mom was paying attention to another child, there was always siblings paying attention to each other. Also, I know it’s super expensive to have your first child, but it get’s “cheaper” as you go along. Just think, you don’t have to buy another crib, another infant carrier, baby toys, baby clothes (if it’s another boy)……Of course people still give you more baby toys and clothes so there’s always plenty of stuff.

    This isn’t to say that having only child is bad. I know people who can only have one child or chose to have only one, and they have great kids too. Their child had lots of attention, everything they needed…….So I hope whatever you decide works out for your family.

  • luv what you do August 7, 2012, 9:12 pm

    What an interesting post…especially because I got a lot of resistance from friends and family this weekend when I mentioned only wanting to have one child. I think your reasons are spot on and I am a wee bit older than you which definitely impacts my decision. On another note, my cousin told me this weekend that their daughter is going to start girls on teh run. I just wish I lived in their state to coach!

  • Kendra August 7, 2012, 10:07 pm

    An additional drawback to having an only child…. someday you and your hubby will be sick from age, or pass on from old age. This is a time of great burden to children, but having a sibling provides a level of support and comfort during this time.

    I see this everyday in regards to my best friend. Her parents tried for 12 years to get pregnant, so by the time the miracle happened and Kara was born here parents were older. We are 30 years old and her mother passed almost 7 years ago and her father passed recently. All her aunts and uncles, grandparents and most of many of her cousins are passed on, because her parents were older when they had her. She feels very alone in the world because she has no family left. Her boyfriend and her friends are there for her like family, but its never quite the same. It breaks my heart to see her struggle with the loneliness, but this has solidified my hope to never have an only child myself.

  • Natalie August 8, 2012, 2:08 am

    I needed to find your blog today, I didn’t know that it existed but somehow I found it today I know that this is your blog, not mine, but with the day I had today, finding this blog was meant to be and I need to tell my story. Maybe you can help? Maybe your followers can give advice?
    I am an only child. I remember being bored and lonely at times. However, like many other only children replies, I had a great childhood with bring friends on trips, having college paid for and learning at a young age how to talk with adults. I got tired of being bored when I was with my parents and their friends, so I started to pay attention to their conversations.

    My dad had me when he was 50 years old, his second marriage and my mom was 32. My mom became ill when I was five and her health continued to decline. My memories of my mom as a child are with her walking with a cane, crutches and finally a wheelchair. My dad and her divorced when I was 16. Since my moms health was so poor, I became the head of the household. I would do the laundry, shop for food, clean the house, m0w the lawn and make dinner. It really was for the best that her and my dad split but I had to grow up early.

    Fast forward twenty years. I’ve graduated college, have a career, started dating my soon to be husband. My mom has people that come and help her in the house. However, I am her go to person. I still “take care” of her in a sense. My friends started to have kids and I realized something huge. My friends kids emotionally fulfilled their souls. They were taking caring of a person and had so much love and joy for them. I realized that I had been taking care of a person, whom I loved, but I didn’t have the emotionally fulfillment because it was my mom. In a way I had become the parent.

    At that point in my life, I was so tired of taking care of people. My dad was healthier than my mom, but since he is 50 years older than me at 26 he was 76 and starting to slowly decline. I was thinking I would not have kids because I’m tired of taking care of others, or if I did, I would just have one. Although realizing the emotionally fulfillment of creating a child would be very different-in a good way.

    Fast forward 8 more years. I’m 34, married, 2 dogs, no kids. My mom’s health decline so much that she was put into a care home. She passed away at the age of 66. As odd as this sounds, the best part of her death, was that I truly GOT how much she loved me. I knew that she did when she was alive, she told me that she did and showed me a lot. However, the bizarre relationship that we had due to her medical issues impeded me from understanding that. I had the best mom. She loved me more than anything. She was and will be the only person who loved me the most and she showed and told me ALL THE TIME. 🙂

    As the saying goes, when it rains it pours, when my mom was dying, my dad had lung cancer. Clearly, there is a reason why that saying is around. Anyway, he is still alive, he is 84 now. My relationship with my dad was/is on the low end of okay. He is very needy and selfish. We have a very surface-y relationship. Ugh….I’m tired of having small talk with my dad. Who also, can only hear HALF out of one ear and does not make the best effort to listen when I talk. He has had that hearing impairment my whole life. Honestly, I think that he stopped listening to me and my mom towards the end of their marriage. 🙂 My dad lives in a care home, his health is stable and I am his “go to person”. I’m tired of taking my dad shopping or having him come over to our house, to entertain him. He whines and complains and is very “woe is me”. I’ve established better boundaries with him this past year and it has been better. However, today I took him shopping at Kohl’s and Walmart and as of today have come to this conclusion, which I would like all of your opinions on.

    The tricky part with this situation is that all of my friends have healthy parents. Some of them have kids and some of them don’t. However, they do not know what I have truly been through. I’m sure at some point in the future they will, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t be for another 10 or more years. Also, I am now 36years old and my eggs are dying as I type.
    So, my questions is why would I have a kid? Why would I create a human being who I know will end up at some point having to take care of me and my husband. I know what that is like and it sucks-sucks! I do not want to chose to have a child, knowing that they could/would go through what I’ve gone through in some way. My husband and I will get old and need help to some extent. Maybe not as much as my parents, but s/he would be our only offspring and therefore have the responsibility.
    I know that I would be a great mom. I would love our kid so much and show him/her just like my mom did. But is that why I would have a kid, so I could love it? Yes, I would want him/her to have an amazing life and I am sure it is great to be apart of that as a parent. Yet, I keep going back to the taking care of old parents and since I know first hand what that is like for most of my life, I do not want to create a human being knowing that.

    In general, I am a happy and optimistic human being.
    I know I am over thinking this having a kid thing.
    I know that I had a bad day with my dad.
    But I know that I’ve thought about having a kid or not for so long and I truly feel like today I made up my mind.

    Thanks for reading, thanks for listening, thanks for commenting.

    • CaitlinHTP August 8, 2012, 8:09 am

      I am so sorry about both of your parents. I am really sorry about everything they and you have gone through. 🙁 I would REALLY recommend talking to a therapist at least once or twice about drawing healthy boundaries with your dad. Being a caretaker is so hard and it stirs up so many emotions – you deserve far more help and guidance than i can offer. But I do want to say that you are doing a great job, I am sure, and you are an awesome daughter for helping your dad (not everyone would).

  • Jen August 9, 2012, 9:34 pm

    Okay, so I was technically the baby, but not treated as such. My parents had fertility problems and they had my older brother at 36. They were about to adopt (they were so desperate for kids), that my older brother has been miracle baby ever since. I’m much more middle child like even though I’m the youngest (there’s only 2 of us). My brother could do no wrong!

  • Rachel August 10, 2012, 3:10 pm

    I’m an only child (by choice – my parents’, not mine, obviously), and I loved being an only child. My relationship with my parents is great, and I credit a huge part of that to being an only child. Since it was just me, they didn’t need to balance anything out, or treat me the same way as someone else. I also got to grow up in their eyes, since there weren’t other kids around to be grouped together. So now my parents and I do things like vacation together, because we can have a relationship as adults.

    I also really liked not being compared to anyone else, not having someone else’s expectations on me, and not having to grow up quickly or stay the baby simply because of birth order. I think I’m better at being an independent adult because I was an only child.

    My aunt had 7 kids, and I never wished I was part of that madness. Sure, if you do end up with a good relationship with your siblings I think it’s a bond that’s hard to duplicate, but that’s not guaranteed. I think what I got from being an only child is pretty amazing.

Healthy Tipping Point