Sundays with Gage – Lonely Only?

So, what do all of these people have in common?

Yep, Jason and I are lonely, selfish, socially inept, and spoiled if you listen to the majority of people who repeat these stereotypes of only children as if they were facts.  I’ve never really felt offended by these misguided comments because I’ve never seen myself that way.  Was I lonely growing up?  Maybe, but because of the alone time I have a healthy imagination and know how to entertain myself.  I am never bored.  Was I socially inept growing up?  I don’t think so.  I was voted Everyone’s Best Friend and Class Flirt by my senior class, so I wasn’t a quiet wallflower.  Am I selfish?  I probably spend as much money on gifts as I do on myself and if you need something that I have I do not hesitate to give it, so I don’t think so.  Was I spoiled?  Well, it wasn’t like we had loads of money growing up, but I was spoiled with attention and love.  Is that so wrong?  Jason is also an only, but his youth was a lot different from mine.  Even so, I would never use any of these words to describe him.

So why all the judgment of the onlies?  There are a positives and negatives to being an only, just as there are to being a first born, a middle child, or the baby.  I don’t feel like I missed out by not having a sibling and I don’t understand when I hear women say they are having another child so their first child doesn’t grow up alone.  It’s like you are gifting one child to another and that seems odd to me. 

Jason and I have been blessed with a healthy baby boy and at my advanced age of 39 we’ll need to decide on whether to try for another relatively soon.  We both know the pros- more attention, higher self-esteem, more education, better grades in school and the cons- a smaller support system and the challenge of being the sole caretaker for your parents as they age.  With Jason and I both being only children we have four parents to look after in the future.  Good thing we’re a great team 🙂  Gage will never have first cousins, aunts or uncles and to rob him of siblings too is perhaps my biggest concern.

Are we doing Gage a disservice if we don’t try for more?  Absolutely not.  But it does require a different approach to parenting, one that Jason and I are completely tuned into and have a lifetime of experience with.  I found this article in TIME magazine last year about the myths of only children very interesting.

So, any other onlies out there?  Or parents of onlies?  Do you feel judged?  Was the decision to have only one an easy one?

35 thoughts on “Sundays with Gage – Lonely Only?

  1. diana mack says:

    if you are an only child you really don’t have anything to compare too do you? i had 1 sibling who died when i was akid so i didn;t like being an only kid but i knew differently
    also…no guarantees that the kids will get along…i have friends who barely talk to their siblings…
    do what you feel like…if you and the hubby don’t fit the stereotype then your kid won’t either

  2. Trish says:

    My sister’s going through this right now as she’s trying to decide if she’ll have another child or not. She’s leaning towards no, but everyone seems to be giving her a really tough time (our immediate family is big by today’s standards at 4 and our extended family is ridiculously large on both mom and dad’s side). Her sister-in-law has 5 children and might have more, so it’s a struggle to see eye to eye.

    Coming from a big family (as does my husband), we know that one child just won’t be enough, but I know it’s a really personal decision–I have friends who love being an only child and some that wish they had brothers and sisters. Like Diane says above–how do you compare it to something you can’t know? Best wishes on your decision.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      My parents were both from huge families and decided only on one. The grass is always greener.
      I have at times wished I had a sibling, more as an adult, but I seriously don’t feel like our family is less complete. And sometimes I think we may be closer than other. larger ones just because we spend so much more one on one time together.

  3. gautami tripathy says:

    I have three brothers. And we are each others’ support system. For our mom too. Becos there is always one or the other to take over. Not that my mom needs it right now. It feels good to be able to share your thoughts with them.

    I am single with no children. But I have my nephews and nieces to shower my love.

    It is not easy to judge or take decisions. It depends on each family set up. My parents taught us to be always there for each other. They cared for each other too.

    Only you two can decide what is best for Gage. Don’t go by examples or stereotypes…

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I know, but the stereotypes annoy me sometimes. Just today I had someone cleaning the house and she asked if I had brothers or sisters and when I told her no she said, “So, you’re spoiled, huh?” Even if you know it’s not true it can drive you crazy!

  4. rhapsodyinbooks says:

    My sisters each have onlies, and I like they way each of the girls has a lot of confidence that I believe comes from having that total focus of support and attention. But I think each of my sister’s made the decision not having anything to do with kids but having to do with not wanting to be pregnant again! :–)

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Interesting that they both had onlies and girls! I could handle pregnancy again, but the actual nightmare that was labor I’m not as thrilled with.

  5. Carol says:

    I have one brother. my husband has two. My brother and I get along really well. My mother’s an only child and I know it was difficult for her when my grandma got older and dies to make all the decision herself.

    That being said, my daughter Amber (11) is an only child and we are not having another one. To be honest, it’s an entirely selfish decision. It was just too hard on me, I’m not doing it again. But she’s happy and bright and imaginative- a really wonderful kid. I spent years answering the are you going to have another question. People stopped asking when she turned about 8.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Well, when Gage turns 8 I’ll be 47 so I hope they stop asking before then 🙂 You daughter seems like a great kid!

  6. Jenners says:

    Thank you for bringing this up!!! Our Little One is going to be an only child and I’ve worried about it much more than I probably should. I have had people chastise me for not “giving” him a sibling, and I’ve agonized over it for far too long. Mr. Jenners feels that it isn’t worth worrying about because there is nothing we are going to do about it (I was 37 when I had my little one and am 43 now so I don’t think I want to “chance” it and, frankly, I don’t think I have the energy. I would have had to do it right away before I thought too much about it.)

    I did see that Time article and felt so much better after reading it. I am glad to hear that you don’t feel like you “suffered” by being an “only.” I suppose, like anything else in life, you get used to what you know. Thanks for this … I needed to get that off my chest!

    • stacybuckeye says:

      As an only kid I feel like I’m thinking about it too much too, when I really shouldn’t be. I didn’t/don’t mind being an only, but when I married another only I thought having one wouldn’t be enough. Now that we waited so long for Gage I’m not sure I want to chance it either. Your Little One will be fine, trust me. He has you for a mother 🙂

  7. Bumbles says:

    Having “only” one is a strange way to put things – as if 1 is not enough. Every one is a blessing. Some folks can’t have any and would love to have “just” one. It is all perspective I guess.

    I have a younger brother. Andy has 3 younger siblings. I always wondered what it would be like to have a sister – because I had a pain in the ass little brother ;0) The grass is always greener.

    Many of our friends have 1 child and decided that 1 was fun. Not selfish at all. It is just what works for them. Others intended for 1 but ended up with twins. They are making that work for them too. One of our friends has 2 and is always making comments about the appropriate age to have kids or that less than 2 is not the best way to go. Their kids are total chaos thanks to some really bad parenting. Worry more about raising your own family than telling others what the “right” family looks like.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I know, there’s no guarantee that we could even have another one of we decided to. And have been subjected to the stereotypes and judgement all my life you think I’d be past it. Having one is plenty and enough and gosh darn it, people like onlies!

  8. Kay says:

    We only have one daughter and that was partly a choice and partly my body. I wasn’t ready to try for another child for several years (I was 25 when she was born) and then when I was, my body didn’t want me to have another one. When our girl was 12, I said, No more trying. They would be too far apart in age anyway. We’ve been happy with our only. She’s 28 now and married 4 years. They don’t have any children yet and aren’t even sure they will. I won’t press her on the issue as I certainly made my choice. My son-in-law is one of 4 kids and our daughter has been exposed to their sibling rivalry, fights, and support. They have one niece now and so if they do decide to have kids, there will be cousins.

    As to taking care of parents, well, I have a brother and sister. However, when it was time to care for our aging parents and their dementia issues, neither of my siblings were very involved at all. Almost all the work and certainly all the decisions fell to me. My brother and sister have had lots of problems through the years and caused a lot of trouble for my parents. I was the oldest and the “good” girl. I say all that to point out that sometimes, even when you have siblings, they are not supportive especially. I am not terribly close to either of them and that won’t likely change. We just don’t have a lot in common.

    Stacy, I think you guys have a healthy attitude and you’ll raise Gage just as it feels right to you. He’ll have lots of attention from both of you and your parents. He’ll thrive. Besides, in my opinion, family can be whoever you decide. Family doesn’t have to mean “blood related”. 🙂

    • stacybuckeye says:

      That’s a good point, Kay. We have no idea if my body would even agree to another baby 🙂
      I had an only child tell me she was glad that she was the only one making decisions for her parents when they got sick. She said it was easier not to have to worry about having anyone else agree with her.
      And I think you have a healty attitiude about grandchildren. Even though I knew my parents desparately wanted them they never nagged about grandchildren and I made a point of lowering their expectations by telling them repeatedly over the years that we may not have kids. It worked out for everyone in the end 🙂

  9. Gage's Grandma says:

    I am from a big family and I love it. My daughter is an ‘only’ and there were times when I wondered if I did the right thing for her. As she grew up, I knew that she was perfect. She is loving, giving, smart and a really wonderful mother. In hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing. The myths about ‘onlies’ have nothing to do with having no siblings, but everything to do with parenting. My daughter and son-in-law are definitely proof that ‘onlies’ excel in all aspects of life – especially parenthood.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      In the interest of full disclosure I think it’s important for people to know you’re my Mom. In case they missed the whole Gage’s Grandma thing. Thanks, Mom. Love ya 🙂

  10. bermudaonion says:

    I am the parent of an only and I think the days of there being a stigma on being an only child are past. Our son has always had lots of friends and is generous to a fault. Don’t worry about what other people think and do what feels right for you.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I know that you’re son is great just by the way you talk about him.
      I do think there is still a bit of judgement though.

  11. Florinda says:

    As the parent of a now-grown-up “only,” I’d pretty much echo what Kathy (Bermudaonion) said. Although I had him young, I knew I didn’t want more children, and he’s been pretty content with his situation. But ultimately, it’s your decision and no one else’s.

  12. StephanieD says:

    I’m a parent of an only. He’s 15 years old and although I spoil him in my fashion, as does his dad, he does not act spoiled at all. He’s very sweet and considerate and easygoing. He does not try to hog attention; in fact, he shies away from too much attention. He was voted as having best citizenship in 6th grade and has never met anyone who didn’t like him. Interesting thing though – he has two best friends, both of which are onlies as well.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      That is interesting about his best friends. When you read the birth order books/studies they always say that two onlies should never marry each other and I’m guessing it would be the same thing with best friends. I’m glad your son and I have proved those people wrong 🙂

  13. caspette says:

    I have been struggling with this decision as well. I have a sis that I hardly speak and we certainly dont get along. My partner has 2 siblings that he isnt very close too.

    But we are brought up with this vision of a family being at least 2 kids and like you say the first thing out of peoples mouths is “when is number 2 coming along”.

    I dont think I could go through another pregnancy though as mine was very traumatic. But I cant help feel guilt ridden.

    Even though I am a firm believer that you make your own family. You can have close bonds with people who are not blood relatives.

    I will read your article closely though. Thanks for posting it.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I could do the pregnancy again but the 60 hours in the hospital before Gage arrived is a different thing. That was hard and I feel so lucky that everything turned out okay. I’m glad that you were also blessed with a wonderful baby. It does make it harder to take the risk again though!

  14. Heather says:

    Wow! I’m so glad you brought this up, Stacy. My hubby and I had our first one two years ago and we thought before I got pregnant that we would have at least two…well, after a traumatic pregnancy, birthing experience, and traumatic first 6 months with Gabe…we’ve decided he’ll be an only child. It’s tough, though, when everyone expects you to have one more and then that guilt sets in that your child will be deficient in some way without a sibling. I grew up with 3 bros and 2 sisters and I’m not close to any one of them. Also, my hubby came from six siblings…so we’re all siblinged out. He does have tons of cousins on both sides.

    But it’s just not us to have more than Gabe. We love him and that’s why we know we shouldn’t have another. It would be a bigger struggle emotionally, etc.

    I’m glad to know that you and your husband are onlies! Looks like you both have turned out great and so will Gage!

    Hugs to you both and support you in whatever you decide!

    • stacybuckeye says:

      It’s a tough decision, but know that Gabe will be fine without siblings, escpecially with all of those cousins! I was very close to my cousins and that helped me feel like part of a larger family growing up. I know what you mean about the preganany, birth, and first months. It’s been very hard on me and if we do it again even if all turns out well again I will not have as much to give Gage or the new one.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      I think it’s great how close you are to your siblings. I love seeing your pictures of you all when you post them 🙂

    • stacybuckeye says:

      It probably comes from being an only and everyone always making the comment that I must be spoiled. And people judged when we didn’t have any kids at all, so maybe I just feel judged in general. Or maybe it’s just me judging myself, LOL!

  15. Susan says:

    Stacy, each family is unique and you and Jason sound like very well-adjusted people with a common sense attitude toward parenting. I’m pretty sure Gage would do just fine as an only child.

    Look at all the advantages of being an only! I’m sure I don’t need to list them here…you’ve already thought of them. My husband’s sister had her son when she was 36 and his only first cousins are adults, our children. Her husband has no siblings and his parents are both deceased, and he doesn’t have any cousins with children. But, Xan has lots of second and third cousins on our side of the family the same age as he and they have a great time when they’re together.

    Don’t let anyone, or any article, make you think you’re doing the wrong thing if you decide to limit your family to one child. It’s your decision and I think it’s a fine one, whatever you decide.

    • stacybuckeye says:

      Thanks, Susan! It is the cousin thing that I wish were different, but he does have planty of second and third cousins that I am very close to, so he does have an extended family.

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