With Melinda

Single mum lifestyle blogger

Romance author

 

Raising a child is both a joy and hard work. Whether you have one or more, there is an impact on your life. You love intensely, sleep erratically, and become poor quickly. If you decide to stop at one child, it is viewed negatively by our society but what is the reality? Here, we will look at the benefits of having only one child.

What is a family unit?

A family unit is loosely defined as parents and children. Together, these people become one unit, but nowhere does it dictate how many children, how many parents, what sex the parents should be, whether it can be a blended family and so on.

The term ‘Nuclear family’ was coined at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and took hold as the most common type of family.  The interpretation of the nuclear family is mum, dad and two children.  This came about as people started moving to larger towns and cities to look for work and no longer lived with their extended family. It became portrayed as the ideal family for advertising purposes but as society changes, so does the family structure.

Conflict resolution for families

The truth we should all live by is whatever structure causes the most individual harmony, support and love for us is the correct one. If a nuclear family is filled with strife, tension, and bad feelings, then it is not healthy. If a single-parent family structure is nurturing and filled with caring, then that is appropriate. It is not the structure type that is important, it is the relationship between the family members and should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Parenting can cause many arguments between adults as they were brought up with different points of view. Making decisions for your family together can be tough. If there are two parents, then there often needs to be discussions and compromise. When there is just one adult making decisions, although you do not have to compromise, it can be stressful not to have another adult to fall back on.

Coming to terms with having an only child

Some assumptions are made in our society about families with only one child. These include the parents must be unable to have more children, they must be unhappy with just having one child or that, if they initially decided to just have one child they will eventually change their mind. These assumptions tell us that the place we live in does not value the decision to only have one child as a good one. Which is why we are looking at the benefits on having only one child.

Pros and cons of having an only child

This is a thought process faced by numerous families. As we have the stereotypical nuclear family staring back at us with their perfect smiles from billboards, we have been brainwashed into believing that we are harming our child if we do not give him/her a sibling. But when making the decision, we need to focus on the following.

Pros of having an only child

  • More attention from parents
  • More money to spend on child
  • Will mature quicker as will be included in more adult activities
  • May not need to upgrade house, car etc
  • May make friends quicker as parents will be keen for their child to meet other children.

Cons of having an only child

  • May be lonely
  • Maybe spoilt as the only child to give presents to etc
  • May be socially awkward as only associate with adults at home
  • Increased pressure from parents with grades etc
  • Nobody to share the responsibility of older parents
benefits of only one child

Do you want more than one child?

It is you who will be raising your children, so take more than a moment when deciding whether to have another. Once you have experienced being a mother with your first, you have first-hand knowledge of what it is like. Along with the love and joy comes sleep deprivation, potty training, tantrums etc. To decide if you want another one, you need to focus on both the highs and lows and think whether you want to go through these stages again whilst also having an older child. There is no right or wrong answer as both options can bring joy, it is just a decision based on what is right for you and your family.

Can you afford another child?

In 2020, the basic cost of a child was £71611 for a couple and £97862 for a lone parent. If housing and childcare are factored in, the cost rises to £152747 for a couple and £185413 for a lone parent. The cost for a second child would be slightly less than the first but they will not be cheap. Whereas you do not need to be rich to have a child, it certainly makes life easier if you can afford to give your child a decent lifestyle. With a second child, your income will suddenly seem a lot smaller and opportunities a lot less.

Is it responsible to have another child?

We are always being told to ‘reduce our carbon footprint’. The single biggest way we can do this is to do our part with population control. Not to have more children. Overpopulation is the root cause of climate change, a terrifying concept. According to a study by Oregon State University in 2009, one child throughout its lifetime can leave a carbon footprint of over 20 times than would be saved with measures such as recycling, cars, conserving resources etc.

Greta Thunberg claims that ‘The real power belongs to the people’. It is your choice when you decide how many children to have but the implication belongs to the world.

Will my only child be lonely?

One of the biggest stereotypes of having an only child is that the child must be lonely. But this is an over-simplification of something all children will go through at some point or another. Throughout their childhood, there will be equal amounts, of sibling rivalry and sibling love. And equal amounts of boredom and loneliness in both only children and those with brothers or sisters.

The famous quote ‘You can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends’ is very apt in this conversation. Just because you decide to have more than one child does not mean they will get on with each other in life. It does not mean they will want to play together when they are little or stay in regular contact when older. This is something to factor in when deciding on the benefits of having only one child.

Will an only child shoulder the burden of looking after elderly parents?

This is a real issue and a reason why China decided in 2021 to allow couples to have more than one child. The population was ageing and with people living longer, there would have been no one to look after the elderly. But is it a child’s responsibility to look after their parents when they are no longer able to take care of themselves?

This is another loaded question and one with good points on both sides of the conversation. Think about your parents, how you feel about them and the question of taking care of them when they are infirm. Now think about your child and whether you want or think they should do the same for you. Tough decision, isn’t it?

These people brought you into the world. Nurtured you through your formative years and loved you unconditionally. Well, that’s the theory anyway. So shouldn’t you show that in return by returning the favour when they are not able to look after themselves?

If you had two children, then they could share this responsibility, both the physical and mental work. But it is also true that whether or not your child is an only child or has a sibling, the majority of elderly people are ultimately cared for by professionals. You have to work and may have children of your own. Having parents cared for by professionals means you have time to visit them, are less stressed, know your parent is being looked after and have more money to take them on days out.

benefits of having only one child

More time for a single child

A parent’s time is proportioned out during the week. Certain days have more free hours in them but they nearly all involve activities with their child, along with their jobs. School, clubs, friends, days out etc. Parents with more than one child have less time and often, their lives are no longer their own. They are consumed by contrasting schedules, and hours spent ferrying to this club or to that tutor.

With just one child, there is time after all the activities to just be together. To cook together, play games together, read together etc. And, very importantly, there is time left over for yourself. A child has to learn to be bored and not be entertained all the time. They have to learn to enjoy their own company and not sit in the car constantly being ferried somewhere. This is one of the big benefits of having only one child.

Financial Benefits of having only one child

With more than one child, parents have to be able to afford everything, twice over. With just one child, the wage can stretch further. Whether you have a two-parent household or one, the money lasts longer. Whether it is going to a theme park, going abroad, visiting somewhere cultural or something else, a single child quite possibly has more experiences.  

Independent learning

Although we are not always working, there are times we cannot spend time with our children. Housework, cooking, and paying bills all take up our time. As does having our own time and space. Hence,  children learn how to think, entertain, and amuse themselves. This also includes homework. Having the peace of a house with just one child helps. If your child needs adult help, be available to give it but they also need to learn to do a lot of learning by themselves.

Strong bond

The bond between an only child and a parent can be an intense one. You are each other’s company and sounding board. If your child is hurt, physically or mentally they come to you. If they are in a temper, it resonates with you. When you are happy or sad, they know it. There is no other adult to diffuse the situation or talk to. Once they become pre-teens, they start to be more independent but by then you will have forged a tight bond. Those invisible strings between you will always be there as benefits of having only one child.

Higher self-esteem in only children

Only children tend to have higher self-esteem and better mental health. There is no other child to compete with for their parent’s affection or to pit their intelligence against. They have all of their parent’s attention and will never wonder who their favourite is.

Achievers

As only children tend to be more confident, they are also higher achievers. In their family, there is no other child to compete with so their confidence pushes them forward. With their parent’s attention focused on them, they benefit from the extra attention of being an only child and will attempt to achieve more.

How to be happy with just one child

The decision to have just one child is sometimes a conscious one but can also be one that is made for you. Fertility issues, older parents, a breakdown of relationships or choice can cause an only-child family. Whatever the reason, it is a family type to embrace. If you are looking at the benefits of having only one child, I hope this has helped you in your journey. Cherish whatever family type you end up with as there is no right or wrong, just whatever is right for your family. Ignore stereotypes and continue being the best parent you can be.