In Defence Of The ‘One And Done’ Mum – Ending The Stigma Around Having One Child By Choice.

We’ve come a long way as a society when it comes to social etiquette. Most of us now know it’s super insensitive, impolite, and intrusive to ask a woman why she hasn’t had kids, or ask unmarried couples why they haven’t tied a knot. But there’s one niggly social faux pas that hasn’t quite been fully extinguished just yet, and that’s asking women who have one child ‘when’ they are planning on having another one. I’m sure many of us have experienced this it at one point, and as well meaning and benign it may appear on the surface, it’s actually seriously annoying, and shows a complete lack of sensitivity and awareness of social boundaries. There are a multitude of reasons why women choose to only have one child. Perhaps they had a traumatic birthing or post-natal experience and feel ill-equipped to deal with it again. Perhaps it’s due to lack of financial resources. Perhaps they have fertility issues or had children later in life and are unable to have additional children. Or just maybe, they’ve always envisioned just having one child, and that’s more than adequate to make their family complete. Each reason is valid.  And although they don’t owe anyone an explanation, here are some of the things that women who choose to have one child wants the world to know…

Being an only child doesn’t make them spoilt

One of the prevailing stereotypes of only children is that of the spoilt, irrational brat a la Veruca Salt who is so used to his/her parents tending to their every whim that they struggle to regulate their bad behaviour. This is an outdated belief that needs to be eradicated. A parent’s ability to raise a child who has all the qualities we deem as desirable in society – kindness, consideration for others, integrity – has nothing to do with the number of times you choose to give birth, and everything to do with the values you instil in that child as an individual. In fact, studies show that children often benefit from having a parent’s undivided attention in a positive manner which manifests in them having a healthy self-esteem, emotional intelligence and a strong sense of identity.

It’s not a selfish decision

Ahh, this old chestnut. I’m pretty sure parents raising their single child have either heard this expressed to them explicitly or implied in one way or another. First of all, we have to get past this notion that a 2 parent 2.5 children household is the only paradigm for a healthy, functioning family. Single child families are equally as beautifully enriched as those with larger numbers. Furthermore, I think we can all agree that the decision to have another child should be determined by the woman and man involved and nobody else. Having another child simply because society says you should, or you feel guilty because your fear your single child will suffer, is a one course to emotional turmoil, and potential underlying resentment for the child that was conceived as a result of other peoples’ expectations.

Only child doesn’t = lonely!

There’s another outdated belief that only children tend to be lonely and in turn struggle in social settings when among other children due the absence of a sibling. Again, this is another misconception. Single children are often able to form friendships and bonds with people of all ages. Going back to that confidence/ self-esteem thing – single children are often used to entering social spaces and having to make an effort to befriend other children on their own, which let’s face it, is something that even us as adults struggle with. Furthermore, studies show that only children spending time alone has many positives in terms of creativity and imagination, and they quickly become adept at learning how to keep themselves entertained independent of others.

Having one child gives parents financial stability

Let’s keep it 100% real – having children is bloody expensive, and is likely to be a huge factor when it comes to those who choose to have just one child. And who can blame them? The cost of childcare continues to rocket, with the average cost of a full-time nursery place for a child under two is a little over £13,700. And when it comes to the average cost of raising a child from birth to 18, according to Child Poverty Action Group parents can expect to fork out £71,611 for a couple family and if you are a lone parent family a staggering £97,862. Add to that, there still remains a motherhood tax that lingers in society, with women who have children facing disadvantages relating to salary, hiring discrimination, lack of promotion, and having to bear the brunt when it comes to childcare and managing the home. So, with that said, it’s hardly surprising that families are shrinking and the choice to have one and done is becoming more and more desirable for many women. So instead of casting judgment against women for choosing to only have one child maybe as a society we need to start looking inwardly and consider the reasons why.