One-and-Done? Maybe Reconsider.


Once I read an article stating that the closest relationship any people would have is that of a sibling relationship. I thought about this for awhile and then decided that it made sense despite never experiencing this type of relationship myself.

Due to extenuating circumstances, I am an only child. But if your family is like mine; settled, healthy and stable, I ask that this is not a path you choose for your child.

As an only child, what I ask of you is to reconsider if you are choosing to only have one child. 

There are several things that I will be deficient in for my entire life. I don’t mean the standard trope of only child spoilage.

As a child, I was my mother’s constant focus. I had a lack of constant play companions. I did not have a need to learn how to communicate effectively. I did not have instances of not getting my way in ways of play. I did not learn to cope with frustration. I did not have someone to stay up late with, to be naughty with. I did not have a teammate or a best friend. 

As an adult, I won’t be able to talk to another person who had the same childhood culture I had. There won’t be another person to call and say, “you will not believe the conversation I just had with mom”. There won’t be another person who just GETS IT. 

I have a great number of cousins, but as an only child, my daughter only has a network of faux aunts and uncles. There are no real defined roles or relationships. Choosing godparents is exhausting and I constantly think about who will take my children in if my husband and I die young.

I will have no support (other than my husband’s) as my mother gets older and her health declines. When my own grandmother got sick, her children had each other for support. They made decisions together. They divided the responsibilities that needed to be handled. They didn’t all agree with every decision, but no one sibling had to do everything themselves. When my grandmother died they had each other to go through that process with too.

I will not have that. As an adult, the thought of my mother getting old stresses me out immensely. Not because death causes anxiety–I am perfectly accepting of death, but because everything will be my responsibility as her only child. 

I know all of this is a “perfect world” situation. I know not everyone loves his or her siblings. I know not everyone has dependable siblings. I know siblings die. I know it would be much easier to raise my daughter than try to raise many children. But that isn’t the life I want for her. I’m not telling you how to plan your family, I just want others to consider the perspective of someone who had the “one-and-done” life before they make that decision.

What are your thoughts on having one or more children? Comment below.



  1. This is an interesting perspective! I have 4 myself, and never really considered having only one, but I had never thought of any of these considerations.

  2. I was an only child too. I also wish I had a sibling. I was just talking with Jesse today how spoiled I was and I feel like I missed out on having some life skills because I didn’t have a sibling.

  3. I was an only child and while some of the things you mention are true for me (no one to remember childhood with, or share common family experiences with, all of the responsibility for my mother when she ages) I never felt lacking growing up. Being an only child forced me to make friends. I had great friends and had plenty of opportunities for things not to go my way and to learn communication skills. I see plenty of friends struggle and fight with their siblings or not even talk to them. At least I don’t have that. And I won’t have to fight with anyone over what decisions I make about my mother when and if the time comes. I did decide to have two children, though with 11 years apart they are almost like two only children in a way. But if we had only had one, I would have been okay with that too. I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both, like everything in life.

  4. I completely agree! I have four and often talk of having more because of most of what you’ve said…. the more companions I can give them…siblings to help them through life— the more allies the better! XO thanks for sharing!

  5. There are several only child scenarios in my family. And you know what? It is what it is. There is good and bad in all birth order situations. To single out the singles is one sided. Only children typically are very outgoing and friendly as the only way they make friends is to just go out and find them! Sometimes siblings rely so much on their brothers and sisters to provide friendship and entertainment that they are too shy and even intimidated by people outside of their immediate family.

    As far as being worried about your parents aging process, pray that it happens at all! At least you still have your parents around as you all get older. What if you lost your parents at a very young age? What if your siblings refused to help with your aging parents?

    My point is an only child is not a curse. Having siblings is not a curse. You are in the situation you are in and a mature, intelligent, grown up simply adjusts and moves forward.

  6. My child is an only child. We became parents late in life after fertility issues. We most likely will not be having another. Thankfully my brothers son is the same age and being as close as we are, his son is more like a brother than a cousin. I know that my dear one will have to make some tough choices later in life but I am confident that raising him in a church community will allow him to create lasting bonds outside of our biological family. I am not worried.

    • I agree with Monica! We are seriously considering having only one child… and I’m not worried about that choice. I also have friends who grew up as only children and are also planning on only having only one child.

      The truth is even if you have a sibling (which I do) it does not mean you will be able to depend on them later in life or in childhood (Which I can’t and didn’t).

  7. I hear your opinion and appreciate it, but disagree for my own family. I too, am an only child, and I absolutely loved it! I never felt alone, had cousins and friends to socialize with, but got to go home and have that world too. It’s so important to me that my daughter be an only child because I want her to have that same experience too.
    My dad died 10 days after my daughter got home from the hospital (after a 3 month NICU stay), and he was hospitalized for half of her hospital stay too. It can be a lot to balance, but honestly, I appreciated doing that alone too. In my opinion it was less stressful to know that I was able to think about what my dad wanted and make those decisions.

  8. My parents created a community for me with tons of their friends with children. We have a shared history and I had a rich full childhood and all of those same friends help me care for my mother when she has been ill. I have several best friends that know exactly what I mean when I call to talk about my parents. A bonus is I am best friends with both of my parents, as we had a lot of time for me, and now for my kids. Creating an enriching life full of friendship, community and love is something anyone can do with intention, generosity and openness. I decided to have two children but because I wanted them. I encourage those who only want one to create the life you envision that brings you joy. That happiness will fill your kids with confidence and they will create their own little families, as I did. I think this article should be titled, why I hated being an only child rather than trying to convince a family who has made a choice question themselves.

  9. Sorry that you missed out on the romantic notion that you think having sibling brings. I am one of 2 myself but am also a one and done. Not for a moment did I consider my sibling a suitable guardian for my child should the worst happen to me and my husband. I’m also quite distrusting of how things are going to to pan out when my parents eventually pass away as I suspect I will be doing all the organising and said sibling will swoop in at the end expecting their share, having done nothing prior to this. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t bad blood between me and my sibling, we’re just not that close and I’ve seen their true colours over time. I’m not justifying the fact that I’m one and done (I feel no need to), just pointing out that siblings aren’t necessarily playmates, best friends or even people you would put before your close friends.

  10. My husband is happy as an only child. I have always had a difficult relationship with my brother that makes me so very sad because I’m always longing for more and he’s just a jerk. My husband and i decided a long time ago to have one child and we have never regretted our decision. I don’t appreciate others telling us that we should have more than 1 child. That’s our personal decision. Go make as many babies as you want (you don’t see us telling you not to!) but we are very happy with our one and the wonderful lifestyle that goes along with it.

  11. What? Actually yes you are telling people how to plan their family. At the same time as you are hurting people for whom it is not a choice. As well as assuming that everyone in the world shares the same personality/family/experiences as you. Ridiculous, untrue, shortsighted, unthinking, callous article! Please reconsider your communication skills!

  12. Maybe you need to think deep and hard as to why your family is settled, healthy and stable–because there’s only ONE child! Would it be as settled, healthy and stable with more children? I don’t think so! You dont get to tell people to have more kids. Your article shows that you are just like most people, drinking the societal kool aid and pressuring others to have more children. Very misleading. A LOT of family i know who followed suggestion like yours ended up living in welfare. Also, A LOT of women want to be good moms and able to give the best quality of life for their child but also have the ability to live their lives to the fullest, and not all want to be stay at home moms of multiples or broodmares. How many family of multiples can afford a spontaneous ski trip? Or 2-3 vacations a year? Yup, exactly!

  13. Having siblings doesn’t mean that you have someone to go through life with. It doesn’t mean that they will share the care of aging parents. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. I have 2 brothers and none of us speak to the other. Once they were out of the house my parents and I were an afterthought to them. They both came home for our fathers funeral but left as soon as it was over. Neither have been home since and that was 10 years ago. I have 2 daughters and I hope they have a better relationship with each other than I have with their uncles but life is uncertain and each will choose their path. When families are one and done it’s for a variety of reasons and those reasons should be respected. When families have more than one child it’s for a variety of reasons and those reasons should be respected.

  14. 1st off – I am an only and I am raising and only. Your article is just your opinion… so as an only, how does that give you any credibility to tell other families not to have an only? You have no clue what it would have been like to have a sibling. Not every sibling relationship is as rosy as you picture in your mind… I only have to look at my extended family and also my husband’s side, to see how true that is. Not one healthy Norman Rockwell sibling relationship there. You should be raising up mothers, one child or 10… it’s a travesty that you feel you have to judge others because of your short comings, which has nothing to do with being an only child. I feel sorry for you.

  15. I am not an only child but my childhood best friend was one. After having my first child, I was not keen on a second round of pregnancy/newborn issues. However, I couldn’t shake all the conversations during childhood and even in adulthood when she expressed her loneliness and desire for a sibling relationship like I had with my sister and brother. I knew that I didn’t want my daughter to feel that way her entire life. I know many perfectly happy satisfied onlys but my best friend’s experience convinced me to have that second child…my sweet little boy! ?

  16. Hi there—
    I see you getting negative feedback all over the place, but haven’t seen anyone respond to your best point—help with the aging parents. I know It’s our cultural norm that parents should have saved up enough money to NOT have their kids help them, but money doesn’t buy emotional support. I watched my grandfather and grandmother slowly pass away for 10 years and my mom and aunt be there for them the whole time. That is a long, long time and I dont Know how they could have done it without each other and my uncles for support. You never know what life will bring, but I cant imagine the struggle of loving and taking care of an aging parent by yourself. Your words on that are spot on.

    • So, you say having two is going to make the parents death better? What if both children die before the parent dies? What if the siblings don’t like each other?

      How about we all do what we think is best for our families? You have a basketball team and I will stick to my only and call it good?

  17. Many people don’t have an only child by choice. Personally I put enough guilt and blame on myself that my child does not have a sibling.

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