Families over the past couple of years have undoubtedly been shrinking. Some may call it the smaller family trend, but most people will chalk it up to living expenses being higher and expectations of children being more demanding. These days, we invest more in to our children than anything else in life. It’s become the norm and most people wouldn’t argue against this. After all, investing in our children is like investing in to the future. We hope that they’ll live a long and fulfilling life and that if we ever encounter misfortune that they can continue the family and look after us when we’re old and frail.
Of course, everyone has their own idea of what it means to have and raise children. Some parents have children so they can find meaning in their life and give themselves a purpose to strive for, while others want to continue their family name and legacy, such as having an heir to succeed them and take over their family business.
There are many reasons to have children, but one thought that often plagues the minds of parents is the guilt of having just a single child.
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Why do parents feel guilty?
First, let’s get to the bottom of the reason why parents feel guilty about having an only child.
- The feel it’s their fault that they aren’t financially able to have another child – Money is one of the biggest factors that determines if it’s a good or bad idea to raise another child. Let’s face it; unless you have multiple sources of income or just a single large one, you won’t be able to raise multiple children and still provide them with a good upbringing. Having money is vital to raising kids and many parents will feel guilty that they’re unable to financially provide for several children.
- They think that their child will grow up lonely because they have no siblings – It’s common to think that an only child will grow up lonely in the house. Having no siblings could mean that their child spends a lot of time at home on their own, and it also means that the parent needs to step in to act as the “sibling” so they have someone to talk to, play with and interact with on the regular basis.
- They simply can’t afford a larger home to house several children – In addition to feeling financially inadequate, many parents feel like their home is a burden to their family because it’s too small. It’s no surprise at families need larger houses in order to raise multiple children, so parents that live in smaller apartments and houses can often feel guilty that they aren’t able to provide more space for their kids.
- They want to continue their career and build a better future for their first child – Let’s face it; many parents these days aren’t just focused on their children. They no longer want to raise their child with the intention of having someone take care of them when they’re older. Instead, they want to be more independent and this means carving a career path that allows them to make their own decisions. Most people don’t realize just how time-consuming having a child can be and it ends up eating away at their career until they eventually have to give up on their dreams, especially if they have multiple children.
As you can see, the guilt stems from three main points; financial inadequacy, loneliness and personal interests. However, these are all valid and logical arguments for not having multiple children, so there’s really no need to feel guilty. To help you out more, we’re going to discuss a couple of points to help you overcome that guilt and feel proud that you’ve even decided to raise a family in the first place.
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1. Only children aren’t lonely
Whether it’s celebrating events, going to the cinema or even playing video games over the internet, children aren’t exactly lonely anymore even if they’re an only child. Technology has given us countless ways to connect online, meaning your child could grow up having friends all across the world and can always stay in touch with their friends at school. You no longer have to physically visit someone in order to hang out, and there are many ways to be social over the internet to ensure your child isn’t lonely.
In addition, your child has you! You’re not only a parent to your child, but also their best friend and role model. Your kids probably look up to you and will take inspiration from you, so set a good example by getting rid of that guilt and focusing on how you can make your child a happier and healthier kid.
2. Less financial pressure means a better quality of life
While some people would prefer to have several children, there’s no doubt that having a single child means that you have less financial pressure weighing you down and that ultimately means a better lifestyle for your only child.
We spend thousands per year clothing, educating and feeding our kids, so it only makes sense that we’d be able to provide an improved quality of life for our only child because we’re not forced to split our income among several kids in an attempt to provide for all of them equally. Instead, we can focus on treating our one child and deliver a happier and healthier lifestyle.
3. Friendships are arguably just as important
People often underestimate just how important it is to have good friends that will stay with you forever. An only child learns early in life that family bonds aren’t the strongest in life and it’s close friends that can serve as a second family. These friends will be important throughout the life of your child but it also teaches them something else; social skills.
Through making friends at school, your child will learn vital social skills that will be important throughout the rest of their life. They’ll learn how to take initiative when meeting people and they’ll understand the importance of maintaining good relationships, but they’ll also learn how to make a stand for themselves and argue their point should they feel threatened or ridiculed. It teaches them vital communication skills that will help in many different aspects of life, hence why friendships are just so important.
4. Improved relationships with relatives
Being an only child means that your kid will likely grow up appreciating the company of their cousins, uncles and aunts more. This means building a stronger relationship with distant relatives, strengthening the family bond and bridging different generations within your family.
An only child will grow very close other relatives because during a family situation such as a meetup or a celebration, they’re given the chance to interact with relatives instead of just playing with their brother or sister. Anytime you reunite, your child will be more likely to engage in conversations with relatives and be surrounded by a loving family that they feel comfortable with.
Hopefully, these few points have convinced you that you don’t need to feel guilty about having a single child and that there are actually many advantages to having just one child.
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Reaffirming your resolve
Now that you understand why parents feel guilty about having an only child and how you can overcome it, it’s time to reaffirm that resolve.
First, consider taking safety measures to ensure you don’t have another child. This could mean using protection when being intimate with your partner or even considering a vasectomy to make absolutely sure that you don’t have another child. These safety measures should be a guarantee that you aren’t forced to deal with a sudden and unexpected pregnancy.
Next, make sure you do everything you can to give your child the life that they deserve. Spend more time with them, treat them to nice things (but don’t spoil your child!) and be the role model that they need to look up to. Give them the freedom to express themselves how they want and support them in whatever endeavours they chase in life. You need to give your child all the love that they deserve and then some extra on top.
Don’t be too restrictive of what your child can and cannot do either. While you should obviously be wary of bullies and kids that are a little too rowdy, you shouldn’t restrict them from making friends and you should always give them the freedom to hang out with who they want as long as it’s not causing any negative effects or bad influences.
In short, having a single child should not overwhelm parents with guilt. While it’s very common to feel guilty and you have plenty of reason to, there are many ways to overcome it and also reaffirm your resolve and love for your only child. Hopefully, this article has explained that very clearly and has given you a new way to look at your family.