Raising an only child

Google ‘moms of only children’ and you’ll get 216 million (literally) results. And, in many of those results (126 000, give or take), you’ll encounter phrases like ‘mommy-shaming’, ‘only child mom guilt’, and ‘sancti-mommies’.

It’s all very us-and-them.

Much like the stay-at-home-moms vs the worker-bee-moms. The breast-feeders vs the bottle-feeders. The co-sleepers vs the cry-it-outers. And, G-d help us all, the vaccinators vs those utter lunatics who choose not to vaccinate. But that’s another article for another time. Maybe.

For now, let’s address the fact that there are loads of mommies (and daddies) out there who have chosen to have an only child. For loads of reasons. And many are fed up with the questions and the comments.

But I’m not.

So I’m gonna come right out and say it:

I enjoy being challenged on our family’s one-child choice.

Here’s why:

I’m a contrary somebody. I’m known for saying, out loud, the things that other people think and then keep to themselves. So it amuses me to shock a bunch of collected parents with, “Just the one. Yes, really. I’m a one-hit wonder. Factory’s closed. No, we had no fertility problems. Yes, I’m sure. Having done it once, why would anyone do it more than once?”

Smug tree-hugging is funI enjoy reminding people of the gross overpopulation plaguing our world. Of our grotesque ecological footprint. Of the myriad ways in which we abuse our environment and consume more resources than we should. Hence: an only child is enough. In real life, my tree-hugginess only extends to recycling, veggie gardening and camping. That’s about it. But this is still a fun conversation. I told you, I’m a contrary somebody.

There’s some boasting. Inevitably, at some point in the “Why only one child?” conversation, I’ll get to remind people what an obscenely expensive private school my daughter goes to. Why work yourself to the bone to earn enough to send your kid to one of Joburg’s priciest schools, if you can’t cite the eye-watering fees as justification for an only child?

There’s more boasting. My husband and I get a lot of time off. Like, a lot. We see adult movies (not adult ‘adult’ movies; just grown-up movies). We eat out regularly, and not at the Spur. And I have a weekly hair appointment. To which I can easily take my only child if she feels like tagging along. She’s good at keeping herself entertained. And we’re used to, and exceptionally skilled at, sharing our daughter with her favourite adults. Okay, out-sourcing her*.

But seriously, here’s the main reason: Our family is complete with one child. In our vision of ourselves, we don’t see more children.

Yes, our daughter may have loved a sibling. But she doesn’t have one. So she’s going to love not having one, and having all of her parents – love, time, attention, resources – instead. That’s the way it is. And that’s the part I like explaining most.

* Disclaimer: Irony aside, I’m proud of our only child, her grit, and her self-sufficiency. And I’m even prouder of the ‘village’ we have worked hard to cultivate. So she gets out-sourced. And she loves it.

This article was originally written for Jozikids by Tiffany Markman in 2019.

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Author

Tiffany Markman

Tiffany Markman

Tiffany Markman is a copywriter, speaker, trainer and mom. She was South Africa’s Freelance Copywriter of the Year in 2020 and one of the world’s ‘Top 50 Female Content Marketers’ in 2021, but she's still working on securing an award for her Mommying. She likes her coffee strong and black, her paragraphing short and tight, and her apostrophes in all the right places. Visit her website.

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11 Responses

  1. I am also a mother to an “only child”.All the questions about not having more is annoying,then their eyes pop when they find out where my son attends school,yes,it’s because he is an only child,then comes the question of boredom,he has toys,he has his books,he has us,we take him to the park,he has a social life.I am a happy proud mommy to one.

      1. My little 1 is only 6 months and boy oh boy, the questions are annoying! I am very happy with him. He is the light in my heart. I am sure I will not be having another but everyone tries to persuade me otherwise at every opportunity! And the looks of horror when I simply say “No thanks!” make me laugh so much!

  2. I am a one-child mom of a 14 yr old boy. It is almost unheard of in African culture. Most people who hear we have one kid lecture us on why it is ‘wrong’. It’s annoying but I always laugh it off telling them ‘Another kid? There’s only 3 dinner plates at my house!’

  3. Loved this article!! If I had a rand for every time I hear ‘just the one?’ I could take myself on a mega shopping spree! 🙂 I loved the smug tree-hugging and I must mention that the next time I’m asked – I usually say, well, I’ve had the perfect child so why bother having more! 🙂 I have the most wonderful 13 year old who is quietly confident, witty, bright and loving. He has asked for siblings before but we lead a very busy life as my husband works for a church so he gets to see a lot of other kids and we make sure we set him up on ‘play dates’ when he asks. And yes, he does go to a private school! (Interestingly, at his primary school he had 3 friends in his group who were also only children). A very happy mom of one!

  4. Thanx so much for this post. As a mom of only one, this topic is on my mind all the time. Quite literally: all. the. time.

    I even wrote a blog post on being plagued with the questions.

    What I find hardest is that I know I’m making the right choice yet I doubt myself. I’m constantly thinking of things/scenarios that will impact him negatively when he is old (what if my hubby & I both die young, what if he is alone when he is old, what if he ends up being quirky because he is an only child).

    So, I am really grateful to read about your boasting & smug tree-hugging. x

    1. My flippancy aside, I do occasionally worry about her future. But honestly I can’t justify having a second child so that my first child has a reserve. Or as a friend for her. Or because 2,4 children is ‘the norm’. I’m so glad you like my article 😉 Thank you. And in response to your question, ‘What if he ends up being quirky because he is an only child?’, well, that’s what we’re *hoping* for ours. That she’s (going to continue to be) quirky and eccentric and independent and resilient and strong. For us, that’s first prize. Hands down.

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