Minimalist Family: Is One Child Enough?

If you’ve been following my blog lately, you know that I recently gave birth to my first child—a beautiful baby girl I call Plumblossom.

My husband and I waited a long time before deciding to settle down and procreate—so long, in fact, that my medical chart bore the lovely, geriatric-sounding “Advanced Maternal Age” label.

Which brings me to the subject of this week’s post… With my biological clock ticking (fast), DH and I need to make a decision soon as to whether we’re “one and done” or ready to try for another. It’s a tough call to make in the midst of first-time parenting sleep deprivation; however, we don’t have the luxury of waiting until Plumblossom is out of diapers to ponder a possible sibling.

Whenever I’ve imagined myself as a mother, it’s generally been to one child. In part, it’s because I’d like to resume our unstructured, nomadic lifestyle once our daughter is a little older; and it seems that planning around the needs, whims, and moods of one child would be much easier than two. We’d be able to devote our full attention and resources to her, and someday bestow on her a travel fund instead of struggling to put multiple children through college.

And yes, it seems more minimalist—with one child, we could get by with less stuff, smaller spaces, and fewer time commitments (be they doctor’s appointments, school activities, etc.).

On the other hand, I’ve seen the wonderful sibling interaction among my friends’ kids, and worry that Plumblossom may spend too many lonely hours wishing for a little brother or sister.

Both my husband and I have siblings, and therefore no experience with what it’s like to be an only child. So this week, instead of posting any words of wisdom or advice, I’m asking you for yours.

I know some of you will advise me to leave it to fate—a charming idea, to be sure, but one I’m not entirely comfortable with when it comes to major, life-altering decisions.

What I’d really like to hear are your experiences: did you decide to have just one child (or more) and why? What are the pros and cons to having (or being) an only child? Do you find minimalism becomes more challenging with each addition, or do shared possessions make for a greater “economy of stuff”?

Thanks in advance to all who respond–I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

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  3. Clean Slate Part 2: Bundle of Joy

389 comments to Minimalist Family: Is One Child Enough?

  • Viky

    I’m another only child who was very lonely and as an adult have had to deal with my father’s estate on my own and now have sole responsibility for my mother’s wellbeing. I wholeheartedly agree that whatever any of us thinks is irrelevant, but share my thoughts so that if you decide to stick with one, all of the lessons we’e learned may be of use. I have two girls who are close and I wouldn’t change a thing. Best wishes as you make a decision!

  • Shirley Do

    FRANCINE JUST FOLLOW YOUR HEART.

  • April

    I am a long time reader of your blog (but first time commenter), and I’m struggling with this exact issue. My husband and I have one son. In many ways, we’re very happy with one. We don’t have as many costs, so we can spend less time earning money and more time together. We don’t have as much stuff as larger families. We also value the quiet and the alone time we each get; we love together time, but my husband and I are both introverts and also enjoy having some alone time while the other does something special with our son. But we also really worry about him being an only. I don’t worry about the stereotypes of onlies being selfish or maladjusted – I think there’s plenty of evidence out there that this isn’t the case. I do worry about him resenting his onlyhood as an adult. One of my closest friends is an only and while she loves her parents, she’s deeply convinced she missed out on one of the most important experiences of most peoples’ lives by not having a sibling. I have one brother, and we aren’t particularly close, so I’m not as convinced a sibling is going to necessarily provide a close relationship. But I do worry that many onlies feel they missed out on something. That said, we probably will stop at one; I think it’s the right decision for us. One book I have found very helpful in thinking about raising an only is Maybe One by Bill McKibben. Good luck whatever you decide!

  • cecilly

    I’m the oldest of 5, and I can’t imagine life as an only child. I have a baby daughter now, and even though I’m not looking forward to raising more babies, I hope for another child (or two) just so she’ll grow up with siblings.

    If you and your husband want another child, go for it!!

  • Glenda

    I LOVED being an only child & my parents were older when I was born. My Mom was 35 & my Dad was 33. My Mom passed away when I was 15 & so it was just me & Dad. I miss my mother, but my Dad was and still is an AMAZING father. I had to move him to a nursing home last year & he is just 7 minutes from me & about the same from my daughter. I was NEVER lonely as I have always loved to read & always had lots of friends & family around. Yes we traveled and I was able to go to private school. My children are “technically” my stepchildren I have a daughter, 24, and a son 14 & I am a widow. I have a 5 year old granddaughter & I love my life and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I got married when I was 35 & my husband passed 7 years later. Life as with parenting Francine is WHAT YOU MAKE IT, simple as that. With the lifestyle you & your husband live, one child seems perfect & with the adventures they will have, I am excited for Plumblossom!!!

  • Have 2, but 4 U, follow your

    I have two, wished I had 3. I started late on the whole baby thing. Only children do not suffer. If given plenty of opportunity to be with other children, especially cousins and such, they don’t lack for social skills. They are often more mature, because they are around adults most of the time. They tend to be quite successful as well.

    Only children may have too much attention/scrutiny from parents, as everything they do can get so magnified. It can be a catalyst for rebellion or anxiety amplifying. But, if parents are relaxed, it can be just fine. As you and your husband age, Plumblossom may be very happy to have a sibling help her with decisions about your care, etc. Yes, that day will eventually come.

    I think you will LOVE however many children you do have, and you will think it’s the perfect number for you when it happens. So, don’t stress. Either answer will be correct. I can’t imagine life without my two, and I would have had 1 more, but had a miscarriage. Parenthood is amazing. I guess you just have to decide if what you are minimizing for it to make more space for someone to love and to share a life with. Know that either choice will not be detrimental to Plumblossom’s life/development/happiness.

  • Jane T

    My elder children are two years apart. They grew up together and were always close; rarely squabbled; and were each other’s friend. As an Army family we moved a lot and they always had each other, and I believe they always will. Seven years after the 2nd child, we had another when I was almost 37. He was welcomed with much joy, too. I tend to think that, at a future time, you would be glad to make a decision to have another child. Expect to be very tired and busy for a few years. It is a precious gift, and not just to the parents. Plumblossom and her sibling will be a gift to each other, too, and long after you’re gone.

  • jennifer p

    im looking at this in two ways.i am an only child of divorced parents and have always wanted a sibling.while there are benefits to being an only child more attention,more resources. one of the down sides are that the resposibility and things that i will have to handle as my parents age is only on my shoulders and thats scary.also i imagine with a sibling it would have been nice to have that person to talk to and who went through the same family experiences and someone to count on and to shoulder some of the resposibilities.
    i am also looking at it from the side of being a mother.i am 39 not married yet with no children.so the window of having a bioloical child is is closing and i dont know if i am going to be able to have children.if i cant have them biologically i could always adopt. these are big issues to think about.obviously you and your husband will make the best decision for yourselves.im am just letting you know some of my thoughts on this topic.

  • I spent a very long, lonely childhood as an only child…something that I decided my child would never have to bare.

    So when I had my first child, there was no question I would have a second…so that they could have each other.

  • Amzeb

    I have three children – 12, 10, and 7. Watching them interact with each other is one of the single greatest joys of my life.

  • Mia

    I planned to only have one child and the second pregnancy was a mistake. I thought I can’t handle another doctor visits, sleepless nights and other baby nightmares. It turned out to be one of the best things happened in my life. Both my children radiate joy and happiness.

    As for your nomadic life, I think you can fit them in . Children are portable and they learn a lot from travel. They need structure but it can be simplified. Children also need flexibility. Besides that they are fun to be around. You will move a lot less but it can be a good thing. You can learn to slow down. it will be challenging situation because you won’t be bare bone minimalist. you will add more stuff to your life and need to pack more when travel. maybe stroller can be handy. is it worth it to have one more child? only you know.

  • Lauren

    I do not have children, so I am basing this on my own experience growing up. I haven’t read all the comments but wanted to provide another view from most of the ones I did read.

    I have two siblings but we have very different personalities so my childhood was still lonely as we did not get along. Even now in my 30s, I haven’t spoken to one in nearly 10 years and very rarely speak to the other. I have a wonderful mother so it’s not anything to do with parenting, they are simply people I do not choose to associate with outside of family obligations. I have often felt it would be easier to be an only child, as I wouldn’t feel guilty for not having “normal” relationships with them.

    So in my opinion, I wouldn’t have another child solely because you feel you might be depriving your daughter of a sibling relationship. Sadly, there’s no guarantee she’ll get one. But if you have other reasons, or your family feels incomplete, listen to your heart and that will be the right decision for you. Good luck.

  • Of course there’s no right or wrong, which makes it all the harder to figure out what you want to do.
    My grandmother is the second eldest, and eldest daughter, of 9. My mom is an only child, I am an only child, my husband’s grandma was an only child and his mother is an only child. My dad and his brothers are all 8 years apart in age, my husband and his brother are 8 years apart in age. We have three daughters, 7 and 5 years apart in age. My grandchildren (so far) are 3 years apart in age. Just saying – the only scenario I don’t know about personally is having two or more kids in the more common 18ths/2 yrs apart, both in nappies and demanding attention, except most of my friends had that! Oh, and one of my sons-in-law is the eldest of 8 – a wonderful and very close family I admire hugely. There’s always been that fascination with big families for me!

    From an adult point of view, with hindsight and knowing other’s “only child” scenarios, a lot seems to depend on your environment. I was moved around a lot and my parents had few friends with children, so I grew up very adult-orientated, well-travelled, multilingual and fairly independent, something I don’t really think was ideal – for me. I think I would have liked siblings, though my dad wouldn’t have been a great multi-kid parent, so perhaps it’s good the way it is. My mom grew up in a stable environment in a street with 8 houses where every other house had 2 or more kids – a whole gang of them grew up together like cousins and she never missed having siblings at all and is still friends with them in her 70s.

    Long-term, my mother and my MIL were both solely responsible for their parents resp. their widowed mothers. My (divorced) mom has given up her life completely at the moment to care for her 96 yr old mother so that granny can stay in her own home as long as is at all possible – this has meant moving back to her childhood home from abroad for the duration, giving up a busy and sociable life of great independence and much travel in order to spend almost 24/7 in a sweet but tiny English terraced house with the occasional friend or relation dropping in for a cup of tea, quite a burden (which she carries very cheefully, but still…).

    It’s such an individual choice. For myself, I wanted more than one child, but not too close together – the result is I actually have three only children, with the oldest and youngest 12 years apart, more like aunt-niece. (Handy for babysitting sisters and nieces/nephews!) The other thing I must mention is that I had my kids when I was 19-30. I became a grandmother at 43, which is young. It’s not young enough and I really notice how exhausting it is to look after two young children now, aged 47, and I don’t for a moment envy those of my friends who have left babies till their 40s!! So in some ways it also depends on the kids themselves – quieter, calmer kids may be fine to deal with in multiples in your 40s and 50s (teen meets menopause, remember?!) but very lively kids are going to age you pretty fast ;O Much as I love my kids, I am glad the youngest is allowing us to regain some independence and much as I love my grandkids, gosh, I do like to pass them back to my daughter…!!!

  • I have a few friends who have no siblings and many more who come from large families. I know no one over the age of 18 who would wish to be an only child. Do what is right for your family, but a sibling is priceless.

  • Tina

    Yes, one child is absolutely enough. My husband and I always knew we would have one, and we’re so incredibly happy as a family of 3. We don’t need as many physical resources for one child as we would need for more (money, clothes, toys, food–it feels wonderful not to burden the environment with more than necessary) but more importantly we have more time and attention to give our one child–resources he would get less of if we had multiple kids. Our 6-year-old son is quite happy as an only child; one day this year his music teacher jokingly asked him if he’d like a brother or sister (she offered one of her own kids) and he said, “No thank you, my family is perfect as it is.” He is very well-adjusted, conscientious and has many friends. We never doubted that our son would be happy with our little family, as both my mother and mother-in-law are happy, satisfied only children themselves. If you’re intersted in the scientific side of it, research consistently shows that only children are just as well-adusted as children with siblings–in fact they have quite a few advantages over children with siblings when it comes to achievement (you can google it). To us, it just makes sense to have an only child–it coalesces with our philosophy of living lightly and mindfully on the planet and truly enjoying the simple pleasures in life. Best wishes to you!

  • DML

    I had the same issue. Our son, who is now 5, was conceived after we stopped “trying” and gave up on infertility treatments. I’m now 39 years old and we our truly content with one child; however, due to feelings of guilt that our son needs a sibling, I did something I’ve never done before….I went to see a psychic. I made sure not to provide her (the psychic) with information regarding my reason for visiting. I simply said that I want to see if I’m going to have a child. After conducting her “psychic techiques”, she said that she saw babies moving away from me and that my energy was moving towards focuing on myself and pursuing my personal interests and goals. I responded with a sign of relief! She said that when asked the same question by other women, she’s invisioned some actually holding a baby, but this was not the case for me. She also sensed a strong bond between my son and me (I told her that I had a child, but not the gender). A few days later, I made an appt with my gynecologist and got an IUD implanted. Life is good.

  • I didn’t get a sister until I was seven. I was happy as an only child up until then. She and I are not that close…perhaps due to age difference. So in a way I feel like an only child. My mom was an only child and has said her childhood was wonderful.
    Maybe a lot depends on the lifestyle the child is brought up in. If you go out traveling into the world I’m betting your daughter will have plenty to keep her entertained, engaged with life, and fulfilled. But who can say for certain. Children often have different ideas than the parents… good luck. I personally opted for the No kids approach. ;-)

  • Amy

    I would echo what some others have said. My MIL is an only child. She had to give up the last several years of her (and my FIL) life to care for her mother. She was happy to do so. However, it was a huge burden for her. I have watched her age significally over this time. In part due to the physical burden, but also the emotional burden of dealing with all the decisions by herself. It would have been such a comfort to her to have had a sibling to share all of that with. As a side note, as the parent of biological and adopted children. If that ‘clock’ gets stuck I cannot recommend the blessing of adoption highly enough!

  • I have no children myself yet (I’m nearly 29), but I know I’d like to have two children.
    What I wanted to add to the discussion is that, as I reflect on my childhood now (I have actually never thought about it like that before), I am very happy to have a sister. She’s 3 years younger than I am. I’m rather introverted, and she’s more extravert. (As a toddler, she was actually quite a tomboy. When people would ask me – 5 or 6 years old at the time – whether I wouldn’t like to have a little brother, I used to say: no, I already have half one.) So at times we would get along very well, and other times we fought a lot. But in general we got along quite well, and we still do. As a rather introverted child, I think she definitely challenged me to become more open, to interact, to become more verbally ad rem and to stand up for myself. She has definitely played a large part in shaping my character as I grew up. And I am very thankful for that.
    Just follow your heart!

  • Sarah

    Wow. What a bunch of comments! Might as well add my 2 cents.

    I have 4 kids ages 5 and under. We’re done now. :) Life is chaotic at best. Our house is never clean or picked up for long. We have more stuff than I’d like (such as craft supplies- and I hate doing crafts). That being said, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I recently read a post that is definitely worth a read and expresses the sentiment well.

    http://simplemom.net/when-simple-was-easyer/

  • LIz

    Ultimately, the decision is up to you, and whatever decision you make, you WILL get unsolicited opinions on it!

    My husband and I had always said we only wanted one kid. Pretty much literally every time this came up in conversation with friends/coworkers/etc we would hear, “You’ll change your mind, you’ll want a second one…” and it drove me nuts! I have 1 sister, but we’re not close at all, and my husband is an only child (and only grandchild!) and loves it. We always knew if we wanted kids we only wanted one. PERIOD.

    Now, we have changed tracks completely and want no kids. We are child-free and loving it! We still get loads of unsolicited comments, often to the same tune of “You’ll change your mind!” but we just revel in our lazy vacations and sleeping in on weekends, and continue our child-free life!

    I personally think you are right to only want one kid, and there are many many reasons besides minimalism that can guide that choice.

  • Personally, at 37, I plan to remain childfree by choice. I was an only child, plus lost most of my family by age 18.

    You get used to it I suppose. In today’s world, I can only see having 1 child (for those that choose to). This is mostly given the huge expense of child rearing, education/medical costs, time spent raising etc. Of course, if you live out on a farm and want a lot of extra “hands” go for a cool half dozen. :)

    Everyone is different. Some people love a house full of rug-rats, activity and critters. I don’t think I could stand more than a few hours like that, it’s a physical repulsion and invasion of mental well-being.

    I’m sure you’ll make the right decision for you. Your points about providing MORE for 1 child, is a lot easier than providing for multiple kids, not to mention the mental/financial/time requirements.

    • Anna D.

      @Jeff@ Digital Nomad Journey-

      I totally respect your brutal honesty. I NEVER wanted to get married and have kids (although I did get married and have an 8 month old son). That being said, I know I don’t want another child. My son is amazing, but I’m tired of this, “oh, you’ll change your mind,” mentality. I don’t regret my son (sometimes regret my marriage), but truly believe that we have to honor our true-self in the end. *End of rant*

      @Liz (above @Jeff)-

      Nicely said.

  • I am an only child. I was very lonely as a child, but more because my parents were separated and not so much do to lack of siblings. I think an only child(hood) can be very happy and fulfilling as long as you involve your daughter in as many of your projects and activities as possible. On benefit I gained from growing up alone as an advanced maturity. I was more likely to be friends with my teachers and adults than my peers. Whatever you decide has to be right for YOU. If you feel your child is of a personality that company would be best, by all means have a second or third. However only you can know your little miracle that well. Best of luck whatever you decide!

  • new mom

    I am a minimalist, and I just had one baby in my 30s. I am contemplating about having another one, but my spouse thinks it’s too much work. You can still be a minimalist with two kids. Actually other than food and diapers, it’s more economical because clothes, toys, gears, and furniture can be shared between 2 kids. So far all my baby clothes and gears are hand-me-downs either from my older siblings or borrowed from friends whose children outgrew them. If the item is new, we call it “first generation”, then pass onto 2nd user, then it’s “2nd generations” etc. I have a car seat and stroller that is 5th generations (passing down from my siblings.) They are still in great shape and meets the safety criteria.

    I wish I had a child before I turned 30. I am so enjoying motherhood despite the sleep deprivation. I am so glad I found minimalism, or else I’d have gone to graduate school and wasting all that time and money not to mention stress to fulfill the “more/bigger is better” concept in this society.

    I say definitely have another one. Babies are so precious! Don’t stop at one baby just to meet minimalism criteria, the idea of minimalism is to have just enough so we can spend time with our loved ones.

  • Liz

    I was raised with everything I could ever want. I attended private schools my entire life (including college and grad school), went to fantastic summer camps domestically and abroad, traveled extensively with my family, played expensive sports like skiing and ballet…. I feel so lucky that I’ve never known going without. My friends are all very well-to-do and I can’t help but notice how many are only children. 5 of my closest friends are only children. When you have one child, you can “spoil” them rotten with great education and experiences. I think that if my friends’ families had more than one child, they would be going to public school and living a more middle-class lifestyle. For financial reasons alone I think that one child is the way to go.

    • Karen T.

      Sorry – this sort of sounds like a recipe for entitlement and consumerism.

      • Liz

        I’m not sure how this demonstrates consumerism. At summer camp I studied criminology, comparative religion, and deductive reasoning. In high school I lived with a non-English speaking family in South America for a month. I’m starting graduate school to study nursing. My schools taught me to value service, the arts, and intellectual challenge — not material things.

        • M

          Good for you, Liz! I understand the points you are making here. Sounds wonderful! I think that some people who either come from really big families or grow up & create big families sometimes feel a little defensive about some things. I don’t know anything about any of the readers/commenters here personally, but it has been my experience that sometimes in big families, the focus is on being able to provide the basics, not a higher-order intellectual stimulation such as you describe.

          I was lucky in that, although I came from a big family (oldest of 5), my parents placed a high value on education and intellectually-stimulating experiences. We had fun, educational family vacations and enjoyed each other and our experiences. I attended great colleges and have multiple graduate degrees, but I paid for college myself, working while in school, because I knew there were still 4 more at home while I was in college. I think that you can have it both ways, but it does seem to be so much more LIKELY that the fewer the children in a family, the richer the experiences can be had, the fewer the sacrifices, etc. This is especially true with finite resources, as most people have:)

          There is a well-known inverse relationship between the parents’ educational/income level and the number of children they have. The more education someone has, the higher their income likely is, and the fewer the children they likely have. These are conscious decisions, generally, since those with high incomes could probably afford expensive infertility treatments if they wanted more kids and experienced trouble conceiving, etc. I say this in support of Liz’s comments, since what she describes does not strike me as “consumerist” at all. Since when is education something to avoid? College may not be for everyone, but education of some sort should be more of a priority in the world.

          As for Karen T’s comment that it sounds like a “recipe for entitlement & consumerism,” it seems the very opposite to me. I guess it depends on how you define those terms, though. I don’t think of gaining a great education and travel/world experiences as “consumerist,” but rather just a great gift to one’s children if you can afford it. Buying kids lots of material items, clothes, fancy cars, etc. is something totally different to me, and that is what I would try to avoid. Material things can break, be destroyed, or lose value, but education and memories/ experiences will last a lifetime (and take up no physical space!) As for encouraging feelings of “entitlement,” one-child families are quite RARE in welfare lines.

  • S

    I just found out we’re expecting baby #7 (haven’t officially announced it yet!) I’m 32 and have had them pretty close together. We actually live the minimalist material lifestyle, allowing our life to rich and full of interaction and activities together. Funny, we went to the farmers market recently and we all sat on a small square table cloth, whereas others were sprawled out on huge blankets and brought with them all kinds of toys and things to keep little one’s busy. My kids just had fun running around, listening to music and hanging out together. We bought some yummy desserts at the market and shared them together and then they were gone! :) We’ve found it to be a great experience, but if possible I would suggest letting baby turn at least 1 if possible (if not 2 years old), however my oldest two are 11 months apart! :) They are totally best friends! :) Good luck and God Bless!

  • Lesley

    Tough question – but I’ll share with you what I have experienced.

    I don’t have any kids, but do come from a family of 3 kids. Growing up, of course my siblings and I got in the usual spats, but now that we’re adults (okay, grown up but sometimes still act like kids!), my closest friend is my sister.

    Having siblings allows you to share with someone some of the most meaningful times of your life. You’ve always got that sister or brother who probably felt the same way through good times and bad times growing up. Having another child means that down the road in the future, Plumblossom with have someone to lean on and have support from her sibling through tough times.

    I had a close friend who was an only child, and while she received lots of attention from her mom, I think that by being an only child, she missed out on how to interact well with other people.

    So, my personal opinion is to have more than one (if possible) but that is my opinion only! Make sure you do what is right for you.

    Also, I would just caution that you weigh the thought of another child meaning more things as a negative – as you already know the joy of having a child far outweighs the extra burden of more things (you wouldn’t get rid of your child or husband just to get rid of their things!).

    Anyhoo, just my two cents.

    Follow your heart and you will make the best decision! :)

  • Samantha Moore-Schwermann

    The greatest gift I can give my son will be a sibling.

  • Vicki

    My two cents: After our son was born, I felt strongly that I did not want additional children. I was young and broke and the cost and work was often overwhelming (of course the love I felt for him overshadowed the challenges daily but I wasn’t interested in doubling the effort) Then 6 years later we were surprised with our daughter and it was as if it were in the plan all along. It felt perfectly natural and I never gave it a second thought. Today they are best friends, my 16 year old son sees himself as a surrogate parent to my 9 year old daughter. His infinate patience with her and her adoration of him is one of my greatest joys and sources of pride. However, my kids often share very sad stories of friends who complain frequently about their constant fighting with their siblings and how unfairly they feel their parents can be when it comes to sibling rivalry. I have one sibling, an older brother, and he and I are partners in a real estate business together. We work together everyday and get along very well. However, my sister-in-law has 4 siblings, one that she is currently not speaking to and two that she is terribly put out with because they are not helping to contribute to the care of their ailing father. I think basing your decision on one of a myriad of possible future outcomes as complex as a sibling relationship might be a little ambitious. I would say if you and your husband want another child, then go for it. If you are really only concerned about Plumblossom’s life being enhanced by having a sibling, well, there are simply no guarantees in life. Best wishes to you.

  • Sherry

    Another child would be so blessed to have the opportunity to be raised by you!

  • Lisa

    I’m an only child who now has an (amazing, well-adjusted, cool and all-around awesome 4-year-old) only child, so I’m biased…but if you’ve only ever wanted one, I would stick to one. If you’d like access to a lot of well-reasoned arguments for having only one kid, read Bill McKibben’s Maybe One: The Case for Smaller Families.

  • Summer

    My fiance is an only child and he has never wished it had been different. He also had/has an exceptionally close relationship with his father and always had plenty of friends to socialize with (no cousins or other children in the family though). I am the oldest child of four. I am older than my brothers by 6, 10, and 12 years. I love my baby brothers but none of us have ever been close with each other – not even the two that were only two years apart. We also grew up with an abusive and emotionally distant father and all my brothers had and still have a very hard time making friends and socializing. Also, my paternal grandmother was one of six children and she still ended up with sole responsibility for her aging parents because her siblings refused to help. And to add my two cents from personal experience, I am a mother to two children (aged 7 and 9 from my first marriage) and I am a (moderate) minimalist and as much of a nomad as my lifestyle will allow me to be. You will have less stuff and more time and money to spare with only one child and it may make the whole minimalist/nomadic lifestyle easier. However, there is no reason that having two children should make being a minimalist much more difficult – children really don’t *need* that much stuff and if they are close in age and the same gender they could share much of it (while they are young, at least). Plus, if you do move around very often it is nice for the children to have a guaranteed friend in each other (which, again, makes this especially easy if they are close in age and the same gender). My personal opinion would be that if you don’t want to have any more children then little Plumblossom will be just fine as long as she is raised in a healthy, loving environment (which I’m sure she will be!). But if you do decide to have more children I would do it A.S.A.P so that they could be close in age and have the best chance of being real friends – plus, do you really want one child in school full-time while you have another in diapers? It is more work in the beginning to have two children close in age but SO worth it after the first few years have passed. I would not suggest more than two kids, however, if you want to maintain the minimalist and nomadic lifestyle. But no matter what you decide, as long as your kid(s) is/are raised with love and dedication from you, they will be just fine.

  • Melanie

    Hi Francine-

    I’m a mother of 2 and I’m fortunate to have one beautiful daughter and beautiful son. Having another child is NO JOKE. The cost and stuff do add up a lot, but if you stay organized it is doable. Just know you can’t be supermom like you are now.

    I have to say the kids I have encountered who have no siblings tend to be pretty spoiled and have a “Look at me! Look at me!” attitude. Since there is no need to share or wait they expect to have it all NOW. That’s my experience anyway.

    There is more fighting with two kids-sibling rivalry, etc. but I think my children have developed some great social skills that I see single children lack.

    Good luck!
    Melanie

    • April

      I have to say the kids I have encountered who have no siblings tend to be pretty spoiled and have a “Look at me! Look at me!” attitude. Since there is no need to share or wait they expect to have it all NOW.

      I know plenty of kids with siblings who are like that, too. :) Actually, there’s some studies that show that onlies are better at waiting their turn, because they haven’t learned to constantly fight and whine and jostle for more attention, more toys, etc like children with a sibling do.

  • Anna

    I love being child-free. Never regretted that decision. We are all different. You’ll do what’s right for you.

  • It’s a mixed bag being an only child. I grew up in a middle-class family. Believe it or not, I wasn’t spoiled, although I was fortunate enough to be given some experiences and material goods that larger families wouldn’t be able to provide. Because of my mother’s health problems,however, my parents were able to have only one child.

    Growing up, I rarely felt lonely, and I don’t think I missed having siblings, except when there were bullies around. I had friends at school and in the neighborhood who were like surrogate siblings when I wanted to be with other kids my age. Adults were also fun to be around, because I knew how to converse with them on their level:) When I wanted to do things on my own, I had plenty of diversions and activities t entertain myself with. This laid a foundation for having diverse interests and hobbies.

    In recent years, I am the singleton who looks after her elderly parents. I’m glad to do it, but it will be more difficult as they continue to age. I see that as a slight downside but, in light of what my parents have given me, I’m grateful and want to help.

    As an adult, I have no children. But if I were to have a family, I would probably have only one. I think my only child experience allowed me to excel in my field because my parents directed resources to just me. But more important that material benefits is the fact that I’ve developed independence and self-reliance. Since this is the card I’ve been dealt, I treasure the qualities that birth order status has brought. I’m also pretty darn sure that there are plenty of other onlies (and their parents) out there who feel good about who they are.

    Wishing you the best of luck in your decision,

    Lori

  • Susan

    I was lonely as a child because my brother was a boy and 5 years younger. I think it is nice to have a sibling and always knew I would have more than one. I have two boys and they shared toys and clothes. It comforts me to think that they will have each other, as well as their own families hopefully, when my husband and I are gone. Even if it means more stuff, perhaps that is not the most important consideration in this decision.

  • Aisha

    I was an only child and I loved every second of it, likewise with nearly all of my friends who were also only children. With only one child you’ll have more time to dedicate to her, and more money for things like education, classes, etc. I have a friend with two young children and she looks stressed out all the time, is always running around taking her kids everywhere, and takes frustrations out on her kids because of it.

    There are pros and cons to both, but if a simple life is what you’re after then less is more.. Having fewer children is better for the environment as well.

    • Karen T.

      Your young friend may have a parenting style that is problematic, not related to how many children she has. I raised two daughters who are each other’s best friend, but my brother and I (16 months apart in age) are not close at all. The difference is in how our parents treated us (sort of “divide and conquer”) versus how I encouraged my girls to be allies. Additionally, there is currently a lot of pressure on parents to have their children involved in everything (sports, lessons, play dates, etc.) all the time, and that contributes to a lot of stress and chaos in the family. A minimalist lifestyle is not just about the stuff you let into your home, but also the way you mindfully choose to limit outside activities and commitments. Some people can’t say no to anything, fearful that they (or their kids) might “miss out,” and so they are never able to relax and focus on what really matters to them or adds to their life. Your friend may be in that situation, in which case even one child who is overloaded with stuff and activities could be a cause for undue stress.

  • Irene Carmichael

    I waited for five years before I was ready to consider another child. I felt satisfied with one and then the longing began as the child matures and they become more independent and you still have energy to hold and care for a baby. I was blessed with a second at 34 and never believed that I could be so happy. when you go for those long trips and I looked over at my husband and my son was in the back with his sister I felt that it was exactly what they needed: someone to ride in the back seat with and talk about how crazy mom and dad are. In your heart of hearts you already know your answer. Two babies are just a little more exhausting than one and most travel is designed for families of four. Go for it..yes you need more STUFF but consignment and than passing it on is what I do.

  • Sharon

    When my husband and I married, having both come from large families (his had 12 children & mine had 8) had decided that 4 would be a good number. However, due to medical complications and a difficult pregnancy was told to quit with 1 or lose 1 or both of us next time. 1 worked well with us.. except – she was always lonely – no matter how many pets or playmates she had and if you asked her now, as an adult she’d tell you – 1 isn’t fair to the child. When things go wrong, there’s nobody there to confide in who understands. As aging parents, she realizes when we’re gone – if it weren’t for her hubby, she’d have nobody to help her through the rough times. She has 4 children now (The oldest 2 are about a year apart and the youngest 2 similar although there were a few years between the 2 sets. My mom was raised by her divorced father, also as an only child. She only ‘met her siblings’ when she was in her 40′s and she will tell you that she was Always lonely which seems to be the big key with only children, No matter how well you include them in your plans, vacations, travels, etc. they will often feel like the ‘odd person out.’ Good luck with your decision and may it be the best for your family.

  • Clark

    I’m very grateful to be an only child of a grandmother who walked the walk of no more than population replacement. When small, I thought a younger sibling would be a playmate, but neither of my parents was close to siblings. By the time I was an older child I realized I was more focused, better able to entertain myself, and more able to converse with adults than my peers. Watching my mother trials with her sister over elder care and how Dad was the only one to take Grandpa (with Mom’s great help) gives me no illusions that a sibling would necessarily help me as my parents age. I think sibling love gets over-romanticized like the rest of biological family in our culture.

  • Linda

    I am an only child, and I loved it! I got all the attention and was both a mama’s and a daddy’s girl. I’ve often wondered what it would have been like to have grown up with a brother and/or a sister. But I honestly don’t feel I missed out on anything and wouldn’t change being an only child even if I could.

  • Helen

    Hi, I’m a mother of 5. I have always wanted 6 children and we are currently trying (hoping) for our last child. As a family we try and live a minimalist/zero waste lifestyle and from past experience having more children gives us a great opportunity to recycle and reduce. Personally I believe the material impact of having children on the environment is truly up to us as parents, it’s not based on the existence of the child on the earth but more how a child is reared within the family. All children really need is love, stability and nourishment and the more children you have the more love and energy there seems to be in the home. Personally I think motherhood is instinctive and you will know deep down whether to have another child or enjoy just having your daughter!

  • Serena

    I am an only child in my late twenties now and although I wished and wished for a sibling when I was younger, I had a fantastic childhood. Being an only child taught me to be independent and imaginative. I am a bit anxious about being the only one to care for my aging parents as the time nears, but I also have an extreme closeness with my parents that I don’t see much in my friends and their parents relationships. My parents are blue-collar folk; financially I may not have had as many opportunities to choose the right school, go on family vacations, get a car when I turned 16, and other luxuries if my parents had many other children (although we probably would have made it work). I think you know in your heart if it’s the right decision to have another child. Either way, your little one now will be appreciative of whatever decision you make… just don’t spoil her (I don’t think that will be an issue!!) :)

  • Anna

    Of all the “onlys” I know, only one says she’s happy to be an only. All the others say they wish they had a sibling. One in particular told me he would have given ANYTHING to have had a sibling when he was dealing with the last years/death/estate of his parents.

  • Rachel

    Either way is fine. If you and your husband are close to your siblings she will have plenty of cousins to play with. I am an only child and my uncle had three children one of whom is 14 months younger then me (and the only other girl)and I spent alot of time hanging out with their family and feel like I always had a taste of siblings even though I didn’t have any. For myself I chose to have more than one because I had dated a man who’s grandmother was an only child and his grandmother’s parents were both only children (and had her in their forties) and when her parents passed she had no family other than her husband and children. I came from a large extended family and wanted that for my children too.

  • Carla

    I am a former childbirth/parenting instructor… The best advice I ever heard about this decision was to only have a second child (or any subsequent child) for the same reason you had the first child… to bring that child in to the world to love them and help them become all they were created to be… All other expectations must be released because there are no guarantees. The fact you are wrestling with this means you are already a great parent no matter how many children you have!

  • Sue

    I was an only child and was perfectly happy. Many ‘onlys’ may say they would have liked a sibling, but the reality might have proved very different from their hopes or expectations. Having a second child does not guarantee companionship for the first. If one child is what you and your husband want then one child is what you should have. In truth, only you know what is best for you, no matter how much well meaning advice is offered.

  • Laura

    My father was an only child; I’m an only child, and so is my daughter. Except for moving, which my family did a lot, I loved being an only child. My dad always seemed pretty happy about it, too, but my young daughter has expressed a desire for a sibling at times. However, we’ve recently moved to a new neighborhood with more kids to play with, and now she seems very happy in her only childhood. I’d say, do what’s best for you and your husband, and it will be the best thing for Plumblossom, too.

  • Helen

    There are far too many people on the planet already so I am not a fan of multiple children anyway – but also there is no reason for children to grow up lonely just because they don’t have siblings. If the parents encourage social interaction with others and provide their child with every opportunity to do that, then there is no reason why that child should grow up lonely. I have lots of friends with one child and those kids are wonderful, well adjusted and happy people.Friends are often closer than families anyway I think.

    Also, worrying about how an only child will cope with their parents’ old age and death is surely not a good reason to have more than one child? I would be more worried about climate change, over-population, diminishing resources etc These very real issues are going to have a massive impact on children being born today. Far too many people make the important decisions about whether to have more children with their hearts/hormones and not their heads. Unfortunately.

  • Renee CA

    My family moved around a lot. I was kind of shy and it was always so difficult to make friends and fit in. I know some people feel their lives were enriched by living in different places but I hated it and would have loved to stay in the same town and grow up with the same friends in the same school. My sister is almost 6 years younger and we did not become close until out mid 50′s.

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