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Grans who had an only child...

(108 Posts)
LondonGal87 Tue 26-Jul-22 12:35:43

Did you ever regret you decision or would you do anything differently (if you could) I'm thinking of sticking with one but wondering if I'll regret not having more in the future...

Thank you x

Yammy Tue 26-Jul-22 15:54:54

I'm an only child as was DH until teenager. His parents were only children.
I don't think it is true that an only child is a lonely child. I think they are imaginative and mix very well with others. No sibling rivalry.
I have two cousins who still do not speak 50 years down the line after a petty argument. They even managed to fight in front of the minister about their parents' funerals and I was asked to sit between them in the chapel to referee.
One of my grandchildren is an only child and they never complain.
It depends on how your parents bring you up. If your childhood is pleasant and normal and you are no precious pouch then you are normal as well.
We all should please ourselves and our partners.

FindingNemo15 Tue 26-Jul-22 16:07:03

I am an only child and only had one child a DD. I think it would have been nice to have had siblings and more children now I am older.

It can be very lonely. I love to hear about friend who were in large families.

I often if there is an only child group somewhere, maybe we could start one on here!

aonk Tue 26-Jul-22 17:27:07

I was an only child. I was very lonely. A strict upbringing made it worse although I was encouraged to mix with others and invite them to my home but always on a formal basis. It wasn’t a casual household.
My loneliest time was when my father died. I was 39 and my DH was unwell so I had to arrange his funeral and deal with his belongings etc singlehanded.

Soroptimum Tue 26-Jul-22 17:42:35

I am an only child (mum had 2 ruptured ectopic pregnancies after me). No one has mentioned the feeling of responsibility I have always felt. Although never been pressured into anything at all, I really felt it my duty to do well at school, have children, and now look after my mum. If I hadn’t had children my parents wouldn’t have had grandchildren etc.
I was so envious of friends with siblings, and longed for a brother or sister. I hear what people say that siblings don’t necessarily get on, but when my MIL died it was so lovely to see my DH and his sister arranged the funeral together.

NotSpaghetti Tue 26-Jul-22 17:48:59

Reading this I do remember that I felt I needed a sibling as my mother was dying - it was just a few weeks after my father had died and I needed to make lots of decisions. Then again when I cleared out my parents' home ... but an older friend who had very close siblings said "no you dont" nobody will mess you about, there will be no petty squabbling and you can make decisions for yourself and nobody will make you feel uncomfortable about them.
I think she was right. All the benefits and any mistakes are mine. I accept them, own them and am confident i made the best decisions I could about them.

It was a difficult time but I had plenty of dear friends and my lovely husband to support me - and loads of my parents' friends became closer than ever.
I don't think this is reason enough to have a second child!

Chestnut Tue 26-Jul-22 17:55:21

My granddaughter is an only child and I know she would be so much happier with at least one sibling, preferably fairly close in age. She is happiest surrounded by people, doesn't much like playing alone, and is a sociable creature. I worry she will be lonely when older.

I am an only child myself, and would love to have siblings now I'm older. Once your parents have gone you feel rather alone in the world apart from your own children.

cornergran Tue 26-Jul-22 18:13:44

Another only here. An isolated early, rural, childhood with only adults for company I would have liked someone around closer to my age. It may have been different had we lived in an Urban area. My Mum couldn’t have more children, her health was precarious.

Once settled at school friends filled the gap, interestingly my close friends were also only children. Something I’ve only just realised.

I would have loved a sibling or two when my children arrived, more so now . As an adult it was hard feeling and being solely responsible for ageing parents. Having said that I was spared the tension that sometimes occur when parents are at the end of their lives.

We had two children, a conscious choice. Mr C has no family left, our sons have no cousins. It’s a very small family indeed which makes me sad when I think about it.

It seems to me there’s not a right or wrong about the number of children we have. I was a happy child, learned to be self reliant and still enjoy my own company, there’s something about not missing what we’ve never had. Yes, as an adult I think I’d have liked siblings although of course not all siblings get on with each other.

crazyH Tue 26-Jul-22 18:27:14

sandelf - gosh, what an awful MIL you have. Why did your brothers-in-law allow her to take over their lives? My sons would never allow me to do that. Hurtful though it made me feel sometimes, I soon came to realise that I was at the bottom of the pecking order.

Shelflife Tue 26-Jul-22 18:33:12

I am one of three and have had three children. For me one child was never an option. It is a very personal choice, if in your heart you only want one child then stick to that. Having a second because you think it will prevent your first being lonely may not be the right reason to have another. You have to really want a second. Having said that if number two arrived I feel sure you would never regret it, instant love !

Chardy Tue 26-Jul-22 20:47:30

I vividly remember when I had DS, a good friend, an only child himself, took me on one side and explained how tough it was being an only child with elderly parents, especially when 200 miles away.
Thirty years later, another friend from the same era, and a similar distance away from widowed mum, had an exhausting time travelling when mum, nearly 90, became infirm and eventually died.
Truly, it's not something I would have thought about when DS was so small.

Georgesgran Tue 26-Jul-22 21:05:51

I’m an only child too but like juggernaut I think I’m outgoing, friendly and confident. I had 2 girls, both of whom are married and each has a son and won’t have any more. DH worked away after the girls were born, so I was totally responsible for most things from organizing property maintenance to taking the children on holiday by myself. DM was an only child and DF had a disabled younger brother, so an unusual childhood for him. I think you just accept what you had as normal - my BF at Grammar School loved to come and stay with me, as she had 3 siblings and had to share a room in a chaotic household which she hated.

Floradora9 Tue 26-Jul-22 21:16:21

I was another only child who longed for a sister. I really missed having someone to advise me about my mother's health when she got older. I look at my two DGDs, very close in age, and they have such a bond they are so lucky . I actually had a twin sister who was still born so thinking about that made it worse . I was quite young when my father died and I remember my mother saying that I was all she had left . That was a difficult thing to live up to but I hope I did .
I had a friend who craved company and she blamed it on being an only child. I , on the other hand , can enjoy my own company.

Chewbacca Tue 26-Jul-22 21:45:10

Interesting question this and the different answers are even more interesting! I'm one of quite a large family and I remember it as being overcrowded, no personal space, no chance of ever having anything that was "just mine" and really very poor financially. I made the conscious decision to only have 1 child and, interestingly, so did every one of my siblings. Have I ever wondered if we should maybe have had more? Never. We made sure that the house was always full of other children for DC to play with, we took his friends and cousins away on holidays with us, as they did with our DC. Being a singleton doesn't have to mean isolation and loneliness, it just means that, as parents of an only child, we had to put more effort into it. So, I wonder if most people's own childhood, and the pros and cons of that, determine our decisions as to the number of children we then choose to have ourselves?

Chestnut Wed 27-Jul-22 16:37:40

Chewbacca Your only child and the only children of your many siblings did not have the same experience of being an only child as one who is from a much smaller family. Especially if you and your siblings were close, in which case the children would be very connected. It would almost be like having siblings rather than cousins. As you come from a large family then these only children would not feel like only children because they are part of a larger group. I hope that makes sense.

In my case I lived in London and my nearest cousins were in Wales. No cousins on my father's side as he was also an only child. So I really was an only child. Much depends on the size and location of the wider family.

Chewbacca Wed 27-Jul-22 17:41:27

Much depends on the size and location of the wider family.

Oh yes, that's very much true Chestnut. Even though I had many siblings, none of us remained close once our own children had grown up and gone their separate ways and nor did any of the cousins. Chosen friends became family then.

GrannySomerset Wed 27-Jul-22 18:35:39

I married an only child, as I was, and my closest friends are all only children too. Our two children were close in age but are not particularly close as adults. Our DGD is an only child and doesn’t mind, whereas I felt cheated. I guess it depends on how much you minded being an only one. The upside is that we tend to be self sufficient and independent - not to say hard to live with on occasions!

nanna8 Fri 05-Aug-22 02:08:41

Yes I agree about the self sufficiency and independence. I am rarely, if ever, bored and I put that down to having to occupy myself as an only child. When I lived at home I was very,very shy as my mother was very good at belittling me but once I left, I changed and no one would describe me as shy these days! Plusses and minuses I guess but as I got older I longed for a sibling . I always feel so happy for our children when they get together and share things.

Goldbeater1 Fri 05-Aug-22 02:30:25

I didn't make a decision to have an only child - I wanted to have two or maybe three. I'll be sad about it to my dying day, but it wasn't our choice. We now have two lovely grandchildren and count ourselves lucky to see them often ... we had to move to Australia to be part of their lives! If you want another baby you should try to have one.

Goldbeater1 Fri 05-Aug-22 02:39:59

Totally agree with you about the weird things people say. Constant urging to have another, from total strangers even (!) Plus refetences to 'lonely only' children.

LondonGal87 Sun 07-Aug-22 08:59:50

Thank you for all your replies, so interesting to see everyones totally different experiences.

Sorry for those who didn't have a choice, I didn't mean to cause anyone any upset x

Farmor15 Sun 07-Aug-22 10:16:25

My mother didn't want an only child, but ended up with just me. My parents did their best to compensate by making sure I had friends to stay etc. However, the downside was that to prevent me being a "spoilt only child", a common term then, I was brought up very strictly and with a lot of control.

I noticed that in bigger families children could get away with occasional misbehaviour and also got used to the rough and tumble of family life.

I was very shy and lacked self confidence for years - which I partly put down to being an only. Made up for it later by having 5 children and sometimes envied them when I saw the fun they had with each other growing up. Not always, of course!

NotSpaghetti Sun 07-Aug-22 10:28:16

Much depends on the size and location of the wider family.

Is this really true?
I was a single child and so was my father. He had wider family close by - I had no "wider family" of my generation at all. I had no aunts/uncles/grandparents and still had a truly happy, full childhood.
I was never lonely.

Blondiescot Sun 07-Aug-22 11:12:06

Not Spaghetti - I was the same. My parents had been married 12 years before having me (after being told they probably would never have children), so my cousins were all very much older than me and all lived far away anyway. Apart from my grandparents, we had no close family nearby and it never really bothered me. I was never lonely either. I loved being alone as a child and even now I'm more than happy in my own company. An only child certainly doesn't have to be a 'lonely' child.

Nannarose Sun 07-Aug-22 11:57:26

I have spent my life working with children and families, and there is no 'right' family. IMHO this is what works:
If you are lucky enough to have choices, then you do what feels right to you (as an individual and as a couple). If you don't have choices (for many reasons) then you make the best of whatever family you are blessed with.
Love, and understanding others' point of view is important. One of the happiest couples that I am fortunate enough to call my friends are both only children.
It sounds as if you are making your choice that works for you now. No-one knows if, on looking back you will think it was the right choice. What I do know is that if you make it for the right reasons, and work to make the best of it, then it WILL be the right choice.
good luck

Bossyrossy Sun 07-Aug-22 12:09:36

We have three children, now grown up and starting families of their own. It was lovely when they were small, watching them play together and occasionally fight and argue, but they loved each other and are still very close even though they do not live near each other and one in another country. I like to think that when we are no longer on this earth, they will support each other in time of need and remain friends as well as siblings.