» One and Done

Some of my wise and lovely friends have talked about this topic, but it’s been on my mind like crazy lately, and I feel the need to get my thoughts OUT of my head. And into yours, apparently.

Eriana has been asking for siblings lately. It’s really been getting to me. I think it’s getting to me because I don’t want to be done having kids. But I think we are. So when Eriana says thing like, “When I get bigger I will have a baby brother” while telling me about the new baby brother of one of her classmates, I feel sad, and guilty, and incomplete.

So as with all of my big life problems, I took to Twitter for advice. Here’s the gist of what I learned:

  • The majority of only children loved being only children.
  • Only children reported good relationships with their parents.
  • Only children reported understanding from a young age understanding that they get more (both attention and material items) as a result of being an only.
  • Most parents of only children went through the phase where their kids asked for siblings, but the kids grew out of it.
  • My friends who are only children are kind, compassionate, friendly, unspoiled, and well-adjusted, and most have good relationships with their parents (which, of course, is not to say that adults with siblings don’t have good relationships with their parents. Let’s not get over-sensitive here).
  • Adult only children largely longed for siblings when something big happened, such as a loss in the family, a big move, etc.
  • Only children who longed for siblings during rough times would not use that ~1% of longing as a basis to choose whether they, as parents, have more than one child.
  • Several of my only children friends opted to have only children because they loved it so much.


Things I knew already, but it was nice to have reiterated:

  • Eriana’s longing for a sibling can go in a pro column if we need a pro column, but should not be the whole pro column, as she is a child and doesn’t get to make those decisions.
  • Just having a sibling does not mean that your child will get along with that sibling, and have the relationship you hope they will.
  • Having just one child does not harm your child in any way, shape, or form.
  • It’s a lot more likely that Eriana will have her college paid for if we don’t have any more kids (and with the ridiculous number I’m looking at paying back in student loans, that’s something I really want to give to her).
  • It’s a lot easier to travel with just one kid.


Things that make me sad:

  • If something happens to Jim and/or me later in life Eriana won’t have a sibling to help shoulder the burden.
  • Eriana will never have a sibling who is also her best friend.
  • Eriana will have to find people outside of the family (like her therapist and friends) to complain to about her crazy parents instead of people who understand from experience.

Even though Eriana is the one that brought up this topic (her and that jackass kid at school who talks about his new baby brother all the time), I think the realization that we are probably never going to be able to afford to adopt, and that we are truly never going to try again to have a biological child is hitting me harder than I thought it would. I mean, I’m SUPER happy with my family, and I love my child more than life itself. She will always be more than enough for me. It’s just really hard to reconcile that I don’t get to have two babies like I thought I would. So. Unless someone pays for an adoption in full, like, now, it would seem that we’re done. 

Were you okay being done when you were done? How did you reconcile any lingering feelings or guilt? Did your kid(s) ever ask for more babies?


  1. Megan
    March 3, 2014 22:35

    So, I have two, but my youngest is still asking for another sibling. And she’s not getting one. She acts quite heartbroken about it, particularly because some of her friends have baby siblings, but she’ll get over it. We’re 99% sure we’re done. I say that because we feel done, but we haven’t done anything permanent about it. Also, we both go through (short!) phases where we kind of think that maybe another baby would be okay and then we come to our sense and realize NOPE.

    • Tara
      March 6, 2014 22:06

      Oh, sweet Bubette. We haven’t done anything permanent either, even though Jim is POSITIVE that we’re done, at least biologically. It’s hard when you aren’t past child-bearing age to be completely positive, I think.

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. Swistle
    March 4, 2014 04:46

    If it is helpful, my FIFTH child wishes for a younger sibling, and my daughter wishes for another girl in the family. And I often worry I’ve negatively impacted my children’s lives by having so MANY. In short: someone will be discontented no matter what you do, and guilty feelings are par for the parenting course. Cheery!

    • Tara
      March 6, 2014 22:06

      That IS helpful. Hooray for the guilt of all parents to keep you company? :)

      • Jess
        March 7, 2014 10:28

        This is how I feel about having 3: I worry most that I cannot give them each the attention they need. I have a boy and 2 girls, and my boy still asks for us to have another boy. So I feel, like Swistle, there will always be “what if” guilt.

  3. Sarah Anne
    March 4, 2014 06:02

    Tara, you have one of the kindest, sweetest most considerate hesrts of anyone I know. It’s totally okay to be upset AND know there are positives to it all too. You know? I think it is all part of the process but I am still sorry you have to feel hurt or disappointment at all. Xo

  4. Lauren
    March 4, 2014 06:26

    We deal with this issue a lot, as you know. We desperately want to have at least one more child, and Nate told me a couple of weeks ago that he wanted us to have a baby. I’m also trying to remind myself that he will be fine regardless, and that there are some silver linings to having/being an only. (Not that for me they outweigh the benefits of siblings, but I’m taking whatever reassurance I can get at this point!)

    I do love hearing from only kids who are super close with their parents, and who still take lots of trips together and so forth. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop praying for another child, but I am coming to a greater and greater peace with our situation, and I am SO grateful for Nate when I thought we wouldn’t have any children. He’s a blessing!

    • Tara
      March 6, 2014 22:11

      I remind myself over and over how much of a blessing Eriana is to me. It’s so hard when you’ve struggled to either make or bake babies to be okay with finding peace when things aren’t what you originally expected. At least, that’s part of what is hard for me. I’m with you, though: I’ll keep praying for another, but loving on Eriana as my sweet only.

      • betttina
        March 10, 2014 10:19

        YES. THIS. All this.

        This is one of my favorite topics. I looooooove hearing what others plan and how their feelings change with time and circumstances. (I’m also the weirdo who would rather dicuss politics with people on the opposite side of the spectrum – I already know what I think and why I have the politics I do, so I’d rather hear from everyone else.) I love how we all make different decisions but it’s right for our families. I’m just as supportive of couples who decide to remain childfree (not due to infertility, which is not always childless by choice).

        I have always wanted a bunch of kids but infertility runs in my family, so even as a teenager I knew I might not get as many as I want. I have endometriosis, we did IVF to have our one-and-only and I’d love at least one more but that means I have to save up the $15K again. Plus, it worked the first time. I honestly don’t think I could handle it right now to try IVF, to know I was pregnant at least for a few days and then have it not work.

        So we tabled that decision until Jane’s in kindergarten, then we’ll see what we can handle, emotionally and financially. I am saving up for IVF just in case.

        I am an only; my two cousins are 8 and 14 years older than me. As a kid, I missed having someone to play with me on playgrounds or at McD’s. It was always me playing by myself while the adults talked.

        As an adult, I still strongly prefer the company of older-than-myself adults. My three closest coworker friends are 20 years older than me, but this year I’m also becoming friends with a coworker who is 10 years younger and one who’s ten years older. It’s good for me to branch out. I’m much more comfortable with grownups than people my age.

        Before Jane was born, I was planning on IVF several times to have three or four kids. Then she was here and I couldn’t imagine having any more. Then she turned one and she wasn’t my bayyyyyyybeeeeee and I wanted to do IVF again immediately so I could have a bayyyyyybeeeee. Then I came to my senses and now I’m actually okay with doing IVF again and equally okay with just giving in and letting infertility win. I have my one perfect girlie and that’s okay.

        My mom is getting older, my dad’s been gone for seven years, so I worry aboout handling everything by myself. It would be easier if I had siblings. Then I see siblings squabbling over their parents’ finances or final wishes and then I realize that I’m pretty bossy and I can do it myself.

        I am really close to my mom because it’s me and that’s certainly a positive. My daughter and I will be okay if she’s my only and we’ll be okay if we have more.

        Thanks so much for writing this! I appreciate what you’ve written and the comments you’re getting are equally enthralling.

  5. Becky
    March 4, 2014 11:00

    That jackass kid! HAAAAHAHA! You’re the best. :)

    We are a one-and-done family, too. My go-to answer when my daughter asks is that “Every family is different, and this is the right choice for our family.” She seems OK with it most of the time, but time will tell if I need to come up with a different stock answer. :)

  6. Donna
    March 4, 2014 11:23

    I never intended to have just one, but infertility and then divorce made that decision for me. And Bridget actually asked me this very morning why I won’t give her a baby brother or sister. I had to tell her that it just isn’t happening.

    I do still have feelings of wishing I had a baby, but then I realize that I only want a baby. I don’t want the child that baby will grow into. Maybe in my past life I could have handled a second child but I definitely can’t now. Plus I turn 40 this year and I don’t care what science says, I’m not willing to risk a pregnancy at 40.

    • Tara
      March 6, 2014 22:12

      Funny that you want the baby, because I want the bigger kid. :) I guess there’s a reason why the parents choose and not the kids, if kids keep asking for a long time. :)

  7. Michelle, with dignity
    March 4, 2014 18:56

    I’m so glad you wrote this. This has been on my mind so much lately – basically constantly. One is good. We can provide a lot more opportunities this way – like college/future whatever, traveling (which is selfish. I didn’t get to travel as a kid. Chris did. So I want to travel NOW.), private school, maybe? The fact that we don’t have to “start over” at babyhood, and can move into big kid-dom now.

    I definitely don’t resent my childhood with 2 siblings – I love them and am glad to have them. But. I don’t think that’s what is right for us. So here we are with an only. J has been asking lately when he will get a little sister – he has a friend at school with a new baby sister. I keep saying “You’re not getting one. It’s just us, kid.” And it feels right to say that. I hope one day he understands.

    • Tara
      March 6, 2014 22:14

      I get what you mean, Michelle. I think that I *know* that more babies isn’t necessarily right for us, but since we’d planned on two before my first pregnancy it’s hard to reconcile only having one forever. I like your answer of, “It’s just us, Kid.” Eriana does talk about how she loves our family, so I should play up on that. :) Thanks for sharing!

  8. K
    March 5, 2014 18:41

    The way in which I decided that I was ready to stop having children was largely rooted in fear. Fear of the exhaustion when I already had two children and a husband rarely at home. Fear of a second baby with congenital issues. Fear of bedrest. Fear of a second extremely premature baby.

    I think while orginating out of fear, many of the concerns were legitimate ones for consideration for T and I. And he took longer to come to an agreed upon conclusion. We prayed on it in the meantime.

    Ezra asks for siblings, but older ones. Which, you know, just short of adopting someone older–isn’t likely to happen. Iris does not like babies, so that makes all things easier. : )

    Unrelated to anything above, I just like you an awful lot.

    • Tara
      March 6, 2014 22:17

      You are so lovely, K. Thank you for being such a light and an encouraging spot in my life.

      I am with you on the fear. I’m TERRIFIED at the prospect of having more babies. (Plus I’m with Iris. Babies aren’t my favorite, kissable though they may be.) I’m glad to know you and T got to the same page eventually. Jim is unwavering, so I’m hopeful I will reach his point sometime.

  9. Rebecca
    March 5, 2014 20:27

    Oh boy. We have five children (two are not biologically mine, but they live here half the time and are fully part of the family, end of story, none of that crap “half-” stuff), and I have had three c-sections, plus am almost forty, and I really really want to make homeschooling work, which I realistically could not with an infant, so yeah, we are done, for many reasons. but I second guess it all the time. Plus, my younger sister has six, and plans more, so… clearly I am not operating from a realistic comparison point.

    So, there you go, another advantage of being an only child: no playing the comparing game.

    The only point I am trying to make (ineloquently – sorry) is that feelings are complicated.

    • Tara
      March 6, 2014 22:19

      Gah, the comparing game SUCKS. My older sister has three. Thankfully there has not been a lot of pressure from our families, though some have made no secret about how they think one isn’t enough. I’m with you on the biology doesn’t make a family. I grew up with half-siblings and never used that prefix. And I always wanted to adopt, which isn’t any less family to me. My mom is adopted and her parents were fully my grandparents, biology aside. Thank you for sharing about your situation! It’s very obviously different for every family, large or small!

  10. Andrea
    March 6, 2014 21:10

    Have you read “Parenting your only child?” i have a copy you can have if you like. Email me your address and I’ll send it. We had one child for five years and were very content and pleased with the attention we could give him. People always said “he needs a little brother or sister” to which I would remind myself that no baby should be born with a job. I’ve also seen lots of sibling relationships go sour during those big life moments when you think E will be so alone. The fact that she’ll get to CHOOSE others to lean on and include, that could actually be a beneift, no?

    • Tara
      March 6, 2014 22:21

      I have not read that book! I would love to have it! Thank you for the offer! I like the perspective that no baby should be born with a job. And neither Jim nor I have had consistent relationships with all of our siblings. Most have been intermittent at best. That’s Jim’s primary point: that there is no guarantee that her siblings would be her friends, but we can be good parents and ensure we do our best to make sure she isn’t lonely. Thank you so much for sharing! I will send you my address in a separate email.

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