Parents Of Only Children And The Guilt Factor- The Only Child Pros and Cons
For various reasons and in varied contexts, parents of only children feel guilt. But don’t forget that there are only child pros and cons to be considered. While Maybelle feels guilt for “not giving a brother or sister” to her only child, Ron feels guilty for choosing her career over a second child. Typical situations or reasons that arouse guilt in the parents of only children are:
Age, career and a second child: Many couples feel guilt about their decision to not have a second child. “Better bring the other one soon,” casual as it may sound may cause a serious dent in your decision to have an only child. The urgency that biological time is ticking away can cause panic. Women who put off having another child in order to focus better on their careers often come under the pressure of having to watch their “biological age”. “Friends were constantly urging me to have another child. Your career may wait for you, but a chance of having a second child won’t was a constant refrain I heard” says Jolene.
Remember: Having a child is a full time employment in itself. Having two children will only defer your career plans still further.
The sibling issue: “Your child needs someone to play with” is yet another way of sneaking guilt into your mind. Parents of only children may be haunted by the sibling issue even long after it is even relevant. “Have I left my child alone in this world? Who will he turn to after our death? Are we denying him a companion for life? Am I selfish?” are common questions that may weaken your will. The truth is not all sibling relationships are rosy and strong till the end. Many siblings drift apart or develop dislike for each other or may be geographically so distanced that close relationships become impossible.
Unpredictable sibling relationship: One can never predict the course of the relationship between your first child and the second. Kate, who grew up with a brother, confesses, “I had such a stressful relationship with my brother that I can never be convinced to give my daughter a brother or sister.” An only child enjoys a parents’ special attention and can easily get their time unlike in a multi-child household where attention is always divided
In present days’ hectic life and schedule, it is a worthwhile idea to consider having just one child and giving him your emotional and material best.
Remember: Your decision to have an only child should be based on what you think is best for you and your child. It need not be subject to change owing to pressure from people who are not going to pitch in to bring up your second child. In a nutshell, you cannot have another child to assuage someone else’s concern about you.
Making time for oneself: “Come to think of it, it is strange that Daniel and I have not gone out alone anywhere since Rich was born,” admits Nora. Parents of onlies are so devoted to their child that they sometimes forget that they need to nurture their personal life too.
Don’t take the guilt trip: Many couples feel guilt about having to leave their kids with babysitters or caregivers for even very short hours, leave alone for days. Taking time off is vital for the marriage to thrive and also gives a boost in energy that is required for child rearing.
One need not go away for days at a stretch. Couples can go out for dinner or a movie without the child tagging along. They can do a short weekend trip to some place after leaving the child with a trustworthy caregiver. “Daniel and I were actually calling each other Mom and Dad” laughs Angela. “We had begun relating to each other as parents of Vincent and less and less as man and wife, strange as it may sound. Only after we began to take these small breaks and began going out occasionally for luncheons or dinners without Vincent that we began to reconnect. Believe me, it really helps” she says.
Couple hood and Parenthood: The best gift you can give your child is to be a loving couple as well as loving parents. For that, it is important that you take time out as individuals and as couples. Take turns to get time alone and time together. “I have my own set of plans. When my husband takes care of Dora, I take a walk, or go to the parlor or catch up with old friends. When I am with Dora on a Saturday evening, my husband goes to the gym or hangs out with his buddies. We need that time off from the family” says Jeanne.
Remember: You need not feel guilty about taking time off for yourself and as a couple. You owe it to yourself!