Only child families are on the rise – so why do parents still feel judged for being ‘one and done’? The phrase was coined to describe parents who have decided that they are fulfilled with having an only child. “When are you going to have another one?” is a question that no mother really wants to field. For those who have decided, whether through choice or circumstance, that they’re one and done, it can feel particularly uncomfortable. Having an only child can be an incredibly joyful and happy experience – so why is there a stigma around it? We chatted to 9 brilliant mothers who shared with us why they’re happy to be ‘one and done.’
“I’m an only child, and I have an only child.
I’m constantly being told “it’s time for another one” or “you’re being selfish, he will be lonely and spoiled”.
I always knew I only wanted one child and my husband was happy to go along with my wishes. I’ve also ensured that my son mixed with other children from a young age so he would learn to share with and respect other children. He’s always been really confident talking with adults and he is fiercely independent.
It never bothered me growing up as an only child. If anything, I feel like I made more of an effort to cultivate friendships and I have made lifelong friends. I will encourage my son to do the same.”
“My husband and I are “one and done!” My birth was high-risk and traumatic. That, coupled with the extreme stress and anxiety I felt being pregnant during the pandemic, has led us to decide that we’re happy with having an only child.
I just don’t think I can be pregnant again and experience all that worry for a second time.
I love my son, Kit, dearly – he is the blessing we needed and more than enough joy for us.”
“There are lots of reasons that go into why my husband and I have decided we’re happy with having an only child. I myself am an only child and I never felt like I was missing out and, due to a large age gap, my husband grew up like an only child too. Knowing that we both had happy childhoods as only children made me feel comfortable that our son will too.
I was really fortunate to have a smooth pregnancy, successful long breastfeeding journey and generally, a very positive experience with my son as a baby. What if next time, I wasn’t so lucky? I’m not sure I’d cope.
Finally, we’ve decided we’re ‘one and done’ for financial reasons. Not because we’re struggling, we’re not. But growing up, my parents really did and I vowed that my child would never be exposed to the financial stresses that I was growing up. I’m comfortable having an only child and knowing that we have financial freedom to provide for him.”
“Part of me has always felt like having an only child would be the right thing for me. After actually becoming pregnant with and having my little boy, I knew I was ‘one and done’.
I found trying to conceive, pregnancy and the newborn days really anxiety-fuelled. I constantly felt like something would go wrong and spent most of two years in a state of fear.
Now, he’s a happy, healthy and curious little boy. My fears didn’t come true but I’m not interested in revisiting them: I’m ready for the next stage of life with our son and all the wonderful things still to come in raising him.”
“I didn’t think I could have children so my pregnancy was a lovely surprise, but definitely didn’t make me a young mum. I was lucky in that, despite pre-existing health problems, I had a smooth pregnancy. I think trying for another would be pushing it.
I love being a mummy and I’m very content with being ‘one and done’ – when I see friends having further pregnancies I’m thrilled for them but there is no part of me that wishes for another!
I do get frustrated with being told that my daughter will “want a sibling”. Usually telling them that my pelvis could snap if I got pregnant again shuts them up!”
“I decided a long time ago that I only wanted one child. I myself am an only child and a very happy one at that. I never felt like I missed out on anything by not having a sibling.
My mum, who died in 2019, was my closest friend. When I made the decision to be ‘one and done’ it was knowing that I could give the same gift of time, focus and attention to an only child that my mum gave to me.
My husband and I also thought a lot about what we want for our lives and future. We realised that the best way to give our baby the happiest childhood was to be the best versions of ourselves as his parents. For us, this means having an only child and the flexibility to enjoy our own hobbies, friends and careers. We’re able to spend time on ourselves, enjoy financial security and ultimately have the freedom to enjoy life with our son.
People will ask when we’re having another one. It’s the most frustrating question and for a while I didn’t know how to respond. Now I feel confident in saying that I am so happy to just have my son.
He’s only asked once about having a sibling – we told him that we’re happy as a family of three and he was content with that answer.
My only concern about having an only child is what will happen when we die but I know that, much like me, he’ll have friends, family and perhaps a partner to see him through.”
“My only child is now 9 years old. I’ve spent the last 9 years being asked when I’m going to give him a sibling and being told I’m cruel when the answer is that I’m not.
What people don’t realise is that the circumstances that followed my son’s birth have made the prospect of having another baby very hard.
In 2013, when he was born, I contracted sepsis. I spent three weeks fighting for my life and was, at one point, hours away from death. I had a procedure called an ‘oophorectomy’ (the removal of an ovary) to save my life.
It was traumatic and has had a long-lasting impact on my mental health. With total honesty I can say that I am scared of having another child because I’m scared of dying.
So the questions around having another are really hard and unnecessarily painful – people just don’t need to ask. It makes me feel guilty but my son needs his mum more than he needs a sibling.”
“For me, feeling ‘one and done’ was there from day one. I had an easy pregnancy and an ‘easy’ baby but at the end of each stage or phase, I’ve never felt like repeating it with another child.
I never felt like I fitted in with the other mums and being on maternity leave during the pandemic didn’t help that. I felt like I lost myself. I’m career driven and wanted to go back to work after six months, which was definitely judged by some.
I now feel like I have myself back. I can balance family time with work, with time for myself and I really don’t want to go through pregnancy or the young baby stage again. Life feels balanced and manageable having an only child.”
“When my husband first suggested having an only child – before we had any at all – I was completely against it. I didn’t know any ‘only’ children and had only heard negative things about them being spoiled or lonely. However, I came round to the idea in just one evening.
It actually did feel like the right thing for us. We wanted to be able to dedicate a significant amount of time to our child whilst still having time for ourselves and as a couple. We wanted to be able to travel easily and cheaply. I wanted to continue focusing on my career too.
Everyone brings up the sibling argument but there are no guarantees that they’ll get on, be friends as adults, live near each other or support one another in our old age or death.
We had quite a few negative reactions to our decision so we stopped talking about it.
Five years later, we had a little girl. We were still happily ‘one and done.’
Our family and friends thankfully haven’t questioned our choice surrounding having an only child but strangers LOVE to tell us we’ll change our mind! They simply don’t believe us when we say we’re happy as a three, it’s rude.
We love our life with our only child; we focus on being in the moment and the harder times are made easier knowing we won’t have to do them again.”
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