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There are some 14 million only-children in the US, representing about 20% of all kids. This statistic has grown dramatically in the past fifty years or so, when only-children were thought of to be spoiled, lonely and entitled.
I was an only child. Kind of. Is that like being kind of pregnant - impossible? Nope. My parents added another one to our family when I was almost nine. They even tell me that was a deliberate decision although I struggle believing them - even today. Although I love the heck out of her now, I spent from about age nine to eighteen wishing I could have continued with my true only-ness.
And because we are so far apart in age, both of us had a bit of an only-child experience.
Husband and I agreed, before we even decided to slightly expand our family that this one would be it. Why, you ask?
First, we live a very active lifestyle in that we camp, backpack, hike, ski and do all those kinds of things that happen to you when you choose to live in Colorado. Doing those things with one is, I only assume, a bit easier.
Second, husband is just a touch older than me. I adore him to the core so I don't need to give away his secrets, but let's just say he made out like that proverbial bandit. Younger, hot wife. I am puffing out my chest as I write this.
And, lastly, that's all we wanted. Period. Having one allows us to focus all of our attentions on helping this one little person grow into the absolute best version of herself. But, before you launch into all the reasons why more than one is even better, allow me to let you know that I get it. Those that choose to have more than one are amazing and special parents - hell, just one is tons of work - I don't know how you do it with two, three, four or eight!
There is a stigma attached to being an only. I mentioned it above and I want to avoid it like the plague. I truly believe that we can raise a well-adjusted, confident and joyful child even though she is our only. But, I also believe we are going to have to work at it:
1. Keeping her socialized. You may know by now, I am a huge daycare advocate for this reason alone, but for many others. Here, she is learning how to interact with not only other children, but adults as well. She learns to take instruction from other people while being a good (or not so good, depending on the day) example for the other kids.
2. Encouraging her independence. Earlier this year, I was meeting professionally with another mom and brought Baba with me. She was just learning to walk and was exploring the space. After I made sure she was safe, I would look at her every now and again, but I didn't hover and I just let her be independent. The other mother, who didn't know me well said, "she must have older siblings." When I asked why she would say that, she mentioned that I was very relaxed in letting her be her own person without being afraid of what might happen.
3. Setting boundaries. Fact of the matter: she is the kid, we are the parents. Especially as she gets older, I will have to remind myself that I am her Mom, not her friend. She needs me to be her Mom - there will be plenty of time when she's much older (like, gasp, 30) that we can be friends.
4. Refraining from spoiling. She's two, so we're practicing this one now. You may judge me even more when I tell you that we're not getting her anything for Christmas this year. Terrible? Not for her. She has a playroom filled to the brim with things that make her happy and keep her busy. And, knowing some of the generous people in our lives, I have a feeling she may have a thing or two (or ten, if you know my Mom) to open on Christmas morning. To us, that's enough. We are starting our focus on what Christmas is really about.
5. Helping to build a strong relationship with Daddy. This one has recently gotten so fun to watch. Case in point: I am making dinner two nights ago. Baba comes and grabs my hand to show me that she and Daddy had prepared an entire Playdough "meal" complete with peas, mac-n-cheese, spaghetti and meatballs and pizza. He had hand-made every little piece. I melted.
6. Inviting friends. At her current age, I could just as soon pack her up and go it alone, but it's much more fun - for both of us - to experience our fun with other people. I take every opportunity to socialize her with other children - even though she is in preschool full time. It's never too early for her to learn what friendships are all about. She's social, by nature, so we need to cultivate that. As she grows, we are fully aware that some of our excursions may feel like we actually had more than one child. But, the best part? We get to give one back at the end.
|The company we keep: it's about the quality, not the quantity. Right?!|