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changing dynamics (mum+only child vs. mum+more than 1)

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  • changing dynamics (mum+only child vs. mum+more than 1)

    Hi there, I am/was an only child myself and now have a 21/2-year -old daughter who I love to bits. We're a great team, we can talk about things, have a great time playing or out doing stuff and we're really good "friends".
    I was/am very close to my mum and as an only-child, don't know anything else. Both my husband and me don't have any siblings and agree that we could have learned useful life-skills had we not been only ones, but also we have very good and close relationships with our parents. I'm really worried about how the dynamics change once there's more than one child. Does it turn into an "us-and-them"?
    Before I had my daughter I always thought I'd like a big family and I still like the idea, but I can't actually picture the practice of this now (unfortunately am already 38 so can't hang around too much, especially as - if more- I'd rather go for three than two kids - God willing). Part of this might be that we still breastfeed, that my daughter doesn't sleep through the night yet (and I am consequently fairly tired and don't quite feel on top of things), and she really loves best/needs to play with me or my husband (yes we have tried to encourage independent play!). She's extremely clever and curious and remembers literally everything I tell her once and probably as a consequence of that demands loads of attention/one-to-one-play/reading/talking (we're a bilingual family so she's still busy learning a lot on the language front).... I want to mother her the way that's best for her. I am worried that I'll lose this very special relationship that I have got with her if we had more kids. Can one have all of that with more than one child? Any experiences would be very appreciated.
    Last edited by sunshinemum; 03-28-2009, 09:04 AM. Reason: title confusing?

  • #2
    Very interesting thoughts....Its definitely different with two, the dynamics are different but I do enjoy the sibling relationship my sons have. I don't feel that its a subsitute to their relationship with their parents, but an enriching one nonetheless. I am one of two daughters and now my children are one of two sons. My husband is the third of four, so has a different perspective. My personal reasoning to aim for three children is providing each sibling with TWO built in options for support as a adult. You might guess that I wanted that as a child/young have another option then my sister whom I didn't get along with that great. There are many pros and cons of course, very personal each of them....
    I will ask my co-leader to post on this. She is an only child and now has 2 sons.


    • #3
      It's really hard to say for sure. I am an only child with two sons. As an only, I LOVED having all the attention and resources to myself. My mother worked full time when I was very young, so this one on one time was important to us. However, I found it very isolating at times and very difficult to meet my mom's expectations since I was the only one. My mom took out much of her frustrations on me, and I felt many times that I had no one to go to. I am not looking forward to my parents aging and being the only one able to care for them. I knew before I married, I wanted a larger family. In planning our second pregnancy, some of these concerns you raise never occurred to me.

      It really depends on how you approach raising multiple children. I don't think it turns into an us-and-them at all unless you create that dynamic. They may at times create the dynamic themselves, but if you are set on having a cohesive family unit, then it doesn't. My hubby is youngest of two and never felt that way growing up and his parents didn't either (my father in law is oldest of eight).

      Adding another child changes the family structure, and in turn changes the relationship. Depending on how the parents lead, this can be a positive or negative change. With two or more, you certainly cannot play one on one as much as you do with one. That's a given. But, you don't lose that special relationship at all; it just changes and it incorporates the other child. And the first child learns a new way of loving and caring for another person who isn't mom or dad. Hopefully, as the children grow they cultivate a positive relationship based on this love, trust, and caring and can play and explore life together.

      You mentioned she's rather demanding of attention, but not in a bad way from what you posted. When another child comes, they must adjust and begin to meet their own needs a little more as appropriate with age. For example, instead of my son #1 and I playing at 10 am , I first put my son #2 down for a nap while #1 watches a show or plays quietly by himself. Once #2 is asleep, we play together. I try to seek in one on one time with #1 while #2 is sleeping or is playing happily with my husband. #2 is getting lots of one on one time currently because he is cosleeping and nursing. I think learning to put others first sometimes is an important lesson to learn and this was difficult for me to learn as a child since I didn't have any practice within the comfort of my home. I learned it, but it took longer than the people I knew who had siblings.

      Does that help at all?


      • #4
        Hi, I don't have any advice, but just wanted to say how much you sound like me. I was also an only child and have one son. He is a year old. I am going to be 38 in September and like you if I decide to have more children would like to have 3 rather than 2, but am feeling a little over the hill to do that. I'm leary of having more than just my son too because I would like us to remain so close and attached. While I know I would love another child as much as my son, I wonder how that is possible. Having another one almost feels like cheating on him.

        When I was growing up I was so glad I didn't have any siblings to share my mom with, but I realize now I would have been better off with one because my mom was a single mom who worked full time and I experienced a lot of lonely days. Now that I'm grown up I wish I had a brother or sister.

        I don't know what to tell you because I'm going through the same thing myself. I just wanted to comment on the similarity of our thoughts.

        Good luck,


        • #5
          wouldn't it be nice if life had guarantees? i had ds2 b/c i didn't want ds1 to be an only child, but can speak honestly and say that there are many days where i've questioned my decision. i didn't want my kids to grow up alone, but it's a terribly false theory, esp. coming from me b/c i have 4 brothers whom i hardly ever speak to.

          one benefit to having multiple children that hasn't been mentioned is that i have known a few single children who've had aging/dying parents and no one else to help out. it's been extremely hard for them.


          • #6
            i have known a few single children who've had aging/dying parents and no one else to help out
            Agree! When I vist my Grandma at the retirement comminity she is very thankful my mom lives nearby and can vist often.....and she (my g-ma) has 4 children!


            • #7
              I do see the ageing issue (I live in a different country than my parents and feel strongly I want to move closer to them - not because I have to but because I want to), but then surely that wouldn't be the main reason to have another baby, especially as it often seems to be one child looking more after the parents than the others.
              Both my mum and me were/are full-time mums and really try to spend a lot of time with our daughters. At the moment my little girl best loves to play with me or hubby rather than other kids, but I think that will change at some time (age what? 3/4?).
              Thanks Naomi (I'd love to hear what your co-leader thinks) and Aplilae for the long and helpful reply!
              And yes, Amy, that sounds a lot like me and I can definitely see what you mean about feeling as if you were betraying your son.
              One thing that both my husband and me feel strongly is that most only children we know are extremely sensitive (often too much so) and find it hard to deal with conflicts or even tend towards depression, which is something that we would obviously love to assist our daughter not to be. But then again, I'm sure there are downsides to having sibling rivalry etc. As somebody said: unfortunately no guarantees - one can only do one's best and hope and pray.
              Do keep the thoughts coming in, especially if you were an only child and now have more than one kids yourself and can compare the different mother-child relationships! Thanks, I really appreciate.


              • #8
                apelilae is my co-leader! She gave a very timely response, thanks April!


                • #9
                  April, you say you knew you wanted a large family before you got married. I did, too. In theory, I still do - it's just that I just can't imagine the reality of it (yet?). I can't imagine ever loving anybody as much, I'm scared my daughter might feel "less special" to me or worse she would feel she was less special to me... (possibly an only child's worries, but that's what I grew up as...). What if a possible second child was not as perfect as my lovely little daughter (or would he/she be perfect to me anyway because he/she's mine?) I know that sounds all very scared (which it is) - for me taking an active step towards making the family bigger goes beyond what I know (the fear of the unknown..). Perhaps it's just not the right time yet - how does one know? - or else I just need to take a big leap of faith...


                  • #10
                    do you love your dh? do you love your dd as much as him? does your love for one make the other less? and so it will be w/any other children. you will love them for who they are, your relationship will be different, but love does not divide, it multiplies exponentially.


                    • #11
                      what about letting go?


                      This is such an interesting thread - we're thinking about getting no2 soon, too.
                      I don't think you'd lose the closeness any more than you would anyway when your daughter grows up.
                      With siblings, she has the opportunity to learn lessons like sharing (toys and time), giving and receiving support and dealing with negative feelings (on top of having fun together) while you are there to help her. If she enjoys being with you, she'll probably enjoy helping you with the little one, which would be the natural thing developmentally for her when the time comes.

                      What would I have done w/o my big bro in the school playground? Doesn't bear thinking about!