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Ideas & Advice

9 Reasons Why “Just One” Child May Be Just Right for You

Alberto Casetta / Unsplash

Source: Alberto Casetta / Unsplash

The pandemic has changed the way many think about family size, and those who want children, whether it’s a first, second or third, face a newly complicated landscape.

The unpredictable nature of COVID-19 and its economic fallout has been added to the equation, but one result seems certain: births, ”wrote two economics professors from the University of Maryland and Wellesley College in the New York Times.

If you have a child and are planning more, you may wait for the pandemic to set in. Different sources predict different timescales as viral variants emerge. In other words, the pole of life as we know it continues to move.

9 questions to ask yourself

Here are considerations – some pandemic related, some not – that you will want to assess before deciding whether one child or “just one” or more might be right for you.

Now is the time to start or expand my family?

In an article for Atlantic, Joe Pinsker predicted the pandemic trajectory: “Life this spring won’t be much different from last year; summer could, miraculously, be close to normal; and next fall and winter could bring either continuous improvement or moderate regression, followed by an almost certain return to something like pre-pandemic life.

Others are more careful in their assessment. Because the path of the virus keeps changing, and with it the regulations and restrictions have changed, you may be wondering: will waiting another year or two make a difference?

Is my job secure?

The pandemic has created a fragile economy and job uncertainty, especially for mothers. In the United States, women “made up 47% of the workforce before COVID-19, but they suffered 55% of job losses due to COVID-19.”

This translates to around four times as many women as men, one of the main reasons being the extra workload for mothers during the pandemic. The National Law Center reports that those who stayed in the workforce worried about how their additional care responsibilities, such as home schooling support, would be viewed at work and whether the use time off benefits offered by an employer could cost them their jobs.

Will a baby slow down my career?

In these uncertain times, you’ll also want to review your employer’s parental leave policy and think about how long you want to stay home after the birth of your child. If you’re worried about job security and advancement, it may be wise to wait.

Also think about your career goals, your employer’s attitude towards working parents, especially mothers, and decide how maternity and family leave will affect your professional goals.

How many children can I afford?

You can’t put a price on kids, but the reality is, kids are expensive. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average cost to raise a child to age 18 (college not included) has been estimated at $ 233,610 for middle-income families. This number fluctuates more or less depending on where you live and your income.

Almost a third of the total cost is spent on housing. One child or more children may mean you need a bigger house or apartment. If you work outside of your home, be sure to factor in child care. Its cost can determine whether you leave or stay in the workforce. As hard as it sounds, and you might not agree, but having babies is an economic decision.

Your decision may simply depend on how many kids you can afford and whether the extra expense would significantly change your lifestyle. Kenneth *, the father of an only child who is himself an only child and a subject of my recent study of only children, says: “A second child would change our dynamics. Beyond having to move to a bigger house, that would mean one of us would have to give up his career, most likely my wife. Child care is prohibitive where we live.

Am I afraid of missing out?

Children absorb discretionary income, which can change your lifestyle. If you’re worried about parties, after-hours cocktails with coworkers, maybe even trips you’ve planned and maybe couldn’t afford, you better put a baby on hold. Or, maybe, consider having just one child. With one, you will have greater mobility, more time and energy for the things you want to do.

How long can I wait to have a baby?

There is no doubt that women, in general, wait longer to start or complete a family. Dr Joanne Stone, director of maternal and fetal medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, told CBS Sunday morning show, “Forty is the new 30… Everyone’s older. If you have someone who is 28, it’s like a teenage pregnancy.”

Judith * makes no apologies for not having more children after giving birth to her daughter. She explains: “We started late; I was 40 years old. I didn’t understand eggs and fertility, and wanted a career, but I wasn’t giving up on a baby. We had our daughter $ 180,000 later when I was 45. She will have to get a scholarship for the university. We spent this money trying to get it.

The options and advancements within the fertility industry are enormous; however, the cost can be prohibitive, as it turned out to be in Judith’s case. If you are older and are hesitant to get pregnant now, you may want to consider freezing your eggs or embryos for a later date. Fertility treatments can be emotionally difficult and stressful. This is one of the reasons why women with a child often give up on the idea of ​​giving their child a sibling.

Does your partner agree with what you want?

Avoid the mistake of believing that a baby will solve the problems in your relationship. Parenthood tends to make problems worse, and you both have to agree. Babies rarely, if ever, improve or cement a long-term marriage or partnership.

And, if you both agree, discuss each partner’s responsibilities or how you envision your future life with more kids or one child.

Are only children happy?

If you lean towards “one,” be aware that the unpleasant labels and stigmas that once surrounded only children have disappeared, in part because of the large number of parents deciding that a child is suitable for them and because the parents of the one of them are savvy and wise about how they are raising their child.

The beliefs embedded in our culture that only children are lonely, selfish, authoritarian – the stereotypes – just don’t hold up anymore. As I complete a research project which largely investigated attitudes towards single children and their parents, I can say with a high degree of certainty that only children, especially most of those under 50 years old, don’t and don’t feel like they’ve ever been targeted or tagged because they didn’t have a sibling.

Only child Geneviève, 45, says: “Of course I was bullied at school, but it wasn’t about being an only child. It was those things that kids are mean … my squeaky voice, my hair, or my waist. That sort of thing.”

Richard, 39, who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s when families got smaller and it was more common to have children, said: “I always knew that myths about only children existed, but I never thought they applied to me. If I had heard something like that, I would have brushed it off as being an idiot. Looking back, he adds: “Being an only child makes it easier to grow up without having a brother or sister with whom you have to play or with whom you are nice.

The mother of single 8-year-old Meg, 43, agrees. “I grew up with three sisters and I can tell you that my daughter is much happier, more confident and sociable than before. I still remember many times when I felt lonely and misunderstood. “

Still don’t know what to do?

Long before the pandemic, The New York Times asked nearly 2,000 men and women why they had fewer children than their ideal; their main reasons were similar to what women say in other countries: 64% said childcare was too expensive; 54 percent wanted more time with the children than they had; 49% were worried about the economy.

More recently, the Brookings Institute and similar reports predicted fewer babies as a result of the pandemic. They base their conclusion on the large number of women stating “that they plan to postpone childbirth or have fewer children.” And it’s never an easy choice.

Ashleigh Wallace openly discusses her struggles, revealing painful feelings about herself and her needs as she grapples with the question, is one child enough for me?

Considering all that there is to weigh, could “just one” be right for you?

* The names of study participants have been changed to protect their identity.

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“COVID-19 puts babies on hold”
“6 well-kept secrets that affect family size”

Copyright @ 2021 by Susan Newman.

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