SP, OH, writes: My son and his wife have announced that they have decided to have only one child. I think being an only child is not the best experience for him or her in learning how to give and take and work out relationships in adulthood. I don’t want to create bad feelings but wonder if I should say something about my misgivings.
Deciding to have children is a momentous and personal decision for a couple, one that even they don’t grasp the extent of how their lives will change. But I would not say anything that could be seen as pressuring or critical. They are probably aware of the pros and cons of their decision (and sometimes “the best laid plans…”). At this point, they may have decided what is best for their family, having taken into consideration their ages, energy, work plans, and/or finances. And only children can have close relationships with other children of their own age through early preschool where play is integral to the program, and through extended family and friends situations.
I used to hear parents say to their preschoolers, “When you have children…,” or “Wait until you have children….” Isn’t it a little selfish for parents to expect their children to have children so that they can have grandchildren? And a lot has been written about the problems inherent in isolated “nuclear families,” no matter the size of the family. It appears to me that in any family it is a mistake to make the child or children the focus in such a way that they expect to be pampered, but rather the focus should be on the needs of every family member and the larger goals of rearing children to become caring, productive members of society. I’m personally for cooperatives, collectives, around living situations, around play groups, car pooling, sports, community gardening, etc., but I can only suggest things in an atmosphere where my children do not feel criticized or judged in any way. The child is fortunate who has grandparents who can support them by providing experiences that can include community activities that their parents may not be able to provide them.
(One good discussion of these issues: http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/982209/deciding-to-have-an-only-child)