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Dear Miss SmartyPants,

What if I only want ONE ... kid? That cannot possibly be okay, can it? She'll be spoiled rotten, right? And she won't socialize well with other kids, right? And she'll be lonely, right?

We had initially agreed to have at least two. (I was raised as an only child and had all the above problems.) My husband stays home with our three-year-old and he's doing a great job. But I swore I wouldn't have another child unless I could stay home with him/her, and by the time we can afford for me to do that, my chances of conceiving will have dropped significantly. Besides, I'm just so tired now, I can't imagine going through all that again. And the three of us are really happy together. And it doesn't seem fair to my daughter to have another child when I feel like I don't have enough time for her. (My husband is of the same mind on this, though we haven't set anything in stone.)

What do you do when you're suddenly okay with something you never thought you'd be okay with? Comments or criticism from you would be welcome.


Dear Uncertain,

I'm sure there are a lot of only children who wish they'd had a sibling, but there are others who would take great exception to the idea that they were somehow deprived or poorly socialized.

A lot of people have one kid. A lot of people decide to have one because they feel they can't give another baby the attention s/he deserves. Others have that decision made for them. Either way, it is what it is, and you do your best for the child you have. Since you know what it means to be an only child, you're in a great position to know what she might be missing and to find other ways to fill those needs.

BTW, not to cast doubt on your decision or anything, but merely as thought food: Just as your decision never to have an only child may open to a challenge, your decision not to have another baby if you can't stay home might also be open to challenge. Since you've already found that absolutes don't fare well in the childrearing arena, you might as well put all of them out to the curb.

For instance, I have friends who always wanted a bunch of kids, then after having their first, thought they only wanted one. After three years they both realized they wanted another one, and are now expecting. People change, circumstances change, and I guess one day you realize all that "family planning" you do gets thrown out the window because either your desire to have another or not have one is so strong. It's OK.

My cousin was an only child, and she's thriving. She's told me that she sometimes wishes she had siblings, but that she has great friendships with several people who she considers family. And she's also very independent. She was what some may consider spoiled since her parents could afford to do more for her, but she was always taught to appreciate everything she got and therefore never expect things of people. She told me her parents are both only children as well, which makes for VERY easy holiday celebrations - they're portable!

Don't fret over changing your mind. Life teaches us lessons as we go, and being receptive to what we learn as we go along is part of the deal. As always, just be sure that you and hubby are on the same page regarding major decisions.

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