Mothers With One Kid Are Happier -- Science Says So


MotherI can't remember exactly what it was I was looking for when I stumbled across a blog post in Psychology Today which, depsite that whole black-women-are-the-least-attractive-people-on-the-Earth debacle a while back, is still one of my favorite sites to troll. There's always something interesting going on over there, and the piece I found made me forget what I was scrounching around for in the first place. It presented an interesting argument: are parents with just one child happier than the ones who have, you know, two and three and whole broods?

I don't know about that, but I do know they're probably wealthier, since kids are expensive as all get out. And maybe a little less frazzled, since the more little ones there are in a confined space, the more spazzed out the adult in charge tends to get. And maybe their countdown to that magical year 18 is a little shorter since they only have to wait it out once. But happier? I can't say that for sure since I'm an only child raising an only child. But I do think it kind of shortchanges the poor kid, not having any siblings and all

I don't buy into the blanket statements about only children being more selfish and totally self-absorbed and balking under the pressure of being the one and only apple of their parents' collective eye. But I do think there's something to be said about growing up with other kids right there in the house and learning all those valuable lessons you get from having to share space and toys and everything else in the house with your brothers and sisters, even if it's just one.

Plus when you're an only, there are no fun stories to tell about resolving a squabble over a doll or strategizing to beat your sibing to the bathroom every morning before school. There's just... you. That was one of the things I hated the most about being the solo kid. The loneliness. Sure, all of those days spent playing in my room by myself made me more creative and resourceful as I blossomed into adult. (Can we be honest that, even if their parents are in fact happier, only children do tend to be just a eensy bit more odd than the average multi-sibling-ed kid?) But it may also be the reason why Girl Child and I slip into a pattern of being more like sisters at times than mother and daughter.

Naturally, I don't advocate for parents popping out more youngsters than they can afford--or want--to take care of. But if the bank account and the circumstances align, I think having more than one is ideal for the kids. The author's byline didn't say what side of the fence she fell on, or if she was even a parent at all, but her reasoning was pretty airtight for letting one be the onliest one. I don't think I'm any happier for having just one, and I'm positive my mama wasn't, either. Heck, if my punishment track record is any indication, then all signs point to a resounding no. 

Does the number of kids you have determine how happy you are as a parent?

Image via din!/Flickr

behavior, boys, family, girls


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

nonmember avatar Momofone

It's all relative, right? How do I define my happiness as a parent? By taking joy in every moment I have with her. Well, the pinching and biting wasn't so joyful tonight; moving on, how can we really say one parent is happier than another? I totally agree with you about more kids means frazzled adults, but happier or sadder? Not for others to say.


I don't know either, but I do know having 2, I constantly feel that I don't have enough time for each child, then the hubs, then what? Time for myself? Never!

melro... melrose79

I think it depends on the parent. I have 1 child & am very satisfied with my decision. It was a good financial choice for DH & I although I do feel bad because sometimes DH is lonely & I sometimes get baby fever but it comes & goes. I think no matter how many kids you have there will always be that urge to have another baby in the house. Babies are wonderful. But these days kids are so rough, even if you raise them right & my 1 child is taking everything out of me. I can't even start to consider raising another teen. There's a small part of me that wants a big family but there's an even larger part of me that knows this is ideal for us. I'm so glad I only have DD.

babyb... babybirch

I grew up with two brothers and a sister, and they're my best friends . I can't imagine the loneliness of being an only child . My siblings are a riot and they are still my closest familial confidants . My mom and dad would sometimes tell us, when we were younger, that they felt as if they weren't giving us enough individual attention, and we'd just look at them like they were nuts ... we all were close, we went camping together, had some great adventures, and never really had any longing .

Also, in my personal experience, having an only child can be MORE stressful for a parent - you are their only entertainment (unless you prop them up in front of the tv for hours on end) and therefore they are always trying to get your attention because, hey, they don't understand "I need some quiet to finish paying the bills" etc . A lot of the kids I know also have sharing issues . Kids need other kids in their lives, in my opinion . I love my siblings, and I plan on having at least three kids myself .

ChicH... ChicHippie

I have a younger brother and we aren't close. My husband has two younger brothers and isn't close with them either. We are happy with our son, and currently have no plans for future children. He has a cousin that lives 1 block away that's a year older than him, we have lots of friends with kids exactly his age, we go to play dates and the library, and he spends time with kids at church. He gets plently of time with other kids so socialization and lonliness aren't a concern for us.

nonmember avatar Gertie

Perhaps. But my two boys are (for now) very close. So there is something to be said for that too.

nonmember avatar Ruthanne

I am a only child. My husband is a only child. We only have one son. I wish daily I could have had atleast one more. Sadly enough so does our son. But that can never happen.

Sarah... Sarah_t2000

I have three, and another due in April. I was far from happiest with just one. If I were unable to have more then sure I would have been content with one but seeing their personalities and watching them learn to work together makes me amazingly happy. They are best friends, and at times worst enemies :) as far as individual attention I dont feel guilty if I can't spend 6 hours a day alone with each of them. We homeschool and I make it a point to give them one on one time while we are working and as often as posible while we aren't. And, they love doing activities together. I wouldn't trade my somewhat larger family for anything, and I don't feel overwhelmed or stressed by my children. Each one of them brings far more joy than they have ever caused me in stress!

reiki... reikiharmony

This is something I strubble with alot myself. My son is now four and I never thought I'd have anymore because of how sick I was when I was pregnant with him and other things. BUT, after four years to finally forget the three and four day migraines and cave in to the baby fever and, also, to worry about the affect it's having on my son being, essentially an only child, I have begun to prepare to have another when my husband returns from deployment (again, being a military family, I think he's really benefit from permanent relationships that move WITH us.) I think that maybe, in this study, parents of only children might be happy as a by product of being highly functional people that are in charge enough of their reproductive health and their life to execute a life plan and set goals and know what they want, rather than letting their life live them, I.e. not paying attention to birth control, having kids they can't afford and/or don't take care of well enough because it "just happened," or having children because they thought they were "suppposed to" without really thinking it through. Just a theory. To each his own and that's the best reason I can think of for why people would specifically be happy having just one child. Some people are capable and wonderful parents to six kids, and some people should have none, or just one...or some people could have a gaggle of children but, again, just know that they just want one, or two.

1-10 of 20 comments 12 Last