8 Things Never to Say to a Mom of an Only Child

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number oneI've got one child. It might be by choice. It might not be. It doesn't matter. It's personal. Still, that doesn't stop people from asking if I'll have more, when I'll have more, why don't I have more. Or stop them from telling me I have to have more, my life is no good without more, I'm not a "real" mom without more.





These are declarations that I -- and other moms of only children -- really don't want to hear. Questions we really don't want to answer. So be kind. Take the time to read this list -- and the next time you find yourself saying something like this to another mother, bite your lip, and give her a sweet compliment instead.

  1. "When are you having another baby?" This is wrong for all kinds of reasons. Maybe I don't want another baby. Maybe I desperately want another baby (and can't have one for whatever reason -- feel like a jerk now?). Maybe I'm currently pregnant and don't want anyone to share the news just yet. Maybe I've just had a miscarriage and I'm in mourning (again with the jerk thing). I'll have another baby when I want to, if I can, and when I'm ready. Until then, not your business. Wait for the baby notice in the mail. Seriously, don't ask.
  2. "Oh, you 'don't know' cause you haven't had your second one yet." Don't know? Don't know what? I know exactly what it's like to be a mother. Last time I checked, one kid is all you need.
  3. "You're so lucky you can [fill in the blank] because you've got only one kid." So true, so true. Because I have only one child, I spend my days lounging around, watching soap operas (are those still on?), and eating bon bons. I'm thinking you might have one confused with none. I still do need to read Good Night Moon a thousand times (in one sitting), kiss boo boos, watch this ... watch this ... watch this!, survive with no sleep, go to the pediatrician, worry, wash crayons off walls, deal with mommy playground politics, do laundry, plan birthday parties, take showers, cook dinner, potty train, go to Mommy & Me class, have food spit in my face ... you get the picture. See that? One. None. That N makes all the difference.
  4. "Every child needs a brother or sister." If I don't want another child, I'm pretty sure I disagree with that statement. And I probably believe that my kid can have a happy, fulfilling life and won't turn out to be a serial killer. But if I do believe in the importance of siblings and feel beyond guilty for not being able to give my son or daughter one, then congratulations -- you just made me feel even worse.
  5. "Well. It's easy for you to be in shape because you were only pregnant once." That MUST be it. It really has nothing to do with the fact that I exercise and eat right. The one-kid thing is totally why all moms of singletons look like triathletes and moms of more are fat slobs.
  6. "It's so hard with three kids." The inverse of #3, but still, worth repeating. Are you implying that my job as mom isn't as hard as yours? For those of you who stay home with your three kids 24/7, or work and come home to your three kids, I'd agree. My hat is off to you and you can stop reading now. But for those of you who want to tell us single-kid moms how hard it is to have three kids, it's probably best not to do it at these times: a) When I see you in the coffee shop with my kid in tow, where you're meeting a friend for lunch (followed by a pedicure!) after having done your morning workout class. b) When I run by you on the road struggling with my 40-pound kid in a 20-pound jog stroller as you come breezing by, enjoying a long luxurious run because you just dropped your 3-year-old off at "school" and your 8-week-old twins off at daycare. c) Just after you've told me that you're going away on a four-day spa trip because you need some "alone" time when I haven't spent a night away from my "just one" ... ever. You might "have" three (a blessing not a burden!), but my one is always with me.
  7. "Don't you want to try for a girl/boy?" Sort of like #1, but worse. Are you saying the gender I got "stuck" with isn't good enough? Or is it that my life will somehow be incomplete if I don't have one of each?
  8. "Are you trying for another one?" I'm sorry, did you just ask me if I'm having sex?

A final bit of advice: Don't repeat all (or any) of the above EVERY SINGLE TIME we see you. We didn't appreciate it the first time.

Moms with "just one" kid -- what would you add to this list?

More from The Stir: 5 Things Never to Say to an Adoptive Parent

More from The Stir: 20 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

More from The Stir: 10 Things You Should Never Ever Say to a Divorcee


Image via andrechinn/Flickr

a mom's life, infertility, siblings, miscarriage & loss, trying to conceive


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Rhond... RhondaVeggie

When my son was younger I used to say things like "maybe one day" or "we'll think about it" but in the past few years I started just telling people the truth. Nothing makes someone feel like an ass faster than a mom of one saying "well we've been trying for over five years now but secondary infertility is a bitch." Now that I'm pregnant and my only, soon to be oldest, kid is seven I get people saying things about finally deciding to give him a sibling. I just smile and tell them that suffering from infertility for years and having multiple miscarriages wasn't really a decision, more like a 6+ year suckfest. I figure I don't have a problem telling people this stuff and I might be saving another struggling mom the pain of hearing such drivel.

nonmember avatar mom23boys

OK, I don't want to sound mean but I did have one child at one point and now I have 3 boys. People with multiple children know what it is like having one child, people with one child do not honestly know what it is like to have more than one. To the comment that having more than one allows them to entertain and play together, if you only knew. Just not accurate at all! When my oldest boys go to school my 3 year old plays much better without them here and I get more work done when I am down to "one". Regardless comments do not need to be made.

Joyce Bussa Krar

I'm an only child,  I had one child and he has one child.  We are not selfish or spoiled, just practical.  With economic issues, environmental issues,  and population problems,  we feel it was the right choice for us!!


poshkat poshkat

I got really sick at the "you should have another one" comments. I started telling people I can't. Most people shut up right away and when someone does ask why I tell them it's s private matter. i dont sspecify why I can't. My uterus is not and will never be dinner conversation again. I did end up having a tubal in march. I made the mistake of telling someone who was big on the "you need to have another" bandwagon. She said she had one and still got pregnant. I smiled, got up and walked away.

nonmember avatar kyra

I have an only child, by choice. Before getting married, my husband and I discussed having kids and we BOTH only ever wanted one.

The comment that used to leave me scratching my head was, "She'll be lonely." Um, no. I think people who have 2+ kids in order to provide "companionship" and "built-in playmates" are delusional. Virtually all the siblings I know felt resentful as kids being forced to play with their siblings. They would've rather played with their actual CHOSEN friends. Furthermore, sibling "friendships" often don't occur until adulthood, and even then, a lot of them have strained or hateful relationships. Having an only was the best decision we ever made, and my daughter is in no way lacking or lonely.

scary... scaryfairy81

I get asked a lot if/when we are going to adopt again, or why we don't "just" use a surrogate, or "just" try IVF a time or 2...ummmm, apparently they don't realize the very large risks and costs involved with all 3, and there is nothing easy about any of them. I am just happy and thankful to be a mother at all, even with "just one". 

jessi... jessicasmom1

hey it happens to some of us

nonmember avatar mary

I was 41 when I had my healthy son. When are you having another ? I got asked all the time. you look so good for your age.. madanna had babies when she was older.. silly folks, yes I may look young for my age.. but my eggs are still aged.

Prett... PrettyGirlMyers

The fact is, having one child IS easier than having two or three. And the picture painted in #6 doesn't accurately represent the reality of most people with more than one child.  With that said, I don't think it's anyones place to point out that their life is harder/easier than anyone elses, and if someone only has one child you don't know the reason why. I have a good friend who struggled terribly with infertility, finally got pregnant and had a baby at 40, and now cannot afford to go through IVF again. Should she have to explain all of that to some insensitive jerk who thinks that because she just has one child she's not a "real" mom?

Prett... PrettyGirlMyers

Kyra- I'm one of four and I was so lonely all the time when I was a kid. Having siblings doesn't always mean built in playmates and best friends for life, and even now as an adult I'm not close to any of my siblings (you hit the nail on the head with "strained, hurtful relationships". You made the right choice for your family, and I'm sure your daughter is just fine :)

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