Five Things Not to Say to Parents With Only One Kid

A portrait my daughter did of our family
A portrait my daughter did of our family Photo by Jef Rouner
I have a daughter. She’s the only child my wife and I are ever going to have thanks to a combination of laser surgeries for endometriosis, the fact that getting bodyslammed in a wrestling ring isn’t good for the motility of your sperm, and the cost of in vitro fertilization. She’s it. My wife and I are fine with that.

However, people get…weird about it sometimes. They seem to think having an only child is some sort of aberration, and it leads to a lot of passive-aggressive comments. Don't say these things to single-child parents.

5. Don’t You Want More?
That is a very loaded question. Maybe we did and couldn’t have more. Maybe we did and they died. Maybe we’re one of those couples Republicans always go on about that “only have the number of kids we can afford.” Not that there needs to be a reason, but if there is, the reason may be painful.

4. Don’t You Want a Little Brother or Sister?

First, it’s really uncool to ask a child if he or she wants something the person asking isn’t going to pay for or provide, be it a toy, a pet or a person. For the record, whenever anyone asks my daughter this, she says yes, but she’s not the one who will have to take care of this hypothetical child. It’s all I can get her to do to feed a guppy once a day. Do not try to get my child to emotionally blackmail me into further reproduction.

3. Isn’t She Bored or Lonely?
Sometimes, yes. In the summer especially, because I work from home and we only have one car. Some days she gets bored or lonely and won’t stop bothering me for board games and ice cream. That said, this child has been in either day care or public school her entire life. Right now she spends nearly 40 hours a week surrounded by other children and sitting next to her best friend. She can handle some alone time. You shouldn’t have other children simply as companions. That’s what her cat is for.

2. You’ll Change Your Mind
Anyone who has ever said this to anyone else about any reproductive choice that person has made is an unabashed asshole. There is literally never a reason to say this on the subject of having children. I might as well say you’ll change your mind about having two and give one up for adoption. See how it sounds when pointed at you?

1. What If Something Happens to Her?
Yes, someone actually said this to me. I should have another child as a spare in case my first dies. That way I’m not childless, and the only thing the sort of people who say these things hate worse than only children is childless couples.

Look, there is no score for having children. The only good reason for having children is because you want them. Nobody should feel pressured into fulfilling some artificial nuclear-family fantasy, and my single child is not a silent judgment against others with multiple kids. Let’s all do each other a favor and just assume the kids we have — and the kids we don’t have — are fine.
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner