I am a third generation only-child raising an only-child. This was not the original plan. I think my grandmother and mother both would have wanted more children had the circumstances been different. They both became single after their first child and then for practical reasons did not have an opportunity to have another child or adopt. I am happily partnered and we would LOVE a sibling for our son, but our circumstances are up in prayer…http://shareectopicstories.blogspot.com/
I have lots of mixed emotions about being a 3rd generation only-child family. Most of my feelings come from caring for and watching my mom struggle with #Alzhiemers. With both parents deceased, no siblings or cousins, my step-dad and I have become the primary care-takers; and as a girl child I feel the pressure to be more involved in her care. She also had to take care of her aging parents on her own, each divorced without spouses or siblings to share the responsibility. I look at my son and think “I hope you do not also have to bear that type of burden.”
So here are my thoughts on planning ahead and living in the moment with an only:
- Purchase long-term care insurance. It is true that your daily use health care insurance and your long term disability care insurance will not cover the expenses of you needing to enter long-term care such as an assisted living facility or nursing home. If you have an only child he/she will bear the burden of that financial responsibility and depending on where he/she is in life at the moment, it could be devastating. Here’s a recent story from the Chicago Tribune on the matter: http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/sns-201306181700–tms–premhnstr–k-i20130619-20130619,0,3409581.story
- Make a clear will and update regularly. In many states your assets and property are not automatically deemed your child’s assets and property when you die. Make sure that those things most important to you are clearly willed to your partner, child, or other friend or family members. From CNN Money: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson21/index.htm
- When your child is old enough have that uncomfortable/tough conversation about your end-of-life wishes. Like wills, every state varies in what is acceptable and how these matters are handled. Make sure you know your state’s laws. From the N.Y. Times: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/18/mapping-your-end-of-life-choices/?_r=0
LIVING IN THE MOMENT
1. Be confident and comfortable in your decision. Family members & friends may put pressure on you or make you feel guilty for only having one. The decision is yours and your partners (if applicable). No need to provide explanations or excuses.
- Love your child unconditionally and do not wish out loud for a sibling. Your only child should not feel guilt or shame for being an only child and should experience your love fully. If you do wish for another child, do not do so in his/her presence. That child you have now is your precious gift!
- Surround your child with quality friends and make regular play dates. Find or start an only-child play group. This also helps with the skills of sharing and taking turns. Your child need to be a lonely only, there are many ways to fill his/her life with age-mates and with big brothers/sisters/cousins.
- Example of only child play groups: http://onlychild.meetup.com/
- Travel to visit those 2nd cousins across the country or across the ocean. Skype. If you have relatives with children, but not close by make plans to see them on a regular basis either in person or via Skype.
I got lucky (my feelings); I ended up with a sister (topic for another blog). But in some sense each of us is still an only child…
What are your thoughts? If you’re an only child or the child of an only child or a teacher/nanny/caretaker who has worked with only children, please weigh-in!