Cultivating Acceptance and Gratitude for Having an Only Child


Feel It

Many people happily choose to have only one child, some do not feel so positive about it. I fall into the latter category. The best solution as far as I can see is to allow myself to feel my emotions, but not to get buried in them. This is a strategy that works with most of the stuff life throws at us, so I’d recommend giving it a try. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel our emotions, if we bury them and pretend they aren’t there, they inevitably will show themselves. We may suffer from depression or anxiety, we may have impaired relationships, or we may act out in seemingly unrelated ways as a way of coping. We will never heal.

So when I see a younger child and I feel a little twist in my gut, I allow myself to feel it. When I find myself mourning the fact that I will never experience so many joyous parenting moments again, I allow myself to feel it. When I think of the things I still have, but that will be fleeting (such as my daughter telling me several times daily I’m the best mommy in the world), I allow myself to feel it. When I see siblings playing together and regret that my daughter will never experience that – you guessed it, I allow myself to feel it.

What do I mean by feeling it? I mean I cry, I scream, I talk to friends, I write, I exercise, I do whatever I need to do to get it out. Only then can I begin to move past it.

Work Through It

Pulling yourself up and working through negative emotions takes determination and persistence. Personally, I am making progress, and sometimes feel quite positive about sticking with our little three-person family. I’ve gotten as far as I have by working on consciously changing how I think about things from negative to positive. Basically, I force myself to look on the bright side, even if I don’t believe it in the moment.

So I think about how different my daughter’s life would be if we added a baby to the mix. I think about how it would change our family dynamic, which I love. Right now my daughter bathes in our time and attention; she gets so much more of me then I could provide if I added another tiny human to the mix, and I get so much more of her. She also gets all our financial resources for family experiences, academic opportunities, and just plain fun stuff.  Right now we are happy. Besides, who says that adding a sibling to the mix would better her life? For every person who has a story about how essential their sibling is to their life, I can find another person who would have been quite content being an only child. And lastly, I won’t have to trade in my nights of uninterrupted sleep for two-hour chunks at a time. This cannot be overlooked.

I also force myself to dig deep and examine my motivations behind wanting another child.

When I really think about it, I don’t know that I necessarily want another child, I think I may just want more time with the one I have. I want to be able to go back to when she was younger and relieve those precious moments. I want to freeze every moment in my daughter’s life because I know I will never get it back. Time’s progression is relentless and it breaks my heart. Having another child won’t get me more time with my current one, and the new child would grow up just as quickly.

Accept it and Embrace Gratitude

We will all come to a point like this in our lives when reality doesn’t quite meet up with how we thought things would be. We will realize that when it comes down to it, we have two choices. Live a life filled with regret, and miss out on what we do have in the process, or accept our reality and embrace gratitude. I’m making every effort to make the second choice.

It’s not easy to constantly make this choice, and I still frequently slip. I keep at it because I know that it is the only option for me, and I owe it to myself and my family to be fully present in our lives. So when I feel that twist in my gut, I allow myself to feel, I pick myself up, and I bring myself back to the current moment.

I am incredibly blessed to have experienced creating life at all. I am fortunate that my daughter is happy, healthy, and thriving. I’m so thankful I got to feel my heart expand, and be able to feel so much love, such intense love, that I never thought it capable of. By choosing to focus on this, I am choosing to live and enjoy, my best life. This may be the most important thing of all.

happiness with an only child

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Jenny Barr
Jenny was raised in Ohio, and after a decade long stay in Boston, moved to Columbus in 2016. She moved to Massachusetts alone but returned with the two loves of her life: her husband whom she married in 2012, and her daughter who was born in March of 2014. You could say the trip to the northeast was a successful one. Her top reasons for coming home were family, weather, traffic, and housing prices. Jenny lives for time spent with her little family of three. The trio has had so much fun exploring all that Columbus has to offer since moving to the area. Jenny looks forward to sharing her favorite spots in Columbus; as well as her knowledge and experiences of how mental health impacts parents and children; and what it is like raising an only child. She works as a counselor, reads at least two books weekly, and loves to practice yoga when time and energy allow. The key to a good day for Jenny is her morning routine: early morning cuddles with her daughter and enjoying a good cup of coffee before the craziness of life begins.


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