One and Done: The Single-Child Phenomenon
Heidi Dean has one child, a son, Cade. Now three years old, this little boy is just enough for Heidi and her husband, Roy. The couple does not need to have a daughter for themselves or have another baby so that Cade will have a sibling. They’ve been blessed with one. And they’re done.
“Knowing our personalities, we just didn’t have enough of ourselves to spread out among multiple children,” says Dean, co-host of BabyZone’s Single Child Families board. “We wanted a child and knew we had enough to give to one, but felt that there’s a lot of pressure for us to have another. We felt like if we gave in to that pressure, we would be cheating not only ourselves, but the baby we are bringing into the world.”
By having only one child, the Deans of Bellevue, Washington, will be regaining some of their independence sooner than if they decided to have more children. All of their attention can go to Cade, and they will make sure he has all the experiences they want for him. The family is already planning a trip to Disneyland for when Cade is five, something they wouldn’t do if another baby were in the picture.
“In surveying our finances, we could just have the one [child] financially and still give him the experience we want to give him,” Heidi explains. “I can be a stay-at-home mom and not always be scraping for money.”
The Single-Child Family
The Deans are among a growing number of families that are choosing to have single-child families. The US Census Bureau reports that in 1976, only nine percent of women had just one child. By 2002, that number had nearly doubled to 17.4 percent.
There are many reasons behind the single-child phenomenon. Dr. Susan Newman, PhD, a New Jersey-based social psychologist and author of Parenting an Only Child, says the high divorce rate, secondary infertility, women starting their families later in life, and the rise of the two-income family all play a role. “I think it’s just as hard to decide to have the second,” says Dr. Newman. “You’re faced with a whole different set of issues.” Having enough space in your house, enough financial resources both for food, clothing, and daycare now and college later on, and simple scheduling issues all come into play when thinking about another child. And if both parents work, how will they juggle the responsibility of another child?
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