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  • Why We Need To Stop Telling Parents Who Choose To Have One Child They're Selfish

    “You’re tired? Try having 4 kids” and other phrases we need to stop telling parents raising an only child.
    by Angela Baylon .
Why We Need To Stop Telling Parents Who Choose To Have One Child They're Selfish
PHOTO BY courtesy of renah flote
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    It's a heartbreaking reality that parent shaming, in various contexts, continues to persist today. In our Facebook group, Smart Parenting Village, moms and dads have been airing their concerns and experiences of being subjected to this unfair and, most of the time, unreasonable treatment.

    Recently, one mommy villager came forward to speak up against the prejudice she received for choosing to have an only child

    Unfortunately, until now, many are still adhering to the stereotypes of being a "one and done" parent.

    Stereotypes On Having An Only Child

    We have all heard the assumption that those raised without a sibling can grow up spoiled, self-centered, and self-absorbed. Something that has been debunked at least in one study published in Psychological Bulletin, which suggested that:

    "In achievement, intelligence, and character, only borns excelled beyond their peers with siblings, especially those with many or older siblings."

    The study also pointed out that significant comparisons between children with siblings and only borns weren't observed regarding their ability to adjust and socialize.

    There's also the comment that single-child parents are "selfish" for letting their only child be "alone and lonely" to keep things easy. (But, when did parenting even become a competition of who has it harder in the first place?)

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    If I share some motherhood hardships about my toddler, I get shut down. "You only have one. You'll be fine."

    If I share our little wins as a mom and daughter, I get shut down too, "Oh too easy for you, you only have one."

    These stereotypes are all too familiar for Smart Parenting Village member Renah Flote.

    "When people finally learned that we are stopping at one, the comments started pouring in. They questioned fertility issues, they listed things that will make my daughter "sad" being an only one, even said, 'Isa lang mag-aalaga sa inyo pagtanda niyo' and the list goes on," Mommy Renah shared in an e-mail interview with Smart Parenting.

    What other parents are reading

    Renah admits, "there were times we thought of having two kids, but we always ended up imagining na, it would only be just the three of us." She is happily married to her husband for over a decade now.

    There are many reasons parents choose to have a single-child family. Financial constraints and health-related concerns are just some of them. For Renah, it was listening to her own body and accepting her own limitations.

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    "When I gave birth, I had bad anxiety and PND. With these two difficulties, it encouraged our decision to be in the "one and done" team. I wanted to be my 100% self to be a mother to my daughter, who is our priority."

    What other parents are reading

    She adds, "How can you fully give love kung kulang ka? And for us mothers, we put ourselves last on the list- but does it have to stay that way?"

    The mom of one shared that many people refused to see it this way and went straight to passing judgment about their family planning choice. For the most part, she felt 'invalidated' to the point where she felt like, "There's no winning here."

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    Why We Need To Stop Invalidating Parents Of Only Child

    No, having less or one child doesn't make one a lesser parent. Here's Renah's open letter about being a one-and-done parent. This was initially posted on her Facebook account and reshared on Smart Parenting Village, where other parents with only borns sympathized and related with:

    Invalidation.

    How many times were my feelings invalidated because I am a mom of an only child? Way too many. 

    "You're tired? Try having 4 kids"

    "She is gonna be sad, give her another sibling"

    "That's selfish of you having an only child"

    "She needs a playmate"

    If I share some motherhood hardships about my toddler, I get shut down. "You only have one. You'll be fine."

    If I share our little wins as a mom and daughter, I get shut down too, "Oh too easy for you, you only have one." 

    You see, There's no winning here. At one point, I started invalidating myself, my feelings, the reasons why we only wanted one, and my capabilities being a mother.

    "I am having it easy, is she [daughter] really sad? Maybe I need to have another one. Maybe they're right."

     

    PHOTO BY COURTESY OF RENAH FLOTE
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    Until one day, I realized no one of these people really asked, I mean genuinely, sincerely asked, why we only wanted one. If they started, though, I think they have already made their point across anyway, that judgment comes first.

    So there's no reason to answer on my part. Until one day, I started observing quietly why they said what they said, why they easily passed on judgment, or why nullifying my motherhood journey was something too easy for them to do.

    And one day, I quietly understood.

    Will I invalidate their feelings toward me having an only? No. Instead, I chose to understand and respect the circumstances involving around them, their judgments, and their journey.

    At the end of my day, I look at my kid as she tells me every night., "You are the best mom ever!" With a wide grin on her face while hugging me like a koala and squeezing me like a tube of toothpaste.

    She may be our only one, but we love her more than life itself...Just how you love 2, 3 or 5 of yours.

    After all, how we raise them will also contribute to how they treat one another and the people around them. So let's focus on that and admire each other's journey instead.

    Para po sa mga parents na One and Done kagaya ko, I feel your sentiments. Sa sobrang dami ng mga comments na natatanggap namin having an only child mapa-Pinoy or mapa-puti dito, I decided to write this, sana let us stop invalidating other parents’ choice kung ilang anak ang gusto nila sa pamilyang kanilang bubuhayin.

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    Circumstances in every family are different. The best thing to do is focus on our tribe and be the best parents we can be for them.

    Editor's Note: Renah's quotes have been edited for clarity and brevity.

    Mommy Renah also opened up about overcoming postpartum depression with the help of arts. Read here.

    What other parents are reading


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