We have made a conscious choice to be a one child family.
There are many reasons for this, but before I had my son, I decided that having one child seemed a responsible thing to do for our planet. I would not judge others for having more. It’s a very personal choice.
Of course, I realised my views might change once I became a parent. I might feel an unbearable urge for more children. I wondered whether this could be channelled into providing a home for another child who needed one. It felt important not to be too dogmatic and to accept any possible changes to my outlook. After all, having a child can really change a person, and it did.
The nesting instinct
For a couple of years after my son was born, I was a bit obsessed with ‘nesting’. Finding the right house, a nice area, a good school, other families to spend time with, tidying, worrying about cleanliness, collecting the ‘necessary’ items for a baby, for a toddler. Was this to do with an increase of oxytocin? I don’t know, but around the time my son no longer wanted to breastfeed, I lost my nesting instinct.
It suddenly hit home that I had a responsibility to show this young person the world, our tiny planet, the universe it inhabits. To make him gently aware of the mistakes humanity had made and how we could make less of a negative impact. I remembered that the rising population of the world, and particularly of the richer nations, was one of the problems. My desire to do what I perceived to be a responsible thing, ie having one child (and thus halving my family’s human output) returned.
But there was more to the decision than that. I didn’t have a maternal drive to create more people. I discussed this with Tom and he agreed that he didn’t have a strong desire for more children either. As he has a brother, I thought this could be different for him. He might have held the view that siblings are somehow necessary for a happy life. He didn’t, but was concerned that, as a one income family, we would struggle to afford to be a four.
Being a ‘one’
I am an ‘only child’ or ‘fille unique’ (I always liked the way this is said in French), and while friends would often ask me if I ‘missed’ having a brother or sister, I would always reply ‘you can’t miss something you’ve never had’. This is true, but sounds somewhat negative and sad. If I’m honest, I loved being on my own. I watched friends struggling to find their own space away from siblings, to find their own voice, to understand themselves as apart from their brothers and sisters. I saw the squabbling and the competitiveness. It didn’t look like something worth missing.
Of course, I probably saw the worst of this. Children (and adults!) tend to act differently when they have an audience. And I know there are huge benefits to having a sibling; someone to share with, someone who is always there, to play with, to grow up with, another person in the family to love and be loved by. However, the benefits of being an only child are also numerous. The close relationship you can create with parents and grandparents, the endless opportunities to become engrossed in your own world, your own imagination, the ability to see things through with no interruption, the strength you derive from knowing that, at the end of the day, you only have yourself to rely on.
Learning through life
I relish these years I get to spend with my son, seeing the world through his eyes, learning with him and following his passions. As an unschooling home educator, I have taken a path which feels natural and intuitive and I have a drive to see this through, in the form our relationship has currently taken.
It often seems as though I have enough distractions to take me away from my son. I don’t want to bring another person into our family and change the dynamic that we have. Some might say it would be good for both of us to have another child in the house, but I know us both well (!) and my best guess is that we would probably find this a bit of a sensory overload. I haven’t told him this, but I have asked him if he likes the idea of having a sibling and he says not. Of course, as I am all too aware, you cannot miss something you never had.
Is having one child part of a minimalist, frugal-living philosophy? I suppose you could say, to take this to the extreme, that if I was motivated by these things alone, and by a desire to reduce my environmental impact, then I would have chosen to have no children. However, I did have a strong desire to be a parent, and I hope to mitigate this by helping my son to learn more about the planet, the natural world, the climate, pollution, waste, energy, and food, so that he can make good, well-reasoned choices throughout his own life. I only hope that the climate breakdown that we are now witnessing will not make much of the Earth barren and uninhabitable for my son’s generation and that what we do now, as citizens and parents in a worldwide community, will be enough to halt the destruction.
Do you think environmental factors should come into the decision to have children? Comment below, and join our community on Facebook to get more inspiration for living as a One Planet Parent.
If you like this post, please share it.