parent opinion

"When are you having another one?" The 4 things people always say to mums of one child.

When I meet another mum at school pickup or on the side of a rugby field, I inevitably ask how many children they have. 

I'm typically looking for advice on my latest parenting drama and hoping they can help. 

I never realised that mums of one groan on the inside when asked, 'How many kids do you have?' Not because they aren't impossibly proud of their child, but because they are used to the strong opinions and inappropriate questions that follow soon after.

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Video via Mamamia.

So, here are the four things people always say to mums of one child, according to four mums who have heard it all.

When are you having the next one?

'I always wanted to say "lay off lady" (because only other mums asked). We had so many rounds of IVF, and it just didn’t happen for us.'

It seems that for the first five years after having number one, all mums are fair game for being asked when they will have number two. 

Not if. When. 

We assume, wrongly, that every parent will have at least two kids. Many of us don't stop to consider why some parents might stop at one. It may be the financial cost, the impact on careers, or the stress on parents' mental and physical health. It could be because there is no support network close by to help.  

Or perhaps, as crazy as this sounds, one child is the correct number for their family. 

For parents who hope for more than one, but it doesn't happen, being asked constantly when number two is coming can be draining and hurtful. It makes some mums feel like they aren't 'normal'. Others feel guilty that they can't give their child a sibling or complete their family. 

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Is it easy having one?

'You're lucky having one. It must be so easy.'

It appears we quickly forget our own experiences as parents. The firstborn presents a steep and winding learning curve as we learn how to bathe a newborn, pack the first school lunchbox, and negotiate social media with teens.

Just as you master one set of skills, you are again thrown into the deep end to deal with the next challenge. 

Mums of one are on the same steep and winding learning curve. They face just the same parenting issues as other parents. One kid can stress you out, just as much as two or three can!  

Not having other kids at home to provide a point of comparison can make parenting one child tough. Is it normal that the baby cries all night when everyone talks about having such good sleepers? Is their reading at the right level? Are they doing enough homework?

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Don't they get lonely on their own?

'My son is so happy and never lonely or bored. He is so much better at making up games than I ever was.'

It seems everyone thinks that kids who don't have siblings must always be bored or demanding of their parent's attention ALL. OF. THE. TIME. But it turns out neither is true.

Having lots of solo time at home means the kids grow up self-motivated and loving their own company. Rather than relying on siblings and parents for entertainment, they use their imagination and creativity to make up their own games.

At school, the park and the beach, they find it easy to make friends quickly. They know they just need to ask if they want someone to play with! When they have play dates, they cherish and appreciate the company of their friends, much more than siblings who are used to always having others around.

Are they spoilt?

'People always assume they are spoilt.'

If being spoilt means having all their parents' energy and focus, then sure. If it means their every whim is indulged, and they behave like brats when they don't get what they want, then no! 

Parents are justifiably insulted at the assumption they are actively raising spoilt children. Just like parents of two, three, or 10 children (perhaps even more than), they are invested in ensuring their child is taught to share, show empathy and gratitude. Like all of us, they are doing their best to raise responsible, kind and caring humans, not spoilt brats focused on themselves.   

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Jane and her son Jackson. Image: Supplied.

I will hold my hand up and say that I have probably, no, definitely, asked at least one of these questions to my friends with one child. Firstly, I'm sorry for my ignorance. I will do better. Secondly, please know I think you are awesome! 

If you are guilty of asking these questions like me, mums of one want you to know that they are no different to the rest of us! 

Instead of asking if their kids are lonely, they want us to ask, 'How are you finding being a parent?', 'What do you love about being a mum?', 'What's driving you nuts at the moment?'. Because no matter how many kids you have, parenting is terrific and intoxicating and exhausting and challenging, often all at the same time. 

And the best way to navigate the crazy parenting journey is together.

Angela Eves is a mum to four crazy humans and two even crazier golden retrievers. Requires coffee to function. Believes everything is better when coloured, from hair to walls, and anything in between.

Feature Image: Supplied/Kylie and her daughter Madison.

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