One and done trend: Having one child is popular now.

I have one child, he’s almost two-years-old, and my close friends aren’t asking if I am having another one – they are encouraging me to embrace the “one and done” phenomenon.

Having an only child may well be a trend, but I can’t prove it. Even the Australian Bureau of Statistics can’t prove it – it’s tricky to track.

“It’s really difficult to know when a family has stopped having children. No one asks that. The government never asks people that so we don’t have any information on that, ” says ABS Demographer Alex Cleland told Mamamia.

In my case, having a child later in life has left less time for more.

Charlie, a few days old,  babbles with his Grandmother. Post continues after video. 

My grandmother had seven children. That was what happened back in the day in a small mostly catholic country town.  Then my mother, a middle child who gained the attention of the family with a teen pregnancy, matched her mother with five children of her own – and two step-children.

I am from a big complicated blended family. My sister is one of nine. She has a brother and sister that I wouldn’t recognise in the street and I am not related to them at all. I have two ex-step-parents. I also ran into an ex-aunt on the weekend.

Advertisement

My new family structure is the opposite – it’s only us three. We live in an urban apartment and we have no pets.

The ABS does draws a correlation between where you live and fertility. For example, there is a lower fertility rate in inner city Sydney than in the outer suburbs.

“The beginning of families happens further out of the city,” said Mr Cleland.

Charlie in the city. Image supplied. 

So my one child family fits with the inner city data.  However, the average fertility rate in that area could be a result of a lot of women who don't have children and other women who may have two children. 

"There is no one measure that will tell you that one child families are increasingly popular," says Mr Cleland.

Despite my lack of evidence, I think only children could be a rising trend.  I don't get asked if I am having more babies I get advised to leave it at one.

"One and done," said a friend in front of his two pre-teen children.

"You should leave it at one," and he dusted his hands like he was washing his hands of it all.

His second child is a "spirited" girl who constantly challenges him, he explained.

Charlie plays alone. Image supplied.

Then another close friend, who has two children under four, told me that having her second child added 100 times more work.

"It's wonderful, of course, but also a lot of time you can't breathe," she said.

"It's like an elephant sitting on you at times because there's just no time to yourself and I sometimes feel like a slave to my environment.

"Sometimes it's suffocating and you can't breathe and then other times it is lovely but it's suffocating more times than it's great.

“I love them and would never return them. But it's like I can't even go to the toilet - I'm under the elephant," she said.

Now, whenever we meet she says: "One and done, Rach."

"One," she'll pause, "and done" and she’ll do the same dusting hand action as my other friend – dusting them together and then offering her hands up empty.

Would I take two children to the aquarium? Image supplied. 

My father also tells me I’m better off with one.

“You can pour all your resources into him,” he says. Kids thrive from having all of their parent’s attention - he says.

Only children are said to be selfish but the stereotype is a myth, according to Susan Newman, a social psychologist at Rutgers University.

"People articulate that only children are spoiled, they're aggressive, they're bossy, they're lonely, they're maladjusted," she told the ABC.

But she says there is no evidence.

"There have been hundreds and hundreds of research studies that show that only children are no different from their peers," said Ms Newman.

Charlie laughing with his cousin. Image supplied. 

In my case, growing up with a family of five kids and if hot chips were served on a Friday night, there was no room for sharing - we were selfish. We ate really fast.

Then there's the argument for friendship between siblings – that only children get lonely.

A family friend told me when you give birth to two children you also give birth to a relationship between them.

"They hate each other," she said in front of her six and seven-year-old daughters.  One child is easier she insists.

The idea of "one and done" is surfacing at a time when Australians are putting off having children as a result of concerns over house prices.

My generation also devoted more time to higher education, careers and are having children later in life - a lot has changed since my grandmother's day of having a large brood.

My brother and I. Image supplied. 

I don't think I would be the same person if I hadn't had grown up fighting my siblings for hot chips despite recent findings suggesting sibling order has no weight on your personality.

So the studies say my son Charlie doesn't need a sibling to be less selfish or less lonely but my siblings are still part of my life road map.

My heart filled up and is almost bursting after having a baby. It's difficult to imagine there'd be any more space for the floods of love that come with a newborn. I'm just so lucky to have him.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION
FROM OUR NETWORK