The Battle of The Only Child

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After a few long years of going back and forth, my husband and I finally decided that our one child will remain the one and only. A lot of factors went into this – both of our ages, my high-risk factors, and knowing ourselves too well. We know that it’s hard enough keeping up with the energy and patience for one almost-6-year-old at our ages now – beginning that process all over again would not be what is best for our family in the long run.

My husband and I both came from families of five kids each, but we are quite content with having a less-than-full house. Can any of you relate to this? Coming from a large family and wanting a small one, or vice versa? One thing I do know is that the decision to not have more kids automatically placed a huge responsibility on our shoulders – to fight the stigma of the “Only Child Syndrome.”

only child

We have always tried to keep our daughter around other kids or in daycare and summer programs, etc… From a very tiny size, we had to fight the “me, me, me” and “mine, mine, mine” battle cries from her. Now that she’s in kindergarten, she is much better at sharing and she has a very sensitive spirit. However, in the past several months, we have emerged on a new battlefront – entitlement. We refuse to raise a spoiled, entitled child. That resolution translates to a lot of work in the parenting department, but the end result will be worth our efforts now.

We’ve always been strict with her, but she’s also been spoiled rotten by us and everyone else her entire life as an only child.

Who doesn’t want to lavish gifts upon a cute little girl?! We have learned this past year that having so much stuff means she doesn’t value much of it. My husband and I being of large families with very little money, we treasured any toy we got like gold. Our most recent battle plan is teaching VALUE. I sold a bunch of her stuff to Once Upon A Child (great place, by the way!), donated a bunch to a mission, and gave the rest to a neighbor of ours.

When she leaves something around and then inevitably steps on it and breaks it, I throw that toy away and then choose another one to give away to someone else. I found two more broken things while we cleaned her room this weekend… I’m hoping if I stay on her, either she’ll get it, or she will have no more toys left to break! Have any of you other mommies been dealing with this as well? Do you have any other suggestions of what has worked for you?

My daughter is already talking about Christmas and how it means she will get lots of presents. I said:

“Hold up!  Christmas is NOT about you – it’s about Jesus’ birthday.”

I told her that yes, she has gotten a lot of presents in the past, but I think she’s lost sight of what Christmas should mean in our family and about appreciating what she has already. I told her that this year she’s not getting any Christmas presents (of course I’ll get her one or two things, but she won’t be expecting it, so hopefully she will be extremely grateful!). Instead, we will use that Christmas money to send a monetary gift down to the little girl we sponsor in Nicaragua through Compassion International, and we will find a child or two in the city to sponsor for Christmas. Does anyone know of a good program in Dayton to sign up for to sponsor kids during the holidays?

I’m hoping this latest battle tactic will teach her to focus more on giving to others versus what SHE can get from people. I want to instill in her a generous heart and to eliminate these selfish tendencies I notice here and there. I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year being about family, good food, reading the baby Jesus story, and giving happiness to other children who don’t get near as much as our daughter has gotten just in her short life.

I’ve got my shield up, my battle plans in place, and I’m ready to enjoy the victory that will one day be mine from raising the best only child I possibly can.