Only Child Catholics


#1

Are you that rare bird, the Catholic only child?

Or are you the parent of one?

Would like to share thoughts on being or parenting a Catholic only child. Things like, do you feel "different" from Catholics from siblinged families, did you (or does your child like or dislike the only status, etc.).

My point of view -- I was/am a cradle Catholic only child from a mixed marriage (father Catholic, mother Protestant). They had difficulty conceiving and my mother had complications with delivery and was told by her doctor not to have more children. As far as I know they used the "rhythm" method and there were no other pregnancies.

I felt lonely and different being an only child, :( but have come to accept it as part of God's plan for my life that has a reason that I just may not understand in my life.

It seems like in this day and age with the trend toward smaller families there are more only children, but I was of the Baby Boomer generation and most everyone I knew had siblings. And this was in public school, mind.

As you are sharing about your own experiences as an only, or a parent of one, or how your only child feels about not having siblings, let's not get sidetracked on the birth control issue in this thread if we can help it; in other words, just wondering how you feel about being/raising an only, not as much how it came to be, unless that is very relevant to the rest.

There can be said to be more than one category of onlies: "Total" onlies -- whether with one or two parents, and "Partial" onlies, those who are the only biological or adopted child of their parents but who have step-siblings. Or "Age-difference" onlies -- not a true only but raised as one due to any sibling being so much older or younger that the sibling wasn't present in the home during the person's growing up. "Survivor" onlies would be onlies due to the death of a sibling. Even if it was a miscarriage or stillbirth or early infancy death.

Anyway, looking forward to hearing from onlies/parents of onlies out there...:wave:


#2

I have a sister. But when my parents split, I moved countries with my dad and my sister stayed with my mom. So I was raised in a way as a single child. It's sad really. I hardly have any connection with my sister, or even my own mother. :o

However, once my dad remarried I inherited 4 step siblings. Unfortuntely, this alienated me more. I didn't get along with his wife, and her kids started calling him "Dad" and he became their father instead of mine. Eventually we moved into a house where I got a seperate apartment just outside the main house. I really was an only child, and from the age of 15 I was parentless in some sense. My dad was only there to shout at me/check I was alive.

Childhood for me sucked. I hate hearing about how people love theirs. How people go home during vacations. I have painful memories, I couldn't escape my childhood quicker if I tried, and the only family time I get is a 4 week vacation seeing my Mom once a year. Otherwise, I have no family around me (even my dad lives about 500 miles from me). It sucks, but in a way, it's alright, I guess. If I was on Dr.Phil I would mention how it affects my relationships with people in some way ;) but meh.

Suppose thats more a product of divorce and abusive/psycho/indescribable father figure than being an only child.


#3

I am an “age-difference” only and I am raising an only. Honestly I didn’t give it much thought growing up, and I don’t really give it much thought with my daughter either until other Catholics automatically presume I have an only by choice and I must be using ABC. Or when other Catholics tout that one has to have a large family to be a good Catholic. Sometimes God designs a family to be small on purpose. This is the way God has blessed me and my husband.


#4

I'm a age-difference only. My brothers are 10 and 14 years older than me. I'm also the only practicing Catholic of my siblings. Growing up, I wanted a sister so badly. My mom was my best friend, because our neighborhood didn't have a lot of kids. I'm still a momma's girl. I hope to be half the mother she was. :) I'm also the only Catholic left in my family (my mother was the other one), but that is another subject.

I always had this sense that I wan unplanned (duh, not a lot of 36 year old women plan on having a baby). But at least I was there when my mom had her heart attack (I was living with her at the time). I know I want at least two kids, so they have each other.


#5

I'm a Catholic and an only child.. but my parents are not Catholic. To be honest, I do often feel kind of different because most of my Catholic friends come from large families.. I also wonder what it's like to have siblings. But in a way this has brought me closer to God because I had to rely on Him more with family problems etc.


#6

I am a Mom of an only. I used to be Protestant, and I always wanted at least five children. My husband wanted to wait until we were "financially stable" until we had children. I put him through college and then he started his professional work. Seven years into marraige and we still weren't "stable" enough, in his opinion. In despair I counseled for a year, weekly, with my pastor's wife who, along with teaching me scriptures and having me memorize them, ultimately counseled me to honor my husband, and live in submission to him as the Bible commanded, because then my submission "would melt my husband's heart and then he would want to do Gods will in marriage" (have children). Of course it didn't play out that way. Submitting to a dictator doesn't make him want to dictate less, it makes him want to dictate more.

So meanwhile I worked taught, with increasing pay each year, and my husbands professional salary increased, and it was never "stable" enough for him. Always in despair I would seek counsel of wise Christian women who would advise me to honor and submit to my husband.

Finally after another birthday I pressed the issue day in and day out for more than a month until my husband relented. (And going against him was so stressful for me I missed a period that month, which I normally never did). So I got pregnant and always wondered how the greatest blessing of my marriage came from me NOT being meek and submissive. I knew from years of experience that it would never have happened had I not "taken charge".

I never did use artificial birth control because it seemed wrong and unnatural to me. My periods were regular so identifying when I was fertile was easy. Also my husband, in classic narcissist fashion, was not that interested, from the day of our marraige.

Also I was unwilling to plan around his stubbornness by telling him, "oops, I got pregnant" like a friend suggested because it was dishonest.

So, between honoring my husband and honoring an honor code, I ended up with one child, a son. Another factor is after my child was born I was did not press my husband for another because I really was like a single mother. I did everything and and he was not supportive. But I always had a quiet despair about not having siblings, not even one, for my son. I would be postively sick about it. And I despaired over the "loss" of his older brothers and sisters, never conceived, and the younger.

However, my son seemed fine, and still does, with being an only! Seeing this confirmed over and over again, I realized that it is me that needs to get over it, and accept reality.

I have been through sadness at seeing large families and wistfulness I do not have that for my son, and its even sadder to me that he has to have a broken family. I would have been willing to continue with my difficult husband (he left for another woman), making do with difficulties, just so that my son could have an intact home.

But I did not have a choice in any of that. I have been finding peace in accepting reality and making the best of what I do have. There are advantages. My ex was always creating anxious situations and I was always tip-toeing around in case he might get mad at something. So as time has passed I have realized that it is much more peaceful this way! A large family would be lovely but I can't waste my time wishing for what I don't have. I have a small family, and I focus on making the best of that. Which is often taking delight in small things, and truly appreciating the everyday.


#7

I just returned from a vacation to the mountains. I planned it myself, and my son brought along a friend, and we all got closer and had a wonderful time. We ended with an all-day kayak trip, and the plan was to leave for home from directly after the excursion, meeting my ex-husbnad partway near the thuway (where he would take him back to his home for a shared-custody visit, far in the other direction, saving him a couple hours of drive time).

But were were quite late because of cirucmstances on our kayak trip that were beyond our control. As soon as I docked the kayak I went to the car for the phone and saw my son's father had called at least 6 times in two hours, even though I had told him we were not sure of the very time of the end of the trip.

When I talked to him he was freaking out, beside himself with anxiety -- a totally familiar senario - about our being late and then got anxious about the kayak incidents I told him about, too. I realized that the trip would have been so much more stressful if we were still amrried and he had been along. First of all planning it would have been difficult because he neve liked planning - he preferred to decide things himself after we got there, according to his mood. Which takes away from the enjoyment -- part of the fun of a trip is anticipation. Then in the car and on the whole trip we would have been all on eggshells in case he might get mad at something. Then if something went wrong unexpectedly, it would have all been blown out of proportion inot a big incident.

Instead, we planned, we adjusted plans as needs arose, and we all had a great time. No stress, no anxiety. It was great and couldn't have happened with the ex there without a miracle (which I waited 20 years for and never happened!)

So thats me making the best of my small family. I do endeavor to help my son have all the tools to be a good husband and father himself. (Or priest, if God is willing to have him for that!).


#8

I guess I'm a "survivor only" - all 4 of my younger siblings died in miscarriages.

I've never liked it. I used to hope that my parents would adopt or something. :o

But I guess I never felt too different - my friends all came from small families. And I never heard anything about Catholics having big families until I got to college, and one of my friends expressed surprise that I didn't have any siblings, because "Catholics have to have big families, don't they?" :p

I do hope to marry someday......and if I have children, I would do anything possible to avoid only having 1.


#9

I'm an only and I loved it growing up. My parents were married for 11 years before I came along, and the last 5 of those years they were working with various adoption agencies, since they were not able to have biological children. 2 days before Christmas, they got a call that there was a 4 month old child available for adoption, and on December 29th, I officially became a part of the family!

I would have loved siblings, but my mom has a huge extended family, so there were always people around (grandparents lived across the street, aunts and uncles and cousins down the street and in the neighborhood). I have a cousin who is also an only (her parents split up when she was young) and we were and still are really close. My parents always wanted 3-4 kids, but accepted what was given to them, and I am really close with both of them.

My husband is the oldest of 4, which is the number we would like to have someday, but I want to take the closeness that I share with my parents and make sure that I do everything I can to develop that with each of my future children. My husband also knew what he was signing on for - as an only child, the full responsibility of caring for my parents in the future will fall on me, unlike with his parents where the care of his parents can be spread around to the 4 siblings.


#10

Wow, I'm blown away how many responses this got in such a short time!!

I see some have had painful family situations. I can relate to some of it -- my parents did have some bad arguments which I'd get drawn into at times, and I think that accentuated the loneliness for me -- I felt in a triangle with no ally. I've done reading on the subject too and it seems that only children don't mind or even enjoy their "onliness" more if there are not family problems.

On the other hand, my parents and I were able to reconcile after the fights -- we never lost the basic foundation of love, so I think my loneliness was also about the differentness I felt among siblinged peers, and sometimes the nerdiness I had...because I usually felt either more or less than the age I really was when among my peers.

Also I had to fight sometimes to be allowed to make clothing and other choices that were cool:cool: to attempt to fit in. My social skills were often awkward, so even if I could dress the part of a potentially cool person, I could be spotted as a poser.:blush:

I wanted to marry into a big family and thus have siblings-in-law, and to have more than one child. That so far has not been God's plan for me.

In the past decade, I did have a lot of stress with the deaths of my parents who hadn't got around to estate planning and things that we should have. I think all 3 of us were kind of avoiding the subject, or waiting for finances to improve a little -- there's no point in blaming now, but I do advise parents of only children to consult with an attorney well ahead of the time when you think the need will arise.


#11

I am an only. My mom could not have other kids after me, for a variety of reasons which I won't go into. I grew up Protestant. I loved being an only! I still love it! I grew up on a farm, so the critters were my "siblings"! Some we ate eventually! I did a lot of solitary activities - reading, crafts, gardening, etc. I still do that when I have time.

It was also great being the only decision maker and the one getting all the attention! :thumbsup:

With that said, I am glad I have 3 boys. It is really fun watching them interact and play off each other.

I do know in future years it will be harder on me as my parents age, and I will be the only one to take care of them. But, we can't worry about the future, since we can't change what will happen!


#12

I'm grateful to hear the positive responses on people's experiences being an only child.

My wife and I are raising our 15 month old DD who may very well be an only child. We do not "necessarily" want another child so we are leaving it up to God.

My wife is 36 and has high prolactin levels. She has not had a period in a LONG time. The doctor tells us it would be quite unlikely for us to conceive. We do not use birth control and do not use NFP. My wife could take a medicine to regulate her prolactin levels that would make conceiving very likely but I don't believe that the Church would require us to actually take a med. to facilitate children. So if it happens it happens. This is our way of being faithful to God's wish for us.

We are happy with one and I believe that a child can grow up happily in whatever size family if surrounded by love.


#13

My mother was unable to conceive after me despite being only 28 when I was born. Growing up I didn’t mind being an only. Now as a single women of 38 I fear growing old alone. When my parents die I will have no family. It’s unlikely that I could have children of my own even if I did find a man and marry.

I struggle with God’s plan for me. I always wanted to marry young and have as many children as God would allow. I wouldn’t mind adopting but that door has remained closed due to reasons I won’t get into. Sometimes I see an interaction between mother and child at Mass that moves me so much I burst into tears. Intellectually I know God has my best interests at heart but on an emotional level it doesn’t feel that way.


#14

Just need to put my 2 cents in here. I am an ‘only’ partly by MY choice. My sister died when I was 13 and my brother is SO abusive I had to cut all contact with him. I spoke to him twice in the past 7 years. Once at a family funeral (it was a suicide so I just had to go for myself) and the other time my parents phone got cut off and I needed to make sure they were missing in action as they are elderly

And it hurts. I know I need to stay away but man do I get jealous when I hear peers say things like ‘I am going golfing with my sister this weekend’ Or we are having a family gathering. I try to put on a brave face to the world. Only God knows if people are too polite to say anything but see through it.

I am 40 and single. I think I was always too smart to marry the wrong man but so abusive by my brother I did not know how to pick the right one

So in a nut shell. Having a lot of kids does not guarantee they won’t be alone

CM

PS feel free to say a prayer for me


#15

Well, I am an only (a "true" only- my parents stayed married, had a great relationship, and would have loved to have had more kids but Mom was infertile after me). Growing up, I always wanted a sibling but it wasn't an aching longing- mostly I didn't think about it. The only time I felt badly about it growing up was sometimes at church. We belonged to a wonderfully orthodox faith community that had its attendant large families- but I got the distinct sense that I didn't "fit in" sometimes because of being an only. Got the sense from some families that ours must not be orthodox or Catholic "enough" because of our small size- assumptions that my parents used ABC, that kind of thing. Now that I'm grown, I actually have more of a longing for siblings than I used to, particularly as my parents age and it gets emotionally draining.

Having 5 kids of my own, though, I realize that a lot of the yelling/disciplining I do on a daily basis involves sibling quarrels. My parents almost never yelled at me, not so much because I was an angel or they were exemplary but because there weren't sisters pushing my buttons or brothers for me to pester. There just wasn't the temptation around to misbehave as much. I love having a big family now, but I do feel guilty sometimes about how much calmer I am, and how much more fun I often have, when it's just me one-on-one with one of the kids.


#16

I am a "total" only. My parents were married for 16 years before I was born, not using any kind of birth control, or even "rhythm," as it was called back then. They assumed they were infertile. My mother was 42 when she got pregnant with me, and she thought I was menopause! She and my father were delighted to have a child, and frequently told the story of discovering I was on the way. I felt welcomed and treasured, and I had a lovely childhood. Because I had heard the story so many times, it just seemed natural to me not to have any siblings. I learned early to entertain myself and be comfortable alone. In contrast, my mother's brother had six children. When they visited our house, it felt like an invasion - I counted the minutes until they went home.

I am the mother of an only daughter. She is unofficially a "survivor" only. When she was a toddler, I'm pretty sure I had a couple of very early miscarriages - so early they could have been late periods, but I was doing NFP, and I know what had happened before, so pregnancy was possible. Because I had been such a contented only, it seemed natural to be the mother of an only. My husband has two sisters, and it seemed natural to him to have more. I have begun to admire large families, but did not have the courage to pursue that for our family. My daughter's best friends were from large families, and she always wanted siblings.

As an adult, I have really learned the value of siblings. My six "invader" cousins are such an admirable family unit - one of them has a serious mental illness and has been insitutionalized for many years, and the others have taken such loving care of him that it brings tears to my eyes. Their children (two or three to a family) are more like sisters and brothers than cousins to each other. I'm sorry that my daughter will not have that closeness with anyone or that opportunity to give of herself to the others. I'm sorry I don't, now. My cousins very kindly include me in family gatherings, almost an honorary sister, but honorary will never replace real.

With my 20/20 hindsight, if I could, I would go back and try much harder to have more children. Of course that's easy to say now that it's impossible, but I really think I would be more open to it.

Betsy


#17

I was given up for adoption at age 2 and raised as an only by my adoptive parents. My parents lived in a neighborhood where the nearest child to my age was about12 years older than me, their parents were my parents ages (adoptive mom was 38 and Dad 45 when I was born). It was lonely and often boring. My parents had sisters and brothers but they were always "not speaking" to them, so I only rarely saw them.

I am very comfortable with my own company and love to do things that only take one person to do, reading, playing piano, swimming, crafts, sewing etc. all skills that I got because I was an only child.
I married a man with 9 sibs, I had NO CLUE how he felt about his sibs, and they were VERY close. I still don't get it. I had 2 children, REFUSED to even consider raising an only child.

I got a hold of my original birth certificate a number of years ago, and I have an older full or half sibling, I would give a lot to meet that sibling. I have done a lot to find my natural mother and this sib without any results. :(


#18

My husband was raised Catholic and an only child. Now, as an adult, he finds that there were many benefits. His parents were ALWAYS there for him. He had a very calm household (no drama/fights with siblings!) and he was able to excel at a lot of things because he had the time and his parents could put all support and encouragement on him.
He also had 3 best friends and they are very close to this day. On his end, he really cheerished and nurtured those relationships because they were like brothers to him.

In terms of being Catholic and an only...he did find he was a rare breed. But, that did not bother him. He liked going to Mass and there being a lot of kids. He also remembers that many kids in large families really envied him.

So, it can be a nice thing to be an only in his eyes!

Taben


#19

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