Among social and economic considerations, more parents are foregoing siblings, choosing to stop at one child.
When Jen Dalton got pregnant in 2018, she made a spreadsheet. Taking into account maternity leave, family-spacing health recommendations and even potential family holidays, she planned out when to have each of the four kids she thought she wanted. “I look at it once in a while and I giggle at how naïve I was,” says Dalton, 31.
That’s because, just two months after her daughter’s birth, she and her husband decided they were ‘one and done’. Part of it was their struggle with sleep deprivation and mental health; Dalton dealt with a traumatic birth, postnatal depression (PND) and postpartum anxiety (PPA). But even when life became easier, the decision felt right.
It wasn’t only that Ontario, Canada-based Dalton and her husband didn’t want to risk her – and their family’s – wellbeing by going through it all again. It was also that they knew there wasn’t anything “wrong” with not “giving” their child a sibling. “I’m an only child, and I’m very happy,” says Dalton. “I’m so close with my parents.”
Then, in 2022, Dalton had a wobble. She and her husband moved into their “forever home”. Close friends had a new-born, who reminded them of their daughter. She felt if she had PPD or PPA again, she’d have more tools to manage it. And social-media algorithms kept pushing content showcasing big, beautiful families. “It really made us think like, ‘Yeah, we could do it again’,” she says.
It’s not surprising that Dalton started to question her decision. Even though, in many countries, only children are becoming the norm, pressure to have more than one remains. Stereotypes about only children being spoilt or lonely persist, despite consistent debunking. Parents say they feel pressure to have more kids from everyone from family members to perfect strangers. On social media, mothers post adorable moments of their broods with captions like, “This is your sign, give them the younger sibling” and “I never met a mama who regretted having that one more”.
Read more at BBC.com