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All the Eggs in One Basket: Only Child Parenting

When you hear the term only child, what comes to mind? Do you picture a child that gets whatever they want? An entitled kid with a parent that would bend over backwards for their every need? A brat? Maybe you knew an only child growing up or even now that might fit that bill. I know I did. There's always been a stigma on only children in society and even on TV. They are always the kids who were mean and cried to mom or dad about everything.

It's been planted in our heads that having only one child would lead to such behavior and lifestyle. They would be entitled and spoiled if you didn't have other children to balance it all out. This idea was planted in the heads of many growing up, including myself. I was one of five kids and would often hear talk from adults around me about how having just one child would "spoil" them and how a child needed a sibling. It's wonderful to have siblings to share your life with, but sometimes, that's not an option for parents. Sometimes, life has other plans for you and your children you never saw coming.

My husband and I had three children pretty close together: Luke(2007), Montana(2008), and Isaiah(2010). By the end of 2018 due to a rare-genetic disease called GM1 Gangliosidosis Type 2, we had only our daughter with us. Our family was and is still dealing with a lot of emotions from losing Luke and Isaiah. Something I didn't know I'd struggle with was becoming an only child parent. I really didn't know how I was suppose to go from multiple child parenting to one. You get so used to spreading your love out between everyone that is was a difficult to channel it toward one child. I actually found myself afraid of giving my daughter too much and what that would do to her. All of the stigmas, stereotypes, and confusion that first year brought were awful.

Was I going to do it wrong? Would she end up spoiled and entitled because of me? What would other people think of me if I messed this up?

Over time and after beating myself up over things I shouldn't, I realized the problem wasn't how I was trying to be an only child parent. The mindset of only children had plagued my mind since adolescence and I was allowing it to plague me as an adult. It was up to me to let the opinions of others and "experts" go. Being a parent of an only child wasn't a road map that always lead to spoiling and entitlement. I've gotten to the point where when someone says you're going to spoil her, I say so what. You and your parenting styles aren't really anyone else's business as long as your child is safe, healthy, and fully loved. There are so many parenting books that list ways on how to raise a perfect child and they are never constant. Each child is different and unique, you can't compare them and get the same exact results.

So yes, Montana does get to go places and do things more than I did as a kid. We didn't have the means growing up, but I was always grateful for the sacrifices my mom made for us to do the things we wanted. I'm seeing and hearing the same gratitude from my daughter. I'm learning that it isn't about the amount of things and experiences we give our children, but the attitude we teach them to take away from it that shapes them into who they are and will become.

Fast forward to three years later, I was at Walmart a few days ago grabbing some things to make an Easter basket for Montana for Sunday. In my cart, I had nail polish, candy, and an outfit I had picked out that I hoped she would actually want to wear. While in the Easter section, a trio of elderly ladies came through the aisle. By the way they were talking, I'm assuming they came in together. I was looking through the stuffed animals when one of them asked me how old the child was I was buying for.

Me: "It's for my 12 year old daughter."

Elderly Lady #1: "Oh, I see. Seems a little too old for a basket. You don't want to be spoiling her like that."

As the woman walked toward the next aisle, her friend came up to me.

Elderly Lady #2: "Don't mind her. She's got 12 grandkids to shop for and I think she's jealous. You keep doing what you're doing. You have a lucky daughter."

With a smile and a nod, the trio was gone to the next aisle. It's funny how the smallest interactions can cause you to think back on your life. I laughed to myself while heading toward the register. It's funny how some mindsets just stick with us throughout our lives and we don't realize it until we have to face them. The woman was right though, I do have a lucky daughter and I'm also very lucky to have her.

That's all from me this week! I hope you all have a blessed rest of your week and a Happy Easter!

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