September 12, 2013

Umm Yusuf on Raising an Only Child

Umm Yusuf is a Guyanese American mother of one currently residing in NJ, USA. She is the owner of The Souq, an online business specializing in hijabs, modest wear, accessories, and other Islamic items. To visit her store, go to or become a Facebook fan.
Before motherhood, how many children did you want to have/saw yourself having and why? 
Before motherhood I always felt three kids was a nice number! I guess that's because I knew my husband grew up as an only child and I grew up with just one other sibling. Based on our experiences, it seemed it would be nice to up the number by having at least three, if it was written for us.

Also since my son has only 1 uncle (who probably won't start his family until my son is already a teen), I would have liked for him to have some siblings and just expand our family in general since from both sides it's pretty small.

Please share with us the reason/story behind your decision to have one child.  
After I had my son, I felt I needed at least two to three years to adjust to motherhood and give him the time, attention, and love he needed and deserved. However, a few years have passed since that stage and we have not been able to have another kid yet.

I am not too stressed, as I feel this is a bounty and gift given or withheld from Allah as He may see fit. I think I also have not stressed the matter much as I just turned 25, and feel I have time to, inshaAllah, figure out what is causing the delay and hopefully with doctors find a way to fix it.

How was your relationship with Allah affected by the knowledge that you may not have more children in the future?
Alhamdulillah Allah has given me a very patient and easy going personality (for the most part!). I see both the pros and cons to being a mother of only one child. As I watch my son grow I've come to see day by day that when raising a child it's all about quality and not quantity. You could have one child and raise him/her to be successful and righteous or have a number of kids, which includes more responsibility and more to be held accountable for in this dunya and hereafter.

As Allah says in the Qur'an "But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not." (Suratul Baqarah: 216).

I fully accept that Allah is the best of planners. While I may long for and feel it's best for me to have more children, Allah must have something different planned for me. Maybe another one is in store a few years from now, or not at all. I am working to embrace His plans for me with open arms and accept the bounties He has bestowed upon me and my family.

How do you believe raising one child can differ from raising multiple children?
Raising one child allows you to put your focus completely on that one child. This could be a good or bad thing, and I think it's important to find balance. In a good sense, it allows you to cater to their needs and make sacrifices for their betterment without it impacting other children (for example: moving for the sake of a better school or even something as simple as taking them somewhere they like without worrying the other sibling doesn't enjoy the same hobby or will feel bored).

Something a lot of parents with more than one child unfortunately do, is compare them to their siblings in a number of matters. When you have one kid, you don't really do that. It allows you to praise their accomplishments and help them improve on their weaknesses, instead of creating jealousy between siblings for those things.

On the down side, I can see that when my son is out he doesn't look forward to coming home at times because he knows it's just him at home without a little buddy to play with! No friendship can compare to the bond siblings share!  

Do you find that your son/daughter displays any specific characteristics or personality traits because they are an only child (whether positive or negative)? If so, please explain.
My son is extremely outgoing, mashaAllah! I don't know where he gets it from. My husband and I are both shy and quiet people. However, my son can go anywhere and strike up a conversation with anyone. He's been doing this since he first learned how to talk. I think because he doesn't always have a sibling at his side, when he goes somewhere he doesn't have someone to automatically stick to. He has to go out there and strike up a conversation with other children or even other adults. This has definitely developed him socially.

A negative thing I see in him is that when he is around other children (mostly younger than him, who don't know how or aren't able to speak up for themselves) he feels the need to be in charge or baby them. He ends up dictating what they can or cannot do, and for a poor 2 year old they could care less about who is telling them what. He has the need to be in control because when he's on his own he doesn't have to share that with anyone else. He's slowly learning that when with others he has to share that role.

Has being a mother of one allowed you to share any sort of special relationship with your child that you feel you may not have been able to enjoy had you had more children?
I think the only thing being a mother of one has given me in my relationship with my son is more time to be at his side. I've seen my mother raise my brother and I, and love us both the same. I never once felt jealous of her love for my brother or vice versa. I think if I had another child or even more, I would still love my son (and his siblings) the same way.

Based on what people tell me though, there's just something special that you share with your first child. So one kid or six kids, I think all mothers might have a different love for their first... not necessarily more love or a stronger love, just a different kind of love. But I only have one kid, so I can't truly speak for that.

How is your son affected by being an only child while many other children they see or know may have multiple siblings?
As I mentioned before, I can see the longing for a sibling in my son sometimes. We have lots of friends with babies who he genuinely loves alhamdulillah. Because of that I can see he likes to play with the idea/concept of having a little baby in the house. When pretending you only think of the positives, he has no idea of the constant crying and sibling drama that would be going on though!

Have you ever felt ostracized, belittled, or made to feel uncomfortable for “only having 1”? If so, please detail an example and tell us how you dealt with it.
I've definitely heard my share of opinions about having one child. I've had people ask if it's because I'd rather give more time to my business, or if it's just because I had one child and realized that I don't like kids. SubhanAllah! Some people's responses have been very insensitive and personal and I can't even repeat what they've told me!

I always think of our beloved Prophet (SAW) and how his mother only had one child. But look at who this child was! Look at the mark he's left in this world and the status he holds! And then look at Prophet Yaqub (A.S.). He had 12 sons mashaAllah, one who was a great prophet (Yusuf A.S.) and 10 of the other 11 who hated their brother to the point that they plotted to kill him! Imagine having so many kids and even He (A.S.) felt the bitterness in his sons and even suspected that they had killed their brother. I can't imagine the pain that could put in a parent's heart!

So I like to focus on what good I can do with what I have been blessed with... because I have still been given a gift. There are sisters out there struggling to have even one child, to experience pregnancy and motherhood. I am very thankful that Allah has given me a beautiful, healthy, and wise son!

What has your parenting experience taught you about being a Muslim mother?
Being a Muslim mother has firstly made me realize how hard my parents worked to raise us as righteous kids on the straight path while living in such a toxic environment. It's definitely not easy. As much as you'd like to shield your child from all evil, they'll still be exposed to things you don't want them to. It's just a process of growing up.

I'm still learning that I cannot control everything my child does and learns. He is his own person, and I have to give him his space to grow and experience things in his own way. I'm also learning to let go and not make a big deal about things. Several of my friends who are now first time mothers grieve about their child not being on a proper sleep schedule, not eating a proper meal for the day, or taking their time with potty training. It makes me giggle! I used to stress about those very things, and look at where we are! My son is still alive and he's doing fine! And I don't see any 7 year olds in diapers, so alhamdulillah, at some point they all fall into place. If they skip meals here and there, break something, mess up on a test... IT'S OKAY!

We all strive for perfection with our kids though we know it's not attainable. Learn to relax and enjoy the ride. I know we've heard it 100 times but they DO grow up fast! Create beautiful memories and not awful memories of getting frustrated with the smallest things. I'm telling you, you'll look back and laugh or wonder why you were being so uptight. They're kids, this is all a part of growing up. I don't even want to think of the mistakes they'll make as they enter teen years!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about raising one child?

May Allah help us to raise righteous kids who are an asset to this deen and this world! And May He put tranquility in the hearts of us worry-some parents! Ameen!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.
    Only Child Personality