Many Black women are navigating the pivotal years where career aspirations, personal growth and family planning intersect. For those contemplating motherhood, an increasing number are choosing to be “one and done.” Deciding to only have one child, while personal and multifaceted, is influenced by various social, economic and psychological factors.

The Financial Reality of One and Done

Raising a child is a significant financial commitment. In many parts of the world, the high cost of childcare, education and general living expenses can be daunting. A common theme among “one and done” parents is the astronomical cost of raising a child. Many families find that the financial burden of having more than one child can strain their resources to the point where they cannot provide the quality of life they desire for their child.

For Black women, who statistically face a higher wage gap and fewer economic opportunities, these financial concerns can be even more pronounced. The idea of ensuring access to the best opportunities often outweighs the desire to expand the family.

Career and Personal Ambitions

Balancing motherhood with career aspirations is another significant factor. Motherhood can impact women’s careers, often requiring them to take time off work or settle for part-time positions. For many women, the prospect of managing multiple children, while striving for professional success can seem overwhelming.

Black women frequently face additional challenges in the workplace, including discrimination and a lack of support for balancing work and family life. This makes the decision to have only one child more appealing. It allows them to maintain their professional trajectory while still experiencing motherhood.

Mental Health and Well-being

Another critical consideration in the decision to have only one child is the impact on parental mental health. Parenthood is undoubtedly a transformative experience, but it can also be fraught with challenges and emotional strain. For some parents, traumatic birth experiences or postpartum anxiety loom large in their decision-making process. The prospect of reliving such experiences, compounded by the demands of caring for multiple children, can understandably deter parents from expanding their families.

Studies suggest that the happiness and well-being of parents may not necessarily increase with each additional child. Research conducted by Hans-Peter Kohler at the University of Pennsylvania indicates that while the arrival of a first child may bring a temporary boost in happiness, this effect diminishes with subsequent children. Similarly, Leah Ruppanner, a sociologist at the University of Melbourne, found that the arrival of a second child significantly increases parental time pressure, particularly for mothers, leading to a decline in mental health.

Environmental and Social Considerations

Concerns about the environment and the future also play a role. With growing awareness of climate change and its potential impacts, some parents are choosing to have smaller families.

Social support systems — or the lack thereof — also influence this decision. The traditional “village” that once helped raise children is often absent in modern society. Many parents, particularly those living in urban areas or far from extended family, find themselves without the necessary support to manage multiple children. This lack of a support network can make the prospect of expanding the family seem daunting.

Making The Decision to be One and Done

The decision to be “one and done” is deeply personal and reflects a variety of factors that are unique to each family. For many Black women, it is a choice that balances financial realities, career aspirations, mental health, and environmental concerns. Rather than a sign of selfishness, it is often an act of responsible and thoughtful parenting. It ensures that both mother and child can thrive.