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by Abigail Van Buren

Family Is Critical Of Couple's Decision To Have One Child

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have a happy, well-adjusted only child who shares and gets along well with others. But a few family members continually comment that they are "surprised" he has these characteristics since he's an only child. They make negative remarks about only children in general and act as though he suffers because he doesn't have siblings.

When they visit, they seem surprised that entertaining multiple people in our home with their children doesn't upset us and isn't unusual. I point out that I have friends who are only children who are happy, well-adjusted, successful adults, yet these relatives continue to make hurtful comments.

At Christmas my sister remarked that she doesn't feel we are a "real" family because we only have one child. I found it hurtful that this intelligent woman would say such a thing. What is the best way to respond to these remarks? I feel like I need to educate, as well as inform them that they need to stop hurting me. -- HAPPY WITH ONE

DEAR HAPPY WITH ONE: A quick start on your road to recovery would be to recognize that the relatives may make those snarky comments because they are jealous. The next time you receive what you interpret to be a criticism because of the size of your small family, tell these people you heard them the first time they made their tasteless remark, and not to repeat it again.

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