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People have fewer children and increasingly just children. Still, those who think about the one-child family wonder: will my child be lonely? Am I Cheating On My Only Child? Is it fair for my child to be solely responsible for us as we get older and may need care?
These are valid concerns, but as research and adults who grew up the only children tell us, parents don’t need to worry as much.
Children have the floor for adults only
As I wrote being an only child is a problem, about 700 comments were posted on Facebook by parents of onlies and adult-only children. Most, but not all, of those who grew up as the only children report positive assessments of their experiences.
One grandmother wrote: “I was an only child; My parents were older than they got married and decided that one was all they could handle. I attended a public school and learned how to interact with other children and adults. I have been accused of being a “spoiled only child” many times. It bothered me for years until I finally realized they were jealous of the benefits my parents were bringing to me (training, my own car, etc.). I don’t think I was handicapped in life as an only child. In fact, I think I was really privileged. “
Another explained the pros and cons of an only child from her adult perspective: “I am an only child. Advantages: leadership, independence, loneliness, self-confidence, can entertain me, acted like an adult as a child because I was exposed to more conversations with adults. Cons: lack of diplomacy, my way or the highway. Plus, you get all of the family’s resources without having to compete. I find that many, not just children, are emotionally needy and constantly require the presence and attention of others. It is what it is. Good and bad, just like all other birth order studies. “
For Claire: “It’s almost all positive. I was the apple of my parents’ eyes and encouraged myself to communicate on a more adult level from a young age. As a result, I was well educated, confident, and independent. I wouldn’t trade being my parents’ best friend for anything else in the world. They wanted more children, but unfortunately miscarried twice. “
And from another child for adults only: “Super happy only child here. The idea for it [being an only child] Abuse is absurd. Getting a parent’s love and attention creates healthier bonds. And yes, I still share well. I am very independent and can live alone without feeling alone. I always had friends as surrogate siblings and these people were lifelong friends. And my parents actually had the energy to teach me things. Home was a peaceful, educational place. Now I have an only child who is now 17 years old and who is also being horribly abused, ”she added, holding out her tongue.
Only children who only have children
The research study for my book “The Case for the Only Child” found that only children have only children. One woman stated that she and her husband were both just children. They loved it so much that they wished the same for their only child. “We both loved being just kids and feel like it really helped us in our lives.”
The Facebook responses were strikingly similar. For example, the phrase “I am an only child and had a child” was often repeated in slightly different forms: “I am a loner who has an only child and she only has one child. We all three got okay. “
Janice, the mother of one, supports this position: “There is nothing wrong with being one. An only child is an independent child. I am married to only one and I have only one. Both are socially adjusted and successful adults. “
The grass seems greener
There are only grown children who believe that having siblings is more desirable. One mother rhetorically asked, “Would anyone like to hear about an only child? I’ll give you a hint … I had four children! No regret.”
The predominance of the answers, however, was similar to that of a 51-year-old: “I never wanted a sibling in my life. I was perfectly happy to have everything I wanted. “
Monique agrees: “There were MANY positive things about being an only child than there have ever been negative ones! I never considered it bad. “
As is human nature, people want things they don’t have, or relationships that are or appear more positive than the ones they have. And for others, their point of view changes over time.
Michelle commented, “I am an only child and have always been happy to be one. I grew up with cousins and have never been lonely. The most important thing is that only children get enough of a social life. Now that I’m older, I wish I had siblings so my aging parents weren’t just my responsibility. “
Who will take care of you?
Those who have a child or are “on the fence” because of the only child option think about not wanting to incriminate their only child. Only for adults do children have different views. One wrote: “It all gets harder when you lose your parents and don’t have siblings to turn to, but that’s where select family members and friends come in.”
In other words: “I would rather not have siblings than those who are distant and not supportive. That would be more hurtful, I think. “
While parents of only children do not want to burden their child, it is not uncommon for siblings to disappoint when parents need care. Only children discover that others are helping – cousins, close friends, aunts, uncles, and partners – in short, the families they are raising.
More just weighing children: “I’m an only child, and although I resented it as a child, it’s beautiful now. Some of the people I know with siblings either don’t interact with their sibling or when they do it’s uncomfortable. Some siblings have strong relationships. I think of the fights that break out between the siblings after the death of both parents and I am glad I will avoid that. On the other hand, it would be nice to have help. “
Elizabeth shared her opinion on sibling support: “I am single and have looked after my mother. Though it can be lonely, I watch friends and their sibling arguments over caring for parents, and I’m sure glad I didn’t have to! “
The mother of an only child said, “When we lost my father, my brothers were a godsend. However, having a sibling is not a guarantee of a friend, and the lawyer who looked after my father’s estate said we were the exception rather than the norm. In his experience, most siblings struggle even as adults, and especially when money / property comes into play with death. I couldn’t imagine dealing with it if I lost a parent. “
Benefits only for children who lived it
As with a second or third child, the concerns of couples having or considering a one-child family are complex. However, the benefits of just being children give them a performance advantage as they do with firstborns. At the same time, studies show that the relationship between the only child and the parents remains close, closer than that of the siblings. Hundreds of studies show that the stereotypes of the spoiled, lonely only child have little or no validity today.
As you make your decision about family size, consider how you can be influenced. And remember that parenting style, not the number of siblings a child has or does not have, affects a child’s development and how your singleton or child will think about their lives with brothers and sisters.
As the only child, Deborah, put it: “I feel like my social and friendship skills were improved from a very young age because my parents encouraged me to make friends and bring them home before I even went home Went to elementary school. I think it helped that my parents were both very social people with a broad friendship group. “
The question that Veronica raised in her comment sums up the importance of parenting style for raising children, be it one or more children: “Should it not only be important that parents know their limits and raise the child with love becomes?”
Related: Is It A Problem Being An Only Child?
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Copyright @ 2019, 2020 by Susan Newman
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