The Only Child6:05 AM
Much has been said about the supposed advantage and disadvantage of being an only child. Many people hold certain preconceptions similar to beliefs held about personalities based on birth order. Again, the word "syndrome" comes into the picture providing claims as to certain "truths" when talking about an only child. The only child syndrome asserts that a child will grow up maladjusted because of the lack of sibling interaction. However, the well-adjusted lives of many who grew up in a similar family environment tend to favor the view that such syndrome is merely a myth.
The Only Child Stereotype
Only children have often been portrayed as self-centered spoiled brats. Because of the focused attention provided by their parents, they are said to grow up thinking that the world revolves around them alone. They are also said to grow up overindulged since all resources of parents are showered on them.
There is also a belief that only children are not as adept as children with siblings in the matter of socialization. Used to not having to share anything with anyone at home, they often encounter problems in the school environment where sharing and giving way to others is part of education and character building. Lack of interpersonal skills and self-control are words often floated around in the subject of only children.
The Circumstances that Bring About Only Children
Barring extreme situations like the One Child Policy of China, more and more couples are finding themselves in a family set-up consisting of them and an only child for different reasons not related to government-imposed regulations. Aside from personal preference , couples may decide to have only one child because of financial considerations, health issues, family stress, pregnancy fears, late marriage, and personal goals that will require travel and higher education.
It is a fact that the more children there are to take care of, the more limitations there are for parents to pursue personal goals.
It should be noted that although an only child is generally defined as someone who does not have any sibling, there are also other only child scenarios existing. These would include those who have half-siblings living separately from them and those whose age are quite far from their siblings. Thus, a 5 year old child with three older siblings in their 20s may feel like an only child since the siblings no longer represent any major competition for parental resources and attention. This is especially so if older siblings assume parental roles as well to the child since they are all gainfully employed. An only child of two people from previous marriages with children may feel like the lone child when siblings live in a separate home.
The Positive Side
There are studies that would show that many only children are actually happier than children with siblings. This is of course not to devalue the experience of having siblings. An only child also appears to have greater motivation to succeed because of the parents' undivided attention. Based on a very good number of emotionally-stable and socially-adjusted only children , concerns of maladjustments do not appear to be their monopoly. Children with siblings have the same potentials as only children of encountering interaction problems with other people.
My eldest child was literally an only child for about 19 years since her siblings came very much later. Our mother-daughter relationship suffered some strain when other people began teasing her that she will be less-loved once her siblings came. The teasing began when she was still fairly young and being young made her vulnerable to what seemed to be harmless teasing. Adults should be very careful with the ideas they put in children's minds lest they cause lasting effects.
That said, my eldest child grew up to be quite an achiever especially in her work which may be credited in part to the almost exclusive attention she got from us for many years. In essence, what I am saying is that an only child will grow up just fine just like any other child. Parental support and environmental factors will have much to do with what a child grows up to be. The lack of siblings can be seen as a deprivation of a particularly enriching relationship but it should not be enough to destroy a child into a becoming an inconsiderate and selfish adult.