The Only Child

6:05 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  Thus, a 5 year old child with three older siblings in their 20s may feel like an only child since the siblings no longer represent any major competition for parental resources and attention.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 Say

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.



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19 comments

  1. It would definitely take a good parenting to guide the only child in the family ... In a way i prefer to have at least two for the reason of child's socialization skills ... thanks for sharing

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    1. Two children seems to be the ideal number at least for the reason you mentioned above. Parents will just have to find more opportunities for socialization for their only child.

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  2. You're right about pointing out that the so-called only child syndrome is just a myth. Like everything else in child rearing, it all boils down to parenting.

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    1. We should be very careful about misconceptions since it can affect how a child grows up to be.

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  3. My take on this is there is no such thing as standard because it is only the government and politics that set it. It always depends upon the preference and ability of the parents to grow their children and personally I want a big family :))

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    1. All of us are free to decide how big a family we want. This freedom however should be coupled by responsibility.

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  4. I think it does not matter much whether you're the only child or with siblings as long as you are well guided by your parents.

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    1. Proper upbringing is one of the most important factors that can decide the fate of children.

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  5. Don't you hate people who tease like that? I think that's one of the negative aspects we Filipinos have, not minding how the person will feel and go ahead with their teasing...even if they meant no harm, each person has different ways of taking in jokes and such. It's a good thing that your daughter didn't took it badly, kudos to raising a fine daughter...I bet you did on the other kids as well!

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    1. It was quite disturbing as it would tend to put me in the defensive by reassuring my daughter more that there was no truth to such teasing. Jokes can very traumatic to very young children.

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  6. Looking at it, these advantages or disadvantages are only one's perception. Raising a child will always depend on how parents handled it.

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    1. Yes, parents can make all the difference for their children.

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  7. i believed the parents have a lot to do with their child/children's values and point-of-views in life. the environment also plays an important role as well. Yahweh bless.

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  8. thank you for sharing ... very informative and well written. I'm an only child and I enjoyed all the points you have highlighted. :)

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  9. I think there are many disadvantages of being the only child. My husband is one of them and I have learned from him how he struggle the world being the only child when his father died at the very young age. Now in our family he wants to raise more than two children :)

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  10. my bestfriend is an only child and she is a quite a lonely person and is constantly wishing for a younger sibling. i guess she's one of those who are not really enjoying being alone..

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  11. Indeed a combination of everything if you have only one child. but, I guess... the bottom line here is just don't under or overdone the way you bring him/her up. Always balance opposite sides to make it easier.

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  12. oh wow! that is a huge gap! mine with my brother was 9 years! I am still not very decided if I am going to add another baby. Just waiting for God to give us another one.

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  13. I have an only child and I'm kind of resigned to the fact that he may be an only child forever. I'm glad that my boy did not grow up to be a spoiled brat as others have expected him to be.

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