Is being an only child a bad thing? Perhaps a difficult subject to raise but its relevant to me so I’m talking about it…
Only Child Syndrome (OCS) or as the Chinese like to put it ‘Little Emperors’. Do the pro’s outweigh the cons of only procreating the once? Are the parents to blame for a child’s OCS behaviour? Would the world be a better place if only one child per family was the law?
Let’s kick things off my standings, I am NOT an only child. I have relished in the opportunity of bickering with a younger sister on car journeys, been forced to share sweets and annoyed by her to the point I wished I was an only child – How life would be so sweet and idyllic, I thought. Now, as adults we have a loving close relationship and something I wouldn’t change for the world. It’s lovely to look back, reminisce on our growing up together and laugh about experiences. A partner in crime in an otherwise adult world.
My sister and I both have children of our own. Just the one. I think she has plans to extend this but I have been carefully observing my niece (as an only child, now 4) to see her characteristics and look for some foresight as Huxley is only 9 months old. My partner and I have decided one is enough but lately OCS has got me thinking…
An only child is almost always prejudged by society as spoilt, selfish, attention seeking, unforgiving and bossy. But on the other hand mature, articulate, motivated, independent and possess a higher level of self-esteem. I understand research collated may give you an insight but surely the home and environment in which you bring your child up in is the big determining factor?
As the parent of an only child (so far and unlikely to change) I obviously want to provide the best I can without creating a devil child to release upon the world. I have set out to research the pre-conceived ideas of an only child:
Articulate and intelligent – Only children are likely to have better verbal skills and higher IQ’s, simply because their parents have more time to give them. A no brainer really.
Playing – It goes without saying that having one child does mean you as a parent have to spend more time playing in place of a sibling. As a kid at heart, I’m happy with this to be honest and when it comes to winning, I am quite competitive so will not be letting him win for the sake of it. Valuable life lesson right there!
Travel – As keen globe-trotters I am hoping this rubs off onto my son. Being able to experience different cultures seems an important life learning for me. With an one child, having the funds to provide this luxury will be a lot easier. Other bonus include only having to pack for one child, 2 people to provide entertainment during travel and the ability for quick getaways with only one child’s schedule to think about.
No sibling fights – Occasional bickering, yes. I can put up with that but as we all know and as I’ve experienced, sibling fights are horrible and nasty. I’ve seen my mum and dad at the end of their tether with me and my sister but with an only child there is none of that. With this said I am fully aware that this may now involve more adult/child bickering.
Independence – I would like to think of myself as quite creative. With an only child they have to be strong enough to make decisions by themselves and realise the repercussions of their actions. Finding a way to occupy themselves through creative means like reading or drawings can never been seen as a drawback (excuse the pun) and a great was to express them self.
Maturity – Spending a lot of time in the company of adults will no doubt makes a child more mature. No baby talk and only real adult conversations. It’s incredible just how much a child can pick up without you noticing and how to conduct themselves like an adult is one of them. Although is this jumping the boat and should kids just be kids?
Loneliness – The first big disadvantage that people think when discussing an only child. Its true I’m sure but is this just a case of a child wanting what they cannot have?
Help – With becoming an independent child and trying to do everything for yourself, an only child may struggle or not know how to ask for help. Not great when issues need to be addressed and spoken about especially when a teenager.
Responsibility – to quote “With great responsibility comes great power” but i don’t know how i feel about that statement. Looking ahead, maybe a little bit too far, but with an only child the onus of taking care of elderly parents is a very large responsibility to dump upon one person.
Selfishness – Yes, the only child will be the one focus and centre of the parent’s worlds. It very common for children to think ‘Me and Me alone’ but this is only down to not knowing any other way?
Stubborn – Only children are very secure in their beliefs. In their world, beliefs are only challenged by the parents, meaning an only child finds it difficult to be open-minded. Stubborn as some may word it. Another way to see this is – An only child knows what they want and won’t settle for less. Is this a bad thing?
Viewpoints – Possibly linked to stubborn but having no siblings to disagree or fight with may see an only child struggle to see other people’s valid perspective. Having the ability to debate, yet understand, only becomes more apparent when they hit the teenager/adult years.
What I have learnt…
It is imperative for children not to miss out on the chance of learning the way kids do with siblings, like waiting their turn or sharing. Sharing is caring as they say. As such, making sure play dates and regular interaction with children of all ages is crucial.
Giving attention and showing love must not be saved for child achievements. An only child will seek parent approval as part of self-gratification, but it must be shown that the need to be a perfectionist is not essential. In other words, let them be who they want to be, not what they think you expect them to be.
As much as possible try not overindulge your child. Always remember that your presence is more valuable than your presents.
Do you have an only child and have any comments to share? Are you debating a second child because society is almost frowning at you for not and being pressured by peers?