(Closed) Only child?

posted 9 years ago in Babies
Post # 32
198 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

Sorry this is so long, I clearly have thought about this question before  🙂

I think BothCoasts has a really good point about parental happiness and the happiness of children. I am a teacher and I can say that for the only kids I work with, I have no idea until they tell me that they are only children. I think a lot of spoiled behaviors get blamed on being an only child but I honestly see them in kids with siblings too (I think we have a huge bias toward thinking that kids who act spoiled are only children and when they are: see, only child! and when they have siblings we just kind of shrug it off and say: spoiled kid.)

I would say the biggest difference I see in whether a kid is happy being an only child or not (and obviously there are exceptions either way) is whether the parents were intentional about wanting one child or wished they could have had more children. I think parents who are really happy with having a three person family and raise their child with this knowledge and orientation help the child value the specialness of their family. Please, anyone, don’t be offended by this, I’m not saying that parents who wanted more kids can’t raise a happy and well-adjusted only child. It’s just the students do share stories about that sadness so I’ve made this anecdotal observation. Also, I’ve noticed that socialization with same age peers is important as are setting clear boundaries, having high but reasonable expectations, and having consistent consequences. Although these are the same regardless of having siblings or not. I work with teenagers so my perspective comes from that age group.

Personally, I have a younger brother (3 years) and exhibit many of the qualities that others may identify with being an only child (spend a lot fo time alone, like my space, qiuet, introverted, etc). I always wished I had a sister growing up, even though I loved my brother and we have always been close. I would see my friends with sisters and wish that I could have that kind of special relationship…so even with siblings I think we can wish for what we don’t have.

Finally, regarding end of life care with parents…this one always seems to come up for only children and for people who are childfree in negative ways. Well, if you have siblings you may disagree about end of life care, one person may want a DNR, the other person may not. This can cause great pain and deep rifts in families. I think one answer regardless of the child/children/no child situation is to plan for end of life care (look into insurance options and make it part of your retirement planning). Have your wishes made really clear, in writing. Have a healthcare proxy and make sure that they understand exactly what your wishes are.

I think the most important aspect of being a parent is figuring out how you will best be able to support (emotionally, financially, etc) your child or children and that means so many different things for each individual family.


Post # 33
10283 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2011

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@chrispygal: I was never in daycare when I was little. My mom was home for a good chunk of my childhood and when she wasn’t, I was with either set of grandparents. I still had a lot of peer interaction, though. There were always neighbors and friends to play with so it’s not like I never had anything to do with other kids my age. However, it was probably different for me since I grew up in NYC so there were TONS of people around. Those who are from more remote locations probably had a much different experience.

When we have a child, he/she won’t be in daycare as I’ll be staying home. We plan to socialize him/her in other ways though. Our community center offers tons of baby/toddler classes and there are all sorts of mommy and me groups that happen locally. I have quite a few friends with small children (& they plan to have more eventually) so I’m sure there will always be someone around to play with. 

Post # 34
802 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

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@chrispygal:  I can imagine it would, because they would be growing up in an enviornment where they are with children to play with and learn to share with and talk to. My newly aquired neice is an only child so far, and she is no fun to be around. Her grandmother raises her 12 hours a day so she is mean, and has 0 people skills, is bossy and doesn’t share.

It’s 100% on how their rased

Post # 35
3216 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

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@chrispygal:  I was in daycare from age 2-Kindergarten (and then in before and after school programs because both of my parents worked).  As a toddler and child I was socializing for half-days part of the week and full days as I got a little older.  Then I was out of the house socializing for 9-11 hours a day from age 5 onward.  I absolutely loved the programs– I had tons of friends and played constantly.  As an adult, I have great people-skills in terms of talking out problems and negotiating with my partner, but I am still shy and it’s incredibly difficult for me to just jump out and try to make friends.  I played with just about anyone who was around me as a child but in high school and college I made the shift to having just a few, close friendships rather than socializing with a lot of people.  I was outgoing and extroverted while I was in school but then much preferred to stay home and read a book anytime school wasn’t in session.  It became a problem when I started dating or developing closer friendships because I had basically created two personalities: a home life and a school life and it was really difficult for me to merge the two. 

Again, just anecdotal personal experience, but I really don’t think my not having siblings growing-up contributed to my lack of desire to make friends nowadays.  I think that divide probably still would have been there (due to overprotective parents and introversion) and my siblings and I would have just done different things at school and at home.

Post # 36
7309 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2011 - Bed & Breakfast

I’ll read the PPs once I am done posting.

DS is an only child and I have no regrets about it. He has Aspergers and ADHD, which means that he needs more attention than a typical child. He’s also a genius, and needs consistently more and higher levels of mental stimulation that a typical child. Parenting him is a challenge. It’s wonderful, don’t get me wrong. It’s amazing to have 3 hour long conversations about religion, politics, theoretical physics, and philosophy with a 14 year old and realize that he can think circles around you. But it can also be exhausting. I would be shortchanging any other children that we would have.

And on another level, since it took me so long to find my Mr. Right, there would be a giant age gap and we would essentially be starting over with diapers, sleepless nights, and the joys of daycare germs. No thank you.

Plus, we are 4 years away from college and having more freedom to just be a couple. We’re also 4 years away from college tuition bills, which are going to hurt a lot! I cannot imagine financing 2 kids for college. Even in-state tuition is $20k a year right now. Kids are expensive, and I would like to eventually be able to afford a honeymoon.

DS is, given his issues, quite well adjusted. He dotes on his little cousin and other small children, he is very compassionate with the mentally and physically disabled children that my Mom works with, he carries his chore load in the house without complaint, and he understands that the world does not revolve around him. I don’t think that being an only child has hurt his development.

FWIW, Mr. LK is an only child, and he is not in the least bit selfish, ego-centric, spoiled, etc. None of those “only child” stereotypes apply to him.

EDIT: Per the “end of life” argument, having siblings DOES NOT mean that you will be able to share the load of caring for a sick parent. My Mom is one of 7 kids, and when it came time to decide “who will care for Dad” every one of those siblings basically said “Not it!” It was my Mom and her nuclear family that carried that load. Her siblings did jack sh*t. Every once in a while they would come visit. It was me and my family who turned him in bed, changed his soiled linens, etc. Siblings are people who are related to you by blood. That doesn’t mean they will actually be there to help when the need arises.

Post # 37
115 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

im an only child & it bothers me.. more so now that i am getting married & i really wish i had a sister or a brother to have in our wedding etc.. Plus i’ve gone through a lot in my life & i wish i had someone there to go through it with me.. (not the best parents) But it just makes me want to have a big  family of my own someday..

Post # 38
2605 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

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@hatmanandbobbin:  OMG exactly what she said!  I hate noisy crowded gatherings with my DH’s family.  I always tell them I’m like a chihuahua and too much activity, even good excitement, makes me all shaky and snippy.  I don’t have a lot of friends, and prefer it that way, and I too wanted siblings until I realized what I’d have to give up.  

Here’s what I would say are pros/cons

Pros:  I spent a lot of time with adults as a child, and my parents took me everywhere with them.  I had a lot of experiences that many children never get (fancy restaurants, elaborate vacations, listening in to adult conversations at parties).  I learned to read faster than my peers because that was a big passtime for me, and I’m very open-minded because of all that I was exposed to as a young child.

Cons:  Being an only can be a bit boring at times.  There is no one else to blame stuff on as a kid :), and no one to conspire with you to talk your parents into things.  I’m pretty sure I could have gotten that puppy if I’d had a sibling to tag team with me.

The biggest con as far as I’m concerned, is that when my parents pass away, I won’t have a sibling to share the grief, and the responsibilities of handling their estate.

Post # 39
590 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2012 - St. Philip Catholic Church/Arcadia Brewing Co.

I am an only child (kinda, I have two half sibling 11 and 13 years younger). I really liked it. Still do. I learned early how to make friends and talk to people. I also learned how to spend time alone. I think that is an important think that a lot of kids today don’t experience.

As others have said though, I think it is more how the kids are raised than how many there are. Best of luck!

Post # 40
535 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2011

I am an only child, and I have always wished I had siblings.  To echo what others have posted, as my parents age, it terrifies me that I will be the only person to take care of them.  Also, it’s like the witnesses to the bulk of my life so far will be gone when they die.  No one else will remember being a part of my family or share in memories of random or significant moments.  That makes me really sad.  

As others have said, I enjoy spending time alone and am perfectly happy doing things alone.  My husband, on the other hand, is the youngest of three boys.  He always wants me to do everything with him.  It’s fine, and I love spending time with him, but I can’t really relate to that.  He always had people around him, I never did.

Another thing to consider about having an only child is the pressure it puts on the child.  I love my parents and have a great relationship with them, but I have always been incredibly independent. (Probably because I am an only child?).  Anyway, I moved far away from home, and now they come and visit and stay for long periods of time.  I guess I feel guilty for leaving and having my own life–but they have always been so involved that it got a bit stifling at times.  I needed to branch out on my own.  I suppose the type of pressure I mean is that I am everything to them.  I feel like they put their relationship in second place to me and there was no other child for them to focus on.  Sometimes I feel like the glue in the family, if that makes sense.  

My husband and I are planning to have more than one child.  


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@MRSLMA:  I completely know what you mean when you say that your husband is self-centered.  My husband says the same thing about me.  It took me a while to realize that he is not saying that I am selfish, but that I am fine with doing my own thing without really considering him.  It’s something I still work on.  

Post # 41
388 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

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@Sassygrn:  I’m not a jerk 🙁  I blame the parents when only children grow up like that.  You should teach any child to find joy in helping others and how “sharing is caring” and all that.  Since I didn’t have siblings, I was always playing with friends, so that was pretty much the same.  I remember being happy that I wasn’t stuck with a sibling that I hated like some of my friends were…. you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family!  

Post # 42
650 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I’m an only child and so is Fiance. We think having one child is a great way to have the best of both worlds…money wont be as much of an issue because there is only one child, but you still get to be parents. We have not talked about how many we want (although we have sort of agreed that 3 would be the limit if it happens), but we know that we are ok with having just one.

Post # 43
3569 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

I grew up with four yes four brothers. I wouldn’t take anything back about my childhood. I known plenty of only children who like their lives and are well adjusted human beings. Also I don’t give much credence to the whole your kid will always have someone for them, I know plenty of people who are barely on speaking terms with their siblings and probably wouldn’t speak to them if it wasn’t for their parents.

I have neices and nephews and I can tell you from experience these kids are very territorial and often times it’s a death match between them over toys, food, anything. I think Fi and I most likly will have an only child, we have large families and I think she will have plenty of kids to grow up with, and plenty chances to be socialized. I also think there are plenty of pros and cons either way you decide to go.

Post # 44
389 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I’m an only child, and I think all of it depends on how people were raised. As some PPs already mentioned, having a sibling does not equal instant best friend. I used to have friends who had to fight about everything with their siblings and in turn ended up being very selfish/unable to share because once they had something nothing could make them let go of it. 

I admit that I am a bit spoilt, but my mom had a couple of miscarriages before I was born an was told that she wouldn’t be able to have children. I was like the big miracle and also feel like my mom sometimes wanted to overcompensate because in her culture, not being able to have multiple children is sort of looked down on.

Post # 45
74 posts
Worker bee

We plan on having one & adopting more – but I thought I’d chime in with how I grew up. There are 11 years between me & my older siblings, so I “grew up” as an only child for most of my formative years as they were at college/moved away but now have two older siblings to enjoy! I know my parents didn’t plan it that way, but in my opinion, I got the best of both worlds.

I think it is moot to generalize only children vs. big families – it completely depends on the parents, kid(s), and upbringing. There’s no way to know how much of my introvertedness is from essentially being an only child and how much is from my innate personality!


Post # 46
1115 posts
Bumble bee

Yikes. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but I have NEVER been called selfish, self centered, or anti social. I’ve always been told I’m the exact OPPOSITE. 

When I said I was solitary I should have elaborated. I only meant that I know how to be alone and entertain myself. I don’t constantly need to be around others. I enjoy being around others though!

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