Busting Some Only Child Myths

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The ‘Problem With Only Children’

Why is the status of only child seemingly only associated as bad? As a society we have a tendency to say ‘your baby is so cute, when are you having more?’ or “Is this your first?” These questions lead to an automatic assumption that a couple having 1 child must want more babies, or we say things hoping to urge them to have more babies. The idea that having an only child will leave that child spoiled and unable to deal with society.

The big question is ‘Why is this any of their business?’

Those who don’t know how long the couple may have been trying for the first pregnancy. They don’t know how many rounds of fertility shots which were already endured. How many tears were shed on the bathroom floor when they realized that they had failed yet again. They don’t see the depression that followed their last pregnancy. How it is just a struggle to keep breathing and the thought of another pregnancy and post-partum brings shortening of breath.

Outsiders don’t see the miscarriages and tears because they may have wanted more or even struggled to get to one.

Speaking for myself as an only child I hope I can debunk some of these myths. I’m now on the other side as a parent. I have one child on with me on Earth and one waiting for me in Heaven. Because people can only see her they use her being only child to explain any and all behavior.

I’ve heard remarks ranging from you know she’s going to be selfish or she will never learn to interact in society. I have to try my best to punch them and not point out that I also am an only child. In fact 1 in 5 American families have just one child, but we still are seen as black sheep.

So here are some common myths I’m going to try to debunk for you:

  1. Only Children Are Lonely.
    1. Yes, only children spend more time alone than children with siblings. Being alone does not automatically equal loneliness. Studies have shown that spending time alone strengthens character and only children often know themselves better as a result. What’s more, only children have just as many friends as children with siblings do. So all the alone time doesn’t have a negative impact on the only child’s ability to make friends
  2. Only Children Are Selfish.
    1. In depth studies have been done on only children over the course of the last 20years and research overwhelmingly agrees that only children do not exhibit more negative personality traits than kids with siblings. Only children are no more selfish than children with siblings
  3. Only Children Are Spoiled.
    1. Most think that because there is only one child, that he or she gets what she wants all the time. This simply isn’t true. Any child can be spoiled or overindulged whether they are only child or not. Experts say it is the parenting that determines this much more so than the number of children
  4. Parents Of Only Children Are Selfish.
    1. Parents of only children are often on the receiving end of criticism and scrutiny as people think they are selfish for only wanting one child and what they perceive as “easy”. Others assume that the marriage isn’t a happy one and that’s why the couple only chose one child. People need to understand that having an only child is a valid family choice. Happier parents means a happier family overall-regardless of the number of children.

There are also some benefits to having an only child. Parents have more resources to devote to that child including money and energy. As a result of having more resources to devote they often have higher intelligence and achievement rates than counterparts with siblings, which could lead to them contributing more to society. Only children often have higher self-esteem than kids with siblings.

So now you know only children are no more spoiled or selfish than the rest of the world. Please leave your personal opinions about how many children the couple should to yourself. Unless you are going to be a parent involved in the equation of raising the children you are not allowed an opinion on what the appropriate number of children is for any family. 

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/20/opinion/martin-single-child/index.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/only-children-lonely-and-selfish.html?_r=1&

 

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