One & Done: Busting Myths about Only Children

How many children to have is a very personal decision. Some couples immediately know they want a few kids, while others know they’re done after just one. In recent years, having an only child is becoming more and more common. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, families with just one child have nearly doubled since the 1960s. In fact, 1 in 5 American families have just one child. But, only children often get a bad rap. These myths about only children — and their parents — are completely untrue.

4 Common Myths

1. Only children are lonely.

Yes, it’s true that only children spend more time alone than children with siblings. But, being alone doesn’t automatically equal loneliness. In fact, 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 that alone time does not have a negative impact on the only child’s ability to make friends.

2. Only children are selfish.

Several in-depth studies have been done on only children over the course of the past twenty years and research overwhelmingly agrees that only children do not exhibit more negative personality traits than kids with with siblings. Only children are not any more selfish than any other child.

3. Only children are spoiled.

Many people think that because there is only one child, that child is going to get anything and everything he or she wants all the time. This simply isn’t true though. Any child can be spoiled and overindulged — only child or not. It’s all about the parenting, experts say, not the number of children in a family.

4. Parents of only children are selfish.

Parents of only children are often on the receiving end of criticism and scrutiny too. People may think parents of only children are selfish for only wanting one child and what they perceive to be an “easy” life. Sometimes people assume the marriage isn’t a happy one or that there are infertility issues. What people need to know is that having an only child is a valid family choice. Happier parents mean a happier family overall–regardless of the number of children within the family.

 

Benefits of Having an Only Child

Not surprisingly there are plenty of benefits to having just one child. Parents with one child have more resources to devote to that child. This includes time, money, and energy.  As a result of greater parental resources, only children thrive. They often have higher intelligence and higher achievement rates than their counterparts with siblings, which may lead to only children contributing more to society than kids with siblings. Only children often have higher self esteem than kids with siblings.

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Only you and your partner can decide how many children is the right number for your family. The good news is that there’s no right or wrong answer. One might very well be the best number for your 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=0

http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/only-children-friends1.htm

Photo Credit: Meacreations Photography

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Krista

Krista lives in New York with her husband, their 4 year old daughter and 1 year old son. She teaches English at a local college and loves to read, shop, and cook. She enjoys blogging about motherhood at The Quinntessential Mommy. You can contact her via email, twitter or visit her blog.

Comments (7)

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    myra

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    I love this article! I am a single mother of a 9 year old girl. I come of a really large family and have 6 siblings nd I am the 4th child. It is nice to have such a large family but I choose for me that one was enough. My entire family dissagreed, and in the attempt to convince me to have more have mentioned all the above negative myths, even the part where I’m being selfish, witch hearing that from my own mother really hurt my feelings. I know I did the right desicion, it gives me enough energy for her and time to be the best perent my perents weren’t and all the special attention a blooming young lady needs. And the beat part of so many siblings is that all the cousins make up for all the brothers and sisters she dosent have, and at the end of the day she has her pice and quiet just like we both like it.

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    Lilly

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    Ahaha, no no no. I don’t agree with number 1. Only children are, in fact, very lonely. I myself am an only child, and I feel I was deprived the experience of interacting with other children on a daily basis, which ultimately resulted in me being very awkward in social situations and not having very many friends. The few friends I do have have one or more siblings and are all very outgoing. My three cousins (children of my mother’s brother) are also very outgoing and approachable because they had each other, but another cousin of mine (child of my mother’s sister) is in the same boat as me. She felt very lonely and suffered because of it, only being able to make a single friend. Even now at age 15, she still feels very alone, and neither of us have high self esteem, as this article suggests. So please don’t try to use scientific “fact” to tell us how an only child is. While it isn’t selfish for parents to only want one child, I myself am planning to have at least two children, just so they don’t have to have such a terribly lonely childhood.

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      Kirsty

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      Well, disagreeing here with you. I was an only child all up until I was old already going to college. And I loved it. Does a lot of my qualities now stem from that? Yes both good and bad. But I love it all. And right now, I plan to only have my one child. But here’s the kicker, I’m a stay at home mom, and my mom was as well and when that changed I was always with my grandma.. I never felt lonely because important people in my life made it clear they were there . I had friends and I had cousins my age. so I was social. Did I prefer adults more? Yes.. But I still interacted with children my age just the same. So maybe it all depends on the parenting as how being an only child goes for that child. Sorry you were lonely!

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      Chantal

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      I totally agree with you… I personally think this wasn’t written by an only child… I seem to be everything this article stats I am not (or was not as a child) I feel that the lack of a companion around my age, made me develop attachment issues growing up and I constantly am seeking company

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    Brandi

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    I agree with Lilly. I know everyone’s situation is different and not everyone even gets along with their siblings, but I was very lonely growing up and always wanted a brother or sister. School was hard early on because I wasn’t used to interacting with other kids, only adults. I want to have at least two kids because I feel like I missed out on a lot.

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    Krista

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    Hi Brandi! Thanks for the comment! I’m actually an only child myself and wasn’t lonely as a kid. So, as you said, it definitely depends on the situation.

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    Carol Levesque

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    i think if u choose to have an only it is important to engage them young in daycare or preschool. I never had a problem and it’s prob because I wasn’t with a stay at home mom. My son is an only ms is very outgoing he goes to preschool 5 days a week! So it’s different every situation

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