halie ellis [ Coast Mountain Mama ]

One and Done – Our Only Child

One And Done – Our Only Child

Before I begin, I think it necessary to say that I am an only child. Perhaps I should add that I was raised by a stern father, without mother and in harder times, fostered by close family and friends. By most evaluations I should have a plethora of disadvantages, yet I wake most mornings feeling blessed. My intention is not to highlight any personal misfortunes, simply to bring attention to the various circumstances involved in the development of a child. The notion that only children are selfish, spoiled, lonely or socially inept solely for being without sibling are all questionable and in my opinion, untrue. I am really not convinced that an only child will have any of these negative attributes more so or less than a child with siblings.

Selfish? This label is hardest for me to accept. We no longer live on farms, miles away from neighbors and the local church. We live in incredibly social and diverse communities that empower us to be socially responsible and engaged. Kids these days are thrown into so many social situations, it’s exhausting. With that in mind, to assume that a child without a sibling will not learn the art of sharing and caring is absurd. In my observation, being selfish is certainly not exclusive to only children. I have met several people with siblings who are indulgent to a fault and many only children who have mastered the art of sharing. It can really go either way, with or without siblings.

Spoiled? The assumption that because an only child enjoys unrivaled attention from both parents makes them spoiled, seems fit for the ice ages. I have yet to hear a conclusive study that states too much attention can spoil a child. I would think spoiling is related to tangible things like toys and lavish unnecessary gifts or always getting one’s way. Yet, isn’t it possible that this could happen in any sized family, wealthy or poor? Let’s be honest, no amount of siblings can prevent a child from being spoiled.

Lonely? I must admit, the thought of my son growing up without a sibling leaves me most conflicted. Not to have a companion to share his memories, from a child’s perspective has an unknown outcome. However, there is absolutely no guarantee that a sibling will offer healthy companionship. Many of my friends claim they were abused by a sibling, mentally and physically. An only child may be spared the hardships of having or being an overbearing, competitive and downright abusive sibling. Thinking back, I have never really felt lonely. I filled that gap with many sibling substitutes by forming very strong bonds with close friends. With the growing number of only child families out there, this may become the norm. Imagine that, you get to pick your sibling(s)?

Socially Inept? Again, I believe there are so many circumstances that should be taken into consideration. I must admit, I’m a little different, socially awkward at times but by no means unsocial or socially inept. Maybe I was born shy? Maybe my unconventional childhood played a part? I have friends who were only children who are hyper social and always the center of attention. Perhaps it can go either way? Regardless, I love me and there is really nothing wrong with being a little different in the end. Which reminds me of a line from modern family that warms my heart. “for years and years everybody’s desperately afraid to be different…you know, in any way! And then suddenly, almost overnight, everybody wants to be different……and that is where we win.”

Let’s be fair, it’s not really about winning, it’s about acceptance. Anyone can screw up their kid, with or without siblings. The beauty of being an only child vs. having a sibling is that they both have possible advantages. In the end, no matter what decision is made regarding having one or more children should be based on what is best for your entire family. At this time, the Wolfgang is happy to express that our little family of three feels complete.

A link to an article in Time Magazine by Lauren Sandler. The Only Child: Debunking the Myths http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2002530,00.html

October 8, 2012 | Filed under Behavior, Blog, Inspirational Talks, Wolfgang.

One Response to One and Done – Our Only Child

  1. Alicia Staz says:

    I like your assessment. I always love to read about the adult only child’s perspective. I am the oldest of 2, but I have an only child and write a blog about how only children don’t have to be selfish, spoiled, lonely or socially inept. Great article!

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I am an incredibly fortunate stay-at-home mommy, who has decided to share her passion for children’s learning online. (read more)
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