The topic of only children has always evoked a lot of conflicting opinions. Especially in recent years, since a lot of people no longer feel the need to have multiple children. Indeed, having siblings is a wonderful gift in people’s lives. However, it is also true that mothers and fathers today have to fulfill many different roles and as a result may feel that they are not able to raise multiple children.
Until recently, having a large family brought several benefits. Mothers stayed at home and took responsibility for taking care of the family. A lot has changed in the twenty-first century, however. It is clear that in most families both parents have to work, and as a result they can devote only part of their time to raising their children. Sometimes even a very small part.
Today, marriages and couples are also much less stable and less able to rely on the help and support of their families. It is very common today that older siblings are partly responsible for the upbringing of their younger siblings. It is also common for the children to be largely or wholly raised by someone outside the family. And this person does not always guarantee that the children are really well raised. In any case, this person will never be able to replace the true parents of these children.
The benefits of being an only child
There is no doubt that being an only child has many wonderful benefits. While only children generally have a reputation for being self-centered and erratic, in reality this is not necessarily the case at all. If they are properly raised, only children will grow up and mature in a healthy way. Only children have several factors that work in their favor:
- An only child gets more attention from its parents. The parents of an only child do not have to divide their time and worries among several children, allowing them to perform their responsibilities as parents better. This special attention almost always makes only children more confident and self-confident.
- Only children often have faster intellectual development. Because some children, especially during the first years of their lives, spend a lot of time alone with adults, it is often the case that these children have a faster linguistic and mental development than other children.
- People who were only children are almost always more organized and responsible. Because only children do not live with other children, they usually adopt the organizational and working style of their parents. As a result, these children often know very well how best to perform their tasks and they do their best to keep their affairs in order.
- Only children know how to adapt to loneliness and develop hobbies that require intellectual activity. Loneliness is only negative when accompanied by a lack of support or understanding. If not, loneliness can be very positive as it can help people get to know themselves better and become more independent. It is therefore common for only children to develop an interest in reading, or in painting, drawing, or other pursuits that they can perform alone.
The Disadvantages of Being an Only Child
Although their parents can provide them with more attention and economic security, only children may also face some difficulties. Siblings grab some of the attention and can spark rivalry, but also provide children with valuable adult lessons. That is why we share below some disadvantages that not having siblings can offer:
- Only children tend to be a little more self-centered. They find it difficult to understand that everyone has their own turn in a game. They don’t understand that not everything they do is celebrated extensively by their parents. Sometimes it is therefore difficult for only children to adapt within a group.
- Sometimes only children grow up way too early. This wouldn’t necessarily be a negative if this early maturing didn’t also diminish their spontaneity. A reduced spontaneity means that some children are sometimes less cheerful. They find it difficult to let themselves be ‘stupid’. While this may be better for adults, it can cause these children to grow up too rigid.
- Only children find it difficult to be generous. For these children, it is normal for everyone to deal with their own problems and fulfill their own needs. They find it difficult to share, both materially and emotionally. They will not “open up” to others so easily.
- Only children may become reluctant because they have no peers at home to share their experiences with. No matter how much they trust their parents, it will never replace the complexity and closeness of the relationship siblings have. This allows only children to become quite reserved and aloof. They may also be less good at resolving conflicts with others.
Both single children and children who have siblings can mature in a healthy way only if they are properly raised. In the case of only children, it is important that the parents understand the importance of creating situations for their child to interact and share with other children of the same age.
It is also important that these parents learn not to protect or control their child too much. In this way, single children will be able to benefit more from the advantages of being an only child and the chance of experiencing the disadvantages of being an only child will be smaller.