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Pros and Cons of Having Only Child

Most psychologists have perceived the only-child as socially deprived (Hall, 1987). They are socially maladjusted and attention and dependence seeking (Jiao et al., 1986). Two 1972 U.S. public opinion polls found that approximately 78% of white Americans thought that only children were disadvantaged (Blake, 1974) and that they were more withdrawn and aggressive than non-only children. Although studies such as Chow & Zhao’s (1996) report that only children are high academic achievers due to greater parental attention and educational investment, it seems that there were negative stereotypes about them, particularly during the pre-industrial baby boom era.

There appears to be a favorable change of heart toward the only-child (Poston & Falbo, 1990; Taffel, 1997). Raising an only child is a unique experience shared by an increasing number of parents. Whereas biological conditions have always dictated that some couples would have just one child, various other, more conscious factors have entered the picture. First and foremost, difficult economic times have caused many mothers and fathers to limit their family size.

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After all, raising even one child in today’s world can be pretty expensive. In addition, many mothers and fathers are worried about the effects of overpopulation on the environment, deciding that one child is sufficient to continue their family have and satisfy their parental aspirations. However, while raising an only child is no longer an unusual experience, it remains a relatively stressful one. Therefore, having just one child is not generally considered the norm, nor is it mainly looked upon favorably by society.

And most mothers and fathers who decide to limit their family size sooner or later start wondering whether ft was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, many doubts and fears are generated and perpetuated by long-standing myths and popular misconceptions about the only child. The fact is that being a child does not automatically convey advantages or disadvantages of any kind, nor does it inevitably lead to the development of desirable or undesirable traits. But, of course, certain situations and events have the potential to produce either beneficial or detrimental outcomes.

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But how or how poorly the child does, in the long run, is primarily dependent upon the way the parents prepare for and handle these situations and events. There are no set expectations concerning what circumstances might be encountered, and there are no rigid rules for raising an only child. Every child is unique, and every family has its own distinct dynamics. When raising only child parents may worry that the child will be lonely. They may even feel guilty for not having another child, often feeling that they are depriving their child of the social interaction of growing up with siblings.

While an only child may not have siblings to play with there are advantages. An only child doesn’t have to compete for attention nor share toys. Parents of only children may tend to be overprotective, especially if they have previously lost a child or cannot conceive future offspring. Only children like firstborns may tend to act older than their age which may be partly due to the fact that they spend a great deal of time in the company of adults. Many only children may even prefer to be around adults rather than be in the company of other children their own age.

Being an only child myself, I can honestly say that I felt more comfortable around adults than I did other children as a child. This isn’t to say that only children do not get along well with other children; the relationship of an only child to other children usually is the same as it would be for children that grow up with siblings. Each child is different whether an only child or a child of a large family. An only child may also grow up to be a perfectionist since parents often tend to set expectations high for only children and firstborns. They are usually given more responsibility and may tend to become emotionally mature at a younger age.

Since they usually have their belongings all to themselves, some only children may have difficulty sharing and may not like others touching items that belong exclusively to them. But once again, each child is different. It is a common misconception that only children are selfish and do not like to share.  This may be true for some only children, but the same can be said for other children as well. Often, two siblings of the same parents are described as being as different as night and day. Some only children are maybe even more willing to share their toys or other belongings because they welcome the opportunity to do so. Since they don’t usually have other children to share with, they may be more willing to share when the opportunity arises.

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An Only child at times is also very possessive and avoids interaction with other children. Parents may appreciate the advantages of raising an only child, such as an absence of sibling rivalry, no fighting, arguing or teasing. However, here again, a problem appears, the parents forget their values and always go along the side of the only child (sometimes blindly). They sort of start to defend their child for whatever he might do, good or bad. In situations, the only child takes this to this advantage and starts going off the track doing wrongs things, assuming his father or mother would always support him.

According to a perspective, it could be said that the only child takes his own time finding friends and finds it rather difficult to move along the society. Again this is not entirely the situation of all single children; many like to mingle and get along quickly. A notable advantage of raising an only child is that it affords the parents more time to devote to them and lessens the financial strain of providing for one’s family. In a family of two or more children, parents tend to compare them to each other. It is not a good practice to get into, but unfortunately, most of us are guilty of such behavior at one time or another in our parenting. How often have you said something like, “Why can’t you keep your room clean like your sister?” or “Why can’t you get good grades like your brother?”

At times it makes parents feel guilty about what they are doing; it is seen that at times they intentionally or unintentionally start comparing the children. Now children also tend to compare themselves to their siblings with such statements as “Why can’t I be pretty like my sister?” or “Why can’t I be good at sports like my brother?” An only child may have a stronger sense of self since they do not usually grow up in an atmosphere of comparison. Another side of an argument could be that a family with only one child does not learn anything as quickly as a family with two children, so only the possibility of having two children would allow the parents to compare and contrast and hence scope of development.

It is easier for the parents to bring up two children because the elder one is set as a role model for the sibling to follow, which he will automatically do. For example: Even now, my younger brother at times follows whatever right things he notices in me; all my sufferings or new experiences have turned to his advantage, which in the future he easily overcomes due to experience. Only children are thought to be intelligent and high achievers. Although some studies may indicate this to be true, there is no concrete evidence of such. If such beliefs are true of only children, it may be due partially to the fact that only children may find themselves having to provide a fair amount of their own entertainment.

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Since they have no distractions brought on by interaction with other children they may tend to immerse themselves in their activities. They may read more and concentrate with more intensity on their interests. Of course, this is only speculation but it does seem reasonable that children who do not have other children to occupy them may turn to the creativity of their own minds to occupy themselves. Many people view an only child as being spoiled but that’s not necessarily true. An only child may have an extremely close bond with one or both parents however that is not unusual considering the close relationship that develops between an only child and his/her parents. As an only child, I never really missed having siblings so I honestly don’t feel as though I lacked anything in my childhood.

I will admit there have been times in my life when it would have been nice to have a sibling to lean on during difficult times. But even if you do have siblings there are times in life when you have to rely upon yourself and find your own inner strength. An only child is no more special than a child raised in a large family nor is he or she deprived in any way. Each family is special in its own unique way and so is each child. So it is according to each one’s perspective of taking things if we consider it an advantage well everything goes well. So we must always look towards the positive side.

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Pros and Cons of Having Only Child. (2021, Sep 26). Retrieved January 23, 2022, from