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The Goods, The Bads, and the Only (? about pros/cons of being an only child)


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Pro- when you are trying to care for aging parents you do not have to play BS games with siblings.

 

Con- when you are trying to care for aging parents you do not have any siblings to offer support or aide.

 

I think the only child/multiple child argument is the same as the homeschool/traditional school agrument in many ways. Both situations have positive and negative aspects; even sometimes what is a positive for one family is a negative to another. One is not inherently superior to another.

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I'm an only child and I was public schooled. The only con for me is the one already stated: having no support for aging parents. We're not there just yet but it's coming.

 

I could see that homeschooling an only would be a bit lonely if the family is not involved in co-ops, classes, or sports.

 

The only's grandkids get spoiled by at least one set of grandparents...another plus.

 

I'm there. It stinks.

 

Up until I had to deal with the aging parents issue, being an only child suited me well. I am more of an introvert, but I don't know if that was due to being raised as an only, or if I just lucked out being raised as an only.

 

I honestly can't think of any cons to being raised an only until the issues with my parents came up.

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Pro- when you are trying to care for aging parents you do not have to play BS games with siblings.

 

Con- when you are trying to care for aging parents you do not have any siblings to offer support or aide.

 

I think the only child/multiple child argument is the same as the homeschool/traditional school agrument in many ways. Both situations have positive and negative aspects; even sometimes what is a positive for one family is a negative to another. One is not inherently superior to another.

 

:iagree: Yup! We are starting to understand the implications of just what this means. Dh was/is an only child. Of course I blame all of his eccentric, my-way-or-the-highway-doesn't-play-well-with-others idiosyncracies on that as well.

 

Wrong of me, I know. It's probably just because he's a man. (Is that sexist?):leaving:

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Part of the good of having siblings, to me, is shared childhood experiences. No one else on earth can completely identify with the way I was raised but my siblings. No one else has exactly the same holiday traditions, remembers the weird things my parents did with us, went through the tough periods in our family, etc. No matter where I go and what I do, I have 3 other people who get the foundation of what, in many ways, makes me who I am. I can tell others about my experiences and they can relate to some extent, but they weren't there with me going through the same thing. I wouldn't give up that connection for anything.

 

I remember being envious of only children when I was in middle/high school. Their parents had more money and time to spend just on them. But now that I am over my teen materialism phase :tongue_smilie: I wouldn't trade my siblings for anything.

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I'm an only child and I was public schooled. The only con for me is the one already stated: having no support for aging parents. We're not there just yet but it's coming.

 

I could see that homeschooling an only would be a bit lonely if the family is not involved in co-ops, classes, or sports.

 

The only's grandkids get spoiled by at least one set of grandparents...another plus.

 

I homeschooled my only and did not attend co-ops or classes. Molly wasn't much into sports. She has a lot of great friends and after fifth grade did go to band and chorus at the local schools, where fit in very well and had no problems socially or otherwise. She's not a social pariah, and in fact now attends high school and is quite popular.

 

We have an only by choice and have never regretted not having more children.

 

astrid

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DH was an only child and I had to teach him how to share after we got married. He never had to share his toys!:tongue_smilie:

 

I heard this all the time while parenting an only. Perhaps it's a personality quirk of your dh, but my only and the onlies I know do not have problems sharing. It's one of the most common misconceptions about only children, and really isn't fair.

 

astrid

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I have a nephew who's an only, and was homeschooled. He's one of the most social, outgoing, giving young men I know. :) My dh is also an only. He has fit in well with my family and is like another sibling. The only problem I see in his family is that due to death and immigration, his family essentially had 3 generations of onlies. That can get a little intense, as the family is so small.

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I grew up with one sibling who didn't like me, so I was alone most of the time. I don't have a single memory of her playing with me, over my entire childhood. She is three years older than I am. I remember it being killingly lonely to be left to my own devices all the time. Even though I was in school and in classes/ activities, once home, I was alone. And all night, I was alone (I never shared a room.)

 

Looking at my kids play together still amazes me. I can't imagine how different my life would have been growing up with that kind of camaraderie. But I think you have to have a fairly large group of kids to avoid sibling rivalry/ dislike-- I have 2 girls who don't get along but it ends up being diluted in the general group dynamic. There's always so much going on that their squabbles get overridden by whatever is next on the plate.

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I heard this all the time while parenting an only. Perhaps it's a personality quirk of your dh, but my only and the onlies I know do not have problems sharing. It's one of the most common misconceptions about only children, and really isn't fair.

 

astrid

 

Same here. My only is very generous. We're past the toy phase, but he shares his time (and his books!)

 

The goods: We have time for him. There is more money to do things (e.g. I can take him out to lunch, if I had four I couldn't. Vacations/field trips/theater are more doable.) He gets exactly what he needs schoolwise because I don't have others to take my attention away (though the dogs try!) Great if you have a family of introverts!

 

The bads: No shared experiences. He doesn't even have cousins his age. I'm sure the aging parent thing will be an issue, though we will try to plan well.

 

Dh and I came from large families, and it's much easier to see the advantages of the only lifestyle. It wasn't our choice, but we are all happy with where we are now.

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The biggest benefit to having siblings is that when your parents die you still have family. They don't have to go through that grief alone.

 

I had a child development teacher that was trying to decide if she should have a second child. She surveyed all the students in her various classes. She said that some onlies were happy they didn't have siblings, and some wished they had had siblings. But NONE of her students that had siblings regretted having them. That sealed the deal for her.

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My husband was an only until he was 14, and my daugher is an only child as well. One thing I would say about caring for an older parent... I've watched my mother-in-law care for her mother and she had two siblings. They did not help at all. I think the responsibility for that will usually fall on one sibling anyway, and it just builts resentment between them all. There's no getting around that being hard but I think it's a "grass is greener on the other side" sort of issue.

 

As for the pros and cons I see in my daughter's life:

-she gets more individual attention and all our love is directed at her

-she gets to do more enrichment activities than she would if she had siblings, not only because of finances but also because she can handle being in "quiet" places where I couldn't take a toddler.

-she gets enough down time for a kid who has sensory processing issues (this is a huge bonus)

-she doesn't know what it means to be picked on by a sibling

-she's very independent and imaginative as a result of having lots of time to herself- she's comfortable playing alone, KWIM?

-we are in a better position to afford the things she needs and give her a safe financial start in the world

 

CONS-

-She could have been very lonely if there weren't other kids in our neighborhood. I can't imagine her being an only child outside the suburbs, but as it stands every day at 3 pm there are two girls across the street to play with...

-She doesn't have a handle on dealing with rejection that most children with siblings face from time to time- she seems more innocent and shocked when someone leaves her out or says something unkind

-I think my husband and I have expectations of her that can be sometimes be too high for a child her age. My husband is not around a lot of kids so he doesn't understand what is normal six year old behavior and expects her to be more calm and responsible than most other children are at her age, KWIM?

-She has no one to take the pressure off of her if she does something wrong. I ALWAYS know it was her if there's crayon on the wall or something is broken.

 

 

That's what I can think of for now...

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I'm an only. I always wished I'd had siblings, and still do. I have often envied the relationships my friends have with their siblings. I do have a couple of friends who have had bad relationships with their siblings for long periods of their lives, but they are still close and are still there for each other when needed.

 

My father died when I was 8 y.o., and my relationship with my mother was very intense. She was a good mother in many ways, and I know she loved me, but she was also a bit of a bully, and I could have done with the support of a sibling as I was growing up.

 

My mother herself died 3 years ago, so I've been fortunate in never having to face the problem of looking after ageing parents. When she died I discovered the only, and rather sad, 'benefit' of being an only child: I inherited everything.

Edited by Cassy
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. But I think you have to have a fairly large group of kids to avoid sibling rivalry/ dislike--

 

I used to think that too. My dsis is my only sibling and 7 years older. We are now very good friends. What we realized is that our parents were lousy at helping us build our relationship, which needed some guidance due to the age difference.

 

I have two children, and they are best friends. They are just under 3 years apart in age. So, I think it depends on a combination of parenting and the personalities of the two siblings involved. :) BTW, I'm not saying in your case that anything your parents could have done would have changed things. Your sister sounds like a pill. :grouphug:

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DS was an only until 6.5 years old and he wanted a sibling - prayed for one so often it broke my heart sometimes since he was about 3....we were blessed and had another baby and WOW he is just thrilled with being a big brother! Our lives have changed quite a bit from when he was an only, but I think it's mostly for the better (although I would like more sleep!). I can see the pros and cons for an only child, with the biggest con being that in adulthood they're it, there is no sibling to share adulthood with, take care of parents with, share life's milestones with (marriage, children, etc.)....but I also think it depends on the child and their personality - some might thrive more being an only child.

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I can't imagine being an adult and not having my siblings to talk to, laugh with, commiserate with, and love.

 

Bickering is a small price to pay for that.

 

Tara

 

My sister and I bickered as children and rarely talk as adults. We.just.don't.get.along. Thankfully they live far away.

 

There is no guarantee siblings will spend time together as adults. There is not guarantee sibling will live long enough to care for aging parents. My sister has stated what she plans on doing for my parents. :glare: Another reason I'm glad she lives far away.

 

My dear friend had a brother who died almost two years ago. In her 40s, she has now become a only child.

 

For us having an only has been perfect. He adores being an only, he has never asked for a sibling. We don't do co-ops or classes and he is content, believe me I ask. He's introverted and likes his alone time. We have a cat and dog who simulate toddler behavior. The cats eats his stuff and the dog demands attention during schooling. Fortunately no one cares if we lock the dog in the bedroom when she's being obnoxious.

 

Schooling an only is a blast, you can follow rabbit holes, study odd things because of their desire, learn with them, and really make the instruction personalized.

 

Being an only in this house, well dh is kind of a kid too, so they fit. I goof around with ds, he's hardly spoiled (maybe by my parents), and he adores his bedroom, which is the biggest room in the house (attic dormer).

 

Dh and I never desired more children, we adore our one. We discussed it a few years ago and felt like our family size was perfect for us.

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I'm an only, and my eldest daughter was an only for 12 years before the next one came along...

 

Cooperative interaction is not something you necessarily have daily experience with as an only. At 40, I do realize I need to check in with other people before I act, to see if they have thoughts on whatever the subject, but I have to consciously remind myself of that. My three youngers, on the other hand, each seem to get that he/she is not the only person in any given decision.

 

From a parenting perspective, you ARE the playmate. 24x7 if you homeschool. My friends who have onlies mention that - in terms of just being exhausted and fried at the end of the day - regularly. (On the other hand, I was not much of a player when I was a kid, and was content to lose myself in a book... I think it annoyed my very extroverted mother, actually.)

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I'm an only and really didn't like it. I was always lonely and felt like I didn't have anyone to take my side at home. I didn't have a close relationship with my dad and stepmom, who I lived with, and so it was lonely at home. I felt that it was often 2 against 1. And now, as an adult, my closest friends are dh and my mom (who I didn't live with most of my childhood). She's very close with her sisters, and I wish I had that.

 

So for me, there were mostly cons for being an only. Maybe with a more stable and less dysfunctional family life (and mine wasn't over-the-top dysfunctional either), I might have felt differently.

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DH was an only child and I had to teach him how to share after we got married. He never had to share his toys!:tongue_smilie:

 

:confused:

 

I heard this all the time while parenting an only. Perhaps it's a personality quirk of your dh, but my only and the onlies I know do not have problems sharing. It's one of the most common misconceptions about only children, and really isn't fair.

 

astrid

 

:iagree: It reminds me of the misconception that homeschooled children aren't "socialized".

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From a parenting perspective, you ARE the playmate. 24x7 if you homeschool. My friends who have onlies mention that - in terms of just being exhausted and fried at the end of the day - regularly.

 

This is one that I didn't think of, because ds is older now. Ds is 14 and we hang out together, but it's fun for me, too. I'm not really good with kiddie games or pretend, so those years were rough for me. It is particularly hard if you have a child that needs very little sleep. You can't take a nap while he is playing with a sibling. On the other hand, that is all a distant memory now, and since I'm not good with the littles, I don't think I would have done better having more.

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I am an only child, and I have an only child.

 

I was very blessed to have many opportunities as a child. Was I spoiled? I think that depends on one's definition of that term. I certainly didn't want for anything, but my parents tried to spoil me with experiences, travel, and educational opportunities rather than "stuff." We try to do the same for our only ds.

 

I cannot relate to caring for aging parents. As I have shared previously on this forum, both of my parents were murdered in their home nearly 23 years ago right before Christmas. While I can only imagine that caring for aging parents could be burdensome at times, it saddens me that I will never have the opportunity to care for and help my parents in their old age.

 

As I have also shared on this board, holidays are particularly difficult for me, both because my parents are gone and because my f-i-l is most challenging to deal with. It is hard always having to be with my husband's family at holidays. With no parents and no siblings, it can be pretty tough.

 

I loved being an only child, but the premature death of my parents when I was only 24 has certainly been hard. I hope my husband and I live a long time and can enjoy our son in his adult years. But the reality is one never knows.

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I know two families with only one child. There is a lot of stress in these families! They both feel guility for only having one child (as if the child is missing out of something) and the kids are spoiled (in a bad way). One child has every toy and tech device that is out there. The biggest problem is the family can't afford this lifestyle and it has caused extreme problems in the marriage. The child controls the family and his behavior is horrible when they are around other people (he knows how to work his parents). The kids behavior (when the parents are around) is painful for all around and causes me a ton of stress, so much, that I have had to tell my child that he isn't allowed to be around him. When the parents are not around, this kid is an angel! It is unbelievable the difference in this kid once the parents are gone. This could easily be avoided with good parenting skills.

 

The other family I know is further along (child is going off to college next year). Their life completely evolves around this child and I think the child is going to have a hard time adjusting to college life when they figure out the world does not evolve around them. I worry about how the parents will adjust too.

 

Of course, these are just two examples and it isn't always this way. And these could be avoided with good parenting skills.

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:confused:

 

 

 

:iagree: It reminds me of the misconception that homeschooled children aren't "socialized".

 

:iagree: My dh is the middle child of 5. He hated sharing his toys. He had rules about how his toys cars had to be placed. Yes, he's a tad anal about it still.

 

Ds always shared his toys. He admits to being like dad, but we've always let him have a place for special toys.

 

I think there are phases for the pros and cons. I was his playmate when he was little, but he also had lots of friends over, and could entertain himself as necessary.

 

It's vital during schooling that we each get time to ourselves. If he were extroverted we might approach a few things differently. However, at least for an hour or two after school we go our separate ways.

 

As a teen I only have to bug one about doing chores. He's learning how to cook, we get to spend time together and really talk. The other day we had a long honest conversation about life. It was refreshing.

 

I do think homeschooling forces you to be more transparent in front of your children. We're not perfect, we've had some hard times, ds has lived those with us. We didn't go through them behind closed doors. We'd probably operate that way if we had more kids, but maybe not about everything. Maybe it's more his personality and not just being a child? IDK, something I've never thought of. But he's a team player, so it's us three, not me and dh then him. We're all three in this thing (life...) together.

Edited by elegantlion
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I have a brother who is significantly younger than me. After our parents divorced, he lived mainly at one house while I lived at the other. So there was a mix of having a sibling and being an only. We didn't get along as children, but we enjoy each other's company now.

 

With my boys I'm seeing how special a sibling relationship in childhood can be. They adore each other. They play together constantly and seem to iron out each other's quirks. They make each other laugh, and they have a wonderful time building up elaborate, imaginative scenarios together. I can't imagine what each would be like without the other.

 

My oldest son has a lot of friends his own age, but yesterday at Sunday school when they made bracelets for their best friends, he gave the one he made to his brother.

 

A woman I know who came from a family with seven children told me that her sisters had always been her best friends, and that it took a lot of stress off of her in junior high and high school. She thinks that she didn't feel as much pressure to be cool or fit in because she already had those close sibling relationships. Because of that large family foundation, she felt and feels very secure.

 

Of course, there are also advantages to being an only child. Financially it is much easier on the parents, and if the parents aren't of the type to work intentionally on helping siblings grow in friendship together, there can be a lot of dysfunction between siblings, something an only will never have to worry about.

 

I think that when it comes down to it, different family sizes suit different people. The best family size is probably the one in which the parents best function as parents. Some parents feel more relaxed with large families while others feel best with only children, and others are somewhere in between. Different strokes...

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Well, Wolf and I are in a weird spot.

 

I was raised with 3 brothers. None of which I have any direct communication with now, and that's honestly painful.

 

Wolf, on the other hand, was adopted and raised as an only, but discovered 7 (?) siblings as an adult. We only have sporadic contact w/2 of them, and its not really a sibling relationship...no shared memories, events, just DNA.

 

I agree with those that commented about elderly parent responsibilities. We're facing that w/MIL. 'The buck stops here' is the reality of that situation. As difficult as she is, he doesn't feel he can ever walk away, since he's the only child, and if he walks, who will step up? So, he's trapped by his own sense of honour.

 

There's also nobody to talk to to share memories. No sitting at a holiday table and swapping, "Do you remember?"s with. When MIL passes, there'll be nobody to turn to that can share his childhood memories first hand.

 

Course, he's kinda used to the last...MIL was completely oblivious to his growing up, only noticing him when she wanted to show him off, so he's pretty used to none of his memories being shared w/anyone, except for me listening.

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I loved being an only child, but the premature death of my parents when I was only 24 has certainly been hard. I hope my husband and I live a long time and can enjoy our son in his adult years. But the reality is one never knows.

 

:grouphug:, I'm so sorry for your loss. It does worry me that ds will be alone if something happens to us.

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My greatest concern about having an only was that she would be all alone when her parents died. It breaks my heart that she will have absolutely no one to turn to.

 

This was a concern of my mother's too. I remember the Christmas before she died, us all sitting around the table for Christmas dinner, and her saying to me how she could "die happy" now she knew I wouldn't be left on my own, with all these boys to look after me :sad:. I must say, I feel much happier and more secure now with my 'big' family than I ever have since I was a small child.

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My SIL (dh's brother's wife) is an only. She wishes she had a sibling and wants to give her son a sibling soon. Her mom is a difficult person and they have a bad relationship, so maybe part of her desire for a sibling is due to that. She has a good relationship with her dad.

 

I can see pros and cons either way. I do think it is important for parents to choose what's best for themselves and their current child.

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It's one thing to not be able to have more than one because of infertility, or medical issues. It's another thing to not have more because that's the size you decide to keep your family.

 

From a Christian POV, the family is the domestic church. That is where you learn love, self sacrifice, how to temper your self and words, how to work as a team, how to prefer someone over you, how to negotiate disagreements with care.

 

Can you learn that as an only? I'm sure you can, and I bet it's a lot of work for the parents. You would really have to make an effort to get your kid out there to teach that to them. I'm not saying it can't be done, though.

 

The other aspect is what's been said, caring for aging parents.

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Cooperative interaction is not something you necessarily have daily experience with as an only. At 40, I do realize I need to check in with other people before I act, to see if they have thoughts on whatever the subject, but I have to consciously remind myself of that. My three youngers, on the other hand, each seem to get that he/she is not the only person in any given decision.

 

From a parenting perspective, you ARE the playmate. 24x7 if you homeschool. My friends who have onlies mention that - in terms of just being exhausted and fried at the end of the day - regularly. (On the other hand, I was not much of a player when I was a kid, and was content to lose myself in a book... I think it annoyed my very extroverted mother, actually.)

 

Thank you for admitting to this. Most of those who are "only" children that I know would not own up to this struggle.

 

I know many people don't choose to have only one child so this is not a dig on them or on those who DO choose it, but I *have* had very real experiences with "only" children as teens/adults that definitely have their a unique way of dealing with people. It can be very frustrating.

 

Having said that, people are human and just because I can pinpoint an only child by the way they interact with others, even if it's subtle, everybody I know has their own issues...being one of many or only one. ;)

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It's one thing to not be able to have more than one because of infertility, or medical issues. It's another thing to not have more because that's the size you decide to keep your family.

 

From a Christian POV, the family is the domestic church. That is where you learn love, self sacrifice, how to temper your self and words, how to work as a team, how to prefer someone over you, how to negotiate disagreements with care.

 

Can you learn that as an only? I'm sure you can, and I bet it's a lot of work for the parents. You would really have to make an effort to get your kid out there to teach that to them. I'm not saying it can't be done, though.

 

 

We have one by choice.

 

All of that is being taught here. I never look at is as "extra" work or "extra" effort, I consider it part of being a parent. Just because there is only three of us doesn't mean he hasn't had to learn how to be a team player, how to love, how to word things so feelings don't get hurt. We are a family, we are a team, just a smaller one.

 

We don't have to put him out there more than other kids (only kids don't live in bubbles either ;)). Gosh, some of these posts make it sound like parenting an only is such an added burden, I don't see it that way. :confused:

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We have one by choice.

 

All of that is being taught here. I never look at is as "extra" work or "extra" effort, I consider it part of being a parent. Just because there is only three of us doesn't mean he hasn't had to learn how to be a team player, how to love, how to word things so feelings don't get hurt. We are a family, we are a team, just a smaller one.

 

We don't have to put him out there more than other kids (only kids don't live in bubbles either ;)). Gosh, some of these posts make it sound like parenting an only is such an added burden, I don't see it that way. :confused:

:iagree: We do not have an only by choice.

 

Maybe it is me, but to my eyes this thread is starting to sound quite condescending to parents of only children.

Edited by Parrothead
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We have one by choice.

 

All of that is being taught here. I never look at is as "extra" work or "extra" effort, I consider it part of being a parent. Just because there is only three of us doesn't mean he hasn't had to learn how to be a team player, how to love, how to word things so feelings don't get hurt. We are a family, we are a team, just a smaller one.

 

We don't have to put him out there more than other kids (only kids don't live in bubbles either ;)). Gosh, some of these posts make it sound like parenting an only is such an added burden, I don't see it that way. :confused:

 

Like I said, not that it can't be done, but that a parent will have to encourage and implement in ways that are more natural with a bunch of siblings.

 

Please, they were asking for pros and cons. I was acknowledging cons. It's not a personal slam on parents of only children.

Edited by justamouse
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I can't imagine being an adult and not having my siblings to talk to, laugh with, commiserate with, and love.

Bickering is a small price to pay for that.

 

Tara

 

:iagree:I have 9 siblings, I talk to at least one of them almost every day--even though we're scattered across multiple states, countries and continents. I was lucky to marry into a large family as well, and picked up a whole knew passel of built-in friends. With my own siblings, the reality of shared experiences brings a closeness that I have never matched even with my best best friends.

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I heard this all the time while parenting an only. Perhaps it's a personality quirk of your dh, but my only and the onlies I know do not have problems sharing. It's one of the most common misconceptions about only children, and really isn't fair.

 

I think there are a number of misconceptions on this post. :tongue_smilie:

 

Siblings and care of aging parents are so often mentioned, but I think that really depends of the family dynamics more than number of children.

 

My mom is one of five children. She hasn't spoken to her siblings in years, nor did she take care of her mother. (In fact, my mom refused to go see her mother on the night her mother passed away.)

 

My mom and her siblings are so spread out in age that they don't have those "common sibling memories" that are often cited as a positive of larger families. In fact, I am one of six children and have that same experience. We are so spread out in age that the "parents" that raised me and my older sister are so different from the "parents" that raised my younger siblings. Ex: My sister and I were never allowed to trick-or-treat or 'celebrate' Halloween in any shape or form. But by the time my baby brother came along, they let him trick-or-treat all over town and bring home pillowcases full of candy!

 

My dad was one of three children. At the end of that grandma's life, only one of her children took care of her -- but she was surrounded by a dozen grandchildren, all pitching in to take care of her! My dad was in denial that his mother was dying, so he went out of state on a fishing trip. My aunt had recently lost her husband after a short, but intense, battle with brain cancer; she was not emotionally stable to step in with her mother. That left - of all people - my uncle, the classic "black sheep of the family." :lol: It was actually so neat to see him step up and get his act together and be there for his mom.

 

When my aunt battled cancer and passed away, it was her daughter that took care of her. Her son lived further away and couldn't not deal with the 'female' nature of his mother's cancer. But my cousin was not alone in taking care of her mother. My dad stepped in to help, as did my aunt's sister- and brother-in-law.

 

Just my personal experience w/families with multiple children. Having more children certainly doesn't guarantee you will avoid the "negatives" of having an only child. It is more about the family, not the number of children in it.

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I think there are a number of misconceptions on this post. :tongue_smilie:

 

Just my personal experience w/families with multiple children. Having more children certainly doesn't guarantee you will avoid the "negatives" of having an only child. It is more about the family, not the number of children in it.

 

:iagree:

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The greatest benefit of being an only child is that all of the parents' resources - emotional and financial - are directed at you, and YOU alone. The more children one has, the more these resources are getting split, and only the rich can afford to provide for a handful of children what a typical middle to upper middle class family can provide for one child; when it comes to emotional resources, however, and TIME invested into each relationship, we are all stuck with a 24 hour day. So, while nobody likes talking about it because children are too precious to scrutinize the issue through the "material" lenses, the FACT is that in many families with multiple children you cannot afford to those children the education, travel opportunities and whatnot which you could afford if you had one child - and that, I find, is a devastating thought to many families in spite of all the love they have for each and every child individually. Like it or not, children are a cost financially and emotionally, and a "calculation" of how many to have always needs to take that into account.

 

Now, you might argue that that is a GOOD thing - that this way children are learning that the world does not revolve around them, that they learn to share, to miss out on something because another child has a more urgent need to be met, and so forth, but it is still a FACT that most children in such circumstances are less invested into compared to the onlies, on all levels. One thing I observed in particular is how more mature the onlies tend to be because they circle around adults as much as they circle around children, and there is typically no "child culture" element in the family when you have an only child. Ditto for being academically precocious, socially precocious (if there is such a thing - more adapted to the adult world as opposed to the child culture), they typically acquire adult language and demeanor quite early on, and all of that combined with that investment into them and a wealth of no-competition attention and emotional presence gives many onlines a real head start in life. More than a head start, in fact, when it comes to issues like inheritance later. Really, there are many tangible benefits involved with being an only.

 

However, being an only also adds the pressure. You are all your parents have. If YOU do not succeed and make them proud (whatever that means anyway), NOBODY will. If YOU are not a good child, nobody else is going to be. If something happens to you, there will be nobody left to comfort them. You are given more, but more is also EXPECTED out of you, simply by the virtue of being an only child they can expect anything from.

And then when you get older you catch up with some of the other downsides... such as what happens when you have to care for your aging parents, you do not have anybody to rely on in the nuclear family for support, if you do not have a close network of friends and extended family it can feel quite alone, I suppose.

 

Overall, it is sort of bittersweet. :tongue_smilie: I do not regret being an only child, but I also do not regret not having an only myself. Watching the sibling dynamic growing as my children are growing is quite amazing, I did not know what type of connection that really was. DH was a HUGE help with how to handle bickering and rivalry when they appear, I was clueless as to how does one coordinate peacefully more children. I am glad that they will have somebody in their adulthood to relate to in this way.

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Pro- when you are trying to care for aging parents you do not have to play BS games with siblings.

 

Con- when you are trying to care for aging parents you do not have any siblings to offer support or aide.

 

 

:iagree: I've lived thru this already and learned what needs to be done so that my own only isn't left with extreme burdens. However, seeing what others go thru with the estates of deceased parents and sibling bickering, I would take the care of aging parents any day over that nonsense!

 

Pros: ability to interact with adults and having the full attention of parents. Yields a certain maturity earlier, out of necessity.

 

Cons: A loneliness at certain stages of life since not having siblings to just be 'there' necessitates building a good support system of friends. So, maybe this isn't really a con after all! Maybe I should say there can be a tendency to go inside one's self too much.

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I know several only adult children, and they seem perfectly fine people. I know some who wanted to have large families as adults...they are perhaps the more social kind. I know onlies with onlies. They liked the peace and calm and the perks and time they were able to get. They want that for their own children. They don't seem more or less materialistic than people from large families. People learn to share if they want to share. You don't need to learn that as a toddler. I think the sharing myth is about as true as the myth of the anti social hser. Not wanting a passel of kids is not a moral issue. You either want a large family or you don't. That's nobody's business. It's one reason I don't care how many kids Michelle has, or that Jody Foster only has one. Who cares? Although if I am going to be honest, perhaps I wish the Kardashians should have reamined childess. ;)

 

I enjoy having siblings, but siblings issues are not uncommon in many families. I know plenty of sibliings who don't get on at all, and knwo several who don't even speak to each other.

Edited by LibraryLover
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I must say, I feel much happier and more secure now with my 'big' family than I ever have since I was a small child.

 

It's funny how it depends on the person. Being an introvert myself, I feel much happier and more calm now with my small family than I ever did in the chaos that I grew in.

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I know two families with only one child. There is a lot of stress in these families! They both feel guility for only having one child (as if the child is missing out of something) and the kids are spoiled (in a bad way). One child has every toy and tech device that is out there. The biggest problem is the family can't afford this lifestyle and it has caused extreme problems in the marriage. The child controls the family and his behavior is horrible when they are around other people (he knows how to work his parents). The kids behavior (when the parents are around) is painful for all around and causes me a ton of stress, so much, that I have had to tell my child that he isn't allowed to be around him. When the parents are not around, this kid is an angel! It is unbelievable the difference in this kid once the parents are gone. This could easily be avoided with good parenting skills.

 

The other family I know is further along (child is going off to college next year). Their life completely evolves around this child and I think the child is going to have a hard time adjusting to college life when they figure out the world does not evolve around them. I worry about how the parents will adjust too.

 

Of course, these are just two examples and it isn't always this way. And these could be avoided with good parenting skills.

 

Really? How interesting. I know many, many families of multilple siblings in which the children exhibit the same behavior or worse. Imagine that! :D

 

astrid

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It's funny how it depends on the person. Being an introvert myself, I feel much happier and more calm now with my small family than I ever did in the chaos that I grew in.

 

DH and I have commented a number of times about how friends of ours who come from big families tend to have only one or two children themselves, while those who are onlies, or have just one sibling, are the ones who have the larger families. I'm an only and DH has one brother, and we'd both have more children if we were younger. It's almost as if we instinctively try to establish some equilibrium in our lives.

 

I have friends who have only children, one by choice, the other by necessity. I make no judgement on them. I did not enjoy being only, but my situation was not typical in that my father died when I was eight; my family felt broken, desolate, with just my mother and myself.

 

I know not all only children have this experience, and I'm sorry if anyone has felt hurt by any perceived judgement on my part.

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