The Only Child Myth

Filed under: Opinions

familyWhether you have one child or eight, there is always somebody ready to pass judgment on your family-planning choices. Parents who choose to have a house full of kids are often blamed for contributing to overpopulation and accused of treating older siblings like unpaid nannies for the younger children. How could they possibly give all those children the love and attention they deserve?

In families with just one child, however, the criticism is just the opposite and often aimed at the kids themselves. Back in the late 1800's, psychologist Stanley Hall referred to being an only child as "a disease in itself" and for many, that prejudice remains. "Onlies," who who are the beneficiaries of their parent's undivided time and attention, must surely be spoiled and will no doubt grow up believing the world revolves around them.

Thanks to Jon and Kate and the Duggars, we've all gotten a glimpse at what goes on in large families. But what about only-child families? The old stereotypes persist and there is no reality show out there to shed some light on the subject.

That's where Cafe Mom comes in. Readers are weighing in on the myth of only children and responding to a study that blows those old stereotypes out of the water. That study revealed that not only were single children not more spoiled and bossy than their peers with siblings, but they actually showed evidence of being more intelligent!

In essence, all that one-on-one time with parents often results in higher education levels, higher test scores and higher levels of achievement. That makes sense, but is there a trade-off? Even if they are not spoiled and bossy, do only children suffer for the lack of sibling companionship?

For the most part, Cafe Mom readers who are raising only children sing the praises of their decision. But many who grew up as only children themselves sing a very different tune -- one of loneliness and the feeling of being different. What about you? Were you an only child or are you raising one? Any regrets? Advice?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.