Dialogue with a parent of an only child

by on August 17, 2011

in Bernice responds

I am a mother raising an only child who is about to
turn three. While looking up some info on the subject I came across your website.

With all due respect to you, what I read was incredibly upsetting!!! Where was the positive side of the subject?

Just because you have siblings DOES NOT mean life is a party! I am the youngest of four, and my husband is the youngest of three, and we are on our own. Yes, we know we have someone in the world if there was an emergency but other than that, there is warm and fussy feeling. I think for many people in today’s world, their friends become their family. Martie

Bernice Responds

I am sorry you found the website so upsetting, I assume from your position as a parent of an only child. However the website is intended for adult only children, to share their experience which by no means do they see as being all negative. From a psychological perspective I believe there are some disadvantages in having no siblings, hence my research project. As a therapist I am interested in working with both positive and negative feelings people bring, and many onlies expressed a preference to being one even though they felt in childhood it was a disadvantage.

If you are interested in a predominantly positive perspective I would encourage you to go to onlychild.com which is primarily set up for parents of only children. Also there are some very useful books on parenting an only child on the website and these are all positive.

Inevitably everyone has negative aspects to their experience – my purpose is more about showing how onlies themselves feel ‘different’ whether this is imagined or reality. The stories are about giving voice to my co-researchers and others who have responded to the website.

The dialogue continues in Half-siblings

  • LJ

    Thanks Bernice for your response to Martie.  I am grateful for the “Only Child Experience” site for it helps me know that there are others who feel the way I do.  As an adult only child I am an avid promoter of people having more than one child — I am glad to say that a couple at my church took my advice and decided to give their son a sibling.  Perhaps Martie was looking for validation in her decision to not have any more children.  One of the most difficult times in my life was the terminal illness and subsequent passing of my father.  What added to the struggle was that he and my mother were divorced and it seemed to me that she was yet clamouring for my attention in a time when it seemed that all my energies should be focused on him — with no siblings to share the load or children of my own I would not wish that struggle on anyone.  Please continue doing what you’re doing.

  • Keyassess

    I agree with Martie. There are pros and cons to all situations. Some only children blame all their psychological woes on their easily identifiable family status and have the grass is greener syndrome. You need to present both sides and not stigmatise children without siblings.

  • Petra

    I agree with martie. I found your site upseting. YOu seem to have a subconscuious axe to grined about only children.
    Please tell me how many of the negative experiences of onlies in your research came from unhappy, broken or dysfunctional backgrounds. I am interested. 

  • Rachael.

    I agree with Martie, I find your website quite negative, I wonder if it is not the information itself so much as the way it is delivered. 

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