How I noticed the stereotyping of the only child – A mother’s view

by on October 10, 2012

in Guest Onlies

Vivian Cameron-Gallo writes about her experience of having an only child and how it prompted her to write a book to promote the positive experiences of a family of three:

I never really observed the only child labels before, they really didn’t affect me having grown up with an older sister. My Dad is an only child but I never seemed to have been exposed to the stereotypes of the only child with regard to my Dad. Maybe this was because he was five years old when the Great Depression began here in America. Many families were smaller at this time as people were struggling to make ends meet and one more mouth to feed would have been a hardship. Kids growing up during this era were resilient. My Dad would never fit the stereotypes of the only child. I couldn’t possibly imagine anyone calling him spoiled, selfish or lonely, in fact he is quite the opposite.

So when I had my daughter at age 37 and menopause made an early visit, I never really thought about the fact that my daughter would be an “only child.” She was simply my daughter.  My chucking little girl: exuberant, loving, feisty and at the same time, emotional, reactive and challenging.  When I think about my daughter I see a human being born with a genetic make up. Born with a personality that is hers and hers alone. As a parent my job is to guide her and to help her mold that personality. If you will, to help her fine tune it. To tone down the negative aspects and enhance the finer points. To me, only child, oldest child, middle child or youngest child; each one of these children are born with a personality. Each one has the capacity to be lonely, spoiled, selfish or bratty and at the same time each one has the capacity to be loving, caring, giving and social. It’s not about how many siblings you have that creates these traits it is about the child’s exposure to life and parenting style that help shape who they are.

When my daughter started kindergarten the first assignment was to create a image of the family unit. For the first school open house each classmate’s family unit image decorated the school halls. As we walked the hall to the classroom my daughter stopped to observe each and every one, counting how many we’re in each family…but actually she was just counting the number of kids. For the first time she noticed that almost all of them had “more.” In a child’s eyes more is better, heck, to most adults “more” is better! So when I saw this I quickly pointed out that this was about families and “we are a family of three.” But even with the positive spin, this was the day that all the kids noticed who the “only children” we’re in the room and for me this was the day I began to notice the stereotyping that came along with being an only child.

As a mom I have always turned to children’s books to open up positive dialogue on certain subjects. There are kids books out there for every subject under the sun! When I wanted to teach about manners we read a book. When I wanted to teach about sharing we read a book. But when I wanted to find a book about being an only child I only found two books online (none in the stores) and those two books did nothing but reinforce negative stereotypes. Those books never made my daughters book shelf. I read them, put them away and then took out a pen and wrote my own book! You’ll find “We’re Three: A Story about Families and the Only Child” a positive expression of the family of three and the only child. It’s a pictorial journal that has blank pages throughout the book for the reader to draw in their own personal family experience. Now I knew there would be at least one positive story for the parents of only children to use too!  Hopefully “We’re Three” can be a positive step towards dispelling the myths of the only child.

Creative Child Magazine has honored “We’re Three” with the 2012, 2011 and 2010 Book of the Year Award for kids interactive books and the 2009 Seal of Excellence. These awards are judged by educators and Moms!

“We’re Three” is also for sale in the UK at Amazon or ebook

[WE'RE THREE: A STORY ABOUT FAMILIES AND THE ONLY CHILD BY (Author)Cameron-Gallo, Vivian]Paperback(Apr-2011)

You can see more about the book at:

You also can join our interactive lounge at the Secret Builders game site at:

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