Bernice responds

Bernice responds to Louise Watt – Beijing correspondent

 Louise Watt (correspondent in Beijing) wrote to me in a personal correspondence about this research and asked me for my response: Recently Australian researchers have explored the psychological impact of China’s one-child policy and part of that is the impact of being an only child. This was published by Science magazine in January 2013. Loiuse’s email: “They found that people born as a result of China’s one-child policy are less trusting, less competitive and more risk-averse than people born before the policy was implemented. The researchers recruited approx. 400 Beijing residents who had been born either before (in 1975 or 1978) or after (in 1980 or 1983) the implementation of the policy. They used a series of economic games, in which participants had to make economic decisions to measure their trust, risk-taking and willingness to compete. They also used personality surveys to determine that only children (as a result of [...]

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Email from a journalist from Brazil

Elida Oliveira I’m a journalist in Brazil, and I’m writing an article about the Only Child. There is a lot of reseach that tries to discover if it is good or not. Many say that onlies achieve better are more intelligence, loved, and so on. Others demonstrate that only child are lonely, selfish and maladjusted. Your goal is just talk with them to know if the onlies, that are adults, feel good about it. Amazing! That’s why I’m writing you. I would like to know if in your research you found any bad aspect of being an only child, or any good aspect of being onlies. What do you conclude? I think that those who didn’t have siblings want to have them because they don’t know if it would be better or not. (I used to dream with an older sister, as I have an older brother) What about the [...]

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Please help me…I feel I have lost my best friend not just my lover

Hi there I have just stumbled upon your sight and I think it could be a lifesaver. I have been in a relationship with an only child for the past 3 years we life separately but have been taking about marriage and kids for the past year. Everything was perfect I felt that we really wanted the same things and understood each other. My mother is a widow as is his and as both my siblings live abroad I have all the responsibility of taking care of her travelling over 2 hours each weekend to see her. Because he has the same thing to deal with I was overjoyed that I found someone that understood. I have met his mum and I love her to bits. He turned 39 last week, we had a perfect night out and kept discussing our years plans going so far as booking a weekend away in April. Last Thursday night he called over and said [...]

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What should I do?

I am a single parent to a wonderful ‘only’ boy. He is 5 years old and I naturally think he is a genius, as most mothers do. I have read some of your posts, I appreciate the varied topics and I plan on reading more. My son and I recently moved across country for a new job and I do not have a large network of friends, especially those with children his age. He has been in daycare since the age of 10 months old and has always been around other children at daycare and now school. His Kindergarten teacher recently stated: “He needs to listen to his friends before he goes ahead with his own agenda. His actions can sometimes be viewed as disrespectful by his peers.” This has me a little concerned. He is not a mean child, nor is he aggressive, however, this leads me to believe [...]

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What do I do?

Hello, I’m 28 and an only – my father passed away when I was just shy of 9 years old and to be quite honest he was an abusive drunk. My mom and I have always been a “team”, we’ve always had one another but with age and time I’m finding that I just want a sense of freedom, but suffer tremendous guilt with the thought of “being free” and just enjoying life to the fullest. Every decision I make, I have my mother in mind and feel guilty planning a vacation, shopping for myself, or even having social gatherings without a level of guilt from my mom. Every apartment complex I’ve moved to she generally follows living either within the same building or perhaps a building over. Do you know how sabotaging that is? To not have a guest over when you want, because your parent shows up without [...]

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I have 5 children and worry about their relationships’….and wish I had a sibling

Bernice: I received this email which resonated very much with me because ‘watching’ people was something I did from a very young age. I also used to have imaginary conversation with them whilst they were talking to someone else. I was very shy as a child so found it hard just to speak to peers so this was a way of observing conversation with out the necessity of actually taking the risk to enter into it! I was fascinated by large families and yes envied them to some extent mostly the fact they could all play board games together and not like me, playing  on my own. However I am also aware tht as I grew older having a sibling seemed less interesting possibility as I became more ware of some of the advantages, mostly economic, that I benefited from. However when I finally did my research on adult only [...]

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Are only children happier? Bernice responds to recent articles that say they are.

Households with a single child now outnumber those with two (by more than half a million) and make up 46 per cent of all families. An article in the The Daily Mail stated that recent research concluded only children were happier than sibling children: Why an only child is happier than those who have brothers and sisters. Similarly the Observer article:  An only child is a happy child  claimed, from the same research: that because children with siblings encounter sibling rivalry and reduced parental attention, and worse still sibling bullying, an only child must be happier simply because they do not have a sibling. More recently “The Week” also published a similar article: Are Only Children Happier? Is this true? First of all, the research as far as I have read, is based on a large scale survey conducted in Britain by the Economic and Social Research Council. It does [...]

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Does birth order matter?

Whilst birth–order as a subject for research is highly debated, many interesting aspects of such research have been collected by Frank Sulloway in his book: Born to Rebel. In my experience only children vary enormously but there are certain characteristics which are not uncommon in people with siblings but often constellate in only children as a result of their parenting – particularly if it has been overly intense which can lead them to be distant and hard to negotiate with. Here is an email, which is an interesting perspective from an eldest child. Bernice Email from Rob I’ve just found your blog and want to tell you how important this has been for me. I’m 42 years old and have just experienced to most upsetting experience of my life with a only child partner that I was deeply committed to and had believed that we both were looking forward to [...]

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Half-siblings

This is the continuing dialogue with Martie in a ‘Dialogue with a parent of an only-child’. I was raised as the youngest of four, and as an only child of my parents; my siblings are my half-siblings. I have spent a good deal of my life wondering what it would have been like to have a “true” sibling, feeling like I missed out on something. Hence, I have deep concern for raising our daughter as an only child. As time has passed, I have come to realize that in all honesty, I do have three siblings, two brothers and one sister. And like many people with siblings, my husband included, I am not close to them, and they are not close to each other. We all have very different personalities, different interests, and we live states apart from one another. Most of my friends are not close to their siblings [...]

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Dialogue with a parent of an only child

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 [...]

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