‘little adult’

How siblings help us ‘to see’ ourselves

We have recently had a number of posts from parents of onlies and also some onlies themselves, who have not been particularly happy about being the only child in the family. I thought I would post some of my own thoughts and experiences to add to this discussion. I believe the only-child experience, that is growing up with no siblings with whom to interact is a different one. Whilst it is not unique it is still different to one where a child has the opportunity to grow up with siblings.  Siblings like parents, mirror you and teach you things about yourself. Parents primarily engage with us in caring ways, and model adult aspects of behaviour and emotional intelligence. From this we can learn to grow up and mature and also have the image of ourselves as warm, confident, and loving people, as this is what has hopefully been mirrored to [...]

Read more…

How can you support your daughter as an only child?

Hi Bernice I am the mother of a teenage (14 year old) only daughter. Her father and I have always encouraged her to be independent and courageous. She is talented at sports, excels at her school work and is respected by her peers and teachers. Despite all this, she has few close friends and often seems lonely. She is more serious and mature than many of her peers and she is not afraid to speak her mind – which often alienates her from others. She does not ‘suffer fools gladly’. I am starting to feel guilty for her being an only child as she seems unable to form close bonds with others. I don’t know what to do or how to support her in this. Any advice? Bernice replies: My first response is please do not feel guilty there are a lot worse experiences than being an only child! Clearly [...]

Read more…

Is Lauren Sandler right to say one-child families are happier?

Barbara MacMahon, Times June 15th http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/life/families/article3791173.ece Well this old chestnut returns again! Barbara MacMahon’s article in the Times describes the controversy surrounding Lauren Sandlers new book “One and Only’ — the Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One. Lauren Sandler has been surprised by the level of criticism she has received on her opinion from various people, that only children are not disadvantaged, specifically British author Zadie Smith. Apparently, Louise Doughty is also very scathing about Lauren Sandlers research (Guardian Friday 14 June 2013). Having been interviewed by Lauren when she was researching her book our dialogue on the only child experience seems a little different to what is being stated here by Barbara MacMahon: “In her book Sandler debunks many of these myths. Hundreds of studies, she says, show that being raised alone makes little difference to the person you turn out to be and that there can [...]

Read more…

Are only children more mature?

Some only child research claims that only children (as children) are more ‘mature’ because they behave in adult-ways rather than child-like ways. Whilst the second part of this statement is probably true i.e. that only children exhibit more adult behaviours, the first part about being more mature is debatable. Most only children spend far more time in adult company, as they miss out on the 33% of time that research has estimated sibling children spend a day with each other. As a result  they learn adult behaviours earlier, which can give them a veneer of maturity. However maturity comes with social interaction with all age groups. For many only children, peer relationships can be less frequent because they have not had  siblings to spend time with. So when they do encounter other children this can be a challenge because they are more used to the ‘rational’ or more ‘adult behaviours’ of adults. [...]

Read more…

Is being independent such a good thing?

Western culture and American culture particularly prizes the independent personality – the man and presumably woman – who can get on with his/her own life, make his/her own decisions, be self–sufficient, go it alone, beholden to know one. Only children can be brought up to be particularly independent, sometimes by design, at other times a result of being on the periphery of their parent/s relationship. (The opposite, of course, is the only child who is overly protected, coddled and who is anything but self – sufficient – however this post is not about them!) Learning to be independent is a good thing as we cannot expect to rely on someone all of the time – this has been a problem with some Chinese only children who have been so cocooned from the harsh realities of life that they often have a sense of entitlement which makes living with others hard. [...]

Read more…

Janel: 18 year old only

Being an only I am an only child who lives with my two parents. Since dad was from a family of ten children and mom was one of eight children, sharing possessions as children translated in such charity of today. On the other hand, I was raised as an only child who did not share much with them because I received all of their attention and resources. Therefore, I see myself as a little adult because my mom and I always talked about the news, politics, and good books. She also took me on field trips to different places within the tri-State area; in fact, my dad always bought me expensive gifts at times and tried to teach me life lessons that were often more humorous than serious. Being surrounded by just my two parents all my life was highly influential, yet sometimes it seemed overbearing. What I need as [...]

Read more…

The negative side of being special: How a lack of de-thronement, by a sibling, can affect us in adulthood.

All children need to feel special particularly from their parents. In fact one of the advantages of being brought up an only child is often considered to be the extra attention you receive. The assumption is that the more attention the better and this can lead the only child to feel particularly ‘special’. I mean special in the old fashioned sense of a child who is very much loved and nurtured. However the special child can also be the child whose parent’s are blind to behaviours the child acquires as a result of their attention, which are not useful as the child moves from childhood to adolescence and finally to adulthood. With no siblings to counteract the sense of specialness that an only child experiences within the family, it can be a rude awakening to enter the real world where people are not going to treat you in this way. [...]

Read more…

My Sixteen Tips for parents’ of an only child

I receive a lot of emails from parents who have only one child and feel they are being pressurised into having more. They are often labeled selfish and are made to feel they are doing a terrible thing. Bringing up a child, with or without siblings, is a challenging experience, and we can get it right or wrong either way. Having more children does not guarantee happiness for anyone. Having an only child has its own challenges both for parents’ and the child itself. Ultimately I think it’s best to have the number of children that suits your family. One, or more than one, which ever is best for you. The problems only children can experience being an only one can easily be counteracted, by ensuring that they are not over-protected and are given lots of opportunities to interact with other children. I would never encourage any one to have [...]

Read more…