Only Children: Being One and Raising One

I saw this article on the web this week and was drawn to it.

Only Children: Lonely and Selfish? by Lauren Sandler, author of “One and Only”.  She is an only child raising an only child…

I am an only child and am now raising an only child.  Immediately I was interested!

I NEVER thought in a MILLION years I’d be raising an only child.  As long as I can remember I thought I would have two!  It wasn’t I wanted one boy, one girl, it was more I thought growing up that I was missing out on something by not having a sibling(s).  I hated that I had no one to blame things on, no one to pal around with on family vacations, but…

I loved that I felt the freedom and support from my parents to pursue any dream and had strong bonds with my friends.

Sandler challenged the three biggest myths (that she turned into one word) – lonelyselfishmaladjusted.

She laid out the facts:

1. Only children are not lonely. This is true, but with a few qualifications. School-aged only children are not lonelier. However, those in rural areas might be somewhat more so, and adolescent onlys get lonely because they are teenagers. And grown-up only children coping with the needs and then the loss of aging parents do tend to feel more isolated than others in the same boat. “For me, personally, it is not a reason to have another kid,” Sandler says, “just so my kid has a sibling when I die.”

Totally agree – my mom did a great job of getting me into classes and playdates as a young child, as I got older I joined clubs and sports to keep busy, and to this day I am happier in the company of family and friends!  Sure I need some alone time, but I am genuinely happier when my husband and daughter are around or I am with my girlfriends.  It doesn’t make me lonely, I just love being in other’s company!

I am now doing the same for my daughter – we joined “mom and me” classes when she was around 8 weeks old, and now she is in preschool at 2 – one to learn and two to socialize with other children her age!

2. Only children are not more selfish than other people. Instead, Sandler says, “we become generous and respectful people. We put a lot of weight on our relationships. We tend to be very giving friends, and we are no more narcissistic than anyone else. For some reason, researchers cannot believe this, and just keep testing it.”

Agree again!  I am proud of the fact that no one can guess I am an only child (I guess I can thank my mom and dad for not getting me a pair of Z-Cavaricci’s even though everyone had them and for not getting me a car when I turned 16 even though I thought I was entitled-ha ha)!

My friends are my “brothers and sisters” and have been for as long as I can remember!  I have extremely close bonds with my friends and feel like they are family.  I support them and they support me.  I would truly do anything for them and I want to instill that same value in my daughter.  I believe I am who I am today partially due to my parents but even more so to my friends!  That is the one thing that scares me to death about being a parent is the type of friends my daughter will have.  I pray she is as lucky as I am to have the kind of friends I have.

3. Only children are not maladjusted. “All of the data around that shows us that as long as kids go to school they’re socialized,” Sandler says. “I tend to be the person throwing a party. I bought a house with friends.”

Yup agree again!  I tend to be the organizer, I plan events, I bring people together, and I love that role.

Like Sandler says, “Consider the data: in hundreds of studies during the past decades exploring 16 character traits — including leadership, maturity, extroversion, social participation, popularity, generosity, cooperativeness, flexibility, emotional stability, contentment — only children scored just as well as children with siblings. And endless research shows that only children are, in fact, no more self-involved than anyone else. It turns out brutal sibling rivalry isn’t necessary to beat the ego out of us; peers and classmates do the job.”

I hope that we can raise our daughter to feel confident in her own skin and to grown up to be whoever she dreams to be!

I love the family I have, my husband, my daughter, and I have a great bond, I am excited for us to experience things as a family.  I love that we have the freedom to give all our energy to her.  And also I will be honest, I love that it gives my husband and I the freedom to still be true to ourselves.

Sandler said it best,
“If a child doesn’t have siblings, it’s generally assumed that there’s a hush-hush reason for it: we don’t like being parents (because we are selfish), we care more about our status — work, money, materialism — than our child (because we are selfish), or we waited too long (because we are selfish).

Call me selfish but, as the mother of one child, I enjoy more time, energy and resources than I would if I had more children. And it is hard to imagine that this isn’t better for my family as well as for me.

Most people say they have their first child for themselves and the second to benefit their first. But if children aren’t inherently worse off without siblings, who is best served by this kind of thinking? Instead of making family choices to fulfill breeding assignments we imagine we’ve been given, we might ensure that our most profound choice is a purely independent, personal one. To do so might even feel like something people rarely associate with parenting: it might feel like freedom.”

I am happy with our choice to have one.  Our choice has to do with a lot of factors: the struggle we had just to bring her into this world, the struggle we had adjusting to parenthood in the first few months, and the joy we now experience focusing on her and watching her grow up and sharing in all her “firsts” moments!

I will do my best to teach my daughter to be social, the importance of sharing, and also how to be strong and independent.

I agree with Sander that being a happy mom makes you a better mom and a better person overall.

Shout out to the fellow only children out there!

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