There might be any number of reasons why a couple only has one child. Fertility issues, financial struggles, or even just a desire to keep their family unit small might all contribute to their decision. If you’re considering having an only child, you need to know that there are just as many advantages as there are disadvantages, although some of the perks can certainly outweigh the negatives. Below are just a few things to consider when planning your family.
Disadvantage: No siblings to play with
Your brothers or sisters are usually your first and most prevalent playmates when you’re little, for better or worse. If you were the younger sibling in your family, you probably looked up to your older brothers or sisters and wanted to do everything they did. If you were the eldest, you probably resented when the younger kids tagged along everywhere with you, but you also enjoyed having them around when you were bored. Unfortunately, only children lack this built-in entertainment at their house that other kids may take for granted.
Advantage: Better at finding hobbies and creating their own entertainment
On the flip side of this, only children are forced to discover and nurture their own hobbies as they grow up, and will often find a niche that they may not have otherwise. Although there may be times where they feel lonely at home, they also tend to develop a strong sense of self-sufficiency that can guide them through life. Scheduling playdates can give them the social outlet they need, but having a quiet home life without other kids helps them to develop their own interests and activities to keep from feeling bored in between outings.
Disadvantage: Parents can be too involved in your life
When you’re the only child, you are your parent’s entire world. For some kids, especially once they reach adolescence, this can be a little smothering. Without much else to steal their attention, parents might become too involved in their life, looking over their shoulder at every homework assignment, and quizzing them all about their friends and personal lives.
Advantage: No fighting for attention or resources
To counter that, one of the biggest perks about being an only child is all of the attention they will get! When they’re little, mom and dad can sub in as playmates, giving them 100% of the attention that you might otherwise have to split with a sibling. When they’re older, this can benefit them with holidays, extracurriculars, and even their college education. Without having another child that also needs clothing, birthday parties, presents, tuition or new baseball cleats, that money will be funneled directly to the only child, giving them access to more experiences and rewards than they would have had otherwise.
Disadvantage: Taking care of mom and dad on their own later in life
Unfortunately, many only children feel the burden of caring for their parents once they enter their twilight years. These responsibilities can take their toll, and without another sibling to share those duties, it can be overwhelming. Additionally, end-of-life and funeral arrangements will usually fall to the only child as well, forcing them to make hard decisions during a difficult time, and leaving them feeling alone in the world once both parents are gone. Spouses and other family members can help shoulder the burden during this time, but having another sibling who is going through the same thing you are can be invaluable. For many, this is one of the worst aspects of being an only child.
Advantage: Stronger bond with their parents
For many only children, their parents are their closest and most cherished family members. They are their children’s first playmates, and they’re there to listen and help after a long day at school. Their parents can give them undivided attention, attending their extracurricular events to cheer them on. Without having a sibling to turn to, many only children will go to their parents for advice on how to handle arguments with friends or trouble with school. This deep bond is fundamental in giving them the love they need, and is one often-cited reason why many singletons loved being an only child.
Deciding how large your family should be is never an easy choice. While this list can provide you with a few of the strengths and weaknesses of being an only child, you’re the only one that can determine what is right for your situation. And honestly, however big or small your family turns out to be, as long as there is an abundance of love, everything should be just fine.