The Ups & Downs of Having an Only Child

The only child. The first and last. The alpha and the omega. The one who will probably inherit your collection of Marvel comics and Barbie doll collection. Some people will assume you're spoiling them, or that they are socially awkward kids who have bratty tendencies because they didn't get the pleasure of growing up pulling hair and fighting over toys sharing and caring with a sibling.

While these stereotypes of only children are examples of how society misunderstands one child families or hasn't adjusted to the smaller family ratio yet, these are misunderstandings of why families are choosing to only have one child.

Now what is it with the term 'only child' that have people's tongues wagging? If you are consciously weighing on the decision to have only one child, then here's a quick look at both the upsides and downsides to it ( this is assuming no medical conditions are involved, cos folks that is a different story altogether)

10 THE GOOD: Undivided Attention


This no one can deny. With only one kid to look after (versus that lady across the park juggling her breast sucking 3 month old, her wailing 3 year old and rebellious 9 year old), I'd say you'll have it way easier. You won't have to worry about sibling jealously, petty and sometimes life threatening fights, potential runaways, your china and furniture crashing down...well you get the idea.

You can bring your little one for a stroll in the park or to the shopping mall without the guilt of not spending enough time with their siblings. Or if you like to gift your child with something small for being good, you don't have to then gift everyone with something for simply behaving, when it's something they should be doing anyway.

9 More Independent

Studies have shown that people who grow up without siblings tend to be more independent than those who do. They practically grow up having to learn things on their own.

The first day of school? There won't be any big sister to show them around. The first fight? Big brother Jimmy won't be there to defend them. First crush? No advice on makeup from their sisters. First car crash? Gotta settle it themselves. So in a way they generally turn out tougher than other kids.

Not to mention that this independence is one way parents can rest assured that their child won't feel like following the lemmings over the cliff later on in life.

8 Sibling Rivalry After You're Dead and Gone

You know all those sob dramas about family members fighting over daddy's mansion and wealth? You won't have to worry about that. They get everything! Assuming you leave something for them. The bottom line is they won't be pressured to turn into ugly greedy beings who are ready to gobble up your hard earned money.

That also means you don't have to agonize over financial decisions when dividing up your estate, it simply goes to your only heir. Some siblings start fighting over these items before their parents even get ankle deep in discussing their will with their kids. This make the decisions parents have to make harder when it comes to deciding who gets what exactly from their jewelry, property or other assets.

7 Less Financial Worries

It's a no brainer that bringing up kids requires a lot of money. We generally spend a quarter of our income on each child. So the more children you have, the more you'll have to spend and the quality of food, toys and education might drop because you will have to distribute your wealth over a few kids instead of just giving the best to one.

Now this is more of a quality vs quantity issue which only you yourself can decide on. Unless of course you are Angelina Jolie, then the sky is the limit. But seriously, having more than one child means counting every penny and possibly putting some dreams on hold as you try to find money for everything your children need.

6 More 'Me' Time

Ask any mother when was the last time she was able to have one full day to herself, to do anything that she pleased without having to worry about her kids?

Mothers across the globe burst into fits of hysterical laughter and shake their heads. Some start crying while others Google for the meaning of 'me time.' They could have sworn they knew the meaning before.

With only one kid, chances are you'll be able to relax, rejuvenate and enjoy more. Kids no doubt get easier to raise as they get older and become more independent. With the increase in their independence, mom can have more me time. In a family of 4, mom may not have me time until the youngest is 6 years old. Now that's a long time to wait for some 'me time!'

5 THE BAD: Social Problems Anyone?

Case in point. You conduct an experiment with a pack of dogs. Group A consists of two adult dogs (one being mummy and the other the daddy) and a pack of noisy little puppies. Group B consists of two adult dogs (also one being the mummy and the other the daddy) and only one puppy. Chances are the puppy that grows up in group B will find it harder to adjust to life once it reaches adulthood.

The only child seldom has to fight for attention at home, they usually get doted on by their parents and most of the time they are lavished with only the best life has to offer. They seldom have to share or consult with the siblings. So it is only normal that the only child will usually (this is not definitive folks. With proper upbringing all the bad traits can be eliminated) grow up to be more selfish and less attuned to the needs of other people.

For example little Sarah might have enjoyed being the center of her parents' world while growing up only to realize that the world doesn't revolve around her (gasp!) once she reaches into adulthood and joins the workforce.

4 Your Child Might Be Lonely

Some children run off to play with their siblings after school. Others dread having to live another episode of fighting with their siblings. Whatever the case, children with siblings generally have more interaction with other people compared to the only child. What happens if you and your spouse fall ill? Or if both of you decide to leave early for lala land? Or you and your spouse opt for divorce?

All these things affect children and the only child will have no one to share their fears and uncertainties with. Sometimes having another person to talk to that isn't mom and dad is a good thing. Siblings create a balance where parents may not be able to reach. Older siblings act parental to their younger siblings sometimes, but that's because they care and love for their younger brothers and sisters.

On the flip side, older siblings are less likely to be openly contemptuous with their mother and father when their younger siblings are around because they're keenly aware that they are a role model for their younger siblings.

3 Bear the Burden of Caring for You

Worst case scenario. You fall sick. As in the, 'I'm totally bedridden' kind of sick, but somehow you still manage to hang onto dear life for the next miserable decade. Your only child ( assuming they turn out to be filial and don't run away with your fortune in the first place) will be tasked as the sole caretaker.

While it is only right for children to care for their elderly and ailing parents as they were cared for when they were mere infants, isn't it a little too much to rob them off their future?

And to further scare you out of your wits, there was once this bright young woman who decided to have only one child only to regret it later in life when she was diagnosed with scleroderma (a family of the auto immune disease). Things got so bad she fell into depression and tried to take her life as she could not face the fact that her only child had to care for her and face life alone after she passed away.

Now while that might never ever happen to you, there is no harm in trying to think of your child's wellbeing for when you and your spouse decide to kick the bucket.

2 2 is Better Than 1

Ever heard of the song "2 is better than 1" by  Boys like Girls? No? (Eyes wide with horror).

Well even if you haven't, I'm sure you've read the Bible, because somewhere in that book, a passage stands out quoting, " two are better than one. " I personally don't think we can argue with the Big Guy. I mean the almighty did create umm...like everything so there should be no harm in heeding the advice.

Two kids always have a shoulder to lean on, someone to play with and learn from (older kids can learn something from younger kids). And as they age, siblings get closer and become more understanding of each other and appreciative of each other's differences. So as thier parents age, the two siblings are better able to look after th eparetns than they would if they were all alone.

1 It'll Be a Quiet Family

Remember the hit TV series Full House? There were so many kids that there was practically no peace in the house. So what if you'll be spared from all the, "Mum! Danny's choking me!" and the, "Dad! Ben cut my ponytail!"

Won't the constant ruckus and never ending drama be more fun than the sound of a pin dropping on the floor during dinner time with just the three of you? Things will get even more quiet once they hit adolescence and clam up about practically everything. You'd be lucky if the they even drag their feet out of their cave, I mean room to join you for dinner.

Wait, you don't mind? You like the sound of silence? (Cue to the song "The Sound of Silence" by Disturbed). Well, if that's the case, then point no 5 shouldn't be of any concern to you.

Bear in mind that the points above are just the writer's opinions. They should by no means dictate how you choose to live your life. As someone once said, " In life, there are no right or wrong choices. You need not make 'the right choice.' You need only to make 'your choice right'." Deep. But there is wisdom in it. So whatever your choice may be, as long as you are comfortable with it then you should be on your way to a fulfilling life of motherhood. Good luck!

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