Being an Only Child: Advantages and Disadvantages

· January 21, 2019

There are tons of myths about the personality of an only child. Some are true to a certain extent, but others aren’t. Nowadays, more and more couples are deciding to only have one child, either due to their financial situations or because they don’t have enough time to raise more children.

Of course, being an only child is not the same as growing up with siblings. The type of family we grow up in will moderately affect our personality. Being an only child isn’t entirely good or bad. Having siblings doesn’t necessarily make someone more sociable and friendly and not having them doesn’t mean a person will turn into an unbearable tyrant.

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” 

-Denis Waitley-

Upbringing and the example parents give their children are the most fundamental things. However, usually only children do develop certain character traits. And being an only child has advantages and disadvantages, just like growing up with siblings. Let’s delve deeper into them.

Parents of an only child

Many wonder if the parents of an only child behave differently than those who have more than one kid. The answer is yes. In spite of that, the most important thing is not how many kids they have but if they wanted them or not.

Only child kissing her parents.

The parents of an only child who aren’t sure about what’s the best way to be a parent, but at the same time truly wanted to have a kid, will tend to be a bit more anxious when it comes to raising their child. It’s possible that they’ll consult many books and manuals to get tips on how to raise children. But it’s also likely that they feel guilty when things don’t go as expected. Their child will sense all that tension and it could make them a bit uptight.

There are parents who consciously set a goal to have children but, deep inside, don’t really want to. In those cases, they usually delegate their child’s upbringing to others, perhaps to a grandparent, a nanny, or even daycare. Consequently, the only child will feel lonely and have a hard time establishing genuine bonds with people as an adult.

Finally, those who don’t want to be parents but end up having only one child could process the situation the right way and educate their child normally.

Small adults

Doctor Toni Falbo from the University of Texas has studied only children. According to her observations, only children spend a lot of time with adults. This leads them to end up feeling comfortable with older people and behave more maturely at an early age. 

Kids doing homework.

As a consequence, an only child tends to see adults and even parents as their equals. In fact, they even see older people as individuals they can relate to. This can lead them to be hard on themselves. They want to be as mature as the adults they spend their time with, and they want to be autonomous and accomplish big things at a young age. 

In contrast, Falbo points out that only children tend to have greater self-esteem and self-confidence. It’s easier for them to understand their teachers’ and authority figures’ expectations and they easily become leaders among kids their own age.

Teamwork and friends

Only children tend to have a hard time when it comes to teamwork. This is because they’re used to organizing things their way and making decisions individually. However, they usually only have a hard time at the beginning. Typically, they start to adapt and be a part of a group in a short time.

There’s also data that suggests that only children tend to have fewer friends than those who grow up with siblings. They like to have a couple of friends who they have truly meaningful relationships with. In fact, they usually form a bond with those friends similar to the bond that forms between siblings.

A girl reading in her room.

What science has been able to establish is that only children aren’t that different from children with siblings. They only tend to be different when they’ve had a troubled upbringing.