An Only Child: The Pros and Cons
Are you a single child?
If yes, then being a single child is not an issue at all. Being an only child has got its fair share of blessings. The single children are achievers on their own. They have more liberty and ability to make their decisions. They shine in their careers, family life and all with a crown of glory on their heads!
Reasons for raising a single child
There are various reasons as to why some parents choose to raise a single child:
- Economical reasons
- The parents want to lead a more stress-free life by raising only one child.
- If the parents belong to either middle class or less and could not afford a high-standard lifestyle, they prefer raising the single child.
- In some countries like China, which introduced the one-child policy, parents decide to follow this policy for their welfare's sake
- Health reasons
- If one or both parents have health issues and feel that it is difficult to raise one more child, they opt for raising only one child.
- If one or both the parents, especially the mothers, if faced with serious physical problems and are advised by doctors not to have more children.
- Personal reasons
- If the child is afflicted with some serious problem and the parents decide to devote most of their time taking care of their only child.
- In rare cases, the parents or siblings unfortunately die and as a result, the child becomes the single child in that case.
- In few cases, when the parents divorce and thus the child becomes the single child in that case.
The list of pros of being an only child
Being an only child can be considered a boon. The single child has many advantages as stated below:
- Gets all the freedom and independence sans siblings.
- Enjoys the undivided love and attention from parents
- Has no sibling rivalry
- Leads a more comfortable life and indulge in the luxuries of life.
- Is more mature, intelligent and confident.
- Is more creative, well-read and well-behaved due to single child focused parenting
The list of cons of being the only child
While the single child enjoys the advantages, there are also certain things the single child may not experience. The list of things that a single child craves for :
- Having a sibling for company
- Leading a non-secluded social life
- More relief from overprotective and controlling parents
- Someone to confide in or share personal secrets with.
Single Child Syndrome
This type of syndrome relates to the particular behaviour-pattern, environment and norms applied to the single child. The single children are subjected to several myths. In China, this is termed as Little Emperor syndrome.
- I stated the instances cited below only to conform to the sub-topic of this hub.
- I am not defending the notion of the single child.
- In fact, there is hardly any difference between the single child and those with siblings when it comes to behaviour, success-story and attitude towards life.
Myths about the single child
Many articles, psychological researches and people have made some observations about several so-called cons of the single child. Many assumed that the single child tends to be anti-social, likely to get involved in illegal activities and have far more negative personality traits than those with siblings. Regarding the concept of the single child, I want to cite some well-known personalities as examples mentioned below to debunk such myths.
Illustrations to debunk the myths surrounding the single child
- The single child is often said to be over-pampered, self-indulgent and arrogant.
Parents spend all the time taking special care of their only child and hence the child is used to getting what he or she wants. This is true in some cases but not all.
Queen Victoria was the only child of her parents. During her childhood, Victoria was under the complete control of her over-ambitious mother and Lord Conroy, her mother's power-hungry comptroller. She was quite an obedient daughter though she disliked her mother's scheming plans for the throne. Victoria also disliked public appearances and preferred privacy. This had shown her as a person unconscious of her lineage. When she became queen, she kept her distance from her mother till her mother had a change of heart and nature. While growing up in a controlled household surrounded by status-seeking people, Victoria remained unperturbed by all these. Her steady mind and diplomatic character were her key traits which epitomized her as Britain's longest reigning monarch till date.
- According to several sources concerning criminality, it is stated that the single child is more likely to get involved in crimes.
This is not true in all cases. Several single children are the patrons of peace, righteousness and justice.
Remember that Mahatma Gandhi, the legendary Indian freedom-fighter, was the single child of his parents. He proved to be extremely determined and dedicated which resulted in the ultimate achievement of freedom for India.
He was a respectable and thoughtful citizen. He did several social services such as helping the underprivileged people, taking part in freedom endeavours, protecting people from harsh realities and helped his friends through the difficult times. He was most willing to perform any good deed that came in his way and strongly disapproved social injustice.
Note: He had 3 half-siblings through his father's other wives.
- The single child likes to be alone and has difficulty in making friends
In reality, many single children love to make friends and lead a very active social life.
Elvis Presley, the flamboyant "King of Rock and Roll" was also the only child of his parents. He was very popular among his innumerable fans as well as his many friends not only because of his exceptional singing talent but also his endearing and helpful nature. His friends included his group-bands, musicians and some acquaintances. He had often encouraged his friends to be successful in their careers. In spite of his dizzy super-stardom, Elvis's acceptance of his friends and being a constant pillar of support to them showed Elvis's side as a broad-minded and good-natured person.
Note: Elvis had a twin brother who was still-born, resulting in Elvis as the only child in the Presley household.
- The single child is not much into sharing.
Sharing is not only about giving materialistic things to one's friends or relatives but also about one's thoughts, concerns and feelings for others - sharing is caring. In reality, the single child is most willing to work for the welfare of others.
Gautama Buddha, the widely-worshipped saint who founded Buddhism, was the only child of his parents. He was born a prince, yet destined to be a world famous spiritual teacher. He discarded his princely life for the mission of ultimate truth. As a result, he was enlightened. He gained a massive following and taught them the goodness in life. He shared his concern for the needy, helped many to follow the right path and continued to share his teachings worldwide.
Myths Versus Reality of the single child
The single child is spoiled, selfish and conceited
The single child is mature, understanding and caring
The single child often gets involved in wrong-doings and grow up to be criminals
The single child grows up to be a responsible and considerate citizen
The single child is often lonely
The single child loves to make friends
The single child is very much less inclined to sharing
The single child is willing to work for the welfare of others
Some famous personalities who are single children
Here is the list of personalities who became famous due to their independent thinking, complete focus in their careers and sheer ability to succeed on their own.
- Condoleezza Rice
She was a successful American politician and secretary of State. Her impressive academic achievements and long political career earned her a well-deserved position as the most powerful woman in the world twice by Forbes magazine.
- Hans Christian Andersen
Many of you knew him to be one of the world's most renowned writers. Though he led a lonely life, that did not stop him from penning several fairy-tales which are still much-loved for generations.
Note: Hans had a half-sister, with whom he refused to have contact for a very long time.
- Kareem Abdul Jabbar
This former American basketball player is considered as one of the greatest NBA players of all times. In addition, he is an occasional film actor, noted author, basketball coach and currently U.S cultural ambassador, all rolled up into a versatile professional.
- Issac Newton
This illustrious scientist discovered universal gravitation and three laws of motion. Being an expert in many fields such as physics, mathematics, astronomy, natural philosophy, alchemy and theology established him as one of the greatest scientists ever.
- James "Jim" Lovell
This famed former NASA astronaut and commander of the Apollo 13 mission's deep resoluteness carried him through his space trips, thus making him the first person to fly in space four times. He gained many trophies and honors as well as being chosen among the top ten astronauts in history.
- David Copperfield
This magician and storyteller charmed the world with his incredible tricks and ability to cure physically-disabled people through his charitable foundations titled Project Magic. His countless feats and laurels won him the title as the most successful magician in history by Forbes magazine.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
This former president of the United States was responsible for pulling America out of depression, using his keen intelligence and strategic planning. His groundbreaking efforts and his everlasting impact on people led to scholars rating him as one of the top 3 presidents of the United States of America.
- Leonardo da Vinci
This multi-talented personality is considered as one of the few exceptional icons of the Renaissance. Apart from being a famous painter, his varied skills in several other fields such as sculpture, architecture, anatomy, engineering, cartography and many more to name, thus making many declare him as one of the rare geniuses ever lived.
- Queen Elizabeth 1
This red-haired monarch had the entire country of England at her feet due to her tolerance, caution and being a patron of arts that gave birth to one of the most glorious eras in the world - the Elizabethan era.
Note: Elizabeth had 2 half-siblings, Mary and Edward IV. She was not close to both of her half-siblings and succeeded them to the throne after their untimely deaths.
- Barbra Streisand
This celebrity is one of the fewest entertainers armed with 2 Oscar awards and many Grammy awards. Her unique dual talents of singing and acting placed her in the well-deserved list of the most successful entertainers of all times.
Note: She has a half-sister.
These renowned personalities, with their individualistic mindset, self-introspection and deep-seated devotion to their careers had created an impact worldwide.
Find out more about famous single children in this quiz
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Distinction between single child and child with siblings
Child with siblings
Craves for a sibling
Sometimes wishes to be the single child
Fixed Leadership and management
Flexible leadership and management
First hand learning in social interaction
Already acquired social interaction after the arrival of siblings
Suggestions for the parents of a single child
The parents of a single child will have some benefits, financially and emotionally. However they should know that they make the most of it by following the suggestions mentioned below:
- Be a good friend to your only child
- Spend a considerable amount of time with your child
- Learn to give your child some space
- In case your child complains about the lack of siblings, explain to your child positively that the cousins and close friends are the siblings themselves
- Encourage your child to join the school groups or clubs, hang out with friends and meet cousins often
- Assure that your child is not over-indulged.
- Learn to balance the discipline and attention in your child
- Impart the good values and morals in your child
- Teach your child to be positive and see the bright side of life
- Ensure that your child is always happy.
Suggestions for the single child
- Develop your circle of good friends
- Involve yourself in social endeavours and charity events
- Take part in sports and creative activities
- Be assertive and confident
- Be happy with what you have
Being an only child myself
Yes, I am a single child of my parents. My parents had made their decision to raise only one child due to some reasons and stuck firmly to it. In spite of being the only child in the house, my parents ensured that I have always been very happy and leading a comfortable life. When I was a child, I wished that I had a brother or sister. Now, I realized that I am blessed with many wonderful things in life. I have learnt to be happy with what I have and never grumble about what I don't have. I say that I am a happy-go-lucky person with loving parents, affectionate cousins and some genuinely caring friends. What more could I ask for?
Copyrights © 2012 by Ishwaryaa Dhandapani
Want to know the reasons? Then visit my hubs as mentioned below:
A special thanks to silverstararrow for asking a question that inspired this hub.