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Only Children

Updated on October 08, 2014

Only Children

I'm an only child with an only child of my own by choice. When I close my eyes and imagine the perfect family size this is it.

When I was in college I started a Yahoo Club (they were clubs back then) for onlies. That's been abandoned for a while but I am now the host of the Parents of Only Children group at BabyCenter. I'm always on the search for only child related information and I love to help parents, who who were unable to make the choice, see all the benefits of having an only.

Why would I choose to have an only child?

I guess the main reason is because I liked being an only so much that I want the same for my daughter :) I suppose if our family didn't feel complete to either my husband or myself that reason wouldn't be good enough, but nothing is missing for us...we don't have to try again, to do it over or do it better, or fill a void.

We both have a million and one reasons for wanting an only child.

* We like being able to focus on our daughter.

* We want to enjoy everything about her without having to miss out because we have other children to take care of.

* We like having the time and ability to be the best parents we can be for her.

* We don't want our daughter to ever feel that she isn't as smart or as beautiful or as talented as a sibling or to ever question who in the family is loved more.

* We like that while other parents have to limit what they do for each child we don't.

* We want to be able to take our daughter with us all over this country and all over the world.

* We like to have time to ourselves and time as a addition to having time for our child

* We like to be organized and are people who stress easily.(well, I am)

* We like being able to have a calm household at times and an active household at others...with the ability to choose which one at which time.

* We want to pay for her education.

* We want our daughter to learn how to be an independent person, feel comfortable with being alone at times, and know how to keep herself entertained.

Neither of us feel the need for our daughter to have a sibling for any reason.

* We don't believe a baby should be born for another child to provide a playmate.

* We don't believe parents should have a second child incase something happens to their first.

* We don't believe there are any lessons that our daughter can't learn without a sibling.

* We know that having a sibling is not a magic cure all for boredom, or loneliness, or character flaws, or dealing with aging parents.

* We don't care what societies "norm" is, or how many people give us their unsolicited opinion on why we need to have another.

We have always wanted a singleton even before we met each other this was our decision for ourselves. No one has ever made a comment to either of us that made us question this decision. We have gotten angry at some of the things that come out of people's mouths (or fingers here online), but have never felt uncertain because of them.

Books for Onlies and their Parents

Pip the Penguin: How Many? Too Many!
Pip the Penguin: How Many? Too Many!

Ok...this isn't a book about only children, but I love it! Every page counts down till the end: Just one, says Pip. Just right!

My Only Child, There's No One Like You (Birth Order Books)
My Only Child, There's No One Like You (Birth Order Books)

One of the few children's books written for onlies.

Parenting an Only Child: the Joys and Challenges of Raising Your One and Only
Parenting an Only Child: the Joys and Challenges of Raising Your One and Only

I have this book and it's one I always recommend on the Parent's of Onlies board.2 points


Dr. Susan Newman - Author of Parenting an Only Child

What did I like most about being an only child?

Its hard to say about random great things?

I liked having dance recitals 14 years in a row and never having my mom or dad miss a single one. They were always at every recital, game, and show I was ever in. That is a feat in itself, but just being able to be in any activity I wanted was great too...I know for a fact that my extra-curriculars would have been dramatically decreased if I had siblings.

I loved having sleep overs. I think they are even more special for onlies because they don't have someone there everynight. I would think it becomes mundane that way...but for me it was a mom would make it a big deal and we would do tons of girly things all night and then stay up and talk till we couldn't keep our eyes open. Sleep overs with other onlies were especially cool because no matter which house we were at there was no one to bug us ;)

I loved the fact that there was no built in tattletale or someone to blame me for something I didn't do. There was no competition to be the smart one, or the pretty one, or the funny impossible expectations to be like anyone else by my parents or teachers or worry that I wasn't the favorite, or worse that I was the favorite and have my siblings resent me for it.

I loved bringing friends with me to amusement parks and water parks and on vacation...I got to choose who to go with and not be stuck with a baby sib, or have a big sib feeling like they were stuck with me...and getting to go to Disney World at ages 2,4,6,8,10,13,15 with my parents (and a few friends), and at 16 & 20 with just friends.

I loved having the house all to myself after school or the few times my parents went away.

I'm so amazingly (is that a word LOL) happy that I got to go to the University of my choice. And while I did work part time during the year and summer and winter internships, there would have been no way I could have gone to a private school for 5 years (my major was Architecture) if my parents didn't pay for the majority of it. I worked my butt off for that degree and didn't take the gift I was given for granted at all. I also got to start my life off debt free when I graduated. I think that is the greatest thing my parents did for me and hope to be able to do the same for my daughter!

I feel very lucky to be an only and am excited to be raising one of my own. :)

Comebacks to Some of Those Rude Questions

If you'd like to change the subject, be equally rude, or answer honestly.

When is Jacob going to get a baby brother?
Distraction: Where are you guys going on vacation this year?
Wisecrack: As soon as you get some manners.
Polite: He's not. We only want one child.

Why would you only want one child?
Distraction: Are those new shoes?
Wisecrack: The dog is jealous enough as it is.
Polite: It's a family decision that seems right for us.

Don't you think Hannah will be lonely without a sister or brother?
Distraction: Pardon me; I think my cell phone is ringing.
Wisecrack: No, the voices in her head seem to keep her company.
Polite: She has lots of friends and classmates.

Is something wrong that you can't have any more?
Distraction: Is your son eating dirt over there? Oh no, my mistake.
Wisecrack: We lost the directions and can't figure out how!
Polite: No, it's simply a family decision.

Watch out, it's easy to spoil only children.
Distraction: Is is hot in here?
Wisecrack: Is that what happened to you?
Polite: We'll keep that in mind.

Famous Only Children

Onlies are in good company!

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Ansel Adams
Steve Allen
William A. Anders
Hans Christian Anderson
Christina Applegate
Lance Armstrong
Lauren Bacall
Burt Bacharach
Jeff Bagwell

John the Baptist
Drew Barrymore
Joy Behar
Candice Bergen
Frank Borman
Kate Bosworth
Bill Bradley
Pierce Brosnan
Carol Burnett
Mark Burnett

Laura Bush
Sophia Bush
Ada Byron
Beverly Cleary
Chelsea Clinton
Roy Cohn
David Copperfield
Miranda Cosgrove
Walter Cronkite
Leonardo da Vinci

Sammy Davis Jr.
James Dean
Robert De Niro
Laura Dern
Tabitha D’umo
Nick Faldo
Gerald Ford
E.M. Forster
Indira Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi

Sarah Michelle Gellar
Rudolph Giuliani
Selena Gomez (until age 20)
Tipper Gore
Cary Grant
Alan Greenspan
Jean Harlow
Teri Hatcher
William Randolph Hearst
Lillian Hellman

Catherine Hicks
Anthony Hopkins
Beth Howland
Gayle Hunnicut
Samuel L. Jackson
Shawn Johnson
Shirley Jones
Tommy Lee Jones
China Kantner
Alicia Keys

Ted Koppel
Lenny Kravitz
Diane Lane
Charles Lindbergh
John Lennon
James A. Lovell
Phil Lynott
Jesse Metcalfe
Lea Michele
Ann Miller

Beverley Mitchell
Joe Montana
Iris Murdoch
Brittany Murphy
Isaac Newton
Alexa Nikolas
Larisa Oleynik
Jerry Orbach
Al Pacino
Brad Paisley

Gregory Peck
Matthew Perry
Cole Porter
Natalie Portman
Ezra Pound
Enoch Powell
Elvis Presley
Lisa Marie Presley
Daniel Radcliffe
Nancy Reagan

Robert Reed
Condoleezza Rice
LeAnn Rimes
Joannie Rochette
Eleanor Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Richie Sambora
Jean Paul Sartre
Maria Sharapova
Brooke Shields

Frank Sinatra
Kirsten Smith
Ringo Starr
Chelsea Staub
Danielle Steel
Barbra Streisand
Pat Summerall
Raymond Teller
Charlize Theron
John Updike

Kanye West
Betty White
Mae Whitman
Robin Williams
Tiger Woods
Alexei Yagudin

An Olympic Only - Shawn Johnson

The 4'-9", 16 year old, gymnast Shawn Johnson competed in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 8-24 2008.

Shawn took home 4 medals. She was the women's balance beam gold medalist, floor exercise silver medalist, and the individual all-around silver medalist! The US Women's team also earned the silver medal.

Shawn lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, with her parents Teri & Doug. She has a Golden Retriever named Tucker and two tabby cats, Max and Vern.

"Unlike most elite gymnasts who train approximately 40 hours a week and have private tutors, Shawn trains 20-25 hours a week and goes to public high school where she is on the "A" Honor Roll and will be a junior this fall. Shawn, her parents and coaches think it's very important for her to have a life outside of gymnastics and have time for friends, family, hobbies and school activities. Shawn has a passion for school and sets very high expectations for herself. While math is her best subject, English is her favorite. Shawn enjoys writing and uses it as well as art as a way to express her creativity." - an excerpt from her former bio.

Another recent accomplishment came from stepping outside her comfort zone and into the world of dance. Shawn was the youngest ever competitor on Dancing with the Stars, and on May 19, 2009 was crowned the winner of Season 8. It looks like she's mastered two sports!

Only Child Clothing and Gifts JCA custom designs

Only Child - Kids Sweatshirt

White Hanes Heavyweight children's sweatshirt.

Text reads: I'm an Only child Let's keep it that way.

Singular Sensation - Infant Creeper

Choose from cloud white, sky blue, petal pink, and kiwi.

Text reads: I'm a Singular Sensation!

Only not Lonely - Bumper Sticker

Size: 10" x 3"

4mil vinyl with water and UV resistant inks.

Text reads: Only doesn't mean Lonely.

Three is a Magic Number

Says School House Rock

Three is a magic number,
Yes it is, it's a magic number.
Somewhere in the ancient, mystic trinity
You get three as a magic number.

The past and the present and the future.
Faith and Hope and Charity,
The heart and the brain and the body
Give you three as a magic number.

It takes three legs to make a tri-pod
Or to make a table stand.
It takes three wheels to make a ve-hicle
Called a tricycle.

Every triangle has three corners,
Every triangle has three sides,
No more, no less.
You don’t have to guess.
When it’s three you can see
It’s a magic number.

A man and a woman had a little baby,
Yes, they did.
They had three in the family,
And that’s a magic number.

3-6-9, 12-15-18, 21-24-27, 30.
3-6-9, 12-15-18, 21-24-27, 30.
Multiply backwards from three times ten:

Three time ten is (30), three times nine is (27),
Three times eight is (24), three times seven is (21),
Three times six is (18), three times five is (15),
Three times four is twelve,
And three times three is nine, and three times two is six,
And three times one is three of course.

Now take the pattern once more:
Three! . . .3-6-9
Twelve! . . .12-15-18
Twenty-one!. . .21-24-27. . .30

Now multiply from 10 backwards:
Three time ten is (30 – Keep going), three times nine is (27),
Three times eight is (24), three times seven is (21),
Three times six is (18), three times five is (15),
Three times four is twelve,
And three times three is nine, and three times two is six,
And three times one…
What is it?!
Yeah, That’s a magic number.

A man and a woman had a little baby.
Yes, they did.
They had three in the family.
That’s a magic number.

Music & Lyrics: George R. Newall
Performed by: Blossom Dearie

Is this an only child thing?

Be many times have you had that thought?

For some reason people want to lump only children together in a neat little package. They want to believe there is a "type". Usually any negative trait seen in a child will be attributed to their Only status. And, ironically enough, the traits people have in mind typically conflict with each other. They are too shy or they need to be the center of attention. They always want to be in charge or they always follow the crowd. They are too quiet or they talk too much. They're a loner or they constantly want to be around other kids. They are too immature or they act too grown up.

All only children certainly can't be all of these things. ;)

Please don't ask anyone "Is this an only child thing?". No matter what the "thing" is the answer will most likely be NO. Only children are as unique as any child with siblings. Some will be very shy, some will be very outgoing, and most will fall somewhere in the middle. Pick a trait and the same can be said for ANY child.

If you are the parent of an only do not dismiss any bad behavior by believing it must be because they don't have a sibling. If a behavior is unacceptable work on it. Teach them the correct way to behave. All children have things that need to be worked on. All parents have to put in the effort. You are most definitely not alone.

If you are not the parent of an only do not form an opinion of only children as a general population. You know that each of your children are completely different from each other. If they are that different growing up with the same parents, in the same household, with the same experiences you can't possibly assume all only children growing up in completely different situations would act the same.

“I believe that the parts of my daughter’s personality that I can influence will be affected by our parenting and by her experiences in the world–not by her being a singleton.”


Posted in guestbook July 27, 2007

Do I think there is a downside to only-hood?

In my opinion any negatives are no different from kids with siblings.

You can say they might be lonely...but so can kids with sibs. As long as your child is in activities, and has friends over, and has you to play with they don't have to be lonely at all.

You can say when the parents are gone they will have no one for support...but again even people with sibs don't always have their support or help. They WILL have support from their spouse or friends or extended family...and losing a parent will hurt just as much no matter how many siblings there are.

You can say they will be spoiled...that's easy don't spoil them. Have them wait their turn, have them share, teach them to respect their belongings as well as the belongings of others. And just because you can afford anything they want doesn't mean you have to give it to them. The child can still earn their own money and save for things...I did :) and there are plenty of non-only families with money who "spoil" their kids.

Hmm...I'm all out of possible cons.

Only Children on Squidoo

While it's home was on Squidoo, this page was chosen as Lens of the Day July 26th 2007.

What it feels like for a child to be told they're getting a sibling. - LOL

This cracks me up.

The best gift you can give your child

If you are the parent of an Only I'm sure you've heard (or read) this line:

"The best gift you can give your child is a sibling."

Now, I'm certainly glad some folks have more than one child. Not everyone is fulfilled with one and what works for me won't work for them. But, really?...there is nothing you'd put ahead of a sibling?

I, as you would expect, completely disagree. First, a child should not be "given" to another child. Second, I can think of many things that a parent would want to give their child all of which, I would hope, are more important than a sibling.

Which do you believe is the best gift you can give your child?

See results

This lens got a mention in Joy!

October 2007 issue of Joy Magazine
from Southern Oregon's Mail Tribune

Family Wise
One Cherished Child
The joys and challenges of parenting a singleton

You can read the full article at

The image below is the sidebar where this lens is mentioned in the print version.

One last thing

I should add that while I am an only my husband is not. He is the youngest of 4 children so he knows first hand what it's like to have siblings...and really great ones at that. Still, he has no worries about raising an only child and wouldn't want it any other way.

When commenting please remember this lens is to help others.

Are you an Only Child? Do you have one? - Come and say hi.

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    • profile image

      esthertester 2 years ago

      @Christene-S: I noticed through reading Wikipedia Miranda Cosgrove is one, too. Add Brad Paisley, Drew Barrymore, Lisa Marie Presley, Margaret "Mae" Whitman, Ringo Starr, Pat Summerall, Alexa Nikolas, Leonardo da Vinci, Ann Miller, Jean Harlow, and Laura Dern. Though I realize the list will never be complete, there are a few more.

    • Christene-S profile image

      Christene-S 2 years ago

      @esthertester: Danielle Steel, Joe Montana, and Rudy Giuliani are also all on the list above. I'll go add Beverly Cleary too. :)

    • profile image

      esthertester 2 years ago

      @Christene-S: Beckinsale always considered herself an only no matter what. She doesn't maintain regular contact with her half sibling. But yes, Bosworth definitely. There's also Danielle Steel and Beverly Clearly, although they're from older gens. Joe Montana is an only child and so is Rudy Giuliani.

    • Christene-S profile image

      Christene-S 2 years ago

      @esthertester: Sophia and Charlize are on the list above. Kate Beckinsale has 5 step siblings and 1 half sibling. I will add Kate Bosworth though, thanks!

    • profile image

      esthertester 2 years ago

      Kate Beckinsale, Kate Bosworth, Sophia Bush, Charlize Theron are also all onlies.

    • aaxiaa lm profile image

      aaxiaa lm 2 years ago

      Whatever floats your boat, I personally don't want to have children at all. I love them in general, but I don't think I'm cut out to be a mother to kids of my own. Too scared to mess them up.

    • Digory LM profile image

      Digory LM 2 years ago

      I am not anywhere near this category (I have six siblings and six kids of my own) but my fiancée has one.

      The comebacks to rude questions are outstanding.

      Thanks so much for the lens.

    • JustineKnott profile image

      JustineKnott 3 years ago

      My son is an only child and he is very independent, able to amuse himself, and enjoys his own company. On the flip side, he loves playing with friends, and going to other people's houses and socialising. To be honest, in my work as a psychologist the children I see with social skills difficulties (ie. difficulty getting along with others) are not 'only children'. I think if parents ensure that only children are exposed to social situations where they learn to interact with other children there are no concerns.

      I will add that no-one should judge any other parent for the choices they make. We all know what we are capable of and what we are able to give. I think parents who are able to cope with large families are wonderful too.

      Thanks for a thought provoking article.

    • profile image

      SamanthaHaupt 3 years ago

      I am an only child and I've always loved it. Of course, there were times when I wished I had siblings. But then I think about it and love every aspect of it! Great lens.

    • seodress profile image

      seodress 3 years ago

      Really worth visiting this lens. Well done.

    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 3 years ago

      As an only child, there are times when I wish I had a big family but then I guess you always want what you don't have. And I'm not sure if I could have coped with sharing the bathroom with an extra person lol!

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I've heard a few times people talking about having fears of raising only children-wheather by choice, or circumstance preventing them from having a larger family. Fearing that they wouldn't be socialized, or that they would feel lonely or maybe even be spoiled. My own thoughts as an only child is that my parents have nothing to feel bad about in their choice. To me this is our family. I don't feel lonely, I don't feel like I missed out on anything. I can't say whether or not I'm spoiled, but I don't think my parents would say I am. If someone is having fears about this, as an only child I'd say...this is my life, and I'm happy with it. I love my parents, I'm just...really happy.

    • sue826 lm profile image

      sue826 lm 3 years ago

      At one point I thought of stopping after one. I did some research and reading up (this was 29 years ago) on only children. There are many positive points. I had a second kid after 6 years and that worked out fine. Great lens

    • Clunygrey LM profile image

      Clunygrey LM 4 years ago

      I have an only child and was able to devote all my resources to him; now he has an only child. I was the eldest of 4 and no one got enough of what he/she needed (time, attention, love, money). I love children, and that is why having only one was the only way to go!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have more than one child but enjoyed reading about your story, including the reasons for your choice as well as all the famous people who were also an "only child." Lovely job, you sound like the perfect mother!

    • profile image

      dunn22 4 years ago

      I come from a family of five and loved it. But I think think this lens lets you see the other half. Nice work, and good luck to you.

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 4 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      I always wanted a large family and ended up with two. I never really considered having just one child. I can certainly see the benefits of it, now that I am older.

    • profile image

      santadelcobre 4 years ago

      I come from a large family, with 50 cousins and 3 siblings but I believe that if I have the chance to have a child I would only have one. This has been a really interesting lens. Thank you!

    • fastpass2disney profile image

      fastpass2disney 4 years ago

      I was an only child & my husband is the youngest of 4 - so just like you! I never really thought about being an only child as it was just the way it was. I did have a very close friend who almost lived at our house, came on vacation with us etc and she feels like a sister to me. I have two children and although I would probably have been happy with one child but now I have two I cannot imagine only having one! They squabble like all siblings but they have an incredible bond and it makes me happy to think that they will have each other (hopefully) when my husband & I are not. I have not had more children for all the reasons you have only had one so I don't think those things are exclusive to having one child. Ultimately though I think it is really up to individuals how big their families are (as long as they are able to support them). Really enjoyed reading your lens - thanks :)

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