Is An Only Child Really Lonely?

By Katie Powalski of the Orlando Sentinel

My brother was born less than two years after I was — long before I had a concept of being an only child. For me, having sibilings (eventually two) was part of my childhood and my relationship with my brothers is special to me as an adult.

I’ve never questioned whether or not I would have more than one child myself because I’ve just always assumed I would. Not because I view only children as a bad thing but because the vision I have for my life includes two or three little ones calling me “Mom.” As my daughter nears what many consider “ideal age” to become a sibling (around 3 years old, many experts say), I have no plans for more. This is mainly because I am a single parent living in an urban area with a full time job who likes just a few minutes to myself in the span of a day. Still in my 20s, I have time for more if my situation changes or if I decide to adopt a sibling for my daughter (and second child for myself).

I guess I assume that  I only have one child because I don’t have any other practical choice. That is my reason.

An Time magazine article by Lauren Sandler, however,  reveals that only children, or “singletons” as she calls them, could likely be the face of the new traditional family in coming decades. This is due to economics, parents wanting to devote all resources to just one child, and the overall happiness the parents seek for their individual lives and marriages.

Sandler talks about how she was outside the norm growing up as an only child, but that her own 2-year-old daughter might not be. The piece explores the error in the long-standing beliefs that only children are “lonely, selfish and maladjusted” and points out that singletons actually score better academically and have higher self-esteem. With all of the socialization modern kids face, siblings aren’t necessary for lessons in interaction and the theory of “kids as a commodity” for a family’s wealth has reversed itself (to the tune of $287,000 per kid, BEFORE college). Throw in over-population, and it’s easy to see why many families are saying “One, and Done.”

After reading the article, I wondered if maybe my automatic assumption on more kids in my life should be reevaluated when the time comes. My life feels full now, so why rock the boat?

I know there are many sides to this issue and we’ve had similiar discussions on this blog before. I’d love to hear comments from families who have stopped at one child, people who grew up as only children, and parents who feel that having more than one kid was the way to go.


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