While I am not an only child, my sister and I both ended up having an only child. I turned 40 just a few months after having my son, so I felt blessed to have had the safe and easy pregnancy I did, and honestly was a bit afraid of pushing my luck. Lauren Sandler wrote the book One and Only, and Mom.Me gives us an overview of the great things about being and having an only child.
Author Lauren Sandler says a healthy self-esteem is possible with having an only child. We as parents have to be mindful of the undivided attention we give our child, but for the most part when we aren’t smothering him or her, the extra attention and focus can be uplifting and a confidence booster.
This one really resonates with me, as I enjoy being alone. I want my son to feel the same way, to be able to go to dinner or a movie on his own, and simply be comfortable with himself. Sandler says, "Only children tend to have a deeper primary relationship with themselves. Often we don’t think about that; we think of relationships in terms of those with other people, but only children have no choice but to develop a strong relationship to themselves, and it’s an incredibly beautiful thing; it offers such a degree of self-reliance." Sandler points out, "The greatest armor against loneliness is to learn how to be less lonely when you are by yourself."
Some would say an only child doesn’t learn how to bond in a friendship or relationship. This is definitely not so. In fact, an only child learns in an adult household more "mature lessons about relationships in terms of responsibility, nurturing and generosity."
All kids, only child or not, are going to have the occasional meltdown or tantrum. I agree with Ms. Sandler that an only child tends to take cues from the adults. They tend to have a greater focus of control and to keep it together in a more mature way
I have actually done this as an adult. I have a core group of friends that are truly like a family. Only children will desire emotional connections beyond their families, and they will build supportive groups and traditions within those groups.
While this may seem a little selfish to some, having an only child makes it a bit easier to find that balance between parenting and me time. I enjoy every second spent with my son, but I desire time to myself just as a parent with multiple children would. With an only child, one may have a bit more energy left over for their spouses, partners, friends, and family.
Again, you have to put selfishness out of the equation here, because we all know being able to finance a bigger family is a legitimate concern. It’s okay to be comfortable saying we can have one child and live well. Don’t think if you have more children you’ll "make it work" because if you don’t know how to make it work, that’s only going to lead being stretched thin financially. Those financial issues can lead to many more problems. Don’t feel bad choosing to be parents to an only child. It can be a smart move for you financially.
I think Ms. Sandler lets us know that it’s okay to have an only child and in some cases can be a very smart move. Ignore those old stereotypes out there about only children, and know that your only child will have no more issues with selfishness or loneliness than any other child.