More and more of our friends these days are having only one child. It’s interesting to hear them talk about their experience, read blogs on the subject and to hear parents of two or more children weigh in (whether or not it is their place to do so). Having three myself, I can tell you that life is crazy. In fact, life was crazy with two and then along came Cooper. Sometimes I feel like I am so busy caring for my children that I don’t have time to enjoy them and I sometimes I secretly envy “the One and Done” crowd.
You may have heard parents of more than one child talk about how they wanted their first child to have a playmate. The “playmate phase” of childhood does not begin, of course, until both children are older than toddlers. Toddlers meeting a newborn sibling for the first time often experience a myriad of emotions including joy, wonder, love, fascination and jealousy. For the first few years, if the first child is not of the calm and nurturing variety, plan on spending a fair amount of time protecting the new baby from the “love” of your older child. Even if your first child truly adores the new brother or sister, that adoration is often shown too roughly. I’ve pried both of our smaller children out of the squeezing, territorial grip of an older sibling more than once.
When your children are old enough to actually play together, it will most likely be a typical sibling relationship (Love/Hate). Instead of entertaining each other while I try to get things done around the house, I’m often interrupted several times (dozens) by a tattletale, a fight that needs to be broken up or the need to investigate a scream. When the kids are all together and QUIET, I get suspicious. Have they sneaked the iPad out of my room or a jar of Nutella out of the cupboard? Most likely both. Are they picking the lock on my closet door looking for Christmas presents? For some reason, they seem to cooperate and work together best when mischief is involved. Then they operate like a team of highly trained jewel thieves pulling off the world’s greatest heist.
People who have one child, either by choice, necessity or circumstance, are often asked to explain or justify their decision to have one child. The truth may be that other parents are simply curious, but I’ve gotten the idea that this can be a sore subject for parents of only one child. Maybe those parents struggled with infertility and feel lucky to have one child? Maybe a pregnancy was lost due to a miscarriage? Maybe they felt that their finances were best suited to one child or maybe they just wanted one child so that they could give all of their time, energy and love onto that one lucky child. Every family has their own unique story whether they have one child or seven. We personally have the “Two and Done …Ooops” story.
Does “Only Child Syndrome” really exist? I don’t know. But I can assure you if there are “Syndromes” one can acquire by either having or not having siblings, it goes both ways. Are only children more spoiled than mine? Well, it’s probably fair to say that they may spend more One on One time with their parents but that seems to imply that it’s not good for kids to have one on one time with their parents. IF that’s the case, why do I feel like I am failing when I can’t give any of mine enough One on One time? If my children would compete less for our attention, we’d actually be able to give them more of it.
Do only children get more treats and presents because there is only one of them? I doubt that too. I probably “give in” much more than any parent of one child because I am struggling to manage more kids. “Here take the cookie! Just stop bothering your sister!” I’m also quite sure I resort to turning on the TV as much as any parent ever has. I’ve even said things like “If anyone gets up from watching this show, he or she is going right to a time out!” Ridiculous, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures and dinner is burning.
I certainly don’t regret having any of my children and I would never go back in time and NOT have any of my three–but I do worry sometimes that I am not doing enough for any of them….but hey, that might be something every parent fears, no matter how many children they have.
We you an only child or do you have an only child? What are your thoughts on the matter? And for parents with two or more, have any of your children ever told you they wished they were an Only Child? My oldest has let me know several times!