The harsh and honest reality is that having children is consuming and expensive. As parents, our needs seem to no longer exist. Since the birth of our first child, he or she is our top priority and number one focus. Reality is accepting that caring for a family isn’t easy, and a lack of resources can prevent parents from planning for more than one child. Does growing up as an only child deprive your son or daughter from life experiences? Will he or she develop personality characteristics that could limit them later in life? Does growing up without a sibling really have a negative effect on an individual?
The first step toward determining whether or not having a second child is right for you is to honestly ask why you do or do not want another kid. Based on personal circumstances, having one child may be the best decision for the family. Perhaps both parents are divorced and don’t want to complicate a complex family dynamic by having more children. Gist.com features the McKibben family who “decided to have just one child, inspired in part by their concern for the environment.”
Besides the environment, the economy and family finances also have an effect. From paying off MasterCard credit card debt and acquiring LifeLock identity theft protection to paying for childcare in two parent-working households, families are overwhelmed with expenses. Expanding the family may only create or increase financial struggle.
Do fears of raising an only child who’s spoiled, self-involved or a “solitary misfit” eclipse familial financial struggle, a concern for the environment or other reasons for keeping the brood to one? Is one the loneliest number? Bill McKibben, who wrote “Maybe One: A Case for Smaller families,” says that only children do not suffer from living without siblings. Children without a brother or sister are not pre-dispositioned for lacking positive character and personality traits or being under-developed socially or mentally.
TIME magazine highlighted an investigation during the 1970s that was led by Toni Falbo, a psychology and sociology professor at the University of Austin. Her research included “a meta-analysis of 115 studies of only children from 1925 onward.” She concluded that “singletons aren’t measurably different from other kids.” In fact, single children, like firstborns and people with one sibling, had higher scores for intelligence and achievement. Studies proved that zero solid personality discrepancies exist between only children and children with siblings.
Only children can be perceived as spoiled and selfish because they receive everything mom and dad have to give. Parents give their son or daughter not just toys and attention but “more time, energy and money” for activities and academics that propel them to higher achievement and excellence. These children are also likely to develop higher self-esteem.
TIME’s contributor Lauren Sandler spoke with psychologist Carl Pickhardt who agrees that only children are extremely indulged, protected and typically more nurtured. Yet, more attention and resources don’t necessarily denote only-children stereotypes such as selfishness. If you lack resources for supporting a larger family, your only child isn’t doomed for personality flaws and social inadequacies. Love and care for your family with the best intentions and you’re on the right track in parenthood.
A.C.T. will provide free resource information for individuals and families to help promote education. For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at Dr.Drecun@a4ct.com or (858) 792-3541. You may also visit us online at www.a4ct.com. ACT serves the Del Mar 92014 and Rancho Santa Fe 92067 area.