Being an only child

If you are an only child, you must be coming accross a lot of people who presume that you must be either spoilt, lazy, pampered, lonely, over-indulged or risk-averse. However, the opposite is very often true:

Only children are usually independent, and more sociable than kids that grew up having siblings. They tend to be good at making and keeping friends. However, there is a trap even to these positive attributes. Some "only kids" tend to overcompensate when it comes to friendships and relationships; wanting or needing to relate well with others so much that they can be taken advantage of. Even so, those who manage to build good relations with themselves do tend to enjoy their own company and don't look to others to define themselves.

Role of parents

Parents have an enormous responsibility in the grooming of their "only children". It is important for parents to avoid over-compensating, over-indulging or over-protective. Parents sometimes feel or are made to feel guilty about not being able/willing to bless their child with a sibling. Some kids can even manipulate their parents to do things for them, based on the fact that they are alone and lonely. Because they don't have anyone to play with, parents often feel guilty when they have to deny them toys/gadgets or pets. This can cause parents a lot of financial strain.

Raising an only child

For these children to learn about relationships in a healthy way, it is important that parents raise them in as balanced a way as possible. This includes recognising manipulative behaviour and not buying into it. Talk to the child about it; realise that no amount of toys/pets could compensate for a brother or a sister; but be sensitive about it. You are not just raising an only child; you are raising somebody who would have to face the world as an independent, well-adjusted adult someday.

Some kids enjoy not having any siblings, while some hate it so much they end up with a dozen of their own when their time comes. Some hate having no sibling support when faced with life's challenges and dislike the "impermanent" nature of friendships.

"I am lucky enough to have both my parents fit and well, but when there are worries about them, there's no sibling who will share them" - Julian Worricker

Read article on being a "godparent"

Only child: should you decide to have a child out of marriage?

Are you automatically lonely if you have no siblings?