There’s a lot to be said for having siblings. They are built-in playmates, occasional scapegoats and late-night confidants.
But what about those children who grow up sans siblings? One dad made the case this week in the blogosphere that these only children are inherently obnoxious and selfish. He traces that selfishness back to equally selfish parents who are “doing a huge disservice” to their children by not giving them a sibling.”
“These kids also don’t seem to know how to play well with other kids. Yes, they can get along, but there’s always something a bit off with them,” he writes here.
I have two children, but I was offended for the parents of only children everywhere—the ones who simply could not have more and the ones who did not want more children.
There are definite advantages to having siblings, and not just for the kids. As a mom, having two children has been so much easier than one. They can play together. They teach each other lessons about sharing, kindness and competition that are more valuable than anything I could say. And they love each other immensely.
But, that is not why I had a second child. I had a second child because I felt it was best for my family—including me.
So if a parent decides having one child is best for the family as a whole, then that is the best decision. An only child whose parents are sane because they knew their child-rearing limits is far better off than a child whose parents are basket-cases because they felt pressured to birth a playmate for their firstborn. I say good for any parents who are realistic about who they are.
I always wanted five children back in the days when I slept through the night and all my body parts pointed in the right direction. But after my first daughter was born, I trimmed my baby-making expectations back to three. Tops. No on can judge that decision because no one is me. And I won’t judge any parent who stops at one child—or none, for that matter.
There are also many better solutions for an egocentric child than to produce a sibling to steal some of the limelight. That has way more to do with parenting and family values than anything else.
One of my favorite families, for example, is a couple who have an only child, a daughter who is now in college. These three are the tightest-knit family I have ever met. The daughter doesn’t have an ounce of selfishness in her. There may have been times when she wished for a sibling, but she has things other children don’t. She has two parents who are also her best friends.
The goal isn’t numbers—it is a loving family, whether that means a house full of eight children or just one.
Do you think only children are selfish? What about their parents?