My Single Child is Happy and So Are We
“But she’ll be lonely”
She’s just fine. We spend a lot of time with her.
“She needs someone to play with”
She has plenty of friends and close cousins.
“She’ll be spoilt”
We don’t give her everything she wants, whenever she wants. She doesn’t get away with being rude. She’s fine.
“It’s better to have more kids. They’ll look after you when you’re old.”
Are you f*$king kidding me?
This is the line of conversation we get regularly because we have one child.
Yes, just one child.
As if one child isn’t enough.
Seriously. Is it really such an injustice?
Here are 7 grateful reasons we — and other 1 child households — choose to have “only” 1 child:
1. You can form a close bond with your child
It’s easier for single-child parents to spend quality time with our children. Talking to them. Listening to them. Playing with them. Helping them.
When each parent is with our child, we have different conversations. We connect in our own special ways. Our child loves having each parent to herself, just as much as we treasure the time we spend with her.
In research for her book, The Case for the Only Child, Social Psychologist Susan Newman, Ph.D. spoke to “onlies” in their 20s, 40s, 60s, and 70s.
Almost every participant was grateful for not having to compete with siblings or share their parents’ attention:
Study participant Sherry said of her parents, “They’re like my best friends, literally, and I can talk to them about anything.” Another participant Tom, said, “I actually hang out with my parents a lot, whereas most of my other buddies don’t.”
It’s easier to form a close bond with one child.
2. You can find calm in chaos more often
There is a huge difference between being childless and having a child — even just one child. Single child parents have more opportunity to rest and recharge.
We can arrange for one parent to be with our child, so the other parent is “free” for a sanity break. This restores our patience, purpose, and peace so we can better handle the craziness of parenting. We’re happier more often.
Professor Hans-Peter Kohler of the University of Pennyslyvania found that parents happiness peaks at one child, and “having more make you poorer, more tired, and less content” (2013).
3. You have more to give your child
Being able to find calm in chaos means we have more energy, time, and patience for our child. We can listen carefully to the stories about her day at school — and realize our child is being bullied. Or spent the day alone. Or needs more help with her writing.
We can also afford to spend more financially on her than we would if we had more children.
Does this make much difference? We see that it does.
It’s been found only children are more successful. They have higher IQs, are more likely to do post-secondary education, and have high self-esteem.
Aren’t you afraid she’ll be spoilt? Well, no. Give her more doesn’t mean letting her have everything, all the time — and putting up with bad behavior. The ‘spoilt brat’ perception has well and truly been debunked.
And she gets alone fine with other kids, despite spending a lot more time alone.
“Contrary to psychological folklore, only children do not appear to be less sociable or more neurotic than other children”.
That’s what Frank J. Sulloway tells us in his book “Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives”.
So with 1 child households, we bond better. We are calmer. And we have more to give. The next perk is what I consider one of the best…
4. There’s no constant sibling fighting to break up
The common line “but your child will be lonely” is not the big deal people think. The few times my daughter has mentioned she’s lonely has only been after she’s heard other people saying she must be lonely because she’s an only child.
Mostly, she adores having us each to herself so often. Getting to go out a lot more than other kids. Doing things you’d think twice about doing with more than 1 kid.
Also, there’s no guarantee your kid will be close to siblings. I wasn’t close to my brother at all.
Professor Toni Falbo from the University of Texas has spent more than three decades researching single-child families. In an article about the benefits of having one child, he shared:
“My research in China and the US indicates that only children are no more lonely than those with siblings … because most parents with one child promote peer interactions.”
5. Single children have strong confidence, maturity, and creativity
Our single children are given plenty of attention, love, and opportunities from us. We notice when they’re down. What they’re struggling with. What they enjoy. And we make sure they get what they need. Whether it’s a hug and a good talk. Setting up regular learning sessions together. Or simply making sure we encourage them more.
My husband and I are constantly surprised at the deep conversations we have with our 6-year-old. We talk about death, religion, nature, human behavior and so much more. She’s far more intuitive, thoughtful, and kind than many adults we know.
In a study titled “I Always Knew Mom and Dad Loved Me Best: Experiences of Only Children”, researchers found:
“These children enjoyed and valued time alone. Many believed that if they’d had siblings, they would either have been frustrated by the lack of substantial alone time or perhaps not developed as fully as they did their ability to be alone contentedly.”
They also found: “The only children in the study valued their time alone and felt that having to play alone added to their creativity and imaginative play.”
6. You get your life back faster
Single child parents usually don’t have grand plans for a bunch of kids. We don’t actually need to have children at all. We were open to the idea, but we would have been just as happy without a child — and more money, more travel, and a load more sleep!
Of course, we would never regret having our child — but we enjoyed our childless lives and want to quickly regain some part of the lives we had.
Having one child is a wonderful way to dabble in both worlds: to savour the joy and unique challenges of having a ‘mini me’ — while rebuilding our lives and including our kids in it.
Returning to hobbies. Creating a better work balance. Nurturing relationships that have fallen by the wayside. And rediscovering what excites us and gives us purpose.
7. Voluntary babysitters are more willing
Childless, clucky couples and singles find it less daunting to have sleepovers with one child — than 2, 3, or 4. And when they’re having a sleepover — we are completely child-free.
We get to catch up on work, go out with friends, have a date night, and get a full night of sleep!
Are we the exception — or the norm?
In a 2017 Australian census, it was found single child families are becoming the norm. In the UK, the number of single-child families has grown — 2015 figures showed 47% of parents were stopping at one child. Experts predict more than half of British families will have one child by 2022.
And single child households are climbing in the US and parts of Europe, with 23 percent of American families having one child. Dr Frank Sulloway, psychologist and author of “Born to Rebel” tells us:
“We are still undergoing the demographic transition toward fewer children that began in the late 18th century, and we see these trends all over the world. The rate of only children will go up. It won’t ebb and flow.”
Embrace your single child household
It can be infuriating to be constantly bombarded by comments that imply you’re selfish for having only 1 child.
Yet research has found that single child households are becoming the norm . And single children themselves prove their parents are far from selfish.
Many only children are grateful that they don’t have siblings. They enjoy more quality time with their parents, get more opportunities, and build higher IQs, self-esteem, confidence, and creativity. They carry these benefits with them into adulthood.
This is great for our children — and great for us as parents. We can enjoy our me time, get our lives back, find calmness more often, and spend more one-on-one time nurturing our child.
So ignore the critics. Treasure your one child. And feel confident knowing you’re doing the best for them — and for you.