Having grown up with a younger brother was a complete delight. Throughout my childhood and even now I’ve always had this built-in mate, a friend cum family with nil generation gap issue. In 2010, I had my son and thought I would be ready to give him a sibling to be with in yet another year. He’s almost 5 and looks like I am still not ready to go through all those long nights and life of diapers, nappies, me and baby being cranky, messy house and putting away the tiniest of task for another weekend.
So finally I have accepted and embraced the fact that my two-kid dreams are over and that I’d be absolutely content with just this one awesome son. The longer we’ve had our one child, the more we felt he was all we needed. But those commonly referenced only-child stereotypes (Would he be lonely spoiled, self-centered, introverted, etc.? Were we being selfish by not giving him a sibling? Would the task of caring for us in our old age fall on his shoulders alone?) continue to make my mind keep wondering if this is the right decision.
Contemplating stopping at one is like guilt filled confusion.
If you’re in this spot, here’s what the research and experts can tell you.
Is one really a lonely number?
Many parents feel that they must have another child so that their earlier child is not lonely. However, As per social psychologist Susan Newman, Ph.D., the “Singletons” blogger for Psychology Today and author of The Case for the Only Child (Heath Communications, Inc.), this is not true at all.
Newman gives us two Ohio State University studies demonstrating that while only children may have a very small social deficit in kindergarten, by middle school they have as many friends as the other kids with siblings.
In fact the only children have an interest in cultivating skills like sharing andcompromise. They realize at a very early stage that they need their friends—their sibling substitutes—and that bad behavior won’t keep those relationships. Infact single children are generally observed to have a strong diplomatic quality that helps them to easily make and keep friends.
Spare the sibling, spoil the child?
It is true that single kids get more attention from parents and material resources than a child with siblings. This somewhere leads them to be high achievers. As per studies they not only have greater cognitive abilities, but also higher levels of maturity and social sensitivity which is definitely not characteristics of a “spoiled”
While above facts may give you some relief but at the same time it is also true that since your only child does not have a sibling the responsibility solely lies on you to keep him entertained or constructively busy.
Here are some pointers that may help you in doing that:
1. Have their friends over as often as possible: It brings so much life to your house and kids learn a lot from each other.
2. Be fully present with your child: Family members can take turns in keeping the baby occupied. Tv as a baby sitter may work great sometimes but is really not a great idea for hours daily.
3. Keep busy in the community: Check the newspaper for local events such as farmer’s markets, craft fairs, dinosaur exhibits at the park, etc. Anything that’s free (or cheap), go for it!
4. Hang out with other families: Its great idea to celebrate Holi/ Diwali and other festivities with cousins and other relatives.
5. Let the child help you as much as possible: This is a great way of keeping them around so that you can keep and eye and kids love to do oldies stuff.
6. Have a movie night in your adult bed and let them sleep with you: Makenights fun by watching a kiddo movie together with a bucket of popcorn and see them just laughing over the smallest thing.
7. Pick an activity and sign up your child: Figure out what your kid loves to do. Have them sign up for some classes. They will get to meet other kids and make friends and also learn an activity.
These are all things that have worked for me in raising my single child. Though I still keep wondering if I could have had more kids but I also know that it is now I am beginning to have a balanced life with all things falling in place finally and not ready for a roller coaster ride again.