Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Only one... Surely not

I have decided that for the foreseeable I am sticking with one child but somehow society makes me feel like a freak for making such a decision with such comments as "You can't have just one a only child is an lonely child" "oh you'll change your mind" or the conversation me and my MIL had yesterday, I was telling her I had bulk bought some pull ups a couple of weeks ago because we were still using them at night and were £2.79 in Tesco. We have a lot left over because S is dry both day and night now. Her response "you should just keep them for the next one" 

I am quite happy with one for a number of reasons. 

Yesterday I came across this study that has proved to be quite interesting in reagards to only children. 

A Stereotype Is Born

The image of the lonely only — or at least the legitimizing of that idea — was the work of one man, Granville Stanley Hall. About 120 years ago, Hall established one of the first American psychology-research labs and was a leader of the child-study movement. A national network of study groups called Hall Clubs existed to spread his teachings. But what he is most known for today is supervising the 1896 study "Of Peculiar and Exceptional Children," which described a series of only-child oddballs as permanent misfits. Hall — and every other fledgling psychologist — knew close to nothing about credible research practices. Yet for decades, academics and advice columnists alike disseminated his conclusion that an only child could not be expected to go through life with the same capacity for adjustment that children with siblings possessed. "Being an only child is a disease in itself," he claimed.

Later generations of scholars tried to correct the record, but their findings never filtered into popular parenting discourse. Meanwhile, the "peculiar" only children — "overprivileged, asocial, royally autonomous ... self-centered, aloof and overly intellectual," as sociologist Judith Blake describes them in her 1989 book Family Size and Achievement — permeated pop culture, from the demon children in horror films (The Omen, The Bad Seed) to the oddball sidekicks in '80s sitcoms (Growing Pains, Family Ties). Even on the new show Modern Family, the tween singleton is a cringingly precocious loner with a coddling mother. Such vehicles have evangelized Hall's teachings more than his clubs did. Of course we ask when someone is going to have "kids," not "a kid." Of course we think that one is the loneliest number.

No one has done more to disprove Hall's stereotype than Toni Falbo, a professor of educational psychology and sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. An only child herself and the mother of one, Falbo began investigating the only-child experience in the 1970s, both in the U.S. and in China (where the government's one-child policy, the world's biggest experiment in population control, went into effect in 1979), drawing on the experience of tens of thousands of subjects. Twenty-five years ago, she and colleague Denise Polit conducted a meta-analysis of 115 studies of only children from 1925 onward that considered developmental outcomes of adjustment, character, sociability, achievement and intelligence. The studies, mainly from the U.S., cut across class and race.
Generally, those studies showed that singletons aren't measurably different from other kids — except that they, along with firstborns and people who have only one sibling, score higher in measures of intelligence and achievement. No one, Falbo says, has published research that can demonstrate any truth behind the stereotype of the only child as lonely, selfish and maladjusted. (She has spoken those three words so many times in the past 35 years that they run together as one: lonelyselfishmaladjusted.) Falbo and Polit later completed a second quantitative review of more than 200 personality studies. By and large, they found that the personalities of only children were indistinguishable from their peers with siblings.

Of course, part of the reason we assume only children are spoiled is that whatever parents have to give, the only child gets it all. The argument Blake makes in Family Size and Achievement as to why onlies are higher achievers across socioeconomic lines can be stated simply: there's no "dilution of resources," as she terms it, between siblings. No matter their income or occupation, parents of only children have more time, energy and money to invest in their kid, who gets all the dance classes, piano lessons and prep courses, as well as all their parents' attention when it comes to helping work out an algebra problem. That attention, researchers have noticed, leads to not just higher SAT scores but also higher self-esteem.

And as Falbo tells her students, the cocktail of aptitude and confidence yields results: only children tend to do better in school and get more education — college, medical or law degrees — than other kids. Not that having siblings will necessarily thwart you; Einstein had a sister and did just fine.

The full article can be read here The only child: Debunking the myths

Who's to say that in a year or 2 I'll change my mind but for now I am happy to devote time and full attention to S.


  1. I had Stacey 8 years ago and I never wanted another. We're all happy as a little unit. I sometimes feel it would be nice for her to have a playmate but it's too late really, by the time a new baby is old enough to play Stace will be at secondary school and more than likely uninterested. Other times I think I'd like another to feel useful again. But mostly I am glad I stopped at one. She can never feel unloved or second best because there is nobody else. I grew up feeling frustrated that my 3 brothers were smarter than me, had a better job, got taken out week in week out because my dad liked to take them to the football. I think it's all about what you as a mum want. If you're happy at one stick at one xx

  2. It's your choice no one else's you shouldn't be made to feel it's wrong.

    It's the same when people say to people who don't want children that it's selfish what utter madness. Surely a child that is loved and wanted is the ideal.
    You can't win even those who have several children are classed as wrong or selfish as they obviously don't love all their children the same way and have time for them.
    Weird world we live in but i had the impression we had the freedom to make our own minds up. :-)

  3. I have 4 years between mine and couldn't have thought about it prior to that as we didn't have enough money and I was too traumatised by the experience to want to do it again. The only thing that made me go a second time is that I have a friend the same age as me who is an only child and who has very few cousins. She's unmarried and unlikely to have children now. Both parents in their late 70's and seriously ill now and the burden I saw her under forced me to have another child. She has no-one to turn to and the pressure on her is immense. So that made my mind up and thankfully, the second time round was 100 times easier than the first time (despite having twins the second time!) and also made easier by the fact that my son was old enough to not need me as much so I had more time for my babies.
    But at the end of the day, you have to do what works for you and in the meantime, humour your in-laws. Mine had me tormented for about 2 years. In the end, I told them a white lie and said I was having difficulties getting pregnant and that shut them up pretty quickly!

  4. I was an only child until I was 13, when my mum remarried and went on to have 3 more girls. When I was younger I desperately wanted a brother or sister because to be honest I was kinda lonely. Saying that, my son is now 12 and he's an only child! I wish I'd had 2 kids close together but at the time I wouldn't even contemplate it because I was finding things so difficult. Because I was an only child for so many years I have a good idea of how my son sometimes feels, and to be honest sometimes I feel guilty but I try and make up for it in other ways by making sure that he's got a good circle of friends who are always welcome round our house and he has a good social life. Better than mine!!
    I think as a parent we always feel guilty about something. It comes with the territory.