I’ve dedicated many years to exploring and debunking only child myths, most of which were started in 1896 by psychologist G. Stanley Hall. The world in which G. Stanley Hall conducted his research in the 1800s, where many only children were isolated in a more rural, farm-driven America, was vastly different from the interconnected society we live in now. His study would be considered quite flawed by today’s research standards.
If you’re here, you’ve likely heard the assumptions that only children are destined to be spoiled, lonely, socially inept, selfish and more. The problem is stereotypes stick. It’s hard to make them go away because of what’s called “confirmation bias:” When a person has a long-held belief such as only children are lonely and is confronted with evidence that disproves the belief, the person “doubles down” on her original belief — only children are lonely.
That’s the fight only children and their parents face: The proof is strong that only child myths are unreliable, untrue, but convincing others is not easy. Use the information in these articles to unpack the real facts and to stay resolute in your own beliefs about only children.
Facts to get you started:
- Only children have many well-documented advantages.
- While many parents worry about their one child having too much alone time, alone time is largely a positive.
- Today’s technology-fueled landscape actually makes it easier than ever before for only children to be connected to friends.
- At a certain age, a child stops asking for a sibling (if he or she ever asks at all).
- Only children tend to be more creative than children with siblings.
As many as 74 percent push or shove their brothers and sisters; 42 percent go further—they kick, punch and bite their siblings. If we add verbal abuse, the number climbs to 85 percent who “engage in verbal aggression against siblings on a regular basis.”
You have to wonder why, when the U.S. Census reports that the single child family is the fastest growing family unit, people tell you to have another child (or you think you should). Proponents of large or larger families claim your only child will be spoiled, lonely, or selfish or worse.
How many times have you heard that only children are, among other things, lonely, spoiled, selfish? If you have an only child, you can be sure that someone in your circle thinks this way.
Who first told you only children were lonely and bossy? When was that? Not to worry if you don’t remember. Sam Wang, associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton, and Sandra Aamodt, a former editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience report that “As the source is forgotten, the message and its implications gain strength.”
Even couples who believe they want and can afford more children are moving in the one-child direction. Nonetheless, some worry about the future of their only child without siblings, especially in adulthood.
Your blood type can influence your sex life; Japan has condom dispensing machines (see photo) with slot designations for type A, B, O, or AB buyers. Beyond the obvious medical implications, your blood type could also be very significant in determining whom you date and how happy you are-that is if you live in Japan.
Strong opinions abound about how many children you believe you should have . . . and how many children others think you should have. Those “others” are often quick to tell you.
Whether you are one or you know one, most of us have a perception of what we think only children are like — and unfortunately, these views of only children are not always positive.
Twelve men have walked on the moon. All of them were firstborns or only children. In terms of level of education, aspirations and achievement, firstborns and only children excel. What gives these children this distinct advantage? What is the difference between being an only child and having siblings?
Most concerns about singletons are without merit today especially the lonely, only child stereotype. Others border on absurdity, but that doesn’t stop people from holding onto what they were taught or think they know. In 1896, G. Stanley Hall and then his followers were so wrong about only children being lonely children.
Shortly after the birth of Jonas, her second child, Lisa’s four-year-old daughter Hannah mentioned her new friend Betsy. Lisa assumed Betsy was one of Hannah’s pre-school classmates until Hannah asked if Betsy could have dinner with them. “But she’s not here,” her mother said. “Yes, she is,” Hannah insisted. “She lives here.”
Children ask for siblings for a wide array of reasons — from not relating to the one they have now to seeing a friend holding her baby brother and wanting to be a big sister or brother, too. Some children request a sibling because their friends have more brothers and sisters than they do or because they are missing one in their own gender.
When you have one child, it can feel as if the entire world is telling you that your child needs a sibling. Your mother, your mother-in-law, friends, even total strangers feel compelled to comment on your family size.
No matter how hard a parent tries to treat each child the same, your children will likely have a different perception. The slightest gesture toward one child will elicit cries of partiality from another. In children’s minds, you play favorites. And, in one sense, the children would be correct.
We all have different views about people who are single kids in their homes. For most of us, it means that they’re spoiled brats who always want to have their way. Some of us, however, also view it as a rather lonely situation.
When you have one child, you often face a specific opinion. Your in-laws, parents, friends, and perfect strangers are only too happy to tell you: your only child needs a brother or sister. Does he? If your toddler refuses to share a toy or take turns, you can sense judgment. Even if the person doesn’t say the words, you know what he or she is thinking: “If that child had a sibling she wouldn’t behave this way.”
If you are the parent of one child, it’s hard not to think about only child stereotypes and hope that none of them will apply to your child. To that end, you try to teach your child not to be selfish or bossy or to insist on having everything his own way.
More families worldwide are choosing to have one child. However, unfair attitudes still abound. Even though I, and others, have spent decades shedding light on only child discrimination and stereotypes, we continue to see and hear baseless only child bashing.
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