I am one of five and two of them have three of their own. My choice to have one child often sparks interesting conversations, sometimes even heated debates. Is there a right or wrong when it comes to the number of children you choose to have, more specifically does it negatively impact on the child?
Not surprising then that researchers in China recently conducted a study to explore this question, with their one-child policy which lasted as long as 36 years!
We have all heard the common stereotypical ideas about being an only child, and I do pay attention to how it could influence Mishka’s childhood and her future behaviour. Does she demonstrate these only-child traits such as selfishness and a problem to share with her peers?
Honestly, in some ways she does, but it does not take away the benefits of being an only child. But first, the results of the Chinese study: only-children scored higher on flexibility and lower on agreeableness.
What does this mean for Mishka? Simply put, flexibility may contribute to her creativity and ability to think out of the box probably because we have more time to devote to her as an individual at the same time it could be linked to the possibility that we have quite high expectations of her and that she is in a way forced to find answers quicker.
Low agreeableness could mean that Mishka is less likely to take no for an answer and emphasise the issue of not being able to share her toys or sweets with her friends or even adults.
However, the study did not show any difference in terms of intelligence between the only-children and children with siblings.
Other studies demonstrated that only-children scored higher in terms of self-confidence and academic achievement, they may also have better relationships with their parents, and fewer behavioral problems in school.
On the downside however, it may impact negatively on Mishka as it is probable that she could receive too much attention and excessive praise from us and this may cause undesirable personality traits such as dependency, selfishness and social ineptitude.
Additionally, due to the absence of siblings, only-children usually miss out on important opportunities to rehearse some of the more complicated aspects of relationships within a safe environment.”
Noting that, I also firmly believe in the benefits of her solo upbringing: she receives our undivided attention which builds confidence, it is less stressful for us as parents to raise one child and this makes her environment less stressful, no sibling rivalry, quality time with us and of course less financial pressure on us and thus more to invest in her education and well-being.
I don’t think there is a magic number, personally I know my limitations and I can honestly say as an older parent (I had Mish when I was 40) I do not see myself raising more than one child, simply because I am not built that way. As a couple, we have decided that it is the best decision for us. We do pay extra attention to the little things that may cause Mishka to lack in certain areas.
We make sure we have plenty of social events with our friends and their kids, we are tuned into the “sharing is caring” issues and make sure we explain the importance of respect and boundaries to her. We can only hope that what we do as parents will be enough to guide her into a fulfilling future.