Two parents look at their baby and contemplate the realities of the only child myth.

The Only Child Myth: How to Avoid Making It a Reality

People always talk about having “kids.” Very rarely do you ever hear someone just say “kid” in reference to starting a family, so it’s no wonder that society as a whole seems to have a problem with only children. Whether it’s their portrayal in movies or simply a general stereotype, only children often get a bad reputation. They are said to be spoiled, selfish, lonely, isolated and non-social. However, that is just not true and more parents are debunking the only child myth as they choose to have only one child.

While it is still hard to convince friends, neighbors and in-laws that you “really are done” after having one child, the numbers speak for themselves. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the average child in the United States costs their parents approximately $286,050, and that’s not even including college. And, this price is on the rise. With the cost of diapers, food, clothing, and all the other necessities, it can be a wonder how anyone manages having multiple children. As the child gets older and daycare, sports teams, and extracurricular activities come into the mix, the cost can become quite steep.

More than ever, individuals are choosing to enjoy continuing their careers, regular vacations and city life while still experiencing the role of being parents. Rather than have two or more children, they are choosing to raise one child who will more than likely have a better life than they did. Instead of dividing an income among multiple children, parents are able to enroll their children in more activities like sports and music, spend more on education, allow their children to attend summer camps, travel, and give them the latest computers and technology. Although some may say these children are “spoiled,” many could argue the parents are simply being smarter about how they spend. The decreased amount of stress and anxiety over supporting a large family is allowing parents of “onlies” to feel comfortable while still having a family.

Of course, just like with any family, those with an only child have their own share of challenges. The following are ways to help your child avoid falling into some of the stereotypical behaviors and perpetuating the only child myth:


Set Boundaries

Only children can often become too accustomed to being around adults and think of themselves as adults at a very young age. Believing themselves to have equal say and power in certain family matters can be an obvious problem. While they certainly should have some say in decisions, the bigger ones should still be for the parents alone. Be sure to make quality time for Mom and Dad without your child. This is essential to the marriage as a whole and the structure of the family. Adults should have adult time regularly without their child. It is healthier for everyone.


Set Realistic Expectations

Because all of your focus is on one child, it can be easy to push your child too hard or set unreasonable expectations. Everyone wants the best for their child, but whether you have one or ten, it’s important to be realistic in their achievements. Only children mature sooner and often seem like young adults much faster than their peers. Let them have a childhood and encourage age-appropriate activities during this time in their life.


Watch The Spending

It can be very easy to splurge and spend quickly on your child. Keep this to a minimum so your child learns the value of things. You could even have them do chores to earn a special toy or activity they want. Just because they don’t have to compete with siblings doesn’t mean they should have everything they want.


As parents of an only child, rest assured that research is constantly proving that only children are just as polite, social, intelligent, and outgoing as their peers with siblings. Throw that only child myth out with the bathwater. Your choice to have one or more children should depend on what is best for your family.

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