I have one ds, 2.5, it is very likely he will be an only (fertility issues). I have been reading this section + was quite surprised to hear lots of now grown up only children saying they hated it, it seems a lot compared to how rare I thought being an only child was back then. It scares me quite a bit, although there is not much I can do about my situation. So to help me feel more positive I would appreciate suggestions on how to avoid my ds having a crap experience being an only child. The main areas I see that people struggled with are - holidays/Christmas - so eg we could offset this by always inviting a friend/going with another family or going to places with kids clubs. Christmas - we could try + spend some of the day with another family. I go to mum + toddler most weeks + we spend about twice a month socialising with friends/family with children - although most are quite a bit older than him, but still very willing to all play together. For our old age, I would be quite happy to go into a retirement village type place (I have visions of learning tai chi, doing lots of painting, playing cards etc - might be a bit over-optimistic about that one). On a day to day basis, I try to balance playing/reading with him with him spending time playing alone, he also has a cat who he loves to play with. He is naturally very sociable, once he catches sight of another child he'll dash off to play with them. So to try and avoid the negatives I have heard - loneliness, not able/willing to socialise or share things, being bossy and 'wanting it all their own way', being demanding and clingy, can you suggest ideas to help deal with these potential problems?
I agree with Tee2072 they are spot on,just enjoye being a parent,as long as your child is happy,healthy and loved it does not matter if they are an only child. My partner is an only child and he said it has only ever been other people that have had problems with it. we only have 1 and will only be having 1.
You focus on the positives. It sounds like you are well aware of the possible down sides of being an only, and you have things in place to counter them. Just be wary of giving him the impression he is missing out, it sounds like he is a happy and confident child so far. Why should that change
Parenting un all families requires you to adapt to the situation. Parents of multiples need to find ways to make sure each child gets what they need, and to avoid or diffuse sibling rivalry.
I have one child - I have taken care to be welcoming to other children and families - I like having other children to play and make sure that we have a network of people to invite over. We have taken one of DS's friends on a short holiday (when he was 10) but then when i was a child it was quite usual for my siblings and i to have a friend coe on hol.
I taught DS to 'take turns' when he was quite small - it is an easier concept for little children that 'share', and a useful social skill for ALL children. The stuff about being spoilt, slefish, clingy is nonsense - plenty of children in bigger families go through such phases but it isn't put down to their status in the family.
I'm sorry if you feel sad about not having more children because of fertility problems, but that in no way translates into being a parenting failure of the gorgeous child you have.
Thanks all, momentary panic over, I suppose it's all a part of coming to terms with our situation. I know deep down that there are positives + negatives to having an only child or more than one, I'll just try + focus on the positives and get on with things, thanks.
Agree with everything that has been said about not feeding the stereotypes. I hit the roof the other day with my husband when, apologising for DS's bolshy behaviour at a friends gathering, he said 'it must be an only child thing'. Great, so now there's going to be a self-fulfilling prophesy that every time DS misbehaves, these friends are going to put it down to him being an only child and not expect better from him.
So take my following advice with the caveat that it might not be required for your DS, but as well as Blu's 'taking turns', I make a point of not following his instructions when he is being bossy (e.g. when playing with figures - I ignore him when he tells me to put postman pat in the sorting office, and instead put him in the shop) and I explain to him that everyone has different ideas about how they want to play and it's not for him to tell me what to do.
Ok, this is coming from the perspective as an only.
1. Try and get your DS used to the rough and tumble of kids his own age. Only's tend to be older than their years (like PFBs), so then they get treated as older, which then adds to them being more mature in outlook. I found it easier to relate to people older than me because I was used to the company of adults. School was a big shock as I was not used to the rough and tumble or the name calling etc so over sensitive to these. I am still horrified by how my DH and his sister are to each other although I think it is a normal sibling relationship!
2. Let him see that you are fallible. If you have a sibling you can see that your parents make mistakes (ie blaming them for something you've done and vice versa), an only doesn't have that opportunity. Parents are the authority, they are always right therefore the child must always be wrong. My mum is a sulker, as an adult, I now get comments from my aunt (her sister) and some of her friends about her behaviour. It would have helped me growing up to have had this knowledge as I always felt I was wrong, or naughty. It is hard to not be the favourite child out of siblings but I always felt it might be worse to not be the favourite when you're the only one!
3. Play with them on their level. I used to get board games for Christmas/Birthday but hardly ever got to play them which exacerbated my loneliness.
Onlys don't have to be lonely, or spoilt, every birth order has things to be compensated for whether only, first, middle or last. It's just being aware of any potential issues and mitigating them.
I noticed you spend time reading/playing balanced with time he spends alone playing, do you go to any groups? I found it helpful for me to take DD to different places, music group etc and we met up with 7 of our antenatal group on a weekly basis. She's now been at pre-school for a year and was well used to the barging of children her own age before she started!
I also found sharing hard in a way, I would say I'm generous but some things I find difficult. I'll happily buy you a chocolate bar if you want one, but if I've bought one for me, I want to eat it, what's the use of 1/2 a kitkat!
Finally, I guess some of the pressure comes from me, I love my parents and want them to be happy but if I disappoint them, there's no one else to do it right. There's lots of my life that my parents don't know anything about as they would judge/be dissapointed so I'm not that close now (although I see them weekly for DCs I'm not really bothered about seeing them, sometimes it's kind of a relief when they're on holiday). I guess what I'm saying is make sure your DS knows you love him warts and all and you can't go far wrong!
Good essay though! I like point 1 - DD is rather baffled by the cut and thrust of sibling relationships. On the other hand she can be immensely patient with other kids' little sibs, probably BECAUSE she doesn't have to contend with one of her own.
I have two rules. One is to back off and give DD space - very easy for two very involved patents to overcrowd a single child. The second is I need a good reason before not letting her play out, go to a friend, or have a friend over.
Other than that, it only takes a cursory glance at other families to realise the stereotypes are bollocks - plenty of spoilt middle children, clingy last-borns and self-absorbed eldest children out there.