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An only child is a happy child says research

(38 Posts)
muminlondon Sun 14-Nov-10 16:12:25

Guardian report on survey

Interesting research. I always thought sibling rivalry or pecking order was the downside of coming from a big family.

Ooopsadaisy Sun 14-Nov-10 16:17:25

I am an only and I was very happy, especially when I saw friends fighting with their sisters.

Being an only meant I had to make the effort to make friends on holiday, at the park etc and it made me confident talking to new people etc.

Mr Ooops is one of seven children and they have always got on quite well but I get the impression that the two sisters were rivals as teenagers.

MindySimmons Wed 17-Nov-10 09:59:54

This has really taken off in the parenting thread and despite some of the usual stereotypes I must say that it's one of the more balanced discussions on family size I've seen for a while.

ASmallBunchofFlowers Wed 17-Nov-10 17:07:30

I just skimmed through that thread.

Mindy - Do you find all these bunfights about the interpretation of psychological research a bit, well, depressing? The research says something like "on average, grapefruit are slightly bigger than oranges" and then people weigh in to say that the researchers are evidently pursuing their own agenda and, anyway, they once saw an orange that was as big as a watermelon. I now avoid all such threads but, as you say, that one seems to have stayed on a more even keel than many.

Takver Wed 17-Nov-10 20:24:20

ASmallBunch - a fantastic post, and I should have read it before joining that thread!

ASmallBunchofFlowers Wed 17-Nov-10 21:56:03

Thank you, Takver. I know I sound cynical but I've seen it happen so often, all over MN with all types of research. And that thread had been going on for pages before I posted here!

MindySimmons Thu 18-Nov-10 12:03:14

Hi SmallBunch, 100% with you there but I think what I was most surprised by is the number of posters with more than one who were expressing a very balanced perspective. Of course there is always your smattering of bunfighters! One in particular stating that in her family, the only children where bought whatever they wanted and were terribly spoilt and maladjusted. A reflection of the family yes, of being an only child, no!

MindySimmons Thu 18-Nov-10 12:13:24

Takver - sad for you! What a bunch of idiots - evidently intellect is derided and ridiculed over there, sounds like bullying to me wink. Come back here and out of the Lions Den!

Takver Thu 18-Nov-10 12:30:23

Thanks Mindy. Luckily I'm pretty robust (too many years of living in housing co-ops) so I was rather tickled by provoking such a response.

The funny thing is that I think I actually agreed with one of the posters who got very cross grin

kreecherlivesupstairs Tue 23-Nov-10 12:59:34

I didn't get involved in the other thread. My DD is and will remain an only and is very happy and well adjusted. She does talk too much and is too impetuous, but that could have happened if she had 7 brothers and sisters.

GenevieveHawkings Tue 23-Nov-10 23:39:39

Doesn't surprise me in the least - my DS is blissfully happy being able to spend as much time as he likes with his cousins to play, share, fight, squabble and argue and then being able to come home and enjoy lots of space, peace and quiet, attention and things all to himself!

WhyHavePets Tue 23-Nov-10 23:46:12

The illustration you used doesn't work though, grapefruit are on average bigger than oranges whereas it is not quite so easy to say that an only is happier than a child with siblings.

My dc are very happy - but ds came home yesterday asking why only children are the happy ones because he had been told in school that his family was a bad one and he couldn't be happy because there are too many children. This was as a result of the teacher talking about the article (the teacher agrees as he was an only hmm).

I have no idea which is happier but I would bet my last penny that it is not something that can easily be quantified in research or studies and it most certainly makes parents feel bad and children feel bad too and, as such, should probably be left alone.

asmallbunchofflowers Wed 24-Nov-10 23:38:52

Actually, my illustration (in my view, anyway) works perfectly. My point (such as it was) was about how people react defensively to psychological research, misinterpret it and then object to things that haven't been said.

The fact that grapefruit are on average bigger than oranges is so patently true that it's hardly worth stating. But what the statement does not deny, either, is that there may be some particularly large oranges and some particularly small grapefuit, such that despite the average there are some oranges which are bigger than some grapefruit. What that statement also doesn't deny in that in choosing what fruit to buy or eat, one might be thinking about other things besides size, which may not even come into consideration.

So, if that's what the research data indicate (and I haven't read the research itself) it may well be true that on average only children when they are children may be happier than children with siblings. But (despite some of the huffing and puffing on the other thread) that isn't anywhere close to saying that every only child is happier than every child with siblings, or even that every child with siblings is unhappy about it.

Equally, I am sure there will be some other measures on which children with siblings might well score higher than children without. To me, it seems self-evident that the slightly different life experiences which children with and without siblings have will mean that taken as a group they won't score identically on psychological tests and sometimes only children will be 'ahead' and sometimes those with siblings will be 'ahead'. But that says nothing about any individual child.

It would be sad if we had to abandon psychological research because the findings were uncomfortable. Research reports are like buses - there's another one coming along in a minute.

GenevieveHawkings Wed 24-Nov-10 23:43:10

Oh WhyHavePets what a shame that you feel that parents with lots of children are now being made to feel bad a teensey weensey bit bad by research like this. Us parents of only children have had years of being vilified as selfish, nasty, unkind social misfits who deny our children siblings, and not only that, we have to put up with ignorant morons stereotyping our children as selfish, spoiled brats who are incapble of normal human interaction as a result of our actions as their parents.

Suck it up love. My heart bleeds for you - not!

asmallbunchofflowers Wed 24-Nov-10 23:53:16

WhyHavePets - I should have added that the teacher is clearly a buffoon, as he has got the wrong end of the stick, too. The research did not say that children with siblings are unhappy or that their family is a 'bad' one. But that does not mean that the actual conclusions of the research - not the mad extrapolations from them - are invalid. Or that it should not have been done.

PaisleyLeaf Wed 24-Nov-10 23:59:17

I can't imagine a teacher saying such crap things like that. Could it be that he wanted to open a discussion about it and do his own little survey - but the class are actually to young and have come away not quite understanding what was said?
(I just don't like to think of a teacher saying a child's "family was a bad one").

WhyHavePets Thu 25-Nov-10 00:09:40

Genevievehawkings, that was a nasty bitchy comment. I have never once said that parents of onlys are selfish, I am sorry that you have felt got at but it was not me or my son that did it.

Paisley, see my other thread about the teacher, he is a prat, I can quite believe that he said such crap things.

PaisleyLeaf Thu 25-Nov-10 00:15:50

That sounds like a problem with your particular teacher then rather than a problem with the survey.

asmallbunchofflowers Thu 25-Nov-10 00:19:31

If your teacher really is making derogatory comments about his pupils' home situations (whatever they may be) then you should consider making a formal complaint. But, as PaisleyLeaf says, that is entirely separate from the survey.

WhyHavePets Thu 25-Nov-10 03:47:39

Oh I totally agree, the teacher is a prat. (full stop, it isnt even worth discussing_) I was most upset about the way teh findings were prortrayed in the press - big full page headlines about "only children are happiest" etc. Proper DM type stuff, which is the type of thing the teacher gave, I suppose he probably reads those rags and got the "information" about the study from there.

WRT the study itself I feel a bit like the above poster, they are like buses. Previously they have all been "large families are fab" and now the tide has changed and it is onlys are happiest". Statistics and the like are so easy to interpret in a certain way that these things are, often, almost non-sensical.

IMO happy children are created by goo dparents regardless of how many siblings there are or how many trips to the cinema there are or just about anything else. Money and time do not make good parents or god child, effort and care does. I have no feeelings either ay about how many children pero has, each to hre own (I hwould never makea ass coment about when are ougoing t have alttle brthe forittle JJoseph or something). The esearchad its findngs is ot hannos me itis what is dne with that esearch nd ho itcn hurt people tha gets me started!

WhyHavePets Thu 25-Nov-10 03:53:39

Sorry, my keyboard gave up, to translate paragraphs two and three:

WRT the study itself I feel a bit like the above poster, they are like buses. Previously they have all been "large families are fab" and now the tide has changed and it is "onlys are happiest". Statistics and the like are so easy to interpret in a certain way that these things are, often, almost non-sensical.

IMO happy children are created by good parents regardless of how many siblings there are or how many trips to the cinema there are or just about anything else. Money and time do not make good parents or good childhoods, effort and care does. I have no feelings either way about how many children a person has, each to there own (I would never make a crass coment about when are you going to have a lttle brother for little Joseph or something). The research and its findngs is not what annoys me it is what is done with that research and how it can hurt people that gets me started!

GenevieveHawkings Thu 25-Nov-10 14:39:50

WhyHavePets said of studies like this:

"Previously they have all been "large families are fab" and now the tide has changed and it is onlys are happiest". Statistics and the like are so easy to interpret in a certain way that these things are, often, almost non-sensical.

I agree. However, people like me who have made a conscious decision to have just one child have for years been subjected to negative comments from people who think it's OK to pass judgement on our life choices and our children in a totally uninformed and inon-sensical way - and they haven't needed any research to give them the justicication to do that.

You might not make such comments WhyHavePets, or hold such uninformed views but believe me lots of people do and they still believe that only chidlren are to be pitied and are disadvantaged in lots of ways.

So perhaps you can see that people like me aren't really all that bothered if now the tide is turning a little and it's being acknowledged that only children actually aren't disadvantaged and are actually perfectly happy and fulfilled and no worse off (and in fact in some cases better off in many ways) than children who have siblings.

WhyHavePets Thu 25-Nov-10 18:58:12

You said "Oh WhyHavePets what a shame that you feel that parents with lots of children are now being made to feel bad a teensey weensey bit bad by research like this. Us parents of only children have had years of being vilified as selfish, nasty, unkind social misfits who deny our children siblings, and not only that, we have to put up with ignorant morons stereotyping our children as selfish, spoiled brats who are incapble of normal human interaction as a result of our actions as their parents.

Suck it up love. My heart bleeds for you - not!"

I especially like the last line.

Do not try and justify such a wicked post by coming back all "reasonable". How dare you! At least have the courage of your convictions if you cannot have some decent humanity.

GenevieveHawkings Fri 26-Nov-10 00:01:50

My views are eminently reasonable WhyHavePets. You just don't happen to think so, that's all but that doesn't surprise me in the least.

Your post jumped out at me because you became so indignant at the mere suggestion of any negative comment being levelled against larger families.

You think this issue should be "left alone" simply because this particular piece of research has come up with some negative conclusions about the experiences of children in larger families. It's hit a nerve with you yet I doubt you'd be bothered if a thousand pieces of research were undertaken that reached negative conclusions about only children would you?

You hung your indignation on the fact that your child's teacher told him that "his family was a bad one and he couldn't be happy because there are too many children".

The only thing that stood out about that to me was the fact that you pointed out that he teacher was an only child himself! I notice you stopped short of going on to say that he made the so-called nasty comment because he is an only child and having been brought up without siblings he has no idea how to have consideration for others' feelings...? No doubt he'd never have dreamed of saying such a thing if he'd had a few siblings.

For what it's worth, if what you claim happened is true then I think the teacher was bang out of order but like PaisleyLeaf I've got my doubts as to whether a teacher would actually say such a thing.

I can see what you're all about and I actually find your comments quite insidious.

WhyHavePets Fri 26-Nov-10 08:04:11

Wow, you know all of that about me from one post amounting to a few words? Gosh, you must be a very clever lady then mustn't you?

Oh, wait, no, you are not. You are assuming anything you like to fit your agenda. You are suggesting things that simply are not true in order to justify your nastiness when no justification is possible.

In short you are looking to create a fight when there is no fight to be had. There is nothing insidious about any of my post and certainly no lying. You on the other hand... well TBH I can't even be arsed going there.

I am not the person on the other side of the fence to you. I am not the person you need to fight because I am not the person who thinks the things in your last post. I never have and I never will do. It does no good to try and put words into my mouth because it is plain to see that they are words that I have not said.

TBH you are just making a prat of yourself.

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