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Only child, lonely child?

(119 Posts)
SpottySocks29 Sat 23-Sep-17 07:01:26

Hi guys,

I'm looking for reassurance here and I'm sure you can offer it to me. I'm pregnant with my first and we don't plan to have anymore children after this.

Someone mentioned to me an only child is a lonely child and it has stuck in my head and makes me sad to think my child could grow up feeling this way... can anyone reassure me please.

ThaliaLuxurySpa Sat 23-Sep-17 07:52:06

Hi OP,

All I can say is that, without exception, the kids in single child families I know knock dead the horrible stereotype of being constantly lonely (and/or antisocial, selfish, spoilt...other charming labels sometimes bandied around).

Their parents have gone to great lengths to ensure their DCs have a sort of "sibling experience" in other ways, be it with cousins or close friendships they've chosen themselves, and the children often seem to relate to adults/ much older kids on a more mature level too.

And blood-related brothers/sisters don't automatically gel together positively!

If you (or anyone else) ever need to counter unfair comments about sentencing an only child to a guaranteed lonely existence, you might want to point the rude person in the direction of this article --->

MyOtherProfile Sat 23-Sep-17 07:55:42

I was an only child. I spent my entire childhood wishing for siblings and projecting sibling status on to my friends. I knew when I had children I absolutely wanted more than one so they didn't go through the same.

However my mum did do lots to make sure I had a good social life and we took friends on holiday etc so that helped.

I'm very sociable today and very open to friends which is probably a result of being an only child.

The issue for me now is as my mum gets older there is only me to look after her and we live about 120 miles apart.

ThaliaLuxurySpa Sat 23-Sep-17 07:58:34

^ To add: I'm totally objective and without bias in my opinion on this subject, as not a parent in a single child family myself.

Naysayers can't accuse me of being blinkered, therefore.

ThaliaLuxurySpa Sat 23-Sep-17 08:05:12


Good point. I can see that older parent care when you're the sole adult offspring must feel hard: a friend said as much this week.

KarateKitten Sat 23-Sep-17 08:10:12

I think there are going to be aspects of life that are lonely as an only child but there are aspects of sibling life that are stressful on the other side of it (having stuff taken and inheritance arguments and personality clashes etc).

I think any combination of children, 1 or 2 or 3 or many, had its own pluses and minuses. There is something lovely about the only child families I know. An intensity and closeness to the child parent relationship whereas in my family the sibling relationship takes the attention away from parent/child relationship in ways, both good and bad.

Glowerglass Sat 23-Sep-17 08:16:08

I would say as an only who has gone through the elderly parent scenario, when it comes to making decisions, you make the decision = the decisions is MADE.

Have a flakey sibling who consistently throws a spanner in the works is much worse (DH's side)

ArcheryAnnie Sat 23-Sep-17 08:18:27

Good point. I can see that older parent care when you're the sole adult offspring must feel hard: a friend said as much this week.

Except that I can promise you, as someone with a number of siblings, it's often one child out of many that is left with older parents care - siblings move away, may not have the capacity, etc etc. Having lots of kids does not guarantee that older-parent care will be shared!

I have an only child. In terms of his future life, at least I know that he doesn't have to manage his siblings as well as me! (And a different matter, I know that everything I have will get passed onto him, too.)

AliceLutherNeeMorgan Sat 23-Sep-17 08:18:47

Have a look on MN at all the threads about people falling out with their siblings and the problems it causes. There are loads and loads.

I am not speaking without bias, as I do have one child. She's not lonely, and nor are the other only children we know. It's different to being in a family with lots of kids, sure - but as the pp says it's a different relationship altogether. She's thoughtful, confident but not brash, sociable but not overbearing, and above all is able to develop in whatever way is best for her, in a very close family relationship.

We had one child by choice, so there's absolutely no negativity around it; I know people may feel otherwise if they had wanted more children, and I think a lot of projection happens there with the "only=lonely" myth

Applesandpears56 Sat 23-Sep-17 08:23:49

I'm sorry I do think siblings are incredibly important for a child.

One child families tend to be either people who have struggled with infertility or patents who have thought about children late in life and are just giving the kid thing a go but don't really want children to disrupt their life (Simon cowel an example here)

Wobblypark Sat 23-Sep-17 08:26:24

Some siblings I know have a great relationship, some tolerate each other, my own experience amounts to not much more than a crushing sense of obligation to maintain relations for my parents
I think children will only be lonely if you don't make sure they have plenty of opportunities to be with friends/relatives. All the only children I know are perfectly happy and well rounded!

ZenHeadbutt Sat 23-Sep-17 08:32:03

I've 4 dc and I'm one of 4 as is DH.

I literally can't see anything wrong with choosing to have one kid. I think it's different to having more but I can't see any downsides. There are pros and cons with every senerio so I don't see any point agonizing over it.

I know quite a few only children. All lovelya s bone spoilt. I think them leaving for Uni has perhaps been harder for the parents as it's more of a sudden change but I'm only guessing.

If I were you I wouldn't give it anymore though other than having a think about how you are going to deal with people who make rude comments to you about having one kid. 😂. I'd make it clear that saying thing like 'an only kid is a lonely kid' is stupid and extremely rude. I'd remind the person saying it that the could deeply upset someone and what if the person saying it couldn't have another child for medical reasons.

triggy80 Sat 23-Sep-17 08:33:15

I hate this stereotype. I have one and the constant "when are you having another?" "He will be lonely without siblings" really grates. I was one of five children and felt incredibly lonely as a child. I have a number of friends who no longer speak to their sibling. So it's not a guaranteed road to future happiness for my child. My son is very much adored and has lots of cousins and friends who he is close to. I think he actually loves the fact he can come home to peace and quiet!

MyOtherProfile Sat 23-Sep-17 08:33:22

it's often one child out of many that is left with older parents care - siblings move away, may not have the capacity, etc
All of which could be true of the only child too yet it still falls to them.

ZenHeadbutt Sat 23-Sep-17 08:33:28

Typo. All lovely and. It spoilt

Lowdoorinthewal1 Sat 23-Sep-17 08:33:45

I have a planned only (7). Had him at 30, no fertility issues.

He has certainly never mentioned anything about being lonely and says he doesn't want a sibling. We live in a gated area with other children from his school (staff housing) including his best friend, yet when they knock on the door he will sometimes say he doesn't want to play out. I take this as an indication that he has plenty of social interaction and is not craving more. He plays out a lot though, in and out of ours and the neighbours houses like something out of the 50s, so I suppose that helps.

He's kind and shares without even thinking about it. Excellent attitude towards hard work at school and his extra-curricular thing he does. Adults and children seem to like him. I don't think he's become some monster through lack of chaos at home siblings.

ZenHeadbutt Sat 23-Sep-17 08:34:11

Aghh typo AGAIN

All lovely and not spoilt

BeingATwatItsABingThing Sat 23-Sep-17 08:35:51

I've got a sibling and we get on really well. My DD is an only at the minute but I don't want her to be forever. She's 3 and a 1/2.

Benefits of siblings: immediate 'friend' to play with, more than one child to care for elderly parents, someone else so parental focus is reduced.

Benefits of only children: parents undivided attention, more likely to be able to be independent at an earlier age, don't have to worry about arguments over splitting care/inheritance.

Basically, there are pros and cons of both. Do what is right for your family. Everyone else can bugger off with their opinions.

ineedaholidaynow Sat 23-Sep-17 08:38:56

Applesandpears what a ridiculous thing to say.

We have an only DS, as far as I am aware he is not lonely.

My DF has terminal cancer, my sibling has not been to see him or help with any of the organising of care etc. Having siblings is no guarantee that this heavy load will be shared.

MessyBun247 Sat 23-Sep-17 08:46:20

Don't have another child just to give your child a sibling. Or to have someone else look after you when you are older. Really those are terrible reasons.

There is no guarantee that siblings will get on. Everyone has a number they can cope happily with. Why stretch yourself when you don't need to or want to? Why bring a child into the world that you don't want, just to benefit others? When you are the one who will be having to raise them for 18+ years. And there is no guarantee that children will look after you when you get older. You have many decades to make arrangements for when you are older to ease pressure off your child.

People can tell you that you should have another, but they aren't living your life. They don't know what is best for your family. Only you know that.

Have a child because YOU want another one. If you don't, drop the guilt and build a fabulous life for the child you do have. Lots of socialising, fun, laughter. No guilt, no regrets. smile

ThePurpleOneWithTheNut Sat 23-Sep-17 08:47:16

Speaking from experience, I think that only children do sometimes bear a huge weight of focus of expectation from their parents. Siblings give perspective.

Also having a sibling(s) provides more opportunity to learn how to negotiate with other children and compromise in daily life. It's also nice to have others who 'get' the dynamics of your own family and parents. An only has no-one else who has experienced the same parents.That is something I would love to have had.

But of course there are no rules set in stone and people with siblings could also offer negatives.

ASDismynormality Sat 23-Sep-17 08:50:43

I'm an only child and didn't feel lonely as a child.

As an adult I do feel the pressure as I'm the only one here to look after my mum.

Apileofballyhoo Sat 23-Sep-17 09:06:46

I am one of 4 and the closest in age is 4 years older. I was a lonely child - 12 to 13 year olds don't want to play with 8 or 9 year olds. I would have loved to have a sibling close in age and was envious always of those that did. My best friend at primary had 2 sisters and they played together. But I had 3 friends that had brothers close in age and they didn't get on at all as children. My 2 best friends in college had sisters close in age that they were really good friends with too, and I was envious of that. I'm close to my mother and was quite close to my father but I'm not close to any of my siblings. Our family was very dysfunctional though.

My DS is an only and can see pros and cons from his own perspective. He loves being with friends but loves being on his own too. I spend a lot of time playing with him though.

As far as I can see there are no guarantees a child with siblings won't be lonely or an only child will be lonely.

SuperBeagle Sat 23-Sep-17 09:46:20

I am assuming the person who told you that isn't an only child?

I'm an only child. I love it. I am far closer with my mum (single parent) than any of my friends are with theirs, and I got more opportunities in terms of education etc. than I would've if I'd had siblings because the finances wouldn't have stretched far enough for 2+ children.

I think it's a bad idea to have a second child because you want your first child to have someone. Many, many, many siblings don't get along. I know more families of siblings who don't get along than families of siblings who are close.

user1488794856 Sat 23-Sep-17 09:54:05

Like you, throughout my entire pregnancy I swore we would only be having one. Dh is an only and had no issues with it, I have a sister 13 months younger.

For us, everything changed when DD came along. Within a couple of months we realised that actually a sibling for her would be lovely and we are now expecting #2, they will be 14 months apart.

I think growing up an only is completely fine, and dh had a very happy childhood, never craved a sibling, but like us you might find you change your mind, so don't worry too much!

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