Only Children

In a controversial blog post, The Stir writer Andrew Kardon claims that "parents who chose to have only one child are just being selfish" (source)

He claims that children without siblings lack a playmate, a confidant, and someone to experience life alongside.

Finally, he gets to his real point, which is that only children tend to be "obnoxious and selfish." And that  they also "don't seem to know how to play well with other kids. Yes, they can get along, but there's always something a bit off with them. They tend to relate to adults better than kids at times, which just causes some odd interactions on playdates." (source)

290 comments later, this particular controversy is going strong.

It's Feedback Friday....

Do you agree with these observations about only children?

Are  you happy with your decision to have 1, 2, 3, etc... kids?

Are you an only child - do you take offense to this characterization?


  1. In China you're only allowed to have one child....

  2. For the most part I agree with these generalizations, but there are of course exceptions (I'm sure any of you reading this are the exception). There's an age gap between my 2 oldest and my youngest. So until he started Kindergarten, he was basically an only child during the day. He is probably my most spoiled and selfish child and 100% believes that he is the center of the universe. (He is adorable and charming so we forgive him) I arranged tons of play dates and sent him to preschool so he could learn to share and have empathy. Being an only child, doesn't automatically make you a jerk,but I imagine it would be a little lonely.

  3. I have 3...my niece is an only child, and I dread spending time with her. She has no rules, no restrictions, is doted upon/treated like a rotten princess, and it inevitably makes me look like a crazy-controlling mom when I tell my kids they can't have candy whenever they want or just sit and play on the iPad like she does. My kids are best friends, and I love that they have each other to grow up with. I wouldn't want it any other way.

    (BTW, I travel to China for business and an entire country of only children...whew.)

  4. I very specifically remember the way my daughter treated her baby brother when he came home from the hospital with us and those first few years when they really bonded. There is no way I could give them what they give each other in relationship. Only children simply do not have that and it's not something you can get from play groups/friends/cousins. The dynamic of the family is changed when you add another child. Not to say that all only children are total brats but they don't have to share/compromise in life the way children with siblings do and I think this challenges them more when they are in an environment where other kids opinions/wants/needs are taken into consideration as well.

  5. This gets me fired up as we have an only child. Why? Because he was born 10 weeks premature and once you have a preemie, you're likely to have another. I can not ask another baby to go through that hell. I would consider having another child to be selfish on our part.

    Now. I am fully aware of an only child acting as if the world revolves around them which is exactly why we drum it into our child that the world does not revolve around him. He reminds me that we need to shop for our local food bank and that the guy on the corner who looks like he's homeless could use some help. Our son is just seven years old, btw. I'm very proud of him and how thoughtful he can be.

    I get really angry when people tell me to have another kid. It's not socially acceptable for me to tell them to STOP having children, why is it okay for them to tell me to have more? It's not their business, just like it's not mine to tell them to stop having babies.

    Every person and family is different and the reasons people aren't having more children is a private decision. For all we know, they are trying and not succeeding and every time you tell them to have another is just making them feel worse. It's no one's business.

  6. The article talked about parents who have only one child on purpose not those with extenuating circumstances.

    I have noticed many of these character traits in several only children I know - especially the relating to adults more than kids.

    I'm guessing you have too, which might be why you try so hard to raise your child differently? Just a guess.

  7. I agree (almost) wholeheartedly. I've notice that, in the hospital, parents of "onlies" act completely different - waaay more hovering and concerned and just plain crazy. In my own family, I have a niece who is an only and she has a hard time not being the center of attention or having her emotions and feelings in top priority at all times. If you can parent an "only" successfully, raising them not to be neurotic or self absorbed, you deserve a Nobel prize for parenting. I'm sure it's many time harder than parenting four...I feel badly for folks who wanted more than one and now have all their hopes and dreams tied up into one human being. I'm sure it's hard on the kids, too...

  8. I think it's all in how you parent an only child. My sister is 7 years younger than me, and I was a spoiled brat for those 7 years. I was also the only grandchild on BOTH sides of the family. I joke now that one year I got 5 easter baskets. It wasn't my fault though! My parents let me get away with everything. It could be that they were young and didn't know what they were doing, or they just decided to take the road of least resistance and give in all the time.

    What I'm trying to say is, if you cater to that one child and treat them like they're the center of the universe, then yeah, they're going to be monsters. However, if you have rules and set expectations and stick to them, an only child can be just as selfless as someone with several siblings.

    Oh, and I don't think having just one child is selfish. If my kids hadn't come as a pair, I doubt I would have had another baby.

  9. I think its just another parent who looks down on other parents and is trying to argue to the world about how they are right. I am not a fan of only children, but that is non of my buisness what every person chooses (or even if its possible for many to have more than one) for their family.

    It's really nobody elses buisness how many kids people want to have, its a private decision. Its also so mean to people who have fertility issues to keep bringing it up.

    I have 3 (Btw)

  10. I was/am a functional only child. My mom had more children after I left home-long story. Anyway, even though I as a parent would have been quite happy to only have one child we opted to have another. I rarely disliked being an only as a child- it was a pretty sweet deal. But as a adult I am envious of the adult sibling relationships around me. I envy them the support system they have when caring for aging parents ( not that it is drama free but at the end of the day they aren't doing it alone). I envy the fun of nieces and nephews that I will miss out on.
    I don't think I am a "typical" only in the bratty sense of the word even though I do tend toward bossiness sometimes. I don't think onlies are bad or parents are selfish. But I do think there is a bond that siblings have that can't be replicated. And I don't think people should take it lightly when they choose to deprive their child of that. The day will come when they are no longer there but their Only is.

  11. I have one child and no interest in any more. She has turned out just fine. People should be more concerned with people who have multiple children they cant afford. I constantly see such people receiving housing assistance and welfare in the mail. At least my spouse and i are responsible enough to know we can provide bestfor 1 child and no more

  12. We´ve got four, and we get lots of judgement from the other side - how could you? Didn´t you think about overpopulation? (People seriously ask these things :)
    I´ve always wanted a bunch of kids, so I went for it, but things might not always run smoothly, or you just don´t feel like you can handle it in your situation - I can be lucky and thankfull that my relationship, my body and my financial situation are all stable enough to live my dream, but that gives me neither the right to look down on people who aren´t this lucky nor does it give me the right to assume that everybody shares this exact dream.
    My daughter´s best friend is an only child, and she´s sweet and well behaved and not a brat at all.

  13. All I can say is WOW! Such self righteousness. Guess you are all the perfect parent with the absolute perfect children. Huh? Really? So is your oldest kid bossy, obstinate and controlling? Is your youngest a spoiled brat? Is your middle child a little weird? How do you like those stereotypes? I don't see any posts or articles on the oldest child or the middle child or the youngest child? Oh wait, God forbid anyone has the courage to speak about the so called "norm." But how easy it is to poke fun and pick on the only child. hmmm no sibling to come to his or her defense. That makes for a real easy target for all of the "bullies" that want to put labels on other people and obviously have nothing better to do (or write about) with their time.

    Kids are kids. It doesn't matter if they are an only child or one of 2 or 3 or 4+. EVERYONE is wired to be different and EVERYONE can be any of the traits that the only child is labeled with. ANYONE. It really doesn't matter how many kids are in your family. What matters is what you are exposed to, what kind of rules you had in your home and what other outside influences you had. I really would like to see an end to the blogging that bashes the only child. This really is just done by people looking for attention. Folks that need to see LIKES and HITS and COMMENTARY like this. I'm sorry to be feeding into it.


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