Only Children Syndromes: Fact or Fiction

This is my beautiful daughter who grow up an only child.  When I was raising her, I heard many women say that they would never have one child because they wouldn’t want them growing up alone or only children are spoiled and misbehaved.   My daughter turned out just fine.  She had playmates, she listened and she followed rules.  Now I must admit, I spoiled her rotten and I enjoyed every second of it.  Yes, she had more
than most children because she was an only child, but that’s not my problem.  I told parents who were bold enough to make comments that maybe they should have stopped at one too.  

She find herself a target by other kids at school at times.  When we got to the bottom of the harassment, we found that the child or children where envious of  her clothes, other possessions, and accomplishments.  She was called Little Princess by some of her classmates and if you can believe it by some adults.  Those with siblings seemed to be the ones who were green with envy.  I’m not saying that all children who had siblings were a problem, but I am saying that the children she had issues with had siblings.   Funny, she was suppose to be the one who ended up with problems.   

During that time, I often wondered why people believed that only children would be unhappy, selfish, spoiled, lonely and maladjusted.  The Only Children that I knew did not fall into any of these categories.  I’ve also wondered how America explained the behavior of children who misbehaved and who had siblings.  Most importantly, when our children end up with drug and alcohol problems or behind bars, does it really matter that they were Only Children, the Baby, the Middle Child or the Older Brother or Sister?

I did some research on Only Children and I’m happy to say that this article in  Psychology Today discusses some issues that parents encounter raising only children, however, the majority of only children turn out to be happy, well-adjusted adults.  It has also been proven that children with siblings often have self-esteem problems because they grow up thinking their siblings were favored or they were neglected because mom and dad had to divide their time, attention and money.  Oh lets not forget the middle child syndrome and the arguments and hatred spewed between siblings.  Psychologist have found that it can take a lifetime to work out problems created because children grew up believing they were treated unfairly by their parents or siblings.  In some situations they don’t speak for years if ever again over childhood issues that were never resolved.  

My daughter has stated that there were times she wished she had a sibling, but for the most part she was content with her upbringing.  She had my undivided attention, everything she needed, and the majority of the time she got everything she wanted.  By the age of 21, she had traveled to places that most people won’t see in a their lifetime.  I had no behavior problems with her growing up.  She did not hit, spit or bit other children nor did she disrespect any adults.  She excelled in school and had plenty of cousins and friends to play with.  To this day, she’s very sociable and respectful.    

For mothers who only have 1 child, don’t allow the myths of the “Only Child Syndrome” make you feel guilty about your decision. Personally, I believe people should have as many children as they want and can afford.  None of us know how our children are going to turn out.  Whether we have 1 child or 10, we just do the best that we can raising them.  I survived motherhood one day at a time, and it is still my motto.  

Do you have 1 child?  Did you grow up an only child?  I would love to hear your take on this issue.  Please leave us a comment. 



  1. I was an only child for four years and I recall wishing that it would stay that way until my mom said I was going to have a little brother–he never showed up.  She miscarried.  Then my sister came along, did I say that I wished that I was an only child!

  2. I have two boys.  I think that only children in some ways probably do get to experience more things…we have taken that into consideration when we thought about having a 3rd…we don't want to take anything away from our boys…but still trying to figure it out.  I don't think there is anything wrong about having an only child though!  I know people who just have one and I can see that being fun to just have one to enjoy!  Less stress 🙂 Saw you on Blog Frog.  Great post!  ~Kimberly

  3. @Amanda – I can relate to wanting to being alone and needing space even though I had 7 siblings.  I think that's why I crave space, I didn't have any growing up and had to share everything.

    Silence is truly golden in my home.

  4. @Cat @ 3 Kids and Us – For years people thought my daughter and nephew were brother and sisters, that's how close they are.  I have to say to this day, the bond still exists.  My daughter always says they're like brother and sister.

  5. I grew up an only child. I was also the oldest grandchild on one side, and the youngest on the other. To say I was spoiled is an under statement. Even though I was spoiled, I was also taught manners and respect. My grandparents took me many places as a child I'm sure if I had siblings I wouldn't have gotten to go. I know my cousins were always jealous, but like my grandma pointed out, they lived much farther away, and there were 4 of them. She did the best she could to make it equal, but it was hard.

    I'm sure my mother was glad when I finally stopped asking Santa at the mall for a brother or sister for Christmas. About the time I started having sleepovers at friends' houses I figured out that siblings weren't all I thought they were cracked up to be.

    I think the hardest part about growing up an only child is that I like my space, and sometimes I still don't want to share my toys. Even now there are just times I need to just be alone. It's probably what makes me a good Army wife. I have 2 boys now, but I'm glad my oldest child has a sibling. He would not grow up well adjusted if he didn't learn on a daily basis how to interact with a peer.

  6. Well, we ended up having 3 children. It wasn't actually planned that way but our third baby was the blessing that made our family feel whole and complete.

    I can say for sure I would not have been happy only having one child and neither would our son. He begged for a brother (and got 2 sisters) but the way he interacts with them, the love they all show for each other, it's just not the kind of bond they can make with friends or cousins.

    Now I on the other hand basically grew up an only child. My sister is 11 yrs old than me and moved out when I was 7. Life was amazing. I got tons of attention from my parents, enjoyed my personal spaces and loved it. But at the same time, seeing how my kids are with each other, it makes me wish I did have a brother or sister closer in age.