Recently, my brother proudly announced that he and his wife had made a personal decision to have only one child. This came as quite a shock when considering he and I were raised in a large family and I, as well as my other siblings, each, had two or more children. When questioned regarding his personal decision to limit his offspring to one, my brother began to entertain us with his theories on the World’s population crisis and his logic in that it was his “duty” to bring no more than one child into the World since some of our other siblings had bore more than two, thus adding to the population crisis.
In my brother’s mind, he was offering a service to Plant Earth by limiting his pedigree to but one sole heir. So, I began to think, what will be the challenges and benefits to my brother, and his wife, as they raise the “only child”?
In terms of financial impact, having but one child will provide my brother and his wife with the opportunity to experience many adventures in life that they, otherwise, may not have experienced with multiple children. As sports adventurers, and a couple who enjoys international travel, having this one child will provide them with the family unit they so desired while enabling them to continue to finance the various travel adventures to exotic locations as they did before they had their son.
As a disadvantage, my brother and his wife will face the societal stigma so often associated with the “only” children; a spoiled and selfish “brat” of a child. While this is certainly not the behavior exhibited thus far by my nephew, my brother and sister-in-law will continue to face this societal stigma associated with parenting an only child and, as a result, may find they are working a greater number of hours to try and disprove the stereotype that their child is spoiled and bratty.
To their advantage, psychology research has shown, in recent years, that because this child is more likely to experience a greater spectrum of life adventures, he may come across as aloof and unresponsive when approached when, in actuality, he is simply more engaged by intellectually stimulating activities, such as reading and painting rather than play. While social conflicts may arise, this does lead to a positive light in the cognitive and behavioral outcome of my son’s “only” child.
The good news is that, traditionally, only children, while more reserved, potentially make great leaders and excel in academics. This may have some basis when considering the only child finds he is required to interact with individuals outside of the family unit on a more regular basis, almost by force as there are no other social interactions unless he moves outside of his family ties. In fact, most “only” children show no evidence of emotional or psychological disturbances lending some child psychologists to find that, as an only child, the avenue may be opened for more advanced emotional intelligence into adulthood.
While my brother’s decision to limit his offspring to but one child left many of us, namely, his siblings, in a state of shock. When analyzed further, many of us wondered why we didn’t think of his theory first. To the disenchantment of my mother, we all began to wonder what it would have been like if “we” had been only children. Ah, the adventures we may have seen!