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Is It Selfish to Have Any Only Child?

Is It Selfish to Want Just One Child?

When you hear that a family has an only child, what comes to mind — about both the child and the parents? While common stereotypes may lead us to think of only children as being lonely or selfish and of their parents as being consumed with status over family, Lauren Sandler, the author of One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One, begs to differ. In her recent op-ed for The New York Times, Sadler — who is an only child herself and mother to one — argues the case that not only are only children just as likely to thrive as those with siblings, but also, their parents are likely to be happier and more relaxed.

The differences between only children and those raised with siblings tend to be positive ones. Ms. Falbo and Ms. Polit [researchers at the University of Texas] examined hundreds of studies in the 1980s and found that only children had demonstrably higher intelligence and achievement; only children have also been found to have more self-esteem. These findings, which have been confirmed repeatedly in recent years, hold true regardless of whether parents of only children stayed together and regardless of economic class.

With current statistics showing that one in five American families now have just one child, the topic is particularly relevant. "Call me selfish but, as the mother of one child, I enjoy more time, energy, and resources than I would if I had more children. And it is hard to imagine that this isn't better for my family as well as for me," Sadler wrote. What do you think? Is having an only child selfish on the part of the parents? Are only children at any sort of disadvantage compared to their peers with siblings?

Join The Conversation
JulieDillon JulieDillon 4 years
Judy14609643 Judy14609643 4 years
I think each family needs to decide that for themselves. We chose 7 as our perfect number and I wouldn't have it any other way. I do not suffer from having so many. In fact, I am blessed. I would point out that there are many high achievers that come from large families. My daughter just graduated valedictorian and has a full free ride to college due to acedemic achievement. they have learned to be good negotiaters and to be responsible. I am offended by remarks referring to large families as welfare people. If you desire a large family and have the ability and resources to care for them then go for it.
DanielleBitto DanielleBitto 4 years
No, it is not selfish to want only 1 child. Unless your entire reasoning for wanting only 1 child is that you find/think that even that 1 child just takes up too much of your time, energy & money. In other words, if you feel that 1 child just takes too much away from you and you couldn't possibly give up any more by having another, then yes, you are being selfish. However, for most parents the reasoning is that they have more to give their child by only having 1. Having a 2nd (or 4th) would stretch their resources farther & make it harder to give their children the lifestyle they want to give them. There is nothing at all selfish about that logic. Personally, my husband & I chose to have 4 & don't think our children or we have suffered for it. But just because that was the right decision for us, doesn't mean it's right for somebody else.
NicoleLamphier NicoleLamphier 4 years
its not selfish at all! i have one child right now and i do want another one but sometimes i think will the child that i have ever get pushed aside for the new one? that would break my heart if my child felt like her mother pushed her aside. i never want her to feel that way. how is not wanting another child so the first child can have everything selfish?
ClaireKivell ClaireKivell 4 years
Its not selfish - not everyone can have 2 children and are lucky to have one child!
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