Parenting an Only Child

Posted on Jan 20, 2013 by 2 Comments
Parenting an Only Child

My son is an only child. For the most part, I’m OK with him staying this way. However, many parents of only children say they feel pressured by friends and family to have a second child.

There is a widespread belief that only children are deprived of social interaction. Some people claim they are selfish, spoiled, and manipulative.

This is not necessarily based in fact, though. Birth order research suggests that most only children have personalities that are similar to the firstborn son or daughter in a larger family. For example, both firstborns and only children are often very intelligent, ambitious, and articulate.

If you’re concerned about the development of your only child, remember that parenting styles have a substantial impact on a child’s well-being.

Here are some tips:

  • Create opportunities for social interaction by encouraging your child to participate in playgroups, religious organizations, athletic events, and other organized recreational activities.
  • Resist the urge to push your child to act like a miniature adult. Talk to other parents to learn more about expectations for age-appropriate behaviors. (This has been an ongoing struggle for me, but I’d like to think I’m getting better as time passes.)
  • Make an effort to teach your child about sharing, teamwork, and having empathy for others. Read books about friendship with your toddler and praise your older child for demonstrating these positive behaviors.

Are you the parent of an only child? If so, do you often feel pressured to have another child? How do you make sure that your child doesn’t feel deprived by the lack of a sibling?

Photo credit: jade via morgueFile

Posted in: Parenting
Dana Hinders

Dana Hinders lives in Iowa with her husband and son. She has been a freelance writer since shortly after earning her degree in journalism from The University of Iowa in 2003. She writes extensively about parenting, crafts, and creative ways to save money. Visit her at

Read more posts by


  • Catherine McCaffery

    I’m a single mother by choice of an only child, and she will stay that way. I often get asked when I will have another one but my finances and myself won’t stretch that far. She goes to daycare with two other children in a home so I feel she will get plenty of socialization and sharing practice. The reminder not to push her to be more grown up is a great one.

  • Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks

    Societal pressures to have children started the day I got married. It’s obnoxious and intrusive and rude to ask couples when they’re having kids (let alone more kids). I started telling people we weren’t sure we wanted children and they backed off. =) Now that we have a 2-year old, people often do ask if we’re going to have more. When I respond that we will not have any more biological children, I am often faced with disappointing looks (from people well beyond the reaches of our family), but that’s on them, not us. We are comfortable with the decisions we are making and why we’re making them. Our son is in daycare full-time at a local facility. He hangs out with 17 friends on a daily basis in addition to playdates we set up with friends on the weekends. I have no doubt he gets plenty of social interaction and will continue to do so as he gets older.