Kids With Siblings Are Just as Lonely as Only Children (VIDEO)

Rant 10

playdateHow many times have you looked at the Mom or Dad of an only child and told them, "Oh, she must be lonely"? Come on, admit it. I'm one and done over here, and I know I've heard it enough times!

But as I watched the latest episode of Mya and Her Moms this week, I wanted to stand up and start punching my fist in the air. Only child Mya was having a playdate with a little girl who has three siblings. One of the things the girls have in common? They're both a little lonely.

Got that y'all? Loneliness is not an only child problem!

I know, I know, "lonely only child" sounds so good. It even rhymes!

But I am parenting an only child, and I grew up in a two-kid family. I've seen both sides, and trust me, my daughter isn't nearly as lonely as I was as a kid (yes, I'm neurotic enough to ask ... frequently). 

Like Mya's moms, we plan frequent playdates. Plus we have a steady flurry of young babysitters who play with her and adult friends and family who lavish her with attention. She also has a dog and two cats to keep her company. It isn't that she's never alone, but living in a house without other kids doesn't mean she has no socialization.

Living in a house with other kids, on the other hand, doesn't mean you have someone to play with. My brother is five years younger than me. At some stages we were able to play together, but we spent much of our childhoods at distinctly different developmental levels. We just couldn't relate, and we lived on a backroad with no neighbors to provide alternate entertainment. Loneliness was a state of being for me as a kid.

Even in homes where the siblings are closer in age, the fact is, not all siblings get along. As one sister told me recently of her (much closer in age) sister, "I love my sister, but I don't really like her. I wouldn't pick her as a friend."

So let's just put this myth to rest, huh? Kids can be lonely in houses with siblings, or without ... and their parents can do a world of good on either end. Just check out how they deal with it in Mya's house!

What do you do when your child is feeling lonely?


For more peeks into the real lives of real families, subscribe to CafeMom Studios' YouTube Channel.


Image via CafeMomStudios/YouTube

mya and her moms, sibling rilvary


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Flori... Floridamom96

No, they aren't, and it's not a big deal. No matter how many children you have each number brings unique challenges for the parents and the children. You don't have to be just like me and I don't have to be just like you. You don't need anyone's approval for how you choose to live your life. You have only one kid and I have only four. The challenges we each face will not be the same and that's okay.

LoveM... LoveMyViolet

I also have a brother that is 5 years younger than me and I've come to the conclusion that if you are going to have only 2 children, this is the perfect age difference. 

1. You allow enough time for one child to start school and the other to be in daycare (if both parents are working). There is no way I could afford to have 2 kids in daycare.

2. Each child gets a sibling but gets to be their own person. I didn't have a pesky little brother when I was in high school and he didn't have a bossy older sister. We each had our own high school experiences.

3. I was old enough (at a certain point) to watch my younger brother when my parents went out. Built in babysitter!

4. When you are older, 5 years doesn't seem like that much of a difference. I get along famously with my little brother and I have someone to help take care of my parents when the time comes.

CPN322 CPN322

I have 4 siblings between my 4 parents and I was NEVER lonely(my siblings closest in age is 5 years younger then me). My mother and close friend, however, were only children and were VERY lonely. I don't think that has to completely do with being an only child(my mother grew up on a farm so her closest neighbors weren't so close) as I can totally see how a child with siblings much older or younger than themselves would feel lonely. I agree with floridamom96, there is nothing wrong with you having 1 child and her having 4. It almost seems like you are trying to justify your choice to stick with the one when really it is noones business. From your articles, I'd be willing to bet your child is very happy and has friends so why would she be lonely? It's just that she doesn't have a built in friend(sibling) but there is nothing wrong with that.

the4m... the4mutts

I guarantee my kids all prefer to have siblings. They've said so frequently. When one gets a mommy & me day, they miss their 3 siblings sooo much! They're always glad to come home to our chaotic house. They get bored sometimes, but never, ever lonely.

I'm glad your daughter isn't lonely or whatever, but my kids have something in their DNA that makes them "sibling" material.

My oldest son was an absolute HORROR until he was 3, and his sister was born. Boom! 180degree turn around. Damn near perfect kid. Perfect big brother too. With each new addition, my kids became happier. When the 4th came along, I knew, and the kids knew, and everyone agreed that our family was perfect for us.

If 0, or 1,or 10 is perfect for another family, then great for them! Whatever makes them happy. But 4, is nothing like 1. The challenges aren't better or worse, but they're nowhere near the same. And in our home, loneliness is never an issue.

nonmember avatar Rachel

This post feels far more defensive than factual. As children, why wouldn't siblings close in age play together? My older siblings played together all the time when they were children. I, on the other hand, was born over a decade later than them. My brother still played with me when he was around, but when he wasn't, I was horribly lonely. So while I'm aware there are children with siblings who are also lonely, it's probably the exception and not the rule. With that said, I'm like you, Jeanne - one and done. There are definitely ways to conquer loneliness that don't involve having another child.

Pinkmani Pinkmani

I'm 3 years older than my brother and we never talk. I think when I was around 13 (he was 10) I said to him, "I think it's clear that we're never going to be close". He agreed, and we have no problem with it. He always had friends his age live in our neighborhood and I had no one. So, I played alone or met up with my friends. Lonely childhood? Absolutely.

nonmember avatar Medie

I agree with the article. I have two sisters. One older by 8 years and the younger less than 2 years apart from me. I've never played or hung out with them especially my younger sister. You can't pick your family and sometimes you just don't get along or like them. I love my younger sister but I really don't like her. We're mutually indifferent to each other.

zandh... zandhmom2

Maybe in some family but certainly not in mine.  I have an older sister (3 years) and a twin sister (thank God not identical) and a younger brother (4 years) and we are all "thisclose".  My two sisters and I hang out today everyday through our teenageyears even sharing many of the same friends all through jr and high school.  To this day, we all speak to each other at least once a week (including our Mom as well) and sometimes my twin & I will talk 3 to 4 times a week.  My twin sister is my best friend in the whole world and she feels the same way about me...I couldn't image not having her! Our sibling bond has always been so close among us 4 and I don't think anything could ever change that.  I'm so blessed!

Disney17 Disney17

I had four siblings and was never lonely.

Susan Newman

As the author of a blog called Singletons for Pyschology Today, I applauded the factual (and documented) points Jeanne makes. You can be lonely in a sea of siblings as many told me when I was researching only children. The amount of sibling rivalry and tensions between siblings just adds to the often "lonely factor."

1-10 of 10 comments