11 Myths About Only Children

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one If I had a nickel for every time someone told me that my child was doomed because I haven't given her siblings, I'd probably have enough money to adopt at least a dozen more kids. The number of only children in America is on the rise, due in no small part to the fact that it now costs $295,560 to raise a kid to their 18th birthday. But the fact that there are more onlies out there hasn't stopped the myths.

Stereotypes of what it means to grow up without siblings abound, and with an 8-year-old daughter who is brother- and sister-free, I have heard them all. And every single blasted one leaves me sputtering.

Let's just say that if you believe ANYTHING on this list, it's time for you to get educated about onlies!

1. They can't make friends. Actually, a study of middle and high schoolers presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2010 found that children without siblings are just as likely to be selected as friends by their classmates as those who grew up with brothers and sisters.

2. They're miserable. Scientists at the Institute for Social and Economic Research shot this one in the foot in 2010. One of their chief bits of evidence? Kids with siblings cited myriad problems with them. Over half of the children surveyed said they had been bullied by a sibling, and one in three said they had been hit, kicked, or pushed on regular occasions. Others complained of name-calling and having their belongings stolen.

More From The Stir: 15 Classic Sayings Moms of Only Kids Never Get to Say

3. They're spoiled. Do I really need a study to say this isn't true? Just look around you at the excess that is the average American child's playroom or bedroom these days. This is not a problem singular to single child households. Also of note? The number of only child families in America rose during the Great Depression ... because parents couldn't AFFORD more kids. So much for that spoiling 'em theory.

4. They're self-centered. Studies of selfishness in kids have shown it has less to do with siblings (or lack thereof) and more to do with the development of the brain over the years. Turns out MOST young kids are selfish, not just onlies.

5. They're accidents. This is one of the rudest myths out there, and one I can debunk pretty easily. My husband and I actively tried for a baby for six months. Just saying.

6. Their parents don't love them. This one goes hand-in-hand with the accident theory. There's an assumption that parents who stop at one are unhappy to be parents at all. This isn't just nonsense (check out the 20 unselfish reasons parents have stopped at one), it's rather ironic consider the next myth.

7. Their parents hover. While there is evidence to prove a benefit of the one-on-one time that it's easier for parents of an only child to bestow on their kids, the helicopter parenting trend is so much bigger than the 1 in 5 families with one kid.

8. They need imaginary friends to keep them company. Studies show 65 percent of ALL kids make up imaginary friends to keep them company (I have a brother, and I'm one of them), and there's no indication that more of them are onlies.

9. They're bossy. My only child is, indeed, a little bossy. But then so is her mother ... a sister of a brother. My husband, on the other hand, is also an only child, and he's extremely passive. Pretty conclusive, I'd say, but you can also consider this: studies have found that the personalities of onlies are "indistinguishable" from their peers'.

10. They mature too quickly. I have heard this one quite a few times from people concerned that my daughter spends much of her time with adults rather than kids her age. Anecdotally, many of the parents of onlines who I've spoken with say the opposite -- because there is no older sibling to introduce them to age inappropriate concepts, they've warned me my daughter could mature more SLOWLY!

11. They can't succeed without their parents. Chelsea Clinton, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Condoleezza Rice, and Frank Sinatra would also disagree with you on that one. Yes, they were all onlies.

What only child myth drives you up the wall?


Image by Jeanne Sager

sibling rilvary


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cleig... cleigh717

I think some of these of these myths r true. All of them were subjective and based on THE AUTHORS personal experience. My husband, I love him, but he prefers to be alone to relax (he won't say it but I observe him) and he's not introvert and an only. I am the youngest and i find that my sister introduced me to a lot I shouldn't have known yet. She was almost 5 yrs older. I do think onlies r self centered but aren't selfish ppl in general. Those r two different things and being self centered doesn't make u selfish. I think parents steer the ship when it comes to who their children will be and how they will be like. Most kids r somewhere in the middle between carbon copies of their parents and completely the opposite of them.

ashjo85 ashjo85

I didn't want an only child because I didn't want one child in that generation who would have to, alone, deal with deaths of us as parents, and so they'd have a companion, not just now but later in life when they are starting their families. No siblings, no cousins later!

That said, those aren't deal breakers for anyone. It just factored into my desire to have more than one. There are too many people on this planet as it is. If you wanted one, and stopped at one, good for you.

nonmember avatar Wyatt's Mom

Cleigh171.. That is crazy assumption that any of this is true. Children, whether raised with or without sublings, typically engage life similiar to their parents. I have a one son. Not because I chose it, because I couldnt have more. He is fabulous, he is not spoiled or self centered. He is a child. Show me a child who is not selfish or self centered.


I'd say all of these could also be said about those with sibs.

nonmember avatar MammaMel

100% agree with this list!!! Hey...he could be FDR or Ol' Blue Eyes??? HELLLL YESSSS!!! My son is one of the most caring kids I have ever known...and makes friends VERY well thank you very much :)

hello... hellokd87

I'm an only & I don't believe everything on this list. Spoiled? Maybe. Growing up I did great in school so I was rewarded for my hard work. I didn't get for nothing. I don't have many friends, but that's because I don't know many people with the same common interests. I wasn't lonely growing up, I kept myself occupied & that imagination blossomed into writing fiction talent.

nonmember avatar Samantha R.

Eh, I'm one of four and have problems making friends. I prefer being alone and honestly I'm pretty bossy.
My daughter however is an only child and is far from any of those. But I will admit that I do hover only because the kids the tends to want to play with are too rough with her.

nonmember avatar Mamaof3

I was an only child, and I agree and disagree. It depends on how the parent(s) raises the child. I was spoiled because my parents chose to spoil me. I was miserable sometimes because I wanted a companion. My friends and parents were not always able to play, so it would have been nice to have a sibling. When my mother past away when I was 14, it would have been nice to have a brother or sister to help through that. I now have 3 children, and I enjoy watching them play together, and be best friends. Also, don't believe the lie that children cost that much to raise. Diapers are expensive yes, but everything does not have to be new, it is free to nurse, and there are other ways to cut corners, so you don't have to spend that much.

Shannon Lockwood

My two children are 19 years apart- does that mean that each of my children is essentially an "only"?

Ashan... AshandJax

I'm an only child and I do agree with a lot of them.

I am still learning how to share, lol.

I have to say, though I wasn't really spoiled materially, however, I was defiantly spoiled emotionally. I wasn't miserable by no means, however, there were times when I thought I wanted a sib to talk to.... Then I just look at some of my friends relationships with their sibs and feel greatfull I had my privacy.

Oh, and it took my parents 9 years of being together to have me. I think I might be wanted :)

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