Making the decision to stop at one child is not an easy one to make. Even years after you've made a no-turning-back-now choice like a vasectomy or tube tying, you're bound to stumble every now and then again on something that makes you ask yourself "Did I make the right choice? Is my only child going to have a harder life because I didn't give her siblings?"
It doesn't exactly help that everyone and their grandma has an opinion on only children. Not sure if you made the right choice -- or still debating? This might help! We looked at what the scientists -- not your nosy neighbor -- have to say about only children!
1. They're happier. Plenty of kids love their siblings, but not all! In fact, scientists at the Institute for Social and Economic Research found that sibling rivalry makes for unhappy kids! In their study, more than half of kids with siblings reported being victims of bullying ... from their own brother or sister! Not so for only children, who the researchers say were happier because of more pleasant home lives.
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2. They struggle in kindergarten. Well, struggle socially anyway! When Ohio State researchers looked at how kindergartners make friends, they found that those without siblings were consistently rated as having "poorer" social skils than their peers.
3. They're more likely to divorce. Growing up without siblings may give you more time to study your parents' marriage, but that doesn't mean you'll be better at it. Ohio State researchers found that having siblings reduces your risk of divorce. In fact, each additional sibling (up to seven) reduces the likelihood you'll divorce by as much as 2 percent!
4. They could be criminals. When researchers in Finland looked at criminal patterns, they found the risk for violent crimes later in life was elevated among the only children, especially if they were male! There was no bigger risk, however, for non-violent offenses.
5. They get higher grades. Worried your only child won't do well in school? Stop worrying! According to a study published in the American Sociological Review, siblings actually hurt a child academically. In fact, the more siblings a child has, the harder it is for them to make good grades. Say researchers, "As family size increases, parents talk less to each child about school, have lower educational expectations, save less for college, and have fewer educational materials available."
6. They're not lonely at all. So #3 might have been troubling, but have no fear! By fifth grade, researchers find that onlies' social skills have developed so well that they're on par with their peers when it comes to finding friends.
7. They're depressed teenagers. OK, not all of them. But studies have found that having a sister (although not necessarily a brother) can protect adolescents from feeling "lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious and fearful."
8. They're typically nicer than their peers. Thought your only was bound to be a brat? Actually social psychologist Susan Newman, an expert in only children, says the lack of siblings makes onlies more inclined to WANT to be included, and thus they're more willing to go with the flow than their peers.
Which one of these is true for your child?
Image by Jeanne Sager