8 Surprising Scientific Facts About Only Children​​

number oneMaking 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.

More From The Stir: 20 Completely Unselfish Reasons Moms Stop at One Child

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

sibling rilvary, family


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Wyatt... WyattsMom772

Not all parents have one child by choice.  I have one child and could not have another.  He is well loved and is my world.. I am sure he will be a great member of society one day.

lulab... lulabellalula

This is such a bunch of crock. lol. i was born an only child, i didn't become a criminal, i had teenage angst not unlike every other teenager in the world. I also had horrible grades...i just didn't pay attention in school..too busy making friends & having fun!! AND i'm ASIAN! so how's THAT for your typical Asian stereotype! 

My son is an only child, we don't plan on having another & he is very popular in his preschool. this is so stupid. 

Katriena Young

I'm an only child and none of these are true in my case. I hated school and sucked at it. I'm a people person, always helpling other.

Freela Freela

I am on only child... some of these are true of me, some not.  I wouldn't say I had a happy homelife... being an only child doesn't protect you from parents with drinking problems, parents with anger management problems, etc.  Trust me on that!  I'm not divorced.  Not a criminal.  I did get high grades.  I'm not lonely as an adult, but I do worry about being the only one who my parents can rely on when they're old and having no one to help me with that, and I do have 'substitute sibs' in some of my cousins, which a lot of onlies don't have.  I was a depressed teenager and a depressed adult.  And I think the last item speaks more to 'going with the flow' and being a bit of pushover than being nice... and yes, I am a bit of pushover (though I try to be assertive and would attribute that trait more to having an absurdly angry mom than to being an only child.  It's easy to learn to go with the flow when not going with the flow will get your butt kicked.)

colts14 colts14

I've found # 1, 5 and 8 to be true of my only.

nonmember avatar elsa

This is not rubbish. This is research. Anecdotal evidence (your personal stories) does not refute evidence from large-scale studies.

That being said, there are always exceptions.

Personally, I am pretty sure I would have been much happier without siblings. I would have gotten more attention from my family, wouldn't have had to deal with somebody messing up all my things all the time, and I would not to this day have recurring nightmares of one of my half-siblings stalking and harassing me.

cuauh... cuauhtemocsmom

As mother to an only child this just adds to my worry. But thanks for sharing

alexw... alexwsmom

lulabellalula - that is hysterical!!! Thanks for the giggles!

Heather Capra

What a contradictory line of "facts" The are more likely to be criminals but also more likely to be nicer? Um...???? So a well-mannered but less-ethical person is the result? ha ha ok. 

1RedH... 1RedHottMama

My husband of 15 years is not only an only child but an only grandchild as well. He is nothing like any only child I have ever met. I am the oldest of eight children and met my husband through the oldest of my brothers and I have always teased him that he married me just for my brothers.

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