41 answers

Only Children Lonely?

My son is 3.5 and my husband and I are wrestling with the idea of having #2. We'd like #2 ... in theory. But the reality is scary for various reasons I won't go into. My question is this - do only children grow up wierd? lol. or sad? or lonely? what about when teh parents die? they'll be all alone....

what do you think?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

My DD is an only and she does get lonely. Not sad really, but lonely.
Another child is not going to happen for us, but I do worry about her being all by herself when she is an adult. She is not growing up with any of her cousins (they live too far away), so it will be up to her to create a family of friends for herself - or strengthen her relationships with her cousins...

I don't think she will grow up "weird", but her challenges will be different than those faced by kids with sibs. There are a lot of pros and cons for both only kids and sibs... I don't think there is a one size fits all answer.

6 moms found this helpful

lonely yes, weird no. I am 1 of 4. My husband 1 of 2. I have 3 kids. My best friend is a single child, had a single child with no husband. Her daughter is completely fine. Mine, well thats another story. Dont worry about it, an only child grows up fine.

3 moms found this helpful

Yes, all of my daughter's alone friends are lonely. Their parents race them from activity to activity to keep to keep them busy, because otherwise all they do is harass mommy.

With that said, this isn't a reason to have another child.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

When someone says something about only children being this or that, I always remind them that I know just as many selfish, annoying or anything-else-strange from multiple-sibling families as I do "only kids with problems".

It's not the number of children, it's the parenting. It's the opportunities the parents offer, the amount of time the parent is willing to spend with the child, and if the parent spoils the child (because of guilt, because they're the apple of mommy and daddy's eye, because they don't want to actually engage--- endless reasons). Parents who have larger families and aren't tuned into their kids run just as much risk of having children who grow into adults with emotional problems as a single child with disconnected parents does.

My son is an only. We didn't have only one to spite him. :) We knew, honestly, how much we had to give: of our energy, our selves, our finances. If we wanted more kids, I'd have to go back to work. We try to live what we value. He gets a LOT of us. He gets great time with friends and peers (not just at school) and he gets a lot of love and special one on one time with us. He doesn't have a brother or sister to play with-- that's true-- and he also doesn't have the sibling bickering, sharing space, sharing the parents' affection and all the other insecurities that go with having multiple children. He knows how to share because it's been taught from an early age. Because we model what we want to see from him.

As for 'what about the parents dying? they'll be all alone..." -- well, we are raising our son to be a loving person, capable of forging relationships in this world all on his own. Being a person who has really had to start over in some aspects of my life, I'll say this: we choose to love, to seek others-- or not. As long as I am doing my best to create a stable and loving home for our son, I cannot also be responsible for his choices he makes when he's an adult. Even in a perfect world, even if I do every single thing right as a parent, I cannot control this. This is where we, as parents, have to let go and realize that our children are indeed their own persons. We lay the foundation for their future, true, but they must choose to build on that foundation in good ways-- we can't do it for them.

26 moms found this helpful

I was an only child. I am not weird. I'm not sad, nor was I when I was young. I had lots of friends and still do, so I've never been lonely. I have two kids, a few nieces and nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, ex-inlaws that I still love, and a great significant other. My parents died in 2004 and 2006 and I'm still here along with everybody else.... not alone at all.

On the plus side, when my parents were sick and then passed away, I didn't have to argue with anybody or fight over things. It was all mine. A good friend of mine got into a fistfight with her sister when her mother died. Siblings aren't always all that great.

Your son will be fine with or without siblings. Do what feels right for you and don't worry about it.

14 moms found this helpful

I was one of four and I was often lonely. Having siblings is not a remedy for possible loneliness. My 10 year-old is not lonely, certainly not weird, and not sad any more than any child is.

And when we die, how we die, and what happens to our children after we die is not something we can control. That's just an aspect of life we have to accept.

12 moms found this helpful

It's a bunch of BS. It is what you make it.

Our daughter ( only by choice) will be 18 next month. She's never lacked friends, drive or ambition. Her environment is motivation, self driven and personal responsibility. She's a black belt ( 7 yrs of dedication) accomplished violinist (5 yrs hard work), cheerleading ( 5 yrs) current Varsity captain. College of her choice thanks to her drive, excellent grades ( AP courses) and parents who believe its our responsibility to get her out of college debt free.

You can't guarantee that siblings will get along.

Our daughter is set up financially so that when we age and pass she has no burden because we've been responsible for ourselves through retirement and so on.

We love our family as we are, no loneliness. Good grief we have functions every night with a senior on high school, cheering, high school sports. Same when she was younger... We've always had a full schedule and thrive on making positive changes for ourselves.

Is she spoiled? Many would say yes. She says " I am we'll taken care of". She's appreciative, she works with our family business and babysits every weekend.

It is what you make it. If you were to ask her if she felt like she missed out on a sibling... She'd say no way.

Our house is full of teens and has been for years. They love coming here to get away from siblings, etc and be in a safe place to enjoy being a teen. My house has never lacked children being in it and I love that but having an only who is not lonely is perfect for our family.

10 moms found this helpful

There are LOTS of reasons to have a second child.
Believing your first child will be lonely, or weird, or sad aren't any of them.

We know one is right for us. And, by the way, our household PACKED with kids every week. For some reason (go figure) other kids feel welcome, and comfortable here. Lots of times "the gang" is getting away from THEIR sibs! Lol.

My kid has TONS of friends, so being an only hasn't impacted his social interactions any.

CAN an "only" be weird? Or sad? Or lonely?
Sure...I guess.
But not because they have no sibs.

Good luck!

10 moms found this helpful

My husband is an only child.
He loves it.
Our son is an only child and he's a a popular kid.
We can't go out anywhere without kids saying 'Hi' to him all over town.
I have a younger sister and we are not compatible.
We fought until we moved away from home and we still don't get along 50 year later.
It was torture growing up with her.
Kids grow up, get married and have families of their own.
They are not attached to their parents all the time their whole lives.

10 moms found this helpful

Do not have a child for your child. If you want a 2nd for you, then go for it. My 5 year old son is an only and seems pretty happy. I have a younger sister and we were never close and never got along. Every child and every family is different.

ADD: my mother has 3 brothers. Her parents have both passed, her mother last year. I think only 1 of them is talking to her because of how she behaved over the years. So siblings don't guarantee relationship.

ADD2: I'm weird, but I'm not an only ;)

9 moms found this helpful

Not wanting your kid to be alone is a terrible reason to have another child.
Doesn't s/he have cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents?
Friends in school to play with and have sleep overs with so they are not lonely?

If you want a second kid for some reason, then go for it, but to be considering it just to keep the one you have company seems dumb to me.

We have a only child and she is sociable, happy, cheerful, friendly, well adjusted, and has lots of friends and family.

I have a brother and we haven't talked in years, can't stand each other. I have met his kids one time. My husband has 2 siblings and is only close with one of them.
Siblings are NOT necessarily friends...

9 moms found this helpful

If you ask my son who is an only child... LIFE IS GREAT... and whenever I have ever asked, do you want a sibling. .his reply, "I told you I want to remain single." ....
Is my child weird or sad... NOPE. not in the least.. he is loving life and all the attention. He's good-hearted and very sweet..

Also keep in mind, just because people have siblings, doesn't mean they end up being close. There are seven of us total (two have passed) and no one is really in touch with one another.. I also know other siblings who have big families and none of them are close... so if your thinking is will the only child be lonely without other family.. I think it depends on the person.. However, I too once had your same concerns but since having a second child didn't happen.. I have accepted that if things continue in my child's life as they have, meaning... he seems to attract nice and caring people into his life, my hopes are that he will be ok..

good luck in whatever you decide..

7 moms found this helpful

I'm an only. I think I turned out OK. I was never lonely as a child. As an adult, I rarely wish I had a sibling but more than not I still like being an only.

7 moms found this helpful

There's no guarantee that siblings will get along or maintain a relationship in adulthood.

7 moms found this helpful

My daughter is an only child and she has never lacked for companionship.

I have a sister that I love dearly but really don't have enough in common with beyond the gene pool to spend time just hanging with.

When my ex's dad died, he and his brothers were in three different states and he was the only one who was even on speaking terms with their dad.

As for taking care of parents, I don't expect my daughter to take care of me when I am old, nor do I plan to go into a nursing home, and have the state seize my house when I die. I will live MY life in MY house until such time as I can no longer adequately care for myself, at which time I will end MY life at a time and in a manner of MY choosing, and leave MY house to my daughter to do with as she pleases.

6 moms found this helpful

My DD is an only and she does get lonely. Not sad really, but lonely.
Another child is not going to happen for us, but I do worry about her being all by herself when she is an adult. She is not growing up with any of her cousins (they live too far away), so it will be up to her to create a family of friends for herself - or strengthen her relationships with her cousins...

I don't think she will grow up "weird", but her challenges will be different than those faced by kids with sibs. There are a lot of pros and cons for both only kids and sibs... I don't think there is a one size fits all answer.

6 moms found this helpful

So many wonderful points already made about only children,

They will grow up wierd, sad or lonely because of the parenting and lack of opportunities you provide him.

My 19 year old daughter (only one by choice and she came to me under emergency adoption) is truly the most happy, appreciative, involved and smart young lady I know. When she was in sports or activities, we always had the friends and extra kids. Our home is where the kids feel comfortable. She is well traveled, mature, hard woking, independent, loves her family and is the least selfish person I know.

My daughter always kind of laughed when people asked if she wanted a sibling. She would always respond with "I love my life". Why would she want to dilute a good thing?? I'm also of the belief that many financial responsinilities fall to me as the parent, I know I am in the minority here from many previous questions.

6 moms found this helpful

I have many siblings, and I am only semi close to one. I will not seek their support when my folks die. I have friends who are family, and they are my support system. There is no real reason for my siblings and I to not be close, other then we are just completely different people. We were not close as children, despite my parents best efforts.

With all that said, I know many only children who are happy and totally adjusted. I know many people with siblings who are not. I know people with siblings who still do not speak to their others, even when their parents die. My own father has brothers. My grandmother is ailing. You know who is taking care of her? Him and ONLY him. He gets no support from them, and he won't when she dies. There is NO way to know how children will relate to each other. No way to know if they will like each other. No way to know if they will ever be there for each other. I think it's very short sighted to procreated just to keep a child from being an only. If in reality, it's not good for you to have another child, shouldn't a child be brought into the world for only GOOD reasons? Not just to create a sibling.

I have an only, and I am so not worried about him. We are surrounded with so much love and support from friends...who are REALLY family. His life will be full, and he can choose his family. My family are strangers to me. My REAL family, are people I chose.

6 moms found this helpful

We only have one son right now and I am an only child. I am not an only child by choice, it was due to my parents having several miscarriages. I myself have had to deal with fertility issues so my son right now is not an only child by choice. I have learned that I am blessed to have one child, very happy, healthy, well adjusted child. We have involved our son in sports, boy scouts, church, and other social activities. He was also in daycare/preschool prior to school. He appears to be pretty well adjusted in school and has not had any difficulty in socializing. Only children can be well adjusted individuals with the right guidance just like a family with one or many siblings.

5 moms found this helpful

You should NOT have a child because you think your current child will be loney.

Here's some of my experiences.....

My mother was an only child. She was very lonely growing up, but then she grew up in a very small town in a rural area so no one close enough to play with. She didn't want to have only one child. After I was born, she was unable to have children so they adopted and my parents divorced soon after. My brother and I were never close. He became an alcholic and a drug user. I haven't talked to him in over 15 years. My mother is deceased and I miss her terribly. However, I have my husband, children, inlaws, and friends, so I'm not alone.

My daughter has a friend who is an only child. IMO she's wierd. It's also my opinion that she's that way because her mother tries to be her best friend, not her parent.

I've been married 20 years, but way back when I dated a guy who was an only child. He was very well educated, financially stable, and had several friends. Not weird or lonely at all. (fyi.. broke up because the chemistry just wasn't there)

My point is you never know how things are going to work out.

5 moms found this helpful

please don't make your firstborn the excuse for you to have another baby. research it. listen to the moms here. realize that having another baby is YOUR decision because you WANT it. nothing else. don't try to dress it up or glamorize it or justify it. especially don't put it on your child.

4 moms found this helpful

My BFF is an only and she is WAY more popular, successful and connected than I am!
I have three siblings, two of them are complete deadbeats who have taken more from me mentally, emotionally and financially than I care to admit. The other one I am close to, but it's a strain nonetheless.
Have a child because YOU want to have a child, not because you think it will be "good" for your son.
They may be best friends, or end up like strangers.
It's really about what you and your husband want, in the end.

4 moms found this helpful

There really isn't any way to know how a sibling will work out, especially once the kids are grown. However, I would only have another child if it's something both YOU AND HUBBY want - NOT because you think your son needs a sibling. The whole "lonely only" thing is a myth and it's already been proven to not hold any water. Our daughter is essentially an only child (DH's 2 sons from his first marriage live out of state with their mom and are already 18 and 19) and there is nothing weird or sad about her. She has plenty of friends and other kids to play with at school and at home she has us all to herself. We can do more for her, both financially and time-wise, because she is our only child.

I have thought about the fact that as an adult, she will have to deal with us by herself, but there is no guarantee that any siblings will step up to the plate either. Siblings don't always grow up to be close and be best friends. I know many friends whose siblings have proven to be just the opposite as adults - either just indifferent at best, and in some cases, downright toxic. It something happened to us now, my cousin and her husband would have guardianship, and their kids would become like her siblings - so she really wouldn't be "alone". And as an adult, she will forge her own relationships with others, regardless if we are around or not.

Have another child because it's what you want for you - not because you think it would be the "best thing" for your son.

4 moms found this helpful

Hello Bumblebee,

I know your question comes from a good place so I will do my best to direct my tone from an equally good place. There aren't very many details in your post and that is totally okay but I am flying a little blind here so please forgive me if this sounds harsh; it is coming only from my personal experience.

My mother has stated, unequivocally, that the reason they had me was to "provide a sibling" for my older brother. I can't tell you the resentment that causes for me and how painful that resentment can become at times.

I am sure that you, like all of us, when planning our families have more than several variables that we consider and, with all due respect to your process, the potential that your only will grow up "wierd" seems to diminish him as a person and as a part of your already established family.

My father was an only child and he led a very full life. When my grandparents passed he managed the estate resolutions and his grief with the support of his family and his friends. I have an only child (son 11 yrs) and he seems to be thriving with the three of us working as a team. Granted, we have to compensate to a degree to encourage him to pursue friendships with peers and cousins but that has never been a challenge for him. What it translates into is lots of play dates and sleepovers with friends, something he excells at.

I hope I haven't expressed myself in any negative way but in a way that is helpful and instructive. These are very personal decisions and I can only speak from my experience.

Best of luck!! S.

3 moms found this helpful

lonely yes, weird no. I am 1 of 4. My husband 1 of 2. I have 3 kids. My best friend is a single child, had a single child with no husband. Her daughter is completely fine. Mine, well thats another story. Dont worry about it, an only child grows up fine.

3 moms found this helpful

My mom was an only child and so I am and I don't think we grew up lonely or weird. I have two kids 6 yrs apart and I'm thankful for them, I wonder what it would have been like to only have 1 child. Don't have another child just because you think your first child needs a playmate.


3 moms found this helpful

I have one and feel guilty about not having another - but not guilty enough to actually do it! We struggle with work, time and responsibility with just one - I can't image how much harder it would be with another. But I do still long for an infant - but not a toddler!!!!

If you want your child to have a playmate, then arrange a play date - don't have another baby.

Let's face it - there are lots of weird people in this world - most are NOT only children.

3 moms found this helpful

Yes, all of my daughter's alone friends are lonely. Their parents race them from activity to activity to keep to keep them busy, because otherwise all they do is harass mommy.

With that said, this isn't a reason to have another child.

2 moms found this helpful

Just a thought but if those reasons you resisting would make for catastrophic changes in your family dynamics I would be happy with what I had! He will be fine with a mom and dad who love him and are not dealing with enormous stress that another reality could bring. I have a friend that felt they had to have another child. He is a blessing but with cp he really changed their family.

2 moms found this helpful

No they won't be lonely as long as their parents teach them not to be. They can have lot of friends but it will be the parents job to teach them how to socialize, make good friends, maintain those friendships. They can get self centered but parents can make sure they don't.
I know only kids who are having an amazing life with loads of cousins , friends and a right attitude about life. I don't think they feel sad about not having a sibling.
I also had a friend who was a loner, socially awkward. She had brother 2 or 3 years younger who was a loner as well. I remember as kids they hardly got along well with each other. Now they are older but still not very close. Their personalities now reflect their upbringing because their parents never socialized much.
So your kid will be what you teach him to be :) Having a sibling would be great, but even without one they definitely don't have to grow up lonely or weird.

2 moms found this helpful

My DD is not truly an only, as she has much older siblings. However, she will largely be on her own as she grows up. I do feel sad that she won't have a close aged sibling, but I encourage her to develop relationships with other relatives her age. If I get old and start talking weird for years like my grandfather did, I want my care to not fall just to her. I want her to be able to rely on cousins, aunts, uncles, close friends...I want her to have a community. I drive to other states for little kid parties because I want her to have those foundations. My cousins are some of my best friends because our mothers made our relationships a priority. So if you don't end up having another child, or even if you do, give him a village.

I know a few onlies that are weird - and I think they would have been weird anyway. Most of the onlies I know are pretty normal people. In fact, we routinely get DD together with a friend's son who is an only (he's 6) because he's better behaved than our other friend's child who is not an only, and I think that falls to parenting differences.

1 mom found this helpful

My adult son has a much better life because I only had one child. I can give him the best of life, but I do wish I had given him a younger brother alos.

I disagree that having a second child 'to avoid loneliness' is a bad idea. If thats your idea--its your idea--not good and not bad.

1 mom found this helpful

My MIL is an only child and yes, she is weird and a wee bit on the mean and manipulative side. She never learned how to fight with a sibling and make up so it's her way/idea or no way. She went overboard and decided she hated being an only child growing up and decided to have 12 children which has backfired for her. She plays favorites so bad and gets her feelings hurt wayyyyy too easily. She also holds grudges and won't talk to you if you wronged her (in her opinion). She is difficult to get along with if you try to hold to your own opinion, I've learned since marrying into the family, you just let her be right and never give her a "good idea" cause she'll shoot you down since it wasn't hers. I say go for #2, even if you adopt. Having siblings teaches you a lot of life lessons that you wouldn't normally get IMO.

1 mom found this helpful

In my experience the women who I have spoken to who are only children say they didn't like it. But coincidentally, they also are children of divorce. The only children who are male are very close to their parents (especially the mom) and say it's fine. I think there is more to determining how someone will grow up than just having siblings. The only children I see out (including my son) seem very mature and well behaved.

It sounds like you want another. If so, go ahead. If you decide (various reasons you aren't going into) not to, your existing child will not be scarred by it.

I grew up like an only child because my siblings were so much older. I had a happy childhood. My parents always let me have friends over to the house, and I was allowed to bring a friend with me on vacation etc. I was probably a little more spoiled than my siblings, but I wasn't complaining;) I do really appreciate that I have my siblings now that my parents are gone. My family spends all of the holidays with my brother and his family now.

i was an only child and i always wanted a brother or sister.. however i definatley wasnt lonely, i had tons of cousins my age and lots of neighbors who were right around my age .. i will say though as my parents get older it is a very scary thought and makes me do wish i had a sibling

Many people are only children, and are fine (our friends have one child and he is great and happy). I actually was 7,8,and 9 years younger than my siblings and I was very happy being without them (I actually liked having my parents to myself, and am the closest to them). They did not play with me, since I was so little, so it was not like I had friends at home with me. And now, we are all spread around the country, except my sister is here in LA. I would get along better with my brothers, but they are not here and I never see them. So it never works out perfectly. If you have the time, the energy and the money, and want a second child, do it for yourself. (my children are 18 months apart, now 8 and 10, and they fight a lot, maybe 40% of the time (my daughter often wishes I did not have a second child). I am sure it will be better later, but we never know.

Good luck with you decision

I don't understand why people are telling you that the prospect of loneliness is a bad reason for you to consider having a 2nd child. OBVIOUSLY, that wouldn't be your ONLY criteria, but it's not wrong thinking if it's something that's important to you. Doesn't make sense to me that people would jump on that.

My husband is not an only child but his only sibling is five years older than him and yes, he was lonely as a child, so much so that it affected his personality and caused/contributed to depression that he's still dealing with. Is his experience typical of only children? No, I'm sure it's not, but he would never hear of having just one child.

My best friend is an only child, and she's socially awkward, and easily the most self-centered individual I've ever met in my entire life. Is this typical of only children? No, she was born three months premature and then spent the first four months of her life in NICU, which stunted her emotional development (according to her childhood doctors), which caused her mother to shelter her radically. I also know people who have siblings who are self-centered.

So the answer is some only children are lonely. Some children with siblings are just as lonely. But if it's important to you for your child to have a sibling, by all means, have one!

Have a child because you want one and not to give your child a sibling for the future. The only other reason not to have additional children would be medical.

Yes it is scary being the only child because everything does fall on your shoulders when your parents age. However the flip side to that is being the one that deals with early deaths and living with other relatives. It kind of brings of the Cinderella syndrome when one aunt cares for another niece more. Or seeing how much money they will get for keeping you until you are 21 not pretty.

Anyway, an only can be a blessing in that they are not self-centered and caring or they can be self-centered it is all in how they are raised. A relative put it in a way that made me think and change my ways and became independent and self-reliant. I also had many cousins my age so that made up for not having the siblings.

There are professions that seek only children.

At times you may feel lonely but no more than a child that has siblings that feels alone. We just use our imaginations more and mature at an earlier rate due to being around adults more.

As for being alone without your parents everyone will experience that at some point some of us sooner than others. Just remember the good over the bad times. Hopefully the child will find a spouse/companion to keep them company into their old age.

So do what you feel and know it is the best for your immediate family.

The other S.

I don't think they're weird, sad, lonely or anything else. They grow up to be just fine. However, I do find children that are onlies to be overly indulged and spoiled. But, I'm sure they outgrow that by the time they reach adulthood.
I think the downside is the small family atmosphere, especially at the holidays. I have one brother and he lives in another state. My husband has one brother, and every holiday is spent with his wife's family. Both of our father's have passed. My mom lives out of state. So holidays are just our family of five and my mother-in-law. I hate it. My sister-in-law has a big family and their holiday get togethers sound like so much fun.
And as our parents age, the burden of their care lies on just one child and that can be stressful.
But, you should only have another if you truly want the child and will love the child unconditionally. And there's no rush.

I'm an only child. My next cousin from me is 9 years younger, my other cousin is 27 years younger than me. It didn't bother me when I was younger, you get a lot of attention but I have a very small family.

Now that I'm 45, I hate it. Both my grandparents and my moms only sibling, my uncle, are deceased and have been since 2000. I never knew my dad or his family so my mom is the only one I have left. Once she is gone, I only have my husband and kids. I hate that but its what I've been given.

I would only consider having one child IF they have a ton of cousins around so they still have "family" when they are older and nurture those relationships so they stay close when they are older. Just my opinion. Good luck!

My husband is an only. He is not weird, sad, or lonely--he's got my crazy family now!!

He says he never missed having a sibling growing up. He always had friends/neighbors to play with, and his parents always made sure he was involved--baseball, scouts, band, etc. He was popular in HS, graduated from West Point, and is a very well-adjusted individual.

However, now that he is 36, he does wish he had siblings. His parents are still alive and well, but he does wish he had a brother (or sister) to call now and then. He and my brother are pretty close, but it's just not the same. We have 3 boys of our own and I think that, too, has made him realize what he missed. He loves seeing our boys play together--and his parents do too. I think they may regret it now, but they've never said that.

My daughter is 12 and an only child - she loves it as do my husband and I. If she is lonely she calls up a friend to hang out with. I would not say she is weird, sad or lonely. She is great at entertaining herself. Money wise it is way easier and our life is not as hectic with just one. If you are on the fence about wanting a second hold off - maybe one is just right for you guys or maybe you'll decide that you guys really want another one. Our life seems much less stressful then all our other friends that have multiple children. They key to raising a well adjusted only child is to make sure they have plenty of opportunities to socialize with other kids.

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