Question: When my husband and I got married, we dreamed of having two or three children in our family.
But having a family did not come easily to us. After many years of fertility treatments, we finally had a wonderful baby boy, who is now 5.
We tried for the past several years to have a second child, but all attempts have failed.
Even though we wish our son had a sibling or two, we have come to terms with the fact that he will be an only child.
Any advice to parents raising an only child who didn’t plan on it? We want to make sure he has a full, well-rounded childhood, one without siblings.
Answer: Thanks for the good question.
Let’s try to put any fears you might have aside.
Only children do extremely well in life. Yes, they are little adults by age 7 or 8. They tend to have a perfectionistic streak. They love the company of adults. And yes, sometimes they have difficulty with kids their own age.
But they have difficulty with children their own age because most only children tend to be mature for their age.
You may not be surprised to find that your little one enjoys the company of children a year or two older than him.
The general school of thought is only children need some extra playtime with children their own age. Although that’s a good idea, just keep in mind that if your child is a typical only child, one of the things he is going to do extremely well in life is play by himself.
Other pluses are that only children tend to be self-starters. They tend to be thorough in whatever endeavor they find themselves in.
The interesting thing about only children is when they become parents themselves and they have multiple children, they are forever scratching their head and thinking, “Why can’t everybody get along? Why do kids fight? Why do they fight over such petty things?”
That’s foreign to them because only children are very much a part of the triangle made up of of mom and dad and themselves.
So don’t hyperventilate. Don’t freak out. Just enjoy your fastidious, perfectionistic, mature little guy.
And just make sure that he doesn’t get to a point where he is calling the shots in life. Because that can happen.
Remember, he is going to pick your nursing home someday.
Dr. Kevin Leman is a Tucson psychologist and author of more than 30 best-selling books, including “Have a New Kid by Friday.” E-mail questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo by Tom Spitz Photography.