One Child vs Siblings {Parenting}

Toddler PlayingAs a mother with only one child I have often wondered what it would be like to have two or more children.

I have encountered many discussions that debate the pros and cons of having more kids and after reading several articles and talking to a few parents there were two particular statements that stood out to me:

Only children are spoiled, selfish and self-centered: You hear this one a lot and the statement is not necessarily true. Some studies actually suggest that only children usually have closer and more affecionate relationships with their parents than children with siblings and bigger families. They can also develop better verbal skills and do better in school as they are read to more often.

Only children can also be  more confident and content as they don’t have to “fight” for their parents attention with other siblings and they don’t have to deal with “sibling bullying”.

Children from larger families easily entertain each other and feel less lonely:  Siblings can play with each other and they have to learn about sharing, empathy and how to resolve conflict.

With an only child the parents are usually the only playmates at home and they have to schedule more play-dates and social meetings than parents with more than one child.

What’s Easier? One Child or Siblings?

At home  it does take a lot of energy to keep our little one entertained all day and I sometimes think that in the future if there was another brother/sister to play with him then they would both keep themselves entertained (less work for us).  Realistically there would probably be arguments to referee and many more new responsibilities (more diapers to change, messes to clean and money to spend) so I think it evens out.

I would love to have one more and it is not out of the question but it is always interesting to see what other parents have to say about this topic.

At the end the decision to have more than one child depends on your own particular situation and desires.  There is no absolute right or wrong decision and there shouldn’t be any pressure either way. Besides, isn’t the grass always greener on the other side of the fence?

What do you think? Do you have an only child/more than one?  Is it harder or easier in some ways to have more than one child?


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Angela V

Founder and Writer at One Smiley Monkey blog
Hi, my name is Angela van Tijn and I live in Vancouver, Canada with my wonderful husband, our two boys and our puppy. I am the founder and primary contributor behind One Smiley Monkey. Welcome to my blog!

44 responses to “One Child vs Siblings {Parenting}”

  1. I have a 4 year old (only child) and I wonder the same thing. When cousins come to play we get a big break! Our daughter hates playing on her own so I get to play with her A LOT every day. I even feel bad about it sometimes and I start thinking about having more….

    • Personality totally plays a big role since some kids are totally happy playing on their own. Thanks for sharing Stacey

  2. For our family it was harder when they were younger as they have a 2 year difference, now that they are 4-5 they play a lot and it is “easier”. We just had baby #3 four months ago and I get to focus on baby while my toddlers play together, they need supervision still of course but they keep themselves entertained

  3. some really great insights here!

  4. I have 2 little boys, ages 2 and 10 months. I actually find it harder to have just my 10 month old when his brother is not around. He is entertained a lot by his brother, they don’t really “play” together yet but my baby loves to watch his big brother and tries to do what he does.

    • I love that your baby loves watching his brother….they really love seeing all the cool things the older siblings are up to 🙂

  5. I have a 10 year old son who is an only child. Over the years he has gone through stages where I felt it would have been easier to have another child for him to play with. There are many benefits to both situations for sure and everyone has to do what they would like for their own family. We have enjoyed being able to travel quite easily, do many activities and provide him with many opportunities that we might not have been able to afford for more than one child.

    • Thanks for the comment Erika! I totally agree when you say that it depends on the situation and your own family.

  6. I have an almost 3 1/2 , 2 1/2 and 1 1/1 year old. Everyone always comments when we are out together {grocery shopping, etc}, at the fact ‘my hands must be full’. Yes they are full and overflowing but it depends what perspective you take on that….
    I absolutely love being a mom and spend 24/7 with my kids. YES, it’s difficult at times but mostly enjoyable. I look at my situation as an amazing gift and blessing to have 3 young children {and counting}. I don’t look at it as walking around in a daze and not enjoying them…as some passersby may believe.
    I feel if you have 1 child or many it’s all in the perspective you have…just do your best and have faith in your abilities. Take one day at a time.
    I think it’s human nature to compare yourself to others but we really shouldn’t have that outlook on life because EVERYONE’S situation and family dynamics are different. No 2 people are the same.

    • Thanks for the insight Sabrina 🙂 Yeah, everyone’s situation s entirely different as no 2 people are the same in fact.

  7. Lots of pros and cons. But generally I think having siblings is more work but better for them.

  8. April 12-I come from a different time and generation where a small family was less than 5 or 6! I had five children myself and would have had more but I suffered from really severe post partum depression for three out of the five so decided to stop there, on the advice of my doctor. I love children, always did and always will. We are a very happy family, for the most part, with all the joys and pains of one. We are there for one another and It is great to have most of them near us in our ‘golden’ years and not have to worry about being alone. We have fifteen grandchildren-some now married and five greatgrands and l love and enjoy them as much or more than my own-no depression-just smiles and playtime.el03ro.

  9. I am from a family of 3 kids and so is my husband. It took us 5 years to become pregnant with our daughter and during that time as we reflected on our vision of our family we went from a larger family to discussions of having only one. One of the big reasons for one is quality of life for me. I have pretty brutal times of the month due to some health issues related to my reproductive organs. Also we looked at the opportunities that we could give one child as opposed to multiple. We hear it all of the time from everyone, especially family that we should have more than one as it is not fair to our daughter. I think it all depends on how you raise your child. If you socialize your child and have them in organized activities/daycare or any combination of these then they are getting the social time with others. As for being selfish, I think if you teach them respect, etc then that should not be an issue either. I think unfortunately finances need to come into the picture as well in todays day and age where every thing is much more expensive than when our parents were raising us. Cost of post secondary alone. There are pros and cons to both though, and it will be different for each family.

  10. As an only child myself, I plan to have at least two children if at all possible (my first is due in five weeks!). I didn’t feel lonely as a child, because I grew up next door to my extended family and have come to view my cousins as similar to siblings for me, but these days families are spaced out much more in different towns and even countries. My own children wouldn’t have the same experience. I also feel that later in life it is more important to have siblings. They are a great support in your adult life.

    • Yeah, I agree. Families are spaced out a lot more. I grew up with many cousins around and had siblings. My little one has no cousins nearby either.

  11. wow! great post!

  12. I only have one, but would love more. I hear others remark it’s easier with more children, but I think their are hardships with everything. Ultimately, it’s a decision between the parents and others need to butt out.

  13. Having had 3 children I found that they always had a playmate, that being said 2 using ganged up on the other I dislike the phrases about only children because it really depends on how the child is being brought up that determines if they will become spoiled, selfish etc. Either way you look at it having one or 10 children parenting is the most important thing we will ever do so I say let’s try our best to get it right…loving our kids is the first step.

  14. i have one son, and i love that i can focus all my attention on him and he gets me all too himself, but i definitely want more kids in the future. i want my son to grow up being able to be friends with his siblings and to be an uncle one day and all of that. so i will definitely be having more but this was an interesting read!

  15. April 13-One of the important factors in having happy children is a really good hands on Dad. You may be saying ‘doh’ tp that as a given, but it is really important. One of my family have four children, the largest family, and they are very close and happy. I attribute this to a man who is a very good father and made a conscious effort to be so. If you are old enough, you may remember that years ago, fathers did not participate with their children as they are expected to do now and I think this was unfortunate, especially for the boys in the family who looked to them as role models.-el03ro

  16. my son is 29 months, and we don’t plan on having more for a few more years, once i’m done with college. if i had it my way, i’d already be pregnant with #2. there have been many times where i’ve said “wow, i’m glad we only have one child right now” but as my son is getting older, i find myself thinking this less and less. i think a sibling would be GREAT for him…he’s such a loving, gentle, caring soul…i’d love to give him a brother or sister right now.

  17. My daughter (only child) is turning 24 this year. We had a recent discussion about this. She is glad that she had me to herself. She feels guilty for saying that but it is true none the less. She wasn’t spoiled and today we a very close relationship. We have a large extended family with lots of nieces and nephews so she was never bored or lonley.

  18. I say having a sibling is best (cause I had one and I know from first person experience). I can only imagine how boring it would of been as a child to play alone!

  19. Having a sibling is wonderful but sometimes this doesn’t work out. Having cousins living close by can work well too

  20. There’s pros and cons to both really. I do have concerns about my godson being an only child but we all have different lifestyles and happiness comes from choice often. I wish I had a sister and I don’t…so I just have to feel blessed with what I do have.

  21. I loved having an “only” … but knew he would love having a sibling (and we wanted another child). Now we have two (aged 5 and 18 mo) and it is tough at times, keeping up with both of them. But the joy I feel when I see them play together and love each other makes it sooo worthwhile.

  22. We have 2 children (2 and 5) and now my husband would like 2 more. I honestly feel that both my kids were super easy and I barely noticed adding a second.

  23. We have two girls and decided that we are complete as a family. I appreciate that you addressed the myths about 1 vs. more. My sister-in-law is an only child and she is awesome!

  24. I think that both having only one, and also having siblings have a lot of pro’s and cons. I wouldn’t really say one is easier than the other. I was sooo excited at 3 1/2 that my DD could finally have a sibling to keep her busy and give me a bit of a break here and there, especially when it came to play time.. in reality, play time was even more demanding, since like you said, you have to referee and sorts. But then again, the 3 1/2 years I had with just my daughter were a challenge as well, since she was soo used to having any attention when she wanted, since there wasn’t another kiddo demanding any from me.. I think it goes both ways.. but both are great! I love having three little girls, but I remember the days how easy it was to have my oldest as my only one, and potty trained and free. LoL!

  25. I loved reading all these posts as they were all speaking positively about thier own experiences, not putting forth thier opinion as the final advice. I am the mother of a 7 yo boy. He is happy well adjusted, mature and makes friends easily, he forms strong bonds with his closest mates and ha just recently become passionate about reading. Of course there have been times when I question my decsion, but these moments pass. What is of ultimate importance is how you are as a family, we are a strong family unit and there is a lot of laughter and happiness here. I am sure if I had a second child, I would be far more stressed out and stretched financially. We are taking our son overseas this year for the third time, now I know this is not a replacement for siblings, but it is another life experience we are blessed enought to be able to give our boy. Whatever works for you as a family is going to be the right way to go. 1 or 5, its what you can give to make your child whole and happy that counts, and if siblings are not on the agenda, be sure and confident in that decision and your child will be sure and confident of his place in the world.

    • Lovely comment Rachael! “Whatever works for you as a family is going to be the right way to go. 1 or 5” Love that!

      Thanks for posting!

  26. I have one child but have two older step children who are with us part time so I alternate between the one child and siblings environments.

  27. We only have one child and I agree with one child they tend to be more spoil and think everything is MINE. I would like to have another child and my husband wants to adopt. We will see how that goes. My son needs another sibling, also to have someone to play with. He wants our attention all the time and I do love his attention but sometimes you just need a break. Thanks for sharing.

  28. I only have one child for now. I think he is doing just fine, and not lacking anything. I also dont believe that he is ”spoiled” just because he is an only child. I grew up with siblings and there was alot of rivalry and fighting, but we grew up to be eachothers bestfriends. So, I hope to have more children in the future, but if not I know that my child will still be well adjusted. He shares VERY well for a toddler, and is very generous and loving. Loved your post though!! Lots to think about. And, I agree … no matter what, the grass always seems greener on the other side, until you are actually on the other side! Lol

  29. I found this interesting and wonder how changes like half siblings or step siblings changes things.

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