10 Pros and Cons of Having One Child

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An only child. Some couples dream of having a single child on which they can focus all of their parenting efforts.

Others dread the thought of an only child.

They fear there will be repercussions not growing up with siblings. Many parents are torn between having one or multiple children.

10 Pros and Cons of Having One Child

Pros and Cons of Having One Child
Here are the pros and cons of having only one child. -infographic

I never wanted to have an only child. I always worried that a single child would end up spoiled and selfish.

In my younger years, I even thought it was better to have no children than just one. My tune changed when my husband and I found out we were infertile.

After years of treatments and considering adoption, we were finally able to conceive a child. A trio of doctors told us he would be the only one without further medical intervention.

I was sad but determined to make sure my only child would have a good life.

One thing I learned is that Only Child Syndrome is a myth. Yes, only children can be selfish and self-centered, but so can children with multiple siblings.

As long as an only child is raised to be thoughtful and considerate, they will grow to be that way as well.

In my family, my son didn’t stay an only child for long. After four years of being an only child, his sister showed up as a wonderful surprise to all of us.

Still, we had a taste of what it would be like to have an only child. There are definite pros and cons.

1. Pro: You Will Have More Resources

Children are expensive. On average, the cost to raise a child is about $17,000 per year. That average can be much higher if your child has any medical needs. Braces alone can cost $8,000 or more.

This, of course, is just the cost when they live with you at home. Children somehow manage to get even more expensive once they turn 18.

If your child goes to college, they will see a price tag of anywhere from $30,000 per year for tuition, room and board at a public university to more than $80,000 for an elite private school.

Even community college can cost a pretty penny. Put multiple children through college and you’re quickly spending more than you earn. One child is a great cost savings.

2. Con: Lack of Socialization

Children learn how to socialize when they are at home. The bulk of your child’s socialization will come from you and your partner.

They will rely on you for entertainment, especially when they are very young. When you are unavailable, a single child has to learn how to entertain themselves.

You might think that you can pad this time with play dates and activities. While this is true, it is also a full-time job to plan out and keep track of these various commitments.

Your child needs downtime at home and so do you. A sibling would help an only child learn how to be social without the need for scheduling.

3. Pro: More Independence

A great benefit to being an only child is the ability to be self-sufficient. An only child cannot rely on a sibling to help them.

They will have to find their own entertainment, fix their own problems and manage their own homework. The only other option is often going to mom or dad. By the tween years, that is no longer an option for a lot of children.

4. Con: Selfishness

We have all heard of the selfish only child. While Only Child Syndrome has been disproven, that doesn’t mean it never happens.

Show me an only child and I will show you someone who is used to having everything their way all the time. It is difficult to ever learn how to share if you don’t learn from a young age.

5. Pro: Better Relationship with Parents

An only child develops an extremely close relationship with their parents.

Because they don’t have anyone else to share their space with, parents can focus all of their energy and wisdom on the single child. As the child grows, that relationship will continue to thrive.

6. Con: Too Much Pressure

Being an only child means there are no siblings to lighten the load when it comes to parental pressure.

Parents will put all of their effort into ensuring the child has and does the best in all areas of their lives. Parents will have difficulty refocusing their efforts elsewhere.

Too much pressure from parents can cause children to suffer from depression, anxiety, sleep issues and low self-confidence.

7. Pro: More Children Take Up More Space

Multiple children are expensive. They also need more room to grow. The more kids you have, the more house you need.

An only child can happily live in a two-bedroom home without ever having to share. Multiple children will need additional beds, bedrooms and even bathrooms depending on how many kids you have.

I grew up with a house full of siblings and one bathroom. I would have traded one of my sisters for an extra toilet any day of the week.

8. Con: Difficulty Communicating with Children

Single children grow up with their parents as their closest friends and confidants. This is great for building a strong parental relationship.

It is also helpful in that children learn how to communicate well with adults. However, they might never learn how to talk to other children.

They need to learn that different types of communication are needed in different environments. A single child won’t learn this when they don’t have other kids at home with them all the time.

9. Pro: Smaller Environmental Impact

Our planet is polluted and overpopulated. The more people you have, the more overpopulated and polluted it becomes.

Negative population growth is one way to help improve the future of our planet. Having only one child ensures that you and your partner are creating a lower impact on the world around you.

10. Con: Too Much Attachment

An only child becomes incredibly attached to their parents. This is a good thing, but too much of a good thing can be a very bad thing.

Being overly attached may keep a child from forming important relationships outside of the family. Your child might have difficulty adjusting to school or may even be reluctant to go to college when the time comes.

Key Takeaways

There are many pros and cons to having an only child. Luckily, there are also many ways to combat each of those cons if you decide a single child is the right choice.

Do you have any advice for other parents? Share your words of wisdom in our comments!

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