Five things NOT to say to the parent of an only child

There’s something about family size that attracts comments – if you have two children of the same sex, you must be “trying for the boy/girl”. If you have a big family, you must have certain religious beliefs. But no parent gets more comments than the parent of an only child. This is in spite of research that proves that only children grow up just as happy and healthy as their counterparts with siblings. Our take? Every family is unique and what’s right for one family mightn’t be right for another. Here we’ve compiled our top five things you really shouldn’t say to the parent of an only child – even if you mean them as a compliment.

Only children are lonely

Being alone does not equal lonely, and you can be incredibly lonely in a noisy and busy house. Every child needs time by themselves, but they also need time with others; but these can include cousins and friends, as well as siblings. In fact, parents of only children can often be more mindful of their children needing time with their peers.

When are you having another?

This goes for families of all sizes, really. While you might think it’s just small talk, unless you know the person’s circumstances really well (and even then, tread carefully), never ask about someone’s family planning. It’s a sensitive topic, and you really don’t know what’s going on in a person’s private life.

One child is really easy

Parenting is hard no matter how many children you have. Yes, you’re not refereeing between siblings or dealing with different developmental stages, but every child brings with him a unique set of challenges that need love and attention. Plus, again, you don’t know the family’s situation – the parents may have yearned to be in the middle of sibling squabbles but circumstances dictated otherwise…

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Only children are selfish and spoilt

One of the most common myths is that only children are selfish and spoilt because they don’t have to share with siblings or fight for their share of attention. But many studies on families over the years have shown that there is no correlation between being an only child and being spoilt or selfish. Being selfish is a human trait that every person can have, while spoiling a child is down to the parent, whether they have one child or a hundred.

Parents of only children are selfish for not having more

We actually can’t believe that people would say that to parents of only children – but we’ve heard it being said. A child does not need siblings – yes, it’s nice if siblings are close, especially as they get older, but that relationship does not need to be with an actual blood-related sibling, eg friends or cousins. And again, you don’t know what’s going on in a family’s life – is a parent “selfish” for not having another and risking complications, for example?

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