Sibling - in perspective
This post is a reaction to a thread I read on the facebook support group last night. It made me sad and I was thinking about it in the early hours of the morning. The thread was about a lady who has miscarried after 3 weeks of severe hyperemesis gravidarum. This was her second child, a sibling for her 6 year old. She now feels she can not go through it again and that her child will have to remain as an only child. She is heart broken. This is a common story I hear and many HG babies are only children. Women often feel huge guilt and distress at "failing to give their child a sibling", something which society seems to think is essential!
So – I want to address this issue and look at the sibling relationship. I am one of three children and I have three children myself. So what do I know about only children I hear you ask? Well, I know a fair few only children, some are now adults and some are still children with close and loving friendships with my children. I also know people who are heavily burdened by unavoidable relationships with siblings. But you're right... I'm not the right person to write this post.
So I called one of my adult “only child” friends to ask for his perspective. So here is my lovely, generous, unspoilt and unselfish and sociable friend Mat on being an only child:
"I'm 37 and never once in my life have I wished for a sibling. Being an only child was a truly wonderful experience - I had my parents' undivided attention the whole time! My friends were jealous that I didn't have to share a bedroom with an annoying sibling, wear their hand-me-down clothes or drag along a younger brother in tow every time we went out to play.
Let me dispel some myths about being an only child:
- They'll be lonely. I was never short of friends to play with, and formed a really close bond with my parents because there wasn't another sibling to compete with for their time. Presumably you're going to let them have friends?
- They'll be spoiled. It's true that I got more presents on my birthday than some of my friends with lots of siblings, but that's because my parents weren't so strapped for cash only having one child. According to this survey, raising a child costs an average of £148,000. Are you sure you want more than one?
- They'll be anti-social. To be honest I find this quite insulting. I've met anti-social only children, yes, but I've also met very anti-social people who have siblings! Bring up your only child in a loving environment and they'll be well-rounded individuals, just like you.
- They'll miss having the kind of relationship that having a sibling provides. I've formed a number of life-long friendships with people that I consider to be closer than a brother or sister, people to whom I'd donate bone marrow or a kidney without a second thought. I know people who have/had unpleasant, even abusive relationships with their siblings and they're not alone.
- "They won't have a brother or sister to help look after me when I'm old." Seriously? If you're just having kids so they can care for you later in life, you're probably so selfish that they won't want to look after you.
If I've got one regret from my childhood, I wish I'd had a puppy."
For links to other blogs about one child families and people to hook up with on twitter check out this post on Amanda's Patch about their decision to not have more children.