Is it OK to Just Have One Child?

Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2021

Parenting having one child

Parents often feel pressure to add more children to a family. There are pros and cons to having one child.
Parents often feel pressure to add more children to a family. There are pros and cons to having one child.

Parents to onlies often feel social pressure from friends and family to add more kids to the family. You might feel that pressure, but having one child is more than okay. Raising children is not an easy task. Those raising more than one child might assume that a parent with only one has it easier. But one-child parents often go through similar challenges.

What to expect when you have just one child

If you are raising one child here are some of comments you may have heard:

  • Your child is going to be lonely
  • ‌Your child will be burdened with your care when you’re old
  • ‌Your child is going to grow up spoiled
  • Your child may have difficulty socializing

These claims are not scientifically proven.

Parenting tips for raising an only child

If you are raising or plan to raise one child, here are some few tips that might help:

  1. Involve your child. There are no distractions from siblings. Your child might use this to their advantage. Involve them in your adult conversations during dinner. They may develop faster and adopt a more mature mindset. 
  2. No pressure. Let your child do what they want with their lives. Your desire to create athletes or scholars should not be projected on your child. Your only child will appreciate you more if you let them pursue their own goals. 
  3. Alone time. Only children may adapt surprisingly well to staying  alone. Alone time may boost their creativity and learning because they have minimal distractions.  
  4. Encourage play dates. Let your child know they can have friends over at your house. It might reduce boredom and improve social interactions. You might also help your child find social activities like sports or a band that they want to participate in. 
  5. Sibling substitute. As a parent you may find a cousin, friend, or related family member your child may be comfortable befriending. It is good for onlies to have outside connections. 
  6. Keep your gifts in check. Parents of an only child can be carried away when tempted to pamper their child. It is normal for parents to want the best for their only child but teaching discipline often is "the best." 

Pros of having one child

Onlies enjoy many benefits. Advantages include:

  1. No sibling rivalry. Only children can't be compared to other siblings. Most parents of more than one child make the mistake of comparing their children, increasing sibling rivalry. 
  2. Privacy. Many families with one child can afford to give their child their own room.
  3. Privileges. Kids in one-child families are almost always included in their parent’s activities. Holidays often center around them.
  4. Attention. Parents with one child may have the time to build a more personal relationship with their child. 
  5. Independence. Your child may grow to be more independent compared to children who come from a larger family. Onlies learn to depend on themselves at an earlier age. 
  6. Financial advantage. Parents raising one kid often have more savings compared to families with more than one child. It is cheaper to raise one child.

Cons of having one child

As a parent to one child you occasionally might experience some of these fears:

  1. Loneliness. A child that is born and raised alone may feel lonely.
  2. Pressure. Kids may face a lot of pressure because their parents expect them to perform well in school and other activities.
  3. Overprotective. Parents who have one child may be overprotective.
  4. Failure to make friends. A child who is raised alone may have difficulties in making friends and lack social skills outside the family.
  5. Sole caregivers. An only child may be burdened with the care of elderly parents. They have to provide for all their parents' needs alone.
  6. Self-entertaining. Only children may be forced to learn how to entertain themselves when they are all alone. If they have no talent for self-entertainment they end up bored much of the time. 
  7. Lack of motivation. A child raised alone may end up being unambitious because there is no one to compete against and try to surpass.


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Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2021

Newman, Susan, The Case for the Only Child, Health Communications, Inc., 2011

NewsHour Productions LLC: "The case for having just one kid."

NBCNEWS: "One child is enough: The social pressure to have a bigger family can be intense, but overcome."

The Washington Post: "The rise of the only child: How America is coming around to the idea of 'just' one."

The Family Coordinator: "The One-Child Family: A New Life-Style."