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Started by mingmong on Nov 15, 2016 11:50:06 AM
On being, or bringing-up, an only-child

Were you an only-child, or are you a parent of an only child?

Thread to discuss insights and share insights.

Agaliarept - 15 Nov 2016 11:52:41 (#1 of 107)


Generally I find only children to be spoilt little brats.


zoltanbuchan - 15 Nov 2016 11:58:54 (#2 of 107)

I am an only child, as is my daughter (12 next month). I've been asked many times whether I resented being an only child, which I always found absolutely baffling. It's simply something I never considered.

MistressMeaker - 15 Nov 2016 11:59:50 (#3 of 107)

That says a lot about you and not much about only children, Agaliarept.

thisonehasalittlehat - 15 Nov 2016 12:05:54 (#4 of 107)

Surely it's better to have a spare in case the first one goes wrong.

mingmong - 15 Nov 2016 12:06:06 (#5 of 107)

Our story:

Myself and Mrs Ming had the Minglet fairly late (and unexpectedly). For a variety of reasons (including Mrs Ming's health) we decided not to have another.

For his first 6 years, the Minglet was a happy, energetic and good-natured little boy. Prone to the occasional tantrum, but no more than most other kids.

About a year ago, Mrs Ming's emotional health (always a little shakey) took a turn a for the worse. I also began working from home around this time. The Minglet's behaviour changed, no doubt partly as a result of these changes, but possibly also for other reasons as well. He became far more fractious, rude to both his parents, unhappy in his peer relationships at school.

More recently, Mrs Ming's mood and self-confidence has improved. The Minglet also disclosed that he was getting bullied at school by one of his peers. We had a word with the school and it seems to have got better, at least superficially. But the Minglet continues to play up at home, being very argumentative and reacting to any kind of disappointment with uncontrollable rage (some of the time)

This may have nothing to do with his being an only child (plenty of siblinged kids have similar problems). But I do wonder if that has anything to do with it. Does the 2-up-1-down structure of the family tend to accentuate these problems? I occasionally sense the Minglet's boredom and frustration being stuck at home with two (fairly old) parents; though Mrs Ming in particular does make an effort to organise play-dates and play with him herself.

Myself, I am beginning to find the Minglet's rages increasingly hard to deal with, and wondering what happens as/when this gets worse with adolescence

thisonehasalittlehat - 15 Nov 2016 12:07:26 (#6 of 107)

Private school.

Moschops - 15 Nov 2016 12:10:02 (#7 of 107)

For a lot of only children these days they will be spending their weekdays in nursery, so they may well be getting all the socialisation\sharing that they need.

Shadrack22 - 15 Nov 2016 12:12:02 (#8 of 107)

I am the youngest of four. The others are sixteen, thirteen and eleven years older - in effect another generation. I was the child of forty-something parents. Hence the sense of always being out of step with my own peer group. And always having a wider (older) frame of reference, which can seem weird to other kids. Always the sense of not quite belonging in my own generation, always the sense that the good times happened too early for me.

Other differences: I am Generation X, the other three are baby boomers. Products of a more expansive time, of rising affluence. They all managed to retire early, mostly in their mid-50s.

mingmong - 15 Nov 2016 12:19:07 (#9 of 107)

But Shadders, I bet you didn't call your dad "dumb-face", or tell your mum you hated her.

We may be paying the price for indulging the Minglet too much earlier on in life. I've seen other parents making this mistake. The 'spirited' three year old whose sassy confidence applauded by his or her parents can easily turn into the 9-year-old from hell.

The rage thing runs in the family to some extent. I remember throwing a stone at my dad's car, aged about 7 (then using the excuse that 'the devil made me do it'). Also throwing some epic tantrums when being made to eat my greens.

Mrs Ming's brother was even worse: used to smash up his own bedroom during his rages. Yet he grew up to be a gentle, diffident and good-humoured sort of bloke, so perhaps there's still hope.

Maybe it is just a phase.

Shadrack22 - 15 Nov 2016 12:21:57 (#10 of 107)

That sounds relatively normal to me as a phase.

I probably benefitted from having older siblings - places to escape to when home became stifling.

LomaxFairchild - 15 Nov 2016 12:23:28 (#11 of 107)

What Shadrack says. Sounds perfectly normal (if undesirable) behaviour to me. We went through similar with my daughter (who has a brother 3 years her senior).

thisonehasalittlehat - 15 Nov 2016 12:23:50 (#12 of 107)

I think these days it's not really unusual for kids to call their parents names on occasion. Generally speaking parents are more relaxed and less disciplinarian than in previous generations. It goes with the territory. I wouldn't really worry about what they say when they're angry and trying to hurt. Worry about what they say when they're happy and contented. If they're still saying they hate you then, well... maybe something is going wrong.

LomaxFairchild - 15 Nov 2016 12:25:33 (#13 of 107)

Are you sure it's not a direct result of the bullying? Kids can be very good at covering up the real reasons for their anger.

mingmong - 15 Nov 2016 12:27:55 (#14 of 107)

Thanks all for the reassuring words.

I don't want to make this all about us and the Minglet, and would be interested to hear about other people's experiences of being, or bringing-up, an only child.

Are you sure it's not a direct result of the bullying

I'm sure this has played a part. The Minglet is getting better at talking to me about this, and it would appear the school have dealt with it quite well since we brought it to their attention. The bully concerned had been bullying other kids as well, and now seems to have stopped

dottie30 - 15 Nov 2016 12:38:58 (#15 of 107)

My son is an only child.

I don't have any problems but I appear to have birthed an alarmingly conformist child. Does all his homework on time, in the school rugby club, is a peer mentor in maths.

I think he's a changeling because every so often I look at him and think, 'you can't have come from my body'.

As to the claims that only children are selfish and spoiled. I don't find this at all - my son is quite generous though sometimes it is difficult to pull him from his X-box at weekends. I think if he had a sibling it would be easier.

MadamGeorge - 15 Nov 2016 12:39:53 (#16 of 107)

I was an only child, as were both my parents, but it doesn't bother me too much. In some respects it would be nice to have a bit more family contact, but having seen the hassle that my wife has with her brothers I sometimes think that I am the lucky one.

My parents ran the village pub when I was growing up, which meant that there were always people around other than my parents which was possibly significant in helping me socialise, and I also had a lot of freedom. One thing that I do notice now is that I don't mind being somewhere on my own for a few days, and on occassions when there are a lot of people around I sometimes need to take a break for a short while just on my own.

Shadrack22 - 15 Nov 2016 12:47:14 (#17 of 107)

Don't underestimate the extent to which children sometimes protect their parents from worrying issues. I was bullied at school for eighteen months (aged about 10-11) and during this time had to walk home from school 'the long way' to avoid a couple of kids. Would never have dreamed of talking to my parents about it - regarded it as humiliating for me and worrying for them. Thus you learn to put up with things, but also develop suspicion of other people, wariness, mask your true feelings and gain a certain amount of cunning. I think that self-sufficiency is also a hallmark of the only child.

MsCharDonnay - 15 Nov 2016 12:51:41 (#18 of 107)

sometimes it is difficult to pull him from his X-box at weekends. I think if he had a sibling it would be easier.

I wouldn't bet on it

Catspyjamas16 - 15 Nov 2016 12:56:59 (#19 of 107)

9 is a difficult age, Ming. My eldest daughter was bullied at school in Y4 and developed anxiety/asthma. It certainly wasn't unusual for her to express rage at fairly minor things. Now she is 11, at grammar school, hasn't used her inhaler in ages and seems very happy at school. Though her days are much longer now and she has far more homework she seems to cope very well. There has been hardly any rage or frustration expressed, and I was expecting the worst given hormones and so on. There may be worse to come in teenage years but I'm so proud of her and she is great company.

I'm an only child - what I remember about being nine is being quite bored at school, not having a set friendship group and spending a lot of time on my own mooching and dreaming. I wasn't bullied in any sustained way but I remember a few occasions where a number of my peers turned on me and made me feel more isolated and different.

I'd say it is a bit of "this too shall pass". But also love bomb him:

praise him and choose your battles. You do need to pick up on his rudeness as he is testing boundaries, but maybe let some of it go and pick the worst stuff.

thisonehasalittlehat - 15 Nov 2016 13:00:16 (#20 of 107)

I'm the youngest child which is why I am shallow and narcissistic. For example: this post which has nothing to do with the topic.

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