Is an only child really a lonely child? Not according to a new survey

In times gone by, the number of children produced by a couple hinged more on chance and physical proclivity, i.e. the ability to reproduce on the part of both parents, than it did on any personal choice. Of course in many societies and circumstances there are any number of reasons for and against a large brood of offspring, but in today’s world the general feeling seems to be that less is better when it comes to children in one family.

Almost everyone, parent or not, has an opinion on the subject ranging from voluntary (or enforced) sterilisation to the encouragement of propagation regardless of personal or economic factors. Neither of the opposite poles has great crowds of adherents, but the wide mid-range of opinions still has a lot of factions, most obviously those who believe that a single child is ideal and those who believe every child should have at least one sibling.

Just recently another ‘new’ report concludes that children with no siblings/competitors are happier than those who grow up with older or younger siblings. This study, conducted by the British organisation Understanding Society, collected data on about 40,000 households in the UK, and that data was analyzed by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex.

According to that report, the problems siblings have to deal with include competing for attention from parents but even more, bullying from their brothers and/or sisters. More than half the siblings involved in this research reported they had been bullied or did the bullying themselves; many of them were both victim and aggressor, depending on the circumstances.

Gundi Knies of the ISER noted that children with siblings were generally unhappy with having to share not just parental attention but other things like toys, clothes and space (sharing a room). However other evidence points to the suggestion that this sort of rivalry is more common at a younger age; by the time kids reach teen age they are more likely to support each other in a common front against parental strictures, and against any threat from outside the family.

Last year statistics showed that Britain is leaning towards the single-child side; nearly half of all families with children have only one child, with half a million more single-child households than those with two or more kids. Whether this is a good thing is still a matter of opinion, both from the parents’ point of view and from that of the children.

 

 

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