If you are parenting an only child, chances are high that people must have probed you with the question – “When are you planning your next?” Try debating and they will be quick to add, “Do you want your first born to be lonely? He needs company.” This gets you dappling in the thought if all the attention and love you give your only child is not enough.
But why is single child not enough? People say single child is not as smart, independent and finds it tough to adjust as those with siblings. Parents of single child are often told their kid will grow up to be a loner, too dependent and may lack social skills. Some are even pushed to worry about what would happen to the child if the parents die. It’s normal for parents to feel anxious if they are making the right decisions for their kids.
Dr Shilpa Aggarwal, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, MBBS, DPM, DNB (gold medal), FRANZCP (Aus), Adv. training certificate in Child & Adolescence Psychiatry (Aus) Head of Psychiatry at MPower Center says, “Having a single child comes with its set of advantages and disadvantages. There is no conclusive answer to whether it is easier or more difficult to groom a single child as it depends on a range of factors i.e. parental preference, economic condition of the family, extended family support, other parental commitments and so on and so forth.”
Let’s accept it. Having only one child is easier for parents. While some may argue that it can’t be true since the responsibility of entertaining the child lies entirely on parents but having a single child allows a better controlled environment. Manisha Singh, mother to Misha, 6, has made up her mind to have an only child. “Parenting is a lot of work and I have already invested four years in raising my first child by compromising on my career, I can’t give up four more years now. This is a win-win situation for me. I can enjoy being a mother and find the right balance between work, parenting and me time.”
For some, financial burden is a big factor in deciding on a single child. Pratibha Sinha, mother of Myrah, 2, says, “No matter how much I would love to have two kids, it is just not an option for us. With so many loans to handle, it will put excess pressure on our pockets.”
Some globally conducted studies suggest that families with three or more kids are the happiest. “We need to be cautious while extrapolating these findings to Indian setting. The advantages include undivided parental attention, responsibility of the parents restricted to looking after one child, and less economic strain. In today’s fast paced, competitive environment with limited support from the extended families especially in the big cities, most of the couples find it hard to accommodate the needs of even a single child, especially when both the partners are working. In such situations, parents might find it easier to groom a single child,” adds Dr Aggarwal.