This post has been authored by Piya Mukherjee, one of our regular contributors. This is her own story and her experience growing up as a single kid.
Err…not in the literal sense. That was just meant to catch your attention. This is actually about being the single child, a child who has no siblings. I grew up as one and know a few more like me who did too. I think we have all turned up quite well unlike the common perception of such children being pampered, bratty, ill mannered, aloof and all the nine yards.
When my first born was about three years old, I started getting bombarded by the customary questions and advice about having the second child. Everyone from a mere acquaintance in the park to a family member or a friend would pose that same question. The discussion would eventually steer towards the challenges of being an only child. Many advised even without the knowledge that I was myself one.
Similarly, a lot of my acquaintances still ask me this question (given my experience for real) while contemplating the second child – “Is it difficult to be the only child?” My answer is NO!
It is definitely nice to have a sibling but it is not essential. I personally think you (the parent) should have more than one child if you can, if you wish to and you have the means to provide for the second (or third or fourth) child. That your first child will have company and someone to share with is an added bonus. If you cannot have the second child or you do not have the means to provide for more children, your only child will grow up just fine. It is a whole lot about the upbringing. Take it from me.
As they say life makes up for what it does not provide.
I grew up with friends who are no less than siblings, a mom who while being a friend was/is quite a disciplinarian (sometimes left me wondering that may be a sibling helps provide the necessary respite). I did not grow up with lot of options made available just because I was the only child. I was not aloof, shy, sad or depressed in any way. All in all I had a normal childhood and enjoyed just about every aspect of it. All this, while not being oblivious that I did not have a sibling.
In my adult life, I have made more friends. The childhood friends still make up for the sibling/s I do not have. And honestly, now when I look at some people’s woes of keeping up with a sibling in the adult life, I am thankful that I do not have something of that kind to worry about. If you get along with the sibling, it is a joy ride. But if things go south or you realize you don’t get along well anymore, it is quite the contrary to a joy ride. Things could be unimaginably convoluted.
I am not discouraging the options of having siblings. I have two children of my own. It melts my heart to see their sense of companionship. I count it as a blessing. Having a child is a blessing. There are countless people who would give up all they possess to have a baby of their own. I have known and met many such. I have been in such a place myself temporarily.
Being the only child has nothing wrong about it. The only child grows up same as the one with one or more siblings. It completely depends on how they are raised. It depends on how easy the world makes it for them. So the next time a child tells you he does not have a sibling, do not make a sympathetic face. I saw many of those while growing up and did not think too kindly of those adults.
Have a child if you as the parent want to have one, if your heart says so. It is every parent’s personal decision, choice and circumstances. It cannot be influenced by family, peer and societal pressures. It should also not be influenced by gender preferences as well.
For every child that we have, we should count our blessings.