Although there can be advantages to being an only child there are certain family situations which can potentially present problems for the child. For example:
- In a family where there is the parents frequently fight, or where there is abuse, the only child is particularly vulnerable because not only is the single child at risk by being the the sole object for a parent (or parents) to focus their attention upon, but he also lacks the benefit of brothers and sisters to turn to for comfort and support.
- Where the parents do not get on with each other an only child can often be caught in the middle being asked to take sides by one or both parents.
- In a family where the situation is at all problematic, where or not these problems arise from difficulties the parents are having with each other, or come from some external influence, an only child can find it difficult without support from brothers and sisters and needs to have some form of external support.
- Where parents are separated a child may find himself as on only child even with brothers and sisters when the children are split between the parents. This could have the effect of giving the child the best of both worlds if close contact is maintained between the two new family groups, but it could also present a number of problems which will need careful handling if the child is to adjust.
- Even in a family where relations are good problems can arise as the child child moves between adopting the roles of the older ‘responsible’ child and the ‘baby’ of the family. Only children will commonly play these two roles in order to ‘get their own way’ and parents need to watch for this particular form of manipulation.
Only child parenting can be extremely rewarding but there are a number of things that you need to look out for when it comes to only child parenting.