What Are 3 Disadvantages of Being an Only Child?

Being an only child can have both disadvantages and advantages.
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The ideal family for many includes two parents and two or more children, with at least one child of each gender, according to a CNN.com article titled “Benefits and Drawbacks to Raising an Only Child.” If most of your friends have siblings and you don’t, you might feel like you are missing something. Being an only child can be a challenge.

1 Central Focus

Your parents might focus their attention on you in every area of your life and over-protect you, according to the CNN.com article. That can feel restrictive and confining, making you wonder if you can do anything without your parents right there watching you. It can restrict your ability to try things on your own or to experience the consequences of your actions. Encourage your parents to let you experiment and expand your world. Get involved in various activities that require you to make decisions and try new things without immediate parental supervision.

2 Siblings and Social Skills

Kids with multiple siblings learn to get along early in life, according to a Journal of Marriage and Family 2004 study titled “Playing Well With Others in Kindergarten: The Benefit of Siblings at Home.” When you have siblings, you learn conflict resolution skills, empathy, how to make and keep friends and how to positively express feelings, according to study leader Douglas Downey, a professor of sociology. You can learn those skills by playing with other children when you are very young.

3 Marriage Stability

Having siblings can reduce your risk of divorce, according to Downey in a 2013 presentation for the American Sociological Association. With each sibling, the family dynamic changes, reports Downey, and that means you have to learn interpersonal skills such as talking things out, considering the feelings of others and conflict negotiation. You can learn those skills by working with others on your negotiation and conflict resolution skills in play groups, school activities and social groups.

4 If You're an Only

Don’t let being an only child make you feel like you are domed for failure in marriage or socially. You can learn the necessary skills through various interactions with peers and those of varying ages. You might find you have some benefits your peers with sibling don’t have, such as a bigger share of the family resources or more attention when you need help with academics or support in extracurricular activities. Your success in life is up to you, so make the most of the resources and family experiences you have.

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.