One Child, Two child or None? Any safe bet here? PART 1
You go around looking for examples, and you will find them abundant in all sorts of permutations and combinations. With changing lifestyles, the influence of television and media, the omnipresent mobile phone and other gadgets, and a social media platform coupled with a consumerist society, life has taken on an altogether different meaning. We have the world in our fist(courtesy Apple and the like) and everything 'instant'(courtesy Amazon and the like). A single child, children who have siblings or parents who decide not to have a child...we have a wide variety available for our understanding.
Let's not get mean by glorifying a particular family set up and disapproving, condemning another kind that doesn't look like ours. It's not your job to judge somebody else's journey...unless you pay for the tickets. With parenting and raising children, generalizations should be made cautiously and best- not to make them at all.
There is popular advice to prospective parents that recommends limiting the family's size to ensure quality upbringing- more parental affection, attention, and material resources per child, which are said to enhance a child's intellectual development. So what is the ideal size then?
The answer is debatable, but the ingredients that go to raise a child well are well understood. Be it a single child or children with a sibling.
The broad generalizations associated with single child and children with siblings need to be taken with a pinch of salt. In and around, one can find various combinations - effective and ineffective in both scenarios.
Sibling relationships bring benefits but are not essential for the healthy development of a child. It might be a widespread belief, but only children are not spoiled. On the contrary, to an extent, they are more advantaged in having a higher self-esteem and achievement motivation, doing better in school, and attaining higher education levels. This can be attributed to the fact that a single child receives all the attention and affection of both parents.
One research aimed at exploring 16 character traits — including leadership, maturity, extroversion, social participation, popularity, generosity, cooperativeness, flexibility, emotional stability, contentment and found that only children scored just as well as children with siblings.
Research has also shown umpteen times that only children are, in fact, no more self-involved than anyone else. Fierce sibling rivalry isn't necessary to develop social skills. The experience only children have with peers and classmates can also make the child learn social skills.
Only children have as many friends as anyone else. Not to forget that they can cherish and nurture friendship with a beautiful sense of permanence and loyalty, for they know how valuable, such relationships are.
Researchers have also found out that parents who have just one child can devote more resources — time, money, and attention — to their only child than parents who have to divide resources among more children. Therefore, a single child is brought up in richer verbal environments and shares meals and other adults' activities. In addition, the only children tend to be the focus of their parental gaze and experience more intensely emotional family lives. The love given to them is more concentrated and can be very enriching or suffocating.
Siblings influence development directly through the relationship with each other and indirectly through the impact of an additional child on the parent’s behavior. The arrival of a newborn baby is difficult for a preschooler to handle, but their resentment soon turns into a prosperous emotional relationship. Siblings play an essential role in developing children’s understanding of others’ minds, namely their understanding of emotions, thoughts, intentions, and beliefs.
Sibling rivalry and conflict has been an important area of research. The way parents handle this rivalry goes a long way in teaching them constructive resolution strategies. If parents treat their children differently in aspects of love, warmth, responsiveness, control, and discipline, sibling relations are likely to be more conflictual and less friendly. Comparison between siblings is another brutal blow to the sibling bond.
First-born siblings engage in leadership, teaching, caregiving, and helping roles, whereas second-born siblings are more likely to imitate, follow, be a learner, and elicit care and support.
During early childhood, siblings can act as sources of support during caretaking situations when the mother is absent for a short time. In middle childhood, siblings may provide support during stressful family experiences.
Second-born children benefit from learning from an older sibling, sometimes leading to precocious development for second-born in some areas.
There is continuity in the quality of sibling relations during the early years and from early to middle childhood to early adolescence, particularly for older siblings’ positive behavior and feelings towards the younger. However, significant individual differences in the quality of sibling relations have been documented in many studies cited here, which may also be influenced by other factors such as children’s temperamental profiles, life circumstances, and parental involvement.
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