Raising a Single Child

penguin-only-childShould you or should you not? Is now the time to have a second child or should you wait it out? Parents of single children often find themselves amidst these questions, afraid to make the choice, often hoping the situation will resolve itself.

There are many benefits of raising a single child.

a)     A child can be provided focused attention by the parents, resulting in an increased amount of input to the child.

b)     A single child usually gets more time to pursue interests and hobbies be it indoors or outdoors.

c)      The child might feel the need to make friends and may be more likely to socialize more at school.

d)     Single children, perhaps, might also benefit more financially as they might end up getting a fair amount spent on their education and quality of life.

While this is the rosy side of the picture, I am sure there is the other side too. While degrees in which these present themselves vary, there is a significant part that parents need to play to address these.

a)     The child might have feelings of loneliness and become a social recluse.

b)     The single child might be more dependent on the parents especially the mother for all his / her needs.

c)      The child might not have many options of people to confide in especially when he is going through tough times during teenage.

So how does one work around this situation? What’s the recommendation from the parents of other single children? As always, there is probably no one right answer. To each, their own.

There are, however, some best practices which can help make this a smoother journey for the parents and more importantly, for the child.

a)     Get a pet – I have found that having something or someone to be responsible for, to care for, helps a child overcome the feeling of loneliness. A pet can present many interesting ways of keeping a child engaged while inculcating in him / her feelings of responsibility.

b)     Be purposeful about play dates – Planning a single child’s week is much more important than planning the week for a child with a sibling. Who the child spends time with, what they do, how often they meet, can all become important influencers in shaping a child’s behavior.

c)      Establish a communication routine – A single child has fewer options of his / her age to confide in. Many times, communication shut down results in socially unacceptable behaviors. These are best avoided by establishing a communication routine at home by one of the parents.

d)     Maximize avocations – Having a single child is a wonderful opportunity to get the child to focus on a creative hobby or interest be it music or sports or anything else. Anything which is screen-free is a great hobby to encourage.

Are you the parent of a single child? How do you cope with parenting and the challenges it presents to you? Other parents of single children would love to learn from your experience.

This blog post is a reproduction of my blog written for Parent Edge, one of India’s leading parenting magazines.

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