Are Only Children Really Spoilt Little Emperors?

Are only children really spoilt and don’t know how to share? It’s definitely something I believed before I had a child.  So and so doesn’t know how to share because he is an ‘only child’.  Thingy pop throws a shit fit every five minutes because she is used to getting her own way all the time.

There is even an official phrase that has been hijacked by the Western media, to confirm that our only children are extra specially unpleasant. It’s called Little Emperor Syndrome. It derives from China’s one-child-per-family-policy, where it’s felt that the one and only child receives excessive amounts of attention from the parents, grandparents and extended family.

It’s probably true isn’t it? If the decision was made for you, that you could definitely only have the one child, wouldn’t you go above an beyond? Wouldn’t you savour every moment, just that little bit more? Knowing every occasion, every milestone was the first but also certainly the last.

In our society of course, the number of children we have is not dictated to us. By law you can have none or one or seven if you’re mad enough. The ‘only’ limits to our procreational ambitions are medical and financial. We simply grow up knowing that we can have that 2.4 family when we’re ready, when the time is right.

Except many of us do genuinely only want that one child or are only able to have the one. So why do we feel so negatively towards the concept of the only child?

It is still, even these days in this economical climate with its gaping gender pay gap and craptastic child care ‘solutions‘, a strange thing to have just one child.   “Just the one then? I’ve bemoaned this before and I repeat, mind your own bloody business. You never know what might be going on behind the scenes, what reasons and motivations people have.

I always thought that only children were spoiled in a monetary sense. Because they didn’t have any siblings, they just got given loads of crap – whenever they wanted it because their parents had the extra cash that didn’t have spread across several children. My son certainly owns a lot of crap but most of it wasn’t given to him by us and what was, is more often than not second hand.

He is not selfish, something that I have always heard about only children. And he is certainly not lacking in social skills, his ability to make and maintain friendships astounds me. As a socially awkward person, who can find it hard to strike up conversations with people I don’t know, I am often in awe of his forwardness with children he has just met. He actively seeks out companionship and has a circle of friends at his Pre-school in which he is very popular.

As a parent of an only child, through choice or otherwise – I’m slightly inclined to say that sometimes in fact, they are spoilt. They do after all, have the advantage of undivided attention and time. They do not have to compete with a sibling every minute of everyday.

But this doesn’t mean they can’t fall into line and negotiate with other children. Our son will share and sometimes he wont, but no more or less than your average three year old.  He’ll also often concede to a child that is much younger than him, knowing that is the kind thing to do.

I have every intention to raise him to be a half decent human being. You know, just an all round nice guy. Being an only child doesn’t change that, he is entitled to extra privileges. If anything I suspect it makes us harder on him. We are harder to impress upon him the values of kindness and tolerance, even though it generally comes naturally him.

So yes, maybe only children are a bit spoilt because they get more attention. But if you have the right idea as a parent, the right idea being  not-to-raise-a-precocious-little-shit  then it wont really be here nor there. Fingers crossed they should grow up to be nice, normal human beings.

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