Feb 062008

The Sibling Question- When an Only Child Asks Why Does She Not Have A Little Brother

Parents of onlies often ask themselves, ‘Does my child need a sibling to grow up with?’ And an only child sometimes asks ‘Why don’t I have a sibling like John does?’ Although the questions appear similar, they are quite different: one requires a lot of thought and the other tact.

Studies indicate that children also have a way of wanting to keep up with the Joneses and more often than not, your only child might be demanding to have a sibling only because his best friend does. How much importance should be given to a child’s desire to have a sibling? Before we address that question, let us first ask ourselves: really how important is a sibling?

Arrival of the Deflator

A sibling helps in making the erstwhile only child understand that he is not the center of the world as he till now believed himself to be. A sibling can be likened to a ‘deflator’ who, through his demands for parental attention and stake to space and possessions of the first child, brings about an adjustment in the perception of the world in the erstwhile only child’s mind.

When a second child comes along, many children go through a period of jealousy, resentment and confusion. The parents then make efforts to normalize the situation by talking to the first child or compensating in some other way. Similarly, the process of ‘deflation’ can be brought by the parents of onlies too, in other ways than bringing in a sibling to do it.

Siblings- A support system…

Many parents believe that a sibling is someone their only child can fall back on and depend on during difficult times and in their old age. This thought is partially correct and partially wrong. Research indicates that sibling rivalry and enmity can carry well into old age. Around 63% of people have claimed to suffer the ‘Cain and Abel’ syndrome where siblings don’t see eye to eye and report ‘unresolved issues’.

Most parents decide upon a second child depending on the quality of their own relationship with their siblings. The bottom line is that parents are guided by their own subjective thoughts and good or bad experiences with a sibling (or the lack of it) when they decide to have more than one child.

Ways to compensate for lack of siblings:

  • Create opportunities for your only child to be among other children.
  • Enroll your only child in a toddler or a pre-school program.
  • Find playmates for your older only child on a regular basis.
  • See if you can move into a larger neighborhood where your child will not be starved for company.
  • Allow your child to sort out sibling-like problems with playmates on his own without your intervention.
  • Help your child nourish his friendships as he grows. Let the bonds grow to be one as strong as between siblings.



 Posted by at 7:41 am

Only Children Forums Mommy, why don’t I have a brother?

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    The Sibling Question- When an Only Child Asks Why Does She Not Have A Little Brother Parents of onlies often ask themselves, ‘Does my child need a sib
    [See the full post at: Mommy, why don’t I have a brother?]

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    Right now our Jessica is 4 years old and she’s more than happy to play with other kids but she truly enjoys being a single child. We have 3 dogs – a dachshund, a pug and a boxer – plus 2 cats so she’s never alone or bored but who knows, perhaps things will change in a couple of years.



    Hi Silvia,
    I am in the same boat.

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