One of the big factors that dictate family dynamics is the number of children a couple has. Add personalities and finances to the mix, and you’ll see how vastly different each family can be.
Some say solo kids have the best of it. They have their parents’ undivided care, attention, and financial resources. When you think about it, only children do not have to wear hand-me-down clothes, wait for the right time to enroll in a much-wanted extra-curricular activity, and settle for less expensive toys and things.
Imagine the arrival of a second child, though. The mother’s attention is immediately divided between the one who came first and the new arrival. Diapers and milk (if not breastfeeding) immediately cause a dent in the family budget.
Though research says that there are many benefits to being an only child, including the precious ability to be alone, solo kids also definitely miss out on certain things. Here are some of them:
1. A playmate in the house If you ask young kids who don’t have siblings, they will immediately say that it would be nice to have a playmate in the house.
Seven-year-old Kib Donor always tells his mom, Donna, that he wants a brother or a sister so that he can play with him or her. The same is true for five-year-old Nathan Orteza. He wistfully tells his mom, Theresa, that he wants a sibling so that he can have someone to talk to and share his toys with.
For kids with siblings, there’s no need to go to the playground just to have someone to play with, and there’s no such thing as boredom when it’s raining and you’re stuck in the house.
2. Sibling love Donna feels that her son is missing out on “sibling love,” embodied by comfortable familiarity, sweet moments of congeniality, and easy resolution of issues.
Coming from a brood of three, Donna knows that her son is also missing out on having an older sibling whom he can rely on for help and support when mommy is not available, or being a kuya and learning from helping a younger sibling.
Though kids definitely learn to socialize and be empathetic through interaction with different people, it is by default, a built-in learning experience when you have siblings. You don’t have a choice but to get along with the people you live with.
3. A natural intimate support group Theresa is already thinking ahead, and says that Nathan will miss having someone to talk to in the family, aside from his mom, when he gets older. Having two siblings herself, she knows the value of having someone to depend on through thick or thin.
Having at least one sibling means having someone with whom you share a common life experience. Lifelong memories and a shared past make for a natural intimate support system and you don’t have to explain yourself to get help.
Though we can have good lifelong friends, the bond between siblings is still different.
4. People with whom to share responsibilities Here in the Philippines, children mostly take on the responsibility of caring for their elderly parents themselves. As grown-ups, solo kids have the “burden” of looking after their parents on their own.
Financially and emotionally, having to care for elderly parents without respite and support can be draining, no matter how dedicated and loving you are.
Some may argue that having siblings does not necessarily provide you with all of the benefits listed above. It is a good and valid point, as every family is different. Relationships and dynamics differ in each one, and having siblings does not assure you of a “BFF” – best friend forever. Some even grow up hating each other.
Sanne Unson, herself an only child with an only child, really cannot think of what she or her daughter are missing as only children. It can be said, after all, that you cannot really miss what you never had. We all learn and cope with whatever life hands us.