Saturday, May 06, 2006

Only one offspring...

The BBC has an article on 'Only children', named "The One and Only" (is one enough?), or 'Little Emperors': this term was given to those children born in China where they had a 'policy' of having only one child per family. Personality Reasearch says, "Stereotypes of Only Children. The only child is automatically stigmatized. When asked to describe personality characteristics of an only child, many people will respond negatively, indicating the presupposition that 'only children' are spoiled brats. In China, couples are encouraged to have only one child in order to help curb population growth. These children, or "little emperors," as they have been called, are generally seen as spoiled monsters. However, research conducted by Falbo (Brophy, 1989), a psychologist known for work in the area of birth order, indicates otherwise. Falbo found that Chinese only children fared no worse in personality or achievement than their counterparts with siblings. However, only children are also often seen as high-achieving, motivated, and successful (Brophy, 1989, p.56)."....and there certainly seems to be numerous famous 'only children'.

The websites with advice, chat, help etc are many: tell us the reasons for having only one are many - women choosing to have children later, the one child option as a lifestyle choice, marriage breakdown. May be now is the time to get beyond the stereotyped image of the spoilt brat and become curious about the actual experience of growing up as the ‘only child'.

...any 'onlys' out there reading this who care to comment? - or anyone agree that they seem spoilt or maybe that we should be worried by "Beanpole families"?... those with fewer [one] children and multiple generations of older people - are leading to profound social changes, the Office for National Statistics said. Fewer brothers and sisters in one generation leads to fewer aunts and uncles in the next...and longer, thinner patterns of family relationships (Guardian 30.1.03).


Gavin Corder said...

Curiously enough I spent a good deal of Friday night down the pub advsing (well probably ranting on in a boring old fart down the pub type way) that children are much better people for not being only children. The sybling knocks the edges off them. Purely adult company (especiallyreasonable adult company) is a very poor preparation for the rough justice that other children dish out. Share OR ELSE!

Gavin Corder said...

that would be sibling...

Span Ows said...

We know what you mean Gav, and I agree wholeheartedly.

Even if OC (nice abbreviation) are 'in' at school they just don't get (or accept) the same 'polishing' that others receive/ accept/ have forced upon them.

Six Years Late said...

My own perception of this subject is slightly skewed just at the minute. My number 1 son has had his nose put completely out of joint by number 2, which I guess in the long run will only be good, but I cant help but find it heart breaking to watch him trying to exert his individuality and finding it thwarted because someone else has joined the party. By heart-breaking I mainly mean fucking annoying and anger making.

I had a long discussion at the weekend with my wife about why we'd bothered having any and the fact that if we didn't have the kids then we'd have a far nicer life. I know this isn't going to go on for ever and every once in a while, well actually daily, there is a little moment that couldn't possibly be surpassed by anything else, but at the moment none seems most preferble.

Gavin Corder said...

Six it WILL pass. I promise. And it will be so worth it in the long run. It's impossible to be advised by old hands like me and Span because you are going through it and you can see the wood for the trees yet. But I promise. Both lads will be much better, rounded, grounded people for it. One day you will look back, remember the agony of it all, but be in a position to see how much worse life would have been without them, for you, Nicki and for the lads themselves.

Gavin Corder said...

Just think, you two have replicated yourselves. Two of you. Two for the next generation. If that goes on like that, which you can suppose it might, you are immortal. Brilliant!

Gavin Corder said...

That's Six and Nic, BTW not Span and Six....

Six Years Late said...

Gavin, of course I understand all of that and I know things will get much better and the good moments are fantastic. I spent a lot of Sunday shouting in to the holes in trees, in our local wood, because Eben thought there might be badgers in there and that stuff's priceless. However, I'm finding it harder work than I ever thought possible and I'm at work all day so I don't have 80% of the flak.

Half my problem is to do with the worry I've had since the minute I knew Nic was pregnant. I hope I don't fuck them up and unleash a nightmare on society. I hear the way I am with my son sometimes and what i'm saying and it cuts completely against the type of parent I thought I'd be and it makes me worry.

I realise i'm in the middle of it at the moment, but all those cliches that you hear about it being the hardest job in the world are suddenly coming true.

BTW thanks for the advice

Gavin Corder said...

You will do brilliantly! Because you care.

Span Ows said...

Blimey! you two been here all day!

Gavin (Agony aunt) is right Six, we've all had similar thoughts and your comment "I hear the way I am with my son sometimes and what I'm saying and it cuts completely against the type of parent I thought I'd be and it makes me worry" classic - the way people think of 'the type of parent' etc are usually the ones who haven't a clue and end up with the monsters you fear - unless they find themselves not doing it, like you have. No child is the same and no parent can possibly be 100% all the time - anything but! - I found myself in tears (again) after my latest trip back home because after I'd come back my third son told mum (who told me) that now he sees what his brothers think is true, that I spend more time and effort (and money!) on little Katie (sister) - of course the elder two always 'accuse' me of this with Eddie (no.3 who was upset) was incredibly heart breaking because I'm sure (OK I'm not) that I treat them all the same.

BTW - I sometimes think how well off I'd be had I not have the lasts a nanosecond.

Span Ows said...

P.S. Gavins right too (NO, not re us two....anyway how about it big boy?) but about you doing brilliantly (because you care) - the fact that you come on here and tell us is a bigger step than you can imagine.

Gavin Corder said...

Tried to comment did't work. Gist was...

Finger up and who are you calling an auntie!

Gavin Corder said...

Oh alright I WAS feeling in a bit of a nurturing mood today....

(You should see Six's Comment Section!)

Gavin Corder said...

I am going to have to stop gardening!

Span Ows said...

Bloody hell - I go out for a bit of beer and cheese(no, that's not a euphemism!) and I see you've been multi-commenting again...I can't wait until I catch you at it!...commenting that is...although Mr.C sounds a corker..:-)

NOOOO...don't stop's great...

I will now go and see what Six has posted and then pop in to yours too...

You're a big softie really, aren't you!

Gavin Corder said...

I am PROUD to be a great big wuss!

Kayfer Kettle said...

The person I love most in the world is an only child, and a bloody good sort he is too!

Lucy said...

My husband and I both have siblings but our two children have no cousins. An extremely odd situation and one that causes me much grief; It looks set to be a permanant arrangement too. Family occasions are always strained and probably best avoided.
Long live friends! and pray they don't move to the other side of the world :(

Span Ows said...

Hi Katie, this is your first visit in a while...if you read this again can you tell us (if you know!!) how Charlie is with his mates i.e. any traits that he possesses/shows when he interacts that would be construed as being those of an only child?

Hi Lucy...I can see that family reunions would be difficult - all adults except for your two. How many siblings do you and your husband have? My sister has no children (and never will - through choice) but my bro has 3 and me 4 and my aunties and uncles all have loads of kids too and so now do my cousins - we're a virus!

Gavin Corder said...

Oi Span! I sent you a couple of "O" images by email, and not so much a whisper from you. (Not that I'm hurt) (Sniff)

Gavin Corder said...

Now I come to think about it Katie, why is there only one of him? Was it a conscious choice or did it just turn out that way? I mean, you obviously adore the one of him so it stands to reason that two of him equates to twice as much to love, dunnit?

Six Years Late said...

Katie, have you definitely decided to call it a day? Are you not tempted to have another? You're young enough.

It would be interesting, because although Charlie would have a sibling he would ostensibly have had the upbringing of an only child and similarly with the new baby.

Six Years Late said...


That's a crying shame. My sister-in-law has 2. The most recent was born just 6 weeks ago so there's only 3 weeks between them.

My parents in law have gone from having no grandchildren to having four in two and a half years and i have to say we're looking forward to family holidays, which was always my vision of having a family.

Span Ows said...

Gav, sorry not seen them! where did you send them...I can guess...the gmail, which I haven't checked! sorry i'll look later.

Six, my second and my brother's first were due on the same day (17th July but my was cut out on the 15th and his daughter popped out on the 19th.

related to your thread re your mum, my dad didn't meet any of his grandchilden - something my mum still weeps over.

Kayfer Kettle said...

Hi Six,

Charlie actually has a brother that is 10 years younger than him.

His father has another partner.

Of course, the situation remains the same, in that they have been raised apart.

As for me, I have not given up on the idea yet, but when I ask Charlie what he would think of the whole idea, he feels it's time I got on with my life.

Exciting to think that one never knows what the future holds, I think.

K xx

The Great Gildersleeve said...

I am an only child...I suppose that you do wonder what having a Broter or Sister might've been like.

Equally, I suppose I wonder what it may've been like to have married and had a family. One thing I do try not to do is become introspective and feel sorry for myself.

Unexpectedly, I may meet someone in my later years who may become a companion but the liklihood of raising a family or taking on someone else's I think is not a possiblity but what's that saying about "Never Say Never"

I know that I had a happy childhood and had much love and I would not be who I am today.

I may be biased but I do not think that I would call myself selfish or spoilt. :-)

Every situation where there are large famililes with siblings are different. Some are close in childhood and grow apart either because they move away or some argument gets in the way.

On the another hand I heard a documentary the other day where a Brother and Sister though at loggerheads as children, they have lived with each other for something like 40 years and been in each other's company for most of that time.

And then of course if you are a close family, there is the grief and sorrow of seeing your siblings possibly passing away.

Everyone's experience will be different.

BTW if you wondered why I've been so quiet on the BBC boards of late...its not my fault! I have been locked out of my account for over 60 hours and though I have fired off detailed e-mails about the problem and asking for help to put it right, I still have received no reply of any kind.

Span Ows said...

Wow, thanks for all that info Gildy it is very interesting - going to post on your blog again?

As you say no two experiences will be the same and you seem fine (ahem)...late-life relationships are becoming more common. As more marriages break down the number of single people about is increasing at an incredible rate!

On the MB thingy it's all a bit odd as there are dozens of new/ changed log-ins everyday! In fact there was a 'crumygildyruth' the other day!...I kid you not!!!

The Great Gildersleeve said...

I spotted that one too but what can you do when you are locked out of the site? I suspect if the technical staff go home, this lock out will last until next week.

I don't know what's happened over the last few days and weeks, a few of the regulars that I know have been in a very personal and confessional mode right through the Blogs of yourself, Mags, Six Years, Augustus and Gavin.

I have tended to respond to what has been written and can respect or relate to what has been said even if I have yet to experience some of the examples myself.

But of course when you really can sympathise.

Its funny but the few who have managed to communicate away from the boards do seem(as has seemed to happen in most of my life)like to confess or ask me for advice.

Which is an honour. And its not mean to sound sad but as I said on Six's blog after a really open post about his mum, all of my friends are on the net and I suppose should a site go down, people could lose contact and always wonder where someone has disappeared.

I tend to ramble and can write posts that are long winded but if you like to read them or add comments, I thank you.

I'm determined to add links to your blog and my other friends online one of these days...wish that I was a bit more technical.

The Great Gildersleeve said...

Been thinking a little more about how Brothers and Sisters can be seperated...

My father had two sisters and a brother and whilst he stayed in the area and spent most of his life in Engineering with the specialist skill of being an electric welder, he was so intellegent what he really wanted to do as a career was work in the profession of Physciatry but in the days we were talking of it was much harder to get the help required and also during the war though he wanted to join up and be in the RAF, it was deemed that the work he was doing was important to the war effort.

Then later on his brother(who had been in the RAF)went into tailoring and eventually managed to become manager of one of the large departmental stores in London and definately did the traditional traveling in by train from the suburbs and wearing the bowler hat and pinstripe suit.

As my fater had retired and he was about to retire, he planed to see his family more and do all the things they had missed out on.

Sadly, my Father took ill and passed away and then a year later so did he.

My Mum's side of the family, well, one Brother through his son has found himself(in retirement living in California)and has been there for about 8-9 years, the other brother has been retired for quite some time and spends his between Spain and a home about 15-20 miles away but late last year discovered that he had been having some mild heart attacks and now has a serious mediacal problem. So he has to take things easy.

Another sister passed away about 20 years ago and that leaves Mum and her one remaining sister who lives about 10 minutes walking distance from here.

But again, it just shows how many different varibles either engineered by fate or ourselves can affect matters.

One thing that we can say which is true as you sid earlier...families were much larger only a few years ago.

Span Ows said...

Gildy, Gildy Gildy...thank you very much for all these wondrous are right re the 'confessional' aspect that has crept in to many Bloggers' and MB contributors' posts...maybe it's the Spring...or maybe it's a release valve (as I mentioned to Six): it's quite handy really having somewhere where you can put stuff that otherwise would increase one's 'stress'.

It's nice that you can have your 'close' family quite close physically; the point you made re your father brought a tear to my dad died at Heathrow, retired, buying a cottage in Hatch Beauchamp (Somerset)home of some of our family ancestors - having bought sheets, linen and all...goes to visit family in the US and drops down, "dead before he hit the floor" as the Coroner said. This was in '87 and I still think it was somehow 'suspicious'
...before the wall fell you know, he was one of only two people in the country (UK) who could do what he could do...defence and science combined...makes me think he was popped off..,ah well, the point is I can get emotional about his having died as he retired leaving mum in a real state, retirement plans made and all but I have yet to shed a single tear about his actual dying...wierd and sort of relating back to Six's post re his mum.

P.S. I want to add a new post this weekend but don't want to 'cut off' this dialogue!

The Great Gildersleeve said...

The eyes are playing up again, I spell check and still the errors creep in...glad that you could follow what I said.

Its by talking you do realise how many simularities run through our lives. I can relate to what you say.

It was 1984 when it happened to us. He worked hard and only managed perhaps a year of retirement. Treated himself to a new car something that he had never had as far as I know. Mum and Dad started to get around a little bit more and then...

Do you sense things, I have a feeling my Father knew though it was not talked about.

The brother that I mentioned, he only managed about a year of retirement(and I think seeing what happened to my Father made him realise that there is more to life than work)

Now, usually this Brother and his wife tried to motor up from London every few years.

And during his year of retirement he got a strong urge to come back to see all who remained of his family.

One day when Mum and myself were driving I thought I saw him pass by but did not really think about it. I did not know he'd travelled all that way so why would I think it was him?

It turned out that he'd been to our house and he wanted to see us before going back to London.

One thing that sticks out in my mind...he started talking about a stage play or maybe the film(I forget which)of Oh What A Lovely War!

And he became very emotional and actually cried. It may've been something about the film or something more that he felt regarding maybe what had happened in his life or where he was now at.

Weeks later we get the phone call to say that he had passed away. I am to some extent a believer that you do sense things and that visit was important to him.

How many people actually get a retirement and a few years to enjoy it? For many they do seem to work long and hard often with little or no choice. And its all very well saying that more people live longer or are fitter, can they afford to?

When I was young it was everywhere that people would work, retire young, perhaps do some voluntary work but get to enjoy hopefully a second reasonably long length of time to do what working did not allow you to.

So what happens? And I suppose this has been brought on by circumstances being different because of the original reason this thread started...a lack of young people being born to continue to pay for the welfare of those at the end of their journey.

But all that's happening is that they are going to get more work out of those who are older, they'll work until they are older and in reality they'll not get any longer retirement probably just about the same as all who went before.

In so many ways we probably have improved and yet in other ways, how much is really for the better?

Obviously, you can look at certain key areas of history where things have improved such as the Industrial Revolution compared to today. But each part of history determines what follows and each age throws up new problems and challenges.

Span Ows said...

Gildy, you should post this - here as a comment on my post only a few of us will get a chance to read it.

I believe people do sense these things: I was leaving for two weeks in Snowdonia (canoeing climbing etc) I was in charge of a unit of venture scouts (a group of mixed sex teenagers after guides and scouts...wehay!) After that I was on my way to South America for a few years that turned into nearly 10 years + a wife and children!!!...I parents trip to the US coincided with my trip away, August '87 - the last words my dad ever said to me were "you'll write to your mum, won't you" the time I thought nothing of it...he could have meant that it was more important that I write and of course it would have been mainly for mum's benefit but I convinced myself afterwards that despite all the palns etc he knew or suspected what might be just around the corner...ah well...