When you have only one child

Why do certain families choose to have only one child for their family? There are many reasons behind it. When you have only one child in a family, all your love and attention will be directed to the only child. The average global birth rate (based on no of birth per 1000 population) in 2021 is around 17.8 birth. 70years ago, the birth rate is 37.5 birth per 1000 population. We can see an obvious downward trend every year and U.N predicts that it will continue to decline further. It does not mean that many people choose to have only one child. The point here I wanted to highlight is that people choose to have fewer children in a family.

According to statistics, having 2 children in a family is the ideal family size for most families. In Malaysia, the total fertility rate was approximately 1.8 births per woman aged 15 to 49 years. The total fertility rate refers to the average number of children which would be born if women survived to the end of their reproductive period.

When you have only one child
Statistics data: Total fertility rates in Malaysia 2011- 2019

If you have only one child, please read on. In this article, you will learn about the benefits and the downsides of having only one child in a family.

When you have only one child

Previously, China implemented a one-child policy in the year of 1979 to control or limit their overpopulation growth in China. They faced manpower issues after 30 years due to rapid economic development in their country and a one-child policy has lifted and removed in 2016. Two children are allowed in a family. This is particularly one of the reasons when you have only one child in a family with the intervention of the one country government policy.

In Malaysia itself, the birth rates have decreased over the years. Downward trends are showing the number of children in a family is reduced from 17.6 birth per 1000 population to 15 birth per 1000 population. Here is an actual statistic showing the downward trends from the year 2011 – 2019 in Malaysia.

When you have only one child
Statistic data: Crude birth rates in Malaysia 2011- 2019 (per 1000 population)

Many reasons behind this. Here are some of the reasons for the decline:

  1. High cost living
  2. The older average age of the first time mom
  3. Overpopulation issues in certain countries like China previously.
  4. Health issues
  5. Personal choice

The decrease of the birth rates has caused worry to certain countries as the birth rates are not enough to replace the older generations and fear of population decline. Therefore, some government offers financial incentives to encourage more children in a family such as in Italy, Russia, Singapore, Korea, Australia, etc.

How different it is by raising one child and raising more than one in terms of parenting? To parents, one child is easier to manage and you will have more freedom to achieve the quality of life sooner than everyone desires. You will use 100% of your effort to supply him with whatever he wants and help him to excel in life.

Often being the only child at home is always associated with “spoiled kid” or “lonely kiddo”. It depends. Parental involvement and education play a very important role in shaping every kid’s behavior later in life.

One child in a family

Having one child and having more than one is greatly different in terms of parenting. To parents who have only one child, things may seem simpler and easier to manage. Only one to focus on at one time and it is less expensive as you only spend resources on one child.

When you have only one child

Getting all love and attention

One thing is for sure, being the only child, he gets all the undivided love and attention from his parents. An only child will get most of the things he asks for and usually, they will be delivered to him without waiting too long either. The concern here is this kind of thing will create a culture that he may think if this is what he wants, he will likely get it too. This can be the downside of it as too much pampering may cause lacking appreciation and gratefulness for what he owns later in life.

Will it be a better idea if you let the child do something in return to earn the toy he wants as a reward?

Being always the center of attention, he will be given all the resources to thrive academically. Sound pretty good right? Some children with siblings may not have this privilege due to financial constraints. If you are the only child, parents usually have higher expectations of his school performance. If all the activities and learning programs enrollment keep him occupied until the extent that he has little to no time for play and entertainment, he may feel “pressured” if his parents do not manage it well.


Without other siblings sharing his toys and food can be delightful but he will be playing with all the fun toys and games himself. Sharing is much more fun and exciting if playing with siblings or peers. Being the only child, the flipside is he will feel lonely as no other older or younger siblings/ playmates to play with and eat together. According to a study, the only child usually has poor social skill than those who has siblings. Parental involvement shall come into play and enrolling him in a daycare center in his early childhood year will also help to solve this problem.

Over protection

No doubt, parents will pay more attention to the only child in everything he does, will point out the weaknesses and flaws. There is nothing wrong with parents explaining what is good and bad when the kid is at a young age. Over explaining his wrong deed can end up his feeling obliged to always be the best in everything. It can be a little overwhelming for a child as he also needs space to breathe and relax without getting anyone worried about him slacking off.

Hard to leave home

Better relationship with parents if he is the only child at home. Children will grow up someday, leave home, pursue his study and get a job. When he is an only child, he will feel more anxious and more emotional to leave his nice and cozy home. Parents are literally with him since he was born and definitely, it will be hard for both parties to say goodbye. Sometimes, parents have to learn how to let go of their hands and stay away to let them learn the hard way, to develop independence.

This is not always true if the child is constantly facing issues with his demanding parents, feeling “pressured’ will make him leave without hesitation.

More children in a family

When you have only one child

If you enjoy parenting or if you are the kind of person who enjoys many people living in a household and is afraid of loneliness, then, you would want to have more children, the more the merrier. Sometimes, parents expect older siblings will help to take care of the young ones to lessen the burden.

With many children in a family, parents have a difficult time taking care of every child’s emotional need, for sure no one is treated equally. Unlike the only child, children with many siblings at home sometimes will feel neglected if he is not the favorite one in the eyes of the parents – middle child syndrome. Sometimes, kids will compete with each other in academics and performance to attract parents’ attention.

Chances of fighting and rivalry are higher even with the best sibling relationship, will also have moments of conflict and friction. Parents also need to learn how to deal with it wisely. This will not happen if he is the only child in a family.

For those who have older or younger siblings in the same household, he can have someone close to share his thought and build intimate memories with. They play, eat, do homework and everything together. This intimate sisterhood and brotherhood relationship he may not be able to feel if he is the only child.

As a conclusion

It is fine for you to feel that one child is enough, as long as better than no children at all. No matter what reasons they are, two is still the ideal family size for most people. One is too less and two is just perfect. Of course, 3 or 4 if you have a good family plan.

Not necessarily being an only child will get spoiled and lonely, is the parenting style that helps to shape his character later in life.

Related post ” 4 Parenting Styles- their effect on the social behavior of a child

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