Only Children: Why "Only" Isn't Lonely

There's Only One: The Cons

Of course, there are disadvantages for both only children and their parents, too. Paul attributes her daughter's sensitive nature to her lack of siblings. "Brothers and sisters tease each other, and it gives you a thicker skin," she says.

"As a young child, Elizabeth was sensitive to friends' remarks because she'd never had that experience. We explained that kids often behave this way with each other and that it was normal. We tried to frame it in such a way so that her friends' comments didn't seem so hurtful."

Susan Kelleher of New York City feels she learned many important life skills as the oldest of six children; she regrets that her 4-year-old son won't have the same experience. "Growing up with siblings teaches you how to get along with people who are different, how to share, how to stand up for yourself, how to negotiate, and how to compromise," says Kelleher. "There are downsides to having siblings, but I wish Ethan could experience the positive aspects of a big family."

Another large drawback: Your only won't have the mutual support that many siblings enjoy. And what about drawbacks for parents of only children? They'll never know the joy of watching their child forge a bond with her younger sibling.

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