Stereotyping the only child
The only child: Spoilt, selfish social misfit? Masanda Peter takes a closer look.
We tend to stereotype on those who are an only child.  You often hear people saying that only children are selfish, they think the world revolves around them; they are spoilt and are sometimes social misfits.

The myths behind only-child stereotypes

Zandile, 31, is an only child and she disputes some of the myths said about the character of an only child. She says that it depends on the family. In her case she received all the attention, was spoilt and  got most of the things she wanted as a child, but in return she had to do well in school. The incentive was that she needed to pass with good grades and her parents were happy to give her what she wanted. Her parents told her that she needed to do well because she had no sister or brother to lean on and needed to be self- reliant. That instilled in her a sense of independence and wanting to achieve more because, when mom and dad are no longer around, she would need to take care of herself, even if there is extended family around.

Self-esteem vs. selfishness

She does however mention that she has personal space issues; she is used to having her own space and likes to keep things that way. When she has to share with other people she struggles a bit but she tries. She will get grumpy and will keep to herself. She however sees herself as a people’s person and not a selfish person. She admits to loving attention-  when she is deprived of the attention she is restless. She is not used to completing for attention because she received all of it at home but in the real world things are not the same and she is learning to adjust. She says she likes her presence to be felt, she does not like to beg and when she does not want to do something, she doesn’t.

This is something instilled in her since growing up that she needed to be true to her feelings.  High self-esteem was encouraged at home and she has no issues there and this was also boosted by the fast that she was doing well at school and was getting all the praise, so she likes to be praised.

I actually appreciated her honesty with regards to being an only child and dealing with struggles and expectations when in the real world. Looking at changes in the economy, the prevalence of the  single career woman, we might see an increase of only children, as people are having smaller families, either because of time or finances. As a single woman myself I really do not see myself having another child anytime soon. The biological clock is ticking and it is highly likely that my son will be an only child. As a parent you can only hope that you equip the child with the best to face the world. I have one child and he gets most of the things he wants but reasonably so. Yes he has tendencies of showing the “mine only” syndrome but I try and teach him to adapt to different environments.

Maybe an only child is stereotyped, maybe not...

Read more by Masanda Peter

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