Your Only Child Does Not Need a Sibling

Good news, parents of onlies: your child will not grow up to be a freak.

Though parents with only one child hear plenty of warnings about how their kid will grow up to be selfish and have a difficult time making friends their own age, a new study shows that’s just not the case.

Donna Bobbitt-Zeher and Douglas Downey, sociologists at Ohio State’s Marion campus, found in their recent study that kids with siblings aren’t any better off in terms of social development than their only-child peers.

That thing about the lonely only? A myth, probably perpetuated by grandchildren hunger in-laws.

Bobbitt-Zeher and Downey looked at how many friends thousands of kids from 7th to 12th grade reported to have. They found that only children didn’t wind up on fewer of the friends lists than kids with siblings.

Pamela Paul, reporting on the study in The New York Times last week, writes that earlier studies giving kids with siblings the advantage in Kindergarten were somewhat exaggerated. Those only-children had somewhat fewer friends during the first years of school, any sibling advantage (which, again, was only slight) disappeared by their teens.

So, really, there goes one of the big arguments people make when trying to convince friends to keep trying for a second child. Lynn Harris wrote about this study for Babble last month. An only child with two children, Harris says that the sociologists’ findings that a little brother is neither a help nor a hindrance?  Yeah, they sound about right.

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