little girl plays with chalk outside on pavement


Do We Put More Pressure On Only Kids?

Aug 30, 2018

“Can you please comb your hair?” My kid shoots me a look as if to say — get off my back, mom. We’re late, it’s the fifth time I’ve asked her and I’m starting to lose my cool. Sometimes my daughter will spend an hour in the bathroom working on her hair; sometimes she won’t brush it for days. Today is the latter, which sucks because we have an annual family party to attend.

There are times when I wonder if I put too much pressure on her because she’s my only kid.

Confession: I want my kid to look her best, or at least not like she was raised by wolves, when visiting family she hasn’t seen for a year. Come to think of it, I’d also like her to say please and thank you, make cordial conversation and eat with a fork. While I’m at it, I wouldn’t mind if she got straight As, was athlete of the year, became a devoted humanitarian and grew up to be wildly successful in any career she decides to pursue. Too much? A mother can dream.

There are times when I wonder if I put too much pressure on her because she’s my only kid. I mean let’s be honest here, she is the very vessel that carries all my hopes and dreams for the future. I can’t help it. There are things I want for her and I’m curious if she feels the weight.

You'll Also Love: Parenting Truths About Raising An Only Child

Growing up with a brother gave me a certain sense of balance. If he was messy, I was at least never quite as gross. If I was mouthy, he would churn up the charm. We were yin to the other’s yang. I’m pretty sure my mom and dad were certain one of us would turn out OK, even if the question of which one was a constant moving target.

I’ve worried before that being an only child might be lonely for my daughter. But now I wonder if it’s oppressive at times. She has no other siblings to share the glare of my maternal gaze.

However, I can’t help but notice that no matter how many times I ask my kid to comb her hair, she doesn’t. If she is sensing any undue burden by being my one and only, she isn’t letting on. Instead, she seems to be pretty self-assured in most aspects of her life. More than I ever was at her age.

And that seems to be the case for many “onlies.” According to research, single children tend to get better grades, are more goal oriented and even have better relationships with their parents than children with siblings. And it doesn’t seem to be because they feel pressure to do so. Instead they are comfortable around adults and don’t feel competitive with other kids in the family.

Try Reading: Who Will I Be When The Heavy Lifting Of Motherhood Is Done?

That’s not to say there aren’t downsides, or that single children are better off than kids with siblings. But it does make me feel better to know there are some positive outcomes. And there are some good examples of successful singletons to prove that theory such as Alicia Keys, Carol Burnett, Eleanor Roosevelt, Leonardo Da Vinci and Gandhi to name a few.

So, do parents with only children put more pressure on their kids? I’m going to say probably. But luckily for mine anyway, she doesn’t seem to care.

And she never did comb her hair.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the Co-Artistic Director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the Co-Host and Producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and pre-teen daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

Add New Comment

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.