Don’t Think That an Only Child Is a Lonely Child

I did not intend to be the parent of an only child; just sort of like it happened. And since my husband and son and I have been foster families for several years, the status of my son’s only child may have seemed a little more obvious to me than most parents. For my son, the point is not that he does not know what he is missing – he had “brothers”, he misses them and really wants a brother or sister.

But he doesn’t have a brother or sister, so I looked for ways to satisfy his craving for other children. He goes in for sports, goes to education after school to chat with his best friend, and our house has turned into the Playdate House. In preparation for this week’s Lonely Week themed at Lifehacker, I asked our Facebook group Offspring what else I could or should do to keep him from feeling lonely.

The parents of the only children in the group did a lot of what I already do: extracurricular activities, many trips to the playground or library, dates, FaceTime dates with relatives living far away, and time with family on weekends. And then these wonderful people reminded me of something very important: the fact that he is an only child does not mean that he is a lonely child.

It’s good to be bored

Being bored is not the same as being lonely. No one should be entertained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and children need to learn that boredom is a part of life and learn to feel comfortable with it. In fact, it often happens that right before kids start doing something really creative, they experience some old-fashioned boredom.

Team member John says it best about this:

As an only child in a single parent family, I must say that allowing your only child to spend time alone will create a child with creativity, imagination, and resilience. I don’t think I would be so happy to have so many incredible experiences that my life gave me if my mother didn’t give me time to read, play and write stories myself. I ended up becoming a writer and storyteller, and I love my life. It hasn’t always been easy, but I feel happy being the only child in the family.

Lonely lonely

I’m not the only child, but I myself know it well. As an introvert who works from home, I spend – and enjoy – a lot of time alone. And I’m far from alone.

W. Stewart in our group says:

My wife is an only child and she says she was rarely alone. She participated in theater from an early age, read constantly and had a very creative inner life. Having matured, she is very sociable and extroverted, but at the same time she is beautifully retired – she is never bored and she longs to be alone with herself.

And giving your kids a couple of siblings doesn’t give them immunizations for loneliness anyway. You can very easily find yourself lonely in a crowd.

They still have a village

The “village” of childhood does not begin and does not end with brothers and sisters. In addition to immediate family members, children also have cousins, neighbors, classmates, teammates, and friends. All of these relationships can be deep, meaningful, and rewarding.

As group member Jill noted, “The village is not always waiting for you; sometimes you have to build it. ” And that’s okay too.


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