After I wrote this post I had lots of positive feedback. I have found that us ONLY-CHILD PARENTERS are a relatively small group. There are few with experience in this area and very few with advice or ideas on the subject. I received a large book from my pediatrician, basically an Everything you need to know about your child from birth to whenever. In the 1000+ pages there was one paragraph ONE. on parenting an only child. It was great and accurate and illuminating but I wanted more.
I am no expert (on anything) and I've only been at this for five years but if you think parenting an only child is the same as parenting a sibling group just smaller...I'm afraid you're incorrect. Because nearly my entire life is filled with only child parenting I feel like I have a little more to say.
For the record I have never parented a sibling group but being the Alpha Female of my own sibling group (13) for almost 30 years now I feel like I have at least a limited understanding of how they work.
I have all of these thoughts on only children and: Patience, Independence, Sharing, Development...
But I wanted to start with something a little more fun:
Only Children Can't Get Away With ANYTHING!
When I was growing up with that crew of kids, getting away with little things was easy and for my Mother finding the culprit took skill, wit and cunning.
One day a little child was playing with markers on the white board in the laundry room.
That little child didn't know he was using permanent markers...no problem my mom didn't sweat that kind of stuff.
But when she was trying in vain to wipe the off marks, she noticed that the same child had practiced printing a four-letter word that was indelibly inked to the board.
Now all she had to do was find who among the 8 (at the time) children had penned the offending word.
Step One: Ask each child privately, and individually if they did it (thereby giving the child the option of a private confession and punishment).--No Takers
Step Two: Line everyone up facing the board and telling us that we'll all stand there until someone confesses.--No Takers
Step Three: Hand out paper and pencil and have every child submit to a writing sample test.--He used his left hand and Mother didn't notice.--Test inconclusive.
Step Four: At this point Mother doesn't know what else to do and has nothing up her sleeve. Then, a stroke of genius. "I can just now tell who is lying about writing that word because a blue dot is beginning to form on your forehead." SLAP! Before he could think what he was doing he slapped his hand on his forehead. She got him!
Even just one other child in your family it can complicate the "Who Dun It."
He just learned how to write.
He found a bit of wire and noticed the cool designs he could scratch in the car's paint.
He decided to dazzle with his new found literacy.
He etched his sister's name in the car.
She got blamed.
She denied it.
He came clean. (He really didn't want to get her in trouble he was just practicing)
When you parent an only child it is really easy to be really hard on them. You don't have to ask who spilled the glitter everywhere and who colored on the walls, even if they did write someone else's name there. I remember feeling like the "little kids" got away with everything. I realized later that my parents figured out after a couple of kids, lots of stuff that you think really matters...really doesn't. We (parents of only children) don't have the other kids to wear us down and give us perspective.
I am as guilty of this as anyone so I say to myself and you. CHILL OUT. It's not that big of a deal. We are going to make our child-s crazy with over regulation. I hope we can just try to remember what it was like to be a kid. They're not always or even mostly doing things to make us mad or break the rules. The are often just experimenting, creating, even organizing in their own mind (Like the time my Mom was a kindergartner and was fed up with un-even crayon distribution and dumped out all the crayons to re-organize when she was punished for dumping out the crayons and had to sit on the cold cement floor.) We don't want to loose those qualities in our kid-s we just have to remember that cultivating them sometimes means letting insignificant things slide.