How does family size affect children?
This report outlines the findings of my recent survey which compared the advantages and disadvantages of being either an only child or part of a larger family. The information was gathered from 500 interviews with parents and their children aged 4-16.
Many parents felt that there were advantages to a child having brothers and sisters, despite the possible increased financial burden on the family. Firstly, they stressed that there was less chance of a child feeling lonely or isolated if he / she were part of a larger family. Secondly, par that siblings have a positive effect on the social skills of the growing child teaching tolerance of others and promoting co-operation through the sharing of household duties. In addition, it was considered an advantage that children with siblings would not have sole responsibility for their ageing parents in later life.
The children interviewed, on the other hand, complained that they did not have enough of their parents' attention and that they often had to do things they did not want to do, for example, looking after younger siblings. Moreover, they felt that they were often compared unfavorably with their siblings.
In contrast, the parents of only children generally had more time and money to spend on them. For example, if the child showed an interest с ability in something, such as, music, this could be supported. Many the parents interviewed felt that only children tended to develop better social skills because they were more often in adult company and also had to make greater efforts to find friends outside the family.
The downside for the only children was that they often felt under pressure to live up to their parents' expectations. As well as this, many people felt that only children tended to be spoilt and were therefore not adequately prepared for adulthood.
On the whole, there seem to be advantages and disadvantages to both situations, although, interestingly, there were fewer disadvantages for only children than might have been expected. The advantages for children in large families were mostly seen through the eyes of the parents, as many of the children interviewed had stories to tell about frequent arguments between siblings. In conclusion, if we decide to write an article on this subject, I recommend that we write it from the viewpoint of the children themselves.