Socializing an Only Child

by | Raising Children | 2 comments

Dear Harvey and Laurie,

As parents of an only child, we would be interested in good solid answers to the socialization arguments which we endure from family and friends: “he needs to learn to play with other children; to be patient with others who do not catch on as quickly; to tolerate others who are from very different backgrounds than he; to interact with children who have social or physical disabilities; to raise his hand and wait to be called upon; to patiently listen to others answer; to understand that it is not always his turn.” Chris

What does it take to learn how to properly relate to and interact with other people? It takes other people. So if you have some other people around, then you probably have everything you need to accomplish what you want. One child plus two parents makes three people. Do you need any more?

There will be plenty of opportunities to relate to and interact with other people. Indeed, there will be too many opportunities. You will need to limit those opportunities, though you may desire to plan a few. What your only child is really missing is brothers and sisters. So do you have a brother or sister who believes like you, who homeschools, who lives close by, and who has an orderly family, so that you can spend a day together every now and then and your only child can adopt his cousins as part-time brothers and sisters? If you don’t have a blood brother and sister whom you can do this with, then how about a brother and sister in the Lord?

Remember, in the sovereign providence of the Lord, He has chosen to make your child an only child. He has a unique purpose in this. The Lord wants you to learn something different with this child. As far as learning to play with other children, to be patient with others, to tolerate others who are different, to interact with those who have disabilities, to wait patiently for an opportunity to speak, to patiently listen to others answer – what’s the big deal? Just think of all of the people in the world who have to learn to get along with an only-child! With a firstborn! With a last-born! With a middle child! Not to mention the families which dominate our culture today – multiple divorces and multiple marriages, etc. Being an only child is not nearly as unique nowadays as being one child of twelve. So how does the one-of-twelve child adjust? Well, as a matter of fact, each of us is rather unique in some way or another, so how does anyone ever survive? This is the kind of worrywart thinking promoted by social-psychologists. None to worry. God is in control. Just follow His lead and you’ll keep on the right path. He knows what your child needs more than you do. Remember, your child was His before your child was yours! You only have him as a temporary stewardship.


  1. Andrea

    Thank you for answering this question with God as the answer. Those of us with only children do not always make that choice. God does. Unfortunately, I have also experienced questions about having an only. If somehow, my ovaries were a socially acceptable conversation starter.

    Do we ever ask someone with 5 children, “How could you possibly love them all. How do you have the time?” There is an assumption that an only child is ‘missing out’ on character or social development, in some way, that is more detrimental than a child in a family with siblings. Only or multi’s bring different strengths and weaknesses, all by the grace of God.

    I would like to see more conversations on this subject, if for no other reason than to enlighten those who make judgement. All children are a blessing.

  2. Rhonda Kent

    God made our family the way it is. WE ARE all unique. I suppose people will always pass judgment, no matter what the situation. Anyways we have one child, that is the way it is.
    People are rude though, they just say “why only one” to me all the time. Somehow this is OK, but other things aren’t OK to say out loud? Hmmmm.
    Anyways, God takes care of us all, and I believe we are all brothers and sisters of Christ. Anyways, that’s the big family.


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