Having an only child

Being an only child gets pretty bad press, so why are more and more parents stopping at one? For good reasons, so it seems?

Spoilt, selfish and lonely are some of the common labels that society attaches to those who don’t have siblings. Yet in spite of this the number of only children is growing.

Last year in the UK there were 300,000 more households with just one child than in 2,000, and only child families are the fastest growing type of family in the developed world.

‘There are many reasons for having just one child,’ says Ann Richardson, a psychotherapist (and only child) who runs workshops for only children. ‘Some parents feel they can offer their best, both financially and emotionally, to just one child but with more children, they’d be overstretched. Some find out they can’t have more children, and others end up with just one child due to relationship breakdown.’

Many women nowadays are leaving it later to start a family, which, experts agree, is one of the main reasons for the increase in only children. In 2004 the average age for women giving birth was 29.6, compared to 26.2 in 1971.