RHJ 17-24A Only Children and Their Parents


Only children, also known as “onlies,” have sometimes been labeled as the spoiled and selfish children of society. In studies from the 1980’s, being an only child was likened to having a disease. Beth Apone Salamon, Director of Communications & Television at Rutgers University, and Lauren Sandler, author of One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One, approach the concept of only children in different ways. Salamon voices her concern that once her parents are gone, she won’t have anyone to share family memories with. In contrast, Sandler loves being an only child as well as raising an only child: “We’re just selfish people raising selfish children.” Dr. Susan Newman, psychologist and author of Parenting an Only Child, points out that it makes sense that many onlies thrive more than children with siblings do, because the attention and time allotted by parents to their one child is more concentrated than if they were to divide these things among multiple children. Newman also talks about the importance of the “sibling substitute,” a friend, cousin, or family member with whom the only child can relate to and become comfortable with. By building relationships with “sibling substitutes,” onlies are able to connect with people other than their parents, which has proved beneficial in the long run. Additional studies have debunked myths about only children, concluding that the number of siblings a person has has little impact on his or her personality and life.

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  • Beth Apone Salamon, Director of Communications & Television, School of Continuing Studies, Rutgers University and an only child
  • Lauren Sandler, only child, mother of an only child and author, One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One
  • Dr. Susan Newman, psychologist, contributor to Psychology Today magazine and author, Parenting an Only Child

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