Since I posted Durango’s article on only child syndrome there has been quite a lot of response – so I thought I would post some of my research and thoughts.
The word syndrome taken from the Greek word ‘sundromos’ meaning ‘running together’, is used for a group of symptoms that collectively indicate or characterize a disease or psychological disorder, and can be attributed to a distinctive or characteristic pattern of behaviour.
‘They had nothing, so the kids are their only hope’ (Reese, 27.9.1999) These articles, and similar ones, emphasise both the only-child’s unwillingness to take responsibility and their lack of independence.
However it is hard for children to take responsibility and be independent if they are not brought up to do this.
Having been denied education and material goods as children, many adults wildly over-compensate in doting on their kids.
‘Parents have a hard time saying no’ says Xia Ming, who teaches environmental studies at the Children’s Palace.
If we turn our attention to China and the one child policy, this is exactly what many Chinese parents and grandparents have attempted to do.
If you can only have one child, of course you are going to ensure that it has the best of everything.
So, in that sense, being the only child can be termed as a good thing.
I think this is a good summary of what most people who have siblings see as the advantages – and lets face it, put like this, they do seem very good. However I suspect has beneath these good intentions is an underlying wish to give your child everything you feel you missed out on.
The world that China’s kids inhabit is a far cry from that of their parents.
The earlier hardships are scarcely fathomable to today’s TV watching, French-fry chomping young.
In the context of the hardships and privations that Chinese people have experienced in the last few centuries, this makes a great deal of sense.