If you come from a family of siblings as I do it’s easy to think that as a parent of an only child you are not giving your child enough because they spend so much time alone. as far as social queues and interaction go. Sure, as far as social queues and interaction go those of us with only children have to work a little harder to create more of what we see in the world — lots of little children running and playing together. Even though that may seem like the norm and can trigger guilt on your part because your child has no siblings. Instead consider the opportunities your child has for personal growth because of all the extra undisturbed play time and otherwise creative time. How many of us would have loved to be able to shut out our peers we grew up in the same house with and expand our creative time? This for sure is a luxury of only children.
Here are a few general rules to remember when guilt sets in over not being enough of a mother to your only child or not providing your only child with siblings.
1. Children are naturally imaginative and creative- give them the time and space to explore that. If you find yourself getting agitated with their free time consider what information that discomfort is conveying to you. Perhaps it’s time to add creative time to your routine. Set up an easel and dust off a plank canvass or steep a cup of tea and write some words on a page.
2. Only children don’t know what their missing – sure there comes a time when most only children beg for a sibling. With my daughter, though, a little bit goes a long way. After 3 or 4 days with the cousins she’s ready for some ‘me’ time just as siblings get over being with each other. She may not have the option of constant companionship the way those of us with siblings experienced it but given the space they develop a strong sense of companionship with their own inner world thus building self confidence and a very strong inner compass.
3. Children are our greatest teachers. Let your child be your guide into the territory of imagination. If you find yourself hitting up against a wall that says, “Nobody ever gave me this space of creation and imagination when I was little,” recognize that this bruise on your heart that can be soothed by diving deep into your creative expression. Just as an archaeologist dives into the Maya centers of Central America and pieces together stories of the past, let your pen, paper, paints and clays help reconcile those old hurts in you with acknowledgment and love.