The official site of the book Better Late Than Never Baby - Becoming a Mother Later in Life, written by Serena Kirby.

If you're over age 35 and about to become a mother - this is the book for you.


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The Advantages in being the Only Child of an Older Mother

Part One of a Three Part Series on being the older mother of an only child.

Whether as a result of increased fatigue or decreased fertility, the reality is that many later in life mums have only one child.

“Spoilt Brat”, “Little Emperor” or simply “The Boss”, these are just some of the phrases often attached to the only child. Add to that the belief that loneliness goes hand-in-hand with the single-child and it’s no wonder some older mothers feel guilt and regret for the sibling-less life of their one and only.

The funny thing is that the single-child stereotype has no scientific basis… it’s pure myth! Dr Toni Faldo – a professor of educational psychology at The University of Texas, and an only child herself – conducted the largest research review to date on only children and one-child families. The result of 30 years investigation showed that single children are, in fact, not disadvantaged and that the overall differences between only children and other children were (only) slight. Just as interesting is that the myth-busting Dr Faldo and other experts, have uncovered a number of perks to being an only.

Smarty-pants not bossy boots: It’s estimated to cost around $1 million to raise and educate a child to age 18 in Australia, so having just one child means more chance of affording better education. In fact, ‘onlies’ tend to go further in school and their achievement levels, as adults, are higher than those of children with siblings.

Enhanced school experience: ‘Onlies’ also often have a fuller school experience because their parents tend to participate more in school life and extra-curricula activities. The reason for this is logical enough – parents don’t have to divide time and resources between numerous children.

Academic advantage: As many older parents have more money and time to begin with (so the statistics say), it would be fair to presume that the only child of an older parent has an academic advantage over children with siblings.

Who’s the clever one, then? According to research, the only child is better able to carry out tasks beyond his years. This is thought to be due to their increased exposure to adult influences – either by observation or by instruction.

The Chatterbox: As ‘onlies’ spend more uninterrupted time with adults at home they tend to have higher verbal ability and better self-esteem.

“Hey that’s mine!”: Only children are free from sibling rivalry and don’t have to share toys or adult attention so home life is often calmer.

Bottoms Up: Some studies reveal that high-school-aged only children don’t just drink less alcohol but they get drunk less than children with siblings. A Brazilian study revealed that children with siblings were four to five times more likely to experience “alcoholic intoxication”. Closer parental control and lack of an older sibling (who may have greater access to alcohol) are possible explanations for this.

Feel the love: Only children have better relationships with their parents and, in adult life, are more likely to live close to their parents than children with siblings. They are also more likely to make cooperative versus competitive moves in games.

Less can mean more: One child is cheaper to take on holiday as you can share a room or bed.  Research shows ‘onlies’ tend to do all kinds of stuff more than other children– they go to more restaurants, cultural and sporting events and participate in more organised holiday activities. Hence, the somewhat richer and varied life of the only child, exposes them to things other children may not experience.

Serena Kirby is a journalist, scriptwriter and author of Better Late Than Never Baby – Becoming a Mother Later in Life. You can read more about the only child in her book or sign up for this three-part blog series on the Only Child, Older Mother.

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Pip Brennan

2013-10-20 18:36:02 Reply

Nodding my head here, very glad of the tranquil home environment that one child brings 🙂

    Serena Kirby

    2013-10-20 18:54:00 Reply

    oh yes Pip – I tip my hat to mothers of many (children) – give me calmness any day.

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