Having an only child isn’t such a bad thing

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A lot of people think that families need two or more children to be “complete”. The so-called “experts” – usually your in-laws, your own siblings, or your busybody neighbours – say parents with only children are being selfish by not giving them siblings to play with. I have to disagree with them for several reasons.

Let’s take the state of the world, something Louis and I regularly discuss in the mornings as we eat breakfast and watch the BBC or CNN, before he heads to school. He’s full of questions about why the world is so hard on some people, or why the human race is polluting the planet so much it may not be able to sustain the world’s population for another 100 years. These are pretty tough questions coming from a 13-year-old kid.

If you read the news, you’ll know that we will eventually need the resources of another Earth at the rate the world is developing. Just 10,000 years ago there were a few million people on the planet. The one billion mark was not passed until the early 1800s; the two billion mark not until the 1920s. Now however, the world's population is well over seven billion and the United Nations predicts it could reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, and over 11 billion by 2100.

That information alone makes the case for having fewer children. China tried and its efforts have skewered its population demographics in ways we are only now beginning to realise.

When I talk to my only child in the morning, he amazes with his insights and his clarity of thought that only a child can have. He has no interest in having a brother or sister because, as he puts it, “I like being an only child.”

Truth be told, I kind of like it because it allows my wife and I to focus on him. I think Louis likes it because he gets all the Christmas presents, doesn’t have to share a bedroom with a nosy brother, and of course he gets all the attention from his mother and me. Being an only child also teaches him to be independent. And let’s face it, most kids these days don’t really play with other kids that much. They’re too wrapped up in their iPads or smartphones and posting on Instagram.

One may be the loneliest number, but a family of three (or six if you count our long-time helper and two cats) makes for a good home.


Matthew Driskill is an award-winning journalist, multimedia entrepreneur and part-time university lecturer who has lived and worked throughout Asia, Europe and the US. He is the CEO of Wildcat Productions, a Singapore-based content production company helping clients spread the word globally with original content and programming. Learn more at

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