The following is a query to Child Caring writer Barbara Meltz during a Q&A with Boston.com readers:
Question: Hello Barbara, We have a son who is an only child. He seems very happy and content and engaged with others and the outdoors etc... Can you direct me to any research on only children versus siblings? He's never asked for a brother or sister but I know that will be a tough conversation. We have one basically due to financial reasons.
Barbara Meltz: Been there, done that. (My "only" is in college now.) You don't say how old he is, but one thing that's important is to make the subject talkable. Boys tend not to focus on wanting a baby the way girls do, but that doesn't mean they don't notice that it's happening in other families.
When a friend has a new sib, I'd say simply, "I wonder if you're wondering about whether there will be a baby in our family..." and see what he has to say. I suggest you have a simple answer along the lines of, "Dad and I think our family is just perfect the way it is. We aren't going to have another baby."
So that you aren't leaving it open in his mind. So why should this be a tough conversation? That's a rhetorical question: I imagine it's because you feel that you are somehow depriving him. Get over it!
Here are two books I recommend: "My One and Only," by Ellie McGrath; "Parenting an Only Child," by Susan Newman.
Do you agree with Barbara's advice? Have some thoughts of your own? Write in our comments section below.