Suchit Bhosale (name changed) walks into KEM hospital with his parents. Renuka and Suresh (names changed) have visited multiple doctors trying to understand what is wrong with their son. Suchit is 15 years old and is a complete introvert. So much so that he gets anxious with the thought of taking exams or meeting friends.
“Renuka is an over protective mother. She is constantly worried about Suchit’s condition. He is taking medicines for anxiety disorder. A lot of patients who come to me have this issue of conduct disorder or rejection- acceptance issues. I believe that one of the reasons for this could be due to the patient being an only child,” said Dr Sagar Karia, secretary of Bombay Psychiatric Society.
“The major issue here is adjusting or sharing among peers. As they start growing up, these traits of being socially awkward may grow stronger, like in Suchit’s case,” added Dr Karia. “This is not to say that every child without a sibling has to be this way, but that a lot of them can have similar issues.”
Parenting is a difficult task. With more and more couples looking forward to establish careers and having a better life, having a single child is a commonly chosen option. Now, psychiatrists say that being the only child could have certain advantages as well as disadvantages.
“While a lot of kids without siblings may grow up to be focused or creative in their own spaces, a lot of them grow up to be lonely, depressed or less communicative. Relationship issues are a major concern for such children as they may not have handled many relationships. But this can’t be cited as the only reason, it could be one reasons out of many,” said Dr Avinash Desousa, consulting psychiatrist a Sion Hospital and founder of De Sousa Foundation.
The debate seems to be inconclusive as some experts choose to have varied opinion calling it unscientific. “There is no science attached to this theory. I am the only child of my parents and definitely, I handle my relationships very well. Everything depends on parenting and how you are brought up as a child,” said Dr Parul Tank, consultant psychiatrist at Asian Heart, Mumbai and Fortis Hospital who is also the head of psychiatry department at Rajawadi Hospital.