Why only children are awesome

Posted by

Only Child Club Enamel Pin by Etsy seller PapaLlama
I am a third generation only child, and my son will be a fourth generation only child. I am not just pro-only children — I’ve even jokingly referred to myself as an “only child bigot,” prone to espousing how only children are a master race of superior humans. Really, I’m only half kidding, because I think singletons are AWESOME. (In part because we’re so confident!)

Of course there are logistical reasons for only having one child (concern about world over-population, financial constraints, fertility issues, etc) but these assume you’re making some sort of a sacrifice. For me, I see only having one child not as a limitation — but as a solid dose of pure WIN.

Obviously every family is different and every only child’s experience is unique (SO unique. La la la! I’m a special snowflake!). But here’s my anecdotal take on why I loved being an only child and why I’m excited to raise an only child:

Only children are precocious

Since only children don’t have other kids around as frequently, speaking to adults like an adult is just how things get communicated around the house. I called my parents by their first names until I was in pre-school, when my grandmother told my father that it was simply too weird to hear a three-year-old ask her father, “David, can I have more yogurt?”

I certainly don’t think parents of siblings baby-talk more than parents of onlies — it’s just a matter of numbers: when the majority of conversations in the house are conversations between adults and one child, onlies have no choice but to keep up with adult conversation. As a result, most onlies I’ve known have always had keen communication skills and been highly verbal.

As one adult only child explained, “being an only child prepares you for adulthood because when you’re the only child, your parents treat you like a little adult pretty much as soon as they can. My parents would take me to adult events, where I would be the only child, and expect me to behave and mingle with adults.” Of course, this experience can be frustrating for a child — but if your parents are cool people who mingle with other interesting adults, it’s awesome. (Because did I mention being an only child is awesome?!)

Existential comfort with being alone + imagination bonus!

The reality is that only children DO spend a fair amount of time alone. For me at least, this forced me to develop a rich imagination and overall comfort with alone time. This familiarity with alone-ness has been a major life skill in my adulthood. Because let’s face it: as adults, we ALL spend a fair amount of time alone. Knowing how to be comfortable with that is critical life skill that only children get a head start on.

I spent much of my alone time as a child working on a richly imaginative internal narrative. Was I lonely? Sure, but the result was that vast expanses of my childhood were spent up in my head, composing stories and entertaining myself. Coincidence that I became a writer? Who knows!

“I think most only children learn how to be creative or imaginative at an early age,” an adult only child told me. “Unless there are friends close by, most of the time it takes a parent arranging a play date to get what some siblings have built right in. I can remember going into my room for hours on end and just inventing games and entertaining myself as opposed to relying on playing with friends all the time.”

From your only child card by Etsy seller AlexNicolePaperCo

Being the center of the universe feels awesome

While I wasn’t spoiled with material stuff as an only child, I would never deny that I was spoiled with attention. And you know what? IT FELT FUCKING AWESOME. As one adult only child told me, “I didn’t really notice it until later in childhood, but let’s face it: I got all the attention and I loved it. Good or bad, there was no one to have to live up to or follow behind, and all lessons and experiences were catered to me. I always knew where I stood and that I had the sole attention of my parents.”

Now, I’m not stupid. While being an only child is AWESOME, of course there are significant challenges on the parenting side. Here are few that I’m mostly keenly aware of, based on my experience as an only:

Socialization is very serious business

When there aren’t siblings, it’s up to you as parents to prioritize your kid getting as much social stimulation as they need. I grew up an only child on 10 acres of forest on a dirt road with no neighbor kids, but have always been a pretty social creature. My parents tried to keep me engaged with our community (they co-founded a Universalist Sunday school, sent me to art classes, etc) but truth be told, they were more interested in getting OFF the grid than keeping me plugged into it.

I spent 4th and 5th grade at a tiny private school with only 10 other students — getting even more isolated. My report card for 5th grade says, “Socially, this was a difficult year for Ariel. Although she could recognize the social needs of her peers, it was difficult for her to respond to them.” This is like taking your dog to the dog park, and your dog hiding under a bush and peeing itself.

I feel like I dodged a bullet when, a week before my mom and I were going to start homeschooling me for 6th grade (Homeschooling an only child in the woods = the opposite of socialization!), I decided that I wanted to mainstream with the other kids. The transition to a 650-student middle school was brutal trial-by-fire socialization, but it was desperately needed.

One adult only child friend of mine was sent to “Miss Covington’s Dance School” for dance and etiquette lessons in fourth grade. While the idea sounds ridiculously old fashioned, I absolutely see the value for an only child.

Parents of onlies have to get their kid to the dog park. Er. You know what I mean.

You will pay for other people’s kids to come on your family vacations

Growing up, I thought that EVERYONE got to bring a friend with them on family camp-outs and vacations. It wasn’t until just recently that I realized that most family vacations are with, well, FAMILIES.

But as the parent of an only child, I can already see the advantages of having another kid with us on vacations. It’s more fun for them to have someone to play with and would be less work for us to entertain him. As an added bonus, the parents of the friend get a little break, ta boot! Sure, it costs money to pay for another person’s child to come along, but I think it’s worth it. The worst family vacation I had with my parents was the one where we didn’t bring a friend for me. We went to Puerto Vallarta when I was 12 and I spent the whole trip bored and whining at my parents, who spent the whole trip irritated and trying to entertain me. The vacation culminated in my fingernail getting bitten off by a parrot.

Moral of the story: bring a friend on family vacations.

You will have to teach your kid about sharing objects and space

Every child needs to learn about boundaries and generosity, but the issues become even more urgent with only children. Andreas, who has step-brother and a half-sister, is always laughing at my ongoing issues with sharing.

“What!” I sputter. “I’m very generous! I give things away constantly!”

“Giving is different from sharing,” he says, shaking his head. “You can’t handle sharing.”

And it’s true. I’ll take you out for a nice dinner (my treat! have a third glass of wine!), but stab your hand with a fork if you try to sneak a taste of something on my plate.

Sharing space is another biggie. Only children get accustomed to having things just so, and this particularity with their personal space can develop into an acute sensitivity. I haven’t always been the easiest roommate. And honestly? Sharing is a lesson I continue to learn into adulthood.

So, are you convinced yet? Do you believe me that only children are awesome? I pride myself on being convincing on this issue. After all, I managed to convince my parents of this when at 7 years old, when I heard them contemplating having a second child. I took myself to the library, did a little research, found a book, checked it out, and brought it home.

What was it you might ask? Raising the Only Child by Murray Kappelman.

Comments on Why only children are awesome

  1. I wanted to add some prospective from a woman who’s sibling is 4 years younger. As a woman who was an only for 4 years, I did learn how to play by myself and was shocked that Jon (my brother) needed someone to play with. I still have my Technicolor vivid imagination as well. I have always been able to talk to adults like an adult. Socialization was still a sticking point for me. With Jon being so much younger and our living out in the boonies I found it hard to learn how to play with others. This lack of socialization may also be rooted in my ADD so I’d not link the whole issue with being an only. I will admit that having my younger brother did teach me how to share a little bit better.

    So being the oldest of the family and having time as an only child I would say was a good experience.

  2. This was very interesting. I really think that every family works differently. I have two sisters and three brothers and even now that we are adults we hang out all the time and are really close. I love that I have five best friends forever as cheesy as that sounds. All of my siblings are super creative and imaginative. Growing up we spent time alone, together and with our own friends. I think being in a big fam. really helped me be tolerant, patient, and able to get along with anyone. Don’t get me wrong I’m not a pushover. We have really awesome parents so maybe that had something to do with our experience. My best friend who I grew up with just had her first baby and wants to have a big family because she is inspired by ours. I think it really does depend on the family. Having either one child or many children is not wrong if you are happy and it works for you. I think my magic number is three or four kids, but we’ll see.

  3. This is so weird because I was just thinking today about how being an only child has affected me. Ariel, I agree with so much of your post, especially being precocious (which is both a plus and a minus) and the sharing/generosity thing. I LOVE being an only child and revel in all the benefits. If I had an only, I would be totally cool with it–even a little excited.

    But here’s the thing–I’d do the same if I had six siblings. You only know the one life you’ve led and it’s easy to say “I hated my siblings, so only children have the good life,” or, “I was SO LONELY and awkward–I wish I had siblings.”

    I’m reading a lot of “I want my kid to have friends/support when life throws curveballs/someone to lean on when my partner and I are gone.” Unfortunately, you can’t know that that will be the case. Not all siblings like one another and people become estranged from their families for a myriad of reasons. If you want four kids, have four kids, but don’t do it to give them friends and don’t refrain from having an only just so s/he will have someone with whom to plan your funeral.

    The number of siblings a person has is one of many factors that goes into their level of satisfaction with their life. There are happy and unhappy singletons and happy and unhappy people with siblings. You’re not going to mess your children up by consciously making them one or the other.

    (Also, I have to defend my singleton tribe and say that lack of ability to commit isn’t a singleton thing at all–it’s a result of parenting style. If the noncommittal singletons had six siblings, they’d all be the same.)

  4. As an only I can definitely relate with all of this. I’ve always been able to relate better with adults than with my peers. Thankfully, now that I AM an adult it makes life much easier!

    The other day a friend told me that knowing me (and that I’m not *too* weird) has made her and her husband decide that having just one child would be a good option for them.

  5. I’m one of five kids (blended family — going from oldest child to middle child at the tender age of eleven = no fun), so I can’t relate to the experience.

    That said, this: “Sharing space is another biggie. Only children get accustomed to having things just so, and this particularity with their personal space can develop into an acute sensitivity.” My husband is an only child, and this is so true. For our first Valentine’s Day he let me sleep in his room — and we were already sharing an apartment, and had been sleeping in my twin bed while his queen was unused. I could never adequately explain to my mother that he was just really particular about his space.

  6. I found this incredibly interesting.
    I am an only child, my boyfriend is as well (he has half brothers and sisters but has met them like…twice) and we’ve decided to have 2 kids, mostly because of the awful time I had as an only child.

    All the points; difficulty with sharing, precociousness, bringing friends on holidays…they were and are all very apparent factors of my life.

    However, I was mostly ignored by my parents, I had a child minder from a very young age (less than a year old) and was put straight into nursery at 2, then private school at 3. I barely saw my parents as my dad worked very late, as well as travelling abroad for work and my mum had a full time job.
    Everytime we went on holiday, I was outnumbered. On a 2 week vacation we would do 2 things I wanted, and the rest would be anything and everything my parents wanted to do.

    As I got older, everything that went wrong was my fault, I was constantly shouted at, forced to do better etc, and it really damaged me, considering I still rarely saw my parents due to work and when I did they were shouting.

    Obviously I’m a very special case, but I still long for siblings. Both my parents are likely to get dementia, and I have no idea how I’m going to deal with that on my own, especially as I’ll probably be having kids around the same time (they had me very late)

    I had nobody to share my thoughts with once it reached dinner time, nobody to moan at about mum and dad, nobody to talk to about…kid stuff. I’ve grown up far too fast, I rarely had friends my own age as they were really immature (as far as I’m concerned) and I generally look back and have a massive disdain for my childhood.

    If you are going to have one child, please make sure you aren’t doing it for selfish reasons.

  7. Some of the comments here are shocking. I would think Offbeat readers would be a bit more open-minded. I had no idea there was such prejudice against only children and the parents who choose (or maybe don’t choose) to only have one.

    Let’s see so far both the kids & parents have been called “selfish”, only children are “weird” people who don’t have any friends, & we don’t know how to communicate. I had no idea people felt this way about only children. I guess I can only speak for myself, but as I said in a prior post, I’m a very extroverted & open person. If anything, I’d say my friendships are very strong & deep because I treat my friends like family & take those relationships very seriously.

    • Hey Stefanie,

      I totally, 100% agree with you about the comments, and I apologize for not getting rid of some of them sooner. I am a big supporter of open communication and letting people voice their opinions, but Offbeat Mama is not, and will never be, a place to name call or condemn/ridicule others for the choices they are making for their families (family size) or the choices that were made for them (ie, their parents only having one child). Our goal with Offbeat Mama is for it to be a place where everyone, regardless of religion, ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, family size, ETC. can find support–NOT to name-call or label others as “weird” or anything similar.

      So I’m going to go through and find the particularly bad threads and get rid of them. Again, I’m sorry it even got to this level.


  8. I am an only child also, and for the most part i have to say i have reaped the benifits…i was spoilt (i do actually have 3 half-brothers but never lived with them) but i must say there is one downside which i dont think you covered in your epic post of only child awesomeness….

    Being an only child of a single parent SUCKS… Its puts an awful lot more strain on the relationship and can be difficult.
    However i was lucky in the fact i developed an obsession with drama/theatre from a young age and so i have always been a social butterfly….something which probably comes from being talked to as an adult from a young age!

  9. I’m the youngest of two and so is my husband. To steal an idea from Ariel, I think its AWESOME! Its sort of funny reading through these comments – of course the decision to have additional children has to take in to account the needs of the existing child or children, but I’ve always thought of my older brother as the practice child. 😉

    Neither of us really liked or were liked by our older siblings (who were both always onlies that got stuck with us), but as adults both he and his brother and me and mine have come to form a great appreciation for each other. And all the stuff they put us through as children has only made us stronger now.

    We also share some character traits that I think are great, like an ability to go with the flow, and a sense of the needs of people around us. I too was precocious and good at communicating with adults, and my husband was and is highly creative and imaginative.

    We’ve discussed having two – the bigger question for us is how much space in between? My brother was a year older and his was five, and I think we’re thinking three might be just right. But I agree the poster who said “I can be a great parent to one or a mediocre parent to two” had it just right – if we have two, it will be a decision based on whether or not we can enough love and energy for everyone.

  10. I am the only girl in a family of four, and the oldest by 8 and a half years. My brothers are each four years apart, so in a way we were all raised as “onlies” – which is weird to say in a family of four kids!

    We’re all fiercely independent, yet we are completely there for each other. My three brothers hang out with each other pretty often, and if anyone needs anything, we know we can call one another.

    My oldest younger brother and I live less than a mile apart, but only see each other at most once or twice a month, and call each other even less often. However, we shared a car for a little more than a year – he works at night, I work during the day, so it worked out pretty well.

    I see my youngest brother a lot more frequently – I don’t have a car right now, so I use his while he’s at work on Saturdays, so we see each other about once a week. We also text or call each other a lot more than the other two and I.

    I loved being an only, and I love being the only girl in the family, but I also love having my brothers – for me it’s the best of all worlds!

  11. I am an only child, and I will only have one child, and I could not a agree with you more. I will admit, when I was young all my friends had older siblings so I would wish on every star and ask Santa every year for a big brother (which later turned into big sister). Looking back, I am so glad I was a only.

    I think I am very generous as well, but stay the hell away from my space. I don’t share covers, don’t touch my dinner, and yes while I do have gum in my purse, it is for me and not you.

    In terms of socialization, I was pretty isolated for the first 5 years of my life. I was not only an only child, but I was an only grandchild on both sides of my family for the first 16 years of my life. Now I am a single on one side, with a single cousin on the other. My parents friends all lived far away, but I took all kinds of classes, like dance and sunday school.

    When I started Kindergarten, I had to be forced to do activities by myself, like painting, which was required for evaluation at my school. My parents still love to tell the story of how when my teacher told me that I had to go paint a picture to take home, I looked up at her and very solemly said “But Mrs Perry, why would I do something by myself at school? I can paint at home. I don’t have other kids to play with there. I have to play with my friends at much as possible here because they don’t get to come home with me”

  12. i can’t help but notice that people seem to be biased towards how they were raised – in this as in most things! habit is amazingly comforting. while my girlfriend hasn’t talked me into kids yet, we are both in firm agreement that there would be two of them, just like we each had a brother. i’ve noticed it’s a common trend.

    on the flip side of your article: i forgot how to be alone as soon as i grew up, what with roommates and all – and, man, *not* being the center of the universe has its perks too (just think of all the things you can get away with while your big bro is getting in trouble! 😉

    • “people seem to be biased towards how they were raised”

      I’m not sure I’d agree — I know plenty of folks who HATED the way they were raised (singleton or not) and therefore chose the opposite. 🙂

      • Then they’re either biased towards or against. “This didn’t work for me, therefore I cannot imagine it works for everyone” is as biased as “The way I was raised worked out awesome for me, and therefore will be awesome for my kid(s) too!”

  13. I loved this post! It actually made me want to squee in delight as to be honest, it was just so relevant! As an OBT member, with a wedding in 2 years and currently childless, I cannot give an opinion as a parent, however I can contribute as an only child who was surrounded by siblings.
    Now, I know this may sound confusing, so a bit of background may be necessary. Essentially (I would love to go into more detail but there just isn’t the room!) my parents were both married before, had entire families, then shock horror, had an affair (being the by product of that and dealing with the attitude of half siblings is for another post I think) and I was born. Due to various reasons, my parents never got a chance to have the children with them so essentially, I was the only child with siblings.
    As stated in your post, I was taken to adult only events all the time, I had to learn to interact with adults as to be honest? my life would have been very boring and lonely if I hadn’t! I can honestly say I had the best of both worlds, siblings when they came over (which sadly, was not as often as my parents would have liked) but also I had to learn to stand on my own two feet. I definitely wasn’t “isolated” as some anti-only child people may claim, I went to a regular school from the age of 4, so did have the “normal” childhood socialisation experiences (my best friend has been my best friend since the age of 6 months!) but I also learnt that hell, I am quite an interesting person and you know what, my own company is actually kinda fun at times 🙂 To cut a long post short, do not panic if you are a parent and only want one child, the kid will grow up to be awesome, confident and, the most important of all….NOT emotionally stunted in anyway by being an only child…however she/he may end up talking to themselves like I do but who said that was ever a bad thing?!

  14. I am the oldest of 4 siblings and we grew up on 10 acres in the middle of nowhere. Even as adults, we are extremely close, so when my daughter was born and I realized that I loved being _her_ mom but couldn’t imagine having another kid without also having a nervous breakdown, I felt really uncomfortable for a while. I finally realized that a second child was not like a puppy; I couldn’t go out and get one just to make my kid happy. I hate the idea of my girl being lonely, but the flipside is, as you say, that she knows how to amuse herself and is actually an incredibly confident, social kid who makes friends easily.

  15. I LOVE THIS! But we never took a friend on vacation, so I don’t have that experience, and my vacations were still good (but I was also single parented since 7, so maybe that matters).

    ALSO, it’s easier to vacation with one age of child–my cousin is dealing with a youngest who is just now old enough to appreciate Disney, but an oldest who is now too old to go during the off season (school-aged).

  16. I’d like to point out that all of those awesome qualities are not mutually exclusive to only children. My mom got saddled with boy-girl twins when I was four. Now that we are all sort of adults (I’m 21 and my sibs are 17) not only do we all possess those qualities but none of us fit into the standard “oldest, middle, last” stereotype. I think it has more to do with the parents fostering the uniqueness and individuality of their children than it does with how many you have.

  17. I loved this post! Growing up in a family of 7 kids, I just wanted to add that sharing/being a good roomate/being sociable and so on probably has more to do with education than number of siblings.
    From a very young age we were taught to fight for our stuff and our space and I became the WORST sharer ever! My parents encouraged “private property”, for example when my dad’s buisness soared they built a house with a room for each kid.

    My boyfriend, on the other hand is an only kid but was raised to share everything. He co-slept with his grandma for years, had dogs sharing his naps, food and toys(!) as well as awesomely welcoming parents for his large group of friends. At my house, there may have been 9 people but our house was closed-off from exterior life and we were very very shy with strangers practically adulthood.

    Whatever number of kids I have, I just want them to be open to others and know they live in a safe, welcoming house. Sense of community is not in the numbers but in the atmosphere!

  18. I’m an only who’s not an only in a couple of ways. My grandparents adopted me when I was a baby (both married and divorced multiple times = multiple children), essentially giving me 6 new “siblings” (aunts and uncles) who were all much much older than me (16-37 years). I don’t speak to many of them now.

    When my grandparents adopted me, it was common knowledge that all of their children would get a certain something especially set aside for them when the time came that they would pass away. Except me. They knew that I would still be young when this happened and all the other kids were settled in their lives and were financially sound, married, out on their own, etc. I was to get everything they owned except for what was set aside for the others. My grandma died when I was 13, and my grandpa, 2 weeks before my 18th birthday. Since then, I have been asked for loans of all kinds from one sister, completely ignored by another who is upset I “took her inheritance” (even though she is VERY well off with the man she married), been used by the first sister against her brother and vice versa when I mentioned I wanted to sell my grandparents’ house. It is INSANE. They all know I have no rights to any monies/property until I turn 25, but they still ask, sneak, and use. I would rather have been given nothing but the title to my car in my name, than put up with all the crap.

    But even after all that, I definitely want more than one baby. In fact, I want LOTS. My husband and I have agreed on 6 =) I would even like to look into adoption because I’m so grateful for what my parents did for me, and I would love to do that for some little ones who need a momma and daddy.

  19. I have one sister. We are about two and half years apart. My mother left us when I was nine. We were then raised by our father. I helped to show my sister how to be a girl. I guess in a way I helped raised her. It was an odd thing when my dad decided he wanted to have a live in girlfriend. I was used to having the kitchen a certain way. We had a routine. She came in rearranging my kitchen, redoing our house. I was crushed. The way she talked to my sister made me want to slap her across the face. She considered my sister dumb I guess. I have no clue. It was an awful relationship and it ended after about a year and half later. My dad started immediately dating someone else. I was skeptical. How could you go from one to the other so quickly. The woman he was dating had a child. She was an only. At that point, I was about fourteen. I was set in my ways. His girlfriend understood my boundaries. Yet, I had difficulties with the her daughter. She was spoiled and she had both of her parents. She was not grateful for having both her mom and dad supporting her. This fact made me not want to associate with her. The bond between my sister and I was pretty strong. My dad and the girlfriend ended up getting married the summer before my sophomore year. My sister and I experienced the same things during those awkward step-family dinners. I am glad she was there for me. My step sister and my sister are six months apart. They know the same people and enjoy a lot of the same things. She is now 15 and I am now 18. Our bond is a little different. She is experiencing a world completley different from mine. I go to school. I go to work. I have bills to pay. I vote. I know about that awkward time. Yet, she refuses to listen to a source of knowledge. I will openly admit, I do not know everything. I am learning. I read. I learn. I mess up. I learn. I would love to share this knowledge with her yet, she refuses to listen. To sum this up short, I love my sister. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be an only child.

  20. As a person who often wished they were an only child, a pregnant lady who hopes this is her only child, and the daughter of a person who thinks only having one child is selfish and self-serving, thank you. I can’t wait to show my mom this article.

    **Just wanted to add that I did have a younger brother growing up. We NEVER EVER got along and spent most of our childhood dispising eachother. Infact, when I was 2 and my mom announced that she was having another baby, I threw a colossal tantrum and begged her to “take it back”. I have ALWAYS enjoyed my privacy, and interaction in an adult manner, even as a child. Not everyone loves having siblings. I sure didn’t.

  21. This was awesome, thank you. My son is and will probably stay an only child. My Husband is an only child, I have 1 younger sister. All of my friends are popping out baby after baby and asking me why I’m not having more.

    When I was pregnant with our son a family member said something we will never forget. She asked if we planned on having more and we said we weren’t sure, probably not, and she said WHY BOTHER, as in why bother having a child if you aren’t going to have more then one.

  22. I think you may have just thoroughly convinced me to have an only child. I am an only child (of divorce, so my childhood was slightly less fun than yours) but looking at all my friends (I am literally the only child I know. My FH is the 6th child out of 8.) I realize how different I am from them. For instance, I love reading more than anyone else I know. I think this has to do with the being expected to be a little adult. I adjusted much better than siblings I know whose parents got divorced. I have a broader imagination for sure. I am so much more independent than even my FH who is basically the least favorite of all the children, so in a sense sort of an only.

    I remember my mom telling me how people would comment on my good behavior when I was a small child at weddings and such, when all the other children were screaming and running. I don’t know whether this has anything to do with being an only, but I never got into alcohol, drugs or sex as a child, I honestly think because I didn’t have anything to rebel or protest against. I was simply allowed to be me. I was very happy for a long time. And I still virtually am because I know how to entertain myself.

    For the longest time I wanted two children so, in theory, I could have the best (and worst) of both worlds, but now I almost feel like since I was so happy as an only (I am the best snowflake EVAR!) and Justin was so unhappy as a sibling… perhaps the compromise is creating another only… And he or she can have furry brothers and sisters. 🙂

    BTW, you are TOTALLY right about the sharing thing. My mother ran an in-home daycare and I never was able to share well, and am even worse about it now. Generosity, I’ve got that down, sharing, not so much.

    (Sorry this is so long! I think I just had a breakthrough.)

  23. I grew up an only child, and I remain my mother’s only child although my father (whom I didn’t meet until adulthood) had other children. Now that I am seriously considering getting pregnant, I am firm in my belief that I DO NOT want an only child. I truly envy the close sibling relationships that many people have. Yes, some siblings turn out to be douches, but overall most people seem happy to have them around through all the stages of life. These people remember you and know you in a way even the closest friends can’t. When my husband’s grandmother was dying, I felt bad for my only child mother-in-law trying to care for her without the support of people who understood the loss she was feeling. One day I will be in that position as well and don’t want it for my future children. All of the positive(and negative) attributes for only children are still possible with siblings around.

  24. I definitely agree with all that you said in the article about being an only. When you talked about the parents talking to an only child as an adult and treating them like that, I saw myself so clearly. Adults were always amazed with my verbal skills when I was younger, but my dad was a stickler about me being a “big girl” and asking properly for anything I wanted.

    I must say at times my social skills do need work. I am a nerd who loves being by myself, even though I love being around people. I can still be very shy at times, but somehow I turned out “well adjusted”.

    I remember in college a friend of mine asking why I never talked about my siblings. He didn’t believe me when I said I was an only child. He maintained I was a spoiled rotten brat with a chip on my shoulder that I was better than everyone else. While I have met some other only children like that, I find it is the youngest child who is most like that.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Gotta say: some “friend,” who’d call you a spoiled brat with a chip on your shoulder! We meet the weirdest people in college. They’re not all friends, unfortunately. If you’re still friends with this person, I’d call it an act of charity. Also, interesting assumption that someone should talk about their siblings. People in college often want to explore new identities, without the burden of people who see them through the lens of old friends and family. Even people with siblings may not talk about them enough that it rises to a level of being noticeable. In fact, I can’t think of any adults I know who talk about their siblings that much. It almost sounds like this person knew you were an only and just wanted an opening to make this insult. Sorry if I’m misjudging your friend based on this comment. But it was WACK.

      • Ooops! Sorry about that! My friend didn’t call me that. He meant that most only children he had met were that way. He thought I was too “normal” and “well-adjusted” to be one. He just thought I didn’t get along with my siblings.

        Sorry for the confusion!

Read more comments

Comments are closed.