I never realized how uncommon it is to be an only child until I went to college. I also never realized how many stereotypes and assumptions people have of only children until I went to college. Apparently people with a sibling or siblings are super curious about us. It’s literally like we’re mutant aliens and as soon as people find out, there’s a good chance I’m flooded with a million questions. So let’s address the life of an only child. Disclaimer: this is all from my perspective and my life as an only child.
Of course I’m addressing this one first. It’s the biggest stereotype out there. So here we go. I’m spoiled. I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m spoiled with love. Let. Me. Tell. You. I’m literally the only person my parents have to focus on so let’s be real, they can be overbearing (sorry guys). Materialistically, I don’t get handed everything I want like people think. Yes, I may get more than some others, but there are plenty of multiple child families that give their children more than my parents give me. So it’s hard to say we’re spoiled because in reality it varies from family to family.
It gets lonely
This is something I’ve always struggled with. Growing up I wanted a sibling SO bad. SO BAD. Do to circumstances, that wasn’t possible. I’ve always been extremely jealous of everyone that has a sibling or siblings. I get so irritated when people say they wish they were an only child because I don’t think they realize how lonely it can be. Growing up I didn’t have anyone to relate to. An 8 year old can only relate to their adult parents so much. I ended up relying on my dog a lot. She became the sibling I never had. The biggest thing though, is that my parents are all I have. I’ve always been terrified that something would happen to them because if something did happen to them, I’d be all alone. Think about it, when you’re older and taking care of your parents, you’ll have the support of your siblings (usually). For me, it’s just me. I’m the only one. Lastly, if something bad happened, they knew it was me. If I spilled paint on the carpet, my imaginary friend was not going to bail me out.
I have to say, one of my favorite things about being an only child is that I became fairly independent at a young age. That’s not to say someone with siblings isn’t independent, but the only child independence is very different. If I wanted to play a game or Barbies, it was just me. If I got bored, I couldn’t turn to anyone else to help entertain me. I was forced to learn how to do almost everything alone. That’s not saying my parents didn’t play Barbies or games with me, but what parent really wants to play Barbies for 3 hours?
We’re behind socially
Yes and no. I mean think about it, we didn’t have someone around our age that was always around to help us learn how to socialize with people our age. I always felt a step or two behind my peers when I tried to socialize. Naturally, I’m quite shy and awkward, but I think being an only child definitely added to my struggles socializing with my peers. It’s hard when you’re 7 and the only interaction you’re getting with someone your age is at school. Even then you’re there to learn so it’s not tons of interaction. I always felt a bit behind with what was “popular” or “cool” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for a preteen or teenager, it’s the end of the world. It’s not much of an issue for me anymore though.
On the other hand, I have always socialized with adults well. I was referred to as a little adult when I was younger. I was around adults so often that I had to learn how to socialize with them. I think it’s definitely benefited me.
We’re close with our parents
Very much so. Everyone is usually close with their parents, but as an only child, it’s very different. I didn’t have to compete with anyone for attention and they didn’t have to give attention to another child so I was the sole focus. Also, I didn’t have someone else to give my attention to, so my parents are who I went to when I really wanted someone else to play with me. So yes, I’m pretty darn close with my parents. I call them at least once a day, sometimes 5 times in one hour (sorry mom).
We don’t know how to share
I mean I can share, but when it comes to things like my clothes and makeup, I get territorial. Look, I never had to share my belongings growing up. Don’t expect me to know how to share them now. Just kidding. I can share most of my things. It’s hard though when there are certain things I don’t want to share because people blame it on me being an only child. Everyone has things they don’t want to share, but for some reason when an only child doesn’t want to share, we are given a harder time about it. Don’t deny it, I’ve experienced this so many times.
I love being an only child. Sometimes I hate it, but it has shaped who I am so I can’t hate it too much, right? There are pros and cons to everything, including being an only child. Some days I wish I had a sibling and other days I remember that would have required me sharing my dog and I wouldn’t have done that.