Ideas & Advice

Growing Up Without Siblings: Adult Only Children Speak Out

Growing Up Without Siblings: Adult Only Children Speak Out
Written by Publishing Team

Source: Gabriel Silverio / Unsplash

People are having fewer children and more and more unique children. Still, those considering the one-child family are wondering: will my child be alone? Am I cheating on my only child? Is it fair that my child is solely responsible for us as we get older and may need care?

These are legitimate concerns, but as researchers and adults who have grown up as only children tell us, parents don’t have to worry so much.

Only adult children have a say

When I wrote Is Being an Only Child a Problem ?, approximately 700 comments were posted on Facebook by parents of single children and adults. Most, but not all, who grew up as only children report feeling positive about their experiences.

A grandmother wrote: “I was an only child; my parents were older when they got married and decided that one was all they could take. I went to a public school and learned to interact with other children and adults. I have often been criticized for being a “spoiled only child”. It bothered me for years until I finally realized that they were jealous of the perks my parents gave me (college education, my own car, etc.). I don’t think I’ve been embarrassed in life being an only child. In fact, I think I was really privileged.

Another explained the pros and cons of being an only child from her adult perspective: “I am an only child. Pros: leadership, independence, comfortable with solitude, self-confidence, I can entertain myself, I acted like an adult when I was a child because I was more exposed to adult conversations. Cons: lack of diplomacy, my way or the highway. Plus, you get all the family resources without the need to compete. I find that many children are not only emotionally needy and in constant need of the presence and attention of others. It’s like that. Good and bad, like all the other birth order studies.

For Claire, “Everything is almost positive. I was the apple of the eye of both parents and encouraged to communicate on a more adult level from a young age. As a result, I was well educated, confident and independent. I wouldn’t trade being my parents’ best friend for anything else in the world. They wanted more children but unfortunately had two miscarriages.

And from another adult only child: “Super happy only child here. The idea is [being an only child] This abuse is absurd. Getting all the love and attention of a parent creates healthier attachments. And yes, I still share well. I am very independent and can live on my own without feeling alone. I have always had friends as surrogate siblings, and these people are lifelong friends. And my parents actually had the energy to teach me things. The house was a peaceful and educational place. Now I have an only daughter who is now 17 and she too is horribly abused, ”she added, ironically.

Lone children with only children

The research study for my book, The case of the only child, revealed a model of only children with only children. A woman explained that she and her husband were both only children. They loved him so much that they wanted the same for their only child. “We both loved being only children and think it has really helped us throughout our lives.”

Facebook’s responses were surprisingly similar. For example, the phrase “I am an only child and had a child” was repeated frequently in slightly different forms: “I am an only child who has an only child and she has only one child. The three of us did well.

Janice, the mother of a single person, supports this position: “There is nothing wrong with being single. An only child is an independent child. I am married to only one and I have only one. Both are socially adapted and successful adults.

The grass looks greener

There are only adult children who find it more desirable to have siblings. One mother asked rhetorically, “Does anyone want to hear about an only child? I’ll give you a hint … I had four children! No regrets.”

However, the preponderance of responses was similar to that of a 51-year-old man: “Never in my life have I wanted a brother or sister. I was perfectly happy to have everything I wanted.

Monique agrees: “There were MANY more positives to being an only child than there ever were negatives! I never saw it as a bad thing. “

As is human nature, people want things they don’t have or relationships that are or seem more positive than the ones they have. And, for others, their gaze changes over time.

Essential readings of family dynamics

Michelle noted, “I am an only child and have always been happy to be. I grew up with cousins ​​so I was never alone. The most important thing is that only children have a sufficient social life. Now that I am older, I would like to have siblings so that my aging parents are not just my responsibility.

Who will take care of you?

Those who have a child or who are “on the fence” about the only child option, think of not wanting to overwhelm their only child. Adult children only express different opinions. One wrote: “It all gets harder when you lose your parents and don’t have siblings to turn to, but that’s where chosen family and friends come in. “

Said another way: “I’d rather not have siblings than have detached and unsupported siblings. It would be more hurtful, I think.

While parents of only children don’t want to weigh down their child, it’s not uncommon for siblings to be disappointed when parents need care. Only children find out that others come to help them – cousins, close friends, aunts, uncles and partners – in short, the family they create.

More and more only children are saying, “I’m an only child, and even though I wanted to when I was a kid, now it’s good. Some of the people I know with siblings don’t interact with their siblings or when they do it’s rude. Some siblings have strong relationships. I think about the arguments that tend to break out between siblings after both parents have passed away and I’m happy to avoid that. On the other hand, it would be nice to have some help.

Elizabeth expressed her opinion on helping siblings: “I am single and took care of my mother. Even though it can be lonely, I watch friends and siblings disagree on how to care for parents, and of course I’m glad I didn’t have to do that too!

The one-child mother said, “When we lost my dad, my brothers were a godsend. However, a brother is no guarantee for a friend, and the lawyer who handled my father’s estate said that we are more the exception than the norm. In his experience, most siblings fight even in adulthood and especially when money / property comes into play with a death. I couldn’t imagine dealing with this besides losing a parent. “

Benefits according to the only children who lived it

The concerns of couples who have or are considering a family with one child are, like having a second or third child, complicated. Yet the perks of being only children give them a success advantage as it does for firstborns. At the same time, studies show that the relationship of the only child with his parents remains close, closer than that of those who have siblings. Hundreds of studies indicate that stereotypes of the spoiled and lonely one-child have little or no validity today.

When deciding on the size of your family, it’s a good idea to think about how you might be influenced. And keep in mind that parenting style, not the number of siblings a child has or does not have, influences a child’s development as well as how your single or child with siblings. and sisters will reflect on his life.

Deborah, an only child, put it this way: “I feel like my social and friendship skills were honed from an early age because my parents encouraged me to make and bring back friends back home. home even before going to elementary school. I guess it helped that my parents themselves were very social people with a large group of friends. “

The question Veronica raised in her comment sums up the importance of parenting style in raising children, whether one child or many, “Shouldn’t it just matter that parents know their? limits and that the child is brought up with love?

Related: Is Being an Only Child a Problem?

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Copyright @ 2019, 2020 by Susan Newman

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