Thursday, May 7, 2009

In Defense of Only Children

I am an only child. Yes, my father remarried and I do have siblings in my blended family; but that didn’t happen until I was well into my 20’s and out of the house. I was raised an only child. I have no children. However, truth be told, I have never wanted more than one. There is nothing wrong with being an only child.

Maybe it’s a case of not missing what I never had but I have always been fine being an only child. Sure, I went through a phase where I wanted a little brother or sister, but I also went through phases where I wanted braces and a cast. I also, for a minute, wanted diabetes; but only because one of my classmates had it and he got to eat snacks (and I really wanted snacks).

I get so tired of people assuming that because I am an only child that I am some maladjusted, egocentric freak. There are a number of good things about being an only child.

  1. I never had to live in a sibling’s shadow and endure constant criticism and comparisons.

  2. I know how to be alone and enjoy my own company.

  3. Since I didn’t have ready-made playmates, I had to be outgoing enough to go out and make friends.

  4. I was never bullied or traumatized by older siblings.

  5. My communication skills were excellent from a very young age because I communicated so frequently with adults.

  6. Because I was around my parents a lot, I learned how to interact with adults and got to be more mature for my age which helped a lot when it came to school.

  7. I grew up independent, learning to do for myself. It made me more responsible.

  8. I never had sibling rivalry or had to compete for my parent’s love or attention or ever having feelings that they liked the other sibling more than me.

  9. I had good strong relationships with both of my parents.

  10. I was exposed to a lot more culturally because it was more affordable to do things with one child than it was to do them with three.

As far as the myths:

  • I know people with siblings who are selfish and egocentric. Only children don’t have a corner on that market. Not even a little bit!

  • Just because you have siblings doesn’t mean that you will have help when it comes time to care for your parents. I know plenty of people with siblings who shoulder that burden alone because the siblings are unavailable or unwilling to help.

  • I was not lonely. I always had friends. My parents would even let me take a friend with me on vacations. To be honest, I was sick of them by the time the trip was over!

Parenting makes all the difference. Whether you are the parent of an only or of several, the parent sets the tone for the household. As the parents, you make the decision to spoil or not spoil, to indulge or not indulge, to teach responsibility or allow irresponsibility and that doesn’t change no matter how many children you have.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

I'm an only child, too. (Well, my mom's only child...) And all I have to say is, Amen, sister!! (no pun intended)