Being an only child has its good points and bad points. On the bright side, there is no risk of what has come to be known as middle child syndrome! Unfortunately, there are huge advantages to being part of a larger family. These outweigh many of the risks. Growing up as an only child affects people throughout their lives.
Many people think that it only matters when you are a child, but this isn’t the case. Your first years determine a lot of your personality in later life.
Being an only child, therefore, has ramifications for everything.
1. No Automatic Support System
This section isn’t to say that everyone can automatically find support through their family. This is sadly not the case. Many people can, however, turn to parents and siblings for support when they need to.
An only child will not have this built-in support. They will have their parents to an extent, but when people get older, this becomes less reliable. As children grow older, so do their parents. Parents are often the reason that people need a support system later in life. It is, therefore, difficult to use them as a support system at the same time.
2. Greater Pressure to Find Love
Following on from above, an only child may face more pressure to find love. Everyone feels that pressure to a greater or lesser extent. With only children, possibly because they have no other support system, there is more pressure. It can be as external as it is with others.
But with some only children, they can put a lot of pressure on themselves to have someone there. It can be nice for them to have that feeling of closeness. Other people might feel the same way. If they think that only children are lonely, they might push them into relationships.
3. Greater Independence
An only child will have more independence and freedom than they might otherwise have. It can impart a sense of security and independence.
Growing up as an only child means the benefit of undivided attention from your parents. This can give only children a better sense of themselves and their place in the world. A bigger share of parental attention means more confidence to go into the world. This, in turn, leads to an easier time handling the needs of independent life.
4. Great Loneliness
On the flip side, being an only child can mean a sense of loneliness. Other people have siblings, and people their own age to interact with. When you don’t have siblings, it means that you have none of these things. You need to go it alone, and that can be daunting.
Having family means having opportunities to learn how to communicate and socialise. Everyone needs to know how to do this effectively. People who are only children, however, have fewer opportunities to learn. When an only child grows up, it can be very difficult for them to learn how to interact with others effectively.
5. A Sense of Isolation
Isolation and loneliness are often confused, but they are not the same. Someone who is an only child can find themselves isolated from others. Families are our first chance to learn social skills, after all. Part of the problem with being an only child is being denied this chance to learn.
A sense of isolation can come when people don’t have the necessary skills for interaction. Having brothers and sisters means a chance to learn how to interact, how to self-censor, and how to share. There are other methods of teaching that, of course, but a family is an in-built teaching method. One that is very effective, to boot.
6. A Lot of Loyalty
These children often grow up to be very loyal. Loyalty is important because an only child doesn’t have the deep bonds which can exist between siblings. Only children, therefore, look for their bonds elsewhere.
These bonds are, on the part of the only child, deep and enduring. They look for friendships that are deep and enduring on the part of other people as well. Loyalty is always important, and it is of particular significance to only children for multiple reasons.
People with brothers and sisters maybe don’t understand their own special bonds. Being an only child means that there is no sense of having someone to fall back on. This is why loyalty is so important, and why people seek it out.
To create that bond is something only children seek to do. Loyalty means someone that will stay with you. Loyalty is something that everybody wants, and that an only child may feel is missing.
The common idea that being an only child only matters when you are a child is outdated. It is something that affects you and the people around you throughout your life.
Only children have advantages, yes, but there is a downside to everything. If you grew up as an only child, you will have to deal with being one for the rest of your life.
Usually, the good things outweigh the bad, but as the above list shows, there are different ways of seeing things. Being an only child is, of course, different for every person, but some things do remain the same.
Copyright © 2012-2019 Learning Mind. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.