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.

References:

  1. https://www.forbes.com
  2. https://www.theguardian.com
Margaret Banford, M.A.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    SS

    Margaret,Very well said. I am an only child, now in my early 70’s. My experience as an only child has had many facets.As you write some good .some bad. When I was younger, I had heard and still hear that an ‘only child’ child is often spoilt, and also in 50 % of cases very selfish. Neither of these were true in my life. Not having sibliings, I sure did long for a broyher or sister , so my little doggie was then my sibling! I would talk to it lavish it with love and care.I became more and more fond of animals and often rescued them from various perils. Those days people always shyed away from stray animals because of rabies, ticks etc , but it never detered me from caring for them much to the annoyance of my parents most times. With the puppies when rescued, I would make up stories as to how the little mites mom was killed in an accident etc, to my teachers neighbours , friends of parents and get them adopted!There was no SPCA, just the pound where they were uthenised

    AS I grew older, I did find it very difficult to confide my fears or what was in my heart / mind to my mother, as she was from the old school and anythng related to boys was a taboo subject. Her possessive love and abject fear of me getting pregnant ! ( happened those days) She would freak out if I was caught talking to a boy. It’s here I had no silings to depend on or confide in. Fear of school friends leaking it to my mom stopped me from that confidence too.
    So being an only child I lost that closeness.

    By nature I was / am my father’s child, he was kind, unassuming, gentle and loving, yet I could not confide in him at all, He was always there to take my side if I had a run in with my mom! When I was in my early teens , I had made a few friends at school and till date we are in touch and close. Yes, its at a later stage I found someone to whom I could confide in my inner most feelings secrets. and I know theirs.So, today I can proudly boast and say I have few friends who are better than a sibling.And now, I think in a way these days its better to have a single kid , and am sure you wil wonder why I write this?

    I have 2 children girl and boy. difference in age 5 years. Both have totally different personalites. Both of them have acheived the highest pinnacle in the education and careers.
    Both are great looking kids and are loving caring with us.Each took care of the other as siblings when growing up, specially my daughter she doted on her baby brother protected him in every way just like a mom. 25 years ago I never in my wildest dreams ever though that this love and feeling would change in the next 30 years But it has. Suffice to say, maybe sibing rivalry? am really not wanting to point fingers towards my kids but I now feel, Wow , Am I glad that I was the only child?Because my nature is forgiving , soft and too much empathy for any human or animal. What if I had a sibling like one of my kids? one almost has forgotten that family is different and how one behaves with outsiders is not the way to be with family.
    I wsh I had had just one kid, would then not have to deal wth what’s happening today since last 5/ 6 years between my two kids that is become such a painful situation nd not to mention stressful too t my age..One has a nature like mine the other? like my mothers and some not nice DNA from her fathers side.

    I have heard ,read about many familes who are so miserable when their kids as adults have severe differences , to the extent of not even attending sibing marriages or funerals. So I ask? Is this fair to old parents?to see a loving family so broken up? Best is one child ! or better no children. If i had to relive my life , despite the fact that they have both done us very proud in the acheivements,its no solace to me with what’s going on and how long it will go oon , becuse one has made their perceptions to become a reality and is not forgiving or feeling let’s forgive move on and be a family,as all families have misuderstandings difference of opinions as no one’s really done anythng that its worht this behaviour.

  2. Avatar
    Victoria

    Thanks a lot Margaret, I am now crying on the bathroom floor.

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