Being Happy With an Only Child

When people ask me my opinion on growing up as an ‘only,’ my short answer is always that every family is different, and there are upsides and downsides no matter the structure. There is no way to predict the future – how a child will handle it when parents grow old, whether she will be a loner or a social butterfly, or if having another child will make you wonder if you should have a third. When I think about the adults, I know, and their relationships with their families, I find multiple examples of happy/difficult/spoiled/humble people, no matter how many siblings they have. I know people (my husband, for instance) who consider their brothers and sisters to be some of their closest friends, and can’t imagine life without them; I know others who aren’t at all close to their siblings, in fact, feel hurt and alienated by them.

In my case, I grew up happy to be an only child. I remember feeling lucky to avoid the sibling rivalries I saw at my friends’ houses (though I did take longer to develop a thick skin when it came to teasing). I was comfortable with other children and with adults, and I excelled in school and had a lot of friends. I also learned to value time alone. I weathered my parents’ divorce when I was eleven with a minimum of trauma, thanks to the support and maturity of my mother and father. Though I don’t consider myself spoiled (Who does?!), I was able to do most of the “big” things I wanted to do – study ballet, participate in foreign exchange, attend the college of my choice – that probably wouldn’t have been possible if I’d had to share the family resources with a sibling.

Growing up as an only has affected my adulthood. I married a man who is the third in a family of six children, all of whom are still close as adults. Being part of a big family drives me crazy sometimes, but it was attractive to me, and I am thankful for it. I do worry about taking care of my parents as they age, though I believe that partially because they only had one child, they now have the financial resources and plans to support themselves.

I am currently expecting my first child, and I know my husband and I will face this question in the next few years. I’m not sure which way we’ll go, but I think the potential for happiness exists no matter which road we choose, and that our child will find what he needs one way or another.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.