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16 'Only Children' Share What They Loved About Growing Up That Way

Big Kid Alaisha Key Jul 15, 2016

Whether you have an only child by choice, or by the luck of the draw, it's normal to wonder, at least some of the time, how having no siblings will affect your son or daughter. Will he be lonely? Will she be spoiled? Can I even afford to have more than one? These are just a few of the questions that come to mind.

But having an "only" can't really be that bad -- can it? 

The answer to that is absolutely not. To prove it, we've rounded up a group of adults who have firsthand experience growing up in a single-child home. They shared the honest truth about what it's like to be an only child -- and why (in hindsight) it was basically the best thing ever!



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1Fiercely Independent

"I only realized it was amazing when I grew up. It felt so lonely growing up … I literally played with my dolls in the basement. I was alone a lot (felt like it) … but I think it propelled me to [my] career. I had two loving parents that were nurturing. In my career, I’m an entrepreneur, life coach, etc.

My husband says I’m very impatient. I don’t wait for anything. I act on it. I go for it. As an only child, I did things myself. I became a doer. And I try to instill that in my kids. If you want something, you go for it. I'm a woman of action." -- Erica D.

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2Friendship-Making Boot Camp

"Given that my father was in the military and we had very little money when I was young, it would have been very challenging for us to travel had my parents had more than one child. As it was, we did travel and I am very thankful for that!

Because I didn’t have any brothers or sisters to count on for company, I learned to fit in with others and make friends -- I noticed that kids with siblings tended to spend more time with their siblings than with other kids.

I have always been quite independent -- I believe this is in large part due to essentially being on my own when my parents worked and attended college." -- Stephanie H.

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4Survival Skills

"My dad was in the picture, but really, I was raised by a single divorced working mom. I’m what they call a latchkey child.

Since both parents weren’t really around, I had to become super self-reliant at an early age. As a result of having to navigate the world by myself, I developed some very good survival skills that come in handy even today as an adult." -- Treva S.

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5Artistic Freedom

"Being an only child sparks creativity!

As a younger child, I can remember long summer days at home. From time to time, I’d get together with neighborhood children to play, but most days I would spend time alone. For me, the activities I was drawn to tended to lean toward the creative side -- perfect for an only child. I remember spending hours teaching myself to draw until I felt like I had perfected whatever subject had my interest at the time.

Being an only also allowed me to be musical without interruption. Whether it was my piano or flute, I could always count on uninterrupted time to practice, learn a new piece, or just have fun with the sounds." -- Tricia J.

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7Building Strong Relationships

"The best part about being an only child is having a relationship with my parents that is more like a strong friendship than a parent/child relationship. I'm not sure I'd be as open/close with them if I'd had siblings who were also vying for their attention." -- Mary H.

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8Makings of a Storyteller

"On the positive side, my parents took me most places they went and treated me as an adult. I was expected to sit quietly or amuse myself when we visited older relatives and used these opportunities to daydream and make up stories for myself. No surprise that I became a writer.

I often wished for siblings because I thought of the fun we’d have, the secrets we’d share, and how they’d be someone to talk to when my parents argued, as they frequently did, or when things came up (having mostly to do with boys) that I knew I couldn’t talk to my parents about.

It’s only when I grew up that I understood that having sisters and brothers wasn’t all it was cracked up to be in my mind -- the fights and rivalries, not being in the spotlight all the time, and having to share parental love." --Karen K.

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9Mother-Daughter Bonding

"I was an only child, as had been my mother and as was my daughter. I don't remember ever wanting a brother or sister. As far as I can remember, it was never an issue. My being an only was never a source of unhappiness. Neither did I have many friends, nor did I have an imaginary friend at any time.

My mother spent a lot of time with me, especially in my early years, so I was never lonely and seldom bored. Once I learned to read I quickly accelerated to a reading level far beyond my age and was consuming books from both the public library and the school library at a great rate. My mother indulged my voracious appetite for books by buying books for me as well as taking me to the library, and I was quite content to sit and read for hours on end. 

Having no sibs was never an issue for me as an adult, either." -- Cynthia M.

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10Call Me Interesting

"You get along better with adults. You find adults interesting. More importantly, adults find you interesting." -- Stacy G.

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11Ready to Ride Solo

"I think because I had a lot of time by myself, I created elaborate stories which in my adult life has come in handy as I’m a storyteller for a living.

I always remember people asking my parents 'why did you only have one child?' or 'don’t you think she will be lonely?' In my family, there are a lot of cousins, and I had a lot of friends so no I never felt lonely. People always commented on how precocious I was, which is a compliment to my parents. I was a joiner. Girl Scouts, 4-H, swim team, dance team, motorcycle racing, and stints in volleyball, gymnastics, and other sports filled my time.

I always joked to my friends that my dad wanted a son because he was always teaching me 'boy things' ... Today, I’m grateful that I know how to drive stick and jumpstart a car, and have a lifelong passion of riding motorcycles." -- Sabrina W.

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12Ample Me Time

"I'm 36 years old and was raised as an only child by a hardworking single mother. This meant I had a lot of time to myself, which I learned to love. I never developed the dislike or discomfort of being alone that so many of my friends with siblings have. This comfort with being alone has been a huge benefit in my life because I never settled for a spouse or friends I didn't truly enjoy just to avoid being alone.

One benefit of being an only child was that my mother and I were extremely close friends, and I was treated more like an adult. I received a perfect verbal score on the SAT, which I believe was in part due to having conversed primarily with adults from a very young age. Not having a sibling to play with meant I often sat in and eavesdropped on adult conversations." -- Chantelle W.

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13No Sibling Rivalry Here

"The positives outweigh the negatives in my opinion. The negative part is that it's kind of lonely in that you don't get to share things with sisters or brothers on how you feel on things.

However, as an only child you get all the attention from relatives such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. So when looking back [I think] it's more beneficial to have that kind of relationship because it stays with you much longer and in a more positive way. The things that are taught by an elder outweigh any sibling rivalry." -- Alesha G.

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14Love, Attention & Resources

"I think I only realized all the best parts of being an only child later in life. Looking back at my childhood up until now, my parents have had the financial flexibility to send me through private school, New York University, and the support to travel the world that I don't believe they would have had with more than one child. We were able to take regular family vacations and experience wonderful restaurants, which I imagine would not have been as accessible if I had a sibling.

I grew up envious of my friends' relationships with their siblings.  

I think of myself as an aspirational extrovert mostly with introverted tendencies. I wonder, had I grown up with a sibling if those characteristics would have turned out differently.

Even with all of that, I wouldn't give up the incredible amount of love, attention, and support that I feel from my parents. I'm sure children with siblings feel the same from their parents but as a 32-year-old, considering children myself, I can't imagine being able to divide my time and energy (and finances!) among more than one child and still provide an equally engaged level of attention." -- Jesse T.

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15Generous Nature Wins Out

"As an only child the world pretty much revolves around you. There is no other sibling to vie for attention, to need a ride anywhere or to pull focus from you. If you have to be somewhere, they take you. If you have an interest, you get to pursue it. 

Interestingly people think only children have trouble sharing, but I find the opposite. Because we have no one taking our stuff without us wanting them too, I think we are more apt to share things and be generous with others. 

I think only children grow up faster and are more mature. My experience (and other only children I've spoken with) tended to be [that I was] raised very much around adults and treated like an adult. I think we mature quicker. 

We get everything. Not everything we want, but we are the only kid vying for resources, so we get it all. And we are (probably) the ones set to inherit things when the parents pass." -- Kathy G.

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16More Motivation

"I am ... insanely independent. I’ve lived on my own since I was 18, and am actually in the process of moving while working full-time, managing rheumatoid arthritis among other long-term illnesses, freelancing, and volunteering for a rescue. It has made me who I am today -- independent, driven, and motivated." -- Dina R.

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